Friday, September 28, 2007

September 28, 2007
Well, even though I finished the Dick Liddil gunfight and sent it off to the printer, the new info just keeps pouring in (see below). I also had a backlog of discussion on movie locations, the new Jesse James movie, etc. and this morning I'll try and catch up.

If Actors Can Act, So Can Locations, Part II
"Speaking of locations acting, If Alberta can be Bisbee, Arizona can be Saudia Arabia. That's apparently where they filmed the desert scenes for THE KINGDOM, the shoot-and-bomb-em-up-geo-political-thriller that opens today.

Read about it in The New Republic.

"I can just imagine the Saudi audience reaction, 'hey, that's not An Nafud, that's the Mohave.'"
—Dan Buck

Well, technically, the Kingdom was filmed in east Mesa (What A Place-ah!), transforming the 202 freeway into Saudia Arabia. And it's the Sonoran Desert, not the Mohave. I'm going to see it this weekend (one of our Old West guys from here, Tony Casanova, is in it). I'll let you know if there are saguaros in the shots, because that's what I do (much to the chagrine of all the people in the theatre watching the film with me).

This Paragraph, Posted Earlier That Set Off The Firestorm Below
"The Western wasn’t killed by an indifferent audience but rather at the hands of political correctness. Straight-forward stories like Tombstone, 3:10 to Yuma, and Open Range, still put as many butts in seats as any zombie film. It’s only when stricken with the modernism of a Silverado, the grating feminism of Bad Girls, and the hand-wringing self-loathing of Geronimo that they die well-deserved premature deaths. Other than touching on the fascination of celebrity — something as old as mankind – Jesse James is about the universal themes we all relate to. How refreshing not to once hear about the plight of the Indian."
—LIBERTAS Review: The Assassination Of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

"To my mind, I think bad westerns damaged the genre, but for the most part it was the supersaturation of bad westerns and bad western television shows that did the real damage, not politically correct or pop-amped westerns like Bad Girls. If the genre is fragile, bad westerns like the ones the reviewer cites can't do it any good. But even good westerns --Tombstone, 3:10 to Yuma, and Open Range--can't fill seats the way teen sex comedies and zombie movies and horror movies and clever animated films can or CGI-driven action pictures, because that demographic is no more interested in westerns than a kid in 1956 would pass up a cheesy monster double bill to see The Searchers. It isn't that Westerns reflect 19th century American history, they reflect a mid-20th century media form, or the perception of that form.

"Really, I think that the solid made-for-TV westerns, Lonesome Dove, the Turner-produced pictures and a few others have done more to keep the genre afloat than any single theatrical movie.

"Jesse James may be, to the western genre, what The Thin Red Line was to War pictures, only with more star (Pitt) power. And I'd be willing to bet that an art western could possibly do as much damage as a PC western, but that doesn't mean we can't love them.

"Funny that Russell Crowe did for the western, to a lesser extent, the same thing he did for Gladiator movies. I wish Master And Commander had done as well--it's the best of the three. But imagine what it might have been like trying to sell Gladiator? All that stuff is creator-driven. If Ridley Scott wants to make a gladiator movie, he will, same as he's working on Blood Meridian."
—Henry Beck

"The excerpt quoted from the Libertas Review of THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES is uninformed nonsense. Worse it has really nothing to do the review itself, which is glowing in its praise of the James film. But -- a significant but -- buried deep down is this ominous warning: "This movie isn't for everyone. It's a moody character piece that takes its time with very little action . . . ." Uh oh.

Read it all here.

"Reviews of the Jesse James movie, by the way, are all over the map. THE NEW YORKER's Anthony Lane didn't much like it, though it is clear from what he wrote that he gave it a serious viewing.

"Lest the customary rebuttals flame in about Eastern critics being allergic to Western films, consider that the NEW YORK OBSERVER's Andrew Sarris, the doyen of Manhattan filmerati, liked JJ, as did Nigel Andrews at the FINANCIAL TIMES. But even the happy campers among the critics often mentioned JJ's dawdling pace, a problem that is perhaps accentuated by its almost three-hour length.

"In another Libertas review, on the fantasy epic 300, is this gem: "But story is everything. And the biggest reason 300 [is] successful is because its central story is exciting and well plotted."

"Pretty good advice to give any director, shooting Westerns or not.

"Back to the unadulterated nonsense. You will notice that the Libertas critic does not mention DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990), the most financially successful Western of the modern era. Why? Because some/many people of his ideological tribe consider DWW outre, politically correct. They hate the movie. Yet it's global box office was $424.2 million (unadjusted for inflation). The U.S. take was $139 million. In fact, DWW is the only Western on's top 100.

"So what does the Libertas reviewer do? He picks three movies made between 1985 and 1994 that he thinks support his case that "political correctness" -- meaning a politics he can't be bothered to explain, but doesn't like -- killed the Western. First, the Western was long gone by 1985. Second, many Westerns were in their own way politically correct, that is, overly romanticized, ahistorical agitprop. And formulaic and boring to boot.

"Someone who knows more about the film industry than I, which is to say just about anybody, could roam off on the studio system, limited entertainment choices, etc., as to why Westerns were once more popular. Maybe the answer is that they were done in by their popularity. They wore out their welcome. I do not know.

"Third, I can't speak for GERONIMO, which I don't remember seeing, nor BAD GIRLS, which I've never heard of -- and which per Rotten Tomatoes was execrable, netting a 10% positive review -- but SILVERADO got good reviews (RT: 89%) and was as I recall moderately successful at the all-important box office.

"Most of the movies on World Wide's top 100, by the way, fall into what can best be described as fantasy-action-thriller. That seems to be what the audiences want. I hasten to add that World Wide's numbers are unadjusted for inflation and thus newer movies have statistical handicap over older movies. Still, this list is instructive on what it is that, if I can poach a phrase, 'puts butts in seats.'

"I hasten to add that whatever the genre, the movie still has to be entertaining, engrossing, and well-paced."
—Dan Buck

Minnesota Mike Weighs In
"Ah yes, almost October in Phoenix. I really dig this time of year here, baseball playoffs, football and the coolness finally arrives. After putting up with this past summer, its payoff time for living here. In the current issue of Time, in the movie reviews: To Tough to Die. Nobody likes westerns, so why are they so good? They rank the top 5 grossing westerns in article also. They are 1) Butch Cassidy and SK 2) Duel in the Sun 3) Dances w/Wolves 4) Unforgiven (hell Blazing Saddles is a better movie than this) and 5) The Good, Bad and Ugly. Yes the Vikings still suck. 1) Marcel Marceau died and left $12 million dollars to his imaginary dog. 2) The recently discovered Davy Crockett letter is actually a love note to JoanRivers. 3) Phil Spector mistrial: Phil Spector walks out of his house with bloody hands and says "I think I just killed someone" and thats reasonable doubt to a LA jury. Bart Bull-out!"
—Mike Melrose

Back To Jesse With Huffines
"I don't think The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford is a Western. I consider it the final act of the War Between the States.

"Don't believe me? The perfect film trilogy for the story would be RIDE WITH THE DEVIL, THE LONG RIDERS, and THE AASSASSINATIOIN OF JESSE JAMESBY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD.

"The original insurrectionists eventually gave themselves over to crime (which is not uncommon in insurrections). Go back to the origins of the JY Gang. Recall what motivated both groups of men into armed service against the Union. Today's grievant is tomorrow's insurgent. What was the root cause for the behavior? Everything sprang from there. Don't get me wrong, I am not lost-causing it here, but we have to see them they way they saw themselves."
—Alan Huffines

"I DO hope they get the Pitt film into wider release as it may well be closer to what happened than anything thus far, even it it takes some poetic license like having Ed Miller living into 1881 [I'd have to see the film to juddge]. I also wonder if it's not closer in its portrayal of Jesse than anything thus far. As for Ford, I wonder if he "worshipped" Jesse as much as Hansen has it. I'd have to see the movie to make any further comment on this. From what I've picked up it is being speculated that Warner Bros. may have been caught not knowing how to market a film like this, which falls somewhat outside the usual sphere of their current fare. Warners may be worried about another Heaven's Gate, but beyond a point that can be counter-productive."
—Ted Yeatman

Late Breaking Dick Liddil Loves Martha Bolton News
"Just a few things off the top of my head. Without checking census records (which I can do Saturday), I would say Martha was probably in her mid-twenties. I don't recall ever seeing either a photo or newspaper engraving of her. According to her tombstone, Dick's wife, Mary, was born Sept. 14, 1860 and died May 10, 1872. This has to be a mistake. If memory serves, she died in the 1880s -- so it's likely her death was in 82 instesd of 72. (I'll give the cemetery a call to verify it.) If so, it's also likely that she was in poor health at the time of Hite's death. The stories of Liddil and Hite being rivals for Martha's affection seem somewhat unlikely to me -- mentally Wood was apparently not the shiniest penny in the piggy bank, and the physical descriptions of him I have seen would make the scroungiest guest on the Jerry Springer Show look appealing by comparison. Unless Martha had unbelievably poor taste, he would not have a chance agains the rather dapper Liddil. Whether she was sleeping with one or both is a matter of conjecture. The house was often described as a "cabin," which would lead one to believe is was fairly small, but it did have at least one bedroom upstairs. I understand that Liddil was already aware of Hite's disatisfaction -- Liddil said in his confession dated March 29, 1882:"
—Chuck Rabas

Blood Meridian In The Works?!
Is Ridley Scott working on a movie version of Blood Meridian? As in production, or as
in developing a script?

"Yes, script by William Monahan, who wrote The Departed. Right now it's set for 2009, which could mean anything or nothing. In any case he's locked in until he's locked out.

"I feel like I'm always trying to figure this Western business out, but I always know when I hear someone saying that the simple morality of the Western doesn't work anymore (usually they refer to Watergate or Vietnam), or that kids don't care (that means they're talking pre-1963 or so) or any of that stuff, they're not hitting it. If I had to throw a wide net I think it has to do with fashion, that the zeitgeist has simply waned, or that the awe that horses and six guns and strong silent types once inspired is lost. The spaghetti western hammered all that iconography into complete abstraction, but the drama in them was serious all the same. Then it went through a period where its basic tropes were mocked, but some real art came out of it.

"The only thing I can say with some confidence is that if the story is good enough, and I mean really good, it'll work. Deadwood, Lonesome Dove proved that to me.

"Speaking of, I was told that I should expect a screener of Comanche Moon in the next week or two."
—Henry Beck

Lots to talk about, but I have to go out to Pioneer for the big festival this weekend. I'm speaking today, tomorrow and Sunday. Joel Klasky is manning our booth. Need to go. More later.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Anti-Homosexuality Sermon Suspiciously Well-Informed

"If actors can act, so can locations."
—Dan Buck

Thursday, September 27, 2007

September 27, 2007 Bonus Blog
This is post number 1901. Pretty amazing. By the way, for all of you who have not been able to find certain parts of the archived posts, we are working on that snafu and will have it fixed soon.

I had to finally call a halt to the corrections on the Dick Liddil vs. Wood Hite Classic Gunfight. Why?

The Curse of Too Much Information
I read in the most recent Esquire a column by Chuck Klosterman who claims we are suffering from too much information, and that in a study done in the 1960s researchers tested this hypothesis by showing two groups a series of blurred photos of a fire hydrant. The first group had ten steps to a clear photo and the second group had only five steps to a clear photo. The first group did worse because with the tiny steps of gradual clarity they developed all kinds of theories as to what they were looking at and went off on wild tangents that actually inhibiited their ability to discern what was actually there. Or, something like that.

Meanwhile, in my world, Meghan demanded to know who "Cap" is in the Liddil narrative (he just names him and expects everyone to know who he is). This sent me scurrying in search of "Cap" Ford (I knew that much) and who he was (Brother? Father? Uncle? Cap Champion?). As I poured over the eight Jesse James books on my floor I discovered three, count 'em, variations on aspects of our narrative. For example, in his confession, Dick Liddil says that after Wood Hite was shot "He lived fifteen or twenty minutes but did not speak." Well, as I'm looking for Cap Ford, I find this: "Martha's son, a lad but 14 years old, had said that he was present at the murder of Wood Hite, and that person had died game. The boy stated that Hite was carried up stairs as soon as the shooting was over. His groans were so loud that his murderers tied a handkercheif about his mouth and smothered him to death."

Yes, this is the same 14-year-old that author Ron Hansen has meeting Wood outside the Bolton home, and the one who said he was a good man (see book excerpt below).

And, his name is Capline "Cap" Elias Ford and he is a brother to Charley and Bob. Whew!

Then I get this from Mark:

“The autopsy definitely found the bullet in Jesse's skull, embedded in bone behind/above the left eye. The occipital bone (eye socket) was shattered. That discoloration on his face could have been a result of the shot--but the bullet did not puncture the skin in an exit wound. It's never been made absolutely clear just what that mark was.

“It is believed that the Blue Cut bandits--six of them--did end up with between $140 and $160 apiece, plus some jewelry (watches, bracelets, etc.). For whatever reason, Wood Hite believed Dick Liddell had palmed about $100 when the cut was made. Liddell denied that. It was just another point of contention between the two men, who seemed to have disliked each other from day one.”
—Mark Boardman

I went in and told Robert Ray to pdf the pages. We are going to press regardless of what else we find, because we could do this 'til the cow comes home and never solve anything.

Meanwhile, On The Lighter Side of The Atlantic
"New book by GOLDIE'S LOX AND THE THREE BAGELS authors Jeffrey Dubinsky and Lila Dubinsky's A FISTFUL OF DREIDELS AND OTHER YIDDISH TALES OF THE OLD WEST, short western stories with a Jewish twist, such as Gunfight At The Oy Vey Corral; The Good, The Bad, and The Meshugah; Have Gelt, Will Travel; and My Darling Clemenstein, to Gary Goldstein at Citadel for publication in Fall 2008 (World)."
—Fred Nolan

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
The Death Of Rosa Parks: Now We Can Finally Put Civil Rights Behind Us

"The people who are playing it totally safe are never going to have either the fun or the reward of the people who decide to take some risk, stick out, do it differently."
—John Akers
September 27, 2007
Much final tweaking on CG (Classic Gunfights). Woke up in the night with realization of several things to fix. When Bob Ford kills Jesse, I had the bullet entering behind Jesse's ear then exiting above his left eye. According to Ted Yeatman, the JJ expert, the bullet never exited and the subsequent bullet hole in the wall of the James house is bogus (which also turned the room around in terms of where Jesse was actually standing. Historians now believe he was standing next to the front door and not where the "bullet hole" is. And, of course, there are at least fifty bullet slugs in the possession of colllectors, all claiming to be the slug that was extracted from the wall.

Anyway, there are other problems and we go to press this afternoon. Here's an exchange with fellow editor Mark Boardman:

"I think somewhere you should mention that Hite and Liddill were both vying for Martha Bolton's affections.  And if possible, you can note that they'd actually had a gunfight a few weeks earlier in Kentucky in which both had emptied their pistols with no affect.

"Also, in the sidebar 'Liddill's Defection,' you mention Martha Bolton's house or cabin.  In the sixth paragraph, you also mention the Harbison's place.  They are one and the same, and that isn't clear.  Even though the place was known to everyone at the time as the Harbison place, I'd chuck that and just refer to it as the Bolton house or something similar.

"Otherwise, it looks great."
—Mark Boardman

Thanks. Fixed two of them. Traded out the Hite stepmother speculation for the stronger "theory" that the two were vying for Mrs. Bolton's affections. And, I had no idea the Harbison's place was one in the same with Martha's. Whew! Thanks. She was some outlaw magnet, eh?

Couldn't fit in the previous gunfight but wanted to. Not sure why this happened, are you? Yeatman brings in the mother-in-law affair here, and includes that she pressed charges against Wood for the killing of the African-American boy. It obviously led to the shootout, but couldn't figure out how to squeeze it in the limited space we have.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

September 26, 2007 Bonus Bonus Blog
Thanks to a forward from Steve Lodge I read another strong review for The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. I especially agreed with the following comments from the review:

"The Western wasn’t killed by an indifferent audience but rather at the hands of political correctness. Straight-forward stories like Tombstone, 3:10 to Yuma, and Open Range, still put as many butts in seats as any zombie film. It’s only when stricken with the modernism of a Silverado, the grating feminism of Bad Girls, and the hand-wringing self-loathing of Geronimo that they die well-deserved premature deaths. Other than touching on the fascination of celebrity — something as old as mankind – Jesse James is about the universal themes we all relate to. How refreshing not to once hear about the plight of the Indian."
—LIBERTAS Review: The Assassination Of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Meanwhile, Here Is A Report From Peru
"Hey guys. We came into Arequipa city for the weekend and oohh man does it feel good. I feel like a bull in a china shop...I mean a kid in a candy store. Not to sound white trash either but we all went and had Burger King for dinner, you know, a little comfort food. It was delicious. I honestly wasn't really excited about our trip here either untill we got here and I realized what I was missing in the city. On a less excited note, things are going fine in the canyon and I'm sure you're right mom, in two years all probabley be really sad to leave.

"My weeks are already filling up. Starting next week on Tuesdays I'll be helping out with English at the Institute in Yanque. Wednesdays Im teaching an English class for the whole town. It's an 8 week course, one hour a week. Pretty demanding. And then Thursdays I'll go into C----, and work from 8 to 8 with the psychologists there. Thursdays are market day so everyone comes from around the canyon and gets medical needs taken care of while their there. That should be interesting. I already sat in on a session with a 15 year old girl who just found out she was 3 months pregnant and wanted to kill herself because of how her mom would react. It was sad. This girl was really poor and lives with her mom on the ranch and just goes to school and back everyday. The guy was 30 and had told her he was sterile."
—Thomas Charles

"P.S. I was just playing basketball at the institute in Y------ and I as I went to the bathroom to wash my hands I noticed a golden retriever barking on the court. On my way to the main office from the bathroom this retriever comes bull charging me full speed and barking like crazy. At first I panicked and started running but soon remembered that I wasnt supposed to run and as I turned to face him I realized he was right on me anyway. At this point ladies are screaming and running over. I dont know why, instinct maybe, but I jumped up in the air and as he came in to bite me I gave him a jump kick in the mouth. The bastard kept on running after that."

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
I'm Very Interested In Hearing Some Half-Baked Theories

"People want a comfortable preconception about what they're seeing. It's a bit like 20 years of Westerns and , now, 45 years of cop movies. People are comfortable with the roles."
—Ridley Scott, in Wired magazine
September 26, 2007 Bonus Blog
Okay, I guess I've gone overboard on the Dick Liddil stuff, because I just got this new photo, that's ID'd as Bob Boze Liddil:

Thanks Nick. Funny and frightening at the same time. Which just proves that you become what you constantly think about. OUch!
September 26, 2007
Up to my eyebrows in Dick Liddil's world. Our forthcoming Jesse James issue will have Brad Pitt and the real Jesse on the cover. Their faces are matched perfectly. Fortunately for us, in the movie still, Brad is looking the same way that Jesse is in the original photo of the outlaw King. We got Henry Cabot Beck's piece on the movie yesterday and Meghan edited it and put it into production. Of course, my Classic Gunfights piece features the Wood Hite vs. Dick Liddil shootout, which really accelerated Jesse's downfall.

The basic facts are these: After the Northfield, Minnesota debacle in 1876, Jesse and Frank James barely escaped (the Younger brothers did not and received life in prison sentences), the James boys fled to Tennessee and tried to go straight. Frank seems to have succeeded more than Jesse, who gambled and raced horses and went broke. He evidently didn't really want to work and besides, he missed the limelight and probably the rush of highway robbery. Dick Liddil (real name: James Andrew Liddil, and he says in his confession that "Dick" is a nickname. I wonder, if those bawdy, backwoods boys gave his full name a double entendre twist: Little Dick Liddil? Probably) was approached by Jesse to go rob some stuff and off they went.

It's comic and pathetic to read about how hand to mouth they lived (one robbery netted $3.47. In another robbery Liddil says, "We got about $13 from the merchant [on the stage] and $17 from the driver.") and how much trouble they had to go to get arms and horses. Frank travels all over several counties trying to find a horse to steal and can't find one to suit him. They also walked a whole bunch more than legend says they did. Dick, in his confession says things like, "I went to Sibley and crossed over in a skiff that I cut loose from the bank and used. After crossing I went to Mrs. Bolton's." I'm assuming he walked there after crossing. And they got rained out more than once, getting drenched while waiting for a train and going home empty-handed. Also, Jesse called off one raid when he got a roaring toothache, then paid a local $1.50 to drive him home in a buggy. Just amazing, and so un-movie like!

Speaking of the lovely Mrs. Bolton, she is Bob Ford's sister, and she is a widow and all of the outlaws come and stay at her place quite often. There is no photo of her but she must have been good looking because both Dick Liddle and Wood Hite are rumored to have been "taken with her," to use the parlance of the times.

The actual shootout goes like this in Dick's confession: "[Bob Ford and I] went to Mrs. Bolton's, crossing below Sibley in a skiff. Arrived there Saturday night, December 3, 1881. Next morning I came down to breakfast, and Wood Hite who had come from Kentuckey three or four days before was there, and Bob Ford came down a few minutes afterward. When he first came in he spoke to me, and I told him I did not want him to speak to me as he had accused me of stealing $100 at the divide in the Blue Cut robbery. Told him he lied; said he could prove it by Mrs. Bolton, and I wanted him to prove it. He then denied ever saying anything of the kind. I told him he did, and we both commenced drawing our pistols. We fired about the same time. He shot me through the right leg between the knee and hip and I shot him through the right arm. He fired four times at me and I five times, and then snapped another barrel at him. I drew my other pistol when he commenced falling. Bob Ford fired one shot at him. Did not know this until afterward when he exhibited the empty chamaber. The wound that killed Hite was through the head. It struck him about two inches above the right eye and came out in front and a little above the left ear. Bob claimed that his shot was the fatal one. Hite lived fifteen or twenty minutes but did not speak. We carried him upstairs, and that night of Deember 4th 'Cap' [Ford] and Bob dug a grave in the woods aabout a half mile from the house and buried him. My leg was too sore to help. Did not use a coffin."

Now that is basically all we have to go on. We can make some minor assumptions: the house must have had an upstairs because Liddil says, "Bob Ford came down to breakfast," and Martha testifies at Frank James' trial that the kitchen and dining room are one in the same, so we know it was probably pretty small, but other than that it's pretty thin as to layout and descriptions.

Now, let's take a peek at Ron Hansen's writing in his book, The Assasination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford:

". . .records lose Wood Hite in his torpid pursuit of Dick Liddil until finally in December the cousin who was given Jesse's middle name [Jesse Woodson James] was seen in Missouri.

"Wood rode from Saturday night to Sunday morning, rocking sleepily inside a once-white goat-hair coat and long blue muffler, with his eys shut and his left wrist tied to the saddle horn so he'd know if he slid. His face was bricked with windburn, his mustache was beaded and jewled with ice. Snot made boards of his trousers and sleeves, his nose was inujured with cold, and sometimes sleet sailed piercingly into whichever eye was open. Wood reached Richmond before six, warmed his cheeks and ears and backside at a railroad swithcman's stove, and turned toward Mrs. Bolton's farmhouse. He saw Elias Ford near the corn crib shooing cattle toward the silage he'd scattered on the snow. Elias lectured the animals but his words were lost in the wind; quills of gray smoke left his mouth and disappeared. When he saw Wood he was startled, for he assumed it was Frank James who glowered at him from the road—the resemblance was strong even without the deception of darkness. Elias threw up his arm in greeting and then invited him in from the cold, pointing first to the stables and then to the farmhouse.

"Wood walked his horse inside a stall, three a moth-eaten brown blanket over it, and shoved a tin pail of oats at its nose to entice it to alfalfa. Then he walked to the kitchen with Silbur, who was teetering with a milk can. Wood inserted his mittened hand in the can's twin grip to make the carry less clumsy. He shouted into the artic wind, 'How come it's always you does the chores?'

"'Charley [Ford] and Bob pay extree to Martha so's they don't have to!'

"'Still don't seem fair!'

"'Well,' Willbur said, then lost whatever the justification was and pitied himself for a moment or two. Then he shouted, 'You know how I could tell it was you? You was carrying but the one six-shooter and the others carry two!'

"'Wood pulled the storm door for the man and he banged the milk can inside. Wilbur said, 'I'd take a rag to my nose if I was you; it's unsightly.'

"Martha dumped bread dough onto a floured board and kneaded it with both hands. Oatmeal boiled in kettle water on the stove and her daughter yawned as she stired it with a wood spoon. Wilbur straddled a chair and blew into his hands; Wood removed mittens that dangled from sleeve clips like a child's. A coal-oil lamp was on the fireplace mantel and Martha sw her shadow leap and totter against the wall as the lamp was moved to the oak table. She turned and saw Wood thawing his right ear over the lamp's glass chimney as he stuff a handkerchief up his coat sleeve.

"'Look what the cat dragged in,' she said."

Wow! No wonder they wanted to make a movie of Hansen's novel. Talk about fleshing something out! And the actual gunfight, which follows this set-up is even better, but you'll need to go buy your own copy to see how masterful Hansen handles it. Here's one line, to further whet your appetite:

"Elias [squatted next to the corpse of Wood Hite] and canted his head to examine the injuries, inquiring here and there with his thumb and then wiping it off on his shirt. He said, 'You were a good fellow, Wood. You talked kindly and you took care of your horse and you always pulled your own weight."

It is a brilliant novel.

"The single hardest thing is getting the bloody thing on paper."
—Ridley Scott, on the task of getting an idea made into a movie

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

September 25, 2007 Bonus Blog
Leave it to Bob McCubbin to come up with the goods on a sketchy character like Dick Liddil:

"In a little known book, not in any of the bibliographies, titled Troupers of the Golden Mascot or Tales of the Yellow Wagon Shows, by Louis Wood and published in 1904 (not a dime novel, but a cloth bound book), the author tells about encountering 'Dick Liddle' while he (the author) was performing a show in a schoolhouse near St. Joseph, Missouri. About the only thing interesting is that he describes Liddil as 'a rather effeminate, undersized man with a squeaky voice... dressed in black...' And later says, 'in the peculiar idiom of the Missouri vernacular the little outlaw was 'clean straw game and not afraid of the devil'.' Finally, 'A few months subsequent to this incident Dick Liddle killed his rival, Wood Hite, in Ray County, in an impromptu duel with six shooters.' Not much, but I liked his description of Liddil."
—Bob McCubbin
September 25, 2007
Just got back from Brian Label's house in Carefree. He called me yesterday, on the road, and told me he had something that I had to see. He wasn't exaggerating. I can't tell exactly what it is because he wants to keep it under wraps for awhile, but I assured him we would do major coverage in True West when he is ready. I will say it involves Wyatt Earp, James Masterson, Bill Tilghman, among others. And that it has been "lost" for at least a century. And now it has been found, and the history behind it should fill in a few blanks. As soon as Brian says it's okay, I'll post the particulars right here.

Working hard to finish up the Dick Liddil vs. Wood Hite gunfight. I'm reading Dick's confession and I love the little details, like Jesse James renting a house in Nashville for $8 a month (he really splurged on the Saint Jo house and paid $14 a month), and the details they find important: "He was riding a sorrel, with two white stockings, which I then traded for a mare. . ." Thanks to Ted Yeatman I finally found out what happened to Liddil after the killing of Jesse and the trial of Frank James (Liddil was the chief witness against him, yet Frank was acquitted). Liddil went to Las Vegas, New Mexico with Robert Ford and they opened a the Bank Saloon on Bridge Street. After they quickly went broke, Dick leased out the pool hall of the new Plaza Hotel (it's still there and I've stayed there on a couple occassions), and Robert Ford became a city policeman. Liddil eventually got a job running a string of horses on the racing circuit (he loved horses and in his confession he constantly describes the horses he is on). He died of a heart attack at a race track, in 1901. He was not quite 50.

I think of all those Missouri outlaws, Frank James and Cole Younger are the only ones who reached their seventies.

By the way, the photo I posted of Liddil is probably not him. I found a photo of Dick in The Trial of Frank James For Murder book and he is not quite the same. Close but no cigar. I'm going home for lunch to do a portrait of Little Dick Liddil.

Evidently the new movie on Jesse covers some of this ground and I'm dying to see it, but still. . .

“The movies have their truths, which rarely align with those of history.”
—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

Monday, September 24, 2007

September 24, 2007 Bonus Blog
Here's a page of landscapes I worked on this weekend:

Trying to perfect heatwaves (see lower, right terrain). Not bad effects. Need to apply them.
September 24, 2007
Sprinkled and rained most of the day Saturday. Cleared off yesterday and is delightful this morning. First day in a very long time that the cooler has been off for more than an hour.

We survived Frank's family (Deena's boyfriend). Dinner at our house on Saturday night. I was going to make tacos, but Frank was afraid that would lead to disaster with his family, so he grilled steaks, his mama brought a homemade dish. They were loud, boisterous and opinionated: in other words, eastcoast Italians. I can't remember laughing so much at a dinner. Great stories. We mentioned our daughter predicted it was going to be Meet The Fokkers with us being the Fokkers, but when I told them this over dinner, they laughed and thought the same thing, only with them being [a strange Italian word, no doubt an inside joke].

Worked on a variety of landscapes for the Top Secret Project (images later). Also, did a page of doodles while I talked to my son in Peru (left):

Watched the DVD of 300 with Kathy on Sunday. She enjoyed it. It was my third viewing. On the Special Features disc they talked to Frank Miller, the graphic novelist on who's work the movie is based on, and he said he portrayed the Spartans as they, and the Greeks, painted themselves on the side of their pottery. Found an example of this art yesterday and emulated that color scheme (above, right). Interesting effects with the sepia, rust and black. Certainly a subtle, but dramatic variatioin on the red-black color scheme I have been experimenting with.

Got several emails regarding the Westerns we are rooting for:

Boggs On 3:10 To Yuma
"Lisa [Johnny's wife] liked it a lot. So did our fill-in babysitter (mom of one of Lisa's best friends). And the best thing about it. The theater was full for a 3:55 showing on a Sunday three weeks into its run.

"Johnny D. Boggs says: ** 1/2 (the original gets ***)

"Russell Crowe and Christian Bale are excellent. Ben Foster is wickedly evil as Charlie. Gretchen Moll is even worse an actress than Felicia Farr. They saved all the great lines from the original ('Would you cut the fat off? I don't like fat.' ... 'Now I'll know where to meet up with y'all in case we get separated.' ... 'Do me a favor. Don't talk to me for a while.'). It's intense, exciting, with great New Mexico scenery (Uh ... there's a lot of snow on the ground for southern Arizona ... we had a hard winter last year) and a throwback music score to the Italian Westerns.

"But it is devoid of logic and full of plot holes.
1. The Burt Kennedy-inspired opening robbery (funner, and better done in THE WAR WAGON). Gee, let's charge a heavily guarded stagecoach with a Gatling gun and get shot to pieces, then think to drive cattle across the road and stop the coach.) Point: Glenn Ford's Ben Wade's a whole lot smarter than Russell Crowe's.
2. Peter Fonda's shot point-blank in the gut, then the doc says "That bullet has to come out" (a throwback to cliches from bad Westerns). That vet's a miracle worker, because Pete's up and riding as soon as surgery's over. Must be the LSD from EASY RIDER kicking in.
3. Chase the stage. Again, Glenn Ford's gang's smarter. Sending one rider to each possible town makes a whole lot more sense.
4. History lesson. Bale mentions "three years," which I take as three years since he's been lame. That puts us at 1868 at the latest. Southern Pacific didn't come through Arizona till 1880, so those guns wouldn't be period correct, either. But that's just me.
5. For a guy with one-leg, and his wooden foot shot up, Christian Bale runs pretty good with everybody shooting at him.
6. Charlie guns down Dan Evans, then the gang just stands around and waits while Ben gets redemption and kills off his boys. Uh ... what the hell is the guard in the prison car doing all this time?
7. If you want me just whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and blow. Ah, the ending. First, it's friggin' impossible for that horse to hear Ben Wade whistle aboard a huffing, puffing train. Second, it really "defeats" the redemption angle.

"All said, though, it's a fun movie to watch, just don't think too much, kind of like if Hitchcock had directed a Western. The best thing about both movies is the play between Ford and Van Heflin and Crowe and Bale. And the original had its own problems, as when Glenn Ford explains the guy on the stage drew first, so that makes it self defense. Uh ... I think when you shoot a guy during the commission of a felony, it's murder. And the ending of the first movie's hokey.

“I like Elmore Leonard's short story, about a dedicated deputy doing his job for $150 a month.

“And it's a hell of a lot better than the insipid SEPTEMBER DAWN.

—Johnny Boggs

“Saw Jesse James last night and thought it was outstanding. Long and slow, but that was no problem for me. The costumes looked right to my unpracticed eyes, the set design was amazing, acting great all the way through. A very complex story well told."
—Anonymous [well-known author but didn't want his name used]

The New York Times reports this a.m. that 3:10 to Yuma is still hanging in there in fourth place, three weeks out (of its release), with $6.4 million this weekend for a total of $37.9. Not all that bad I guess; with foreign release and DVD & cable sales I'm sure it will turn a profit. Maybe there will be a sequel, 4:20 to Yuma.

“BTW, I neglected to mention in all this that Henry Cabot Beck [the author of our cover story on 3:10] is informed, enthusiastic, and opinionated, a nifty combo that makes for a triple-threat writer. He is always worth reading. His ‘siege movie’ category was a novel and precise insight.

“And it got me thinking, a modern siege movie, close to 3:10's storyline (but more fun to watch) was Bruce Willis's 16 BLOCKS.”
—Dan Buck

"Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech."
—Martin Farguhar Tupper

Saturday, September 22, 2007

September 22, 2007
Been sprinkling on and off last night and this morning. Just picked up a ten-foot ladder at Home Depot. Need to change the lights in the living room. Thirteen-foot-ceilings, a bit of a reach on the old ladder. Deena is bringing her boyfriend and his family to dinner tonight and Kathy has this thing about being respectable. Deena says it's going to be "Meet The Fokkers," and we are the old hippies. Heavy on the old.

Got this addition to the Jesse James movie editing:

"About the editing -- which began in January 2006, not 2005 -- for clarity mention the first editor was Dylan Tichenor ("Brokeback Mountain"), but he had contracted to do another film and so had to leave in the summer. Dody Dorn, Ridley Scott's editor for 'A Good Year,' took a crack at it, but had also contracted for another project and only gave it a month. At last Curtiss Clayton (who's worked often with Gus Van Sant) signed on and finished the film with Andrew Dominik. The rumor of thirty-five cuts seems highly unlikely to me. Seven full versions, varying in length, is probably closer to reality.

"About the horse traveling 85 miles -- that is mentioned in the novel but not the film.

"Good job!"

—Ron Hansen

Friday, September 21, 2007

September 21, 2007 Bonus Bonus Blog
Working on finishing up the Dick Liddil vs. Wood Hite fight. Here is the photo of Liddil, that showed up in the past decade. I first saw it in a Brit book on Gunfighters. Great image, but, sometimes these great photos get attribution on very shakey provinance. May have to use the disclaimer: "A disputed photo of Dick Liddil."

September 21, 2007 Bonus Blog
Strong reactions to several items on the blog. Here's my favorite:

If Actors Can Act So Can Locations
"I cannot understand the complaints from otherwise intelligent people -- no names cited -- about movies that are not filmed precisely on the location of the scenes depicted. Westerns in particular.

"Jeez. They're movies.

"In the first Western, New Jersey substituted for the High Plains. John Ford managed to shoehorn the entire West into, what, Monument Valley? That's not much different from today, when Toronto subs for any number of American cities in romantic comedies, detective thrillers, etc.

"By the way, I hate to slip a secret but the man who plays Jesse James in the movie that opens today is not Jesse James. He's an actor. Can you believe that? Brad Pitt, or some such mug. Hollywood has strange ways.

"If actors can act, so can locations, so we should suspend belief for a couple hours and enjoy ourselves.

"Second, 'Remington's Kodak Moments,' is what True West needs more of. It was an 'I didn't know that' moment for this reader. A new angle on an old subject."
—Dan Buck

Speaking of Remington, my good friend Jim Hatzell provided me with some great images of pith helmets which of course Freddy wore out here in Arizona in 1888 (the time period for our Mickey Free project). Here is a photo featuring Jim's models:

More Jesse James—What Were They Actually Wearing Info
"They were dressed in long linen dusters, had the collars turned up, and white handkerchiefs about their necks. They were not masked exactly, but masked so they couldn't be identified, by having their hats pulled well down over their faces."
—Eye witness reports to the Winston train robbery of 1881

I'll bet the producers of the new movie wish they had this little tidbit (above) so they could have had Ed Miller say his lines and then be recognized, later, when Jesse offs him. Oh, well, as the headline said for The Alamo: "Too True To Be Good." Ouch!

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Sharper Image Vows 'We Will Be Undersold'

"Courage can't see around corners, but goes around them anyway."
—Mignon McLaughlin
September 21, 2007
Today's New York Times has a tepid review of the new Jesse James movie (it opens today in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto— Toronto?!). The reviewer, Manohla Dargis, gives us a familiar refrain: "The question of whether the world or cinema needs another monument to an American gangster, a thug who lived by the gun and repeatedly killed in cold blood, remains unanswered by the film and its makers." If this sounds familiar, it's because it's almost the same "question" written in the guest book at the recent Billy the Kid show in Albuquerque.

Meanwhile, I talked to the author of the book the movie is based on, Ron Hansen, yesterday. He saw the premiere in New York last Tuesday and I wondered what he thought of it. Here are my notes:

What Did They Get Right?
It is a rare day indeed when an author says, “They were very faithful to my book.” Ron Hansen is one of them. Filmed two years ago, and based on Hansen’s 1983 book, “The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford,” the movie has a Byzantine history of its own: there have been a rumored 35 different cuts of the film, with four different film editors, including Ridley Scott’s editor, the problem was, they didn’t do rushes, and consequently had no cut until Jan. 2005, which left a small window for release.

Here’s a partial scorecard on what they got right (and what they changed):

• Everything in the house on the hill in Saint Jo is exact, right down to the floor plan. A slight ding for the master shot which shows the town of Saint Jo off in the distance, when the actual city was all around the hill. Jesse only had to walk a couple blocks to pick up newspapers to bring back to the rented house.

• The dates are right, and even the time of day is faithful to most of the events, however, they filmed in Canada in the fall, and the events surrounding Jesse’s demise took place in the spring, with his death in April.

• The Blue Cut train robbery is excellent, lots of people jostling in the cars, some not even speaking English. A passenger list was printed after the robbery showing the hometowns of victims and they list many far flung states and countries for the passengers.

• The costuming is excellent, with the movie makers often using actual 19th century clothes (Ron plays a reporter and said the costume designer “gave me a pocket watch even though it wouldn’t show. They just wanted us all to feel what it was like in 1882.”)

• The many wartime and outlaw injuries Jesse suffered from are much in evidence on actor Brad Pitt. As buffs know, the real Jesse was missing the middle digit of his left hand and Pitt wore a device that makes it appear his finger is clipped. A bath scene focuses on the outlaw’s body, documenting bullet wounds, mostly on his back, from the Civil War. One of the problems they had was that Brad is in too good physical shape to illustrate the broken down aspect of the real Jesse.

• Jesse and Frank wear bandanas over their faces in the Blue Cut Robbery (some reports stated “the leader” did not wear a mask), and the rest of the James Gang wear hooded sacks with eyeholes. The producers had a problem with this because in a key scene, one of the gang tells Jesse not to shoot the expresssman, (later Jesse kills the gang member) but he’s wearing a white sack over his head and viewers have a hard time making the connection. Still, the director insisted on erring on the side of historical accuracy.

• Weapons enthusiasts are harping about Jesse giving Bob Ford a pistol which Bob then dry fires (pulls the trigger on an empty chamber), a theatrical moment but gun afficionados claim that would hurt the firing pin and wouldn’t be done by real gun toters.

• Horse experts are criticizing a reference to an 85-miles in one day horseback ride, but Hansen says, in his defense that is the distance reported by several sources at the time of the event.

• There is a 25 years age difference between Sam Shepard (Frank James) and Brad Pitt, while Jesse and Frank were only a couple years apart, but no one has noticed this one.

And, for grins, here's a great photo of fellow-artist Jeff Prechtal's son Corey, who really resembles Jesse James, in my book:

"Silence is the only true religion in the world."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, September 20, 2007

September 20, 2007
Really strong buzz on the new Jesse James movie. The premiere was last Tuesday in New York (it opened in LA also and no released date here yet. They're hoping for good word of mouth evidently). Got a call back from Ron Hansen, the author of the book, the movie is based on. We want to do a sidebar on "What They Got Right" in the film. Evidently, quite a bit. I read an article Ron wrote on the Santa Clara College website, where he tells about, well, this:

"Alberta, Canada’s woodlands, prairies, the mountains near Banff, and the old-town streets of Winnipeg provide settings that look far more like 1880s Missouri, eastern cities, and Bob Ford’s final home in Creede, Colorado, than the authentic locations do today. Walking through the sets, I marveled at the details, with 'Thomas Howard’s' house at 1318 Lafayette Street in St. Joseph reconstructed exactly according to the architectural blueprint and furnished with real antiques from the period. I had a job as an extra one Wednesday afternoon—I played, without flourish, a journalist—and was costumed in some long dead man’s actual 19th-century frock coat, stiffly-collared shirt, and carefully brushed black bowler hat.

"Also, the corpse photographed and forensically examined in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1882 contained every injury, physical characteristic, and dental repair of the famous outlaw.

"Those injuries are much in evidence on actor Brad Pitt in the Warner Bros. film adaptation of my novel. Having grown up in Missouri, Brad was familiar with the glamorous but false representations of Jesse James and, like me, was intrigued far more by a historically accurate, psychologically acute, warts-and-all presentation of this shrewd, spellbinding, and improbably durable celebrity.

"My rules are fairly simple: honesty and fidelity throughout, meaning no hard facts, however inconvenient, may be dismissed and no crucial scenes, however wished for, may be turned to ends that may be more pleasing to a contemporary audience. In other words, I do not budge from the truth as I know it and I firmly root the novel in the 19th century in spite of 20th-century perceptions of what can and should be done or said. I relied primarily on period newspaper accounts, secondarily on histories, and not at all on the recollections of the descendants of family and eyewitnesses since those 'memories' are the most tinged by flattering interpretation.
—Ron Hansen

Here's the site for the entire article.

Last night I finally got to watch The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. I've had the Netflix DVD since before I went to Nicaragua, but our DVD player broke and I finally got the new one to work for me (I should say Kathy finally got the new DVD player to work for me) on. Enjoyed the film (I saw it when it came out in 1962 at the State Theatre in Kingman). The big steaks in the restaurant were just as big as I remember them, and Lee Marvin was just as bad (as in good) as I remembered. My Kingman Kompadre Andy Devine (the actor not the street) was quite good in a part that seemed written just for him. But the key quote, that gets played to death seemed kind of flat. Maybe because it's so over-used:

"This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
—Newspaperman, ripping up his notes on who really killed Liberty Valance
September 20, 2007
Gus Walker turned in "The Last Campaign: Jesse James Meets His Fate" map this morning (via the web). Very cool map, but then Gus always does cool maps. I'm on the home stretch for the Dick Liddil vs. Wood Hite fight. Need to check on the veracity of a Dick Liddil photo I have seen in recent years. It's a great photo, but sometimes these tricked out images (Liddil is holding a pistol) are too good to be true. McCubbin will know.

Geographic Film Ignorance, Part II
"You struck a nerve with me Bob, when you talked about Hollywood making a film in the area where it does not take place. Earlier this year Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee had its premiere in Rapid City, South Dakota. (It was filmed in Canada.) As luck would have it, I was one of the people hired to set up the screen and sound system for the show over at our Civic Center. When it was all over the Producers went back stage where I cornered one of them, a gal, and asked why they made this movie in Canada instead of South Dakota? She replied right away that it was cheaper to film there!!!!!! I said that I could understand that if they had actually come to South Dakota and scouted possible locations, and checked out how much the motel rooms are during the 'off season' (we did a film here in December called The Stone Child where the motel rooms were $30.00 per night with 2 people sleeping in 'em) and the availability of qualified crew!

"I would have known if they had come here as I'm on the Black Hills Film Commission.(The Boone's Lick people skipped us too.) Furthermore I said.....the plot of your film is that the Lakota people are constantly being screwed over for money.......and one of the few jobs the Indians ever get offered on a regular basis is playing extras in the occasional film job! So, I guys did it again , you screwed the Lakotas over for MONEY!!!!!!! She started sputtering about how HBO was planning to come to South Dakota and do some follow up Deadwood films but I said that doesn't help the Lakotas. I found out later that the cast & crew suffered through a very cold winter of filming, while we had one of our most mild winter seasons! And the location they picked looked like CANADA!!!!!!! They have the 7th Cavalry attacking at the Little Big Horn through a forest of pine trees! The Christmas film National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets was here to film at Mount Rushmore this Spring (I worked with the locations department) They planned to film for only 2 days....found out how reasonable the cost was and ended up shooting here for 2 weeks!!!!!!! The ending was supposed to be filmed in is now in South Dakota!"

"I didn't mean to go on and on, but I'm with you that more care should go into picking a location! And they should check into cost as well, some areas are very depressed when tourist season is over!"
—Jim Hatzell

South Dakota standing in for California? That's too rich (and that transformation doesn't bother me).

When I was a young and in a band I was very attracted to the hippie commune lifestyle. Why? Two reasons: free love and living off the land. It was, at least in my mind, a place where the Old West meets Surf City ("two girls for every guy"). But I was too shy and too provincial (read that "Kingman") to ever actually go partake in the fantasy, although I have friends who did, and, in fact, I actually married one of them.

So an article in the new Playboy caught my eye: "The Ranch: Full-grown children of a commune come to grips with the original green lifestyle." The author, David Black, spent time on a commune in the 1960s and for the article he went around the country interviewing former commune members and kids, now grown-ups, who were raised on a commune. Several traits of the former-commune-kids are fascinating: none of them has an iPod; they don't want to share, because they were forced to share everything in a hippie way when they were kids. Ha. Most still adhere to no TV, and suprisingly, to me, they prefer outdoor plumbing.

So, why are most of the communes defunct?

"No one was doing the cooking, the cleaning, the chores," said one ex-hippie. "It always came down to who would dump the garbage." Everyone wanted to sit around and come up with big ideas, but nobody wanted to actually do anything. Another old hippie added, "On a commune, you need people who know how to do things. And the problem is the ones who are not competent always take charge." That rings true in all walks of life.

Another problem was "shared money," as in "Hey, man, we're all going to share equally." This worked when the commune members were sharing government assistance, but when people got jobs and inherited property, it became, as one of them put it, "a farce."

So that leaves free love, but even that had a dark side, and the author was kicked out of his commune for daring to make a pass at an older woman who took offense. Sigh. Paraphrasing Paul Simon from his tune "Kodachrome", none of this reality can top my sweet little imagination.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Scientific American Somehow Makes Woman Feel Bad About Her Body

"If you took all the girls I knew when I was single, and put them together for one night. None of them would match my sweet little imagination, 'cause everything looks worse in black and white."
—Paul Simon, Kodacrhome

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

September 19, 2007
The fall curtain finally came down yesterday. Went out for a bike ride at six and had to return to the house to get long pants. Shivering. Must have been down in the lower sixties!


In case you didn't quite understand the context of the response from Fred Nolan in yesterday's post, here is the email that prompted Fred's response:

Kid Krazy Korrespondence, Part IIa.
"I didn't look for sloppy parts in your book, I just read it and liked the hell out of it, thank you for the good read. Sharpe is not a friend, we have only email a few times.

"Let me try to explain where I am in this;

"I look at life as a blessing that I get to enjoy from horseback, in Lincoln County. I've met some wonderful people because of Billy the Kid and I am grateful to the little guy. I met Boze, who I really enjoy and love his art and W.C Jameson who believes different but we've drank whiskey under the NM stars and he's a good friend. Joe Micalizzi who is a hoot and I've come to respect. I've met Bill Kurtis a film producer who has a side to him that makes me laugh and Jay Miller who has whipped me like a redheaded stepchild in the press but who I like. I also have had guys threaten to shoot me and I had someone shoot a round into my office. Does it get any more fun then that?

"I am not and never will be the researcher or historian that you are, you're not the investigator I am, we focused on different things, come at it from different angles. We see the same story from different eyes. We both have a skill that applies to this story.

"We know what you do and have done, here is what I bring to the dance. My whole investigative career I've been trained to look at a scene differently. I know that in every shooting there are inherent things that happen and it never fails. We know how the body reacts and why and what will happened in different situations. After doing the CSI at the courthouse I know what happened there, and why. I can tell you there were meaning to the words of the Kid when he said he "had" to shoot Bell and didn't want to.

"I have stood where Morton and Baker where shot down and think I can show you where their bodies are along with McCloskey. I have attached a picture of the spring. I can take you there. I would love to put together a bunch of us and go and throw it around what I know, what you know and solve this damn mystery. There are other places I'd like to take a team and do the CSI because evidence is still out there.

"I can show you what I believe happened Maxwell's house with Garrett and the Kid and show you something that left me wondering 'what in the hell', when the science was explained.

"You wrote, 'Although the proposition is impossible to prove, even the most conservative interpreter of the these events would conclude Poe and Garrett were covering up the truth.' pg XIV in the Garrett book. But the 'proposition' is not impossible to prove. I believe you are right in your belief I stand beside you in that belief. You saw it through the eyes of a historian in the documents, I saw it through the eyes of a cop in the evidence that you did not have available to you, but we come to the same conclusion from different angles.

"I want to put the guns down. We may see it differently but I do not wish to fight, I want to work. We seek the same truth. I hope someday to meet, talk. You know the Kid is laughing at us."
—Steve Sederwall

They got into this exchange after a guy reported on the location of the Sant Fe jail where Billy the Kid was held in 1880-81. Fred Nolan growled about "sloppy" reporting and the fact that it's been reported and known about long before, and Steve Sederwall (who is the prime mover behind the movement to dig up the Kid and once and for all decide where he's buried) responded. Hope that makes some Kid sense.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
My Daughter, Who Lives At 152 East Medgar St. Apt. 4, Can't Keep Her Damn Legs Crossed

Worked hard yesterday on the Outdoor Channel shoot, then came back to the office and had an editorial meeting with Meghan Saar and Jason Strykowski. Went over editorial calendar for next year.

Got home around seven, tired. Didn't want to do my six sketches but forced myself. Actually I was inspired by something I read in The New Yorker about Charlie Chaplin:

"Unless I write every day, I don't feel I deserve my dinner."
—Charlie Chaplin

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

September 18, 2007
Got a haircut from Bev last night ($20 cash). Caught up on the local gossip. One of my neighbors has admitted pumping 15,000 gallons of ground water a day to keep his horse arena dust free. Really disgusting to say the least.

Today we shot six episodes of a new segment for the Outdoor Channel. Tentative title: "The True West Gunfight of The Week." Taped across the street from the True West offices and at my studio. Finished at two and came back to the office.

George Joe, a Navajo publisher, dropped by yesterday to pick my brain about his publication (Res Biz). He has read my business bio and thought I might give him some advice and courage. A worthy project. He's attempting to give Native Americans examples of success and hope. I asked him what the name for hope is in Navajo, and told him that should be the title of his paper.

Music To My Ears
"My husband, John, and I went to see 3:10 to Yuma because it was in your magazine. We went with my brother and sister-in-law and really enjoyed it. Thanks for the mention since we NEVER go to the movies anymore."

More Kid Krazy Korrespondence
"I'm not asking for your journalist friend to be hanged, drawn and quartered. It's just there are things that irritate me and sloppiness is one of them. Mr. Sharpe was sloppy. So I feel at liberty to take him to task for it.

"I know that to the big wide world it doesn't matter a damn. If it isn't being used to wrap vegetables, the paper with his story in it is probably already being recycled. Maybe you're right and folks are shaking their heads and wondering why I bother. I don't care. Sloppy is still sloppy and false is still false and I'm not minded to apologise for saying so.

"I'm glad you liked the new book. Let me know if you find any sloppy bits in it."
—Fred Nolan

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Author Dismayed By Amazon Customers' Other Purchases

"Even a two-car parade gets fouled up if you don't decide ahead of time who's going to lead."
—Zig Ziglar

Monday, September 17, 2007

September 16, 2007
Worked all day yesterday on Al Sieber images. I wanted to sneak in a First Minnesota pin on his lapel. Al served with the First Minnesota and was severely wounded at Gettysburg on the second day. I had a photo of a gent wearing the pin, so I snuck it in. Not sure I captured Al's visage, but I like the steely eyes:

Also, more red and black color schemes in the sketch book (4,748 sketches):

A feature on the state of Arizona filmmaking in Sunday's Arizona Republic notes that director James Mangold wanted to film 3:10 To Yuma in Sedona, but the studio overruled him when they learned about New Mexico's generous production refund ("A 25 percent tax rebate on direct production expenditures and a zero-interest loan of up to $15 million for qualified productions). So 3:10 To Yuma, Arizona, went to New Mexico. One of the things I didn't like about the movie is that it was so obviously not Bisbee, Contention or Yuma. I guess one of the clues was all of the damn snow. Ha.

This is one of my pet peeves: I hate geographic ignorance in movies. Your typical Hollywood producer rationalizes: "If it's a Western, as long as it has mountains and rugged landscapes, the audience doesn't care. " To which, I would like to add, "Okay, then let's film a cop story that takes place in LA and most of it on the Sunset Strip, but let's film it in Albuquerque. They've got similiar streets there and the audience doesn't care." I predict, the typical Hollywood producer wouldn't buy that. Why? Because they live in LA and would never accept an anonymous street passing for Sunset Blvd. It would seem ridiculous to them. And that's exactly how we feel about the Taos area standing in for Bisbee.

Westerns held their own last night on the Emmy's with Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee winning Best Made-for-TV Movie, and Broken Trail won for Best Miniseries. Robert Duvall accepted and kind of seemed lost, or confused (the paper said it was a "rather awkward speech that was thankfully cut off by the band"), which unfortunately undermined the very victory we needed.

When we were in Ouray, Kim Darby told us a great story about Bob on the set of True Grit. The director, Henry Hathaway was a tirant and abused the crew and Ms. Darby, yelling at them, cussing them out, etc.. Robert Duvall was only there for two weeks so when they got ready to do his first scene, Hathaway barked at him, "I want you to stand with your left leg forward and your right back and say all of your lines just like that." To which the young upstart Duvall replied, "Who are you f***ing Martha Graham?" (Kim didn't put the expletive in). The two proceeded to get into a roaring fistfight which was broken up by John Wayne, who then demanded that the two apologize to Ms. Darby, and then The Duke apologized, as well, for the profanity he used while breaking up the fight. Is that too rich, or what?

I told Kim I had never heard this story and we would love to get more of her take on the movie for True West.

"Hi, I'm f***ing Martha Graham."
—Martha Graham, as quoted by Robert Duvall
September 15, 2007
Spent the weekend studying Remington, both his art and his writing. Ran across this:

Did Apaches Attack At Night, Part II
"Near midnight they could hear the slumping of occassional guns. The colonel well knew the Apache fear of the demons of the night, who hide under the water and earth by day, but who stalk at dark, and are more to be feared than white men, by long odds. He knew that they did not go about except under stress, and he had good hope of getting into the beleaguered wagons without much difficulty."

—Frederic Sackrider Remington, A Desert Romance: A Tale of The Southwest,

Friday, September 14, 2007

September 14, 2007 Bonus Bonus Blog
Our summer monsoon officially ended on Tuesday. We are all so relieved. It's only supposed to get up to 107 today. I went home for lunch and broke out the sweaters.

As of this post I have blogged 1,881 times. I take note of that number because it's an Old West milestone date (1881), in fact our phone number at True West is 575-1881 for that very reason. And, as of today I have sketched 4,736 images without missing a day. Looks like I'll soon be at the halfway mark to my goal of 10,000, which is kind of exciting. I guess you could call this Half-way to Suckless-ville.

Or, not.

Developing a nifty doubletruck ad for Mickey Free in the next issue. Here's a couple gouaches for that effort:

I Googled 3:10 To Yuma to see if we got any placement on hits (we didn't, at least in the first ten pages) and saw this lead, or headline:

"3:10 to Yuma: Not as Good as Brokeback Mountain, but Easily as Gay - The Huffington Post."

Evidently, some are seeing the Charlie Prince (Ben Foster) character as latenly gay, and a slam against upstanding homos everywhere. Frankly, I think he's the coolest guy in the whole flick.

"No one can be a pure specialist without being, in a strict sense, an idiot."
—George Bernard Shaw
September 14, 2007 Bonus Blog
More South of The Border Hat stuff. Kathy got her Snapfish photos back and I went through and culled all the headgear shots from Chile, Equador, Nicaragua and Guatamala. Here they are:

And, as is usual, there is a photo in the batch where I said, "Uh, Honey, care to explain the circumstances behind this picture?"

Something about "synchronized swimming", a "fund raiser" and "horny studs." Frankly, I don't want to know anything more than that.

Top Ten Westerns Comment
"Like your choice of movies but would have to add Tom Horn with Steve McQueen to the list. I liked Richard Farnsworth in that story. He always seemed to be so natural, like his playing Bill Miner in The Grey Fox.

"Wrote down a Chief Dan George quote that I read in the "Nk' mip Cultural Center" in Osoyoos B.C. this past summer. 'If the old will remember, the young will listen.'

"Back to westerns for a parting shot, I hate to see three movie cowboys doing the work of one. This happened over and over in the series Rawhide and also in Lonesome Dove. If the hands did this in real life more than half would be fired! They had ten men for 3,000 head on the trail, how could you ever get three in the lens at one time?

"On Tuesday we fly to Boston, then Washington, then Virginia,then South Carolina. I call this my non-cowboy vacation. All things Eastern! What better way to appreciate the west than going east."
—Bill Dunn

Oh, that is rich. And worth repeating:

"What better way to appreciate the west than going east."
—Bill Dunn
September 14, 2007
Got the word this morning from Gus Walker that cartoonist Phil Frank passed away Wednesday. Phil was the anchor of our Last Stand page and provided excellent Old West style cartoons for that highly ranked page in the magazine. Phil first saw True West at a guest ranch in New Mexico and had contributed cartoons ever since.

In his honor we are running a retrospective of his best cartoons (it was hard to choose!) in the next issue. We are also retiring Last Stand in his honor. It just wouldn't be the same without his "Frank History" cartoons. Here is a link to one of the obits.

"All things change; nothing perishes."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

September 13, 2007 Bonus Bonus Blog
Working late at the office on scripts for the new Classic Gunfights episodes to be taped next week with the Outdoor Channel.

Meanwhile, back at the Kid Krazy Korral, the Kid from Kapitan responds to Fred Nolan's broadside from the other day:

"The 'schmuck', is Tom Sharpe. He and I've met via e-mail. However, I have not had the pleasure of a face to face. As you asked, I've sent your email on to Tom so he would know the depth of his error.

"You didn't ask but as you know I've at last over come my shyness and will tell you I thought his article he wrote was a great read. He kept the story in the light. A light that sells your books, keeps Sumner floating in the desert, funds the small burg of Hico, generates web-sites, provides Boze with fodder every 12 months for record sales, gives the lonely something to talk about on the internet, provides hours of good entrainment, keeps me out of my wife's hair, and puts money in the coffers of New Mexico. The 'schmuck' put the story in the news last week, something you and I did not- we must work harder. My hat is off to him, I think he did a great job.

"Lighten up Fred, laugh a bit, cut back on the starch in your English shorts. We don't own the story, it belongs to those that paid for it with their blood. We just like it and get to sit around in big hats and talk about it. Why don't we have some fun, work together, this is not a yank your smokewagon situation.

"We need to laugh about this, laugh at our own silliness and mad pooched out lips over guys that had on idea it would still be a hot issue. This is not a cure for cancer, it's just guys with an interest and to much time on our hands sitting around talking about dead bandits. At one time you and I were inking the other up in the newspaper. Jay Miller has called me a 'varmint' and later we laugh as we had lunch together...(sorry, Jay if that ruins your rep). Life is good, New Mexico is beautiful, my horses is fat, and I'm writing this with a smile, so don't fire back snot, we can be friends. Evens and the Kid shook hands after busting caps at each other.

"This story has allowed me to see things that put goose-bumps on my neck, and I know that there is much more out there for us to find. Hell, let's do it. I hope I am alive to see all the questions answered but know that is not going to happen. As I have said in the past a good story has a beginning, middle and an end, but a great story has a beginning, middle and never ends. So goes the story of Billy the Kid.

"In closing I'd tell you I liked your new book, yes I paid retail and if I ever see you in Lincoln County I'll hold you hostage until you sign it. I wish you well my friend."
-Steve Sederwall; the Varmint
September 13, 2007 Bonus Blog
Haven't heard from my son Tomas in a while. Just got this last night from the mountains of Peru:

"So things are going pretty good here in the canyon. It's lonely as you can imagine but the people are nice enough and the scenery is beautiful. It's a distant cousin to Arizona actually. High and dry if you know what I mean. I got my room all set up. It's pretty comfy now. I have a speaker system that I hook my ipod up to and I bought another mattress for my bed. Ten bucks in C----- on market day. I also invested in an electric water boiler, a pocket knife with a spoon, fork, and bottle opener, a thermos and an extra blanket that I use as a rug.

"On the bus trip from A------ to the canyon I got sick, again. It was my second time getting echolai this month. Needless to say I puked out the bus window and seeing as how the sun had gone down it was cold out and the lady behind me said, 'close the window.' I said, 'estoy vomitando,' and she said 'oh,' and kept talking to her neighbor. The first day as I was recovering was a little overwhelming and I didn't want to nor did I leave my room much.

"Since I've gotten better I'm just trying to stay as busy as possible. Over the weekend I went and worked in the fields with my host dad. The rainy seasons coming up so everyone's planting their crops. The work was pretty rough and at 1:30 when we went to rest I was like, nice, time to eat. Oh no. They drank three glasses of Chicha, a fermented barley and corn drink, one of the glasses with ground corn mixed in and then shots of a local liquor called Caballo Viejo (probabley better named caballo muerto). Anyway, I couldn't hang and puked it all up while I was working.

"Today I went to the high school and introduced myself to the seniors and explained who I was and what Im doing here. Played some basketball and almost puked again. 11,200 feet! My chest was burning for a half an hour afterwards. Needless to say as of now Im healthy and my poops are regular.

"Could you guys forward this to Deena. Can't wait to see her in November."
-Thomas Charles Bell

Meanwhile, Kathy has ferreted out a Chicano Art Show (curated by Cheech, of Cheech and Chong fame) out in Mesa. We may go out this weekend, probably Saturday, and then land at a Mexican food joint. We haven't had much luck out there, but Kathy asked me to look in today's Arizona Republic, which featured a "Special Dining Section" on Mexico's Indepedence Day (which the writer, Howard S. claims we should celebrate as "Mexican Food Dependence Day." Clever, no?).

They listed the usual places, Barrio Cafe, Carolina's, San Carlos Bay, La Perla, all of them in the Phoenix core. But they did mention two we might visit. One is Los Dos Molinos on South Alma School, but the one that really got my attention is San Diego Bay Restaurant on 9201 Avenida del Yaqui in Guadalupe. I remember this authentic joint when we went there with Bart Bull, some two years ago. That gets my vote, "where fish tastes like it just jumped out of the water," and marlin tacos. Looking forward to that.

"I've sure gotten old! I've had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement, new knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes; I'm half blind, can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. Have bouts with dementia. Have poor circulation; hardly feel my hands and feet anymore. Can't remember if I'm 85 or 92. Have lost all my friends but, thank God, I still have my driver's license!"
-The mayor of Sun City
September 13, 2007
Still swirling amid the rumors that I was called to consult on the Western 3:10 To Yuma (see posting, below), so it came as a mild shock to find out that someone in the True West family had, in fact, been contacted and contributed to the historic accuracy of the number one film in America:

Like Remington: He Knew The Whores
"I have not seen 3:10 To Yuma yet but will soon. I am curious about the whorehouse scene. I was, so to speak, a consultant on that particular part. A young lady called me many months back here in Santa Fe and announced, 'I understand you are an authority on whorehouses.' The abruptness set me back a bit before I could answer, 'Sure, do you want to know where the best ones are?' Not really... thank goodness she continued to explain that she was a 'set designer' or some such thing for a movie then being filmed in Santa Fe, 3:10 to Yuma. She had been told that I had photos of whorehouses (what I call, more delicately, Parlor Houses) of the Old West. She came out and had a look at some photos of inside and outside of such places, plus a number of the ladies themselves, copies of which I provided her. She was impressed and asked if she could bring her boss out, which she did a few days later. Believe it or not, she then called and asked me to send an invoice for my time. And, even more unbelievable, they paid me! I must admit I was impressed by their desire to get things right. I've got to see the movie to see if I can detect any influence I might have had on their whorehouse, a distinction I will long proudly cherish."
—Bob McCubbin

I assured Bob, his fingerprints are all over those scenes. Speaking of whores, The Top Secret Writer asked me yesterday to send him my top ten favorite Westerns (as reference for his Boston Globe piece perhaps?). I dashed the following off, and it was some fun. Here's my list:

1. McCabe & Mrs. Miller: a, light-weight guy tries to get into the game and play with the big boys and his naive bluffing gets him killed. His girlfriend tries to warn him, but he doesn't listen. If this doesn't sum up life in modern America I don't know what does. Plus, I love weather in movies and the snow in this picture is a character (although slightly fake at the ending, but I don't care. The director left it in, over the objections of his AD, who warned him there would be continuity problems because the real snow would melt and it did, so they double-exposed falling snow over the film and it isn't very good, but like I said, I don't care).

2. One-Eyed Jacks: the first half of this movie is perfect. Seduction, betrayal, great horses and hats. It doesn't get any better than this. Unfortunately, it has a second half, and ends by the sea, and subsequently sinks like a fat, glob of spit.

3. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid: witty and accurate enough. If only every Western could be this good looking and fun.

4. Treasure of The Sierra Madre: gringos, greed and Mexico. Everything still stands today (I'm talking plot points and the blatant metaphors).

5. True Grit: wonderful language, superior, in my book, to Deadwood—in eloquence. Plus, two of the greatest lines ever: "That's bold talk for a one-eyed fat man," and "Fill your hands you son-of-a-bitch!" I double-dare you to name two better lines of dialogue in a Western.

6. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: over the top caricatures, unmatched music and operatic brilliance in every shot. Eastwood has never attained this iconic stature in any of his subsequent films, especially those he directed. And by the way, f*** Unforgiven. I am so tired of hearing about that overrated, dark piece of s**t.

7. The Outlaw Josey Wales: Okay, I lied (did Eastwood direct this?). This is the best Saturday afternoon Western ever made.

8. Little Big Man: Indians are funny? Yes they are! What a concept! Gay Indians, stud misogynist Indians? (Chief Dan George: "I had a white woman one time. She just layed there.") A brilliant send-up of the entire genre, and more accurate than almost everything on this list. A breath of fresh air in a politically correct world.

9. The Wild Bunch: the good-bad-man has never had more convincing grinding angst than in this little gem. I wish I could include "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid" but this film puts that one so far in the shade it's embarrassing.

10. Lonseome Dove: not really a "movie" but who cares. "Just once I'd like to be robbed by an educated man." and "I'd rather be hung by my friends than a bunch of strangers," are just two lines out of a forest of excellent dialogue. Duvall is very good, but Tommy Lee's accent (just the way he says, "Fort Worth" is fantastic) and his Hell Bitch riding (allegedly one of his polo ponies) make his portrayal my favorite cowboy performance, ever.

Still working hard on the Dick Liddil vs. Wood Hite gunfight. Finished T. J. Stiles' book, Jesse James: Last Rebel of The Civil War last night. I'm also perusing several other James-related bios, including:

The Trial of Frank James For Murder: With Confessions By Dick Liddil and Clarence Hite and History of The 'James Gang' , forward by James D. Horan

The Man Who Shot Jesse James by Carl W. Breihan

Jesse James Was His Name, by William Settle

Can't wait to see the film now. Heard from Henry Beck that they include the Liddil-Hite shootout and the Blue Cut Train Robbery. Both will be in the next Classic Gunfights. Plus, and here we are back to the beginning, we are running Bob McCubbin's great photos of Robert Ford holding the pistol he used to kill Jesse and the photo of Jesse propped up after death. The photographer had to tie a rope to him because every time he propped Jesse up, and ran to the camera, the outlaw King would slide down onto the floor. The photographer made a ton of money selling these prints for 50 cents each, I beleive.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Congress Relieved To Admit It's Not Going To Accomplish Anything This Year

"It's scary when you start making the same noises as your coffee maker."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

September 12, 2007 Bonus Blog
Shifting gears now to get ready for the next issue which will be on Jesse James. I'm doing the Wood Hite vs. Dick Liddil gunfight. Aren't those names great? Mark Boardman has been scoring me some excellent source materials. Apparently, the new movie The Assasination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford features this fight. Lots of good buzz on the movie which is coming out in the next three weeks. Curious why it has been delayed by a year. The good news is that since it's coming out on the tail of 3:10 to Yuma, the media is all over it (The Return Of The Western?). Interestingly, they are including No Country For Old Men which is a modern Western, as part of this wave. But, none the less, the trio is being perceived as somehow planned, when these projects have been bouncing around in development for three or more years. Coincidence has more to do with the timing than anything, but we really shouldn't be looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Meanwhile, my Zane Bro Pard, Wonderful Russ has been interviewed by one of the former members of The Meat Puppets. Interesting interview about Phoenix free-form radio in the 1970s. There is a painful episode discussed that involves me, regarding National Lampoon and a certain writer and editor. Russ tells it very fair. Still makes me cringe though. Here's the link:
September 12, 2007
The Top Secret Writer has been commissioned to write an op-ed piece for the Boston Globe on "The Return Of The Western." Every ten years or so, this headline seems to resurface, again and again. But that's not the only thing that's cyclical:

Fred Nolan Reacts To The Santa Fe Jail Location Article
"Amazing how people keep rediscovering stuff that was old hat years ago. Seems like if you don't make a fuss about what you've found, all you're doing is leaving a headline for someone else to grab.

"And will someone please tell the schmuck who wrote the story that Tunstall and McSween indubitably met and more than probably ate at Herlow's Hotel, not the Exchange. That information was in my biography of JHT [John Henry Tunstall] published over fifty years ago.

-Fred Nolan

Yes, it seems as if each generation (mine included) rediscovers something that has been dug up multiple times and says, "Wow! Look what I found!"

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Oysters Have No Discernible Effect On Date

"Remember: You don't stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11, 2007 Bonus Blog
Got a weird call from my artist compadre Buckeye Blake. He told me he was working in his remote Texas art studio this morning when he heard a distant cry. "Sounded like a Siamese cat," he told me. An hour later, he heard it again, and went out to investigate.

Buckeye is the artist who created the sculpture "The Wake of Billy the Kid." You know, the one that shows the Kid stretched out in his funeral clothes, on a bench, after Pat Garrett sent him to hell. And this is the one he was supposed to install at the Kid gravesite in Fort Sumner, until the Kid Krazy Krowd over there went, well, Krazy, and threatened to destroy it if he even attempted to install it. The sculpture now resides in a horse trailer at the edge of Buckeye's property.

When Buckey couldn't find anything, he checked inside the trailer, where he found a jet black goat, stone dead, curled up underneath the sculpture. How it got there, he has no idea. When I asked him if someone might have placed it there, he scoffed, saying, "No, I live way out in the middle of nowhere."

Buckeye told me the hairs on his neck were standing straight out and he had goosebumps from the weirdness of it all. As some of you might know, I used the symbol of skeleton goats throughout my illustrated bio of the Kid, to mark when participants in the Lincoln County War were murdered. This symbol of death (poached from the Mexican Day of The Dead skeletons) is a powerful sign, and the fact that it was found under a sculpture of El Cabrito (The Kid, or, The Goat) is mighty spooky.

Buckeye then asked me what I thought of 3:10 To Yuma and we chatted about the flick and then he told me he had heard a rumor that the movie producers had called me before they started but I told them I was too busy.

I told him that is ridiculous. We laughed. Buckeye ventured this is how the crazy stories get started and become legends. I asked him if he wanted to trade legends. I'll take the black goat story and he can have the 3:10 to Stiffing The Studio story. He declined. He said when he told artist Thom Ross the goat story, Thom said, "I wish that had happened to me." Proving once again, that we are all Kid Krazy. And beyond all hope.

"The nice thing about being senile is you can hide your own Easter eggs."
-Old Vaquero Saying
September 11, 2007
Strong memories of this day in 2001. I was going over the Jesse James escape route, after the Northfield bank robbery, with Jack Koblas at his home outside Minneapolis, Minnesota when the phone rang. It was a friend of Jack's telling him to turn on the TV.

And this month marks my eighth year at the helm of True West magazine. Quite a ride and I look forward to the next eight, and the eight after that, assuming I get the time.

Jeff Hildebrandt and the Westerns Channel are set to broadcast 100 hours of Gene Autry. Check it out here.

Billy the Kid’s jail site in Santa Fe has once and for all been confirmed, thanks, in part, to a photo and a map in my Billy book. See it here.

On the trip back to Cave Creek on Sunday, Jason and I stopped in Telluride. Jason was there the previous week to attend the Telluride Film Festival. He viewed some 14 films in three days and got to chat with legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog and Sean Penn among others. Our first stop was Between The Covers Bookstore, where I bought four books ($105, Sue account):

"Into The Wild," by Jon Krakauer, which has been made into a film, directed by Sean Penn. This is a book about a brilliant boy who graduated with honors, severed all ties with his family, gave away his car, burned his money, and criss-crossed the West with a new identity, ended up in Alaska where he came to a tragic and sad end—his body found and a journal. He has become a legend, with some hating him as a crackpot, and others as a courageous soul.

"Persepolis 2" and "Chicken With Plums" by Marjane Satrapi, an Iranian graphic novelist, who was also at the Telluride Film Festival. Her graphic novel has been made into an animated French film (the French love her).

"Historic Telluride: In Rare Photographs," by Christian J. Buys. Great photos of nineteenth century Telluride and I'm always a sucker for these kinds of books (I own hundreds).

We walked around town, had lunch at Baked In Telluride (heavy on the Baked, as in being stoned, a throwback to the old Hippie days of Telluride). It was in this famous bakery where we did a remote (on the road) KSLX morning show back in the early nineties. The table where we did the show from, was still there. Srong memories of a cold and snowy January morning. We started broadcasting at five in the morning and we went outside with a phone pack and did Tom Greene style ambush interviews. Amazing. Had an avacado sando. Very good. Sat outside and chatted up an English couple "on holiday." The woman was a handfull and kept regaling us with English slang. For example, she claimed that "a Bonnie Lass Toolie" was a good looking woman. She was a hoot. Liked her immensely. Not sure of the exact word order there, but I figure Fred Nolan will correct me.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
133 Dead As Delta Cancels Flight In Midair

"My memory's not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory's not as sharp as it used to be."

Monday, September 10, 2007

September 10, 2007 Bonus Blog
The interview I did last week with the Washington Post, ran yesterday. Thanks to Sherry Monahan, you can read it here.

Sherry goes on to say, "you have to be a registered user, but it’s free." Meanwhile, Sherry has a new show appearing on the History Channel. Here's the info for that:

"I’ll be the co-host/investigator for an episode of Lost Worlds. The show is called, Lost Worlds: Sin City of the West, and it’s about Deadwood, S.D. We are looking for the city before the great fire. It airs on the History Channel on September 19, 2007 at 9:00 p.m. E.S.T."
—Sherry Monahan

We need your opinions on our annual Best of The West Reader's Poll. Do your artistic friends a favor and weigh in on the best talents and artisans in our great region. We don't want to miss the great ones, and we're counting on you to bring them to our attention. Go vote by clicking right here.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Wrongly Imprisoned Man Won't Shut Up About It

"Not the fruit of experience, but experience itself, is the end."
—Walter Pater
September 10, 2007
Home from a long road trip. Ten hours each way. Left the beautiful Beaumont Hotel in Ouray (pronounced "You-Ray") at about eight-thirty. Stopped in Ridgeway to pick up our True West banner, then drove over Dollar Pass, stopping at a doctor's cabin who we met at the True Grit Days event on Saturday. Great filming site, with spectacular views all around. The good doctor, James Kornberg, has excellent knowledge on Old West remedies and medicine. I want him to do a segement, or answer column in True West. For example we talked about Peter Fonda's character in 3:10 To Yuma getting gut shot in the opening sequence and then, not only surviving, but riding a horse several hours later! The Doc told us in extreme detail what would have happened to him if he had been shot in the upper intestines, or the lower. With either he would have gone into shock. Anyway, that is a cool column idea and I look forward to his contributions.

Speaking of 3:10 I challenged someone to defend the ending, and here are two excellent takes on it:

Warning: Spoiler Alert!
"Russell Crowe's character finally meets a man he can admire....a man of his word. He see this man gunned down at his moment of triumph in front of his own....equally heroic son. He turns his gun on his own men, his rescuers, and kills them all and then gets on the train to complete the bargain as the rancher's son watches. Now the flip side is......he never intends to go to the Yuma prison, hence the whistle for his horse. Also he explained in the good King's English more than once that he is a BAD man....and killing all of his own gang made good fiscal sense splitting up the money wise."
—Jim Hatzell

And Here's Another Good Take On The Film
"In the interests of full disclosure, I never cared for the original nor the source short story (and I mean short). Part of it is I never cared for the Western sub-genre I call High Nooners. One man versus the circumstances and getting no help from nobody. Hate it. The other problem I have with the original movie is that I could never suspend disbelief long enough to let the story take me in. Rob a stage, then go into town, meet soiled dove, get caught, then a confusing series of feints and deceptions that hurts my head, culminating with Glen Ford killing Richard Jaeckel (sp).

"The remake accomplishes much of the the same, only instead of a normal stage robbery we see them chasing the war wagon (why didn't they just ambush and kill the horses as they rode past?). Once past this tank sequence I am supposed to believe Peter Fonda as some sort of law enforcement officer. Who BTW, gets gut shot and is up and about in no time. I could go on. The film works as a film, acting superlative, casting ditto, and magnificent cinematography--maybe the best since DANCES WITH WOLVES (But what is up with the weather? In cut aways it is cloudy, then clear, rain and then snow?). The Apache scene was nicely done with a large flame and much smoke coming from the Indians' longuns.

"In short, I liked it. Better than any recent oater fodder (except for the gunfight scene in THE OPEN RANGE and the director's cut of THE MISSING). Material culture gets a C- and it could be worse but the occasional correct saddle appeared and the "Doc" character was almost perfectly dressed. As to the hardware, Phil S. and others are much better than me.

"The ending which seems so confusing (again it is difficult to suspend disbelief) was sacrificial. That part of Wade's past that lacked a childhood (but at least had read the Good Book my Jack Lutheran pard), and saw a sense of normalcy in Dan's family and perhaps himself in the eldest boy determined to give the son a father to be proud of (after all it was just to put him on the train--nobody said he had to stay there). This is stolen when the gang guns down Dan at the depot, angering Wade who executes his men for their sins. Then he exits the stage by stepping into the car, turning what small lamp of knowledge or connectivity over the son (sort of a Frenchified Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon). He exits willingly to jail, but of course we know he has escaped twice before and at the last minute whistles for his horse who follows the train at a gallop. Something might be afoot around the bend.

"3:10 TO YUMA opened to a decent Friday leading the pack with a modest 4.5 Million opener [it ended the weekend with 14.5 mil]. Reviews are strong and this will probably creep into the solid three digits by Sunday afternoon. Not bad for an estimated budget of 50 Million. Whether or not this is the anticipated return of The Western I have no idea."
—Alan Huffines

Paul Hutton saw the movie this last weekend with his kids and he says they loved it. He would have made one change in the ending. He would have had the demonic henchman, Charlie Prince, turn his revolver on the boy, and then Russell Crowe's character's ultimate action (wiping out his gang) would have made more emotional sense. I agree. Paul is a genius at this kind of stuff.

The Tally, So Far, For The Auditions For Mickey's Mom
"I think in considering the way Mickey’s mom looked you need to be realistic about her lifestyle. what foods she probably ate and what kind of work, exercise and stress were involved in raising three sons in a hostile environment."
—Gus Walker

"I vote for Indio Chunky. My wife is Apache and after a couple of kids. Chunky best describers her....I love ever ounce tho."
—Unkle Sherm

"If you have another potential hot babe in your story, make her Indio-chunky. If not, make her J-Lo hot. You need a hot babe somewhere if you want to sell to teenage boys. Not to mention slightly older distinguished gentlemen like myself. Yeehaw!"
—Mark Kilburn, Maniac 235

"I vote for Indio Chunky. I think that is the best balance of all. Hot is fine but not too realistic while you still need to keep the visual aspect in a positive. Besides, I think that's the best of the three drawings.
—Scott Matula, Art Specialist

"While the stereotype of the 'chunky' Latina is also overused, it might also not be correct in a time when food was pretty scarce for poor people. J-Lo hot would certainly attract younger aficionado’s. I know my 20’s son is really into graphic novels and comics and that would attract him."
—Jim Holden, Weston, FL

"Indio chunky."
—Mary Fiore

“My vote, #1 Frida Lean. My x is not Apache, but Amer-asian...and attacks all hours of the day...till this very day.”

And for what it's worth, my Kathy votes for "Frida lean." She said she likes her intensity of spirit.

Lot's of road time (20 hours in the car) this weekend, but I feel like I learned quite a bit. Hmmmm, I wonder what Patricia has to say about that?

"Any road is bound to arrive somewhere if you follow it far enough."
—Patricia Wentworth