February 13, 2008 Bonus Bonus Blog Post
Meghan Saar, our managing editor, just forwarded me this letter we got today and I had to share it:
"Picked up True West magazine at the library for the Tommy Lee Jones interview, then enjoyed the magazine more than I expected. Pulls no punches about our country's history, including Mistakes Made.
"Re 'Gut shot': one movie which handled the gut wound truthfully was Will Penny. A young man is gut shot, and expected to die. Rather than moving him, he is left in the wagon where he is comfortable, despite the bitter cold. A kindly saloon keeper promises his party he'll keep the young man in all the corn liqour he can drink, and out of pain, until he passes on. The party moves on, never expecting to see him alive again.
"Later, during an ambush, the young man shows up -- admittedly still a bit rickety -- and holds his own, much to the surprise of his party. But the story works because bitter cold will keep off infection, and no infection or virus can stand up to alcohol. The cold and the booze and the lack of food or water gave the hurt man's gut time to turn around and start healing.
"Whether or not this would work every time, it's still handled with much more realism -- including recognition that a gut wound was usually mortal -- than is often portrayed today."
—Donna Barr, Clallam Bay, WA
I love this letter for multiple reasons: It's a woman (70% of our readers are male), she found it at the library, she lives in the Northwest, she likes Tommy Lee Jones and the interview. She likes our new column Frontier Doc, she has an excellent example of another movie that portrays someone being "gutshot," in an authentic way.
I'm telling you, if I wasn't happily married, I'd be truckin' on up to Clallam Bay, Baby!
""It has become fashionable in our modern, more cynical time to re-examine our history, to throw a supposedly new light on those who are famous for their accomplishments, to instead expose their faults, to topple the statue of the hero, to replace the honor and respect with the sensational and the shameful, as though it were the only meaningful way these characters can be relevant to today's world.
"I most adamantly disagree. That we know so much about these characters today is a testament to their accomplishments, their extraordinary achievements, and yes, their astounding heroism. That they can so easily become targets is a testament to their humanity. They are, after all, so very much like us. Measuring their behavior with the crystal clarity of hindsight, with twenty-first-century standards and judgments, is a convenient and cynical shortcut to learning history, but it does little to help us understand their character and why they deserve to be not only remembered, but revered."
—Jeff Shaara, writing in the preface to Rise to Rebellion, Ballantine Books, New York
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