Thursday, July 31, 2008

July 31, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Just got back from a dental appointment. Still reeling from the campaign news:

Yo Mama Obama!
Just when I thought the presidential campaign could not get any weirder, the news comes down that Obama is related to Brad Pitt, Dick Cheney and Wild Bill Hickok! Hey, if I saw this in a movie, I wouldn't believe it. For someone like myself, who loves the Wild West, this is Christmas Day on sterioids. First of all, Brad Pitt played Jesse James in a great new film and now Obama claims lineage to the greatest gunfighter in the entire West. And, to cap it off, Dick Cheney shot a lawyer in the face. I couldn't make up anything more fantastic. With those kinds of genes coursing through Obama's mama, straight to him, how could anyone doubt his foreign policy credentials?

When the facts become Old West weird, print the legend.

"Wait for me, Wild Barack!"
July 31, 2008
Oh, this is rich:

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Barack Obama is claiming a link to the Wild West — Wild Bill Hickok, to be precise.

The Democratic presidential candidate came to this town on the edge of the old West on Wednesday and laid down a challenge for his GOP rival.

"If Sen. McCain wants a debate on taxes in this campaign, I'm ready," Obama said, noting that Hickok is said to have fought a duel here. "I'm ready to duel John McCain on taxes right here, quick draw," Obama said before closing the loop with Hickok.

"The family legend is that he is a distant cousin of mine. I don't know if it's true but I'm going to research it."

It's not just legend, says Chris Child, a genealogist with the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Hickok is sixth cousin to Obama's fourth great-grandfather, Jacob Dunham, Child said. Their common ancestor is Thomas Blossom, who arrived with the Pilgrims. The society earlier found other notable links to Obama, including Brad Pitt, of Springfield; and Vice President Dick Cheney.

—Compiled by Mike Glover

I'm researching the Wild Bunch and the capture of Elzy Lay for the next Classic Gunfights episode. Looking through Jeff Burton's excellent book "The Deadliest Outlaws," I found this description of the saddle Tom Ketchum was riding when he was captured near Folsom, New Mexico:

Black Jack’s Saddle
A “high-forked, centerfire, full stamped, with twenty-eight inch tapaderos and buckskin pockets”. He also had an elaborately-woven Navajo blanket. A San Angelo, Texas saddler, Mose Taylor, apparently made Black Jack’s saddle.

Another amazing find is the fact that Elzy Lay, who was severely wounded at the Turkey Creek Canyon fight, was still wearing the same blood soaked shirt when he was captured over a month later! Lay took one bullet in the chest and another in the shoulder, at the Turkey Creek fight with Cimarron lawmen. The two rifle bullets knocked him unconscious. Amazingly, the two bullets went "through and through" meaning they didn't strike his heart or other organs. Man, what are the odds of getting a bullet in the chest and shoulder and not only live, but with little medical help, be up and around within two weeks? And, riding 300 miles to southeast New Mexico, where he was captured at a cow camp east of Carlesbad. He even put up a hell of a fight in that encounter.

This is one of those authentic episodes in the life of Old West outlaws that would be hard to take in a Western movie. It reminds me of Peter Fonda, getting gutshot, at the beginning of 3:10 To Yuma and then riding a horse a day or two later. Dr. Jim Kornberg, our Frontier Doc, did an entire column on the dubiousness of this portrayal, but hey, Elzy really puts it back within the realm of possibility.

And, yes, my family claims a connection to Black Jack Ketchum. My mother's oldest sister, Sadie Pearl, married Tap Duncan's son, and one of the Duncan girls married into the Ketchum clan. This is the outlaw connection that drove my mother crazy because I was always telling anyone that would listen that we were related to outlaws. Ha. Funny, what we take pride in.

"If you can't make it better, you can laugh at it."
—Erma Bombeck

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July 30, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
I saw an obit last week that cracked me up. Just now got around to writing this up:

Where Does Evil Personified Retire?
Last December I posted an item about Cormac McCarthy’s Academy-Award winning film No Country For Old Men. A blogger, K. Bowen, wrote a juicy post claiming that there is an amazing coincidence between the evil, bad guy in the film, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) and a real drug dealer in El Paso in the eighties named Jimmy Chagra. Bowen noted that Cormac lived in El Paso in the eighties and the suspicion is he corrupted the name of a real bad guy and came up with Evil Personified—Anton Chigurh.

In the climax to the movie, Chigurh survives a nasty T-bone crunching auto accident and limps off down the street, presumably to reek havoc in the future. But, where did he end up?

Wonder no more. Living under the name James Madrid (widely believed to have been placed there by the Federal Witness Protection Program), Jimmy Chagra died of cancer at 63. He was living in a trailer camp in Mesa, Arizona.

Where does Evil Personified go to retire? Why, Mesa, Arizona of course.

And yes, Mesa Chamber, you can use that in your future promotions and I won't charge you a dime.

If you missed it, the film will show on Encore in August:

No Country for Old Men Early Premiere
Academy Award®- winning film premieres on Starz On Demand 33 days before its linear premiere on Starz.

"In the aftermath of a desert shootout, a man finds $2 million in cash - and is pursued by the local sheriff and a psycho-killer hit man. Winner of four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Bardem) and Best Director."

"Misfortunes one can endure. But to suffer for one's own faults? Ah! There is the sting of life."
—Oscar Wilde

July 30, 2008
Busy morning. Got a haircut from my neighbor Bev at 6:45 ($20 cash, includes tip). The last time she cut my hair she said, "I think that heart attack shrunk your head." This time she said, "You've got some muscle tone. Must be the workouts." I took that as improvement.

I do feel too skinny. When we were at Hutton's home in Albuquerque last weekend, Richard Ignarski, The Gunfighter Artist, greeted me with "Hey, you bag of bones." I weigh almost what I weighed in high school (165 vs. 173). I'd like to get back up to 180, but it's hard to put on weight when you stay on your diet.

Being naturally skinny all my life (one of my aunts would say to my mother right in front of me, "Bobbie, isn't he too skinny?") I've always eaten anything I wanted. Not any more. But, hey, I had 61 years of a fat-free ride.

After the haircut I drove down to cardio rehab (18 miles) and had a great workout, then met Theresa of Tri Star Publishing to sign several cases of books. She brought a table and chair and we set up shop in a parking space around back of the medical building. She's getting set to go into a fifth printing of my Wyatt book. Amazing. That book just keeps on selling. I wonder if it has anything to do with the naked photo of Josie in the front?

Note to self: do more nudes.

Second note to self: actually paint them as well.

After the book signing I went down to the emissions inspection station on 40th Street. My Ranger flunked emissions last time because of a faulty engine light on the dash board. It took my mechanic, Eric from 24-Hour-Car-Care, four tries to get the dang thing fixed, but I sailed through the test this morning and the attendant said, "for someone with a 1997 Ford Ranger with 112,000 miles on it, congratulations."

So I've got that going for me as well.

Kathy and I are leaving for South America on Monday. Going mainly to see Thomas Charles, but while in Peru, I'm dragging everyone over Lake Titicaca to see the exact spot where Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid cashed in at San Vicente, Bolivia. It's the 100th anniversary of their alleged demise and I want to be there. Of course, I had to ask the Man who actually dug them up, what to see and here's his first reply:

Butch & Sundance Itinerary
"You start in Arequipa, right? Arequipa's my favorite city in all of Peru. Don't miss the cuy.

"Are you taking the boat across the lake, is that it?

"There's now a $500 a night hotel south of Puno, on the Acora Peninsula -- Inkaterra if you want to Google it -- down the road from Chucuito, where I served part of my PCV service.

"Chucuito is a lovely town, dating back to the Inca empire, so it has a smattering of Inca and colonial ruins, and because its on a promontory, the loveliest view of the lake. Also, there's a B&B there run by a Peruvian couple.

"Bolivia, I assume you are getting a jeep & driver in La Paz to haul your party down south & back. It's the only sensible way to go if you're on a limited schedule. Otherwise you'll spend all you're time waiting for buses or stranded by strikes.

"In Tupiza, Beatriz & Fabiola at Tupiza Tours can show you around. There's a museum, and structures from the 19th century -- Chajrahuasi, the Aramayo mansion; the prefectura & correo on the main plaza; Dr. Eguia's home & office, also on the plaza. Seek out Felix Chalar Miranda, a local historian & school teacher & nice guy. He's the resident BC&SK buff.

"Bolivian food is rather ho-hum, but don't miss chairo, a beef & vegetable soup (if made right, chairo has chu~nos, freeze dried potatoes); sajta de pollo, a chicken stew; and lenguado, severely cooked beef tongue. The hot sauce, which in some restaurants you have to ask for, is llajua. YA-wha. The only epicurean phrase you need to learn is, 'mas llajua por favor.'"
—Dan Buck

"P.S. Oh, and in San Vicente, do not tell the miners that the bones they have on display don't belong to BC&SK. They might throw dynamite at your jeep. On second thought, go ahead. An Andean thrill no one should pass up is having your vehicle pelted with dynamite -- they're only half-sticks, called chorros (puppies). The worst that happens is your windows get blown out."

A Final Word From Fred
“Did you hear Ruidoso is underwater? Who said there isn't a God?”
—Fred Nolan

"A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at them."
—David Brinkley

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

July 29, 2008
When I dropped out of college in 1969, six units shy of a degree, I made a vow to my parents I would someday go back and finish. I told Kathy last weekend that I better get going on that commitment, so she wrote to the Transcripts Department at the University of Arizona to get my grades and classes taken. Got them in the mail yesterday. I have completed 120 units and at that time needed 126 to graduate. As I have mentioned here before, I did indeed flunk Art History four different times, including World Art History in my freshman year; African Art in my senior year; and a couple others in between. Really embarrassing, but what's even more shameful is I got a D in illustration in my Junior year! Below average? Are you kidding me? Well, I had this teacher (Mr. Heldt) who didn't like me and thought my drawings were too "underground" (my heroes were R. Crumb and S. Clay Wilson of Zap comics fame). Heldt was a Madison Avenue commercial artist in his former life and we didn't see eye to eye on anything. His claim to fame was he redesigned the Morton Salt girl package, taking the product logo from an illustration to a silhouette. I, of course, raised my hand and offered that I liked the old illustration better.

Not the smartest move in class, but, hey, I was being honest. And, forty years later, I still think it's true. The silhouette girl with the umbrella trailing salt is clean, but the 1930s style illustration is warmer and has more personality.

My next step is to contact a counselor and see what credits still survive (I don't think the four units of ROTC (Army Reserve Officer Training, a mandatory class in my day) will apply. Besides, I got four Ds in ROTC and then the next year they killed the requirement (the Vietnam War was hotter than hell by '68). One of the reasons for the Ds is I was playing drums in a rock band at the Body Shop, a strip club just outside the gates at Davis Monthan Airbase and I got home at two in the morning and the ROTC classes were at 7:40 A.M. plus, I hated wearing those cardboard pants and the c---- (rhymes with runt) cap on campus. Other than that, I think I would have made a fine student soldier.

More Exits Exit Response
"Reading the Las Vegas Review Journal yesterday, I was surprised to read about your close call, but was delighted to read a snippet about my old friend and teacher, Kathy Radina. I cannot believe you have been married 29 years, but of course, it was a long time ago that I lived in Phoenix, went to Moon Mountain Elementary, and later waited on you two at Manuel’s Mexican Food on Cave Creek Road during my ASU days. I am glad you are feeling better. Please send my regards to Kathy. She would better remember me as Karen Cimaglia. "
—Karen Luna

"Set your boundaries and then press against them."
—Debbie Payne, yoga instructor

Monday, July 28, 2008

July 28, 2008
It was 29 years ago today that I drove out to Pioneer, Arizona to get hitched in the Broken Dream Saloon (or, was that the name? can't remember now). Carole Compton Glenn was the maid of honor and Daniel Harshberger was the best man. Hans Olson played "Arizona" and the rock n' roll judge, Harold Lee, married us. I told Kathy this morning I'm more proud of this achievement than anything I've ever accomplished.

Feedback on the Exits Exit continues to pour in. Just got off the phone with Charlie Aldrich, 87, of Vegas, former stuntman at Corriganville and the road manager for Clint Walker (Cheyenne on TV). Charlie read the piece and had to call. He's a longtime True West subscriber and friend of Joe Small, our founder. Great guy. Really made my day talking to him. Here are a few comments off the Review Journal website:

Catherine Lamb wrote on July 28, 2008 04:56 AM: "Sitting in Sweden and reading the article, but this makes me feel as if I were there. Thanks, a great piece."

Trudy (Peart) Burrus wrote on July 27, 2008 08:47 PM: "Charlie, I'm glad you wrote this. It's a fitting tribute to all. We are so lucky -- in so many ways."

John Pemberton wrote on July 27, 2008 07:01 PM: "Bugs, You capture the best in all your friends! God Bless you, your family and our amigo Booze!!!"

Terry Lavely wrote on July 27, 2008 09:24 AM: "It is really nice to read something in the newspaper that makes you feel good, as opposed to most of the doom and gloom we see daily. Very well written piece, thank you."

End of comments. Went to a new cardiologist last Thursday. Dr. Klag looked at my chart and shook his head. "Do you know how lucky you are?" he asked me. Yes, I know. "If it comes from a cow, I want you to stay away from it," was his terse advice. No milk, no cheese, no beef tacos, hamburgers or steaks. Yes, sir.

"Earl Nightingale said many years ago that one hour per day of study in your chosen field was all it takes. One hour per day of study will put you at the top of your field within three years. Within five years you'll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do."
—Brian Tracy

Ah So!
China's Internet population has surpassed the United States to become the world's biggest, with 253 million people online.

"I thought I could change the world. It took me a hundred years to figure out I can't change the world. I can only change Bessie. And honey, that ain't easy either."
—Bessie Delany, African-American Author and Civil Rights Pioneer

Sunday, July 27, 2008

July 27, 2008
Back from New Mexico. Great time. Details later. First up, Charlie Waters' excellent piece on the Exits Exit appeared this morning in the Las Vegas Review Journal. My phone has been ringing all afternoon. Here are a couple emails:

"What an incredibly well done article and video on the Exits Exit. Michael put together a truly remarkable video with the interviews and stills. We're really Blessed that all turned out OK--but the butterflies still churned in the Wipe Out footage. And you guys have a really great story of your past together growing up. Really enjoyed reading it. Job VERY well done!"
—Larry Archer

“Quite a story about you and the gang in today's Review Journal.”
—Bruce Spotleson

I worked with Bruce at New Times in the seventies. I think he now lives in Vegas.

“Really enjoyed video of Exits - "memorable" story of Boze and Bugs. Very well done!”
—Francine, MCUHS, class of 1965

Here's the link to the video:
"Simply put, wonderfully done! It was great to see every one's mugs again...looking forward to the next hurrah."

—E48 (John Waters)

You can read the article at:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

July 23, 2008
Ooops. Almost forgot. Marshall Trimble weighed in on the recent WWHA convention and I wanted to get this up before the weekend:

The first annual Wild West History Convention was a huge success. The folks in Oklahoma were absolutely wonderful hosts. Among the highlights were Tulsa authors Larry Yadon, with a talk on the outlaw gangs of Tulsa followed by Robert Barr Smith with “Famous, Infamous, and Overrated Oklahoma Outlaws.” Jan Devereaux delivered a fascinating talk with much new information on the notorious Lottie Deno and Bill O’Neal gave his usual informative and colorful lecture on the cow town of Caldwell.

Bob Ernst, Mike Tower, David Turk, Catherine Gray, Dee Cordry, Jim Fulbright, Corey Recko, and Paul Cool all gave excellent and informative presentations on a wide variety of subjects.

One of the evening “Shootout” panels discussed the Battle of Ingalls. Another honored the legendary western author Robert DeArment. Others were on “Wild West Characters” and “Women of the Wild West.” As you can see, there was something for everyone.

The inimitable Dakota Livesay acted as auctioneer on Saturday night raising a couple thousand dollars for the organization.

I missed out on winning the double-barreled shotgun donated by Rosie McBeth. A deck of cards cut in half was used for the drawing. Ticket seller Beverly Mulkins tried to talk me into choosing the Ace of Spades for the drawing but in honor of Showlow, I stubbornly insisted on buying the Deuce of Clubs. A moment later Kevin Mulkins picked the Ace of Spades and won the shotgun.

The Friday field trip included the famous Woolaroc Museum. I was on the ill-fated “Bus No. 3.” We broke down outside the museum and were surrounded by bison but the entire staff came to our rescue. They got in their cars and drove out in a caravan to haul us the rest of the way. Big John Tanner, his wife Karen and I were packed like sardines in the back of a tiny compact car, ( I think it was a Ugo.) Everyone was delivered to Woolaroc in a timely manner.

Later, the air conditioning on Bus No. 3 failed but I reminded our group that “hot weather makes people stick together.”

We arrived in Coffeyville a little behind the other two busses. The good folks at Coffeyville delayed the re-enactment of the Dalton raid on the banks until we arrived. Just as we joined the outdoor event, the heavens opened up and the rain came down for a short time as if to punctuate the dark cloud hovering over Bus No. 3. The next day on the way to the Gilchrise Museum Bus No. 3 sideswiped a tree limb.

Speaking of the Gilcrease, they have a wonderful exhibit on the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch that everyone should see. With its paintings and sculptures by the likes of Catlin, Moran, Miller, Leigh, Remington and Russell, it’s easy to see why the Gilchrise is one of this nation’s finest museums.

Another major highlight was the Saturday evening speaker, Michael Wallis, who gave what can best be described as a riveting talk on the great 101 Ranch. Michael has the best voice this side of Sam Elliott. It was so quiet in that room you could hear a pin drop. Even those annoying cell phones dared not ring while he was speaking. Among his more recent accomplishments is a well-researched book on Billy the Kid and the voice of the sheriff on the movie “Cars.”

I could go on and on about the award-winners, fellowship of the members and hospitality of those Oklahomans but you get the drift. No doubt about it, the new Wild West History Association, with our old friend Bob McCubbin at the helm, came out of the chute with the energy of a young colt in a spring pasture

This convention brought back fond memories of that trip to Oklahoma our “Renegade” group took several years ago when our guide was Glen Shirley. What a treat that was.
July 23, 2008
I was really impacted by the thunderheads I saw last weekend, driving up to Flag. We basically drove right under the canopy of a huge, many miles wide ceiling of blue, while the fluffy clouds built straight up:

Here's another crack at it:

North of our house, the flat-bottomed clouds march across Sugarloaf Butte almost every day. Not quite right, but the essence of the marching clouds is there. Need to develop it more:

Kathy and I are flying to Albuquerque tomorrow. I'm speaking in Professor Paul Hutton's class on Friday and then Kathy and I are going to celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary. Speaking of The Top Secret Writer:

Hutton's Big Circle Jerk
BBB: In regards to your old fart buddy in cardio rehab referencing The Life of Riley TV show that you found so pathetic as well as reflective on our own even more pathetic situation. The guy is absolutely US--even though he had the name of the show wrong he was of course referencing the great William Bendix early TV series, which in turn was based on a film and stage play--all based on Southwestern writer Harvy Fergusson's most successful novel. Fergusson, you will recall, wrote beautifully on Billy the Kid. Ahh, the great circle of life. PH

Actually a good point Paul. And, for the record, the guy in cardio rehab didn't misremember the name of the TV show, I did. Gee, I wonder what George has to say about all this?

"By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth."
—George Carlin

Ha. I'll be back Sunday. That's why I posted this extra little dittie.

"None of us knows what is ahead. The important thing is to use today wisely and well, and face tomorrow eagerly and cheerfully and with the certainty that we shall be equal to what it brings."
—Channing Pollock
July 23, 2008
Lost a cardio rehab teammate. Bob J. passed away recently and they had his photo posted at the desk where we all get our blood pressure taken. The photo of Bob was taken at the desk where we were standing so that made it even more of a wake up call moment.


Like most Americans I like to think of myself as having a well developed sense of humor (me and my zany friends call each other Humor Masters), but I realized on the treadmill today that the one thing I don't have a sense of humor about is people who don't have a sense of humor.

The recent flap over the New Yorker-Obama cover really grinds me. I have to agree with the editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick, who feels that Jon Stewart had the best critique of the media craze over the Obama cover, which aired live on The Daily Show: "Here's what Obamas' camp's response to the cover should've been: 'Obama is not upset about a cartoon which depicts him as a Muslim extremist. You know why? Because the only people who get that upset about cartoons are Muslim Extremists, which Obama clearly is not!'". Stewart went on to say with some precision, "It's just a F___ing cartoon, people!"

Or, as Robert Crumb put it thirty years ago, “It’s just lines on paper, folks.”

A good friend of mine questioned whether I should have posted my remarks about the lesbian in Flagstaff. First of all, I thought it was funny and not mean-spirited, just an observation by a guy. However, I'm sure some would think it's not funny at all and that I should be punished for spouting such "hateful" speech.

We each have our own idea of where the line is that shouldn't be stepped across. I have always leaned toward the taboo side of humor. When the teachers said "Sit down!" I stood up, which is how Bruce Springsteen phrased it in a song. I resemble that remark, or song lyric.

We are doing a stagecoach and saloon issue and Meghan Saar jokingly called it the "Drinking & Driving Issue." I thought that was hilarious and even did a cover sketch:

Fortunately, calmer heads prevailed.

Thanks Bob Brink.

Meanwhile, Charlie Waters' big piece on the Exits Exit (our ill-fated band gig in Kingman) will run this Sunday in the Las Vegas Review Journal. Here is the rack ads they have created for the piece:

I'll give more details as it gets closer. You will be able to access Charlie's masterpiece at Review Journal.

Kant said that the essence of humor is a strained expectation dissolving into nothing.

Here's a funny, as in hmmmmm funny, 142,000,000 people watched 12,000,000,000 videos in May 2008. Where the hell is this all going?

"The young man who has not wept is a savage. The old man who will not laugh is a fool."
—George Santayana

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

July 22, 2008
Busy days. Kathy and I finished the captions on the BBB in B&W book project last night about eight. 170 pieces of art and captions in the can. Goes down to Tri Star on Sunday.

Meanwhile, worked on last minute changes for the September issue going out the door on Thursday afternoon. Tweaked the cover, argued over several paragraphs in articles, wrote a handful of cutlines. And,finally, finished "Brothers Of Blood," which I'm calling the Classic Gunfight in this issue. Got a new book in the mail from Les Kruger, who calls his new book "Brothers In Blood." Both this book and the new "Dime Novel Desperadoes" by John E. Hallwas, were indispensable in getting this story right.

Pretty slick cover art, no? I also received my cover illustration check for this book from the University of Illinois yesterday ($1,500) and deposited that sucker. Thanks Dennis and John!

This Just In On The Exits Exit From Bugs In Vegas
"Newspaper designer just dropped off two proof sheets of about 60 stills taken off the video from the party. We will go through them this afternoon.I think they are going to use mugs to go with each mini-bio of the musicians. I think they will also use the one of you drumming off your butt, taken from Gary's rehearsal video. But who knows. I am trying to let them do their work without me being a pest, but I am afraid I will fail at that---if I haven't already."

"Pretentious? Moi?"
—Jim Holt, in his book Stop Me If You've Heard This: A History and Philosophy of Jokes, claiming it might be the shortest possible joke on the planet

Monday, July 21, 2008

July 21, 2008 Bonus Bonus Blog Post
Mark Boardman just got back from the WWHA convention, held this year in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I asked him for highlights and here they are:


About 175 people attended the first WWHA Roundup in Tulsa. That was a very good turnout, especially considering the cost of travel these days.

There were a couple of field trips. The first went to Coffeyville to see the Dalton Gang-related stuff and see a re-enactment of Oct. 5, 1892. We also went to a gun museum and to Woolaroc, the Oklahoma ranch owned by oil baron Frank Phillips. It has an incredible art collection, especially featuring works by Frank Tenney Johnson with a Remington and Russell thrown in here and there. And even more impressive is the collection of Indian artifacts from the region--some going back 3000 years.

The other trip was to the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, which has just acquired a major collection of 101 Ranch items. Really neat stuff. The Gilcrease is one museum to put on the list to visit.

There were also a number of great speakers--Paul Cool on Ranger John Tays, who got involved in the El Paso Salt War; Bill O'Neal on Caldwell, Kansas, which is the subject of his latest book; Corey Recko on New Mexico Territory Governor Samuel Axtell, who bungled his way through the Lincoln County War; and several more. There was also an evening session with Bob DeArment, a retrospective of his long and distinguished career in Western history. That was a highlight.

But for me, the top event was the after-banquet speech by Michael Wallis, the Tulsa author who has written on Billy the Kid, Pretty Boy Floyd and other subjects. One of his books is on the 101 Ranch, and his presentation touched on the history of that great operation. Frankly, we were all mesmerized. Wallis has a great, deep voice that rumbles with color as he speaks. And his language is so incredibly descriptive; he really paints pictures for the mind. More than just about any writer I know, Wallis writes as he speaks (and vice versa). At one point, he talked about an old Indian he interviewed for the book. As a teenager, the guy had done trick riding for Pawnee Bill and then the 101. And it was a wonderful life for him, obviously--he traveled all over the world, met some of the great figures of the West (including Buffalo Bill, Bill Pickett, Tom Mix, etc.), and enjoyed every minute of it. Wallis talked about how the guy was later living in a small home with his elderly wife, spending most of his time in a recliner. But when Wallis wanted to take some photos, the Indian put on an old performance costume and seemed to drop all those years. They went to the old ranch site and the memories became real. I can't do justice to Wallis' retelling of this, but he had several of us near tears.

Note to True West Executive Editor: we've gotta get this guy to write some stuff for True West.

Anyway, it was a great time. I expect a lot of us will go to next year's event in San Antonio.
July 21, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Yesterday afternoon, around four, Kathy and I bailed into her book project, "Bob Boze Bell In Black And White," which is a retrospective of the best black and white illustrations of the past 30 years. She was going to call it, "The Best of BBB In Black And White," but I started telling her how I needed to get a scan from the office of the skeleton Billy that graced the cover of True West (August 2003) because Craig S. bought the original, and she just shut me off and said, "Nope. Too complicated. We'll just change the title and you can publish that image in a future book."

Man, she's tough, but then, this is her book, based on a bet, made while we were driving out to Jeff Gordon's RV at PIR last November. The bet: she and Theresa B. at Tri Star can produce a winning book, if I would simply butt out. I told her she had a bet, and I must admit, this would be a bet I wouldn't mind losing. We'll soon find out (we're taking the boards to Tri Star on Sunday and handing off to Theresa and her crew). I told Kathy I had only one request: I don't want shadows on the art, or Photoshop tricks larding up the pages, just straight up images, warts and all.

She assured me she would talk to Theresa about it. Ha. She's so good, she could be a publisher. She never said she would, she said she'd talk to Theresa about it. I don't know if I can stand it, when we come to the cover design. I'm already getting the heeby-jeebies just thinking about letting go of that design aspect.

We got 75 captions done with me typing in the medium (mostly pen and ink, scratchboard and Grafix paper), the size, the year and notes about what I was influenced by when I did it.

Went home for lunch today, and after a vegetable omelet we went out to the studio and whipped out another 45 captions. Quite a few elicited laughter (Thomas Charles in gangsta pants, Charles Barkley ramming his big butt into an opposing player's face). When we got to this one, Kathy asked me the title and I said, "Honkytonk Bondage," but then on further thought, I came up with, "The Man Whisperer." We both laughed and I kind of stared in wonder that I had illustrated this complicated puppy. This is all pen and ink, no scratchboard knives or optical tricks, just flat out rendering. Of course, it's Honkytonk Sue calming a frisky honkytonk male while he's tied to the snubbing bedpost:

This was an illustration for the proposed graphic novel "The Man Canyon" (1989). Perhaps I need a disclaimer at the end, "No men were hurt during the making of this comic."

Or not.
July 21, 2008
Back to cardio rehab this morning. I'm in phase II now with a much larger regimen including leg thrusts, chesti-ment bog bogs and back muscle dealie deals. Feels very good.

Got a heads up from Alan Huffines, who's on R&R from Iraq:

Another Great Hat And Faces That Are Easy to Look At
A romantic action-adventure set in northern Australia prior to World War II, 'Australia' centers on an English aristocrat (Nicole Kidman) who inherits a ranch the size of Maryland. When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn cattle driver (Hugh Jackman) to drive 2000 head of cattle across hundreds of miles of the country’s most unforgiving land, only to still face the bombing of Darwin, Australia by the Japanese forces that had attacked Pearl Harbor only months earlier. With his new film, director-writer-producer Baz Luhrmann is painting on a vast canvas, creating a cinematic experience that brings together romance, drama, adventure and spectacle.

Damn, she's pretty. I think I've seen the previews for this film, but I don't recall if it came out yet.

Blog Comments
"Regarding your photo ID regarding She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, in the US Cavalry of the 1870's period the commands were echoed by a Trumpeter and the Infantry used a Bugler....this way if you have mixed Regiments in the field they don't confuse each other with commands. (In the same way both Infantry and Cavalry broke the Regiment into 'Companies' but unofficially the Cavalry called them 'Troopers') The Trumpeter was a member of the Regimental musicians and would not have worn NCO stripes on his sleeve.(They had a little musician emblem for higher ranks, plus a musician's double stripe on the trouser legs) I guess my point is....don't go looking at John Ford's Cavalry films for a History lesson. The biggest flaw in my book is the braces (suspenders) worn throughout his films. That may have been common with the State Militia's during the Spanish American War but NOT in the regular Army during the 19th Century. This was considered underwear and the 1st SGT would give Company Punishment to anyone that dressed in such a manner (especially in front of the Company Commander!) Also there would NOT have been Officer insignia or chevrons sewed onto a shirt!!!!!!! Uniform Nazi signing off."
—Jim Hatzell

"Bob, How much for your cloud study? I sure do like it. The combination of your personal style with a bit of Maynard Dixon influence can't be beat."
—Gerri G., Santa Fe, New Mexico

I emailed Gerri a number, Gerri bought it and I'm shipping the painting to Santa Fe later this week.

“Until I read what you had blogged about the New Yorker cartoon re: the Obamas, I thought I must truly be crazy, because I thought it was brilliant and I seemed to be alone. But you know why I thought it was brilliant? (Hey, remember Life of Reilly?) I thought it was a PARODY of Chicago in 1968. I didn't even snap that it was Michelle, I thought it was ANGELA DAVIS! I still think that it's very, very funny even if I clearly live in the past.”
— Bonny H. in Cedar Crest

"Dear Mr. Bob Boze Bell: I used to know an ol’ kid that had a name similar to yours, this was a long time ago back in the late 50’s and early 60’s, where I grew up in Kingman, Arizona. He was a funny fellow, as I recall… that’s funny ha-ha, not funny Down’s… and kinda artistic, too. His name was Robert Bell and he ran around with a second-cousin of mine, Darrell Christensen, along with several others with names like 'Charlie' and 'Daniel' and 'David', I think. This kid had a different sort of laugh, more of a chuckle than a cackle, and in my mind’s eye I can see him walking out of Mr. McCleve’s Art Room, down at the end of the long hall on the first floor in the new wing of the High School, with papers under one arm laughing and talking with his friends. Everybody liked that kid, I think, because of his lame sense of humor and his soft, easy-going manner. Shoot, somebody (maybe it was old Darrell) said he ended up getting into the Broadcasting business. Maybe he took after Ron (gag) Wilson on K-Triple-A. Anyway, he got to be a D.J. on the radio in the Big City, I guess, and got himself into a whole HEAP of trouble for something he said over the air. Now, like I said, this ol’ kid had a lame sense of humor and I don’t know what the big stink was all about but, I mean, there wuz lawyers wanting to get involved and everything from the way I heard the story! I will have to find out all of the details from someone who was around at the time because the stuff I heard was sketchy at best. I’m not finished yet, because after that, or maybe it was before, I heard that he peeed his pants while standing in the lobby of the Valley National Bank. He must-a been really afraid when he saw who the next available teller was… in order for an accident like that to have happened! I’m probably getting the facts all messed up here but not by much…

"I don’t rightly know, or I probably never heard, what ever became of him after that. I’m guessing that maybe he left the Radio business for something which was a little less controversial and more to his liking. Perhaps he went to Nashville (he played in a High School Rock-and-Roll Band for a while… you know, banjo or something noisy… Mr. Gould was his personal trainer, I think) and possibly became a big Country-Western star, buuuut I doubt it. Not that he wasn’t musical enough, or anything, but I see him staying out West (now that I think about it) because he Truly liked it here.

"I considered him to be my friend and one worth keeping, for sure, and if I were to ever see him again or run into him on a street somewhere, we wouldn’t even recognize one another it’s been so long... We’d probably walk right on by with only a sideways glance, each thinking to himself, 'I wonder who that old fart was!!'

"Best Wishes Whomever You Are,"

—Gary Smith

"Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in? I think that is how dogs spend their lives."
—Sue Murphy

Sunday, July 20, 2008

July 20, 2008
Mission accomplished! Got up to Flag at about noon on Saturday. First stop, Marttan's for a late breakfast. Had the spicy posole and a side of guac like a good boy. Really excellent. The cook (one of the owners) said to say hi to Thomas Charles. We said we would do just that next month when we go visit him in Peru.

Next stop, the Snow Bowl at 9,500 feet above sea level. I had on my heart monitor watch and we parked the car and took off across the upper ski runs. My heart did great, hitting 106 at the max while Kathy was hitting the 130s (she bought a second heart monitor watch for a baseline comparison).

Very cloudy and cool. A few sprinkles. Came down off the mountain and went to the Wine Loft on San Francisco and had a $30 half-bottle of Champagne from Champagne, France (or, so the guy said). Really good. Sat on a couch on the second floor and looked out at the magnificent clouds. Great time.

High about eighty, lows in the fifties. Nirvana for a flatlander from Hell.

Ended up at Busters for dinner, the Quality Inn for the night. Spent $45 on the meal and $116 on the room.

Got up this morning and hiked the NAU campus with my heart monitor (phase two of the test). Never went above 90. The training and the diet have paid off. I think I'll survive the high mountains of Peru. We leave in two weeks.

Got into it with a lesbian in the parking lot of the Quality Inn on Saturday evening. She was unpacking her pickup and placing everything in an empty space. I pulled up to take the open parking space (they were quite rare at sunset on a Saturday night) and leaned out the window and said, "Sorry," and she said, "No, you're not." Saw her later in the lobby with her partner and it seemed obvious to me she wore the pants in the relationship. I told Kathy, "it must be hard to be the dick in a relationship and not have one." Later, on the walk I confessed, "It's hard enough having one, but I can't imagine not having one and acting like I had one, that would be hard on me." She didn't laugh and I didn't push it since it was a pretty lame joke.

Hard on me? Hey, I had a heart attack. It's the lack of oxygen.

"To stoop to jokes about sexual organs is the last bastion of the immature male."
—The Nelson Mandela Fella

Saturday, July 19, 2008

July 19, 2008
Getting set to go up the hill to Flag. Hot and muggy here, can't wait to get up to the mountains and the cool air. Going to see the Merrill Mahaffey retrospective at the Northern Arizona Museum, eat at Martan's, take a nap and hike at 7,000 feet.

After an exhaustive review of the research literature, here's the final
word on nutrition and health:

1. Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.

2. Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.

3. Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.

4. Italians and the French drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.

5. Germans drink beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what gets you.

Friday, July 18, 2008

July 18, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Went home for lunch and the cleaning lady was there. I could never have servants or a home staff. It's like being a prisoner in your own house. So, instead of a nap, I went out into the studio and worked on a cloud painting, which started out as a sunset effect, but ended up as:

When The Light Goes Out On The Desert

If you've ever gazed at a brilliant sunset for any length of time, you were probably amazed at how quickly it fades, and how quickly the same clouds that were translucent mere seconds ago, are now devoid of color and quickly fusing into dusk. This painting has that effect, just before the lights go out.

The cleaning lady and her husband were still rummaging through our bedroom, so I started another study of the same sunset, this one, not quite as good, but nonetheless a decent portrayal of:

Stock Tank At Twilight

When I'm on the recumbent cycle I enjoy talking to a guy I'll call Eddie Ace who, like me, had a heart attack and is from a small town in the midwest. He really is an old horndog and often tells me about his old flames, which I find quite amusing, mainly because he is so blunt about it, and because, on some level, we can all relate to the ones that got away.

As Eddie bicycles along he looks over at me every so often with a conspiratorial grin, like old horndogs do. Here is my rendition of that look:

Eddie The Horndog

"Who, being loved, is poor?"
—Oscar Wilde
July 18, 2008
This morning at cardio rehab, I was on the treadmill doing my 20 minute walk, when an ex-New Yorker got on several machines down from me. In a loud voice he boomed out "Do you remember the TV show Queen For A Day when Fred was on with John Mackey?" The old guy next to him, didn't remember it, but the New Yawkah didn't stop there, he wanted to know if we all (he was talking loud enough for the entire gym to hear him) remembered My Life With Riley?

How pathetic, I thought to myself. To be so old and out of it, that all your references to life are from some old TV show that no one today remembers or even cares about?

Then, I remembered yesterday's posting about She Wore A Yellow Ribbon and I realized, "So this is what we sound like to the rest of the world."

Worked last night on another cloud study. This one is of Ratcliff Ridge, which is directly across from our house and we look out on it from our kitchen window:

Yes, it is a spectacular view. And, yes, it is very Ed Mell-ish. Of course, I could worse than emulate Maynard Dixon and Ed Mell, two masters of the desert landscape. Meanwhile, here are my sketches for yesterday:

Also yesterday, I finally got my subscription issue of the notorious New Yorker cover featuring Osama as a terrorist. Stephen Colbert quipped, "It's funny, because it's true." Which is funny (and a great parody of right-wing nuts) in itself.

I can't believe how so many media pundits fail to see the humor in this brilliant cartoon. I heard this morning on NPR, some media guy saying the cartoon is "irresponsible." Having a White Belt in Zane and being a card carrying Humor Master I can say with some authority that any good satire has an element of the irresponsible in it.

That's the underlying point in good satire. If your mother doesn't like it, if the school says you can't do it, and we're all thinking it, well, you have to do it, and it's funny, Man. FYI: yes, that's a George Carlin riff.

Maureen Dowd did an op-ed piece: "For Politics' Sake, Obama Needs A Sense of Humor." She interviewed John Stewart and Stephen Colbert for Rolling Stone a couple years ago and she asked them if it would be harder to make fun of Obama than the other guys, and she quotes them both as saying, in unison, "His dad was a goat-herder!"

Now that is definitely funny. So, why isn't more of this being discussed in the media?

A month or so ago, Jon Stewart was doing several Obama gags on his show and they all fell flat. He finally said to the studio audience, as an aside, "You know, you can laugh at him." But they wouldn't and didn't, and Maureen makes the point that a whole bunch of people seem to have the attitude of "Don't mess with our messiah!" I think she is dead on. Which is depressing because it's the same crap, only in a different degree that all those humor-impaired Muslims pull.

As you may know I do those paintings (above) with my left hand.

A Left-handed Complement?
"Sir, What has happened to Honkytonk Sue? She was the best thing in your magazine. The rest is rather mediocre."
—George Hocutt, True West subscriber over 30 years

Meanwhile, Chester Latham from Michigan called and talked to Sheri today. She told me he absolutely loves the magazine, reads it cover to cover. His three year subscription just expired, so he finally broke down and bought a True West Maniac membership. ($129.95 gets him a TWM decal, a TWM T-shirt, a five-year-sub and a Classic Gunfights, Volume III book by me, BBB).

I've been using my Netflix membership to catch up on film classics. Whenever I see a reference to a classic film I put it in my Queue and check it out. Last weekend I finally watched a Fellini classic called "Nights of Cabiria" (1957). It's about a prostitute named Cabiria (played by Fellini's wife, the actress Giulietta Masina) working the streets of Rome, who never gives up on finding true love. Not sure it totally holds up today, but it has moments of genius, and I can see where David Lynch and others have stolen ideas from the master (the theatre scene in Mulholland Drive is a direct lift from this film).

I love the commentary features and on this one they interview a French guy who worked for Fellini during the making of the film. He met the master at the Cannes Film Festival when Fellini's previous film, La Strada premiered. While it moved the French kid, the audience heckled the film and many left. The French kid was blown away by the film and wanted to tell the filmmaker how much the film impacted him, and someone pointed out the director and he caught up to him on the street and his wife was crying and Fellini felt like a failure, which just goes to show you audiences can be so dumb. La Strada is a brilliant film, one of the most amazing I have ever seen (I saw it on HBO when Martin Scorsese was doing a week long special on Italian films and how to appreciate them).

Anyway, La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, The New Yorker cover, they all point to one thing:

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
—Muriel Strode

Thursday, July 17, 2008

July 17, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Our readers are so fast and so quick:

"The actor depicted with John Wayne on page 23 of the August issue is not John Agar. Lieutenants don't wear two stripes. Also, the THIRD man in the pic is William Steele, the same guy who plays 'Nesby' in the Searchers."
—Harry Thomas
Indianapolis, Indiana

"Smoke that in your peace pipe."
—John Agar to The Top Secret Writer in "The Nitpickers"
July 17, 2008
Nailed a very nice cloud study last night:

It's not totally original—it being inspired by a Maynard Dixon landscape of the Catalinas in Tucson. I saw it in a magazine. Using Maynard's basic design and color scheme, I think I captured the light of a summer Arizona thunderstorm, which was the point of the exercise.

Meanwhile, here are my daily sketches. These are numbers 6,712 thru 6,718:

Janice Rae from Minnesota sometimes sends me eBay items, usually photos that she thinks I might like. I seldom buy any, but often download the image and use it as a basis for a sketch. The top illustration (above) is one of those, which was an early day photo (circa 1900) of an Arizona canal with the Papago Buttes in the middle distance and Camelback Mountain behind it.

News From North of The Border (As In Canada)
"The 'biggest outdoor show on earth' is over for another year but no one is complaining about the turnout. Calgary had more than one day with over 100 thousand visitors come thought the gate. The afternoon rodeo was packed with between twenty and thirty thousand fans all enjoying the richest rodeo ever. Total prize money handed out was over $ 1,800,000. There is talk of that being bumped even higher next year. They were afraid everyone would stay home because of high gas prices but I guess they didn't.

"We attended one day but that was to help out at the Bar U Ranch Historic site promotion booth on the grounds. Had a good time and met lots of swell folks.

"The wife and I just got home from celebrating our 47th wedding anniversary. We went to Edmonton (another big Alberta city north of Calgary) for a fun three days. Had a real blow-out!!! Went to a dinner theatre and enjoyed the play they put on. We feel great, just don't get hung up on counting the years!

"Like your sketch of Malita on July 14th. Glad you're still ticking and things sound good."
—All the best, Bill Dunn

She Wrote A Yellow Caption?
As the last issue went to bed, Meghan Saar came into my office and asked me if the photo caption on a publicity photo for She Wore A Yellow Ribbon was correct. I read the caption, which said the photo showed John Agar and signed off on it. Here's the actual photo we used. Notice the cutline:

The issue has been arriving in mail boxes around the world and earlier this week we got this email:

"The caption with photo on P.23 of John Wayne in 'She Wore A Yellow Ribbon' has a mistake. The man on Wayne's left isn't John Agar as Lt. Flint Cohill. I'm sure some of our readers will catch it. I'm almost positive the corporal with Wayne is Tom Tyler, a silent film leading man. He also was the 'Phantom' in early films. He played Cpl. Mike Quayne in the film."
—Marshall Trimble

Yes he did. Here's Tom Tyler as 'the Phantom' talking to Gene Autry. Possible caption: "Yes, Gene, it does show off my penis to good effect."

Hmmmmm. I decided to defer to a higher power and sent the image to Professor Paul Andrew Hutton, in Albuquerque, who immediately told me (without even looking at the photo) that it was probably a photo of Frank McGrath, so I sent this email back to Marshall:

"Paul Hutton tells us the photo is of Frank McGrath, who later played Charlie Wooster on Wagon Train."

Frank McGrath as Charlie Wooster on Wagon Train:

But Marshall was not convinced:

"Bob: Is Paul sure? Frank McGrath was in the film but he played the bugler. This guy sure looks like Tom Tyler, who played Corporal Quayne. The guy in the photo is a corporal too. I guess I'll have to dig out the film and take a look. I'm on my way to the airport. Tulsa and the WWHA."

So I sent this missive back to Hutton:

"Marshall is questioning the great Hutton. Oh, the horror! The horror!"

Hutton, AKA The Top Secret Writer, went video-istic (which is not quite as crazy as ballistic), dug out the video, and along with his lovely wife Tracy, fast-forwarded to the scene, then called me at home, yelling into the receiver, "Who's your Daddy!" This morning, he emailed me a much calmer version:

"Dearest Robert: As I told you before, the other character in the still is Frank McGrath, who plays the bugler (always at Wayne's side in the film) and later played Charlie on the TV series Wagon Train. I instantly recognized McGrath, but just to be certain reviewed the film. His hat and horse (black with white blaze) cement the ID. The actor behind them I cannot ID although he actually has more lines in the film than Tyler does (but is never called by his name in the film). His incorrect hat instantly IDs him, as does a review of the film which places this scene on the rise above Sutro's Well. The three men ride forward although the angle of the still photo is opposite in the film. Tyler never appears on horseback with Wayne. He makes a report to Wayne after riding in with the Paradise River patrol and then is operated on by the doctor in the wagon. He is a speaking character in the film, but absolutely does not appear in the pictured scene published in True West. Of course, unfortunately, neither does John Agar (best known as Shirley Temple's first husband). Always happy to be of service."
—Paul Hutton

Here's John Agar with Shirley Temple:

"You cannot manage men into battle. You manage things: you lead people."
—Grace Hopper

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

July 16, 2008
Had a good morning in cardio rehab. Walking farther and doing harder exercises. Feels good. There is a "wound unit" next to the gym and sometimes people walk through the gym going and coming. A woman was wheeled through on a big portable hospital bed on Monday. Both of her feet were missing. Really impacted me. At least I can walk.

A Trifecta
“Fred Nolan's interview with Bob McCubbin; Wes Cowan's quintet of cool; and Robb Kendrick's photogenic northern cowpokes are excellent features. Congratulations to all concerned.”
—Dan Buck, commenting on the August issue

I got a question for True West Moments on locoweed. I asked Marshall Trimble if he knew the answer and he did:

Marshall On Locoweed
"My brother was an equine vet and had to deal with the weed quite a bit. Loco comes from the Spanish, 'mad.' Scientifically locoweed is any number of plants widespread in the West, especially genera Astragalus and Oxytropis. The latter contains a neurotoxin, swainsonine.

"One species of the weed is known as 'purple loco' because of the purple flowers. It's also called 'wooly loco' from its hair leaves. There's another called 'white loco' for its white flowers.

"Often times cattle and horses eat local weed in the spring and fall when it's the only green plant available.

"When eaten by horses or cattle they go 'loco.' At times the animals become wild or crazy. It isn't always fatal but it can have a serious effect on grazing animals. Most of the time, animals become depressed and lethargic. Although some of the toxic effects resolve after animals are removed from infested areas, the neurologic damage may be permanent. Hope this helps."
—Marshall Trimble

A billion seconds ago it was 1959. What have a billion seconds taught me? Well, here's my sketches for yesterday:

We've had a disagreement at my house regarding these sketches. Every night I put the day's sketches across from our bed and, in the morning peruse them, looking for lessons learned as I wake up. Kathy mentioned a couple nights ago that if I die she's cutting up the sketchbooks and framing some of the images. Here's one of the images she rather liked from a couple days ago, so I painted another one on watercolor paper. It's called "Judgement."

Hope I can do more of these. Gee, I wonder what my hero, Samuel Clemens has to say about this?

"'On with the dance, let the joy be unconfined!' is my motto, whether there's any dance to dance or any joy to unconfine."
—Mark Twain

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

July 15, 2008
Two days of rain, the desert is soaked. Next come the bugs.

Been noodling big clouds. Gus Walker reminded me these suckers are more like 50,000 feet tall, not 1,500:

Speaking of tall renderings, I love this quote: "Oh, lordy," Jon Cooper, Obama's campaign chairman, is quoted as having said, upon viewing the New Yorker cartoon featuring the presidential candidate in Muslim garb giving a "terrorist-fist bump" with his wife, Michelle, who's decked out in a raging afro and an AK-47 over her back, as an American flag burns in the fireplace beneath a portrait of Osama bin Laden. "I think I have a pretty good send of humor and I think I'm pretty fair-minded, but this is just beyond the pale. It's not funny."

Well, maybe not funny to him. To me, it is hilarious and brilliant on two levels: if you think it's not funny, you are either a lunatic (if you think the portrayal is true) or humor impaired. Of course, humor is so subjective. As someone put it (Carl Reiner?), "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Humor is when you fall into an open sewer, and die."

"To the fool, he who speaks wisdom will sound foolish."

Monday, July 14, 2008

July 14, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
I went home for lunch and another big storm dropped in, dumping a ton of water. Finished a malito painting (below), based on a sketch from last week. She is Malita, the Mexican Witch from Fronteras, Sonora. Yes, the painting is malito (bad, little painting) and the witch is Malita (bad, little woman):

She is a tad more Ursula Andress than Apache Undress, but I'll take her. Got some nice rock formations going in left foreground. I think the roof was better in the sketch. That happens sometimes when I dash something off, then go back for the kill and kill the effect. Ha.

Minnesota's High On The Hog Healthy Lifestyle
"At the Minnesota State Fair, the most popular new snack is the 'Pig Licker,' which is deep-fried bacon, covered in chocolate and dipped in sea salt. And for those Minnesotans not dieting—try the 'Pig Licker With Cheese.'"
—Conan O'Brien

"What one does is what counts and not what one had the intention of doing."
—Pablo Picasso
July 14, 2008
Drove up to Prescott yesterday to take down the Billy the Kid art show (speaking of Billy, it was on this date in 1881 that Pat Garrett caught the Kid with his pants down). Kathy was still under the weather so I went up alone. An impressive thunderhead was building up over New River Mesa as I fought my way up the Black Canyon (I-17). Really tall and dramatic clouds, must have gone skyward at least 1,500 feet.

Worst part of the trip is wading through Prescott Valley, which has to be one of the ugliest towns in Arizona. All sprawl and no center, the absolute worst of every trend in the country. I remember driving through there in a snowstorm in 1966 and there was just a land office trailer and a couple signs. Hard to rectify that image with the current eyesore. Bumper to bumper all the way into Prescott. Downtown was packed with tourists.

Broke down the show in about ten minutes, helped Janet C. putty the nail holes and took off for home. Stopped on the res for gas ($3.98 a gallon) and on the way down the hill saw the very dark wall of rain raking across the mountains north of our house. Ran into rain in New River and cruised home, raining on and off, arriving back at the ranchito at four.

Worked all weekend on cloud scenes and in my sketches I whipped out more sepia Mexican witch scenes:

Got some nice effects noodling gouache washes:

It isn't what they say about you. It's what they whisper."
—Errol Flynn

Saturday, July 12, 2008

July 12, 2008
We had to cancel the Flag high altitude test run. Kathy has some salmonella deal with major bathroom visits (every ten minutes). Not sure what she ate, but we do have tomatoes and we do have chili peppers, two of the suspects, although Kathy washed our tomatoes in bleach and vinegar.

Meanwhile, Janet Childress called this morning and said Craig S. came back to the gallery and bought another painting: "Billy Breaks Out" which was a cover painting for an issue of True West several years ago.

I'm going up to Prescott tomorrow to take down the show. It's always nice to have less paintings to bring home.

What's It Like to Get Caught In the Rain On Horseback?
"I can tell you what it's like to be in a Cavalry Column and have a 'gully washer' come down on get wet! Despite your best efforts what with putting on your 'gum poncho' and all. It happened on most films I've worked on where I'm on set for a week or more. The wettest I ever got was on the set of Touched By an Angel filmed in Salt Lake City where they used a rain machine to create a storm. We were playing the Cavalry hunting down John Wilkes Booth (don't ask) and I was wearing a bummer cap and the rain went down the back of my shell jacket. That was miserable!!!!! If you are going to be in the rain mounted....always wear a slouch hat!

"I'll tell the boys at The Little Big Horn Battlefield that George Armstrong Custer will be a character in Night At the Museum 2 They'll get a kick out of that.

By the way.....I'm gearing up for the ARTIST RIDE next month, August 14,15,16,&17 and if you have anything that you need to finish your graphic novel......let me know soon and I'll see what I can do. It's going to be another good one!"
—Jim Hatzell

Kathy ordered me a special watch by Polar (get it?) that monitors my heart rate. She got it for me to wear in Peru next month so we can check on how the high altitude affects my heart rate. I have to wear a special band around my chest and when I click on the watch it starts giving me a running tab on my exertion rates. For example, reading the paper, my heart cruises at 61. Walking out to the studio rates a 68. Feeding the chickens gives my heart a 73 rating.

After I got done walking around rating everything, I went into the bathroom where Kathy was washing her face. As I started to see a man about a horse, Kathy asked me what my heart rate was.

"83," I told her.

"I wonder why it's so high?" she said. "You're just standing there."

"It's undoubtedly the heavy lifting," I said, feigning shortness of breath.

I didn't time it, even though I could have with my new watch, but Kathy laughed very hard for about five minutes.

"On the American Humor Membership card it says you can exaggerate like crazy."
—David Sedaris

Friday, July 11, 2008

July 11, 2008
Big storm blew in last night. Really great clouds, big and dramatic, lots of lightning and thunder, and then rain. Dogs cowering everywhere. I couldn't help but think about what it would be like to be in a cavalry column and getting caught in one of these in the old days. I'm sure it happened all the time to soldiers, cowboys and Apaches.

Speaking of Apaches, I'm noodling an Apache maiden (or is she a Mexican witch?) who appears in the ruins of an abandoned hacienda, wearing a loose robe, which she opens, flashing glimpses of her shapely body underneath. Some said she was a toothless hag while others described her as beautiful:

Perhaps she was both.

Custer is going to be in the sequel of "Night at the Museum." The second film is going to be called: "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian." General George Armstrong Custer will be played by Bill Hader. Al Capone and Napoleon are also scheduled to appear. The first flick made $574 million worldwide. Amazing. I thought it was quite mediocre.

Kathy and I are driving up to Flagstaff this weekend so I can practice hiking at high altitude (Flag is at 7,000 feet), in preparation for our trip to Peru to see my son next month. He is, of course, at 11,000 feet so I have to work up to it. I'm looking forward to the cool mountain air in Flag and all those beautiful pine trees.

"If trees could scream do you think we would be so cavalier as to cutting them down?"
—Jack Handey

Thursday, July 10, 2008

July 10, 2008
Went to yoga class at eight, then out to west Phoenix for a pulmonary appointment. Turns out I've still got pneumonia issues related to the Wipeout session and the doc says I'm showing asthma symptoms: I've improved (in April I blew a .28 and today I blew a .48, but the norm is 80-something).

So, two steps forward, one step back.

Village of The Damned (Buckeyes)
"BBB: Got back from Charles City Monday. Last things, first. Walked thru the
folks house with both of them, my mom started to cry, what a mess [their beautiful home was flooded from the storms last month]. Measure 4 feet around your house and everything below that is destroyed. Their laundry room destroyed, both bathrooms gone, still has mud in showers/toilets, kitchen would have to be replaced, etc, etc. To rebuild, they would have to raise brick house 6-9" (cost $69,000) Dad got estimate
to fix house ($110,00) so youre looking at a total of $179,000 to rebuild. Dad does not want to move back. I gave them my opinion, just knock it down and buy another house and sell it as a lot (which they probably will end up doing). They lost both cars also. Staying at an Englishman's house in CC for the time being, but he will come back in fall, so they do have a time limit. My dad is having a hard time sleeping. Charles City has a big 4th of July fireworks show (about 10,000 people show up-in a town of 7500) We are sitting across the river from the fireworks and the big finale comes and all of the sudden, all the fireworks shoot out horizontally, they had caught on fire, there was a big flame shot up and then it went dark and you could see people running away from the fireworks. 37 people were injured, 3 had to be helicoptered out (never good news when medical helicopters used) and there was actual blood on the streets. What chaos. People near the fire emptied their coolers to put ice on victims and kids ran by and stole their beer. Funny t-shirt sighting 'I'm Huge in Japan'. My dad dropped me off at airport on Monday and said 'Tell Bob Bell there will be a good river lot open if he wants to move to CC and Build a house.' Pistol Pete-out!"
—Minnesota Mike Melrose

From today's USA Today....

Before Larry McMurtry became a screenwriter (Brokeback Mountain) and
novelist (Lonesome Dove), he was a book scout, tracking down rare
books, and a seller of antiquarian books. He writes about that life in
Books: A Memoir (Simon and Schuster, $24), describing how he turned
Archer City, Texas, where he grew up, into a "book city," with more
used books for sale (300,000-plus) than residents (1,800). McMurtry,
72, talked to USA TODAY.

Q: How's business at Booked Up (McMurtry's Archer City bookshop, which
he threatened to close in 2005)?
A: The antiquarian book business is pretty shaky. I don't know all the
reasons. But we're not losing money. We don't make a lot, but I don't
feel any pressure to close. … We're still ticking. It won't close
while I'm alive.

Q: You write about the digital age and say, "There are still a few of
us who'd rather have the book than the click." Have you ever read an
A: No, and I have no plans to. I don't use a computer. I'm happy with
my Hermes portable manual typewriter. But it's not so portable
anymore. It's tough to get through airports. They think it's a bomb.

Q: What's wrong with computers?
A: I don't know. I've never used one. I see no need to change. Diana
(Ossana), my screenwriting partner, knows computers. When we're
working on a screenplay, she can move things around. I prefer a
typewriter and retyping.

Q: Did you know Heath Ledger(the co-star of Brokeback, who died early
this year)?
A: I didn't meet Heath Ledger in person until the chaos of the awards
season. Diana, who discovered the story (by E. Annie Proulx) in 1997
and who produced Brokeback, was on set every day of filming and knew
him well. (McMurtry and Ossana won an Oscar for their adapted

Q: Why doesn't Booked Up sell your own books?
A: There's another shop in town, Three Dogs Books, that does. But for
me, it's too much of an aggravation. Everyone wants me to sign them,
and then I don't get anything else done.

Q: But you do sell CDs by your son (singer/songwriter James McMurtry)?
A: Yes, but he doesn't have to sign them.

Q: Your next project?
A: Diana and I are reading a lot of old captive narratives (books
about settlers who were captured and held by Indians) to see if
there's a film in any of them.

End of McMurtry interview. Note to self: hurry up on Mickey Free, or we're going to get poached and run over by the big boys (and girls).

Meanwhile, noodling some sunset canyons for a painting idea:

Some more successful than others:

Today I came back to the sepia washes. I'm very high on these effects, and I don't know quite where they are going but I want to go there:

Almost got into an argument today with someone I don't enjoy arguing with. Really difficult to not engage, then I remembered what the OV say:

"I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

July 9, 2008
Drove down to Bell Road for my cardio rehab session at eight this morning. It's about an hour workout. Twenty minutes on the treadmill (1.2 miles), six minutes on the rowing machine, ten minutes on the recumbent cycle, ten wall push ups, ten squat-thrusts, ten arm curls (7 lbs). Top heart rate: 120, resting: 78.

Our precious little hearts beat 100,000 times a day, times 61 years: Talk about a workout!

Meanwhile, 1,500 Americans die every day of heart attacks. Yes, every day (imagine three 747s full of people crashing every day). No wonder I am running into so many survivors with a story to tell. Someone said we dig our graves with our teeth.

Pass the mole, Baby!

My Prescott art mentor, Janet Childress, called me on the Fourth of July and said a Craig S. was in the art gallery and was considering whether to buy the Billy In Leather painting (the one Van O'Steen bought then changed his mind and bought John Wesley Hardin In El Paso instead). Craig wanted to know if I would sign a letter of authenticity (I didn't sign the painting, and it's already framed), and so I called him back and left a message but he never returned my call so I assumed he passed.

He called this morning and informed me he not only bought the Leather Billy, but he bought four other Billy paintings! He's coming out next Tuesday for the authenticity letter. Interesting that two guys bought half the art in the show.

Hey, this art thing is finally starting to pay off for me. Gee, I wonder what ol' Burton has to say about this?

"It's fine to believe in ourselves, but we mustn't be too easily convinced."
—Burton Hillis

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

July 8, 2008
As we approach our monsoon season, the big clouds pile sky high every afternoon. Saw them this afternoon as I came back to the office, building over Skull Mesa. Always spectacular and inspiring.

Speaking of inspiring, Mark Twain is on the cover of Time magazine this week. He always gets my juices going. Case in point:

Here's yesterday's sketches, culminating with the odd number of daily sketches at 6,666:

The Devil's In The Details

Today, after looking at the Twain features in Time, I whipped out these:

No doubt about it, I need to step up my game.

"When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece."
—John Ruskin

Monday, July 07, 2008

July 7, 2008
Kathy, E.J. and 'Cedes really did a number on my studio yesterday and Saturday. We dredged up so much crap it's not even funny. Of course, mixed in with all the crap are some real gems, like this old Nevada travel magazine from 1953:

Really appealing cover. Makes me want to go camp out at Yucca Flat, where this mini-nuclear explosion was detonated for the public's amusement. The upper left photo (below) shows picnic tables set up about a half mile away from ground zero:

And what I want to know is, who in these photos is still alive?

We also found some classic Classic Rock images from my days on the Jones & Boze Show, KSLX, 100.7 FM. The top photo was taken in May, 1990 and shows Jeanne Sedello, David K. BBB (no mustache) and Gordon Smith planning our next show.

The bottom photo (above) shows Gordon, Jeanne and I at the Mill Avenue Street Fair. M signature outfit at the time was cowboy boots and jammies.

Did some decent sketches over the long Fourth Weekend:

Got focused on a duststorm layout, poached from a photo in the paper and the storm we had on Friday night. E.J., Cedes and I got up in the crow's nest on Friday night and watched the fireworks up at Harold's Cave Creek Corral. It was storming with heavy winds and we questioned the safety of setting off fireworks in that wind, but no one heard us.

More storms and a punked out skater from the eighties.

"Before his imperfect sources, the historian is powerless: 'He must take what they choose to tell, the broken fragments, and the scattered ruins of evidence.'"
—Mr. Godwin

Saturday, July 05, 2008

July 5, 2008
Last night, our niece and nephew, E.J. and Mercedes came home with us from Grandma Betty's and we got up this morning and attacked the studio. E.J. scanning art reference (every day I clip and save three or four images out of the newspapers for art reference and after fifteen or twenty years, there is a ton of floating, piled high reference). Kathy's theory is, scan it and keep in a file on the desktop and throw away the paper.

Meanwhile, Mercedes has been pulling down all of the books in the library and dusting them and then refiling in a more orderly manner (if you call piling books on the floor a less than orderly mannner.). We took several swimming breaks, but stayed on it all day.

Kathy and 'Cedes just went up to Office Max (6:30 P.M.) to buy some more book shelves (I've got way more books than I'll ever use) to finish tomorrow.

Feels great. Photos to follow.

Of course, both dogs had to lay down right in the action areas, because, hey, they barked all night and we need to pay attention to them, for all the hard work they do.

"Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in."
- Mark Twain

Friday, July 04, 2008

July 4, 2008
Windy last night during the local fireworks up at Harold's Cave Creek Corral. I was concerned about fire danger but everything is still here this morning. Peaches hid in the garage. She hates all those explosions (note to self: do not send Peaches to Iraq).

Last night I got an amazing phenom forwarded to me from Steve Sederwall:

"Just saw a news report that you were on. Cool! Here is the link:"

Check it out. Evidently there is this groundswell of support for, well, me. I had no clue.

Going over to Grandma Betty's in an hour for a July Fourth celebration. Made some chicken, high grain spaghetti. Man, I'm getting healthy. It's disgusting, really.

Did some very strong sketches today. I'll post them later.

"the only struggle worthy of man's unceasing sacrifice±the struggle to be free."
—Lyndon Baines Johnson

Thursday, July 03, 2008

July 3, 2008 Bonus Bonus Blog Post
Two of the prettiest women Mohave County Union High School ever produced took me to lunch today at Tonto Bar & Grill:

Two Girls For Every Guy

Left to right, Rachele Bonza, BBB and Linda (Smith) White. We traded Kingman horror stories. In other words, growing up stories. Stories of our families and friends and how we survived. Ha. We did laugh quite a bit. Really enjoyed it.

"If you have a skeleton in your closet, take it out and dance with it."
—Carolyn MacKenzie
July 3, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Here's a new experiment we are working on. Robert Ray, our production manager, video-taped yesterday's staff meeting. It's rough and the audio is not great, but here is the opening:

July 3, 2008
I could smell the smoke from the Crown King fire last night. It's burning south of Prescott. Air was hazy. We've got three big fires going at the moment.

Worked last night on clouds for my sketches:

Lots of good sky reference and big clouds this time of year:

We need a good photographer to cover Kansas and Oregon for our new feature Westward Home. A photographer in each territory would be best. Contact me here, or Meghan Saar.

Long Live The Palace
"This is the week to bring up the Palace isn't it? My memories of the Palace
are a little hazy, I think it has something to do with the altitude. Spent
many July 4th weekends on Whiskey Row, heard about a rodeo, never saw it.
Did go to the "street dance" though.

"If you check out Junior Bonner, the lady with the beehive hairdo and
rhinestone glasses, tending bar with Dub Taylor is Yvonne (Kirkman?). (Looks
like she stepped right out of a Honkytonk Sue strip.) She was a regular
Palace bartender in the 60's and 70's I believe.

"I met Yvonne at the Birdcage on the Fourth of July, 1986. The Marty Mitchell
Band was on stage and I was at the bar drinking with my friend Bill and
about 20 members of the Dirty Dozen. Yvonne appeared in the doorway with a
pretty young blond. I saw them and immediately looked to Bill and said, " I
got the young one."

"'The young one', turned out to be Yvonne's granddaughter Cindy, who I
married five months later.

"Yvonne would be about 93 if she's still around. She was full of great
Prescott stories, including filming that scene for Junior Bonner. I haven't
stayed in touch with the ex family, I sure do miss Yvonne, what a hoot!"

—Lance Ross

"If you are surrounded by ocean you are an Island. If you don't have ocean all round you, you are incontinent."
—Wayne, age 7

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

July 2, 2008
Another enlightening day at cardio rehab. Talked with Susie who rode a recumbent cycle next to mine. Her story: she was eating lunch with her husband at Gandini's Mexican food restaurant and had a spicy dish (she doesn't remember what) and iced tea. When she got up to leave she felt odd. She thought nothing of it, but her husband drove her to Scottsdale North. Doctors examined her and discovered her narrow arteries. She didn't require stents at that time (five years ago) but it scared her into doing regular workouts. She's 57.

Made a pot of pinto beans last night. Combined them with Mad Coyote Joe's fresh made salsa and it was heavenly. Pintos are quite healthy (without the heavy salt though).

The Lizard Vs. The Palace In The Mile High City
“That picture of the bar, it's not the Palace, it's a bar that used to be called the Lizard right across the street from the Prescott Courier. Spent a few nights there in the late 90's. Not sure what it's real name was back in the day. I could be wrong though, but it sure looks like my old watering hole.”
—Rich Waters

“I read your Blog yesterday and your request for help to determine the location of that B&W photo. I too think it’s the Palace Bar in Prescott.

“The attached picture is of the Palace Bar in Prescott. From the photograph the woodwork on the bar and ceiling treatment seem to match that of your photograph. I hope this is of some help. For what it’s worth that’s my grey hat on the bar.

“I took the photo on April 25, 2007 when I was on a solo tour of some towns in Arizona in search of a bit of Virgil Earp’s spirit and my own soul.”
—Scott. R. Kirkman RPA

“I’ve always thought it is the Palace Saloon in Prescott. Check it out with Junior Bonner. In the flick they had a big fight scene there. I’m sure I remember Ida Lupino standing on that staircase and telling Robert Preston he can go to Australia or hell but without her. Seems like the last time I was there the area past the cornice had booths and pool tables and a dance floor. The cornice sort of divided the bar from the pool table area, kind of a dance floor. Also, i’m sure the stamped tin ceiling was still there. I remember we ran a postcard of the Palace in one Ask The Marshall columns and made mention of the unsanitary towels hanging from the bar.”
—Gus Walker

Yes, Meghan asked me what those things hanging on the side of the bar were, and I told her those were mustache towels, for all the beer drinking mustache wearers to clean their whiskers after each drink. Yikes! Talk about sanitary napkins!

We had our first staff meeting in several months today in the conference room. Robert Ray video-taped it and we're going to try and get a snippet of it on here a little later today.

Still noodling the sepia washes:

Did these last night. Quite mysterious and cryptic. Angling towards something:

"You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering."
- Henri-Frédéric Amiel

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

July 1, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Calling all Eagle Eyes. We are creating a feature on Old West saloons and we found this photo in our archives and all it says on the back is "Arizona saloon." My eye sees the possibility of it being the Palace Saloon on Whiskey Row in Prescott because of the staircase in the back, which is similar to the one in the Palace today. The only thing that throws it off is the cornice in the left foreground which I don't remember being there.

Any help on IDing this photo is greatly appreciated:

July 1, 2008
I've been thinking quite a bit about my future in light of my recent health issues and I need to come up with a shorthand for the event, or events that happen after my "Wipeout." Maybe AW, for After Wipeout?

We need someone to do our "What's It like To Live There?" in the next issue (September). It's on Dodge City, Kansas. Do you know anyone who lives there? Or anyone who knows someone? Please have them contact me. Thanks.

Here's a piece of property I wouldn't mind owning:

"My name is Sherri Skinner and my family owns the Nellie Cashman Restaurant in Tombstone, Az. It is the original building that Nellie Cashman had her restaurant, the Russ House in during the 1880's. We have run the business for 23 years and have owned the building for 17 years. We are now trying to sell it. It has been for sale for some time but with the economy and lack of real estate knowledge on our part and the realtors we've chosen it has been difficult. I see that you do a lot of articles about preservation in your magazine, and since I've been trying to come up with some more creative ways to put the word out there that it is for sale I thought of True West. The building is a beautiful old adobe built in 1879. It would be wonderful if someone interested in preserving western history would buy it. It certainly doesn't need to stay a restaurant and since we are only asking $375,000, the possibilities are wide open. We have tried over the years to keep the building maintained, restoration is beyond our financial means. Please consider doing some type of story on this beautiful old building that is often overlooked by many when visiting Tombstone. We don't have gunfights or fake historical characters roaming around. We just try to keep it homey and comfortable like we think Nellie would have done. If you are interested please contact me, either through this email address or phone 520-457-2212."
—Sherri Skinner

Some of my cartoonist friends believe that Western Civilization peaked with Disney's animated classic Pinocchio and has gone down hill ever since. I believe someone told me Disney's artists racked up 250 years of overtime hand painting each cell and as a result of union efforts, Disney was never able to create such a masterpiece again.

On that topic, here's a sobering bit of commentary:

"Everything that can be delivered digitally will be, at a cost approaching zero, through a bandwith nearing infinity. Thus the dying out of Disney's august cel-animation houses, in which thousands of artisans hand-painted individual cels—like monks lovingly crushing grapes in the higher Dordogne—now seems predestined. So, too, the demise of the compact disc, the DVD, the home phone, the long-distance toll call and, possibly, the newspaper, the magazine, the book."
—Michael Hirschorn, reviewing "The Pixar Touch" in The New York Times

"May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house."
—George Carlin