Don’t Just Be Cool, Stay Cool; or, Jimmy Ringo’s Showdown Tips

A Silver-Screen Western hero never goes off half-cocked, meaning, in a metaphorical way, that one’s hammer, or firing pin, which you had thought you’d set at half-cock to keep your metaphorical gun from firing, fails just when don’t want it to, and your misplaced or uncontrolled rage shoots you in the foot, leg, your prize-winning cow pony–basically any place you don’t want your verbal bullets to go.

A Silver-Screen Western Hero always has his or her gun (stay reel metaphorical with me, guys–no real-life blood baths here) oiled, primed, and ready. But a shot doesn’t ALWAYS have to be fired, unless you’re the villain. (In that case, why are you reading this? Go sell your soul to Beelzebub or something.) Better have a reason for a showdown, and we’re not talking about a noisy neighbor bugging the heckola out of you. We’re talking a cause, like a situation that could hurt children, the elderly, the vulnerable, the ill, or small animals. Even if you’re the mercenary Man with No Name, you have a soft spot for the villagers getting screwed. Standing down can be a manly choice, especially if you have a good line to use to deflate the situation.

Remember, a real gunslinger is utterly disciplined, and ready to pick his or her battle. Not a whole lot is worth bringing things to a showdown, which is something Jimmy Ringo has learned through bitter experience (Gregory Peck, The Gunfighter, 1950). If someone is being hurt and it isn’t you, there is a good chance you need to get into your hero mode. Otherwise, let the other person shoot him/herself in the foot. Or, well, like Jimmy Ringo, as you’re shot and dying, let the punk kid look real fast with a gun and see how he likes the wretched, paranoid life of a gunslinger.

Well, there was this movie I seen one time,
About a man riding ‘cross the desert and it starred Gregory Peck.
He was shot down by a hungry kid trying to make a name for himself.
The townspeople wanted to crush that kid down and string him up by the neck.
Well, the marshal, now he beat that kid to a bloody pulp
As the dying gunfighter lay in the sun and gasped for his last breath.
Turn him loose, let him go, let him say he outdrew me fair and square,
I want him to feel what it’s like to every moment face his death…

–“Brownsville Girl,” Bob Dylan, referencing The Gunfighter (1950) starring Gregory Peck

Next step: Practice, Practice, Practice

Great review of The Gunfighter, good pics, like the amazing newspaper clipping above, at

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