Writing the High Country; or, Author Larry Bjornson on His Western, Wide Open

Writing a novel is hard work. Writing a good western can be even more daunting: westerns, which tend to have plotlines so well traveled you can drive a wagon train through them, nonetheless require historical specificity and a protagonist who typifies rugged individuality—laconic and gimlet-eyed from the start or in a dude-to-hero arc.

So whenever I read . . . → Read More: Writing the High Country; or, Author Larry Bjornson on His Western, Wide Open

Reward Good, Fight Evil; or, the Western Hero Lessons of The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe

“I want to be a cowboy.”

–Chin Hao, aka Shanghai Joe, played by  Sessue Hayakawa, aka Chen Lee, The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe, 1973

I’ve always said that Silver-Screen Western Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and nationalities. Whether SSWHs are male or female, from the East or the West, they share

a certain stillness in their . . . → Read More: Reward Good, Fight Evil; or, the Western Hero Lessons of The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe

Clothes Maketh the Man; or New Silver-Screen Western Hero Django Unchained

Two pics from Django, Unchained are seeding the Wild Western Web. Be still, my beating heart. You’re making me type typos. 

One is of Leonardo DiCaprio wielding a hammer and Mephistophelian eyebrows, the devil with a red suit on, degeneracy signified by not only a cigarillo in a holder (instead of tucked into the corner of mouth, . . . → Read More: Clothes Maketh the Man; or New Silver-Screen Western Hero Django Unchained

Reach for the Skies; or, Study Says Guns Make People Look Bigger

Huh. And I thought it was all in the camerawork.

A recent (April 2012) study at UCLA funded by the US Air Force has found that humans will perceive a man with a gun as larger than he really is. Study participants were asked to judge the size of men holding things like caulking guns, saws, drills, and . . . → Read More: Reach for the Skies; or, Study Says Guns Make People Look Bigger

Justified My Love; or, Elmore Leonard Updates Western Hero

Silence is golden. Combine that with a serious western hero, and you have gunpowder to burn.

(Just one of the many promos pics of Olyphant aiming a gun. Note the un-western tie.)

One of the best modern takes on the classic laconic western hero is U.S. Marshal Rayland Givens, from the master of gab, Elmore Leonard. Leonard’s dialogue–from . . . → Read More: Justified My Love; or, Elmore Leonard Updates Western Hero

Shut up; or, The Eternal Silence of the Western Hero

It’s a well-worn stereotype that western heroes don’t talk about their feelings. But it’s not that they don’t have them. Western heroes are deep wells of emotion, actually. If you flicked a pebble into one of those wells, that little “plink” would echo and re-echo a thousandfold-fold-fold-fold-fold…

Spoiler alert: Coop gets the gal in The Virginian.

Take . . . → Read More: Shut up; or, The Eternal Silence of the Western Hero

Fast Times at Liberty Valance High; or The Reel-Life Politics of Ford’s Anti-Western

I knew where it was going. Anyone who’s done his or her western homework would.

There are two American archetypes that were sometimes played against each other in old Westerns.

The egghead Eastern lawyer who lacks the skills or stomach for a gunfight is contrasted with the tough Western rancher and ace shot who has no patience for . . . → Read More: Fast Times at Liberty Valance High; or The Reel-Life Politics of Ford’s Anti-Western

A Silver-Screen Western Hero’s Journey; or, The Rough and Ready Life of an Unpublished Author

Some Silver-Screen Western Heroes have big pecs and holsters hanging alongside their brass balls.

The Silver-Screen Western Antihero

Some have breasts that don’t sag and thighs without cellulite, even if they try to wreak vengeance in a poncho.

Gratiuitous Raquel Welch photo

All ride into town and act all aloof and lo! They get the girl and kick the . . . → Read More: A Silver-Screen Western Hero’s Journey; or, The Rough and Ready Life of an Unpublished Author

Wild, 24/7; or The West of Atlantic City

Nothing makes my day more than drifting through a town that has mojo already and finding a shrine to the West. Like discovering the Mithraic alter beneath a Roman church, it means that I have uncovered a power so potent it can’t be hidden.

So here was Atlantic City: slots, mobsters, boardwalk, 1940s-sailors-on-leave / bad-1980s-haircut feel.

And . . . → Read More: Wild, 24/7; or The West of Atlantic City

Drifting Along; or, Tumbling Tumbleweeds ‘R’ Me

The Dude totally got them. Roy Rogers harmonized for them in their self-titled theme song by Bob Nolan. The glamorous Supremes sang about them. Jack Palance recited their theme song. The Library of Congress, in 2010, honored them with their song’s inclusion into the National Registry.

Seeeeeeeeeeeee them tumbling down
Pledging their love to . . . → Read More: Drifting Along; or, Tumbling Tumbleweeds ‘R’ Me