Fact and Fiction: What Looney Tunes, Bugs Bunny, and Star Trek Taught Me about the West

I’m often asked how I got into westerns–sometimes with a tone of disbelief, as in how could one possibly like this hoary, cardboard cutout genre??

I barely know myself: I was always the one who insisted on playing the Indian in Cowboys and Indians because cowboys were just so not interesting to me. And watching movies where . . . → Read More: Fact and Fiction: What Looney Tunes, Bugs Bunny, and Star Trek Taught Me about the West

Of Western Writing and Dreaming; or, William Post’s The Mystery of Table Mountain

Writers are badasses. They have to be. The stereotype of a writer is a coffee-shop-writing fop in a cravat not needing to cling to a 9-to-5 job, but honestly, to get images to incarnate as black-and-white correctly spelled prose between a front and back cover with ISBN number, and read and critiqued and/or praised by more . . . → Read More: Of Western Writing and Dreaming; or, William Post’s The Mystery of Table Mountain

From William S. Hart to the Dude; or, We Have Met the Hero, and He Is Us

In the 1920s, William S. Hart was the icon of the West. As well as Uncle Sam, a shining-knight cowboy, west-ho adventurer, and all-around patriotic patriarchal figure.

Thirty years later, John Wayne became the next icon of choice for manly men everywhere. Embodying home and hearth as well as risky adventure, Wayne’s shade of derring-do was equally . . . → Read More: From William S. Hart to the Dude; or, We Have Met the Hero, and He Is Us

In the Beginning; or, William S. Hart and the Western Cliché Genesis

William S. Hart bid adieu to the West and westerns as he loved them in the prologue of 1925’s Tumbleweeds, his last film, reissued in 1939.

He wore too much makeup (OK,unfair–all actors did in silent films), acted in a stilted manner (OK, OK, it goes with silent-film territory), and moralized about how little the westerns being made . . . → Read More: In the Beginning; or, William S. Hart and the Western Cliché Genesis

Western Tweets and Posts; or Revisiting the Wild Western Web

Nothing like a dash of reality, I say, especially if they don’t make me ride a horse.

By “they” I mean the real-life cowboys/girls in the world, who blog about getting hay baled and sucking up mud before breakfast. Those riproaring mofos who tweet about 100-degree heat as they work with cattle or mules or horses and . . . → Read More: Western Tweets and Posts; or Revisiting the Wild Western Web

Villains and Badmen; or Real-Life vs. Reel-Life

Villains are loathsome but intriguing, often more so than the better-than-common-man heroes. Real-life villains, like John Wesley Hardin, tend to be vicious thugs who blame everyone else for not being able to keep their pistols in their holsters. Reel-life villains, like Jack Palance’s Jack Wilson of Shane, don’t need no stinkin’ back story–their evilness is as . . . → Read More: Villains and Badmen; or Real-Life vs. Reel-Life

The Cowpoke’s Life’s for Me; The Brands of Herb Jeffries and Roy Rogers

My lucky horseshoe used to be my sister’s horse’s cast-off shoe, bent and scarred silver with use. Now I use Roy Rogers’s horseshoe. It’s stamped “Lucky Horseshoe,” and with Roy Roger’s name and Trigger’s for good measure. Yes, I am a lucky, lucky bucko.

The singing cowboy is a unique kind of hero in the . . . → Read More: The Cowpoke’s Life’s for Me; The Brands of Herb Jeffries and Roy Rogers

To Hell on a Fast Horse; or, Epic Happiness Pursued by Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett

To Hell on a Fast Horse: Pat Garrett, Billy the Kid, and and the Epic to Chase to Justice in the Old West, by Mark Lee Gardner began as a story of two men on opposite sides of the law, and ended as two life stories that compete to this day: Billy the Kid’s self-satisfying romp . . . → Read More: To Hell on a Fast Horse; or, Epic Happiness Pursued by Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett

The Real Deal; or, What Real Cowboys Do

Let’s see, where was I? Why yes, hip deep in Lorne Greene’s pillow lips circa Bonanza…

Sigh, no. I was in deeply in the wonder that is the Gene Autry Museum (aka the Cowboy Museum) and writing up another draft of the novel. Unlike movie cowboys, who seem to either
a.) multitask–fix barbed wire fences, herd cattle, woo . . . → Read More: The Real Deal; or, What Real Cowboys Do

Writing the West; or, the West’s Westness, Part 1

A recent trip to the LA’s Autry National Center of the American West, aka the Cowboy Museum, yielded huge Westness moments. I don’t remember much of it–being so transported in ecstasy I wasn’t on the earthly plane–but I know I took a lot of pictures.
What is Westness? It’s the romantic thing that anything West of the . . . → Read More: Writing the West; or, the West’s Westness, Part 1