Wild, Wildebeest West; or, When Wagon Train Jumped the Gnu

Sometimes it  takes just a split second to realize (or remember) that those peddling the western mythos in the middle of last century thought their audience–the common folk eating TV dinners on vinyl poufs–were idiots.

I know full well that our nostalgia for westerns and the monolithic western hero is only made possible by crafty screenwriting and . . . → Read More: Wild, Wildebeest West; or, When Wagon Train Jumped the Gnu

A Fistful of Westerns; or, History Channel Rounds Up Bucko’s Greatest Westerns

VERY pleased to announce an excellently fun gig with History Channel–the daunting task of recommending a series of westerns to savvy history buffs. Check out my recs at their History Shop (oh, and buy some westerns for holiday gifts, especially if you or your friend/lover/pard is the laconic hero type!).

As a special bonus for this roundup of . . . → Read More: A Fistful of Westerns; or, History Channel Rounds Up Bucko’s Greatest Westerns

Zombie Cowboys; or, Why Western Henchmen Never Die

They’re the snarling thugs behind the mustache-twirling villain. The what’s-his-name-again guys holding prisoner the beautiful cowgirl in distress. The cannon fodder who aim their guns at the well-armed Silver Screen Western Hero. On cue they say “Okay boss,” “Let’s get him!” or just grunt. 

Let's get 'em, boys!

Henchmen come in all sizes, most ethnicities, one gender, and . . . → Read More: Zombie Cowboys; or, Why Western Henchmen Never Die

Circle the Wagons!; or, More Advice from a Besieged Writer

Steer the rattling wagons into a tight circle! Protect the women and children! Draw your six-shooters as whooping Indians on painted war ponies streak over the rise of a hill!

Look sharp, Tonto! This isn’t just a tired western stereotype, it’s a Silver-Screen Western Hero Equation!

c. 2011 es cowboylands

In reel life: Earnest pioneers moving to promised . . . → Read More: Circle the Wagons!; or, More Advice from a Besieged Writer

The Miracle Rider; or, How Tom Mix Saved My Novel

In a reckless land…In a lawless place…Sometimes one man can make all the difference. –voice-over of trailer, The Miracle Rider

 

The story is an old one. Clichéd even. But satisfying.

Writer’s hopes for perfect manuscript leading to speedy publication, six-figure salary, film, and several homes around the world are killed in some suitably dramatic, bloody way. The writer, . . . → Read More: The Miracle Rider; or, How Tom Mix Saved My Novel

The Reality of Cliffhangers; or, Real-Life Versions for Real-Life People

Reel-life cliffhangers in western serials run a narrow range. But cliffhangers in real life are much more subtle, devious, and hair-raising. Cue exclamation points here, and lots of them.

IN REEL LIFE:

A wagon hurtles over a cliff! (Don’t fret: The hero will jump off in the nick of time.)

A powder . . . → Read More: The Reality of Cliffhangers; or, Real-Life Versions for Real-Life People

Get Your Heroic Story Arc On; or, The Teachable Moments of Cliffhangers

It’s one of the hoariest cliches of westerns known to humankind: the cliffhanger. You know, the dramatic end of the episode when the good guy faces certain death and hangs from a cliff/is trapped in a room with a powderkeg’s lit fuse/is about to be eaten by mountain lions, only to save himself against all odds . . . → Read More: Get Your Heroic Story Arc On; or, The Teachable Moments of Cliffhangers

A Manly Star in the Firmament; or, George Montgomery’s Vox Viri

Mortal humans who play silver-screen western gods–I mean heroes–have to go through rigorous vocal exercises to deepen their voices, strangle their vowels, and clip off extraneous words like adjectives (the last being a good plan for anyone, actually). These exercises serve to broaden the chest and strengthen one’s cajones–as George Montgomery can attest to.

In The . . . → Read More: A Manly Star in the Firmament; or, George Montgomery’s Vox Viri

The Good, the Bad and the Rinty; or, Another of the Worst Silver-Screen Animal Hero Westerns

The chasm yawns below me. My fingers ache from their grip on the rock; my feet kick wildly for purchase, nothing between them and novel-revision and work deadlines except dead air–and too few hours.

I feel my fingers giving and I regret the many hours I spent on Twitter rather than doing finger exercises, and I . . . → Read More: The Good, the Bad and the Rinty; or, Another of the Worst Silver-Screen Animal Hero Westerns

To the Rescue!; or Another of the Worst Silver-Screen Animal Hero Westerns

On the heels of Republic Pictures’ 75th anniversary (I’m guessing they’ll have a cliffhanger or two roasting on their barbecue tonight), comes more of the Top Ten Worst Silver-Screen Animal Hero Westerns! Flapjack42 is making the world safe for filmgoers everywhere! Yes indeedy, Flapjack42 watches these dogs (pun intended) so YOU DON’T HAVE TO!

#7 Law of . . . → Read More: To the Rescue!; or Another of the Worst Silver-Screen Animal Hero Westerns