Trying Hard to Look like Gary Cooper; or, The Virginian and the Average Joe

Cecil B. DeMille once said that the Virginian was the ideal American–“short on speech and  long on action.”

Owen Wister’s 1902 fictional cowboy hero and DeMille’s 1929 Coop-starring western was a classic early twentieth-century success story. He got the girl, killed the bad man, made the West safe for suburban houses, and became master of his own . . . → Read More: Trying Hard to Look like Gary Cooper; or, The Virginian and the Average Joe

Death Valley Daze; or, Just Abandon Hope Already

Poor Real just wanted to see palm trees and movie stars. What Real got was Corpus Christi.

I’ve been there. Beautiful vistas and epic moments have sparkled like stars in my eyes and then been ground into affluvial dust in slogs up and down ridges with a laden pack and no trail and wondering if my urban . . . → Read More: Death Valley Daze; or, Just Abandon Hope Already

Ten Feet from Hell; or, Tell It to the Vintage Postcard

Here’s another vintage postcard, courtesy of Bob Heman. Its hokiness portrays one of the most desolate, awe-inspiring, and dangerous national parks in the United States, Death Valley. (Well, dangerous for the unobservant tourist who forgets water or relies solely on their car’s GPS system.)

For me the front symbolizes those postcard-selling havens of air-conditioning that . . . → Read More: Ten Feet from Hell; or, Tell It to the Vintage Postcard

The Muse of the West, Too; or, Vintage Postcard Tells the Other Side

There are those people who stand in the middle of fragrant sage or wide, billowing prairies,

amidst Joshua trees or whispering pines

and LIKE IT.

And then there are those who DON’T.

Poor Real. Probably missed the lawns and picket fences . . . → Read More: The Muse of the West, Too; or, Vintage Postcard Tells the Other Side

The Muse of the West; or, Vintage Postcard Says It All

When I took my first step out West–off a Greyhound bus onto the soil of Colorado–I said, “No.”

No meant N-O to being a teacher there, to living there, to being part of its Flatirons and Rockies. It was the part of me that wanted the concrete canyons of New York (and still does). But like a . . . → Read More: The Muse of the West; or, Vintage Postcard Says It All

Bark! Bark!; or, Two of the Worst Silver-Screen Western Animal Heroes

Bucko here! Raging floods! Avalanche! And revisions! I’m teetering on a precipice of novel decisions (one false move and I’ll fall into the Maelstrom of Indecisive Despair…)

Yikes!

…when to my rescue comes

BARK! BARK! BARKITY BARK BARK!

That’s right, Lassie! Saved! Guest blogger Flapjack42 is back with the  Top 10 Worst Animal as Silver-Screen Western Hero movies . . . → Read More: Bark! Bark!; or, Two of the Worst Silver-Screen Western Animal Heroes

Arizona’s Byways; or, Space as a State of Mind

Space. Hard to find in New York City but possible, especially if you find Space, A State of Mind, in places like a subway car or a train or an apartment’s window, per interesting discussions with fellow New York bloggers, CO (My Private Coney) and Alana (Smoke and Gaslight).

What I miss most about traveling out West . . . → Read More: Arizona’s Byways; or, Space as a State of Mind

From Everyday to Epic; or, How to Transform a Road Trip

Road trips aren’t all Tombstone and saguaro vistas and ghostly Indian Wars forts. A lot of road trips are deadly dull. Exhibit A, from a trip in Idaho.

Note that I actually like Idaho. But this part made me go insane with boredom and eat the driver, which caused problems later on. (I recommend garlic and . . . → Read More: From Everyday to Epic; or, How to Transform a Road Trip

Of Blood, Shadows, and Fort Bowie, AZ; or, A Novelist’s Own Roadtrip

Writing a novel can be a bloody business.

‘Course I would rather do it any day than spill real blood, but rarely a writing day goes by when I’m not “licking my wounds,” “battered,” or just plain depressed at my paltry efforts to put letter after letter and have them say something meaningful to more than me . . . → Read More: Of Blood, Shadows, and Fort Bowie, AZ; or, A Novelist’s Own Roadtrip

Classic Western Setting 2; or, Tombstone, Boots, and Val Kilmer Souvenirs

The rental car rocked and shook on the narrow trail–I mean, road. Tucson and its spangly lights and hard-hearted soiled doves had been left far behind. My urban cowboy and I were heading south toward the frontier, toward adventure, toward a date with destiny and hopefully some great souvenirs.

I had high expectations of Tombstone. OK Corral. . . . → Read More: Classic Western Setting 2; or, Tombstone, Boots, and Val Kilmer Souvenirs