“Stillness in Motion”; or, The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Westerns

Anson Mount, handsome and gifted star of AMC’s railroad blood-mud-and-guts western Hell on Wheels, waxes poetic in Cowboy & Indians magazine (August 2014) as he explains what about westerns gets him in the solar plexus. But first he stakes an XY chromosome claim on the genre, describing it as perhaps the most masculine of them all, depicting manly manly men men men men men . . . → Read More: “Stillness in Motion”; or, The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Westerns

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

Trying Hard to Sound like Gary Cooper; or, How to Talk Super-Dooper

The quintessential taciturn cowboy, lanky yet graceful, was branded “Gary Cooper” by the 1929 film The Virginian. The son of  a Montana rancher, the Coop could ride as soon as he could walk. Born Frank James Cooper, he changed his name per a casting director’s advice to “Gary,” which she thought would sound more rugged, like . . . → Read More: Trying Hard to Sound like Gary Cooper; or, How to Talk Super-Dooper

Novel High Noon Approaching; or, Gary Cooper as Seen Through the Eyes of…

I’m revising a novel at a sprint now, so some days will be bloggier than others! Not to worry–my famed western how-tos on achieving happiness through following the filmsteps of silver-screen western hero Gary Cooper’s Virginian will return tomorrow. Just keep practicing those squints and stares and epic pauses, y’hear?

As author Paul Green commented, when . . . → Read More: Novel High Noon Approaching; or, Gary Cooper as Seen Through the Eyes of…

Trying Hard to Look like Gary Cooper; or, How to Act Super-Dooper

What would the Virginian do?

That’s a worthy question, whether you’re seeking direction in love, life, business, or baking mac and cheese.

As I’ve said before, the Virginian’s a proven success story, whether in Owen Wister’s hundred-year-old best-seller or Gary Cooper’s first talkie (1929). The role made the Coop a star, and cemented the popular view of the . . . → Read More: Trying Hard to Look like Gary Cooper; or, How to Act Super-Dooper

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

A Man’s Gotta Do What a Man’s Gotta Do * ; or A Handy Guide to Life’s Goals

The epically awesome goals of a Silver-Screen Western hero can be distilled down to five emulation-worthy goals, which can be mixed and matched for dramatic effect.

win a love interest
protect society
wreak revenge
get rich
know thyself

*(btw, title from George Jetson of The Jetsons, not John Wayne)

Of these, . . . → Read More: A Man’s Gotta Do What a Man’s Gotta Do * ; or A Handy Guide to Life’s Goals

Dude!!

A Western definition:
Dude (dood) n.
Usually an Easterner, but it can be used to call anyone obviously unready for the West–such as if a person is wearing street shoes, too-fancy clothes, or unable to ride a horse or track game or make coffee in a tin can. A dude is usually mocked mercilessly (see The Virginian, by . . . → Read More: Dude!!

Denis Johnson’s Land; or, The West of "Nobody Move"

The cover of Denis Johnson’s new novel Nobody Move screams KITSCHPULPNOIR with red and yellow letters and bullet holes spangling the jacket.
Famously serialized in Playboy, the story has plenty to like, or plenty to dislike, depending on how cooked you like your femme fatales, gun-toting heavies, and convoluted plots. I take mine hard as nails, so . . . → Read More: Denis Johnson’s Land; or, The West of "Nobody Move"

Westerns 101; or, What Owen Wister Gave the World

Yesterday was Owen Wister’s birthday, the man who almost single-handedly created the Cowboy mythos. He’s both a masterful wordsmith and a cautionary example against using the Cowboy indiscriminately. 

Who the hell is Owen Wister? One of my favorite places on the Wild Western Web for all things Americana, The Library of Congress’s . . . → Read More: Westerns 101; or, What Owen Wister Gave the World