Mojave Ode; or, Of Cyborgs, Grit, and Cholla

From the floor of the dry lake, sunrise began with the flaring upthrust of Lonely Mountain…. Silhouetted ramparts in deep shadow rang brightly with the fireball impact of the sun. Etched by early morning dust, sunlight stabbed through crevices as huge glowing shafts across the vast desert floor…. clumps of of scattered tumbleweed hid their brambled . . . → Read More: Mojave Ode; or, Of Cyborgs, Grit, and Cholla

Of Cattle and Men: A Review of The Big Drift, by Patrick Dearen

“In the early days storms drove the cattle irresistibly before them; the cowboys not able to handle the frightened and half frozen animals were forced to drift with them, often for a hundred miles, living as best they could.” –Frederic Remington

“A bovine was what made a cowboy a cowboy, with the help of a horse, and . . . → Read More: Of Cattle and Men: A Review of The Big Drift, by Patrick Dearen

Enter My House Justified; or, Skirmish at the Old Homestead Cabin

The novel of the homestead cabin writes itself. 

It was a prologue of possibilities, of quails and tarantulas and Joshua tree groves and sunshine. Since then, its chapters, experienced at a 2,500-mile distance, waver between comedy and tragedy and tearjerker, with the love of my life, the cabin, being both beautiful and ugly, stoic and needy, a magnet . . . → Read More: Enter My House Justified; or, Skirmish at the Old Homestead Cabin

Did the Duke take the Myth to the Grave?; or, Tim Neath’s Search through Western Films

We’ll find ’em in the end, I promise you. We’ll find ’em. Just as sure as the turnin’ of the earth. —Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), The Searchers (1956)

The Meaning of Life was easier to know before World War II. They were bad; we were good. Since 1945, it’s been harder to maintain the line in the . . . → Read More: Did the Duke take the Myth to the Grave?; or, Tim Neath’s Search through Western Films

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

Et tu, Cimarron?; or More Rules for Epic Westerns

As I was saying before paying work and Valentine’s Day and the call of the West in the form of watching The Stalking Moon, starring Gregory “Awesome Gimlet-Eye” Peck, epic westerns aren’t my cuppa tea. Or joe.

I’d just finished spinning my snark about epic westerns in an earlier post when Nuts4r2 “Awesome Gimlet-eyed Film Reviewer” called . . . → Read More: Et tu, Cimarron?; or More Rules for Epic Westerns

Men Will Be Men and Women Will Be Women; or, The Sexual Frontier of Epic Westerns

Westerns = Greek drama. And shut up, Aeschylus is so not rolling in his grave.

He’d have appreciated the golden-boy good looks of John Wayne in John Ford’s Stagecoach and the film’s subtle yet sharp critique on so-called civilized society–the stagecoach journey as a vehicle for a development of a humane community  that cannot survive in . . . → Read More: Men Will Be Men and Women Will Be Women; or, The Sexual Frontier of Epic Westerns

The Purple States of True Grit; or, Bridging the Gap, One Movie Theater at a Time

True Grit has accomplished the impossible. Unity! It’s a miracle! It’s hope, change, and Old West dialogue all mixed together!

True Grit has bridged the red state/blue state divide, Frank Rich of The New York Times writes. It’s a hit with coastal elites and Middle America family-values families alike, something that the blue/red mix of voters . . . → Read More: The Purple States of True Grit; or, Bridging the Gap, One Movie Theater at a Time

The Good, Bad, and the Fugly; or, Silver-Screen Western Clichés in Ten Wanted Men

I thought I liked westerns until I saw Ten Wanted Men, 1955, directed by H. Bruce “Lucky” Humberstone, who never wasted a shot, even when it was shitty.

But if you can sit through this slog-fest of clichés and stilted dialogue and incongruous shots and dead airspace, westerns are your life.

Bad western clichés, gawd . . . → Read More: The Good, Bad, and the Fugly; or, Silver-Screen Western Clichés in Ten Wanted Men