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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Short Western Stories - Killing Trail

Charles Gramlich has written this collection of short stories which includes the following shorts:

Killing Trail
Showdown at Wild Briar
Powder Burn
Once Upon a Time with the Dead

And also a couple of short essays.

Col Colman's choice was Showdown at Wild Briar as he states in his blog Col's Criminal Library where he reviewed the book. I also liked that story, but I choose Killing Trail as my favorite because it is a little longer and a more detailed plot and more characters (at least, to me). Charles explains his writing of this story in one of the essays, why he wrote it and what it is based on (Louis L'Amour) and uses his great imagination to compose the story.

Well, I liked the other stories, too. There is plenty of action and suspense to keep me glued to the pages in each of them. And I just wanted to add my two cents to the mix and let you know where I stand. And Mr. Gramlich's book about his beer drinking feats is a fun read, too.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Annie Get Your Gun

I see where Annie Get Your Gun is going to be playing at the Palms Theatre in Mesa, AZ, until the 14th of February. That isn't very long to take your chances and watch this musical performance.
Over the years from 1935 to 2014 there have been many musical performances, movies and TV series with the subject being Annie Oakley. In 1935, Barbara Stanwyck played Annie in a fictionalized film called Annie Oakley, In 1946, it was Ethel Merman in Annie Get Your Gun, and others who have played in Annie movies, plays, and TV are Betty Hutton, Mary Martin, Gail Davis, Angela Douglas, Geraldine Chaplin, Diane Civila, Jamie Lee Curtis, Reba McEntire, Bernadette Peters, Susan Lucci, Cheryl Ladd, Crystal Bernard, Mary Lou Henner, Elizabeth Herridge, and all the others, amateur and professional who have represented her through the years.

Annie wrote a letter to President William McKinley offering to round up a company of fifty women sharpshooters who would furnish their own weapons and ammunition to fight in the war against Spain should it occur. And she trained at least 15,000 women in gun handling and sharpshooting over the years.She was a strong advocate for women being able to defend themselves with firearms. Sitting Bull named her Watanya Cicilla, Li'l Sharp Shooter, when she was in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

She married Frank Butler August 23, 1876 when she was sixteen years old and they went into business in their Sharpshooting show. She won 54 libel lawsuits against newspapers that cost her more than she got out of them. Huh. I thought that newspapers don't lie???

Anyway, I culled this out of Wikipedia, which has a fairly long bio and history of this lady of the targets who was always dead center with her shooting. A gun owner par excellence.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Writing Guide

Slim Randles' Saddle Up: A Cowboy's Guide to Writing tells you about everything you need to know about writing. Although he says no one can teach you how to write, he goes ahead and shows you by discussing the various aspects of writing for profit, for magazines, novels, and non-fiction. Slim Randles has been a writer in the newspaper world for a long time and he has also been busy writing fiction and non-fiction for about as long. If anybody knows how to write it is Slim, and he offers some very good advice to other struggling writers in his book.

He explains and shows how to write query letters, a must for any writer, not only for books but magazines, too, with examples. And he follows that up with a guide on interviewing, how to with samples of the art and explains the use of the valuable question "Why." And he tells you to leave your opinions out of the finished product. It isn't you being interviewed. He gives examples of people who may want to be interviewed or at least don't object to it, not only famous authors but almost anyone in any kind of endeavor. And he tells you how to get to the "kernel" of good stuff. And he has some examples of good writing in his book to show you how to do it.

A writer, struggling to be published or not will find some fine advice in this book and I recommend the book to those trying to become, or are already, an author. You just can't have too many books on the art of writing.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Something Completely Different

On Christmas Day, the family was gathered around in a crooked circle in the family room choosing White Elephant Christmas presents. I saw what looked like a book all wrapped up nice and neat and chose it. Guess what? It was a DVD. I announced the name of it and everyone started laughing and hooting. It was Revenge of the Nerds, Panty Raid Edition.
It was a hoot watching the Nerds win the games and take control of the clubs on campus. It started with a student not wanting to leave home and leave his mother. Definitely a Nerd. They get motoring down the highway with one of the boys' father driving (he's a Nerd, too.) at thirty-five miles per hour on the freeway with everyone honking their horns and yelling as they passed them.    

The two boys get to school and the fun starts with the athletic fraternity burning down their house by accident, and kicking the freshman out of their house to start life in the gym. The Nerds seek revenge and the athletes seek their revenge and the Nerds want revenge for that. The Nerds raid the sorority house and put cameras in strategic places so they can watch the girls flounce around in their undies (caution: there are some nudity clips involved, duh!). And the girls and the athletes seek revenge and it all comes to a head in the Greek carnival fiesta, and the Nerds win most of the games and take over the campus. A hoot and a holler!

I have to admit that I enjoyed watching the DVD and the old jokes playing out between the Nerds and the football team. A young John Goodman was the coach.

An Old West theme of the movie would be the Cattlemen versus the Sheepmen and their revengeful clashes to see who wins the West. Or the Good Guy versus the Bad Guy, or ...... etc.etc.

I can't recommend the movie for an Academy Ward or probably anything else, other than to kill an hour or two in an otherwise boring day.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Texas Ranger Jack Hays

I was in downtown Glendale, AZ, this past week escorting my wife, stepdaughter, granddaughter, and two great-grandkids while they looked around in the antique shops. After a great Italian lunch at the Piazza al Forno, they headed for the shops and I headed for the library. Before I even reached the inside, I ran across the only Western I could find in the pushcarts full of used books for sale. It is a non-fiction book (it appeared to me having an index and bibliography) by Curtis Bishop, entitled The First Texas Ranger Jack Hays, published by Julian Messner, NYC, in a 1962 Second Printing.

Jack Hays was a small, wiry, Tennesseean, who came west to Texas to join the fight with Sam Houston, his friend, against the Mexicans at San Jacinto at the age of nineteen. What followed was a life of fighting the Mexican guerrillas, banditos, the Mex Army, and the Comanche Indians. He arrived too late for the Battle of San Jacinto, but Texas President Houston sent him on a foray to the Rio Grande to check out the fortifications of Laredo expecting another invasion by Santa Anna. After a skirmish with some Mexican cavalry at the town of Chacon, Jack was assigned to check out Laredo, which he dutifully did and reported back to his Captain, "Deaf" Smith. Hays was promoted to Sergeant. Life became pretty dull for the troops and Jack was made a junior surveyor to earn some money while he was biding his time for an invasion by the Mexicans.

Along came the Comanches raiding the small towns and being a thorn in the side of the new Republic, Jack was given free reign to round up some volunteers to push back against the Indians, and he was careful about who he chose. They must be able to handle a mustang horse and shoot a five-shot revolver at the same time. The revolver made by Sam Colt had recently been received and Jack showed the volunteers how to use it to best advantage. This was the beginning of the Texas Rangers and they beat the Comanches at their own game with the new guns. Sam Walker and Bigfoot Wallace were among his volunteers.

Life was good to him, being made a Captain of the Rangers, and they did a stint with the U. S. Army after Texas joined the Union. The Rangers went into Mexico in 1846 in that fracas, and afterward he led the Rangers for many years eventually making Colonel.

He met a young Susan Calvert of Seguin, Texas, and was enamoured of her, eventually marrying her  and settling down. Hays was born Jan 28, 1817 and died April 21, 1883. The author, Curtis Bishop, died in 1967 and is buried in Austin, TX. At the time this book came out, Bishop had written over 30 books with a variety of subjects: sports, westerns, history and biogaphy, it says in "About the Author".

I found this book to be interesting, fast-paced, exciting, and entertaining. I recommend it if you haven't already read it.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Upcoming Arizona Events

Now that the holidays have come and gone, here are some events that you might want to attend:

Jan 10 - For the "green-thumbers", a Phoenix Rose Society Pruning Demonstraton at the Valley Garden Center, 1809 N. 15th Avenue, Phoenix, 623-581-3756.

Jan 10-11: Gathering of the Gunfighters, Yuma. Old West re-enactment groups ride into town for this annual event, at the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, 1 Prison Hill Road, 928-783-4771.

Jan 17-18: Superstition Mountain Heritage/Apacheland Days! Western history family fun with Wild West re-enactments, gold panning, Native American artisans, etc.  4087 Apache Trail, 480-983-4888. In Apache Junction (where in hell is that?).

Jan 25: Pro-bowl in Glendale about a mile from my house at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Jan 26-Feb 1: FanFest, Scottsdale. The ESPN gang broadcasts live as the fans go nuts experiencing culinary delights (what the hell is that?), fashion shows (what the hell is that?), and family fun (what the hell is that?).

Jan 28-Feb 1: Super Bowl Central. Here you'll find live NBC and NFL Network broadcasts, football-themed experiences, autographs, concerts, food trucks (what the hell is that?), and nightly fireworks at downtown Phoenix (3rd Street to Central Avenue and Jefferson to Monroe streets) (where in hell is that?).

Feb 1: Yahoo, the Superbowl at the University of Phoenix Stadium, Glandale. Who will play in it?

Jan 31-Feb 1: Civil War Days, in Yuma at the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park, 201 N. 4th Avenue, 928-373-5196.

Feb 6-8: Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in Sierra Vista, Buena High School Performing Arts Center, 5225 E. Bujena School Blvd, 520-249-3545.

Feb 12-22: Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show at Westworld, 16601 N. Pima Road, 480-515-1500. This will be the 60th year. Wow! Almost as old as I am.

(Thanks to AAA Highroads Magazine.)

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Ole Cranky in the header doesn't seem to be to happy that this new year has begun. He may lighten up later when he partakes of the feast to be laid out for dinner. This year we're having roast pork loin with mashed potatoes and gravy after some salad greens. And we'll be having green beans as one of the sides. Maybe boiled carrots, too. To chase it all down a glass of wine and coffee. And don't forget the dessert. Okay, I won't. How about some coconut cream pie? Sounds yummy. We'll bless the food and wish the poor people of Ireland a Happy New Year!

And to all, a HAPPY NEW YEAR!! May 2015 be the best year ever.   

Sunday, December 28, 2014

It's The Cisco Kid

I picked up an old VHS tape of Viking Classics 1986 that is Vol 1 of The Cisco Kid starring Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo. There were two episodes: The Quarter Horse and The Postmaster. I liked The Quarter Horse more than the Postmaster, but they were both worth watching just to refresh my memory of this duo. In the lat 1940's, Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo carried on the tradition, making five movies and there was a TV series that followed.

This tape is of the TV series in black and white and the Kid is wearing the flashy suit. In The Quarter Horse, a race is rigged to cheat a quarter horse rancher out of his holdings. There were actually two races between a thoroughbred and a quarter horse. The quarter horse won the first which was only a quarter-mile, and it won the second, too, but it was longer race wherein there were four quarter horses and one thoroughbred running a mile this time. Anyway there were shenanigans in both and The Cisco Kid and Pancho get mixed up in it and, of course, catch the bad guys.

In The Postmaster, Pancho urges Cisco not to go into town because every time he did, he got them into trouble, and this was no exception. The Sheriff throws Cisco in jail for suspicion of murdering the Postal Inspector who had come to town to investigate a band of outlaws who were stealing the mail. After escaping from jail, the duo solve the mystery of the unknown killer and the means of concealing his weapon.

More info can be found at Wikipedia on the whole story of The Cisco Kid and the movies.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

It's Christmas Day!

We wish everyone a Holly, Jolly Christmas and a Holly, Jolly and Safe day!!

We are having for breakfast/dinner Turkey, Ham, Tater Tot Casserole, Christmas Jello Salad, and lotsa Green Beans, Cinnamon Rolls, Rolls, Creamed Corn Casserole, Pie, Cookies, and Who Knows What Else. And we are all going to take a nap afterward.

Maybe by next week we'll be recovered.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Busy Boys

The last couple of days we've been overseeing our two great-grandsons, a fourth-grader and a fifth-grader, and they are busy bees, y'ask me. We picked them up from school on Thursday after sitting through a series of five plays put on by the fourth grade, which were really funny. The plays were a variation of fairy tales like the Three Little Pigs, Cinderella,  and the like. The fourth grader had a run-on spot with one word or sound that sounded like a grunt to me and he ran off the stage, part over. Anyway, we left school and went to the pizza place and ate pizza then home. Sitting around the house, the boys came up with an idea they would like to go see the pond down the street on the golf course, but we said no, the golf course was off limits. And my wife suggested I take them to see the Sun City Lake, which is fair-sized pool of water and there is fishing and rented boats and a waterfall, etc. Well, the fifth grader is into fishing. He is a born, diehard fisherman, but he didn't say anything about fishing while we took in the sights.

About eight o-clock that evening his Mom called and wanted to know if I would take him fishing on Friday "at that lake you guys went to."  Of course, I had to say I would, but I had to get a guest pass and make sure they were old enough to fish according to Sun City rules, and they were.  So she dropped them off after lunch and the boys loaded their fishing gear into my car and we took off for the lake. The sun was out and it was about 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the lads threw their lines into the water for a couple of hours and didn't even get a bite. The fourth grader is not as avid about fishing as the other one, but he has a pole and tags along with his older brother. Some old gent walked by and told the boys that the fish are all on the bottom because of the cold temperature and wouldn't be coming up until February or when the weather warms up. He told them to let the hooks sink way down and work it back slow. To which, the boys ignored after he left and reverted back to the way they were fishing before. The fifth grader told me, "I'm coming back in February and try it again," to which I said, "OK."

Later in the evening, The wife and I took them home and on the way, they got to talking about getting a tattoo. The younger one said he was going to get him one the minute he turned old enough because he liked the artistry of it. The other one piped up and said, "You can get it sooner. All you have to do is get your parent's 'consumption' and you can get a tattoo." We cracked up at that. We dropped them off and told 'em goodby, and we laughed all the way home. Boys are fun and keep you entertained.