Sunday, November 22, 2015

Turkey Day

And so it has once again came to pass bringing with it the many blessings we all are thankful for.


May your week be productive and blessed with success!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

This 'n That

THIS: I've reached page 93 on my first draft of the next novel. I should have been finished a long time ago, but just too many interruptions and I fall asleep too early. It won't be too much longer before it's finished. Here's an excerpt from Chapter Seven:

     "We been travelin' two nights and a day and we finally got here this mornin' to deliver this immoral outlaw to you Sheriff. He and his brother was tryin' their best to defile Miss Merik under some trees on the trail to Great Salt Lake when we came upon 'em. Lock 'im up and throw away the key," said Kid Ferry, looking the sheriff of Idle Springs in the eye and trying to avoid seeing his big, red nose.

     "Me and Junior was just holdin' her up on her feet, Sheriff," said Castinat, staring at the man with the star on his chest. "She fell to the ground when she got off her horse and Junior grabbed her arm and I took the other one and made sure she didn't hurt herself. That was all we were doin' when these  two bastards rode up and shot Junior afore he had a chance to say anything."

     Sheriff Tubbins was perplexed. These strangers turned up at his door with that older Castinat feller and that pretty Miss Merik, Dale Merik's daughter, and Junior Castinat dead on the back of a horse. Helluva way to start a day. Nothin' ever happened like this in Idle Springs before. And that Injun , hah. By God, I never heard of such a thing. Do I lock up Serge Castinat or let him go? Was he tellin' the truth? That means that stranger is lyin;, and I'll have to throw him in jail.

     "Wat did Junior do that you had to shoot 'im, Stranger?" said Sheriff Tubbins, scratching his head and blowing his big nose before looking the Kid in the eye. He was still standing on the wooden sidewalk in front of his small office eyeing the small party astride their horses.

     "That crook is lyin',Sheriff. I didn't shoot nobody. This feller's brother, Junior, he called him, tried to kill us for interruptin' their dirty pleasure and Bobby, here, beat him to the draw. It was unfortunate for Junior that the bullet hit 'im in the throat area and he died from loss of blood," said Ferry, taking a look at the bulbous, red and purple veiny nose on the sheriff's face. His eyes moved lower over the big paunch that stretched the sheriff's shirt and the missing button over his large belly, exposing his dirty long johns.

     "That's right, Sheriff Tubbins," said pretty Miss Merik, blinking her eyelashes. "Junior and Serge were fixin' to defile my body and these gentlemen came to my rescue. If Junior hadn't pulled his gun, he wouldn't have been hurt. The Castinats are always tryin' to get me alone and they almost succeeded."

     "Let us pray to the Lord that we found her before it was too late," said Bobby, dismounting and untying the rope around Serge's waist and the saddle horn.

     Ferry dismounted and took the reins of Junior's horse and tied them to the hitching post. He pulled Junior's body from the saddle and let it drop to the ground.

     With all eyes watching Ferry, nobody noticed Serge turn his horse with his legs and race down the middle of the short street. He disappeared around a corner of the last building in town before anyone could get his thoughts in order.

     "Wat the. . .", said Ferry turning his head to see the man and horse disappear.

     "By damn, he's excaped!" said Tubbins, watching the rider turn the corner.

     "The Lord acts in mysterious ways," said Bobby, still staring at Junior's body lying in the dirt among the horse droppings and small rocks and sand.

     The only one with any sense, Daphne Merik, took off after Serge. The Kid and Bobby mounted their horses and took off after Daphne. The sheriff ran down the middle of the street after them, yelling, "Let 'im go! We'll catch 'im later!"

     Tubbins returned, huffing and puffing, and stared at the corpse lying by the horse. Raising his head to look at the bystanders, he said "Nordell, go see if Doc Sycamore is in his office and tell him to come and git Junior out of the road before gits stomped on by a crazy horse."

     Sheriff Tubbins heard a commotion and turned his eyes in the opposite direction of the sudden departure of Serge Castinat. He saw a lone rider racing toward the group of bystanders. Before he could wipe the sweat off his big face and nose, Castinat slowed to a lope, yelling, "Don't bury Junior until you hear from my Pa, Sheriff!" and whipped the horse with his feet and disappeared around the same building again.

     Daphne's horse slid to a stop and she climbed from the saddle and told Tubbins, "My horse came up lame, Sheriff, darn it, and Castinat is getting away. Here comes the two men that saved me. They'll never catch him with the old nags they're riding."
      The Kid and Bobby plowed to a stop near Daphne in a cloud of dust. The Kid dismounted, waving his hands at the dust, saying, "Which way did he go this time, Sheriff? Our horses are worn out and we'll never catch up with him without changin' horses. We'll go look for him as soon as we can."

     "I don't know how he's able to stay on with his hands tied behind him," said Bobby, gazing at the small crowd that had gathered near Junior's body. "May the Lord carry that man's soul to Hell." He climbed off his horse and stood facing the sheriff.

     "We'll catch that scoundrel later," said Tubbins. "Let's go to my office. I got more questions to ask you, Miss Merik, and your two friends. Doc will take care of the body."

'N THAT: We attended TWO funerals in the last few days, I'm sorry to say. One was a waitress that worked in the small cafe where we eat breakfast practically every day. She had told us she was going to be off for a few days to have an operation to remove a small tumor. She passed away with cancer, which she never mentioned. 61 years old and it came as a big shock to us. You just never know when your time is up. The other funeral was for a neighbor, a nice lady, widowed, who really enjoyed life. She was about 95 years old.  A good, long life. We'll miss her on our condo board.

'ND THE OTHER; Life goes on with the tragic attacks in Paris. I lived not too far from one of them in my time in Paris a long time ago in the '60's, and I wonder why they pick restaurants to shoot up when there are much bigger crowds at other places and probably better targets. Our condolences go out to all the victims relatives and friends. 


Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Shopkeeper by James G. Best

A "greenhorn" comes to the little town of Pickhandle Gulch in Nevada and joins new friends in their   whist game. But all is not peaceful, and the greenhorn finds himself in a shootout with two henchmen of greedy Sean Washburn killing them both. The green horn is Steve Dancey, former owner of a gun shop in New York, but now just traveling the West.

Sean Washburn owns mines and other things and is trying to take over the State by having a cohort elected Governor. The competition is a man named Bolton, a big rancher, who is also running for Governor. Bolton, an older man, has a young, pretty wife still in her teens, and Steve Dancey takes an interest in her. Dancey, a man of some wealth, supports Bolton, but not for long because Bolton is shot dead by a hired assassin, Bill Sprague. Sprague was hired by Sean Washburn and his next target is Dancey.

The story proceeds with Dancey using his wealth to buy banks and politicians to become Washburn's biggest enemy. There are many twists and turns the story takes as it wends its way to a conclusion, which I enjoyed very much never knowing exactly how it was going to turn out. Entertaining and humorous at times, the time spent reading the e-book was time that was not wasted.
The Shopkeeper is the first of the Steve Dancey series of novels and I hope to catch the rest of the stories. In my estimation, it's a five-star deal available on Amazon as a printed book or an e-book.

(Note: The picture in the header and the last two are of the area in an around Sedona, AZ, and there will be a couple of more coming up.)

Another unrelated note: Thursday I found out that my Fruit of the Loom underwear is the same setup when worn inside out. I must be getting old.: . 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The CCC and the Building of Guernsey State Park by Neil A. Waring

The complete title of this book is The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Building of Guernsey State Park, With Folktales and Stories of the Park. The author Neil A. Waring did a very creditable job by writing this history of one of the most visited recreation spots in the State of Wyoming, the Guernsey State Park at Guernsey Lake near the town of Guernsey and not far from Fort Laramie. It contains everything you ever wanted to know about the park with the history of the CCC.

The Civilian Conservation Corps was one of Franklin D. Roosevelt's programs in the New Deal to return the country to prosperity from the deep depression it was in. There were CCC projects in about every State. This is why I wanted to read the book since three of my older brothers (or was it two?) joined the group back in the 1930's. They worked on the Moon Lake project in northeast Utah not far from home at the time. Neil's book describes the architecture, buildings, roads, trails, bridges, etc., that the CCC built from bare land around Guernsey Lake to make it what it is today. Two camps were built to house the workers during their time working on the project complete with all the amenities of home (er, just about), kitchens, lodging, latrines, canteens, etc. One camp on each side of the lake. They also built picnic tables, boat docks, parking lots, shelters, etc., for the visitors, including a "Million Dollar Biffy", as the author says for one of the park restrooms. Waring describes the wildlife that abounds in and around the park, including an occasional bear, and uses his photographs to illustrate the many buildings and remnants of buildings and architecture of the park along with pictures of the wildlife.

I found the book interesting and entertaining, but the author had a little trouble with the layout in placing the photos into the manuscript. It didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the book, though. A considerable amount of research went into this book and included is an extensive list of it. A fine book.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Fall Means Event Time

We had some showers over the last week or two, which is the signal for the end of the HOT weather in Arizona. Coming with that is all the fascinating things going on around the State to keep yourself amused:

In Wickenburg, AZ, through Oct 31 is an event called "Saddles that Shaped the West" at the Desert Caballeros Museum. All you'l ever want to know about saddles from master saddle maker Carson Thomas.

In Pweoria, AZ, Oct. 28: Man in Black, the music of Johnny Cash at the Arizona Broadway Theater.

You just missed the 5th Annual Scottsdale Bentley Polo Championship, Horses & Horsepower at Westworld in Scottsdale. Too bad.

Oct 30-31: Monster Mash Music Fest at Temp[e Beach Park featuring John Fogerty, Tool, Primus Puscifer, Ghost, Linkin Park, Santana, and others. Tune up your ears for this fine musical extravaganza,

Nov 4: A Decade of Remembrance, at the Tempe Center for the Arts. Conflicts and exploration of the '60's by Arizona Wind Symphony. Bring yiour windbreaker, it could get pretty "windy."

Nov 5-15: 30th Annual Million Dollar Hole-in-One, Phoenix at the Arizona Biltmore Country Club. An amateur holein-9ne tournament with lots of gifts to be handed out and a shot at the million dollar hole! Egads! A million smackeroos! Imagine that!

Nov 6-8: Sixth Annual Chandler Chuck Wagon Cook-Off at Tuibleweed Park in Chandler. Demonstrating the 1880's Old West lifestyle. Yum, Yum!

Nov 6-8: 13th Annual Wild West Days in Cave Creek. Western entertainment fdor the masses, including food, drink, and a chili cook-off. More yum-yum!

Nov6-8: American Cup Championship Arabian Horse Show at Westworld in Scottsdale. Horses, horses, horses, and more horses, and IT'S FREE!

Nov 7-30: A Salute to Cowboy Arftists of America and a Patron: 50 years of Amazing Contributions to the American West. at Scottsdale's Museum of the West. I mean paint yo wagon and much more!

Nov 13-15: 36th Annual Bluiegrass Festival and Fiddle Championship at the Bowman Rodeo Grounds in Wickenburg.

And don't forget November 11 for Annual Veterans Day Ceremonies around the valley of the sun!

Thanks to Sun Life Magazine for event listing.. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Short Stories, II

The Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles, Volume II, by Edward A. Grainger, provides some excellent entertainment. This collection includes the following:

1. Origin of White Deer (with Chuck Tyrell)
2. Maggie's Promise
3. Miles in Between
4. Cash Laramie and the Painted Ladies
5. Gun Justice (with Chuck Tyrell)
6. Cash Laramie and the Masked Devil
7. Reflections in a Glass of Maryland Rye

Out of this group I must say I liked the first story better than the rest. It tells how Cash Laramie came by his name. Grainger (David Cranmer) and Chuck Tyrell created an interesting tale that carries you away to a young white baby raised by the Arapahoes but who grows up with the desire to find his white relatives, so he bids his Arapaho father and mother whom he loves dearly farewell and takes off to fulfill his dreams.

Alex Cizak writes in the foreword that "Grainger's stories address America's racial and ethnic realities in a straight-forward manner so refreshingly free of self-consciousness that one is able to read the stories purely for entertainment or as the subtle political statements that they are." And I agree with that and the brutal justice meted out by Laramie and Miles without apology.

I enjoyed the story of Cash Laramie and the Painted Ladies, too, where Cash has a run-in with the Madame and others over a dead man and some lost money. The other stories are just as interesting as Cash and Gideon tame the Wild West in their own way. A fine association with Chuck Tyrell in a couple of them.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Short Stories

I've read some good short stories over the last couple of months while sitting in the car and waiting for Number One to finish her shopping. This group was published in 1963 by the Western Writers of America in The Pick of the Roundup, edited by Stephen Payne. The stories are listed here:

The Fort Greer Mules by Bill Burchardt
Mountain Man on a Mule by William R. Cox
The Far Cry by Max Evans
The Promise of the Fruit by Ann Ahlswede
Melody on the Range by John Shelley
The Deep Valley by Lucia Moore
Comanche Woman by Fred Grove
They Walked Tall by T. V. Olsen
Uncle Jeff and the Gunfighter by Elmer Kelton
Beat the Drums Slowly by Richard Wormser

My favorite of these was Melody on the Range because it had the most humor. A new and pretty school teacher comes to town and pretty soon all the cowboys are taking music lessons, trying to "learn" how to play some instrument or another. This leads to some funny events in the daily lives of the cowboys, one involving cattle stealing with trucks and other funny happenings. A clever story.

Another good one was Uncle Jeff and the Gunfighter with its strange turn of events where the gunfighter vanishes.

I enjoyed all the stories, but those two stood out for me. Which one(s) did you like most?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Brandywine's War, Back in Country, a novel by Robert Vaughn

Brandywine's War is a novel of the Viet Nam conflict written by a three-tour veteran helicopter pilot. I didn't know what to make of it at first. It brought back memories of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, Phil Silvers' half-hour comedy show where he played Sgt. Bilko, and also the F-Troop TV show of inept soldiers, not to mention MASH which is still re-running on some TV stations. In the story Brandywine calls it "an iconoclastic look at the military."

Brandywine is a manipulator par excellence of the Army regulations, getting away with all sorts of things by twisting orders and regulations to suit his needs and spreading rumors and innuendo. It all works perfect except for his supervisor, Colonel Cleaver, who has it in for him and gets an extra six months tacked onto Brandywine's tour, and the book doesn't end in a particularly happy manner for Brandywine.

I'll give the story Five Stars for humor and ingenuity, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The author, Robert Vaughn, published his first book at age 19, his bio says, and ever since has been a productive writer. Now, nearing eighty, he has almost 500 books written, including many westerns. He is a winner of the SPUR Award, the Western Fictioneers Lifetime Achievment Award, and others. I will try one of his westerns to see if I like it, which I know I will.

I reviewed the Kindle edition by Wolfpack Publishing. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Showdown at Guyamas, By Paul Lederer Writing as Logan Winters

This mostly western, part fantasy novel has Doctor Spectros searching for the enigmatic Blackschuster, the shape-changing magician, who kidnapped the beautiful Kristin and carries her away in a coma on her wedding day. Showdown at Guyamas is the first in a series of tales written by Logan Winters (Paul Lederer) that takes Spectros through many obstacles and adventures in search of his wife.

A lot of the action in this darkly written tale takes place at night in the shadows of the moon and stars. Blackschuster is in cahoots with wicked gunman "Rat" Peebles to take over a silver mine and a the U/No Ranch with Spectros as Kid Soledad hot on his trail. The scenes are action-packed with death coming out of nowhere and shots being fired all over the place when the parties meet at various points in the narrative and leading to the showdown at Guyamas.. 

Stories like this are not my cup of tea as I'm a lover of more traditional shoot 'em ups, but I can't say that I didn't like it with all the shootouts and action. I can't take fault with the author because there ae many who enjoy this type of writing with fantasy or sci-fi mixed in. I will give it three-and-a-half stars, but it may be better than that in some readers' opinions.

(Note: Reviewed for Open Road Integrated Media, the publisher of the series.)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Hospital Visit

Shucks! On Friday, the 11th I was ushered into the hospital and a pacemaker was firmly emplaced in my upper left shoulder area to keep the old ticker ticking at a constant rate. I had been waiting two or three months to get this done. They sent me on my way the following day after providing a fine lunch, not wanting me to leave hungry. I was chauffeured back and forth by my step-daughter and she did a nice job. But, I haven't been able to get in the mood to pick up where I left off. I feel all right and get around fine physically, but putting my mind to work is not as easy as it should be. I wasn't doing a helluva lot anyway, even though I never seemed to have enough time for anything.

I can't raise my left arm over my head for six weeks, said the doc, but I started driving after a week and the stitches were removed. I think my brain is still sewn up and they can't get to the stiches to get it moving very fast. I was surprised they gave me a pacemaker being 83 years old. I thought maybe the new medical rules wouldn't allow it. I was wrong and glad that I was, but now my mind is in a freeze getting back to normal. I will keep at it, forcing it to return to where it was. I think the problem is too much sleep recovering from the operation, like logy-ness or thought block. Get more exercise everyone says. OK, I will start walking today, if I can only get enough will power to actually get out of my easy chair and put one foot before the other. Here goes.