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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Another Year Bites the Dust!

And it is time to wish everyone a Happy New Year!  May it be prosperous and productive for you!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian"

The full title of this novel is Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West. It was first printed in 1985, so it has been around a few years. The copy I have is the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Edition and I can't believe it has taken that long for me to discover it. On the front cover Michael Herr says "A classic American novel of regeneration through violence. McCarthy can only be compared with out greatest writers, with Melville and Faulkner, and this is his masterpiece." I'll take his word for it.

The story is about a runaway from Tennessee, who leaves home at the age of fourteen. The violence starts right here in the first chapter and doesn't end until the last. The kid becomes a member of  Captain Glanton's volunteers while in a Mexican jail and the murder and blood really picks up steam as Glanton gets contracts to kill the Apaches, which his gang does, and even some Mexicans are thrown in since no one will know the difference. Glanton has a warrant out on him from both the Texans and the Mexicans, but that doesn't stop him from murdering about anyone they see, including some innocent men, women, and children in the bloodthirsty search for Apaches or Mexican bandits or Mexican troops out on patrol. They go looking from deep in Mexico to the lower Arizona country for their victims. Reaching the Yuma area, they take over the Yuma ferry and charge whatever the traffic will bear to cross the Colorado into California or vice versa. Their killing continues until the Yuma Indians slaughter most of them. And in all the killing, hunger, desperation, and misery there is regeneration for  some of them after each battle until the Yuma Indians nearly wipe them out, and it doesn't end there..

Mr. McCarthy is a great writer with his extensive vocabulary and in the way he throws the words around and together, it makes for interesting reading. His descriptive writing is magnificent to me and the story moves right along. I will be reading some more of his books as time goes by. He reminds me of the early English and American writers who used a lot of words in their stories. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

A holly jolly hearty Merry Christmas to everyone! May your day be filled with fun, kids, entertainment, a hearty meal, and many presents!!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Horsemen by Gary McCarthy

I haven't read anything by Gary McCarthy that I remember, but this book, The Horsemen, came in the box set that I am reading now. This is the first book in the Horsemen series and I felt like it had left me in the middle of the stream at the end of it. It begins at the Wildwood Horse Farm owned and run by the Ballou family in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War. The horses are all Thoroughbreds and are bred and trained to race, but their life is severely disrupted with the war. And here comes a Captain Denton of the Confederate Army needing horses for the war effort.

Denton doesn't leave a very good impression with the Ballous even though one of the Ballou sons, Mason, is riding with him. Denton tells them they must let the horses go to help fight the war and two more of the Ballou boys, Rufus (Ruff) and Houston, go with him to deliver the Thoroughbreds, mostly pregnant mares. Ruff and Houston were supposed to oversee the horses and bring 'em back home, but Denton steals a stud and another one comes up missing. The hunt for these animals and keeping track of the others is almost an impossible job, and it gets them mixed up in fighting for their lives as they try to find the missing animals. Their adventures kept me on the edge of my seat, so to speak, right up to the end. The ending left me wondering what was going to happen next as they were at an Aunt's tobacco farm in Mississippi and were going to the Cherokee Nation to escape the desperadoes who were after them.

The story provided entertained aplenty, fun, and excitement and it's getting four stars from me.

Gary McCarthy is a Spur Award winner, too, and has many westerns under his belt.  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Chet Cunningham's Novel, Wade's War

Here is another one in the boxed set by Western Fictioneers Western Bestsellers: Wade's War by Chet Cunningham, the writer of many books, fiction and non-fiction.

Wade Tretter was only fourteen when both his parents were killed by Rebel raiders near the end of the Civil War in Missouri, and he makes it a life-long search to track down the four killers and bring them to justice one way or another.

I thought the story was exciting enough to complete the reading in a couple of sittings because I wanted to know what was coming next when he knew he was on the trail of the killers. It took him two or three years to earn his living, learn to shoot a .44 fast and accurately, and find that for which he was looking. The story picks up when he finally had enough hints to put him on the trail of one of the killers and goes from there on to the final result.

There are some twists and romance as he gathers up steam, and a few errors in the manuscript that didn't make sense to me, like getting the names of towns mixed up. All in all I think it earned a four-star rating in my book, for the excitement and action that the author puts Wade through while looking for the murderers.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Stillwater Smith, A Novel by Frank Roderus

Stillwater Smith is a type of story that I didn't think was ever going to reach the point of inevitability that most novels have. It is one of those that start out with more narrative than conversation and action. I was starting to get bored with it, but I couldn't stop reading about this man who had finally found a place where he could semi-retire you could say after the Civil War. But his peace and quiet was interrupted by a cattle baron wanting to use his water, since he controlled this stream that run through his property and on down to the valley. The cattleman needed it for the cattle he was bringing into the valley. And, further, there was the molestation or rape of a mentally deficient young girl that was a neighbor of Smith and fished with him on Sundays at his pond.

Stillwater Smith was an easy-going and peace-loving man, but events are working against him and the people of the town believe he is the one who molested the girl, because the guilty one had spread the rumor. Smith never went to town enough to hear the rumors, so he continued living his life as he always had. Smith and the cattleman couldn't seem to come to terms on the water and the cattle got into his oat field and was eating up the new crop. Smith was gradually building up his ire, especially when he caught the cattleman's nephew tearing his fence down to let the cattle into his field of oats. And he got beat up by a man and his two sons for the supposed atrocity he had committed against the girl. They called him a coward for not fighting back, and the cowboys used that to mock  and tease him.

Well all this narrative builds up to a rip-roaring end and when the dust settled, people had greater respect for Smith and let him alone to live his life the way he saw fit. The girl's mother becomes entangled in his life, too, and how does that turn out? You will just have to pick up a copy and give it a read. I give it a solid four stars.

Frank Roderus was a newspaperman in Colorado and has the honor of taking home two Spur awards from the Western Writers of America, according to his bio, and has written several westerns in addition to short stores, etc.. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

WHOOPEE!

Today is the day I went over 500,000 page views, reaching 500,030! Thank you folks for taking the time to check out my blog. And don't miss today's blog below, John Legg's Sheriff's Blood.

An E-Book by John Legg, Sheriff's Blood

The Sheriff of San Juan County, Colorado, Jonas Culpepper, is based in Silverton and doesn't very good relations with the town's Sheriff or the Anvil Mining Company or the Federal lawmen in that part of the State. It isn't because he wouldn't like to, but those other people keep interfering in his business. The Federal Marshal was crooked and Culpepper had to throw him and his two deputies out of his office, one through the front window. And things get worse after a train robbery by the Ellsworth gang and Culpepper chases them to attempt to bring them to justice. Things do not go well and he locks up the Feds and heads out again looking for Ellsworth. The Anvil Mining exec, Pennrose, lets the Feds out since he's on the County Board and is thinking he is doing the right thing.

And things get worse when the Feds kidnap Culpepper's wife and go looking for the stash from the train robbery. Culpepper's brother shows up out of work and joins the Sheriff in looking for the stolen money and silver which is supposedly buried in a canyon not far from Grand Junction. And it finally gets to the end of the trail where the Feds throw in with Ellsworth and there is a big showdown.

I found this story entertaining, stirring, and rather wordy with a number of grammatical errors that should have been caught. I can't say I didn't like it, because I did and would give it three and three-quarters stars.

John Legg has published more than 55 novels and is a copy editor with the New York Times News Service, so says his bio, and I'm sure he may not have re-read the story before it was published. In any event, I thoroughly enjoyed Sheriff's Blood. It is one of six books in the Western Best Sellers Box Set by the Western Fictioneers..

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.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!!

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 collection.in 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.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Reluctant Gun Hand, a Western by Paul Lederer writing as Logan Winters

Jake Worthy had bad luck. Yep, the worst I've seen in a while. He was just out of prison after serving six months for shooting a double-dealing gambler in self-defense. On his way to Rio Lobo to see his girlfriend who is waiting for him again, he is forced into a robbery scheme by three outlaws and a  a tigress of a woman. Jake is supposed to hold the horses ready and provide an extra gun while the others rob the freight office in the town of Belmont. They almost fail, but the woman with the help of Jack, gets away with the money and the others set out to look for her.

The author spins a thrilling tale with some unexpected turns as he takes Jake through a harrowing journey and meets another pretty gal on the way. Mister Winters (Lederer) gets into the conscience of the protagonist in a meaningful way. Jake ends up with the money, but he is torn about what to do with it - return it, keep it, give it away or what? He certainly doesn't want to go back to the Yuma prison again. Will he make it to Rio Lobo? Will his girl still be waiting? What does he do with the stolen money? You'll have to read the story to find out. I found the novel to be very entertaining, suspenseful, action-filled and titillating, not to mention well-written and absorbing. I recommend it for those who enjoy Westerns. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Novel by Paul Lederer Writing as C.J. Sommers, Entitled "Climax"

Giles Frost is an easy-going type of cowboy and accepts the world as it is. He is just trying to live his life without too much interference from the world around him, and right now he is the Marshal in the crummy little desert town of Climax. Frost enjoys his work and daily routine of checking the doors of the businesses, what few there are, along his walks around the gray wood and peeling paint points of interest. It has been this way for the three years he has been Town Marshal. This morning he stops in to say howdy to the stable owner, who tells him that he is going to have to divvy up the few dollars for keeping his horse from now on, as the town decided it doesn't have the money. Nothing ever happens in Climax, or not much in the way of lawbreaking, and that night he gets shot on his rounds.

When he wakes up, he is in the home of Clara Finch, who tells him, "I don't like you, Giles Frost,"
and the Mayor comes by to tell him he's been fired from being the Town Marshal, "The town can't afford it."

Well, there was much more going on that he didn't know about and as soon as he feels recovered enough, he draws all his money out of the bank and heads out to talk to the one friend that may give him a job or help him out, Anson Weaver, owner of the Liberty Bell Ranch. He saved Weaver's life a few years' back. Weaver has a pretty daughter and a son who wants to go to medical school in St. Louis to find out how he can save his father who is dying from the lung disease. Frost feels a tingle in his heart for Ada, the daughter. And the plot thickens as Frost gets beat up by some of Weaver's men in the dark and ends up in a bed in the spare room with Ada looking out for him. Rumors are floating that some outlaws want to take over the town of Climax and use it for their headquarters. On the way out of Climax he met a man named Tate, Barrett Tate, a Sheriff looking for one Charles Mansir for murder in Winona.

I've told you too much already, but Frost gets shot again down by the Sabine Creek, not mortally, but bad and in a couple of days didn't feel well enough, but heads for Bisbee. He runs into another lawman, Deputy Sheriff, Orlando Marsh, who is looking for his boss, Barrett Tate. Marsh thought maybe something had happened to him because he hadn't returned to Winona.

Frost had been shot twice and beat up once and wasn't looking for anything but a place to get away from it all for a while, but Marsh talks him into riding into Climax to look for Tate.

Darn! There I go again telling the story instead of reviewing it. Anyway, coming up is a big night battle for Climax against all the outlaws who had gathered to join up with that greedy Charles Mansir. Does Frost get shot again? Or, beat up? Or, who wins or loses? Ada Weaver or Clara Finch?The story progresses to a fine ending that surprised me. Plenty of action, mystery, suspense, and humor in this engrossing tale of the Old West.

This was an e-book available from Amazon by C. J. Sommers (Paul Lederer), who has written several Westerns including Tecumseh and the Indian Heritage series. He is originally from Texas.
Published by Open Road Integrated Media. Around 120 pages.
  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Shut Mouth Society, a Novel by James D. Best

The Shut Mouth Society is a mystery story in which Greg Evarts, a Santa Barbara police detective gets involved in looking for certain documents revolving around Abe Lincoln's pre-inaugural speech which is laid out in the Prologue. Evarts has a friend, Abraham Douglass, a descendant of Frederick Doublass, who asks Evarts to have a historical document looked at to determine its authenticity and along with the document is a page of numerical codes that needs to be decoded. Evarts contacts one Patricia Baldwin, History Professor and Lincoln expert, and almost falls too much for her, or did he?.

The next thing you know is that Douglass has been murdered by a person or persons unknown trying to get their hands on the document for some reason. A false charge that Evarts is the Rock Burglar  has the local police looking to arrest him, so he and Baldwin leave town to avoid arrest and the people looking for the document. They drive across country to Boston, hoping they have lost the man/men looking for the document. We learn that both Evarts' and Baldwin's ancestors were involved somehow in this unknown Shut Mouth Society and it has filtered down to them with the document somehow concealing the connection. This mystery takes them from Boston to New York to Washington, D.C., and to North Carolina before they get to the bottom of it.

There is plenty of action and suspense that follows the two along on there course of discovery. So much so, that Evarts must contact some of his old Army buddies to help protect them and the papers that people want really bad, bad enough to kill anyone who gets in their way.

This book kept me hooked and I hated to turn away from it unfinished, which I had to do only two times. It was 322 pages long and it's been a while since I read one that long and was so engrossed in it. Mister Best is a fine writer and I am looking forward to dipping into his westerns and see how they read.  Mystery, action, suspense, and more all there in an exciting tale of intrigue. 

Windows Ten

Upgraded from 8.1 or 2 and everything seems to be going swell. I like the Edge browser for its speed. Haven't opened Cortana yet. The new Edge start page is okey-dokey, bit I still have all my icons from 8.1. Will keep 'em for now. I like the News that shows up on opening Edge, lots of it. Haven't run into any difficulties, yet. Will keep my fingers crossed. Didn't lose any files, etc., that I know of. I guess I'm stuck with the free version. The price was right, but might have to pay to upgrade Office. I have 2010 and it's okay.

Maybe my Favorites will work now. Never did with the previous, but I don't have many.

Anyone else happy with Win Ten?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

An Elmer Kelton Novel, After the Bugles

So far, I haven't ran across a book I didn't like and this one, After the Bugles, by Elmer Kelton was no exception. Maybe I just like the western genre no matter how bad the plot or the writing, and to me Bugles  stood up well with the competition. There was certainly no bad writing or bad plot in it.
Joshua Buckalew and Ramon Hernandez are returning home after the battle of San Jacinto where Santa Ana was defeated. They must remain vigilant for Mexican raiders, outlaws posing as friends, and Comanche Indians. Josh's wife was a sister of Ramon and she had been killed in a raid by the Comanches and several homes were burned and people routed by Mexican raiders while they were off fighting the war. The two run into friends and enemies, and no matter how well Ramon fought in the war, there were some whites who couldn't and wouldn't get along with any Mexican.

Finally reaching home and finding their homes burned, except Ramon's, Josh and other whites they met along the trail are desperate to get their crops in before summer is too far gone. They all join up to help each other and even build a cabin for Josh, but the Mexicans are still hated by some of the party and attempt to kill Romon after they had stayed at his ranchero to recoup and make plans for the future. Unlucky for them, the Comanches attack and make short work of the two that shot at Ramon. One of them had shot the other sister of Ramon, who was supposedly in love with Josh. She had caused a fight between Josh and Ocie Quitman and Josh barely won the knock down dragout, but will she marry Josh? In the battle with the Comanches the novel reaches the end of the road and everything is resolved in one way or another.

I enjoyed this one, too, but will keep reading and looking for one I can't appreciate as much. But, why? Hell, I don't know. I just like to keep the Western markets in business - an impossible task.





The book pictured is a First Edition by Ballantine Books, price 50 cents, printed in 1967. It looks like it had been sitting in the sun for a while because it was beginning to fall apart. The pages are brownish, fragile, and torn in a few places. I picked it up at an antique shop, not a book store, and luckily all the pages were still in it. It had doubled in price to $1.29 used. The cover came off while reading, so I repaired it with masking tape. Available from Amazon for $6.99 or other choices from $0.01.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Ron Scheer's Glossary of Western Terms

I'm finding it fairly difficult to write a review on a book that has no plot, setting, or action,
just a listing of terms and words, but here goes.

The terms were compiled in alphabetical order by Ron Scheer in his book How the West Was Written, Volume Three. They are terms, words, slang, colloquialisms, that were used by the early western writers in their manuscripts to reflect the language or vernacular of the cowboys, miners, farmers, etc., that populate the works. Some are very colorful and others not, but they got the point across that the character was trying to make. But, why does a westerner talk this way instead of using everyday "normal" language. In some cases, he may have been brought up this way and inherited the terms from his parents or other family members, like a hand-me-down. In other cases, the person may have just came from the "civilized" world back east and picks up the terms for his own usage and to blend in to make others think he is a true westerner. In any event, the glossary covers them from "A to Izzard" to "zanjero". A couple of examles:
        "blam-jam" = a mild expletive for "damned: "We can't get that blam-jam handcar up to Palisade and back without somethin' more than four-man power." A. B. Ward, The Sage Brush Parson.
         "megrims" = depression, unhappiness.  "Overtaken by the megrims, the philosopher may seek relief in soliloquoy." O. Henry, Heart of the West.

The research on this was prodigious and required much reading and time by Mr. Scheer for which many western writers are thankful that finally someone put all these terms into a handy-dandy glossary.

I consider Ron a friend even though I didn't know him personally but through blogging. I enjoyed reading his blog posts because he had his own eloquent language that made them interesting. His Volume Three, Glossary, will live on even though Ron's life ended too soon from the "devil" cancer. We will miss him, but his works will be of benefit to many authors for the years to come.

This book and the first two volumes of How the West was Written are available from Amazon and Beat to a Pulp Press of David Cranmer, Publisher.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Hell Bent Kid, a Novel by Charles O. Locke

This story takes place in North Texas and New Mexico. It seems this hell bent kid is boxed in. He is called "Tot", but his real name is Tate, Tate Lohman, and he has been working for a while on the Restow ranch and thinking about leaving for Socorro, New Mexico, to be with his father. His father and he were the only family members left, except for his brother Harley and who knew where he was and what he was doing. "Tot" was hired by Henry Restow because "Tot" killed Shorty Boyd and was on probation. The murder was self defense, but the Boyd family thought otherwise.

Restow warned the young kid that if he left the ranch, the Boyds would chase him down and kill him, but he left for Socorro anyway figuring to outsmart the Boyds or miss them altogether. He didn't, he ran smack dab into 'em and ended up afoot, but still alive. And his journey to Socorro gets interesting and I didn't know if he was going to make it or not. After a horrible trip, he finally makes it and finds his brother Harley,but the meeting doesn't last long after he finds his father no longer among the living.

"Tot" turns back to Texas but stays at the ranch of Amos Bradley in Santa Clara, New Mexico, and falls for a daughter, Juanita. The story ends as he is under surveillance by the Boyds again. I won't reveal the ending, but I will say this was a terrific tale by the author. Mister Locke peppered the story with local idioms and dialogue which took a little getting used to, but by the end it was just part of the story, became less noticeable, and adds to it. I give this story a five-star rating. The author's bio says the novel "was one of the top twenty-five western novels of all time [states] the Western Writers of America . . . [and made into a movie, From Hell to Texas.]"

(I reviewed the book at the request of Open Road Media and will share it on Facebook, Twitter, and maybe other places where it shows up.)

NOTE: The header picture is the old Prescott (AZ) Courthouse seen through the trees from Gurley Street.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ten Shoes Up, a Novel by Gary L. Stuart



This story takes place in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico in the high country. “Angus” is a ridge rider, that is, he likes the mountains and is perfectly at home living at 12,000 feet in a self-built log cabin and only visits a town out of necessity. But A Captain Standard H. Plumb, railroad detective, thinks he has been robbing trains and is out to get him dead or alive. Plumb gets together a posse and lights out on the trail of Angus. The story has several points of view as each chapter is devoted to one of the characters and his situation as he tells it. The story moves along as each one picks up where the previous leaves off or simultaneously explains what went on or what his plans are.

Plumb and his posse nearly catch Angus as  posse member Branson fires his Hawken that barely misses Angus and puts a long gash in his horse’s thigh. Angus escapes by riding through the Ute Cut, a narrow opening in the cliffs on top of Ten Shoes Up, the name of the mountain.

The story continues with a few twists and turns and Angus meets Addie Morton in Montclair, Colorado, and falls for her. Her brother, Robert owns the bank there and Angus has business with him which he takes care of and heads back into the mountains on a new horse.

Well, it turns out that this Angus gent is not who he was made out to be and one of the former posse members, Bo String, who was nearly shot by a member of the new posse, holes up with Angus in his cabin on the mountain. The new posse finds the hidden cabin and Angus captures Under Sheriff Joe Pete. Angus gets the drop on the two remaining posse members, Plumb and Branson, and they both end up dead.

That part is over and Angus is on the hunt for a Tom Emmet and gang, more train robbers, who are rumored to be in the Cimarron, New Mexico, area. After some more tracking, shooting, and killing, Angus settles that round and the story is over.

This story of Angus Esparrazza was fun, interesting, exciting, and comes to an end with a surprise in store for the reader. The one thing I thought was a little overdone was the internal descriptive additions that explained too much unnecessary information, but I enjoyed the tale in spite of that. The use of the various POV’s didn’t interfere with the narrative, but moved it right along. An action-packed and thrilling tale of the old west.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Summer Events in AZ

You would think that there wouldn't be much going on in the desert heat in summer, but there are a few events taking place:

Today is the last day of the Annual Pleasant Valley Days in Young. Features a parade and historic site tours of the 1887 Pleasant Valley War, and other exciting things.

Jul 24-25: National Day of the Cowboy Celebration and Cowboy Artists of America in Sedona. WOW! This will be fun with gunfights, roping, and such, to celebrate the Cowboys. A whole lot of storytelling and I wouldn't be surprised there will be some tall tales among them and poetry, too. And some tall cowboys on horses.

Jul 25: First Annual Book Festival in Payson at Gila Community College. 60 authors available to sign and sell their books plus classes, etc., for writers and readers. I'm betting that this will be even bigger next year and the next.

Jul 25 - Grape Train Escape, Clarkdale. Wine tasting on the Verde Canyon Railroad, a great ride through the canyon and return to Clarkdale. You start out sober and return somewhat inebriated. YAHOOO!

Jul 25: Aquamoto Watercraft Race Series, Lake Havasu. Obstacle courses, bikini contests (Woot, woot!), flyboard contests, etc., etc., etc. 

Jul 25 - Sep 27: West of Center - A Community-Curated Event in Wickenburg. Media works by the Wickenburg Art Club, demonstrations, lectures, etc. at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum.

Aug 1-2: Antique Auto Show, Prescott. All makes and models of the old automobile. Fun, fun, fun.

Aug 6-8: Arizona Cowboy Poet Gathering, Prescott at Yavapai College. Perpetuating the culture, traditions, history of cowboy poetry. EEE-YAI!

And that be a few of the exciting events this summer in Arizona. Thanks to AAA's Magazine Highroads.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Short Introduction

We were in Sedona, Arizona, last week on a mini-vacation and when we returned Saturday evening around 4:00 PM, there was some difficulty with the garage door - again. It stuck about a third of the way open. Being fairly late in the day and on a weekend, it took a while to find someone to make a service call. The man showed up around 6:30-7:00 and proceeded to replace parts and give the door an overhaul, which took an hour or an hour-and-half. I finally pulled the car in around 8:30 after the serviceman wrang me dry of funds.

Anyway, while we were in Sedona, we took advantage of a jeep tour through the red rocks and pines. Our tour guide and jeep driver was "Rocky" Sullivan, pictured below:


"Rocky" is a genuine cowboy who had done plenty of ranch work and cattle herding and tending and in addition, is a cowboy poet. On our trip back into town he recited a couple of his poems and we all thought they were great. He said he will be attending a cowboy poet get-together in Abilene, Kansas, in a short while and afterward will be moving on to another one, where he will have audiences to hear his version of the genre. He said he hadn't published anything yet, but he is thinking about doing that before long. I told him he should get right on to it and also start writing short stories of which he has plenty to tell.

"Rocky" was funny, intelligent, and had a lot to say. He took us to an old ranch over a very rough road and told us its history and the ghost that supposedly shows himself occasionally and gives bad information to lost tourists. The six of us thought he was a real character and enjoyed the trip immensely.  Here is another pic of him with my great-grandsons and son-in-law:





So, that's "Rocky" Sullivan, and if you ever get the chance to see him at a poetry gathering, I'm sure you will enjoy his company as much as we did. He told us he was going to move to New Mexico in the near future and I'm sure you will hear much more of him. I wish him good luck!   

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Fifth of July

I've experienced some great Independence Days and regretted them on the fifth of July. I usually woke up with a terrible headache and half-sick with a wonderful hangover. AAAGH! Those days included mostly beer among the champagne, cognac, wine, sangria, Kentucky whiskey, Scotch whiskey, gin, rum, vodka, saki, and other drinks that happened to appear ready for consumption. Some included women of low reputation, high reputation, or no reputation and others did not. But the result was usually the same - a grandiose hangover that left me wondering if I would make it through the day.

Well, those  days are gone forever and have been for the last twenty or so years and I don't miss them a bit, not one single little bit. But I do miss the good times I supposedly had but can't remember much of. Were they really that good? Yes, and the hangovers were terrific!

So, here's wishing everyone a Happy and Clear-headed Fifth of July!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Wild Pitch" by A. B. Guthrie, Jr.

I can't recall from memory all of an author's works, but I do know that I had never heard of Wild Pitch by Mr, Guthrie. I ran across it at an estate sale and violated my order about buying more books. It is a hard-backed pocket book published by Popular Library Editions in 1973 and is a murder mystery that takes place in a small town in Montana. We see the tale through the eyes of a 17-year-old boy who carries a baseball with him most of the time and is the pitcher for the town's baseball team.

There are two murders to be solved, the first one takes place at night at the annual town picnic where a prominent resident is shot by a rifle. The second one comes later on where another resident is shot by his mailbox on a road out of town and over a hill from the house where he lived. The teenager gets involved because he is always hanging out at the Sheriff's Office and runs errands for the sheriff. He has a fingerprint kit that he practices with at home and at the office. He is always squeezing the baseball to build up the muscles in his pitching arm and he is a fine pitcher. He goes along with the sheriff as they interview about everyone that has associated with the murder victims to get a clue who killed them.There are the usual town characters, including the half-wit and an old spinster with dementia and two residents who are medical professionals, plus the local doctor. Also, there is a big- city detective assigned to assist the sheriff who knows it all, but is out-witted by the easy-going sheriff.

All-in-all, I give the book four stars. It is not in the class of The Big Sky or The Way West in my estimation, but it is an entertaining read of 224 pages.

(NOTE: The photo in the header is part of a series of the Sonoran Desert a couple of miles north of Wickenburg, AZ, in the springtime taken by my nephew, Russ Case. I will be showing more in the header as we go along.)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Whoopee! It's Father's Day/A Monument in South Dakota

First of all, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

Second of all, if you're going to be in South Dakota in August, stop in Lemmon and watch the grand opening of the Hugh Glass Monument and Rendezvous Park to commemorate the famous grizzly encounter that nearly killed Hugh Glass. The attack occurred in August 1823 near the Shadehill Reservoir near Lemmon, South Dakota. In December, the movie The Revenant will be released starring none other than Leonard DiCaprio, telling the story of Hugh Glass, an early fur trapper.

For more info on the fur trade and Glass, pick up a copy of Win Blevins' Give Your Heart to the Hawks reviewed in my post of  June 4, 2015.

(Ref: An article from the June 18th Sun City Daily News, Grizzly tale inspires South Dakota festival.)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Jerked Me Away

Well, I was working on my book when I was dragged out of the chair with barely enough time to turn off the computer and unceremoniously thrown into the car to go shopping - again. So, for the last couple of weeks no words were added to my story. Had to go shopping for groceries for my relatives who were coming to pay a visit.

They showed up as scheduled and we got down to the serious business of entertaining, you know, SHOPPING!, eating out, laughing and joking or joking and laughing over some senseless thing that happened years ago, and playing poker. About all of our pennies were ripped from our piggy banks never to be seen again, we were such good poker players.

They had no sooner gone that more relatives appeared on our doorstep, and we had another round of practically the same. But don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it all except for the part that kept me from writing. The latter visitors had a vicious dog with them, one of those half-pint vicious miniature chihuahuas that wouldn't let me touch his food without getting a finger gnawed off. It was the only dog I've seen that never barked, he just growled in a low, threatening grr-rr, and his name was Pancho Villa, a far cry from the original.

No poker-playing this time, though. It was only SHOPPING!, eating out, and joking and laughing about old times growing up, etc., and a good time was had by all.

Maybe next week I can get back to writing.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Give Your Heart to the Hawks by Winfred Blevins

I started reading this book, Give Your Heart to the Hawks, and right away I knew that it was one of the best books I've read on the fur trade in the Rocky Mountains. Mister Blevins covers all the main characters involved, Jedediah Smith, General Ashley, Tom "Three Fingers" Fitzpatrick, Jim Bridger, John Colter, Hugh Glass, Pierre Chouteau, to name a few. He writes from the trapper point of view and makes it  personal by using their language to tell about themselves and the trapping trade, the rendezvous, and the battles with the Indians, mainly the Blackfoot tribe. Some didn't survive the battles or the life on the prairie and in the mountains. Most of the winters were tough and if they didn't have enough to eat, they went hungry. If they lived to age 40 or so, they changed lives and settled down to a more normal life with a squaw or went back to the settlements on the eastern bank of the Missouri. A few lived with the Indians and adopted the Indian ways, one became a tribal chief, Jim Beckwourth, the only black man.

The book also covers the competition between the fur companies, including the British in the Northwest, the grizzly bear attack on Hugh Glass and its aftermath, and the story-telling of the various trappers, the heavy drinking and fights at rendezvous time, other moral and immoral happenings The book includes a Glossary, Chronology of the Fur Trade, Notes, Index, and Bibliography.The edition I read is the First Avon Printing, 1976.

Win Blevins is a Spur Award Winner for his novels, Stone Song and So Wild a Dream.  He is the 2015 Owen Wister Award Winner for Lifetime Contributions to Western Literature. Congratulations are in order!



Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day

On 10 April 1963, the USS THRESHER (SSN-593) sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean with 129 people on board while testing its deep-dive capacity. One of those people was a good friend, having served on the USS NEPTUNE (ARC-2) together in 1956, name of Romeo Constantino from the Philippines. After he left the NEPTUNE, I heard nothing of him until 1967 when a young swabby from the Philippines checked aboard the USS CLAUDE V. RICKETTS (DDG-5). His name was Jose Constantino and out of curiosity, I asked him if he knew a sailor named Romeo Constantino to which he replied, "Yes, he was my uncle. He was on the THRESHER when it sunk."

I couldn't believe it, and it's still hard for me to know that he died at the bottom of the sea, but his name is on the list of casualties. So I'm dedicating this Memorial Day to his memory and the good times we had on the NEPTUNE. My condolences go out again to Jose and the rest of the family. 

 My wishes go out to everyone to have a nice Memorial Day or Decoration Day as my parents used to call it as they prepared flowers to decorate the relatives' graves in the local cemetery.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

It is Woodstock!

Woodstock is far from being part of the West unless you consider being northwest of New York City the West, which at one time it was. Now known as Bethel Woods, there is a monument to the Woodstock Festival with all the names of the musicians who performed at the Festival in 1969 and a museum on the grounds. Which brings me to the subject of today's blog, a book by Michael Murphy entitled Goodbye Emily, published in 2012 in paperback and e-book, available at amazon.com.

It's the story of three high school buddies from Pennsylvania, who once had a small band in high school called the Buck Naked Band. Here they are forty years later in their sixties making a trip back to Woodstock to spread the ashes of Emily, the wife of the one called "Sparky". Sparky is now a professor at Milton College, er, he was a Professor until he was fired by a young PhD Warfield to make room for one of his buddies.

Sparky's wife passed away from cancer two years ago and Sparky has been wallowing in self-pity ever since and it turned a smidgin worse after he was fired. He and his dog, Lady, live in the empty house now and cuss the next door neighbor, Old Man Simpson, for letting his cat use his flowerbed as a bathroom. Other than that he maintains himself with food for himself and Lady and makes a mess of the house with all the trash built up since he lost interest in life.  Sparky has a daughter named Cloe, a lawyer, who comes by often to see how he is getting along and one day gets him going enough to visit one of his old buddies, Josh, who is now an Alzheimer's patient in the local Sunrise Center. He also pays a visit to Buck, the other close friend and past band member.

Buck and Sparky have to break Josh out of the home to take him with them to give Emily a last farewell. Josh doesn't remember them, but Sparky brings him a picture of his dog Buttons which he does remember and Josh digs up the words of some of the songs played at Woodstock somewhere from his memory and sings along with them on a couple of tunes.

I really thought this story of their trip to Woodstock was funny and joyful and they had a helluva time avoiding the cops on the back roads. An APB was put out for the three for kidnapping an Alzheimer's patient and the trip gets exciting, suspenseful, and humorous on the way to Woodstock. The author did a fine job explaining and carrying me through the book to the end. A wonderful book of a great American musical event as Sparky, Buck and Josh have the adventure of their lives and meet the girls of their dream, at least Sparky did, and so did Buck late in the book when he finds the girl he met at the festival.

Michael Murphy is a member of the Arizona Authors Association as am I and he has posted several items on my Pinterest board, but this in no way has any bearing on my review of Goodbye Emily,  one of the best books I've read. Mr. Murphy also writes mysteries, such as Scorpion Bay.




Sunday, May 17, 2015

Let Out/Clouds

The Garage door is fixed and we got out in time to make my appointment Friday. The problem was not what I thought, the cables, but the long spring over the door. It broke about six inches from the center of the garage, and that's why it wouldn't open manually. It cost $165 for a new spring and service on the door. YIKES!

Anyway, it's fixed for now, so here are some clouds passing by, the remnants of Friday night's rain. We received almost an inch and it made our day. We seldom get any rain in May. Along with the snow in the high country it will help the drought. Pictures:


These were taken from my front yard around 10:00 A.M. Saturday morning.By Preakness time they were about cleared out.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Locked In

I can't go anywhere today unless I walk. The garage door busted about 6:30 yesterday evening, and it won't budge from its closed position. The car is inside, of course. I consider myself lucky that it's closed instead of wide open where the thieves can walk in and steal all my precious tools and other junk.

It hasn't been a year since I had it serviced. Maybe that's the problem, too much coddling. The heckuvit is, it hasn't worked very good over the last few years. Seems like every summer, something goes wrong with it and it costs me a bundle to get it fixed. I'm beginning to think I'm being ripped off by the garage door people. I bought a brand new garage door opener two years ago and thought that would be the end of my problem, but maybe the servicing hasn't been done right or was incomplete. A door should last forever since its just a door, you know, an inanimate object that is pulled up and down by cables on each side. Unless someone runs his car into it, it should be just fine.

This time both cables came loose and are hanging near the door, saying, "See, I told you last time we were up to something." They should have an emergency warning light that goes on when something is about to break so you could make arrangements to park in the driveway.

I don't have anywhere I need to go today anyway, but I like to get out at least once a day for a meal or my great-grandson's baseball game, or whatever. I'll be forced to work on my forthcoming novel or watch TV, or read. I'm reading a good book now entitled Goodbye Emily by Michael Murphy, not a western, but a story about Woodstock, yes, the one and only Woodstock. And I'm also reading a non-fiction book, Marianne in Chains, (no, it isn't like Fifty Shades of Grey), it's about life in the Loire Valley of France during WWII under Marshal Petain and the Germans. And I'm reading a non-fiction book by Win Blevins on the Fur Traders. And I'll be starting on another Western novel tout de suite. I have many laying around that I must get read.

Now, if they will only get the damn garage door repaired, I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow in the afternoon and some important places to go like a good restaurant or the mall.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO ALL THE MOTHERS OUT THERE!

There is only one person in the world who loves you through all your bad times. Your mother.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Snakes

I was thinking about rattlesnakes the other day. I had to go outside and do a little trimming on my hedge and although it isn't likely that a reptile would be hiding in there, I always look before stepping anywhere close to bushes, etc., since there are venomous critters lurking about the area in general. The evening news a few weeks ago reported that seven people had gotten bit with the warmer weather bringing out the sneaky critters. There was a teenaged girl in Tucson that went for her daily walk the other day and she got bitten by one of the devils. She was wearing flip-flops and it bit her toe.

So, anyway, I have had The Snake Den by Charles Tyrell (Charles Whipple) on my computer for a few months and it came to mind as I was contemplating snakes. It's a fairly long ebook of about 327 pages, but it kept me on my toes all the while I was reading it. It's the story of young Shawn Brodie, a fourteen-year-old, who was railroaded into the infamous Yuma Prison by a man, Fen Dillard, who had designs on Brodie's mother. Shawn had a younger sister at home when he was paraded off to Yuma. Shawn's offense was shooting a cow that broke her leg by stepping into a "dog hole" and he whacked off a hind quarter to assuage his family's hunger. This Fen Dillard gent said he was a thief for stealing the meat after he shot the cow.

The youngest convict in the prison was Shawn Brodie, but they treated him like all the other convicts and put him in a cell with a card sharp, a gunslinger, and a "Chinaman". Brodie was an intelligent kid and the longer he was there, the more he learned from his cellmates, especially the guntoter and the Chinaman, who began teaching him Kara ti to help him defend himself. And there was a lot of defending to do with the likes of the Sergeant of the Guard Bull Tarkington, a sadistic and terrible excuse for a man, and the other guards who ran the prison. The Warden was a man with a wife who ran the prison library, and he was fair in his treatment of the prisoners.

Shawn Brodie got off on the wrong side of Tarkington and was soon hustled off to the room called the snake den. The snakes would fall through a hole cut in the roof of the cave that let in the only light, in this otherwise stark black cell. That was a gut-wrencher as he sat out his time there. On Sunday, one day a month, the Yuma citizens could visit the prison by paying a fee of a quarter, which helped to pay the library expenses. This is a tautly written novel with great suspense and action throughout, as the author explains the good and bad, really bad, events that young Brodie must overcome, like being forced to fight the big champion of the prison in front of the townspeople, who could kill Brodie with a well-placed fist and almost did. And there is crisis after crisis that keeps the  suspense rolling along fast and furious. I could barely turn away from the computer each day, but I had to interrupt my reading over three days it took to get through it. I will end this so I don't blow the outcome of Brodie, but I tell you, it was a mighty fine read and parts of it were tough, especially when prison sex entered it's ugly head. There is some relief when Shawn meets pretty Ann Marie Schoen one Sunday and is quite taken with her.

Another fine book well worth the time it takes to read it.  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Quotations Is It You Want?

Al right, quotations:

There's place and means for every man alive. Shakespeare - Alls' Well That Ends Well.

The opportunity for doing mischief is found a hundred times a day, and of doing good once in a year. - Voltaire.

Opposition always inflames the enthusiast, never converts him. - Schiller.

To make a young couple love each other, it is only necessary to oppose and separate them. - Goethe.

Oratory is the power to talk people out of their sober and natural opinions.  Chatfield.

He was a bold man that first ate an oyster. - Swift, Polite Conversation.

Nothing begins, and nothing ends,
  That is not paid with moan;
For we are born in other's pain,
   And perish in our own.
  - Francis Thompson, Daisy.

If we could but paint with the hand as we see it with the eye! - Balzac

Nature abhors a vacuum. - Rabelais, Gargantua.

Man loves little and often, woman much and rarely. - Basta.

To make good use of life, one should have in youth the  the experience of advanced years, and in old age the vigor of youth. - Stanislaus.

The May of life blossoms once and never again. - Schiller.

Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think. - La Bruyere.

We enter the world alone, we leave it alone. - Froude

And what so tedious as a twice-told tale. - Homer, Odyssey.

We are growing serious, and, let me tell you, that's a very next step to being dull. - Addison, The Drummer.

So we will end on that note and thanks to Popular Quotations for all Uses.
 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Doc Holliday Movie by Bill O'Reilly

So, Mr. O'Reilly has ventured into the Western movie market with his Legends or Lies book and movie series. I watched Doc Holliday Saturday evening and can't say much for it. Done in black and white, which is okay, but the sound overrode the voices in parts of it, too much background noise. He does give a quick biography of the gambler, but not very complete. With all there is to tell about Doc's life, it's too much to crowd into an hour movie. He was fairly thorough on Doc's life with Wyatt Earp and the big shootout at the OK corral (a lie as to its location as he pointed out). And he does a nice bit on the dentist Doc and the TB.

Overall I would give him a seven on the scale of one to ten for this one. I missed Jesse James, but it will probably be shown again and I'm looking forward to Kit Carson. From the ad, I think it will be a little more to my liking.

I enjoyed the Kit Carson movie, although there wasn't much action in it. Of course, Carson didn't have too many times to face off against old enemies or card cheaters like the Doc or Wild Bill Hickock. I finally learned why the Navajo tribe hated him. In the bio I have of him written in 1885, it doesn't mention it. He was ordered to round up the Navajos and lead them in their "Long Walk", the 300 miles to a reservation in New Mexico. He was just following orders of a U. S. Army officer, and he had many regrets afterward. Not much was made of General Kearney ordering him to return to California from delivering messages to Washington, D.C., nor was Kearney's disastrous battle in California made much of. This one was more entertaining than Doc Holliday. 

Kit Carson was followed by Wild Bill Hickok. This episode, I liked even more. It takes us on a short trip over Hickok's life from the time he saved a young Bill Cody until his death. He was shot in the back of the head while playing poker in Deadwood by a person who lost his money to him earlier. Hickok had an adventurous life with all the people trying to kill him because he was a celebrity lawman off and on. Buffalo Bill Cody offered him a job with the Wild West show when he ran across him in a drunken and broke condition, but he didn't stay around long. He worked for the Pony Express in his younger days as everyone knows. I thought O'Reilly did a better job of covering Hickok.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Forthcoming Novel, Bitter Creek, by Peter Bowen

Bitter Creek tells the story of another massacre of the Indians that takes place in 1910 near the fictional town of Toussaint in Montana. This time, the people killed are Metis (descendants of French-Canadian and American Indian parents) and the story is told from a present day perspective. No one in Toussaint is alive when the killings took place, but there are rumors and whisperings floating around about the tragedy. Gabriel DuPre sets out to find who the killers were, assisted by his two friends, Patchen and Chappie, both badly injured in the War in Iraq. There are twists and turns that take DuPre and friends on a wild ride through local history and persons who don't want them to find out the real truth and people who do. Plenty of mystery and suspense in this one published by Open Road Integrated Media.

Not having read anything by Peter Bowen that I recall, I found the story to be humorous, exciting, and detailed in its descriptions of the landscape and types of people involved. There was one survivor of the massacre, a young girl name of Amalie who is now over a hundred years old and is in a nursing home in Canada. To talk to her long enough, they had to sign her out of the home and bring her back to Toussaint where they could do it at leisure, which turned out to be quite an adventure. Along with Amalie, the other characters in the story, guilty or not, are well-described and add much to the goings-on. Gabriel DuPre has plenty to deal with, a couple of killings and trips to Washington, D. C. and Seattle before he finally wraps up the mystery.

It was one of the most interesting books I've read in a while and highly recommend it to anyone who likes mysteries and the West, definitely a five-star rating from me. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

More from Memoirs, One Place and Another

Chief Petty Officer Jones (not his real name) was one of those characters you meet along the way during a naval career. He came along as we checked into a hotel in Madrid prior to reporting to our duty station. The chief had been in the Navy close to thirty years by then and considered this to be his last station before retiring to civilian life. Among the chiefs I had known, he was not the brightest bulb in the garden, but he was easy to get along with. One of his favorite sayings was, "That's what they do" and never explained who "they" were. If anything was changed or something new introduced, he would say "That's what they do," no matter the reason or subject, as if whoever made the change did it purposely to confuse everyone, e.g., if there was an increase in your tax withholding, "that's what they do to make sure you don't have enough to live on, or so you don't get all the last pay increase. They want to keep you dependent," or something else.

Chief "Jones" had been married to a woman that he divorced not too long berfore he was ordered to
Spain, and most of his pay went to support her kids from a previous marriage or marriages. We spent some off-duty time together occasionally, but later on he took a 30-day leave and returned to Kansas, his home State. When he came back to Madrid, he told me he had remarried, this time to a woman who had 10 or 12 kids. Asked why, he said he had known the woman for some time and he thought he was in love with her, besides he received more money for support of all those kids. To his way of thinking, he was walking in tall cotton and he was working all the angles to get as much money as he could. His wife and kids stayed in Kansas. I still wonder how long they stayed married.

On a trip to Kansas, we stopped in Olathe to see if we could find him. And we found a person with the same name in the phone book, so I gave him a call: Hello, hello. I'm looking for a retired Navy Chief with this name and who said he lived in Olathe. He retired from the Navy a few years ago. "Well, that's my name, all right, but I retired from the Marine Corps. I don't think I'm the person you're looking for."  Sorry to disturb you and have a nice day. It wasn't his voice, either, so I'm still wondering even now, even though I'm sure he has kicked the bucket. It's one of those nagging little things "they" do.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Another Excerpt oomr my Unpubished Memoir, One Place and Another

In the summer of 1939 or 1940, two of my friends and I were playing around the storage building out behind the church house, climbing in and out of the coal bin, which didn't have a roof. Getting tired of that, we checked out the outhouses which were open all the time and read the poetry and such written on the walls in the men's side: "here I sit, all brokenhearted. . .etc." We had a good laugh from the gross humor and went looking around the locked storage area of the building where extra chairs and such were stored. Noticing under the eaves a bird's nest with a couple of young sparrows or finches in it,  my companions boosted me up to take a good look. I reached into the nest and picked up one of the young tweeters that had grown feathers. The problem with this was, the nest was alive with lice and they started crawling up my arm by the hundreds. I dropped to the ground quick and started brushing them off and running toward home. I told my mother I had lice real bad. I took off my shirt and she doused my upper limbs and under arms with kerosene until she couldn't see anymore lice. She told me to go to the canal and wash off the kerosene before I catch on fire. We ran to the canal, where we stood on the bank and I cleaned myself up with fresh water from the stream, one of my friends helping me.

While we were washing off the kerosene, one friend wandered away. We started looking for him and found him floating in the middle of the canal, belly down and head under water. My cousin (the other friend) ran across the canal on a flume and tried to reach him from the bank, but he was too far out in the stream. Fifty yards downstream there was a log across the canal which was used by kids cutting through the fields to attend school. I ran as fast as I could and got in the center of the log where I was able to catch the boy by the shirt collar and arm and hold him until my cousin could help me drag him to the bank. We laid him belly down in the dirt by an old barn wall. He was unconscious, so we decided to push down on his back and ribs to push out the water he had consumed. Luckily, this worked as water started to come out of his mouth. After a couple of minutes, he coughed up some more water and started to get his color back. He laid there a while before he suddenly sat up and thanked us for saving him from drowning. He said he had slipped and fell in and couldn't regain his footing. He rose to his feet finally and said he was going home but wouldn't tell his mother about his narrow escape because she would give him a whipping. He was killed by a horse later on, at least that was what I was told. I never saw my cousin or him again after we moved away.

I didn't get along well with this boy who nearly drowned. He was always hanging around the schoolyard, because his mother told him to go play to get him out of the house. He was an only child, and his widowed mother had a lot of visitors, mainly men. My father hinted one time that she "could make a little money that way," but I didn't understand it at the time. One summer, this kid was playing around the schoolyard and we got into an argument and commenced to discuss the problem physically instead of mentally. I threw him on the ground a couple of times and told him to leave me alone. This got tiresome, so I took off running to get away from him. He caught up with me and I threw him down again and sat on him to teach him a lesson. I got up and started walking away. He tackled me from behind, and before I could turn over he was sitting on my shoulders holding my head between his knees. Try as I might, I couldn't dislodge him. So, I had to give up in disgrace. He finally got off me and took off for home. My ego was a little bruised, so I went home and told my mother about it. She wasn't too sympathetic, saying, "You shouldn't be fighting anyway!"