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.