Friday, December 20, 2013

"Ah shit," he muttered, and began to unfasten the stiff slicker. Then standing up he quickly looped it onto the saddle horn and sheltered himself a little as he dug his light wool jacket out of the saddle bag, slipped into it hurriedly, then untied the wool serape from behind the saddle, pulled it on over the jacket, unhooked the slicker and shrugged back into it.   (TEJON TRAIL)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

"When it's roundup time in Texas and the bloom is on the sage,
How I long to be in Texas, just a ridin' on the range.
I can smell the bacon fryin', hear it sizzlin' in the pan,
Hear the breakfast horn in the early morn, drinkin' coffee from a can."

Monday, November 18, 2013

     Looking at her appraisingly over his cup he smiled. "I'd say young Mr. Schmidt has got himself quite a wife: hard-working, good cook, handy with a shotgun-- and very pretty."
     "Well, thank you," she managed, eyes shining, cheeks very pink, and her breasts rising and falling rather quickly under the snug gingham dress.
     He had a feeling that compliments had been in short supply around the ranch lately.      (from TEJON TRAIL)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thackeray is of course an excellent writer, and an insightful student of human nature; but he has a cold, cynical, somewhat bitter view of things, which often causes him to miss the actual truth about people and their actions. In VANITY FAIR, for example, he often makes a ridiculous observation in order to insert a negative comment about human beings, at least in the England he knew. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

 " ... The trials of the men who had murdered the Lester Mine Company scabs and gunmen had ended up convicting no one; and now, on top of that, the Ku Klux Klan and the Protestant churches were beginning to raise major hell about the road-house bootlegging and prostitution that were running wild around Herrin and Marion..... "   (EGYPT BURNING)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"All around the water tank, waitin' for a train; a thousand miles away from home, singin' in the rain ...."   (old song by Jimmie Rodgers)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

For a good example of excellent Western writing, try the old Luke Short Westerns. The plots are nothing unusual, but the writing is exceptional: Great descriptions, dialog, and action scenes. GUNMAN'S CHANCE is top notch. Just one of many.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The unfenced range and the roundup were Scottish Highland traditions. The English liked fences and barns. Romanized Britons.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A good view of Old California is contained in Dana's TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST (as well as life aboard an American clipper ship with a hard-case skipper).

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Just a few good spots for Southern California Western settings: Portola's trail, Mission San Gabriel, Anza's route, Lake Hughes and Elizabeth Lake, Lovejoy Buttes, Vasquez Rocks, Olvera Street, Pico House, Church of Our Lady of the Angels, Verdugo Adobe, San Fernando Mission, Lopez Adobe, Beal's Cut, Placerita Canyon, Fort Tejon (Kern County), La Casa de Adobe (replica), San Francisquito Canyon, Leona Valley.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The best Westerns display the classic American Anglo-Celtic hero: the peaceful man of violence. He does not start the trouble, but when it comes he is better at it than the bad guys. He is a good man protecting good people from bad people, who are always around. He is smart, quick on the draw, and a straight shooter. The goal is living a peaceful life, but at times it must be defended, even with deadly force.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

One of the most scenic and historic drives in Southern California is the old mining/stage road from Bodfish (near Lake Isabella) to the railroad town of Caliente, and thence to Freeway 58. It is still the same narrow, steep, winding road it was in the 1860s, but hard surfaced. Climbing oak-covered hills, it passes by the still-occupied site of the mining town of Havilah, and crosses or circles the wide range-land in Walker Basin. Watch out for stray cattle on the road. In Springtime there are usually beautiful patches of wildflowers along much of the route. A wonderful setting for California Westerns. (Please note that, unless you enjoy climbing up very steep  roads, it is much easier to go from Bodfish to Caliente.)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Sittin' by the roadside on a summer day,
Chattin' with my messmates to pass the time away,
Lyin' in the shadows underneath the trees,
Goodness how delicious, gobblin' goober peas...."

(Civil War song, Confederate)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Little Old Sod Shanty

How I wish some kind-hearted girlie would pity on me take, and relieve me from the mess that I am in. Oh the angel how I'd bless her, if this her home she would make, in my little old sod shanty on the claim.
(Western folk song)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Great old reference book for places in California that make good settings for historical Westerns: Historical Spots in California, Hoover and Rensch, Stanford University Press, one volume edition 1948

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I spoke too soon re. Parker's PALE KINGS AND PRINCES: He goes off track half way thru and has chapter-long chats with his brilliant, beautiful shrink girlfriend Susan. Then comes his super-dude pal Hawk and a detailed description of the man's stylish apparel. Warning to newbies: Parker can get away with this. You can't.

Monday, March 18, 2013

We saw the comet last night: a tiny unwinking star by the moon. My granddaughter and I saw it from beneath our Chinese-lantern tree. Reminded me of Kipling's poem "The Moon of Other Days." I think the moon and stars and planets are an interesting part of a story's scenic background.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

They say shoot a charging grizzly in the shoulder or the nose (it's in line with the heart and lungs). Standing up, aim for the heart. And you better have serious caliber ammo.   :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

That beautiful scene is in the Alabama Hills, Lone Pine CA. Gunga Din was one of hundreds of movies made there. A favorite setting for many Hopalong Cassidy films. Some of the most striking scenery in California, but unknown to many Californians. An area filled with frontier history.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Old timers around Elizabeth Lake said it wasn't the monster in the lake that took all the cattle. It was just plain old grizzly bears and cougars. Plus Vasquez and his gang didn't mind a nice steak supper once in a while.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Old Stage Route

Took a drive down El Camino Viejo thru San Francisquito Valley, part of the old Spanish trail from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Later on it was the stage route that went to Fort Tejon and Willow Springs, etc.. Includes beautiful oak grove on the south side of the crest of the Sierra Pelona mountains. Interesting variety of geological formations, and places where you can follow the original stage coach route, as traveled on by Deputy Cal MacLamond and company in upcoming Western (which can be read as sequel to AMARGOSA AMBUSH, or as separate story). Checked out the site of Major Gordon's stage station.