Monday, April 24, 2023

Silver Screen Cowboys I have loved.

Movies and television programs are very much a matter of opinion. What some like, others despise. The same holds true for actors. Portrayals of cowboys on the big (and small) screen range from authentic to absurd, and the actors assigned those roles come off as believable or bogus, and sometimes downright laughable.

Like most movie fans, I have my favorites. I lean toward actors who are absorbed into the role, rather than movie stars who are essentially playing themselves in cowboy costumes. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order. (Not included are many, many fine players who appear mostly in supporting roles or small parts.) I’m sure some—most—of you will disagree with my choices. Others will wonder about those left out. That’s fine. You can make your own list.

Robert Duvall. Tommy Lee Jones. Ben Johnson. Clint Eastwood. Tom Selleck. Paul Newman. Henry Fonda. Robert Redford. Thomas Hayden Church. Ed Harris. Jeff Bridges. Alan Ladd. Sam Elliott.

And, finally, Latigo Brown.

Latigo Brown?

Excuse the crass commercialism, but Latigo Brown is the hero of my latest novel, Silver Screen Cowboy. Like me, Latigo Brown is often uncomfortable, sometimes downright dismissive, of the unrealistic ways cowboys are portrayed on screen. Despite his surprising path from ranch and rodeo cowboy to movie star back in the golden days of Westerns and the remuneration and renown that come with it, some of the things he is asked to do on screen chafe like a bur under a saddle blanket.

Give Silver Screen Cowboy a read. Could be that Latigo Brown will make it onto your list of favorite silver screen cowboys. Even if you’ve only seen him in your mind.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

School days.

In recent weeks I’ve had the opportunity to spend time on university campuses at opposite ends of my home state of Utah.

At my alma mater, Utah State University in Logan, I met with a classroom full of journalism students. For more than an hour they peppered me with questions about journalism, advertising, magazine writing, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, Western history, how I go about writing, and all manner of things. Fortunately, after stringing words together over several decades for all manner of reasons I was able to offer some sort of response to most of their queries.

Days later, I spent an equally enjoyable hour with creative writing students at Utah Tech University in St. George. Again, the questions were insightful and the discussion engaging. Later, UT hosted a public event during which I read from several of my books—mostly fiction but also some nonfiction and poetry—answered a few questions, and spent time talking with and signing books for some of the readers kind enough to come out for the event.  A fine local bookseller, The Book Bungalow, handled sales and now has several of my titles on the shelves at their store in St. George.

All in all, the faculty and staff members involved in my visits had everything well in hand to make the experiences enjoyable. And, the students at both universities were impressive. They seemed bright, immersed, and involved—much different from my own time as a college student, if my hazy memories are to be trusted.