Monday, June 6, 2011

Goodbye to a Western Icon

As a child of the 1950s and an avid cowboy fan, I watched my share of TV westerns. Starting with Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and running through Bonanza, Wagon Train, The Virginian, High Chaparral, and The Big Valley, I watched them all and had my favorite hero on each show, but probably my most favorite hero of all was Marshal Dillon. It was a tradition on Saturday night to watch Gunsmoke, to every week watch the tall lawman keep the peace in Dodge City. Matt Dillon just seemed to embody the spirit of the West, and for a child infatuated with the cowboy myth, he was a superhero for his time.

The other characters were pretty well drawn, too, and even a little ahead of their time. Doc and Chester, and later Festus, were quibbling sidekicks who loved to rub each other the wrong way. They added comic relief to what was often a somber story of outlaws attacking the town; hardships faced by settlers of the 1870s West, and Marshal Dillon’s quest to round up those who broke the law. He seemed a man who possessed a calm demeanor in the face of gunfire but who never failed to bring justice wherever he could to a lawless land. Then there was Miss Kitty. Today she would be known as Ms. Kitty, no doubt, but even as a Miss she led the way in independence and self-reliance for a woman of her time. Owner of the Longbranch Saloon, Miss Kitty put up with no nonsense from anyone, nor did she need to be taken care of; yet she harbored a real soft spot for the Marshal, and most of us viewers knew they were truly in love. They just couldn’t give up their individual lifestyles to live an ordinary life. I think we all were pretty sure we knew where the Marshal hung his hat when the show was over.

Gunsmoke ran from 1955-1975 and was the longest running drama on TV until Law and Order surpassed it. You can still catch reruns on many cable and satellite channels, and even today those episodes of life in the 1870s Old West stand up well. I’ve found they are great to study for characterization and tight writing and action. But I guess I watch them because I still love Marshal Dillon, and I still hope that maybe I missed the episode where he finally kissed Miss Kitty. (I’m pretty sure he never did.)

James Arness, aka Marshal Matt Dillon, passed away last week at 88, still a hero in my eyes. I’m willing to say that he was one of the reasons the hero in my first published novel had to be a cowboy. Rest in peace, Marshal, and thank goodness those reruns still live on.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Zeke and Foo Foo's New Year's Resolutions


I'm wondering how many people across the country played those numbers in a lottery today? How many got married? How many babies were born on this day with its unusual set of numbers. Let's hope it's the first day of a number one year for us all.
While I'm not big on making resolutions for myself, I did decide on a few that I hope I'll be able to keep.
1) Write a lot.
2) Read a lot.
3) Eat less.
4) Stress less.
5)Complain less.
6) Let everything else take care of itself.

My dogs, on the other hand, came up with quite a few that I know they will have no problem keeping. So here they are, Zeke and Foo Foo's New Year's Resolutions for 2011.

1) Walk every day.

2) Eat as many liver treats as we can every day.

3) Bark enough to drive mom and dad crazy every day.

4) Keep marauding squirrels away from the bird feeders and if we chase away the birds, too, oh well.

5) Unstuff a few more of our toys and find the squeakers.

6) Did we mention walk every day?

7) Bark at every neighbor dog that walks by our house.

8) Steal each other’s rawhide chewies at every opportunity.

9) Beg for treats at every meal.

10) Be sure to get up in the middle of the night to go out, every night.

11) Stare out the window waiting for something to bark at or until we can walk, every day.

12) Wait for summer so we can hang out in the backyard and lie in wait for hapless gophers to wander in.

On this day of 1-1-11, summer seems a very long ways away, but then so did Christmas and New Year's Day, just a few short months ago.
Happy 2011 to all, wherever you may be! Let's hope it's a good one.