Friday, September 2, 2016

Smiles and tears and hellos and goodbyes.


Once it was summer and I was seventeen years old.

Once we were wild and crazy. We piled bikes in the back of my daddy's red Ford truck and piled ourselves up front, ate ice cream bars, rolled the windows down and turned the music up loud.



The rodeo happened. Everybody for miles around put on their cowboy boots and hopped in their trucks (or their dorky Volvo, if your name is Anderson) and drove out to Rodeo City to sit on the bleachers under the lights and watch history being made in all its dust and glory. My sisters and I sat on those bleachers three times, cheering and screaming with the rest of the working-class America, going wild when the cowboy stayed on that bull for eight seconds, laughing with our cousins, enjoying the simple wonder of being a live on a starry August night.


The county fair happened. Some guy named Dustin Lynch took the stage and rocked it, with his cowboy hat and his white teeth, so shiny you could see them gleam all the way up in the grandstand. The girls left their seats and scurried down closer to get a better look, swooning when he sang 'Cowboys and Angels', laughing and singing along when he broke into 'I've Got Friends in Low Places' (even though the only words they knew were from the Tim Hawkins parody). I was one of those girls; we stood between the grandstand and the preferred seating, as far as we could go without being stopped by security (or until we were stopped by security) and danced like crazy girls while people walked by and spilled beer on us, but we didn't care because it was a hot summer night and the music was good and it was the time to let loose and be wild.


Once we went to the fair again and saw HUNTER HAYES. The sky burned pink and the fair lights glittered and he stood up on that stage with his blue guitar and he smiled that smile and sang all those songs I love so much and made us all feel like we'd been friends all our lives. He made us feel wanted. When he went over to the piano and sat down and started playing 'Invisible', I lost it all and started crying right there. I screamed and jumped up and down and sang along loud as I could and tried to snapshot the entire night in my mind, so I'd never forget one bit of it. I never will.


Once the six cousins climbed in the big red diesel and drove and hour to see Lee Brice. (Seriously, Dustin Lynch? Who is that guy?) We sat on the bleachers, all in a line, and proved that it is possible to dance just as crazy as the people down front when you're sitting way back in the grandstand and you're not drinking alcohol. He played 'Drinking Class' and we screamed. He sang 'I Don't Dance' and we wandered closer, to get a better look, and my cousin danced with me, and there was not one person there more drunk on love and happiness than I was.



Once I lost a bunny; once a kind person brought me two more to make me feel better. (I'll love him forever.) Once I let someone read my novel, and glory be she actually enjoyed it. Once I started writing a story that held all my sorrows and joys pent-up over the last year, my silly quirks and fond memories. I didn't finish it but I'm going to.

Once I mooned over Ram trucks. Once I rode the biggest ferris wheel I've ever seen in my life and didn't get scared. Once I started to not be afraid of waiting on customers anymore, and once I sold a lady a quart of nectarines for the price of a pint of plums.



Friends, this has been one heck of a summer. I've written it all down in long rambling journal entries, all of the inconsequential and maybe petty but so important things of my little seventeen-year-old life. Stupid things. Beautiful things. But they're what made my summer wonderful. All the late nights and early mornings and loud trucks and zinnias and bushels of beans, smiles and tears, hellos and goodbyes.



I learned some things this summer, thank goodness. I learned to let go of some things and hold tighter to others. I learned that when you're parking your dad's truck you should never underestimate the distance between the end of the gravel and the ditch beyond....I learned that I'm the most fickle person I know, and I learned that while there are nasty people in the world, there are still so many good ones and a bunch of those live right in my neighborhood. I learned that getting gas at the gas station is not actually that scary! Yay! Oh yeah, and I learned that if you pay for the gas, it gives you the right to take your parents' car on a long detour on a dirt road....but when you come home, you can't pretend you didn't, because the car's gonna be all dusty and everyone will know what you've been doing. Can't hide it.

I also learned that it's time for me to move on, in a lot of ways. I've gotta grow up sometime. I'll always have one foot stuck over in childhood, I think....but I'm not the same girl I used to be. I'm not the same girl I was when I started this blog three years ago. I'm learning to love that girl (even though she could be an idiot sometimes) but I don't want to go back. It's taken a long time for me to say that -- believe me. But I'm finally ready to put some things behind me and go forward with a smile on my face.

The other night my cousin left for college. We told him to drive by our farm on his way, and parked all our vehicles up close to the road with the lights on bright and we climbed up on the hoods and sat there and waited for him to drive by. When he did we waved our arms and cheered. I cried, because I love my cousin and I hate goodbyes.

When people ask me why I haven't been posting much this summer I've been saying it's because I'm "low on inspiration", but I realized I shouldn't be saying that because it's really not true. Inspiration is bursting my seams. I'm drowning in it. It's not inspiration that's the problem, it's me. My inspiration is running in different directions now. I don't have it in me to keep on with things here. This will be the last post on this blog, friends. For awhile at least. Maybe not forever. I can't say right now. I don't want this to be goodbye -- only see you later.

I wouldn't be here writing this if it weren't for you all. Writing my thoughts here has been SO much fun over the years, and I thank you all sincerely for joining the ride! I'll always keep these times in my heart. These were good times. 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 


photo credit: Molly
I hope y'all had a wonderful summer. :-) Till next time, friends.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

"Are we going to have tea, or not?"

highclere | More Downton Abbey photos here:  http://mylusciouslife.com/historical-style-downton-abbey-photos/:

It's Downton Abbey Week!

That means allllll week you're going to be treated to a whole bunch of gushing and swooning and oohing and aahing and flailing fangirl fanatics from a certain community of bloggers, all orchestrated by the lovely and talented Naomi whom you may know, and if you don't, well then, I'm sorry about your life. (That was a nice way of saying get thee over to this blog.)

To start things off, she's got a lovely little tag which I am going to have fun answering, and I hope you likewise have fun reading it. ;-)  


1. Who introduced you to Downton Abbey?

One spring day in 2013, my mother brought home the first season from the grocery store. We'd heard about it from various friends/acquaintances and were all mildly interested, and my mom has this tendency to buy DVD's with very little provocation, so that was how it started. I wasn't completely convinced it would be good, because at fourteen I thought anything so popular would have to be beneath me. (I had issues when I was fourteen.) But like with most things, I realized as soon as I started watching it that I was wrong. Because it was and is amazing and those early days of Downton, when my sisters and I were first being swept away in the current of obsession, will always be some of my fondest memories.


2. What Season did you (or: do you think you would) enjoy the most?

SEASON TWO.

Well, Season One maybe. Season One has such a raw, original classic-ness to it that wears off a little in the following seasons. But Season Two gives me CHILLS. You've got the War, and the whole hospital-deal, and Branson Being Naughty, and MARY AND MATTHEW....yeah. Season Two.


3. Who wore the prettiest wedding dress?

I like Mary's best. It's so sleek and lovely and so her.


4. What plot twist/ scene came most unexpected to you? (Or do you pre-read all the spoilers?)

I NEVER READ SPOILERS. (I know you do, Naomi.) Really, I try to avoid spoilers at all costs, but Pinterest sometimes backfires and I end up knowing something before I wanted to. That was how it happened with Matthew...that time, I knew what was coming (but that didn't make it any easier). And I knew Mary would end up with Henry, and I knew there was going to be a fire, but mostly I don't know what's going to happen. The thing that surprised me the MOST was Sybil's end. That, Julian Fellowes, I will always hate you a little bit for.


5. If you could save one character from dying, who would you save?

MatthewSybil. (Don't ask me impossible questions.)


6. Who is your favourite Downton Abbey footman?

William is a SWEETHEART and I love him and all, but...I actually really care about Thomas! Which is so ironic because at the beginning I hated Thomas and thought he was awful and ewwwwwww, but now that he's been through so much and we've been through so much with him and I know him more, I really have a soft spot for Thomas. He's not foul. He's not like you, Mr. Carson, but he's not foul.


7. What typo annoys you more? "Downtown Abbey" or "Downton Abby"?

 :

This drives me CRAZY. They're both awful, but probably Downtown Abbey, because I see more people do it (and hear people say it allllll the time and it's like, really guys, this show has been going on for six years and you still haven't got it right?!)


8. Which character do you think developed the best throughout the seasons?

Mary. Or Thomas. Or Edith. Oh yes, Edith. I like her EVER SO MUCH better now than I did, and I'm so relieved she's finally happy!


9. Favourite Downton couple? (Okay, pick two, because there's too much cuteness to narrow down to one.)

Mary & Matthew and Sybil & Branson.

10. Which of Granny Grantham's one-liners is your favourite?

Talk about impossible questions...here's one of my favorites: "Do we think she's mad, ill, or working for the Russians?"


No guest should be admitted without the date of their departure settled. #DowntonAbbey


11. How do you react when you meet another DA-lover?

  I usually ask them what they thought of this or that, who's their favorite character, yadayadaya. It's always a lovely thing to meet a fellow fan and it should happen more often. :-)


12. Do you think the show should go on and on, or do you think it should have ended earlier?

   Part of me wishes it had ended before so many people died, but part of me loves the later seasons too much. I guess I'm fairly content with the way things turned out.

Rose and Atticus . Downton Abbey:

13. Which room in Downton Abbey is your favourite?

I love the big library/parlor/study room with the fireplace and all the books on the walls.

14. If you could be part of the story, would you rather be a person downstairs or upstairs?

Downtstairs. I like working more than sitting around writing letters and having tea. When we first started watching the show I yearned to be a maid like Anna and I took all the pictures off my bedroom walls so it would be plain like hers. 


15. Who would you rather spend an afternoon with, Mrs Patmore or Lady Grantham (Cora)?

What?! I don't know! They'd both be fun and I'd probably be in tears from laughing by the end. Let's say Mrs. Patmore. She could teach me how to make brownies properly. (ahem....)


16. Do you have any Downton Abbey inside jokes with someone?

I don't know, Naomi, you tell me. 


17. Describe the show in one word.

Say it with me guys: DRAMA.

Ethel and Charlie <<<<< NOOOO WHY DID I EVEN PIN THIS.:


18. On a scale of 1-10, how much of a fan do you consider yourself?

An 8. There are times I REALLY REALLY get into it, like when I'm watching the newest season with my mom and sisters, but overall in day-to-day life I don't watch/talk/think about it that much.


19. Do you sometimes forget who is who?

Nope. I don't think so. 

susannawolff:    collegehumor:    Downton Abbey Character Name Guide  Just jumping in to Downton Abbey? Or just bad at remembering people? Here’s the fastest, simplest character primer.    I hope this helps.:


20. Finally, who is your favourite character (okay, pick three favourites, but no more than three - NO MORE), and why do you love them? 

#1) Branson. He's Irish and he's a car mechanic. That alone would be enough, but he's so full of passion for his causes and even when he acts like an idiot, I still care about him. He's like my rascally child -- I want to slap him sometimes, but in the end I love him to pieces. I liked him waaaaay better when he was the scrappy revolutionary and I don't really like it how he calmed down so much and started hanging around the estate being everyone's motivational speaker, but still: I love him.

#2) Mrs. Hughes. Mrs. Hughes is the BEST. She's the one you can count on, the one you can tell all your problems to and she'll make them better, the one you can trust. She's a true-blue friend.

#3) Anna (Smith) Bates, because she's so humble and kind, and she was my favorite right from the very beginning.

Anna and Mary:

Run along to Naomi's blog and see what else is cooking for this week!

~Emma

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Trucks on the Bridge



We've got a farm, see.

My folks do, that is. And we have a stand, where we sell the things we grow, a little white building with a blue tin roof that sit on the corner of two county roads.

     Every day at six o'clock we close up the stand for the night, and every day at six o'clock, that intersection is busy. From hither and yon the cars and trucks come, whizzing through the green light, screeching to a stop at the red, rumbling over the bridge where the road eventually leads to the Pennsylvania state line.

I'll be out front under the awning, packing up blueberries or carrying in tomatoes or something, and I'll hear the sound of a diesel engine and peek underneath the awning at the bridge where there sits a big ol' Ford truck on a lift-kit with smokestacks on the back and a nineteen-year-old kid at the wheel. And just the sight of that gets my heart to racing. Just the idea of it sparks a fuse in me that I sometimes wish I could blow out.

 It's just a truck.

A dirty old truck and some redneck kid driving it. It's not a big deal.

But it is a big deal because HE'S DRIVING A TRUCK AND HE'S WEARING A BALL CAP.

 I'm going to be honest with you folks: I'm a little redneck crazy.


When most people think of New York, they think of New York City. A lot of people don't think of NY as being much of an agricultural state. We have NYC, Broadway, West Point, Niagara Falls, stuff like that. You don't expect cow pastures and rural communities and tractors on the county roads slowing down traffic. But where I come from, that's the way we live.


Now that I've seen a lot of NY state, I can say a large part of it is rural. Where I live, on the edge of NY and PA, we have farms. Another thing we've got?

Rednecks.

Who wear ball caps.

And fly 'Don't Tread On Me' flags.

And drive around big loud trucks.

Here's the Webster's Dictionary definition of a redneck: a white member of the working class in the South.

Here's my own definition of a redneck, personalized, localized, and elaborated: an individual who lives in NY or Pa, wears jeans and ball caps, listens to country music, hunts/fishes/rides horses, and drives around a big noisy truck. Usually male between the ages of 18 and 80, and usually really really attractive.

    I have a predicament, and my predicament is that I'm surrounded by hot redneck boys and I don't know what to do.

Being as I am a girl through and through, I'm a little boy crazy. Always have been, if I'm honest. I can't help myself. At seventeen I've never had a fella in any way, shape or form. The closest I've come to all that monkey business was last year at the county fair when a random boy came up to me and told me I was 'cute'. (Among the top Most Awkward Moments in my life to date. Right up there with driving my daddy's truck into a ditch.) In my own opinion, I'm still too young to mess with having a fella. I'm too immature and I'm too flighty and besides I wouldn't know what the heck to do with him if I had one anyway. I'm not ready. I don't want a boyfriend.

....But at the same time, I really want a boyfriend.

Especially when I listen to Luke Bryan (which you really shouldn't do, ladies, if you know what's good for you) and when I watch Clara and Robert Wheeler in Into the West and when I see hot redneck boys driving by in their souped-up trucks, with their diesel engines buzzing louder than kingdom come. That's when I start to falter and grow weak at the knees and drift down that path of dangerous wishing....

I wish I had one.

I don't know, but I think just maybe, if you're a girl like me, you know what I mean.

The truth, inconvenient though it may be, is that I'm ridiculously attracted to rednecks. This is a fact of life. The boys who drive big trucks and listen to loud music and love getting attention and chase after girls....Strange and confusing as it is, that kind of thing -- well, it turns me on.

But really, when I think about it, I probably won't marry somebody like that. Anybody I marry will likely not be so attention-drawing. Redneck boys are full of themselves. Just because I'm innately attracted to that doesn't mean it would last. After the excitement wore off, what would have to talk about? Trucks? Now, I can talk about trucks for a long time, but we're talking long-term here. We're talking serious, like, forever.


Guys, I'm a romantic. I also believe very strongly in God. And because of this, I believe there is one fella out there for me and one fella only. I'm going to find him one day. Or he's going to find me. Somehow it's going to happen that we're in the same place at the same time and then the spark's gonna hit the gunpowder.

There may be others before he comes. I'm not one of those people who believes you should only date one person for a definite amount of time and then marry them, just because that's what everybody wants you to do. But neither is it right to just fly off the handle and go through boyfriends/girlfriends like contact lenses or socks. Like I said, I still don't know. (And I'm sure not going to pretend I do.) But this is one thing I don't want to be practical about. I don't want to go through life and love with a road map and only take the turns I'm 'supposed' to. I don't want to look at it in a logical way. (Put aside the math and the logic of it.) I don't want to listen to statistics and jump over the puddles that come along...I want to wade through them. Love is too precious to handle with so much care sometimes. Love is wild. You can't put it in a neat and tidy box. You can try, but you'll lose something.


I'm learning that there are things in life that are better appreciated when you don't think about them too much. Love is one of them, especially when you're seventeen.


Stewing over this, I'm wondering what I should do. It's hard being a redneck crazy girl on the state line of New York and Pennsylvania. It's hard watching all those trucks whiz by, and when the ache sets in and that longing I can't really escape, it's hard to know how to feel. It's hard to know what to do with everything I feel.

But you know something?

It won't last forever.

 And someday, maybe soon, I'm going to find something that will.

These days only come once.

So I'm thinking I'll keep on keeping on. I'm thinking I'll bide my time and keep my fingers crossed and pray a blue streak. Because I'm seventeen and I'm a girl and girls are allowed to act silly over trucks because it don't hurt nobody. And I'll watch the people around me who know tons more about love than I do, and I'll write it all down, and I'll listen to Luke Bryan. Because youth is youth and it's a gift God gives us and it's like nothing else in this world.


And in the meantime, it can't hurt to keep my eyes out for those trucks that come barreling over the bridge every day at six o'clock.

(photo credit: Mary)



Saturday, August 6, 2016

"Farewell, ladies." // Western Week Finish

Cowboy - Wyoming:

We've ridden the trail and now it's come to an end. Our Western Week is wrapping up, folks!

The week's participants were...(click on post titles to read)...

~ Rachel at Hamlette's Soliloquy:
and at The Edge of the Precipice:


~ Heidi at Along the Brandywine:

~ Natalie at Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens:

~ Eva at Coffee, Classics, and Craziness:

~ Eowyn at Captured by the Word:

~ Annie at The Western Desk:
Western Note Card Giveaway

~Elizabeth Grace Foley at The Second Sentence:
The Storytelling Score of Red River


(If I missed anybody and you want me to add your posts, just let me know!)

Into the West:

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed! I'm so happy you did and I hope you had fun with this. Over the next few days I look forward to catching up on all y'all's posts and savoring the western goodness.

It's been such a wild week at home and elsewhere for me that I haven't been able to watch any westerns, but putting together this week, musing on all my favorite western movies, and paging through pictures of Lonesome Dove on pinterest (yes, I am confessing), it all came back to me. I remembered once again, and felt it in my bones, just how much these stories mean to me. These stories of brave men, cowards, outlaws and heroes. There's something super special about those movies that have been around for ages, that your parents watched before you were born and then watched again with you when you were old enough, and became so much a part of your life that you can't imagine not having it. 

Lonesome Dove:

(I may or may not be talking exclusively of Lonesome Dove....*ahem*)

Westerns are my jam. They're what get me excited, they're what make my heart sing on hot summer nights as well as dark winter ones. They're part of my history and they're my favorite. I'm so glad to be able to share this passion of mine with you guys, and I'm glad that some of you feel the same way too. :-)


It's been fun! Thank you, friends, for jumping on board with this, and thank you, Olivia, for co-hosting with me! Till next time!


"Farewell, ladies."
~ Gus McCrae





Western Quote Game // Answers!



#1


"You're lucky this gun's got blanks."

~ Frank Hopkins, Hidalgo


#2


"A man could die of thirst around here before anyone'd offer him a drink."

~ Emmett, Silverado


#3


"I'd pay forty dollars just to watch you hang laundry."

~ Print Ritter, Broken Trail


#4


"I said to myself, 'Striker, you've done a lot of fool things in your day, but you ain't done any lately, and you're overdue."

~ Charlie Bob Striker, The Sons of Katie Elder


#5


"I have lapped filthy water from a hoofprint. Was glad to have it, too."

~ Mr. LaBoeuf, True Grit


#6


"You're getting the hang of it. I'll be back later to check on your work."

~ Jim Craig, The Man From Snowy River


#7


"I said I didn't have much use for one. I didn't say I didn't know how to use it."

~ Matthew Quigley, Quigley Down Under


#8


"Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it."

~ Capt. Woodrow F. Call, Lonesome Dove


#9


"I've got two guns, one for each of you."

~ Doc Holliday, Tombstone


#10


"Somebody back east is sayin', 'Now, why don't he write?' "

~ Timmons, Dances With Wolves


#11


"This man wanted to shoot me down, for nothing. He lost. I am taking his gun."

~ Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Players' Scores:
Annie: 1 point
Hamlette: 3 points
Miss Meg: 2 points
Olivia: 3 points
Jessica: 1 point

Thanks for playing, folks! :-)

Friday, August 5, 2016

"Well sir, I think you might sooner hold back the tide than tame the mountains."



I remember hearing my daddy talk about this movie years ago, once when we we were at dinner with some of the far-away cousins. The conversation turned to movies, and Daddy brought up The Man From Snowy River, remembering the famous scene where Jim Craig rides his horse down the mountain after the brumbies. I listened, interested, and wondered why I'd never seen this before. I was probably about fourteen when I watched it first. Then, it was a 'meh' movie, with a slow storyline and sappy love story (and can we talk about the dorky 80's soundtrack?) My daddy went on and on about what a classic it was... Mama rolled her eyes...I just thought it was boring.

It wasn't until a really super awesome person by the name of Rachel gave me a copy and I watched it a second time that I realized, at fourteen, I had a lot to learn.

      Because The Man From Snowy River IS a classic. (Can't you just tell that by the title? And for heavens' sake, the dreamy silhouetted picture on the cover????) It's a beautiful cinematic masterpiece that everybody ought to see when they're a kid, and if you didn't, then you should see it now asap because it's just plain gorgeous.




Set in the Australian outback, the story follows young Jim Craig as he leaves his home in the mountains and goes to work for a wealthy cattle baron, falls in love with said cattle baron's daughter, and goes from being a 'lad' to being 'the man from snowy river.'

The man from Snowy river. Classic:

Jim Craig is an absolute angel-faced darling. He's more than a pretty face too; he's honest and kind and he's got guts. It is plainly impossible not to love Jim. (Plus he's got a pretty nice hat.)

     

Kirk Douglas plays a double role -- Jim's quirky one-legged mountain friend, Spur, who's been picking away at the same old decrepit gold mine for eons; and Spur's twin brother, Mr. Harrison, the wealthy rancher Jim goes to work for. Spur is a jokester and an optimist; Mr. Harrison is stern and obstinate. I'd rather have Spur over for dinner.

the most awkward moment between these two? Quite possibly.  - The Man From Snowy River:

I'm actually not a huge fan of Jessica. She kind of annoys me. Maybe part of it is her over-abundant eyeliner? The only reason I like her at all is because Jim likes her, so there's gotta be something special about her. Their romance is very sweet, though, and one of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Jim is trying to teach her how to tie a halter and she's not getting it. And the way Jim says "Chessica" in his Aussie accent....oh, Jim, you're so adorable.


One of my favorites is Clancy, Jim's father's old 'mate' who comes to help Harrison's men track down the lost horse. Clancy's a delightfully salty, wholesome red-headed character with a reputation as legendary as the mountains. He also delivers the line at the end of the movie that always causes me to shriek and bury my head in a pile of pillows just because IT'S SO GOOD:

Spur: "He's not a lad. He's a man. He's a man!"
Clancy: "THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER."



Every character is unique in their own right. There's nothing false about them -- that's another reason I love this movie. It's humble and everybody's completely genuine. Another great character I feel deserves more credit is Harrison's foreman at the ranch. I would love to tell you his name but I can't remember it....(Cain, maybe? Is it Cain?) Whatever his name is, I LOVE this guy. Besides the fact that he has a deep, grovelly voice and wears a drool-worthy black duster coat, he really demonstrates a strength of character even though he's not a prominent part of the story. He's a tough guy who knows his business and does his duty. I'd hire him for my foreman any day.



I'm not sure where this movie would be without the music. Like I said, the story itself is not that deep...I've grown to appreciate it and I'm extremely fond of it, but usually I like a little more grit and action in a western. But the MUSIC (which does have a distinctly 80's sound, but is nevertheless beautiful) heightens everything. Especially in the scenes where Jim & Jessica are riding over the mountains, the music and the scenery put together are completely breathtaking. You feel like you're there, up on that mountain so high you could stroke the sky if you reached for it...I'm getting shivers just thinking about it!


The Man from Snowy River. LILILILILILILI!!!   I have loved this movie forever and will always love it forever.!!!:

So it's a little melodramatic...sappy, even, yes. (You know it is.) There's not a whole lot of meat. As far as westerns go, it's mild. No gunfights, no saloon brawls. BUT what there is is heart, and lots of it. There are sweet moments and sad moments and the feels are there. The scene where Jim rides his horse down that rocky slope is EVERYTHING they say it is. It's a solid story, good acting, and it's got a cozy feel to it, the kind of movie you'd want to cozy up with on a chill Autumn night with a couple of sisters and a bowl of popcorn. If you like it, you really like it, and you won't tire of watching it over and over again because the fact is, it's just as good every time.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Westerns I *didn't* like

     ...Because I'm not gonna sit here and lie to y'all, sometimes it's fun to be negative. Most westerns I've seen have been goodies, but once in a while you come across one that just doesn't sit right for one reason or another.

     If you really like any of these, don't take offense at whatever I am about to say -- I probably disliked it for some stupid reason and it may make no sense to you, it's just a personal preference on my part. If, however, you're like me and you don't like any of these either, well then, pour yourself some campfire coffee and take a seat and let's have a grand old time being spoilsports together!

Red River:

Red River (1949)

This was actually my first exposure to John Wayne....and I hated it. Heh. (Don't worry, I've since watched The Sons of Katie Elder and that brought the Duke back into my good graces.) I normally like cattle drive stories. But this one didn't work for me. The story is so slow and boring and oh, when will we get these cattle where they're supposed to be?! And John Wayne is an absolute creep! I didn't want to see him as a nasty character, I wanted to see him as a gallant hero, so that put me off. (And as he got meaner and meaner his hair got messier and messier until it was altogether quite disturbing.) Montgomery Clift, however, is an extremely beautiful human being and he seemed like a nice kid. But I flat-out hated Joanne Dru's character. When my folks and I watched this, we were almost to the end when the DVD screwed up and it froze on Joanne Dru pointing a gun at John Wayne on the ground; then it skipped ahead to the frame with THE END and we all thought, well, okay, that was awful.

Sorry, classic John-Wayne-western fans. I do not like Red River.

Sam Raimi's excellent western 'The Quick and the Dead' with Sharon Stone as a kick ass gunslinger! Ace.:

The Quick and the Dead (1995)

I was under the impression that this would be based on Louis L'Amour's novel of the same name, but it's not the same as the old version with Sam Elliot, it's completely different. This one just seemed too modern. The town is wacky, everybody swaggers around and talks like they're from the 1990's, and nobody seems like a good enough character to root for. (Except maaaybe Russell Crowe.) My dad and I were prepared to give the movie a chance, but when that slimy gunslinger guy walked by on the street and the saloon girls giggled to each other and one of them said, "He's so hot," I was like, NOPE! Uh-uh. Not happening.

My daddy said, "I can't do Sharon Stone as a gunslinger."




James Michener's Texas (1994)

(This isn't exactly a western, but oh well...I'm splitting hairs here.)

The main reason this failed is because John Schneider was Davy Crockett and his hair was amazing and he got shot and died after about five minutes of screen time and maybe two lines.

No.

Also, there's more fluff than actual history. It started out as a drama about the settlement of Texas and ended up being a soap opera about a Mexican bandit named Benito. I thought it'd be super good because it has so many good actors in it, but it was just one big FLOP. You want to watch a good movie about Texas and the Alamo, watch The Alamo (2004). Now THERE's a good Davy Crockett....even if he's not John Schneider.

Kurt Russel and Val Kilmer as Wyatt and Doc. "I'll be your huckleberry"--this was his favorite line from the whole movie and he repeated it ALL the time. Miss hearing that come from him.:

Tombstone (1993)

Okay, I do like Tombstone a little bit. Tombstone's cool. It's got good parts. Still, it didn't do for me what I hoped it would, and that coupled with the amount of  gunplay and the lack of character depth didn't quite cut it. There was waaaay too much violence and not enough meat. And while Val Kilmer's Doc Holliday is absolutely irresistable, Wyatt let me down. I can't give a good reason -- I just don't like it.

cowboys in the movies | Photo: We love Doc Holliday in "Tombstone!"For more on the movie and a ...:

But, granted, Doc Holliday is pretty near perfect.

...And that about does it. For all the loads I've seen in all my life, that's not many! Mostly, if it's got horses and cowboys and wide open plains and little towns and sheriffs and outlaws and good actors, I'm gonna like it.

"I'm four-square Hatfield, front and back, dawn till dusk!"

   

    Get ready, folks. Cuz this is gonna be good.

     It all starts with two friends fighting side by side in the Confederate army. Next thing, one of them deserts and it puts a rift between the two. Feathers are ruffled and principles are offended. The war ends; they go home. Then a pig is accidentally stolen and it gets taken to court. Insults are hurled, shots are fired, lives are taken and bodies buried.

     Welcome to the Hatfields and McCoys, otherwise known as If You Hurt My Family I'll Find a Way to Hurt Yours Even Worse.

   

Most people know a little of the story of the Hatfields and McCoys, but if you don't here's a brief overview; they were two families involved in a famous feud across the border of Kentucky and West Virginia in the years following the Civil War. This series chronicles the whole saga from beginning to end, and take it from me -- it's quite a story.

Now, before we get any further you ought to know something, and that is this is an EXTREMELY intense show. It ain't pretty. There's a heap of nasty language throughout, lots of shooting and a lot of death. If that sort of thing upsets you, you ain't gonna like this. I have to put a disclaimer in here because I really can't recommend this series across the board. It's rough.

....But it's SO GOOD.

Maaaaaaaan. This series tore me up and made me weep (WEEP I TELL YOU) and left a big ol' hole inside me for weeks after I finished it. It's terrible and I love it dearly.


I think cuz it's so full of history. It's got tough men and tough women, good, bad, and ugly. It's got pain and sorrow, and joy, but mostly pain and sorrow. It's got characters with names like Selkirk and Tolbert and Ellison and Johnse. It's got Powers Boothe with gray and and a beard, which, you've got to admit, is pretty stinkin' cool.

Everything about this show is excellent. The historical context, the pacing, the feel, the music. But it's the strong characters who drive the story, and lucky for you, I'm here to tell you alllllllll about them. :-) *rubs hands together*


LET'S START WITH THE HATFIELDS.



    Even though I wouldn't say there's any one main character, you get the feeling "Devil" Anse Hatfield owns the story. Everything somehow goes back to Devil, who is the patriarch of the Hatfield clan -- and also happens to be played by Kevin Costner, who can't seem to help stealing the show wherever he goes.

     The truth is, he's just THAT GOOD. Devil is a broody character, but believes in justice and ultimately means well (though obviously his methods are a little extreme, to say the least). But he's a good man. He loves his family and is loyal to them. He would rather not have to hurt his neighbors, but when crimes are committed against his family he feels it's the only way to strike back.

     (I don't know about the rest of y'all, but just watching Kevin Costner brood around with that big ol' pipe in his mouth is enough to draw me in all the way.)

 

   
     Jim Vance is Devil's uncle, played by Tom Berenger. Let me be the first to tell you that I absolutely HATE Jim Vance, and I mean it. Everybody here is violent and does some not-so-good things; most of them I can empathize with to some degree. But Jim Vance....no. He's so completely savage and brutal and all-out wicked that it's about impossible to find any good in him. Okay, he sticks by his family. That's about it. You don't want to cross Jim Vance, because there's no telling what he'll do -- but it's gonna be bad.


     THEN THERE'S JOHNSE....who has broken my heart and ruined my life forever more.



      Oh, Johnse.

      Johnse.

     Johnse.


     WHY.

     First of all, why do you have such a perfect name? Second of all, who authorizes you to grow your hair that way? And what gives you the right to be so sweet one minute, then completely stupid the next?

     Basically, Johnse Hatfield ruined my life. He ruined it by being unbelievable wonderful, then completely aggravating, then just plain STUPID. He ruined me by not being "ashamed of loving Roseanna", then by picking that bunch of dried flowers for her at Aunt what's-her-name's house. He ruined me by trying hard, then giving up, then leaving West Virginia and taking off for Oregon and getting married four more times.



    Surely you can see why I am in so much emotional pain.

     I'll talk more about you later, Johnse, but for now let's get on with the rest of the Hatfields.


     I don't know what is, but there's something really attractive about Cap Hatfield. He's cold and he's brutal (and he's much too influenced by Uncle Jim, if you ask me) but still I really like him! Maybe it's his bad eye. Maybe it's the way he tries to keep his older brother Johnse from making an idiot out of himself. Maybe it's how he sticks by his friends. And, I guess, it's partly because he's such a fighter that I like him so much.
   

     Levicy, Devil's wife and the boys' mother, shouldn't go unnoticed because she really is one tough woman (plus she's got a cool name). She's mostly quiet and doesn't butt in much, but you know she's got an opinion about everything. The women involved in this feud have got it rough -- here are their men, going off the handle about who stole whose pig and who killed whose brother and pointing guns at each other, and the for the women there's little or nothing they can do about it except support their families. In that respect, I admire Levicy a lot. I love the scene right after Devil comes back from the war and he and Levicy are reunited; it shows how much she really does love him and it brings out a tender side to this harsh, violent man.

     Devil and Levicy have other sons...but they're rather diminished in comparison to Johnse and Cap's drama and I don't remember their names...so....(well, this is awkward).


Powers Boothe is awesome. Amen? He's done so many different roles and he owns them all. Uncle Wall has got maybe the most sense of anyone in this whole show, which is probably due in some way to that amazing gray beard he's got going on.



     Oh, Randall McCoy, how I hurt for you. How I admire you for your principles and wish you would let things go all at the same time. I've seen Bill Paxton in Titanic and Tombstone and wasn't too blown away by either, but MAAAN, he's got this character in the BAG. Randall is much more sympathetic than Devil. He has very strong moral convictions and he abides by them. Like Devil, he cares for his family passionately and won't see them wronged, by anyone, but especially a Hatfield. When Devil deserts from the army, Randall is appalled and angry. When a Hatfield turns up with one of his pigs, Randall takes it (too?) seriously. Pretty soon he's immovable.



     Randall's relationship with his wife Sally is much different than Devil and Levicy. You can tell just by the way the wives welcome their husbands back from war: Levicy with tears of joy, Sally with a simple remark, "Well, husband, I didn't want to give up on you but I think I did." Sally's a strange bird.

Psssst....the one in the yellow shirt....you recognize him?

The McCoy boys are like a gang all their own. I like Jim, I love Calvin (I LOVE CALVIN), I feel bad for the other ones, and I can't STAND Tolbert. Seriously Tolbert has anger issues. Tolbert....needs counseling. (Actually, basically everyone in this show could use a little professional help. But then they'd probably sue them.) The McCoy boys break my heart. One of THE MOST HEARTBREAKING parts is when Devil's got the boys locked up in the barn and Randall comes to negotiate, only to be driven away, and the boys are in there peeking out the cracks in the walls and yelling, "Poppy! Poppy!" And I'm like, "I can't handle this."


Speaking of stuff I can't handle...can we talk about Roseanna McCoy?

Oh, this poor, beautiful, sweet girl, and all the trouble she has to go through. Roseanna is an absolute darling. Johnse and Roseanna are surely one of the most tragic, beautifully bittersweet young love stories in the history of ever. If not for this stupid feud, they could have been so happy together, but because their parents would not budge their love only caused the rift to worsen. Roseanna's end is completely unfair and completely heartbreaking. As for Johnse....well, Johnse has issues, which we already knew.

Johnse has issues with staying true and staying with one girl for very long. (Enter Nancy McCoy.)


Now, I like to think that Johnse would have stuck by Roseanna if the pressure from his family had been any less. I think he loved her. He did try, after all. But because of the opposition, and because of Nancy's wily ways, and because of Johnse's apparent inability to resist the female variety when presented, Johnse & Nancy happened. And it wasn't good.

Backtrack...Nancy is a McCoy cousin, whose father was killed when she was just a little girl by none other than Jim Vance. Because of this, Nancy has a lifelong death wish for the Hatfields and tries to do anything she can to hurt them and their kind, which includes marrying Johnse so she can use things against him. This is yet another situation in which Johnse demonstrates himself to be highly stupid.


Of all these characters, for some reason Johnse gets me the most, and I can't say why, except it might be because he's the most fallible...yet I believe in his heart, he does want to do the right thing, he just never knows how to do it. Johnse is like a little boy trying to be a man and going about it all wrong. He has so much potential, but when he gets wrapped up in this feud, it all but kills the good in him and he twists all out of control.

That's pretty much what the feud does to everybody.


Perry Kline is a cousin of the McCoys who shows up at their house and then, I guess, decides to live there because he doesn't leave for the rest of the series. Perry Kline fancies himself a lawyer. He tries to help, but he only makes things worse. He's got a very annoying Southern accent and Sally McCoy doesn't like him.


Bad Frank Phillips was rightly named. He shows up as a Pinkerton agent, but quickly transitions into being just his own agent, and is hired by Randall McCoy to track down the offending Hatfields.

There are a whole bunch of characters who come and go (translate: die) throughout the story, and all are affected by the feud. Some mean well, some want nothing but to fight and kill, some just give up trying to fix things and do whatever anyone tells them, but all of them have a story, and that's one of the things I like about long series like this -- everybody's got their own story, all twined up in one long, agonizing saga.

There's so much drama, so much action, so much to tell that I can't possibly fit it all into something that was intended to be a review, but is more like a long rambling exclamation of all the mixed-up feelings and emotions I have concerning Johnse Hatfield this whole story....I'll just tell you, there are trials. There are murders. There are knife fights, and love stories, and betrayal, and chases, and hangings, and an all-out battle near the end. It's all good. But possibly the most fascinating scene in the entire series, in my view?


When Devil takes Johnse fishing.

*SPOILERS*

I can tell you, I was scared. I had a sinking feeling when they rode off together and left Levicy standing in the doorway, her face pained with worry. The feeling got deeper when Johnse sat there with his fishing rod and Devil drew his pistol out of his pocket, and when Johnse turns his head ever-so-slightly and his eyes mist over....he knows. Ohhhhmygoodness, I think I stopped breathing for a moment. I thought Devil would do it. I thought he'd go home to Levicy and tell her he'd done it...but when Devil rides up to the house and dismounts his horse, there comes Johnse right behind him, and the look on Levicy's face. 

Folks, this is what I'm talking about. THIS IS INTENSE STUFF.



  The feud is so unnecessary, and that's the sad thing. If people weren't so hot-headed and VIOLENT you'd think they could work it out. Family members are killed for no reason, and then the only way to get back is to kill more. It's senseless. It's tragic. Watching it from your own living room, it's mesmerizing.

     I don't mean the killing itself is mesmerizing, but the story of these two families is, to me. The way they think and the way they react in their time and culture is fascinating. Some of the things that arise you'd think could be easily settled, but no, it's a big deal. Everything is about honor, and these guys take their honor very seriously....trust me.

Here's Johnse and Roseanna being HAPPY together, for a limited time only
UHHHHH, THE DRAMA. THE TRAGEDY. When Randall lugs Roseanna's hope chest out into the yard on that stormy night, I just about die. And when Johnse stands up to Tolbert's pointing gun and says, "I ain't ashamed of lovin' Roseanna," I'm gone. Oh, Johnse, stop being so wonderful. When Roseanna confronts her father on the porch and says, "You used to say I was your favorite"....when they bring poor little Cotton-Top in the wagon and he's waving like he's in a parade....when Uncle Wall turns himself in....and when Devil is dunked in that creek by the preacher, his hair white as snow....this is good stuff, people. This is drama and this is legend and this is HISTORY.

I can't resist anything that gives historical biographies for the characters at the end. ;-) I shouldn't spoil it for y'all (in case you're going to go against my advice and your own better judgement and watch it yourself), but I will say it's a pretty darn spectacular ending. 

Alright, and I guess we all know by now that Johnse moved to Oregon and married four more times.



  Here are the good things about this series: there are strong values portrayed. There's loyalty, honesty, selflessness, sacrifice. There are moments that chill your soul, maybe some that'll make your jaw hit the floor. There are bushels of violence and nuggets of truth, and there are characters you won't forget.


     (And Johnse Hatfield, who may ruin your life forever.)
     
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