Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene Power Outage Cowboy Chili for Two


One rusted out, unusable gas grill that you regret buying from your friend

One grill grate from when you tried but failed to make the unusable grill usable

One fire bowl

One bag charcoal briquettes

One bunch of twigs for kindling (semi-dry)

Four mid sized logs (semi-dry)

One large pot

One small container of bacon drippings

Three tomatoes rescued from the garden before the 75mph winds, diced

One can beans from the back of your pantry

One onion, diced

One chili pepper, diced

One jalapeno pepper, diced

Two chicken breasts slowly going bad in your depowered refrigerator

One bottle Corona

½ pack of taco seasoning left over from Thursday’s dinner

Two cups of water

1-     Stare at the unusable gas grill.  Shake your head in shame.

2-     Prepare the fire bowl by dumping out the water, then pouring in the charcoal.  Light charcoal.  While the fire is still going add kindling and four logs, arrayed so that they can provide support for the grate as they burn.  Because the wood is wet you may want to liberally add bacon drippings which burns hot and gets your neighbors and family agitated.

3-     When the coals are burning red and the wood is spitting flame, place the grate on top of the wood.  Place the pot on top of the grate, and put a couple of tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pot.  Enjoy the melting and sputtering, then add onion.  Stir occasionally for five minutes.

4-     As onions brown, place the two chicken breasts on grate over the fire.  Turn occasionally.

5-     Add water and taco seasoning to the pot.  Stir.  When boiling, add chicken to the pot. Stir occasionally for five minutes.

6-     Add peppers, beans, and tomatoes to pot.  Stir occasionally for 40 minutes. 

7-     Drink beer while watching the pot boil and avoiding ashes flying in your face as the last of the tropical storms winds pick up.  If the pot starts to look dry, pour beer into the pot. 

8-     Check to make sure that chicken is cooked through.  Spoon chicken and chili into large bowls.  Either eat outside or light candles, because it is going to be a while until the power comes back on.

Monday, August 29, 2011

To Be a Trail Cook

A few years ago I put up one of those little Facebook “how well do you know me?” quizzes.  One of the questions was “What is my ideal job?”  The possible answers were safety consultant, federal law enforcement agent, college professor, or trail cook.  Pretty much everyone who took the quiz picked one of the first three. These are all reasonable assumptions as I have either worked in or been trained in each of these professions in my brief three and a half decades on this planet, but were all wrong.  A few astute observers of old Slap got it right and picked number four- trail cook. 

I love cooking.  Absolutely love it.  I can’t do plumbing, am vaguely competent in carpentry, would be a disaster as an electrician, and don’t understand how cars work other than the whole “put key in ignition and push pedals” thing.  When it comes to cooking, though, I can be an outright genius.  Point me to a supposedly empty refrigerator and bare pantry and I’ll whip you up a quiche faster than you can whistle Dixie.  More likely a nice pasta salad, but you get the point.  Where it all really comes together, though, is making something in a pot.  Soup, stew, chili, any chance that I get to throw a bunch of ingredients into a pot has a good chance of coming out tasting like manna from heaven.

So why aren’t I a cook?  Terrible hours, mediocre pay, and you have to be inside a hot, windowless kitchen for most of the day.  As a trail cook, though, the world is your kitchen.  You cook outdoors, plucking fresh ingredients from the ground as you wander the earth.  You ride ahead of the herd, away from the dust.  You have hours of blissful solitude, but can still share in the brotherhood of humanity when you ring the dinner bell and bring the hands home for supper.

It really wasn’t like that, I’m sure, and you faced danger and the elements for crap pay.  What really attracted me to this idea in the first place was reading Lonesome Dove.  The sheer joy felt by Bolivar when he smashed the dinner bell with the crowbar is something that I hope to have some day. When Po Camp came along, the sage mystic with a knack for experimental cooking, I knew that was the job for me.

In my mind the trail cook became the consigliore, the maester, the wise adviser to the trail boss, serving up equal parts cool advice and hot chili.  Am I right?  Probably not, but it is fun to dream.

Tune in next time for recipes from Hurricane Irene!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Last Ride of Butch Cassidy

I’ve never heard of this movie before, but now I can’t wait to see it.  Also, I really want to go to that desert.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cowboy Covers- Tainted Love

Between work, cardiac recovery, writing my novel, and preparing for Hurricane Irene, I haven’t had much energy to write in the blog lately, so we’ll stick to another batch of covers tonight.  More pulps this time, all proclaiming dubious versions of cowgirl romance.  Dubious because they mostly also show said cowgirls being variously whipped or branded.  You think people are kinky now because of easy access to sexual perversion on the internet?  This stuff was apparently been around in mass media when our grandparents were growing up.  Like I said before, Westerns attract all kinds.

Also, because I love it, my favorite version of Tainted Love from Generation Kill.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Midnight Theater- Spaghetti Western Edition

Ah, the Spaghetti Western, that fine culture import from Europe.  So classy, so trashy, and now so porny.  Particularly the one immediately to the right, which if I read a translation right is somehow a pornographic western with a particular attention to watersports (and I don’t mean water skiing).  Welcome, friends, to another edition of Midnight Theater, the Spaghetti Western version.  For more on this odd sub-genre, check out this forum at the Spaghetti Western Database.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stallion- Men Looking Like Boys Who Look Like Girls

Clearly I am willing to try almost anything that looks like a western.  Astute readers will note that I have been a comic book reader for some time, and that I don’t particularly shy away from tales of cowboys that don’t involve cowgirls.  Now for the first time we have both matched up in the Japanese Yaoi comic Stallion.

Yaoi comics are generally about feminine looking men getting involved in adventure and/or romance with other feminine looking men, often in historical or fantasy settings.  In this case our heroes include a generically Native American named Savage Stallion, who does not look quite so savage but rather like an underfed twelve year old girl from Central America.  Next is Josey, a bounty hunter whose bullet ridden body still manages to look like a Ken doll from an emo / heroin chic Barbie line.  Speaking of Ken dolls, each of these young men share Ken’s anatomical structure.  That is to say that their sixguns typically remain hidden, but in particular angles it appears that they have no hog-legs at all.  Whether this is a peculiarity with Japanese publishing law or a disdain for protruding anatomy in female readers I can’t say.

Yes, this is meant for female readers.  The back cover explicitly says “Yaoi: Boys Loving Boys for Women Readers”.  The used bookstore where I bought Stallion was stacked with them.  The owner told me that a woman had brought in about $3000 worth of these books, including Stallion, and donated them to the store.  That’s roughly 250 volumes of men looking like boys who look like girls loving men who look even more like boys who look like girls.  Is this what women really want?  Perhaps, which would explain a recent comment from a friend, a married mother of two, who said she would be a lesbian if only women had penises

Josey and Savage Stallion are on the hunt for Billy Tempest, a dangerous outlaw who has a habit of sneaking his sixgun up behind men looking like boys who look like girls without particularly asking their permission.  Within a few pages Billy Tempest turns the table on our two heroes and manages to tie them up together, bereft of cloth.  Our heroes are forced to free themselves by rubbing their Ken doll areas against each other and nibbling each other’s necks.  If Houdini knew that style of escape artistry he may have had an even wider audience.  Over the course of the story Josey and Savage Stallion confront Billy and the prejudices of the American West, which involves lots of looking longingly into each other’s eyes, sharing feelings, then rubbing their Ken parts together in a variety of positions. 

Worth your time?  Maybe.  If you read my reviews of Caine's Reckoning, Range War Bride, or Cowboy Dreams and thought you would want to read more, then you may want to give it a read.  If you lean more towards Jonah Hex or Guns of Shadow Valley, probably not.  If you read my "Brokeback" tagged reviews and want more… well, I have no idea if this would interest you or not.  The thing that strikes me is that, for a supposedly dying genre, westerns are still popping up all over the place, even in a Japanese comic book about men looking like boys who look like girls written for women.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Next Town Over- More Weird Western Webcomic Goodness

Erin Mehlos, an astute reader, commented recently on my enjoyment of weird western webcomics and asked politely if I had read one called Next Town Over, a comic of which she happened to be the creator.  I had never heard of it (clearly I need to spend more time cruising the web for something besides nekkid cowgirls).  Oh, am I glad she wrote me.  Next Town Over is great.

A nice mix of western, steampunk, and sorcery, Next Town Over uses sparse dialog and fantastic artwork to tell the story of a young woman out for revenge again a demonic villain of gentlemanly comportment.  Or something like that.  All this prose I keep churning out at night writing my own novel is making me overly flowery at times.

  A demonic villain of gentlemanly comportment
Did I mention that art?  Some comic book artists are great artists, but great comic book artists understand their medium and transcend drawing and move into storytelling.  Jack Kirby, for example, was in my mind an absolutely terrible artist (what is with those haircuts?) but knew how to string together frames of action like no one else.  Mehlos really owns this in Next Town Over.  The layouts of the pages are great, particularly where she takes a colorful page in the present and rends it to show a scene from the past in black and white bleeding through.  It is new and creative in a way that is a joy to read. 

New pages appear weekly, and the series is available in print as well.  Please go check it out.  And if there are any other cool western web comics out there (or even bad ones) please drop me a line and let me know. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Writer’s Progress

I haven’t been writing here as much as I have in recent months, because my writing time is going towards my first attempt at a novel.  I am 13,400 words in, writing for a market that wants 20,000 – 25,000 words per work, so I am making good progress.  In the mean time I am still reading a ton, and recently came across this description of a young cowpoke in Victor J. Banis’ novel Longhorns:

“Despite his size and youth, he had a cocksure air about him, like a man who had just wrestled the puma and is waiting for you to send in the grizzly.”

More to come.  Via con dios, pards.