As you may be able to tell by the sharp drop in frequency of my blog posts, this is the year that I almost gave up on westerns. The Lone Ranger and yoga may be what redeems them, but more on that later.
There were just so many disappointments in westerns this year. On the comic book front, All-Star Western continues to suck the life out of the genre. I picked up the latest issue this week and flipped through. Dr. Jekyll made an appearance, then there was some kind of fight in a slum, and then a Chinese lady is stockings started kung fu fighting. It is an embarrassment to call this a western. The backup stories are still great (ironically written by the same very competent team) but I don’t want to spend $4 for a backup story.
Then Peter Brandvold, who I have written so much about in the last year, seems to have lost whatever touch made his Lou Prophet books work for so long. I’ve tried half a dozen of his more recent novels looking for a return to that wit that made his books great and been disappointed each time (including the one where he said he’d eat the manuscript if I didn’t like it). His new Rusty Spurr book, which has so much potential, has flat characters that are indistinguishable from one another. The only time in the last few years that I’ve really enjoyed his books are when he writes weird westerns (Ghost Colts, Bad Wind Blowing); I found Dust of the Damned under my Christmas tree, maybe he’ll be back to form there.
What really killed my desire to write this blog is a tragedy from earlier this year that I still want to write about. In brief, I have been playing Dungeons & Dragons weekly with the same group of friends for seven years. Six months ago I worked out a plan with the friend running our game to introduce a gunslinging cowboy into the otherwise pure fantasy game. It was so much fun that I planned out a five part series of posts to write about it. That friend died soon after in a tragic accident, leaving behind a wife and two kids. I can’t come back to the blog without thinking about it.
Oh, and after a sudden onset of gout I’ve become a teetotatling vegetarian. Takes a lot of the fun out of reading about whiskey swilling fellers eating buffalo when you are sucking down tap water with your tofu.
With all of this disappointment I also almost gave up yoga, something that helped me get over the host of mental, emotional, and physical problems that follow massive invasive surgery. Something in the practice just wasn’t coming together and I couldn’t figure out why. I decided before I gave up all together I would go try Bikram, the program that was described to me when I walked in the door as “Simon Says for 90 minutes in a 105 degree room”. I went in and found a practice that didn’t look a thing like yoga, and though I walked out disappointed I felt somehow good and kept going back. After my second class I left the building, drove to the local supermarket, and put together a pack of food, water, and hot coffee for the homeless guy at the end of the road. After my third class I returned to my original yoga home and signed up to learn to be a yoga instructor.
This is because of westerns, or more specifically because of the Lone Ranger. I’ve written about the connections between yoga and the Lone Ranger before, and as I move through life they are becoming more palpable. The notion that one can serve the betterment of humanity, seek to protect life, and do it without the notion of reward (hence the mask) is really entrancing. Also, he has two Colts and a cool cowboy hat. It helps that, like the Lone Ranger, I have my own silver mine to support me (in the guise of a great job with a Fortune 100 company). So the Lone Ranger is my guru, a comic book battle cry is my meditative mantra, and I dream of wearing a mask as I move through the postures of my yoga practice.
Having said that, this movie looks terrible.