Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Book of Stock Car Wisdom Compiled & Edited by Criswell Freeman

Drivers are a breed apart. Ken Squier observed, “The stock car driver is the new American cowboy.” Like gunfighters at a showdown, racers face danger with a calm resignation that leaves the rest of us in awe.

A slim book that I stumbled across. A quick browse led me to the above excerpt, and I must say that I found much of what is within the pages remarkably akin to the Old West sentiment. 

With that said, not essential, but also not trivial.

Those who risk their lives in skin-in-the-game endeavors have something to say.

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Big Book of Biker Flicks by John Wooley and Michael H. Price

“I had gotten this idea in 1967 for a new kind of Western. We’d put these two hipsters on cycles in place of cowboys on horses, and turn ‘em loose in a lawless modern-day world.” Peter Fonda on Easy Rider

This book sports the full title The Big Book of Biker Flicks: 40 of the Best Motorcycle Movies of all Time, it is a large lavishly illustrated guide to the subject.
Plot synopses, behind-the-scenes takes on the making, and many comparisons to the Old School Western.

The authors seem to love all these films whether good or bad, but I wager if you have a fondness for a few biker flicks at all and can see Fonda’s parallels to the Western you might find this a fun browsing book.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Races, Chases & Crashes by Dave Mann and Ron Main

Actually, the complete title is Races, Chases & Crashes: A Complete Guide to Car Movies and Biker Flicks. In past entries I’ve been up front with my view that I see the drive-in carsploitation phenomenon of the 70’s as an off-shoot of the Modern Western. And a good argument can be made that the biker flick is an offshoot of Wild West Outlaw tales. As a matter of fact, more than a few bikers argue for that Wild West connection themselves. No less a personage than Dave Nichols does so in his interesting book The One-Percenter Code. Nicols being an editor at Easyriders magazine likely knows the connection inside-out, so who am I to dispute him?

This fantastic volume reviews over 500 films and the added attraction is that the authors sincerely love the genre and [this is unusual in a viewer/reviewer] they actually know the cars and bikes in the flicks. 
This inside knowledge goes a long way to inform how they see each film.

It has reminded me of old favorites, and led me to more than a few “Well, I’ve never even heard of that one” flicks. 

If the title moves you at all, then this volume is a safe bet for you. Easily the best of its kind on the subject.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Outsider by Frank Roderus

His eyes dragged closed and he tried to let his body go loose and limp. Tightening up against pain was the worst thing you could do. If you could go loose, completely and absolutely loose, the body would float away from the mind where the pain was held, and the pain wouldn't be so bad. A gray-haired old private first class, a man whose past owners had not always been considerate, taught Leon that a very long time ago and the advice had been proven sound.

A simple Western tale of a black soldier cashiered out of the cavalry who heads to Arizona to work his own land. The town simply does not want a black man around.
On one hand this is a simple, straight-forward story and in the end no surprises but…be damned if this thing did not have heart to burn. While “simple” it is never really that—there are a few characters that I would love to know in real life. A heart-breaker.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The 100 Greatest Western of All Time

Actually, this is a large glossy magazine special edition produced by the Editors of Wild West magazine [a fine publication by the way.]

There are a few historical sidebars of interest peppered throughout.

But, the meat of such volumes lives or dies on the list itself and in that regard, it is an admirable list with a few unfamiliar choices that sent me scampering to queue up. 

A slim but superlative volume.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Best of TV Westerns: The Critics' Choice : "Hopalong Cassidy" to "Have Gun, Will Travel," "Maverick," to "Bonanza" by John Javna

We continue on a theme.

This currently hard to obtain volume may be slim but there is much to appreciate. You will find many of the usual suspects here as the title suggests but a few hidden gems and insights are worth the time of the inveterate TV Western fan.

It was part of a series of “Best of TV” books that are all rather fun to browse. 

Disclosure: I have a "Mare's Leg." It sits above my desk. T'is a thing of beauty.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

52 Weeks 52 TV Westerns by Scott Harris, Paul Bishop, Rob Word & Contributors

Another fine volume in the authors’/packagers’ series of “52” where they delve into the “52 Best” books, films, TV shows etc. the genre has to offer.

[You’ll find the volume on Western fiction as well as interviews with Mr. Harris and Mr. Bishop on this very blog.]

Such “Best of” lists are rife with omissions and hurt feelings as invariably someone’s pet choice is overlooked. The opposite happens as well with the “Are you kidding me?! Who thinks that is any good?

Such things are the case with a listed endeavors, but the nature of such things is to act as a reminder for forgotten work, or as a finger pointing to undiscovered treasures, or at least sideways prompts to further enjoyments within the given subject.

With all the above in mind, the volume succeeds admirably.

I will provide not one sneak peek as to which shows did nor did not make the cut as that is the non-fiction equivalent of spoilers and less than kind to the authors’ incentives to continue to produce more good work.

It’s fine work, it will lead to much viewing entertainment. Pony up and pick up a volume.

The Book of Stock Car Wisdom Compiled & Edited by Criswell Freeman

Drivers are a breed apart. Ken Squier observed, “The stock car driver is the new American cowboy.” Like gunfighters at a showdown, rac...