Thursday, June 9, 2011

True Grit

I picked up True Grit just to listen to again.  The use of the language throughout the film is amazing.  I don't know if many of you picked up on it while you were watching the film in the theaters, but the vocal performances and storytelling were astounding.  The Coen Brothers really outdid themselves on the script.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rancho Diablo Spinoff Coming!

Folks, James, Bill, and I have had so much fun creating the world of Rancho Diablo that we've decided to add a spinoff series.  There is just too much history in Texas, and in that hill that became an anchor point of our ranch.

Shooter York was a veteran of the Mexican-American War, but he was so much more.  The first book, simply titled Shooter York is going to introduce the man that became the legend, and how he gave the town of Shooter's Cross its name.  But we've got more adventures in mind for him.  Texas was wild and woolly back in the 1840s (not that it can't be now), and Shooter didn't just stay in Texas.

We hope you join us for his adventures, as well as those of the Blaylock family as they make Rancho Diablo their home and tame their section of the Old West.  Shooter York will debut in the fall.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cossack Three Ponies by James Reasoner Now On Kindle

James Reasoner's newest ebook is out on Kindle.
Sent to protect a delegation of Russian aristocrats on a goodwill mission, Viktor was thrilled to journey to the bold, open land of America. But when the arrogant nobles murdered an Indian for sport, Viktor knew that more blood would be shed.

Stranded in a foreign land and caught in a foreign war, with a mortal enemy at his side, Viktor set out to rescue a child from danger. To save his own life, and to become a Blackfoot legend . . .

Saturday, May 21, 2011

UNDER OUTLAW FLAGS by James Reasoner

Folks, this is a great story, a mix of Old West cowboys and World War I soldiers, all blended together with some of the most natural storytelling you're going to find.  Get a copy and enjoy it.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Who would have thought blue-eyed Paul Newman would ever play an American Indian in a Western movie?  At the time the movie was released (1967), Newman was fast becoming a major star.

Of course, the script was helped along (basically lifted from the pages) by the Western novel written by Elmore Leonard.  Leonard was stepping into his own at the time the novel was released in 1961, and Hollywood snapped this one up quick.

The story is fairly simple.  Paul Newman plays a white man named John Russell who was captured and raised by Apache Indians.  Russell returns to his father's boarding house to gather his inheritance, a gold watch and the house.  He promptly sells the house, much to the chagrin of the people living there, and decides to spend the money on a herd of horses.

I love the way Russell gets paired up with an Indian agent who's been stealing from the Indians he was supposed to represent, his racist wife, and a woman who was once in love with a member of the outlaw gang that holds up the stage.

Newman portrays taciturn Russell to a T, quiet and reserved and quick to act once he decides on a course of action.  Richard Boone stars as the outlaw leader, Cicero Grimes, and steals the show on occasion.

The twists and turns of the plot and the shifting alliances and motivations between the characters is awesome.  If you haven't seen this movie and you love Westerns, well then, you'd best get to it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Django Unchained

Will Smith is going to play the lead in Quentin Tarantino's new movie.  It's a Western called Django Unchained.

The last time Smith played a cowboy was in Wild, Wild West, and that movie didn't work out too well.  Looking forward to this one, though, because it's supposed to be really dramatic.  Have to wonder how Smith is going to deal with Tarantino's violence level.  We haven't ever seen him in anything like this.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hell On Wheels

The next book in the Rancho Diablo series will be out in June.  This one deals with the relationship between Jenny Blaylock and gunhawk Mike Tucker.  Tucker is in Shooter's Cross when two gunmen from his past call him out.  Tucker deals with them violently and quickly, leaving them stretched out in the street.

Jenny Blaylock is in town shopping and sees the whole thing.  Her children are with her.  She knows she doesn't want her boys growing up idolizing someone like Tucker.  She and Sam have a difference of opinion regarding Tucker staying with family at the ranch.

While Sam is away from the ranch on business, he leaves Tucker to protect the property.  Jenny has a showdown of her own with Tucker and he ends up leaving.

In Shooter's Cross, Jenny and Miriam are attacked.  Miriam is taken by a gang known for trafficking in young women across the border in Mexico.  Marshal Tolliver sends for help but can't chase after the outlaws.

Knowing there's only one thing to do, Jenny goes back to the ranch, takes out a rifle, and shoots into the air.  As she suspects, Tucker is still around to watch over the ranch.  She knew he wouldn't leave until Sam got back because he'd given his word.

Jenny tells Tucker about Miriam.  He says he'll go after her.  She tells him that she is coming with him.  Tucker doesn't bother to argue with her because he knows that would be foolish.  Together, Jenny and Tucker take up the chase along the outlaw trail, and neither of them know how much they will be changed by their journey.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

True Grit

No doubt about it, pilgrim, this movie is gonna split the herd when it comes to whether it's a good idea or not.

I know when I first heard about it I wasn't exactly thrilled, but when I discovered the Coen Brothers and Jeff Bridges were attached to the project, hope began to rise.

My wife and son went with me to see the movie the week it came out.  Neither of them had seen the original John Wayne version of the Charles Portis novel.  Purists of the novel had sometimes faulted the 1969 movie for not being more faithful to the book.  The movie leans more heavily on the character of Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne).

The Coen Brothers adaptation places the story firmly into the voice of Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld, who turns in a fantastic performance).  The audience sees the other characters through her eyes and her eyes only, and she doesn't know what anyone else is doing offstage.  Personally, I really enjoyed this take, though I doubt many other viewers will have noticed that.

Another thing I truly enjoyed was the richness of the language.  Even the bad guys spoke well.  I don't know if the Old West was truly like that, but I like to imagine that it was.  People forget that in those time most entertainment was an oral tradition.  A person had to speak well if he or she was going to be understood and listened to.

The action in the film is toned down to PG-13, something kind of rare for the Coen Brothers.  But I think the decision was a wise one.  This way the film can be enjoyed across the board, and parents who loved Westerns as kids can take their kids to the  movie without risking shock exposure.  Despite this guideline, the violence is still abrupt and attention-getting.  These are hard times and hard men, and Mattie is caught up in the middle of everything she initiated.

I loved the John Wayne film, the posturing and the posing and the tough guy attitude.  But this True Grit offers a lot of new experiences for fans of that first film.  Purists may groan and gripe, but I loved it and am going to buy it when it comes out on DVD.  This is one of those movies that I'll watch again and again.