Monday, July 30, 2007


I was completely hooked on HBO’s Deadwood series. (Listen up, HBO, you’d better finish up the series with the movies you promised or, better yet, bring the show back. I'm thinking about cancelling my subscription to your service. Geez, no Deadwood, no Sopranos, no Rome...)
Anyway, I knew the Black Hills Gold Rush had really happened and Deadwood was the main town in the area. I knew that Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, George Hearst, Wyatt and Morgan Earp, Charlie Utter and Jack McCall were real people. I wondered about some of the other characters. Which characters were based on real people and which ones were fictional? So I “googled” Deadwood and below are a list of the series characters who were based on real folks. Oh, yeah, I’m sure liberties were taken in their portrayals.

Seth Bullock
Al Swearengen
Sol Star
Dan Dority (spelled Doherty in real life)
E.B. Farnum
Albert Merrick
Johnny Burns
Martha Bullock
Tom Nuttall
Reverend Henry Weston Smith
Aunt Lou Marchbanks
Jack Langrishe
“Nigger General” Samuel Fields
Con Stapleton
Trixie is "trickier". There were several prositutes in Deadwood that used that name. One even shot a man through the head who lived ... for a short while. (remember the opening show of the series -- that shooting was how Trixie was introduced.)

I miss this show. But I have all three seasons on DVD. {big grin}

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Only this artwork has been released by J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias, Mission Impossible III, and the new Star Trek movie) about his newest film. Not even the name has been released. It's being called "Cloverfield" which is the street where Abrams's office is located. Basic premise: A group of people who witness a monster attack on New York City. More soon. Or maybe not.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cultural Moment
Every once in a while I get the overwhelming urge to quote Shakespeare. So here goes, from Macbeth:
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more:
it is a tale
Told by an idiot,
full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Teddy Roosevelt has always been a fascinating historical person to me. Learned a couple of new tidbits the other day. Teddy was on the Harvard boxing team, a brown belt in Judo, and one of his lifelong friends, who he met during his western sojourns, was Seth Bullock (yep, the character from the Deadwood series was based on a real person). Bullock was a member of Teddy's Rough Riders. He was a captain but his unit never left the states.
(That's Bullock with Teddy above.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

(okay, are there any other kind of cat stories?)
Oscar (pictured above) is a two-year-old cat who lives at a convalescent hospital in Rhode Island. It seems, according to the news, that Oscar can predict who is going to die at the hospital. He roams the hospital corridors at night as if on rounds. And sometimes he enters a room and curls next to a patient. Approximately 4 hours after he leaves the patient passes away. The staff claims he has predicted 25 deaths and that they now call the family of patients that he lays down next to. This has been reported on MSNBC and other news outlets. Hmmm... I wonder what happens when he curls up next to a staff member?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Me and my Muse
We're working hard on the details for a new story.
(Photo by Annie)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

79 Best Pictures


This is a fun blog worth checking out: Two writers (Shira and Eitan) have decided to watch and review every Best Picture Oscar winner since the beginning in chronological order starting with 1928's Wings, to 2006's The Departed.

It's interesting to get their critiques to these films ranging from classic to the-years-haven't-been-kind to what-was-the-Academy-thinking.


(Photo: bridge in Minnesota taken by Annie)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bronson has always been one of my favorite action stars. He did a lot of guest spots on TV series and some really crappy (and I mean crappy) movies but there was something about him that I always liked. Listed below (by date) are my ten favorite Bronson movies. Not all are great movies but a few are. In fact, The Magnificent Seven is one of my all-time favorite films.
1. Death Hunt (1981)
Hard Times (1975)
Death Wish (1974)
The Mechanic (1972)
Red Sun (1971)
6. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
The Great Escape (1963)
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
House of Wax (1953)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I was checking out HvD's site ( and I got tagged. Listed below are the last six books I've purchased. I have no idea what it says about me. They are listed in alphabetical order by author:
Metered Space by M.D. Benoit (scifi)
Stardust by Neil Gaiman (fantasy)
Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die by Michael Largo (nonfiction)
Devil's Knot by Mara Leveritt (nonfiction -- crime)
The Ruins by Scott Smith (thriller)
Death Game by Cheryl Swanson (thriller)
Okay, now you're tagged.

Monday, July 16, 2007

"The bottom is loaded with nice people, Albert. Only cream and bastards rise."
from Harper, screenplay by William Goldman
(Another view from the house. Taken by Annie.)

Saturday, July 14, 2007



Who was the first person to see an egg drop out of a chicken’s butt and think it would be good to eat?

(View from outside my house. Taken by Annie.)

Friday, July 13, 2007


It is probably the most famous scream in film. In countless movies since the early 1950s (mostly in westerns but not exclusively), many dying characters cried out the same scream before they perished. The first film to use the "Wilhelm Scream" was Warner Brothers' Distant Drums (1951) starring Gary Cooper. A soldier cries out the WS when an alligator grabs him.
It was used again in the 1953 western The Charge at Feather River. Private Wilhelm (pictured) cries out the WS when shot with an arrow. The WS went on to be used in other Warner Brothers movies and television shows. Then it slowly faded from use.
Then, in 1977, Ben Burtt was hired to create sound effects for Star Wars. While researching sound elements to use in the space adventure, he found the original Distant Drums scream - which he called "Wilhelm" after the character in Charge at Feather River. (The Distant Drums character had no name.) Burtt included the WS in all the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films. And the WS began its second life. It has been used in countless other movies including Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Kill Bill, Toy Story and Beauty and the Beast. Last count, according to the Hollywood Lost & Found site (, said that the WS had been used in 138 movies.
A Wilhelm Scream highlight short is now on You Tube ( Check it out.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007



Over on the Reel Fanatic website (, Keith Demko has listed his choices for the worst movie remakes. I don't disagree with any of his choices so I thought I just add six more to the list:

The Bad News Bears -- while I haven't seen the Walter Matthau/Jodie Foster version in quite a long time, I know it was much, much better than this Billy Bob Thornton crap
The Longest Yard -- the Burt Reynolds original was fun and Reynolds used to play football, Adam Sandler is miscast and not a bit funny (okay, he never has been funny is anything)
Never Say Never Again -- Thunderball isn't one of my favorite Bond films but this remake (even with Connery as Bond) is lame
King Kong -- does anyone remember the 1976 remake of Kong with Jessica Lange? Didn't think so. It's really bad.
Payback -- Mel Gibson's loosy remake of a totally cool Lee Marvin film.
Check out Keith's list for what are probably the worst remakes ever.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Just finished watching Shooter with Mark Wahlberg and Danny Glover. There was a decent little movie in there trying to get out. I've read some of Stephen Hunter's novels (not bad) but I haven't read Point of Impact on which this was based so I don't know if they messed up the book or not. I know that some things that work in novels won't work on film and vice versa. I liked the Wahlberg character (despite having the name Swagger) and the FBI rookie was done well. But just about everybody else was a cliche or underwritten. I love a good shoot 'em-up but I have a problem when the hero dashes several hundred yards across open ground and 24 soldiers can't hit him. Also it's time to stop forever using the scene when the hero is walking toward the camera and a fireball the size of Texas erupts behind them. There was one really cool scene -- Wahlberg is getting some information about weapons and assassinations from an old-time gunsmith. It was intriguing and a bit unique. If only the movie had been more like that one sequence then the movie would have been unique and different. Oh, well. All I can hope for is that the new Die Hard is cool (The first is one of my favorite action films). And that it's still in the theatre when I get a chance to go.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Some news on the writing front. My latest review column is up at Dred ( Check it out. The films this time are 1408, The Breed, and Creep.
My nonfiction articles "The Top Ten Movies in Outer Space" and "A Short History of Firsts in Television" will soon be appearing at Bewildering Stories (


my science fiction tale, "Jimmy Wingo," has just been accepted by MagusZine (

(Annie took the picture above in Minnesota -- farmers were burning dry bush)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The other day, as I finished running several errands, I decided to pick up some lunch. There was a Taco Bell on the corner up ahead and, suddenly a burrito sounded good. I went in and placed my order with the sixteen-year-old counter girl. I was given my receipt and I stepped back to wait for my burritos. As I'm waiting, I glance at the receipt and...
the counter girl had given me the Senior Citizen discount!
Don't know what to say except "when I wasn't paying attention I turned old." Oh, jeez.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Stumbled across this the other day. Thought it was kinda fun. I'm Peg-Leg Harp Davis. Hmmm... liked it a little better when I reversed my initials and became Sticky Foot Davis. That sounds like a blues man.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Looking for a movie to watch on the 4th? Here are some suggestions:
1776 (yeah, it's a musical)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (one of my all-time favorites)
Apollo 13 (true story -- solid filmmaking)
The Patroit (a rip-roaring let's-take-on-the-British-for-freedom movie)
Independence Day (a no-brainer scifi popcorn flick that's fun)


(I'm still trying to get back into my old writing routine)