Thursday, April 3, 2014

Video: Read the book

While waiting to get up to speed with Dragon Dictate, it came to me I might try converting this to a video blog for a while. So today is kind of a trial run.

When I was teaching Advanced Writing to university students, I had a Call to Action unit, in which they had to take what they'd learned from their research all term, find an issue in need of attention, and make a short call-to-action video. As I did all my assignments along with them, I did this one, too.

I'm reviving it here for followers at BITS, who might crack a smile at my amateur movie-making efforts. And while you may not agree completely with my argument, remember that we are not just lovers of westerns. We love books, too.





Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Coming up: Glossary of frontier fiction

17 comments:

  1. This was great Ron, and I completely agree with your comments. For decades, I've been whining that the singing cowboys never existed and the real cowboys were poorly paid hired laborers. Both the movies and the novels get it wrong about the pretty girls and the handsome cowboy. The reality was that the cowboy maybe saw some whore once a month or a middle aged ranchers wife. The rancher's daughter had to be off limits! As for taking a bath and being clean shaven? Not a priority at all.

    The TV series DEADWOOD and HELL ON WHEELS are more truthful at least as far as the language and violence. The best movie about the cowboys may be the mini-series LONESOME DOVE starring Robert Duvall.

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    1. In the 1880s, news reports of "cowboys" on the frontier typically portrayed them as outlaws and sociopaths. Wister and Cody did a lot to glamorize them, soon followed by the movies.

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  2. Ron, Hollywood and Television aren't telling you history, they are telling you stories. Westerns are no different from detective, sword fighting swashbucklers or musicals. There are entertainment, and I do not equate realism with the ultra violence that came later, or more recently.
    If these fantasies did not exist we would be left with grim, hopeless sagas in which homely and filthy people died at forty. That is why Wister and Cody still exist in the imagination and the culture.

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    1. I don't disagree, Barry. We need entertainment; it would be a grim world without it. The vid was meant as a reminder that it's not a substitute for history, and I find among western enthusiasts a frequent confusion of the two that often influences their personal and political beliefs.

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    2. Ron, there is even more to it. These are our Knights of the Range (Zane Grey) and some of them, to survive must have been strong, attractive, musical...? and clever. And so, in song and story, they are the people we celebrate.

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  3. Cool. I enjoyed this. I certainly think people should know and understand the true history of the west. I grew up on a cattle farm so I know a fair amount about how hard the work is. Still, I don't mind some mythologizing, as long as people understand that it is myth and not the reality. Videos like yours can go a long way toward keeping the truth in front of people's minds.

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  4. Well said Ron, but... not all so-called cowboy heroes in the movies were the working agricultural labourers you refer to. Many did other things, like Shane, who was a gun man, or Gary Cooper in High Noon, who was a lawman, or James Stewart in the Naked Spur, who was a bounty hunter, John Wayne in True Grit, who was a marshall, or John Wayne again, in The Searchers, where he was a civil war veteran, etc. etc. Of course, the singing cowboys took it a step too far, but wasn't that just matinee entertainment for kids?
    I loved the video format! Can we expect some more?
    All the best

    Michael

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  5. I love this. It is a tribute to a handful of authors, such as Elmer Kelton and Larry McMurtry, who usually tried to portray ranch labor as it was. Lonesome Dove, in particular, caught the entrepreneurial instincts of many a cowboy, intent on building his own herd and achieving his dream. Ben Capps was another.

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    1. And Sam Brown is another excellent example. Why did hè stop writing?

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    2. I don't know. He caught the life of Texas cowboys magnificently. I edited some of his novels, and they were among the most powerful I've edited. And then he vanished. I've tried to find him to wish him well, but no luck.

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    3. Michael, I too have searched high and low for Sam Brown. Narrowed the search to a newspaper in Amarillo but couldn't get any farther.

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  6. Your idea of a video blog worked for me, Ron.It was visual, verbal succinct, informative and (God forgive!) entertaining. It flowed nicely. Good work.

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  7. My husband was asleep beside me when your recording came into my email and I watched it silently -- until this morning, when I could turn on the sound. Enjoyed it.

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  8. Ron, I enjoyed your video and the informed comments above. There is a special charm to western books and films that I can't quite put my finger on. I love reading about the west as history and fiction.

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  9. Excellent work with the video, Ron. But I feel like I've seen this before. Did you try this approach earlier? I'm having deja-vu, sir
    There were no singing cowboys in the Old West!? Say it ain’t so!

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    1. The vid goes back a ways, and I may have posted it before. Early cowboys did sing, but traditional ballads and story songs, and if not to the night herd, to pass the time around the campfire. Often sad, sentimental songs. Streets of Laredo, for instance. Hollywood cowboys were entertainers, selling records off screen.

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