Thursday, August 28, 2008

Through A Glass Darkly

This phrase is mentioned in Corinthians in the New Testament of the Bible. I have read the New Testament through at least three times, initially the King James Version. I must admit, the first time I read this phrase, I truly didn't get it. But with time, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I have come to understand that it refers to the imperfect perception of reality that we as humans have of the world.

You see what is real and material, but there is another reality underneath, around, and between this visceral being that we call the material world. Have you ever had a surreal experience, dreamlike, but you knew that you weren't dreaming? I am sure we all have experienced deja vu. What about other moments that seem subreal, yet hyperreal at the same time. I was talking to my mother and sister about times that I have heard my name being distinctly called. I turned around and literally no one was there. I know I was not dreaming, and I actually heard it aloud. Was it angels? My sister suggested that maybe someone was calling my name because they needed me, but there were in another place. Do we have a connection to our loved ones that transcends time and distance? But then, maybe it was just synapses firing out of context. I don't know.

It is scary to look at these situations where the normal laws of science and physics don't seem to apply, but they exist. Can we drown them out, tune them out, and call ourselves crazy so that we don't have to accept these circumstances? I think not. We do ourselves a disservice. To look at the material as all there is, to leaving out a piece of the puzzle. We are not truly full beings if we do this.

Why is it that every person on earth is unique? If you believe only in the material than there is no explanation of this. The sum has to be greater than it's parts. Life cannot be a random mix of biochemistry, and at the same time have humans capable of creating incredible works of symphony and art. How is it that a person can manifest with stigmata, apart from the religious aspect? Can their mind be strong enough to cause them to bleed spontaneously merely with suggestion of extreme religious fervor if there is no more than just synaptic impulses there. There must be a soul or spirit component to our existence.

What about people who see spirits? Are they all crazy? Is it just altered brain chemistry? I think not. Some people do have schizophrenia, and have delusions. I know this is true. But I wonder how many "sensitives" were diagnosed with schizophrenia because others could not conceive that they could see with the "third eye." Sadly, the shysters have made it hard for the people who truly have had paranormal experiences. Everyone assumes that they are making it up or perpetrating a hoax.

I am grateful that my third eye is only partially open. I can't imagine those who are truly "sensitive" and see these things all the time. Imagine going into a person's house and seeing spirits, and knowing that person won't believe it if you tell them. I have experienced personally being in the situation where I was in the middle. I could percieve things that a very
"sensitive" person saw, but I also could see that perhaps there was a mental instability component as well. It made it really hard for me, not knowing what to do. Which way do I go? Do I call this person crazy, when I know that some things that they saw were seen by me as well. Do I speak out and say this person is perfectly sane when I am not sure that is true?

It is said that the average human only uses 7% of their cerebral cortical function. What is that other 93% for? Is it possible that those abilities that are dismissed by logical people reside in that reserve part of the brain, such as clairvoyance, psychokinesis, remote viewing, etc? I can't rule it out. I don't think anyone can. Why do we dream? Is this not an incredible phenomena that our brain can put images together into a sometimes coherent movie that plays in our consciousness as we sleep?

Despite proudly calling myself a scientist, and being trained in scientific method, I firmly believe that science does not and never will have the answer for all questions. I believe that a component of scientific theory is having faith. The first people who came up with germ theory did not have microscopes to see the bacteria. But they had a hypothesis that there was something that was being passed from one sick person to a healthy person that made the healthy person sick. They had to take it on faith that that substance was there until the microscope technology could definitively prove their hypothesis.

The same goes for dark matter. We cannot see it, or perceive it, but there must be something holding the galaxy together. Is that so different from believing there might be a creator that brought all things together?

These are all questions that go through my mind. I think that life is most interesting if you leave yourself somewhat open to the wondering if what you see is all there is.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fall Promises to be a Great Time to Buy Books.

This is a good thing and a bad thing. Bad because I need to save money for my trip to Vegas this February. Good, because I love love love buying books, and it's nice when there are books worth buying coming out.

I am restraining myself from buying Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon, although it's hard. I should because I am at least two books behind (more if you count the Dream Hunter books). I know that God will bless me and I will find it at Half Priced Books one day, and I'll sweep it up for half price. Patience is a virtue! It really is.

I am also excited about Nalini Singh's next book in the Psy/Changeling series, Hostage to Pleasure. It's about Dorian, a member of the pride that cannot shapeshift. That doesn't mean he's any less dangerous. His heroine is Ashaya, who is a Psy. I've heard good things about it so far.

Also Lisa Kleypas has a new book coming out in the Hathaway series, Seduce Me at Sunrise. I can wait on it because I haven't read Cam's book. But since it's paperback, I probably won't.

Fish out of Water is the next installment in the Fred the Mermaid series by MaryJanice Davidson. I will pick this one up used since I have the first two in the you know where.

Same goes for Noah by Jaquelin Frank.

Mr. Fix-It by Crystal Hubbard. Sounds really up my alley: British hero and set in Britain with Black American heroine.

Of course, there is the Black Dagger Brotherhood Companion. I will have to buy this when it comes out. Thankfully it's only about $10 or so on Amazon.

Ms. Christina Dodd wraps up her Darkness Chosen quartet with Into the Flame, Firebird's story.

And Yes, yes, Patricia Grasso has another Kazanov story coming out called Enticing the Prince. This is a great series, if you get a chance to read these.

Here is a whole list of just paranormal/urban fantasy for September and October, thanks to Connie on my Paranormal Mystery Yahoo group!

Legacy (Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles, Book 4) by Jeanne C. Stein

Pure Blood (Nocturne City, Book 2) by Caitlin Kittredge

Servant: The Acceptance (Servant) by L.L. Foster

Dead Is the New Black by Marlene Perez

Hands of Flame (The Negotiator, Book 3) by C.E. Murphy

Break of Dawn: Vampire Babylon Book Three by Chris Marie Green

Crate & Peril by J. D. Warren

Kiss of a Dark Moon by Sharie Kohler

One Bite With A Stranger (The Others, Book 6) by Christine Warren

Steelflower (Steelflower Chronicles, Book 1) by Lilith Saintcrow

Blood Memories by Barb Hendee

Midnight's Daughter (Dorina Basarab, Dhampir, Book 1) by Karen Chance

Mysteria Lane by MaryJanice Davidson, Susan Grant, Gena Showalter, P. C. Cast

Wolfsbane and Mistletoe by Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Keri Arthur,Carrie Vaughn

Brimstone Kiss: Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator by Carole NelsonDouglas

Blood Lite: An Anthology of Humorous Horror Stories Presented by the HorrorWriters Association by Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Sherrilyn Kenyon,Kevin Anderson

Living with the Dead (Women of the Otherworld, Book 9) by Kelley Armstrong

Well, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, thanks for Half Price Books, because I am going to get my book on this fall.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Great News for Deborah Simmons Fans

Deborah has a new historical coming out with Harlequin Historicals and is hard at work on Reynold De Burgh's story (great news for us De Burgh family fans). I am so happy. She is an excellent writer. Years ago, I emailed her and she said she was without a contract and that Harlequin did not want to continue the De Burgh books. I was very upset on her behalf, and also on her fans. I love the De Burgh brother series, and there were two stories left that were untold. Reynold is my favorite brother, surly and has a leg injury. You know me and those tortured/scarred heroes. So go out and buy her new book, The Dark Viscount, new if you possibly can. I have a subscription to HH, so I'll get it and won't have to do any work, other than check my mail and pay the bill. :)

If you haven't read Deborah Simmons, you should. She is great at combining humor, steamy sensuality, authentic language and setting, with pathos. Her characters come off the page and intrigue you. They are all quirky in different ways, just like a beloved friend or relative (you know what I mean. Not perfect, but you love them anyway). Her heroes are strong and sexy and masculine, and her heroines are unique in their own right (not all just picture-perfect, beautiful doll-type heroines) intelligent, independent, and always manage to make their heroes fall head over heads, despite their efforts to resist. Her medievals actually got me majorly into reading medieval historical romance.

I can't promise it will be easy to get all Deborah's books, but likely you will find yourself doing what I did after you read one or two of her books, going out and trying accumulating her backlist. You will probably have to do some work to get most of her books since they are probably all out of print except for her last two, A Man of Many Talents and A Lady of Distinction. I suggest checking or and I think you will do fine. I have ordered a lot of her books that way, and also by hitting the used bookstores.

She has written lots of Harlequin Historicals including the DeBurgh books. She has both regency and medieval romances in the Historicals line.

Some of my favorites are:


Maiden Bride
The Devil's Lady
Tempting the Wolf
The De Burgh Bride
My Lord De Burgh
Robber Bride

(all but Maiden Bride and The Devil's Lady are De Burgh books)

The Devil Earl
The Vicar's Daughter
Tempting Kate
The Last Rogue
The Squire's Daughter

She also has some short stories in various collections. The Knights of Christmas has the De Burgh father's story.
When I feared she would not publish anymore, I made a point of saving up some of her books that I haven't read. Some that I have in the TBR pile are:
The Gentleman Thief
Silent Heart
Fortune Hunter
A Man of Many Talents
A Lady of Distinction
Plus her Avon and some short story collections with her books.

But now that she's back in the game, I can knock those out.

Go on and look her up. I guarantee you'll appreciate reading her.

And a warm congrats to Deborah. I am so happy for you!

  • in In Praise of Black British Male Actors

    You may not have noticed that a good number of Black male actors that we see on television and films, are not African Americans. They are, in fact, Black British men. As a serious lover of all things British, especially men, I certainly did. I affectionately call these lovely guys Brifrican (a contraction of British and Black African-descent, which never fails to make my sister giggle). Who are some of my favorite of these distinguished actors? Well if their names are not familiar, I am sure that you may recognize their faces.

  • Adrian Lester: This dreamboat appeared on the American scene years ago when he co-starred in Primary Colors, but has been very prolific in British TV, movie, and theater, notably playing Henry V in Shakespeare. I thought he was terribly cute when I saw him in Love's Labours Lost, which I think is the time when my crush began. I was very pleased to see him playing Mickey Bricks on the joint BBC and A&E show Hustle. Adrian also played the musician Orpheus in the Hallmark miniseries Jason and the Argonauts. Some may recognize him from playing Joan's actor boyfriend on Girlfriends. He also had a smaller role in The Day After Tomorrow. He was looking pretty good in the HBO Movie As You Like It. He also had a small, but contributory to the narrative, role in Dust with dreamboats Joseph Fiennes and David Wenham. He is a particular favorite of mine.

  • Colin Salmon: Most moviewatchers would recognize him as playing the second in command to Bond's commander M in the some of the more recent James Bond movies. He was also in Aliens V. Predator and Resident Evil. If you had the chance to watch the wonderful but short lived Fox show Keen Eddie, he was the Superintendent on there. If you watch BBC shows, you've probably seen him on Doctor Who, Hex, and Bad Girls as well. He was in The Bank Job with Jason Statham, and can be seen in the upcoming Punisher: War Zone. Colin is the very emodiment of tall, dark, and handsome, with a very elegant and stately presence in all his roles.

  • Eamonn Walker: He was in Tears of the Sun, on the HBO Oz (which I am too squeamish to watch despite missing all the full frontal male nudity), and also on the great but shortlived show Justice. He has also had smaller roles in US TV and film. Eamonn is the first Black actor to play Othello at the Globe Theater in Britain. He is a very attractive man with a regal presence which always distinguishes him in everything I've seen him in.

  • Idris Elba first caught my attention on the BBC miniseries Ultraviolet. It was love at first sight. He is beautiful and has a lovely British accent (a double whammy), combined with being a great actor. Most people know him from The Wire (which I didn't watch because I don't really like the subject manner). He has also starred in Hollywood movies such as Daddy's Little Girls, 28 Weeks Later, This Christmas, Prom Night, the HBO movie about the Rwandan genocide Sometimes in April, The Gospel, The Reaping, and the upcoming Guy Ritchie film RockNRolla. The man is gorgeous, although I really miss his British accent that he doesn't use in his American moves. Incidentally, he's also a DJ and a hip hop artist in the UK.

  • David Oyelowo has the cutest baby face, which attracted my attention on the BBC spy show MI-5 (Spooks in the UK). He is an excellent actor with incredible presence, in addition to his devastating good looks. He has also been in the HBO movie As You Like It, playing opposite Dallas Bryce Howard. David is a renowned Shakespearean theater actor, and he is the first Black male to play a British king in Shakespeare when he played King Henry VI. He appeared (lovely as always) in the Hollywood movie A Sound of Thunder, and will play Muddy Waters in Chess. He's a real cutie.

  • Lennie James is another notable Black British actor. He has starred in American movies such as The Mummy Returns, but also played a pivotal role on the ill-fated TV show Jericho. His acting skills are incredible, because I loved him in The Mummy Returns, but disliked him equally as much, but gained respect for his character of Robert Hawkins on Jericho. He was also in the awesome Guy Ritchie movie Snatch, as well as Sahara. I thought he was great in the BBC tv movie Frances Tuesday. Lennie also played Oberon in the ShakespeaRe-Told version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. He is a chameleon and manages to play each role with grace.

  • Chiwetel Ejiofor: He is an elegant, soft-spoken actor of incredible power. My sister and I find him very dreamy. His complete belief in what he was doing as the Operative in Serenity was chilling, as he was clearly on the wrong side. He broke through as a film actor in Dirty, Pretty Things, in which his performance was critically acclaimed. Chiwetel was part of the ensemble cast of the British film Love Actually, and played a cross-dresser in the British film Kinky Boots. He is a renowed Shakespearean actor, and has been seen in American movies such as Talk to Me, American Gangster, Four Brothers, Slow Burn, Inside Man, and Children of Men.

  • Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: With his large, fit physique, he makes a very imposing figure. This is probably why he has been cast as villains a lot, notably in The Mummy Returns. Nevertheless, he is a very good actor, who happens to have a law degree. Adewale has done his turn on the HBO show Oz (if only it was my cup of tea) and was stranded on the island in the tv show Lost. Adewale was seen in Congo, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, The Bourne Identity, and Get Rich or Die Tryin'. He will co-star in the upcoming (and eagerly awaited by me) G.I. Joe live action movie as Heavy Duty.

Well, I hope that I have introduced you to some of my favorite Brifricans. I would like to thank them for their contributions to American and British cinema, television, and theater. And also, thanks for enriching my life since I clearly watch too much of the first two categories.


Monday, August 18, 2008

No Longer The Rabid Moviegoer I Was (Not that I don't still love movies. That will never change!)

Those of us who are serious moviebuffs know what time of year this is. Summer movie season. In the past my butt would have been firmly planted in a seat at the local theater around this time of year. But there has been a serious decline in my moviegoing. It's truly multifactorial. It started when I moved back to Texas and was really hurting for money at first. I left a job that I stayed at too long and really hated, and took a chance and moved back to Texas to what was hopefully a better future. Since I didn't have a job when I did it, but by the Grace of God managed to keep a roof over my head, I'm not complaining. The funny thing is, the girl who bragged about not going more than a couple of weeks between seeing movies at the theater realized that she could go pretty long without that crutch. I had used my moviegoing to define me as a person, and that was selling myself short. I am a movie-lover, but that doesn't have to translate as being a avid moviegoer. In fact, I realized that missing some of the bigger movies didn't bother me as much as I thought it would. I even missed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, sigh. I ended up catching Part II and Part III of Pirates of the Caribbean on DVD, and enjoyed them as much as I would at the movies, maybe even more. In contrast, I kinda wish I had stayed home for Star Wars Part III. I was seriously bummed at that one.

I will always love movies, but I did use it my status as a moviegoer as a crutch. I am not an outgoing person, and I deluded myself into thinking my bi-monthly (sometimes weekly) trip to the movies was "getting myself out there." Have I become more outgoing? Perhaps a fraction more. I actually go to parties and out to dinner, activities that require talking to people (gasp!) But at least now I know that movies are not the end-all and be-all of social activities.

I digress. So in my several months long, self-stricken poverty, I rediscovered old pleasures, like re-reading some of my all time favorite books, such as Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase, The Soldier and the Baby and Glass Houses by Anne Stuart, some of my favorite old Harlequin Presents (yes I love these books) like Man of Stone by Frances Roding, among others. I read short story horror collections that I had accumulated years ago but never got around to reading. I actually read stuff other than romance (one of my first loves). I realized that carting all those books I couldn't bear to get rid of back from San Diego, CA (much to my mother's dismay), was a great thing. I had lots of reading material (old and new) and didn't have to shell out more money to keep myself content. So that was probably the first crack in the clay feet of my movie-going idol.

In rediscovering books and yes tv (which is free other than the cable bill), and having more freetime on my hands, I was forced to analyze my moviegoing activities in the past, and thus admit that there were movies I had seen (and spent too much since I was in CA where everything is more expensive), and came to the realization that a lot of them were not worth the fare. Don't expect me to name names. Most have sunken to the bottom of my memory, possibly never to be retrieved.

Even the Summer Blockbuster season has fallen flat. Every year for the past few years, there have been less and less really exciting releases in the summer. Usually by the time June has passed, they start to peter out, until the holidays, when you might get a few big ones like the new Star Trek this year, and pick up in March (Watchmen, anyone?) This summer seemed to be awesome at first, but on retrospect, there were maybe a handful of ones that I was really excited about: Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Hancock, X-Files (I'm not going there right now), Hellboy 2 (awesome movie if you like folklore), Babylon AD (a surprise as I didn't realize it was coming out this summer),and I missed Prince Caspian (bummer, but I know I'll buy that one). Wanted turned out to be rather disappointing. I was a little underwhelmed with Indiana Jones and The Crystal Skulls (if you are like me and saw the movie, you know what I mean). And let's not go into my feelings about X-Files: I Want to Believe.

I have realized that renting/buying movies is the way to go, by and large. My sister obtained a Netflix membership, and although she actually has to remind me to watch the movies with my schedule, it has been a great thing. One of the cool things about Netflix is you can keep them as long as you need to and send them back when you're done. Now that's great because it may take me a week to watch one movie (for instance August Rush, great movie by the way, it actually did take a week). Okay, I admit that a lot get sent back sans me watching them. But when I get to see them, it's pretty awesome. With home movie viewing, you can curl up at home in bed or on the couch, get refreshments from your own kitchen, and not have to worry about latecomers squeezing past, uncomfortable seats, too many commercials, and overpriced refreshments, if you forget to eat before going and don't feel like sneaking in food. Also, if you need a bathroom break, just press pause or stop. It will be right there where you left it when you return. And besides, some of the really awesome movies don't get released over here (such as Hong Kong action movies, straight to video sci-fi/fantasy (and I don't mean the Sci Fi Channel variety), indie cinema, and foreign films.) Another plus is you can sit and heckle the bad movies or have a running commentary all you want (as long as your movie-watching compadres don't mind). Let's admit, that's a big part of the fun to discuss as you watch, at least for me.

And there is the wonderful entities of You Tube and Wikipedia. Talking about killing time. I can spend hours on both. Watching videos and live performances by my favorite singers and bands on the former, and looking up all sorts of things on the latter. This too, is free other than the bill for internet access, and electricity to run the computer. Can I also give a shout out to blogging? And there are those long-neglected Yahoo email groups. Heck, you can even watch movie trailers online for free.

Don't get me wrong. I still go to the movies for the events like The Dark Knight and Iron Man. I even went to see Iron Man again at the dollar movie. I will catch Dark Knight again at the dollar cinema as well. And when Babylon AD comes out (Vin Diesel, I am so there), I will dutifully buy my ticket for that one.

But for the money, I think getting a digital cable/satellite package with plenty of channels is a much better deal. And the networks have realized the people really do want to see new shows and episodes in the summer. USA and TNT have quite a few shows running new seasons over the summer (Burn Notice, In Plain Sight, Monk, Psych, The Closer, etc), along with Sci-Fi channel (Stargate Atlantis, Doctor Who, Eureka) and BBC America (Primeval). And they tend to reshow them if you missed the first showing. Score! Let us not forgot the oldies that are shown every day with or without commercials on AMC, TMC, and some of the other cable channels. I never saw those at the theater, and it wasn't the end of the world. As a matter of fact, some movies age best the more you watch them at home on tv. If you're into reality, catch Bridezillas and see a whole lot of drama. Food Network has some delicious programming as well. Before you know it, two hours that you would have spent in a movie are gone baby gone.

Not going to the movies is great for the budget, without truly having to give up the extra essentials. I have found that if you skip a few movie shows at the theater, you can afford to buy boxed seasons of shows and the movies when they come out the first week, or when they are marked down to below $10. I religiously check the bargain bin at Walmart where some pretty awesome movies end up being $5. If that won't work, just ask for them for Christmas or birthdays. The joy of watching them the first time is really not that diminished from watching the movie on the big screen in most cases. You don't really know what you're missing, after all. And in some instances, the movie you stayed away from at the movie because you didn't think it would be any good turns out to be a gem. A good example of this was Mr. and Mrs. Smith. For various reasons, I was not expecting much (despite being an Angelina Jolie fan other than the Lara Croft films), but ended up truly enjoying this movie.. Rewatching forays of favorites on DVD are not to be missed, and are exciting in themselves, as you discover something about the movie that you missed the first time around. Although, I am very glad I saw 300 for the first time at the movies, it's still great on DVD the second time around.

By buying or being gifted a movie, you are steadily adding to your movie collection, (planning for the future) for that rainy day when you feel an urge to watch an old standby instead of leaving your house to pay way too much money to see something new that you might not like as much as you think. Just think, for the price of movie admission (say $9 at night), you could almost buy a six to ten month old release or almost two older-release films for $5. And you might get lucky and catch a sale on or at Best Buy. If you skip two moviegoving outings, you could buy a new release (possibly for even less when it first comes out). And two moviegoing forays missed pays for a pretty decent Netflix membership (three rentals at a time, which if you send them back right away, could easily be twelve movies a month).

Again, I am not saying that I have forsaken the movie going experience. I now think twice, save myself some money, gas, and oftimes frustration, by staying home and indulging in a nice foray into bookreading, tv watching, internet surfing, or just throw in a cherished part of my collection or a new rental. Before it got so darn hot, I did a lot of gardening, and that was a very fruitful activity now that I look at my babies growing outside. Maybe even going to the the gym where you can burn calories, while reading a book, lifting weights, or people watching. Since it's Texas, we don't spend too much time outside (the sane ones amongst us anyway) until it's dark, but those stars sure are pretty, though. Or for the more intrepid among us, how about actually hanging out with other people, and engaging in conversations? Scary thought, huh? As a recovering workaholic (still working on it), I have discovered the joys of being a homebody for most activities, including watching movies. Like Dorothy says, there's no place like home. Let me add to that, for watching a movie. Except the comic book movies, that is.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Is the Western Movie Genre Really Dead?

I am afraid that the answer is yes, at least in its purest form. I only have theories about this slow death of the genre.

Perhaps the setting is so far away from what the millenial-consciousness public can wrap their minds around. In this age, horses, carriages, cattle, false-fronted wooden buildings, range wars, and such fare is unknown and alien to most urban-dwelling people. There are pockets of people who still live in this reality, but they are probably not the driving force behind the box office and studio movie-making decisions. Most moviegoers may find the old school western corny. And I believe that this is at the crux of the dearth of western movies being made.

I must say that I have mixed feelings about some of the more recent western movies. Here are some of the newer westerns and my thoughts

  • 3:10 to Yuma: It was good but I didn't like the ending. I think the good man suffered and the bad man prospered. That's just backwards to me.

  • American Outlaws: Good but a little too Generation X-oriented.

  • Texas Rangers: pretty disappointing. Way too anachronistic with younger actors who didn't really immerse themselves in the period. The best thing was Robert Patrick's line: "He's riding that horse like a man who's riding his sister and knows he's doing something wrong." That is one of the best lines ever!

  • Unforgiven: Very good movie although really depressing

  • Open Range: excellent western

  • True Women: incredible

  • Posse: Great in that it represented African-Americans in the west.

  • Dust: A more modern western set in Eastern Europe. Pretty violent and depressing although Joseph Fiennes, Adrian Lester, and David Wenham provide great eye candy.

  • Silverado: pretty good. My mom loves it.

  • Wild Wild West: I loved it but it didn't do well at the Box Office. I think it was too strange for most people. I loved watching the show from the 60s. Although I didn't know that the genre was steampunk at the time, I have always been attracted to stories that show a past setting with enhanced technology.

Some of the more recent tv shows that were westerns that I loved

  • The Young Riders: loved that show!

  • The Magnificent Seven: gone too soon

  • Legacy: never got a chance to develop fully (I am convinced it's because of the interracial romance!)

  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.

  • Firefly (gone too soon. Technically a space western, but it was pretty darn traditional western in many ways)

Thankfully traditional westerns still crop up on the cable nextworks as made-for-tv movies and miniseries. There are also straight-to-video westerns, usually pretty low budget. I am slowly trying to watch most of these. I think that if western movies survive, it will be in these areas.

But do the themes of western movies still have relevance? First of all, let's list these themes:

  • Isolation

  • Renewal/Rebirth

  • Despair

  • Honor

  • Prejudice

  • Self-sufficiency

  • The next frontier

  • Fear of what is to come

  • Moral decay(people who have degenerated to outlaws, etc)

  • Fortitude

  • Antiheroes

  • Running from the past

  • Antivillians (do good things but not necessarily for good reasons)

That is just to name a few. I think that these themes will never lose relevance. These themes could just as easily be used in a movie that does not have the typical "Western" setting. I personally believe this is the future of the western. Look at science fiction movies/tv like "Firefly" and "Serenity," "Outland," "The Ghosts of Mars," "Titan A.E.," ," "The Postman," "Enemy Mine," and even standard sci-fi fare like "Star Wars" and "Star Trek," and others set in space or an post-apocalyptic landscape. Although they occur on distant planets or in the dystopian future, those themes are still present. There is a lone hero or group of survivors struggling to build a new life and leave the past behind, while hanging onto their remaining principles. Or perhaps they have abandoned all their principles in the sheer struggle to survive. Their perceptions about those who invoke prejudice are challenged. They may be fighting against a system that is seemingly undefeatable, that threatens to challenge their way of life. Isn't that the core of the western ideal? Also look at the modern western, movies such as "No Country for Old Men," "All the Pretty Horses," "Last Man Standing," "48 Hours," etc. These movies may retain vestiges of the old western, either in themes, or settings. Movies like "Near Dark," "Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat," and a small amount of zombie/vampire westerns going straight to video recently fall in the Weird West category. "Ravenous" had the lovely Guy Pearce, but it was just too gruesome for me in its subject of cannibals turned into wendigo creatures. "Purgatory" was a very interesting Weird Western that showed up on TNT a few years ago. Few would argue against "Ghost Rider" having clearly containing many Weird Western elements.

Although I don't have much hope for very many western movies to make it into theaters, I think westerns will always have a future in the print media, whether in the traditional form, or in various incarnations such as the Weird West and the modern western. Readers are more open-minded about what kinds of books, graphic novels, and comic books they will buy than moviegoers are about the movies they will pay to go see. And another thing that insures the survival of the western in printed media is the hybridization of genres that is occuring in popular fiction. One area that I do worry about the survival of westerns in is romance. Less and less westerns are being published. The big rage now is regencies as far as historical romance. Thank God that Harlequin Historicals comes out with new westerns monthly, or I would really be in despair.

To close, I think that we all have a western hero inside of us. We all struggle with moral complexities, surviving against the odds, and fearing the future, yet hoping for a better one at the same time. I hope that this genre that deeply touches on these themes does continue to endure, if not in a pure form, then in other ways.