Quiet moment at home with Burnsie

I love westerns. Good, old-fashioned, shoot-’em-up cowboy movies. Tall hats, six guns, spurs, and the Wild West get my juices going. No matter that much of the mystique of black hat bad guys and white hat righteous heroes and honest sheriffs is simplistic myth. No matter. I love westerns.

Blogger as little boy So on opening night there I was in line at the cinema ticket booth to see the remake of The Magnificent Seven, starring Denzel Washington as central character. It’s a good one for the lover of westerns, with a rip-roaring shoot-out climax as good as any. No matter that Denzel, leader of the good guys, wears an over-size black hat that sits too low on his ears, reminding me of me as a kid trying to be Roy Rogers. No matter that casting of the new ‘magnificent seven’ (plus an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better female who makes a magnificent eight) panders to current ethnic sensibilities to include a black leader, an Asian, a Native American, a Mexican, and three white guys — and, of course, the do-anything female. No matter. It’s a worthy tale of Good against Evil and triumphing.

I began early loving westerns and everything ‘cowboy’. Before I could pronounce the name I was hooked on “Groy Grogers”. So I’ve had a walk on Memory Lane recently watching a boxed set of Roy Rogers DVDs my sister sent as a surprise gift. Watching Roy and Dale Evans and Gabby Hays clean up the wild west in those 1940s black & white movies is a flashback to my childhood as well as to a “kinder, gentler” era of cinema. Looking back on those old movies with jaundiced senior eyes it seems when Roy was “King of the Cowboys” and Trigger was “the smartest horse in the movies” horses didn’t poop, hats never fell off, no one got dirty, and even the bad guys said, “Pardon me”.

Blogger in homemade cowboy shirtFor gritty realism my favorite westerns are Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” and Kevin Costner’s “Open Range” and right up there with them is Quintin Tarentino’s “Django”. And what’s not to love about “Silverado” with Danny Glover, a young Kevin Costner, and the humor of Kevin Cline? And John Wayne? “Hondo” is terrific . . . and TV Westerns, “Rawhide”, “Cheyenne”, “Have Gun, Will Travel”, “The Rifleman”, and “The Lone Ranger”.

Yeah, I love Westerns. Always have. So who’s surprised I now live in the State where the new “Magnificent Seven” was filmed? Yep, The Land of Enchantment, where the movie was made at Santa Fe Film Studios. If you love Westerns, especially the early ones, you’ve seen New Mexico perhaps without realizing it. New Mexico is that part of the great Southwest where many Westerns were filmed. In fact, so many early movie stars stayed at the historic El Rancho Motel in Gallup, NM., back in 1930s-40s Western movie production hayday, the rooms are now named for the Hollywood stars who stayed in them.

So, Yippy-ty-yi-yey, yippy-chi-yo. Burnsie and I are hoping my ticket to Magnificent Seven on opening weekend is a vote for Hollywood to make MORE great Westerns!

Joseph Harvill, Cowpoke Scottiephile

Contemplative moment at home with Burnsie


I laughed out loud when I saw it. It was printed in all-caps across the chest of T-shirts in the gift shop of the Mob Museum located in the historic courthouse in Las Vegas, NV. Technically, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, the museum tells the story of organized crime’s moves to own Vegas gambling dollars and law enforcement’s response to stop the “Mob”. “FUGGEDDABOUDET” (”Forget about it”) captured, for me, the whimsy and illusion of Vegas itself.

Last weekend Anna and I were in Las Vegas celebrating her birthday. The Mob Museum is but one of hundreds of larger-than-life attractions that make Vegas in the desert the ultimate unreal ‘reality-show’ with an actual physical address!

Our weekend in Vegas was to see Mariah Carey and comedian, Ron White, in live performance at Caesar’s Palace and The Mirage. “You’re smart!” said our Uber driver. “Stay away from the gambling. It’s rigged to suit the House. Just enjoy the shows.”

Our shows were amazing. Mariah’s voice, with its 5 octave range, was in rare form and Ron White was so funny Anna laughed till she had to think of something ELSE in order to keep from wetting her pants!

We toured the Luxor Hotel’s poignant exhibit of artifacts dredged from The Titanic as well as their anatomical science exhibition of dissected human bodies and we spent an eye-opening afternoon at the Mob Museum. We ate ‘New York’ hotdogs at New York New York, eggplant parmesan at Excalibur’s Buca di Bepo’s, and saw our big-name shows. And, against advice from our Uber driver, at a penny slot machine at the Excalibur, the ‘Birthday Girl’ parlayed eleven one dollar bills into a $47 win.

Vegas is illusion, a mother-load in the Nevada desert mining gambler’s gold in quantities to astonish old-time pan-handlers. Inflation is the coin of the realm. Everything about Vegas is blown out of proportion, over-priced and hyped, a non-stop Macy’s Parade ballooned up larger-than-life into billion dollar escapism . . . as real as a three dollar bill.

That’s why the surprise coming out of Vegas for me was Uber. Uber is the name of the ordinary-person-taxi-service that provides commercial rides for hire offered via cell phone application. Ordinary locals who have late-model automobiles that meet Uber requirements sign up as entrepreneurs to ‘taxi’ customers from point ‘A’ to ‘B’. It’s all done via online cell phone connections and credit card so no physical money is exchanged and it’s 1/3 - 1/2 the price of standard Taxi rates.

I say ’surprise’ because I’d never used Uber before. I’d heard of it but never tried it myself. What a sweet surprise! The commercial taxi we hired to take us from the Las Vegas Airport to the Strip when we first arrived was three times the price we later paid Uber drivers and the taxi cab actually broke down on the highway! Our later Uber drivers were all locals, all happy in their part-time job as Uber drivers, each pleasant and interesting, and their cars were spotless.

A for-real bargain in Las Vegas? You kidding me? Something actually BETTER at one-third the price?

Well, it’s true. I’m sold on Uber. It’s now available just about everywhere and for me it’s the un-Vegas reality I discovered right in the middle of the glitz and illusion of Las Vegas.

This ‘Scot’ pay excessive Taxi Cab fees and put up with surly cab drivers in future? NOT where there’s cell phone service and UBER.


Joseph Harvill, Scottiephile