Sunday, February 26, 2012


There is an inextricable link between Buffalo Bill Cody and North Platte—what we here in Ogallala (52 miles west) consider the nearest "big town" for a broader range of shopping, etc. The town of North Platte fully embraces its Cody history, as evidenced by everything from the brickwork "gates" containing images of Cody as you enter the city limits off I-80, to the colorful "Fort Cody" museum and gift shop, to Cody Park (with a glassed-in, lifesize statue of Cody at its entrance) to Scout's Rest, which Buffalo Bill built and where he resided during the late 1880s. 

Scout's Rest is now a State Historical Site. Cody initially left it to his sister with the instructions that in the event any "old scout" should travel through in need of a hot meal and a place to rest his head for a night or two, she should accommodate him. Hence the name.

North Platte is also the place where, in 1882, at the behest of the town fathers, Cody staged a rootin'-tootin', ropin' and ridin' exhibition to celebrate the Fourth of July. He called it his "Old Glory Blowout" and it served as the blueprint for what would soon expand and become his world-famous Buffalo Bill's Wild West.

But the piece of North Platte-Cody memorabilia that has always fascinated me the most is the little tavern tucked in a corner off the beaten path down near the Union Pacific railroad tracks. It's called the Alamo Bar and boasts of being in business since 1873. Moreover, it boasts that its still-in-use serving bar also dates back that far and, in its prime, was frequently bellied up to by none other than Bufallo Bill himself.
My days of drinking with any regularity are mostly past, but I'm known to still bend an elbow on occasion. And resting said elbow on the very same bar where Buffalo Bill rested his … well, who could resist?

I don't get over to the Alamo Bar all that often but, whenever I do, the experience, for me, is always the same. Even though the place has changed hands since I started going there (now aiming to be a sports bar) the bar itself is still as it was. Polished-over thousands of times, still a pale brown in color, still scarred and nicked and initial-carved and cigarette-scorched … in short, simply glorious. And when I hitch up a stool and sit down, the chatter and juke box music that otherwise fills the place seems to fade away, perhaps only for a moment or two, and its just me and Ol' Bill … excuse me, sir—Colonel Cody … and maybe one of the North brothers who have dropped by today, maybe even that rascal Print Olive prowling in out of the wild country …

Then the reverie is over and it's back to Now and I know it was all just another piece of a daydream (like us crazy writers are wont to have more often than regular folks). But, brief though it was, it was a grand little fantasy … And I'll be returning to have me another round the first chance I get.

Persevere — WD

Friday, February 24, 2012


In the last decade of the great cattle drive era (1875 – 1885) my adopted home town of Ogallala, Nebraska, was named the End of the Texas Trail and became the destination for herd after herd of longhorns being driven to its rail head for shipment off to the markets.

This meant that Ogallala also became the destination for wave after wave of weary, saddle-sore, thirsty, horny cowboys ready to cut loose after so many hard months on the trail. After selling their beef and getting paid, the main focus for most of them was to cut the trail dust out of their throats with beer and rotgut whiskey and to seek the "companionship" of the numerous soiled doves awaiting in the saloons and bawdy houses that Ogallala had in abundance. In addition to being named the End of the Texas Trail, the town had also been dubbed, with good reason, "the Gomorrah of the plains".

Now, while the gals who pandered to these randy cowboys weren't exactly what you could call picky about who they spent their time with, they did try to draw the line about certain things. And frolicking with a cowboy who'd just spent all those weeks riding at the south end of a northbound longhorn … well, at least a modicum of hygiene was requested. It was hoped the cowboys in question would take time for a shave and a bath (and the gals, too, for that matter). Barring that, it was required that at least some measure was taken to curb the smell of sweat, dust, and, er, other aromas that lingered after all that south-end riding. 

Enter Ogallala Bay Rum.

Near as I can determine, bay rum—what these days we more commonly call after shave lotion or cologne—had been around for a century or two before Ogallala's name got attached to it. It originated in the West Indies and over the years had many different brand names and spins placed on its basic ingredients.

But in Western America, when its time came, the Ogallala brand became very popular. And, among other things, it served very nicely to create at least the illusion of freshness and cleanliness that the discerning gals of saloon row demanded.

Ogallala Bay Rum outlasted the cattle drive era but then, like many other "bay rums", it—along with Brylcreem, Butch Wax, etc.—pretty much fell out of vogue after the first half of the last century. The Ogallala brand ceased to exist.

Now, however, it is back. An enterprising local fellow has resurrected it, starting first as a sideline that he brewed and bottled in his basement. He now has his own building in a strip mall on the south side of town where he produces and ships product all over the world and is able to lay claim, via the internet, to operating the "Largest Bay Rum Site in the World". You can access it at and order some of the product there if you're interested.

Have to admit I haven't tried any yet myself. I'm an Old Spice guy, going back about five decades, and don't expect to make any wholesale changes at this point in my life. Nevertheless, out of a sense of history and in support of a fellow Ogallalian, I intend to sample some soon. It bills itself as "strong, invigorating stuff" and I could sure as hell use a dose of that. Plus it warns "not for sissies", so neither can I back down from the challenge.

So, we'll have to find out.

And to think, none of it might have been possible if those soiled doves from so long ago had hadn't been so darn fussy …

Persevere — WD

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Went to see this last night with my two grandsons—Riley, 10; and Billy, 19.

The three of us also went to see GHOST RIDER 1 together (hard to believe it was five years ago!). We all liked the first one well enough but Riley, especially, was crazy about it. In subsequent weeks and months I bought him Ghost Rider comic books, printed off tons of images from the internet, and of course bought him the DVD when it came out … Not to mention playing "Ghost Riders In The Sky" off my Essential Johnny Cash CD about forty jillion times whenever he rode in the car with me.

So, needless to say, as soon as it was announced that GHOST RIDER 2 was in the works, it was a foregone conclusion we would make a point of seeing it.
To do so on its opening night involved a trip to North Platte, the nearest "big town" multi-plex where it was showing. (Our little two-plex here in Ogallala probably won't have it for another two or three weeks.)

In fairness, I suppose the 100-mile round trip (the things I do for my grandkids!) and the exorbitant pricing (14 bucks for a tub of popcorn!) sort of took the edge off whatever level of enjoyment I was likely to experience before the movie even got started. We even went the cheap-o route and saw the 2D version, which saved $10 in "special feature" fees, and it still cost close to $70 for four of us (we took one of Billy's pals, too). For that kind of outlay I expected something reasonably close to being at least as good as the first movie, which was colorful and exciting and a lot of fun in a guilty-pleasure kind of way.

I didn't get it.

GHOST RIDER 2 is dark and disjointed and, in too many places, just plain dull. The Johnny Blaze character, as played once again by Nicholas Cage, is by turns nearly psychotic when he rails against his "curse", then at other times strangely mellow. I don't know if that was the way the part was written of it is merely Cage being Cage. As far as the plot (and I use the term rather loosely) I won't bore you with too many details except to say that it deals with saving a young boy from Satan and his minions and, if Blaze can deliver him to safety, a very ancient and remote order of priests will lift his Ghost Rider curse.

There are some nifty action sequences, decent special effects, and a welcome touch of wry humor here and there. My favorite scene? One of Satan's henchmen is a nasty dude called Decay, who can cause anything he touches, including people, to immediately start rotting and crumbling away … At one point he attempts to eat some items from a lunch box but everything he takes out (a sandwich, a piece of fruit) instantly crumbles and falls apart in his hands before he can get it to his mouth. But then he takes out a Twinkie, which remains totally unphased by his powers of decay, and he is happily able to munch it down.

Maybe that says more about my goofy sense of humor than it does the movie's actual accomplishments, but amidst all the pyrotechnics and scenery-chewing by Cage and other actors, it nevertheless was the stand-out moment.

Bottom line: My grandsons got a kick out of GR2, especially Riley once again, and that really was the main point of going to see it. So I'm glad we did. My advice otherwise would be: If you saw the first one and liked it at all you probably will want to see this sequel—but I think you'll enjoy it more if you save your money and see it when it comes out on DVD (which I predict will be very soon) or when it runs on cable.

Until then …

Persevere — WD

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


If you like exciting, action-packed stories like the old fight pulp tales from the 1930s and 1940s, then you are in luck because there definitely seems to be a resurgence of that type of fiction readily available these days. Some terrific stuff is already out there and more is on the way.

Here are two recent examples well worth checking out:

Just released by Borgo Press (a division of Wildside Press), these 15 stories brought together by editor Gary Lovisi offer a variety of takes on the fight game—each filled with passion, emotion, and the gritty challenge of fist-to-fist competition.
Some character named Dundee even has a spot on the card.

Fight Fictioneers is an exciting new e-Zine from the talented duo of Paul Bishop and Mel Odom—two authors (and fans) who are at the forefront of all this renewed interest in fight fiction. Their "Fight Card" series of pulp-style eBooks are off to a hugely popular start with titles like FELONY FISTS, THE CUTMAN, and SPLIT DECISION currently available—and more on the way. Now, as a companion piece to the Fight Card novels, they will also be putting out further issues of Fight Fictioneers.
For a free copy of issue #1, all you have to do is send a request to
Oh, and that same Dundee character who has a story (it's called "Quick Hands", by the way) in BATTLING BOXER STORIES? Before long, he also will be having a novel out under the Fight Card banner …. Keep an eye out (and your guard up) for COUNTERPUNCH, coming soon!

In the meantime, as always …

Persevere — WD

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Noteworthy Reads: RACING THE DEVIL by Jaden Terrell

RACING THE DEVIL is one of the best detective mysteries I've read in a long time. Making it even better is knowing that it is the debut novel in a new series and that the next title, A CUP FULL OF MIDNIGHT, is due out in only a few months.
            The protagonist here is Nashville PI Jared McKean, a refreshing and engaging hero that readers (certainly including me) will want to see more and more of. He is tough, complex, and instantly likable. He is an ex cop, knows some tae-kwon do, plays the guitar, and is a horseman of considerable expertise. Along with Mac himself you also get a colorful cast of recurring characters, each distinct and interesting in his or her own way and each adding layers to McKean through his relationships with them. All of this is injected in via Terrell's skilled writing style without ever seeming heavy-handed or slowing the pace of the central plot. We're used to being introduced to series characters with affectations and histories (sometimes some pretty outrageous ones) designed to set them apart from the pact—unfortunately, too often these are transparently obvious plot devices that ring phony because they have no real heart. Not so here. Everything in McKean's extended family and history matters and makes the reader care.
            The central storyline is a doozy, too. It starts out with Mac picking up the proverbial one night stand in a local bar and then waking up from a drugged stupor in a sleazy motel room two mornings later, only to discover he's been framed for a murder that occurred while he was zonked out … And, like I said, that's only for starters. From there the plot takes all kinds of delightfully sneaky twists and turns as Mac races to find the real killer in a desperate attempt to clear himself.
            Top notch stuff all the way around. Exceptionally good writing, terrific new protagonist, colorful setting.
Anyone reading this who hasn't yet read the book ought to do some racing of their own—to hurry up and purchase a copy of RACING THE DEVIL!

 Be sure to check this out.
You won't be sorry you did.

Persevere --- WD