Monday, September 28, 2009

I've spent much of the past two days getting this new computer up and running. Much of that time was devoted to getting the darn thing to hook up with the router downstairs. I've just finished installing the printer/scanner/ fax, and that was another hair-pulling treat. With luck I'm over the worst of the problems and can get back to some more entertaining blogging. I still need to give Robert Horton and Ward Bond eyeballs, and I have some other Marx character figures to show you.

Today also marks the end of a ten-day hiatus from work. Getting up early will be hard, come morning.

Classes start today for my two college girls. I wish them luck and good grades. 

I've been reading a lot of Trailsman books lately. These are entertaining, well-written, breezy stories about Skye Fargo, a leather-clad stud who travels the Old West busting baddies and bedding babes. Just the ticket if you don't want to get bogged down with dense, ponderous tomes.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

One Moment, Please

I've been trying to get my new computer set up and as feared I'm having trouble getting the darn thing to pick up the router signal, so I can't get on line with it. Two trips to my server's HQ netted me nothing, but they have been very helpful. Tomorrow I'm taking the tower, which is about the size of the UN building, to Net Venture's shop and see what they can do. The problem seems to be that the unit is so new they don't have any references for it. I'm using Kristine's computer for now, but it doesn't have all my bookmarks and handy widgets. I don't even know if this will post.

I can use the computer for other things, f course. I've watched a movie, listened to music, worked on my OWLHOOT zine, and played a lot of games. I haven't played chess in decades, but I regularly beat the computer. Obviously it wa not programmed by Mr. Spock.

Went to the casino today and bet 75 cents on a slot machine spin. I had five Scatters pop up and won $150. Hee-Haw!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sunrise, Sunset

This morning we drove the baby to Seattle, where she will start college. What an empty home this is now. Seems like only last week she was starting pre-school. Here are photos of Kristine at 22 months and 18 years. Where did the time go?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Story With No Name, Part 8

There's a round robin story wending its way through various blogs and I foolishly agreed to take a turn. You can see the other seven parts by looking at Dave Lewis's excellent blog: Here's my shot:

Marshal Heck Stryker grunted.

“I’ll get rich charging folks four bits a head to watch you hang.”

“Chicken feed,” Walt said. “I’m talking about millions in Spanish gold. You’ll live like the Duke of Prussia.”


Arnside sighed. “No matter. What matters is I can find that treasure ship. Throw in with me and you share the bounty.”

Stryker screwed his face into a contemplative mask, which made him look dumber than usual.

“If you’re worried about Zack Roden,” Walt said, “we can sneak away tonight. By the time he learns we’re gone he’ll be picking breakfast from his teeth. Besides, he won’t know where we’re headed.”

Stryker smiled like a bullfrog who’d speared a fly. “It’s a deal, but heed me. I’ll tote your gun. If you even think about crossing me I’ll sink you with your own lead.”

“Done. Now, loose me from this stink hole.”

Stryker led Walt to the rear of Choo How’s Mortuary, cutting through back alleys in order not to be seen. They entered the unlocked rear entrance. Choo was in the room where he built caskets, laughing .

“Evening, Choo,” the burly marshal said.

Choo jumped up. The laughter ceased. An expression of wide-eyed shock replaced his normally inscrutable countenance. Choo quickly pasted on a smile and kowtowed to the occidentals.

“Ah, marshal, you scare Choo.”

Walt stepped forward. “Where’s the body of Silas Bartlett. He was killed in the attack on the train, burned up pretty bad.”

Choo’s smile widened. “Poor man. Back side all black. Front not so bad.”

“Where’s is he?” Stryker demanded.

Choo indicated a plank coffin, nothing like the opulence Bartlett enjoyed in life. Stryker and Arnside pried the lid off. Bartlett was sunk deeply into rough batting obviously arranged to hide charred flesh. He wore a broadcloth suit, white shirt with celluloid collar, and red vest. Shined boots covered his feet.

Stryker rifled Bartlett’s pockets. Nothing.

“Where’s his goods, Choo?”

Choo fetched a small wooden box.

Walt went through this. Empty wallet, turnip watch, insignificant papers.

“Something wrong?” Stryker asked.

“There’s no map.”

Stryker turned on Choo. “Well, Chinaman?”

“Choo no see.”

Stryker grabbed Choo’s left hand and bent the pinkie finger back. A sharp snap brought an agonized scream from the smaller man.

“The map?”

Give Choo credit, he didn’t surrender the map easily. Stryker broke three of Choo’s fingers and a thumb first.

Outside, Stryker and Arnside made their way to the livery stable. The dead drunk hostler was deaf to the sounds of the men saddling their horses.

“We’ll tie the horses behind the jail. I got supplies in there I keep handy,” Stryker said.

Ten minutes later, with a sack of provisions tied to Walt’s saddle, Stryker turned to his new partner and smiled his ugly smile. “No use waiting,” he said. “Time to dissolve the partnership.”

Walt looked at the .44 aimed at his gut. “Knew you’d show your colors, just didn’t expect it so soon. Go ahead and shoot. Wake Roden.”

Stryker held the revolver steady as he slid a Green River knife from a sheath on his belt.

“Reckon this’ll take you out quieter.”

He took a step towards Walt. The leering lawman’s advance stopped when he heard a wet splat. Then he felt what caused it. His knees buckled and a moment later he was face down in the dust.

Walt looked at the marshal’s recumbent form, then beyond it. There stood Lola, a length of lumber in her hands dripping goo.

“Okay, cowboy, let’s ride.”

Walt gathered Stryker’s weapons and mounted up. Lola climbed aboard Stryker’s horse.

“Like you said, lady, let’s ride.”

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Here"s the cover for my next book, due out next March. Start saving your dimes.

Monday, September 07, 2009

An Experiment

These are lead copies of the Marx Flint McCullough and Major Seth Adams figures from the Wagon Train playset, painted by YHOS. If you look closely you can see that I left the eyes unfinished. That's because I bought some eye decals way back when I did this but never applied them. We shall see how they work out when I apply them and run the new, improved figures Real Soon Now.
Wagon Train aired from Sep 1957 to Sep 1965; on NBC until 1962, and ABC the remaining three years. In my mind the best years were the ones that featured Maj. Adams (Ward Bond) and McCullough (Robert Horton). Bond died in 1961 and was replaced by John McIntire, Horton left in 1962 and both Scott Miller and Robert Fuller took over his scouting chores. Regulars who remained throughout the series were Frank McGrath as Charlie Wooster the cook, and Terry Wilson as Bill Hawks.
One of the show's execs was Gene Roddenberry. When he went to pitch a new s-f show to producers, Star Trek, he called it "Wagon Train in space."
The first time I noticed an appaloosa horse was the one Horton rode on Wagon Train. I thought it was the strangest horse I ever saw. Years later, when I became acquainted with appies, I knew for certain they are strange. It seems every one of them has some quirk or another. I've grown to like their looks, though.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Dale X 2 and a Bullet

And now, here on our stage...Dale Evans and Bullet. The Dale on the left is Marx's 54mm figure. The one on the right is Dale in 60mm. Bullet is made to go with the 60mm pose. There were a number of Roy and/or Dale Marx playsets. I owned a Roy Rogers Rodeo set, which was the first Marx playset I ever had (and I can't recall having any character figures in it). According to one source there were two Roy Rogers Double R Bar Ranch sets, one RR Mineral City set, three RR Ranch sets, four RR Rodeo sets, five RR Rodeo Ranch sets, and four RR Western Town sets. Roy and Dale (and Pat Brady at times) showed up in more Marx playsets than any other celebrities. Personally, I think the 60mm Dale looks pretty saucy.

El Zorro

We saw the other five character figures from the Zorro playset, now we have El Zorro himself. Since he's mounted on a black horse it must be Tornado. In the show he also rode a white horse named Phantom. Zorro, of course, was played by Guy Williams. Like most kids of that time I watched the show faithfully and was badly disappointed when it was canceled. Many years later, when I learned that the cancellation was due to a dispute between Disney and ABC, I was irate.

More Zorro Figures

On the left is El Commandante ( Captain Monastario, played by Britt Lomand) and on the right Sergeant Garcia (played by Disney stalwart Henry Calvin).
Zorro aired from Oct 1957 to Sep 1959 on ABC at 8 o'clock. One of the best marketing tie-ins, after the playset, was the Zorro sword. A piece of chalk could be inserted into the tip so the kids could carve a Z with their blades. I had a Zorro board game. If I'd had a sword I would have put my eye out.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The de la Vega Household

From Louis Marx & Co comes this set of character figures from their Zorro playset, based on the Disney TV show. From left to right we have Bernardo, Don Diego, and Don Alejandro de la Vega. I have a partial set. My tin litho hacienda is missing the plastic stairs and patio, and I don't have the cuartel. Next up: El Commandante and Sgt. Garcia.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

New Heading

How do you like the new heading? Thanks to Dave "Evan" Lewis for creating it. It'll probably rotate with a Western-themed one as the months go by.