Encounter with an Angry God: BEST CHRISTMAS BOOK selection for Western Lovers


Lovers of the West and Westerns: The best gift book this Christmas is Carobeth Laird’s, Encounter with an Angry God, Recollections of my Life with John Peabody Harrington. It’s 190 pages of excitement. And, it’s neither on a best seller list nor by a well known author.

This is the real thing. The American Indian West as it was documented by the greatest linguist-ethnographer, John Peabody Harrington, a genius who was so obsessed with recording data that he ignored traditional routes of academic prestige. Today he would probably be labeled a manic-depressive.

Carobeth Laird, writes an intensely personal reminiscence of the seven-year period (1915 to 1922) when she was married to Harrington. The couple traveled the West as field ethnographers during the formative years of American anthropology. This was the beginning of the time when the Indian family consisted of a father, mother, some children, maybe grandparents and—an anthropologist. A scholar in her own right, Laird wrote this fascinating book in 1975 when she was days away from age 80. That in itself is noteworthy.

Harrington’s notes were meticulous and copious. The nature of his relationships with his Indian informants is filled with contradictions, but you’ll meet those informants. You can solve for yourself the riddle of his personality—and Carobeth’s as well.

Lewis Carroll’s JABBERWOCKY



Talking about poetry—must mention Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky.

The greatest nonsense poem in the English language

The words create a discernible narrative structure, but we don’t know what they symbolize because standard syntax and poetic form is combined with linguistic ambiguity. Hey, is that like Cowboy Talk?

“It seems pretty but it’s hard to understand. Somehow it fills my head with ideas—only I don’t know exactly what they are,” says Alice.

Jabberwocky
 
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.


“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Published in: on February 8, 2011 at 7:18 pm  Comments (3)  
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COWBOY TALK VERSION OF THE SLAM MASTER


Boulder’s Naropa University has me buffaloed.  The Naropian slam masters had never encountered Western Fiction or the Cowboy Poets.  I’m not a poet, but I registered for slam master Bob Holman’s class.  The New Yorker has dubbed Holman “The Ringmaster of the Spoken Word.”   He had us translating and slamming poetry written in dead and dying languages into contemporary English.  

They knew nothing of Cowboy Talk, an endangered language barely hanging on here in the West.  As an effort in preservation, I translated one of the slam master’s sonnets into our Cowboy Talk.

Birthday Praise Sonnet for Marc Levin, Original by Bob Holman, 2001

Mark my words

Leven the bread

Half a century’s nothing, the Wise Man said

When the slam slams

When the blowback blows

Lights speed action rolls rolls rolls

The Party will Last

                                The Future’s simulcast

And we’ll Babble On

                                With our Icon O’Class

Mark my words

Leaven the bread

Half a century’s something, the Wise Man said

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Birthday Praise Sonnet for Marc Levin, Cowboy Talk translation, 2010 

Mark my palaver

Leaven up the bannock

Your cinch ain’t getting’ frayed, the Ol’ Hoss brayed

When the rustlers rustle

When the coulies overflow

Foot up in the stirrup and getty-up-go

The Roundup’s gonna Last

                                        Ta’morra’s comin’ Fast

And we’ll jus’ Gallop On

                                         With our Cowboy Lexicon

Quit spittin’ on ya lasso

Saddle up the Paint

Your cinch is gettin’ frayed, the Ol’ Hoss brayed                           

                                                     

 

A DEFINITION OF BOULDER, COLORADO



 

Here I am. Settled at last in Boulder,Colorado. Time to begin blogging again. Time to clarify these new surroundings. Boulder has me buffaloed. So, here are my thoughts.

 

A Definition of Boulder, Colorado

  It is a place where there’s a lot of sex going on.

A place where you can quickly cross the street after you punch the big silver button and the little white-man figure lights up. A safe crossing place. A place with too many cars. A place where everyone rides a bicycle. A place where exhaust fumes are so potent so you can’t walk along the sidewalk on Arapahoe Ave. A place of dizziness. A scary place.

    It is a place of green. Fresh green trees. Summer shade. Where noxious weeds are the battle ground, not Afganistan.

    A place where the newspaper is called a camera.

    It’s a place where the language has strange words that begin with “eco.” Ecodoggiebag. Ecoefficient. Ecogreenoffice. Ecologic. Econatural. Ecofuture. Ecohandyman, ecoarts, ecochange, ecogreen.

    A place where my dog can poop on the floor of McGuckins Hardware Store and no one gets angry. A place where I can’t shop because my dog is the attraction, not me, the customer. In this place there are many Golden Labs. Outside of this place there are horses.

    A young place. There are no old people. A place with no gray hairs, white hairs, or blue hairs. They are sent to Arizona or Florida.

    The place is terrifying. Where I worry about death by a bicycle racing along Boulder Creek Bike Path. Along the path floods rage. Soggy wet sleeping bags and undergarments lay in fearsome dark places abandoned in the mud along the Creek.

BUFFALO: BY HOT NEW ARTIST FROM BOULDER, COLORADO


Check out this beauty! I found it here in Boulder, Colorado.

Wandered into the Rumours Hair Studio and met this wildly incredible Italian hair stylist who also happens to be the hottest artist in town.

Frances Marino is sizzling with prizes. Her painting, The Pearl Horse, was just chosen for advertising of the Louisville Fine Arts Show. Another, Mares and Foals, is to be published in The International Horse Art book. Best yet, she’s just won 2nd in the Boulder Arts Association Show “The West, 150 Years of Boulder, Colorado” with the painting, Horses West of Boulder.

Hit this link and you can see them all—and more. http://www.Frances-Marino.artistwebsites.com

This shining gal, Frances Marino, isn’t all horses, but she’s sure all West. Check out Things Are about to Change or a stunning abstract like The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

But then, you all know my favorites would be the buffalos, don’t you?

You can get BUFFALOed at:
http://www.amazon.com/Buffaloed-Fairlee-Winfield/dp/1439200998

Falconry in Viking-Age Europe


 


“They had hawks on their shoulders” ‘Their haufdu Hauka sina a oxlom’ (Rolf Krakes Saga)

 

The remains of hawks are found in the graves of men of importance from the Viking-Age, but after Greenland was settled by Erik the Red in 985, Greenland Gyrfalcons were sent back to Europe. They were so prized that only the highest ranking Kings could afford to own them. Lesser ranking Earls might sport a Tiercel Peregrine, Knights a Saker, Yeomen perhaps a Groshawk or Hobby, Priests had Sparrowhawks, Knaves, servants, and children were restricted to Kestrels. The Gyrfalcon became the cash cow export of the Greenlanders.

 

Recently a 2,500-year-old nest was discovered on a cliff in Greenland. The nesting site is still continually used and it’s the oldest raptor nest ever recorded. Three other nests over 1000 years old have also been found. One contained feathers from a bird that lived more than 600 years ago. It wasn’t easy for the Greenland Norse to capture these birds. Take a look at the cliffs.

 

And, take a look at the chicks! I’m happy there are laws about exporting captured birds today.

 

You can get BUFFALOed at:
http://www.amazon.com/Buffaloed-Fairlee-Winfield/dp/1439200998

 

Published in: on April 1, 2010 at 8:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Secret Gem of Arizona: The Desert Caballeros Western Museum


         


 

THE NAVAJO Charles M. Russell 1919

Permanent Collection of Desert Caballeros Western Museum

It’s hard to believe that the tiny town of Wickenburg, Arizona (population something less than 7,000) could have one of the best and most comprehensive collections of early Western cowboy art. Just about anybody who is anybody as a 20th century Western artist is represented here. In this charming setting, you’ll find the entire panorama of Western art including works by the early explorer artists: landscape painters, the Taos Society, founders of the Cowboy Artists of America, and examples of more recent schools with new perspectives from impressionism to realism. You’ll see George Catlin, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Remington, Joseph Henry Sharp, Oscar Berninghaus, Joe Beeler, Harrison Begay, and even a stunning large bronze by Earle Heikka.

This museum took my breath away! It’s small and intimate. You feel you belong there. You can almost hear the artist’s voices spinning tall tales. I know my favorite Charlie Russell was there telling one of his yarns filled with his delightful profanity. Bob Fjeld, a handsome docent, said he preferred Russell’s bronzes, but for me, Heikka is the prize winner. I think Bob must be one of my long lost Norse kin from Montana.

And then, before you can catch your breath you’re over at The Old Livery Mercantile, Inc. on Tegner Street trying on Cowboy Hats and buying real Arizona silver and turquoise jewelry. Brett and Mary Ann Gerasim at the Old Livery have a motto. “Don’t hurry—this is Wickenburg!”

I love Wickenburg.


The Shieldmaiden and Nordic Detectives


Hervor dressed like a man, fought, killed and pillaged under her male surname Hjörvard. She grew up as a slave, but when she finally found out that she was the daughter of Angantyr owner of the magic sword, Tyrfing, she set out to claim the sword as her rightful inheritance.

Hervor let nothing stand in her way. When none of her crew would dare to embark on the haunted island of Samsey, she did it herself. Approaching the fires above the ghostly grave barrows she summoned her father to reveal himself with such harsh words that her father’s voice commanded her not to pursue her quest for Tyrfing. She would not give in but shouted for her rightful inheritance.

At last the grave opened and in its center a fire was shining and there she saw her father. He warned her that the sword would bring death to the whole clan if she used it. This only made her words harsher. She persisted until at last the sword was cast out of the grave and she eagerly gripped it, bid farewell to her dead kinsmen and walked to the shore.

Her ships were gone, but she made her way to Gudmud of Glæsisvellir and taught the king to play the Viking board game of tafl. However, nobody could mess with her, and she killed a courtier when he tried to unsheathe Tyrfing after she left it unattended on a chair. So she left and resumed her Viking activities of killing men for money.

    

. . .More cheery in battle

Than chatting to suitors

Or taking the bench

At a bridal feast.

 

More on Hervor in my next posting.

Meanwhile, I’m reading Stieg Larsson’s hugely popular The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. By now I’d guess most of you have read it. And yes, it’s filled with the fatalism of the Nordic Saga. The Stoic methodical practicality of sifting through hundreds of photographs and police records. Dogged, monotonous procedures.
But it’s also filled with Lisabeth Salander, the embodiment of 21st-century shieldmaiden. None too ladylike, she seeks the only law available in tribal society, revenge.

My Indie Award winning novel is available at: http://www.amazon.com/Buffaloed-Fairlee-Winfield/dp/1439200998

NORWEGIAN HERO WHO SAILED THE KON-TIKI


Knut Haugland, the last surviving crew member of the Kon-Tiki died on December 25. The six man 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition, organized by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, set out from Callao in Peru on a balsa wood raft to prove that people from South America could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. The expedition used only material and technology that would have been available to people at the time. The crew sailed the raft for 101 days and 4,900 miles across the Pacific before smashing into a reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands.

But more importantly, Knut Haugland was a much decorated veteran of the Norwegian resistance. He helped sabotage a Norwegian heavy water plant that the Allies suspected might be used to construct a German atomic bomb. Haugland built a radio transmitter from a car battery and fishing rods. The mission was the subject of the 1965 film, Heroes of the Telemark. Haugland narrowly evaded capture when a transmitter he had hidden in the chimney of the Oslo Maternity Hospital was discovered.

Knut is at the top of my list of true Viking heroes. But all he ever said about his exploits was, “We just did a job.”

Mange tussen takk, Knut.

Norse Viking of the Cat World


VIKING OF THE CAT WORLD — THE NORWEGIAN FOREST CAT

  1. Emerald green eyes with a band of gold.
  2. Tufts on paws.
  3. Long silky inner ear hair to deflect the wind and snow that gives this Viking her racing stripes.
  4. A long spun-silk coat to delight the touch.
  5. Magnificent tail that fans to twelve inches.

    Is the Norse name accurate? It sure is, skogkatt, meaning forest cat. A natural breed that came out of the Norwegian forest sometime in the last 4,000 years.

    These beauties must have been companions of Sif, the Norse grain Goddess and wife of Thor. How else was Sif to guard the wheat and barley from the Loki’s tricky rodents. They must have traveled on the knarrs and long boats to Siberia and Iceland.

    At the cat show last weekend I saw this Siberian, Russia’s native forest cat. Doesn’t it look a lot like our Viking? A descendent?

Published in: on December 21, 2009 at 10:33 pm  Comments (3)  
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