What is the Corral about?

Well, simply, it is a place to round-up ideas, thoughts, comments and anything else you may like to hear about. My original intention was to have a forum but the time to manage such a gathering is really beyond me at this stage. But via email I can gather up your input and get it into the Corral.

So, would you like to make comment?

What is your favorite western story, either as a book or a movie?

Want to tell us why?

What are you currently reading, watching or listening to (regardless if it is a Western or not)?

What do you want to see in future Western stories (grit or romance, maybe both, gunplay or justice, grim reality or happy endings)?

Anything you would like to see in one of my stories?



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I’m not a gambler, apart from a weekly lotto that over the years has failed to generate any excitement what so ever. When those numbered pin pong balls roll down that Plexiglas tube on Saturday night TV, they seem to be in collusion. I know it’s not rigged, but sometimes I wonder about the non-randomness of chance as each sequence successfully avoids my winning numbers, often by laying three consecutive digits in a row between my two ‘winning’ numerals.

Same with cards, I have never had the courage to match my poor skills to a pile of chips, but I do have to say that I am intrigued by the games that come from that deck of 52 and with those who throw their hard earned into the centre of the table to bet on the odds.

The extremely popular card game at the moment seems to be Texas hold ‘em with its cult following and some tournament millionaires to boot. As a spectator sport it isn’t half bad either, as some of these guys and gals are good – real good.

I’ve never played Texas hold ‘em with its community cards that allows all players in the game to use those cards to complement their own unseen hand. I’m guessing that the game is a direct derivative of seven card stud poker where the face up cards are dealt to each player for his or her exclusive use.

Now as I understand it, seven card stud poker was played in the Old West, and has been used to dress up many a B-Western movie, along with saloons, whisky and gals in frilly dresses and neckbands. And of course a number of altercations have arisen from a dispute over an allegation of cheating, or a misplaced overreaction to plain bad luck.

The most famous of all card and gun stories, however, would have to be the one that took place on August 2, 1876 at Saloon No. 10 in the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory town of Deadwood. It was at that game that James Butler Hickok, better known as Wild Bill was gunned down. His assassin was a buffalo hunter by the name of John McCall who shot Wild Bill in the back of the head with a single-action .45 caliber pistol. For this murderous act, McCall, was eventually hung the following year, but not before his initial trial found him innocent. I guess this is the sort of justice that says; we are going to keep doing this until we get it right. McCall was 24 and Bill was 39.

From this famous Western frontier event came the story that Wild Bill was holding in his hand of five cards, two aces and two eights of the black suits spades and clubs. Forever after that card sequence became known as the dead man’s hand. And what was his fifth card or the kicker? Well legend says it was the queen of clubs.   

Does all of this sound very dramatic? Hell yes, but Deadwood was that sort of place, full of drama and larger than life individuals like Wild Bill; brothel owner Al Swearengen; and even George Armstrong Custer, who kicked off the birth of Deadwood with the announcement of gold in them their hills in 1874. All of them were real people, not fictitious characters, and each had the knack of making fact look stranger than fiction. And maybe that is one of the reasons why the Old West has never lost its public interest. While vampires, wizards and teenaged angst maybe all the rage, at the moment, cowboys, poker and rough justice still makes for a good story, and will for a long time to come.



August 2012

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