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?



March 2011

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September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011














What am I currently reading?

The Time It Never Rained by Elmer Kelton – how I would have loved to have met this author.

Let me openly declare my love of Bob Hope. Notice I said ‘of’ not ‘for’, as that would seem a little inappropriate, but hell, I do miss him. Fortunately, he is still around in a million and one photographs, interviews, radio and television recordings, books (yes he was an author too), films and songs.

Yep, Bob could sing, and sing darn well too. His signature song was Thanks for the Memory, which he kept in his show for lifetime. It has been done to death by a thousand and one artists over the years, but his original version with Shirley Ross in The Big Broadcast of 1938 still stands out for me as one of those magic moments where you get to the ‘chemistry’ between two people, or what Hollywood calls ‘lighting in a bottle’. The song was written by Ralph Rainger, who did a who’s who of musical scores to accompany Hollywood movies, even a Western called The Texans in 1938 with Randolph Scott and 2,500 Texas Longhorns as extras. Rainger was to be tragically killed in 1942 at the age of 41 when his American Airlines Flight collided midair with a US Army Air Corps bomber. The lyrics are by Leo Robin, who also did the musical Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, and his clever words mix sentimentality, sophistication and wit with the pathos of regret, with lines like – “No tears, no fuss, hooray for us.” You’ll find it on YouTube and I think it is a gem and it just goes to show that not much has changed over the past 70 years when it comes to relationships between boys and gals.

For a young boy from London Bob did well in the US, taking citizenship in 1920 at age 17 and finally getting his big break in The Big Broadcast of 1938, when he was 35. It was said that he thought that his time had passed and that he was never going to make it into the movies, but by then he had well over ten years of vaudeville experience under his belt and it shows in that ’38 performance. So maybe there is something in the 10,000 hours of practice rule that gets quoted so often about becoming an expert, and uses the Beatles and their Hamburg days as an example that talent, no matter how good, still has to honed through years of persistent habit.

Bob’s 1948 movie The Paleface is a favourite of mine with its western theme. It also stars Jane Russell of The Outlaw fame, so it grabbed my interest immediately. Bob sings the Jay Livingston and Ray Evans song Buttons and Bows, which also has wonderful lyrics, I mean – “My bones denounce the buckboard bounce, and the cactus hurts my toes.” If that’s not prairie poetry then I don’t know what is, albeit that I know less about poetry than a Texas Longhorn bogged in a waterhole, but it sure has a nice ring to me. Yep, it’s also on YouTube as well – how I love YouTube!

Bob’s may have come to the big time late, in life (mid 30s), but he had an exceptionally long career. My dad, who was in the air force during WWII, saw him during a USO tour of the South Pacific, when he came to the island airfield of Morotai in the Halmahera Islands east of the Moluccas. My father died well over thirty years ago, but our family still has the small black and white photographs that he took that day of Bob and his troupe on stage. In 1968 Bob did another USO tour and this time it was to the large Bien Hoa airbase that was close to the main Australian operating base of Nui Dat in the Phuoc Tuy Province of South Vietnam where I was stationed. Our squadron was allocated just two tickets, so needless to say, I missed out, but gee I would have loved to have gone along for a look.

Sometime after that I read some derogatory reports in the press that quoted US serviceman as saying that Hope was out of touch, unfunny, old (he was 65 at the time) and not wanted in-country. Gee, I wish one of those ungrateful gits had given me his ticket – at 21 I thought Bob was fantastic, but maybe I was a little out of step with the rest of my ‘groovy’ generation, as I also thought Doris Day was sexy! And don’t get me started on Julie Andrews – hubber, hubber, hubber – what a girl. For me, the lesson is that talent is talent on matter what form it takes, be it a pop song or opera, drama or comedy, and talent that has been perfected through years of hard work will sand the test of time. How I do miss Bob. And I have I told you about my feelings for his movie buddy, Bing? No? Maybe later. 


January 2012

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