Tag Archives: Frontier

Knight One Day, a Cowboy the Next

When I was young I was decidedly indecisive about my future, the title pretty much says it all; the careers mentioned being the favorites. Knights and cowboys fascinated me growing up, I thought they were really cool so I thought it would be cool to be one. Most little boys like those sorts of jobs and buy into the romanticized pop culture images. I am no closer now to realizing my dream for either than I was back then, chiefly because now I have no desire. Knighthood is out of the question for fairly obvious reasons, at least the shining armor variety. I suppose it is technically possible for me to be knighted I would have to live a lifetime of truly exceptional greatness, especially since I am an American. The United States doesn’t have any knighthood orders; most countries that do only give them to prominent foriegners, usually heads of state and high end military officers. Being a cowboy is considerably more plausible, surprizingly so considering that I live in a rural area in close proximity to horses and cattle. However I do not like riding horses and I can’t stand the smell of livestock. That and I don’t like to risk physical harm, which is also a reason why I wouldn’t have been a good knight. As unlikely and unfit as I was and am for these careers, they were much more realistic than my other dream job: Men In Black agent.

knight

cowboy

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The Ballad of William Walker

This is a (mostly) true story, so listen up:

Born in a one room shack in Tennessee
Then poorest state in the land of the free
Sure he was hick but was smart as can be
He passed the Bar when he was only three
William, William Walker ’tis of him I sing!

In New Orleans he practiced law
Then headed West as an outlaw
His dueling record without flaw
He was the smartest bastard the Frontier saw
William, William Walker a true gentleman thief!

He met up with pirates in San Francisco
They headed down to Mexico
Annexing Sonora promised serious dough
Creating new for land for slaves to grow
William, William Walker the man who don’t know bounds!

His project lasted one brief time
‘Till Mexico deported him without a dime
And put on trial for his illustrious crime
Got acquitted and a song of freedom he did chime
William, William Walker should have learned something!

He looked to Nicaragua where he saw a prize
A potential canal of tremendous size
Many adventurers answered his plies
They boarded their ships and descended like flies
William, William Walker crossing a point of no return!

They raped and pillaged the Mosquito Coast
Something Walker would proudly boast
The Nicaraguans proved an unhappy host
Since it was them who suffered most
William, William Walker Nicaragua’s would be king!

Expansionism sure brought him much joy
Adding Costa Rica was his next ploy
And for him that was rather coy
But his base was torched by a Costa Rican drummer boy
William, William Walker will he learn his lesson yet?

Never one to learn from a mistake
Nicaragua was too lucrative a cake
In Managua he plotted the next move to make
And won an election that was surely fake!
William, William Walker never gonna give it up!

Naturally he wanted more
And dreamed of the riches he could store
Having no problems with blood and gore
He invaded Honduras which was just next door
William, William Walker living out Manifest Destiny!

Things didn’t go so very well
It was to the Honduran army that he fell
They tied him to a post and rung a bell
Then the squad fired and now Walker’s in hell
William, William Walker what a wasted life!

Walker

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There’s No Place Like Home

Now I have enough energy to write about my trip. It was another church group trip, superficially like the one I did last year in Costa Rica. Rather than build a house for a family, this time we hosted a vacation Bible school for a church in Montana. The town we stayed in was one of the smallest functioning town I’ve been to, the only place to go shopping was an IGA and there are no chain restaraunts; as a result many people take the hour long drive to Billings once a week to get stuff they need. Walking down mainstreet felt really does feel like being in the Wild West. Several bars, bootmakers, horse suppliers and such line the street, there is even a 1%er clubhouse with a door that reads “patchholders only.”

The VBS program was a huge success, it went much more smoothly than it ever does at my church. Granted I am comparing working with 60 kids to working with upwards of 200 kids. As I do every year, I was part of the drama team. This year the five part drama was about David, I played Jesse and one of King Saul’s henchmen.

That Wild West vibe I mentioned was more then superficial, at one point we worked on a cattle ranch doing various jobs like fencing and mending chicken coops. However, those jobs were merely the openers for the main event: banding. For those of you not in the know, banding is a method of castration where a tiny rubber band is streched and put around a poor soon to be steer’s testicles. It took our whole team to do that. One person gave the calf milk to disract him, several more held him down, and I and one other had to actually do the banding part. Thankfully it’s done with plier things that open and close the rubber bands. I never thought I’d ever fix a cow. For dinner that day we ate fried bull balls, from a different bull mind you. Pretty good actually, as long as you don’t get a chewy one.

After we left the town we drove to Yellowstone. Going there has never exactly been a dream of mine, but I absolutely loved it and I am so glad we went. Even pictures can’t do it justice, you really have to go there and experience the sounds and especially the smells. When you smell the minerals and gasses it the geological and thermal forces at work make themselves clear. Personally, I think Old Faithful kind of steals the thunder of everything else. Don’t get me wrong it’s definately worth seeing. My favorite parts were the areas that have several hot springs, mud fountains, and are right next to bison herds. I have admired bison for some time and have seen them before, but seeing hundreds of them elavates it to another level. We could only stay at the park for two days, then we headed home.

Overall I would say the trip was very rewarding for me, though not lifechanging like Costa Rica was. I didn’t bring a camera but here are some pictures to give an idea of what I saw:

bison mammothspring falls

I’d love to post more but I have over twenty episodes of Breaking Bad to catch up on.

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Blood Meridian: West Into Madness

I have recently finished reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. The novel is tells the story of an unmanned fourteen year old who wanders the American frontier and Mexico in the year 1849. It is held in high regard as one of the most important American novels of the last few decades, and when I started reading it I found it easy to see why. Every sentence is perfect, not one is wasted. While it has a sizable caste of memorable characters like any other good book does, the impersonal and unexplained nature of the protagonist, known only as “the kid,” is what really interested me.

The reason Blood Meridian is so esteemed by critics is because of the highly ambiguous nature of the narrative. Plot is very difficult to discern at first, but the action increasingly begins to focus on a group of mercenaries whom the kid joins with. They are given a mission to collect the scalps of several Apache chiefs. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that the mercenaries get a little greedy and start killing anyone they see. Its hands down the most violent and disturbing book I’ve ever read. Violence of every sort is indiscriminate, but unpredictable; there is no knowing who will be harmed next or whether they will be harmed at all.

Most brutal of all is the second in command of the mercenaries, the enigmatic Judge Holden. Seven feet tall, three hundred pounds, and completely devoid of hair or color, the judge is what makes the novel so memorable. Though unspeakably vicious, he is also a true Renaissance Man and has supernatural skill in a huge range of interests. The mixture of cruelty and genius is what makes him so compelling, he is a truly formidable force. The overall meaning of the text is a matter of debate, but many critics have reached a consensus that the novel has Gnostic elements; Holden’s various monologues on the nature of war and his insatiable quest for knowledge are what have led readers to this conclusion. I think that theory is likely, it makes perfect sense. However whatever intentional themes Blood Meridian has remains unstated, I really enjoyed the extent that I was left to conclude things for myself.

As a fan of historical fiction, I found this book’s unflinching portrayal of its setting a real kick in the pants that modern people need. Rather then portray the journey West as one of great promise and self improvement, McCarthy turns into a cynical, nightmarish sojourn into a world where life has no value. All of the atrocities detailed are ones that were commonplace, I know that from reading history books; but reading about these events in fiction is very different. The thing that makes the delivery so effective is that no moral judgment is passed at all. Is it really necessary to tell readers that massacring an entire village to sell their scalps is evil? Instead readers are left to make their own judgments; and decide for themselves who is good or evil.

Overall I found Blood Meridian an excellent book, and I recommend it to anyone who thinks they can handle the gore. It was a very challenging book to read, but braving though was ultimately worth doing.

Related links:

http://www.thenewcanon.com/Blood_Meridian.html

http://www.avclub.com/articles/harold-bloom-on-blood-meridian,29214/

http://entertainment.time.com/2005/10/16/all-time-100-novels/

 

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