Nerd Alert! Scroll down for television talk.
Last Sunday we played Deadlands for the first time since Sam was born. He had a splendid time playing with his pals Shelby and Chris and didn’t seem to notice that Mama wasn’t Mama at all, but a wide-eyed cowpoke named Little Joe. We were finishing up a campaign that was meant to be a one-shot (ha! are they ever?) to introduce Chris to the game. This was the third (fourth?) and final game.
Deadlands was the first RPG I ever played, and though I’ve played a few since (Marvel, Wild Talents, Call of Cthulhu) it remains my favorite. I like the system (Classic) and I like the world and I love our house rules and the extended universe we’ve created. And by we, I mean Will, my resident genius. Seriously — the guy is writing a source book. Not for money or publication but because the information is overflowing from his brain.
One of the few luxuries we have not cut out is our membership to Hollywood Video. We belong to their MVP program, which is like Netflix except we go to the store and pick videos on the day.
This week we watched the miniseries Into The West, which is flawed and, well, really Spielberg-y, but we loved it because it is a western and it has pioneers and Indians and the railroad and the war and all that good stuff. And also Prairie Fire, the West’s Hottest Indian Chief. This guy seriously leapt off the pages of the historical romances I used to read in secret when I was younger, before I realized that there is no shame in historical romances.
The premise — that of a white family and an Indian family brought together by marriage and their interwoven paths through the settling of the West — is lovely and I approve of the use of both historical and fictional characters throughout. The writing is, I’m sorry to say, terrible. The direction too. Not all of it, but enough. The dialogue stinks. The overwrought moments were too many and yet important moments were underdone. For instance, the Battle of Little Big Horn is shown but nothing new is done (slow-mo? come on) and in fact the scope looks absurdly small considering how many damn men were there. Also, the fact that they managed to have a white man die among the Indians at each and every massacre was really annoying. We get it! They are just like us! White people are bad! Jesus, Steven.
When it was over there was a Wild West-shaped hole in our lives and so we watched the 1980 movie The Mountain Men, which stars Chuck Heston and a bunch of white people with ridiculous face paint pretending to be Indians. It was a great movie in the tradition of American Adventure movies, and co-star Brian Keith was simply wonderful, as was Chuck (who I know foremost as Richelieu and therefore think more highly of than you might).
There is nothing that fills me with more awe than the American Pioneer. By the time I was four I could tell my parents what page I wanted from any Laura Ingalls Wilder book, though I could not yet read. As a teenager my Aunt Edie introduced me to Willa Cather, whose writing may not have changed my life but has certainly enriched it. I’ve read only two of her novels (O Pioneers! and My Antonia) as well as a handful of short stories, and every sentence has captivated me.
It may be time to revisit the Gene Autry Museum, and to begin planning our someday trip to Rocky Ridge Farm.