Monday, July 13, 2015

Now why dont he write?

Now why don't he write?
I'm sure many of you have been sitting on the edge of your seat in suspense wondering "Now why don't he write?" Some of you may recognize that phrase from Dances With Wolves. It was from a scene while Timmons was giving John Dunbar a ride out to his new post out west. During their trip westward, they came upon the remains of an individual out on the prairie. Timmons looked to Dunbar and said something to the effect of somebody back east saying "Now why don't he write?"

I'd like to say that the reason I haven't written is due to the 4th of July holiday weekend and being busy with summer related activities, but it's actually something more trivial. I've been "forced" to watch Netflix. Over the past few weeks, a number of new seasons were released for some of the tv series I follow on Netflix. The most recent being Hell on Wheels.

For those of you not familiar with the show, it's set in the 1860's and tells a story of the race to construct the first railroad line out west. It does a nice job of starting with factual characters and events and then adding enough fiction to keep you engaged on an episode by episode basis.

The old West
I have always enjoyed books, movies and television shows about the old west. I enjoy the escapism of imagining myself in a different place and/or time. Getting immersed in an old west story is a way for me to tune down the noise of everyday life and decompress a little while I dream of a simpler time. (Not that my life has all that much noise in it.) There are a number of things I would have liked about living in the old west.

Guns and Knives
Although it's not what I would choose as my favorite part about the old west, it is the first one that comes to mind. I realize that books and films have probably exaggerated the actual amount of gun-toting cowboys that were walking the streets of downtown. I also realize that I can walk around the streets of downtown today with a handgun on my hip, but it's not the same. There's just something more appealing about a low hanging six shooter at your side. (I imagine the reality was that it was impractical and in the way for most everyday tasks.)

The same goes for knives. Nobody would have looked twice in the old west if you had a twelve inch Bowie knife on your other hip opposite your six shooter. If I were to walk around downtown with a Ka-Bar on my hip I'd probably catch some heat. As a matter of fact, it might exceed legal blade length in town. I'm honestly not even sure if cities have those regulations anymore. (For the record, I just checked Minnesota knife legislation and it looks like I can carry just about anything - except a switchblade, as long as I don't "intend to hurt" anyone.) Other than self defense, I don't see a real use for a fighting knife as an everyday carry. Not that it wouldn't be a reasonable reason.

Crimes and Punishment
After speaking of guns and knives, it's only natural to talk about crime and punishment. We all know that guns and knives hurt and kill people just by being present...(If you were shaking your head in agreement, you can go find another blog to read - it was a sarcastic statement.) Although I doubt there weren't quite as many shootouts in the streets as depicted in the movies, there had to be a few. Even without the speedy (nearly instant) justice of gunning down that lyin', cheatin' dog that was hiding an Ace up his sleeve, there was still a rather quick legal process. (At least as depicted in the movies and television...)

Watching tv last night (yes, Hell on Wheels), the local church lady shot and killed the man who killed her "son". She was then convicted the very next day and hung the day after that. Just think how much money we would save if convicted murderers were put down the day after sentencing. Better yet, how much additional money could we save if we didn't feed and house them for years before even going to trial. Then again, due process is there for a reason and we do have our rights....even if they are getting a bit more exaggerated every year.

Respect and Politeness
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the politeness, respect, and over all neighborly goodness of the old west. Granted you can still find that alive and well in many small towns across America, but it is a little bit harder to find as you get into larger cities. Please don't get me wrong on that. I am well aware that there are very kind people who live in large cities and big jerks that live in small towns too. On average though, the overall feel of the town's friendliness seems inversely proportional to the size of the town.

I think this friendliness scale is closely related to the way attitudes in general compare between an in-person conversation and an online conversation. People can be downright mean and nasty online. It's gotten so bad that it's almost funny to read the comments on Facebook posts these days just to see the ridiculous filth strangers are spewing back and forth at each other.

Slow and "Easy"
I have to be careful with this one. Slow and easy to me is being laid back, relaxed and in no particular hurry. I doubt there was much of anything that was actually "easy" in the old west.

I do think I would enjoy the opportunity to be unplugged from the technological world we live in, but the only way I see that happening is if everyone were in the same boat. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm pretty much hooked to my constant feed of information now. No matter how much I say I would enjoy cutting the cord, I know I'd never be able to do it while the rest of the world kept speeding up. Ask me again when I'm entering retirement and I might talk a different story.

On that note - I've forced you to stare at a screen for far too long already. Maybe next time I should ramble on about my interest in space cowboys, or a potentially longer post, post-apocalyptic stories. Maybe I'll remember to warn you next time that it's going to be a long story so you have time to make a quick trip to the bathroom first. Until next time....