Wrestling Fans, Heroes to Cowboy Movies!

cowboywrestler2“What?!”

That’s your response to today’s blog title. “What is this lunatic talking about now? Wrestling fans helping cowboy movies?!”

But it’s true. Old westerns owe a debt of gratitude to wrestling fans, and I’ll explain why, in the list, below.

Reason #1: wrestling fans share our love of cowboy movies!

I’ve never met a wrestling fan that wasn’t also a fan of cowboy movies. And, since their main subject of interest/hobby (wrestling) has not diminished, rather it has increased, there are thousands more wrestling fans, and younger ones, too. That means, by the evidence of sheer numbers alone, wrestling fans have been doing more to keep westerns alive than we that have westerns as our main subject of interest/hobby. I mean, there’s more of them than there are of us, so we owe them for bringing most of the support of keeping westerns alive.

Wrestling, over the past one-hundred years, has grown in popularity, in entertainment market share. Westerns, on the other hand, have greatly diminished in market share. Consequently, not many, new westerns are made, so their popularity diminishes because they are almost culturally forgotten.

The good news is that, largely because of our box-office-ticket-buying, wrestling fan brothers and sisters, and some other interest groups that I will soon write about, the western movie genre isn’t completely dead because wrestling fans also tend to be cowboy movie fans.  Wrestling fans are wonderful, genre-supporting helpers, kindred spirits of us cowboy movie fans.

Reason #2: wrestling fans teach the world how to have fun!

cowboywrestler3I used to make fun of wrestling fans because I thought they were nuts. I thought they believed wrestling was real because they get so worked up whenever a villain wrestler slams a good guy wrestler. I used to think that most wrestling fans have the brain of a bird because they follow character feuds and running storylines, as if the wrestling personas and backstories are real.

“Gullible wrestling fans,” I used to scoff to myself, as I shook my head, “they think this stuff is real!” Then, when in my late 30’s, I was forced to work with a man that we’ll call Bobby T, co-worker, now retired, a man, now my friend.

Bobby T is someone with whom it is easy to talk and share your honest thoughts. So, when I saw that he was older then me, therefore, presumably, wiser, but was spending his hard-earned money on local wrestling tickets, and when I listened to him drone, on and on, about the histories of each wrestler’s feuds, when I saw him forking out cash to read wrestling magazines and wrestling related books, this professional, this highly paid computer programmer, I asked him how he had managed to escape from the loony bin.

“How can you believe this stuff is real?” I scoffed, loudly, “are you nuts?” And that’s when Bobby T explained to me the concept of being a “mark.” I learned, that day, as Bobby T explained it to me. So, thankfully, my friend isn’t crazy – he’s brilliant!  He, and all wrestling fans, have figured out the secret to having fun. It involves making oneself a “mark,” a bonafide, plain-as-day, emblazoned symbol of a  product, someone easily identified as a loyal buyer and full supporter of that product.

Definition of a “mark,” found on Wikipedia:

“A wrestling fan who enthusiastically…loses sight of the staged nature of the business while supporting their favorite wrestlers.”

I’m a writer, and, as a writer, I’ve dabbled in writing fiction, and every fiction writer, as well as every fiction reader, understands the vital principle of enjoying a fictitious story is to forget that it’s all make-believe.

It’s called “suspending disbelief,” and most of us know how to do it, and most of us practice it every week. Essentially, we subconsciously command our brains to suspend our concept of reality for a while. We give ourselves permission to go nuts and to enter a world, which we know is unreal, in order to play, to decompress, to engage in adventure, to forget about our real troubles and stresses, to relax, to have some needed recreation, excitement, adventure and some good, old FUN!

Children easily and often suspend belief; we adults call it an “active imagination.” Kids become glued to the screen while watching Power Rangers battle three-headed, robotic monsters. Kids toss back their heads and delightfully laugh, when Tom slams his head, into the wall, chasing Jerry. Kids become completely caught up in the story, the fictitious characters, they allow themselves to be totally immersed in the fake world, to enjoy it and to experience great fun.

These 10 year-old kids know that cats and mice don’t really act like Tom & Jerry, when humans aren’t around; they understand that Power Rangers don’t exist, but, somehow, kids and wrestling fans have figured out, better than most other people, how to suspend disbelief, how to make themselves loyal to the players, the story writers, and the product that they love to consume, so that the product consumes them.  Kids and wrestling fans teach us how to escape from reality by turning ourselves into marks for a spell.

Kids, many times a week, in front of the television or theatre screens, or playing in back yards, kids turn themselves into marks; they believe what they want to believe, in order to make themselves happy.

Bobby T had a very tough life and a stressful job. Many of us do, also. Wrestling fans have taught us how to be mentally diverted, but in a non-destructive, fun way. Kids and wrestling fans teach us that it’s better to sometimes spend time inside The Undertaker or Hulk Hogan’s world, or Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy’s ranch, than to spend every waking moment inside of our own world. All we need do is rediscover our inner child, reclaim our rich gold mines of imagination, by suspending disbelief, by giving ourselves over to experiencing a wonderful world, and turning ourselves into marks, a joyous believer and participant in exciting, adventurous worlds filled with the magic of make-believe.

kidswatchingtvReason #3: wrestling fans teach us how to properly support special entertainment providers!

Those of us that claim to have cowboy movies as our main subject of interest, our favorite hobby and pastime, need to measure up to wrestling fans if we hope to see western genre movies, and television series, come back, fully, where they belong, in our culture.

We say that we enjoy, that we love cowboy movies, but how much do we spend on related books and magazines, on reading, discussing, learning?  When a new cowboy movie debuts, do we purchase the movie theatre tickets, in order to show Hollywood that we want more product, or do we let film leave the movie theatre and wait for the DVD to come out?

Wrestling fans have a passion for fun and they support the creators of their fun. Wrestling fans get into the whole experience, get into the practice of showing up, get into fully participating. Wrestling fans know the importance and fun of being seen and heard. They take responsibility for the success of their beloved pastime, interest, hobby. They buy tickets to the arena matches. They shell out money for close circuit events. They buy and read magazines and books about wrestlers, yet their wrestling heroes and their wrestling worlds are no more real than our western heroes and our western worlds. And all of this loyal support has immeasurably helped promote wrestling, throughout the world, so we should be inspired, by our wrestling fan friends, to do as they do, when it comes to our western film genre, our hobby, our pasttime.

When was the last time you tried watching a silent western or investigated their importance? When did you last commit to going out and buying a theatre ticket for a western, no matter how good the review, just to literally show the film’s producers and cast how very much you appreciate their efforts on your behalf? When was the last time that you invited some friends over to share a meal and watch an old western that none of you have ever seen?  When did you last buy or read a magazine, a novel, a biography related to cowboy movies, the actors, directors, story writers or about the history of western genre film or about the Old West?  What are you doing with your extra time and extra money, Mr. Cowboy Movie Fan, Ms. Cowboy Movie Fan?

Talk to any genuine wrestling fan and it won’t take long for you to see that they have been giving fierce loyalty and support to wrestling. Wrestling fans watch the events, pay, top dollar, for live and HBO-type events, thus declaring their fan presence by putting money into the pockets of those that created and delivered them all the tremendous fun.

Wrestling fans make it their business to be heard and to be full participants in the evolution of wrestling entertainment, which is why they purchase and read books and magazines, in order to keep up with things, possibly help shape the future just by showing themselves present and dependable, loyal and enthusiastic.

Wrestling fans get it done, which is why wrestling continues to grow stronger, in our American culture and all over the world. And we need to do exactly what our wrestling fan brothers and sisters do. We need to be loyal, enthusiastic supporters of westerns. We need to buy the theatre tickets, instead of waiting for the DVD release. We need to intentionally participate in reading and contributing to western genre film websites, and Internet bulletin boards, in order to “talk up” our beloved friend, the cowboy movie. We need to give box-office support to the new cowboy movies and we need to promote the old cowboy movies, which we’ve long neglected, by watching them with our kids and grandkids. We’ve got to wrestle against the status quo, dang burn it!

Warner_Box_Office_1938Cowboy movie fans can learn a lot about properly supporting cowboy movie entertainment providers by simply watching how they support their wrestling entertainment providers.

There you have it, and I am a serious as a June Bug stuck in a pumping butter churn: we need to give a special award to wrestling fans for helping cowboy movies.

Shake a wrestling fan’s hand, today, and pat them on the back a few times; Hoppy and Gene and Roy would do it!

In the meantime, remember, from me and my dad, its always better to say your nightly prayers laying under a tree, on a starry night. It’s better to find something to smile about, instead of feeling down.  And it’s best to keep this world’s trail dust out of your eyes, because you gotta be able to see to help someone.

– Rick Bowden

 

Sunday 11 June 2016: Of Kooks, Volunteers, Academics & Honesty

In this 20 minute podcast, I talk about the critical kook that started following me this week, specific volunteer opportunities, my nephew’s drafting into MLB Thursday night, and the importance of building relationships with American cowboy movies’ academic researchers and writers.

Sunday Podcast: 6 May 2016

Please read last Friday’s written blog post. Today is an audio blog (podcast) of about 20 minutes. Each Sunday will be the audio, and each Friday will be the written. Thanks, very much, to all of you, my friends!

This Episode’s Topics:  Social media work, club blog, children’s hospital comic book donation, request for volunteers, spending time with family and encouragement from young cowboy movie fans.

 

Of Being Intentional & Paint Your Wagon

PaintYourWagonI work 10 hours a day doing my “regular” job, and then I come home and work, another 5 or 6 hours, building the infrastructure of what I hope will be OUR club.  Between learning about Twitter, Facebook, HTML, Hosting services, marketing services, podcasting, blogging and social media best-practices, not to mention keeping up with my club-related reading and film viewing, I am exhausted. The good part is that I love doing the club work. It’s fun. It’s rewarding. But I’m still wiped out each night. If I remain wiped out, I get irritable and miserable, even nasty of temperament, and that’s no good.

So, what do I do?  I watch a cowboy movie or television episode. Thank The Lord for Hopalong Cassidy and Gunsmoke!

Years ago, a friend observed that I was wiped out, grouchy, stressed, etc.. Being a good friend and a professional counselor, one day, at an early morning, Saturday breakfast time, he said, “Rick, what do you really love to do?”

I went along with him. “Reading,” I said.

“What type of material do you love to read? was his next question. I wondered where he was going with all of the questions, but I continued to go along.

“I enjoy reading Civil War and Western History magazines,” I replied.

“Okay,” said he, speaking, now, suddenly, very tender-heartedly, while looking me directly in my eyes, “I want you to intentionally go home, intentionally have fun going through your favorite stack of those magazines,  intentionally forget about all of your concerns and intentionally spend time reading and thoroughly enjoying your magazine!”

Being such a good friend and a skilled counselor, I did as he told me to do. Now, 20 years later, I share, with you, the gift and lesson: be intentional.

I did go home and I did, intentionally, go through my whole stack of magazines, until I discovered my golden selection. I then intentionally thought about where to read it: the neighborhood park.  I then intentionally picked up a nice cup of coffee, intentionally chose a perfect shade tree, intentionally removed my watch and intentionally committed to forgetting concerns, except for enjoying the stories in my magazine. Two hours later, I had finished the magazine, my heart was light, my energy high and I took my wife, Carol, and our kids, Christopher and Sarah, out for a country ride, where we stopped by a pumpkin festival.  I intentionally heeded my good friend’s advice and, through intention, I followed through on my plans and was far better off than I was at the beginning of the day, far better off than I was at the beginning of the year!

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so the saying goes.  But it’s far worse than that, let me tell you. All work and no play makes Jack a miserable, nasty-tempered, tired and stressed out boy. And that eventually causes everyone close to Jack to become miserable, nasty-tempered, tired and stressed out.

What, in life, is not accomplished through intention? Brushing your teeth?  No.  How about going to work? No. The truth is that everything, including your own emotional preservation, has to be done with intention. Intentional PLANNING and intentional FOLLOW THROUGH.

Every day, I intend to spend 30 minutes watching The Rifleman or reading a Western comic book or reading a book on the history of cowboy actors, directors or film making. And my afternoon goes better and I feel better, once I’ve followed through.

Every Friday morning, I intend to get excited about my Saturday afternoon, Hopalong Cassidy Living Room Matinee, with my 27 year-old daughter and my wife.  We are up to Number 6, out of 66 hour-long movies that comprise the whole series, and it is wonderful.  I sit with my feet up, the backyard breezes gently blow the window curtains, we indulge in popcorn and soda, and enjoy Hoppy (William Boyd) and Arizona (Gabby Hayes) engage in friendly bickering and adventure.  A bit of Heaven comes down to our family room. But, did you catch what I said, at the top of this paragraph?  I told you that I “intend,” on Friday, to “get excited” about my Saturday event! Since when do little kids get to be the only ones that get excited about something in the future?  In this regard, and in many others, we need to foster, in ourselves, a sense of being like a little kid.  Be intentional about getting excited!  It helps in many, real ways.  You’ll feel it.

We must recharge, daily and on the weekends. We can do this recharging by spending time with family and friends, going to church and engaging in private, leisure activities, like watching a cowboy movie or reading a cowboy magazine (okay, so I’m biased).  The important thing is that we be intentional about planning and following through.

Tomorrow, Saturday, Encore Westerns Channel is showing Paint Your Wagon, a must see musical western, starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. If you’re a serious cowboy movie fan, you’ve got to see and hear these guys singing, you’ve got to see this classic film.  Check out the Encore Westerns Channel website for the show times in your area. You gotta love this Encore company!

The movie came out in 1969 and it’s based upon a musical play by Lerner and Loewe.  They’re the same two guys that brought us My Fair Lady, so you can see why the film works.  Eastwood and Marvin are, obviously, not professional singers, but they do a good job and they were wise, good sports to take on these singing roles and do their own vocals.  Actually, Marvin’s rendition of “Wand’rin’ Star” is perfect.  And I still sing the song “They Call The Wind Mariah,” when nobody can hear me, after 40 years. I first saw the flick when I was about 15.

The story sometimes makes me uncomfortable. I won’t say why here, but tell me, later, how you felt about it, but it is set against the 1849 California Gold Rush.  The acting is strong and the cinematography and direction excellent. The title is not offered frequently, so catch it now, if you can. Be intentional.  And if you want to double-up on the re-charging time, watch it with a friend or family member.  Make time for yourself and let me know how you enjoyed the movie.

Here’s a YouTube link to the movie’s trailer (gotta love the web): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBYlM3R9ExA

Well, that’s it for this week.

At some point, later this year, I will be launching the club and then these blogs will probably turn into Alerts that are pushed to members only.  So, when I launch, please join the club and let’s start a revolution. By then, I should have amassed enough of these writings to give folks some insight on whether or not paying for my writings is worth it. But there’ll be a whole lot more than my writings that members will get from a club membership of about $60 a year; you’re gonna love what I’ve got up my sleeve, and I can’t wait to see what elements you members add.

We’re going to work, together, to bring back, into full vigor, our old, beloved friend, the American cowboy movie. I’ve got an unstoppable, strategic plan that has been approved by everyone with whom I’ve shared it. It’s going to work, and working it is going to be a huge blast, and you’re going to be the folks that can say “I was there at the very beginning!”

So, stay tuned in to me, get your cowboy movie (and television) friends to follow me, and I will reveal that unstoppable, strategic plan, over the course of the next few weeks and months.  Pay attention, especially, you devoted, old timers, like me, and pay attention, you young folks!  You young folks are integral to this unstoppable, strategic plan.  I Want You!

In the meantime, from me and my dad (who I lost about 16 months ago), remember its always better to say your nightly prayers laying under a tree, on a starry night. Remember to find something to smile about when you’re feeling down.  Remember to keep this world’s trail dust out of your eyes, because you gotta be able to see to help someone.

-Ricky Bowden