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Hello, this is Charley again.  Time for my annual trail ride through the badlands of writing, as only a cowboy can tell it.  Lucky you — you finally get to hear my thoughts on the range, inspired by The Teachings of John Wayne: A Gunslinger Way of Knowledge, which was read by every cactus-smoking college student in New Mexico in the 70s.  I should know.

BulletHere is my first thought.  The owner of this blog makes a big deal about the number of posts he has done.  Well, I can count too.  This is my fifth post.  And you can read them all, if you follow these simple instructions:

Cowboy Instructions:

Type CHARLEY into the box in the sidebar and click Search.

City Slicker Instructions:

Find the handheld device known as your mouse.  Move the mouse to the right until the arrow on the screen is on top of the empty box next to the Search button.  Now, click the left button on the mouse.  You will see a thin vertical line flashing in the box.  This means that you are ready to type.

Now, look down at the computer keyboard in front of you.  You will see a key with the letter C on it, near the bottom left of the keyboard.  Move your finger over to that key.  Press down and then quickly let go.  You will see a C appear in the search box.

Note: If you see more than one C in the box, then you did not release the key in time.  You need to find the Backspace key and hold it down until there is only one C left.

OK.  Now you are ready to type the next letter.  Find the H key — it is right there in the middle of the keyboard.  Press that key down and quickly let go.  You should now see CH in the search box.

Repeat this step for the letters A, R, L, E and Y.  If you see the word CHARLEY in the search box, then grab your mouse, hold it down onto a textured surface, and move it to the right until the arrow on the screen appears to be pointing to the Search button.  Press and release the button on the upper left corner of the mouse.   All of my posts will be instantly displayed on your screen, like magic.

Now that we have gotten rid of all the city slickers, we can talk serious cowboy business.

BulletHere is my second Thought-on-the-Range.  Sometimes, when people are really lonely and have had a few shots of redeye, they ask me, what are my favorite cowboy songs?  I have no trouble answering: Wild West Hero by Electric Light Orchestra, Where Have All the Cowboys Gone by Paula Cole, and Groove is in the Heart by Deee-Lite.  Seriously, that retro catsuit makes Lady Miss Kier look like a diamondback rattlesnake.  You go watch and listen.  I’ll wait.

BulletHere is my third and final thought.  My momma named me after One Horse Charley, an African-American cowboy who, as legend has it, could ride any horse in the state of Nevada.  In the late 1800s, maybe 20% of all cowboys were African-American, some of the finest in the Old West.  I’m proud of my heritage.  Cowboy lives matter.

I don’t count the number of scorpion stings I’ve had or the number of times I’ve blown bubbles in my coffee mug and called it a latte.  But nobody cares, because we all have our own problems.  You and me, we meet around this time every Christmas and exchange a little not-so-cheerful Christmas Cheer.  That’s life on the range for you.

See you soon, maybe.  Thanks for reading.  Signed, Charley.

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Hey, this is Charley again.  Maybe you remember me.  The de-ranged cattle baron that runs this blog sometimes asks me to take over during the holidays.  “Have fun,” he says.  Awesome, man.  It’s as much fun as building a mud fence, sitting in this cubicle trying to come up with Christmas-time entertainment for the three or four coffee-boilers who read this blog.  Sorry if my enthusiasm is making your acid reflux flare up.  Eat a peach.

So here we go.  I thought I would share some of the Christmas songs I sing on the range as I wait for an increase in the cowboy minimum wage.  I call them I Don’t Carols.

Silver Hell

Silver Bells, Silver Bells
It’s Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring.
Soon they will be drowned out by street preachers with bullhorns.

Jingle Hell

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is
No, it’s not, it’s really cold out and it sucks.
Hey hey hey hey hey.

Rudolph the Brown-Nose Reindeer

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows
All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.
Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say:
“Rudolph, with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
Then how the reindeer stomped their hooves and shouted, “Santa’s favorite, eh?”
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer wouldn’t live to see another day.

Frosty the Snowman

Frosty the Snowman was a hoppy amped-up soul
With an old crack pipe, a stuffy nose and two lines made out of blow
Down to the village, with some crystal in his hands
Running here and there, all around the square,
Saying, “Man, these bugs are crawling all over me!”

Little Gunner Boy

Hear my guns speak loud
Rat-tat-a-tat-tat
Second Amendment proud
Rat-tat-a-tat-tat
My guns defend this land
Rat-tat-a-tat-tat
Not from my cold, dead hand
Rat-tat-a-tat-tat
Tat-a-tat-tat
Tat-a-tat-tat

Now your Christmas can be just like mine.  Until next time – Charley

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Hello, it’s Charley again.  Back in the saddle here at the blog while the owner is on vacation. Lucky me.  He gets to eat turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes while I sit in my quarters trying to clean out the crumbs in my keyboard.  No, I’m not going to eat the crumbs.

I’m going to take this opportunity to do something that this blog hasn’t done before, which is to print something interesting.  Obviously it’s about cowboys.   No one writes much about cowboys any more, because (as Neil Young noted) there just ain’t many of us left.

The reason is, cowboys can’t make a living wage these days.  As The Oregonian reported: “Hired livestock workers earn a little over $10 an hour, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  In eastern Oregon, ranchers prefer to pay day wages — $100 to $150 — for buckaroos who provide their own pickups, horses and herding dogs.”

Times may be tough for cowboys, but then they always have been.  You may think that all we do is dude up and meet pretty women (click the image for details) but you would be as wrong as a six-legged mule.  And that is pretty damn wrong — just ask the mule.

Some of my old friends have taken to writing poems about the cowboy life.  One of them is a South Dakotan about my age, Kip Sorlie:

“My life requires purpose, something more important than myself.  With my children gone, I found purpose once again in cowboy verse.  It is an honest, straight-forward handshake with honest, straight-forward people who, even if they do not live the life style, carry the values with great pride.  It is for them that I hope to be, at least partially, successful.”

Here’s a humble man who doesn’t carry on and swagger.  We need fewer cowboys in the White House and more of them doing what they do best, wrangling and writing poetry.

I swear this tale is true!
   But I've embellished it,
As storytellers do
   To make the pieces fit!

Of men who lived this tale,
   Two have long departed.
The third awaits a trail,
   The fourth has not started.

A son may sometimes spurn
   A dad, too proud to hope.
But in the end they learn
   From withered, weathered rope.

The first rope wagoned in
   Was fated on to me.
It's tied to where I 've been
   And where I hope to be.

-- Epilogue to "Rope" by Kip Sorlie, from "Cowboys Are The Magic"
   Hardcover volume is available for $30 postpaid from:
   Kip Sorlie, 24327 446th Ave., Winfred, SD 57076

Happy Thanksgiving to all my virtual pardners.  See you on the trail — Charley

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