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Golden Globes: Taking Our Licks From Hollywood

in arts and culture/Column/Dave Simpson
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By Dave Simpson

PEACOCKS: The annual award show season – always good for a horse laugh out here in Deepest Frozen-Tundra Flyover Country – kicked off last week with the Golden Globe Awards.

This is when preening, self-absorbed peacocks who I couldn’t name if you held a gun to my head, dress up like they’re going to the prom, and gather for a feed folks like us could never afford, and slobber all over each other over movies that Corn Belt types like myself have never seen, and will never see.

This is an exclusive gathering of rich people with big hair who like to whine and complain about how rotten the country that made them so rich and glamorous and superior really is.

They view it as an opportunity to make rubes like us aware of all kinds of problems.

The last movie I paid actual money to see was “Forrest Gump,” which was released 25 years ago. So, if you do the math, it has been a quarter of a century since I saw an actual movie, which no doubt excludes me from the award show target audience.

The only interesting part for me was waiting for the next obscenity-laced kick in the pants, as these vacuous Hollywood boobs took the opportunity to show us their great compassion and vast knowledge of politics and foreign affairs.

(I will say that if you’re only going to see one movie in a quarter century, “Forrest Gump” was a pretty good movie to see. It was swell. The star, Tom Hanks, reportedly shares the Hollywood belief that anyone who voted for Donald Trump is stupid and hopeless, but he’s smart enough to keep it under his hat. He has the brains not to lead the parade of Hollywood Trump haters.)

So anyway, despite a warning from host Ricky Gervais that nobody is interested in their loopy political beliefs, the beautiful people nevertheless gave the rest of us the dickens for electing a president they loathe with theatrical gush and histrionics. One award recipient/foreign policy expert predicted that we are “on the brink of war” with Iran, thanks to the evil Trump. And they fretted, of course, over climate change, striking a major blow by eating a cow-emissions-free vegan dinner. (I wonder if they’ve heard that vegetables scream when you pick them.)

They were in fine form, using lots of filthy language – during family viewing hours, no less – that had to be bleeped out as they lamented the country many of the rest of us like just fine.

Who on earth would want to go see a movie put together by awful people like these?

I don’t know about you, but I’m good for another 25 years without seeing a movie.

THAT SAID: I’m not like the beautiful people above (duh) complaining about major aspects of life in America. But there are some minor irritants that come to mind. Stuff that we tend to notice more at this time of year when we’re stuck inside and can’t escape to the woods, and which wouldn’t take too much ding-dong effort to fix.

Some that come to mind:

People on TV who insist on all talking at the same time. The more interesting the subject is, the more frustrating it is when everyone talks at once.

Pundits/hosts who insist on asking long, detailed questions with multiple examples baked in, that go on so long that nobody can remember what the first part of the question was. (Sean Hannity and Joe Scarborough are the absolute worst, and should be sentenced to diagram their sentences.)

Guys who walk around naked in the locker room at exercise, like they’ve got a blue-ribbon entry in the county fair.

Cell phone rings built into advertisements to get your attention. A pox upon them.

The “LIMU EMU” ads on TV. Lord, have mercy.

Selfish imbeciles who block traffic waiting for a great parking space at Walmart. I’ve mentioned this before, but they endure, like bed bugs. Get the tar and feathers.

Those white plastic sleeves that soda crackers come in, that fight you every inch of the way.

Telemarketers. Keel hauling is too good for them.

Tailgaters.

Hollywood award shows.

Dave Simpson began his journalism career at the Laramie Boomerang in
1973. He has worked as a reporter, editor, publisher and columnist at
newspapers in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska. He lives in
Cheyenne.

Historian publishes book about Nimitz visit to Cody

in arts and culture/Community/military
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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

A Cody historian has turned his attention to a visit to the area by a famous World War II naval officer.

Bob Richard’s newest book documents a visit to the Cody area by Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz and several other military leaders in 1946.

The book consists largely of photos taken by Richard’s father Jack Richard, a secretary to U.S. Sen. E.V. Robertson, who represented Wyoming at the time.

Nimitz played a major role in WWII, commanding the Pacific fleet and accepting the surrender of Japanese forces in 1945. 

Robertson invited Nimitz and others to Wyoming after the war and Richard accompanied the group as it traveled from Cheyenne to Jackson, Yellowstone National Park and Cody.

The resulting photographs, Jack Richard’s first color photos, are contained in the book “Fleet Admiral Nimitz and Naval War Heroes’ Historic Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park Visit.”

“They fished, they swam in (Yellowstone Lake), then they boarded an old yellow bus and they came to Cody, stopping at our ranch on Rattlesnake Creek,” Bob Richard said. “At the age of 9, Adm. Nimitz patted me on the back and said ‘I hope someday that you’re an officer like your dad and his brother Bob.’”

Richard has published a number of books focusing on the Cody and Yellowstone areas. His first, “Yellowstone Country,” also features the photography of his father.

Other books by Richard serve as visual guides of the Yellowstone area.

“Everybody continues to buy them and they give them to their guests,” he said. “When they want to get (the guests) out of the house for the day, they give them the book on the North Fork and say ‘Go find all the rock formations.’”

Richard is himself an accomplished photographer. One of his shots, showing two bears near a sign that reads “Leaving Yellowstone National Park,” is a picture traditionally given as a gift to Yellowstone employees as they retire.

Richard said he has sold more than 600 copies of the photograph, which he took decades ago.

Something different for the New Year — a mac&cheese festival

in arts and culture/Travel
Mac&Cheese Festival
The team from HQ Southern Barbecue in Casper serves up a sampling of macaroni and cheese as part of the 2018 “Noon Year’s Mac&Cheese Fest” in Casper. (Courtesy photo)
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By Cowboy State Daily

A New Year’s celebration for those who love macaroni and cheese and may not be able to stay awake until midnight is on tap in Casper on Dec. 31.

The “Noon Year’s Mac&Cheese Festival” will mark the arrival of the new year 12 hours early in events to run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31 at a civic auditorium known as “The Lyric” in downtown Casper.

The festival, in its third year, features macaroni and cheese samples from restaurants across Casper, said Julie Schmitt, marketing manager for Casper’s David Street Station, an outdoor events facility across the street from The Lyric.

“It kind of stemmed from the idea we are a family friendly facility,” she said. “We wanted to crate something fun for families to go to and we wanted to host a fun countdown event. And what draws people more than food?”

Kustom Koncepts in Casper created these trophies for the winners of the 2018 “Non Year’s Mac&Cheese Fest.” Trophies and bragging rights are on the line again on Dec. 31 as the annual celebration takes place in Casper. (Courtesy photo)
Kustom Koncepts in Casper created these trophies for the winners of the 2018 “Non Year’s Mac&Cheese Fest.” Trophies and bragging rights are on the line again on Dec. 31 as the annual celebration takes place in Casper. (Courtesy photo)

Free samples of the macaroni and cheese will be given away, with larger servings available for purchase.

The countdown to noon will begin at 11:59 a.m. and the winning “People’s Choice” and “Kids’ Choice” macaroni and cheese chefs will be announced at 12:45 p.m., Schmitt said.

The winners will earn a special trophy created by Kustom Koncepts, along with bragging rights.

“So the … winners will go home with a trophy and the glory of being the top mac and cheese people in town,” she said.

In the past, up to 1,000 people have attended the event, braving sometimes inclement weather to get to The Lyric, Schmitt said.

“Wyoming people are hearty people,” she said.

For more information, visit David Street Station’s website.

Merry Christmas, From Santa

in arts and culture
Merry Christmas
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Santa has made a list and checked it twice.

Cowboy State Daily caught up with the big man at JAX in Cheyenne as he visited with area children to find out who was naughty and nice.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Cowboy State Daily.

Wyoming on the silver screen: A film professor’s Top 5 list

in arts and culture
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By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

Not many movies are shot in Wyoming, but a handful of great films are set in the state.

Here’s a top five “Wyoming in movies” list compiled by Central Wyoming College Film Professor Jeremy Nielsen, who worked in film production for years before settling down with his wife and kids to teach cinema in Riverton.

The movies are listed in alphabetical order, because each stands equally on its own merit, Nielsen explained.

“Brokeback Mountain”

Set in 1963, “Brokeback Mountain” is the story of two ranch hands, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, who experience love while working as shepherds on a fictional mountain in Wyoming.  

“These characters are literal cowboys and spend a summer alone together on the mountain and tending the herd — literally living off the land,” Nielsen explained. “There’s a certain American machismo associated with that type of work and that icon. Exploring that in this story, which to most people is not macho, is an interesting dichotomy.”

The movie details a homosexual affair at a time when the world was less receptive to non-traditional lifestyles. Even though it debuted in 2005, audiences greeted it with mixed reactions, especially in traditionally conservative Wyoming. 

“Despite the differences you have with the characters, you can find a lot of similarities in their experiences — heartbreak and the sadness of love not working out,” Nielsen said.

“Hateful 8”

Directed by Quentin Tarantino, “Hateful 8” stars Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern as eight strangers who seek refuge from a blizzard at a Wyoming stagecoach stop.

True to its name, Nielsen said by the end of the movie, the viewer isn’t really compelled to like any one of the eight.

“That dislike of the main characters — it’s very post-modern in a way that’s very in style nowadays,” he said. “You find yourself laughing at things that are very horrible. That’s also very in style, right now.”

Like many Tarantino films, the movie highlights racism, violence and apathy in a brash motif of humanity’s worst traits. Shot mostly in Colorado, the movie’s biggest tie to Wyoming might be the fur coat worn by Kurt Russel’s character, Nielsen said. The coat was made by Merlin’s Hide Out in Thermopolis.

“It’s unique in that Tarantino is trying to keep the Western genre alive with a couple films so far,” Nielsen said. “It’s decisively a Western film, but clearly repackaged in a whole new light like (Tarantino) does.”

“Red Rock West”

“Red Rock West” is a neo-noir film set in a small Wyoming town, starring Nicholas Cage and Dennis Hopper.

“Noir films were famous for generally four things: stories about society’s underbelly, a narrator, high-contrast lighting and featuring a femme fatale,” Nielsen said. “’Red Rock West’ has all of those.”

Nicholas Cage is mistaken for hit man as he passes through the town of Red Rock, and though Cage takes the money for an assignment, he has a change of heart when it comes time to pull the trigger.

“When (Cage) rolls into the town, the film features these gigantic, panoramic shots reminiscent of old Westerns,” Nielsen said. “Also, I find it interesting that most noir films are set in cities — areas full of people where the society’s dark side can be easily exposed. But, here you see it in a rural setting, which I think sets this film apart.”

“Shane” 

Starring Alan Ladd as a gunslinger looking for a quiet place to settle down, “Shane” paints Wyoming in all the Technicolor beauty 1953 had to offer.

“It’s the prototypical Western story of a hard-on-their-luck family in the Rocky Mountains being terrorized by a band of ne’er-do-wells,” Nielsen said. “It’s got the famous ending of the hero has saved everyone, but he’s been injured, and he knows he has to leave.”

The movie was shot in Wyoming near the Grand Tetons and is listed third in the American Film Institute’s Top 10 Western movies of all time.

“To me, it’s this kind of clash between the wild and civilization,” Nielsen said. “That’s kind of the story of Wyoming.”

“Unforgiven”

Diving in the opposite direction of the prototypical Western, “Unforgiven” stars Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman as gunslingers reluctantly taking one last job to get vengeance for a group of prostitutes.

“It’s another example of the post-modernist Western and exemplifies the anti-hero,” Nielsen said.

Filmed in 1992, the movie took the cinema world by storm and won several Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It ranks fourth on AFI’s Top Top 10 Western movies of all time and was shot mostly in Canada.

“Wyoming on paper is oftentimes dismissed, but like the Western genre, it can defy those odds and still be successful,” Nielsen said, explaining “Unforgiven” was originally overlooked for being made long after Westerns were considered dead. “If a movie is this good, it doesn’t matter genre it falls into.”

Cody man produces, hosts nightly NFR television show

in arts and culture/Community
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A Wyoming resident is helping rodeo fans all over the country keep track of what is happening at the National Finals Rodeo this week in Las Vegas.

Cody resident Dan Miller is the master of ceremonies for “National Finals Tonight,” a nightly recap television show on each day’s rodeo action that is broadcast on RFD Television, along with its sister channel, the Cowboy Channel.

Miller also produces the show, which is broadcast from the Orleans Hotel, and appears nightly with his co-hosts, rodeo champions Donnie Gay and Joe Beaver.

Miller, a professional musician who performs nightly in Cody every summer, caught the attention of rodeo fans with his Mesquite Rodeo series on the Nashville Network and ESPN.

The NFR television show helps keep rodeo fans informed about the action at each day’s performance and gives them a chance to hear from the competitors themselves, Miller said.

“This show is a perfect show for a rodeo fan,” he said. “I compare it to going to the Super Bowl and then afterwards going into a bar and the players come in and tell you about the game and what happened. It has that kind of intimacy for us.”

As producer, Miller is in charge of a substantial crew on the show.

“This show takes a lot of work and we have a great team assembled that makes that happen,” he said. “We’re shooting four cameras, I have two editors in the back room that work with me. We have instant replay guys. It is a huge production staff. (Orleans Hotel owner) Boyd Gaming pulls out all the stops, really, to make this show happen.”

Miller said he particularly enjoys the opportunity to showcase Wyoming cowboys and the state’s “Team Wyoming” rodeo team.

“I produce the show and so I can kind of lean toward Wyoming,” he said. “This is the perfect marriage for Wyoming cowboys and rodeo fans.”

Hillsdale’s Brody Cress in it to win it at NFR, but always supporting Wyoming

in arts and culture
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Brody Cress of Hillsdale, Wyoming is in it to win it at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas this week.

The Team Wyoming Saddle Bronc rider currently leads the aggregate standings. But the big stage doesn’t stop him from supporting Wyoming kids.

On Sunday he was part of a contingent of NFR cowboys and cowgirls that had lunch at Southpoint Hotel sharing activities with more than 20 kids battling cancer as well as other life-threatening illnesses.

The ‘Golden Circle of Champions’ group attended the fourth-round performance Sunday night in Las Vegas and Cress tied a gold scarf to his vest showing support for the children he’d spent time with earlier in the day.

The Hillsdale, Wyoming saddle bronc rider is having a great finals with more than $50,000 banked, placing in every round, but he says meeting the golden circle children put into perspective what really matters in life

Wyoming Suffrage to be commemorated through music

in arts and culture
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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra has commissioned an original work from rising American composer Stephanie Ann Boyd to celebrate the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Wyoming and the 100th anniversary of suffrage in the United States.

One hundred fifty years ago, Wyoming led the nation in women’s suffrage by giving women the right to vote with the passage of the Wyoming Suffrage Act of 1869.

WSO Executive Director Rachel Bailey led the search for just the right composer to capture the essence of the historic event. It was at the suggestion of Music Director Christopher Dragon that the WSO reached out to Boyd. 

“Her music is very poetic and she also deals with women’s themes, which really fit into what we were doing,” said Bailey. “The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra will debut this commissioned pieceon April 18. It will be a very exciting day for us and Wyoming as a whole as they celebrate thisreally historic anniversary.”

Visiting Wyoming for the first time Dec. 6-9, Boyd gathered inspiration for her forthcoming musical composition to celebrate the moment in the Cowboy State’s history. 

“Wyoming, of course, put through women’s suffrage about 50 years before everybody else, and so we’re taking the inspiration of that, and the stories of the women that were instrumental in that, and writing a piece about them, but also writing essentially a 25-minute minute love letter to Wyoming.” Boyd said.

A first draft of the composition should be ready by the end of this year. 

“I usually compose pretty fast, so usually I work about a month on a piece like this, but again that’s like a seven-hour a day sort of thing,” Boyd said. “I call myself a melodist because melody is the most important thing to me, but audiences will find that my work is very emotional and very exciting to listen to.”

Boyd expressed her gratitude at being a part of the commemoration of suffrage through performing arts.

“It’s an incredible honor,” she said. “I know that Christopher Dragon has admired my music for some time but being able to write for an orchestra, and an orchestra like this, is really a special and beautiful opportunity for me and I’m pleased that I get to help tell this story of Wyoming.”

The performance will be in Casper’s John F. Welsh Auditorium. Tickets are on sale now, and those interested in attending are advised to buy tickets early, since a sellout is expected.

Tickets can be purchased at the WSO website.

Casper photographer named PRCA Photographer of the Year

in Agriculture/arts and culture/News
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By Mike McCrimmon

A Casper photographer has been named the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association photographer of the year for a third time.

Dan Hubbell, owner of Hubbell Rodeo Photos, was named the winner of the award during ceremonies at the PRCA Awards Banquet in Las Vegas on Dec. 4.

Hubbell first won the award in 2000, its inaugural year, and again in 2018.

Hubbell’s rodeo photos today are known throughout the world, but he admitted that in his early days, he had a lot to learn.

“I had no idea what I was doing,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “A guy (would be) riding a bucking horse and I’d just pull the trigger. I didn’t have any idea about timing or anything.”

Other rodeo photos provided the inspiration that led him to sharpen his skills, he said.

“Going into it after looking at images that you thought had impressed you, you kind of had an idea of what they liked,” he said. “For instance, of the calf roper roping a calf and then he’s stepping off, hanging in that stirrup and that horse is in the ground. You knew a bronc had to be stretched out. It was easier said than done sometimes.”

Helping Hubbell figure out what photos cowboys might like to see is Hubbell’s wife Linda, who runs the photography business.

“I enjoy meeting the contestants, talking to contestants, seeing what they like,” Linda said. “They tell me what kind of pictures they like, what they don’t like and I pass it on to him.”

The Hubbells are now taking pictures of rodeo cowboys whose parents were photographed competing in rodeos in past years, Linda said.

“You see the guys who he took pictures of and you start to see the kids come along,” she said. “And they think that’s pretty neat. They’re like ‘My dad had Hubbell photos on the wall and now I finally get a Hubbell photo.”

Hubbell’s photos are also popular with rodeo competitors who like to see shots of their past performances, she added.

“You have world champions who never bought a picture, they went to the (National Finals Rodeo” five or six times and never bought a picture,” she said. “Now all of a sudden, they’re at the end of their career and those pictures mean something.”

“You’ll have a buckle or a trophy here and there and a saddle, but the images, you can say ‘That’s the way I rode right there,’” Dan said.

Hubbell believes his interest in photography might have stemmed from his mother.

“Mom took pictures, a lot of them,” he said. “So that might be where it really started.”

West brings opera rehearsal to Cody High School

in arts and culture
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Music students at Cody High School got a glimpse into the world of professional music in November when Kanye West brought the cast of his new opera to Cody for rehearsal.

West’s opera, “Nebuchadnezzar,” was performed Nov. 24 at the Hollywood Bowl after rehearsals by dancers and musicians at Cody High School on Nov. 21.

“They had about 50-plus dancers in there, plus over 100 in the choir and then they had the soloists,” said Wade French, Cody High School’s band teacher. “They were just writing the opera as they were performing it, as they were rehearsing it.”

West, who this year bought a ranch near Cody and has moved the headquarters for his clothing and shoe business to the city, contacted the high school when he needed rehearsal space, French said.

One of French’s students who got the chance to play saxophone with West’s group said the experience has convinced her to pursue music in her future.

“They know what it’s all about,” said senior Kate Beardall. “They know what the music industry is about. And they really just opened my eyes to what I want to do.”

The opera, according to a news release, tells the story of an ancient Babylonian king and his “transition from wicked, imperious, self-declared ruler to a true believer who finds salvation in his faith.”

French said the experience of watching professional musicians practice and put their own spin on the material was interesting.

“It was the music that was very impressive,” he said. “We got to see that first-hand. We got to see those artists and those musicians creating it and really just tweaking it. Making it their own.”

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