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Tassone

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Reply with quote  #51 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gishgali1
A&E ordered Season 3 last week.

Thanks, I was worried as I couldn't find such news on the net.

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Betty

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Reply with quote  #52 
I'm also surprised the news of renewal hasn't shown up anywhere.  Longmire isn't perfect but it is better than a lot of the crap that is on TV now.  I'm glad it is coming back.
mhughes

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Reply with quote  #53 
it was on his facebook page on the 29th.....with a closeout of season 2 like that,  id die if it didnt come back, what a cliffhanger.  we love the show!


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TravisMcGee

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Reply with quote  #54 
I'm still on season 1, glad to hear season 2 is better. Although I put Longmire in a tough spot. I've been catching up on Longmire after watching Breaking Bad, talk about a tough act to follow!
Dakotapix

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Reply with quote  #55 
Based on the conversation here I've been watching season one of Longmire on Netflix. Pretty good stories. Another gem I found on Netflix is Foyle's War, originally on PBS. Went through all 22 episodes and it was as though I'd lost a friend when it was over. The good news is that PBS will have at least three new episodes this month.
Keys

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Reply with quote  #56 
I enjoyed 'Foyle's War' ... 

'Inspector Lewis', is another great contribution from PBS, just ended after 6 seasons ...  I watched them all back to back this Summer for entertainment from Netflix ... I was very sad to see it end ...

Sherlock Holmes with Benedict Cumerbatch is filming for Season 3 ...  The best interpretation, imo   ... 

Speaking of Sherlock, has anyone had any news from Mohammed ? (Libaax) ... I haven't heard from him since his trip to Dubai, Somali and East Somali, June 2012 ...

Sorry for hijacking the Craig Johnson thread ...  I have opened one for PBS ...



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Keys

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Reply with quote  #57 
Post-It: Spirit of Steamboat
 
In the Doolittle Raiders Reunion in San Antonio a number of years back, we got the opportunity to take a ride in a gloriously restored, vintage Mitchell B-25 bomber. I remember walking past the line with all the friends and family of these magnificent men when Bill Bower, the man on whom I partially based the character of Lucian Connally and one of the few remaining Raiders, stopped at the flight line. He gazed at the powerful aircraft that he had flown off the deck of the USS Hornet, over Tokyo, and into a crash landing in China.
            I could only guess at the things that were going through his mind as the great Cyclone engines burst to life with clouds of white smoke and spinning propellers that seemed to increase speed until they caught up with themselves and appeared to be going backward.
            I called back to him over the roar of the engines. “C’mon Bill, you don’t want to miss the flight!”
            He smiled and looked at me. “You kids go on ahead; I flew those damned things and I know how dangerous they are!”
           
Viking/Penguin likes the extended short stories I’ve been writing for a few years now, releasing them as eStories, and I can tell you that that’s how Spirit of Steamboat began. I had the idea of a mysterious woman appearing in the Absaroka County Office a few days before Christmas and asking to see the sheriff--the next time I looked up, the story was eighty-two pages long.
            I called Kathryn Court at Viking/Penguin and told her.
            “How long do you think it’s going to be once it’s finished?”
            “About half the length of a regular Walt novel. What do you want to do with it?”
            She laughed. “We’ll put it out as a hardback novella in the fall.”
 
Spirit of Steamboat is a thriller with mysterious elements, a holiday story that is also a study in character. I wrote it like a movie, an old black and white one that you stumble onto late one night on television and end up watching well past midnight. I hope that’s what it reads like--a bare-knuckled, blood-draining flight that bids you to step up the ladder and into the cockpit on a dire, blizzard-ridden, Christmas Eve, a tale that straps you in and doesn’t let you go.
            I’m very proud of this novella that mimics another little holiday book written by Charles Dickens, the leather-bound edition of A Christmas Carol that Walt Longmire carries in the pocket of his sheepskin coat during this adventure. These, like all times, are those of legend and heroism--times that don’t beg the question of what we have to do, but what you have to live with if we don’t. 
           
Another wonderful bit of news is that the Wyoming Library Association has made Spirit of Steamboat the inaugural Wyoming One Book state read for this year. I have to admit that I’m honored to be chosen as the first book out of the box in this marvelous program and will be traveling all over Wyoming with a number of events, so listen for the engines from above! 

SPIRIT OF STEAMBOAT
A holiday tale from the New York Times bestselling author of the Walt Longmire mystery series, the inspiration for A&E’s hit show Longmire
 
Sheriff Walt Longmire is reading A Christmas Carol in his office on December 24th when he’s interrupted by the ghost of Christmas past: a young woman with a hairline scar across her forehead and more than a few questions about Walt’s predecessor, Lucian Connally. Walt doesn’t recognize the mystery woman, but she seems to know him and claims to have something she must return to Connally. With his daughter, Cady, and his undersheriff Vic Moretti in Philadelphia for the holidays, Walt is at loose ends, and despite the woman’s reticence to reveal her identity, he agrees to help her.
 
At the Durant Home for Assisted Living Lucian Connally is several tumblers into his Pappy Van Winkle’s and swears he’s never clapped eyes on the woman before. Disappointed, she whispers “Steamboat” and begins a story that takes them all back to Christmas Eve 1988, when three people died in a terrible crash and a young girl had the slimmest chance of survival . . . Back to a record– breaking blizzard, to Walt’s first year as sheriff, with a young daughter at home and a wife praying for his safety, back to a whiskey-soaked World War II vet ready to fly a decommissioned plane and risk it all to save a life… Back to the Spirit of Steamboat.
 
See ya on the trail,
-C.

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Keys

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Reply with quote  #58 

Post-It: But wait, there’s more…

 

          Our little Walt Longmire story, Spirit of Steamboat, hit #18 on the New York Times Bestseller’s List and is topping lists all over the country. Just in case you didn’t get the memo, this year’s e-special kind of got a little big for its britches and became a hardback novella that went on sale two weeks ago and was named the inaugural One-Read-Wyoming, the very first state-wide read.

            First editions are still available, but they’re going fast so if you want to pick up gift copies you’ll have to act quickly. Spirit of Steamboat has a sleek airspeed of 150 pages and is a pretty great way to introduce friends and family to the world of Walt Longmire without worrying about the order, or giving anything away from the other novels… And at the risk of sounding like Ron Popeil, “It makes a great holiday gift!”

            Along those same lines, we put together some limited edition items to go along with the heroic flight of the little plane that could, a snappy cap with the Steamboat logo and a lightweight thermal with selfsame brand; just click on Store and away you fly.

See you on the trail,

Craig


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What's the difference between a cat and a comma ? One has claws at the end of its paws and one is a pause at the end of a clause ...
Keys

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Reply with quote  #59 

Post-It, The Great Lyon Toilet Papier Heist

 
My Artist-in-Residency in Lyon started on a whim by the mayor when I was introduced to him in 2011 at Quais du Polar, the prestigious crime-fiction literary conference that has taken place in Lyon every April for nine years. At a reception following the inaugural panel, the mayor was talking to Michael Connelly, Donald Ray Pollack, and me and noticed that two of the three of us were having a hard time keeping our eyes open. The mayor, gracious and conciliatory to the last, asked how we were dealing with the jetlag. Michael and Donald responded that they were, indeed, having a little trouble staying awake, but when he turned to me I replied bright-eyed and bushy-tailed that I’d been in Clermont-Ferrand for the last three weeks.

            The mayor of Lyon, a powerhouse city within the same region as Clermont, shook his head. “Pourquois?” He smiled, chiding me. “Lyon is not good enough for you?”

            “J’aime Clermont-Ferrand!” I glanced around at the hand painted, 17th-century murals on the walls, intricate parquet floors, the cut-glass chandeliers, and the excellent champagne in the glass in my hand. “I don’t know; do you have any residencies in Lyon?” I smiled back. “And can you put in a good word for me?”

            What followed was a flurry of French between the mayor and his Conseiller du Culture, Guillaume Dupeyron, the end point being that I was offered a residency in the city. As it turned out, however, there was no Artist-In-Residency program in Lyon; however, through the heroic efforts of Giullaume, Quais du Polar, Gallmeister Editions, and the Lyon Musee d’art contemporain , we found ourselves in a penthouse over looking the Tete d’Or park in the City Internationale, literally in the museum.

            The only problem?

            No toilet paper.

            Whatever artist had used the apartment previously had wiped out the supply and we were left bereft. “Where do you suppose there’s a grocery store?”

            I looked at my wife. “Somewhere far from here.”

            “Ideas?”

            “I could go steal some from one of the office toilets down the hall.”

            “Won’t the alarms go off if you go into the museum?”

            “I doubt it. I mean, security knows we’re up here.”

            With the theme music of the Pink Panther playing in my head and clutching my electronic pass on the lanyard around my neck, I moved stealthily through the public area and passed through three doors into the office area.

            Absconding with a fresh roll, I made my way back through the offices and opened the door to the section of the museum I had to pass through to get back to the apartment.

            When I opened it, the alarm went off.

            Standing there shocked that it hadn’t gone off the first time I’d gone through, I shut the door and the alarm immediately stopped. I waited a moment and then opened it again, but the alarm began wailing its ear-piercing shriek, so I closed the door again.

            Shaking my head, I could hear footsteps tromping up the stairwell on the other side and could only think about how embarrassing it was going to be if I got caught stealing toilet papier from the Musee contemporain. Remembering we had internet privileges from the dashing Director, Thierry Raspail, I dodged into his office and turned on the light, seating myself at his desk and carefully placing the monitor between myself and the hallway.

            As the door opened and the alarm sprang to life again, I placed the toilet papier on the keyboard where it wouldn’t be seen by the security detachment that now stood in the hall in their black uniforms, shining flashlights in all directions.

            I waved at them as they turned off the alarm and crowded at the entry, staring in at me--I was sure, somewhat unsettled by the image of a large, barefoot man in a Harley-Davidson t-shirt and cowboy hat, who was seated in the museum director’s chair.

“Howdy.”

            The security detachment, speaking no English, pantomimed that the alarms between the offices and my apartment had accidentally been set, but that I could feel free to use the internet in the director’s office freely now.

            I nodded as one of the security guards leaned to the side and spotted the roll of toilet paper centered on the computer keypad.
He looked at me.

            I looked at him.

            He looked at the toilet papier and me some more.

            I carefully pulled a few pieces from the roll and calmly wiped off the Director’s monitor screen. “Merci.”

 See you on the trail,
-Craig

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Keys

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Reply with quote  #60 

Happy Holidays! Here it is, the annual short story; hope you all enjoy it.
See you on the trail,
Craig

 Thankstaking
 

“Otis Taylor would’ve caught that pass.”
            The Cheyenne Nation eyed me from the other side of the bar and sipped his Armagnac, then glanced up at the tinsel and vintage ornaments hanging along the bar back of the Red Pony Bar and Grill and Continual Soiree. “I am thinking I queered the deal by putting up the Christmas decorations a day early.”
            The quiet racket droned on from the Sony Trinitron 27” mounted in the corner of the bar as the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos locked horns in a lop-sided battle for AFC West supremacy—Chefs 6, Donkeys 27. “You don’t think it has something to do with the fact that you have a receiver corps that couldn’t catch a cold?”
            He watched the TV in a disinterested fashion as another receiver allowed the ball to pass through his gloved fingertips. “It must be cold in Kansas City.”
            I swiveled on my stool and adjusted the .45 on my right hip. Studying the frost etching the edges of the horizontal windows and the reverse reflection of the red neon Rainier Beer sign glowing in the darkness of the -26 degrees high plains evening, I was trying to remember it was still November. “Yep.”
            KC tried a reverse in the backfield, but either through confusion or nobody wanting the ball, that resulted in a four-yard loss. “No, definitely the Christmas decorations.”
            I reached down and scratched behind the ears of Dog, my only Thanksgiving companion. “Are those your mother’s old ones?”
            “Yes.” Henry Standing Bear’s eyes shifted back to me as he lip-pointed toward the festivities hanging above the mirror. “After she died, I never got around to putting up a tree so I decided to use them in the bar.”
            “They look nice—nostalgic.”
            He shrugged his massive shoulders, straining the too small Chiefs jersey with the words YOUR NAME HERE emblazoned across the back. “They make me a little sad, but I put them up anyway.”
            I sipped my beer and confirmed from his expression that he was going through his usual, seasonal melancholy. “Why sad?”
            “My mother got depressed during the holidays.” He reached over and felt the weight of my can, automatically sliding open the cooler and popping the top of another and placing it in line behind the first. “Thankstaking was the one she hated the most, though.”
            I nodded, refusing to snap at the bait of the social argument that we engaged in annually. “How’s the turkey coming?”
            He studied me again for a second and then pushed off the bar to stir the cranberry sauce and check the brussel sprouts in the oven. Walking over to the back door, he wiped the moisture from the window and looked at the turkey fryer beside the Bullet.
            “Why did you park in the back?”
            “To keep the drunks from running into my truck.” I watched the corners of his mouth pull down and hoped it was in response to the lack of business and not the holiday depression. “How’s the turkey doing?” The Bear could afford a newer, safer cooker but still felt that the five-gallon contraption made the juiciest, deep-fried turkey even though the thing was a festive fire hazard. “How do you know when it’s done, other than blowing up?”
            “There will be signs.”
            I sipped my beer and surrendered the empty. “Ahh…”
            He crushed the can in a fist and tossed it into the trash. “Do you know what Columbus wrote about his first encounter with the Bahamian Arawak’s that swam out to meet his boat?”
            I sighed. “I’m not having this conversation...”
            His voice took on a phony, authoritative tone like a scholastic filmstrip. “They brought us parrots, food, balls of cotton… Willfully trading everything they owned. They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features, but they do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance.”
            “…Again.”
            “With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we wanted.”
I nodded toward the game. “Your team is punting.”
            He ignored it and me, strolled to the end of the bar and looked out the front window of the converted Sinclair filling station at the darkness of early evening—his thoughts being darker. “They would make fine servants.”
            “Umm…” I cleared my throat, in hopes of cutting this conversation short before it became a full-blown tirade. “I like to think of the thanks part of Thanksgiving as giving thanks to the Indians who brought food to the starving pilgrims.”
            He stayed with his back to me, his voice echoing off the frigid glass. “And in repayment they took everything the Natives had and systematically destroyed them and their way of life?” His turned, and his strong features looked like the buffalo nickel. “Ten million natives lived in what is now the United States when the white man began arriving in numbers, and a hundred years later there were less than one million.”
            I shook my head and stared at him. “Henry, to be honest, I don’t know why we do the things we do to each other, or ever have historically. I just know that for me the holidays are for family, friends, and that tiny bit of grace we can afford each other.” I raised my beer. “Happy Thanksgiving.”
            He ignored me, but after a few minutes a set of headlights swung into the parking lot and he returned to the other side of the bar and raised his own brandy glass, but still not touching mine. “Thankstaking.”
            I glanced back at the window where the headlights remained bright, before finally switching off along with the engine. I reached down and ran my hand across Dog’s broad head just so he’d know I wasn’t talking about him. “Whoever this is, I hope they’ve got a more positive seasonal spirit than current company.”
            Silently we watched the football game, and it seemed to take an awfully long time for whomever it was to come in, but finally a bearded young man in stained, frayed Carhartt overalls and a coat to match entered the bar and stood at the door. He stared at Dog and me.
            Looking at the younger man, I turned, interpreting his hesitance as being because of Dog. “Don’t worry, he’s friendly.” Almost on cue, the beast began emitting one of his low frequency, idling-motorboat growls. I reached down and pulled his ear. “Knock it off.”
            He did but continued to watch the man as he moved to the far end of the bar and sat on one of the stools, loosening his coat and tipping his ball cap with a welding supply company logo on it back on his head where the blonde hair fell around his bearded face. “Can I get a Rainier?”
            Henry nodded, fished another can from the cooler, and sat it in front of him. “Tab?”
            The guy responded by pulling his keys and some coins from his pocket and scattering them onto the surface of the bar without a word. Henry scooped up the collection of change, returning a dime and a nickel, and then walked back to his vantage point in front of me for a few seconds and then on toward the back door again to check dinner.
            I let Carhartt settle in and get comfortable before reporting on the game, just in case he was interested. “Broncos, by three touchdowns.”
            He looked at me questioningly.
            I shrugged toward the TV. “Football.” He unzipped and uncovered a bit more but didn’t seem interested in the game. “Passing through?”
            He nodded. “Back to Colorado.”
            “Bakkan?”
            He stared at me. “What?’
            “The oil fields up in North Dakota.”
            “Yeah.” He sipped his beer. “How did you know?”
            “We get a lot of people, traveling through, going to or from jobs.” I waited another moment and then asked. “You working?”
            “Um, yeah…” His eyes darted around. “Was.”
            I nodded and watched as the Bear opened the back door and stepped outside, evidently to check on signs more closely.
            The welder stared at the surface of the battered counter but then glanced up at me with his jaw clinched, once again shooting a look around the bar, almost as if he were casing the joint.
            There was something going on with him, and all the alarms were going off in my head as I closed the distance between the bar and me, effectively blocking his view of the clip-holstered .45 attached to my far hip. “Home for the holidays?”
            “Um, yeah.” He took another gulp of beer and then stood. “Excuse me.”
            As he headed for the toilets past me I swiveled, still keeping my sidearm out of sight. Dog growled as he passed, but I nudged him with my boot as Carhartt disappeared.
            A few moments passed and I thought about how the man had been behaving, then slipped the Colt from my holster and placed it in my lap with my hat over top. I sat there wondering if I was overreacting and thinking that maybe the Bear’s attitudes had ruined my faith in my fellow man when Henry returned, rubbing the cold from his shoulders and looking pointedly at where the welder had been sitting.
            “Bathroom.”
            He came back over and placed his hands on the shelf under the bar, where I knew from experience that an Ithaca, 10 gauge, double-barreled shotgun resided.
            I uncovered my sidearm from under my hat just to show him I was having the same premonition. “Signs?”
            He studied the bathroom door over my right shoulder. “The truck plates are from Nevada. It is possible that it is just that it is simply registered there, but he seems edgy.”
            I recovered my .45 and sighed. “You want me to go outside and run the plates?”
            “There is also a woman in the truck and a very small child, both asleep.”
            I felt some of the coolness drain from my face and the stillness of my hands slackened. “Not the usual MO for a robber, is it?”
            “No.”
            “You think we’re getting scary in our old age—losing our faith in humanity?”
            He glanced over my shoulder again. “I would be inclined to agree with you if he were not standing behind you holding a pistol on us right now.”
            Dog was growling again, but this time I didn’t silence him; instead, I braced a boot against the bar and slowly swiveled to my left until I could see him standing there on the small platform about twenty feet away, his arm extended and a 9mm semi-automatic aimed at me.
            “I need money.”
            It’s strange, the things that go through your head when you’ve got a gun pointed at you. I suppose most people get a little nervous, but I’ve had so many pointed at me in my career that the thrill is gone—instead, the training kicks in and I started thinking in a tactical sense, taking into consideration the distance, exactly where your assailant is pointing his weapon, exactly what kind of weapon, how fast you can draw yours, and how quickly your two, deadly backups are going to react.
            By all accounts, the young man was dead and he didn’t even know it.
            “I need money.”
            Dog continued to growl, and I smiled. “I think we got that.”
            “I don’t normally do this kind of thing… I’ve got a wife and kid. I mean, this is not who I am. I lost my job and I need to get back to Elko…”
            “I thought it was Colorado?”
            “Shut up.” He shook the gun at me in an attempt to stop my words. “I need money for gas, and food.”
            Maybe it was a sense, a sign that I’d given the Bear, but he placed a hand on my shoulder just as the fleeting thought of introducing my own weapon made a drive-by in my mind.
His voice was easy and conversational. “What kind of gun is that?”
            The robber’s eyes clicked from me, to Dog, and then back to Henry. “What?”
            I could see that both the Cheyenne Nation’s hands were spread across the bar like powerful spiders. “The semi-automatic you’re holding—what kind is it?”
            He actually kicked it sideways in an attempt to read the manufacture on the slide action. “I don’t know, it’s a… I don’t know.” He pointed it back at us. “Look, I need money.”
            “And I need a gun.” I joined the welder in looking at the Bear as he turned and hit the NO SALE button on the old, brass register, and the cash drawer flying open like a jutting jaw. Henry reached in and pulled out a wad of twenties and fifties, quickly counting them out on the surface of the bar without taking his eyes off the man. “Eight hundred and seventy dollars, and I can throw in the eighty-five cents for the beer.”
            “I can’t sell you my gun.”
            “Why not?”
            It took him a while to come up with a reason. “I’m kind of using it right now.”
            I could imagine the thin as a paper-cut smile that Henry Standing Bear was smiling behind me as he spoke. “I am proposing an alternative.”
            He reassessed his aim toward the Bear. “How ‘bout I just keep my gun and take all your money?”
            The voice that answered was resigned and just a little sad. “That is not what will happen, and all the other options will end badly for you.” He nudged my shoulder and gestured toward the gunman and more specifically, the gun. “Does that seem like a fair offer?”
            My turn to growl. “I think you’re overpaying.”
            He leaned forward on the bar, his large arms straining the red jersey. “I do not have much time for shopping this season, so we will consider it as payment for shipping and handling.”
            The gunman paused and then gestured with the pistol. “Give me the money, first.”
            I glanced at the Bear, but he didn’t look at me, his voice remaining steady. “All right.”
            I watched as he disappeared, crossing behind me and coming out from behind the bar near the back door. He continued toward the young man, stepped between the two of us, and then held the money out to him. The Bear knew full well that I’d taken advantage of his standing in front of me to draw my Colt and by now had it pointed straight at the man, one of the oldest tricks in the book, but instead of stepping aside, he remained there between us, protecting the gunman.
            The welder reached for the cash, but Henry then drew it back, just a little. “There is one last thing, though.”
The young man cocked his head and kept the 9mm on the Cheyenne Nation. “Yeah?”
            “We are about to eat and there is too much food; I will purchase the gun from you on the condition that you bring your wife and child in here and join us for dinner before continuing your journey.”
            I watched the welder’s eyes and finally saw them soften, and it was almost as if he’d forgotten the gun in his hand. There was a long pause as the ghostly and muted noise from the TV was the only sound. He sighed deeply, and his entire body relaxed a little. “We don’t want to be a bother…”   
            Henry held the money out. “It is not a bother… It is a deal.”
            This time without hesitation, the gunman lowered the hammer on the semi-automatic and handed it to the Bear. Henry made him take the money, including the pocket change. “Go get your wife and child.”
            I quietly slipped the .45 back into my holster and watched as the young man left, tucking the wad of cash into his Carhartts as the door swung closed behind him. Henry stood there for a moment more and then walked back behind the bar to stir the cranberry sauce again and to check the brussel sprouts in the oven by the back door again, finally giving the turkey one last look.
            “How do you know he’ll come back?”
            He stood there, looking out the back door. “Signs.”
            After a moment he crossed behind the bar and rested the pistol by the cash register. He stood there for a moment with his back to me again and then turned and placed the gunman’s keys on the bar between us.
He said nothing more, so I lifted my can of beer and watched as he picked up the stemmed glass of Armagnac. He held it out in a mutual toast, and as I touched the aluminum to the glass, I provided the words he could not bring himself to say. “Happy Thanksgiving, Henry.”

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What's the difference between a cat and a comma ? One has claws at the end of its paws and one is a pause at the end of a clause ...
Keys

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Reply with quote  #61 
Post-It, Longmire Days: Wyoming in Your Head
 
            The other day, I was talking to my friend Gene Gagliano, who writes marvelous children’s books, and he said, “You’ve done something I always wanted to do—you put Buffalo on the map.”
            I laughed. “I think the TV show, Longmire, has put our town on the map.”
            “That might be true, but without your books there wouldn’t be a TV series or LONGMIRE DAYS.”
            LONGMIRE DAYS was quite a success last year; it’s true that there were plenty of problems, but I have to admit that if anybody saw me there they might’ve noticed the smile on my face. We didn’t handle the crowds all that well, the parking was a madhouse, scheduling got kerfuffled, and a lot of the stores didn’t get the word on what hours they should keep, but all in all—it was magical. Having lived in Johnson County for a quarter of a century now, I’m used to the high plains skirmishes, the politics, and general small-mindedness that can sometimes envelope the little town and large but sparsely populated county after which I modeled Durant and Absaroka County. But on that weekend, I couldn’t have been happier, or more proud.
            I’m still amazed at the gals at the Chamber of Commerce and the scope of the event they conceived--along with the efforts of the Wyoming Department of Tourism-- and a myriad of local sponsors who did everything possible to make such an undertaking a success on such short notice. It was like a Frank Capra movie, and I’m long enough in the tooth that I never thought I’d live to see that type of thing. I had worries about how it would go and whether the town would be able to pull something like this off—I should’ve known better. In true western spirit, Buffalo put its best foot forward and shone that weekend last summer, something that didn’t go unnoticed by the actors and actresses from Longmire, who are returning for this year’s event, with maybe a few additions.
             Katee Sackhoff sent us a message the other day that she and her buddy, actress Tricia Heifer, the Acting Outlaws, are doing one of their charity motorcycle rides in conjunction with LONGMIRE DAYS instead of going to Sturgis. Last year’s poker run was the largest in Wyoming history; can’t imagine what this year will bring. Their schedule comes out this week, so if you are a rider, make sure you check it out.
One of the events within the event that certainly wasn’t a shortcoming was the autograph sessions with Robert Taylor, the rangy actor who plays Walt Longmire on A&E’s hit series, who signed for four hours on Saturday morning. When the police were dispatched to insure that he had time for lunch, in true sheriff-style, he stood and announced that he wasn’t leaving until the last autograph was signed.
I was talking long distance to him the other day, and he started the conversation with, “I can’t get Wyoming out of my head.”
            It starts like that when you come here; a niggling little thought that this might be someplace special—but those of us who are fortunate enough to live here have known that all along, and like anything you’re proud of, you enjoy showing it off.
            So, after a great deal of back and forth with the production schedules of the actors, this year’s 3rd annual LONGMIRE DAYS will take place a little earlier than the past two, running from Thursday, July 17th to Sunday, July 20th.  
            Let us show off and come get a little Wyoming in your head.
See you on the road,
Craig

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Post-It, One Book Wyoming

           The other day there was an article I saw that had listed the quintessential literary work for each of the states, some of them I’d heard of and some of them I hadn’t, some of them I agreed with and some of them I didn’t. It did, though, get me to thinking about all the Wyoming books I considered to be emblematic of my state, books like The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains, My Friend Flicka, Shane, The Solace of Open Spaces, Where Rivers Change Direction, Rising From the Plains, The Meadow and many more too numerous to mention. It’s impossible to sum up a place like Wyoming with one book--the place is too big, too broad, and too deep.

            One thing I know for sure is that it wouldn’t have been one of mine.

            I’ve had an awful lot of wonderful things happen to me in my relatively short writing career, but nothing compares to having Spirit of Steamboat selected as the inaugural One-Book-Wyoming read. I’m going to be traveling all over the state, canvassing the libraries and setting up shop with all the people I know and treasure, the readers and librarians of the Cowboy State. With twenty some events already scheduled and a lot more to get on the calendar, the fine folks down at the Wyoming State Library have us starting off this program with a reception for the State Legislature and then a public signing at the state library in Cheyenne the next day from 10:30 to 1:30. The following week we’ll be in Washington D.C. for another kick-off reception with Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi and his lovely wife Diana.

            I would never refer to Spirit of Steamboat as encapsulating the state because I don’t think such a thing can be done, but I think it does represent some of the qualities of Wyoming we all hold dear—drive, determination, ingenuity and a heart as big as the high plains. I hope you’ll join me these coming weeks and in the next year as we celebrate reading with a little book that I hope will do Wyoming proud.
 
 
See you on the trail,
-Craig

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Post it: Ridin', Ropin' and Remeberin' Your Lines

Being in the business I’m in, I sometimes get some strange requests, and I figured I’d share one with you. The other day I got a memo from Orion Entertainment announcing the casting of a new docu-reality television series…
            The memo says they’re looking for “authentic and colorful cowboys and their families that live the throwback cowboy lifestyle. They should spend more time on their horse than in their truck!”
            My first response was who in the heck are these village morons, but like a Ron Popiel commercial—wait, there’s more!
            The memo goes on to point out the exact lifestyle elements they should embody. All members of the family need to live a classic cowboy lifestyle and have rugged good looks. Family should have outgoing parents with at least 3 kids, ages ranging from 17 – 35, that are all great looking cowboys and cowgirls. Active grandparents are a plus.
            All right, this is almost so funny I’m not sure where to start, but evidently the most important thing in reality TV is rugged good looks or being a fantastic looking cowboy or cowgirl. Now I’ve got to tell you that in all the ranches I ever worked at, the first thing I did was hand over an 8X10 just to make sure I suited the aesthetic of the outfit. I’ve been around some pretty capable hands and they do have a point here, some of the most capable and talented individuals I’ve ever met were certainly not the best looking… It’s kind of hard to look ruggedly handsome while pulling dogies out of the mud. The last point is a real hoot, in that I agree that active grandparents are a plus.
            Family needs to be working stunning ranches with diverse terrain and challenges – chasing grizzlies and wolves away from cattle, the struggles of raising crops and making a profit, battling weather elements to keep livestock safe and alive.
            It’s gotten so that I have a hard time fighting off the wolves and grizzlies whenever I take the dogs out anymore.
            Family and staff of the ranch must be involved in the country lifestyle: hunting, fishing, trapping, building cabins and structures, herding cattle, sheering sheep, farming, etc.
            Of course, while doing these things you’ll be fighting off the wolves and grizzlies…
Members of the family and staff should have fun hobbies and skills like singing, play the guitar or harmonica, write and recite poetry, cook the best BBQ in the county, make their own clothes, raise bees or have wild animals as pets, raise bulls, or be an aspiring bull rider or rodeo participant.
You know, in all that free time you have while ranching.
All members of the family need to have big, strong personalities with great and unique looks.
I’m always wondering what Hollywood’s ideas are of “great and unique looks”. Judy says my dilapidated Carhartt jacket, Stormy Kromer hat, and Shipton’s Big-R jeans probably aren’t going to fit the bill.
See you on the trail,
Craig

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Post-It: Formal Carhartt
 
Longmire has been showing in a myriad of countries, and consequently the sheriff has been turning up on bestseller lists all over the world. While in London a few weeks ago doing interviews for Warner Brothers, I was sitting in the Jumeirah Tower Hotel in Sloane Square to talk with a South African reporter. “Has your life changed any with all this success?”
    “No.”
    “Oh, c’mon.”
    I thought about it. “Well, I live in a town of twenty-five on a ranch I built, and I’m still driving a twelve-year-old pickup that I’ll probably keep till I’m dead.”
    “You’re kidding.”
    “No, it’s a really nice truck.”
    The big tour for Any Other Name, the tenth Walt Longmire novel from Viking, is coming up in a week and a half (Tuesday, May 13—see the tour details below), and two weeks after that the much-anticipated debut of the A&E series Longmire rides out of the sunrise (Monday, June 2 at 10 ET). The Penguin paperback of A Serpent’s Tooth is out today, April 29 and feels like the orphan in the bunch, but take a look--the paperbacks are sporting the same wonderful art by Darren Welch but with a slightly more streamlined design that I think looks great, all nine of which will be in a boxed set (pub date, October 28) that will make a super gift for future readers as well as the ones who have been with Walt from the beginning.
    Look for the tie-in cover on Kindness Goes Unpunished, May 28 . It will sport the third season art—just saw the cover and it looks spectacular. Penguin will also be releasing a mass market edition of the tie-in cover of The Cold Dish on June 4--another edition for your collection.
    And for all of you who have been asking, Viking will publish a collection of all twelve short stories, which includes a new one, by the way, on October 21. It is called Wait For Signs and has just been made available for pre-order from all the usual suspects, cover art to come. Wow, I think I’ll be busy with all this, along with Spirit of Steamboat as the One Read Wyoming, which, by the way, will have a new, more Christmas-y cover come the release of the paperback on October 28.
    And people ask me if the television series has had an effect on the sales of the books--as you can tell the resounding answer is YES. We were on the New York Times Bestseller’s list before the show, but the numbers have continued to climb especially in the backlist, where some of the paperbacks are approaching twenty-five printings—granted, I don’t think it hurts to have Robert Taylor’s handsome mug on the tie-in versions, even if I am tempted to put a little mustache on him every time I sign one.  
    The South African reporter was persistent. “I mean you haven’t bought yourself anything special?”
    “Like what?”
    “Like a Ferrari or something?”
    “I don’t think I could wear my hat in something like that.”
    “You could get a convertible.”
    “I’m betting they don’t go in the snow, and you’d play hell trying to get a grill-guard on one.”    It’s been interesting how the television viewers pick up not one of the books, but all of them and binge-read them like they binge watch and then in a couple of weeks write and ask when the next one is out. The majority of the emails I get these days from readers begin with,     “I’m sorry I didn’t know about you, but after watching Longmire I saw your name and that the show is based on a series of books…” I don’t mind that so don’t apologize—I’m all right with that, as long as you find me. . .
    “You must’ve bought yourself something.”
    “I bought a new dress Carhartt.”
    Pause. “What’s that?”
    “It’s a jacket.”
    Her voice warmed as she took notes. “Oh, for trips down the red carpet?”
    “Well. “ I smiled. “Not exactly.”
 
See you on the trail,
Craig

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Post-It: Any Other Name is Available!
 
I started the nationwide tour yesterday with the release yesterday of Any Other Name, the tenth Walt Longmire mystery, and that got me thinking about a talent I’ve got. It’s an ability I’ve honed over the years —I can sleep just about anywhere. On tour, a lot of times the dawn patrol flights are very early, or more specifically, the time you have to be at the airport is early. Now, what better opportunity to grab a power nap than the couple of hours you’re hanging around at the terminal while waiting for your flight to leave?
            Generally, what I do is pick a quiet spot that’s out of the way and pull up my carry-on like an old saddle, place my 10X beaver-felt isolation chamber over my face and slumber on.
            This talent of mine drives my wife up a wall. “That floor is dirty.”
            “So am I.”
            “You could catch something.”
            “Like a few winks?”
            The most recent Rip Van Winkle I pulled was at Charles De Gaulle Airport outside of Paris on the return trip from France. Security is a little different over there in that they have armed military guards, both male and female, who patrol the airports and rail stations, and I mean really armed, carrying fully automatic weapons and sporting jaunty maroon berets. I’m not sure which is more dangerous.
            Lying there on the carpeted floor, I listened as two of them walked on their patrol, their military boots clicking on the tile of the airport’s main thoroughfare.
            They stopped, and I was pretty sure they were looking at me when one of them spoke to my wife. “Madame, is this your le cowboy?’
            I could easily imagine my wife closing her newspaper and looking at him. “Yes.”
            Before she could wake me, he asked a second question. “Did you pack le cowboy yourself?”
            She giggled. “Yes.”
            “Did anybody unknown to you attempt to give or have you carry anything with le cowboy?”
            “No.”
            “Has le cowboy been in your possession the entire time?”
            “He has.”
            “Very well, Madame. Au revoir, and enjoy your flight.”
            Before they left, the other guard chimed in in a feminine voice. “Madame, just so you know, ze floor is very dirty…”
            My wife sighed.
           
See you on the trail,
Craig

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SPOILER

Post-It: Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other
 
Any Other Name is #6 on the New York Time Bestseller’s List!
 
When I was writing Any Other Name, I was pretty sure I was writing the darkest novel yet in the Walt Longmire series. The book is set in the depths of a high plains winter in Campbell County WY, a pretty rough stretch of real estate along the Powder River Country. The plot involves a sheriff’s investigator who commits suicide and quickly turns even darker upon the discovery that three women are missing. I knew I was taking a chance, but I like to make sure that each book is different from the rest, not only for the reader’s sake but for mine.
            George Guidall, the performer who does the audio versions of my books, got in contact with me the way he always does when he’s preparing to record one of the books, and I’m always looking forward to that because he’s a shrewd reader and generally my first review.
            “What did you think of the book, George? A little dark, huh?”
            “Craig, this is the funniest book you’ve ever written.”
            I was a stunned. “It’s really dark, George, with the setting and the plot…”
            He laughed. “Yeah, but Craig, it’s got some of the funniest scenes you’ve ever written. The scene with Walt and Lucian in the café where the old sheriff shoots the coffee pot?”
            I reluctantly admitted. “Yep, I guess that scene was kind of funny.”
            “And the scene with Walt and Dog in the truck with the ham?”
            “Yep.”
            “And the scene where Vic tries on the mountain man hat at the black powder shooting supply store and looks at herself in the mirror and says it looks like a badger is humping the back of her head?”
            Just goes to show how much writers know about what they’re writing.
            I think it was a defense mechanism in the characters, an unwillingness to be drawn into the darkness of the story so they just started being funny. The good news is that if sales are any gauge of success, they didn’t derail the book in that it’s number six on the New York Times Bestseller’s list—up ten positions from A Serpent’s Tooth last year. I probably owe a debt of thanks to all the fine folks over at A&E’s Longmire, still the highest-rated scripted drama in the network’s history, which hits your small screen for season three this Monday, June 2nd.  Read and watch is the motto of the week.
 
See you on the trail,
Craig

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Post-It: Longmire Season Three debuts tonight!
 
Just a little postcard to remind those of you who follow the good sheriff’s cinematic adventures, the much-awaited third season of A&E’s highest-rated scripted drama, Longmire hits the airwaves tonight… Will Walt be indicted, will Henry get out of prison, will Vic shoot Gorsky, will Branch survive, will Cady represent Henry, will the Ferg earn his badge, will Ruby run out of Post-It’s!?!
 
Also, in case you’ve not been paying attention Any Other Name, the eleventh in the Walt Longmire Mystery series is on the stands now. We’re in our third printing and #6 on the New York Times Bestseller’s List, so if you want a first you better get out there and grab one!
 
See you on the trail,
Craig

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Post-It: Contraband
 
“Craig Johnson!”
            While waiting in the security line in Denver International Airport recently, somebody yelled out my name. My wife and I turned around and thinking it must’ve been somebody we knew, we looked into the mass of a thousand people. “Do you see anybody?”
            She shook her head. “No, it’s too crowded.”
            Going through the usual TSA strip-search and reassembling on the other side, because no matter what they say, I have to take off my hat, boots, belt, pocket watch, and every other damn thing, I reconnected with Judy.
            “Somebody yelled your name again.”
            The TSA folks began scrutinizing me a little more closely as I looked back, but I still couldn’t see anybody I recognized. “Maybe it’s a different Craig Johnson.”
            Hurrying down the long escalator, we found ourselves standing and waiting for what I refer to as the Doodle-Doo Train, because that’s the noise it makes when it pulls up to take you to the next terminal. There was another group of TSA agents waiting with us.
            “Craig Johnson!”
            Looking at the packed escalators, we still couldn’t make out who was yelling and turned back to where a train was arriving and to the TSA detachment again looking at us with more than a little interest.
            “Craig Johnson!”
We turned in time to see an athletic man with a tan and a large backpack bound off the escalator and rush over to us. “This is so great; I can’t believe I caught up with you!” Noticing the odd look on both of our faces, he quickly added. “Big fan of the books and the television series.” The train doors opened, and he looked at it worriedly. “Hey, can I have a moment of your time?”
            Always arriving early for flights, we had plenty, and so did the TSA folks who decided to hang around and wait for the next train along with us. “Um, sure.”
            He immediately shrugged off the insulated backpack and began rummaging through the contents. “You go to France a lot, right?”
            “Um, yep…”
            He began pulling out large, brown-paper-wrapped items, cool to the touch, and handing them to me as the TSA agents leaned in for a better look. “You gotta try this stuff; I’d put it up against anything in the world.”
            The agents were now watching us very closely.
            “”What is it?”
            He smiled, extending a hand. “Timothy Bowe, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.” He handed us some more packages. “Did you know that 90% of Wisconsin milk is used for cheese production?”
            I attempted to not drop the precious cargo and nodded. “I do now.”
            “Here, take this stuff; I’ve got extra and don’t need to take it back.” He leapt up and started across the walkway to the trains going in the opposite direction. “See you!”
            As he dodged into his train, the TSA agents crowded around as we began putting cheese in our carry-ons and pockets. “Do you know that guy?”
            I smiled. “I do, now.”
 
See you on the trail,
Craig

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Post-It: Riding for the Brand
 

            There’s an old saying among cowboys—you ride for the brand. If you’re hired on, you do your job the best you can and you don’t whine or complain about the outfit—but there does come a time, if you are mistreated with intent, when you leave that employ and need to clear the air.

            If you’ve been stapling barbed wire up in a lineman’s shack for the last couple of weeks, you might not be aware that the A&E network cancelled Longmire. We’re all still kind of reeling from the news that a network would cancel the highest-rated, scripted drama it’s ever had, a show that was consistently one of the top ten cable shows of any given week—one of the top 25 of the summer including the networks.

            A lot of people have been asking me why?

            The excuse that the network used was that ratings were down from the previous season from 4.2 to 3.9 million, but with adjusted DVR recordings, Longmire was still holding steady at close to 6 million… And that’s with A&E cutting us down to ten episodes and giving us a less than enviable lead-in--four-year-old reruns of Criminal Minds that were pulling -72%, no promotion or advertising, and a general ambivalence to the show as a whole.

            The other excuse was that the show wasn’t pulling as much as they wanted in the 18-49 demographic. We more than hold our own in the 25-50 demographic—now, I’m no television executive (thank goodness), but I don’t know of any 18 year-olds out there who are buying Dodge trucks. I still remember being told that Longmire pretty much sold itself, “Oh, we’ve got advertisers lined up . . . there’s no trouble selling that show.”

            So what gives?

            A&E has made it clear that it wants to own and produce the shows it airs, and the one it doesn’t own, the highest-rated scripted drama they’ve ever had-- Longmire—is not theirs. They’ve had success with Bates Motel (which, even with A&E’s blessings and full support, has yet to achieve the ratings Longmire has) and have had disasters like Those Who Kill (which was cancelled after only two weeks), but then they were trying to strong-arm Warner into selling them Longmire. Now, if I remember correctly, Warner Brothers were the ones who taught Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney how to be tough guys back in the thirties… Good luck with that, A&E. Maybe that next reality show, Tattooed Eskimo Swamp Hunters will turn out to be a winner.

            At this point in time, the producers and Warner Horizon are pitching to other networks in hopes that one of them is smart enough to take on a proven winner like Longmire, and we’ll hopefully land in an environment that appreciates and supports the show.

            People have been asking what they can do to help in finding Longmire a new home, and the best thing you can do is continue talking up the show in all the social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, blogs or the net-sphere.

            From the response that A&E’s garnered from dropping Longmire, it looks as if it may be the biggest PR disaster for the network. People are actually contacting their cable and satellite providers and requesting that A&E be removed from their subscription packages.—they have had to hire on extra operators for the amount of complaints that have been registered.

            Wow.

            In closing, I think those executives at A&E forgot to take one thing into consideration—we’re cowboys, we ride for the brand and we don’t walk away.

See you on the trail,
-Craig

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Post-It: Less is More
 
I’m always amused when someone writes me and asks who it is that answers Mr. Johnson’s emails, because I’m usually sitting at the ranch looking at the screen and thinking, “Well, me…”
            There are a couple of emails I get on a pretty frequent basis after every book. A lot express the idea that I need to take it easy on Walt in the next novel because I beat up on him too much in the last. This one is kind of funny in that a lot of times I model Walt’s injuries on my own--if Walt is suffering from a hurt shoulder, I can pretty much guarantee that I’ve wrenched mine throwing bales or fooling around with the horses. It’s a lot easier to remember that Walt’s shoulder hurts if I can’t use mine.
            Another is that there was not enough of the reader’s favorite character, (insert name here)--whether it’s Henry, Vic, Lucian, Ruby, or Saizarbitoria.  I knew I’d reached a certain tipping point when people started requesting more Dog.
            The final member of the email trifecta is the number of people who want to know where they can get printed versions of the eSpecials, Divorce Horse and Messenger, or the short stories that I send out to everyone on my Post-It newsletter (you can sign up at http://www.craigallenjohnson.com) each Christmas Eve.
            I sometimes talk about the characters in the short stories and include incidents from them until I get funny looks and remember that not everybody has been on the newsletter list since it began ten years ago. There are just some ideas that lend themselves to a shorter format, and I hated the thought of losing them just because they didn’t fit into whatever novel I happened to be writing at the time.
            Ever since Old Indian Trick won the Tony Hillerman Award and appeared in Cowboys & Indians magazine, I’ve enjoyed providing these smaller moments in Walt Longmire’s life and until now I’ve sent people scurrying after vintage copies of magazines, and numerous literary and university publications, but those days are gone. I’m proud to announce the publication of Wait for Signs, a complete anthology of the entire short Walt Longmire works available for the first time in a small format hardcover similar to Spirit of Steamboat. Many of the short stories were emailed out to newsletter subscribers, but like the eSpecials, have never appeared in print until this collection, which also includes a new short, Petunia, Bandit Queen of the Bighorns. (It’s a sheep story; make of that what you will.)
            Seventeen tons of hay and sixteen cords of firewood are put up, so I’m looking forward to hitting the trail and seeing old friends and making new ones and introducing Wait For Signs. It’s a pretty sizable tour for a short story collection and we’re striking out into locations where we haven’t been so much before, like Michigan and the Washington DC area.  Remember that Wait For Signs is available for pre-order from all the usual suspects and goes on the shelves October 21.

See you on the trail,
Craig

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Post-It: They Tried To Bury Us
 

              Ever since A&E cancelled LONGMIRE, the highest-rated scripted drama in that networks history, one of the top 25 shows last summer on both cable and network, a show that’s being broadcast in a hundred or so countries and averaging close to six million viewers an episode, they’ve had a problem on their hands—the posse.

            In case you haven’t heard the news, Netflix, the largest streaming provider, has picked up LONGMIRE, and I can’t help but think that an awful lot of the credit has to go to the Longmire Posse, the people who mounted an unprecedented response in all the social media. In my original Post-It response to the cancellation, I stated that Longmire viewers/readers were cowboys/cowgirls and that we ride for the brand and don’t walk away.

            I didn’t know how right I was.

            The Longmire Posse gave the executives in Hollywood something to think about, refusing to take this foolishness handed down from on high and mounting a stampede response in Twitter and Facebook that changed the face of television. A lot of other shows go on the chopping block every off-season and most go quietly into that dark night but not LONGMIRE, and there’s a reason for that--the people who got on their keyboards and hammered away every Monday night at the prescribed times, the people who with every key struck like a hammer on the television industry’s doors engraving the badge of the Absaroka County Sheriff’s Department along with the words—not this time.  

            I could go on about how A&E’s overall ratings have dropped 32.5% since cancelling LONGMIRE, or the early exit of the programming exec who axed LONGMIRE, but I don’t like reveling in other people’s misery—even though you don’t reward stupid. I think I’d rather think of a network with vision, one that’s excited about adding a truly quality show to it’s stable of House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black.

            I’d rather think of a frosty, western morning when Robert Taylor, Lou Diamond Phillips, Katee Sackoff, Baily Chase, Adam Bartley, Cassidy Freeman, Louanne Stephens, A. Bone Martinez, and Zahn McClaren step onto that set in front of all those producers, directors, and crew members, and maybe even that cowboy sitting in a canvas chair in the corner—and know they’ll have a thought for all those people who rode for the brand and made sure the sheriff got another term.

            You see… They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.
 
See you on the trail,
Craig

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POST-IT: The Dog House
 

            I’d like to welcome the five thousand or so new members to the Post-It newsletter, and hope you enjoy this year’s Annual Walt Longmire Christmas Story, Known Associate…

Known Associate ...
 
I listened as Victoria Moretti, my undersheriff, and Santiago Saizarbitoria, my deputy, quizzed Ruby in low voices as the three of them decorated the office Christmas tree—all two feet of it. “For how long?”
            The exasperation in my dispatcher’s voice was becoming more and more evident. “. . .A long time.”
I was gathering a few things from the office before I left, most important the container for my Colt semiautomatic. I was having trouble finding the lock box because I used it so rarely—once a year around this time to be exact.
            Vic’s voice was low, but I could still hear her as searching in the open space behind the hanging files, I went through the back ends of my cabinets. “He just disappears and doesn’t tell anyone where he’s going?”
            The Basquo was also still audible. “For only one day?”
            “Sometimes two, according to when he leaves. There was a pause, and I was sure Ruby was checking the old Seth Thomas clock on the wall in the outside office. “He’s running late and it’s snowing, so I’d imagine he’ll be two days this trip.”
            I listened as my undersheriff mused. “You’ve never asked?”
            “It’s none of my business.”
            “Does he take Dog?”
There was a pause, and then Ruby’s tone became more pointed. “Don’t you people have something to do?”
            Vic, for one, wasn’t taking no for an answer. “I’m going to ask him.”
            Ruby’s voice changed, and it sounded the way it did sometimes when she was sure she was right. “Young lady, it would do you to learn that there are times when people don’t want to discuss things and you shouldn’t ask—it’s called prying.”
            I slammed the last file cabinet and called out, loud enough for all of them to hear in an attempt to divert disaster. “Ruby, do you have any idea where I might’ve put my pistol case?”
            There was silence from the other room, but then she answered. “I think it’s in the gun safe.”
            I exited my office, walked down the hall, and crossed the reception area past the old marble fireplace, a remnant of when our building had been part of the Absaroka County library system. We’d mounted an old bank-vault doorway in the coat closet of the old Carnegie building, and it served as our weapons locker.
            Spinning the dial to 4-18-42, the date of the Doolittle Raid, a numerical legacy of Lucian Connally, my old boss and the previous sheriff of the county, I glanced over to the reception desk where the three of them were staring at me. “How’s the decorating coming?”
            “Good.” Vic waited for a moment before asking, “Going somewhere?”
            Pulling the heavy door open, I spotted the cobalt-blue plastic case sitting on the shelf to my right. Poking a finger through the handle, I slid it out, put it under my arm, and closed the door. The thud of the thing sounding like a tomb closing. I stood there for a moment before spinning the dial. “Yep.”
            Without another word, I crossed back to my office, snagged my winter Carhartt from the coat stand, and put it on. I straightened my hat and quickly headed out.
            I paused at the top of the stairs and patted my leg. Dog was beside me in an instant, and the combination St. Bernard/German Shepherd/Canis Dirus was at my side as we trotted down the steps making a clean getaway.
 
 

            Situated between the Big Horn mountains and the Black Hills in the Powder River country, the Thunder Basin National Grassland ranges in elevation from 3,600 feet to 5,200 feet above sea level and stretches 547,499 acres—and there are times when it’s not big enough.  
            I had an old rancher from the southern part of the county once tell me that I had ghosts hanging off of me all the time. He said that contrary to popular belief, the spirits that attached themselves to you didn’t slow you down but actually propelled you forward, faster and faster toward your inevitable end. The fact that he also believed that his coffee maker with a timer was his long dead mother making coffee for him mornings did nothing to diminish the relevance of the statement.
I had a lot of time for contemplation as I blew through Gillette’s southern suburbs and light industrial sprawl on state highway 59. A two-lane blacktop with opposing traffic, route 59 goes through as desolate and barren a place as any in the country and carries the combined weight of traveling coal miners, oilrig workers, and railroad personnel, some of them self-medicated, all of them sleep deprived, and results in one distinction—more people have been killed on it than any other road in Wyoming.

        I drove into Bill, which got it’s name from a local doctor’s wife who noticed that there were a lot of men around by that name. Bill is an unincorporated community with pretty much one building that houses a gas station/rural post office/motel/restaurant, catering to the Union Pacific crew change employees who take their mandatory rests in the town.
        Dog whined, knowing that Peggy’s Diner is one of our mandatory rests, where Diane always lets Dog sit in the corner by my booth as I ate.
        “Why don’t you call this Diane’s Diner, it’s an alliterative.”
        She refilled my coffee and studied me. “What’s an alliterative?”
        “A phonetic agreement where two words that start with the same letter are used in combination.”
        She glanced around at the fifties-style, pre-fabricated building. “It had the name in neon on the side when they shipped it here.” Her eyes came back to me before taking a crust of Texas toast from my plate and handing it to the drooling monster. “Lusk?”
        I nodded. “Lusk.”
        She watched me for a moment more, fed Dog another piece of bread, and then shook her head and walked away with my empty plate. “See you next year.”
        “Maybe not.”
        She called over her shoulder. “Yeah, maybe.” She turned at the counter and looked at me, just to make sure the sentiment carried. “How was your dinner?”
        “Delicious, Diane.”
        She grinned as she disappeared through the swinging doors of the kitchen. “That’s an alliterative--did you know?”
 
 

              After checking into the Trail Motel, I lay on one of the double beds and listened to Dog pant on the other. I called the room next door and let it ring five times before hanging up.
Possibly asleep or maybe she wasn’t there yet.
            I had the heat set on low, but it was still overly warm, the hot air left over from the previous occupant who must’ve been attempting to achieve an environ similar to Senegal. I watched the weather channel for a while and attempted to get a read on what the roads would be like tomorrow, but my eyes weren’t focusing and I finally got up and brushed my teeth.
            Glancing in the mirror, I looked at the scar on my forearm, exactly 357/100th of an inch. Turning my arm over, I looked at the other side. This scar there was about the size of a silver dollar and ragged with a tail that pointed down toward my elbow.
            I thought about that night when I’d pulled over a scours-colored Oldsmobile with a shedding vinyl top. It had had two hubcaps—it’s funny, the things you remember; it also had had a taillight out, which was why I’d stopped them.
            I turned off the television and flipped the switch on the lights, climbed into bed, and then peeled the covers back so that I could breathe.
            Dan Waldheim was his name. He’d owned Waldheim’s Liquor Shack down in the Sand Bar section of Casper for thirty-two years when the two of them had come in on a crisp Saturday night in November. Kids, they wandered around for a few minutes and then brought a bottle of blackberry brandy to the counter, along with a Smith & Wesson ’51 pre-model 27, .357 revolver and a Model 60 snub-nose .38. 
            There are a lot of versions on what happened next, but in the official transcripts it is agreed that there were words and when Waldheim made a movement with his hand, the nineteen-year-old had pulled the trigger and fired a 125 grain bullet through Dan’s heart at 1,600 feet per second, sending the fifty-four year old man crashing back against the wall of bottles like a loading chute gate at a rodeo.
            They’d fled north with $943 and the idea that they could make it to Canada. I’d followed them east of Durant and finally lit them up alongside the Co-Op. I’d slung myself out the door of the tiny Bronco that Lucian had bequeathed to me—I smiled and was getting ready to yell that they had a taillight out that they needed to get fixed and happy motoring.
            The shooter had flung open his door and was marching toward me, and I hadn’t even seen the revolver in his hand until he raised it and fired.
            They say the slug ricocheted off the chrome trim on the door and then continued it’s merry way through my forearm. I’d like to think that I was cool and calculated when I returned volley, but that would require me remembering that I had pulled my .45, aimed, and fired—but all I really remember is standing over the young man and kicking the Smith & Wesson into the grass alongside the gravel.
            That and her screaming; I don’t think she was remotely aware that she still had the snub-nose .38 in her back pocket.
 
 

              I got up early the next morning and tried the room next door, but there still was no answer, so I loaded up Dog and drove over to The Outpost Café and Truck Stop to grab two quick breakfast sandwiches, one for me and one for Dog, before heading north.
            I took a left, wound my way around West Griffith Street, and parked at the very far corner of the snow-covered lot under the sign that read NO DOGS ALLOWED.
            I drank a cup of coffee, gave the ends of my sandwich to the beast, who would have felt slighted if I had not shared, and then pulled out my pocket watch to check the time. I lingered there, waiting to see if she would show, but she didn’t, and I finally got out with my locking case. I held a hand up to let Dog know he wasn’t to follow. “Stay.”
            He sat, expecting a treat as I closed and locked the truck.
            I crunched across the dry snow of the parking lot past the chain-link and razor wire, and they buzzed me through the two heavy doors. I immediately went to my right where I knew the visitor lockers were and placing my Colt in the locking case along with my pocketknife, turned and facing the revolving security opening, looked up at the monitor, unpinned my badge ,and placed it and my driver’s license on the tray.
            “Do you have a cell phone?”
            I turned toward the voice to my left where a tall, bespectacled man held open one of the heavy doors. “No.”
            He held out a hand. “Brian Sales, I’m Heather’s new parole officer.”
            “What happened to the other guy?”
            “Retired.” I followed him through another door into a hallway, where we stopped in front of another and waited for the guard to buzz us through. Sales folded his arms over the thick file at his chest. “She’d like to speak with you.”
 
 

              I think orange was one of my favorite colors before I got used to being around it all the time in correctional facilities. She was palming a basketball and shooting a few foul shots in the gymnasium under the watchful eye of a female guard who stood at the baseline, sometimes collecting the ball and bouncing it back out to her.
            She was tall, very tall, with Raphaelite curls around her face and an easy grin that was only marginally lessened by a bruise on her cheekbone and a scab on her chin. “Hey, Sheriff.”
            I pulled up next to the ball rack. “Howdy, Heather. How are you doing?”
            “Nervous.” She glanced around at the cavernous room, the rafters and ceiling painted a light blue as if mimicking the walled-off sky. “Where’s Roberta?”
            I shrugged. “Snow must’ve slowed her up.”
            “That, or ol’ Roberta’s finally given up on me.”
            “I don’t think that’s the case.”
She dribbled the ball to the top of the key, held it for a second, then turned and executed a lovely three-pointer, all net. “They let me come in here and burn a little of it off.” The guard bounced the ball back to her, and she dribbled to the far side of the perimeter, palming it in an easy saunter. “I used to hate this game when I was on the outside. In school, short people were always asking me if I played basketball and I always wanted to ask them if they played miniature golf.”
            The guard laughed as Heather sank another. “With your height you play, right Sheriff?”
            I ignored her question and glanced up at the clock, caged against the wall—even time got solitary confinement here. “We should get going.”
            She surprised me by tossing me the ball, and I held it for a moment before placing it in the rack, the movement causing the wheels to roll it a little away from me on the glimmering wooden floor.
            “I’m not doing it this year.”
            I turned, unsure if what I’d just heard was what I’d thought I’d heard. “Excuse me?”
            “I got a couple of 115s, and they’re not going to take me seriously.” She dropped her eyes and wouldn’t look at me. “I had a cell phone.”
            “In prison?”
            “My mother in Douglas is dying, all right?” She turned her face away, and I was pretty sure there were tears. “A friend smuggled it in to me.” She wiped her eyes with a savage movement of her hand, which landed on the bruise on her face. “One of the girls heard I had a phone so there was a fight.” I stepped in bounds, but she held her hand out like I had to stop Dog. “No.” She stayed like that for a moment and then slowly let the hand fall before calling back to the guard. “Wendy, I want to go to my cell.”
 

              The parole officer, Sales, was waiting for me in the hallway. “Did you still want to go to the hearing?”
            “I suppose not.”
            He nodded as we returned to the heavy metal doors and the long hallway. “To be honest, I’m just as relieved—I haven’t had much of an opportunity to review the case.” He looked at me. “She’s been in here seventeen years?”
            “Yes. For possession of a firearm during the commitment of a robbery resulting in a homicide.”
            “But she never used her gun?”
            “No.”
            “Can’t the other individual, the one who shot the guy…” He flipped open the file, searching for the name.
            “Dead.”

              “Oh.” They buzzed us through, and I collected my badge, license, and gun case. He shrugged on his coat as we walked outside, and he stared at me. “How long have you been doing this?”
              “A while now.”
              “You mind if I ask why?”
              I turned to look at him.
              “I mean no offense, but she’s a basket case. I just don’t understand why you would—?” There was a noise, and he stared at me and then the inside pocket of his jacket. I waited calmly as he fumbled with his cell phone. “Probably the board, wanting to know why I’m not in there.” He touched a button. “Yes?” A second passed, and I could hear the other voice on the line. “Who? Oh, yes… His eyes flicked to me. “Actually he’s right here, would you like to speak with him?”
              He handed me the phone. “A Roberta?”
              When I got the thing to my ear, she was already talking. “Walter, I’m so sorry, but I was in a wreck.”
              “Are you all right?”
              “Yes, I just slid the stupid thing into a ditch and had to walk two miles to get help. How did it go?”
              I held the phone to my ear and looked around as if the parole board might’ve snuck up on me. “Well, it hasn’t, and it’s not.”
              “What do you mean?”
              “She’s not going to the hearing this year; she got a bunch of 115s… Um, cautionary reports for breaking rules--she had a cell phone for goodness sake.” There was a long pause, and a thought dawned like a bad day. “Roberta, are you the one who gave her the phone?”
              I listened, and she finally spoke. “Walt, her mother is dying.”
              Sighing, I stared at the concrete and the drifting snow that was blowing around my boots. “Well, I don’t know what to tell you; there are other charges and she didn’t even bother going to the hearing.” I shook my head. “It’s not your fault, she does something like this every year.”
              The parole officer began pointing at his wrist and throwing a thumb over his shoulder as I explained. “I’ve got to give Mr. Sales back his cell phone so that he can go to the hearing even if she isn’t.” She apologized some more, and we made promises for the coming year, the kind of thing you did during the holidays, finally saying goodbye.
              I handed Sales his phone, and he glanced at the screen as he turned and started back into the building. “Who is Roberta Waldheim, anyway?”
              I stretched my back and took a deep breath of the cold, free air and called out after him, sure that the buzzing of the prison door drowned me out. “She and her husband used to run a liquor store down in Casper, but she’s in the rehabilitation business now.” I watched him disappear and then trudged across the tundra toward my truck, and Dog. 


Happy Holidays and see you on the trail,
Craig

 


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Reply with quote  #73 
Post-It: The Little Things
 
It’s winter in Wyoming, that period after the holidays when the cold seems to stretch out like a long road and the sign for spring is nowhere in sight. I like it, but my wife says I’m strange, that all those years mountaineering and working out of doors has broken my internal thermostat and I don’t even know when it’s cold.
            But I do.
            It hurts to breathe and the coyotes howl in three-part harmony at those glittering, frozen stars like lost souls—and things die.
            It was on one of those nights when I was at the barn and was waffling over whether it would be best to put the horses in out of the wind, when I noticed a movement in the hay stall--a young deer, maybe six months old.
            Trying to keep a warm, low profile, she was nestled down in the hay, but I could still see that her front right leg appeared to be damaged. When I moved toward the tack shed, she tried to bolt but just crashed into the bale and stood there with her back to me, probably just hoping I’d go away and not add to her misery.
            I’ve had small deer in the barn before at this time of year; it just gets so cold they look for anywhere to get warm, even a man-made structure. Usually they’re the wounded or sick and like some Carhartt-wearing pallbearer, I end up carrying their small, frozen bodies out in the mornings.
            At least this one had plenty to eat.
            “Kills ‘em.”
            “The hay?”
            “Yeah, impacts ‘em.”
            I was sitting with Tom Koltiska, my font of all ranching knowledge, at the Pony Bar & Grill in Sheridan. Tom’s spread is in Sheridan County, out on Fifth Street towards Cat Creek, which, since he is of Polish descent and therefore allowed to make fun, he refers to as The Polish Reservation. He stuck his tongue out, rolled his eyes, and cocked his head. “They can’t get enough water and it clogs up their guts; they start stumbling around and then they die.”
            “What about the horse trough?”
            He looked at me quizzically. “What, you’re running a deer ranch out there in Ucross?”
            “Just one.”
            He laughed. “Bum in the barn?”
            I nodded. “Yep.”
            “It’ll probably die--they don’t know to get water out of a trough.”
            I stopped at the ranch supply store and got a heated dog dish.
            We’d gotten to know each other pretty well, and she’d gotten used to my patterns in haying and graining the horses. She drank the water and the amount of hay she ate was negligible, but she never came out of the stall. Like an idiot, I’d talk to her, like I do to the horses, imparting hard-fought knowledge as she stared at me with those black eyes. “They say that once you make up your mind to die, you’ll just hunker down in there and go to sleep, but I’m hoping you won’t do that.”
            I’d gotten pretty used to her company, but when I went down to the barn last night, she wasn’t there. I searched in the hay shed just to make sure her stiff little body wasn’t crammed in there between the bales—but there was nothing.
            I came out after feeding the horses and looked up at the stars the way I always do before heading back to the house; I find comfort in the light that’s taken millions of years to get here, just so we can admire it.
            There was some motion out by the feeder and there she was, munching hay and looking at me with those black eyes. The leg was a little wobbly, but she was standing on it and walking.
            We stared at each other for a while and had another one-sided conversation, and then I crunched in the deep snow back toward the house and another armload of firewood to carry in and stack by the wood-burning stove before heading for bed.
            Those singing coyotes might get her… But maybe she’ll be smart and stick around; after all, she’s always got a safe place to go.
See you on the trail,
Craig

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What's the difference between a cat and a comma ? One has claws at the end of its paws and one is a pause at the end of a clause ...
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Reply with quote  #74 
Post-It: The Get-Up
 
The fact that Henry tortures Walt by making him run is not lost on me. I used to exercise and play sports about seventy-five pounds ago, but there came a time when I prescribed to the fight rather than the flee philosophy because I’d really rather get my ass kicked than go running.

         There’s always that part of the Wyoming winter where I get a look at myself and notice the toll of sitting and writing and drinking beer is having on me. In short, I get the urge to get back on the road and start running again. It’s tough in the snowy parts of the year around Ucross since there’s only one road and it’s usually only partially plowed, leaving a somewhat narrow trail for the cattle trucks and me.
         So, I bought a treadmill a few years ago.
         That’s as far as I got-- buying the thing. Generally that works with me, in that the guilt of purchasing something is usually enough to get me to start to use it, but it's taken me a while. It’s pretty space age and runs programs with hills, moderating speeds, and more stuff then I’ll ever figure out how to use. But now I was determined to get into shape, so I started digging through my closet, dragged out my work-out clothes, slipped on my running shoes, and headed down to the shop where the treadmill sits between an ’87 Jeep Wrangler and a Ford 8N tractor, both of which on their worst days can easily outrun me.
         I started out slowly, just doing about two miles every other day, finally graduating to five, and then spending my days thanking all that’s just that I sit for a living. It was on one of those mornings that my wife picked up my cassette-tape player (yep, cassette-tape player) and looked across the table as I sipped my post-run orange juice, unable to withhold her comments.
         “I’m pretty sure you are the only person on the North American continent who listens to Johnny Cash when they run.”
         “Get Rhythm has a great beat.”
         She continued to study me. “How old are those sweatpants?”
         “I don’t know.”
         “Is that a Temple University sweatshirt from your graduate school days?”
         I puffed out my chest. “Yep, still fits.”
         “That means it’s a quarter of a century old.”
         “I guess.”
         “Do you run with that Carhartt on?”
         A little defensive, I pulled my ranch coat in a little. “I take it off when I get warmed up.”
         “How old are those shoes?”
         I sighed. “I see where you’re going with this. . . ”
         “You look like a homeless rancher.” She sipped her coffee. “What if you have a heart attack? Is that the outfit you want to be remembered in?”
         “It’s not an outfit; women wear outfits, men just wear clothes.”
         She studied me the way she does when I’m not doing what she wants. “This particular eccentric ensemble borders on a get-up.” My wife has three grades of judging clothes for better or worse, the regular clothes, the slightly more put together outfit and then, the dreaded get-up. “I’m thinking we should get you some new sweats.”
         Realizing that if I purchased new sweats I’d be shamed into running the rest of the winter, I dissembled.  “We’ll see.”

See you on the trail,
Craig

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What's the difference between a cat and a comma ? One has claws at the end of its paws and one is a pause at the end of a clause ...
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Reply with quote  #75 
 
  [Lilly] 
Post It: Lillian Gay Johnson

"That's nice, honey."
            I'd just told my mother that I'd gotten a contract to publish The Cold Dish with one of the largest and most prestigious publishers in the world. It wasn't that my mother wasn't impressed and proud in her own way--it's just that she would've rather I had a weekly paycheck and healthcare.
            In all fairness, she was justified in her concerns in that most of my young adulthood was spent driving around the country in a '60 half-ton pickup rodeoing, cowboying, and in construction jobs that seemed to only last as long as my interest in the geography held.
            As a child of the depression, she wasn't a big one for trusting the fates and would just as soon not have one of her own living in a refrigerator box under a bridge where the raccoons went to die.
           
"That's nice, honey."
            I'd just told my mother that I'd made it onto the New York Times Bestseller's list. "It's kind of a big deal."
            "Well then, I'm happy for you."
            They tell me she bragged about me all the time, not obnoxiously, but just the glowing pride of a proud parent. Her mother died when she was a toddler and my grandfather, unsure of how to take care of her and my uncle, asked my great aunt and uncle who raised them. This grandfather was the blacksmith of the family and I still remember staying in their little house and awakening to the sound that she must've woke up with, the ta-tink tink of horseshoes being hammered in the early morning; that, and the Colt Walker .44 that rested under my grandmother's pillow. I'm not sure what she was waiting on but it never came--wise on its part.
            A celebrity in her own rights, my mother had made the finals as the state dairy princess, but made an early exit when asked by the dairy board what she would've had to drink with a large piece of chocolate cake. Her answer?  "An RC Cola."
            Honesty was one of her strong suits.
           
"That's nice, honey."
            I'd just told my mother that my books had been picked up by Warner Brothers as a television series. "It's pretty great."
            "Well, good then."
            My mother, Lillian Gay Johnson passed last week, but I'm still holding a lot of her here in my heart. I'm sure most sons feel this way, but she was a grand individual, warm, kind, inquisitive, and ferociously independent. Living so far apart, I called her everyday just to hear the funny stories and laugh with her. These days though, I find myself with my phone in my hand, but no one to call.
           
            In the long road ahead, I'm not sure what will be coming, but probably not a weekly paycheck and healthcare. In honesty, I'd trade it all for a chance to hear her voice even though I know exactly what it is that she would say.
See you on the trail,
Craig

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What's the difference between a cat and a comma ? One has claws at the end of its paws and one is a pause at the end of a clause ...
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