END OF TRAIL party Picture

Well now, lookit who it is! When I first gave ye my map, I never figgered it’d lead ye here! In one piece, that is. And no worse off than ye were before! A might more dirty and smellin of sweatin horse, but still goin strong! Tell me, was the trail as rough as ever’one says?

Now wait a minute, ye mean yer jus gonna leave? But… but yer a hero! Ah, yes. I understand. Yer kind make way fer civilization in these parts, but ye can’t live in it. Forever an outsider, eh? Always passin through, stoppin to help us mortals along the way.

Ah, mercy me! Where are my mannerisms? Ever’ one’s goin to the saloon t’night for some dancin, drinkin, and story-tellin. After all ye’s been through, can I buy ye a drink b’fore ye go?

And maybe a shower and some clean clothes too…

Without question, the western is America’s mythology.

America is really a “baby” country and culture, compared to centuries-old cultures like Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Europe. These other places have a long and rich history of folklore, mythology, and fairy tales that have become a part of their daily lives. These stories live on because they reflect the values that that culture holds dear. The western does the same for America. Other cultures look to their mythic heroes, like Gilgamesh, Odysseus, or Thor, while America still clings to the dramatic narratives of Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp.

The Western represents the heart of what America was built upon and while the “Old West” (if there ever really was one) may not be around anymore, it still continues to influence and even dominate modern culture.

While conflicts of epic proportions with the primal nature of right and wrong always driving the plot makes for good storytelling, the audience must remember: it probably didn’t happen that way in real life. Sure westerns are inspired by true stories; yes there really was a Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, but the details of these stories and people are probably closer to fiction than truth.

But many scholars and audiences will tell you that it doesn’t matter. In fact, we don’t want the truth! When the “reality” of the Old West breaks away from the emotional mythic greatness it has come to personify, people really prefer the legend, because legend – this larger-than-life quality of great, wondrous deeds of courage and sacrifice – is what still inspires people.

I feel extremely privileged to have been able to share my passion for the western with the people of the HARPG community, and I hope I have been able to spark some more interest in a genre that many feel has been losing steam in the past decades. I also like to think that hopefully OT inspired a lot more interactive HARPG shows (NOT THIS LONG I HOPE hahaaaa... *Dies*). I know OT really inspired some people this year, so here are some suggestions to get you more involved:

Watch movies!

- Most westerns are fairly old now, but you can still find them on Amazon and the like! Good places to start are anything starring John Wayne or Clint Eastwood, or directed by John Ford. Some of my favorites include:
-Two Mules for Sister Sara, McLintock!, True Grit (old and new)The Cowboys, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, The Hallelujah Trail, Support Your Local Sheriff, The Magnificent Seven, Hondo

Like guns? Join SASS

- The Single Action Shooting Society, also known as SASS, is an international organization created to preserve and promote the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting. SASS members share a common interest in preserving the history of the Old West and competitive shooting.
- Some unique parts of the sport include the requirements to costume for shooting matches and to adopt an alias. More can be found on their website: [link]
- SASS isn’t only for Americans! There are SASS clubs in most of Europe and Australia as well. You can find a local club here: [link]
- Got a horse? They've got mounted shooting too!

Watch TV

- I'm seeing more and more vintage westerns on TV: you know how I spend my Saturdays...
- The Wild Wild West, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Rebel, Wagon Train, The Guns of Will Sonnet, The Rifleman, Rawhide

Read a book!

- Simple, I know, but often overlooked. Most movies and television shows are based on western novels.
- I suggest anything by Louis L'amour, known as America's greatest story teller.

Appreciate it

- The best way to keep the west alive is by appreciating it. It's a very valuable piece of inspiration, and isn't something reserved only for Americans. The west was built by many people, and it holds inspiration for everyone.
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