The Billings Outpost

Familiar land, horses

“Looking for Lynne,” by John L. Moore. Create Space Independent Publishg Platform. Paperback, 356 pages.

By WALLY McLANE - For The Outpost

lookingforlynneAlthough “Looking for Lynne,” by John L. Moore, is a fourth book dealing with Ezra Riley, his family and cohorts – ah, friends – it can be read without feeling as if you’ve missed something.

If, after reading this book, you do not recognize some of the “fictional” characters or quarter horse bloodlines, then maybe you did miss something while living in this country.

The story takes place in modern times, dealing with the present problems ranchers all over have to handle. John Moore is certainly able to relate to all of this as he is a rancher in the Miles City area of Montana who also writes widely.

The undertone of the story deals with someone named “Lynne.” Once you read the dedication, acknowledgments and introduction, and if you are somewhat familiar with all the goings on in this region, you know who Lynne is/was.

This was further confirmed to me by a good friend of mine who is also in the dedication. He gave me a copy of this book shortly after we had been talking about “Lynne.”

Then there is the recurring role of the Oswald bloodline of the American quarter horse.

That should make people all over the country who are interested in quarter horses, interested in this book. Having seen and watched an Oswald horse do his thing, I now know firsthand how good they are.

And yes, the person on the back of one had better be a rider as this is not a “kid’s horse.”

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 August 2015 21:48

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New book honors art of Isabelle Johnson

Yellowstone Art Museum

isabellejohnsonThe Yellowstone Art Museum has published a new book about Modernist painter Isabelle Johnson (1901-1992). It is the first major study of the work of an artistic pioneer in Montana. “A Lonely Business: Isabelle Johnson’s Montana” includes essays by Patricia Vettel-Becker, Bob Durden, Donna M. Forbes, and Theodore Waddell, and is introduced by Robyn G. Peterson.

This richly illustrated book was made possible by support from the Tippet Rise Fund of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation, whose trustees Cathy and Peter Halstead now own ranch property that was formerly Johnson’s.

The book will be followed by a major Isabelle Johnson exhibition of the same name, which will be on exhibit at the Yellowstone Art Museum from Nov. 5 through Jan. 3, 2016, second in the YAM’s multi-year exhibition series called Montana Masters.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:42

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New book explores Crook’s role in Indian campaigns after Civil War

“The Gray Fox: George Crook and the Indian Wars,” by Paul Magid. University of Oklahoma Press, 512 pages. Hardcover, $29.95.

By WALLY McLANE - For The Outpost

grayfox“The Gray Fox,” by Paul Magid, is the second of a proposed trilogy on the life and times of Gen. George Crook, “affectionately” referred to as the “Gray Fox” by the Apache. Gray Fox roughly means “coming death.”

This book deals with his life after the Civil War, when he was involved in various Indian campaigns, including the Great Sioux War, but before he went back to Arizona to deal with Geronimo.

Crook was such a valuable asset to the Indian wars because he came into them with prior experience. Before the Civil War he fought Indians in the Pacific Northwest. He used some of the same tactics he had learned fighting Indians to fight Confederate guerrillas in the Civil War.

To find renegade Indians – those who were not on the reservations – Crook believed in using reservation Indians of the same blood, or sworn enemies, as scouts.

A couple of incidents are mentioned that deal with the Sioux Campaign in the spring of 1876. These incidents definitely contributed to George Custer meeting his destiny.

One of these incidents was when Crook sent two subordinates to lead an offensive against a contingent of the Northern Cheyenne.

He had these subordinates lead the offensive in an effort to help them get their reputations back. Had they been more courageous and listened to their scouts, the Northern Cheyenne might not have gotten annoyed and joined Sitting Bull – giving Sitting Bull the added strength to consider a major confrontation, the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

If Gen. Phil Sheridan had let his commanders in the field run the campaigns and had not tried to do it from behind his desk in Chicago, Ill., and if the Washington bureaucrats had stayed out of them, one has to ponder whether the Indian wars would have gone on as long as they did.

There is one minor flaw with the book. With the wide range of audience that will be interested in reading it, not everyone will be an English major. Sometimes the words in the narrative slowed the flow.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:36

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Entrepreneur, pioneer tough mix in early park

“Yellowstone Summers,” by Jane Galloway Demaray. Washington State University Press.

By WALLY McLANE - For The Outpost

yellowstoneDuring the late 1800s and early 1900s, with the nation’s economy switching from agriculture to manufacturing and industrialization, more of the “middle class” were able to enjoy some of the “perks” of the “upper class” – i.e., traveling – leading to an increase in tourism.

One of those to see where this newfound freedom was going was William Wallace Wylie and what better place to develop this traveling concept he had than in his recently explored Yellowstone National Park? To say he incurred a road block or two is an understatement.

After all, this was happening in 1878. George Armstrong Custer had been dead only two years. There were still Indians doing their traditional hunts in late summer and early fall. Since the park had recently been established in 1872, the government was still occupied settling down the Indian nations.

The national park had just been designated. Forget roads – riverbeds were the smoothest passageways – concessions, all the other amenities we are now accustomed to in the park. But someone had to start it, and Wylie was “the man with the plan” and “Yellowstone Summers,” by Jane Galloway Demaray, is his story.

From 1880 to 1905 Wylie would spend the school year in Bozeman, then ride horseback to Mammoth for the summers, tending to tourists, with the help of his staff – family, fellow teachers and students.

At the time, the tours lasted approximately six and a half days. The duration of the tours would change in time. Today, with stops, it can be done in four to six hours.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:29

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In ‘Dry Bones,’ Johnson goes after dinosaurs

“Dry Bones,” by Craig Johnson. Viking, 306 pages. Hardcover, $27.95.

By DAVID CRISP - The Billings Outpost

drybonesOne thing you have to admire about Craig Johnson. He’s a highly successful mystery writer in Wyoming who could rake in royalties from book sales and the successful TV series (now on Netflix) based on his main character, Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire.

He could crank out a new book every summer based on a standard formula, plugging in new character names and locations, and make a good living for many years to come.

But he doesn’t do that. He’s always trying something new. Sometimes it works, like the time he put Longmire in the Bighorn Mountains tracking down a criminal while echoes of Dante rang through the book (“Hell Is Empty”), or the time he turned out a short novel about a desperate plane ride to save a girl’s life (“Spirit of Steamboat”).

Sometimes they don’t work. The novel that included a trip to Philadelphia (“Kindness Goes Unpunished”) had a promising start, then got bogged down in a mishmash of suspects. The novel that included flashbacks to Longmire’s service in Vietnam (“Another Man’s Moccasins”) had a similar promising beginning that never quite developed.

His latest, “Dry Bones,” belongs in the latter category, although not by much. Once again, he comes up a fascinating premise: A Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton is found in Absaroka County, and then the property owner turns up dead. Intrigue about dinosaur bones would appear to be a can’t-miss plot in the barren West, but somehow this never quite comes off.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:23

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75th may be one novel too many

By STEPHEN DOW - For The Outpost

daniels-loneriderI have nothing but respect for Bozeman author B.J. Daniels. Her newest western romantic suspense novel, “Lone Rider,” is her 75th book since 1995. Last year alone, Daniels published five novels.

As someone who often struggles to put out an 800-word newspaper article each week, I can’t help but be impressed by Daniels’ productivity.

However, if “Lone Rider” is any indication, Daniels should start focusing less on quantity and more on quality.

First, let’s consider its title. The lone cowboy mentioned in the title is one of the most overused clichés in western literature, but Daniels embraces it. This is indicative of her writing style in general. If you can think of a clichéd character or circumstance, you’ll likely find it in “Lone Rider.”

The first chapter is the biggest offender in this sense. For example, consider the book’s opening paragraph:

“The moment Jace Calder saw his sister’s face, he feared the worst. His heart sank. Emily, his troubled little sister, had been doing so well since she’d gotten her job at the Sarah Hamilton Foundation in Big Timber, Montana.”

The “troubled little sister” cliché is just as old as the “lone cowboy” and Daniels utilizes it just three lines into the book. By the end of this first chapter, we’ve also been introduced to the sheltered daughter of a senator (Bo Hamilton) and the rugged cowboy who broke her heart (Jace Calder).

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:19

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Mystery a tasty treat

By STEPHEN DOW - For The Outpost

ButterOffDeadWriting mysteries can be a difficult task. On one hand, readers expect these novels to have a certain familiar formula. However, authors who follow the formula too closely run the risk of creating something too familiar. With “Butter Off Dead,” the third book in her “Food Lover’s Village Mystery” series, Big Fork-based author Leslie Budewitz proves that she is more than capable of walking that fine line.

For those unfamiliar with the “Food Lovers” series, it takes place in Jewel Bay, Mont. – a town with more than a few passing similarities to Budewitz’s hometown. The heroine is Erin Murphy, a former Seattle resident who returns home to help her mother run the family Mercantile. In addition to running the shop, Erin also unofficially works to solve the surprisingly large number of murders that take place in her small town.

In this book, the case revolves around the murder of Christine – the ex-girlfriend of Erin’s brother Nick and the organizer of the First Annual Food Lover’s Film Festival. As Erin probes into the death, she discovers that she may not have known her family and neighbors as well as she first thought.

Last March, I reviewed “Assault and Pepper,” another of Budewitz’s novels. In many ways, “Butter Off Dead” feels very similar to that book. Both have a heroine juggling her work life and crime solving. Both take place in a small, tightly knit community. Both feature groan-worthy puns in their titles. Budewitz’s love for food is present in both stories and is seen here through the paragraphs describing the food sold in the Mercantile.

Despite this, “Butter Off Dead” never feels like a retread. The character development is top notch, and Erin is a truly likable heroine. Meanwhile, supporting characters such as Erin’s mother, nephew and pet cats provide solid comic relief.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:14

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MSU professor pens book on American West

By EVELYN BOSWELL - MSU News Service

BOZEMAN – A Montana State University professor who gained new insights about the West by driving more than 30,000 miles and visiting every county in 11 states has written one of the latest books in a long-running environmental series.

Cultural geographer William Wyckoff said he wrote “How to Read the American West: A Field Guide” to dispel misconceptions about the West, give Americans a more diverse picture of the West and remind Westerners why they chose to live there.

Cowboys and saloons are still a part of the American West, but today’s West is one of the most culturally diverse areas of the country, Wyckoff said. Latinos now make up almost one-third of its population. The largest Vietnamese shopping mall in the United States is in the West. Las Vegas and snowbird settlements are as much a part of the modern West as sagebrush and dude ranches.

For his sixth book overall and his second book in the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series, Wyckoff selected 100 cultural features that shape the Western landscape. He chose them arbitrarily, Wyckoff said, then placed them into categories. Instead of focusing on the biggest canyons, the tallest waterfalls and famous tourist sites, he looked for more ordinary features that said something about the West today.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 August 2015 21:08

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‘Missoula’: Rape in a very small place

“Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town,” by Jon Krakauer. Doubleday. 367 pages, hardbound. $28.95.

By DAVID CRISP - The Billings Outpost

book-missoulaThe most notorious thing about Jon Krakauer’s latest book of investigative reporting is the title. Even Mr. Krakauer acknowledges that despite a recent spate of publicized cases, Missoula is no hotbed of rape.

Missoula’s rate of sexual assault is unexceptional, and the cases Mr. Krakauer writes about are, as he readily asserts, typical of sexual assault cases in America: They often involve people who know each other, they are difficult to prosecute, and they leave lasting scars on both the perpetrator and the victim.

This is not a fun read. Unless you are into torture porn, you are likely to find Mr. Krakauer’s repeated and detailed accounts of rape cases disturbing and depressing.

Moreover, little is resolved. Mr. Krakauer writes in an author’s note that “This book is an effort to understand what deters so many rape victims from going to the police, and to comprehend the repercussions of sexual assault from the perspective of those who have been victimized.”

He struggles mightily to deliver on that mission statement, but this reader was left as mystified as ever about these critical points. The book leaves one saddened and disturbed but unenlightened.

None of that is meant as a criticism of Mr. Krakauer. This is complicated stuff, and if attention to detail was all it took to unravel it, then “Missoula” would be a priceless contribution to understanding sexual assault in 21st century America.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:01

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Other books of note

By DAVID CRISP - The Billings Outpost

Not all of the books that cross our desk here at the Outpost deserve a full review. And some that do deserve a full review somehow slip through the cracks and never get one, either because they arrive at the wrong time or because we run out of time to read them. This column provides notes about some of those books:

• “High and Inside,” by Russell Rowland. Bangtail Press. This novel actually came out in 2013, but I got my hands on a copy only recently, courtesy of Mr. Rowland himself. I was a great admirer of his first novel, “In Open Spaces,” which seemed to me about as fine a coming-of-age book as I have read.

There is much to admire, too, in “High and Inside,” the story of a washed-up baseball player who returns to Montana to try to make something of what’s left of his life. It wasn’t as gripping as the first book – maybe it needed more baseball – but it made for a good summer read.

• “Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet,” by Todd Wilkinson. Lyons Press. Here’s another 2013 book that I also just recently obtained from the author himself.

I haven’t had time to read the book yet, but I know Todd (whose environmental column used to appear in the Outpost). He is a solid, no-nonsense reporter whose love for the natural world is exceeded only by his love for sound journalistic standards.

Perhaps Ted Turner’s foreword says it best: “Over many years, I’ve given probably thousands of interviews. My first impression of Todd Wilkinson when he arrived on my ranch doorstep in Montana was that he’d probably be just another reporter looking for just another superficial story to tell.

“I came to discover that’s not how he works. He’s as tenacious as I am.”

• “Laurel,” by Ann Kooistra-Manning, and “Rock Creek Valley,” by Bob Wallace and the Carbon County Historical Society. These are two new entries in the Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing. Like other books in the series, these consist mostly of black-and-white photos from the early days. Many of the pictures are fairly mundane shots of buildings and early residents that primarily are of interest to people who have lived in those areas. Others, such as the photo of Elroy Gilles (father of Outpost correspondent T.J. Gilles) on the rearing horse that he rode from Laurel to the 1940 New York World’s Fair, are just priceless.

• “Montana State Parks: Complete Guide and Travel Companion,” by Erin Madison and Kristen Inbody. Riverbend Publishing. Two staffers at the Great Falls Tribune put together this guide, which selects a few high points in each portion of the state and puts together a few photos, a brief description of each, a map and tourist information.

Most of the selections are predictable: This area, for example, is singled out for Plenty Coups State Park, Pictograph Caves and Makoshika, all high on anybody’s tourist list for this part of the state.

Other choices are a bit surprising. Also selected are the Rosebud Battlefield and Piroque Island near Miles City, a state park I had never heard of until we visited last summer. As the guide warns, the water was too high to get the island itself.

This is a useful book for newcomers to Montana, and pretty handy even for those of us who have been here for a couple of decades.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 21:46

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MontanaFair offers new rides

MontanaFair

Mighty Thomas Carnival brings the midway and something new to the 2015 MontanaFair in Billings Aug. 7-15. This traveling carnival will present rides, games and carnival treats at MontanaFair for the 36th straight year.

Founded in 1928 in Lennox, S.D., by Art B. Thomas, the show now winters near Austin, Texas, and is providing its 88th season for fair-goers, including 46 events in 11 states.

A brand new family roller coaster will be seen on the MontanaFair midway this year. The “Wacky Cowboy” will be part of the Mighty Thomas Carnival at MontanaFair.

Setting on a footprint 92 feet wide and 42 feet deep, the track rises to a height of 22 feet. The Wacky Cowboy was manufactured by Fajume in San Salvador, El Salvador.

The new Cliffhanger amusement ride with spectacular lighting is reintroduced to the Thomas Carnival midway this year. The Cliffhanger is the only ride that lets customers fly through the air like Superman. 

Other featured attractions on the Thomas Carnival midway this year at the fair:

Monster Trucks: Wisdom Rides of Colorado built this new children’s ride, featuring realistic monster trucks with a rear-wheel motion. It appeared for the first time in Billings at the 2015 MontanaFair. Each car has sound effects - pickup truck engine sounds. And each rider has a steering wheel - adults may accompany youngsters.

Martian Maze: Adorable Martians are pictured on the scenery of the Martian Maze. Young children climb ladders, cross bridges, slide down slides, and walk through a rotating barrel. Martian Maze is found in the MontanaFair kiddie ride park, a family area with trees and shade and benches and picnic tables.  

Frog Hopper: Another popular youth ride introduced in 2012, this one with a hopping motion, made by Utah’s S&S Sports. Adults may ride with the youngsters on the Frog Hopper, as well. 

There will be two “extreme” riding attractions at the fair this year: The Speed and the Ejection Seat. The Speed was brand new in 2012, and it’s huge and sensational.

Pricing on these two attractions is separate from the normal carnival tickets and wristbands.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 August 2015 20:54

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Rodeo draws top cowboys

The Yellowstone River Roundup PRCA Rodeo was a record setter in 2014 with 536 cowboys riding and over 12,000 spectators watching the three day event at MontanaFair.

The 2015 version of the rodeo has blasted that record out of the water with a record 586 entries and an even bigger purse.

Among the best cowboys in the world coming to MontanaFair includes local favorite Clay Tryan, currently No. 1 in the world in Team Roping Headers.  12 Time World Champion Trevor Brazile is back to compete again this year on Thursday night and during slack on Friday.

The Yellowstone River Roundup is drawing the best in the world again this year. Almost all of the top 10 team ropers (headers and heelers) will be in Billings. 

Other top flight competitors include

• 4 of the top 5 in All Around Cowboy

• 4 of the top 5 Steer Ropers in the world

• 5 of the top 10 bull riders

• 7 of the top 10 steer wrestlers

• 7 of the top 10 in tie down.

Clay Tryan is not the only Tryan coming to rodeo either.  You’ll find Billings’ Travis Tryan (No. 19 in team roping headers); Brady Tryan of Huntley (No. 39 in the world in team roping headers); and Chase Tryan of Helena (No. 40 in team roping heelers)

With so many cowboys, slack will be even busier this year. Slack gives fairgoers a chance to watch the rodeo action for the cost of a gate admission.

 but it helps getting all these cowboys through their runs. With big rodeos like the Yellowstone River Roundup, there are more cowboys entered than slots for them to compete.

When this happens, cowboys who are not scheduled to compete in one of the regular performances post their times or score during slack, which will be the morning of the each day’s rodeo.

Scores and times posted during slack count just like those posted during the regular performance.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 August 2015 20:53

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McBride plays Sunday

MontanaFair turns to country music on Sunday, Aug. 9, with one of the most powerful and recognized female voices in the history of the genre.

Martina McBride has been awarded 14 Gold Records, nine Platinum honors, three Double Platinum Records and two Triple Platinum awards and sold over 18 million units. The Country Music Association named her its Female Vocalist of the Year four times. The Academy of Country Music presented her with its Top Female honor three times. The Recording Academy has nominated her for 14 Grammy Awards.

Now that’s a huge list of accomplishments.

McBride grew up singing country music in rural Kansas, accompanied by her father’s band. She went off to the big city of Wichita, then married John McBride in 1988. The couple moved to Nashville in 1990. He became the city’s most successful and respected recording studio owner. She became a country star.

She first made the country charts in 1992. Her hit records since then have included such enduring classics as “Wild Angels,” “Safe in the Arms of Love,” “Wrong Again,” “Blessed,” “My Baby Loves Me,” “Life #9,” “Love’s the Only House,” “Whatever You Say,” “Where Would You Be,” “In My Daughter’s Eyes,” “When God Fearin’ Women Get the Blues” and “A Broken Wing.”

To date, she has had 20 top-10 hits and six No. 1 smashes. As a result, Martina McBride is ranked as the most played woman vocalist on country radio between 1999 and 2010.

McBride will headline the Sunday show at Rimrock Auto Arena on Aug. 9.  It’s her first trip back to Billings since a performance in 2006.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 August 2015 20:51

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Lynyrd Skynyrd to play

Legendary rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd returns with a fiery slice of Southern style guitar rock heaven in “Last of a Dyin’ Breed,” their newest release on Roadrunner/Loud & Proud Records.

“For me this is one of the happiest and most fun albums I’ve ever done,” says founding member Gary Rossington. “We didn’t have a lot of problems going on; it was just fun goin’ to work every day.”

Led by core members Gary Rossington (guitar), Johnny Van Zant (vocals) and Rickey Medlock (guitar), Skynyrd continues to build on the legacy that began over 35 years ago in Jacksonville, Fla.

In a tragic tale oft-told, the Skynyrd story could have ended in a Mississippi swamp with the 1977 plane crash that killed three band members, including Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines. Since then, the band has lost vital players in Billy Powell, Ean Evans, Allen Collins, Leon Wilkeson and Hughie Thomasson. The breed may be nearing extinction but Skynyrd is very much alive and ready to throw down.

Lynyrd Skynyrd is a band of today, carrying a steely mantle forged in the sweaty confines of the Hell House in Jacksonville decades earlier. There’s a reason this is one of the most beloved bands of all time.

Lynyrd Skynyrd is: Gary Rossington, guitar; Johnny Van Zant, vocals; Rickey Medlock, guitar; Mark “Sparky” Matejka, guitar; Michael Cartellone, drums; Johnny Colt, bass; Peter Keys, keyboards; and Dale Krantz Rossington and Carol Chase, Honkettes backing vocals.

Iconic rock band Blue Oyster Cult will start the rockin’ Saturday night at 7 p.m.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 August 2015 20:51

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Taste of Fair new this year

If it smells good it’s got to taste delicious!  What will you taste? Juicy, salty, sweet, sour, greasy, savory, buttery, crispy, tangy, smoky, bitter, fruity, spicy, hot, or cold?

One of the newest ways to experience all the fair food you can eat is MontanaFair’s Taste of the Fair.  

This exciting new event is Wednesday, Aug. 12 at MontanaFair. For only 100 pennies at each concessionaire, ($1) you can sample the best fair food and then get even more of your favorites. You can choose from Sushi, Chinese, Mexican, things on Sticks, deep fried whatever, Cowpies, and Corn Dogs along with yummy barbecue from competitors at the KCBS sanctioned, Montana State BarBQ Championship. Plus there’s a sampling of beers from the Budweiser Brewmaster Tour in Rimrock Auto Arena. Visit MontanaFair.com for a map of what’s available or pick up a map/brochure on Taste day.

Tastings will be in the food court area behind the Grandstands and in Rimrock Auto Arena from 4–8 p.m.

From Aug. 10-14, you can enter MontanaFair at lunch time and get your fair admission for free.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 August 2015 20:49

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