“Pisco Hours” at Provisions Downtown Ridgway ~ Friday/tomorrow night … 4 until ….


Two surviving veterans from the Pisco Wars in South America will be guest bartenders at Provisions in downtown Ridgway tomorrow night. Tyler and rŌbert will be applying their copious knowledge and years of experience mixing their notorious and unmatched Pisco sours. Don’t be late and don’t be shy, you may never have another chance.



Sometimes, a line from a book or a film just sounds to good to resist. It sticks in your head and you tend to quote it – and eventually you change the words while you’re at it. (“Play it again, Sam” – anyone?) When this happens, not only does the quote get mangled – and taken out of context – but the original author is soon forgotten, and his or her original meaning is lost. This is what happened when I latched onto Larry McMurtry’s epigraph in The Last kind Words Saloon:

“I had the great director John Ford in mind when I wrote this book; he famously said that when you had to choose between history and legend, print the legend. And so I’ve done.”

This sentence (underlined) was in a film, a song, a play, and a short story. But where did it actually come from? And what was it, originally?

McMurtry not only recalled the line differently, but also gave it a different meaning by writing “choose between”, implying a choice between two related concepts. However, his version fits what he did in the novel – which was to depict, and print, the legend of Wyatt Earp, not the real-life Wyatt Earp. Also, it was not John Ford who said it. It was the screenplay writers who wrote the lines for the actor who played the part of the reporter, “Maxwell Scott”, in the 1962 film, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which was directed by John Ford. There’s a mouthful – but that’s not all of it.

1. First there was the screenplay…

Screenplay writers James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck have to be credited with those words. Ford, having become famous, is often credited with it, and not those guys of whom I’ve never heard. In the film, the characters say this:

“Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?
Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

In other words, when fiction becomes fact, print the fiction. A legend is folklore – or an old, made-up story – that people eventually believe took place in history and is true, because it sounds so convincing and humanistic. In the film, Maxwell Scott firmly chose legend over fact because legends sold more newspapers in the Wild West.

The film poster of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, starring James (Jimmy) Stewart and John Wayne, and directed by John Ford.

They created a great exit line for the context that they had created in the film. The reporter, Maxwell Scott (played by Carleton Young), gets the facts about the celebrated career of “Ransom Stoddard” (played by James Stewart ) a senator who, in his youth, became famous for killing an outlaw, “Liberty Valance”.  Having listened to the roll-call of the senator’s achievements in politics and the law, which is much duller than the public gossip doing the rounds, Scott realizes that Stoddard’s entire reputation is based on the myth that he killed Valance. And  he rips up his notes and says the famous line.

It is ironic that one of the most quoted lines in the film is spoken by a minor character, right at the end. It is a line that reflects the state of journalism on the American Frontier, in the second half of the 19th century to about 1890, the period in which the film is set. (Clues in the film indicate that it takes place after 1876.)

Newspapers of the time contained sensationalist stories with blaring headlines. This sort of “Yellow Journalism” – the forerunner of today’s tabloids – was backed up by exaggerated and frankly fantastical “dime novels” about the “Wild West” that became hugely popular after 1859. What the public demanded, the public got. And what they got, they believed.

It also reflects the cynicism of the writers and their belief that in news publishing, the legend (a juicy bit of fiction that the public believes) is more acceptable than history (or the facts.) It was certainly true about Hollywood in those days, where the PR machines of the big movie studios churned out endless lies and legends about movie stars.

Their famous line has often been misquoted, for instance by film critic Richard Schickel in the New York Times, who not only attributed to the quote to John Ford, but also mangled it. He wrote:

”When the truth becomes legend, print the legend.”

When he wrote it like that – when fact becomes fiction, print the fiction – he got it backwards. It’s the opposite of the meaning of the original line.


Theater in Montrose


Magic Circle Players 

Score Big With Amadeus

Okay, let’s be fair. 

After years of sometimes brilliant, often intriguing and always entertaining community theater in Telluride and Ouray, I’d become rather insular. I’d developed an unsubstantiated opinion that our small mountain towns offered the best chance of quality theater in the region.

Added to that there’s both tourist towns’ liberal distaste for Delta/Montrose‘s Trump/Boebert boosterism, particularly after a Delta jury thumbed their nose at Telluride citizens’ protecting their community gateway by arbitrarily doubling the cost of saving/condemning the Valley Floor to $50 million — twice what it had been appraised at. 

For me and others, opinion had become more like a full-fledged bias. Artistic as well as political. In all my 43 years on the Western Slope, I’d never gone to see a single play in Montrose. 

Kind of embarrassing actually for a former newspaper theater critic, son of a California community theater star, and one-time usher at the Schubert Theater in New Haven. 

Then, last month I heard a Colorado Public Radio interview with castmembers and organizers of the all-volunteer Magic Circle Players of Montrose. Started in 1959, MCP is a repertoire theater company that has been putting on plays for 63 years. On the air, one of their spokespeople made the claim that MCP shows were the best community theater on the Western Slope. It sounded like hubris. I resolved to go see for myself.

Plus, the current show that was just winding up its run was Amadeus. I had missed the original play. And the movie. It’s been on my to-do list forever. Since that hadn’t happened. I enlisted a friend from Hotchkiss to join me. We attended the finale performance of the late Brit playwright and screenwriter Peter Shaffer’s best known work, which had been awarded five Tonys for the stage play (1980) and eight Oscars for the movie (1984).

A period piece set in 18th Century Vienna, the play is a nuanced struggle between sloppy brilliant Good and clever mediocre Evil, the composer Saltieri we’ve never heard of and the composer Mozart we all love. I figured I’d go and see if MCP could pull off the conceit of this recent classic and make it believable and engaging –- especially as I was very interested in the story and I had not seen previous interpretations.

Well, to be honest, it was not only believable and engaging, it was terrific! I was blown away. In no small part because of really extraordinary lead actors. 

M.A. Smith was our Virgil on this Dantean descent into the hell of fame, jealousy, intrigue and betrayal, superbly re-creating Antonio Salieri for us. His foil — the babbling, immature and outre boy genius Wolfgang Mozart, excellently played by Everett Gregory — made us laugh, cringe and listen in awe to bits of his musical classics. Both gave dazzling performances.

Unfortunately, community theater is well-known for tolerating weak links in its productions. Hard to get professional quality acting out of volunteer thespians. But that’s just what Director Kathy Murdoch flat out did. 

Gary Hokit owned the charmingly stuffy (and dare I say witless — “There it is!” — or at least out-matched) Joseph II, Emperor of Austria. Janel Culver did a marvelous turn as Constanze Weber, Mozart’s wife. One could call each name on the playbill list and laud their very convincing performances, all in character, all audibly enunciating, all well-acted. 

Add to that a chorus that doubled as audiences, servants, crowds and crew, moving the delightfully minimalist set pieces in and out and making visible costume changes on stage in a marvelous choreography of inobtrusive staging.

In the second act I got to move from the back row to the front row. Up close I marveled at how well everything in the production worked. 

The ornate backdrop doubled cleverly as a screen where royal chambers and other relevant scenes were projected from the rear, giving an effective illusion of set changes. The costumes were lavish, well-made and appropriate. The tech, the lighting, the sound. 

Perhaps my one quibble might have been seeing upfront Gregory’s discrete headset microphone visibly scotch-taped to his cheek. But hardly significant.

Just about everything about MCP’s production was so well done that this one teensy faux pax was easily offset by the effective voicing the headsets provided the primary castmembers. 

A standing ovation from the large crowd in the 225 seat MCP theater validated the excellence of the evening.

Magic Circle Players, bravo! 

I’m definitely planning to go back to see more MCP shows. Particularly any in which Smith or Gregory star, or where Murdoch directs. 

Next up in early December is MCP’s Readers Theater offering: Miracle on 34th St. –- a script reading in the guise of a live radio play. 

Arturo Buen Tiempo

Tea Bowl by Shimazu Yoshihiro


When Shimazu Yoshihiro (1535-1619) happened to be engaged in military affairs on Korean battlefields, from which he would return as one of the celebrated winners in 1598, he took the opportunity to take along a number of Koreans, some say more than seventy. This was an unfriendly take-over but a substantial acquisition of external knowledge. And it was needed to start the production of Satsuma wares on Kyushu. One of those Koreans was Kinkai (1569-1621). His work was of outstanding quality and greatly pleased the Daimyo, who made the potter a samurai and changed his name to Hoshiyama Chuji. His descendants continued to work until the end end of the Edo period, mid-19th century.

The most typical features of the Korean style Kinkai wares are the marks scratched into the wet glaze on the outside of the bowl and the rather high split foot. These features apparent on this bowl made one of the previous owners write Korean Kinkai tea bowl (Korai Kinkai Chawan) on the box. The fact that the bowl was produced in Hagi, another kiln founded by Korean potters is not mentioned in the inscription. 


Simon & Schuster sold 900 signed copies of the singer’s new essay collection, but superfans and internet sleuths noticed something wasn’t right with the autograph. Now the publisher is issuing refunds.

Simon and Schuster has acknowledged that autographed copies of “The Philosophy of Modern Song,” Bob Dylan’s new essay collection, featured the singer’s signature “in a penned replica form.”
Simon and Schuster has acknowledged that autographed copies of “The Philosophy of Modern Song,” Bob Dylan’s new essay collection, featured the singer’s signature “in a penned replica form.”Credit…Simon & Schuster, via Associated Press

By Remy Tumin

Nov. 22, 2022

Henry Bernstein has seen Bob Dylan 27 times in concert and owns three items autographed by him: a copy of “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” album, a photograph of the singer and a “John Wesley Harding” songbook. His favorite song is “Tangled Up in Blue.”

So when Simon & Schuster, Dylan’s publisher, advertised limited-edition, hand-signed copies of the musician’s new collection of essays for $600 each, Bernstein was among 900 fans who went for one. Last week, he received his copy of “The Philosophy of Modern Song,” Dylan’s first collection of writings since he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, with a letter of authenticity signed by Jonathan Karp, the publisher’s chief executive.

There was only one problem.

Karp’s signature “looked more legit than Bob’s,” Bernstein said.

Bernstein was one of hundreds of fans who sleuthed their way around social media, reaching the conclusion that the supposedly hand-signed books had not, in fact, been signed by Dylan.


a missive from Mateo


You fucking Pirate,
In your “darkness”
you have abandoned us, your followers , you have cut us free, left us adrift – The tattler’s
tongue and the bloggers blunder , we
miss you – 
Correspondence with 
the expat Canmore cowboy . . . concerning your insatiable urge to host the Pisco bash. 

Señor Berg,
We spoke of the pirate,
rŌbert and his endless Pisco ritual.  We spoke of the adoring flock that returns to his fold with gift bottles from
Chile and other SA
Pisco nations.  If I were
to make my way to his “distilled spirit temple”
I would gift “HijoPuta”
It’s a fitting libation for 
liars and raconteurs .
When mixed or poured
straight, it would unleash and bring forth the telling of tales
we love to share .
I think of HijoPuta, shared and enjoyed under the seasonal palapa or the awning covered deck; the one up front with the Desperado Cimarron view.  Rōbert would surely get over his disdain and admit HijoPuta to his shelved bottle collection, once it passed his sensitive taste test and after he sees the pleasing look on the faces of his guest tasters. 
Viva HijoPuta !

Colorado Experience: Million Dollar Highway ~ Rocky Mountain PBS


It’s been dubbed The Road to Hell, but it’s also called the most beautiful drive in Colorado. The Million Dollar Highway is magnificent, death-defying, and it should have been impossible to build. It nearly was. And at a terrible human cost to the Ute people as well as to the men who blasted, dug and drilled a path through the steepest, hardest, roughest of mountain passes.

~~~ WATCH ~~~