Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Surreal for the Holidays

Season of Miracles
With the 2015 Christmas and New Year holidays approaching at breakneck speed, J and L decided to visit with L's sister, Beth (she has been in our blogs before) and her husband Dean, just before Christmas in Las Vegas. It had to be before the festive day of the 25th itself since that is the date when local family and friends descend on the abode of the intrepid duo for a celebration of why Christmas is so special - lots of laughter, giving, and tons of food which everyone enjoys but later complain that the pounds magically appeared around the waist.
Laureen and Beth - being sisters

It is the season of magic - isn't it?

It was also the first holiday season without J's mother, Anne,  so we both decided to splurge a bit by staying at the Bellagio on Las Vegas Blvd. Anne would have loved the place - like her - lots of class.

View from 25066

The Resort was opened on October 15th, 1998 by the Mirage Resorts Corporation, owned by Steve Wynn at a cost of 1.6 billion dollars. The opening ceremony with dignitaries from around the world cost over 88 million dollars in celebration - that is a huge and expensive party!

Steve had done it right - immediately the fabulous resort was determined as a must stay by travelers the globe over. With 3,015 rooms on 36 floors - different towers house the rooms and each room tastefully decorated with grace and taste. Of course, there are plenty of upscale restaurants such as Lago, Jasmine, Picasso just to name a few), shops (Rolex, Fendi, Gucci, again just to name a few), theaters, musical venues, pools, fitness rooms, conference centers, and anything else a guest or organization would require or dream of. And yes, there are thousands of square feet of casino for those interested in bucking the tiger of the house (the tiger generally bites rather hard).

Nice hallway to the conference centers
Even the Penguins wear formal attire
What do you stuff in that stocking?
Through the years the Bellagio has been listed as one of the Leading Hotels in the World as well as the AAA Five Diamond Award 15 years in a row plus numerous other awards which would take an entire blog to write about. Combine all of the above with the famous Fountains of Bellagio, the Conservatory, Botanical Gardens and the Gallery of Fine Arts and it is easy why this resort was the one chosen by J and L. - now it should be understood, we do not work for Mr. Wynn as public relations but then . . .Steve, you know . . . J used the Wynn as a backdrop for his last novel Soft Target - sorry about blowing a lot of it up though (it was fiction okay).

Pg. 242 -  Wynn Explodes
A wonderful couple of days planned with family and fun in Vegas but which suddenly turned into something J and L had not imagined nor would have ever wanted to.


The evening of the 20th of December J and L dressed for a night on the town in their room on the 25th floor overlooking the fountains listening on channel 22 to the choreographed music to the waters below and smiled at each other. Looking sharp and relaxed it was time to hit the Strip for a drink, some shopping and a great and probably expensive dinner - that's just Vegas.

 Enjoy the moment.
Selfie or not - we were having fun

Walking across the bridge that stretches across Las Vegas Blvd. J and L snapped photos like the thousands of other explorers and visitors and stopped in at the Hexx on the east side of the boulevard for an adult beverage before heading into the Paris Hotel to wander and take in all the beautiful holiday decorations within the resort and picking up a few things here and there for family back home. Leaving the Paris Hotel and planning to walk leisurely about the Strip for an hour or so before dinner L wanted to walk the long way back in front of the Paris Hotel but J insisted they take the pedestrian bridge across Las Vegas Blvd. to Caesar's  Palace where there were some interesting sounding restaurants that may be worth inspecting - it was at this time that a police vehicle sped by below with red lights and sirens.

The ideal evening of fun and exploring stopped.

30 Minutes earlier
Where the Monster drove onto the sidewalk committing murder

From the walkway suspended over the boulevard J and L stood astonished, amazed and saddened by dozens and dozens of police units, ambulances and fire vehicles tearing down from all directions and stopping in front of the Paris Hotel.

Within minutes Las Vegas Boulevard was blocked off north and south in front of the Paris Hotel and the Bellagio and more emergency units were arriving by the second. L, through text messages tried to find out what was going on and Beth did her best with updates but since the scene was so fresh all accounts were fluid and sometimes contradictory - a drunk driver, an explosion, the Miss Universe was canceled because shots were fired, it was a gang related firefight in front of the Paris Hotel - and on and on went the updates from Beth and passerby's on the street.

No one knew what was happening except the authorities who kept showing up in record numbers.

Beautiful view, marred by tragedy

Of course, as J and L made their way slowly to the front of the Bellagio listening as best they could to all the rumors floating around about terrorists, gang violence and such one thing was clear - this evening had turned from celebration to mourning.

First Responders
The simple and terrible truth was that a thirty-two year old homeless woman (per the most recent news and police chatter) was upset at the world because of her failures and decided to take it out on a group of pedestrians in front of the Paris Hotel with her car. Those innocents were there celebrating one of the most cherished holidays in the world and she was there to bring misery - she did - killing one and injuring more than thirty who will probably survive the physical trauma but not the emotional.

This creature, this monster was a terrorist on this 20th of December - she may not plead a jihad against the civilized world but she did bring hours and hours of terror into a beautiful night in Las Vegas.

Evil was her name and she did it with her three year old daughter strapped into the back seat - how much more evil could she be?

After an hour or so J and L were able to make their way back to their room on the 25th floor of the Bellagio and look down on the flashing lights of dozens of emergency vehicles instead of the festive romp of fountains displaying holiday cheer.

A fancy and relaxing dinner forgotten - news viewing and window peering were the headlines of the rest of the evening.

As they sadly watched the action below a thought entered their minds - if L hadn't wanted to shop, if J hadn't insisted on walking across the bridge of the boulevard instead of walking in front of the Paris Hotel, this blog may have had a different ending.

There is always the dawning of a new day!
L had taken J's photo at the exact spot the monster had decided to drive her vehicle at thirty miles per hour into a group of tourists (and then back up and do it again) only thirty minutes earlier. And then, a turn to the left instead of the right would have put J and L in line with the demented woman's vehicle which struck the crowd of thirty plus only four minutes earlier - the time it took to walk there after leaving the Paris Hotel.

Surreal - yes! It is a magical time of the year - at least for these bloggers.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Under the Sea

What lies beneath those beautiful blue Caribbean waters, just offshore from the warm white sand beaches?  Much, as it turns out, for those willing to venture beyond the sunbathers and the tropical drinks, to venture under the sea.

Cruising through the Caribbean Islands is an adventure every soul should have at least once in their lifetime. Breathing in deeply the clean ocean kissed breezes will restore your spirit, if only for a brief respite from this weary world. But there is an appeal much deeper for those who depart ship and shore. Much deeper. Well, at least a dozen feet or so. So put on your fins, grab your snorkel and let's go!

We started our morning like any back home: grab a cup of hot, black coffee, the newspaper, and discuss what the day had in store for us. Today's conversation took place not in our living room as we readied ourselves for our workdays, but on the veranda of our rented flat in Turks and Caicos. Yes, it would still be a work day as we helped prepare for the commencement exercises of a university with which we are affiliated, but perhaps there was time to take in a morning swim. Perhaps. If we timed it just right.
So quickly grabbing our gear, we headed to a spot off Grace Bay known as Bight and without hesitation, dove right in. Growing up in Hawaii, snorkeling was almost second nature to L, but even spoiled by those beautiful waters, there were pleasant surprises in store this morning. 

Armed with a waterproof camera and with an hour of free time, we swam away from the shore toward a small reef. This is part of a larger system of reefs which protect the bay and the island chain.

We were prepared to see the variety of coral and small fishes that met our gaze as we floated near the surface of the warm waters of the bay, but were struck by the clarity of the water which allowed us to see what we estimated to be more than five fathoms below the surface.

We dove and floated and explored, discovering small schools of tiny silver fish and bigger blue fish. There were purple corals, and purple fish; yellow corals and schools of bright yellow fish.

It was serene and beautiful. Simple, but beautiful and easy to lose track of time.  But the day was warming and we knew we should be jumping out and getting ready for the day. Just five more minutes. Five more minutes...

Then, right below us, casually swimming below us, was a sea turtle. No hurry, no fear, just swimming right up close to nibble a little breakfast and see who had come to visit his neighborhood. We were in awe of the grace and curiosity of this beautiful creature.

And a bit jealous how the turtle seemed to take in the environment so naturally unlike us with fins, mask and snorkel.

Puffer fish, and then whatever this creature looking at me and heading out our direction meant it was time to go home.

The debate of was it an eel or something more sinister, if anything could be more sinister than a lurking eel ready to take a bite of nosy humans.

J concluded that it was merely another fish, while L contended that the creature which gave her such a start was clearly an eel - whatever it was will remain a mystery since it ducked down into the reef not to be seen again.

Swimming in the water with such clarity that sightseeing the undersea world was as easy as stepping onto the warm sands of the Bight. A good start to what would be a very busy day but the thoughts and images of what we saw gave us the determination to carry on with much more mundane duties for the remainder of the day.

Of course, there was always tomorrow and the next - why only work when visiting the Turks and Caicos? There is too much to see and so little time - so we made every hour count.

Sleep? We'd rather explore and sleep later - take advantage of the now! No one knows how many sunsets we are granted. Not a philosophical discussion just reality.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Prayers for San Bernardino

The victims - the loss for us all - the Heroes
"Try to relax, everyone, try to relax, I'll take a bullet before you do, that's for damn sure. Just be cool, OK?"

Those words from a brave police officer as he escorted terrified civilians to safety during the horrendous Islamic Terrorist attack at the San Bernardino Regional Center on Wednesday the 2nd of December. No mention of the assassins' names will be printed here since that would only bring recognition to two purely evil individuals who may have believed they got a ticket to Heaven but undoubtedly are feeling the heat of Hell at this moment for the mass murder of innocents.

Or at least we can pray that is their end reward.

A Good way to end a bad terrorist!
The police officer - probably didn't know he was being videotaped and would simply shrug his shoulders and respond if asked about the heroic deed: "It's all in a days work."

Being an ex-deputy sheriff and former member of SWAT - J knows all too well the diligence and duty that goes along with wearing a badge. Those years working for the Riverside Sheriff's Department were special with friends made, lives saved and the satisfaction of realizing his badge, like all those who wear them, is the thin line between civilization and anarchy.

Are there sometimes rotten apples - bad cops - yes there are just like there are bad attorneys, bad teachers, bad business people, bad judges, and bad politicians (probably more of those than all the others put together) but this blog isn't about the aberrations within respectable careers.

This is about the men and women who each day don their respective uniforms, kiss their loved ones good bye not knowing if they will be coming home after their shift. It's not morbid but simply a reality these law enforcement personnel live with on a daily basis.

A routine day - no - but maybe . . . 
It's about the overwhelming good people doing what they are supposed to do every day.

When J was a 'copper' on the streets he would say that most of the time the job of a police officer is 97% routine and 3% stark raving terror.

That is what the fine officers - SWAT and regular patrol and detectives -faced around eleven in the morning on the 2nd in San Bernardino, California. They got dressed, said good bye to their loved ones and went off to a day at work. Hours later they would be involved in one of the largest terrorist killings in United States history.

Terrified = Terrorism

Common patrol routes turned into racing toward 'shots fired' - a training session ended in speeding toward those shots fired as 'civilians down' crossed the radios - sunny weather turned into tears from heaven as the death and casualty toll climbed minute by minute.

Not a regular day at the office for any of them - nor for the poor innocent people who were simply trying to enjoy a Holiday party at work with friends and co-workers. They to had gotten dressed in the morning, said good bye to their loved ones and went off for their normal, or thought to be, day. Horribly fourteen of these wonderful people never will return home to the comfort of their loved ones.

Some will return home but scarred anyway

It was a day which fate - that sometimes cruel master - had decided to reduce the human population by means of a couple of monsters.

The heroes on that fateful day were the police officers, the civilians who obeyed the frantic but professional order given by those police officers, and the citizens who lost their lives.

Like 45 year old Shannon Johnson who was in the building when the shooting started and ducked beneath a table for safety and then put his arm around a female co-worker and said "I got you", shielding her body from the onslaught of bullets coming their way. Mr. Johnson died - his co-worker lived because of him.

Hero - Shannon Johnson and his girlfriend at a happier time
The people who perished on Wednesday were heroes - they didn't start their day believing they would be but as they were tragically and gruesomely shot there was one other person not being shot. In a sadly rational way they too were willing to take a bullet so someone else could survive.

We can pray that there will be no more mass killings but that would be naive when humans with hard held fanatical beliefs are allowed to roam this globe. Humanity must see that these individuals should not be thought of as human with a moral understanding of what it is to be truly human - one with empathy, sympathy and the knowledge of right from wrong. This is not what they believe - only pain and suffering is their desire.

It's okay to pray
It's not about gun control but about understanding the enemy at large and then doing the right thing.

Eliminating them.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Around the World

Forty-three years before the Pilgrims sat down for their feast of thanks with their Native American neighbors in 1621 the tradition had already begun in 1578 on the North American continent. It was in that year that explorer Martin Frobisher held a ‘thanks giving’ in October – his thanks? Surviving the arduous sea voyage from England to his new home in Canada.

Though most resident of the United States may believe Thanksgiving is a unique American tradition it is not.

The celebration of the previous year and hopes for a good harvest is an ancient rite but the more modern concept of Thanksgiving really is a Canadian and American tradition. Canada holds this holiday on the second Monday in October and we of course the fourth Thursday in November – wouldn’t want to cramp our cousin’s style to the north.

But in fact, dozens of countries around the world hold the idea of giving thanks as so important that they too have specific declared dates for such an event. It is a time to celebrate the good fortunes of the past year as well as prepare for the upcoming year with family and friends. To sit down together at a feast and count the blessings seem to be a constant around the world – sounds very familiar.

It is. From ancient times people gathered about the hearths and tables laden with all sorts of yummy foods to give thanks for what they had and for what they hoped to have as winter came and then turned into spring. Forever hopeful - those humans no matter what century they belonged.

The grass is always greener.

President Lincoln and Ms. Sarah Josepha Hale
 President Abraham Lincoln declared that Thanksgiving would be held always on the fourth Thursday of November after being persuaded by a letter written from Philadelphia on September 28th of 1863 by Sarah Josepha Hale -  author of the 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' story.  She was a very astute and convincing woman since the president ordered that Thanksgiving would begin that very year. She knew what she wanted and got it.

 Though not to be too nationalistic, though there is nothing wrong in that, other countries as mentioned earlier celebrate similar holidays.

Moon-Cake and tea anyone?
In China the eating of moon-cake during the August moon festival which falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of their calendar is an extremely important tradition. It is the time when lovers tell each other their deepest felt emotions and women are considered similes to warm and compassionate virtues - fertility is a big thing mentioned here - albeit the lover issue.

Brazil celebrates something very similar to the United States due to the fact that an ambassador once visited the United States during Thanksgiving and believed it to be such a wonderful expression of thanks he brought it back to his own country. Carnivals, sports and great harvest celebrations are held there each year in thanks for what the Brazilians are thankful for.

Brazil vs Turkey -  really on Thanksgiving

The celebration of Chuseok (fall evening) is celebrated in Korea on the 15th of August and continues for three days. Great feasts are prepared but before partaking families gather below the moonlight in remembrance of their ancestors. This is a great honorable moment and a lot of great food and family fun.

A large family gathering for Chuseok
And on October 4th in Rome is celebrated Cerelia - in honor of an ancient 'goddess of the corn ' Ceres. Musical events, parades and sporting events are conducted to keep this ancient custom alive.

Where's the Corn?
So, around the world there is always time set aside each year for peoples to gather among each other and give thanks for what they have and give thanks for what they may receive in the coming year.

Good food, great family and friends are more than anyone could be thankful for and for that uncertain future - give thanks and a few prayers may serve the purpose also.

We at J and L wish all a wonderful Thanksgiving no matter what country you call home..

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Vive La France

City of Light

Having visited Paris a few times in the past J and L wanted to express our heart felt condolences to the beautiful and wonderful people who live there. We always felt welcomed in the city on the River Seine.

Paris is truly the City of Light when during the Age of Enlightenment education and the promise of new innovative ideas were at its very core. Those ideas spread around the world making each following century that much better. In 1828, gas lamps were erected along the Champs-Elysees and being the first city in Europe to light a major thoroughfare earned the title 'La Ville-Lumiere'. Talk about being creative and full of bright ideas!

This is not a long piece nor should it be but simply a note to the people of Paris who have suffered at the hands of cowards who shun the idea of new thoughts and creativity but only have a sickly perverted desire to move back into the dark ages.

It won't happen because it can't - the free peoples of the world will not allow such a travesty to occur.

Hey  ISIS - the French are coming!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Air Show

Spending time in the sunshine looking up as aircraft climbed into the heavens doing detailed and seemingly dangerous maneuvers while spewing streams of colored smoke seemed like something to do on an October day, so that is what I did.

It was the 14th annual Apple Valley Air Show in the High Desert and since L had a prior engagement J decided that wandering the small airport experiencing the sights and sounds of air planes zooming here and there was something an explorer would like to view.

P- 51 Mustang
With the likes of the B-25 Mitchell, the P-40 Warhawk, dozens of other vintage, experimental aircraft and modern winged machines to look, at the day didn't seem as if it could get any better – but then it did. Sitting on the black tarmac ready to fly and show off to the hundreds of guests from all around Southern California and places beyond was a beautifully maintained P-51 Mustang. 

This single-seat, propeller-driven fighter was produced in 1940 by the North American Aviation Company and saw action in World War II. It was so popular as a mean spirited killer of the enemy, that it actually stayed in active military service until 1984 when the Dominican Air Force retired the last remaining fighter. 

Uncle Jack - 19+  Great Hunting
It was also the plane my Uncle Jack Thornell flew during WWII in Europe when he became a fighter ace with roads, schools and a whole of other stuff named after him when he returned to Massachusetts. A town hero - no, a national hero.

Since there were no available photos of Uncle Jack and the plane he flew during WWII, I did some research and soon learned more about my uncle than I had previously known. That's what we do - research and this time it really panned out. Most folks don't talk about their war experiences for solid reasons and Uncle Jack was one of those who remained relatively quiet but what was known or thought to be known was that he had shot done 5 enemy aircraft during the war which made him a flying ace. Those are called 'kills' - now, anyone losing their life during battle is a tragedy even if it is the enemy but unfortunately that is the cursed nature of war.

What the research turned up, beside the photograph in this blog of Uncle Jack standing next to his P-51 named Patti Anne, after his younger sister, was the fact that he actually was credited with 21.25 kills and not 5 as what had been believed - where that number came from I can't recall but it was in his memory since childhood. Nineteen of the kills were strictly in the air by Uncle Jack, 2 were planes on the ground trying to take off and join the air battle while the .25 is probably a bomber that Uncle Jack and other allies were teamed up on over Europe. In that case each fighter pilot was given partial credit since no one could definitely say which fighter was the one that in fact took the enemy plane down. Whatever the case with exploration and researching new facts or that should be written old facts came to light about my famous relative Lt. Col. John (Jack) Thornell.

Is that Colonel Shakirov flying? Nope, he's just a fictional character - we think
Even more enthralling was the fact that Uncle Jack shot down three Messerschmidts during one single day, and those planes were handled by experienced pilots, and were wonderfully and expertly designed fighter aircraft

Don't mess with Jack! 

Another bird which piqued interest was the Russian-built Yakovlev (Yak-3) which served the Soviet Air Force from 1941 until 1952. This single-seat fighter had very similar lines to the P-51 and according to the Russian pilots and ground crew was much superior. Yeah, well, they would say that. 

The official start of the air show
The ex-special purpose officer, Colonel Yuri Shakirov from J’s novel ‘Soft Target’ would probably agree also – so who knows. The fighter was also used in both the Yugoslav and Polish Air Forces after WWII because of the stability and easy handling of the plane.

The day started at ten with the arrival of skydivers at the opening ceremony circling to earth with colored smoke packs and waving American flags. It was a very patriotic entrance which brought the crowds to their feet cheering and yelling.  

The announcer shouted: “Ladies and Gentleman, we now have an air show!”

Hang in there, kid!
Laughter, shrieks and thrilled shouts of amazement from the crowds intermingled with the sounds of the powerful planes landing and taking off from the tarmac. Cotton candy, hot dogs, nachos, kids fun zone, a petting zoo, a climbing rock, face painting, booths that sold this and that, and a beer garden were only some of the fun things for the guests to enjoy.

And fun they had.

And it flies?
As the sun rose higher, so did the spirits of the people attending the air show in the local community of Apple Valley. For such a day all it had taken was to do a little research on when the event would be held, pack up the family and friends and drive a short distance on the outskirts of the city to partake in a wonderful experience.

 Dozens of planes, vintage and not so very gorgeous vehicles were on display for the guests to view that almost every square foot of the Apple Valley Airport was taken up by this and that. Crowds walked and ran to see planes doing what seemed like impossible tricks in the air while children screamed with joy with the rides available to them as parents took photos of their little ones on those very same rides.

There was so much to do and only one day to do it but as I milled about, I saw families taking advantage of the beautiful weather and enjoying being with each other - and isn't that what counts - good family and friends?

This guy was so tired by the end of the day - you can see it

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Silver Spurs

Best Actress or Best Actor - you decide.

An opportunity came up recently to spend the evening rubbing elbows with film and television stars. That was a full ahead go for the western theatrical ensemble – Tombstone Legends (which J and L are members).

Laureen with Buck Taylor
The invitation was delivered by the Reel Cowboys, a non-profit group which was formed in 1997 by seven close friends. Mainly made up of actors, directors and behind the scenes talent who worked in western film or television which has now grown to over 100 active members from all walks of life.

John with Angie Dickinson
Their goal – to preserve the good moral and family values that are the mainstay of the western genre in Hollywood and to ensure it would continue on and on into the future. 

What a refreshing 'old fashioned' idea - good morals and strong loving families.

Tom "Snakey" Troutman, Laureen, Carrie Joseph,
Danny "Virge" O'Connell, & Julie Ann Ream, Event Coordinator
The actual invitation came through a member of both the Reel Cowboys and Tombstone Legends, a gentleman named Daniel O'Connell,who plays Virgil Earp. And on behalf of J and L, as well the Tombstone Legends, we'd like to extend the kudos to the one who gave us this wonderful chance.

Thanks, Danny!

The Legends
Each year this group sponsors an event called ‘The Silver Spur Awards,’ which is a fundraiser to honor western themed moments in Hollywood , either in television or film. This year on September 18th the celebration was for the 60th anniversary of the long running series Gunsmoke. For two decades (1955 – 1975) this series entertained millions of aficionados of the western culture every single week.

Dave Moore with Martin Landau
Gunsmoke had the ever courageous and tall (6’7”) Marshall Matt Dillion (played by James Arness) taking care of the bad hombres who dared come into Dodge City. His long time secret girlfriend, Miss Kitty (played by Amanda Blake) who owned and ran the saloon was always by his side giving him the support any ‘friend’ could. 

Jaye and Andrew Strother

And who could forget the other colorful characters: Milburn Stone, Buck Taylor, Ken Curtis, and the rest of the hundreds of other western folk who moseyed through the various sets of Gunsmoke? Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood made early appearances here before hitting the ‘big time’ in Hollywood just to count a few.

Incomparable women:
Pilar Moore and Michael Learned
So, this year’s gala was to highlight all those who participated in one of the longest television shows and give homage especially to James Arness. At the very beginning of the series Mr. Arness was lauded by John Wayne that James would someday be a very big star. How correct the Duke was with that prediction – and the rest is history.

Barry and Karen  enjoying the photo op
Members of the Arness family were present to say kind words about the show, James and the many others who had come out this evening to celebrate 60 years of fame and those who could not be there due to various commitments or who were no longer with us. It was touching, humorous, enlightening, and an honor to be there as guests.

The evening went by way too quickly with photo sessions, interviews of the most famous of the guests, a silent auction for charity and a wonderful catered dinner at the Sportsman Lodge in Studio City. During the actual award ceremony clips from Gunsmoke were shown, guests spoke at the podium, a dais of stars answered questions about their days on the set of the famous western, and just a good time wandered the spectacularly decorated hall where the event was held.
Great Company, John "Wyatt" Gilbert
with Morgan Bittany
Great location

Taking it all in reminded J and L what life must have been like when Hollywood truly worried about good morals and great acting instead of what we often see on the screens today. Not saying there isn’t talent still out there but after attending the Gunsmoke 60th anniversary we just wished there was more.

We believe that films and television mirror the public's soul and if the time of Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, is over then perhaps it's time to bring those times back. 

Baryy Clark, Martin Landau,
Marty Kove, and Tim Reynolds

Okay, maybe they weren't
 always the good guys.
The Old West of early days of television was about good wholesome values.  Knowing the nation's future rests in the next generation, the programming tended to feature a strong loving family as the foundation. This what we - all generations - need to see on our large screens on a routine basis.

There is no denying, after attending an event like the Silver Spur Awards, that the United States is an exceptional country. The entire Western genre demonstrates a uniquely American experience. Westerns demonstrate commitment to exploration and adventure, something J and L both relish, and strong family and spiritual bonds. Now, we don't wish to over-romanticize our American past, from Native American to a Civil War, the West was also shaped by strife. But we have seen cowboys hats and boots the world over. There is a message there that the world embraces. And if we're right, it's in the Cowboy Code. Saddle up, pardner!

And one more shot of the ladies -- a gentleman never tires of that!
Laureen "Josie Marcus" Beyer with
Pilar "Kate Holliday" Moore