Holy Roller

Have Gut — Will Travel or Go West, Young Mike or Darth Vader, My Ass
Chapter 9

The small church at the Mescal movie location. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.MESCAL, AZ -- The church is the only movable building on the film lot and has been wheeled into various positions around the acreage for productions reported to include "Little House on the Prairie."

Michael Landon's previous television program, "Bonanza," also captured scenes at Mescal.

Coincidentally, I'm working on a spin-off of Landon's series, "Highway to Heaven." It's about agnostics: "Uncharted Path in the Dark to the Roundabout at the Fork in the Road."

Next: Chapter 10 | Rewind to Chapter 1
Photo copyright ©2003-2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.


Newman's Own Sauce

Have Gut — Will Travel or Go West, Young Mike or Darth Vader, My Ass
Chapter 8

Judge Roy Bean residence at the Mescal movie location. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved. A tub. Just add water and a movie star. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Donna Durrett, all rights reserved.

MESCAL, AZ -- While making "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" (1972), Paul Newman took a bath on this porch.

Gee, you'd think a big star like that would have his own trailer.

Next: Chapter 9 | Rewind to Chapter 1
Mescal Judge Roy Bean building photo copyright ©2003-2004 Mike Durrett; Mescal Judge Roy Bean tub photo copyright ©2003-2004 Donna Durrett. All rights reserved.


Tummy Trouble

Have Gut — Will Travel or Go West, Young Mike or Darth Vader, My Ass
Chapter 7

Email is buzzing today. It so happens my travelogue is attracting interest. Folks want to know more about my paunch. Several requested a blowup, yet I don't see how that is quite necessary. I am, however, delighted to learn I'm such an enthralling spokesperson for the scenic Old West.

The stomach of Mike adorned by some tiny underling chimpanzee camera. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Donna Durrett, all rights reserved.Alright, first a disclaimer: In this OK Corral photo enlargement, objects may be hungrier than they appear.

As with my hair, I'm also sporting my first zany stomach of the trip. Collect the whole series. I call this one: "What Happened?"

When this pot shot was taken, I weighed 190 pounds, wet. That's another story. I'll never chug a Big Gulp and sneeze again.

As I write this entry, I've ballooned another five percent. The good news: I'm 200 pounds of chewy, nougat center.

I may have to curtail Happy Hours at the all-you-can-eat Mars Bars Bar.

And might I interject, I think it's rude -- and redundant -- for people to snicker when I'm Snickers snockered.


And all these young cameras today! With their wild technology and tight chips. Look at 'em, tiny, very tiny. You can't hide behind these young punk cameras anymore. I need one of those humongous "King Kong" cameras from the '30s with the gigantic flashbulb attachment. Those things were two-fisted, hernia-inducing huge! I could hide my flab behind a "King Kong" camera for sure. And a bottle of Pert and some thumbtacks to fix my Ed Grimley hair. There'd be plenty of room to stash away that stuff, maybe a KitKat. Life would be swell. Delicious.

Young punks.

Next: Chapter 8 | Rewind to Chapter 1
Photo copyright ©2003-2004 Donna Durrett. All rights reserved.


Ranch Dressing

Have Gut — Will Travel or Go West, Young Mike or Darth Vader, My Ass
Chapter 6

The OK Corral set at Mescal. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.MESCAL, AZ -- We resumed the sightseeing with me leading the charge to the centerpiece for the famous gunfight, as seen in "Tombstone," The OK Corral.

Not to be negative, but "OK"?

I don't think so. That's a stretch. The more appropriate name would be The Feigning Adequacy Corral.

Oddly enough, in the reverse view, back here where I'm standing, The reverse view of The OK Corral. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Donna Durrett, all rights reserved.it's known as The KO Corral.

In addition to the reproduction of the legendary shootout of 1881, another important moment was captured by a camera on this spot. Look closely, I do believe this day was the very last time I ever tucked a T-shirt into my pants.

I'm a slave to the fashionistas. I admit it.

I've been eyeing one of those Jethro Clampett rope belts. Mmmm, gee, I dunno, maybe. Christmas is coming. We'll see.

Nevertheless, ever since, my extra-large tees and polo tops flow loosely, allowing me comfort and contemporary styling. I can also permit myself to be seen in profile, as the slimming effect is amazing.

Children no longer run to mommy claiming the mean old man poked their wittle eyes out with his stomach. I look sharp and legal fees are nil.

Ed of hair. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Donna Durrett, all rights reserved.I'm also sporting my first zany hairdo of the trip. Collect the whole series. I call this one "Ed Grimley: The Senility Years," I must say.

There's more to gaze on this 60 acre tract, but all I know is it's hot and I'm parched. My kingdom for a Slearpee.

Next: Chapter 7 | Rewind to Chapter 1
OK Corral photo copyright ©2003-2004 Mike Durrett; photo with Mike copyright ©2003-2004 Donna Durrett. All rights reserved.


The Goods, the Cad, and the Buggy

Have Gut — Will Travel or Go West, Young Mike or Darth Vader, My Ass
Chapter 5

MESCAL, AZ -- I limped and wobbled and crawled to rejoin my group. I like to mix it up.

The gang had disappeared into the dense, wavy heat lines beyond a vacant 19th century storefront, the one with the "Coming Sluggishly: KINKO'S" sign in the window.

The livery stable at the Mescal movie location hides the parking lot from cameras. Looks authentic down to the orange Old West traffic cones. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.

I discovered the lost trio of associates all giggles in the parking lot hidden behind the livery stable. They were surprised to see me, quite busy themselves, rummaging through my suitcase.

My wife and friend explained that much like we were interested in perusing Mescal's western movie sets, our guide was fascinated with historic Fruit of the Looms and sport shirts of the east.

"Hand 'em back," I said.

The stranger gave me my fancy togs and narrowed his gaze at Donna. "Hand 'em back," he said.

My devoted spouse unclutched a wad of bills and costume beads onto his outstretched palm.

"Do you miss the pirate's plume and shoulder parrot?" asked Stan, faithful chum.

"No," I whispered, for today I was a man. Who knew what a shower and tomorrow would bring.

The tour guide unclutched a wad of bills and costume beads onto Stan's outstretched palm.

In profile, Stan resembled a cartoon Road Runner in the Arizona glare and swelter. Donna removed the enormous blue feather from his rear pocket and stuck it in the piping of the guide's black Marshall's hat. For a makeshift crow's nest, she crammed the parrot plush doll into his holster.

Happy with this frontier trade, he went off double cocked towards main street, one hand on his piece, the other on his bird.

As he scurried away, almost lost in the sounds of the desert, I heard a hearty "Aargh. Avast, ye Rykers."

After a pow-wow beside our vehicle, we pardners came to an understanding.

--No, wait, after Donna dusted me off with a weathered barn plank, we came to an understanding.

--No, wait, after Stan attempted to drive away with my lass and Ralph Laurens, dumping me in a crumpled heap in a handicapped parking space without a valid sticker, we came to an understanding.

Donna kissed me tenderly.

Stan offered me his hand and unclutched a wad of bills and costume beads onto my outstretched palm.

I smiled at our new beginning and at these two, who anticipated my exhibition of the van key, tucked safely inside the pouch of the historic F. O. T. Looms I wore this bad day.

Let them stew. I wasn't ready to get the Dodge out of hell.

Next: Chapter 6 | Rewind to Chapter 1
Photo copyright ©2003-2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.


Mean Street

Have Gut — Will Travel or Go West, Young Mike or Darth Vader, My Ass
Chapter 4

MESCAL, AZ -- A pleasing, ebullient breeze fluttered the prop western movie town. We strolled amongst celluloid memories, snapping film to remember films.

The street corner of the hotel and blacksmith shed. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Donna Durrett, all rights reserved.These double hotel doors were familiar. I envisioned Val Kilmer in profile as Doc Holliday against the wall, drawing a cigarette, coughing a lung. I had to stop and get a picture for you kids.

Seconds later, Tombstone was under siege.

As I passed the alleyway leading to the Blacksmith's dilapidated shed, that aforementioned nemesis tumbleweed swirled through a second story hotel window, hit the porch rooftop, and bounced directly into my face, recently repinked, but now white with fear and bent for revenge.

I clutched the beast with a fierce determination to end his rampage here and now. We tossed and turned, turned and tossed. Once, we shimmied and arabesqued.

Pity. I could have grown to love this brute.

It was a nice beating you can dance to.

I tripped on a horseshoe. It occurred to me it had been worn by a pony. The training wheels were rusty.

We collapsed. The feverish battle advanced into the hot dirt. Our worlds forever changed, a waste of a perfectly good sponge soothing.

"I'm gonna kill you, Ryker," I said, soft and raspy. My spittle morphed bruised lips and grit into mud.

Special Added Enhancement! Listen Here!

This is a special audio enhancement for the story. Click to play.
We continued to fight, a beautiful day slipping by. Desperate and most frantic to regain my edge, I employed a medley of wiles to free feisty fingers, thatched and tangled within the attacker's relentless mass of roots. Progress was within reach, if only I could rescue a thumb. Yet, which one? It was Sophie's Choice.

But without the Nazis and Sophie.

But with a tumbleweed and thumbs and no Streep-throated accent.

Crazed thoughts like these shrieked through my head, while my whole life flashed before my eyes, except shown in VistaVision retakes starring Ken Weatherwax, TV's Pugsley.

I was nuts with the gnashing and the social faux pas. Truly, I did not know the tumbleweed's name. In a town like this, "Ryker" seemed a safe choice. I'd speak of it with the parson.

An upswing in the downwind propelled our intertwined forces to roll along in a kinetic, snowless ball to the end of the block. We came to a halt in front of the undertaker's shoppe, all spent and tattered. I choked for air. There was silence from the unholy mess resting on my nose, wrasslin' and pinning my thumbs.

I opened my eyes.

"Oh, my god," I gasped.

I've had dramatic training.

The tumbleweed was not a tumbleweed. It was unspeakably horrendous, exactly as seen in MGM's "Dirty Dingus Magee," shot on this very same turf. I was looking into the roots of Sinatra's wig, one of the worst of all time and, certainly, the most vile and vicious.

Ryker the Toupee had been left behind decades ago to forever revolve across this desolate earth.

If a hairpiece could talk, there would be stories of the Rat Pack, and dames.

And Jack Daniels, and chicks.

And Marvy combs, and Old Blue Eyes' Old Salmon Scalp.

What a cruel existence. A discarded clump of hair, while breathtakingly ugly, has feelings, too. I flipped him to a bird.

Between searing newfound back pain, skinned elbows, and 34-year-old The Dry Look fumes, I struggled to rise.

The main Mescal movie street. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.My camera was unharmed, fortunately, packaged in a protective casing. I removed it from the pouch and took this exposure of The Mean Street.

In the right foreground, a prominent image from "Dirty Dingus Magee." That's the bordello, as I recall.

Down the road at the far left, the Tombstone Saloon.

On the horizon, three figures.

The tour guide, my gal, and the friend -- who left me for dead.
Next: Chapter 5 | Rewind to Chapter 1
Street photo copyright ©2003-2004 Mike Durrett. Hotel photo copyright ©2003-2004 Donna Durrett. All rights reserved.



Have Gut — Will Travel or Go West, Young Mike or Darth Vader, My Ass
Chapter 3

MESCAL, AZ -- My travel companions explained our whereabouts and the space-time continuum to me. I should've consulted the itinerary.

We were not, as I had originally suspected, at the Tombstone Saloon in 1881 (which was good because, well, try getting Chex Mix and, for that matter, a bendy straw).

Sign for the Mescal movie tour. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Donna Durrett. All rights reserved.Stoked I was, nevertheless, to discover we were in the fresh 21st century at the Mescal movie location, a completely phony cowboy town near Benson, Arizona. The false buildings were designed to resemble the legendary pioneer 'burb o' Tombstone, where chaps in chaps and (insert politically correct varmint term here) with savage intent once roamed -- at least, on the silver screen.

A soothing, damp sponging and a Roy Rogers on the rocks later, I was ready to proceed with the tour. My delirium downgraded to Code Orange: Wild and Woozy.

A kindly friend, Stan, helped me to sit up on the saloon bar, but not before my li'l missy, Donna, untied my restraining wrist ropes and snatched the makeshift pillow.

Ever rugged, I bit hard into a lemon, swallowed the bottom gulp and the Gummi Worm, then shuffled out into the bright, picturesque street.

The main Mescal movie street. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.As I wondered if the brightness of the noonday sun was fake, too, I began to recognize snatches of the surrounding real estate and dust. I'd been here numerous times via the movies.

Constructed and first seen in a fine 1970 Lee Marvin western, "Monte Walsh," the Mescal spread is recalled today as the setting of "Tombstone" (1993), starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, and "The Quick and the Dead" (1995) with Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman. Television viewers may recognize "The Young Riders" (1989-92) and "The Magnificent Seven" (1998).

Others believed to have walked this barren corridor: Frank Sinatra, Danny Glover, Jack Palance, Steve McQueen, Sam Elliott, Clint Eastwood, and -- grab a loved one -- Marie Osmond in "I Married Wyatt Earp" (1983). The place is big on Earps.
Next: Chapter 4 | Rewind to Chapter 1
Street photo ©2003-2004 Mike Durrett; sign photo ©2003-2004 Donna Durrett. All rights reserved.


Huh? What th'--? Who Am I? Marty McFly?

Have Gut — Will Travel or Go West, Young Mike or Darth Vader, My Ass
Chapter 2

Mike finds himself on the steps of the Tombstone Saloon. Photo copyright 2003 Mike Durrett.IF IT'S TOMBSTONE, THIS MUST BE BEFUDDLING -- Here I am at the Tombstone Saloon. Somehow we took a wrong turn and went back in time 122 years. It all happened so fast, I missed Elvis on "The Steve Allen Show" again.

I knew we shouldn't have exceeded the speed limit, but when one drives 992 miles in a day, as we did, fracturing the time barrier apparently becomes reality.

All I recall is everything blurred into "Are we there, yet, and prithee a potty."

I can only be thankful I had the foresight to take that speedpeeing class.

It was an extension course.

It would have to be.

I qualified for a scholarship.

I didn't think I had it in me.

I was teacher's pet.

I would have to be.

I graduated with papers.

But that was then, in the distant future. Here I am in 1881 and a species-profiled tumbleweed is stalking me.

Next: Chapter 3 | Rewind to Chapter 1

Did You Know?
Mr. Durrett, a lifelong participant in urination and a self-described "buff," has recently revealed his secret identity and ongoing humanitarian efforts of lapland benevolence in a true confession, "Big Day for a Little Squirt."
Photo copyright ©2003-2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.


Have Gut — Will Travel
Go West, Young Mike
Darth Vader, My Ass

Mike Durrett in Monument Valley. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.

Monument Valley at sundown. Mike at speechless.

Chapter 1

HOME, GA -- For me, the whole trip would have been worth it for this photograph, yet we experienced bountiful more, hurtling through a magnific country, both contemporary and timeless, man-made and Master's peace.

Share a Durrett Family Treasury in this special vacation photo pack, commemorating 13 days and 4,638 miles by van (plus 25 miles of accomplished hiking, sailing, and beast o' burden butt bouncing).

It's another of Donna's and my little sightseeing excursions, surpassing our last such sojourn which totaled a mere 4,409 miles, but condensed to much less than our personal best of 6,100 miles, give or take a Stuckey's.

With our travels planned for several years and revised on the spur of a cactus, we returned to our most cherished destinations: Monument Valley, Arches and Grand Canyon National Parks, and a few new discoveries and legends along the path.

At last, after around-the-clock, around-the-sun sorcery at drugstore photo labs throughout the mainland States and suburban Reykjavik, our reams of snapshot prints have been returned for perusal amidst friends and trail mix.

Join us in the entries ahead, CONFIDENTIAL, of course, on our trek through the awe of the American southwest, the greatest earth on show.

Prologue: Several images from the journey previously appeared in these pages. They are, coincidentally, the first two snapshots in the sequence of events.

Photo #1: This Little Mikey Went to the Market -- Why does everything go on sale when we leave town? I dunno, but here's an early morning street scene six miles from home.

Photo #2: A heavenly roadside attraction of note, alongside the Texas highway: A Few Cross Words.

Next: Chapter 2

More Way Out West: Mike's Previous Trail Blaze
Mike Durrett on the road to Monument Valley.Part 1: On the Road
Part 2: On the Road to On the Road
Part 3: On the Road to Discount City
Part 4: On the Road: From Rush, ah, With Love
Part 5: On the Road: Get on With It!
Part 6: On the Road: Rear and Moaning in the Grand Canyon
Photos ©1998, 2003-2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.


Mikey, Always the Villain

Screenshot: ''What Movie Villian Are You?''I visited Liquid Generation to answer their questionnaire about my sinister side. First off, I'm the type of villain to point out they spelled it "VILLIAN" on the opening screen.

I answered a dozen or so personality inquiries. When it comes down to "What Movie Villain Are You?" I'm not Norman Bates or Hannibal Lecter, at least, or Shirley Temple.

The Results:
Tommy DeVito from Goodfellas"WHICH MOVIE VILLAIN ARE YOU? You're just like that short, foul-mouthed midget from "Goodfellas," Tommy DeVito. Your temper is out of control, and you don't like it when people bust your balls. You're psychopathic and all you care about is money, which is fine because your penis is small. You might want to kill your parents for that one."
Alright. Enough about my penis.

I'm not very big.

But, they sure do luv my curb feelers.


Big Day for Optic Nerve

The All-Agog, Eye-Bulging Sequel to "Big Day for a Little Squirt"

I went to my eye doctor's office and left a Murine sample.

They hadn't asked for one.

Just another prevention act of blindness.

I looked super, too, in my costume. Men and women can't take their eyes off me. I must be bifocal.

I'm Bifocal-Man.

It's the latest thing, my costume, Spandex without the redness.

It comes with an X-ray vision mask, but I only use that if I can't remember if I changed my underwear.

I said, "Where would you like the Murine? Does it look better here? Or here? ... Over here? Or here? ... Here? ... Or here?"

There were plenty of tears all around. The bottle cap was leaky. So, I made my hasty exit.

I followed 20/20 hindsight back to the car.

The Bookmobile.

Donna was impressed. She's perfect as my sidekick, Cataractwoman.

"Oops! Forgot something," I said, making a swift U-turn. --Well, I think it was a U-turn. Though, it might've been a C-turn, or an L. When I squint, it looked like a U-turn. I'll say U.

I raced through the parking lot with my head out the window, mouth open for tongue tan. I not only like to see good, I like to look good.

In a blink, I was inside the optometry center, questioning Doc.

"May I use your restroom?"

"Number one? Or number two? ... One? ... Or two? ... One? ... Two?"

Bottom Line: P E Z O L C F T D


Big Day for a Little Squirt

I went to my doctor's office and left a urine sample.

They hadn't asked for one.

Just another random act of kindness.

I looked super, too, in my Bladder-Man costume.

It's the latest thing, Spandex with Ziploc technology.

It comes with a swim mask and snorkel, but I only use that after movie theatre colas.

No one wanted to shake hands, so I made my hasty exit.

I followed the dribble back to the car.

The Pumpmobile.

I raced through the nearest carwash with my head out the window, mouth open to reload.

Donna was impressed. She's perfect as my junior sidekick, Whiz Kid.

Love is a mini splattered thong.

::::: Don't Miss the Next Exciting Adventure: "Big Day for Optic Nerve"


Inbox Reflux

Sorting through my emails, I see fans from all over are dispensing important correspondence.

June 16, 2004: A Bob Walker of Wichita, Kansas, writes:
"Hey, Mike. Today on 'Bob and Tom' ... Sports news: The Detroit Pistons won the NBA Championship game. ... No violence reported after the game, but one fan tipped Aretha Franklin over.

"And, yesterday, they mentioned Ray Charles dying. ... 'His whole life flashed before his ears. He never saw it coming.' BAADDD, but I loved it. I saw Ray perform about five times.

"OH YES ... Did you have a nice night? ... 'Never fight with a woman who has more tattoos than you.'"
June 17, 2004: A Bob Walker of Wichita, Kansas, writes:
"I loved the original 'Around the World in 80 Days.' ... Saw a review of this Jackie Chan thing. It looks bad. I once had a soundtrack album of the Jules Verne version. I'm patiently waiting to see 'Around Rosie O'Donnell in 80 Days.'"
June 26, 2004: A Bob Walker of Wichita, Kansas, writes:

"Is that drive-in theatre thing over? I miss those hazy crazy days of summer with [name withheld] at the drive-in. ... I would call before and get passes. (What a bum! Passes for a two dollar movie.) Later, in the week, my boss would ask why footprints were on my rear seat car windows. Oh, that's [name withheld], and the whole office would go out in the parking lot to look.

"One comedian said, 'You know you've had too much to drink when you wake up at the drive-in movie to a flea market."
Yes, Bob, drive-in theatres are still among us. In fact, we went Saturday night to see "Spider-Man 2" and "White Chicks," because we are sophisticates, as you know. And there's usually a sale on funnel cakes during the second feature.

Here's a remembrance I wrote of one visit to a dying drive-in, Atlanta's North 85, "Shining the Light on Dinosaurs."


Happy Birthday, America, Darling!

this is an audio post - click to play

The Reluctant DebutanteYou positively must listen to that clip, darling. We saw the darlingest film, darling!

The Reluctant Astronaut
Oh, how divine, darling! I simply do believe this is the remake!


Taste Test: Kellogg's Disney Chocolate Mud & Bugs

At our house, if there's one thing we've enjoyed during the past decade, it's "The Lion King." We saw the instant animated classic several times during the original release. Later, we purchased a copy of the movie, only to return again to the cinema to be bathed in the large screen IMAX presentation.

We even paid top dollar to see the overblown Broadway stage version. I distinctly recall speaking to my wife during the first act, "You know, there's a perfectly good movie of this." Well, what else can I say? Those Disney suits are legendary. They will market anything.

And that brings us to an all-new potential necessity in life, Kellogg's Disney Chocolate Mud & Bugs, as the package screams, "Naturally Sweetened Cereal with Bug-shaped Marshmallows."

What boy wouldn't love to eat Mud & Bugs? Especially when the box is endorsed by "The Lion King's" "Timon, everyone's favorite motor-mouthed meerkat, and his warm-hearted warthog pal, Pumbaa, [who] search the African forest for the yummy bugs, grubs, and beetles that tickle their taste buds!"

If those two zany jokesters endorse a breakfast, I'm in. Look at 'em smile. This stuff must be seasoned in chuckles and ever so hilarious to savor!

To get started, I read the instructions printed on the side panel. Once again, school paid off....

"Dig in, Kids! Pour cold milk over a bowl of Kellogg's Disney Chocolate Mud & Bugs cereal and stir up a cool mud hole that tastes a lot like chocolate milk! Then, have fun spoonin' up colorful marshmallow bugs floating around crunchy, rock-shaped cereal chunks."

Golly! I am convinced Mud & Bugs' "crunchy, munchy, squeezy, slimy, creepy, crawly critters," plus moo goo, will create the most giggle-filled wake-up feast ever!

I love to laugh -- and that's a big mouthful from a guy who also loves to live! Let's do it.

The Taste Test:

The Verdict: It don't taste funny.
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