Bear at the Missoula Airport

As folks are flying into Missoula for the Western Literature Association conference, best keep an eye out for bears trying to fly out (as repoted in The Missoulian).

A black bear that came knocking forcefully at Missoula International Airport doors early Wednesday was treed, tranquilized and removed to a more ursine-friendly environment.

“Apparently he was looking to fly south for the winter as opposed to hibernating,” airport director Cris Jensen speculated.

Jensen said Wednesday afternoon he learned of the incident via a text message in the middle of the night and hadn’t yet heard all the details. As he understood it, a security guard or someone from the custodial staff at the otherwise empty terminal spotted it near the entrance and turned off the automatic doors to prevent easy entry.

But the bear seemed determined to get inside.

“It sounds like he did run into the glass a couple of times trying to come in,” Jensen said.

Breaking Bad: Crawl Space

Things continued to unravel for Walt in this episode. In contrast, Jesse returns from Mexico as the replacement cook for Walt, however, Jesse won’t allow Gus to kill Walt. By the end of the episode, Walt begs Saul to help him disappear with a whole new identity. Walt goes into the crawl space under the house where they’ve been storing the money and finds a large chunk of it gone. Skylar has given it to Ted Benecke. Walt screams and then dissolves into almost manical laughter. I love the way the camera frames Walt in this final scene, we saw him become literally hemmed in. He’s completely trapped.

Breaking Bad continues its ability to have humorous moments. In this episode, we saw a great example of physical humor when Ted trips over the carpet and falls to the floor. So much for the A team.

Sons of Anarchy: Dorylus

In the most recent episode of Sons of Anarchy, Clay and Bobby have a heart to heart over the club’s change in direction (running drugs), and Clay reveals that with both he and Jax hoping to be on the way out, that Bobby would be next in line to lead the club. In the meantime, a truckload of guns was stolen out from under the nose’s of the Sons during a pickup basketball game. This leads to merry motorcycles and car chase down the streets of an inner-city neighborhood. The Sons also seems to be indulging in ethnic stereotyping this season more so than in the past, especially in terms of using “comic” names for ethnic characters, a Native American named Charlie Horse, two African American men whose mother has named them Luther and Vandross.

There was a distinct lack of man hugging in this episode. Perhaps because of internal conflicts over the issue of drug running, the boys just aren’t in a comradely mood. Or maybe there are other reasons. “This guy here,” as Tig comments about one of his fellows, “he’s cracked three of my ribs giving me a hug.” After the rounds of hugging in the first two episodes, maybe the boys are just too sore to do any more hugging.

Salud (Breaking Bad)

The central action sequence in this episode was exciting and thrilling. Gus’s revenge is contained within a rare bottle of tequila. I loved seeing Jesse truly come into his own, although he does still need Mike’s advice. However, the most fascinating part of the sequence may have been Gus methodically folding his jacket and laying it across the sink before he vomits up the poisonous alcohol. His character is all about restraint even as the murders are also a form of revenge for his dead partner. The camera focuses on the cartel kingpin as he falls into the pool, just like Gus’s friend. I’m really worried for Mike though. I’ve come to care about his character and his recovering ear.

I’m still thinking about Walt’s conversation with Walt Jr. I’m not sure whether to believe Walt or not. Perhaps, he really is opening up now. He calls Walt Jr. Jesse by mistake, showing that he might really care about the person who’s been closest to him throughout the last year.

Conference: Sowell Family Collection

Created through the generous support of former Texas Tech University Regent James Sowell, the Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community and the Natural World houses the personal papers of the United States’ most prominent writers on the natural world. Writing with a profound respect for the grandeur and fierceness of the land, these writers are deeply engaged with questions of land use and the nature of community; the conjunction of scientific and spiritual values; and the fragility of wilderness. In addition to published books, materials available for research purposes include correspondence; drafts of manuscripts; research notebooks; diaries and calendars; and photographs, computer files, and film. With this collection of natural history writers, The Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University is rapidly becoming one of the finest repositories of natural history materials in the world.

Writers of the Sowell Collection include Rick Bass, Max F. Crawford, David James Duncan, Gretel Ehrlich, Edward Hoagland, Clyde Jones, William Kittredge, John Lane, Barry Lopez, Walter McDonald, Bill McKibben, Susan Brind Morrow, Gary Paul Nabhan, Howard Norman, Doug Peacock, David Quammen, Pattiann Rogers, Sandra Scofield, Annick Smith, and Ro Wauer.

To celebrate this extraordinary group, the Sowell Collection is hosting a conference in Lubbock, TX, from Thursday, April 26th to Saturday, April 28th, 2012. David Quammen, Barry Lopez, and Gary Paul Nabhan will be in attendance. We invite proposals for individual presentations and panels that engage with the work(s) of any of the writers whose work the collection holds. Submissions from the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences are welcome.

For individual submissions, please include a 250-word abstract, your full name, affiliation, contact information, and A/V requests. Proposals for panels (three presenters) must include an abstract and all the above information for all presenters. No more than one presentation per conference please. The deadline for all submissions is January 16, 2012.

Submit abstracts to Diane Warner ( or Andrew Husband (

Andrew Husband
Doctoral Student / Graduate Part-Time Instructor
Department of English / Literature, Social Justice, and Environment (LSJE)
Texas Tech University / Lubbock, TX

South Plains Environmental blog:

CFP: Undead in the West


Call for Contributors

Undead in the West: Vampires, Zombies, Mummies and Ghosts on the Cinematic Frontier  (anthology – under contract)

Deadline for abstracts: September 18, 2011

The frontier has long been framed as a landscape of life and death, but few scholarly works have ventured into the realm where the two become one, to explore portrayals of the Undead in the West – the zombies, vampires, mummies, and others that have lumbered, crept, shambled, and swooped into the Western from other genres.  This sub-genre, while largely a post-1990 phenomenon, traces it roots to much deeper hybrid traditions of Westerns and horror or science fiction, and yet, shows ties to the recent A-Western renaissance.

Some questions to consider:

–       What happens when traditional frontier figures, settings, symbols, and ideologies encounter these characters that defy the laws of nature?
–       How are Western archetypes subverted or accentuated when confronted by the undead?
–       How do zombies, vampires, and the like, affect our understandings and interpretations of the West, and vice-versa?   Might these hybrid Westerns function as the new anti-Western, or do the undead facilitate a return to tradition?
–       In what ways do undead Westerns consciously use the undead elements of the plot to comment on the nature of traditional Western heroes and villains?

Possible topics include:

The Undead as Agents of Redemption and Retaliation:

1.      Clint Eastwood’s Undead Avengers  (as in Pale Rider)
2.      Quests for Redemption (as in Gallowwalker)
3.      The Undead as Guardians of the Sacred West  (as in Seven Mummies)

The Moral Order Under Siege:

1.      The Vampire as the Ultimate Outlaw (as in From Dusk Till Dawn)
2.      Renegades and Bounty Hunters (as in Dead Walkers)
3.      Moral Panic in the Heartland (as in Devil’s Crossing)
4.      Identity and Otherness on the Western Frontier (as in The Curse of the Undead)

Playing with Classic Western Tropes:

1.      Frontier Masculinity and the Undead (as in Bubba Ho-tep)
2.      The Gunfighters’ Code in The Quick and the Undead
3.      A Cowboy, a Soldier, and Geronimo’s Niece: The Undead and Classic Western Characters (as in Undead or Alive)

The ‘Spirit’ of the West:

1.      The Undead and Western Iconography
2.      Texas Ranger on a Fire-Breathing Horse: Sam Elliott as Western Icon in Ghost Rider (2007)
3.      Spirit Guides and Guardians: Native American Apparitions

Please send your 500-word abstract to both co-editors, Cindy Miller ( and Bow Van Riper (  Deadline for submissions is September 18, 2011. Accepted essays will be due in February 2012, for a 2012 publication.

Conference Updates

Here are a couple of updates for the 2011 WLA conference in Missoula.

The 2011 conference program is now available:

Also, a note on hotel reservations (reposted from the WLA website):

The Holiday Inn, Missoula at the Park, may finally be sold out in fact. I am working to release a few rooms and the hotel will check to see that rooms are released from WLA cancellations, so in a few days, and up to two days before your arrival, you might check back with the Holiday Inn (406) 721-8550. They have secured a rate with their sister hotel, Staybridge Suites (406)830-3900.  The good news is that they will guarantee WLA rate of $166 plus tax, so please mention WLA if you book here.  The bad news is that this hotel is by the airport and a good distance (well, it’s Missoula, so it’s 10-15 minutes by car from downtown) from the conference. The Staybridge will offer shuttle service to the conference hotel, but perhaps not at your convenience.  We have also secured a good rate at the Doubletree Edgewater (406) 728-3100.  To get the preferred rate at the Doubletree, you will need to ask for the University rate.

Having said all this, please do not desert the Holiday Inn if you already hold a reservation.  Our conference budget depends upon filling our allotment of rooms.

Other lodgings near the Holiday Inn include:

Days Inn University: (406)543-7221: modest accommodations, but 1 block from the Holiday Inn

Goldsmith’s B&B: about 6-7 blocks from the conference hotel (406)728-1585 (rates $125 and up)

Hutchins Hostel: a hostel, but provides sheets and towels, about 4 blocks from conference hotel (406)830-3266 (rates $29)

All of the following are within 8-10 blocks of the conference hotel:

Motel 6: (406)549-2387

Red Lion : (406)728-3300

Campus Inn (406) 549-5134

City Center Motel (406) 543-3193

Creekside Inn (406) 549-2387