Grand Canyon Diorama

This is the proposed sketch for the new Grand Canyon diorama. Due to possible governmental budget cuts (by shortsighted bureaucrats and other government officials with comb overs), where our National parks’ funding for upkeep and improvements is considered a frivolous and unnecessary expense, we have been contacted by the state of Arizona to create a diorama that would be viewable from the various lookouts and other vantage points most used by visitors today. This would be undertaken to help offset some of the detrimental effects that would occur from this shortsighted but lucrative action.

The officials of Arizona, where some of you know the Grand Canyon is currently located, have indicated a growing concern for the likely loss of tourist dollars if large portions of the Grand Canyon are closed to view. The new Wingnut in charge of overseeing our Nation’s National Parks and wildlife’s well being and good health as well as other parts of our citizens lives and freedoms here in our good but not great enough yet country, is proposing that not only should funding be cut for the maintenance of our park system but actual use of the parks should be curtailed as it would be more beneficial to the overall public good if those individuals who insist on visiting our national parks and take nonprofit advantage of its beauty, would stay home and tend to their coal burning furnaces and visit places more suited to enhancing our economy, such as the various golf courses, gambling casinos, high-rise hotels and other privately owned profit centers.

To aid in encouraging this new type of activity large areas of the Grand Canyon will simply be blocked off and closed to viewing. Some of it may simply be filled in and leveled off for building new golf courses, gambling casinos and high-rise hotels and to make it simpler to mine the minerals that may lie beneath now useless land under the Colorado river drainage. This hither to now unused property has not yet been fully developed to extract profits that could be gained by strip mining, river diversion, etc.

Well this could be an unmitigated disaster as there are many people here in America who like to go to these areas, especially the Grand Canyon, just to look at it. They like it. It makes them feel good in a way that is different from losing their money at the craps table in high-rise hotels with gambling casinos. They, the visitors, spend money on bumper stickers, frybread, the occasional hotel room, binoculars to look into the Grand Canyon and other national wonders, t-shirts with pictures of the Grand Canyon on them and phrases like “I’m with Dumbass” and arrows pointing in different directions indicating where dumbass might be, margaritas, sunglasses to replace those that fall into the Grand Canyon, new $8000 digital cameras with even more expense lens’s and straps to keep them from falling into the Grand Canyon when they’re leaning closer to get better pictures, sunburn prevention systems, tattoos of the Grand Canyon, as you can see the list goes on and on.

With all of the possible catastrophes that could and probably will befall our most scared traditions and places we like but don’t really make the kind of money that large commercial ventures make, the officials of Arizona called and said “Hey, looks like we’ll need some dioramas. Better get busy.” What you see above is the first draft of one of the new Grand Canyon dioramas we are preparing for installation as soon as word comes down to kill the parks. This will be slightly different than our usual 3-D dioramas as we cannot get the necessary permits to construct and install our normal fiberglass and concrete dioramas. Instead this will be a 6 mile wide by 47′ ¾” high canvas roller, much like the old window shades you used to get at Woolworths. Remember? The kind that if you let them go before they got to the bottom they’d snap up and roll around the wooden spring thing at the top of the window making this cool flapping sound, then the canvas is mounted on tasteful cast iron or aluminum 60′ uprights shaped like Saguaro cactus in front of each view that you can no longer see as it is gone.

We’ll only be installing these on the South rim as there won’t need to be any for the North rim. Access will not be available to the public as that is where the bulldozer ramps and conveyor belts down to the canyon floor will be set up. Plus the tailings from the ore extraction will be dumping back into the river and that would be dangerous for the public to go wandering through that stuff.

We’d prefer to do the old style diorama as we have to cut slits in the canvas to let the wind through so they don’t shred themselves. But since we can’t, there it is, make the best of it. Since most people have short little spans of attention they most likely won’t even remember what the real deal looked like anyway.

It looks like we’ll be making dioramas for the full 137 miles of the canyons length as once these new directives go into effect they’ll be busting hump to get this place shut down and development underway. Let us know if you like the new look of the replacement or not. We’re  going with it regardless but it’s always fun to hear  what you think about it.

In the interest of full disclosure the image above is a photograph taken at the Grand Canyon then run through several versions of software that includes Photoshop (Yes Virginia there is a Photoshop and we use it) to produce an image that looks like a painting. But then you knew that just by looking at it.

Rain On The Hoodoos

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We were at our favorite observation point at Bryce national park observing the state of the rock formations in the Valley of the Non-essential Hoodoos when it suddenly began to rain. That in itself is not that unusual, however it was only raining on this one particular set of hoodoos. Not on any of the other hoodoos, (of which some say there are too many of, but we disagree thinking that one cannot have too many hoodoos), but just on these particular hoodoos. As if by design. As if it was being created by some unknown entity just to rain there and nowhere else. A weather modification as it were.

“Hmm,” we said to no one in particular “this has the look of some nefarious organization at work here. Could it be *The Institute?” But then we remembered that The Institute had gone bosoms up, as they say, hunted down and removed root and twig, never to be a formal Worldwide organization again. All of its minions, staff, even its Director cast to the four winds to seek employment elsewhere or to starve pathetically in a ditch somewhere. It’s tons of equipment melted down for the slag market. All of its records, data and spiral notebooks snapped up by its jealous vindictive competitors to be pored through for their secrets. Secrets The Institute had developed over years of blood sweat and tears, not to mention hard work and no small amount of intellectual theft.

We were interested yet dismayed to find that a certain huge, yet well-known imaging processing software company (who shall remain nameless, but whose initials are ADOBE) have blatantly appropriated the Weather Modification program pioneered by the Oceanography and Atmospheric weather modification team of the now defunct organization known as The Institute and incorporated it into its shoddy yet expensive software. You can find it under Adobe/ Photoshop/ Filters/ Make it Rain on the Hoodoos/ Light/ Moderate/ Heavy. To support the claim that The Institute first developed this program we have done some research and found several items that reference The Institutes use of its weather modification program to do good in the world and not do bad, which we have listed below for your perusual.

 

Bad Weather Day

All Dreams Must End

Storm of The Full Moon

Moon Painting

Cloud Cutting

Stored Away Storms

Greenery

Behind The Ridge

Thor’s Revenge

Although those of us that remember The Institute are pretty darn mad at that heartless yet soulless large Company that apparently is getting filthy rich off the sweat of the people who made it all possible, we kind of secretly like the ease of how they made it work. The Institute’s program was unwieldy, requiring lots of nuclear power and boring deep into the bowels of the earth for the pilings that held up the equipment and to keep it from shaking causing the neighbors cows to abort. Not to mention the excessive production of enormous quantities of EMF’s around the power shed whenever they fired that stuff up. If by some stroke of fate The Institute ever returns we may just appropriate it for our own use again. Be warned Adobe whats good for the goose is good for the gander.

Regalia – Buffalo Headdress

Buffalo headdress NCIPA powwow 2016

Regalia is the term most used to describe the clothing and accessories worn by Indians during their ceremonies, competitive dances, and other events. It can be made of exclusively natural materials such as were used by their forefathers including feathers taken from birds caught by the individuals, leather from animals they killed themselves, beads obtained from traders or others, or any kind of item gathered and used by the individuals. This is often referred to as traditional regalia.

Other regalia may be made from newer less traditionally sourced materials such as modern manufactured beads and buttons or any type of adornment that can add to the look of updated regalia worn by individuals.

There is no right or wrong type of regalia worn and used today. In the past, new items such as small mirrors or new pieces of cloth obtained through barter or trade with other tribes or individuals before the trading of newer items began, were soon incorporated into regalia and displayed proudly. Todays use of new fabrics for streamers and accents worn in the regalia of Fancy Dancers today is not only considered acceptable but necessary for the look of the outfits worn by these dancers today.

Above is a beautiful example of a Buffalo headdress seen from the back so you can appreciate the adornments and beadwork of a spectacular example of craftsmanship and traditional styling. This was seen at the 2016 NCIPA powwow in Ft Collins, Colorado.

This image is a photograph processed in various types of software to bring out the beauty of the various items used in its creation. We’ll be bringing you further examples of incredible regalia in future posts.

 

2017 Summer Games Yellowstone National Park

Billy Lightpaw Middle weight contender for the Broad-jump – Summer Games Yellowstone National Park.

 

As long time readers of the BigShotsNow blog you know that every 4 years Yellowstone National Park holds the Summer Games in preparation for the Wildlife Olympics with entrants from around the globe. This year the games are being held in Yellowstone once again with venues at Gibbons Meadows, the Madison river, Hayden Valley, the LeHardy Rapids, the Lamar valley and the Blacktail Flats area.

This is always an incredible experience with visitors attending from all over the world. As usual most of the events are standing room only as tickets have been sold out for many of the big events for the last two years. However most events have roadside observation areas set up to accommodate the overflow crowds. Be prepared for Bear Jams, Wolf Jams, Buffalo Jams, Otter Jams and every other jam you can think of as the various contestants make their way to the different events, while those attending Yellowstone for the first time slam on their brakes, throw open all four doors where  applicable, and race out to greet and get their first up-close view of the different contestants, leaving their vehicles unattended and blocking the roadway. This impacts traffic bringing it to a standstill for hours. As this also usually results in the arrival of the First Responders stationed throughout the park to take care of the maimed and wounded that occur from way too close encounters with animals that are wild and have never heard of Disney, it takes awhile before the visitors cars can be impounded and hauled off to be shredded. Prepare for long waits depending on the popularity of the contestant being viewed.

This years games are truly spectacular with many new participants such as one of the real contenders in the light heavy-weight broad jump, Mr. Billy Lightpaw, here shown settling into his patented “Squat and Jump” starting position. Mr. Lightpaw also known as Billy the Bumper to his friends ,currently holds the amateur broad jumping record of 32′ 8″ set last fall at the pre-hibernation games outside of Ottawa and is considered to be a gold medal frontrunner. Notice the coiled spring like action of tucking his head in and rolling back on his powerful haunches prior to his launch. Simply incredible. This is why he’s a crowd favorite. This event has plenty of accessibility due to the wide open Hayden valley floor. Binoculars are highly recommended.

The Madison river will have a new event this year, in fact it’s the first time this event has been offered in the summer games and it is likely to be a huge crowd pleaser. It is the “Calf Drop” and it’s a doozy. There are no front-runners in this event due to the fact that only first time Buffalo mothers can enter. Those due to drop their calves during  the week of August 11th and August 22nd are automatically entered. As mentioned before there are no front-runners yet but the likelihood of twins and even in the rarest of circumstances triggering an automatic Gold medal, triplets, might be expected. There is a lot of interest in this event by the press and mothers around the world.

Another fun event for the whole family is being held at LeHardy Rapids this year. It’s the “Otter Fish Off'” and this event is one that ESPN has scheduled for prime time coverage. As you know from previous games this one is fast paced and exciting. Upstream at the top of the rapids, barrels of trout averaging 26″ to 41″ inches long and weighing up to 96 lbs.each are released to streak down the rapids where the contestants wait at the bottom. The Otter that gets the biggest fish with the least amount of personal  injury is scored on tenacity, conviviality, ferocity and good manners. This is a high interest event for the entire family and you may want to arrive a few days early to get a good seat.

The “Wolf Run” or “Elk Calf Take Down” is an event that is best watched on TV or the various Jumbo-trons set up along the highway as much of the action is out of sight due to the rugged terrain through the ponds and small streams in the heavily brushed area that is Blacktail Flats. This year we’ll have extra coverage as the various networks are employing their new “Wolf Drone” cameras which are able to follow the wolves as they run down the elk calves and drag them out of the buck brush where they like to hide. Odds on favorite this year is of course the Blacktail Flats Pack for their intimate knowledge of the area.

Gibbon meadows will again be the site of the contestants housing area, media outlets, Torch lighting, and the entrance and closing parades. A Special “I Paid A Lot Because I’m Special” Pass is needed to access this area. If you don’t already have one you might as well forget about it. There’s none left. Sorry. Seems like everybody is Special.

The Lamar valley is again host to one of the all time favorite events, “Buffalo Herding”. This event has been a staple of the Summer Games for as long as I have been making them up. It is not someone herding the Buffalo but instead the Buffalo proudly showing off their skill at being a herd member, their ability to ‘herd’ as it  were. There are synchronized marching exhibitions, where the different herds show off their ability to walk together with all four legs synchronized, which if you’ve never seen it before is mesmerizing. There is a herd bull “Bellowing” event where the different herd bulls get on opposite sides of the valley and bellow at each other until one runs away in shame. There is a new event this year where the herds travel along the valley floor with the newborns running alongside ( the little orange ones ) to see how long they can run with their tongues out. And last but not least the contest that pits the different herds against each other to show who can make the trip up the Gibbons Narrows to the meadows above the slowest. The resulting length of the traffic tie up from the buffalo jam decides the winner. Last years numbers to beat are eleven and a half miles and five hours to make the six-mile trek up from the bottom of the falls to the summer grazing. Everyone travels at Buffalo speed for this one.

These are just the highlights of the summer games there’s plenty more so start packing and head on up to Yellowstone for another amazing year of the Summer Games at Yellowstone National Park. We’ll look for you there.

Sees Himself

Tests of bravery come in many forms. There is a lot of pressure for a young man wishing to be seen as a man, or at least seen as older than his brothers who must  watch the pony herd instead of going into battle. His older brothers look at him and watch to see if he is ready. Is he strong enough to go along on a raid yet or does he need more time. He has practiced with his bow until he can hit anything in sight, he has made his own shield and done a vision quest. He has fasted. In his mind he is ready.

There has been constant talk of the blue coats entering the area of the Little bighorn river. The older braves have been continually riding in to talk with the elders after spying on the enemy, there is a steady rise of anticipation of what will surely be a big battle with the one they call yellow hair and the rest of the pony soldiers which has made the camp a beehive of activity. There will be much blood on the greasy grass. Tensions are high as squaws are getting their men’s battle gear out of the beaded deer hide cases they are stored in. The younger girls gathering the youngest together to keep them safe. Men are getting their ponies ready, applying paint on the flanks and withers, braiding feathers into their manes, slapping their handprints onto their necks, talking to them of the brave deeds they will perform. The younger boys excitedly riding around the pony herd keeping them in a tight bunch for when they are needed. Anticipation could not be higher.

For several nights this young warrior has had the same dream. He sees himself on his pony waiting near the edge of village to go out with his brothers. His job is to be one of the decoys that lures the first soldiers away from the village. His part is dangerous, the rifle of the soldiers can reach out a long way. His older brother has told him to lay low on the back of his pony, but to yell loudly and appeared scared so that the soldiers looking for an easy kill will follow them. It’s an important job and he is nearly bursting with pride to have been chosen.

He does not want to fail in his task and that is his biggest fear. To some how let down his brothers which is why he has not slept for more than a few hours each night. His dream comes whenever he closes his eyes but as dreams often do, the answer of his bravery is just out of his reach. So it is with some trepidation when the call comes to leap into action. He is certain he will brave but he is slightly worried that for some terrible reason he won’t be. In a few moments he and everyone else will know for sure. He sees himself and now is the moment of truth.

 

Misses His Friends

Young men and war. How glorious it is. Sitting around the campfire, hearing the elders talk about battles they had when they were young warriors. Riding out across the prairie with a comrade and speaking of brave deeds you would do if given a chance. Scalps you would take, coup you would count, enemies dying on your lance or from your arrows. The excitement, the stories to bring back to the lodge of your prowess in battle, the admiring glances of the young maidens. All this and more if you can only get into the next fight. How agonizing not to have participated yet and be a respected warrior.

Then it happens. You get your opportunity to wage war with your sworn enemy. In this case it is the blue coats that have been relentlessly entering your land, running off the game, killing anyone they see. They’re coming and it will be a big battle, the biggest anyone has ever seen. The biggest in the memory of even the oldest old man in the village. Bigger even than the old mans grandfather could have remembered were you able to ask him. All the tribes are joining together to take part in this exciting, exhilarating, awful, incredible magnificent event. The medicine men have been singing of visions they have had where the Greasy grass is covered with the dead, the women going from body to body making sure no one is alive. Guns, rifles, and pistols laying about for the taking. Reputations made, brave acts to sing about for generations. And you and your friends will play a part. You will  be the relentless, merciless warrior and be victorious in this battle just as you have dreamed of since you  were a child.

And then after a time filled with smoke and war cries, violence and death it is over. The Greasy grass is indeed covered with the dead just as foreseen by the visionaries and the spoils of war have been collected and it’s time for feasts and celebrations, and dancing and story telling, and a time to come down from that glorious battle high and look around you for your friends. That’s when you find that several of them are not at the celebration and never will be again. They’re among the dead laying in the Greasy grass. Killed by the enemy you were victorious over.

Suddenly in the aftermath of what was your greatest adventure you see that those friends that you rode with and boasted with and fought alongside of are no more. They are the same as the enemy now, lifeless and scattered across the land waiting for loved ones to come gather them for preparation to spend eternity in that other world where the dead reside. Songs will be sung about them that will live in the hearts of some for a while but the truth is they are gone forever now and will not share anything with you ever again. This death today is permanent. There will be more conquests and defeats for you to come, very likely more  of the latter than the former but those boyhood friends will not be a part of them. Now you think and mourn, the shine has gone off the day and in reflection you find that there is a high price to pay for glory. Perhaps too high but that’s something to think about later. His name tonight is Misses His Friends.

 

Hostiles!

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In our ongoing work of researching events that have taken place here in the West we have discovered a little known fact relating to the Battle of the Little Bighorn and it is nothing short of amazing. Although thousands of hours of research and numerous books have been devoted to the climatic events of June 1876 where General George Armstrong Custer led the valiant men of the 7th Cavalry into one of the greatest defeats in American history at the hands of the largest assemblage of Indians ever gathered, they missed one amazing fact.

That fact was there was an unknown photographer attached to the regiment to record the anticipated victory of the General in the expected upcoming battles with the various tribes. His name is unrecorded in the rolls of the members of the expedition so it is surmised that he must have volunteered to accompany them after the orders were cut for the forth coming action by Custer and the 7th. It is more probable that Custer met him and hired him out of his own pocket to immortalize his place in history, which would account for him not being on the official records. We are diligently working to learn more about this photographer but have been stymied by the lack of information we can make up.

We were researching the early records of the battle in a dim musty room in the basement of the Bighorn county courthouse in Hardin Montana for a project of our own, when a decrepit old file folder fell out from behind a desk we were moving and split open. Inside was a treasure trove of faded pictures, handwritten notes, folded maps, a few letters from some of the enlisted men they had given him to be mailed when they got back to civilization and other odds and ends.

As far as can be determined these items were placed in the courthouse around 1915 two years after the Courthouse was built, and were destined to be held there until a proper museum could be built where they were then to be put on display for all to see. Evidentially the folder containing all of the items had slipped down behind the desk and were forgotten until we happened across them.

As we sorted through the hundreds of pictures of the daily lives of the men of the 7th cavalry, including various depictions of actions that took place along the way of men on horseback, wagons pulled by mules filled with the supplies needed to support a mission of this size, the Officers leading the troop, even the General himself, and remarkably even some of the hostiles, the image above came to our attention.

Images printed on paper from fragile pixels, as opposed to those done on glass plates, or the even older method used by Daguerreotypes, were just coming into favor at this time and this one was beautifully hand-tinted with the utmost care taken to recreate the colors as they must have been when the picture was recorded. Each print had been carefully noted with the men’s names, the date of the image, the location, etc. in pencil on the back of each print. Unfortunately in this case of this image the names and some of the other information had been disfigured and faded due to the image getting wet at some point.

We were able to make out the name of the river, “Little Bighorn”, the date “something illegible – 1876”, and mysteriously the phrase “Hostile’s!”. Whether this pertained to Indians in pursuit of what appear to be two scouts returning, or some other event related to Indian activity we cannot ascertain at this point. Perhaps more information will turn up as we study this material further.

We are incredibly fortunate to have discovered this invaluable material and are busy sifting through it gleaning whatever new information might be hidden within its faded remains. We will be passing on anything we find that sheds new light on this important time in our history, and perhaps more about this unknown photographer.