All the Pretty Horses

As I race to the weekend and my meeting with a thoroughbred, I am a bit unsteady. I prefer the mutts of the world - the ones that don't have bloodlines. The mates that weren't run around in a pen and checked out by someone to make sure they were the best. The dogs that don't die of incest related disease. The cats who don't have heart problems or were bred to be void of hair or claws or allergen.

That said, I'm also not happy with some things that I've done in life. Or my family. My mother bred dogs out of a dam that she knew was half breed, and sold them as thoroughbred. Then she did it again, from a smaller dog - when perhaps she didn't. I've sat on the research that I repeatedly refer to as my life's work - I'm afraid to publish it. I'm up to barely eight pages.

But I know that if anyone were ever to wrong me, or my wife - whether or not she's my ex wife at this point doesn't really matter. My friend. Children. I would bring them to the paint.

Which is why, when I am going to read a story about someone who isn't quite a perfect hero- or watch a film about it, I am going to pay attention. I'll publish. And my mom stopped the bloodline of her dogs when she found out. Sure she sold the first litter. But she kept the second. Six dogs running around her house all the time.

I read when I can, sometimes burn the 2 hours instead of 6 and catch the film. That was the grand plan behind watching this film. "All the Pretty Horses" (Matt Damon). Sometimes, its better to read the book. Like my research, and other important things - this book sits on my bedside table unread - or more properly, read very slowly. Until one day I will finish.

The film was a different story. Its ok to hit fast forward sometimes, its your time not theirs.

Cormac McCarthy holds a special place in those authors that I collect or admire. He seems to be able to understand how to carry us to a place where we can decide what is right, give us the option to be wrong, and let us work our own way to our own conclusions. Against the backdrop of West Texas and Northern Mexico, the books that he's written have won Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards - and also the unique position in my bookshelf of being a book that I alternately place on my bedside table, near my car keys - and on my daughter's desk.

Whoever put together the current film version of the book can have the job of cleaning the stables.

So this weekend - I am off to see Shiloh, out of Remington Steele - and like the arranged marriage or the blind date we're almost committed to it before we begin. Nevermind Shiloh is a beautiful horse, ribbons down the wall of his stall. Nor that he just completed a run up in the mountains that showed his endurance bloodline out of the stallion. The moment for me that awaits is one of whether or not we're actually going to be working together. And he knows as well as I do , thats not a done deal. Its a game I hate to lose. And if you've followed me, over the years - as some readers have - you know that a horse for me , is a game changer. I feel like I'm sailing into the sun.

My attraction to horses centers around training. And in this case, the game is for someone to tell me that there's a horse that can't learn anything new. Interesting problem. So who is going to be the teacher. Some watch the film 'Seabiscuit' for example, and cheer on the horse. I was rooting for the trainer.

But 'All the Pretty Horses' , as a film, left me cheering McCarthy and books over film. Sometimes a book can't be put into a film, or up on the shelf.

I woke up at 4 am in the morning to watch 'Horses', it was the only time I could find in my bermuda blue week schedule. Damon assumes a southern accent fresh out of Good Will Hunting almost like the perfect breed horse out of some mail order stallion. The film for me, centers around a moment where he's asked about what role the mare plays. He says equal.

But is this the case. Sure she's not playing rent-a-womb to the sire. And she's going to carry the horse one half of its genetic way to life. But crossing breedlines has a place, and the underlying proposition behind why Damon's character - as represented in the film - and the woman he falls for - seems to be that a father can stop loving a daughter - and the breeder of her own family - in the form of her aunt - holds some right to say who marries and who doesn't.

The book opens with grey morning, and the film opens with two men sitting with their head laid upon the rock staring up at the night sky. Asking the kind of questions you ask before you get married, or go to the electric chair.

Damon says to el ranchero of a particular mare - that "she's the one". In a moment following the above dialogue. He says "you can see it in her eye". "She's not as big as the others, but she's the one. " Four minutes of the film elapse before Damon's character is riding past the new love of his life. Training isn't that simple. The film descends to made for TV movie out of a book that is most decidedly not.

Something in what McCarthy writes helps me to understand who I am. And as tired as I am, as far behind the eight ball I drop - there is cowboy wisdom in his writings. There are some redeeming qualities to the film, its certainly a better ride than cable TV or that dog and pony show from some failed congressman trying to cuss out a president. If just.