Contrary to what my online resume indicates, I have a love-hate relationship with Westerns. I live on the high plains, and rode the train to my downtown campus alongside businessmen in cowboy hats and boots. I hated the trappings of our American mythology. This was partly because I was enamored with the Old World and its Vikings, knights, and siege engines. That was real, John Wayne was fake and representative of everything that I disdained politically. Even a stint as volunteering at one of Colorado's Old West landmarks didn't do much to change my opinion. Instead, I spent my tours trying to illustrate how Western history had things in common with Pirates of the Caribbean. (We had a corset demonstration. The fact that I chose to use Keira Knightley as my example is probably a big sign that I wasn't really meant to be a history teacher.)

But then I grew up, started up a relationship with Clint Eastwood, and started seeing Westerns for what they were -- good, old fashioned entertainment. I have bored people with how The Outlaw Josey Wales is an American version of Beowulf, and I have meant it seriously. There was a light bulb moment when I realized 95% of the comics I read were thinly veiled ripoffs of Western movies -- especially every other issue of Wolverine -- and I felt both enlightened, impressed, and ashamed that I had never realized geekdom's dusty roots were basically in my own backyard.

This year -- and possibly this very weekend -- I suspect many punks (and I use that term in the most curmudgeonly of ways) will come to the exact same realization.

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I don't know if Westerns are cool again. Personally (and I suspect many film fans would agree), I don't think they ever went out. But they seem to be on the verge of a generational rediscovery, helped out by posh Blu-Ray releases for Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci. Quentin Tarantino's liberal use of imagery and Ennio Morricone has also helped films like Death Rides A Horse find their way into Netflix queues. Korea seems to be doing what Italy did a few decades ago, and helping Americans remember just how fun it can be to play with horse operas again.