best Deadwood quotes


I’m late to the rumour that Deadwood might become a movie. Late, and extremely excited. Watching this show I used to press pause every five minutes to write down my favourite lines. Shakespearean syntax + facedown-in-the-gutter profanity = goosebumps-inducing dialogue. Here are some of the g-rated gems:

Truth is, as a base of operations, you cannot beat a saloon.

Hereforth, in a calamity, I’ll be sure to send for Jane.

Short of burning it all down, you got to trust someone.

I’d as soon as try to touch the moon as take on what a whore’s thinking.

I’m the simple type of man that, seeing lightning, looks for thunder, and finding thunder understands it as part of the same storm.

I don’t collude and I don’t cahoot.

You coulda just said “Amen,” Reverend.

He may have checked out short a useful amount of blood.

You do not want to be a dirt-worshiping heathen from this point forward.

Wild Bill Hickok: You know the sound of thunder, Mrs. Garret?
Alma Garret: Of course.
Wild Bill Hickok: Can you imagine that sound if I asked you to?
Alma Garret: Yes, I can, Mr. Hickok.
Wild Bill Hickok: Your husband and me had this talk, and I told him to head home to avoid a dark result. But I didn’t say it in thunder. Ma’am, listen to the thunder.


PS: The character of Calamity Jane, played by the inimitable Robin Weigert, served as a kind of personal archetype for me a few years back. I wrote about it here.


fun with archetypes: Calamity Jane

She was me, today, in Fides’s singing class!  There I was, channeling Calamity Jane from the early episodes of Deadwood.  Sloppy, sad, aggressive, foul-mouthed and utterly winsome.

We’d been talking about the challenge of trying to teach a class with an undefended voice.  On a rainy Monday morning at 8:00am in March, my students emanate hatred of me and everything I stand for: scheduling, discipline, effort, accountability.  My usual defense against Monday-morning resentment is to go on the offensive: to force the students out of their torpor and into discussion, inquiry, engagement.  I push and push, my voice become low and authoritative; I model keen intellectual engagement with the material.  But there’s a big part of me that feels for them–that feels with them–and wholeheartedly agrees that any sane creature on a morning like this would still be under the covers.

That’s the part of me I need to rally in my voice, to ward off strain and fatigue.  The softer, empathetic aspects that carry emotion as well as smarts.  The winsome and wayward bits.  So, Calamity Jane it is!

CJ is unfettered appetite, unchecked whim.  She drinks herself silly, wears skins from animals she’s shot and skinned with her own hands.  Jane has broken so far out of the female mold that she belongs nowhere and everywhere on the lawless, calamitous frontier where women are consigned either to the brothel or the laudanum bottle.  If she had only found her pack, I think–her tribe–she would have been unstoppable; she would have changed the course of history.

And what does Jane sound like, coming out of my mouth as I sing?  Physiologically, she means a loose, open diaphragm puddling onto my pelvic floor.  A six-shooter sternum aiming true to target.  A soft, slurring tongue and a tremulous, sorrow-filled brow.  With this technique my voice is broad and throbbing, warm and easy, packed with stamina and power like never before.

Of course, this is exactly what Fides is after: the sound, the technique.  Calling up a TV character is one of her tried-and-true pedagogical methods for helping us make the leap between concept and practice.  With the archetype of Calamity Jane fixed firmly behind my eyes, my body can adopt the posture and attitude it needs without my interference or censure.

It felt really good, and I liked what I heard.  So much, in fact, that I might just try to keep Jane around for awhile.