Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Do You Remember Agent Zero M

Do you remember Agent Zero M? If you were a kid in the mid to late 1960s I bet you do.

Those were the days that the real James Bond, Sean Connery, showed us how to be cool. My cousin Eddie would round up his younger cousins and take us to the drive in theater in Dumas, Texas. Instead of his car he would have Uncle Thurman's pickup loaded with lawn chairs.

We would park near the back with the cab pointed away from the screen. After a raid on the snack bar that resembled Sherman looting Georgia we would be sitting in the bed of the truck, or on top of the cab to watch the film.

Eddie was cool because he was a teenager that spent time with us and I will always love him for that. I have now doubt he enjoyed the James Bond movies for the girls, as did we all, but the gagets made the movies for everyone.

Bond had nothing that was what it first appeared to be. His gaget master Q had to have been the father of the Transformers. Bond's watch, pens and lighters all had special tricks. His car was a luxury assult vehicle. He had all manner of neat stuff in his breif case.

Even James Bond couldn't be expected to fight all the worlds evil single handed. He was assested by The Man (and later the Girl) from Uncle on TV. Not to leave a fad unexploited other spy shows popped up. Get Smart and I Spy were popular American Shows. The theme 'Secret Agent Man' still shows up on oldies stations to enterain folks who have never heard of the show it repersented, or 'The Prisoner'. As for 'The Avengers', as long as Dianna Rigg was in that catsuit I didn't care if they had a plot!

Mattel Toy Company realised there were junior secret agents out there that needed to be equipped with 'Spy Stuff' and stepped in to fill the void. In addition to the "Radio Rifle" pictured above they had a camera that became a pistol. It looked a great deal like my old kodak 126 instamatic. A movie camera that became a machinegun rounded out the set.

So what got me on this subject? This morning my wife sent me a link to 'Field and Stream' with a note to check out the "Texas Flashlight".

Illegal? Oh Yeah! But many childhood dreams are.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday Night At The Movies

Helene had a "Girls Night Out" with her friend Maggie last night. Rather than bar hopping and the like this was a sleep over at Maggie's house. Helene and Maggie were teachings buddies and saw each other through the good times and bad that only teachers can relate to.

Maggie lost her husband last year, and is the 'new teacher' in a new school to boot. Helene retired two years ago and feels a bit isolated at times. Every so often they get together for girl time, and as one of the subjects that comes up is men, I run for the hills.

It isn't like I was thrown out, or left Helene at the curb. I came in to visit for a while and we watched Julie & Julia. This was not a sacrifice on my part, I enjoy the film. But once it was over I excused myself and as mentioned above, got clear so the failing of men could be explored in comfort. Not that I'm throwing rocks, we talk about them too.

So last night when I got home I had my own movie night with Bear. The cats were there, but since Bear has joined the group they hide in the nooks and crannies and glair. Cool with Bear, more popcorn for him. It seems to taste better if he thinks he is keeping it from the cats. Plus, Bear likes the same movies I do.

This time it was an old favorite from my childhood, "McLintock!" This was my suggestion for earlier, but was rejected. I don't understand why. It's primarily a love story, but with fist fights, a clay slide, indian raid and explosions. I mean, it is John Wayne. It is also one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.

A lot of the PC crowd throw rocks at it because of the two spanking scenes. They over look the fact that everyone smokes like chimneys and booze flows like water. One little geek once asked me, "Would you spank your wife?"

I know the difference between fantasy and the real world. I see lots of stuff in movies I would never try in real life. To address the above question - Get Real!

First, I don't believe in that sort of thing. Second, this sad little monkey dose not know my gentle bride.

In the time I have known Helene she has become an accomplished shot with rifle, hand gun and shotgun. In fact, she has her own weapons in all three categories. She also did quite well with an Uzi at a range in Houston on our first date. She has learned to throw both knives (her own set and heavy enough to do real damage) and tomahawks. And she knows where I sleep.

Would any of your try to spank a woman like that?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Books to Look For In The Coming Year

Our camera woes are not over it seems. The beastie we picked up from Wal-mart Monday isn't going to work out. Helene and I will return to Bryan on Wednesday and try again.

It isn't like I would be outside anymore than I have to be right now. The weatherman said we could expect tonight to be the coldest in ten years. Another station said if their projected low develops it would dislodge the record set in 1913! That being said I'm here to tell you the days aren't that much warmer.

Bear, Helene and I bravely trudge out for feed in the mornings and then rush back to the heater. Bear is torn between going outside to do his business and seeing how long he can hold it.

Once we are back inside we look for things to do. There is only so much computering we can handle. Our taste in day time TV shows vary a bit. Helene has seen about all the World War Two she can stand for a while and I can't deal with RachelRayOprahJerrySpringerMontel. About the third time you hear the same news on Fox or CNN it wears thin. Thankfully both of us are avid readers.

I'm currently working on They Rode for the Lone Star / The Saga of the Texas Rangers by Thomas W. Knowles. It's an excellent book on a fimular subject. Like most history buffs covering a perferred subject as much as anything I look to see what new view points or information this book may offer. This author doesn't disappoint.

There are a number of fiction series Helene and I follow, science fiction, mystery and fantasy are all covered.

The first of the books I am looking forward to snuck up on me. For years Patrick F. McManus has entertained readers with his short stories about outdoor adventures, misadventures, near and complete disasters. We first picked up one of his short story collections when driving cross country on a vacation. Helene read while I drove and there were several points where she had to stop reading until she could get over fits of laughter.

Two years ago at, Barnes and Noble, I found a mystery novel he had written titled The Blight Way. It was the adventures of the Bo Tully, sheriff of Blight County, Pap his scoundrel father and his best friend 'Dave the Indian'. It was as funny as I expected a Patrick McManus book to be and an extremely well crafted mystery in the bargain.

I bought the second book in the series, Avalanche, the week it was released and found it to be every bit as entertaining and well crafted as the first. I recently discovered the third book in the series, The Double-jack Murders is already out. If at all possible I will be getting it Wednesday depending on which camera we settle on.

In April there will be a treat for those of you with a liking for hard boiled PI's who are also wizards. Jim Butcher writes a wonderful fantasy adventure series called The Dresden Files. Many of you will have seen the short lived series on the Syfy channel. You owe it to your self to check out the books regardless if you loved the TV version or hated it. Harry packs a .44 magnum revolver for times when magic just won't do. Through the books he grows into a force to be reckoned with.

They are well plotted, fast paced mysteries that will have you cringing in some places and laughing so hard you can't breathe in others. The twelfth book in the series, Changes, is due out sometime in April 2010. There is no exact release date listed on Butchers web site at this writing.

In June of 2010 we change gears with Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum mystery, adventure series. Sizzling Sixteen is due out on June 22, 2010 and Helene and I have it on our calendar. We will be in Barnes and Noble that day. Stephanie Plum is a lovable, completely incompetent, incredibly lucky bounty hunter. These books are also extremely funny and don't make the mistake of thinking you have them figgured out. There is always a sting.

Helene and I make a point of buying these as Audio books so we can hear them together. In addition to being entertaining they avoid the fisticuffs over who will read them first. They also eliminate the "have you gotten to the part/DON'T TELL ME! DON'T TELL ME!" eruptions.

Janet started as a romance writer and it still shows in the Plum series. In fact, I have a confession to make here. Helene and I (yes - I) enjoy her writing so much we have tracked down her romances as well. There are always hilarious situations and stories that want to be mysteries or action adventure. Look for the crazy old lady with the gun!

'The thugs scattered like roaches when you turn the lights on. One was heard bellowing "Where did that old bat get that bazooka!"'

Not an exact quote from any of the stories but a re-occurring theme, usually staring a ".45 long barrel" revolver, that always delights.

For some years, in addition to the numbered books (One for the Money, Two for the Dough - you get the picture) Janet has also written what she called the "Between" books that feature a hunk named 'Diesel' who calls himself an 'unmentionable'. Stephanie thinks he's something between a 'Super Hero' and an 'Alien'.

Rather than another between story, this year Diesel is getting his own book. The title and exact date have not been released yet but look for it to show up sometime in late August or earlier September 2010.

This will make September a busy month. For those of you who like post crash, or disaster or post apocalypse books S.M. Sterling has what folks call 'The Change' series.

Imagine one day electricity stops working. Engines no longer work, or fire arms. In the words of one character "They took all our toys away!"

No clue who "they" are but the series starts with Dies the Fire and traces civilization re-establishing it's self from chaos. Weapons and tactics once thought obsolete re emerge in a fantastic tapestry of different approaches by diverse groups.

I personally have two problems with the series.
1. If an archer holds their bow correctly it is possible to shoot, even a heavy long bow, without hitting your bracer with the bow string every single time. Perhaps I havn't used 100+ pound long bows but I did pull an 80 pound recruve.
2. I don't see how a culture that relied on knives as much as this one could make such little use of the Kukri. Truth be told, I can't recall them ever being mentioned.

In something well over 2,000 pages these are my only complaints.

The High King of Monitval will be released sometime in September 2010. I will list the date as soon as I learn it. Helene and I will be at Barnes and Noble that day to pick it up.

If anyone feels I have over looked a special book, stand alone or series, that is going to be released this year, please tell me about it.

It is supposed to be in the 50's this coming week so I will be getting to work on the range. Hopefully I will have pictures to show my progress.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

This is Bear

Almost a month ago I announced that my early Christmas present from Helene was a Shepherd Puppy named Bear from a local shelter. Then the camera went on the blink! Finally I asked Matt to take a picture of him and send it to me. He finally sent it. This friends and neighbors, is Bear Burnett.

He is fitting in here. The cats still don't know what to make of him. They are curious but have their standards. He and Peppi get along to an extent but Bear wants to play like a puppy and Peppi insist she WILL be treated like a lady!
With any luck we will be picking up a new camera tomorrow. I have missed posting with my own pictures.
I have a couple of trips planed this year. For one I want to go visit my friend, Tom Townsend at his place outside Rusk, Texas. Those of you who enjoy the Dodge M-37, just wait until you see what Tom has on his place.
I have one other trip planned but will hold off on details for now. I haven't been able to talk to the folks yet and would hate for them to read about it here first.
Some of you have read the post about THE GREAT PUMPKIN SHOOT. The next event Helene and I have planed is COPS AND ROBBERS. As the name suggest this will be to give writers and history buffs hands on experience with firearms made famous by the gangsters and lawmen of the 1920's and 30's.
I toyed with having it on the 81st. anniversity of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, but February is our Monsoon season. At the moment it is planned for the last weekend in April. Rather than making due with my Semi Thompson, I have tentative arrangements for an actual Thompson to come out. If the gentleman I'm talking to can make it he will also bring a BAR. The Thompson is old home week but I have never fire the BAR before and can't wait! More details will be posted in the near future.
One of the other chors is to rework my range. Generally I practice with handguns and shotguns at 25, 50, 75 and 100 feet. Rifles targets will be set at 100 feet, 50 and 100 yards. It's not that I consider myself old but since bi-focals 100 yards is the most I can expect to hit without a scope.
Once this is done (by the end of the month) I will start my annual rotation of the firearms in my collection plus those of some friends I can pester into letting me borrow their stuff. Last year ended before I started this blog due to the problems of getting ammo and reloading supplies. This year I will begin with black powder weapons starting with Hangman's Matchlock. All the details, good - bad - and ugly will be recorded here.
Bear will be along, I think. He isn't real sure about this shooting stuff yet. The Grandkids, Spud and Ali, will want to take part when they can make it out. They take a lot of looking after (what one hasn't thought of the other is already into) but they also make good pack mules and I really do enjoy having them around. Helene has to quote me on that from time to time, but it's true.
So, hang in there and keep me honest. I'm expecting a great year, hope you come along.