Monday, June 27, 2005

Big Boomer Time in New Mexico!

I'm off tomorrow to film the .50 Caliber World Championships down in Raton, NM. I'll get a chance to throw some big rounds downrange (add that image to your hot, festering dreams, Ranger Walsh!) and in general incite liberals all over the place. Then it's up to Wyoming for Hell On Wheels 2005, the cowboy action shooting regionals, where I am, in fact, shooting. Hard to believe, startling, but true! I'm thinking of using the two Ruger 50th Anniversary Blackhawks in .357 and one of Steve Young's flawless Navy Arms M-92 lever actions. I got a REALLY slick M-97 pump shotgun from Coyote Cap, the lord high god of old shotgun slickin', and it rocks.

My goal is to get through the match without overtly humiliating myself!

My CCW is expiring in a couple of weeks, and Boulder County's policy is to make it as hard as possible to renew. You've got to fill out the complete form again, get a notarized affidavit that you haven't forgotten how to shoot in the last three years, then hand-deliver the renewal request, along with a money order/certified check to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and a check for the Boulder Sheriff's Office, to the Sheriff's Office. Jeez...when I asked whether there was a "grace period" where my expired CCW would still be valid until the new permit was issued, the response was a terse, "Can't you just not carry a gun for a few days?"

Depends on whether or not I fall into the RHINO DOOKEY during those few days! Hell, I could be set upon by enraged Forest Rangers...oh, that's right...they're unarmed! I suppose they could pummel me with branches, or, worse, make me listen to them sing "Kumbaya."

I hooked back up with C. Rusty Sherrick, holster-maker extraordinaire, who's making me a couple of holsters. One is for the Ugliest Gun in the World, my 1917 S&W .45 ACP revolver fitted with a 6-inch 1955 S&W Target barrel. The barrel has a ramp...the frame doesn't. It's butt-ugly and hard-chromed to boot. It also shoots as well as any big frame Smith I've ever shot. And I've shot a bunch of 'em! My father had it for years, but I was able to spirit it back home recently after he let some idiot stuff a .44 Special in it and touch it off. I have this fantasy that one of these days I'll get Hamilton Bowen to pull the barrel and machine it to look like it was designed for the frame...of course, I had an adjustable sight machined into the frame (yes, I'm going to OLD GUN KILLER HELL! I didn't know no better!!!). Besides, I already owe Hamilton Bowen 'way too much money...he could get a second mortgage on my house...

The other holster is one of his really cool crossdraw flap holsters for my Ruger Blackhawks:
Big John's Half Flap Crossdraw
Named and created for pistol aficionado extraordinaire Big John. A heavy duty crossdraw designed to handle the big guns. A half flap with a one way snap will keep the gun in the holster. Ideal for horseback and tree stands. Made from horsehide so you get a very tough holster yet light in weight.
Rusty does beautiful beautiful work. You're going to have to wait for it (I'm at about 5 months), but it's worth it. Check out his Thinman IWB, desinged by my pal Tom Givens, which looks to me like the only IWB that can hold a candle to Lou Alessi's magnificent IWB holster. BTW, I had an amazing conversation with Rusty about chaos at the Edges of the Known Universe. Not only is he one heck of a holster-maker, but he's a wise man!

Track Legal Gun Owners, Not Illegal Aliens

This from Jeff Johnson at the CNS News Service:
Dozens of U.S. House members who sponsored the nationwide instant background check system for gun buyers in 1993 or backed the expansion of that system in 2002, have shown no support for a similar database intended to identify illegal aliens trying to find work in the U.S.

At least one member who supported the gun control measure is challenging the proposal to crack down on illegal immigrants.

"A database this large is likely to contain many errors," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) during a May 12 hearing on the Illegal Immigration Enforcement and Social Security Protection Act (H.R. 98). "Any one of [the errors] could render someone unemployable and possibly much worse until they can get their file straightened out."

USFS, Rules, the Law & Catch 22

Yosarian: Catch 22! Catch 22! What is Catch 22?
Old Italian Woman: They can do anything to you that you can't stop them from doing..

Catch 22 (4): A tricky or disadvantageous condition; a catch...

I'm hearing from lots of people who have called the Forest Service to ask about shutdowns of shooting areas, only to be told that, no, there have been no shutdowns at all. Not a one. Of course, it depends on which office you call. In Pike National Forest, there have been no shutdowns of "designated" shooting areas. In Arapahoe, you're welcome to shoot anywhere, as long as you "follow the rules." Of course, those "rules" are pesky. The current "rule" is that you can't shoot within 200 yards of a road. Or 150 yards from a road. Or (in one memorable case), 400 yards from a road.

Interestingly enough — and this might come as a shock and surprise to Forest Service employees — there are these things called laws, which are (in case you slept through your American Studies class in college) codified rules that define what is allowed and what is prohibited. In the case of Forest Service land, those laws are available in the CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS. The applicable parts for our discussion are "Title 36, Volume 2 [Revised as of July 1, 2004] CITE: 36CFR261:"

PART 261_PROHIBITIONS--Table of Contents

Subpart A_General Prohibitions

Sec. 261.10 Occupancy and use.

The following are prohibited:
(d) Discharging a firearm or any other implement capable of taking
human life, causing injury, or damaging property as follows:
(1) In or within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite,
developed recreation site or occupied area, or
(2) Across or on a National Forest System road or a body of water
adjacent thereto, or in any manner or place whereby any person or
property is exposed to injury or damage as a result in such discharge.
(3) Into or within any cave.
Notice that the Federal regs make no mention of "200 yards from a road," "400 yards from a road," or even "150 yards from a road." Regarding roads, the reference in the regs is a prohibition of shooting "across" a road (duh!). The "in or within 150 yards" prohibition specifically refers to " a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area."

As I've mentioned, my Sweetie is an extremely well-regarded 20-year attorney, and a couple of years back I spent a year working for a law firm. Between my Sweetie and my brief experience, I learned an interesting point about the law — it hinges on defining terms. The reasons lawyer-speak often seems so stupifyingly boring (sorry, Sweetie!) is that everyone involved needs to agree on what all the words in the document mean. That's why 36CF261.2 is pages and pages of definitions.

Curiously enough, "road" is not defined, nor is "occupied area." This is sticky. However, because the term "occupied area" is used in 36CFR261.10(d)(1) and "National Forest System road" is used in the immediately following 36CFR261.10(d)(2), opposed to rangers — who have all the legal training of my beagle Alf — will argue that an "occupied area" is not a road.

Why is this important? Because shooting areas have been closed down by citing 36CFR261.10(d)(2), 150 yards from an "occupied area," which some genius at the Forest Service has defined as a "road."

HMMMMM, maybe we can find some clarification on the Forest Service's own website, specifically their "Frequently Asked Question" page:
Can I recreationally shoot in National Forests? Where?

You can target practice in most areas of National Forest, with some exceptions. No shooting is allowed within 300 feet of a campground, trail head, residence, or any place people occupy. Additional areas that do not allow shooting will be posted. You are not allowed to shoot across or on a National Forest road, trail, or body of water. You must shoot in a safe manner, know where your round is going, and have a safe backstop. You cannot place a target on a live tree.

There are established target ranges on some National Forests.
Well, 300 feet..."No shooting is allowed within 300 feet of a campground, trail head, residence, or any place people occupy"...notice the separation between "any place people occupy" and "National Forest road, trail or body of water."

Let's examine a whole other Forest Service rats' nest, the Special Orders.

In Pike National Forest, which does have a designated shooting area in the Ramparts area, one such Special Order is in effect:
Although recreational shooting is generally permitted in the National Forest there are exceptions and conditions. The exceptions are normally outlined in Special Orders. In this case, Special Order 91-08 prohibits recreation/target shooting in all of El Paso County including the area west of Monument. You can obtain a map from us that shows you exactly where these restrictions apply. The best alternative area for recreation/target shooting west of Monument is off Mt. Herman Road and down Forest Development Road (FDR) 322A. This area is located in Teller County approximately six miles from Red Rocks Ranch Road. The other common sense conditions are as follows: (1) you cannot discharge a firearm in or within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area (2) you cannot discharge a firearm across or on a Forest Development road or a body of water adjacent thereto, or in any manner or place whereby any person or property is exposed to injury or damage as a result in such discharge (3) you cannot discharge a firearm into or within any cave. I would also advise you to familiarize yourself with Colorado State law regarding possessing and transporting firearms.
This is also worht reading, on Pike:
If you are looking for a place to target shoot on the local national forests and grasslands, here are some helpful hints to make your experience safe and enjoyable.

In general, recreational shooting is not prohibited on most National Forest System lands. However, discharging a firearm is always prohibited within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site, a cave, across or on a road or a body of water, or in any manner or place whereby any person or property is exposed to injury or damage. (36 CFR 261.10(d).
There's our old friend 36CFR261.10(d)! The Pike rangers have been actively involved in closing shooting areas for more than a year:
December 10, 2004

Terry McCann, PAO, (303) 275-5615

On Pike National Forest between Bailey, Harris Park Forest Service enacts shooting closure in Slaughterhouse Gulch

MORRISON... The U.S. Forest Service has issued an order prohibiting the shooting of firearms in the Slaughterhouse Gulch area of the Pike National Forest, between Bailey and Harris Park, Colo. The closure order is effective for five years and was initiated as a result of an increasing numbers of complaints of unsafe shooting practices that posed a risk to life and property...
Here is my take on this...the "unsafe shooting practices" is smoke and mirrors to justify closing down range areas. If a Ranger, or law enforcement officials "observed unsafe shooting practices," why didn't they DO THEIR DAMN JOBS and arrest those people? because it's part of an organized antigun initiative. Close down thousands of acres for shooting by legitimate users instead of busting a couple of perps.

Occupied areas...150 yards...200 yards...400 yards...

They can do anything to you that you can't stop them from doing!


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Back This Week!


Been a long, relatively unpleasant week, but I think things are loosening up!

Tomorrow...adventures with custom leather, more fun with the Forest "I Cannot Tell A Lie" Service...getting ready for the cowboy regionals in Wyoming considring I haven't shot a cowboy gun in months (pray god it's like riding a bicycle!) and Michael gets a crash course in sporting clays: "God meant for shotguns to be beautifully finished walnut and perfectly blued steel...where on earth did you get a red aluminum shotgun with a spraypainted black stock? And who thought that was a good idea?"

Yeah yeah they'll be telling me that all bowling balls are supposed to be black!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Interesting Take on Future Supreme Court Justices

Let's take a little time out from mauling our friends at the Forest Service to look at an interesing piece on David Hardy's blog on future Supreme Court Justices:
"...the problem with advocating the right to arms is the liberals don't like arms and conservatives don't like rights."
I and other Second Amendment advocates have often worried that political conservatives were at best a "fragile vessel" for carrying on the RKBA battles, and some of us have argued — unsuccessfully — that RKBA issues were better served by removing them from the whole hog conservative agenda.

I certainly think that Hardy is correct when he quotes Prof. Robert Cottrol of George Washington Univ. College of Law:
On the Second Amendment, their [conservatives] support has quite frankly been rather anemic -- -- it's clear that many support it opportunistically, i.e., because the Democrats over the last ten years have been dumb enough to embrace European style gun control as a core value in a nation where roughly 50% of the population lives in households with firearms. Conservatives have adopted the Second Amendment because it is good politics, but I don't see, with some exceptions, the kind of passion and commitment that liberals show for rights that they value.
There are, of course, fire-breathing conservative Second Amendment supporters (Zell Miller, a Democrat, comes immediately to mind), but for the larger body of conservative politicians, we're the crazy aunts and uncles in the attic. Once every four years, they unlock the attic door and throw us a handful of bullets to keep us quiet until the next election.

On our part — as a lot of my friends have noted — we hold our noses and pull the lever for conservative politicians who agonize over non-issues like gay marriage and poor Terry Schaivo while steadily chipping away at our individual rights without even having the good graces to flinch.

So while I'm all for W. loading every court in the land with conservative judges — a large part of the reason I voted for him — I would dearly love to see the libertarian wing of the conservative movement at least acknowledged. Of course, Hardy (and I and most everyone with an IQ out of double digits) would like to see Judge Alex Kosinski on the Supreme Court. We all know that's not going to happen, because above all things, conservatives fear a wild card. Be interesting to see what develops...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A PERSON Emerges...

...ah, my little cherubs and seraphim who flutter around Forest Service offices tell me that the Front Range shooting area closures are indeed the work of one person. Her name is Christine Walsh, and she is the Boulder District Ranger. It seems that Ms. Walsh, who just doesn't like guns, came up with a plan to shut down shooting on USFS land in the Front Range all by herself, and it wasn't met with wholesale approval...there are apparently a few Rangers who actually think obeying the law is more imporant that pursuing one person's political agenda.

Now what's interesting about Ms. Walsh is that she has a history of acting imperiously. Both equestrian and off-road groups have asked her for explanations of her actions, without much luck. Here's what she thinks (from the Boulder Weekly) about shooters:

"We have one law enforcement officer who covers the entire Boulder Ranger District for all uses. So he needs to distribute his time to areas that need to be monitored and patrolled," she says. "We have additional employees who can write tickets, but they are encouraged not to approach people who are shooting unless they are with another employee [emphasis mine]. Nobody’s supposed to do that alone, because they don’t have guns."
Hmmmm...I've talked to real Rangers numerous times while I was shooting! They didn't seem to have any problems "approaching," even talking to shooters! Maybe that's why Ms. Walsh chose to act in the dark, as opposed to following Federal laws. It also explains why MS. Walsh has refused volunteer support and help, even though the USFS routinely accepts volunteer help from mountain biking, hiking and equestrial groups.

The problem is that Ms. Walsh's personal agenda is now USFS policy...until someone in Washington D.C. slaps her down hard.

More as this story continues to develop!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Fun With The Forest Service

Well, the latest line from the Forest Service is that no ranges have been closed in Boulder County!

I guess I was mistaken! This big signs that read: POSTED NO SHOOTING! based on 36 CFR 261.10 (d) (1) probably didn't actually mean "No Shooting." And I guess when the FS informed local law enforcement that they were going to close down the shooting areas, they were just joshing around. Or when FS representatives told Douglas County commissioners that their intent was to shut down all shooting in the Pike National Forest, golly, it was just a joke...right?

Or maybe, just maybe, the shitstorm in Washington D.C. has started in earnest, and the weasels are running for cover...

NOTE TO FS "RANGERS": You know, Federal employees who tell lies to the media or disseminate lies to the public these days get more than a "naughty naughty" letter and a whack across the knuckles with a ruler. If you lie and we catch you in the lie — and we WILL catch you! — what do you suppose the chances are of you retaining your job? Your pension? Your benefits? Think long and hard before you back your bosses' play!

Friday, June 17, 2005

NEWS! Forest Service Conspiracy to Shut Down Shooting Ranges Across Colorado Uncovered!

I originally thought my range problems were the result of a single anti-gun forest ranger acting on her own.

What is becoming clearer is that there is a U.S. Forest Service conspiracy to shut down any and all shooting areas on Forest Service land in the Front Range and deprive everyone of their gun rights. I would not be surprised if this was happening across the state as well, and I wouldn't bet against this being a trial run for the rest of the country!

Welcome to the new battlefield!

The Colorado State Shooting Association is now actively involved. Senator Wayne Allard's office has been notified, as well as the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation in D.C., the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation. This is really ugly...the USFS essentially planned and executed a massive shut-down of shooting areas across the Front Range in the last 30 days. The goal is apparently to end shooting on USFS land — in DIRECT violation of USFS policies and a direct attack on Coloradians' gun rights — in the Front Range. There is some question as to whether the USFS includes "hunting" with "shooting."

I'll have more details Monday.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Whew! (and nice guns...)

Bounce travel takes it out of you! The Vegas-Denver-Rochester swing pretty much sucks. Plus, the haul from Denver to Chicago was on one of United's lovely "Mexican bus" flights, needing only a couple of live chickens and a goat to make it the ultimate fun travel experience.

Still, one has to be impressed by Doug Turnbull's stunningly beautiful firearms. Both his restorations and his namesake guns exhibit a level of craftsmanship one would swear had passed from the world a long time back. Looking, handling and shooting his single actions and his 1886 big boomer lever actions (.50-110, essentially a .348 with the neck blown out to .50...Starline has the brass) I was transported back to those old gun magazines of the 1950s and '60s with their color plates of amazingly crafted guns.

BTW, Turnbull has some of the finest 1911s I've ever seen (and I''ve seen a whole bunch of 'em). One of them is a full-blown restoration of one of the first commercial 1911s ever sold (in 1912), with the deep blue blue Colt bluing of the period.

This trip reminded me of the enduring artistry of firearms, one of the things that drew me to them in the first place. Maybe we should do a coffee table book of modern custom firearms, so there's some sort of legacy for the next generation of shooters!


Am not on road!

With Doug Turnbull at Turnbull Restorations today.

More when I get back to the hotel!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Survivied Celebrity Shoot...News at 11!

On the way back from Vegas; getting ready to board.

Celeb Shoot actually went better than I expected. Joe Mantegna was a hoot; Andrew Prine had great Quentin Tarantino stories from the season finale of CSI. Banscombe Richmond from the old Renegade teevee series — of which I was a HUGE fan — series and I got to talk motorcycles for a long while. Still, it's time to both de-Vegas and de-Hollywood. Be hard to adapt back to a world where GIGANTIC SILICONE IMPLANTS are not the norm...

Mo' later...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Head Colds & New Guns

Definitely ragged out this AM, probably because I'm gearing up for the Hollywood Celebrity Shoot in Vegas this weekend. I plan to spend some time with Joe Mantegna, whom I met a few years back after he did the HBO Ratpack movie. He played Dean Martin and modeled his character partly on a book from my old NYC running buddy, Nick Tosches. I also thought he did a real nice job of portraying the Robert Parker Spenser character.

Heard back from the Colorado State Shooting Association, of which I am a member, on the range closure. They said, basically, good luck. There's $35 a year well spent! Well, we'll press on.

Got my two new 50th Anniversary Flat-top Ruger Blackhawks. I'm pretty impressed (thought I haven't shot 'em yet). I love the feel of the Flat-tops and the smaller gripframe. The triggers could use work, but what else is new? I'm thinking of taking them up to Wyoming over the Fourth of July weekend and shoot that big regional cowboy match with 'em. I've got a lot of .357 cowboy loads lying around from my last assault on the Big Blue Machines In The Basement, assuming of course that my Sweetie will let me use my Navy Arms Winchester 92 clone in .357, the one rebuilt by Steve Young at Steve's Gunz, who is by far and way the best '92 mechanic in the country. She appropriated the gun awhile back because it shot so well. Funny how that works. I finally got her one of the Marlin .32 H&R Cowboys (after two years), which went out to Steve earlier this week with a note that it was ALL HIS FAULT AND HE HAD TO MAKE THE MARLIN EXACTLY LIKE THE '92!!!

In other fun stuff, I've been talking to country star and number one cowboy singer Michael Martin Murphey about doing original music for our new, as yet unannounced, television series tentatively titled HORSES WILD. Yesterday, his management said the whole idea was 'way cool. A nice piece of negotiation, if I do say so myself.

Am also considering a hunting show that would (hopefully...but then I have a head cold!) break the paradigm for those shows. Yeah, and all I need is a clone! As I've said before, quoting Brother Tom Petty...

Well I don’t know what I’ve been told
You never slow down, you never grow old
I’m tired of screwing up, I’m tired of goin’ down
I’m tired of myself, I’m tired of this town
Oh my my, oh hell yes
Honey put on that party dress
Buy me a drink, sing me a song,
Take me as I come ’cause I can’t stay long

Gotta go feed the fish...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Patting Ourselves on the Back!

Just got notified that SHOOTING GALLERY/COWBOYS won first and second place in the Consumer Television Division of this year's NSSF Good Shots/Great Stories competition. Last year we won first and third, plus a Telly Award.

It is with a certain sense of humor that my resume now reads, "award-winning television producer." LOL!

Weekly Check on Bias...

Be sure to check out Jeff's excellent Weekly Check on Bias today! Some interesting stories.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Tyranny of the Why & Custom Guns

As promised, a couple of random thoughts on custom revolvers, Custom Revolvers and why we "why" ourselves to death.

So I've been reading Hamilton Bowen's book on custom revolvers in preparation for the SHOOTING GALLERY episode on the great revolver-maker. Bowen has made a career of creating some of the most unique big bore revolvers around, all the while honing to the a bygone esthetic. Foir example, he's built a reproduction of Elmer Keith's #5 single action; a reproduction of a 1917 Colt Army from a Ruger Redhawk, conversions of Ruger single actions in such calibers as .475 & .500 Linebaugh, .50 AE and aging calibers like .38/40, the .32/20 and the .44 Special.

Now why would someone want a Ruger copy of a 1917 Colt .45 revolver in .50 AE?

Is it more practical than a handful of black plastic pistols? Nope. Better for competition or genuine, authentic "tactical" carry than a bevy of premium 1911s? Nada. A better hunting gun than, say, a Freedom Arms .454 Casull? Negative. More powerful than an S&W .500 Magnum? Not a chance. Smaller than a factory Ruger Alaskan .480. Not exactly. Hey, it's too old for practical; too new for cowboy. Expensive to boot.

So what is the point?

The point is it is 'way cool. And that's why it exists.

Back in the day, the gun magazines were full of cool guns. Somewhere along the way, we got all tied up in the "whys" of owning guns. See, we have to have a "why" for getting a gun, like "it's the most tactical gun made and I'll be ready for the barbarian hordes when they sweep through my suburban neighborhood." Or, "it'll drop that whitetail deer like the pure-D hammer of god, as opposed to my current gun, which is only rated to pure-C." Or my favorite one of all..."it's the idea 'bug-out' gun, which I will carry with me on my person when civilization collapses and my family flees from our suburban neighborhood to your suburban neighborhood, where we will proceed to shoot the living hell out of you, unless, of course, you've also 'bugged-out' with the better bug-out gun..." Or something like that.

Rationales are a disease! You want it; you can afford it; what the don't need a string of "whys" to buttress your purchase. And by the way, the last time an antigunner asked me why I "needed" more than one gun, I said it was for the same reason she "needed" guava-flavored toothpaste — because!

So I sent Bowen my beat-to-hell Ruger Old Model Blackhawk .357, to be converted to .44 Special, which remains one of my all-time favorite calibers (overexposure to Skeeter Skelton as a child, no doubt).

Ask me why...

Monday Morning...

Before I go upstairs and emerse myself in the legal aspects of U.S. Forest Service antigun policies, a couple of quick thoughts:

• My Sweetie and I did the 65-mile road leg of the annual Elephant Rock Century bicycle ride Sunday, each of us beta-testing new bikes. She picked up her brand spanking new Cannondale R1000 Feminine bike (see it here) Saturday at Big Ring Cycles in Golden, and — not surprisingly — it ran like a champ. We've both been riding Cannondales for more than a dozen years, so that's not a big surprise. I, on the other hand, broke from tradition and rode an older Trek 5200 I'd just had refitted with a Shimano STI Ultegra triple-ring gearset at Excel Sports in Boulder (here's the current version...mine is much older). I just threw my old saddle on it, adjusted the height and away I went...let me speak here in favor taking that few extra minutes to do the fore-and-aft saddle fitting! After a couple of hours I decided that evil leprechauns were driving self-tapping metal screws into my lower hips! Ouch! We finished in about 4 1/2 hours, which is not too bad for recreational riders on a hilly course...especially this early in the season...I think this was our third ride longer than 1 hour this whole year!

BTW, the carbon fiber Trek rode well. It's a little twitchier in cornering than my ancient aluminum Cannondale, which I attribute to the Trek's 10-year-old carbon fork. Carbon forks are a lot stiffer these days, and I'll probably replace the Trek's fork when the bucks float in. I love the way the carbon fiber soaks up the hits on a high-speed downhill...I'm probably good for an additional 5 mph on the Trek over the Cannondale.

BBTTWW, whenever I hear about "focus" and "being in the moment," I always think about bike pelotons. Yesterday, there were times I was in a group of maybe 25 riders, separatede by a few inches at most, sweeping downhill at more than 35 miles per hour. You have a choice of being either "in the moment" or "on the ground bleeding." Think about that when you start watching news reports from the Tour next month!

• Later today I also want to post a little on master gunsmith Hamilton Bowen's book on the custom revolver, which I've been reading the last few days., and the Tyranny of Why which seems to have effected Gun World at a terrible level.

Now, however, I've got to get back to the war...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

My Range Closed Today...

...the antigun activists from the U.S. Forest Service posted the range I shoot at in Booulder County this week.

The area has been a shooting range for more than a decade, with no complaints. The range area was closed, as usual, with no input from the shooting community, with none of the studies that the USFS so loves in virtually any other situation, essentially on the authority of one antigun ranger.

Sigh...another battle in the unending war. God, I hate these scumbags!

Tomorrow we'll be talking to the Colorado State Shooting Association, Senator Wayne Allard's office, the Congressional Sportsmens Foundation, the various and sundry heads of the U.S. Forest Service, the NRA, the National Association of Shooting Ranges, as well as figuring out what our legal recourse is.

I'll post full info as I get it, and I ask the Colorado blogging community to make sure it gets widespread treatment.

Michael's Reading Room for June

Right now I'm completely emersed in Randy Lee Eickhoff's AND NOT TO YIELD, a Western novel on the life and times of Wild Bill Hickok. Eickhoff wrote the brilliant novel THE FOURTH HORSEMAN, on the life and times of another Western icon, Doc Holliday.

What I like about the Hickok book, aside from the fact that Eickoff (read this interview) is a genuinely gifted writer and storyteller, is that he understands that tales like these take place in multiple realities — hell, I'd argue that even reality takes place in multiple realities. A retelling of the history of Wild Bill (or Doc Holliday or Brother Wyatt) really doesn't move us forward in the understanding of the man or the times in which he lived unless we're able to connect the mythic, the subconscious, the spiritual dots.

Eickhoff reflexively understands this. Considered the author's "checkered" past, from Amazon:
About the Author
Randy Lee Eickhoff holds several graduate degrees, including a Ph.D. in Classics. He lives in El Paso, Texas where he works on translations in several languages, poetry, plays, and novels of which two have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His translation of Ireland's national epic is now a text in not only schools in the United States, but countries overseas as well. His nonfiction work on the Tigua Indians, Exiled, won the Southwest History Award. He has been inducted into the Paso Del Norte Writers Hall of Fame, the local chapter of the Texas Institute of Arts and Letters. He spends his time in El Paso, Ireland, and Italy, lecturing on Dante and The Ulster Cycle.
In AND NOT TO YIELD, Hickok is portrayed as a man trapped between his two selves, just plain Jim Hickok from Illinois and the larger-than-life Scout of the Plains mankiller, Wild Bill. He quotes Shakespeare, umpires baseball games (in a wonderfully drawn scene), wrestles with his parents' dark Biblical prophecies for their son and, yes, kills people. Lots of people. Hickok is, his parents tell him, fated to be a "left hand of God," a man of violence who himself stands between the innocent and the violence done against them.

It's an interesting —and, to me, valid — way of approaching history, because history is so darned slippery. We look back on events through the glass of our own times. When I was working on WHITE BOY SINGING THE BLUES, my take on the impact of black music, particularly the blues, on white popular culture, I first thought I'd be writing a "history" of the subject. I quickly discovered that from my standpoint — trying to make some sense out of the conflicting, often violent, often directly contradicting clash of the races centered around Memphis through much of the 20th Century — "history," the actual what happened when blah blah, was of very little use. There's this huge collection of data points, billions and billions of them, and "historians" pick a handful of those data points and draw their graphs. Pick a different handful and get a different graph.

Here's what Eickhoff says:
I'm more comfortable as a liar than a truth-teller, as I firmly believe that we can get closer to identifying truth in our fiction than we can by simply recording dry history. The simple idea of "history" limits itself, whereby in fiction we have no limits at all. In novels, we can interpret and offer philosophical rationale that really is out of place in a work of history.
I'm not a regular reader of Western novels, but AND NOT TO YIELD is definitely worth your time. It'll give you something to do until the next season of DEADWOOD starts!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Presented FYI ONLY...

From the Ottawa Citizen this AM:
Nipple-negating technology declares war on female breasts

Nipples have become society's latest taboo, much to the chagrin of actresses such as Canada's Pam Anderson , writes Misty Harris

The good news is those weapons of mass destruction have finally been found.

The bad news is your mother, sister, aunt, and grandma are all guilty of having them.
Where is meaning in a complex world?

Paging Dr. Freud! And Jimmy Buffett...

After Alf the Beagle apparently pushed me to the brink of the bed this AM, I fell back into a deep sleep and had a dream — unremembered — that triggered a long-lost memory. I woke up thinking I smelled pineapple-scented suntan oil and Meyers Rum. Not a bad thing, to be sure...

I also woke up thinking about a time when I was — briefly — washed out to sea on a tiny catamaran with a beautiful blonde in requisite itsy-bitsy teeny-weenie bikini with only a bottle of Meyers Rum for sustenance. Call it like 30-35 years ago in Florida. The cat was a Hobie 14, with a sail I'd custom-ordered in yellow and lime green; the blonde a reporter — and friend — with a sailor's tan, permanent suntan oil scent and the requisite vicious turn of phrase; the rum was off the shelf. The idea was that she'd teach me to really sail, instead of the haphazard water lizard I was. Lesson 1 was an afternoon after work in the local word factory, with a freshening off-shore breeze. So we headed out to sea, and she headed into the rum bottle.

She sailed with that intensity rich girls bring to horses and boats. She drank the same way.
The more she drank, the farther away from land we got, and the greater her dishabille. The bikini was her sailing suit, faded to washed-out pink with whatever elastic it once had long since gone. At about Rum 50% gone, the breeze picked up, the little cat sceamed west toward...the Yucatan...and I pondered a view that by rights belonged in a steamy Travis Magee novel — big sun-stained healthy girl falling out of her bathing suit, watching a taunt sail...dead freaking drunk.

The wind died at dusk, and I couldn't see any lights of land. She let the sail sag, leaned back on the cat's trampoline, said, "Well?" and passed out cold. I drank the remaining rum and contemplated the tanline along her right breast while we drifted in the wan moonlight. I considered pushing her overboard and chumming for sharks. I tried to think of what I'd tell the Coast Guard when they no doubt found us. I wondered whether the Mexican authorities would seize my boat if we kept drifting west.

Several hours later, the wind came up and I started sailing us back. Eventually, she woke up and took over the sailing without a word. Sometime after midnight, we rediscovered land. There never was a Lesson 2.

Jimmy Buffett would know how to spin this...