Pith Helmet

Pistol-Grip Pulp
July 12, 2008, 11:03 am
Filed under: Firearms, Gaming, History | Tags: , , ,

The folks at IAR (International Antique Reproductions) Arms posted a review of the Chinese Shansi .45 version of the Mauser C-96 “Broomhandle” that originally appeared in the February 2001 issue of Gun World. File this under: “I want…”


First Rule of Guards Club
The folks at Guards Club share my love of pith-helmeted expeditionary forces, moustachioed White Russians, and purple-clad masked avengers and my fear of the Yellow Peril and the Red Menace. They can be found at http://members.tripod.com/kriegsmann/adventuretoo.html.


Rule 303 (Canadian-style)
February 4, 2008, 4:18 am
Filed under: Books, Firearms

A couple of additions to the reading queue:

The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange by Mark Barrowcliffe

The blurb from Amazon.com:

It is Coventry, 1976. For a brief, blazing summer, twelve-year-old Mark Barrowcliffe had the chance to be normal. He blew it. While other teenagers concentrated on being coolly rebellious, Mark – like twenty million other boys in the ’70s and ’80s – chose to spend his entire adolescence in fart-filled bedrooms pretending to be a wizard or a warrior, an evil priest or a dwarf. Armed only with pen, paper and some funny-shaped dice, this lost generation gave themselves up to the craze of fantasy role-playing games, stopped chatting up girls and started killing dragons. Extremely funny, not a little sad and really quite strange, “The Elfish Gene” is an attempt to understand the true inner nerd of the adolescent male. Last pick at football, spat at by bullies and laughed at by girls, they were the fantasy wargamers, and this is their story.

Achtung Schweinehund!: A Boy’s Own Story of Imaginary Combat by Harry Pearson

And, once again, from Amazon.com:

This is a book about men and war. Not real conflict but war as it has filtered down to generations of boys and men through toys, comics, games, and movies. Harry Pearson belongs to the great battalion of men who grew up playing with toy soldiers—refighting World War II—and then stopped growing up. Inspired by the photos of the gallant pilot uncles that decorated the wall above his father’s model-making table, by toys such as Action Man (according to Pearson—not a doll) and board games such as Escape from Colditz, dressed in Clarks’ commando shoes and with the Airfix Army in support, he battled in the fields and on the beaches, in his head and on the living room floor, and across his bedroom ceiling. And 30 years later he still is. This hilariously self-deprecating memoir is a celebration of those glory days, a boy’s own story of the urge to play, to conquer, and to adopt very bad German accents, shouting “Donner und Blitzen!” at every opportunity. This is a tale of obsession, glue, and plastic kits. It is the story of one boy’s imaginary war and where it led him.

I’ve always prided myself on knowledge of historical obscura, but, until today, I had never heard of the Canadian Rangers until today. Sure, Canada’s got some crappy gun laws, but they provide a very interesting way to get one’s mitts on a .303 Enfield.

Vade Retro Me, Pullmanus
November 23, 2007, 2:51 pm
Filed under: Books, Firearms, Movies, Religion | Tags: , , ,

I have received chain e-mail from a number of people alleging that if I go see The Golden Compass, I will be a traitor to Christendom. They cite various sources, everyone from Focus on The Family to The Catholic League to Philip Pullman himself, the author of the books on which the film is based.

I first heard of Pullman and his His Dark Materials trilogy when Pullman criticized C. S. Lewis. As a fan of Lewis, I was not very pleased with Pullman’s words. Still, I decided to give his trilogy try, but The Golden Compass failed to keep my interest at the time. While I find Pullman’s world quite enchanting and remain in awe of the skills with which he constructed it, his writing just couldn’t hold my attention.

However, the film looks like it could definitely keep me enthralled for 99 minutes. It has everything I could ask for in a movie. Airships, alternate history, Eva Green, a cowboy played by Sam Elliot, a polar explorer, and guns. And not just any guns. “Obscure and beautiful guns from around the world.”

We are introduced to Nick, a man who Loves His Guns. With the impracticability of constructing their own guns from scratch, he and his team searched for obscure and beautiful guns from around the world – and are confident that the weapons eventually used have not been seen on screen anywhere else before. Each gun chosen for each character is a deliberate design choice. Lord Asriel carries an 1880s revolver and a rare Swiss Canton rifle with a huge reloading bolt. The Trollesund police pack a standard Russian WW1 rifle, whilst the Magisterium police bear a more advanced weapon, coloured back to match their uniforms. Nick gleefully showcases each gun by firing several dummy rounds from each, admonishing bystanders to stick their fingers in their ears.
It only gets louder with the Tartar’s weapon – a 1960s Spanish police carbine, practically an assault rifle. This is the gun most frequently used in the Bolvangar scene we’ve just witnessed part of and has been modified to hold separate rounds, which give a lighter sound, so as not to alarm the child actors. The guns don’t end there as Nick whips out a flintlock pistol – carried by Farder Coram he tells us, the character perhaps being made more muscular than in the book – he is certainly a younger actor. Amongst the Gyptians, John Faa lofts an 1870s Austrian model, with Tony Costa brandishes a pair of French pistols. Even Ma Costa reputedly packs a weapon – three we’re told, one of which being a small sawn-off shotgun, whilst one always remains concealed. In the film, Ma Costa will be heading north with the men, as seen in some of the promotional stills.
Nick and his team’s approach to the weaponry of the book is a microcosm of the film’s design philosophy – Lyra’s world is not to be any one recognisable period from our world, it will always remain truly alternate. The team have a clear vision for the pieces – the Gyptians’ guns produce more smoke as they are not able to afford quality ammunition. Only Lee Scoresby has a very typical weapon – a Colt revolver and a Winchester rival, famous in America for “winning the west;” this is because it was felt that the character was a very traditional cowboy. In a scene where Lee shoots from his balloon, Sam Elliot reportedly wanted to use a revolver, not a rifle – better suited for long-range – as he thought his character was such a good shot. The big gun – literally – is saved for last: a Nock Volley, a gun so large the Royal Navy had to abandon it as too few men were strong enough to fire it. It is the Gyptians’ special and Nick quips, “when this is fired, everyone in front of it falls over.”
[ source : BridgeToTheStars.Net ]

Having read this and seen the trailers for the movie, and keeping in mind the rubbish passes for speculative fiction these days [cough]Robert Jordan[/cough], I have to ask myself, “Why couldn’t we get Phil Pullman, and let the other side have Tim Lahaye?”


  • “A Call to Arms: How to Fight The Book Burners” by Merlyn
  • “A Dark Agenda” by Susan Roberts
  • “Far From Narnia: Philip Pullman’s secular fantasy for children” by Laura Miller
  • “Wardrobes in Collision: The Divergent Visions of C. S. Lewis and Philip Pullman” by James S. C. Baehr and Ted Baehr
  • Tehanu’s Seventeenth Note: His Dark Materials
  • “This Is The Most Dangerous Author in Britain” by Peter Hitchens

  • Guns ‘n’ Poses
    June 2, 2007, 4:27 am
    Filed under: Firearms

    A few days ago I expressed my surprise to find an ad for absinthe sandwiched in between ads for semi-automatic rifles in the most recent issue of Shotgun News. Now, this morning, between news segments, I ran across the Ad Council’s “Reducing Gun Violence PSA – Family Prison.”

    The video depicts everyday life in a prison: a guard walking past a line of cells, inmates eating in a dining hall, and a group of cons playing basketball on the yard.

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    However, in each of the scenes, the viewer also sees family members who have been left behind, those who are suffering because of a loved one’s felonious behavior. The purpose is to show that gun violence not only affects victims and criminals, but also the criminal’s loved ones.
    Immediately following that obviously nationwide PSA, our local station aired an ad for a local gun dealer, who was advertising everything in the store off 10% for military and law enforcement.

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    The ad depicts three attractive young women in various poses holding firearms. If one looks closely, one can see that all three have their fingers inside the trigger-guard, on the trigger. One of the ladies is even pointing her firearm at the poor cameraman. As I watched, I could feel Jeff Cooper roll over in his grave, as they were in violation of at least half of the Colonel’s rules for firearm safety.

    Hatful of Hollowpoints
    May 30, 2007, 2:19 am
    Filed under: Firearms

    A number of years ago, the National Rifle Association did a series of magazine ads featuring luminaries from various fields of human endeavor holding a firearm, proclaiming, “I’m the NRA.” The advertisements included everyone from WW2 fighter jock and Medal of Honor winner Joe Foss to NBA great Karl Malone. There was even one of Magnum, P.I. himself, Tom Selleck — an appearance that contributed to one of Rosie O’Donnell’s first televised meltdowns.

    Here’s one you probably didn’t see:

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    Speaking of advertisements and firearms, Saturday, while the family was doing our pre-Memorial Day cookout shopping, I decided to flip through Shotgun News. On the back page below and to the left of ads depicting semi-automatic weapons was an ad for absinthe.

    Now, I’ve always concurred with the old joke that “ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms) should be a convenience store, not a government agency,” but I thought the mix pretty strange. After all, the Green Fairy and Eddie Eagle probably shouldn’t be sharing the same airspace.