Saturday, May 31, 2008

One-handed battle axe

This is not a bad melee weapon, thought it's never been a favorite. The main problem I've had with it is that it feels too light in my hands. It could deliver a decent blow or two, I'm sure, but I don't quite trust it for combat. However, I do think it would make an excellent parrying weapon for the off hand (that's left hand, for me). It's just light enough to be able to knock aside blows from one's opponent, and then you could bring it back for more blocking or a decent slash. Because of it's lightness, I don't feel this would be a strong weapon for attacking an armored figure, but it could do good slashing damage against leather or unarmored opponents. The spike on the back of the blade is supposed to be for punching holes in plate armor, but again, there's just not enough heft to this weapon to make it feel safe in such pursuits.

Still, this axe is easily swingable and would make a decent secondary weapon. Has a fairly decent reach for a light axe at 27 and a half inches. Unfortunately, the handle on this thing is wrapped in pretty slick leather, which makes it a bit too smooth for the hands.

Friday, May 30, 2008

No. 15 - Devil May Care

by Sebastian Faulks

Started: May 30
Finished: June 7

Notes: This is the latest James Bond book. I haven't read a Bond book in a long while, and I've never read one not by original Bond author Ian Fleming, so this should be interesting.

Mini review: Not a bad read, especially if you're in the mood for some slightly goofy Cold-War-era Bond fiction. The only thing that struck me as not great about this novel was that it seemed very stereotypical of the Bond movie franchise, and though it's been a long time since I read any of Fleming's Bond novels, I seem to remember Fleming's plots and his characters as being more realistic. Still, this was fun in its own way.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lots to walk about

As I’ve said elsewhere on this blog, I’ve been walking a lot this year. Initially this was to improve my health, then I walked simply because I enjoy it, and now I walk even more because of the current prices of gasoline (heck, I even took a city bus to Wal-Mart today because it only cost me a dollar … it would’ve cost more than that for me to drive my SUV there and back).

I’m now averaging about three miles a day. That includes walks to my part-time newspaper job, the grocery, our local deli and other odds and ends places. I can even walk to pay most of our bills since we live downtown.

A lot, of course, can be said for walking. In general it improves the health, stamina and muscles being the most noticeable.

But, walking is also good for the mental processes (and perhaps, the spiritual aspects).
I think a lot when I walk. Sometimes it’s just silly stuff, like about a song.

But when walking I also do a lot of thinking about writing, about plot ideas or characters or the three stories or some chapters I’m supposed to be working on right now but just haven’t had the time (that’s a whole other blog post, but in the main I’m having to spend a LOT of time job hunting right now).

So, even when I’m not writing, I am writing. At least in my mind.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ruger 10-22 rifle

This is a fine weapon from Ruger. It is one of the best-made rifles I've had the pleasure to own, and in my hands it was so accurate I felt like I could shoot off the legs of a gnat at 500 yards.

Yes, with no kick, I could hit just about anything with this rifle. And I especially liked this gun because I often am critical of .22s. Many .22s seem kind of cheap, but this one was well-made and felt like it. It didn't feel like an oversized toy, like some .22 rifles or pistols feel in your hands; nope, it felt like a rifle.

Nice weight. Nice size. Accurate. Cheap ammo. Nothing could go wrong here.

And this thing never, ever jammed on me even after I put thousands and thousands of rounds through it. Which is more than I can say for most .22s I've owned and/or shot.
Throw in a bannana clip that holds 25 or 50 rounds, and the trigger action was so quick and smooth it was almost like firing on full auto.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Here in my car

Nope, I'm not literally in my car. The title above is a reference to a song. If you don't know it, then you're probably not old enough. Or I'm just a lousy title maker.

But I am writing about cars today, or more specifically, driving.

I've had to do a ton of driving this week, on the road traveling to a couple of different places along the East Coast of the U.S.

This is the first time in a long time I've driven this much in such a short period of time, about four days.

This is also the first time in months I've really driven at all. For health reasons, and because of the convenience of where I live downtown, for the last four or five months I've been walking everywhere I go for the most part. I've only been driving about once a week when I have to go pick up a big load of groceries or have to go across town to buys something specific I can't get near I live. Otherwise, I walk to work and to the grocery store and to restaurants and plenty of other places. I'm averaging about three miles a day now.

I'm not complaining about walking that much. I rather enjoy it, and have been thinking about blogging about walking and a lot of the benefits it brings.

But today I'm writing about driving.

Why? Because I rediscovered something while driving this week.

Driving can be fun!

I'm not talking about your drive to work or school or whatnot. I'm talking about cruising along the highway at two in the morning with your windows down (or top off) and a great song comes on the radio. Maybe it's "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones, or "Money" by Pink Floyd, or whatever you think is a great song.

It dawned on me there is something authentically American, even downright youthful, about such a drive. It's almost like being back in high school or college again, even if you're on your own while driving and listening to a great tune. It's almost like you're transported back to the past, and even if alone you can feel the spirit of old friends and good times. And it's just good to feel alive!

I missed that feeling. Don't get enough of it.

No, I'm not going to stop walking. Nor am I really going to start driving more, unless I have to go on another trip.

But maybe next time I'll be looking forward to such a trip.

My only fear is that the days of cruising along and listening to great tunes might be coming to an end, what with the price of oil and the state of the world.

But maybe not. Maybe not.

Maybe we can keep riding along together for a good while yet. Maybe oil prices will come down. Maybe technology will come up with something as good as or better than the internal comustion engine.


Taurus .22 6-shot revolver

Honestly, this has been the least-favorite weapon I've had the experience to own, and I sold it after having it for about six months or so. It's even put me off from buying any other Taurus firearms, which I'll admit might be a shame because Taurus is a fairly well known gun manufacturer and I suppose they must put out some decent weapons to stay in business.

The biggest problem with this revolver was it's misfiring, which means that it was pretty common for the bullets not to fire once the hammer had fallen and struck them. Out of each six shots, I'd guess at least one shell wouldn't fire, and sometimes even more. And it wasn't a problem with the ammunition, because I tried lots of different .22 ammo in this gun.

Also, unusual for me and revolvers, this one just didn't have a good fit to my hand. And, it felt kind of cheap. It did have a decent weight to it in my hands, but it just felt sort of shoddy. Again, maybe it was just this one bad gun I got. Taurus might make plenty of great firearms.

As with most .22s, this one was really only a plinking gun, for target shooting and practice and such. I originally bought it because I wanted a revolver to practice with. Ammo for .22s is extremely cheap, so it makes sense financially to use a .22 for lots of practice shooting.

Monday, May 19, 2008

No. 14 - The Founders' Second Amendment: The Origins of the Right to Bear Arms

by Stephen P. Halbrook

Started: May 19
Finished: May 29

Notes: I don't consider myself a gun nut, but I have owned a fair number of firearms and other weapons, and I enjoy target shooting. Plus, from time to time I like to read more political-oriented works. This is one of them, the first in a while really. And it's about the U.S. founding fathers, and I enjoy history.

Mini review: This is an excellent book for showing just how hardcore the founding fathers really were when it came to gun rights. I'm surprised they didn't include mandatory military service in the Bill of Rights, though there was the Militia Act of 1793 that made it law for all able-bodied men to have to have a firearm at home (the law wasn't repealed until 1903, but it had never been truly enforced). Whatever the arguments for stricter gun laws might be, they can't be based upon any ideas that the founding fathers weren't truly in touch with gun rights. Personally, I'll admit to being a complete hypocrite on the subject; I think I should be able to have whatever guns and ammo I want, but the rest of you goobers I don't trust with rocks and string.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

No. 13 - The SFWA European Hall of Fame

edited by James Morrow and Kathryn Morrow

Started: May 13
Finished: May 19

Notes:I picked this one up at my newspaper job not too long ago. It's acollection of short stories, many of which have been translated fromEuropean languages. I'm interested in this one just to get anotherperspective, to see how other cultures write their speculative fiction.And, in case you don't know, the SFWA is the Science Fiction andFantasy Writers of America, Inc.

Mini review: There are somegreat stories here. Most of them are not action oriented, but there'sdefinitely some fine literature in these pages. There were only acouple I didn't care for, which is better odds than many anthologiesI've read.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

No. 12 - Lady Killer

by Ed McBain

Started: May 11
Finished: May 13

Notes: I read my first McBain book last year, Killer's Choice, and loved it. So, here goes another classic pulp novel.

Mini review: Not quite as fast paced as the earlier book I read, which was kind of odd since there's such a time element to this story. But still, a quick read and quite fun and interesting.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Colt .22 pistol

This is a nice, fun little gun for plinking away at cans. It was never a favorite of mine, but I appreciated the Colt craftsmanship despite my feeling that this handgun was always a little loose. Its various parts and such always seemed to jiggle and clink a bit, but .22s often seem to be that way, just a little on the cheap side, especially the pistols.

Still, this firearm never jammed on me once, which is more than I can say for a lot of .22 pistols I've tried over the years.

This is not a weapon you would want to enter combat with. It's basically a weapon for target practice, not something you'd want to depend upon to protect yourself or friends or family. For anyone reading this who doesn't know, .22 bullets are one of the least powerful that can be purchased, and they're not very big, so they're not overly dangerous, relatively speaking. Yes, a person can be killed by a .22, but the chances are slim when compared to other, larger and more powerful calibers. It's still a deadly weapon, after all.

So, I liked this firearm enough, but it was no favorite. It's a solid gun, but I'm not likely to purchase another when they're are plenty of other choices to pick from in the .22 department.

The best of craigslist

If you're not familiar with, it's sort of a Web site for classified advertisements. The ads are free to list, and in general the ads are for your local area only, though you can post in other cities and countries and stuff if you should need to.

But the site also has more, including some forums and stuff.

And it has plenty of weird listings. That's where the best of craigslist comes in to play. There is just some weird, and sometimes scary, stuff here.

Like the guy who says we are being taxed without represenation ...


the lady who writes a post to her cat


the guy trying to give away a free man's toupee.

I'm just saying there's some freaky stuff out there, some of it funny and some of it frightening.

Monday, May 05, 2008

No. 11 - The Martian Chronicles

by Ray Bradbury

Started: May 5
Finished: May 11

Notes: I read this one some thirty-odd years ago when I was a kid, and it seems I enjoyed it. So, thought I'd read it again now that I'm a big boy.

Mini review: Not quite as enjoyable as I remembered, but still a good book. I think part of my problem this time around was the book felt so dated, but then it come out in the late 1940s. Worth reading as a classic of speculative fiction.

Hi-Point 9mm rifle

Okay, the truth of the matter is this semi-automatic rifle is junk. It's basically just a big 9 mm handgun with a long barrel and lots of rubber and plastic in the body. It's fairly accurate at short distances, but beyond that it's not much good. And it's not because I'm a lousy shot. No. This is just a lousy gun.

Other complaints? The trigger is covered in heavy layers of plastic, making it tough to pull. This is a "dirty" gun, meaning the barrel is always fouled with plenty of ammo "dirt" after even just a few firings.

Or maybe I just got a bad gun. But I doubt it. Hi-Point is known for making cheap firearms, not that there's anything wrong with that, providing inexpensive products for their customers.

So, there are a few good things about this gun, the cheap price being one of the most important. Another good point is the lightness of this weapon; you almost feel like you're holding a toy gun instead of a real one because of the light weight (which is mainly due to a good portion of the frame being polymer or some kind of hard plastic). It had a decent feel to it in my hands, and it didn't jam very often, so I'll give it that much.

Another good thing about this gun is the looks. Nope, it's not the prettiest weapon around, but to those who don't know any better this thing looks like some kind of police assault rifle. At least that's been my experience.

For just some cheap shooting or fooling around at the range, this carbine is okay, I suppose, but it was not a favorite weapon of mine.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Uberti 1875 Outlaw

To me, this revolver is a beautiful weapon. It is beautiful just to look at, with its fine lines and dark, blued coloring.

I've owned this weapon, and mine was chambered for .357 magnum shells, which means it can also shoot .38s. I usually shot .38s because there is practically no kick, making it easier to hit your target, but it was also fun to put in .357s for the big boom factor.

This is a very accurate handgun, a better gun than I am a shooter, I'll admit. But most single-action revolvers, like this one, are more comfortable to shoot one-handed, and I've always been a better shot with handguns when shooting with both hands. I don't mean you can't shoot a single-action revolver using both hands, it's just a bit awkward, at least for me. The weapons were mostly meant to be drawn and fired with one hand.

This weapon was a lot of fun. It was a bit difficult for fan firing (holding down the trigger with one hand while "fanning" the hammer with the other hand) because the top of the hammer was a bit small, but with practice it could be done. Fan firing, in my experience, is kind of like shooting a light machine gun at fully automatic. What I mean is, you might not hit with the first or second or third shot, but with practice you can learn to "walk" your shots up to your target. Of course, in a real gun fight this might mean you would be dead, especially if your target is brave enough to aim down on you while you're wasting ammo shooting at the dirt.

The Uberti Outlaw tended to be a little barrel heavy, but this made it a great gun for doing pistol tricks. I'm not talking about trick shooting, but about being skillful at twirling the gun around in your hand and fingers and doing fancy-looking stuff like a "Mexican roll". I was particular good at the Mexican roll (which has other names too, bandit roll, etc). In a Mexican roll, you start off with your revolver facing you while the butt of the gun faces away, then with a quick flip of a finger and thumb you twist the revolver around to face your opponent. Historically, this happened a few times and may have actually saved a few bandits from being caught (John Wesley Hardin was supposedly good at such tricks).

Back to the Uberti Outlaw. Because of the barrel length and the heaviness of the barrel, this isn't a great gun for quickdraw. But it would be a pretty good weapon for horseback riding. It's basically a later version of the earlier ball-and-cap "horse guns," big black powder revolvers often carried by cavalry. Also, because of the length, it's a good revolver for a cross draw holster on your stomach because a shorter barrel (in my experience) often hits on the "tender" spots when you're walking or riding.

For your information, Uberti is an Italian gunsmith. The original versions of this firearm were made by Remington in 1875 (thus, the name). Uberti basically makes a modern version of this Old West gun.

One scary story about this revolver: I was shooting at a state target range one extremely hot day about ten years ago, and I didn't wear my shooting gloves because I have large hands and tend to have problems putting my gloved fingers in the trigger hole. Well, my hands started sweating. And the grips on the Uberti Outlaw are a very smooth rosewood. You can guess what happened. I was fan firing away, and on my fourth shot the gun jumped up out of my hands. I was shaken up enough to quit shooting for the day! And from then on I always made sure my hands weren't sweating while I was shooting.


Most folks not in the know immediately think this weapon is a rapier. It's not, though it's related. This is no light gentleman's weapon, but the blade of a soldier, or at least of an officer in the field.

This is actually a fancy, basket-hilted broadsword. Historically it was somewhat popular in Italy in the 16 century and became popular with other nations' armies in the 17th century. It's background is originally from Eastern Europe, from the Croats, before becoming big in Italy.

This is a beautiful weapon. I love its looks, the black guard and even the blackened blade. But, unfortunately, it's a bit clumsy. The guard is comfortable to hold, but it doesn't give you much room for maneuvering your wrist, leaving you with a weapon that's mainly only good for chopping on the downswing. Trying to parry a blow with this sword would be a nightmare, because it is so difficult for your hand to move the weapon across yourself as a shielding tactic. Jabbing would be fairly easy, but the bulk of the guard and the weight of the weapon slow you down from pulling back the sword for defense or further offensive actions.

So, this is a great weapon to hang on your wall or carry to the Renaissance festival so you can "ooh" and "aah" at, but it's not something I'd want to enter combat with.

To be fair, this might make a decent cavalry weapon for a charge (since all you're hoping to do is mow down your opponents while swinging down on them with your blade), but I feel it might even be too clumsy for that.

This particular weapon was made by Windlass Steelcrafts of India.

Weapons, weapons, weapons

I've always said that writers who write about weapons should know what they're talking about. Many of your readers will, and you will look stupid and inept if you do something like put a silencer on a revolver or have your hero twirling a halberd over his head like it's a baton.

To that end, and because I want to, I thought it would be interesting to do some posts on weapons with which I am familiar. Most of these will be weapons I own or have owned, but some of them might just be weapons belonging to friends or family but are still weapons I've used enough to become familiar with.

I do not intend for these post about weapons to be extensive. I'm not going to get into measuring my groupings (how close my shots come together) with a particular firearm, nor am I going to give you the exact weight and length of any of my swords. Some of that info I know and some of it I don't. But it would be boring to go through all that.

No, I'm just going to give my impressions of the weapons, mostly in layman's terms (not that I'm an expert or anything ... I've had some training in stage combat and in firearms, but I'm not a veteran of the military nor of a police force). I hope these postings will be somewhat relevant to writers. Even if the weapons I speak of are not ones a particular writer will use in a story, it's still possible the posts might be helpful in giving general knowledge and ideas to the writers.

And, I want add, all the weapons I write about are real. Even my bladed weapons are battle-ready weapons, not some flimsy stainless steel stage weapons.

So, let's begin!

Schedule update for my short stories

The Note
Just checked out Every Day Fiction's Web site's calendar and found out my 54-word story "The Note" is scheduled to come out May 10. So sign up and check it out!

The Death of Lester Williams
This short story is schedule to appear June 1 at Crimson Highway.

Peter Piker the Pankin Man
This is my fractured fairy tale. It's going to appear at Big Pulp on September 8.

What Ty's been up to

Well, frankly, I've been kind of frazled of late. The economy is really putting the hurt on my small business, to the point I'm considering dropping it (which sucks because it was going really strong last summer and fall), and my part-time newspaper job has been a hastle somewhat.

So, my mind's not been real clear lately and things are right. Real tight.

But I have managed to get some writing done. I've been doing some cleaning up work on my trilogy, and I've managed to finish a short story (though it needs one more brief read). I was planning to publish the story here on this blog, sort of as a free give-away to anyone who likes my fiction, but I'm holding off on that because the story is related to my "Beneath a Persian Sun" tale that's coming out in the Carnivah House anthology. And I don't want to ruin anything for anyone. "Beneath a Persian Sun" should likely be read before the story I've been working on.

But, tonight, there's a bit of peace in the storm of my life. I've been making a list of blog ideas, and I think tonight I'll try to get a few of them out of the way. Hope you enjoy.