For reasons known only to our Immigration bureaucrats (don’t ask), I was not able to join Mr. Free Market, Doc Russia and Combat Controller for the annual deer slaughter stalk in the Cairngorms this year (for my experiences two years ago, see here and here).  I was feeling somewhat peeved about it all, until Mr. FM sent me this pic:

I should point out that the temperature for the town nearby is given as 33°F for the daytime high, and about 5 degrees lower tonight.  I should also point out that this is a complete lie, as the temperature up in the hills  — where all the hunting takes place — is probably ten degrees colder than that, and that’s before  the 20mph wind kicks in.  I think the term is “witch’s tit cold”.

Suddenly, I’m not feeling as peeved as I was.  Tonight’s forecast low of 30°F here in Plano seems quite balmy by comparison, especially as I’ll be sitting indoors with a brandy & ginger ale in hand, and not freezing my nuts off in the Angus Glens.

Cheers, guys…


Try as I may, I fail to see the fascination with Katie Holmes, formerly Mrs. Tom Cruise.

This is not a knock on her, by the way:  at worst, she’s inoffensive — and she gets huge kudos for keeping their daughter out of the clutches of the foul Scientology cult.

Or maybe it’s just because  she’s the ex-wife of the dwarf action star (what I call the “Chelsea Clinton” effect) that the media seems to follow and photograph her all over the place;  and she continues to get movie roles, lots of them.  Once again, this is not a knock;  but she is unremarkable both in looks and talent:  girl-next-door pretty and capable of not screwing up a movie (the latter being no small thing, by the way).  Here she is in casual dress:

See what I mean?  And yet she’s played up — Vogue covers, etc. — and even when she’s in a movie, that praise continues.

For an example of the latter, one of the characters in the brilliant Thank You For Smoking  says of her that she has “world-class tits”, when it’s quite obvious that she doesn’t — not even close to world class, as the movie reveals later when she’s actually topless.  And the femme fatale  role she’s given… well, she’s not so fatale, as it turns out.

Granted, our Katie does clean up quite well:

…but given the amount of cosmetic trickery involved in shots like this, hell, even Chelsea Clinton can look passable (be charitable, willya?).  That said, Holmes certainly plays it for all it’s worth.

But I just don’t get it.  The movie business is lousy with gorgeous and egregiously-talented women, and yet Holmes gets more column inches and celluloid time than a lot of them.


Gratuitous Gun Pic: Browning Sweet Sixteen (16ga)

As something of an old-fashioned man with eccentric tastes, I have to confess that sometimes my innate sense of logic runs away and hides, leaving me with a fondness for something totally unfashionable.

Probably the most egregious of these is a love of the 16ga shotgun chambering.  [pause to allow the mocking laughter to subside]

I can probably blame John Moses Browning.  Why?  Because of this:

Yes, it’s the venerable Auto-5 (“A5”, as it’s now known), and in 16ga it is known as the “Sweet Sixteen”.  It was the first shotgun I ever owned, and countless rounds went down its barrel before I was finally forced to sell it during the Foul Time Of Poverty, some ten-odd years ago.

I am not the only one thus afflicted — I always found the 12ga shotguns, even the semi-auto ones, a little too much to handle, especially given the quantities of rounds I would fire at a single setting.  I also enjoy shooting the 20ga nowadays (e.g. the gun I keep at Free Market Towers, thankee Squire):

…but were it not for the ridicule and merciless teasing I would have to endure from Mr. Free Market (“not much less recoil, much less effective than the 12” etc. etc.), I would have held out for a 16ga side-by-side for my Britishland Shooting Adventures, such as they were.  Something like this gorgeous Arrieta:

Indeed, before the Tragic Canoeing Accident In The Brazos River, I used to keep a cheap Spanish 16ga side-by-side as a bedside gun.

But getting back to the Browning Sweet Sixteen:  I have to admit that the Auto-5 was not John Browning’s best design.  Even in the “weaker” 16ga chambering, it kicked the hell out of me, and as for the “Light” 12 variant — boy, talk about a misnomer.

Still, whenever I see one of the new Sweet Sixteens, I get a twitching in a familiar place:

…and it’s not in my shoulder, either.

All that said, the 16ga is not an optimal choice nowadays, practically speaking.

  • There aren’t a lot of them around — that Arietta is the only 16ga shotgun in four pages of shotguns at Collectors — and that means that there isn’t a lot of choice when it comes to ammo.
  • The 16ga also fails Mr. Free Market’s “Availability” test — where if one’s gun is separated from its ammo, will there be a box or two lying around?  For 12ga, that would be a resounding “yes”, for 20ga, also a yes  albeit perhaps not so resounding.  For 16ga?  You’ll be lucky to find any  of it at Ye Localle Gunne Emporium in Nowhere, Idaho, let alone in the outfitter’s glove box.
  • While the 16ga cartridge does have less recoil than the 12ga, it’s not that  much less — and it’s lots  more than the 20ga.

Like I said, it’s an impractical choice for someone perhaps just beginning to shoot shotguns.

Just don’t shoot a Sweet Sixteen as your first, and you’ll probably be okay.