Wednesday
Nov182009

McGOOHAN’S NUMBER SIX IS STILL NUMBER ONE

 

Sharon and I warily but eagerly watched AMC’s re-working of the landmark mid-1960s television series entitled, “THE PRISONER.” We should have been more wary. Jim Caviezel, Ian McKellen and the rest of the cast – especially actor Lennie James, who did a marvelously affecting performance as “147,” the cab driver — deserve credit for a job well-done. Individual scenes within the six-part mini-series were quite nicely accomplished. The problem with this production was that whoever conceived its plot seems to have been philosophically more in tune with the administration of The Village than championing individualism. For that reason – the overall theme – this new version of “THE PRISONER” was horribly disappointing.

I generally ascribe to the idea that, if I can’t write or say something positive, I won’t say anything at all. But the message found in those original seventeen episodes of “THE PRISONER” is too important to let this new mini-series masquerade under its name. In the new mini-series, “6”ends up working for the betterment of human kind. Disillusioned by man’s shallowness, he comes around to the idea that he shouldn‘t just be thinking of himself, but should think of others. Yadda, yadda, yadda. The original Number Six would not let himself be broken and took pride in his stubbornly held individuality. Sure, he’d help people. He was a good guy. But, he wouldn’t presume to re-mold other lives because he didn’t have the right to do that, any more than his adversaries had the right to re-mold him.

Number Six fiercely proclaimed, “I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, de-briefed or numbered!” While “6” has no philosophical baseline Sharon and I could discern. He’s a decent fellow and, eventually, comes around to the idea of being socially productive. He sells out without realizing it. Those who would decry individualism in the name of the greater good may deserve to live in the sort of society they wish to create. The rest of us don’t.

The battle for individual freedom has never been more important than it is right now. Never has the concept of individualism been more under attack. Sharon and I raised our children on the world view of Patrick McGoohan’s Number Six. McGoohan and George Markstein – co-creators of the original – composed a wonderfully entertaining, sometimes funny, always enlightening hymn to human freedom. This six episode re-envisioning played a much different tune.

 

Sunday
Oct042009

TIME TO STAND UP FOR INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY?

 

WILL WE “BE SEEING YOU?”

By

JERRY AHERN

Two weeks ago, Sharon was browsing through TV Guide and noticed that the Independent Film Channel (IFC) was running the original 1967 series “The Prisoner,” the brainchild of the seriously brilliant Patrick McGoohan – actor, director, producer, writer, two-time Emmy winner and thinker.  Sharon and I first watched the saga of “Number Six” when it was new to the USA and aired as a summer replacement series. This was in 1969.  It was produced for British television in 1967.  There were seventeen episodes, each an hour in length when shown with commercial interruption, as the series was intended to be seen.  Over the intervening years, “The Prisoner” has shown up on Public Television and in the home video market.  It’s available on DVD and, one of these days, Sharon and I’ll stop promising ourselves to buy “The Prisoner” and actually buy it. 

Although totally different one from the other, one wouldn’t be stretching credulity to say that Patrick McGoohan’s “The Prisoner” is to television what Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is to literature.  McGoohan’s masterpiece is that good.   McGoohan – who created, produced, acted in and directed much of “The Prisoner”—threw in everything, clues galore to what was really going on.  Everything from the id, the ego and the superego to superspy action comedy to a psychologically quirky western is included as Number Six resigns from British Intelligence, is knock-out gassed, kidnapped and awakens in “The Village.”  The Village is run by “Number Two.”

At this juncture, if you are unfamiliar with this classic, you might be asking, “Who is Number One?”  Oddly enough, that’s what Number Six continually asks when the various Number Twos – they don’t last long, failing in trying to break Number Six – demand to know why he resigned. Number Six will not reveal any information, because he does not know on whose side the mysterious Number One’s malevolent minions happen to be.  Number Six defiantly proclaims, “I am not a number, I am a free man!” 

This is heady stuff for television.  As this is written on October 4th, IFC has only run the first six episodes, three each Friday night.  They will run the remaining episodes ganged together.  Or, you can go to AMC’s website and see the episodes.  AMC, on November 15, 2009, will be showing the new original mini-series version of “The Prisoner,” starring Jim Caviezel as “Six” and Ian McKellen as “Two.”  If the new mini-series will be even almost as good as the original, it will be a landmark television event.  If the in-your-face individuality or death philosophy of McGoohan’s original is made “politically correct,” it will be very sad. Hopefully, “Six” will truly be “Number Six,” the ultimate rugged individualist who will never break.

McGoohan’s Number Six is undiminished.  “The Prisoner” is just as resonant today as it was when Sharon and I were first impressed and inspired by it forty years ago.  If you believe in individual liberty and despise big, intrusive government, you owe it to yourself to see the original McGoohan series.  And, you owe it to McGoohan’s memory – he died after a short illness at age eighty, on January 13, 2009 – to give the new mini-series a chance.  Number Six was wonderfully quotable. Picture, if you will, the leading Congressional Democrats trying to push their socialist agenda and a defiant man seething with controlled rage shouting, “I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, de-briefed or numbered. My life is my own.”  As my old high school creative writing teacher Jim Norris used to say, “Good stuff!”   As they say in The Village, “Be seeing you!”

 

Sunday
Aug302009

MY SEECAMP .32

For I truly don’t remember how many years, I’ve been carrying a Seecamp .32. When we had the holster business, the first Pocket Natural front pocket holster we made was for a Seecamp .32 and I still use a holster that was handmade for me by two guys who worked for us. Now, I have other small handguns, of course, small handguns that I truly like. For example, the North American Arms Guardian .380 with Crimson Trace LaserGrips is a terrific handgun that I carry a lot. The NAA Pug .22 Magnum is a fine ultra-close range handgun.

My little Seecamp was with me the other day when my son-in-law and I went to The Firing Lane in Bogart, Georgia, to do some of the testing on a couple of firearms that’ll be showing up either in my GUN WORLD column, “Field Issue,” or my DILLON BLUE PRESS column, “Ahern Under The Gun.” Like a lot of people who write gun articles, I shy away from gun cleaning until absolutely necessary. My little Seecamp .32 hadn’t been cleaned in three years or so and the magazine had been loaded with the same Winchester Silvertips for two or three years. I put the magazine in the pistol – the gun was unloaded to take it into the range, of course — chambered a round and fired out the magazine without a hitch. I loaded the pistol after the range session and it’s in my pocket as I write this. That Seecamp .32 is a good gun.

 

Friday
Aug072009

MY DETONICS COMBATMASTER .45

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A weapon of which I am extremely fond is my Detonics Black CombatMaster .45.  In the mid-1970s, a rep who worked predominantly for Safariland was pushing the original Detonics CombatMaster .45 at a police shotgun shooting demo and I got my first chance to try one.  I’d fired lots of handguns, but never worked much with a single action automatic.  I just hadn’t gotten hooked on 1911-style .45s – yet.   After trying the Detonics, I was impressed.  The gun wasn’t much larger at all than the Walther PPK/S I frequently carried, and I shot it well.  Sharon and I armed “John Rourke” with two CombatMasters in our series of books chronicling the adventures of THE SURVIVALIST.  Most of you know that I ran the Detonics operation when it was in Pendergrass, Georgia, where the gun I carry virtually every day was produced.  Some things – guns, knives and other inanimate objects – just seem to fit one’s hand and one’s lifestyle so well, they become indispensible.

Wednesday
Jul292009

JERRY'S MUSINGS

“Reclaiming The Blade” Is A Terrific Film, If You Have An Interest In Swords And Swordsmanship – And, If You Don’t, You Should!

As a lot of you may know, when Sharon and I aren’t writing novels or working on firearms related articles and columns – I write them and Sharon does the photography – I write a column about swords in the bi-monthly KNIVES ILLUSTRATED, a sister publication of GUN WORLD, wherein I also write a column.  Sharon does the photography for the sword column, too, of course.  Both of us grew up watching Errol Flynn swashbucklers on WGN in Chicago.  I never knew that “The Adventures Of Robin Hood” was even in color until we got it on tape.  And, of course, Sharon and I – our parallel interests are/were uncanny – watched Richard Greene as “Robin Hood,” Roger Moore as “Ivanhoe,” Guy Williams as “Zorro,” etc., etc.  A sword belonged in a man’s hand – unless, of course, the gorgeous Maureen O’Hara was wielding one.  Actually, a lot of women were/are fine “swordspersons.”

The thrust (I love puns) of “Reclaiming The Blade,” which is very nicely done and narrated by John Rhys-Davies, focuses on a return to swordsmanship.  No one is saying get rid of your AR-15 or AK-47 and get a Katana or a Rapier instead; but, having a sword or two and knowing how to use a sword is something everyone should consider.  Now, granted, I’m a little professionally paranoid.  I sleep with a Detonics CombatMaster .45, a Crimson Trace LaserGripped S&W .38 Special 640, a Katana and a Wakazashi next to the bed.  The truth is, even the finest handguns – and the CombatMaster and the two-inch J-Frame are two of the finest – can malfunction and will run out of ammo.  But steel, unless your break it, will never fail.  And, if you break a sword, chances are what’s left will still be a pretty large knife. 

There’s a wonderful elegance to the sword.  The late Hank Reinhardt, who figures prominently in “Reclaiming The Blade,” once told Sharon and me that with a Katana, for example, one could work out one’s own Kata, or routine, and do a pretty good job of defending oneself, without formal training.  I’ve heard the Katana, by the way, described as the most deadly close-range weapon ever devised.  When used properly, it is.  

We have the two disc set, which features interview remarks from “Lord Of The Rings” actor Viggo Mortensen, legendary sword coach Bob Anderson and a great deal of additional footage, including “making of” and more interviews.  Also, there are significant segments from a number of armed and open hand martial arts training videos.  These are sensational.

“Reclaiming The Blade” (www.reclaimingtheblade.com) is something that will entertain you and may very well inspire you to contact Museum Replicas (www.museumreplicas.com) or CAS-Hanwei (www.casiberia.com) or one of the other producers of battle quality swords. Swords grow daily and internationally in popularity. You may want to get into swordplay yourself.  Every man – or woman – should reclaim the blade.