Sunday, February 21, 2016

Caldwell The King is Dead: Cigar Review

We finally got a brief reprieve from the cold and I took full advantage today.

Have a couple sticks from Caldwell Cigars that I picked up that I'd been dying to finally toast.

Up first, The King is Dead Premier, a 5.5x50 robusto that has garnered rave reviews all over the web from cigar reviewers with palates far more sophisticated than whatever I have in my mouth and sinuses.
Caldwell the King is Dead Premier Robusto cigar
Just getting started with this guy...
Before the light, I was taken aback by the gritty wrapper on this cigar. It's a Negrito wrapper, which is fairly unique to the industry.

In terms of a sheen, the stick was a bit drier than I'd expected. But then again, this isn't some slick maduro. My experience with Negrito wrapped sticks is limited but I think that drier sheen fits what I was about to enjoy.

Caldwell Cigars - The King is Dead Robusto review
Getting to the second-third of this stick...
The first few draws brought in what I would recognize as a musty-earth notes followed by a bit of cedar and maybe even a few other wood tones. Many other reviewers have called this a medium-bodied cigar. I found it a touch stronger than that and would classify this as a medium to full cigar.

Heading into the second-third, things started to smooth out a bit. I wouldn't say this cigar starts to get creamy, per se but that gritty Negrito feel I mentioned before lighting is definitely present in the first third of the cigar. So, as it fades, get ready for a more smooth finish and really what develops into a very nice smoke.



Heading into the homestretch, I should mention the filler tobacco in these cigars. Caldwell is exceptional when it comes to telling you exactly what you're about to smoke. In the Premier, you're looking at a blend that consists of: 50-percent 2010 HVA 20/20 tobaccos, 30% Dominican Corojo Ligero (2006) and 20% Dominican Negrito Visa leaves (2008).

As I make my way into the final third, the cigar is starting to mellow out a bit. The pseudo-creaminess still occupies my palate and I'm starting to settle in with this stick. I wish it weren't almost over.

Then, I start to pick up notes of tomato, cheese and maybe some grain.
robusto from caldwell with pizza
This robusto lasts longer than the pizza guy takes to deliver...
Well, at this point my palate is blown so I'll leave it here.

Thanks to the folks at CigarsCity.com for the Caldwell - definitely something I will be toasting again.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Apple's Stand on Privacy

If you've been around to the social media sites at all today, you've probably seen this.


The link is a letter Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, wrote. The company is standing up to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and will essentially be protecting the phone records of the couple involved in the San Bernardino.

"The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge." - Tim Cook, Apple

There is a part of me that's conflicted, but largely I agree with Apple's position on this. If the government isn't smart enough to break Apple's encryption - shame on them. Further, the potential for government power to be abused is incredibly high if Apple were to bow down to the FBI.

So what part of me is conflicted?

If Apple has the technology to outsmart our government and protect what most of us once assumed to be private information - what the heck took them so long to stand up to the government.

I use an iPhone exclusively for my telephone conversations. Can the NSA hear my conversations? I assume so, since it's a Verizon network I'm calling through. My text messages and internet activity? Probably the same.

If privacy matters then let's make it matter for everyone who has a right to it.

If it doesn't, let's not showboat with a letter pretending it does.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Deadpool: Van Wilder in Spandex

As I tend to do on occasion, please allow me to share my thoughts on Deadpool after going to see it as a Valentine's Day event with my wife.

In a nutshell, I enjoyed Deadpool and it kept my attention throughout the film. It's a roaring success if you're looking for a popcorn movie that meets all the storyline stereotypes you've come to expect from these comic book franchise films.

Disclaimer: I Don't Do Comic Books

I'm treading on dangerous ground even discussing the film here because I'm not a comic book guy. In fact, a lot of the X-Men and other Marvel movies that have been released in past years, I haven't even seen. I used to watch the X-Men cartoons as a lad but the live action films never drew much of my interest. Always seemed very far-fetched to me. 

I know a lot of you online have a pool of depth into the Deadpool character that's far deeper than mine, so please proceed knowing this critique comes from not a Comic-Con attendee but as a guy who likes movies.


The Setup [No Spoilers]

Ryan Reynolds (whom I understand to be quite attractive, thanks to my wife) plays the role of Wade Wilson. Wilson has a checkered background at best as a dishonorably discharged special forces veteran credited with 41 kills in the service. The circumstances of his discharge aren't clear in the film but you learn Wilson as a character who fights for the little essentially acting as a less than lethal hitman for hire. In other words, he intimidates people who need intimidating for cash.

Deadpool and Cab Driver Karan Soni from the filmIt didn't take more than a few minutes of the film for me to immediately draw comparisons between Wade Wilson and another snide, quick-witted character Ryan Reynolds played, Van Wilder. In fact, I think it would be quite reasonable to just say this movie is Van Wilder wearing Spandex. 

Heck, Deadpool even has a pseudo-prodigy in the film that drives a cab and also happens to be an Indian with women-trouble... just like Van Wilder. (I had to look, the Indian actor is not the same from Van Wilder. The intern in that film was played by Kal Penn. In Deadpool, the cabbie is Karan Soni).

Wade Wilson falls in love and appears to have his life on the "right track" but is diagnosed with late stage terminal cancer. The first act breaks with Wilson making the decision to explore a treatment program he knows little about. This treatment program would introduce him to Francis/Ajax, the villain in the film played by Ed Skrein.

Ryan Reynolds and love interest

What Works

I like Ryan Reynolds in these crass, smart-ass type roles. Of course, I'm a young-to-middle aged guy so many of his previous roles aren't exactly targeted for me. The Change-Up, Definitely, Maybe, and Just Friends were typical Hollywood Rom-Coms that my wife will watch endlessly on basic cable for years to come. I won't be joining her.

The humor and storyline fit well. Unlike many of these superhero movies that tend to overplay the internal struggle of the main character, Wade Wilson never takes himself too seriously which helps keep the audience engaged without making the Wilson character break from what you'd expect from a young male --- he puts up walls and keeps them up. 

What I Question

Deadpool and X-men's Collossus

1.) I had no idea Deadpool was related to the X-Men franchise in some way. I guess this sets up the character for a myriad of appearances across the franchises and will mean billions of dollars for Marvel but the interconnectedness of all these characters is getting a bit ridiculous. (Queue the Batman vs. Superman film due out later this year...)

The bits about how Deadpool got his "powers" is a bit foreign to me. As I stated above, I have a casual knowledge of the X-Men series and the idea of mutants with super powers. 

[Proceed with caution - about to explain how the mutation happens - not exactly a spoiler but don't want to ruin for you].

Wade Wilson rolling on a gurney to the operating area where his mutation occurs


2.) In the film, Wade Wilson gets his Deadpool regenerative powers by being exposed to extreme trauma and torture. According to the film, the trauma will cause his dormant mutant genes to "kick on" and no longer be dormant. Is this a break from the way the X-Men traditionally got their powers? It was my understanding that the X-Men were simply "born that way". 

Plus, Deadpool's powers aren't all that impressive. He is basically Wolverine without cool claws. Is that really worth an entire new character? (I guess this complaint is on Marvel more than the film). 

3.) I struggled to understand the timeline in this film after Wilson becomes Deadpool. There is a period of time before Wilson's character is reunited with the love of his life. In the film, it seems like it was just a few weeks or possibly a couple months but she makes mention at one point that it had been "years". 

If, it was to be years, that leaves me with a ton of questions about the life of Wade Wilson. One of the funnier points in these super hero movies is the real life alter-ego and how they adapt to live in our society. Clark Kent was a newspaper reporter. Bruce Wayne was a multi-million/billionaire. What does Wade Wilson do for money since he is essentially an outcast once the mutation occurs?

Summary

Deadpool movie poster that says "Sit On This"

I enjoyed the film and think it's definitely worth seeing. Based on the hype and early reviews on Twitter, I certainly wasn't alone. It is what it is - don't overthink it and don't be easily offended. Prepare for a lot of frat-house jokes and double entendres. 




Thursday, January 14, 2016

To Watch... or Not To Watch?

Another GOP debate tonight.

It Should be a big one in shaping how Iowa turns out.

One of the candidates I like, Rand Paul, won't be on stage.

If you haven't heard all the "hullabaloo" the long story short is that he didn't have high enough polling numbers to make the cut. So, Fox Business Channel dropped him to the JV debate. A Des Moines Register poll that was conducted but not published prior to Fox Business' deadline would have given Paul enough polling power to be included on the main stage so he's boycotting the debate all-together.

His campaign is urging people not to watch at all tonight. As CNN mentions here, Paul is getting a ton of media coverage as a result.

I like the sentiment but hate that his libertarian voice won't be on-stage.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Festivus for the Restivus

Probably my favorite Tweet of the day:



Tuesday, December 22, 2015

"Schlonged"

I can't stop laughing.

I mean, I'm not going to vote for the guy but come on.

This is pretty funny.
"She was going to beat Obama... how does it get worse? She was favored to win and she got schlonged. She lost," - Donald Trump in Grand Rapids, Michigan


I spent four years of my life living in a frat-house and grew up in football and hockey locker rooms. I never heard the term "schlonged" but I wish I had.

I could use it all the time now... and I think I will.

If using "schlonged" in everyday language is schlong, then I don't want to be right.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Terror Watch List, Your Rights & Guns

A lot of people have been giving me a hard time lately.

You've probably heard about the vote in Washington in which Republicans opposed a measure that would have made folks on the terror watch list unable to purchase guns.

It sounds ridiculous that anyone would oppose it at face value, right? Why on Earth would we want to make it easy for a terrorist to buy a gun?

In the wake of the vote, it made for great, sensational headlines as well. I imagine these headlines drove clicks and people at the HuffPo made a ton of money. It sounds treasonous if you don't think about it.

Of course, the headline was typically followed by the left-wing response of, "The Republican politicians are putting the needs of the National Rifle Association in front of the American people again!"

Finally, today, I saw this story in my local paper that gives this story an entirely different flavor.

Photo credit: Saul Young / Knoxville News Sentinel
A local veterinarian by the name of Patrick Stephen Hackett is on the no-fly list. To his dismay, he shares a name with a famous terrorist from the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The IRA Hackett was jailed in the 1970's for planting bombs throughout the United Kingdom.

A photo proving Hackett doesn't
always wear Santa Hats.
The Hackett who lives in Tennessee, serves as President of the local humane society and enjoys the use of all his limbs. Unlike Hackett the terrorist who is missing both an arm and a leg.

His son attended the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. When the younger Hackett left for school in 2004, his father applied for a pass that would have allowed him to go to the gate when his son departed.

He was denied.

After filing a grievance with the Transportation Security Administration, they gave him a letter of "duress" that he was to present whenever questioned. Sort of reminds me of Casablanca:


Still, Hackett the veterinarian has been denied access to airplanes on more than one occasion and was even held in a foreign jail. Today, he has no idea how to get his name off the list and because it's a "secret list", nobody at the TSA will answer questions media have posed about it. Because, you know, secret lists are the one thing American values, pre-teen girl clubs and college fraternities share.

Hackett reached out to John Duncan, Jr.'s office (local congressman) for help. The Congressman isn't a big fan of the list but so far, there hasn't been any help for Dr. Hackett.

"I would consider a gun ban for people on this list if I felt that it was limited to people who were truly terrorists," Duncan said in a statement. "Unfortunately, as the New York Times reported, the no-fly list has 'run amok' and is 'vastly overbroad.' Even the late (U.S. Sen.) Ted Kennedy ended up on a watch list in 2004. This effort to turn the no-fly list into a no-gun list is just a political gimmick that is being used by the far left to try to impose gun control on law-abiding Americans following (the recent mass shooting in) San Bernardino, (Calif.)."

I'm not an attorney but in my opinion, Hackett needs to file a lawsuit. His rights have been violated by the United States government in a way that is Unconstitutional.

So, if you're a gun owner and you're catching flak from friends (or even non-friends) here's proof that a government list isn't enough to fairly restrict any of your rights - no matter what they are. It used to be you were entitled to a fair trial in this nation, now you'll be detained at an airport in a foreign country because our security organization is too stupid to realize who has two arms and two legs and who doesn't.