Monday, May 4, 2015

Scrotal Recall on Netflix - A Surprising Review

So, we started to watch this programme, Scrotal Recall, on Netflix about a week ago.

Horrible name, right?
Scrotal Recall Promo Poster from Netflix


Netflix has it dubbed as a "Netflix Original" and so far we've enjoyed other programmes like that (House of Cards, Bloodline, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) so I thought we'd give it a shot.

Turns out, Scrotal Recall is actually a British television series that was created for Channel 4 over in the U.K. That's why I'm spelling program like a twit earlier in this post. :)

The gist of the storyline is this kid (Dylan) in his mid-twenties gets diagnosed in the first episode with chlamydia and then must go back to contact every women he's been... well, "been with" over the past several years.

Dylan, the lead character in Scrotal Recall on a park bench
If you can get past the fact that he looks like a young Harry Dunn (Dumb and Dumber) you'll like him.
Turns out our lead character is a pretty popular lad and there are about 4 seasons worth of episodes to visit with this storyline. Alas, Netflix only has one season up thus far and word out of the U.K. is that the whole program might be a one-and-done series when it comes to the number of seasons made.

Slate said something about the series that I tend to agree with.

"Scrotal Recall is the dry British cousin of Happy Endings. Or maybe it’s How I Met Your Mother without the slather of CBS Velveeta that sometimes made HIMYM cringe-worthy."

I agree with that assessment. The Mrs. loved How I Met Your Mother so I begrudingly would watch with her but there were moments when it just tried way too hard. Scrotal Recall doesn't do the same - at least not nearly with the same wanton intensity as HIMYM.

I didn't expect much from this mostly because of the title. But there's a lot more heart in the storytelling and the characters than I expected. The first episode is a bit slow but if you make your way into the second episode, you might find yourself getting a little wrapped up in it.

I've never been diagnosed with an STD (thankfully) but I remember getting tested in college. That alone was brutal. The nerve-wracking follow-up appointment for the results was horrible so I can't imagine getting the news that you tested positive for something... then having to deal with the decision to either contact previous partners or not. (Luckily, I was never that popular so my list to call wouldn't have been very long!)

As for the series, there are only 6 episodes available to American Netflix subscribers and from what I can tell the world wide web, that's all Channel 4 in England has made. At a half-hour each, that's only 3 hours of your time to check out the series and get a taste for it. It's the best thing to come out of Britain since... well... umm... ever, I suppose.

Plus, since it's British - if you're as immature as me - you'll find just about every joke is funnier when it's told in a British accent.

Anything else worth watching on Netflix? With Mad Men coming to an end very soon, we often find ourselves struggling for entertainment in the summer. (My Milwaukee Brewers being off to their worst start in franchise history means no baseball for me this summer as well!)


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Five Observations and Predictions: NRA AM Post-Mortem

We had a great weekend in Nashville and enjoyed seeing the 2015 National Rifle Association's Annual Meeting at the brand new convention center they built downtown. While hotels were an issue in Nashville (I met several people staying 30-45 minutes away) I suppose it's better to see overwhelming support for the NRA than not enough.

Nashville's "The Stage"
The Stage, an iconic venue/honky tonk in Downtown Nashville.
Still, I came away with a somewhat cynical outlook on things. not necessarily because of the NRA but just because of the world's cyclical nature. After all, what goes up... must come down. At least to some degree, right?

So, without further adieu, here are my top ten predictions and observations from this year's NRA AM. Feel free to disagree with me, as I stated - these aren't meant to be criticisms of the NRA or gun owners but rather where I see things headed as an uneducated fan-boy of the 2nd Amendment.

1.) The NRA is Inflating Their Annual Meeting Attendance Figures
Don't get me wrong, the Music City Center was packed but everything we heard before this year's event was that it was a small venue. "Wait until next year, Louisville's convention center is huge..." was what a lot of vendors who couldn't get booth space were told.

Still, the NRA claimed 78,000+ were in attendance this year, the second highest attendance mark on record. To me, that doesn't add up.

Outside, the parking lots were wide open on Sunday. While the $25 parking spots weren't exactly economy-priced, it seems those spots across the street would have been gobbled up if we were really pushing 80,000 in attendance for the weekend.

Oh, and there's no shame in whatever the real number was. Let's say that 55,000 people attended this year's Annual Meetings. That's still damn impressive to me. 2nd Amendment supporters, traveling on their own buck to support a grassroots cause. Look at the Moms Demand group... they had to bus people in and could only muster about 150 for their "Anti-gun" rally.

I'm not sure who they were trying to reach... fish in the Cumberland River? (Photo courtesy: BearingArms.com)

2.) Glock Will Sell About a Billion Glock 43's. But Not For Good Reason.
I had the chance to fire three magazines worth of the Glock 43 at a media event they held just prior to the start of the annual meetings. It was about what you'd expect from a single stack 9mm pistol at a price point that's higher than many other solid single stacks. (~$540 MSRP to start).

For the money, I think you're better off with a Walther PPS or a S&W Shield.

The Glock 43 I fired at the NRA AM
Behold! The Glock 43 You Waited For!
With that in mind, Glock is going to sell the heck out of the Glock 43. People have waited so long and the Glock fanbase is intensely loyal. There's nothing wrong with this pistol. I just think it's expensive for what you're getting.

3.) The NRA Is A Solution That Is Somewhat Needing a Problem.
Don't get a me wrong. Moms Demand and "Everytown" and all that jazz is certainly a threat but they really aren't organized enough to pose a significant challenge to the power, experience and passion that the NRA and its members exhibit.

"H", for "hell no" or "hilarious"?

It took Wayne LaPierre about 10 minutes to mention Hillary Clinton's name in his address to members on Friday of the convention. I was surprised it took him that long. Federally, politicians are the enemy at this point but that's largely not the case at the local level where the base of the NRA lives, breathes, and goes to the range.

Several states had legitimate conversations this past legislative session about constitutional carry, open carry and in some cases, even firearms sales tax holidays for their constituents. It's not the end of the fight at the local level as several states (California, I'm looking at you) are still breeding grounds for gun grabbers but a lot of states are rolling back restrictions and that's a good thing for gun owners but a bad thing for the NRA as they look to raise money and membership.

Kenny rogers has a tactical beard?
You want to talk beards? Kenny Rogers, now there is a beard.
4.) Tactical Beards Are No Longer En Vogue
Maybe it's spring. Maybe it's the part of the country we were in. Maybe it's a smaller military presence in Nashville than on the west coast. No matter what the cause, there were far fewer tactical beards at the NRA Annual Meeting than I observed at SHOT. This is important. :)

5.) We're Going To See The Industry Get Smaller
There are a lot of folks thinking the next year or so could get very interesting for gun owners, with election season and all. I don't see it happening. Hillary (and all Democrats) know that they need the moderate vote to win in 2016 and in a lot of moderate states, that means guns and the topic of gun control is off the table.

You can't win in the swing states if you talk about taking guns. Colorado, Wisconsin, North Carolina, etc. These aren't states with the independent, gun-loving persona of say, Texas --- but Gun Culture 2.0 and young freedom-minded folks aren't opposed to voting democrat. That is, unless the democrats come out with a platform that hints at restricting freedom and personal liberty. If that's the case, the swing states will go red.

Because of this, you won't see gun control discussed for the next 18 months. It simply won't be a topic that gets talked about. Like it or not, we live in a gun world where fear drives a lot of sales. Fear of a self-defense scenario drives us to carry firearms, fear of an "ammo ban" drives us to pay double the price for M855 and fear of regulation led to the biggest firearms market ever following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.

After Sandy Hook, every veteran and their constable brother who fired a gun once got into the industry and decided to make AR parts. Now, they're hurting financially. If there isn't a panic or cause for demand to continue, they're going to disappear --- plain and simple.

It's not a good thing but it's the logical thing and ultimately, it's capitalism. You're going to see businesses disappear as they can't compete with the big players who have economies of scale, national and international distribution and brands that have been trusted for generations.

Need an example? You're a perspective AR-15 buyer and you can pick up a low-end AR-15 from a local builder in the $700-$800 range or you can buy one from Smith & Wesson for $600. There's a trickle down as well. If you're in the business of manufacturing AR-15 stocks and you're a small player, you likely don't have a distributing deal with a huge manufacturer. What happens to your business when the smaller AR building market dries up? That's right, your business dries up too.

Conclusion
I really enjoyed the weekend and had a blast meeting a bunch of really cool people that I wish I could spend more time with. If there was a way to buy the land and start a real world Galt's Gulch, a lot of the folks I met this weekend would definitely get a plane ticket to join me.

That said, we have to be realistic about where things are going for us as an industry. It's not that the beliefs are any less correct than they were 3 years ago, it's just that the business end of the firearms world is about to be in a significantly different place than it is currently. That money and all the influence it can buy will be sorely missed.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Book Review: Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl



I picked up this book on the recommendation of a friend.

That recommendation was essentially, "It's an awesome book. The author is German and he wrote the whole thing in about a week."

I was intrigued but really had no idea what it was about. We had just finished a discussion about Richard Branson so I figured it was a book about entrepreneurship or business... or something like that.

Nope. Not even close. And I feel kind of dumb now because the book is fairly well-known and Frankl himself is a pretty big deal.

Victor Frankl as a young physician
Victor Frankl was a German citizen and was Jewish. You can see where I'm headed with this, right?

Yep, Frankl is a concentration camp survivor and his story details many of the things he witnessed, felt and somehow managed to live through at several camps during the second world war.

Frankl, who was a physician/psychologist, or logotherapist if you're familiar with his work, has fascinating insight into the mind's role in ending life. In other words, when do you get to the point where your body just gives up.

Dealing with patience with typhoid fever and helping them cope. Watching his fellow Holocaust victims search to find a way to deal with the tragedy and horror of day to day life, the first half of the book is filled with fascinating and troubling stories about life in the camps.

The second half of the book is a little dry. I'm not going to sugar coat. This is when the psychotherapist inside Frankl comes out. The theory he favors, called logotherapy, revolves around the idea that man's primary motivating force in life is to simply find out what the purpose of his life is.

Here's Frankl speaking in the early 1970's in Toronto on this very subject if you have time for the 4-minute clip:



"We have to be idealists in a way. If we take man as he is, we make him worse. But if we take a man as should be, we make him capable of becoming what he can be."

If you're looking for a good read that's fairly easy to get through (at least the first half), I'd definitely suggest checking out the book.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Valley of Ice



First time in a short time that we've had this kind of ice in the Tennessee valley.

I can't distinctly remember having a 1/2 inch coating of ice on everything like we woke up to this morning but I don't think it's been more than a few years.

There's some 'Murica in that photo if you look closely.
Nonetheless, it all led to some interesting photos and views on the dogs' walk earlier today.

It was a little bit eery as things start to thaw out. Walking by homes with icicles falling and tree branches tumbling from the weight of the ice and snow. East Tennessee definitely isn't used to this so when it happens, all the branches from several winters' worth of weight start to fall.

Tree with ice blossoms
Not yet spring.
I'm not an arborist but it looked like that poor tree had started to blossom. We have a lot of dogwoods in the area and several had red buds like that encased in ice.

The pups enjoyed the walk and now both of them are in dire need of a bath. Oh, the joys of winter.




Wednesday, February 11, 2015

AK Advice

Now that prices are back down to reasonable levels, I'm thinking about picking up an AKM.

Any thoughts out there on performance and value?

Century Arms' WASR doesn't have the best reputation from what I've heard but I'm intrigued by it because of the price. Although, it's Romanian made, which seems weird to me.



The Zastava is about the same price and Serbian made, which I'm a little more comfortable with.



Any other suggestions/thoughts are appreciated and welcomed...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review: Perdomo Habano Maduro Toro


A review of the Maduro in Perdomo's Habano line-up


I had a chance to check out the Perdomo Habano Maduro toro cigar the other day. A striking stick that overall, I wasn't displeased with but it's likely not going to be invited into my humidor again. This cigar was rated a 94 but I'm not sure why.

Construction:

Perdomo's burn line habano maduro cigar
Pretty. Right?

I'm a sucker for Perdomo's construction. They really do a fantastic job at their facilities. I don't know that I've ever had a cigar that wasn't absolutely striking from them. It just looks high-end and classy to me. The wrapper on this cigar was beautiful, the cap just about seamless and everything about it made me feel like I couldn't afford to toast it!

I had no problems with the initial light or the toast itself. I was fortunate to enjoy a nice, even burn throughout - along with some ash that was damn near picturesque.

A little different for me, I used the punch cutter instead of the traditional guillotine.
I'm generally a guillotine cutter kind of guy. Chop the cap and light 'er up. I chose to go with the punch cutter in this case. In part, I made that decision because the 54-ring gauge of the cigar is pretty hefty so I thought the punch cutter might make better work and, ultimately, offer me a cleaner draw. It's possible this impacted my impression of the stick but really, I saw no problems with the draw or the construction.

The Toast - Flavor Profile

First of all, I'm not sure if I'm biased against Nicaraguan tobacco or what. I love Oliva cigars but this Perdomo with filler tobacco primarily from the famed Esteli-region of Nicaragua didn't do it for me. I picked up some decent spice in this cigar. While other cigar smokers noted hints of cocoa or chocolate, I didn't pick that up at all. Instead, I got spice and just some stale smokey/tobacco flavors. Maybe my palate wasn't up for the task of truly enjoying this cigar.  Maybe some leather in there as well but definitely not cocoa.

This cigar is full flavored, in my opinion and definitely complex enough that it warrants your full attention. This ins't a cigar for Poker night but is definitely worthy of a toast if you're up for a quiet and reflective evening on the front porch.

Conclusion


If I could, I'd put this cigar on the wall and just look at it all day. Toasting it was, however, a very different story. It's worth trying, if for no other reason than the cigar experts love it. For my taste, however, this cigar scores in the low-80s with a 81/100 rating.


Monday, February 2, 2015

SHOT Show Crud

Sorry. Things have been a bit rough.

Returned from SHOT Show and have been stuffed up and dizzy ever since.

Hoping to be up for some cigars this week and should have more up here soon.

Until then, I'll be documenting my whacked-out, NyQuil induced dreams so be ready for stories like this once I'm able to steady myself at the keyboard!

NyQuil Dreams
Yep, that about sums up the power of NyQuil!