Jennifer 8 (1992)

81FRnCGQZNL__SY445_Andy Garcia has the lead role in this hard boiled police drama-mystery. Jennifer 8 was filmed in the time before everyone had a cell phone, the internet boom and all that. The scenery really takes me back.

Garcia’s character is John Berlin, a detective who just transferred from the big city to a small town.  While investigating a separate case, the police stumble on a human hand. John Berlin takes the case. After digging around, he learns that the victim was blind and he suspects there were other victims who were also blind. He also meets the woman who he believes will be the next victim.

I watched this movie last night and I was up until 4:30 AM because I couldn’t bring myself to turn it off and go to bed. It was that good. It’s one of those movies that keeps you on your toes and makes you eager to see what happens next.

Soul’s Blood, by Stephen Graham King

41j55fpceFL__SX322_BO1,204,203,200_There’s lots of action in this new science fiction novel by Stephen Graham King. Soul’s Blood doesn’t begin with an explosion, but with a comfortable flow that leads to excitement. With rolling prose, Stephen settles you into the environment with ease and brings his characters alive.

Keene and Lexa-Blue are in the space shipping business. They haul merchandise through space from one port to another, but they also have a reputation for being very skilled fighters. Their ship is the Maverick Heart, but it’s more than just a ship. The Maverick Heart is also the body and mind of Vrick.

Think of Kitt from Knight Rider. Vrick is the ship. Ey thinks, ey talks, and ey helps Keene, Lexa-Blue and their friends. If Vrick was human, I imagine ey would wear a leather jacket and shades. Just like Kitt, Vrick is cool.

Keene’s former boyfriend, Daevin, is like the King of Brighter Light, a city state on another planet. Daevin wants Keene’s help in dealing with conflicts between two different cultures that don’t understand each other.

At first Keene is not so keen about helping Daevin, but eventually he agrees to, with Lexa-Blue and Vrick coming along. There is much conflict, a romance rekindles, friendships are made and mass destruction is witnessed.

Soul’s Blood was a fun read. I was impressed with the world building and I could relate to what some of the characters felt.

The Internet Lied To Me About Switzerland

Yeah, I really bought into some articles I saw a  few years ago. The articles described Switzerland as a country with a very strong gun culture and a very low crime rate. They had me convinced that just about every home in Switzerland had at least one fully automatic SG 550, that most children learn to use guns at an early age and people are often seen open carrying.

There is much I admire about Switzerland. It seems to be a country governed by commonsense and open-mindedness. One example is the stance the Swiss took during World War II. They held their borders against the Axis and the Allies, refusing to take either side in the war, and yet they welcomed in refugees fleeing the Third Reich.

Being the gun nut that I am, I was kind of excited about Switzerland’s awesome  gun culture. I mentioned it in arguments about America’s gun culture, upholding Switzerland as an example of how more guns in the hands of good, responsible people could mean a lower crime rate.

Well, I recently had the privilege to talk to someone who lives in Switzerland and I found out that what I heard about Switzerland’s gun culture is not entirely true. I’m now under the impression that the articles I read a few years ago were written by right wingers bent on spreading propaganda.

Switzerland does have a gun culture, but it’s not as popular as I had thought. Guns are tightly regulated in Switzerland and permits to own guns are expensive. Some homes might have full- automatic rifles in them, but those are likely the homes of people serving in the Swiss Army, as soldiers are allowed to bring their issued weapons home with them. Switzerland’s lower crime rate probably has more to do with the population not being as large as it is in the United States.

None of this changes how I feel about guns or my belief that guns can and do deter crime. But Switzerland might not be the best example of that theory functioning. While I’m mildly disappointed about that, I enjoy learning about different countries and I still think there’s much to admire about Switzerland.

Tula .357 Magnum Ammo Might Be Wrong for Your Revolver

1Okay, I know Tula Ammo is cheap. But I’ve been using it in my 9mm for a while now and have had no problems. In fact, it seems to run better than some other brands of ammo that I put through my 9mm. Some people say it’s dirty ammo, but far as I can tell, it doesn’t dirty up my gun any faster or worse than any other ammo I’ve used. Maybe some day I’ll do a throughout experiment on the dirtiness of different ammunitions, but for now I just have a glimpse observation and I don’t notice a difference.

I buy Tula Ammo because it costs less than pretty much everything else. The Tula Cartridge Works, as a company, has a long history. They’ve been a manufacturer in Russia since 1880 (I’m not sure if The Tula Cartridge Works is part of Tula Arms Plant, which has been making guns in Russia since 1712.). So, I wouldn’t dismiss Tula as a maker of junk. If you have a Russian design, such as an AK-47, SKS or even one of those Mosin-Nagants,, I think Tula Ammo will run like a dream through it. But there are non-Russian designs that don’t like Tula Ammo.

The other day, for the first time, I tried .357 Magnum Tula Ammo. I loaded the six chambers of my Rossi R461 and fired at the target twenty feet away. No problems there. It fired like it always had. But when I rolled out the cylinder to remove the empty casings, the casings were stuck.

The empty casings couldn’t be pushed out and they couldn’t be pulled out. I had to hammer a screwdriver in through the front of each chamber. That’s what it took to get them out. It wasn’t terribly difficult, but it was a hassle.

I tried the Tula Ammo twice, shooting a total of twelve rounds, just to be sure. It was the same thing with all of them. Every empty casing was stuck in its chamber and could only be removed by hammering a screwdriver in through the front.

My dad and I inspected the empty casings. The casings were swelled. That would be why they were stuck in the chambers. My dad has a tool for measuring things down to millimeters. He measured the widths of a live .357 Magnum Hornady round and a live .357 Magnum Tula round.

The Hornady measured 9.59 millimeters and Tula measured 9.56 millimeters.  I’m not a hundred percent sure that this is why it’s happening, but I think because the Tula is a pinch thinner than the Hornady that there is space in the loaded chamber that gives the Tula room to expand when fired.

I didn’t have any other .357 Magnum brands, but my dad had a .38 Special round that he also measured. .38 Special can be fired from a .357 Magnum pistol. The Tula round was a pinch thinner than the .38 round.

So, it would seem that Tula .357 Magnum rounds are thinner than they’re supposed to be, which might very well mean they have room to expand in the chambers. I think my gun might have been damaged if I had continued firing this ammo. I won’t be using anymore Tula in my .357 Magnum revolver.

Upside Down American Flags

I recently found myself in a discussion about upside down American flags. Whenever I see our flag upside down, burning or being disgraced in any way, I feel a degree of sadness. I really love Old Glory. I love what it stands for, I love its history, and I love that it represents those who fought and died for our country.

During the discussion, I was reminded that turning the flag upside down is a signal of distress. However, I don’t think these guys are signaling distress. They claim they are, but that’s bullshit. Flying your flag upside down because you’re pissed off about the government is not signaling distress, it’s expressing your feelings. I think that’s the wrong reason to turn your flag upside down. I think it’s disgraceful.

This distress signal, as I understand it, is really intended to be used by the Military. But I guess anyone can use the signal. However, you shouldn’t use the signal unless you truly are in distress, as in you need help because your life is in immediate danger.

Now, because so many people are turning their flags upside down to express their feelings about the government (No, you are not signaling distress.), if people who really need help use the signal, it might be assumed that they are just making a political expression.

I won’t tell you how to fly a flag on your own property, but I think it’s wrong to fly the flag upside down because you don’t like the direction the country is going in. Don’t try to tell me it’s not about politics, because it is. Don’t try to tell me you’re signaling distress, because you’re not. Don’t try to tell me it’s not disgraceful, because it is.

Goodbye Megatron

Well, wow. Wasn’t expecting this. Calvin Johnson is retiring from NFL. Johnson, man, he ruled. Season after season, I watched the Lions, missing very few games. Johnson was one of the players who gave us hope for a winning season. I think Johnson was the best thing to happen to the Lions since Barry Sanders.

But I understand why Johnson is retiring. He’d gotten pretty banged up in the course of his career and he’d dealt with several injuries in his last few seasons. Thirty years old seems pretty young to be retiring, but not when you’ve spent years getting smashed into by really big guys .

We’ll miss you, Calvin. Good luck in whatever you do next.

Why I would rather be a Smurf instead of a Care Bear

This is one of those things that needs to be explained. I’m going to get it out of the way so we can move on to the next thing. There has got to be a million people asking, “Hey, why would Rob rather be a Smurf when he could be a Care Bear?”

I know. Care Bears. They’re cute, cuddly teddy bears. They’re blue, red, yellow, pink, purple. You get a whole rainbow of those little buggers. There’s Bedtime Bear, Cheer Bear, Friend Bear, Funshine Bear, Grumpy Bear, Love-A-Lot Bear and so on. They’re a nice bunch, full of unconditional love for you and me. Who wouldn’t want to be a Care Bear?

Although I like tattoos, I’m really don’t want a huge tattoo of a heart, rainbow, flowers, the moon or rain clouds on my stomach. Some people might be down with that, but it’s not my thing.

Care Bears come from Care-a-Lot. It’s a magical place made of clouds and rainbows. Ooh! In Care-a-Lot, everyone’s happy because Arthur Bear and the Knight Bears are sitting at the round table discussing ways to keep Care-a-Lot sheltered.

All that care and love, it’s overdone. It feels false, unrealistic, not convincing. It’s also lame, boring, even annoying.

Now the Smurfs, man. Little blue dudes with grain sacks on their heads. They live in mushrooms. That where the la-la-la nonsense comes from. ‘Shrooms, man. In order to move into the mushrooms, they had to hollow them out. What do you suppose they did with the insides of the mushrooms?

Think about it. Smurfs are not sheltered cuteness from a Sword in Stone knockoff kingdom. They’re free roaming rodents with a sense of adventure. Smurfs do more than love you to death. They’re clever, sneaky and they do all kinds of fun stuff.

There’s Papa Smurf, the wizened old badass. Papa Smurf knows just about everything. He has the answer to all problems. When Papa Smurf arrives on the scene, you know everyone is saved.

And then there’s Smurfette, Hefty Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Grouchy Smurf (Does every group have a Grouchy or a Grumpy? Did this start with the Seven Dwarves?) Clumsy Smurf, the comic relief. There’s Greedy Smurf, Jokey Smurf, Handy Smurf, Scaredy Smurf, Tracker Smurf, Sloppy Smurf.

The list goes on and on. There’s a Smurf for every talent, personality and character flaw. So, you see, Smurfs are more interesting than Care Bears. That’s why I would rather be a Smurf instead of a Care Bear.

Now everyone knows and we can put this nonsense behind us.

Life After Death, by Damien Echols

51sn9YGYKtL__SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Remember the HBO documentary Paradise Lost that aired back in the 90’s? Where three teenage boys were charged for the murder of three younger boys in West Memphis, Arkansas?

Damien Echols is one of the West Memphis Three. His book Life After Death tells about the crazy ordeal he experienced from the time he was arrested for murder to the time he was released from prison in 2011.

Despite the lack of evidence and questionable actions by the police, in 1994 Echols was sentenced to death. In Life After Death, he describes the corruption of the system and life behind bars. In August 2011, due to new evidence, Echols was released along with Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin.

Life After Death is very well-written. I found it hard to put down. It’s also very educational.

Mossberg 500

Photo-0018You can’t go wrong with a Mossberg 500 pump shotgun. I bought this baby eighteen years ago and it still runs like new. Mossberg 500s are made in different sizes and for different purposes. There are the long ones, which are meant for hunting. There are the short ones, which are meant for defense. Some have shoulder stocks with pistol grips and some just have pistol grips with no shoulder stock.

Mine is a long hunting shotgun. It is my primary hunting gun. Sometimes I hunt with an old single shot 20 gauge that I got for Christmas when I was thirteen, but usually I use the Mossberg 500 because I prefer 12 gauge power.  I feel that a 12 gauge is more liable to nail a deer than a 20 gauge.

Mossberg 500s are affordable shotguns. I bought mine brand new and it cost around $250.00. Not a bad price for a gun that stays reliable for a long time.

Defiance (2009)

51AJhKR7FHL__UY200_It’s 1941. Germany occupies Belorussia. The Jews are rounded up. Within weeks 50,000 are murdered and a million more will be deported.

Defiance is based on the true story of the Bielski brothers who are credited for saving 1,236 Jews from extermination.

Zus and Asael Bielski return home to find their parents murdered and their youngest brother, Aron, hiding in a cellar with a knife. The three head to a familiar location in the Lipiczanska Forest. That’s where Tuvia, the eldest brother, finds them.

Later, Aron finds a small group of people in the woods. He leads them to his brothers and the brothers agree to let them stay. As time passes more people make their way through the forest and the group grows.

They are all Jewish. All of them are fleeing the Third Reich. Tuvia becomes the leader of the group and welcomes new arrivals. His role comes with heavy responsibilities that he takes very seriously. He puts a system in place to make it easier for the growing community to survive.

Every member of the community has to work. Everyone is assigned to a job. Everyone also learns to use guns. The Germans are hunting them. There are several conflicts between the Bielski Partisans and the Germans.

I’ve watched Defiance several times over the last few years. It is one of my favorites. It’s a very convincing movie and one I recommend.