Saturday, November 30, 2019

Miscellany: ShivWorks Clinch Pick review

Someday I'll get around to debriefing the ECQC class I took with Craig Douglas, but suffice it to say that one of my main takeaways was the importance of having an accessible self-defense weapon on both sides of the body. I noticed there were plenty of times in wrestling for control of a GLOCK 17T (i.e.,  mimicking a situation justifying deadly force) when I managed to free my left hand, but had nothing I could do with it besides ineffectually striking or grappling.

Mr. Douglas must have noticed the same thing a long time ago, since ShivWorks sells a knife called the Clinch Pick designed for just that situation:

The Clinch Pick is a small fixed blade with a few unique characteristics. First, it has a reverse edge (similar to the Spyderco P'Kal, another ShivWorks design), making it ideal for close-in ripping motions (think Dr. Grant's monologue in the beginning of Jurassic Park). Second, it has a short egg-shaped grip, which seats the knife into the palm regardless of how the knife is oriented when it's drawn.

I wear the Clinch Pick like Craig recommends - on the belt at about the 11 o'clock position, with the handle angled diagonally downward and inward in line with the inguinal crease:

Worn in this fashion, the knife can be concealed with a T-shirt, and drawn with either hand when standing, sitting or prone. And it's infinitely faster and more reliable to deploy than any folding knife.

Downsides? Well, the Clinch Pick is a dedicated weapon - you aren't going to be cutting any apples with it, and it might not even be legal to carry a fixed blade in your jurisdiction. Strictly considered as a weapon, the knife is a bit small, so if you're anticipating a lot of protracted knifefights, you might want something bigger...or you might want to move to another country.

Still, if you're looking for a knife for fighting in a phone booth, the Clinch Pick is one of the best choices out there.

Movies: Parasite

"Parasite," a social satire from director Bong Joon-ho, trades the wacky post-apocalyptic dystopia of Bong's "Snowpiercer" for something a little closer to home:

The movie follows two families - the desperately poor Kim family, living in a dingy apartment and getting by with odd jobs, and the fabulously wealthy Parks, living in an house designed by a famous architect and flush with cash thanks to patriarch Park Dong-ik's job as a high-powered CEO. The two families would ordinarily have nothing to do with one another, but when the Kims' son gets an opportunity to tutor the Parks' daughter under false pretenses, all hell soon breaks loose.

To say more would be to spoil what was an interesting story and an unexpectedly subtle commentary on the relationship between the haves and the have-nots. While Bong has a fondness for obvious physical metaphors (the Kims' underground semi-basement apartment is a dead ringer, social status-wise, for the back of the train in "Snowpiercer"), the characters in "Parasite" don't follow the standard tropes.  That means the overall message is more mature, less incendiary, and uncomfortably close to the truth, which is what I imagine the director was aiming for.

Rating: 8/10

TV: The Dragon Prince (Netflix)

As an animated series ostensibly made for children, "The Dragon Prince" on Netflix has sneakily become one of the best epic fantasy shows out there:

The conflict in "The Dragon Prince" seems simple at first: humans are on one side of the continent of Xadia, exiled for their use of dark magic, and the dragons and elves are on the other side. But no one is really "good" or "evil" here. There are competing factions and shades of grey everywhere; even the archetypal villain characters have believable motivations and people they care about.

The main characters of "The Dragon Prince" are Callum and his younger half-brother Ezran, two princes from the human kingdom of Katolis who are joined by mysterious elven assassin named Rayla. The three become unlikely travelling partners in a quest to save the titular Dragon Prince and prevent Xadia from being consumed by all-out war. My favorite character though is General Amaya, Callum and Ezran's sword-wielding badass aunt who just happens to be deaf.

Books: Moonwalking with Einstein

If you liked the movie "Memento" or Oliver Sacks's "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat," you'll probably like Joshua Foer's "Moonwalking with Einstein." It's an enjoyable nonfiction exploration of pretty much every facet of human memory, interweaving extracts of the latest neuroscience research, historical anecdotes about memory techniques, and Foer's own experiences interviewing amnesiacs and savants and training to compete in the 2006 USA Memory Championship.

I find Josh Foer's writing is underrated compared to the stuff from his often-insufferable older brother. In "Moonwalking with Einstein," Foer comes off as a relatable Average Joe when it comes to forgetfulness, despite his upper-crust upbringing and Yale education. The final chapters, which track the final rounds of the Memory Championship, are sports-movie tense in a way that's surprising for such a cerebral subject.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Miscellany: A fun fact for today...

Tom Cruise is as old as Jon Voight was when the first "Mission Impossible" film was released.