Legacy. We all want to leave one behind. And that's what this week's episode of "Amazing America with Sarah Palin" is all about.
"What better way to do so than master an old family tradition and craft, make it better, and pass that along to our children?" Sarah asks.
Amen. In my family, this tradition and craft is alcohol. We're getting pretty good at it. My grandparents and their friends in Fairbanks used to drink VO and water. My parents and their siblings put away two handles of Jameson the night before my wedding. And my brother and I came of age on craft beers. I assume when our kids get older they'll be doing cyber shots out of intergalactic space capsules.
The first family we meet on "Amazing America" isn't passing down liquor, though; they make guns for lefties. This is, of course, a population among which our hostess has occasionally generated some angst, and at first I'm impressed at Sarah's ability to rise above and reach across the aisle to commune with her fellow gun enthusiasts of a different political persuasion.
As it turns out, though, these aren't guns for Democrats. They're for left-handers. (Some of whom certainly may be Democrats.)
Stag Arms founder Mark Malkowski claims to have introduced the world's first truly left-handed AR-15. He isn't a lefty himself (at least, he's not left-handed; I don't know how he votes), but he is left -eye dominant, which is what led to his reinvention of the family gun manufacturing business.
At this point, I'm more excited than field host Benny Spies. You see, I am myself left-eye dominant, and I shoot left-handed, although in most things I'm a righty (the kind who writes with her right hand, not the kind with a Gadsden flag bumper sticker). I'm convinced it's the reason that when we were kids, while my brother never used to have problems shooting our Glock, I constantly found myself getting dinged in the head by shell casings -- a problem our father accused me of fabricating until the day I showed him the lump on my forehead left by a particularly aggressive piece of brass.
To be perfectly honest, if my dad happens to read this, he'll almost certainly call me to disavow all memory of this incident. Actually, no. He'll probably post it on Facebook and publicly brand me a liar.
Maybe the family tradition isn't cocktails after all. Maybe it's affectionate trash-talking.
Back to Stag Arms, where we see what Sarah calls "American ingenuity at its finest" in what Sarah refers to as "Gun Valley," which is a place you might better know as "Connecticut."
As you probably are aware, an AR-15 ejects shells to the right, which is no problemo if you shoot right-handed. But if you're a lefty (the kind who has a dominant left hand, not the kind who signs petitions to ban automatic weapons), that's where your face goes. And as I've been saying off and on for more than 20 years now, DAD, a face full of hot brass is no fun.
Stag Arms manufactures (amazing!) American AR-15 parts using (amazing!) American-made components. Benny (who is no Jerry Carroll, but who is adorable nonetheless, showing off his skinny arm muscles) gets walked through the process of building the upper half for his own rifle, then heads out to the range, where he brags about getting ready to show off his shooting skills and then bumps his head on the liftgate of a station wagon. Oh, and uses the phrase "Let it rip, potato chip," which I plan to work into conversation at least once in the next week.
(It's worth nothing that Stag Arms also advertises on The Sportsman Channel, a spot featuring a CGI deer with shiny steel antlers, which must be seen to be appreciated.)
"In this great nation of ours, we are only limited by our imagination and determination," Sarah says, closing out the segment, and while I admire the sentiment, I call shenanigans. I can say from experience that we are also limited by the laws of physics and thermodynamics.
In the show's second segment, field host Mark Christopher Lawrence heads to Tennessee to meet Tom and Rick Mohr, the father-and-son team behind Mohr Knives.
That's right. Field host, comedian, farmer and my long-lost favorite uncle Jerry Carroll is nowhere to be seen in this episode. But that omission is quickly forgiven when Tom Mohr drives an ever-lovin' knife into the passenger side panel of an ever-lovin' truck. Right into the metal. And slices open his finger! And gets sent to the hospital for stitches.
There's a lesson there, kids: See what showing off gets you? (An awesome story about getting to see your own blood on national TV, that's what.)
Rick then takes over the tour, showing Mark to the junk pile, where they forage for knife-making supplies. They pick out an old leaf spring and cut, forge and polish until Mark has something vaguely approximating a knife blade. "Tricky Rick" steps in to take Mark's blade the rest of the way. Happily, no one else goes to the emergency room, and Tom returns just in time to harden off Mark's blade, shrugging off his stitches: "She only gave me four."
After some polishing and sharpening, Mark shows off his new blade by using it to shave the hair off his wrist.
"This is amazing, America," he says. Indeed.
No one lost a finger, so the group celebrates with a friendly session of hatchet-throwing behind the Mohrs' workshop. I'm a little disappointed this isn't a legacy that's been passed down in my family; it would go nicely with our family traditions of oversized bonfires and lighting things on fire to see if they'll explode.
After all, in our amazing America, we're only limited by imagination, determination -- and the laws of thermodynamics.
Maia Nolan-Partnow has been recapping The Sportsman Channel's "Amazing America with Sarah Palin" since the start of the series' 12-episode run. Read all her recaps at http://tinyurl.com/dispatchmaia. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By MAIA NOLAN-PARTNOW