Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Cheer

I've held off on trying this tobacco for a while now. But this
year the time had come. And I was unable to find it because my local tobacconist had not received his shipment in. So I bought a tin of last year's Christmas Cheer. Seeing as I bought it a year late, I figured I should review it a day late. Good logic, right? So here I am a day after Christmas, still enjoying wonderful Christmas Cheer. It is a beautiful smoke. Though I have no other years of "Christmas Cheer" to compare it to, 2009 is simply lovely. I didn't realize how very much I enjoyed Virginias until I tried this blend. I have had plenty of Virginias, this one just took it to a ne
w level for me.

I have written at least once about the importance of a good name for a tobacco. I am very responsive to advertising and am happy to mentally embrace whatever picture is offered by the title of a given tobacco blend. I must now moderate my previous view. I thought my imagination could overpower most any tobacco, but it turns out I was wrong. I recently tried some bulk aromatics that were so incredible terrible that even the witty names that they were given couldn't redeem the experience. Always having gone to Edwards before, I was used to bulk blends that weren't overly goopy, and tasted like tasty tobacco, rather than a mouth full of napalm death. I have not liked every bulk blend from Edwards, but they are mostly good and many of the aromatics are so lightly cased that they maintain the wonder of the tobacco.

Getting back to McClelland's Christmas Cheer. I notice that it is it seems almost trendy to give McClellands a hard time. I can't figure out why for the life of me. I have found them to be far the superior of many other "boutique" blends. Frog Morton is fantastic, this Christmas Cheer blend is beautiful. The three Oaks blends are miraculous. More investigation is needed, but I have to say that McClellands is a favorite tobacconist for me personally. I must also note that this tobacco has brought me a great deal of Christmas cheer for the last month, and I look forward to trying 2010 when the time is ripe.

On another note my new pipe came in. It was a miracle (and a testament to the greatness Virtual Smoking Lounge - that it came before Christmas. It came and it was smoked on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. What pipe, you ask? It is the Bing's Pleasure from Savinelli:
It is a Balsa System filter pipe, which I thought I would immediately replace, but after 3 filtered smokes, I am resolved to try more (because they have been great). I ordered some extra filters (which Dave at the VSL makes very easy for the buyer). In any event a thoroughly enjoyed pipe, and in honor of finally moving a step closer to smoking like one of my pipe heroes (Bing Crosby) I watched the Bells of St. Mary's and Going My Way this weekend. Beautiful movies, absolutely uplifting and beautiful movies.

I loved the laid back and loving way in which Father O'Malley goes about his business of loving people and gently encouraging them to a better life, to better choices. I so much enjoy the balanced, loving and caring view that doesn't need to be right all the time, even when he knows he's right. He just gently tries to point people to where they need to be, and away from the danger that they are driving into. That gentle, cool confidence that takes him right where he needs to be and doesn't strive to fix everything, but rather facilitates things to be fixed of their own means. I want to be like that when I grow up.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Picky Pipers?

I would not say that a healthy fear of making money is the average business owners problem. Though perhaps it may be the fear of the unwitting employee. My topic today is one that I would be interested to hear many responses from varied sources. We all, as pipe smokers, have our own way. For some of us it is more about the pipe, for others, about the tobacco. These are both fine and admirable. For some it is about the lore, and feel, for others it is about the experience. We all smoke pipes for different reasons, and may judge a pipe by wholly different standards when the day is done. That being said, how particular are you?

My mother-in-law wanted to buy a pipe for me this year for Christmas. This is actually one of my favorite exercises in life. Two of my favorite pipes, though they may not be my nicest pipes, are the two my wife picked out for me. One is a larger rusticated pipe (Eriksen) and the other is a smooth finish (unbranded). Both 3/4 bent stems. The first large rusticated one reminded her of a teddy bear, thus naturally, was meaningful to me. The second was "more intellectual and academic" and made her think of C.S. Lewis (something of a hero of mine). I like that, I like the idea of people picking out the pipes that they think suit me, or fit my personality.

The checker at the store they went into, however, claimed that "You should NEVER buy a pipe for a pipe smoker! It's FAR too personal!" And thus cost herself a sale. Hmm...This seems silly. Isn't the best thing to do to say, "I would be happy to find a pipe I'm sure he will love, but just in case I would keep the receipt. Pipe smokers can be finicky." Seriously, it's like someone bottled stupidity and anointed this poor clerk's head with it to make sure that no money was made that day. I couldn't understand it if I wanted to.

That being said, how picky of a smoker are you? Every pipe I own has its own character. Certain tobaccos work better in certain pipes. This is just the way of things. I don't even think I can make correlation between nicer pipes and nicer tobaccos working exclusively in them. Could someone buy you a pipe, or would you rather have the money to pick it out on your own? Is the value of a pipe sentimental or is it purely based on quality? Inquiring minds want to know.

Teaser: I just bought a new pipe from Dave at the VSL. It relates to one of my favorite iconic pipe smokers. A free smiley face emoticon goes to the person who can guess who that iconic pipe smoker might be. It should be here in a week or so...
First impression: this guy is top notch. Friendly, helpful and more than fair with pricing. Check it out.

or on his Youtube Channel: