Deep in flavor. Deep in your mind.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Three Stooges - Men in Black - 1934

"For dignity and humanity!"
Almost a version of the old Aristocrats joke - dignity and humanity, after all, have as much to do with this hot mess as does Aristocracy with what occurred in a long ago talent agent's office. That poor, poor family. Actually, and come to think of it, this short ends with its ironic rallying cry, as does "The Aristocrats!"

Brother can you spare me a digress?

This Three Stooges short is a near perfect leaping off point to the wonderful world of Stoogery. Men in Black offers a view of what to expect of them at the top of their crisply precise form - also, you'll be getting in on the proverbial ground floor, since we see on display here the births of some very classic gags:

the first of which is the Stooges charging into or out of an office door with an unfortunate and ill-fated full length plate-glass window, slamming and shattering it behind them. Here, we're given the punch-line of the glassier seeing the boys coming, and after the several previous breakings he's had to repair - sends it to shards himself. Thus winning the day. Sorta.

Also we are privy to the first Stooges liquid concoction. In this case 'medicine' artisan crafted by random pours of who-knows-what liquids all containing gibberish names. The gibberish names bit is also used when the boys pass along surgical equipment to one another. The effect here is a sealed off world, delineating and pointing out even more, their otherness. They are othering themselves, though. Thus winning the day. Sorta.

On display here, too, is a very early use of Hammerspace. When the Stooges Stooge to the storage closet, they leave said closet on a three-man bicycle, a horse, and then go-carts. The funny here, if there's any left after my pedantic explanation, is that said items would not in reality fit in the storage closet's supposed space. Explaining jokes is yet another reason why I'm seldom invited to parties.


"Calling Doctor Howard, Doctor Fine, Doctor Howard." I'm unsure, and perhaps a kind reader might enlighten me, as to whether or not this is the first or an early run at this gag. Nevertheless, in this rendition, the boys get so fed up that it ends with them all emptying their handguns into it, as it lies on the floor of the hospital, quivering. "For dignity and humanity," is repeated here once again, this time in the context of a greater, hidden just beneath the slap-stick, meaning. Power to the people, not to machinery. Kill your TV! might well be derived, as well.

As an interesting aside and further dalliance into Second Amendment, Curly's famous comedic gate is simply yet ingeniously him covering up a lifelong limp. When he was a young man of twelve - prior to the Curly, and possibly even Babe moniker, the young Jerome Horwitz accidentally shot himself in his foot while cleaning a rifle. Older brother Moe got him to a hospital in time to thwart a tragedy, but Curly never had the necessary procedure to correct it, even when he had the funds to do so. He was fearful of the procedure.

It bears noting that the crisp precise outcome of this production I mentioned prior is not relegated to the narrow scope of eye-pokes and nose twistings. It is seen in the dialogue, as well - namely with the Betty Boop voiced nurse. Also notable to this short's language is its laid back yet brisk almost predecessor type traits to the jive that lay just around the corner and a few years down. As a matter of fact, the opening theme is a jazz-influenced style melody that was used in only one other Stooge-romp, Punch Drunks.

The Look! Great, big, giant, green canaries! skit is a true classic which, alone, would elevate a sub-par short from the depths of sup-pardom. This, however is no sub-par offering. This, sirs, ranks up there with the best. Not 'mere' slap-stick, but satirical as well, Men in Black takes on the then recent Clark Gable release, the very naughty indeed, Men in White.

I'd scream all day for you, dear reader, to watch and re-watch this short gem. Unfortunately, 
"I lost my voice asking for a raise."

Final Grade: A

Friday, May 29, 2015

Cuban Rounds Maduro Wrapper Toro - Review

You gotta chuckle at the Cohiba "inspired" band.
Please don't chuckle at my autographed 8x10 of Mrs. White.

What is that band doing in the cheap case, I asked myself. I mean, I know what I'm doing in the cheap case, but a Cohib... Then I smiled. Then I purchased my first Cuban Round. I've long been equally a fan of cheap stogies and of moxie. This stick tickled each of those, my unfancy fancies. A penny short of two bucks, and I was out the door.

The Cigar:
Cuban Round Nicaraguan seed, Maduro Wrapper, 6" Toro
Pre-light there is a snoot full of surprising, dare I say, complexities - albeit all somewhat synthetic-suspect. The second snoot full was even fuller than the first, and a third was required. Now three snoot fulls to the wind, I began to feel that perhaps the stick came in on the same truck as a shipment of incense. Perhaps they cooked together in the trailer for a sunny afternoon or several...

A quite sharp pre-light taste was too a surprise. A through the cap pull shows a mellow and decent enough yet hazily confused and perhaps bite laden feel. There is a lot of spaghetti thrown against the wall, I wondered how much of it would stick.

The cap is bitten free of the stick and still pre-light, the draw moves from bite to spice and hope springs eternal - but not without reason. This stick is cleaning up its act. Yet it's very much still within the rapscallion spectrum.

I should say that the pack is loose, but even. Veiny but not overly so. Other than the heady pre-light aroma, this stogie is very comfortable...comfy, even.
The first third all of the pre-light haziness of confusion, aroma-wise is present immediately, but in a surprisingly subdued fashion. It helps immensely that the finish is, too, immediate. The volume of smoke given off is low but its aroma is easily pleasant enough for most to accept. The burn is uneven and the stick seems to want to go out. Some light nurturing is required. My roses, I notice, are off to a tragic start. Pepper notes with a pleasant midday bite and perhaps an undertone of leather toward the

Second third. It's here that it strikes me this cigar has a sense of humor... What also strikes me is second clumping of ash. Right in my lap. The flakiness and the volume of ash is a horrid nightmare.

Pepper is pepperyer yet still pleasant. Leather fades but plays peek-a-boo on occasion. It's always welcome. Smoke output increases noticeably yet remains kind. My porch is an ashtray, my ashtray is a porch. I get up and sweep. I imagine I'll have to again in the

Final third. Warmer notes appear as the stick is now fully heated yet still comfortable. Pepper subsides. Leather peeks more than boos. The wrap has been loosening all along and is now limp - but in an old pair of shoes sorta way. This was a very nice, albeit short break from my day.

All told, this Cuban Round is a perfectly serviceable stogie with a knowledge of itself that it charmingly pokes fun at. Self deprecating yet darn fine. I'd recommend this as a very viable every day option.

It closes in a cozy and clean, easy sort of way. Easy like a Sunday morning. A greater surprise than I could have hoped for. Loki would smoked these trickster Cuban Rounds.

Pairings: Whatcha got handy? It would hate to see you put yourself out. Coffee, but only if you're already brewing some. Also, when you sit back down, this cigar probably put a Whoopee Cushion under yer derriere.

Final Grade: B I bet it would laughingly rather you believe otherwise.

Epilogue:
As the stick closed out, one of my neighbors laughed in a raspy bingo lady voice that echoed through my neighborhood. Perfect.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Howard Brothers on Hair Care

As with many of life's small lessons, particularly those of style and grace, we can learn no small amount by allowing ourselves an edu-ma-cation courtesy of The Three Stooges. To be exact and within this posting, we will turn to Moe, Shemp, and Curly Howard - the Sainted Horwitz Brothers, in the hopes of deciphering the prone to over-complication hair care world. Also, there are no small lessons.

Let me interject something at the post's onset, which the Stooges shall bear out: hair tonic. Hair tonic - not gel, spray, mousse, pomade, ... - hair tonic. Hair tonic and the confidence it takes to be soitenly yourself. The confidence it takes to be your own Stooge, you marvelous bastard. Just look at ya.

I use Vitalis myself, and as far as what is a hair tonic goes, I don't particularly want to delve into that. I want to talk about the The Three Stooges. Nevertheless - a hair tonic is a liquid. It is designed less to mold and shape, and more to bring about the somewhat illusion of health: shine. Tonic is about a nourished appearance and containment, not control. Your straight hair will not be made to curl, or vice-versa. Neither will your thin hair appear volumized. Hair tonic simply and proudly shakes what yo momma gave you.

Now let us see what it is that momma Horwitz bequeathed her three famous sons. Starting with:

Shemp and His Famous Bangs

Shemp oft called himself, in varying ways, the ugliest bastard in the business. Who am I to argue what the ugly bastard? He was ugly. Ugly and known for the rather comedic effect of his grown-out bangs. I'd rock the look myself, if I wasn't more akin to Curly, folically speaking. Nevertheless, he carved a very nice niche for himself here, and all by being himself. Himself being my favorite Stooge because layers, man. Shemp had layers - a tangent for a different time. For now, we shall continue with

Curly and His Shame

We can learn from the boys not just in their triumphant achievements, but also in their shortcomings and defeats. If this is not the proper forum for Shemp's layers, it is definitely too, not the time nor place for a dissection of Curly's somewhat intricately woven failings.

What was inwardly to Curly seen as a constant source of a chipping away at his ego, his closely cropped hairdo was seen by audiences as a positive and every-man sense of no nonsense (but for the nonsense) style. Personally, I suspect an out-of-control Jewfro left Curly his moniker and no other option but to clear-cut his Larry. I am personally well-versed in the Jewfro and its inherent lack of alternatives.

Curly's hair can actually be seen in his cameo in the Stooge short Hold That Lion!, its thickness lends great credence to my hypothesis.

One reason that the boys are perfect fodder for the acceptance and maintenance of your G-d given quiff fate, is that they run something of the spectrum. We have Shemp's rather straight hair, Curly's suspected curls, and then

Moe's Bowl Cut

In an interview I recall seeing somewhere or another, Moe divulged the origin of his famed 'do. Ever the mother of invention, necessity deemed by Moe, was of a utilitarian bent. He was tired of his wayward hair, so tamed it with a bowl. Tamed it and owned the ever-lovin' heck out of it.

Work with what you got, but first embrace it. Then, find a way to personalize yourself through it - not a way to gain a personality through it (I'm looking at you, lumberjack bearded hipster). Finally, then, care for it. 'Cause ya love it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Cutting, Punching, Biting

My, the violence of that there blog title! Well, calm down there, Gandhi. Today we will simply and peaceably be discussing the various methods and merits of gaining your mouth hole access to the smoke end of your stogie...and perhaps a little about what your preferred method means about you.
The Cigar Cutter

Technically, this is a division with three subdivisions: Guillotine (straight cut), Punch Cut, and English Cut. We shall give the punch cut option its own spotlight moment, because it offers a different smoking experience from the remaining two listed options.

When most folks think cigar cutter, they mean the Guillotine variety. This remains a very good option for the beginner, as the level of difficulty is near nil and supply is long on this particular style. They are the easiest to get your grubby paws on.

Note: Beginner. That reminds me, never look the gift horse of a teachable moment in its nascent eye. The capped end of a stick is made of a separate piece of material, entirely, from the rest of said stick. It is a cover held fast in its place with tobacco paste or a flour/water mixture.

Back to the Guillotine, I say in as non-threatening a manner as possible. The most advanced among we Brothers of the Leaf roundly recommend the double Guillotine over its single cousin. Single cousins are odd creatures who tend to be okay getting friend-zoned and prefer cats over dogs and San Francisco over Oakland. Mainly, though, and in this context - a single blade Guillotine is too akin to the desperate results of kitchen knife/cutting board. There stands to be squishing on account of the blunt surface.

Here we become convoluted, or, perhaps we devolve. I digress.

But prior to a full deployment of digression, let's discuss ye oldde Punch Cut. As a fan of milder smoking experiences, I have oft employed this tactic. By punching a smallish hole through the cap in lieu of cutting it fully away, less smoke is ear-marked for your smoke-hole. What this method says about you is that you are either a knowledgeable mild stogie aficionado, or you are a scavenger of the sale bin and got this on the cheap since so many fewer smokers line up to buy this option. Either reason, I might add, would end in me liking the cut of yer jib.

What does a single blade Guillotine say about you? If I were to judge, and I shall, I am not impressed by yer jib whatsoever, kind sir. I will, however, play poker with you all night long. See: dumb money.

Now, fully amid digression, I lose track and this post begins to boarder on quirky - but not as quirky as the English Cut option. For those who have no jib at all, and thus grow beards to attain (personality) jib, this has your name written all over it. 'Nuff.

Wait! V-Cut! This is a sloppy way of cutting dangerously far into the cigar portion of the cigar and thus has the opposite effect of the Punch Cut. You'll flood your smoke-hole with smoke and your smoke will most likely be burning unevenly as you do. If this is your personal preference, you tend to call all of your friends Broseph and, also, there are not many opportunities for you to say Broseph.

Cue Convolution

I touched on this earlier when making mention of kitchen knife/cutting board and how it closely mirrors a single-blade Guillotine. These options, again, both suck evenly. On top of sucking, though, they each reveal a different man. Dumb money has already been discussed, so we now go on to The Struggle. It's real. If you have (and I have) taken knife to stogie - you have probably also (and I have) made "pizza" on slices of white bread. Viva la revolucion, comrade! Yes, real is the struggle, my brother. Furthermore, Bernie Sanders 2016.

But the worst option is also not the worst option here. Allow me to clarify: to reiterate: they both suck evenly. The result of dumb money (ie: spendable income outweighing knowledge), and the sheer everyday melee of poverty are on par here in the end.
Beautiful, no?

I should, too, add that scissors are yet another on-hand terrible option. While not as poor of a resort as a knife - it is my experience that most scissors are owned by women. Don't use your wife's stuff on your stuff. She sees your stuff as gross and does not want it on, or anywhere near, her stuff. Also, from a practical standpoint, it's an even sloppier version of the already sloppy V-Cut.
In Conclusion and...
We've already begun and are three quarters of the way to our conclusive ending. Let's summate and then I'll put a ribbon on this bitch by telling you how you're wrong and, more importantly, how I am right.

Cigar cutting is a rather level playing field, other than the Double Guillotine, which rises above the rest. Aside, of course, from the now knowledgeable decisions you can make regarding your personal smoking preferences of the V- and Punch Cuts. So go out and get you a Guillotine!

Also, go eat a peach with a knife and fork off your finest China whilst wearing a bib, your royal highness. Remember, though, the Guillotine ended the "Let them eat cake" era.

Here is where I part ways with many experts. If I am, in fact, an expert. I mean I do have a blog... I mean not just anyone can have a blog. You first must have an email address... Anyhooo...

... How to Bite the Cap Off A Cigar

You take the G-d damned peach and you bite into it. The juices roll freely from the corners of your mouth and down your chin. Carpe peach! First, Conan, know your cigar. Taste before you bite. Lick and suck - it's okay - sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes it's a large brown phallic symbol your mouth craves to the point of watery pining.

Remember, the cap is separate from the stick. When it's moist and you've well enjoyed the pre-light experience of your mutual introduction. Release it with your lusty and skilled teeth. Spit it out, and light up.

Enjoy. It's both the classy and the classless way to do so.

Rocky Patel Vintage 1999 Connecticut Petit Corona - Review

I found myself, along with the Mrs, at the mall today, cashing in on Memorial Day savings. I did the math, though, and the numbers tell me that we'd have saved much more moolah had we stayed home.

After a stop at Sephora which included pink lip gloss and flirting with a skinny tattooed clerk with crooked teeth (she had a certain je ne sais quoi), we stopped at a very nicely stocked cigar shop which will serve nicely as my new haunt, The Briar Shoppe. This is the one place in the stoner heaven that is gre-eee-eeen Eugene, Oregon that isn't a head shop which also happens to carry, oh, stogies. I could have stayed forever, trading witty barbs with the knowledgeable gentleman clerk, but a Subway salad was calling my name and doing so mightily loud.

Knowing I had a busy day of doing nothinging still ahead of me, I opted for this Rocky Patel specimen in Petit Corona size - the light snack of Stickville. I also opted for two more mini-treats, but we'll leave those for another siesta, muchachos. For now:

The Cigar 
Rocky Patel Vintage 1999 Connecticut Petit Corona

Pre-light the wrap feels moderate. Not too loose, not too tight - perhaps a bit uneven - well enough done, nonetheless. An unlit draw shows this stick to be a spicy Meat-a-ball. Hot, but no warmth and as inviting as a generic black plastic welcome mat with those little spikes...I am somewhat dubious. I take heart in my love of Senor Patel's '90 and '92 tour de force duet and steel myself.

The first third begins with spices and bite that threaten to bleed over the border into harshness. A few draws in it mellows somewhat, just as a bump forms in the wrapper. Rocky Patel considers this to be a mild offering, and that might be the case, but mild does not mean mellow (even though it does mellow in comparison to its own onset). Nor does mild mean sweet. I would very begrudgingly say that this pushes the envelope almost off the table of very high end mild. Said envelope hits the floor insofar as mild meaning at all pleasant.

Toward the end of the first third, there is an evening out and leathery, earthy notes come in alongside the lessening spices. The bite remains but its teeth dull a tad. I begin to contemplate my navel. There is lint.

The second third begins in a hopeful fashion. The smoke from the stick seems almost simplistic as to its aroma, but not unpleasant, more pleasant would have been the same smoke coming from a stick half its price. The first few somewhat harsh puffs are but a not distant memory for now. Nutty and leathery notes begin to nearly prevail. "OMW," they text me. 

The wrap loosens to the loose side of moderate. This is still decidedly not a mellow stick. Good for a mid day break from my busy day off, perhaps, but definitely not for a smooth nightcap send-off into the magical nighttime realms of dragon slaying and princess rescuing.

[My daughter stops by with her boyfriend momentarily. My wife, upon their kind departure, alerts me that my conversation was not entirely in keeping with the actual conversation. I remind her that I was quite polite, even offering all present a pull. She decided to go off and tend the garden. I have regained my porch.]

Nut gives way to wood, leather under-notes remain. Both are muted by a quite noticeable reemergence of bite. A crack appears in the wrapper and my ash falls at around one inch. My naval contemplation findings are that this isn't quite on part with the usual RP offering.

The final third sees that bite begin to turn bitter and previously mentioned nuances become all but buried by its silly tantrum. The RP '99 becomes laborious and I am put in mind of Cheers barmaid Carla Tortelli - It is a bitter and aggressive Petit. It is no longer mild, I suppose. I don't think it deserves a flavor rating beyond bitter.

Shame, this.

Pairings I'd suggest include plenty of fresh air and an afterward Listerine swish. I had strong coffee and chocolate animal crackers, that was nice.

Final Grade: F (a D- had it a smaller price point although I wouldn't buy this at a fraction of its MSRP).

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Three Stooges "Flat Foot Stooges" - Review

Flat Foot Stooges - release date: December 5, 1938

"You'll get used to it after you've been here a while. That goes on practically every morning." Says a fellow firehouse resident of their Stooge co-workers as they embark upon their trademarked stoogery. That said, the boys at the firehouse seem to be getting quite a through-the-fourth-wall kick out of the ensuing shenanigans. They seem to be barely holding it together.

"I'm a victim of circumstance" Larry takes a shot at Curly's familiar line. Then continues, "I feel so silly." There are complexities in the delivery here which are not seen at play since the times of Shemp. Transversely and later, as the trio treat the horses to a spa treatment, Curly can't take a shower because he "ain't got no bathing cap!" And we see Curly's mass appeal hard at work. 

As the spa continues, OMFG DID THEY BREAK THAT POOR HORSE'S NECK? Someone, alert PETA!!! Also in keeping with 1938 sensibilities, that chick packs a wallop! The funny there is in the surprise there - because in Three Stooges land, a lady might just get decked. Equal rights is equal rights. Women are not above the short end of the slapstick. Fear not, however, as the chief's (Chester Conklin) daughter (Lola Jensen) devolves into a far more comfortable damsel in distress by the story's end.

Moe: Do you smell anything?
Curly: No, especially smoke!
Is there any wonder that Curly is the King of Stooges according to popular opinion? He would never discuss social issues while doing his namesake shuffle. His genius is in confining his genius to slapstick.

Moe: This is my brainchild.
Curly: You're not even married!
(Arbitrary rules of love dictated by narrow-mindedness and bestowed upon us by the every-man.)

We'll save the day yet! Is gloriously followed by a stooge clusterfuck. I chuckled. This is not a guffaw short, but chuckles are in long supply. 

Not all comedy is timeless, but we can learn and then laugh: when our boys see they're stooging off in the wrong direction, Curly quips "Hey, we're doing the Corrigan!" This is a newsy poke at Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan, who, with all the navigational skills of Christopher Columbus - had recently returned from a transcontinental flight from Brooklyn to Long Beach. Instead of returning to New York, his pitch was "Ju-uuu-ust a bit outside. He tried the corner and missed." 

Ireland. Wrong Way went to Ireland. In his defense, he found no Indians there.

Since you don't make 190 shorts without having a few rush-jobs thrown in, the boys stumble over their lines here and there. This is due to director Charley Chase's directing style being akin to pulp writing. Chase was known to rarely stop for retakes. He was known, however, to finish ahead of schedule, and to finish often. He was quite prolific. The result here is a very not crisp and un-sharp offering.

"I can't hear you on account of the bell" Comes Larry's reply to Moe's questioning if he heard the bell in The Stooges prior turn as Firemen in 1936's False Alarms - which in my opinion is a far superior short. All told, Flat Foot Stooges is an enjoyable enough romp that left me rather distractible but mostly there and smiling throughout. 

Final Grade: C-

Casa de Garcia Connecticut Shade Wrapper - Cigar Review

C'mon, baby don't you wanna go
C'mon, baby don't you wanna go
Back to that same old place, sweet home, Connecticut?
...One and one is two, six and two are eight...

and this is a cigar.
Casa de Garcia Connecticut Shade Wrapper - Churchill 

Quite simply, quite brilliantly, this is a cigar.

This is not a pouty French girl who says no when she means yes. Nor is this cigar a garbageman who refers to himself as a sanitation engineer. This cigar is as stereotypical as an Asian mathematician with several blemishes on his driving record. For that, I salute this cigar - I salute this cigar in the form of deeming it my everyday stick, my go-to stick. If you have a problem with this cigar, my friend, you have a problem with me. I will go rounds on behalf of this cigar's dignified reputation. Did I mention this cigar is only a couple bucks? Cigar.

Let us further begin.

Pre-light there are no pretenses, no promises. This is not a cigar, like its somewhat unfortunate Gary's House cousin, that charmingly sees its mouth write checks that its ass can't cash. You will notice mellow sweet notes which are reminiscent of tobacco. They will not fade. From tip to nub, they will be there for you like my dachshund Ruby is there for me. Always and forever.

[You might be asking yourself: is it stranger to write an ode to a cigar or to a wiener dog? Or perhaps I am just projecting.]

The light is effortless, mild, and sweet. I have made mention that cheap, or beginner cigars, are ironically not beginner's hands appropriate. I mean there that they take a somewhat expert hand - this cigar is the exception to that ironic rule. You cannot fuck up this stogie. You cannot over/under smoke this. You will not need to unplug or blow it out. You will simply need to breath.

As with the Casa de Garcia line in its workingman aplomb's entirety, there are many a Brother of the Leaf who will compare this to Montecristo seconds. I feel that is doing this particular offering a disservice. I do not get from the cigar in my hand, that it has any delusions of grandeur. It is as real as real gets.

The first third - I can only reiterate, and will so again, that there are no complex notes. There is sweet, there is mellow.

The second third...wait...is that vanilla? I believe I detected vanilla. I stand corrected and I stand in awe of this inexpensive and honest cigar. Actually, I not only stand, I walk. I putter around my yard. I sweep my porch. This CG likes a walk as much as my Ruby.

Let me discuss further, this vanilla: it does not hint ahead to its own coming. It simply arrives. It is the guest who knows that it always welcome to come knocking at your door. It is not the guest that talks you into entertaining it and then shows up with a six pack of beer it should know you don't like because it has already made that mistake many times before. "Hey broseph, I picked up some Coronas!"

Before embarking on the third half, let me delve further into this beer analogy. Many a beer snob will review an American Pale Lager. They will cite its lack of complexities, its lack of whatever 'artisan' is, its mass produced overt regularities...but they will also and begrudgingly cite its immense drinkability. 

This stick has immense smokabilty. I am not hipster cool enough to say this begrudgingly. I applaud it.

Now, the third half: Third verse, same as the ferse. You guessed it, sweet and mellow. The vanilla notes come and go in a smooth, playful manner. They very well might be an undertone of vague caramel here at the end. The smoke stays cool and it is never a laborious chore to ingest. It does not dare you to drag, it bends over backwards on your behalf.

Pairings I'd suggest would range the spectrum from water with a twist of lemon to medium roasted coffee with cream and sugar. This cigar can well be equated with the blue blazer of a gentleman's wardrobe. It goes with everything; as long as you don't try to pair it with pajama bottoms.

Although this smoke would work great in pajama bottoms. I do think I'll have another tonight. 

A negative. I should write a negative so as to maintain my critic's license. If you don't subscribe to the keep it simple, stupid approach to philosophy - this is not a valid option for your humidor. Also, as with CG's other offerings, the ash is flaky. I somehow managed a one inch (and rather ugly) burn on this one, but I wouldn't promise that to always be the case. For the most part, the flakes mingle nicely with the dandruff on my cardigan. The wrap, too, is far from perfection. There will be blemishes and bumps. There will be character.

Character - if you don't like this stick, I question yours, kind sir.

Final Grade: A-


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Casa de Garcia Nicaraguan Blend - Cigar Review

I have a few late Sabbath hours to murder, so off to my front porch with a stogie and a mobile device to watch some Stooges on. What the heck, I'll do a write-up of 1938's Flatfoot Stooges, too. This will be a LINK to that, upon that's completion.

The Cigar
Casa de Garcia Nicaraguan Blend

I only just recently stumbled across Casa de Garcia and their fine and lint-filled-pocket friendly offerings. As an overview, the entire line should run you a couple bucks a stick. I pay $2.49 for the sheer down-the-block convenience my crook tobacconist offers. CG has a well-deserved reputation as being somewhat akin to Montecristo seconds. The proper way to take that is their wrap is not perfect and their ash, partially thusly, is famously flaky. Nonetheless, they are typically smooth and mellow affairs - even their fuller-bodied offerings, of which we'll be speaking of today.

As with all Nicaraguan blends, the smoke from this stick is heavier and greasier than, say, a Connecticut specimen (which is my regular fare). The mellow smoothness prevails, however, and the inherent greasier leaf makes for somewhat of a tighter ash than is usual for a CG.

Pre-light, the feel makes one aware that this is an everyday caliber cigar, the Crowned Prince of that sect, to be exact. There are veins and roughs, and other imperfections. Since it fits my budget, I like to look at this as character. The smell is very good, heavy and rich - albeit sans complexities. This is a medium to full-bodied cigar, which I mention again because I prefer milder fare, though...

Upon lighting, there are no surprises. The funny thing about "beginner" cigars is that this refers to the taste alone - not the execution of the session itself. These cigars require an intermediate hand, as they are not manufactured well enough to be inherently forgiving to the newbie under/over smokers. They will respond quickly to each nascent trespass and respond equally slowly to fix. Plus, for all your kind nurturing, you can expect, at best, a 3/4" ash.

The chew. I should mention here, that CGs as a whole have a chew par excellence. Sweet, never bitter, and their slightly loose wrapper feels soft and therefore good in your cigar hole. Not yours. Monica.

The first third is a simple continuation of the lighting. Nothing unexpected here. The smoke inhaled is medium, I daresay that thus far, full-bodied would be an overstatement. Already, the burn is charmingly uneven. One noted nicety: the smoke it gives off is pleasant insofar as both volume and aroma. As far as the medium range goes, we're at the low end of the spectrum (read) I am not buzzed, nor do I see a buzz a-comin'. That said, I never do.

The second third introduces aspects that set Gary's House apart from its budgeted brethren. Herein lie leathery notes and somewhat saliva inducing sweet earthiness. A hint of spice, it seems, is just on the horizon. The inhale remains cool and the wrapper, while riddled with character, holds. The stick tightens up a bit and the draw is not as easy now. I have a toothpick, as always, at the ready. It's in the cheap cigar survival kit.

At the final third's onset, I poke three holes in the CG because I prefer a sense of symmetry. Yes, it plugged up on me. A blowout was also needed. As I stated, one must know one's way around these cheap stogies. All part of their charm...the smoke and the smoker's.

Sadly, this offering, although remaining serviceable, dies in the home stretch. Or is this the Firing Line that never really recovered on a sloppy Pimlico track? Either way, you get the gist. This stogie never unfurled. The hints at any upcoming complexities failed to come to fruition and it remained just an everyday option. A very good everyday option, nonetheless.

In short, it is what it is and what it is ain't half bad. I'll gladly chomp another, but for my once a week Sabbath Stick, I'll continue to hold out for a Dortmund, to keep with the pony-playing analogy. To completely beat a dead horse, my handful of yearly American Pharaohs make all of these look rather rudimentary.

Gather up ye, your workingman aplomb and light up this honest stick. Don't expect to be wowed, but bring your own wow instead. Pinkies up, gentlemen! 

It's important to note that the third end of the third end is not hot and right down to the nub, there is smoothness here. Pairings I would suggest include sugary black coffee, a thrift shop three piece suit, and/or a mason jar full of Concord Grape Manischewitz kosher wine.

Final Grade: C+ 
(although, when I hand one out to a chum, I'll swear it's a B-)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tres Chiflados

*SPOILER ALERT* the title of this post is a *SPOILER ALERT*

I love the Three Stooges. I did not see the 2012 remake, nor do I plan on seeing the follow-up to it that was announced a little bit of time ago as being in the works. I actually find the newer movies to be quite disgusting.

On the surface, the Stooges are a Vaudevillian slapstick trio 1/3 rotation that borders on Looney Tunes shenanigans. Scratch not too deep beneath that surface, and you find three strangers in a strange land. They are shorter, squatter, poorer, and more foreign than all they come in contact with. They are Three Blind Mice. The blindness is their lack of acculturation.

This new crew of Stooges strikes me as a troupe of privileged frat-boys donning the mask of othering for shits and a smattering of giggles. It's Black-face. Laughing with, not at. The original Stooges were laughed at. That was their genius. They broke a rule chiseled in stone, and did so successfully. The seeds of that laughter sometimes tickled the audiences sympathy and that audience loved them. It was like a black man turning the word nigger into something positive.

It didn't hurt that the Three Stooges ate ham. They remained tastefully Jewish. Not dress like an Amish, Jewish. They walked the fine line of being palatable.

6'3 Will Sasso as Curley is like a Pilgrim showing up to the original Thanksgiving in a chieftain's headdress. It's an invasion. And it misses the point entirely. So how to hit the point? That is an interesting question. While anti-antisemitism is still very much alive and well, I believe it has progressed from the point of Stoogery.

I'd have to say that a successful ethnicity for a true Three Stooges reboot of today's climate would be Latino. The humor is already in place, just try to not see it in Sabado Gigante. More importantly though, the parallels between today's Latino plight and yesterday's Jewish plight are vastly similar.

The Mexicans are taking over! No. They're doing what no one else wants to do.

The Jews are taking over! What, Hollywood? No one else wanted it. Motion Pictures were looked down upon in those days. It was live acting, or bust.

Two groups of peoples, agreeing to do what little is optioned to them, and excelling at it to boot. Then being demeaned because of said excellence. Lovely, huh? Soitenly. 

Plus, Latinos and Jews, the suits would be the same size. One might even say a perfect fit.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

A Sporting Saturday Sans Surprise

Act I
Class & Form

The 2014 Derby and subsequent Triple Crown races bore the burden of very limited talent. This limited talent, interestingly enough, acts like a bright bulb to the moth that is the "casual fan."

In a race with limited talent, anything is possible from a handicapping standpoint. This is because it takes a great amount of talent for a horse to repeat a performance - to retain the class and form talked about in the above link. Actually, the hallmark of a good horse is predictability.

California Chrome, last year's casual darling, was a prince of mediocrity. Mediocrity, what better tugs at the heart strings of the masses? A lot of people still love this unpredictable every-man on all fours. It's akin to the attraction of voting for a president who is a political outsider...someone you could see yourself having a beer with.

American Pharoah. Dortmund. Carpe Diem. Each of these horses are superior specimens to California Chrome. That made the 2015 Kentucky Derby harder to call, huh? Nope. It made it easier. Again: class and form.

You could see the outcome from a mile away (although the pace was perhaps slower, with the fireball Materiality standing still a moment when the gate opened). Nevertheless, talent yields predictability. Plain and simple.

The most exciting thing here is that AP seemingly has the distance for Belmont, and the Preakness already won. All that can stop him now, is the entry into the Belmont of a fresh and purposeful horse. That's a thought for a different time.

Act II
#MayPac

There is no shortage of similarities between topics here.

Let's begin with the casual fan. Boxing is now a stronghold of the casual fan. Horse racing, mostly, is the land of purists. Of informed spectators and players. The casual fan's dalliance lasts no further than The Kentucky Derby. On an odd year, some linger through the Preakness and pop back in at Belmont to root for a Triple Crown champ.

They wear funny hats, drink Mint Juleps, and say funny things like predicting the race's winner because the name or story is catchy. Sometimes they say funny things like calling Johnny Weir a national treasure.

Sometimes they allow Jamie Foxx to sing the National Anthem. We're back to Act II. With an epilogue to Act I: Horse racing's casual fans go away. 

Boxing's casual fans control the sport and never go away and play perfectly into the skilled hands of Floyd "Money" Mayweather. Before the fight, I updated my G+ thusly:

To be clear: won, lose, or draw, it was Mayweather who navigated tonight's fight into the event that it is. That is pretty darn impressive. 
Also, he should win via UD.
#MayPac
But it was boring, claim the casual fans. To which George Foreman would counter "Boxing is like jazz. The better it is, the less people appreciate it." Mayweather, at three paces, can dodge a handful of tossed rice with a brilliant shoulder roll. Last night's fight was not a Rocky Balboa montage. It was a display of skill. He did not run, he out-boxed and out-classed an obviously inferior opponent that the boxing public demanded he fight.

Demanded? The casual fan begged for this night and Floyd brilliantly taunted them for five years. Now the rug has been pulled out from beneath their feet and they are sprawled on the floor and they are rightfully irate. Floyd Mayweather took a sure victory over a tailor-made opponent, and created from it what some billed as The Fight of the Century.

Act III
A Nice Cigar

I just figured we needed a conclusion here. What better way than a quality Nat Sherman stick?