A Pipe Smoker’s Inquiry

The Beginning of the End

If you, like myself, are one of the many subscribers to Pipes and Tobaccos magazine, you were upset to recently learn that the Spring 2019 issue will be the last printed run of the publication. Without a doubt, this is very disheartening, and quite frankly, a huge loss to the pipe smoking community. Therefore, as inquiry driven pipe smokers, we must not only ask ourselves why options for pipe smoking literature/content are dwindling (and now virtually non-existent), but further, what can we do to help support the growth and sustainability of quality content related to this timeless hobby?  Warning: This article will focus on the pros and cons related to pipe smoking content and literature and be heavily laced with my own opinion regarding the subject.  Note – You have been warned.

Pipes & Tobacco Magazine

To help narrow the focus of this post, I would like to first address the question regarding why options for pipe smoking literature/content are dwindling.  In order to answer this inquiry, I would like to list some of my favorite options of consuming pipe smoking literature/content.  Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, rather, a few options and formats that I currently utilize.

YouTube Logo

YouTube– Let’s be honest.  If you are a pipe smoker and have not heard of the YouTube Pipe Community (YTPC), you have been living under a rock for the last decade.  In fact, I will confidently argue that this is one of, if not THE, main platform that a majority of pipe smokers use to seek out information, content, and updates related to the hobby.  When examining the growth and expansion of the pastime, I overwhelmingly feel YouTube has been a great asset to the pipe smoking hobby.  However, YouTube is a free, never-ending resource, and because of its open access and reach, it can sometimes be both unreliable and unfulfilling.  Before readers of this post begin writing hate letter to the old Pipe Professor, let me explain what I mean by unreliable and unfulfilling.

When examining the definition of unreliable, keen observers will note several descriptive adjectives used in the term’s definition such as; untrustworthy, not dependable, lacking in accuracy, and dishonest.  Due to the non-existent vetting, or examination of content on YouTube, anyone could begin making videos as part of the YTPC and claim to be an expert on the subject.  In fact, many individuals on YouTube, and in the YTPC, justify their expertise through the number of subscribers they accrue and/or the amount of views/likes/shares they receive on their videos.  I argue this to be not only misleading but a major sham regarding both the experience and expertise needed in the hobby.  Granted, there are several extremely knowledgeable pipe smokers that participate in the YTPC who help share intellect and information related to pipes and tobaccos.  However, not only are these individuals few and far between, they are greatly outnumbered, and in some instances overshadowed, by the less than desirable presenters, and mediocre content they upload.  This reality does in fact make the current YTPC unfulfilling.  Be upset if you want, the truth of it is most of the content uploaded as part of the YTPC has become boring and irrelevant (along with inaccurate).  In fact, as of recent, it could be argued that several presenters are more focused on who can hold the most give-a-ways (GAWs) or have the best prizes in GAWs. Again, no offense, but I personally didn’t participate in the YTPC to compete with other pipe smokers on who offers the most GAWs to gain subscribers, or tout about the prizes I offer. Undeniably, this supports my original opinion of unreliable and unfulfilling to be true.

What does the YTPC offer? Again, in my opinion, the YTPC is a great place for new pipe smokers to find ‘some’ accurate beginning pipe smoking information, and more importantly, make connections to other pipe smokers (be warned – not all of them are experts) in their local areas.  By and large, this unreliable format will continue to grow and become further unfulfilling, thus, prompting the question of, is it truly supporting the hobby or hurting it in the long run?

Podcast Logo

Podcasts– I find it both ironic and comical that there was a time in American history where the radio was the sole source for broadcasting information and entertainment.  Families would gather around the old juke box after dinner and listen to their favorite programing through pure audio means.  Now, half a century later, we find ourselves slowly gravitating back toward this format of entertainment.  Arguably, I feel podcasts have grown in popularity because of their compatibility and convivence.  We all live extremely busy lives that continue to be filled with work and responsibilities that cannot be avoided.  In my opinion, podcasts provide us with two unknowing benefits.  One, they are extremely convenient and can be enjoyed as we work our way through the busyness of life, and two, they indirectly create an opportunity for us to slow down and enjoy the simplicity of real, one-sided, conversation.  Similar to YouTube, most podcasts are free to listeners (again, the freeness is arguably a major reason people gravitate toward this option rather than a paid magazine subscription) and provide updated information and exposure to the pipe smoking hobby.  Unlike YouTube, the three pipe related podcasts I listen to are indeed considered reliable, as they focus on interviewing experts in the field of pipes and tobaccos to help create a knowledge and exposure to the hobby.

Forums and blogs logo

Social Media/Forums/Blogs– I will group these three together to save both time and energy as they are each worthy to note but frequently lack consistency and rigor.  Social media communities such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook provide the most updated information in small burst, however, do not offer the rigorous sustainability needed to maintain a quality foundation within the hobby.  More often than not, these social media outlets provide quick snapshots into the enjoy of the hobby by others.

There are indeed a number of pipe smoking forums available, that in all honesty, archive some great information and content related to pipes and tobacco.  In fact, if you are searching for a more reliable source for expert pipe smoking advice I would advise pipe smoker forums before YouTube. The only hold back regarding forums are the sometimes less than desirable assholes that post responses to questions and conversations.  There are several instances where forums will have self-proclaimed experts who feel the need to give their input on every single topic, regardless of relevance. This in itself is not a deal breaker for using most forums, however, can become a nuisance.

I will be the first to raise my hand when it comes to inconsistency with blog postings and updates.  There are more times than not as of late, where life outside of this hobby demands my attention.  And as most of you are aware, my family and friends take precedence over pipe smoking. My situation here at The Pipe Professor webpage is similar to many other pipe smoking bloggers and writers.  Life is busy, and consistent updates/post are not at the top of the list.  Again, there are several pipe and tobacco related blogs that provide high quality, accurate information and content.  However, the consistency in posting material tends to be a hindrance for several of these blogs.  Because of this, sustainability of quality content becomes an issue.

Bible and Briar

Print Publications– Without a doubt, this is the most dwindling of the four mediums I will discuss in this post.  I earnestly feel that print publications have two negative qualities that directly contribute to their dwindling categorization.  First, print publications typically cost money for the publisher and the consumer.  Second, they directly compete with the free, instantly updated online world we live in.  Example one being the currentPipes and Tobaccos magazine dilemma.  Similarly, publications such as The Pipe Collector, that is published by the North American Society of Pipe Collectors (NASPC), has an aging editorial board that has already posted a cry for help regarding the continuation of the publication.  By the way, I submitted all my membership renewal dues on time and still have not received a copy of The Pipe Collector since last October 2018. Anyone know what’s up with that? If we, as a young and upcoming community of pipe and tobacco enthusiasts, don’t look to take the reins on things such as this, we will quickly see the end of yet another pipe smoking resource.

Further related to print publications, books related to the hobby are not as numerous as once before. Maybe because of the slowly evolving nature of the hobby, maybe because of the time and cost associated with completing such a task.  Either way, I argue that most of the quality literature (books) about pipe smoking were printed outside of this past decade and furthermore, outside the turn of the century.

Now that all of that complaining it out of the way, lets focus on the second question posed above, “what can we do to help support the growth and sustainability of quality content related to this timeless hobby?”  Understandably, if this question had a simple answer, we would follow through with the solution and all sing ‘kumbaya.’  Unfortunately, the problem driving the question is loaded with multiple complications that will require either real change, or, an acceptance of the inevitable changes to come.

Man thinking Picture

In a YouTube video approximately 9 months ago (as I just bashed YouTube….) I posed a question regarding individual’s interest in contributing or subscribing to some sort of newsletter/publication, similar to that of the old Pipe Smoker’s Ephemeris by Tom Dunn [link to the video: https://youtu.be/ro2Anmksrfc] . The feedback I received regarding interest in a similar publication was very positive and forthcoming.  In fact, there have been multiple occasions where I have investigated the idea of facilitating such a project and would still be open to doing such, however, I would need some serious insight from those who have been successful at doing so, on how to create sustainability while keep outlying factors such as costs, low.  Let this be an open invite to anyone who can, and is, willing to share the business side of managing such a publication to contact me at your convenience.

Other options, in my opinion, would include having an already well establish company such as Ladisi (Smokingpipes.com), or Pipes and Cigars, take the reins in producing and overseeing such content as a magazine or book.  Similar to the statements above, due to the lack of interest and costly risks associated with a print publication focusing on Pipes and Tobacco, it may not make sense on the business side of things.  Ultimately, it may not support the growth of their already established companies and jeopardize their success.

Lastly, I propose that more pipe smokers and tobacco enthusiasts step up to the plate and participate in actionable conversations regarding solutions to problems such as the dismantlement of those things we love and enjoy (i.e, Pipes and Tobaccos magazine, McClelland Tobacco Company). By no means do I claim to have any or all of the answers.  Rather, I bring this subject to light in order to work with other pipe smokers, like yourself, to create and develop ideas on how to overcome and halt these reoccurring tragedies.  We must collaborate and brainstorm ways to sustain quality information, history, and wisdom related to this hobby, otherwise, we are indirectly accepting the consequences of negative change.

Einstien Pipe

In closing, I feel confident that I have accomplished one of two things in this post.  Either royally pissed some of you off with my opinions regarding viable options for pipe smoking content, or, created an avenue for you to truly digest the limited availability and quality of options available to real pipe smoking enthusiast.  If you are one of the former, not latter, feel free to keep your opinions to yourself (I know you have more than one).  If you truly want to be involved in entertaining a conversation of how to keep quality options and content available, light-up a bowl of your favorite blend and post a comment below.  For those wanting to go a step farther, please feel free to email me at thepipeprofessor@gmail.com.  I look forward to hearing from you on this subject and hope we can collaborate to find some viable solutions.

Don’t forget to slow down and simplify, cheers!

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

 

Top 5 Pipe Tobaccos of 2018

Top 5 Pipe Tobaccos of 2018

Top 5 2018 Pic #1

Now that 2018 has officially come to an end, it’s time to reflect, remember, and revel the pipe tobaccos I enjoyed most during the year.  If you follow other pipe smokers through online social media (i.e., Instagram, YouTube, Twitter) you will note several of our pipe smoking friends are sharing their favorite blends from 2018.  I always enjoy seeing and reading these lists as they prompt my own inquire to explore tobaccos others find enjoyable.

On a more negative note, pipe smokers, and the hobby in general, experienced several hardships over 2018.  From the closing of the McClelland Tobacco Company, to the halt of production on Dunhill tobacco, and the addition of ridiculous warning labels to our favorite tins, pipe enthusiast continue to remain optimistic and support the hobby to its fullest.  If anything can be gleaned from these trials, it’s that we need to remain vigilant at all times and never take the market for granted.  If you find a specific tobacco blend or tobacco you like, stock up.  It goes without saying that things can change (and did) in the blink of an eye.  Don’t get caught off guard.  If you like it, buy it.

Now that we’ve covered the negative, let’s examine a more positive topic.  Below I have detailed my five favorite pipe tobaccos from this past year along with my biggest disappointment.  Please note that with any review, or end-of-year list, all information presented reflects an individual opinion.  If you don’t agree, that’s fine.  Every individual’s personal background is subject to their own experiences. Thus, sharing those individual opinions is part of what I find enjoyable with this hobby.  Without further ado, I present my Top 5 Pipe Tobaccos of 2018. I hope you enjoy this list and please feel free to leave comments and thoughts regarding your own experience with these blends below.

Tobacco #5 for 2018

Boswell’s Titus

Boswell's Titus.png

Info & Overview

Brand: Boswell’s Pipe & Tobacco

Category: American English

Blend Components: Black Cavendish; Burley; Latakia; Perique; Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Ribbon

Available Packaging: Bulk

Price: $5.10 USD per ounce

Tasting Notes: Named after the family dog that frequented the Boswell shop, the Titus blend is described as a “gentle giant” in remembrance of the family pup.  Although classified by Boswell’s as a light English blend, I’m not sure I would catalog this tobacco as an English at all, rather, an Aromatic with a spritz of Latakia.  With that being said, I must admit, I agree with the gentle giant description as the blend is certainly mild.  Further, tobaccoreviews.comdoes not list any flavorings for this blend, however, the aroma from the tin, or bag in this case, has a heavy vanilla scent with light campfire undertone in its profile.  When smoked, this tobacco showed tasting notes of nuts, oaky wood, vanilla, cream, and sweet ripe fruits.  Further, although Titus is a gentle giant, when puffed too hard or too fast, this blend tends to leave the smoker with a slight remanence of tongue bite. I found myself enjoying it most in a cob throughout the year and would certainly recommend this blend to any aromatic smoker looking for options to transition into English tobaccos.

 

Tobacco #4 for 2018

G.L. Pease Westminster

G.L. Pease Westminster

Info & Overview

Brand: G. L. Pease

Category: Balkan

Blend Components: Latakia; Oriental/Turkish; Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Ribbon

Available Packaging: 2 oz tin, 8 oz tin, or 16 oz tin

Price: $10.63 USD (2 oz tin); $35.70 (8 oz tin); $61.63 (16 oz tin)

Tasting Notes:  This tobacco was a pleasant surprise to me during 2018. Being old hat to seasoned pipe and tobacco enthusiast, I first tried this blend on a ‘Pop the Top’ segment for my YouTube channel in March of 2018.  Since that day, I have never looked back.  Westminster is a rich, smooth, medium to full bodied Balkan blend that is enhanced by its sweet red Virginias.  What I find unique about this tobacco is its ability to offer such a diverse smoking experience based upon the pipe I select to enjoy it with. That’s right, depending on the briar, cob, or meerschaum I choose to use, this tobacco offers extraordinary differences in its smoking profile, all of which are very much enjoyable.  This diversity, along with a tasting profile that is woody, campfire smoky, smooth, and toasty are precisely why Westminster has earned the #4 spot on my Top 5 Pipe Tobaccos of 2018 list.

 

Tobacco #3 for 2018

Dunhill Flake

Dunhill Flake Picture

Info & Overview

Brand: Dunhill

Category: Virginia

Blend Components: Straight Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Flake

Available Packaging: 50 g tin

Price: No longer in production

Tasting Notes:  As I discussed in the opening of this post, production on Dunhill tobacco blends was halted earlier this year.  Anticipating the market would quickly sell out of specific Dunhill pipe tobaccos, I managed to pick up a few tins of Dunhill Flake before its disappearance in late summer.  Being a gorgeous, thinly sliced, medium brown flake, this tobacco is absolutely top-notch offering the smoker notes of lemon zest, fresh hay/grass (yes, William Serad of Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine, we all know you hate this description…get over it), yeasty bread, and sweet tea.  Dunhill Flake will be greatly missed by many pipe smokers as it was a true quality pure Virginia tobacco.  If you are able to find this blend for a reasonable price (let me reiterate reasonable) be sure to pick some up and enjoy a tobacco that is soon to be, up in smoke.

 

Tobacco #2 for 2018

Cornell & Diehl Star of the East Flake

C&D Star of the East Flake

Info & Overview

Brand: Cornell & Diehl

Category: English

Blend Components: Latakia; Oriental/Turkish; Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Flake

Available Packaging: 2 oz or 8 oz tin

Price: $9.78 USD (2 oz); $29.33 (8 oz)

Tasting Notes:  If you are a frequent follower of The Pipe Professor webpage, it will come as no shock that Cornell & Diehl’s Star of the East Flake is my #2 tobacco of 2018.  This tobacco is said to be a replacement for the highly sought-after Esoterica Penzance, however, in my opinion, Star of the East Flake not only outperforms Penzance, it is an all-around better smoke (and readily available).  Offering a bold, latakia forward experience, Star of the East Flake provides the smoker with a thick, creamy, rustic smoking experience. Tastes of dark fruits, fig, and earth accompany a cool, dry smoke allowing you to be transferred to a state of euphoria.  You can read my full, in-depth review of this blend here.  If you are a lover of latakia and have not tried this blend, I highly recommend you do so. This is one you don’t want to miss out on.

 

Tobacco #1 for 2018

Cornell & Diehl Professor

C&D Professor Picture

Info & Overview

Brand: Cornell & Diehl

Category: English

Blend Components: Latakia; Oriental/Turkish; Perique; Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Ribbon

Available Packaging: 2 oz tin

Price: $9.78 USD

Tasting Notes:  Before progressing any further into this review, I want to note that this selection has nothing to do with the fact that my website is known as The Pipe Professor. In fact, it was through unintentional means that I found this beautiful blend.  Let me explain.  Like many of you, I shop at online tobacconist who offer free shipping on orders of $95 or more.  It never seems to fail that I will have selected an online cart full of glorious tobaccos that totals $88 and well, it just seems silly to pay $8.99 in shipping when you can just throw in one more $10 tin of tobacco to reach the free shipping offer…. right?  That was precisely the case for me with Cornell & Diehl Professor.  I added this tobacco to an online purchase in order to qualify for free shipping in April of this past year.  Low and behold, it is an absolute diamond in the rough. Providing tasting notes of sweet and sour Orientals, woody earth, dried grass, spicy fruits, and a lingering musty room note that is remanence of an old library or book store, Cornell & Diehl’s Professor has earned my #1 spot for 2018.  Although it started the year as a free shipping add on, Professor has now become the crux of my online ordering.

 

Top Tobacco Disappointment of 2018

Cornell & Diehl Mad Fiddler Flake

C&D Mad Fiddler Flake

Info & Overview

Brand: Cornell & Diehl

Category: Virginia

Blend Components: Black Cavendish; Cigar Leaf; Perique; Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Flake

Available Packaging: 2 oz tin

Price: $9.78 USD

Tasting Notes: I find it somewhat funny that my top two tobacco of the year are produced by the same company that makes what I found to be the worst tobacco I smoked in 2018 (in fact, it may be the worst tobacco I’ve ever smoked).  I’ve always enjoyed a creepy H. P. Lovecraft story and find his writing to reflect a genre currently overrun with zombies and zombie apocalypses.  Being a part of the ‘Great Old One’ series, which is a direct link to Lovecraft’s fictional work, I figured I would pick a tin of this blend up and give it a go.  After all, the ratings and reviews I had read online all suggested Mad Fiddler Flake to be something special.  As it turns out, this tobacco and me, don’t pair well.  Point blank, I find this blend to be absolutely disgusting. Straight out of the tin I endured an aroma similar to that of dried dog food.  Yes, dried dog food…weird.  Granted, the flakes all look wonderful, however, upon smoking the tobacco not only performed and tasted horrific (maybe that’s why it’s part of the Lovecraft line…. horror), it leaves a lasting, penny-like metallic taste in my mouth. No offense, I have never enjoyed eating basic coinage.  Yes, I understand that many people find this blend to be enjoyable, but not this guy. Those of you who like this one have nothing to fear (no pun intended), I won’t be attempting to cellar any of it in the future.

Thank you for visiting The Pipe Professor website.  I hope you have enjoyed my Top 5 Pipe Tobaccos of 2018 and please stay tuned for more reviews and exciting content in the upcoming year.  As always, I hope each of you have a blessed 2019 and until next time, cheers!

* All tobacco tin pictures and blend information (excluding tasting notes) were taken from tobaccoreviews.com and smokingpipes.com.  The writer of this post is not the owner of the above photos/blend information related to each tobacco and does not take credit for their creation. 

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

Tomes and Tobacco – Book Review

The Outsider

by: Stephen King

The Outsider Book Review PicReading has not always been a passion of mine.  In fact, I used to pride myself on the circumstance that I went my entire high school career and didn’t check a single book out from the school library.  Now that I reflect on that ‘accomplishment,’ I’m not sure if it is a negative on me as a learner or the school as the educational provider?  Either way, I understand and accept that I missed out on a wonderful hobby during my teenage years and am thankful that during my undergraduate studies in college, I found my love for enjoying great literature.     

With that being said, several of you will question if Stephen King is an authentic author of great literature, and rightly so.  No matter your opinion, it is difficult to argue that King has not had a resounding influence on the fiction horror genre of writing.  In fact, King is probably one of, if not the, best known author in the category.

So, what prompted me to pick up this novel?  In all honesty, the cover caught my eye while schmoozing my local Half Price Books retail store.  I have read several King novels throughout my reading profession with the outcome being hit and miss.  Some of his work is amazingly written and has left a lasting effect on me as a person, others, not so much.  After, reading the leaf on the inside of the cover, I was completely hooked as to what the story was claiming to offer.  Further, being on sale (and having a coupon) prompted me to go ahead and purchase the book at well below retail.

Here are the specific details on the novel:

Info & Overview

Title:  The Outsider

Author:  Stephen King

Publisher:  Scribner

Publication Year:  2018

Genre:  Fiction/Horror

Number of Pages:  560

Price:  $30.00 USD (retail)

 

On to the review…

 

In the beginning of the story we are introduced to a character by the name of Terry Maitland.  Terry is a home grown, Middle America, all loving family man and upstanding citizen.  Being the loving husband and father of two girls, a local high school English teacher, and outstanding little league baseball coach, Terry is easily a likeable character from the start.  In fact, King does a very nice job setting the stage for you to quickly relate and sympathize with this character.  However, in the snap of a finger, you are thrown into an emotional roller coaster as Terry is arrested by his long-standing friend Detective Ralph Anderson for the rape and murder of a local boy who was a former baseball player on Terry’s little league team.

As the story develops we learn that several witnesses can verify Terry’s presence to be at the scene of the crime on the day and time of the murder, thus, making him the #1 suspect, and for Detective Anderson, an easy open-close case.  The only problem is, Terry was also attending an out of town professional learning conference on behalf of his school at the exact same time and date the murder was said to have occurred.  With his work colleagues being able to also verify his attendance at the conference, along with a video recording showing Terry asking a question to a session presenter, readers are emotionally forced into a very difficult position.  On the one hand, the witnesses and evidence (including finger prints and semen samples) verify Terry’s participation in the murder.  On the other hand, there is live footage of him attending the work conference in another city.  A city that is much too far away for him to have committed the murder and commuted back to the conference.  How can someone be in two places at once?  Essentially, this is the driving question that fuels the reminder of the novel.

In true King fashion, the novel, at times, is extremely graphic.  Specifically, when detailing the rape and murders that occur (yes there is more than one), King does not hold back.  I will humbly admit that while reading the book, there were several nights I had more trouble falling asleep than normal.  Yes, this is a story that will easily creep into the depths of your mind and linger until you find yourself alone and vulnerable.  In this regard, the book gets an A+ from me.  One of the characteristics I feel great books entail, is the ability to create a lasting impression on the reader long after the book has been put away.  The Outsider will certainly stay with you well beyond the last page.

With that being said, there were also some disappointments that the book presented.  If you are an avid reader of Stephen King, you will be familiar with the Finders Keepers trilogy that details the unique cases of private detective Bill Hodges and his assistant Holly Gibney.  Not to spoil too much, however, The Outsider takes place after Bill’s death, when Holly has taken on another partner in the Finders Keepers firm.  Yes, Holly Gibney is introduced as a main character about a third into this story. Although I enjoy the character Holly Gibney, I feel King has begun to turn her into somewhat of a ‘superhero’ in his portfolio of fictional characters.  Having been exposed to Holly in other books/stories, her character is always one step ahead, knows or obtains information from extremely awkward resources, and always seems to escape immediate danger.  As the audience, this character, and her ability to be successful under any and all circumstances, has become predictable, overused, and honestly, boring.

Further, I was also disappointed in the ‘good character’ deaths and the timing of those deaths.  Warning! Possible insight/spoiler: it seems as though King was getting to the end of the main story and realized he hadn’t killed off enough character’s with good moral compass/intentions.  All of a sudden, near the close of the book, we lose two secondary good guy characters in a scenario where the ‘main’ characters all survive a sniper rifle attack. For King to have the audacity to be as graphic as he is with the rape and murder scenes, I wish he would have a bigger pair when it came to cutting ties with some of the story’s forefront cast. Especially with George R.R. Martin setting a more current unexpected death tone in his Game of Thrones book series that easily removes reader’s favorite characters on a whim, I feel King lost his cojones in this one when it came time to shorten the ‘A’ list of characters. End spoiler alert.

Lastly, I felt the backstory the surviving characters had to develop at the finale of the story was extremely thin.  With today’s technology in the crime investigation world, there is no way the fabrication created to cover the remaining group would have stood.  In fact, when reflecting back to the cover story the survivors create, it’s almost goofy.  Maybe it was deadlines, maybe it was writer’s block, either way, more thought should have been given to the resolve of the story.

All in all, the book is an easy read and for the most part creepily enjoyable (in true King fashion). By no means is this his best work, however, it can certainly stand on its own.  I’m not sure I would spend the dough to purchase a new copy but would certainly encourage anyone interested in reading the story to wait and find it second hand or pick it up at your local library once available.

 

Overall book rating:

3 Book Rating

3 out of 5 books

 

Now to the small part most of the folks reading this are waiting for.  While reading this book, I dedicated one pipe and one tobacco to the entire story (as I do with most books).  I find that the tobacco remanence and smoking characteristics help insert me in a place that is dedicated to the target story I am reading.  My mind becomes familiar with the room note and tobacco taste, thus, reinserting me into the story’s context once I pick the book back up and begin reading.  For Stephen King’s The Outsider, I chose my 1970s GBD Prodigy Sandflame Ring Blast Freehand paired with MacBaren HH Vintage Syrian.  The smoky, sweet, rustic characteristics of the tobacco, paired with the easiest of draws and large bowl on the vintage GBD, made for the utmost enjoyment.  Yes, some of you may be classifying me to be just as crazy as King himself, however, every time I smoke this combination of pipe and tobacco, I am transported back to the story of Terry Maitland and the mysterious ‘thing’ that seems to be haunting mid-west America.  Don’t believe that it works?  Give it a try yourself.  I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.

Until next time, thanks for reading.  Cheers!

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

A Pipe Smoker’s Inquiry

A Few of My Favorite Things – 2018 Edition  

Favorite Things opening picture 2018 

The older I grow; the faster time goes.  It seems that each year starts and in the blink of an eye is gone.  Sure, there are days that seem longer than others, but in the end time flies.  Reflecting on this understanding, I find it crucial to remanence on those things that brought me happiness and joy during the small, quick amount of time known as 2018. Understandably, my family and health are among the top of the list, however, I do not feel either of those things need to be listed as they are considered a given.

Similar to last year’s post, there is no structure or method to this list, rather, just other hobbies I enjoy and things I find special.  I hope you enjoy this list and if given the opportunity, take advantage of some of my favorite things (including pipe smoking) that have shown me joy throughout 2018.

 

Favorite Beer of 2018

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Wheat

Blue Moon Pumpkin Harvest Wheat Beer pic

Some of you very well may be disappointed by my choice, but this seasonal selection really hit the spot for me this year.  Undoubtedly, fall is my favorite season for beer selections.  There is something special about the pumpkin, wheat, cinnamon, spice, and molasses beer crafters manipulate in order to create these wonderful brews.  For me, Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Wheat was the perfect balance for my fall beer palate. Offering tastes of pumpkin, clove, malt, and nutmeg, this medium bodied amber ale will warm your insides while satisfying your autumnal palate’s cravings.  If continued in 2019, be sure to pick some up for yourself and enjoy as you watch the leaves turn and temperature change.

 

Favorite Spirit of 2018

Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey

Crown Royal pic

Maybe it’s a blast from the past, maybe it’s the comfort and familiarity I have with this spirit.  Either way, Crown Royal has drawn my interest more so than any other whiskey or bourbon this past year.  I recall drinking more than my fair share of this liquor during my undergraduate college days and coming back to it this past year was like visiting with a long-lost friend.  For me, this Canadian Whiskey is best enjoyed with a sweet ginger ale.  In fact, I like to call the mix a Canadian Ginger.  For those who may be interested, the recipe goes something like this:

  • Fill your favorite whiskey glass to the rim with large cubed ice
  • Pour 2 oz of Crown Royal slowly over the ice
  • Add 1 ½ oz of Ginger Ale to bring the mix to the rim of the glass
  • Stir lightly
  • Select your favorite cigar or pipe and tobacco
  • Put on a great jazz album
  • Sip, smoke, soak up the sounds, and enjoy

As long as you follow this recipe to the ‘t’, the outcome will yield positive results.  I promise!

 

Favorite Wine of 2018

Castillo de Monseran Garnacha

Castillo de Monseran wine pic

Originating in Cariñena, Aragon Spain this bold, full-bodied Garnacha satisfied time and time again over 2018.  Even during the warmer summer evenings, Castillo de Monseran proved to be both balanced and fulfilling.  The bouquet/nose from the glass is richly accented with garden fresh rose, vanilla, burnt woods, and spice.  Tasting notes evidenced sweet and sour berries, licorice, and dark chocolate flavors. Easily paired with a spaghetti/meat sauce dish, or favorite pizza, Castillo de Monseran Garnacha is an excellent wine at a very affordable price ($9.99 a bottle).

 

Favorite Board Game of 2018

This War of Mine

This War of Mine Board Game Pic

Originally released as a video game for all the major entertainment systems, This War of Mine has been adapted as a multi-player cooperative board game (everyone plays together against the game’s design).  Essentially, the city you live in has come under attack from an outside militia group causing a war to break out trapping several civilians in the city with no way of escape.  Your role is to survive in the city until the war ends with limited housing and basic resources.  The game design is so thorough, randomized, and detailed you could literally play the game 500 times and never have the same outcomes/scenarios.  In fact, I have played this game at least 40 times over the past year and never managed to beat it (survive until the end).  I have come very close on multiple occasions, however, due to the randomization of events, and shear bad luck, I have never beat the game. Believe it or not, I find this quality to be very appealing as the game is not a ‘shoe-in’ to beat it after only a couple of plays.  When purchasing and playing a board game, I want to be challenged.  Forcing myself to critically think and be more strategic is a quality I enjoy in gaming, which is exactly why This War of Mine is hands down my favorite board game of 2018.

 

Favorite Book of 2018

Twenty-Six Days: A Mystery of Victorian England by: Regis McCafferty

Twenty Six Days Book Cover Pic

Similar to many of you reading this, I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes and the Victorian England mystery novel genre in general.  Twenty-Six Days, written by a still living pipe smoker, Regis McCafferty (who’s also a NASPC member), follows the final case of McCafferty’s English pipe smoking detective Joshua Pitt.  Easily finished over the course of one day, Twenty-Six Days offers adequate suspense and intrigue coupled with plenty of pipe and tobacco related material (and a little love affair on the side).  In fact, I enjoy the novel more for the pipe and tobacco related content than the actual mystery trying to be solved.  If you are a fan of pipe smoking literature and mystery in an era long gone, you will enjoy Twenty-Six Days.  If nothing else, give it a read and support a fellow brother of the briar.

 

Favorite Music Album of 2018

Streamin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet (1989 Remaster)

Steamin with the Miles Davis Quintet Album cover pic

Not that I needed another hobby or interest, however, 2018 opened my eyes and ears to the world of vinyl. I recall my parents, during my childhood years, listening to records on our massive (at least at that time) stereo system, with full dual tape deck, AM/FM radio, and vinyl options.  Now, 30 years later, I find the oh so familiar sounds of vinyl a friendly welcome to my ears.

Being nowhere near the size of my tobacco cellar, I have now started my vinyl record collection which mainly consists of jazz, swing standards, and orchestral selections.  One such album that really caught my attention was Steamin’ with the Mile Davis Quintet.  I find the album to have the perfect balance of upbeat improvisation and dramatic late-night classic swing.  From start to finish, this album takes me back to an era when swing was king and talent superseded fame and fortune.

 

Favorite Cigar of 2018

Cohiba Behike 54 (MES JUL 11)

Cohiba Behike 54

For those who actually read My Favorite Things 2017 list, you will note the final category in 2017 was Favorite TV Show.  Believe it or not, I have virtually cut television out of my life over the past year.  No, I had no intent or goal of making such a change in my life, however, having four children, full time job, and other interests, there really is no time for television in my schedule.  What have I learned?  I don’t miss it.  In fact, I’m not sure why people revolve their schedules around certain TV shows??? If you are one of those people that’s fine, I’ve just found more joy in other things this year.  Therefore, I wanted to share something I have enjoyed during 2018 and have for several years, cigars.

I do manage to smoke a fair number of cigars during the year and have an extensive collection aging for future enjoyment.  Similar to my pipes and tobaccos, cigars have their own place in my heart and can offer pure moments of relaxation and bliss to the seasoned aficionado.  This year, my favorite cigar was unquestionably the Cohiba Behike 54.  I know, those of you who are knowledgeable about cigars are complaining that this cigar is not a mass market/readily available smoke. Even in countries that legally sell Cuban cigars, the Cohiba Behike line is a difficult and expensive find.  I managed to pick a box of these glory sticks up (they come in boxes of 10) in 2010 before the mass market hiatus began.  Delivering a sweet, creamy, smooth smoke with tastes of light grass/hay, nougat, vanilla, and fresh coffee this cigar is a true masterpiece.  I understand why they cannot be found in stock and when they are, the price tag is extraordinary.  If you are ever afforded the opportunity to smoke a Cohiba Behike do not pass it up. These cigars truly are special.

Father Time Picture

Thanks again for taking the time to stop by The Pipe Professor webpage.  Stay tuned for my Top 5 Pipe Tobaccos of 2018 in the coming weeks along with the mystery tobacco review for December 2018.  As always, cheers to a happy and successful 2019!

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

A Pipe Smoker’s Inquiry

Recap of My First Pipe Show

In August of this year, I wrote about preparing for my first pipe show and explained both my excitement and worry regarding what to expect.  Although two months have passed since my trip, I would still like to take a moment to recap and share my experience with each of you.

Show Recap #1

The North American Society of Pipe Collectors (NASPC) hosts their annual Pipe and Tobacco trade show exposition each year in Dublin, Ohio.  Although I have been a member of the NASPC for several years, my schedule has never allowed me to attend one of their trade shows until this year.  I have read and viewed many other fellow pipe smoker’s pipe show experiences, however, wanted to see what all the excitement was about for myself.  In fact, I would like to revisit the original four questions/concerns I posed in my last post and also address some other things I learned during my excursion.

Show Recap #2

I can now state that one of the many joys of a pipe show is the viewing, selling, and trading of pipes, tobaccos, and pipe smoking related materials.  As I had only minor intentions of selling any pipes from my own collection, and figured I would more than likely purchase at least one pipe at the show, I was unsure as to how many pipes I should take with me to the expo. In fact, the question I posed in my original post was “How many pipes should I take with me?”  I ended up taking eight pipes to the show and believe it or not, did not purchase any pipes while at the show.  No doubt, there were several that called my name.  However, at the end of the day, I was more interested in the aged and rare tobaccos I was finding.  Understanding that I only participated in the show on Saturday (I showed up too late on Friday night and had hotel room issues-this is an entirely different story), eight pipes proved to be too many for my show smoking experience.  In fact, I probably could have done with just four pipes for the one day.

Show Recap #7

I will do a separate post in the future, here at thepipeprofessor.com, to discuss what I use to travel with my pipes, along with my everyday pipe and tobacco carry.

My next question had to do with tobacco.  Obviously, I knew there would be tobacco for sale at the show, but was unsure as to “How much tobacco should I bring with me?” What truly prompted this question is my uncertainty as to how much time I would be viewing vendors and items vs how much time I would be smoking and conversing with other pipe enthusiast.  I ended up packing 12 different tobaccos to smoke and share, one of which being a tin of Butera’s Dark Stoved from 1998. At this time, let me go on record by saying this was too many tobaccos for a single day.  Admittingly, I smoked more of the tobacco I purchased at the show than those I brought with me.  There is certainly a greater excitement of opening an aged, rare tin of tobacco purchased at the show than smoking tobacco I have access to at my home.

Show Recap #5

One of the rare, aged tins I am referring to is McClelland’s Anniversary from September 2001. I was able to acquire two 100g tins of this blend for $35 a piece.  Even better than the steal of a price on this aged and out of production brand was the opportunity to share the tobacco with a long time YouTube/innerweb friend, Mr. Brian Doran.  In case you are unaware, Brian Doran is an outstanding pipe maker from West Virginia who is well known in the You Tube Pipe Community (YTPC) for his tobacco and bourbon reviews (his YouTube handle is Beans316).  I have passed messages with Brian for several years and was finally able to meet up with him at this year’s show.  It goes without saying that Brian is truly a stand-up individual and I am happy to call him a friend.  Together, we cracked open the 17-year-old McClelland blend and enjoyed it with another new-found friend, Jim (you can find out more about Jim by watching Brian’s YouTube video here.)  Jim is another outstanding pipe smoker and I’m glad I was able to meet him.

Show Recap #4

Again, I did have a few pipes I was looking to part ways with but did not solely go to the pipe show with the intent of selling these pipes.  In fact, the third question I asked in my previous post was “If I have pipes I want to sell or trade can I do so?” Without a doubt the answer to this question is yes.  Although I could have spent part of my day haggling with pipe retailers at various tables, I much preferred to browse and socialize with others pipe enthusiast than make a few bucks.  In fact, if you intend to sell some pipes at a show I would advise you to either a.) purchase a vendor table and sell outright to the attendees, or b.) line up a buyer or interested party before the event who you could sell to in person while attending the show.

My final question was one that I was the most uncertain of as I prepared for the trip “How do you determine a budget for the show?”  Somewhere along the line someone shared the valuable knowledge with me to only taking the exact amount of cash (my budget) with me to the show.  Well, this is the precise advice I followed and the exact advice I pass on to anyone preparing to attend a pipe show.  Knowing from personal experience the real and true struggles of Pipe Acquisition Disorder (PAD) and Tobacco Acquisition Disorder (TAD), setting a budget through the use of a predetermined amount of cash is a very helpful PAD and TAD defense mechanism.  If fact, as I stated earlier, I ended up not purchasing a pipe at the show due to my indecisive nature and exploratory thinking of “what if I spend all my cash and find something else I really love?”  This mantra helped to keep my impulse buying under control, thus, allowing for my focus to remain of rare tobaccos and interesting pipe smoking paraphernalia.  The picture below shows my entire haul from the show.

Show Recap #6

Keen observers will note the almost exclusive lot of McClelland tobacco as their product lines are no longer in production and finding the blends at reasonable prices is becoming more and more difficult.  I also picked up a tin of the NASPC 2018 Dragon Weed.  Each year the NASPC creates an exclusive yearly blend with a theme that spotlights the famous Lord of the Rings stories.  This year’s blend was created and produced by G.L. Pease and according to the tin description has a ‘mysterious make-up’.  We will have to wait a few years to find out if this was a good purchase or not as I do not plan to open and sample the tobacco immediately.

I also made it a point to search out and find a copy of the late Bill Unger’s Individual as a Trumbprint: The Custom-Bilt Pipe Story which is an in-depth overview detailing the history of the Custom-Bilt pipe brand. I have been in search of this book for some time and was able to easily locate it at this year’s show for only $20.  Lastly, the Scandinavian Tobacco Group was handing out free metal pipe stands and Czech tools.  I found this to be very kind and was able to pick up a couple of each.

Show Recap #3

There you have it.  My first pipe show summed up in less than 1500 words.  All in all, I had an excellent time and will certainly be making this show a yearly event. In fact, I am already beginning to weigh the options of traveling to a few more shows within driving range in the upcoming year.  The people, pipes, tobacco, and camaraderie are well worth it and for those who have never attended a show I highly recommend you give it a shot.  If you have been to a show in recent years, or have experiences similar (or different) to mine, feel free to leave a comment below.  Your opinions and insights are always valued and welcomed here at thepipeprofessor.com.

Until next time, cheers!

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

 

A Pipe Smoker’s Inquiry

Preparing for My First Pipe Show

One week from today I will be doing something I have never done before as a pipe smoking enthusiast.  If you guessed attend a pipe show, you would be correct.  I will be attending the North American Society of Pipe Collectors (NASPC) annual pipe show in Dublin, Ohio next weekend, and yes, it will indeed be my first pipe show experience (que audience gasps).

NASPC Logo

I have been a member of the NASPC for over 5 years now and enjoy reading and contributing to their bi-monthly newsletter entitled The Pipe Collector.  In fact, in my humble opinion, it is the closest current publication to the long-lost Pipe Smoker’s Ephemeris.  This timeless publication, produced by the late Tom Dunn, was a quarterly print that allowed members of the world-wide snail mail pipe club to contribute pipe and tobacco related material for publication in a newsletter.  Several of these quarterly newsletters were hundreds of pages long and can still be found for sale on eBay and other collector websites.  As stated early, much of the content in the Pipe Smoker’s Ephemeris newsletters was valuable information and stories regarding pipe smoking from a generation of individuals who lived the true pipe smoking lifestyle. Nevertheless, if you have not heard of, or are not a member of, the NASPC you are certainly missing out.  And with membership dues being only $10 per year (this gives you electronic access to The Pipe Collector newsletter) you can’t beat the value this offer holds.  For more information on the NASPC and membership options visit their webpage at: http://www.naspc.org

Over the years, I’ve read and followed several other pipe smokers and their attendance to the various pipe and tobacciana shows around the world.  Each story of these tobacco and pipe related excursions has done nothing but peak my interest and innermost desire for adventure to what I can only imagine as a Heaven on Earth encounter.  However, I must admit that my mind is running ramped with questions and concerns in preparation for my first every pipe show trip.  Therefore, I feel the best way to focus my thoughts and concerns is through sharing them with you.  Any insight and/or advice from those of you who have participated in a pipe show is very much welcomed and appreciated.  The following are some of my concerns for the upcoming weekend.

Q:  How many pipes should I take with me?

Pipe Collection Pic

For some people this may seem like a simple problem with a simple solution.  However, my mind continues to over analyze and question itself. To narrow the question even further, how many pipes should I carry on my persons during/at the show?  As far as I know, smoking is indeed allowed at the show and I guarantee I will want to partake with other brothers of the briar. So, how many pipes should I take and how many should I carry while at the actual show?

Q:  How much tobacco should I bring with me?

Pipe Tobacco Collection Pic

Again, for some of the more veteran show goers, this may seem to be a simple question, but remember, I’m a newbie at this.  I have several pipe pouches I intended to fill with my favorite blends, but should I also dig into the depths of my cellar to bring some unopened aged tobaccos? Is it weird to carry around a bag with unopened tins of rare tobaccos to share with others?  I’m assuming there will be tobacco vendors on-site selling a wide variety of hand crafted blends, but should I still bring my own and if so, how much?

Q:  If I have pipes I want to sell or trade can I do so?

Pipe Show Picture

There are indeed a few pipes I am looking to part ways with.  Although I typically put pipes I am ready to relinquish on eBay for auction, would it be frowned upon if I took them to sell or trade?  Further, how do I go about doing so?  Are vendors open to trade or are they only looking to sell the pipes they have for cash?  How do you know if they are open to buying or trading?

Q:  How do you determine a budget for the show?

Money Pic

Yes, I have already found quite a bit of advice related to pipe show budgeting such as only using cash (this will help you stay within your budget range and once you’re out of money you can’t buy anything else).  However, what should this amount really be?  I reflect on my current collection and think “do I reallyneed another pipe?” and the answer is no. But this is my first pipe show and I would really like to get at least one pipe to mark the occasion.  Also, can I expect to get a better deal on pipes for sale at the show or is it the same deals I find online, I just get to look and feel the pipe before purchasing?

Please know these four questions are only a fraction of the conversation in my mind but I want to ensure this is a memorable experience and that I don’t look/act like a complete moron at the show. No matter what, I will be surrounded by other people who enjoy the hobby of pipes and tobaccos just as much as myself and that has to count for something.

If you plan on attending the upcoming NASPC show send me a message through this webpage or via email and maybe we could meet up to share a bowl.  I will certainly report back with pictures and stories in the upcoming weeks and look forward to sharing my first pipe show experience with all of you.  Until then, be well.

Cheers!

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

A Pipe Smoker’s Inquiry

Pipes and Paintings

I’ve always had a very keen interest in art, especially paintings.  With my personal artistic background focusing more on the music discipline rather than a visual art specialty, I have always envied those that have the natural ability to paint, draw, and sculpt.  No secret here, I can’t draw or paint…  However, this does not negatively influence my love and appreciation for great art, more specifically, historical works from centuries past.  And for me, there is no better way to take the time for analysis and appreciate of a historical masterpiece than with a great pipe and tobacco.  I love intentionally planning moments to examine fine masterpieces of the past and do so by letting my imagination drift in tandem to the artist’s brush strokes, all the while, accompanying my imaginative playground with the wonderfully aromatic clouds of smoke as they drift into the heavens above.  Essentially, that is what this segment, Pipes and Paintings, will focus on.  My annotations, stories, questions, and thoughts related to paintings and artworks of days gone by.  I hope you enjoy, as I share a small part of my imagination and love, for both pipes and paintings, with those of you willing to adventure into the vast mind of a fellow pipe smoker.

Smokers in a Turkish Coffee House

Painting by: Joseph Nash (1809 – 1878)

Smokers in a Turkish Coffee House Open

I always love people in paintings.  When done well, each carries their own unique personality and identity that either helps or hinders the story being communicated. Smokers in a Turkish Coffee Houseis a prime example of how an artist can utilize facial expressions and focus to communicate a story.  Before we go any further into facial communications of the artwork I must point out the monkey in the room.  What am I referring to you may ask?  Obviously, it’s the oversized churchwarden pipe held by the gentleman wearing the dark clothing in the front right portion of the painting.

Smokers in a Turkish Coffee House Pic 1

I mean, my lord! There are several questions as to the actual functionality of that smoking implement.  First, how the hell does one light a pipe that large (assholes are saying, “with a match”)?  I understand that practice used to be one of the owners/proprietors of the establishment typically would keep a customer’s pipe lit throughout their visit.  But what if this individual was busy and your pipe continued to go out?  Or, what if this extraordinarily long tavern churchwarden pipe belongs to the gentleman in the dark clothing…. how would he light it at home?  Further, what type of draw do you think the pipe has?  Cigar aficionado’s love to boast about the tight draws that most Cuban cigars have.  Well, let me chime in a moment, Havana lovers.  You haven’t experienced a tight draw until you have smoked the above pictured behemoth of a pipe.  Anyway, I digress.  Back to the story being communicated by the characters in the painting.

Several expressions indicate that whatever the gentleman (red circle) is saying, or has said, is not liked by the ‘regulars’ (blue circles).

Smokers in a Turkish Coffee House Pic 2

I use the adjective ‘regulars’ as both the grouping of individuals in the full-scale work, and the use of a hookah, indicates to me these people are friends or acquaintances. Further, the positioning and lighter colors/shades of the messenger (man with a red circle) indirectly confirm his status to be an outsider.  Quite possibly, the men are discussing politics?  Maybe the guest gentleman (red circle) has come in and made comments about an ugly female tavern winch he encountered earlier in the day.  It just so happens, the winch in which he is detailing is the wife of the white turban hookah smoker in the front.  I image the conversation to be as follows:

Red Circle Man: “Wow gentlemen!  Have I had a most unusual experience with the most absolutely horrifying woman I’ve ever encountered.  I mean, seriously fellas, telling this lady she was ugly would be a compliment.”

The gentleman’s comments draw some chuckles from individuals around the room.  Some of the patrons continue minding their own business and conversations while a few have now turned their attention to the newcomer. 

Long Churchwarden fellow: “I beg, who is this you speak of and where did you meet her?  I can assure you, not one of us wishes to fall ill to this terrifying woman you describe.”

Turning his body to address not only the individual who asked the question, but the entire room, the foreigner continues his tale through the wafting clouds of aromatic smoke filling the room.  Now with several individuals paying attention the man speaks in a louder and fuller voice.

Red Circle Man: “Ah, yes!  I will gladly disclose my encounter to you as I would not wish this beast of a creature on the worst of my enemies.”

He takes a long draw from his tavern churchwarden before continuing.

Red Circle Man: “You see friend, I am currently lodging at the Iron Rose Inn, however, found myself at the Pewter Pot Tavern last evening for a drink and possible a turn at the dice tables.  Aside from a good pipe and tobacco, I’ve always found pleasure from a hearty ale and a small amount of gambling.  But woe to me, as upon calling to the bar maid I was greeted by a swine of a human being.”

Blue Circle Man Wearing a Black Turban: “Tell us, was it a bear of a man?  Grizzly and unkept in nature?  That is Pots, the owner of the establishment.”

Red Circle Man: “To my regret no.  Although I do recall seeing the gentleman you are describing, the individual I am speaking of was a woman and would have benefited from such a description as the one you have giving.”

As more heads have now turned to listen to the visitor’s story, the tavern foreigner gains an air of confidence in himself and his tale, being the focus of attention to most patrons. 

Red Circle Man: “My friend, what I tell you next is but a nightmare to say the least.  The woman turned and asked what I’d be having, and I surely shrieked aloud in her face. The sight of such a ghastly individual I’ve yet to encounter in all my journeys.  Her eyes were but remanences of a dark endless well.  Her nose and mouth looked as if to had been flattened by a forty-ton ship. And her hair!  My, my, that unkept, greasy heap of string would have made even Medusa look as though she were but a spring of beauty to be had.”   

Blue Circle White Turban Man Holding the Hookah Handle: “Pray, do tell me, what did you say the color of her hair was?”

Red Circle Man: “Ah yes!  I do understand that you too want to make sure you never have to see such a hideous sight as I.  Why, it was red. As the fires of the devil himself.”

There is a slight pause as the visitor laughs aloud not sensing the awkward silence that has befell the room, accompanied by stares of shock and concern. 

Blue Circle White Turban Man Holding the Hookah Handle: “I beg your pardon ‘friend’ but that would be my wife you are describing.”

This is where the painting displayed above picks up the story.  The stranger is now turning to address the angry gentleman and his friends, while onlookers wait to see how the situation resolves.  You may be wondering how I came to know the story from a single capture of time in ink?  Well, there are several other facial expressions and clues that confirm the truth behind my prediction.  Let me explain.  There are two other expressions that can be disseminated from the painting that help provide evidence to the accusation that the visitor has insulted the hookah smoking gentleman. These expressions are symbolized through worry (yellow) and joy (green).

Smokers in a Turkish Coffee House Pic 3

As we see in the snapshot above, the gentleman identified by the yellow circle is likely the proprietor of the coffee house.  Although he has been tending to guest and working hard to meet their demands, he has also monitored the conversation taking place (eavesdropping).  As soon as the gentleman in the white turban, who is smoking the hookah, announces to the visitor (man with the red circle) that he is aggressively insulting his wife, the owner turns his attention to the gentleman displaying a look of panic and concern.  What possibly could the proprietor be thinking?  Maybe, “Oh no, please don’t fight”or “I hope this resolves better than last time”or “Ouch, Gustav will not be easy to calm after those comments.”  No matter the circumstance, his job from this point on will be to keep the shop calm, ensuring a scuffle does not occur disrupting the relaxing smoking pleasure of other guests.

Smokers in a Turkish Coffee House Pic 4

Now, there is not all doom and gloom to come from the story.  Last, and certainly not least, we see the green circle individuals, most of whom are young children/youth.  Keen observers will note their expressions to be happy and almost playful in a manner. Why, we may ask?  When reflecting back to my own childhood and youth, if I were to be a spectator of such a scene, through my immaturity and youthfulness, I too most certainly would have found the scenario to be funny.  In all honesty, the male child standing next to the visitor is probably an employee of the smoke/coffee shop who is looked down upon and mistreated on a regular basis from the clientele.  For him to experience such a scene would certainly make his day better.

Further, I assume the two young girls in the lower right corner of the painting are the daughters of one or two of the patrons.  As they mindlessly wait in boredom for their father(s) to enjoy smoke and small talk with other men in the shop, they become very amused with the insults being disclosed by the visitor.  For them, this is drama at its best.

In reality, I have no on earthly idea what the artist, Joseph Nash, was attempting to display in this work.  Although this is one of the stories my mind likes to tell, it may be nowhere near the original intention of the artist.  This is one of the beauties of art, especially historic paintings with people in them.  We get to create a story, therefore, allowing our mind to become a piece of the art. And there is no better way to do so than while smoking a treasured pipe with an exceptional tobacco.

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature