Pipefuls – Episode #1

Episode #1 – Interview with Eric Meek

For the first episode of Pipefuls, I had the opportunity to sit down and speak with all-around good guy and pipe smoker Eric Meek (ericsrandomworld on YouTube and Instagram).  You have the option of watching the interview via YouTube or listening via podcast.  Links for both formats are posted below along with a link to Eric’s YouTube channel.

YouTube Pipefuls Link

Podcast Link

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-1-interview-with-eric-meek/id1501977611?i=1000467743992

Eric’s YouTube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/user/Ericsrandomworld

Pipefuls will be published on a bi-weekly cycle with the next episode premiering Friday, March 20th.  Feel free to give the show a like/thumbs up and rating/review on iTunes and YouTube.  As always, your feedback is much welcomed and valued.

Until next time, cheers!

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

The Time We Are Given

The Time We Are Given – A Pipefuls Project

Gandolf with Pipe

The ultimate question.  What do we do with the time we are given?  First and foremost, please excuse my absence.  Those of you who have followed my YouTube Channel and this blog know that it has been almost a full year since I have created any content.  I openly admit, that has been on purpose.  Believe me, the itch to write and/or create a video about the hobby I love, and support, has been nothing short of difficult, however, I felt I truly needed to step away for a stint.  Why you may ask?  This time a year ago, I was becoming ever increasingly upset with the self-loathing and disheartening greed I was witnessing in the online pipe community, specifically the YTPC (monetization whining).  Please don’t misunderstand, some of the greatest pipe smokers I’ve now come to call close friends started from the YouTube brother/sisterhood.  The stories, advice, and interaction with others who enjoy pipe smoking, via social media, is an exceptional experience as local options are not always easily available.  My time away from it all (minus Instagram where I remained active) allowed me to reflect on those experiences and thus help me come to an inner peace with such circumstances.  If a pipe smoker/presenter choses to use their channel or media outlet to complain about monetization and such, so be it.  It’s their channel.  If individuals enjoy watching and supporting such nonsense.  So be it.  It’s their time.  But the breaking point for me was the tragedy and unexpected passing of John Harden (Matches860).

Matches860 Picture

One year ago, my original analysis and presumptions of the pipe community (as detailed above) were the driving factor for my taking a sabbatical from it all.  Being able to stand back and observe everything and everyone with the passing of Matches860 has redirected my thinking.  The amount of love and passion for an individual, that 90% of the web-based community had never actually met in person, was and is extraordinary.  You may think your 100 subscribers isn’t a big deal, but it is.  You may think the 5-10 minute video of you talking about and smoking your pipes doesn’t matter.  It does.  Those pictures you post on Instagram of the snow, ice, and Captain Black you are smoking, they’re appreciated.  The pipe community isn’t about making money from viewers.  It’s not about showcasing how big our tobacco cellars or pipe collections are.  It’s about stories.  The stories of great people such as Matches860.  The stories of a time long forgotten.  The stories that make each of us different yet unite us under one common hobby…the hobby of pipe smoking.  For years, Matches860 was the lynchpin for the hobby.  He chose to use the time he had been given to share his love and passion for pipe smoking with each of us on a regular basis.  His ability to tell a captivating story and share his experiences was nothing short of inspiring.  John will certainly be missed, however, his impact and influence on each of us, that followed him via online community media, will never be forgotten.  Thank you, John, for helping open my eyes to the bigger picture of the online pipe community.  For giving me my first shout out within the YTPC, and for always being true to yourself and the hobby.  Rest well my friend.

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My time away from the online pipe community has also allowed for reflection of my own presentation. Although I have enjoyed making YouTube videos, I have always dabbled with others means to expand our hobby to the world.  It seems of late that the overreaching body we call government continues to burn down bridges for us lovers of fine tobaccos making it harder and harder to enjoy a simple pleasure such as, smoking a pipe.  My first consideration was some type of newsletter or quarterly written journal that would be published for those interested.  I even discussed this option in some of my YouTube videos and Pipe Professor blog posts.  In the end, this option proved to be both costly and content time laden. I enjoy writing and will continue to post unique articles and stories here on The Pipe Professor webpage but not everyone enjoys and/or has the time to read on a regular basis.  Therefore, my I went back to a medium I had tried in the past but hadn’t planned well for or know much about…podcasting.

Microphone Picture

Previously, I had recorded and published a few podcast episodes under The Pipe Professor Podcast show name.  Although those episodes had quite a few downloads and a good response, my lack of planning and preparation hindered the show’s success.  Further, I didn’t like the idea of the podcast being named after my handle and the heading of this webpage (remember, I was fighting with the self-loathing issue around this period – see above).  Well, let this post be the announcement that I will be attempting to make another run in the podcast pipe community paradigm.  As the time we are given is precious, I want to use my time to support the pipe community and others within the pipe community.  Matches860 gave us a perfect example of the wonderful stories each person has to share, and I want the podcast to be that avenue for sharing.  And, since the time we are given is limited, what better way to support the hobby while maximizing your time than with a podcast?  Cutting the grass and want to hear some pipe related conversation, tune in to the podcast.  Driving to work and tired of listening to bad music and political news reports?  Tune in to the podcast.  At work and looking for a way to pass the time while still appearing busy?  Tune in to the podcast.  My goal is for the podcast to focus on interviewing not only the high-profile people in the pipe community, but any and all pipe smokers.  That’s right, no matter who you are or what you do, I think you’re worth talking to.  Why?  Because you’re a pipe smoker.  Hipster?  Codger? Academic? Blue collar?  It doesn’t matter, in my eyes anyone who smokes a pipe has an interesting story worth hearing.  So, be on the lookout for Pipefuls – A podcast for pipe and tobacco enthusiasts (launching in March 2020).

Pipefuls Banner 2

Thanks again for your patience and continued support while I have been away.  I am both eager and hopeful in this upcoming journey and will need everyone’s support to help get things off the ground.  Because the best thing we can do with the time we are given, is give back to others.  Until next time, cheers!

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

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