Monday, February 18, 2008

New Pipe: Mark Tinsky Coral Carved Bent Ball

I just ordered another Mark Tinsky pipe: a coral carved bent ball. I have two other Tinsky pipes and the Sunrise bent apple may be my best smoker. Normally I like smooth pipes but Gray Fox is having a sale. For only $113 (with free shipping) I should get a great smoking pipe for little dinero. If you like Tinsky pipes, you better get one while you can!

-Safari Bob

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Tobacco Review: Samuel Gawith 1792 Flake

Samuel Gawith is an older tobacco company that has been making pipe tobacco and snuff since 1792 and production continues using the original recipes. Currently, Phillips and King imports the Gawith blends including Grousemoor, Squadron Leader, and Best Brown Flake. I first encountered these blends in 1998 and the Squadron Leader was most popular. Lately I have been enjoying flakes and I decided to crack open a tin of 1792 which I have never previously smoked.

Manufacturer's Description:
A full strength, mellow tobacco, comprising a blend of dark fired leaf. Our best-selling premium grade flake starts as 7 lbs of stripped leaf going through a steaming process prior to being pressed, the "cake" having been prepared, is wrapped in a selected leaf and packed by hand into a and left for a minimum of 2 hours. The next stage is to place the pressed "cake" into a steam press where it is baked at full heat for 2-3 hours. Once baked, the "cake" has taken on cobs characteristic rich, dark colour. The "cake" is then hardened by being left to cool. The final process of cutting the flake and adding a tonquin flavouring is carried out followed by hand wrapping and packing ready for the pipe. MSR: $8.55; 50 gm tin.

Tobacco Review
The tobacco is dark chocolate brown with a subtle reddish hue and is cut into 3.5 inch flakes that are moist and easily folded (I do not rub-out my flakes). I have no trouble lighting the flake, although I did have to relight several times as the bowl progressed. The "tonquin" flavor seems to remind me more of a gin or juniper that does meld well with a smokey sweetness that does fade about half way through the pipeful. The overall experience is a full-bodied smoke that has some complexity at first but dies over the span of the smoke. In some ways it reminds me of the old Robert McConnell Red Virginia - especially the last half of the bowl - as a malty flavor either develops or is revealed as the other flavors subside. After several bowls, I am not quite sure if I like it or not. It does burn cool and the flake combusts into a dark, gray ash.

Rating: 3 Puffs out of 5

-Safari Bob

Friday, February 8, 2008

Surviving 2012: Oh Please...

Get ready: The world is supposed to end on December 21, 2012 (12/21/12). "According to their calendar, the Maya believed that their world would end on Dec 21, 2012. Of all the dates put forth by prophets and cultures for a doomsday, this is one with an authentic almost eerie feel to it" [1]. Why does this one have an 'authentic eerie feel' as opposed to all the other ones throughout history?

I remember back in 1988 a popular tract was circulating among the christian fundamentalists supposing that Christ was to return in September 1988. I, and an intrepid band of fellow malcontents, were busted at a Bible College during an attempt to make light of this assertion. Obviously, this prediction was erroneous and the same author revised his calculations and came out with a sequel for 1989. Of course this also was fallacious and 'Grunge' music, Starbucks, and Desert Storm (Part 1) were all allowed to transpire.

Why do these 'Dooms Day' movements exist and thrive in our culture? Certainly these movements are not unique and they have existed throughout most of recorded history. Why do we as a species seem to revel in the possibility of our destruction? I have no idea but I suspect that 'Grunge' may be a manifestation of a nihilist bent that is blunted by a good 'Frappaccino' and appeased by a good war.

Hmm.. coincidence? I think not!

In any event, some segment of humanity seems to need to have a telos and that end must be loud and explosive. I wonder if this self-destructive fantasy is indicative of the need for narrative that seems to pervade the human condition; a desire to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and ending. Frankly, I have no idea but I am sure that this fear of the end will sell lots of books.

-Safari Bob