Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday at the Hut - 2/19/11

Sammee! (click to enlarge)
Congratulations to Joe and his wife Val! They have a new addition to their family - Sammee! Their new bundle of joy is part corgi and yellow lab and was adopted just today. Joe e-mailed me the picture tonight and I showed it to Paula who promptly said that she needs to adopt him from Joe and Val, he's that cute. I don't think that Sammee's new parents are going to let him go, so our house will remain a cat-only household for now. Anyway, enjoy your new puppy guys!

Joe actually didn't stay too long at The Tobacco Hut today as he had just gotten the puppy and was anxious to help Val get Sammee settled into his new digs. Maybe next week he'll bring Sammee to the Hut for a meet and greet! By the way, Joe, when you come next week, we're running low on the peanut butter pretzels!

Ed B came earlier in the morning but by the time I arrived around 12:30 or so, he was getting ready to leave for the day. It was great weather for Ed to be driving his orange Jeep around town, too. Finally, we're getting some average temperatures. Today was a perfect day to be outside, so I naturally chose to spend most of it inside at the Hut.

The only other regular to show up was Adrian a little later in the afternoon, but more about that later. We had two new customers who found Lou via his website. One of the gentleman was visiting from Chicago, Paul F. I think the other fellow was his brother-in-law, or friend, or something, and unfortunately I didn't catch his name. But Paul purchased a cigar and stuck around to enjoy it. He's also a pipe smoker and we chatted a bit about all things pipes. Chicago has some world-famous pipe and tobacco shops, including Iwan Ries & Co., one of pipe smoking's meccas. With over 15,000 pipes in stock, you can tell why I drool a bit just thinking of it. Every pipe smoker should make a pilgrimage there sometime in his life. Unfortunately, I haven't made mine yet, but someday. BTW, Paul, I hope you can make time in your trip for another visit to the Hut!

My Mauro Armellini Fatte A Mano
(Click to enlarge)
Today found me puffing on a Mauro Armellini filled with Tinder Box Reserve 1928. I purchased the pipe from a Tinder Box in Savannah, Georgia back in 2005 and it has always been an excellent smoker. Mauro Armellini was a self-taught pipe carver who worked for Savinelli before opening his own studio in Italy in 1960. Although there are no distinguishing marks on the pipe to indicate when it was made, my guess it was made by Armellini himself. He passed away in 2004 and since then his daughter Wilma has taken over the business, not only the administration of it, but crafting the pipes as well. Whoever made it, hats off to you for carving a beautiful pipe!
Mauro Armellini
(Click to enlarge)

Lou informed me that Bret came in earlier in the week to pick up the pipe I gave to his son, Blake. Lou had cleaned and sterilized it and got it all ready for this new smoker. I hope you enjoy it, Blake, and hope to run into you soon at the Hut to talk shop!

As I mentioned, Adrian arrived a little later in the afternoon, and it didn't take long for the chess rematch to begin. I had lost in our last meeting over the chessboard and was eager to avenge my loss. Adrian was just as eager to add a second victory to the records. Adrian brought a beautiful marble chess set with him (probably looking for a home court advantage) which we played on. I sometimes have trouble playing with highly decorative chess sets, like Revolutionary soldiers or Middle Earth pieces, but the men weren't overly stylized and stayed pretty close to standard Staunton pieces. 

How did the game go, you ask? We started off fairly even, although I picked up two pawns early on. Being up those two pawns would prove decisive much later in the game, but moving into the middle game it didn't make much of a difference. In fact, Adrian had his pieces doing a full court press on my king's position and I was getting more than a bit nervous. After quite a few tense moves, I was finally able to drive his queen back to a defensive position and could go on offense. In the end, we were exchanging pieces back and forth, and my two extra pawns proved to be an overwhelming advantage. It was an excellent game and really could have gone either way for quite a while. Can't wait 'til next week, Adrian!

 - Bob

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Saturday at the Hut - 2/12/11

We had more than a full house at The Tobacco Hut on Saturday; fortunately it was broken up into three shifts. I arrived early as I knew Scott and his entourage would be the first to punch the clock. I had told Scott earlier in the week that I would buy him a cigar for his birthday on his next visit to the Hut, and he didn't waste any time coming in for it. I tried to steer him towards one of Lou's house specials ($2.30) but to no avail. At least he didn't go crazy on me - he selected a nice mid-priced cigar. Happy Belated Birthday to a good friend and marketing guru!

Scott brought two brothers-in-law with him, Paul V and Jeff. Ed B also came, a little earlier than usual. Paul V is an old friend and familiar face at the Hut, and I think Jeff has been to a few events in the past. The word of the day became "pedestrian", not as a noun as in a person walking along the road, but as an adjective, meaning "lacking inspiration or excitement; dull." At this point, I can't even remember how the word came up. Paul was making some commentary about the subject at hand and used the word "pedestrian." Others questioned the usage and eventually pooh-poohed the word, but I flew to Paul's defense. It was a most apt and appropriate word and I salute Paul for his appreciation of the linguistic nuances for which the English language is known.

By the way, the word "pedestrian" comes from the Latin pedester which means "going on foot." However, if the suffix "ian" is added to it, its meaning becomes "written in prose" (straight expository writing as opposed to poetry). And in early English usage, prose was viewed as inferior to poetry. Etymologically, you can now see the link between "pedestrian" and "prose". You can also see that my English degree was not wasted, and that I have way too much time on my hands.

Switching to something that is far from pedestrian...Paul revealed an interesting discovery about Lou's Baker Street tobacco. He found that the combination of sipping a Lowland single malt scotch and enjoying a pipeful of Baker Street is a particularly exquisite marriage of flavors. I forget that Paul is also a pipe smoker; I usually only see him smoking cigars. Interesting discovery, Paul! I can see how the Baker Street with its Virginia tobacco and resulting hint of sweetness plus the Latakia would be complemented by a Lowland single malt. I'm not sure, but I believe such scotches are triple distilled, giving them a lighter taste.

As the first shift was packing up and cashing out, the second shift was arriving - Tom L, Joe K, and Peter G. There was a brief but rousing game of musical chairs and we settled into the afternoon's topics of conversation. Tom was well behaved and played nicely...there were only a few references to "Libbies", those of us who are more progressively minded and listen to NPR. Speaking of which, for the first time, I was wearing my NPR shirt and Joe was wearing his "Pipe Down You Silly Liberal" shirt. I'm still searching for the perfect response to Joe's choice of apparel.

The topic soon turned to the foreclosure crisis and we busily placed blame and solved the problems, all in a span of an hour or so. Tom has worked in banking, Peter had his own mortgage business, and Joe's wife was in the business as well, so it was interesting to hear three viewpoints on the housing collapse.

Neerup Sandblast
(Click to enlarge)
I was busy puffing on my Neerup sandblast, enjoying Baker Street of course, when the second shift punched out. The third shift soon arrived consisting of Ed F and Dan. Peter actually pulled a double shift and stayed over while Ed F and Dan settled in. Neerup pipes seem to be little known but are an outstanding value in pipe smoking. They are the creations of Peder Jeppesen, a Dane who worked for a long time at the Nording studio. He has been making pipes for over 25 years and his attention to detail really shows. He uses almost exclusively Corsican briar and black acrylic stems. I can't remember where I picked up this Neerup, but I'm quite sure it was only around $100 or so, a bargain considering how nicely it smokes. 

For those of you who remember "Box Tom", we now have "Box Ed", because like Tom, he now uses a box to transport his pipes, tobacco, and tools. Box Tom's container was an old shoe shine box converted to pipe usage, and Ed is now using an old cigar box courtesy of his friend Dan. Peter annointed Ed F as "Box Ed", which will be especially helpful so we don't confuse Ed B with Ed F.

Dan has made the plunge and bought himself a pipe. He loaded it up with some Baker Street and in no time was puffing away like a pro. Always nice to see someone new take up the briar. Welcome Dan! As your friend Ed now knows, an exciting journey has begun to unfold for you.

As the day wound down, there were four people smoking pipes. An older gentleman came in and picked up some tobacco and sat down and lit up. I'm embarrassed to report that I can't remember his name, but it was definitely a "small world" moment when we discovered that we are both part Seneca Indian. The amount of Iroquois blood running through my veins is far smaller than in his, but it was fascinating hearing him tell tales of growing up in upstate New York, areas I am intimately familiar with. Lou is more than casually familiar with it as well, as Dotty was born in the same area.

Finally, I delivered the Tinder Box Beefeater quarter bent pipe to Lou to clean up to give to aspiring pipe smoker Blake. Blake, when you're ready, the pipe is back to an almost-new state, thoroughly cleaned and sterilized and ready for your enjoyment. I also threw in an old Imco pipe lighter I had. Lou has everything ready and waiting for you!

Great to see everybody at the Hut and can't wait 'til next week. 

 - Bob

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday at the Hut - 2/5/11

Wow! I got to The Tobacco Hut a little late today and had trouble finding a seat! No complaints though as a few of the chairs were filled with pipe smokers! In fact, I think for a brief time there was an equal number of pipe smokers and cigar smokers. Unfortunately I missed Joe K who left early - hopefully next week buddy!

In attendance were Bret and his son Blake, Ed B, and Ed F and his friend Dan. Dan's teetering on the edge of becoming a pipe smoker so maybe soon we'll outnumber the stogie smokers. Ed F was enjoying the meerschaum I gave him last week, alternating between two of Lou's blends, Keystone and Baker Street. I haven't tried Keystone but it certainly smells good, and everyone knows how I feel about the most-excellent Baker Street. 

Today found me smoking some of G.L. Pease's rich latakia blend, Westminster, in a Ser Jacopo Maxima. I bought the pipe when I was working at the Tinder Box in Columbus and has always been one of my favorites. Ser Jacopo is an Italian pipe maker founded in 1982 by master carver Giancarlo Guidi. Employing five full time carvers the company creates roughly 6,000 pipes per year ranging from the "Geppetto" to the "Gem" series, which are characterized by ultra-rare high end models fetching upwards of $12,000. No, my lone Ser Jacopo is not a "Gem" but it certainly is a wonderful smoker and is always a regular in the rotation.

As I mentioned, Bret and Blake were in with Bret smoking Baker Street in a nice looking meerschaum. A couple weeks ago when I first met them, Blake was talking about taking up the pipe. Always great to hear of a young person thinking about joining the Brotherhood of the Briar. And Blake isn't just thinking about it; this man has done his research! He's saving up money to purchase his first pipe, a Peterson, and can't wait to jump in. 

I don't know what's come over me, but I'll be giving away another pipe next week. I have a Tinder Box "Beefeater" quarter bent smooth billiard that I plan on bringing to Lou next Saturday to clean and sterilize. I bought the pipe probably twenty years ago and it's been only lightly smoked over the years. I think it's time to deliver it to a new owner, and I think Blake will be the perfect guy for it.

Peter arrived - a welcome sight after a few weeks of being under the weather. His prediction for the Super Bowl tomorrow is Pittsburgh. I probably won't watch the game as my team, the Cleveland Browns, aren't in it. And, unfortunately, they probably never will be. Peter had read on the blog last week about my chess loss to Adrian and asked me about it, causing me to relive the traumatic event.

Speaking of Adrian and chess...he was a no show this week. I think he probably wanted to relish his victory for another week and deprive me of the chance at a rematch. Next week, Adrian, next week!

Nothing overly dramatic at the Hut this week. Just a half-dozen or so guys hanging out enjoying their pipes and cigars. Not too much political talk either (where's Tom L when you need him?). There's a chance Scott R will be making an appearance next week - always good to see him, plus I promised him I'd buy him a cigar for his birthday a couple days ago. Sorry, no cigar for you, Joe (wink, wink).

Until next week...
 - Bob