Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday at the Hut - 4/28/12

We had a full house today at The Tobacco Hut and let me start off by stating, for the record, the official record, that Coast Guard Don was in attendance. He was there in the morning and couldn't stay long as he was flying a client to Atlanta (what a job!). Anyway, hope to see you next week, Don!

Also in attendance were Joe K, Paul O, Peter G, Tom L, and - all the way from Bradenton - Vic. Now Vic didn't bring his nuts along but he did not arrive empty handed. He surprised us with wings and apple fritters.

Peter enjoying some of Vic's wings
(Click to enlarge)
Lou devoured one of the fritters straightaway and Joe was trying to be good so just cut a piece off. But it was so good that he returned and cut another piece off, vowing that that would be it for him. But the temptation was too great for Joe, and Joe was weak and he finally returned for the whole thing. I didn't have one of my own, but I did have a bite of Joe's fritter and it was delicious. Um, that didn't sound too good. Let's just say that I liked the fritter that Vic brought more than I liked the taste of his nuts that Tom delivered a few weeks ago. That didn't sound good either - just forget the whole thing.

Peter announced that he was going to return to the theater to see the Three Stooges movie for a second time. The rest of the gang kind of pounced on him. Evidently they're Stooges purists and cheap Hollywood remakes are like a eye jab to the memory of Larry, Curly and Moe. Peter tried to gamely argue that the Stooges heirs had given their blessing to the movie but Tom and company were having none of it.
My favorite comedy team, Laurel & Hardy
(Click to enlarge)
I tried to argue that while I was neutral on the subject of a modern Three Stooges movie, I would view a modern version of my beloved Laurel & Hardy as sacrilege. As Tom and his minions heaped derision on me for favoring Stan and the Babe over the Stooges, Peter was able to take a breath from defending his preferred movie comedy team.
Peter's favorite comedy team, The Three Stooges
(Click to enlarge)
There was some discussion over who got their start first, the Stooges or Laurel & Hardy, and then it just got silly as Charlie Chaplin, Abbott & Costello and the Marx Brothers were brought into the mix. Annie Oakley was mentioned in the frenzy of famous names being tossed out, which made not sense at all. I argued that without Laurel & Hardy there would be no Three Stooges and Peter maintained that the Stooges were around in the 20s. That was news to me and I consulted that bastion of Internet wisdom, Wikipedia, and learned that, in fact, the Stooges got their start in 1925. Laurel & Hardy did predate them by four years, but I wouldn't say that they were responsible for the likes of the Stooges. Peter knows his Stooge history - well done sir!

Vic was lamenting his challenges with selling his nuts at the flea market, and their draconian restrictions, so we were all tossing out ideas for additional items he could sell. Someone mentioned that there were lots of Germans in the area around Bradenton and maybe Vic should market something to them, like bratwurst. It's kind of a blur, but at some point Tom and Paul and I were spitballing some marketing ideas like the SS Dog, or an experimental sandwich - the "Mengele Burger". Unfortunately, we just kept going down that road (use your imagination) and didn't return until we offended whole swaths of the population. Sorry we weren't much help with your business, Vic.
Tom helping Vic with how to best market his business and
offend German customers at the same time.
(Click to enlarge)
Finally, this very blog was brought up and I, your humble narrator, had all guns trained on him. Hell, I didn't think anyone read the damned thing but evidently passions run deep when the few readers I do have attempt to leave a comment. Paul and Tom were the most vocal about it, accusing me of censorship because their comments never make it to the page.

I explained that it is very easy to leave a comment, just follow the directions on the left rail toward the bottom of the page. So they tried on their phones and their test comments didn't appear. I explained that I moderate the comments because I was being inundated with spam but, I pledged, when I got home I would publish their comments.

Tom insisted that the comment function was completely, well, non-functional and issued me a challenge. He wanted me to ask Paula to comment on a blog post unassisted. I forgot about that or ignored it and Paula's asleep now so it's too late anyway but, I must confess that none of their test comments appeared in the queue awaiting my approval.

I know Mike G has had problems posting comments in the past and he has since merely e-mailed me his comments and I post them as they come in. I erroneously assumed it was simply operator error on his part because I do get other comments (Ed B and Aaron C, for example) through the normal channels.

To answer Tom, the absence of comments is not some vast liberal conspiracy of the mainstream media, but some sort of technical glitch and I pledge, as the administrator of this apparently wildly popular blog, that I will get to the bottom of it and allow for the free and robust exchange of ideas.

That being said, I think I am going to create a Facebook Group ("People of the Hut"?) where we can all gather and discuss things of great import. I realize that not all of us are on Facebook, but I think more of us are on Facebook than Google+, the only other really viable alternative. I looked into other social network sites like Ning and they cost money and don't get good reviews, so unless there are any big objections, I'll probably set something up on FB soon.

Oh, one more thing (and I feel like a disc jockey)...a shout out to Russ T, Vic's brother in Rochester. He is a faithful blog reader and hopefully will make it down soon for another visit.

I lied, one more item before I close. I have to tell everyone what I was smoking in my pipe today and which one I was smoking. Oh, who am I kidding, no one cares. Hell, I've even forgotten.

Until next week...



For the first time ever, in the interests of a transparent, "fair and balanced" blog, I am adding something to an existing post. I am adding the photo that Tom sent with his comment (see below).

Here is Tom's quote: "It is official, photos don't lie, all pipe smokers are evil." Tom sent the photo of Josef Stalin smoking a pipe. Thereby, all pipe smokers are evil. 

My rebuttal? Tom, Mark Twain, the great American humorist, was a famous pipe smoker. Are you saying that Mark Twain, beloved American writer, was evil? Sounds a little unpatriotic to me. Why, you might just be a closet Communist, what with pictures of Stalin at the ready. If only Senator McCarthy was still around - you would be found out. Names would be named!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday at the Hut - 4/21/12

Hey, look at me - two weeks in a posting to the blog! I should win some sort of award or something. Today was a fun day at The Tobacco Hut. In attendance were Joe K, Paul O, Tom L, Don W, Peter G, Lou, and myself.

It didn't take long for the talk to turn political - not that I had anything to do with that. I was simply the lone liberal taking potshots from the posse of conservatives surrounding me. We had to invoke Joe's "Kitty" rule once or twice when it got too heated. It actually wasn't too contentious - what was more intense was when Don asked for a good local restaurant for his wife and him to go to tonight.

Many of us recommended Rusty Bellies in Tarpon Springs, but Don's not fond of seafood. Peter and Tom suggested Currents, also in Tarpon, and I concurred, only after having Tom shoot down completely my recommendation of Casa Tina's in Dunedin.

What a place! It's not your typical Tex-Mex taco joint with salsa from a jar and heavy sauces slathered over burritos. It's actually coastal Mexican, all fresh homemade recipes. It's a fun atmosphere and the service is outstanding (ask for Laura).

Tom was poo-pooing the place, but I don't think he's ever eaten there. I think he was just steering Don away from it because I liked it.

So Don, where did you end up going for dinner?

Toward the end of the day a regular customer came in and bought a couple cigars. While Lou appreciates the guy's money (naturally), he is less than enthusiastic when he sits down to talk. And what did Peter do? Started talking to the guy. Now, to be fair, Peter had no idea that Lou prefers this customer to pull an Adrian, i.e. dash in and dash out. Lou gave him the high sign though after 20 brutal minutes of banal conversation and Peter did his best to not engage the guy anymore. He finally left and, of course, we heaped all sorts of grief on poor Peter.

Don was dishing out lots of his own grief today. He gave me hell because I had brought in the replacement bag of peanut butter pretzels and they came from Sam's Club, part of the Wal-Mart empire. Knowing my disdain for all things Wal-Mart, Don was quick to point out my hypocrisy. I remarked that, actually, my mother bought them and I bought them from her. This did not appease my critics, especially when I admitted that I actually never paid my mother the $6. Note to self, pay Mom.

I asked Don about Arnie and Aaron. Arnie is supposed to be in town sometime soon, so hopefully he'll stop by for a visit. And Aaron is busy working all the time on Saturdays, so obviously he has his priorities screwed up.

After watching 3 hours of the Bay News 9 endless loop of stories, we finally convinced Lou to change the channel. He loved the idea so much, he switched it to the Golf Channel. Paul was already napping but this put the rest of us out like a light.

Don asked a question about race drivers - are they athletes? Don doesn't think just driving a car and turning left requires any sort of special athletic ability, but Tom and I disagreed. Tom is more familiar with Formula 1 racing, but the same holds true for NASCAR and, I would posit, every other type of racing. The amount of conditioning the professional drivers go through, and the punishment their bodies take, plus the mental acuity, skill, timing, reaction times, etc., all point to their being as much of an athlete as any football player, swimmer, basketball player, runner, or golfer. Well, scratch that, golfers aren't athletes. Neither are bowlers.

Today saw me smoking some Tinder Box Reserve 1928 in a Mauro Armellini, a pipe I purchased in Savannah years ago. I'm not sure what everyone else was smoking, but Joe only smoked one cigar. See last week's posting for why this is significant.

That's it for this week - see you next Saturday!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday at the Hut - 4/14/12

Okay, okay, I don't write a blog for a couple weeks and - in honor of Easter last weekend - I get crucified. Sorry, that was in bad taste. I'll try to resurrect my weekly blog postings. In my defense, I have been quite busy. We've had family visiting this week and have been getting the house ready for guests. In fact, last week I smoked the Cassini pipe I bought in Boston a couple years honor of Paula's brother and family visiting from Beantown.

Last week at The Tobacco Hut was too far back for me to remember everything, but Mike G made a surprise visit from Tennessee. We had a great visit with Mike, recalling a lot of good times at the Hut over the years. Oh yes, I found this photo of Mike on Facebook. Nothing more need be said.

Mike G bustin' out the moves
(Click to enlarge)
A couple pictures from last week...

Joe K and Mike G. Mike is most certainly spinning some tale.
(Click to enlarge)
Tom L and Peter G. Tom appears to be looking
lustily at Peter.
(Click to enlarge)
Me and my Fox Run Winery shirt from the Finger Lakes
area of New York. Joe thought I had converted to
Fox News. Sorry, buddy. It's all NPR for me.
(Click to enlarge)
Alright, today at the Hut found me walking in a little late after I had gotten in from Orlando this morning. We had gone over last night to hang out with my brother-in-law at Downtown Disney. I got to the shop around 12:30 and had to plant my sore butt on a broken folding chair. Paul O was in my usual seat, Don W was in one of the club chairs along with Jeff D. Well, let me explain that. Don and Jeff weren't sharing the chair, there are two of the white club chairs and they each were in one. Joe K brought his own folding chair and Scott R was in one of the store folding chairs. A little while later Paul V came in sat in one of the wooden stools. Later Scott switched places with me so I could have some place to put my pipe smoking accoutrements. Soon after Scott folded up the chair and came out with the cushioned stool from behind the counter. There. The seating arrangement has been fully explained and we can continue.

Probably the greatest entertainment of the day was watching Joe smoke cigar after cigar. Unlike the rest of us, Joe typically encounters difficulties whilst smoking his cigars. It doesn't matter which ones, they all seem to tunnel or canoe on him and it's been a pretty regular complaint that we hear from him week in, week out. Today was unprecedented however, as he went through not one, not two, but three cigars. And that third one started acting up as well, but I think Joe was at his credit card limit and couldn't buy a fourth. It was Joe's day in the barrel, so after he smoked most of his third cigar he packed up his folding chair and left.

Peter G came in and as soon as Don got up to check out, he sat down in Don's chair - the very one I had been wrangling for all afternoon. But, as Peter pointed out, they were his chairs to begin with so he gets first dibs on them. Fine.

Later, when Paul O got up to leave, he motioned to Scott to enjoy the chair by the window, which he promptly did. Thank you very much Paul and Scott. Only when Jeff finally left did I have a chance for a comfy chair.

Ed F stopped by for the first time in a long time. He's been busy hauling cars cross country. Scott perked up when he heard that most of Ed's trips take him to Buffalo and Rochester. Before I forget - Ed, this is for you - that forum I told you about where the truck drivin' pipe smoker posts is Smokers Forums. You might have to become a member to see the posts (it's free), but find the Off Topic Chat section and look for the thread titled "Where the Pipe Smolders II". It's written by Mason, the truck driver, and is pretty interesting.

Scott showed off his latest acquisition, a Case pocketknife. I really liked this one. It is a "canoe" shape because it, well, looks like a canoe. Maybe I'm drawn to pocketknives for the same reason I'm drawn to pipes - they each have names for the various shapes. Today I was smoking a freehand Crown Viking I bought from Lou several years ago and last week I was smoking a David Jones billiard. As I said, I really liked this particular knife and commented about it several times to Scott. Since he knew I liked it and he had stolen my chair when Paul got up to leave, I thought he might simply give me the knife, but he didn't.

Since Scott was there I had to bring up another puzzler for him. And, no, I didn't bring a deck of pre-arranged cards for him to shuffle and ruin the trick. This was a brain teaser and went like this...John and Marsha were teenagers in love and carved their initials five feet high on a tree twenty five years ago. They had gone there separate ways but reconnected today and thought it would be nice to find their initials. They located the tree and the question is, if the tree added 20% of its height every year for ten years, and 10% of its height every year for the next ten years and 5% of its height every year for the last five years, how high up the tree would their initials be?

Scott was wary of doing all the heavy lifting only to have someone else (Joe) shout out the answer at the end, so he pretty much kept quiet. Paul V, however, knew the correct answer - the initials would still be five feet up the tree. As a tree grows, its height is added to the top, not from the bottom. New growth always occurs from the top.

Happy Easter to Peter! He and Ed were talking about some sort of egg battle that their families engaged in every year. It sounded, well, odd. But I suppose my family's tradition of sacrificing a -- oh, never mind.