Independently Wealthy?

20th November, 2007: Posted by glpease in Amusements

Rumors sometimes find their way home, and I’ve learned, recently, of one that’s circulating about me. Can you believe that? It’s probably not the first, but I can be a bit oblivious. This one reports that I’m independently wealthy, that the only reason I am involved in pipe tobacco is to “keep my hands busy.” Brilliant! This explains, doubtless, why I drive a shiny red, 8 year old Volkswagen, rather than the silver Aston Martin of my dreams. (Nothing wrong with this, really; I quite like my little VW.)

I can certainly understand how some might conjure this imaginative folly, being the erudite and refined fellow that I am, not to mention my exquisite taste and steadily, but unhurriedly receding hairline, which bald friends tell me is the tell-tale mark of great success, as well as superior intellect. But, c’mon…

Rather than attempt to quell the rumour, which would be futile at best, and would more likely end up only with a more egregious canard rising to flight, I’ve decided to have a go at living up to it, to make it real, and am hereby recruiting into service my loyal readers for some small assistance. I’ve got the name; I may as well have the game.

Here’s what you do: Tell everyone you know to buy a tin or two of my blends. That’s it. They don’t smoke pipes? No problem. Tell them which of my blends you want, and they can drop them in your Christmas stockings, which you will have supersized in preparation for the bounty you will, inevitably, receive. We both win, and it beats lumps of coal, unless, of course, you need those to fire your backyard powerplant.

What about those friends and acquaintances who despise the wicked weed in all its forms? Simple. Have them place a crisp $1 bill, or a fiver if they can spare it, I’m not picky (I’ll even take rumbled ones) in an envelope, affix a stamp, and drop it in the post. They can mark the envelope, if they wish, in care of the Counterblaste to Tobacco Campaign.

If this works out, I won’t have to put my 5 year old to work in a sweat shop to pay for my VW’s replacement when it finally gasps its last. (If it doesn’t work out, and you’re looking to hire, he’s quite bright, a good worker, and has excellent attention for detail, though I caution that he likely has inherited my sense of humour…)

Here’s looking toward a prosperous 2008! I’m off to the post office.

He is well paid that is well satisfied.
-William Shakespeare

15 Minute Lunch Gets Stylin’ with J. C. P.

15th November, 2007: Posted by glpease in Amusements

Warm up the valves of the Wayback Machine, Mr. Peabody, and let’s take a trip to 1977. Okay, I don’t usually use this space to send people in the pursuit of randomness, but this is so damned funny, I had to share it. Apparently, Johnny Virgil, author of the blog, 15 Minute Lunch, found a groovy 1977 J. C. Penney catalogue in his wife’s grandfather’s ceiling [I hate multiple possessives…] whilst installing a fan, and brought it back to produce this. It’s hysterical.

Read it, and remember; some of us were there.

I recall a matching set of psychedelic turtlenecks mum made for us for a trip to Disneyland. We looked a fright, I’m sure, but couldn’t get very far apart without some good samaritan herding us back together, no matter how hard dad and I tried to escape the relentless tyranny of mum’s fluorescent paisley polyester…

A friend’s grandfather still wears double-knit leisure suits. He can’t order them from the catalogue anymore, so he has them made for him. Too real.

Post Show Ramble & New Blends

14th November, 2007: Posted by glpease in Pipe & Tobacco News, New Blends

The Merced show on Saturday was, as expected, a fantastic time. This is a small, friendly show, not the sort of three ring extravaganza that takes place in Chicago. I really enjoy both sorts of pipe shows, for different reasons. Thanks to the Fresno and Merced guys for an amazing job getting this one together. It was well organized, and smoothly run.

I got to catch up with some old friends, make a few new ones, see some great pipes, and talk about tobaccos, including the two new prototypes I put out for sampling. Maltese Falcon was well received, which, of course, made me happy. Lots of great comments, and from the reactions, I’d better get my tail shaking and get the thing to market. (I was hoping for release before Christmas, but that doesn’t look likely at this point. It’s all down to the artwork and labels. Details. The devil in the details.)

The other “surprise” prototype is one I’m calling Maduro Cut Cake - a blend of Cyprus Latakia, red Virginias, orientals and cigar leaf, pressed in cakes and sliced. Talk about a warm reception! Everyone who tried it really seemed to enjoy it, and quite a few came back for seconds. In all, I went through nearly a pound of it, which by my reckoning is something over 100 bowls. I know my own smoking wasn’t responsible for more than five of those. There are production and packaging issues to work through, but I’m very excited about it, and look forward to making it available. Though similar to Robusto in its components, it’s a very different smoke. More to follow on this one.

There were many wonderful pipes on display, including some amazing pieces by makers Jeff Gracik (J. Alan Pipes) and Darius Dah (GRC Pipes). Joel Shapiro was there with a few, as well, and his beautiful briar presentation grade pistol stocks really got some attention. He had one each of a sandblasted and a smooth set, cut for the Ruger Vaquero, but he’s doing others as well. I think he’s onto something with these. Joel is well known in the “Cowboy Action Shooting” world, and this seems like a logical extension of his briar manipulations.

I was fortunate to get a rusticated Fritz era Becker oliphant for an excellent price from my old friend Marty Pulvers (Honest Marty - our kinda’ guy) and an amazing ancient and rare GBD from my friend Brian Burk. It’s an Xtra Prehistoric, only the second of this grade I’ve ever seen, and is very, very old. Brian got it unsmoked, so it’s history is impeccable, and I can’t wait to give it a whirl. I’ve never gotten a bad pipe from Brian. Okay, I once got a bad pipe from Brian, but we were young, and I kicked his ass in the parking lot, so he quickly changed his ways. In that selfless act of beating him senseless, I taught him all that he ever needs to know about pipe trading.

Finally, I brought home a beautiful, small sandblasted, stylized, sort of unwound horn from Darius. (That’s it pictured above.) Darius does very nice work, and his prices are probably too low, but don’t tell him I said that…

After the show, a bunch of us went to Fernandos for dinner and more fellowship. I finally got on the road for the drive home at about 9.30, just as a storm was forming over the pass, making the three hour drive back far less pleasant than the two hour drive there…

Can’t wait until next year’s!


Maltese Falcon

1st November, 2007: Posted by glpease in Product News, New Blends

I’ve been putting the finishing touches on a new blend, and will be offering samples of it, and a surprise, at the upcoming Northern California Pipe Show in Merced on 10th November. Ever since the loss of our vintage Syrian leaf, I’ve been promising to do a blend based on the original Raven’s Wing using only Cyprus Latakia. I’ve done it, and this is it. The blend has a nice natural sweetness from the aged red Virginia leaf, and plenty of leathery, smoky Latakia notes. There’s an undercurrent of oriental spice, but its really the VAs and Latakia that dominate. I think it’s delicious, and it’ll be a perfect winter companion. Read more…»