Air Trumpet? I Call Bullshit

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or in a country with an ultra-repressive government sporting a Virtue and Vice Ministry (which is kind of like living under a rock) you’ve likely been exposed to it. If you live in the United States, and you watch any television or even pass through a major city on your way to work, you’ve seen it. You simply can’t escape it. It’s the manic, flailing-haired, iPod-bearing, convulsing silhouette. And there’s no apparent cure. But I’m not interested in curing you. (If you’re infected, that’s your problem.)

Like the slick little MP3 player, the commercial seems to be tremendously popular. Probably every ad that has ever been shown on TV has made it to YouTube, with titles and comments indicating that each new one is much better than the previous. Bullshit. Each new one is the same thing, with different music and different background colors. But that’s not what this post is about.

What I’m really calling bullshit on is the “Air Trumpet”. (I’ve trademarked that term. Wanna use it? It’ll cost you. But we can come up with a reasonable payment plan.) Of all the instruments you could pretend to play, the “Air Trumpet” is only slightly more likely than the “Air Tuba”. (Also thoroughly trademarked.) Does anybody really play air trumpet when they’re listening to jazz? Or anything else with a prominent brass section? And before you correct me on this, you need to know that I’ve eliminated actual trumpet players from consideration. They actually have a reason to wiggle their fingers.

Offending iPod Commercial (“Air Trumpet” at about 0:22)

What makes this even more ridiculous is that I’ve seen the air trumpet in at least two iPod ads, the latest (above) and another I couldn’t find. (Actually I got too sick of watching iPod ads to finish my pursuit.) What I don’t see is air guitar. You know there’s a lot of that being played behind locked doors to music being cranked out of the iPod. Way more than air trumpet. So I’m calling bullshit there too.
You know what really bugs me about these commercials? The narcissism. I have no time for narcissism other than my own. (OK, and in some blogs I read, but they have the added benefit of being amusing/funny.) It’s irritating to have somebody other than myself making a scene in my living room. I want to reach a silhouetted hand into the screen and tap them on the shoulder. When the figure momentarily halts his epileptic fit, I lean in with my silhouetted head and whisper, “you know, you look like a complete idiot dancing by your self like that.” I envision myself talking to Mr. Stompy-Dance in this video (about 9 seconds in):

And the worst thing about this popular silliness is that it inspires lesser mortals to make (huge, labored sigh) their own iPod commercials. And that invariably involves acting out an old Barenaked Ladies song while while walking on a treadmill or standing on a desk in your socks. View at your own risk. There’s a reason this one carries the prestigious one-star designation. (Safe for work, but not safe for your mental health.)

But surely, you say, there’s one of these innovative commercials you like, Brian. Oh yes, there is. But probably not one that CrApple sanctions:

You’ve been serrrrved! (Still don’t know what it means, but it seems like such a great way to end a post.)

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CAO Vision Catalyst: Bucking The Trend

CAO Vision CatalystBy now, just about everybody in the cigar smoking community has heard the buzz about the CAO Vision line. A nearby brick and mortar store had 2 boxes of these cigars (the robusto and torpedo sizes) and they were completely gone within a few days. If you haven’t seen these cigars in person, you’ve probably seen this video (or one like it), or pictures on any number of cigar websites.

But in case you don’t already know, the biggest attraction to the Vision isn’t the cigars. It’s the box. These cigars come in a box that’s the cigar world’s equivalent of the iPod. It’s creamy white, and when you open it up, blue lights lining the edge of the box illuminate. Of course, that means the box is battery powered, but it gets better. The box is itself a humidor, designed to maintain a constant 70% relative humidity. And how can you tell? Why with the digital readout mounted on the front of the box, of course.

In short, the CAO Vision humidor box is marvelous. And I want one. But this post isn’t about a swanky cigar box. It’s about what’s in the box.

[UPDATE: Since I made the effort to take and upload them I have a few other good pictures of these cigars here and here.]

Cigar Stats
Size: 5 x 50 (Robusto)
Wrapper: Dominican Republic
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Brazil, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Secret Codes: 0014998 and 0014991 (I just don’t like calling anything to do with cigars “serial numbers.”)
Price Per Cigar: $13.40

The Pre-Smoke
At first glance, they’re pretty good looking cigars (there were some weird veins, but I’m not gonna dwell on them). I’m not a big fan of the band, but I don’t hate it either. Closer inspection revealed little, disappointing imperfections. In both cigars, the cap leaf appeared to be imperfectly stuck to the cigar. I also noticed a crack or two in the wrappers of both cigars. (I don’t think the cracks in the wrapper turned out to have any noticeable impact on the quality of the smoke.) Theoretically, I should not have bought these particular cigars with these visual impairments. However, the box I selected them from was nearly empty, and these seemed to be the least noticeably flawed of the bunch.

I was proven right in my analysis of the cap. When I clipped the first cigar, the cap leaf almost immediately came off, stucking to my lip. Talk about annoying. Fortunately, the cigar didn’t unravel or noticeably loosen. Still, annoying. Noticing similar cap construction issues in the second cigar, I opted for the punch instead. That did the trick, and proved to be the better clipping decision.

Before I lit them, both cigars had a prominent sweet smell with a noticeable barnyard/hay note.

The Burn
With both cigars, I had an inconsistent burn for roughly the first half to two thirds of the cigar. While this probably didn’t have a pronounced impact on the smoke, it was annoying. Fortunately, these issues worked themselves out in both cases in time for the final third. In one cigar, a crack that was present in the final third before lighting began to lift away from the cigar as it reached the burn line. Again, an irritation, but nothing serious.

The punched cigar seemed to have a better draw than the one with standard clip. Initially, it was almost like a jet of smoke, but as I progressed through the cigar, the smoking experience was not noticeably different. If you choose to smoke one of these, I would recommend using a punch.

I’m not sure what it means, but I noticed the wrapper actually sparking as I smoked it, particularly in the first third. And by “sparking”, I mean little flashes of fire on the wrapper. Kinda cool, actually.

In both cigars, the final third burned a bit hot for my liking, despite my conscious attempt to smoke the second cigar more slowly than the first. It’s not clear to me that this cigar smoked better at a slower pace.

The Flavor
My notes on the cigars’ flavors differ considerably. I think that’s because this cigar seems to like to wander. Some might equate that with complexity. To me, it just seemed kid of random and abrupt at points.

Generally speaking, I noted creaminess and cedar in the first quarter to third of each cigar, with occasional pockets of spice, almond and what seemed like apricot. (Seriously. I know you’re saying “B.S.”, but I swear. :) ) At this stage I also noted an unusually long, but pleasant aftertaste. The flavor transitioned toward a toastier, nuttier, leathery flavor in the middle third, again with unexpected pockets of almond and cinnamon. And finally became a mildly peppery molasses flavor in the final third.

The Price
Even though I’ve decided to start noting the price I paid for each cigar in the stats section, we still need to talk about it. Some more fortunate reviewers were able to pick up this cigar for a few bucks less than I did, but I still think that’s too expensive. The guys at Stogie Review think it would be better priced at $8. Personally, I liked the CAO Gold much better than this cigar, and that’s easy to get in the $4 range. And I can say I’ve never had as many construction annoyances with the Gold as I did with this cigar.

The Verdict
The title of this post is probably misleading. Because it isn’t the cigar that’s bucking the trend, it’s me. I’ve read a lot of reviews recently praising this cigar and recommending it to others. (To be fair, many of them complain about the price.) However, I just can’t give the Vision a passing grade. This cigar just didn’t work for me. And I’m not sure why, because there are elements of the flavor that I did enjoy. It just didn’t settle right with me for some reason.

Both times I smoked it, I was basically laboring through it. Once finished, the Vision put me out of the mood for any cigars for a couple of days. To give you an idea, it took me 3 weeks to smoke these two cigars- after the first, I didn’t want to try the second. I don’t think it’s the power of the tobacco, I’ve smoked (and look back fondly on) other cigars that really messed with my head. It’s a shame too, I really wanted to like this cigar so I had an excuse to buy the box! :)

Quick Summary
(I got the idea for this section from the reviews over at StogieCast. I told ‘em I’d give ‘em credit for it if I snagged it! :) )
Like It: Not Really
Buy It Again: No
Recommend It: No

What Other People Are Saying

My Other Reviews

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