Straight From The GodCast: The 10 Commandments Of The Road

Heed the sage words of Brian!As you’ve probably already heard, week or so ago the Vatican issued a new 10 commandments for drivers. Now I’m no Catholic, but I was intrigued that something as fundamental as the Ten Commandments needed an amendment. Or a sun porch. Or whatever you call an addition to an ancient holy document.

So I read the new commandments, and my first impression is that, well it’s not really anything new. Maybe a reshuffle of the commandment deck, and some carefully worded common sense thrown in to make it hip. Hmm, sez I, not exactly something momentous enough to merit entry on the eternal blog of the heavens. Something’s gotta be up here. So I decided to check it out myself.

(On a long, parenthetical side note, it’s interesting how priorities change in a few thousand years. Killing has really shot up the chart in modern times, jumping from virtual obscurity in the second stone tablet at #6 to the head of the God’s top ten driving list at #1. I guess you could say that killing is the Elvis Presley of the world of traffic sin. Back in the day it was, “Killing? Hmm, yeah, not good, but not quite as bad as those damn false idols and golden cows. And you gotta respect your folks, that’s pretty important too. We’ll fit in killing right after that.” Now the golden cow is nowhere to be found on list. And I guess you’re allowed to be a total ass to your folks too.)

Anyway, back to figuring out what’s up here. Now I’m not one to wear a large hat or resplendent robes, and I’m not very interested in hearing people confess their sins, but I’d say that I’m just as good as the next guy when it comes to picking up the GodCast, when I want to. (Better still when I’m off my meds and hopped up on caffeine.) I guess that has something to do with my Protestant background. And as everybody knows God speaks in King JamesEnglish, which was terribly fortunate for the old King and his people, not so lucky for everyone else. Fortunately for you, dear reader, your friend Brian is fluent in several archaic forms of English (Shakespeare, Bible, some Chaucer, etc.). So here, as heard on the GodCast, are the actual new 10 commandments of the road. Direct from God’s streaming MP3 audio to your eyes, minus the politically correct fiddling and platitudes, served up with a steaming side of my plain English interpretation. Enjoy, and behave!

I. Thou shalt not run the red light, nor shall thou hesitate to drive when mine light is the color of honey.

This one is pretty straight forward and should make sense to anyone. If the light is yellow, get your butt through it. If it’s red, stop, it’s not your turn anymore.

II. Thou shalt not change lanes in an intersection.

This one should also make sense to everyone. I can’t imagine there’s a driver’s manual or written test out there that doesn’t explicitly spell out that you need to stay in your damn lane when you go through an intersection.

III. Thou shalt not change lanes lest thou first use thy turn signal.

I can’t express how much not using a turn signal pisses me off (especially when you just cut me off) without swearing for 5 minutes and breaking something. And since I kind of like the things on my desk, I’ll not get into it. What I can say in a civil tone is that this commandment is so easy to follow. It’s so easy and requires so very little effort, that even the fattest American tourists at Disney World can do it without getting winded. (Sweating may occur, that’s hard to predict.) And yet, for some reason I see this commandment broken daily in my adopted home of Atlanta. Every single day. By people in the prime of health.

IV. Thou shalt not change lanes and use thine brakes immediately upon entry into thy brother’s lane.

This is a classic prick move and a very deadly sin. Clearly there wasn’t enough room for you to change lanes, buddy. If you did this and didn’t your turn signal, not only will you burn in eternal hellfire, you’ll be violated in the most unpleasant ways possible by Saddam Hussein. (He needs company since Satan left him.) Oh and it gets better. You know it’s been hot down there, and you know he hasn’t been wearing deodorant. Think about it.

V. Thou shalt not tailgate.

Unless you’re parked at a ballgame with a cooler full of beer and a blazing hibachi, you better not be tailgating. If you keep it up, sooner or later you will eat steering wheel and go directly to hades. And there, you’ll be tailgated by Saddam’s wild and crazy sons, if you know what I mean.

VI. Thou shalt not leave the space of a chariot between thee and the brother thou followest.

I don’t know what the hell the deal is people who come to a stop a full car length (or more) behind the car ahead of them. I’ve been trying to puzzle that out for a while, and what’s clear is that whatever the motivation for this hoggish behavior, it’s pure evil. Especially when this wicked craft is practiced in a very short turn lane. As punishment, you’ll get to rest on the fiery racks of hades, where you’ll be elongated to the size of the extra car lengths you took up in the turning lane.

VII. Thou shalt not drive at or under the speed limit in the lane of thy heavenly father. For yea, have I provided thee and thine ailing chariot a lane to thy right.

Nobody likes to be stuck driving 53 MPH in the fast lane on the highway behind someone oblivious to the traffic building up behind them. Especially when there is an open lane to the right. Not only is it ridiculous, it causes accidents as people take evasive action not to pulverize the low-speed nincompoop. It becomes a cardinal sin when combined with a proud self-righteousness that you are driving the speed limit and everybody else in the entire world should slow down. Listen buddy, kudos for following the exact letter of a pointless law. Jesus may love that about you, but we kinda think he’d still agree that you’re an asshole. Move over or face an eternity on the highway in hell being force-fed bran muffins and turkish coffee while stuck behind a demonic codger driving 25.

VIII. Thou shalt not pass in the lane of the poor and destitute (the slow lane). To do so is truly wicked and is hateful in mine eye.

Unless you’re stuck behind a breaker of the 7th commandment, passing on the right is unacceptable. There’s a reason why they call the left lane the passing lane. I cannot count the times I’ve nearly been killed by some jackass who passes on the right side because he thinks radar detectors won’t catch him driving 90 if he does it in the slow lane. My life is usually at risk because I’m trying to adhering to the 7th commandment by move over to let the ass-clown pass. (I do this even when I’m in the middle lane, ‘cuz I’m a damn saint. ;) )

IX. Thou shalt not assume that thine time is of more value than that of thy road brother.

This commandment covers tremendous ground, and intentionally requires you, as a driver, to pull your head out of your ass and realize everybody else around you also has important places to be and things to do. Sorry, no special consideration because you drive a nice car. Prick moves covered by this commandment include driving up to the front of a line for an on ramp and forcing your way in, as well as, failing to yield right of way because you hate to bring your convertible to a full stop. Feel free to apply this commandment in any situation you find useful in your driving life.

X. Thou shalt not trouble thy brother with thine driving mistakes, nor wallow like the filthy boar in the mistakes of thy brother.

Talk about saving the best for last. This commandment covers scenarios like the asshole that decides he needs to make a left turn even though he’s in the right lane. And this realization comes only inches before the intersection. Instead of driving on and finding a way to turn around and correct his navigational error, he stops, put on his turn signal, and holds up a whole lane of traffic! (Hey, at least the inconsiderate bastard used the turn signal.) It all boils down to consideration of others. Yeah, you messed up, and yes it will take longer to get where you’re going, but deal with it. The people behind you didn’t mess up, and you have no right to waste their time. The deepest and hottest circle of traffic hell is reserved for you if you do. And you’ll be eternally stuck behind a 90-year old codger driving 15 MPH with his turn signal on for all eternity.

But wait, this commandment is a double header. It also covers the sin of rubbernecking. That’s right, from on-high, the big man is saying, “move along, there’s nothing to see here.” And there isn’t. If you want to see crazy car-related carnage, rent a movie. While you’re on the road your main task is to keep from causing crazy car carnage. Follow the commandments of the road!

Smite-ning Clause (Disclaimer)
Brian is neither a prophet nor a deity. Worshiping him, while likely to be fun and oddly fulfilling, will not result in your getting into heaven. (In fact, it may keep you out.) Brian simply does not have that kind of clout with the man upstairs, nor the size of the hat to intimidate anyone into believing he does. (Brian worship may one day get you into a cigar bar, though, even it does wind up putting you on the express train to a very warm climate.)

Brian has added this “Smite-ning” clause to this post in the hope that it will prevent his next cigar from being lit with heavenly lightning. (Though should that happen, it will fulfill his prediction that he’ll go out with in an explosion of color and sound.) As it so happens, there is a lot of lightning this evening. A lot. And Brian lives in a tall building and works next to a window. This could be his last post ever.

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A Cigar-Smokin’ Yankee In An Atlanta Pipe-Smoker’s Herf

Fado Singin’ Dude (Cool, But Irrelevant)I’ve made a lifestyle of being out-of-place, and last night was no exception. I dropped in at what I think qualifies as a Herf at a great, tobacco-friendly pub in Buckhead called The Churchill Arms. The only problem is that I was the only one smoking a cigar. Which isn’t to say that tobacco wasn’t being smoked by the attendees. It was. It just happened to be the kind you pack into the bowl of a pipe. The situation reminds me of the joke whose punchline is “Leave it to a [insert your favorite ethnic slur here] to bring a knife to a gun fight.” And I was the guy in the brackets. :)

But it all worked out. As it turns out, everyone there also happened to be well versed in pleasures of a good cigar. And, as luck would have it, I used to smoke a pipe back in college with a friend of mine. (A wee fellow I creatively refer to as “Shorty”. Shorty: Small in stature, large in choreographed Kung Fu fight sequences.) But my pipe smoking experience wasn’t all that useful. The only pipe tobacco term I could remember was “Cavendish” of cherry Cavendish fame. Not exactly highbrow stuff in a circle that prefers rich, but unflavored (non-“aromatic”) tobacco.

Rocky Patel Vintage 1992I’m not sure if it was a courtesy generously extended to me or not, but cigars dominated the conversation. It began with a discussion of the Rocky Patel Vintage 1992 torpedo I selected for the evening. (It goes pretty well with both Smithwick’s and Hoegaarden, by the way.) I recently got an amazing deal on these and have happily smoked half-way through a 10-cigar “sampler” in a little over a week. (Full review on its way soon.)

According to the pipe-herf host (a great guy who works at the local, upscale Tinderbox in Lenox Mall), the reason I’m getting the deals on these cigars is that everybody is all abuzz about the Rocky Patel’s Old World Reserve. (The moral of the story: Being behind the times sometimes saves you some money.) I guess I’ll have to give the Old World Reserve a shot, once I’ve made it through my 92’s. ;)

One of the great things about the evening, aside from the pleasant aroma quality tobacco was the exchange of useful information. While these “brothers of the leaf” were very knowledgeable regarding cigars and tobacco in general, they weren’t at all aware of some of the great internet cigar resources available to them. I was happy to tell them about my favorite video cigar review website, The Stogie Review (especially now that they have a review index, huzzah!) and share with them Cigar Monster, which is a pretty good (but random) site for cigar deals. (The Dog Watch Social Club also came up, but of course, they were confused by the name. Who isn’t when they first hear of it? Luckily the guys at Stogie Review link to it, so I just told them to go there.) Oh yeah, I know what you’re thinking. I didn’t give into the temptation of self promotion. Not because I think it’s necessarily a bad thing, I just think it’d be fun to see if they find this blog on their own. That and I didn’t want them to get all star-struck with me an my 8,500 hits. ;)

In return they passed along what looks like a good site for pipe tobacco information and blend reviews called, simply, Tobacco Reviews. According to the stats shown on the home page, they have information on 2,705 different types of tobacco, and a whopping 18,059 reviews! That’s around six and a half reviews per tobacco, which isn’t too shabby. If you happen to stumble on this page looking for information on pipe tobacco, I would definitely encourage you to check out Tobacco Reviews.

Even though I didn’t bring a pipe with me, I was talked into taking some pipe tobacco samples home. The host had met with a pipe tobacco representative before the event, and was flush with about a dozen tins of free tobacco. Intrigued by the abundance of free and delicious smelling leaf, I decide it was time to dust off the ol’ pipe. So I took half a dozen little plastic bags of pipe tobacco home. Among the blends I took where Peaches and Cream (a.k.a. “the marriage saver” or “the peacemaker”), Pegasus, Mississippi Mud and Autumn Evening. Are those great names or what?

Due to prior commitments, I had to leave after a few very short hours. But my smoky evening wasn’t quite over yet. As luck would have it, when I got home, my old college pipe was exactly where I thought it might be, complete with a box of unused filters, your standard pipe tool, and a bunch of pipe cleaners. It was a sign. :D

I opted to try out the Peaches and Cream blend that night. My wife claimed to smell the peaches in the tobacco, but to me it smelled more like the amaretto-flavored coffee creamer I’ve had in the past. Either way, it had very pleasant pre-light smell. The smoke itself was incredibly smooth and mild, especially when compared to the Rocky Patel I had earlier. (Which is not to say that the cigar was even slightly rough. The pipe does have a filter, after all.) The flavor wasn’t as sweet as I would have expected. And that’s a good thing. (I half expected the pipe version of a Swisher Sweet.) While smoking it, I did detect the peach flavor, but it seemed more like a peach herbal tea than biting into the fruit. Or possibly even a bit of mild dried apricot.

I’ve noticed in some of the pipe tobacco reviews I’ve seen that there is a tendency to compare the tin smell to the smoking flavor. I’d have to say that this blend does not quite taste like it smells, there is a noticeable difference. I’m not sure if that is a mark of quality or a strike against it. Either way, the blend was a nice, light, cool smoke. I think it’d be a great compliment to a relaxing weekend morning with the newspaper. I don’t know if I see myself buying a tin of this particular blend in the future, but I’ll be sure to light up the last bit of the sampler I have sometime this weekend when I’m relaxing.

Oh yes, one last thing. The pipe-smoker’s herf takes place every other Tuesday at The Churchill Arms. (The next one should be July 10th.) I can’t promise that every event will have free samplers (heck, I’m not running the thing), but you never know they might. And there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be there, smoking a cigar. Maybe I’ll see you there.

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Aaron Pierce And The 24 Spin-Off We Want

Under-Appreciated 24 StallionWe’ve finally done it. We’re a bit late, but given we only started during the recently finished season, it’s an accomplishment. (Well, as much as watching TV can be considered an accomplishment. ;) ) This weekend we finished the final hour of the whole 144 hours of 24 (IMDB). That’s every episode of the whole 6-day series.

If you haven’t seen the series yet, I recommend setting up your TiVo to start picking up episodes. Or better yet, you could do it my way: Queue up the series back to back in NetFlix. (NetFlix is my Tivo, I just can’t justify paying for both services at the same time.) Either way, you’ve got a lot of edge-of-your seat entertainment ahead of you. I’m kinda jealous.

It’s safe to say that 24 is my favorite, non-animated, television series that’s still running. (Now that The Sopranos (IMDB) is over.) Even when plot lines of several of the seasons became dangerously similar, and I was sure I could predict the outcome, a twist or two would send the plot off in a complete new, fascinating direction. Heck, the show was so engrossing, that my wife, normally an early-to-bed, early-to-rise person, would stay up until 4 AM with me watching the episodes back to back.

But I don’t want to dig deep into the many story lines and thoroughly review the series. It’s been done by people who love the show more than I do, and have way more time to burn. What I want to talk about is the 24 spin off that my wife and I think might make for thoroughly enjoyable show.

Before I get to that, lets start with the characters that should not have a spin-off. I keep hearing people say how much they love Chloe. I agree with the sentiment. She’s great, and hopefully, she’ll be with the series until the end. But Chloe is like Thai chili peppers (Phrik Khii Nuu to be exact). A little of her adds a good amount of spice to the show. A whole show dedicated to her would melt your eyes and char the frontal lobes of your brain. You know I’m right.

And I’m pretty sure most people are very, very tired of seeing Bauer’s daughter Kim in the show. I know, I know, she is fun to look at, but her character is just far too accurate. And by accurate, I mean annoying. Annoying in that way that only angst-filled, know-it-all kids can be. (I don’t care what her age is supposed to be in any given season, she is always the same pain-in-the-ass kid.) In any situation where she was in danger (which was any and every time she appeared in the show), my wife and I would find ourselves yelling “just shoot her!” at the bad guys with slow trigger fingers.

That pretty much covers all the potential spin-off characters. All the other good candidates are pushing up daisies. (That is, if there was enough of them left to bury.) Well, all except one. The character we both really, really liked: Aaron Pierce (Glenn Morshower). The unassuming, ethical, tough-as-nails secret service agent that appeared unglamorously in every season of 24. (The only character other than Jack Bauer to do so.) Always near and closely guarding the current president, his performance in the show stood out. As we were finishing up Day 5 of the series, my wife and I determined that we’d really like to see more of him in action. Heck if Law And Order and CSI can have something like 90 spin offs (Law And Order: Apartment Security. CSI: Branson, MO.) why not 24? How about “24:SS” or “24: Secret Service” with Agent Pierce in the Jack Bauer role? (Don’t worry Kiefer, you’re always welcome to cameo!) Or maybe dispense with the 24 format completely and make a show about the Agent Pierce’s experiences in the Secret Service?

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “that’d be as fun to watch as paint drying.” Possibly, if the wrong people do it. But keep in mind, 24 doesn’t have room for two Jack Bauers. Agent Pierce simply can’t be as exciting or engaging as Bauer without stealing the show. (And at points he almost does in Day 5.) Given his own show, it could be every bit as action packed as 24, or alternately, the producers of such a show could substitute more elements of drama in place of some of the action. Either way, I think that it could be a great show. And if it helps get it made, I’ll even commit to watching the first season. (Hey, that’s more than generous, I’m not flush with spare time here.) :)

And because lists are fun, here’s a list of fan sites dedicated to Aaron Pierce, who, if asked, would probably agree that he deserves his own show:

Of course, in keeping with my previously mentioned attitude toward actors and celebrities, I’m not likely to join “The Glenn Morshower Society”, or start hanging posters of him up on my wall. However, I’ve added him to the list of guys who are welcome to join me for a fine cigar in celebration of a fine bit of acting any time they happen to visit Atlanta. On me. (I don’t have a formal written list yet, but the cast of the Sopranos is on it, as is Harrison Ford, Sean Connery and of course, Kiefer Sutherland.) No kidding. I have a some Ashton VSG robustos on their way even as I type. Drop me a line, and I’ll pencil you in. ;)

And for those of you that prefer buying to renting or TiVo-ing, here’s a handy list of the seasons currently available on DVD via Amazon. (I know, I’m so terribly helpful, huh?)

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Think You’re Smart? This Kid Can Think Circles Around You

Smarter, Cuter and Younger Than YouJust damn. I like to think of my self as a pretty clever fellow, but it’s hard not to feel a little dumb and a little disappointed with your accomplishments when you hear about a kid like Georgia Brown. She’s 2 years old, and she has a test-verified I.Q. of 152. And she’s also the youngest member of Mensa. And she’s learning French. Did I mention she’s 2?

According to the story, for her age, she’s every bit as bright as Mr. Stephen Hawking. I find that bit of information more reassuring than jealousy-inspiring. I mean, Mr. Hawking is getting up there in years (not to mention struggling with nasty case of Lou Gehrig’s disease), it’s good to know we’ll have a good crop of walking brains poised to take his place.

On a mostly unrelated note, the SweetWater Brewing Company may have found themselves an unwitting new spokes… er… girl. Yes, as luck would have it, there is a beer named Georgia Brown, and they make it. Most businesses would kill for this kind of good fortune. They don’t have to. I recommend they cash in with the slogan “Georgia Brown: Pure Genius”. And hey, SweetWater? Howzabout, hookin’ me up with cash or beer for the idea? You know it’ll be huge! I’ll assume the check is in the mail. :)

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ACID Blondie: The Gateway Cigar Or Clove Smoker’s Friend?

ACID BlondieIt’s taken me quite a while to get to this review. And there’s a couple of reasons for that. To begin with I decided that since this was both a relatively inexpensive and unusually flavored cigar, that I’d smoke at least six of them. The first two or three I’d just enjoy without taking any real notes so I could kind of develop a feel for the cigar. Then I’d start paying attention and taking notes.

The other reason for really dragging this out is so that I could try to puzzle out the unusual flavors. Your standard “nutty”, “woody” and “coffee” descriptions didn’t seem like they’d be useful descriptions of this cigar. And the standard cigar flavor wheel may not be all that helpful either. So to help in my efforts, after smoking a few, I went to the incense section of my local Bed, Bath and Beyond and started sniffing around. I think that helped somewhat, which sort of made up for the headache it gave me. Anyway, I’m not sure I actually nailed the flavors, but I definitely got closer by the final smoke. I give myself an A+ for effort.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 4 x 38 (Short Panatela)
Wrapper: Cameroon, Honduras, Indonesia
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua
Price: $3.33
Smoking Time: Around an hour

The Pre-Smoke
For the most part these cigars were very consistent in appearance with a smooth, extremely light colored wrapper that borders on being yellow. The majority of them also had a nice oily sheen with the occasional small bump here or there.

The cigar itself has a very soft feel, generally feeling a bit harder at the head (probably due to the cap). There was some unevenness in the feel in all the cigars, but I only one of these cigars had serious burn issues.

I only had one issue with cutting the cigar. In the very last one, after cutting the cap, I got a ridiculous amount of tobacco fragments in my mouth. Brushing the clipped end and even tapping it wasn’t enough to prevent this unpleasant introduction to the cigar.

The first thing you will notice (guaranteed) with the cold taste is the overwhelming syrupy sweetness of the wrapper. In the cold draw I of course detected that sweetness, but also an interesting minty coolness in the back of the throat.

The Burn
In the first two thirds of the cigar, The Blondie burns a nice, fairly even pace with a attractive solid ash. But in the final third it trends toward a faster more erratic burn, often with flowering or flaking ash.

If this is a cigar you decide to smoke to the nub, there’s a good chance you will need to relight or touch up in the final third.

The Flavor
OK, now for the hard part. In the first third of this cigar, the sweetness dominates. Initially, it’s all syrup. But as it smokes it evolves into a flavor that is reminiscent of a honey-clove mixture. At different points I also tasted flavors like orange peel and ginger. The mint that was present in the cold taste was not present in the smoke that I could tell. The flavor is somewhat comparable to “African Amber” incense I’ve smelled in my “tour de stench” at the Bed, Bath and Beyond. Not quite, but pretty close.

In the second third, I noted that one cigar tasted an awful lot I was smoking Dr. Pepper. The sweetness had diminished somewhat, and more of a spicy ginger, clove and occasionally cedar hints were present. In one cigar I actually felt a slight tingling sensation on my tongue.

In the final third it starts to get interesting. Many of the previous flavors are still present, but less powerful. The cigar actually starts tasting like a traditional cigar just before the very end with elements of caramel and wood. In one cigar, the special infused ACID flavors were all but gone in the final couple of puffs. Because of this, I can see the possibility that a smoker who enjoyed this cigar, may be lead to try traditional, natural-wrappered cigars if they find the final third especially pleasing.

The Price
I paid a premium for these guys, buying them loose from a pricey cigar shop, but even at the inflated price, I don’t think they’re a bad deal. It seem more expensive for the faster smoker (I do prefer to smoke my cigars more leisurely than most), but for me it seems reasonable.

The Verdict
I have mixed feelings about this cigar. To be honest, I kind of got tired of smoking it. (Which also contributed to the time it took to write this review.) The flavors are just too strong. It’s kinda like getting punched in the mouth by a drunk, honey-covered Winnie the Pooh. It’s kinda cute, but kinda unpleasant at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy it at times too, particularly when I was on the road. I guess I could say it’s a good cigar to smoke when you’re busy doing other things. :)

I can see myself buying a Blondie or two again sometime in the future on a whim, but this isn’t a cigar I’ll ever buy by the box. Especially given that it is not a cigar that plays nicely with other cigars. Keeping them around is a bit of a nuisance, you really do need to keep them in a completely different humidor from your traditional smokes. Or you can do what I’ve done, keep them in a zip lock bag with an inexpensive humidification element.

Oh yeah, one other thing. You will likely feel this cigar the next day. The day following smoking one, my throat was a noticeably rougher than after smoking traditional cigars. It could be just some sensitivity I have to one of the infused flavors, but it’s also something to look out for.

Quick Summary
Liked It: YEAH, SORTA
Buy It Again: MAYBE (only for immediate smoke)
Recommend It: YES (To anyone who likes clove cigarettes or other herbal smokes. Shorty, if you’re reading this, you should try one of these guys out.)

What Other People Are Saying
There aren’t a lot of reviews out there for ACID cigars, which isn’t surprising. A lot of cigars smokers either dislike flavored cigars, or simply don’t take them seriously. Which is a good part of the reason I reviewed this cigar! I’m all about bucking the trend. ;)

My Other Reviews
You may also be interested in my reviews of the following cigars. To see a full list of my cigar reviews, visit the cigar review index.

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The Stress Cure They Don’t Want You To Know About

Heed the sage words of Brian!What if I told you that you could experience all the buzz of a vigorous workout without moving a single inch of that spare tire? And what if you could feel all the relaxation of a intense yoga session without even once assuming the Downward Barfing Dog posture? And how about if I told you this miraculous stress-buster was at the center of a massive international conspiracy involving big evil corporations (complete with long mustaches to twirl), heads-of-state, and a secret grove somewhere in California? Would you get really excited, and willingly part with, I dunno, 15 bucks for the secret? How about $13.99? Or would you think I that there was an extra special leaf or two in that last cigar I puffed on? I don’t have actually have the time to write it all up and sell it or anything, but it’d be fun to know.

Well, if you favored the special substance in the cigar theory, you’d be at least partially right. (It’s safe to say you’re partially right to think that about anything you read on this blog.) To my knowledge, no secret societies, corrupt world leaders or evil mega corporations have anything to do with Brian’s new found stress cure. (Yeah, I know, I so wanted there to be a long mustache being twirled too.) But the other stuff about the work-out-buzz and the relaxation is absolutely true.

So OK, I’ve teased it long enough. Recently I re-discovered the 8th wonder of the world. What I like to call the human humidor. (Another term I’m totally trademarking. Totally.) But you probably know it by another name: the Sauna.

As luck would have it, the condo facilities I pay handsomely for includes a large and almost completely unused sauna. I’ve know it was down there for months, and I’ve planned on using it, but it wasn’t until this past weekend I tried it out. Oh my god. Let me tell you, it blew my mind. After about 45 minutes in the thing, I felt like a new man. The overall tenseness that accompanies my level of caffeine abuse of coffee was completely gone. The stress brought on by my generally irresponsible behavior had also vanished. My head was clear. The birds were chirping. The sun was grinning broadly and waving around his 2 scoops of raisins happily and the cows were giggling in the field. I had entered commercial-vana minus the rich baritone voice telling me I needed to buy a breakfast cereal or a minivan. (Now I know why cigars are so much better after time spent in a good humidor!)

So what’s with all the conspiracy theory crap then, you ask? Well later that day I was sitting at the local book shop, browsing the latest pages of the latest health-conspiracy book by my favorite Snake Oil Salesman. You know the one titled something like The such-and-such they don’t want to you to know about? Let me tell you, there’s hardly a nugget of information in the entire book, but it is fun to read. (Only if you didn’t pay for it! Anybody who actually buys his book has gotta be pissed by the end!) The guy somehow manages to be entertaining while writing what amounts to a thinly veiled sales pitch for a membership in his phenomenally expensive cure-everything website. (No, I am not linking to it. I don’t want to be responsible for him taking your money.)

So now your wondering what this flim-flam and products have to do with a blessed thing like Saunas. Well, I’ll tell ya. Nestled in the deep recesses of his spam tome, after numerous chapters expounding on his struggle with evil unnamed powers to bring you this information, was a list of “healthy” recommended practices. Between a weird regimen of the ol’ colon hose-down and highly suspect injections of something that kind of sounded like a growth hormone was the recommendation to hit the sauna daily for around 20 minutes. Well that kind of disturbed me. I start to get worried when this guy and I start agreeing on things.

So what is the deal with Saunas anyway? Are they actually good for you? I decided to do a bit of quick research. And here, in list form are the bite-size nuggets of information I tracked down online:

  • Your skin is an organ. Which is kind of gross in a way I can’t put my finger on. Oh wait, I got it: So does that mean your naughty bits are just a part of the skin organ, or does that mean your skin is one giant naughty bit? Apparently, I’m the only one asking that, because it wasn’t addressed in any of the articles I read.
  • Sweating is a great way to eliminate toxins. In addition to keeping us cool, our sweat glands are also responsible for dumping out the miscellaneous garbage that collects in our systems. I have it on good word that it is neither accurate, nor useful to think of sweating as “peeing on yourself”, but I can understand why you might think that. Because:
  • Sweating keeps your skin clean and in good condition. Apparently, excreting waste on yourself is a good way to keep clean and flexible. (I’m not going any further with that line of thought. :mrgreen: ) In truth, 90%+ of sweat is just water, a very small percentage of it is actually waste.
  • Your heart rate increases by 50 to 75% in the sauna. The end result is a bit like going for a brisk walk, except you get to sit there like a roasting rack of ribs.
  • A sauna session may prevent colds or the flu. I might, it might not. The evidence I saw was all anecdotal. (And on this blog, anecdotal = absolutely true.) I have noticed feeling a lot less congested after a session. Hey, do you really need an excuse?
  • People with high blood pressure might be out of luck. Did I mention yet that I’m not a doctor? Don’t be lazy, talk to one before you jump into the human humidor. You’re already gonna get all these health benefits for doing nothing.  The least you can do is make sure your heart won’t explode while you’re in there. Nobody appreciates an exploding organ in the sauna.
  • You’re not going to lose any real weight by sitting in the sauna. Yeah, you may sweat out a gallon of water, but you know you’re just gonna go sit down in from of the boob tube and replace it with ice cold beer. The people who use the sauna to lose weight are just trying to shave a few pounds to make their wrestling/boxing weight. A few hours later, after the weigh in, they put it right back on.

There a lot more information on the subject out there. A surprising amount. If you’re interested in learning a bit more, here’s a couple of websites to get you started. Print ‘em out and take ‘em with you to the sauna.

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Florida Apartment Leasing Agent Fired For Saving Woman’s Life

WTF?Wow, talk about a disconnect between movies and television from real life. According to a story (also here) that’s been all over the radio this morning, a man “brandishing” a shotgun saved a womans life and was rewarded for his efforts by being fired from his job.

His name is Colin Bruley (random aside: it’s hard to say that without thinking about Fight Club), and he lived and worked as a leasing agent for the Oaks at Mill Creek apartment complex in Jacksonville, Florida. He heard a woman screaming in the middle of the night. Instead of covering his head with a pillow, he grabbed one of his hunting guns and ran outside, to find a woman named Tonnetta Lee with a gunshot wound. Apparently he never used the gun, instead he spent his time giving first aid to the injured woman.

And here’s the punchline: He was fired for “Gross Misconduct”. From one article:

“Colin demonstrated extremely poor judgment in responding to this situation,” the complaint said. “Colin’s failure to immediately report this incident … could have serious ramifications to the property, its associates and residents.”

No matter what your opinion is regarding guns, compare this story with any action movie or television show you’ve seen in the last couple of years. This guy would clearly be the hero of the story, a regular John McClane or Jack Bauer, and the corporation owning the apartment complex (Village Green Companies) would clearly be the villian.

In reality, Colin Bruley is now out of work and out of home and getting little attention from the national media (just try searching for his name on Google News). And Village Green Companies has no comment. Well, I don’t care, Colin Bruley is a hero in my book, hopefully he will be in yours too.

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Catch The Perfect Innuendo And Flying Hillbillies With Crowbars

It’s a weekend, so your already low expectations for this blog must be lowered a bit further. But, hey, at least I’m posting stuff. The same can’t be said for many bloggers (including myself usually).

So anyway, I’ve been laughing at this ad for a while now. Watch it and see if you catch what I think is so funny.

If you don’t see it, here’s a hint: In keeping with my love of creatively exploitative children’s names, I shall slap my first child with the moniker “Perfect Wave One”. (Because the previous 97,366,238 waves missed the mark, and were therefor, imperfect.) :)

Sigh. As much as I really tried to keep this post superficial, I couldn’t help but stumble onto some interesting background information this ad. It seems the college research paper-writer in me just couldn’t help but investigate. According to Alex Wade, a British surfer and freelance writer for Times Online, the main character/narrator of this ad is based on real person he refers to as “Paula the Surf Mom”. (As luck would have it, she has a blog too, and is very much aware of the ad! Yep, that post confuses me too. :?: )

I don’t know anything about Paula the Surf Mom, but I disagree with Mr. Wade’s assessment that we can “readily infer” that the oldest of the kids getting out of the car is the main character’s “partner”. Until I read the post, I assumed this was another sad baby-boomer ad who’s underlying message is you will still be hot and irresistible to young, horny surfers, even if you have nearly adult children, so long as you drive a Lincoln.

I had another hysterically ridiculous commercial I wanted to embed in this post. It’s for a Georgia-based company named Builders Surplus. (I’m linking to the website purely for education purposes. This how NOT to make a professional website.) If you’re from the Hotlanta area, you probably know what I’m talking about. It involves a redneck with a crowbar, random breaking of glass and culminates with a flying “Yee Haw!” If you happen to have it, please upload this gem to YouTube. The world needs to see it! (And I need to write sarcastically about it.)

If you do, I’ll send you a cigar. I have a bunch of Ashton Maduros robustos left over from a dinner party turned herf my wife and I threw a couple of weeks ago.

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Oh Boy! Stars: They’re Just Like Us! (Who Cares?)

Why God, why do people waste synapse power on celebrities?Yesterday was a first. The first time I ever cracked open a US Weakly Weekly magazine in my whole life. Somebody left one laying on the floor of the stall in the men’s room. (I think whoever left it there missed their target by about a foot.) Being the adventurous sort, and having time to burn, I flipped it open.

The first thing I saw was several pages of famous woman vs. other famous woman wearing the same gown. The question, in clown-sized crooked font on every page was, “who wore it best”? I’ll spare you the specifics, because what it really boiled down to who had the nicest rack and shapeliest backside. And if neither had either, whoever had the best bone-definition won the day. Of course extra points were awarded to contestants who found a way to reveal more airbrushed skin than their opponent. Fascinating. Absolutely worth $3.49. (Coincidentally, I got a offer in the mail yesterday for another magazine that focuses purely on this sort of figure comparative-analysis for only a dollar an issue. A buck an issue! A steal, you say. You may have heard of it, it’s called Playboy.)

OK, so a bit pointless so far, but not yet annoying enough to stop. Well, I didn’t make it much further through the magazine before I hurled it down in disgust. The next several pages were pictures of famous people doing the mundane things that everybody else does all the time. A gnarled, weathered looking Ricky Schroder pushing a shopping cart. A platform shoe-elevated Eva Longoria buying junk food from a street vendor. Josh Hartnett sporting a serial killer mustache as he jogs under a rain cloud of his own sweat. And of course, it isn’t a story, without the right headline. (That is if a collection of pictures with a single sentence apiece can be considered a “story”.) And that scarce text gem was “Stars- They’re Just Like US!”

Well, no shit. Which is exactly why I don’t see the point of this magazine. I almost think they’re having a joke at their reader’s expense with this. Perhaps thinking “Ha Ha! Just look what you paid us for! Nothing! Who’s your daddy!” I really hope that’s what’s going through the editors mind even now, as he lights up a cigar and has a hearty laugh. Because I can get behind that kind of evil. But I have my doubts. In reality, I’ll bet the editor is probably an aging baby-boomer with a surgically-stretched face who is actually proud of this “article” and is deeply concerned about what Eva Longoria buys at a street vendor.

Probably the biggest reason I’ll never pick up this magazine again is that I don’t like seeing pictures of celebrities being unglamorous and normal. I don’t want them humanized. Celebrities work for me. (And you too, probably.) Their only job is to memorize lines and recite them in believable ways that imply sincerity and/or emotion, as applicable. Well, that, and look really good. That’s all I pay them for and that’s all I want. What they do in their spare time is their business. What they think about religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin is also their business. This kind of information just spoils the movie magic. When I’m watching Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, I don’t want to waste even a synapse on Robert Downey Jr. and his trouble with narcotics. I want to just enjoy the movie.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate celebrities. Quite the opposite. I like celebrities professionally. Many of them do a fantastic, entertaining job of pretending to be somebody else in movies and TV. And it doesn’t bother me that they make millions doing what they do. I like actors with a good track record of great performances in entertaining movies. Once that track record is established, I’ll probably see any movie or TV program in which they star. But when the credits roll, the relationship is over. The transaction is complete: I’ve paid for my ticket, and you’ve delivered the goods. You’re not entitled give me your opinions on life, the universe and everything, and I’m not entitled to see your intimate moments with a shopping cart. And I love it that way. I wish everybody else did too.

However, if you do happen to be the type that enjoys seeing celebrities fueling their cars and taking out the trash, do I have a deal for you! For a mere twenty-five bucks, I’ll take a picture of myself, wearing a Hollywood disguise (hat and sunglasses- fake nose and mustache extra) doing very boring normal things in my neighborhood and send it to you. Hell, I’ll even autograph it for you! I mean, hey, my blog is literally read all around the world, but at least a dozen people a day. If that doesn’t make me a celebrity, I don’t know what does! But you better act fast, once I start appearing in US Weekly, it’ll be too late! ;)

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The CarPod: Saving The World By Stealing Scott Adams’ Ideas

The Green and Black Smart Car (My Favorite)On his blog today, Scott Adams’ put forth an idea of how to handily deal with a laundry list of problems plaguing the world today, including energy consumption and international oil dependence, terrorism, drunk driving and pollution. (And a few other items that are so politically-charged and boring to me that I won’t bother to mention.) To sum it up in a heavily hyphenated sentence, GPS-phone-enabled, Google-powered car-pooling.

Basically using the power of your GPS-enabled phone and a service provided by some behemoth like Google, people could enter a destination and automatically be connected with somebody heading that way. Web 2.0 hitchhiking, essentially. And in an attempt to anticipate problems that might arise from hitching the ride with the wrong person, you would be able to configure your service to filter out people based upon a number of predefined criteria. (Age, sex, propensity to mistreat kittens, etc.) Also, applicants to the service would be screened to eliminate obvious problems such as ax-murders and sexual predators. And anyone who forwards chain email.

In all, a pretty well consider solution. If you haven’t read it already, give it a read. Because I’m going to address the flaw I see in the system. The biggest problem I see with it is that people just don’t like sharing their ride with other people. If you’ve ridden a bus or the subway, you know you can’t count on people to bathe or be considerate. And if you’re commuting to or from work, you’re probably tired and just want to be left alone. Even with the incentives built into Mr. Adams’ plan, it will only take one sick drunk on a Friday night to change your mind about carpooling.

So the plan is doomed for failure, right? Well, not quite. This is where Brian steps in and harness the power of his caffeine-infused cranium to save the day. With mind bullets! No, wait, sorry, the mind bullets are for another post. I got carried away. :)

Anyway, what we actually need is to revamp the way the bus system works. I’m talking about literally gutting the buses. (Stick with me here, it’ll make sense in a minute.) Here’s how it will work. The same system Mr. Adams described with the GPS-enhanced phone and ride sharing service would apply here. Except, you would dock that phone in a “CarPod” (hey, everybody else is ripping off the iPod, why not me?). A CarPod will be a small, solar-powered, single person vehicle. Kinda like the Smart car shown above, except a lot smaller, and lot more boxy. A bit more like a large phone booth with really cozy chair.

When you need a ride someplace, you hop in a CarPod, dock your uber-phone, enter your destination and it will coordinate with the nearest bus. Either you or the CarPod drives to a nearby intercept point with the bus. (We’ll say the CarPod does it, because we’re talking about the future, and cars just have to drive themselves in the future.) And here’s the cool part; the reason you’ve been reading this post. Instead of getting out of your CarPod to get on the bus, the CarPod docks with the bus and takes you along with it. You see, the bus is merely a large, green-fuel-propelled CarPod carrier. Kinda like the transports shown in this action sequence from I, Robot:

Except instead of being full of evil, human-killing robots, it’d be full of evil, meeting-calling, email-sending co-workers. Tell me you wouldn’t ride the bus all the time if you could do it in a CarPod.

Why the bus? Because buses already cover more ground in the U.S. than any other form of mass transportation. And because it uses existing road systems. We wouldn’t have to dig large expensive tunnels through cities to accommodate this. We could also outfit the existing subway trains to function in a similar way, which would also be cool, but not as practical.

Of course, the CarPod would have many of the features of the modern car, and a few that aren’t legal, like user-controlled window blackening. And television. Just for fun, here are the kind of features I imagine the CarPod having.

CarPod Features

  • User controlled window blackening. This way you can have all the privacy you could possibly want while still riding mass transit. You could sleep, or even change on your way to or from work. You could even work on your secret plans for world domination without need of one of those laptop privacy screens.
  • Cozy reclining chair. The CarPod will be small, but not airplane-seat-small.
  • Air Conditioning. No brainer.
  • Television/Music playing system. Who knows what crazy space-age way we’ll listen to tunes and watch the tube in the future. Rest assured that it will be very compact, whatever it is, and that the CarPod will have it. It will likely be integrated with your futuristic GPS-enabled phone.
  • Steering system. In case you need to actually drive the thing. Which you won’t. But it’ll be there because some politician or another will make a big deal about it. And probably an organized group of overly concerned mothers.
  • Built in humidor. Since I’m making this thing, it will have a humidor and a cigar-sized ash tray. And a built in cigar lighter. Hey, it’s single occupancy, so don’t give me any crap about bothering other people with second hand tobacco perfume.

Now quick, somebody build one, because I want to ride my CarPod home from the office. I’m tired.

P.S. I’ve trademarked the term “CarPod”. And “Commuti-Car”, just in case. Licensing available! And at great rates!

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