Sunday, April 10, 2011

Baccy Blues, by the B&A Stowaway

Today in the News:  B&A returns today with a subject near and dear to my heart - TOBACCO.  I know, I know, it isn't cool to like tobacco anymore, but I do.  Consider it a taboo in the art of being metro-sexual.  A feather in the cap of manliness.  In that case, I'm all in.  Besides, here are some famous pipe smokers:

If you don't know who this guy is, you ought to have an atomic bomb shoved up your keister.

Elementary, my dear ninny!

While best known for his work on "Simon & Simon" and "Major Dad", I prefer to remember him for his work as Mayor Johnston Green on "Jericho".

I shall return......after you get your backsides handed to you and then you hand them back to your combatants.

I can't really show much love to Van Gogh.  He was probably smoking opium and nibbling on his own ear while painting this, all the while thinking about syphilis-infested hookers.

One of my favorites and inspirations in life, Ernest Shackleton - a known pipe smoker.  A real man's man.

Link of the Day:  I found this blog while searching for pipe smoking pictures.  Manly!

Baccy Blues, by the B&A Stowaway

B&A Stowaway here again, with some more helpful tips.  There will be less [Edited] and more productivity in this post. 

My love affair with tobacco started by hanging out with Mike Oscar, as did most of my other bad habits. Working in the Canadian wilderness, we were attacked by bugs. I don’t mean pestered by, but flat out carried short distances by these suckers. Ben’s worked OK, but Deep Woods OFF just made our blood tangy (interesting side note, Ben’s will make your lips go numb if someone empties a can of it of it over a case of soda you are about to drink (unbeknownst to you and your friends). But karma is sweet and the little rat bastard will have all of his teeth rot out before he is 30), so we had to have a better way to fog their senses. Enter cheap Captain Black Canadian plastic tip stogies. Shortly after that, Mike Oscar and I found out they make great slow-matches for an extended fireworks blowout. Mike Oscar had always had a thing for cigarettes, but after he tried to smoke one during a motorcycle ride and got an eyeful of hot ash, he decided to stick with cigars for awhile too.

Humidors are pricey. Pipe tobacco is cheaper when you buy more, but tends to dry out after awhile. Sticking your pinky into the bowl of your glowing pipe to tamp down a cherry is a very, very bad idea, unless you have some thick callouses. So there has to be a more practical way to approach these subjects.

 An interesting and proven humidor idea is an old ammo can. Mine was a present from a Marine buddy, actually, who found that the perfect size for an amateur cigar smoker is a 5.56 caliber can. The same sealing that goes into keeping your powder dry works to keep your cigars moist. 

You can’t just toss in some cigars and hope to keep them as damp as when you got them, however. My local cigar shop sold me a gel tube that works great as a humidifying agent. Just top it off with water when it goes below the mark, and you have the perfect dampness. There are other agents you can use, this is just my favorite. But you can’t just dump humidity in, you have to balance it: I used a cedar strip from a discarded cigar box. It soaks up just enough to keep a perfect balance, and my cigars stay in the ideal range.

 I had attempted to smoke a pipe in Maine, and was unfortunate enough to try the sawdust they call tobacco, that has sat on some store shelf since the Aroostook War. However, a trip to a small smoke shop in Denver with Mike Oscar yielded up soft, aromatic pipe tobacco that tasted like desert. This was wonderful, but at this point, I am going to have to buy it by the buttload, because I am only down here once a year. So how do I keep it damp? I bought a nice pouch, the tartan in the first picture. But what to do when it gets dry?

You can tell it’s dry if you take a generous pinch, and when you let it go, it crumbles and falls out of your fingers. If it stays clumped together for more than a few seconds, it is TOO damp. But if it stays together for a few seconds, then you are just right. To re-hydrate your pipe tobacco, simple lay it out in a pan or shallow bowl. Break up any clumps and make sure it is spread out nice and even.

Next, dampen a towel and completely cover the bowl. Check it after an hour. Mix it around to make sure it is getting an even covering, then cover again. Use your own judgment on how damp you want it, and how long you are going to leave it,

When it comes to the pipe itself, people have different preferences. Meerschaums are nice, but I can’t keep one lit. Corncobs have that rustic appeal, but I can’t carry it off like General MacArthur. I like a nice wood burl, especially the Gandalf-looking thing I picked up with Mike Oscar at some smoke shop next to a hardware. I think that is the most important thing about your pipe, lighters, and other smoking accessories, is there has to be a good story. However, one thing that is important is a pipe tamp. When the smoke starts getting thin, you have to pack the pipe down; if you already have a cherry lit, you are going to burn your finger. I have a spent.40 casing slid into a .44 magnum casing that works perfectly. 
They fit nice and snug and it fits the bowl of my pipe perfectly. Another useful combo is a .22 into a .223. That combo comes back apart easy too, so you can slide a couple matches down there (just don’t leave it on the cherry too long or you’ve invented a painful little firecracker). I had ‘special’ co-worker once tell me that the .44 shell had unburnt powder residue and was going to explode in my face. If you’ve ever touched off a .44 magnum, you will soon realize that she gave her all in one go; after a blast like that, she’s blown the full load.

I’d just like to reiterate, what I am sharing with you is the way I’ve done things, and the way I know they work. You might have a different, or even better way, and that’s good for you. But this is what works when I tried it, so go ahead and use my method if you’d like. Peace out!

Watch Out Where Those Huskies Go and Don't You Eat That Yellow Snow,

The B&A Stowaway


  1. I used to smoke a pipe when I was young - really enjoyed it, but eventually gave it up. A few years later, a night-time catfisherman got me started on stoogies to keep the "skeeters" away. I gave THEM up one night when I was smoking one while complaining about a sore throat. I STILL crave a bowl or a stoogie when I smell certain tobaccos (usually a stinking one)!

  2. A little first had tip. If you find a tobacco and a pipe that you like don't EVER EVER EVER smoke some of the cheap off the shelf stuff. EVER! I bought a Dr Garbo ... or something close to that name and found a cheap one that I liked. I tried some other even cheaper stuff and it absolutely ruined the flavor of my pipe. I have even scraped out the char and tried to re-burn it and it just won't come out. I have sense put mine down and stuck to my 20 pack o' death until I can afford the luxury of a new, good, one.

  3. I know! The worse the cigar, the more it makes me want one! I remember the first strong, expensive cigar I smoked. I enjoyed it while cutting the grass with a riding mower. I thought it was great until I attempted to step off the mower and did a faceplant- turns out I wasn't ready to play with the real cigars yet. I had to sit on the lawn until the trees stopped moving. Darn fine smoke though.

  4. "A woman is just a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke."--Rudyard Kipling

  5. “”If you can’t send money, send tobacco.” – (to the Continental Congress, 1776 ) George Washington

  6. Dr. Grabow pipes, I have one, and Mike Oscar's wife has one:-) They are really good pipes! Thankfully, the cheap sawdust baccy I tried was in a $2 corncob pipe. Side note, the day before the Cuban embargo, President Kennedy sent his secretary out for 1200 Cuban Cigars ( Ahhhh, politicians. Side note 2.0, the article mentions that the same brand of cigars played a role in another presidential debacle, when Slick Willy attempted to add a new flavor to his stogie. I just dip them in Grand Marnier myself. Mellower smoke, and my wife doesn't get mad.