Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bayou Night!

I have said before that Bayou Night from Cornell & Diehl is my favorite smoke. I have been without for about a month now and finally was able to order a new pound. Checked the mailbox on the way home from a Halloween festival just a little while ago to find it waiting for me. So I am now enjoying a before-bed bowl of this excellent stuff. The latakia seemed a little more pronounced than usual on first light, but maybe that's just because I haven't had it in a while. Further into the bowl the Perique has asserted itself.

I'll bother with stuffing it into Mason jars tomorrow. For now, it's just time for a bowl.

Featured Pipe Smoker: Jack Lemmon

John Uhler "Jack" Lemmon III (1925-2001)

Born in an elevator in Newton, Massachusetts. Jack Lemmon was a Harvard grad, where he was also the president of the Hasty Pudding Club, and he served in the Navy.

His big breakthrough in acting came in the movie It Should Happen To You of 1954. Perhaps his most famous role was as Felix Unger in The Odd Couple, 1968. Younger fans may be more familiar with his role in Grumpy Old Men of 1998.

Lemmon was the first actor to win Academy Awards for Best Actor (Save the Tiger, 1973) and Best Supporting Actor (Mister Roberts, 1975). In 1988, the American Film Institute gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jack Lemmon died of bladder and colon cancer in 2001.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vintage Ad (1945): Bond Street/Revelation

A closely-cropped ad that I snagged from eBay several years ago and have had it floating around in various folders on at least three different computers ever since, and generating disturbing dream imagery every now and then. I call this "The Creepy Bond Street Guy" and this is one of my favorite vintage ads. I wish I had splurged and bought the hardcopy. Philip Morris, the epitome of evil now that Hitler is dead, once used this illustration of an evil super-villian apparently contemplating world domination to sell pipe tobacco.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pipes in Literature: Toys of Fire and Smoke

Now because of his dislike and fear, in the later days Saruman avoided Gandalf, and they seldom met, except at the assemblies of the White Council. It was at the great Council held in 2851 that the "Halflings' leaf" was first spoken of, and the matter was noted with amusement at the time, though it was afterwards remembered in a different light. The Council met in Rivendell, and Gandalf sat apart, silent, but smoking prodigiously (a thing he had never done before on such an occasion), while Saruman spoke against him, and urged that contrary to Gandalf's advice Dol Guldur should not yet be molested. Both the silence and the smoke seemed greatly to annoy Saruman, and before the Council dispersed he said to Gandalf: "When weighty matters are in debate, Mithrandir, I wonder a little that you should play with your toys of fire and smoke, while others are in earnest speech."

But Gandalf laughed, and replied: "You would not wonder, if you used this herb yourself. You might find that smoke blown out cleared your mind of shadows within. Anyway, it gives patience, to listen to error without anger. But it is not one of my toys. It is an art of the Little People away in the West: merry and worthy folk, though not of much account, perhaps, in your high policies."

Saruman was little appeased by this answer (for he hated mockery, however gentle), and he said then coldly: "You jest, Lord Mithrandir, as is your way. I know well enough that you have become a curious explorer of the small: weeds, wild things, and childish folk. Your time is your own to spend, if you have nothing worthier to do; and your friends you may make as you please. But to me the days are too dark for wanderers' tales, and I have no time for the simples of peasants."

Gandalf did not laugh again; and he did not answer, but looking keenly at Saruman he drew on his pipe and sent out a great ring of smoke with many smaller rings that followed it. Then he put up his hand, as if to grasp them, and they vanished. With that he got up and left Saruman without another word; but Saruman stood for some time silent, and his face was dark with doubt and displeasure.

--J.R.R. Tolkien
excerpt from "The Hunt for the Ring"
from Unfinished Tales

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (1859-1930)
"I should dearly love that the world should be ever so little better for my presence. Even on this small stage we have our two sides, and something might be done by throwing all one's weight on the scale of breadth, tolerance, charity, temperance, peace, and kindliness to man and beast. We can't all strike very big blows, and even the little ones count for something."
The creator of Sherlock Holmes was born in Edinburgh, Scotland to Irish Catholic parents. As a teenager, he turned away from Christianity and became an agnostic. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh from 1876-81, and later set up practice as an opthalmologist. His practice did not prove very lucrative, however, so he used his spare time to write.

Besides his Holmesian stories, he wrote many other books, including adventure stories, historical novels, and many short stories, some of which could even be considered to fall into my own favorite sub-genre: horror. An especially good--and interesting--short is The Horror of the Heights, written in the nascent days of flight. It's a nice piece of speculative horror about what might be encountered in the sky when man flew too high.

In the early 1900s several family members close to him died, and he began resorting to spiritualism for comfort.

He died of a heart attack in 1930.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vintage Ad (1931): Granger Rough Cut

Granger displays a penchant for disturbing imagery in this pipe tobacco ad. Go ahead, click to enlarge and see if you can look at that face without wincing. Although I must admit, this is still a far cry from the Creepy Bond Street Guy, which I thought I had posted previously but apparently I haven't, so I'll save it for next week.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pipes in Literature: The Death of Wouter Van Twiller

This excerpt is from the final few paragraphs of Book III, Chapter IX of A History of New York by Washington Irving
The courier chosen to bear the despatches was a fat oily little man, as being less liable to be worn out, or to lose leather on the journey; and to insure his speed, he was mounted on the fleetest wagon horse in the garrison, remarkable for length of limb, largeness of bone, and hardness of trot; and so tall, that the little messenger was obliged to climb on his back by means of his tail and crupper. Such extraordinary speed did he make, that he arrived at fort Amsterdam in a little less than a month, though the distance was full two hundred pipes, or about one hundred and twenty miles.

With an appearance of great hurry and business, and smoking a short travelling-pipe, he proceeded on a long swing trot through the muddy lanes of the metropolis, demolishing whole batches of dirt pies, which the little Dutch children were making in the road; and for which kind of pastry the children of this city have ever been famous. On arriving at the governor's house, he climbed down from his steed; roused the gray-headed door-keeper, old Skaats, who, like his lineal descendant and faithful representative, the venerable crier of our court, was nodding at his post--rattled at the door of the council chamber, and startled the members as they were dozing over a plan for establishing a public market.

At that very moment a gentle grunt, or rather a deep-drawn snore, was heard from the chair of the governor; a whiff of smoke was at the same instant observed to escape from his lips, and a light cloud to ascend from the bowl of his pipe. The council, of course, supposed him engaged in deep sleep for the good of the community, and, according to custom in all such cases established, every man bawled out silence, when, of a sudden, the door flew open, and the little courier straddled into the apartment, cased to the middle in a pair of Hessian boots, which he had got into for the sake of expedition. In his right hand he held forth the ominous despatches, and with his left he grasped firmly the waistband of his galligaskins, which had unfortunately given way, in the exertion of descending from his horse. He stumped resolutely up to the governor, and with more hurry than perspicuity, delivered his message. But fortunately his ill tidings came too late to ruffle the tranquillity of this most tranquil of rulers. His venerable excellency had just breathed and smoked his last--his lungs and his pipe having been exhausted together, and his peaceful soul having escaped in the last whiff that curled from his tobacco pipe. In a word, the renowned Walter the Doubter, who had so often slumbered with his contemporaries, now slept with his fathers, and Wilhelmus Kieft governed in his stead.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: John Friedlander

John Friedlander (?-?)

At last, someone who I can't Google or Wiki any detailed information about. Not even imdb lists his date of birth. So here's what little I know.

Friedlander was a visual effects designer who worked on several different BBC productions, most notably Doctor Who (the original series). He created and designed many of the monsters and alien characters in the original series, such as the Ice Warriors, Sontarans, Zygrons, Ogrons, Draconians, Sea Devils and Wirrn. In the above photo he is shown holding the head of perhaps his most nefarious creation: Davros, creator of the Daleks. He also worked on the popular Britcom Dad's Army. His last credit listed at imdb is for his work in the series I, Claudius in 1976.

It looks like he's smoking a Peterson.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vintage Ad: Union Leader Cut Plug Tobacco

Another one from Union Leader with Uncle Sam. He smokes Union Leader, and so should you. Who knew we had a national smoke and chew?

This hints of World War I-era to me, but I could be mistaken.

(I don't think I would want to even try a tobacco that can allegedly be used as both a smoke and a chew. It just doesn't seem right.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pipes in Literature: Oh, my pipe!

Moby Dick
by Herman Melville


The Pipe

When Stubb had departed, Ahab stood for a while leaning over the bulwarks; and then, as had been usual with him of late, calling a sailor of the watch, he sent him below for his ivory stool, and also his pipe. Lighting the pipe at the binnacle lamp and planting the stool on the weather side of the deck, he sat and smoked.

In old Norse times, the thrones of the sea-loving Danish kings were fabricated, saith tradition, of the tusks of the narwhale. How could one look at Ahab then, seated on that tripod of bones, without bethinking him of the royalty it symbolized? For a Khan of the plank, and a king of the sea, and a great lord of Leviathans was Ahab.

Some moments passed, during which the thick vapor came from his mouth in quick and constant puffs, which blew back again into his face. "How now," he soliloquized at last, withdrawing the tube, "this smoking no longer soothes. Oh, my pipe! hard must it go with me if thy charm be gone! Here have I been unconsciously toiling, not pleasuring,--aye, and ignorantly smoking to windward all the while; to windward, and with such nervous whiffs, as if, like the dying whale, my final jets were the strongest and the fullest of trouble. What business have I with this pipe? This thing that is meant for sereneness, to send up mild white vapors among mild white hairs, not among torn iron-grey locks like mine. I'll smoke no more--"

He tossed the still lighted pipe into the sea. The fire hissed in the waves; the same instant the ship shot by the bubble the sinking pipe made. With slouced hat, Ahab lurchingly paced the planks.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker (Fictional): Gandalf


"Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

Gandalf, a.k.a. Mithrandir, The Grey Wanderer, Olórin, Tharkûn, and many other names. Another character whom it would be pointless for me to say much about; anything I could say you probably already know.

Gandalf picked up pipe-smoking from the hobbits of the Shire, and enjoyed the past-time immensely when he had enough time to relax with a pipe. He was an expert at blowing smoke-rings, able to command them to float about the room and even change color. Whether this was due to his Wizardly powers, or perhaps a power he gained as a side-effect of wearing Narya, the Ring of Fire, is unknown.
At last Gandalf pushed away his plate and jug--he had eaten two whole loaves (with masses of butter and honey and clotted cream) and drunk at least a quart of mead--and he took out his pipe. "I will answer the second question first," he said, "--but bless me! this is a splendid place for smoke rings!" Indeed for a long time they could get nothing more out of him, he was so busy sending smoke-rings dodging round the pillars of the hall, changing them into all sorts of different shapes and colours, and setting them at last chasing one another out of the hole in the roof. They must have looked very queer from outside, popping out into the air one after another, green, blue, red, silver-grey, yellow, white; big ones, little ones; little ones dodging through big ones and joining into figure-eights, and going off like a flock of birds into the distance.

--excerpt from The Hobbit

In the illustration above we see him from a detail of An Unexpected Party by the Brothers Hildebrandt, smoking a fairly large but conventional pipe with an apple or perhaps acorn bowl and a slightly bent stem; the kind of pipe that could be stored safely and retrieved easily--ideal for a wandering Wizard who might have to pick up and leave at a moment's notice. Bilbo's pipe, on the other hand, is obviously a "house pipe," not meant to be used while traveling, which is a reasonable pipe for Bilbo since Hobbits generally didn't like to travel too much. Elegant, perhaps, at first glance, but try to imagine how it would look if he actually had the bit in his mouth. Without a bend in the end of the stem this pipe would be extremely difficult to smoke and probably impossible to light in the first place. The Hildebrandts did an excellent job with this piece of art; however, I don't think they gave much serious thought to the mechanics of pipe smoking.

Above is the full illustration (click to enlarge). This is one of my favorite scenes from any of the four books, and is filled with activity and things I enjoy: good company, a roaring fire, pipe smoking and music. Here we may also see some dwarfish pipe smoking. Thorin (if I'm not mistaken) on the left, managing to play his harp and smoke a pipe at the same time. On the right we have Balin (or possibly Dwalin), according to my sources, who is smoking his pipe while (incredibly!) simultaneously playing the cello or bass viol.

For other LotR-related pipe smokers, see Bilbo Baggins, Gimli, son of Gloín, and J.R.R. Tolkien. For more pictures of Gandalf and a discussion of them, please click on PowerOfBabel: Gandalf.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vintage Pipe Ad (1919): WDC Bakelite stems

Bakelite was one of the first plastics made of synthetic components, developed around 1909. It didn't take long for it to be used for pipe stems. The Demuth company were not the only ones to use it for pipe stems. As far as I know, I've never personally owned a pipe with such a stem. Most stems these days are made from vulcanite (hard rubber), acrylic (very hard plastic), or on really cheap pipes, nylon. I hate nylon stems.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pipes in Literature: The Lost Knife

The lads came gayly back and went at their sports again with a will, chattering all the time about Tom's stupendous plan and admiring the genius of it. After a dainty egg and fish dinner, Tom said he wanted to learn to smoke, now. Joe caught at the idea and said he would like to try, too. So Huck made pipes and filled them. These novices had never smoked anything before but cigars made of grape-vine, and they "bit" the tongue, and were not considered manly anyway.

Now they stretched themselves out on their elbows and began to puff, charily, and with slender confidence. The smoke had an unpleasant taste, and they gagged a little, but Tom said:

"Why, it's just as easy! If I'd a knowed this was all, I'd a learnt long ago."

"So would I," said Joe. "It's just nothing."

"Why, many a time I've looked at people smoking, and thought well I wish I could do that; but I never thought I could," said Tom.

"That's just the way with me, hain't it, Huck? You've heard me talk just that way -- haven't you, Huck? I'll leave it to Huck if I haven't."

"Yes -- heaps of times," said Huck.

"Well, I have too," said Tom; "oh, hundreds of times. Once down by the slaughter-house. Don't you remember, Huck? Bob Tanner was there, and Johnny Miller, and Jeff Thatcher, when I said it. Don't you remember, Huck, 'bout me saying that?"

"Yes, that's so," said Huck. "That was the day after I lost a white alley. No, 'twas the day before."

"There -- I told you so," said Tom. "Huck recollects it."

"I bleeve I could smoke this pipe all day," said Joe. "I don't feel sick."

"Neither do I," said Tom. "I could smoke it all day. But I bet you Jeff Thatcher couldn't."

"Jeff Thatcher! Why, he'd keel over just with two draws. Just let him try it once. He'd see!"

"I bet he would. And Johnny Miller -- I wish could see Johnny Miller tackle it once."

"Oh, don't I!" said Joe. "Why, I bet you Johnny Miller couldn't any more do this than nothing. Just one little snifter would fetch him."

"'Deed it would, Joe. Say -- I wish the boys could see us now."

"So do I."

"Say -- boys, don't say anything about it, and some time when they're around, I'll come up to you and say, 'Joe, got a pipe? I want a smoke.' And you'll say, kind of careless like, as if it warn't anything, you'll say, 'Yes, I got my old pipe, and another one, but my tobacker ain't very good.' And I'll say, 'Oh, that's all right, if it's strong enough.' And then you'll out with the pipes, and we'll light up just as ca'm, and then just see 'em look!"

"By jings, that'll be gay, Tom! I wish it was now!"

"So do I! And when we tell 'em we learned when we was off pirating, won't they wish they'd been along?"

"Oh, I reckon not! I'll just bet they will!"

So the talk ran on. But presently it began to flag a trifle, and grow disjointed. The silences widened; the expectoration marvellously increased. Every pore inside the boys' cheeks became a spouting fountain; they could scarcely bail out the cellars under their tongues fast enough to prevent an inundation; little overflowings down their throats occurred in spite of all they could do, and sudden retchings followed every time. Both boys were looking very pale and miserable, now. Joe's pipe dropped from his nerveless fingers. Tom's followed. Both fountains were going furiously and both pumps bailing with might and main. Joe said feebly:

"I've lost my knife. I reckon I better go and find it."

Tom said, with quivering lips and halting utterance:

"I'll help you. You go over that way and I'll hunt around by the spring. No, you needn't come, Huck -- we can find it."

So Huck sat down again, and waited an hour. Then he found it lonesome, and went to find his comrades. They were wide apart in the woods, both very pale, both fast asleep. But something informed him that if they had had any trouble they had got rid of it.

They were not talkative at supper that night. They had a humble look, and when Huck prepared his pipe after the meal and was going to prepare theirs, they said no, they were not feeling very well -- something they ate at dinner had disagreed with them.

About midnight Joe awoke, and called the boys. There was a brooding oppressiveness in the air that seemed to bode something. The boys huddled themselves together and sought the friendly companionship of the fire, though the dull dead heat of the breathless atmosphere was stifling. They sat still, intent and waiting. The solemn hush continued. Beyond the light of the fire everything was swallowed up in the blackness of darkness. Presently there came a quivering glow that vaguely revealed the foliage for a moment and then vanished. By and by another came, a little stronger. Then another. Then a faint moan came sighing through the branches of the forest and the boys felt a fleeting breath upon their cheeks, and shuddered with the fancy that the Spirit of the Night had gone by. There was a pause. Now a weird flash turned night into day and showed every little grass-blade, separate and distinct, that grew about their feet. And it showed three white, startled faces, too. A deep peal of thunder went rolling and tumbling down the heavens and lost itself in sullen rumblings in the distance. A sweep of chilly air passed by, rustling all the leaves and snowing the flaky ashes broadcast about the fire. Another fierce glare lit up the forest and an instant crash followed that seemed to rend the tree-tops right over the boys' heads. They clung together in terror, in the thick gloom that followed. A few big rain-drops fell pattering upon the leaves.

"Quick! boys, go for the tent!" exclaimed Tom.

They sprang away, stumbling over roots and among vines in the dark, no two plunging in the same direction. A furious blast roared through the trees, making everything sing as it went. One blinding flash after another came, and peal on peal of deafening thunder. And now a drenching rain poured down and the rising hurricane drove it in sheets along the ground. The boys cried out to each other, but the roaring wind and the booming thunder-blasts drowned their voices utterly. However, one by one they straggled in at last and took shelter under the tent, cold, scared, and streaming with water; but to have company in misery seemed something to be grateful for. They could not talk, the old sail flapped so furiously, even if the other noises would have allowed them. The tempest rose higher and higher, and presently the sail tore loose from its fastenings and went winging away on the blast. The boys seized each others' hands and fled, with many tumblings and bruises, to the shelter of a great oak that stood upon the river-bank. Now the battle was at its highest. Under the ceaseless conflagration of lightning that flamed in the skies, everything below stood out in clean-cut and shadowless distinctness: the bending trees, the billowy river, white with foam, the driving spray of spume-flakes, the dim outlines of the high bluffs on the other side, glimpsed through the drifting cloud-rack and the slanting veil of rain. Every little while some giant tree yielded the fight and fell crashing through the younger growth; and the unflagging thunder-peals came now in ear-splitting explosive bursts, keen and sharp, and unspeakably appalling. The storm culminated in one matchless effort that seemed likely to tear the island to pieces, burn it up, drown it to the tree-tops, blow it away, and deafen every creature in it, all at one and the same moment. It was a wild night for homeless young heads to be out in.

But at last the battle was done, and the forces retired with weaker and weaker threatenings and grumblings, and peace resumed her sway. The boys went back to camp, a good deal awed; but they found there was still something to be thankful for, because the great sycamore, the shelter of their beds, was a ruin, now, blasted by the lightnings, and they were not under it when the catastrophe happened.

Everything in camp was drenched, the camp-fire as well; for they were but heedless lads, like their generation, and had made no provision against rain. Here was matter for dismay, for they were soaked through and chilled. They were eloquent in their distress; but they presently discovered that the fire had eaten so far up under the great log it had been built against (where it curved upward and separated itself from the ground), that a handbreadth or so of it had escaped wetting; so they patiently wrought until, with shreds and bark gathered from the under sides of sheltered logs, they coaxed the fire to burn again. Then they piled on great dead boughs till they had a roaring furnace, and were glad-hearted once more. They dried their boiled ham and had a feast, and after that they sat by the fire and expanded and glorified their midnight adventure until morning, for there was not a dry spot to sleep on, anywhere around.

As the sun began to steal in upon the boys, drowsiness came over them, and they went out on the sandbar and lay down to sleep. They got scorched out by and by, and drearily set about getting breakfast. After the meal they felt rusty, and stiff-jointed, and a little homesick once more. Tom saw the signs, and fell to cheering up the pirates as well as he could. But they cared nothing for marbles, or circus, or swimming, or anything. He reminded them of the imposing secret, and raised a ray of cheer. While it lasted, he got them interested in a new device. This was to knock off being pirates, for a while, and be Indians for a change. They were attracted by this idea; so it was not long before they were stripped, and striped from head to heel with black mud, like so many zebras -- all of them chiefs, of course -- and then they went tearing through the woods to attack an English settlement.

By and by they separated into three hostile tribes, and darted upon each other from ambush with dreadful war-whoops, and killed and scalped each other by thousands. It was a gory day. Consequently it was an extremely satisfactory one.

They assembled in camp toward supper-time, hungry and happy; but now a difficulty arose -- hostile Indians could not break the bread of hospitality together without first making peace, and this was a simple impossibility without smoking a pipe of peace. There was no other process that ever they had heard of. Two of the savages almost wished they had remained pirates. However, there was no other way; so with such show of cheerfulness as they could muster they called for the pipe and took their whiff as it passed, in due form.

And behold, they were glad they had gone into savagery, for they had gained something; they found that they could now smoke a little without having to go and hunt for a lost knife; they did not get sick enough to be seriously uncomfortable. They were not likely to fool away this high promise for lack of effort. No, they practised cautiously, after supper, with right fair success, and so they spent a jubilant evening. They were prouder and happier in their new acquirement than they would have been in the scalping and skinning of the Six Nations. We will leave them to smoke and chatter and brag, since we have no further use for them at present.

--Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Chapter XVI: A Midnight Surprise (excerpt)
from Tom Sawyer

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker (Fictional): Bruce Wayne

Bruce Wayne

"Sometimes it's only madness that makes us what we are."

That's right, kids, in the golden days when the Bat-Man was much less politically correct, after a hard night of mercilessly eliminating criminals, Bruce Wayne relaxes with the news and his pipe.