Thursday, May 22, 2008

It's Really Not There

It’s incomprehensible to me how someone can knowingly make promises they can’t deliver, yet most politicians do it with such regularity it’s almost come to be expected. It seems to me that many Americans are to the point where they’re so averse to hearing objectionable news, regardless of how truthful and legitimate it may be, they’re practically crying out to be deceived.

One particularly troubling theme that’s being venerated by the presidential candidates and the lamestream media is this fantasy, however desirous, of health care is a ‘right’. I’ve read the Bill of Rights numerous times . . . peaceably to assemble . . . keep and bear Arms . . . unreasonable searches and seizures . . . speedy and public trial . . . seriously, there’s no mention of health care.

I could imagine, after several glasses of Scotch, that an extremely charitable interpretation of the phrase ‘promote the general Welfare’ could warrant a conversation about the role of government in medicine, but nationalized health care is a frightenly bad idea for a myriad of reasons. If you happen to think universal medicine is a laudable idea, let’s take a moment to envisage a health care system managed entirely by the Nanny-State. You want competence? Familiar with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the United States Postal Service? You want sympathy and kindness? Ever had any dealings with the Internal Revenue Service, your local Department of Public Safety, or the Department of Homeland Security? You want fiscal prudence? Like to talk about the policies of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, audit any contracts awarded to the Department of Defense, or review the earmarks placed into any legislation approved by your representative in the last few months? By its very nature, government is ineffective, careless, and wasteful.

Now despite being wrought with fraud, excess and inefficiency, we still have the greatest health care system in the world – although it is in need of reform. The real challenge here is that any meaningful change is going to require a conscientious deliberation of difficult choices and real leadership. Unfortunately, no one in Congress, or campaigning for President, seems to have either a conscience or leadership ability. So we’ll continue to plod along until ultimately, much like the fatigued knee joints of a corpulent couch potato on his third trip to the dessert bar at the all-you-can-eat buffet, our healthcare system will collapse of its own weight.

In the meanwhile, to keep my ill-considered opinions from having an effect on the semblance of a right mind, I’m reminded of the wisdom of Ellis in No Country For Old Men:

Can’t stop what’s comin’ . . . it all ain’t waiting on you.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Vintage by Rocky Patel 1992 Torpedo

Dropped by my local cigar purveyor the other day hoping to find a Rocky Patel Decade Torpedo, but since they’ve recently been advanced to “classic” status by Cigar Aficionado with a 95 rating, they’re nearly impossible to find . . . even online. So I picked up a few other smokes and decided I would continue with my attempts to rate cigars here in an effort to convey what limited knowledge I enjoy about cigar smoking as well as maintain a virtual journal of the cigars I’ve smoked.

The recognized method for rating any cigar includes deliberating on the look and feel of the cigar, its draw and burn rate, and how it tastes. Over the years, I’ve developed an affinity for specific cigars because of their size, brand, strength, and flavor. My rating system was never what you’d call sophisticated, but I knew what I liked and my preferences matured to where my humidor is now filled with mostly robusto- and belicoso-sized smokes of medium- to full-bodied strength.
One of the other stogies I picked up during this visit was the Vintage by Rocky Patel 1992 Torpedo which I smoked a few days ago. This was a true international cigar with filler tobacco from the Dominican Republic & Nicaragua, a binder from Mexico, and a wrapper from Ecuador. It’s a six and ¼ inch by 52 ring gauge with a distinctive box-pressed shape that I enjoy [gives it a look of style].
The wrapper was smooth and slightly oily, with visible veins, and prior to lighting it I was a little concerned because this was one of the most tightly constructed cigars I’ve ever purchased. But it lit without difficulty and I was able to easily draw smoke through the cigar. The burn line was somewhat uneven, as you may note from the picture, although this have been attributable to the breezy conditions on my ‘back porch.’ It still produced a nice, solid light-grey ash, a good amount of resting smoke, and a rich, consistent aroma. The dominant flavors for me throughout the duration of the cigar were wood (primarily oak) and earth tones, but with no harshness and a strong finish (hung around for while after its inevitable end).
While this cigar is rated as medium-bodied, I wouldn’t recommend it for a ‘cigar aficionado plebe’ because it was highly-flavored. Of course, the sensitivity of your taste buds is what determines a cigar’s taste and strength. That’s what makes the cigar manufacturing process so fascinating for me and why I find the end products true works of art. Even within my narrowly defined range of cigar preferences, there are an abundance of companies growing, harvesting, and blending tobacco and hand making cigars in my favorite size and strength that will each have their own unique characteristics and taste. And if I let them age properly in my humidor, their taste will change over time.
So I’ll continue my ‘sampling’ with the objective of training my palate to become more receptive to the flavor tinges of each cigar I smoke. With any luck, I’ll become a better rater, but I’m certain I’ll most definitely enjoy the process.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Gurkha G3 Review

I picked up a Gurkha G3 cigar last week during a visit to my local tobacco source because it was appropriately-sized (a 6 x 50 Toro), I’m a sucker for a Maduro wrapper, and it came with a warning on the box, “Please be seated when smoking this cigar; not for the amateur.” I have no prior experience with the Gurkha brand of cigars since they’ve earned a reputation as the “Rolls Royce” of the cigar industry [they offer an ultra premium “Black Dragon” that retails for about $1,150 a stick], but at a scanty $7.12 I thought the G3 was a reasonably priced extravagance for this smoker.

As this was a ‘new’ smoke for me, and because it came with a full-bodied caveat, I made it a point to be particularly attentive to the appearance and flavors of the cigar and offer my first official review of the experience.

The cigar was very well constructed with what I’ll describe as a beautiful, ebony-colored wrapper that was free of any noticeable blemishes. It lit easily, burned evenly, drew nicely, and the white-colored ash held on near perfectly. The cigar started out as I expected – woody and spicy – but one-third of the way into it the spiciness dropped off and I started noticing hints of cocoa. This was followed by a smooth, balanced finish to the end. In summary – it was a fine smoke with an interesting, although agreeable, taste.

Despite its claim as a power smoke, I thought it was amazingly smooth - never boring, bitter, or harsh. And I certainly wasn’t buzzed, so I’d say it would be more adequately described as a lively medium-bodied cigar that can be straightforwardly smoked while sitting or standing.

When I had finished smoking I went to check out a few of my favorite cigar blogs to see if any of them had rated this cigar. It was somewhat gratifying to read that there were several reviews with descriptions similar to mine about the flavors and characteristics of this smoke [Cigar Aficionado rated it an 88].

Turns out it’s the combination of an aged Nicaraguan sungrown wrapper, African Cameroon binder, and Nicaraguan Piloto Cubano and Ligero filler that gives the cigar its unique taste. I also learned that these Gurkha cigars are short run products, and when they’re gone, there won’t be any more G-3’s produced. Think I need to find a few more of these sticks for my humidor, so until next time . . . long ashes.

Amusing Quote for today from the Anti-Nannier