Hence embedded in the divine and righteous Man Chair with a 262 Revere burning (it is #262sday afterall) and my eyes rolling at the latest surge of sludge that we apparently find important...or not so important as the case may be.
If you were anxious to learn the name of Beyoncé and Jay-Z's baby, you're an idiot.
If you were more anxious to learn the name of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's spawn, you should be throat punched. Further, if you think their chosen name of "North" is cool, you need more therapy than baby North is destined for. That therapy will, no doubt, find its way to the E channel in the form of a reality show called "North to Celexa."
Over the weekend, we were all scarred for life when aging "journalist" Geraldo Rivera decided it would be a good idea to tweet a selfie of his nude Geraldoness with a bathroom sink covering his Al Capone. Isn't he the guy that investigates and reports on public or prominent figures who do the same kind of shit with the underlying question being whether or not their judgement, or lack thereof, makes them fit for office or position? But there he was all naked with the caption that 70 is the new 50. No. Seventy is the new prescription for eye bleach and a fifth of Jack Daniels. Put some clothes on and STFU, Gerry...please.
Speaking of Geraldo's junk, yet another turd has floated back up to the surface as "formerly" disgraced former congressman and current NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner admits that new photos and online sex chat transcripts are, indeed, his. Apparently in his district, this kind of sexual mental illness is a resume enhancer because he is doing very well in the polls. I don't know who the bigger asshole is...his wife, or his constituency. This guy isn't qualified to wash dishes, and his continued empowerment by the failure of people to run him out of town on a rail means they will share fault if his sexual urges lead to somebody getting hurt. Anthony's Weiner should be on NY's do not call list forever.
And finally, the Royals. Now, I will be the first to admit that Kate whatsherface is a gorgeous young lady. Beyond that, I don't give a crap. It is a shame that she will be thrown under the Buckingham bus eventually, but the hyperventilation over her giving birth to the third in line for a crown that doesn't mean shit...except a tax bill for the subjects, I don't get. My only hope is that somehow she manages to live as normal a life as possible under the circumstances. A tall order. Honestly, I am a little more excited at the idea of her very hot sister, Pippa Middleton, moving to the United States and not following the "royal" code of conduct. I don't mean that in a Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes kinda way, but rather a tell it like it is kinda way. I'm not holding my breath.
So, if any of this stuff is of any importance to you beyond thumbing through a "People" magazine while waiting for a root canal, please do the country a favor and don't vote. Thank you.
...and that's the way I see it...From the Man Chair.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous mobile Man Chair slurping convenience store coffee, puffing away on a 262 Revere Robusto, and spraying blue windshield juice like a crop duster, I found myself thinking about balls.
No, you pig, not like that. I'm talking about friends with balls. No, you pig, not like that. I'm talking about the friends I have made that are part of the cigar industry that we love so much...and that includes many folks who I only have, at this point, a very small casual acquaintance with. The fact that you are reading this tells me that you probably know them too, or would like to. They are the people who have really changed the industry since the boom of the late 90's when I became a cigar smoker. They are the people who had a passion, an idea, a vision, a desire, or, in some cases, a mental illness that eventually brought them into my circle of friends, or awareness. They are the boutique cigar brand owners. These people have got a lot of balls.
Think about it. Many of these folks started out just like you and me...cigar smokers. Probably couldn't find Esteli on a freakin' map, or Connecticut, for that matter. Shit, we've all thought about it. "Man, I'd love to have my own cigar brand. That would be awesome, man." Right about then, the wife tells you you smell like Winston Churchill's underpants, and the kid's college tuition bill hits the mailbox. And just like that, you're back on a plastic lawn chair out in the cold garage with your feet up on the lawnmower suckin' on a lancero.
It was different with these people. The passion, desire, mental illness was clear. The force was strong with them. And they took a risk. (The biggest risk I've taken lately was spinach on a $5 footlong.) They borrowed money, mortgaged homes, made connections, researched, learned, listened, asked questions, listened more, quit well-paying jobs, traveled...a lot, ran up credit card debt, tested marriages, missed time with their kids, ate shitty food, drove the wheels off their cars, stayed in lousy hotels, suffered rejection, miscalculations, and even lawsuits. They cold-called, shook thousands of hands, made deals, got burned more than once, and drank a lot of bad coffee. They were often the boss and accounts payable, accounts receivable, marketing, public relations, human resources, housekeeping, shipping & receiving, and travel agent. They tweeted, blogged, and Facebooked. All that, sometimes before there was any profit.
And for what? So we could sit on our ass and smoke exquisite f*#king cigars.
THAT, my fellow lovers of the leaf, takes monumental balls.
Here's the real clincher. Ask any of these people if it was worth it...if they'd do it again, and I'll bet most, if not all, would tell you it was, and they would. Balls.
So, the next time you're in the company of one of these people, remember this, and use the opportunity to personally thank them for their enormous balls. Because without their balls, we'd be left scratching ours.
...and that's the way I see it...From the Man Chair.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous mobile Man Chair (a 2003 Grand Prix with 363835 miles) smoking a Partagas 1845 Corona Extra, slurping coffee, and flicking the fallen chunks of glaze from an apple fritter from my Emilio Cigars "La Musa" t-shirt onto the floor littered with cigar bands, I am realizing how quickly my 2 1/2 year old son (ok 33 months for you anal moms) is becoming a man.
We've been knee-deep in potty training now for some time and having great success. The few failures we have at this stage are 99% of the time mom and dad's fault for losing track of time, or just being lazy. The other 1% stems from a little dude who is just too damned busy to stop to take a leak. Nevertheless, the little dude has managed to figure out there are opportunities in developing this important lifetime skill.
The other day, it was time to head into the bathroom to take care of business, (that's "make poop," for those of you without kids) and I was surprised to get very little resistance. After the "I do it" ritual of lifting the lid, putting the special seat on the big potty, moving the step stool into position, removing shorts and underpants, and sliding up and into position, we began the often funny time of waiting for the face. You parents know what I mean.
Instead, this time, the little dude threw me a curve. He told me, not asked me, to bring him a book. After refusing my first two selections, he accepted a book of pictures of trucks, race cars, construction equipment, and airplanes. OK. Then, he told me, not asked me, to go...to leave him to his business at hand. He even pointed to the door as he instructed me to "go out there." WTF?!
After laughing a little as I left the bathroom with the little dooder parked on his throne, feet dangling, little tighty whities around his ankles, perusing a manly book about trucks, I had a pride moment. At 2 1/2, he has figured out that sometimes dropping a deuce is the only time you can have a little privacy in life. Use it wisely. Catch up on a little reading. Do some thinking. And let mother nature do her thing. Indeed, I was the proud papa.
So, knowing this is just the very beginnings of my son becoming a man, my thoughts turned to things like taking him for his first motorcycle ride, as I have many fond memories of riding with my dad as a little kid, and the day we enjoy a cigar together for the first time, etc. All really cool shit that, naturally, a proud dad would go to in his mind when thinking about his son growing up. With every cool thing to imagine, however, we tend to not think of the other stuff. Stuff that might not be so cool, but can be really funny nonetheless. The dude didn't make me wait very long.
Yesterday, he got his mother's attention, pointed to the kitchen and told her to "go cook something." Manly? Sure...as long as you're at a herf with the guys and the boss isn't around. Funny? Goddamned right it's funny!
Also yesterday, we all went to WalMart to grab some provisions. While scouting the wheat bread section, the little dude carpet bombed a solid ten foot section with a stench of July roadkill and sewer pipe that would gag a maggot. After I got yelled at...first for the assumption that I did it (I wish I could've claimed that one), and second for blaming it on my son, the little dude was asked if he pooped his pants. (Yes, it was that bad.) He said with a smile, "No, I cut the cheese." Manly? Sure...as long as you're at a herf with the guys and not trying to get laid. Funny? Goddamned right it's funny! That's high five funny. That's thumb to the forehead funny. This is going to be a fun ride.
I'm so proud.
...and that's the way I see it From the Man Chair.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous Man Chair, smoking a Cuba Libre One robusto, and still sensing residual hints of bacon in the air from Blowin' Smoke #150, I have had it up to my double chin with all this negative blabber about "sluts."
We all have slut tendencies, or we're all downright sluts for one thing or another. I've fully admitted my sluttiness for a few things over the years, much like I have admitted to being a lesbian, but that's another conversation altogether...or maybe not. Nevertheless, being a slut nowadays doesn't always refer to the most strict definition of the word, (i.e. a dirty, slovenly woman, or a prostitute) but, really, who among us doesn't go a little slovenly from time to time? I've damn near elevated it to an art form. It's a weekend. No plans. Twelve pack of ramen noodles. Remote control. Bathing optional...for three days. Oh, you've done it, and the old DMZ was more funky than George Clinton. Slut! You were slutificated. You were at slut-con 5...by definition.
Being a slut, however, often means having a very big weakness for something. For me, I'm a slut for several things. In fact, my slutpertoire seems to keep growing. I'm a bacon slut. I love bacon and all its bacony baconness. I'm also a fresh baked bread slut. When I combine my sluttiness for bacon AND fresh baked bread, I risk contracting slutorrhea. I'm also a slut for relaxing,scenic motorcycle rides, a great cup of coffee, rich, flavorful cigars, and boobies. Big or small, my inner slut doesn't care. None of my slut triggers are bad. Nobody gets hurt.
The word "slut" is used all the time and rarely does anybody bat an eye. In Seattle, you can ride the S.L.U.T Did you know that? The Who sang "I've got the hots for the sluts in the well thumbed pages of a magazine...." Carrie Bradshaw in Sex In the City asked, "Are we simply romantically challenged, or are we sluts?" Gianni Versace said, "You dress elegant women. You dress sophisticated women. I dress sluts." I'm a lancero cigar slut. One of the Cretins is a slut for guys in chaps. Another is a slut for petting zoos. What's the big slutty deal?
So, look. Stop being so damned sensitive. Stop denying it and embrace your slutitude. It stands for something...something that you believe in, something that moves you. Be proud of your slutness. Just don't expect me to pay for it.
...and that's the way I see it From the Man Chair.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous Man Chair smoking a 262 Paradigm Robusto and slurping coffee with VH1 Classics on the plasma I got to thinking. When did MY music become "classic" or (gasp) "oldies?" Oldies? That is the stuff my dad listened to...and I loved, by the way. No, I'm talking about the music that was popular when I was growing up.
Sure there is a boat load of it out there and you can find it online, on radio station time warp style weekends, specials on TV, and in a box of dusty cassette tapes somewhere in my basement. I try to expose my teenaged daughter, and soon, my son to it, but she rolls her eyes and laughs at me more than she tries to enjoy it and maybe add it to her iPod library. Left to themselves, my kids might never experience my generation of music outside of "that oldies station" on the radio...if they even listen to terrestrial radio anymore...I rarely do.
So, as a primer, I've decided to assemble a list, in no particular order, of ten songs from my youth that I think they have to know for various reasons to help them better appreciate their old man and whence he came. This list is by no means definitive and I reserve the right to add to and edit it as I see fit. Unzip your parachute pants, check the knot on your skinny tie, and see if you agree with any of my choices.
1) KISS - "Rock N Roll All Night" -- When I was a kid, I was a big KISS fan. I dressed as Ace Frehley for Halloween one year. I couldn't understand why my dad, who thought they were assholes, wouldn't let me go see them live at the old legendary Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh. I was 8 or 9, maybe. I was old enough. Their makeup, character alter egos, and concert productions were amazing. (Beats the hell out of a meat dress.) Gene Simmons should be teaching business at Harvard, and this song is an excellent first step into your air guitar career.
2) Don McLean - "American Pie" -- To many, that's all that needs to be said. Hardly. When this song came out, I was 5, and I always knew the "Chevy to the levy" line, but it wasn't until years later that I realized the song told a story and, thanks to my dad exposing me to HIS music, the story moved me. Every kid needs to know, at least the basics, of what "American Pie" is all about. Plus, it's a great song to sing when you are drunk...not that I condone that.
3) Buggles - "Video Killed The Radio Star" -- A long time ago, MTV, which stands for Music Television, actually played music videos. In some ways, it changed the world when it debuted at midnight, August 1, 1981 with the music video for this song. To see MTV, you needed cable. To get cable, you had to convince your parents to pay for TV which, up until that time, was free with four to six channels (if you were lucky) and required an antenna on the roof of your house. MTV was the smartphone/iPad of today...you were addicted to it.
4) A Flock of Seagulls - "I Ran" -- Just making sure you're paying attention. Look, there are two redeeming qualities to this song...more specifically, the music video. The dude's f'ed up hair, and the intensity with which he plays one, sometimes two keys on his synthesizer. Both are hysterical. There will be at least one time in your life when you will be presented with the opportunity to whip out a Flock of Seagulls reference to a friend's hair or some freak making your french fries...don't waste it...and the keyboard playing is just too damn funny.
5) Meatloaf - "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" -- When I started college, my tastes in music were expanded greatly and, I'm embarrassed to say, I had never heard this one before. I was turned on to this tune and the entire Bat Out of Hell LP...that's a record, a long play album...vinyl disk thing...never mind. The important thing is your old man was exposed to this song by a very cute girl from Erie who, upon hindsight observation, used me for sex. (Diane, do not EVER EVER do that. Sam,...wear a condom.) Anywho, the more important thing is this song is great to sing at the top of your lungs, drunk in a bar, with your significant other on your arm. Memorize the words and impress your friends. Sam...pay close attention to the words. Always listen to the head on your shoulders.
6) Dion & The Belmonts - "I Wonder Why" -- OK, before you think I am way older than I am, I'm including a couple songs in here that, thanks to my dad, were in my ears growing up. Dad turned me on to HIS music when I was a kid. A lot of his music was doo-wop, and this is my favorite doo-wop song. Sorry, no boy band can match the sounds that rose from the street corners without digital processing, big fat booties, and bling. This music paved the way for that stuff with snapping fingers and voices. Appreciate the past.
7) The Vogues - TIE - "You're The One & "Five O'clock World" - Another one from my dad...The Vogues. I can't decide which of these two are my favorite so, a tie. Not only are The Vogues from Pittsburgh, but I had the opportunity to introduce Chuck Blasko and The Vogues on stage during my days in radio and I would have given my left nut to have remained on stage with them pretending to sing back-up. Over the years, several groups have toured as The Vogues with original members split between some of them, legal battles and trademark issues. All that aside, the original The Vogues were great and they were from Pittsburgh...as well as many others. Great stuff. Thanks, Dad, for sharing your music with me.
8) AC/DC - "You Shook Me All Night Long" - Here's another one that you can flex your air guitar muscles to. Master the Angus Young head shake, leg work, and constipated face, and you'll be the hit of the keg party...or on the fast track to Ritalin.
10) Queen - "Bohemian Rhapsody" - I can't explain most of the lyrics and I don't care. This song has charted a number of times for a number of reasons over the years, but at the end of the day, it's a lot of fun to take the ride through this a cappella, ballad, opera and hard rock opus from Freddie Mercury's head. Bonus points if you know what Scaramouche is.
Again, your results may vary. Share them with me by clicking the "contact" link above.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous Man Chair enjoying an equally righteous 262'sday with a 262 Paradigm Box Pressed Toro, I am happy now that the NFL and the players' union have finally come to terms and Steelers training camp will begin at St. Vincent College in Latrobe shortly.
While I believe these jocks should make all that they can in their career, like in any other, I did grow weary of hearing multi-millionaires whine about their multi-multi-millionaire bosses not giving them enough money. Putting that aside, I am most happy for the businesses that benefit so much from training camp each year that they will be able to salvage some of their anticipated earnings that were looking like a loss for some time.
What I really hope we can put aside this season, however, is something else. I hope the players will shut up and play football. Today's media and social networking sites have given all of us a platform to spew anything we want to anybody who wants to listen. What it has also given to sports figures is a pulpit to whine, trash talk, pontificate about anything their little hearts desire. OK, fine. We all do it, for the most part, why not them? I have no problem that they use social networking media...none whatsoever. What I do have a problem with is how they react when others react to what they say.
Case in point, Steelers' running back, Rashard Mendenhall. I really liked this kid. He showed up with a chip on his shoulder, slacked off, and lost his spot before having a come to Jesus chat with Coach Tomlin. He got the message. He busted his ass, grew up, took responsibility for himself and worked his way back to a prominent spot on the team. I was happy for him. Was he Franco? No, but I liked liking Rashard. I enjoyed watching him play. He didn't come off to me as much like the arrogant, chest-beating, all-about-me-on-the-highlights assholes that have infected every team in the league. (The Big Ben humping in the AFC championship game notwithstanding.)
Then, a Navy SEAL put a couple bullets through Bin Laden's head. The country celebrates. No shit. That's when Rashard got schooled again. He sent out a tweet questioning the celebrations over Bin Laden's demise...calling it murder, as well as his involvement in 9/11 and suggesting we have only heard one side of the issue and never heard Bin Laden speak. Really, Rashard? Well, the shit hit the fan and soon afterward, Champion, a company that was paying Rashard a lot of money to basically shut-up and play, dropped him like a hot potato. Rashard then showed his colossal ignorance again by suing Champion claiming their actions were an infringement upon his First Amendment free speech rights. Somewhere in Rashard's education, he failed to learn that free speech works both ways, and free speech doesn't mean freedom from consequence or other speech, and other speech might come in the form of cash. If this even makes it before a judge, I would hope the judge would laugh this out of the courtroom.
So, as this football season gets underway, players, please don't distract me. I don't want to have my enjoyment of the game and my team interfered with by what you think about world politics, the economy, elections, chicken salad sandwiches or the over under on Plaxico shooting himself in the nutsack. Keep it benign, cliche and predictable. Please, I will cheer for you, support your charities, buy your jerseys, and make excuses for you when you make mistakes on the field, if you would just shut up and play.
...and that's the way I see it...From the Man Chair.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous Man Chair smoking a Royal Jamaica and sipping some Crown Royal with a Royal Crown Cola thinking all this royal stuff is a royal pain in my ass.
It's everywhere. Infomercials are hocking royal plates, knickknacks and other royally worthless crap. Every major news outlet has sent several crews, producers and big name anchors across the pond to cover this non-event. In doing so, they have now made a royal mistake and made royal asses out of themselves as hundreds of AMERICANS have been killed in strings of severe storms and tornadoes through the southern states. (Pray for these people.) Usually, the networks will send these very same people to disaster locations to get in the way of rescue and clean-up efforts and exploit the victims. Now, however, all their scheduled guests ready to chat about "the royals" are all being pre-empted for coverage of real news about real Americans. Good bloody job!
Personally, the only good thing about this royal wedding is how attractive the bride is and how lucky she is that her royal man looks more like his late mother than his royal buffoon of a father. Beyond that, any amount of "normal" this chick once possessed is fading and soon she will be one of them...the elitist leaches who look down upon their subjects.
The royals produce nothing, yet take everything, demand god-like treatment, and don't seem the least bit embarrassed by it...and the Brits allow it...celebrate it. And the royals are largely powerless. The people continue to support the royals' lifestyle. Huh? I don't get it. Yes, many members of our own governing class are no different, but we can actually vote their asses out. (If only we would more often.) I wouldn't walk across the street to see 99% of our governing elites let alone support a national holiday when one of them gets married. Who gives a royal rat's ass?
The lovely Girl Wonder asked me last night if these folks even wipe their own asses. When you are as disconnected and shielded from the realities of life as an everyday bloke as the royals are, I'm willing to bet that some of them actually have servants to wipe their ass. The royal version of "there's an app for that." What's that? Brushing your teeth is just too tedious? There's a servant for that. Can't be bothered with the TV remote control? There's a servant for that. Foreplay got you down. There's a servant for that.
Maybe all this royal bullshit irritates me so much because I don't think I, or the folks I usually herf with, would tolerate herfing with people like that. I've always said cigars are a great equalizer and I have herfed with people in tax brackets I will only ever dream about, with those who struggle, and many people in between...at the same time. Whatever they have, a little or a lot, they've earned and they respect each other. It doesn't matter in the herf trenches. How can any of these folks relate to a royal who has everything done for them, has everything given to them, yet does nothing to earn any of it? Can you imagine being told at a herf at your local B&M that you must or must not speak to that guy over there a certain way because they are royalty? Imagine me telling them to go f@*# themselves!
Yeah, I get the history thing. But, hey! This is 2011. The Brits have what they want, apparently. And what the Brits want is largely why we're Americans. Your royalty can kiss my ass.
...and that's the way I see it From the Man Chair.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous mobile Man Chair once again and just diggin' the hell out of a Vudu robusto, I've decided to throw my two cents into the whole new year resolution thing.
They're stupid and a colossal waste of time.
Really. If they worked, I'd look like George Clooney, be the talent scout for the annual Hooters calendar, and be able to shoot $100 bills out of my butt. Instead, I look more like Rosemary Clooney, spend my time smoking cigars and writing this goofy shit, and you don't want to know what shoots out of my butt. (Just ask my wife.)
I think most folks do it all wrong. They go into the resolution department with the idea of doing something they really don't want to do. It may sound like it, but if it was a total positive, they'd just do it and wouldn't need a new page on the calendar to make it happen. I say, resolve what you know.
So, what would an El Freako resolution declaration look like?
I resolve to smoke more of these Vudu sticks! (See how easy? Keep going?)
I resolve to continue producing the Blowin' Smoke Podcast.
I resolve to keep thinking of Cretin Kyle anytime I read about or see goats.
I resolve to continue being a boob-man.
I resolve to keep stuffing more cigars into the fridge-idor even though I will never be able to smoke all the cigars already stored there.
I resolve to keep thinking Stephanie Watson tops the list of Pittsburgh's sexiest TV news anchor women, followed closely by Shannon Perrine and Sonni Abatta (who is now in Orlando, Florida...lucky bastards). Links below.
I resolve to keep wanting to learn to ballroom dance so I can impress the GirlWonder some day, but will find it easier to watch Edyta Sliwinska on DWTS instead. Link below.
I resolve to continue to be a goodwill ambassador for Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. Burp.
And finally, I resolve to continue to be the loving and lovable, caring, devoted, protective, smartass, cynical, sometimes stinky, highly opinionated, Man Chair pontificating son, husband, father and friend I can be.
I don't know about you, but I'm thinking my odds are pretty damn good for keeping my new year resolutions.
...and that's the way I see it From the Man Chair.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous mobile Man Chair smokin' a Donnie G. Corojo Robusto, I can't help but notice a trend growing among all the other New Years celebrations, happenings and traditions being talked about and advertised. I'd like to throw a flag right here and call personal foul, intentional desecration of the boys, half the distance to the goal, no soup for you.
What is wrong with a guy who would willingly strip down to his skivvies on New Years morning and jump into a frigid body of water? Are you still dumb-ass drunk from the night before? Did your mother breastfeed you a little too long? Not enough fiber in your diet? What!? Please help me understand how you came to the conclusion that submerging your jingle berries in ice water is somehow a good idea.
It's spiritual, El Freako.
So is a good Pabst fart. Give me a break!
It's rejuvenating, der Freakmeister.
How is feeling your knick-knacks suck up into your esophagus faster than LiLo doing a line of booger dust at Charlie Sheen's house rejuvenating? That sounds a wee bit uncomfortable to me.
But, your Freako'ness, don't knock it 'til you've tried it.
Look, I don't need to jump in a goddamn arctic river in my Jockeys to know it's a bad idea. Not only is that the purest form of abuse to the boys (next to falling on the man-bar of an old 10-speed), but the shrinkage factor might make Little Richard disappear forever. I just can't risk it.
Needless to say, my boys and I will not be ringing in 2011 anywhere near a frosty stream, creek, river, lake or lagoon. Instead, I plan on pampering my boys...my way of saying 'thanks' for sticking with me for another year. Perhaps we'll enjoy some champagne New Years Eve. The bubbles make them frisky. On New Years Day, we'll sip coffee, maybe some tea, and watch hockey. I'll scratch their back from time to time...they love that, and maybe let them watch their favorite movies..."Dirty Harry", "Caddyshack", "Animal House" and "Porky's." Perhaps I'll wrap up the day by letting my boys stretch out in a hot shower?
Doesn't that sound more enjoyable than entering your doo-dads in a Ted Williams look-a-like contest? Incidentally, women who like to jump in freezing water I have no issue with...provided they send me pictures.
Happy New Year! Take care of your boys.
...and that's the way I see it From the Man Chair.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous mobile Man Chair with the smoke of a Plasencia TKO blowing through the vents of the car behind me, I have become aware of various psychosomatic symptoms that plague my daily commute.
I am a talk radio junkie which means I enjoy a lot of political discussion, debate and thinking. I can handle most of that most of the time. It's the election season campaign ads, however, that have reached critical mass, and lately I am really struggling to maintain control of my bodily functions while this filth ricochets around my cranium. Certain words and phrases have caused (individually or in combination) cramping, nausea, blurred vision, nervous ticks, retching, belching, migraines, whiplash, nose bleeds, Tourette's, dandruff, poor gas mileage, flop sweat, ingrown toenails, projectile vomiting, and more.
Allow me to share with you some of these trigger words and phrases:
Tax Cuts for the Rich - nose bleed
Shovel Ready - belch
Nancy Pelosi - 2 min. Tourette's spell
Saved or Created - whiplash
Wall Street Bailout - nervous tick
Health Care - nausea
Shipping Jobs Overseas - cramps, retching
Harry Reid - loss of bladder control
Working People - blurred vision, cramping
Keys to the Car/Car in Ditch - poor gas mileage, dandruff
Create Jobs - vomit
If you are also suffering from any of these reactive disorders, you're in luck because I have come up with several cures ranging from drastic to casual in their approach.
Cure #1 - Turn the shit off! Yes, this is the most drastic because in order to escape this constant barrage of bullshit, lies and politician slime, you have to go without TV, radio, internet, smart phone, outdoor advertising, direct mail and the occasional knock on the door. If you can live in a cave and poop in a bucket for a month, this option is for you.
Cure #2 - Selective disengagement. This is tough, but not as tough as the hermit method above. Load up the iPod with your favorite tunes and entertaining podcasts and have that fill your ears whenever possible. Make a conscious effort to keep the boob tube off the cable news channels and local and network news programs for a few weeks of detox. Instead, cleanse yourself with sports, Mike Rowe and the MythBusters. Dry off with a few episodes of Shimmy or Destroyed in Seconds.
Cure #3 - LigeroTherapy. I'm too weak to go witness protection and I have to have my talk radio. If you're like me, LigeroTherapy is the way to go. It combines the best parts of Cures #1 & #2 along with an hour or two a day with a fine handmade cigar, choice beverage and the freedom to say whatever pops into your head. It really works too. For example, the first third of my LigeroTherapy appears as a combination of Tourette's, nervous ticks and Nicaraguan corojo. As the cigar is smoked, it devolves, or evolves depending on your perspective, into an aromatic smokey silence disturbed only by the occasional belch from a Pabst Blue Ribbon.
All in favor? All opposed? The yeas have it.
...and that's the way I see it...from The Man Chair.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous Man Chair with a Rocky Patel Junior Sumatra in one hand and an ice cold HE'BREW Chosen Beer sweating on the table next to me, I'm trying to get my imagination back.
OK, not my "imagination," but the imagination I used to have. Somewhere between now and 30 years ago I lost it...or it lost me...maybe on purpose. At least that is what I have come up with so far since I was confronted with this situation last week.
It all started when my daughter, 14, decided to clean her room...actually clean it, not just rearrange the clutter. Maybe it was us telling her that the producers of "Hoarders" were calling, or the promise to repaint and redecorate that made the real results happen. Who really knows? But it was either she gets it done or Dad is calling in a Napalm strike. For days, she went through old stuff dating back to pre-school and tossed a lot of it. I was very proud of her as I have some pack rat tendencies myself. One evening, she was showing me a large folder stuffed with pre-school art projects and drawings asking me if I remembered them when she said she wished she still had that imagination.
Wow. If a 14 year old, who is supposed to have an amazing imagination, can recognize the drastic changes in her own imagination in just ten or eleven short years and wish for the old one back, where does that leave me? The more I thought about it, the more I wanted that childhood imagination back again. Hell! I'll take the teenage imagination...at least I know it will involve beautiful girls. What used to be running around the neighborhood with no shirt and no shoes all summer long playing "smear the something that rhymes with smear", drinking out of a neighbor's garden hose and collecting buckeyes in shopping bags has become gas mileage, pulling weeds and faucets that drip. What used to be baseball cards in my spokes pretending to be Evil Knievel has become motorcycle payments and little time to ride. What used to be playing for hours and hours in snow that seemed so deep convinced that I was a US infantry soldier fighting nazis in the Battle of the Bulge (when I was actually in the woods behind a house somewhere in my neighborhood) has become heating bills, school cancellations and doppler radar.
I don't know about you, but I really miss the days of that imagination. My Big Wheel WAS a Camaro, my Huffy WAS a Yamaha, and the big old furnace in my grandmother's basement absolutely positively WAS a monster that would grab me and kill me if I didn't pedal my tricycle past it at a minimum of mach 2. I COULD run like Franco Harris. I COULD throw like Kent Tekulve, and I COULD laugh so hard I would pee my pants. OK, I still do that but for different reasons. My point is we do grow up and we do change, but do we really have to lose all of that really cool imagination from childhood? No we don't. Many, like the Disney folks, know that, but for the average shmo, like me, how do you work that into the daily grind of being a grown-up?
My 9 month old son may be the key. Pretty soon, I will be blessed to witness that childhood imagination again through his eyes. It's up to me. I can just watch it as a grown-up, or I can try sometimes to leave the grown-up behind, jump in, and be a part of it. Can you herf on Sesame Street?
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous Man Chair with the rising smoke from a Cain F Habano 550 slowly circling the room, my thoughts are mostly memories today - memories of a friend I lost on Friday who was laid to rest today.
If you've been enjoying cigars for more than a few weeks, you know how they possess many strange yet wonderful powers. Cigars are a great equalizer able to bring different backgrounds, lifestyles, professions, politics, ages and tax brackets together in a civil, respectful and enjoyable manner. Cigars create the environment that grows strong friendships and, just as cigars require a certain commitment of your time and thoughts, the friendships formed over cigars are committed friendships lasting many years often over many miles. Cigars are how I met Mark.
When I brought this little idea called the Blowin' Smoke Podcast to market, Mark discovered the show and decided to drop me a line to comment on something we discussed. That email led to another and another and soon Mark was a contributor to the show as well as a regular attendee of some of our larger herfs during the year. Mark was one of my biggest fans and I became one of his.
I cannot recall a time that Mark traveled from Buffalo to western Pennsylvania for a crazy herf or the annual Cigar Crawl that he did not come bearing gifts - each one with a story, and each story a reflection of the man Mark was. He would remember a small detail of a passing conversation or a comment you made and use it to stumble upon or seek out the perfect thoughtful gift.
Mark loved his family and you knew it. The proud father of two fine young men, Mark was always updating us on their school work, hobbies and community service. Mark's boys have a better grasp of the world around them than most adults I know and neither one of them are old enough to have a beer with me to toast their old man. Mark and Diane have raised them well. They will succeed.
There was one thing, however, I was always jealous of with Mark - his ability to enjoy what he enjoyed. That may sound silly, but it's true. With all the stresses of life, and later a cancer diagnosis, Mark would make it a point to enjoy what made him happy as much as he could and usually bring someone else with him. Because he loved roller coasters, Mark joined a group that traveled together to enjoy famous coasters. Because Mark loved professional wrestling (to this day, Mark...I still don't get it), he got involved in his region be penning a newsletter, becoming known in the inner circles, and eventually becoming a ring announcer. Because Mark loved fireworks, he signed himself and his best friend up for pyrotechnics classes. Because of these and many other things Mark decided to jump into, things I would guilt myself out of, he always had great stories to tell. I'm going to try to be more like Mark and try new things, get more involved. Life is, indeed, too short.
When Mark told me of his cancer diagnosis a couple years ago, I only wanted to think about him beating it, being strong and winning. Mark was beating it. He was strong and he was winning. And then he wasn't. You can only take so much and Mark fought hard. Cancer took all his strength until there wasn't anymore.
When I received word that Mark had passed, I had just lit up a cigar called "Simpatico." I found that to be appropriate. So, if you don't mind me asking, please pray for and smoke one for Mark and his family. Then, take a couple of minutes to think about how your life has been enriched by the people you've come to know through cigars...these magical little cigars. Rest easy, Mark.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous Man Chair with a well-aged Arturo Fuente Short Story smoldering I find myself confused. Should this make me angry? Should this make me laugh? Should this make me sad for us as a people?
What the hell am I talking about? Well, this week we learned that a six year old kindergarten kid in Michigan was suspended for pretending his hand was a gun and pointing at another student. What? Yes, a six year old kid was suspended from school, not for dealing drugs, not for torching the locker room, not for calling the principal a cock sucker, and not for porking his math teacher in the broom closet, but for pointing at another student. School officials said they had asked the boy to stop pointing his finger gun at other students several times, but he did not. An investigation by the crack members of the school board subsequently determined that the six year old was not licensed to carry a concealed finger gun having failed a background check. Furthermore, a record of aggressive behavior against his mother for making him eat spinach forbade him from even owning a finger gun.
What the hell is going on here? Suspended? Really? Other kids were uncomfortable? Really? This makes me wonder if the goal here really is to turn boys into pussies instead of men and all kids into PC indoctrinated non-thinking feel-gooders instead of personally responsible, well-educated, thinkers, creators and problem solvers.
Isn't it ironic that the finger formation used to make a big scary imaginary gun to terrorize fellow students is exactly the same finger formation used to make a big ass "L" for loser on one's forehead? Hell, I make that same hand gesture several times a day when I pick my nose! Had the nut jobs that sit on school boards today been around when I was a kid, I never would have graduated. Boys doodled pictures of battles, guns, tanks and fighter planes spitting out bullets all the time. When I was six, my cousin and I used to run around the neighborhood for hours in a make believe WWII game killing nazis with finger gun 1911's and tree branches for rifles and bayonets. We had spring loaded toy guns that fired plastic rods with suction cups on the end and tried like hell to get one to stick to a buddy's face. We played cowboys and Indians...cops and robbers...and guess what, you idiot educators and school administrators? We survived. We learned how to play together, share and solve problems, and we didn't need mommy and daddy or government every time we didn't like something.
Should this little kid have been suspended from school? Absolutely not. Should he have been disciplined if he was asked to stop a certain behavior and did not? Absolutely. Perhaps no recess? Eat lunch with the principal instead of his friends? Stay after school and clean the chalkboards and erasers? Teach him consequence in a way he can understand at six years old. You claim to be educators. You should know this.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous Man Chair smoking a Montecristo Cabinet Toro, slurping Nicaraguan coffee and staring out the Havana Room window at 15+ inches of snow on the ground, I am briefly distracted by the local newsbabe on the tube trying not to hyperventilate while she rehashes the snowfall totals and emergency declarations.
While I stare at the TV through the rich aromatic cigar smoke, my brain drifting back and forth between the doppler radar images and concocted images of what the newsbabe would like like in a Victoria's Secret push-up bra and matching thong, another vision pops into my under-caffeinated brain.
It's late 2009 and I am holed up with the Cretins in the Havana Room wallowing in my own ash covered stink following a weekend cigar and bourbon bender when somebody, it doesn't matter who, came up with the idea. The next two months are a blur until we find ourselves being air dropped on to the upper Mahoning Creek in north central Pennsylvania. Our provisions include cigars, coffee, and Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos. Our mission: terminate a rogue groundhog who has become "unhinged." His name is Kurtz, but his followers know him as Phil. We are equipped with various small arms, shoulder fired buck-tooth seeking missiles, and an M107 .50 cal Long Range Sniper Rifle.
After two days adrift, (because somebody dropped us up Mahoning Creek without a paddle) the current carried us to the outskirts of Punxsutawney very early on the morning of February 2nd. We devise a plan to disguise ourselves as drunken revelers in order to gain access to the perimeter surrounding Phil's controlled compound, Gobbler's Knob. It takes us approximately ten seconds to don our disguise.
What transpires over the next seven hours becomes the stuff of legend. The danger. The intrigue. The precision. Amid the height of the celebration, the intoxicated chaos and the ritual, a single shot timed perfectly with the knock of a cane on the tree stump door and it was done. All they found, in a nearby thicket, was a single cigar band. A calling card? Maybe. It read Gurkha Assassin.
If only. But for now, it's back to the newsbabe for the latest snow totals. Yeah, I got your 15 inches right here!
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous mobile Man Chair with the smoke of a Montecristo Classic Toro wafting through a crack in the window as I navigated the highways and byways of western Pennsylvania in January I realized again how much winter weather sucks, especially when it comes to smoking cigars.
I could go on about all the other reasons why winter weather sucks like home heating bills, idiots who think an SUV makes them impervious to black ice, hat head, and layered clothing to name a few, but when it screws with my cigar enjoyment, I really get pissed. Often, a little bit of cigar time goes a long way toward making all the crappy winter weather stuff more tolerable. Winter weather with the snow, ice and bone chilling cold, however, tends to dampen herfing spirits as more folks opt to stay in than deal with all the extra bull crap involved with just getting from Point A to Point Herf. Smoking bans have all but eliminated places to light up and a local cigar shop isn't always an option. Sure there is the old garage herf, but without some basic creature comforts like, I don't know…heat and a place to pee that doesn't make your 'nads climb up to your pancreas, it loses its luster quickly. I'm lucky to have the famous Havana Room where the super fantastic Blowin' Smoke Podcast emanates from, but waiting for the kerosene heaters to kick in can be a buzz kill when it's 10 below outside. I know. Maybe I shouldn't complain too much.
No matter how you slice it, winter weather herfing is generally not as easy as warm weather herfing, but it's not just location, location, location. So, I have assembled my list of 5 ways winter weather screws with my herfing.
5) Torch lighters and cold temps do not compliment one another. Wind proof my ass.
4) Fragile wrappers become exploding wrappers in cold temps.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous Man Chair with a Gran Habano 3 Siglos robusto and a mug of Torcedor Coffee Cabinet Blend, I found myself offended. Not at the fact that my son yatched up formula all over my shoulder and down my back, or the fact that my trusty triple flame torch lighter refuses to work in temps below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but at the fact that everybody else is so easily offended.
Every time you turn around, somebody is whining about being offended. This is the season we see and hear a lot of this infantile garbage with bunches of it focused on Christmas. When did we become such pussies that the expression "Merry Christmas" actually offends someone? A tree offends you? A TV commercial making fun of the mob offends you? Please. Grow a pair and grow up. Live your own life and stop trying to change mine based upon your mental shortcomings.
'Tis the season, though. So, in the spirit of bandwagon bitching, I'd like to take a moment and offer up some of the things that offend ME. Here goes.
Smoking bans. I am, at least I think I am, a free American engaging in a legal activity that is already disproportionately taxed. A legal business, such as a bar or restaurant, should be free to decide what their individual smoking situation should be. It offends me when both individuals and businesses are forced out of choice and into regulation of a legal activity.
Cigars that under-perform. Not cigars that are a personal dislike along subjective lines like taste, strength or appearance, but cigars that are plugged, poorly finished or don't burn well. When I drop a Hamilton or more on one of your cigars and it falls to pieces or I have to fight with it, that offends me. The goal is to relax and enjoy. Make it so. See the pictures below.
Politicians. Everything you do involves taking from someone. Every time you speak, it costs us money. When you can look me in the eye and tell me that a 2000 + page pile of dung is going to save us money, you offend me. Shut up. Do nothing. Get out of our way.
Misguided youth. Just because you graduated from high school or college doesn't mean the world owes you a thing. Be it a six figure salary or health insurance, you are young, inexperienced and stupid. You offend me. Turn off the reality shows, get a job or two and earn your way up.
Windproof lighters that aren't. If the act of lighting a cigar blows out your flame, that isn't windproof and that offends me. I want to hear an F-14 afterburner in my hand when I click.
Finally, holiday sales. Look, Sparky, you're not fooling anybody. It's a Christmas sale. This is the time of the year where you can win or lose, live or die and it's not because of the winter solstice. It's because it's Christmas and people are buying Christmas gifts. When you give in to PC while sticking your hand out to me, that offends me. Christmas or otherwise, call it what it is.
Time for a refill on the coffee. I hope the fabulous Girl Wonder lets me back in. Apparently she was offended by the requests to pull my finger. Typical.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous Man Chair with a Don Gonzalez Corojo Robusto, I got to thinking about the recent changes in the conversations between your Freako and the fabulous Girl Wonder.
What used to be the sharing of mindless stories of the day's happenings at the orifice, discussions of the latest political ankle grabbing in Washington, or the current drama bubbling up from our collective families has been replaced by talk about the baby. Of course it has. There's a baby in the house and life pretty much revolves around the baby for a while, but I recently realized a close relationship between the baby topics of conversation and the average herf conversations that take place everywhere.
With a baby, you talk about naps. At a herf, you talk about cigars.
With a baby, you talk about how many bottles baby has had. At a herf, you talk about how many cigars you've had.
With baby, you talk about baby's development and learning. At a herf, you talk about your cigar history, the cigars you enjoy currently and why.
With a baby, you talk about poopy diapers and describe the contents relative to diet. At a herf, you talk about various cigars and describe their flavor, strength and body relative to the tobaccos in them.
With a baby, you relate baby's temperment with his diet and sleep schedule. At a herf, you relate cigars to various drink pairings, meals and times of day.
See what I mean? Sure there is small talk, political banter and general ball busting at a herf too, but the basics are almost always estabished early on to open the door for the other stuff.
I think when I introduce my son to the herf as a young man, in addition to the box of cigars I have set aside until his 18th or 21st birthday, I'll bring out the pictures of him as he is today at exactly one month old and try to recall the way his mother and I feel right now about him coming into our lives. Then, after some father/son formalities, begin a new era of herfing for me. Herfing with my son...something I never got to do with my dad. What awaits us between birth and herf remains to be seen, but those cigars will certainly be worth waiting for.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous Man Chair with a Rocky Patel ITC 10th Anniversary Robusto and a mug of Nicaraguan Torcedor Coffee, I am thinking about boobs.
Yeah. What else is new? But I'm not thinking about boobs in the usual way. This is different.
You may have heard that the Girl Wonder and I recently had a baby boy. If you have ever had a child of your own or visited someone who has in the hospital, chances are you have experienced the lacto-nazis. Every birthing unit of every hospital and most OB/GYN offices have at least one lacto-nazi lurking around at all times. Their job is to befriend, indoctrinate, coerce and convert new and expectant mothers into the world of breast feeding come hell or high water. They prey on young fearful first time mothers who are already questioning their nurturing potential with all the raging hormones coursing through their veins. They sneak up on you, although a trained eye can easily spot them first. They loiter. They wear ID tags, but don't wear scrubs. They wait for that moment of weakness and they pounce! And like that, we guys get a time out and our toys taken away. No boobs! It sucks...literally.
Now let me be very clear. Breast feeding is a wonderful thing. From the bonding between mom and baby to the unmatched health benefits for baby, breast feeding is, hands down, the best. However, it is not the only choice and it is not always a choice for a number of reasons. You new moms and dads need to know that your choice to nurse or not or anything in between is your choice period and no one can or should judge you on your choice whatever it is or is not.
Back to the boobs. For several days, I watched quietly as two high ranking members of the lacto-gestapo worked their magic on the Girl Wonder. They grabbed, held, cupped, squeezed, pinched, tweaked, shook, kneaded, rolled, and jiggled my wife's boobs. And they didn't have to mow the lawn, do the dishes or buy her jewelry! They even hooked her up to pumps, hoses, tubes and gizmos called the Suck-Master 3000 or something. If I came at her with a gadget like that, the Girl Wonder would have me committed.
It was then, as I was being boobie-blocked by the lacto-nazis, that I wondered why I couldn't have a gig like that. Travel the world...play with boobs. I'm perfectly qualified. A quick refresher course and I'd be up to speed on the latest health information on breast feeding. I'm detail oriented. I'm a good listener. I can start immediately. And I love boobs. Why couldn't I do it? Oh, that's right. I'm a guy. That would be weird...or would it?
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous Man Chair smoking a La Gloria Cubana Wavell, I've been thinking back to the other night when I watched The Biggest Loser
season premiere while eating a piece of cake. While this is one "reality" show I don't mind watching for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I could be a contestant, the smartass cynic in me quickly took over. You skinny bastids might not understand.
How much difference would it make to us fat asses if the fast food joints would stop asking us if we would like "something else" with that? I'm all for accepting personal responsibility, but if you are going to put the image of some deep fried starchy thing drizzled in fudge with a ranch dipping sauce in my head, at best I'm going to consider it and at worst I'm going to get a frickin' bucket of it...and another Diet Coke to justify it. Just give me what I ask for and shut the hell up! I'm seeing a smaller pants size right there.
Next, how much difference would it make to us fat asses if we watched ourselves eat? You know. Wire your digital camera to the TV inputs and start the show. I know the mere thought of this makes me want to go on a hunger strike...except with donuts. I'd be less skeeved, maybe even a little confident watching myself eat a salad, but when the double quarter pounder with nougat rolled out along with a bag of Andy Capp Hot Fries, I'd be purging like Britney Spears after a Vegas buffet. Class reunion here I come!
Finally, getting back to The Biggest Loser, given the almost unbelievable circumstances of the contestants and what they have to do, it stands to reason that at one time or another somebody on that show has crapped their pants in the gym. That would be me. How could I possibly handle being turned on by sexy trainer Jillian Michaels while running a treadmill while she spit F-bombs two inches from my sweaty, cigar breath spewing face? I'll tell you how. Crap my pants.
That's got to be good for a pound...give or take, right?
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous Man Chair, with a smoldering Augusto Reyes Nativo corona, I feel compelled to explain, or perhaps educate those who have not completely grasped the increasingly popular Stoopid Movie Thursday Herf concept.
If you are a herf virgin, you will not understand immediately, but you will understand eventually. Herf professionals, you may need a refresher from time to time. It's easy to begin taking yourself too seriously...unlike the Man Chair, of course.
The Stoopid Movie Thursday Herf is not about movies stupid or otherwise, and it is not about Thursdays. It's about the Herf, people. The Herf.
It's about pressing the pause button and slowing down. It's the sublime ceremony of enjoying a fine cigar in good company. It's about friends and inside jokes. It's about ligero, olor, and Connecticut shade. It's about sports and politics, beer and bourbon, Ginger and Mary Ann. It's about escaping for a while. It's about anything you want it to be and nothing you don't, because it's about the Herf...cigars and people.
While Stoopid Movie Thursday Herfs do generally include a movie, they are background...irrelevant. This is why the Man Chair scours the bargain rack at the local video store for the truly lame options that will fit the background noise designation perfectly...such as any movie starring Paris Hilton or Pauly Shore. That, and the Man Chair is a cheap bastard.
If you don't, make time to herf. A little or a lot, it doesn't matter as long as you herf. Whether it is Stoopid Movie Thursday Herfs, Fridays at the cigar shop, Wednesday poker nights, or Mondays in the garage, it's about the Herf.
Hence embedded in the divine and righteous Man Chair with a Padilla Habano robusto in hand and a Diet Coke to my left, I am tasked with introducing you to this new segment found only on BlowinSmokePodcast.com called "From the Man Chair"...to give you a little taste of what to expect in the weeks and months to come.
When my full figured posterior parks itself in the Man Chair with a fine cigar, all that matters is what I think. From the Man Chair, I am in my Archie Bunker chair in my house playing by my rules...until the wife gets home. From the Man Chair, mine is the only opinion that matters. From the Man Chair, I am free to pontificate and proscribe at will. From the Man Chair, grandstanding is the national past time. You get the picture, right?
Now, before we go any further, we should lay down some Man Chair rules. These rules are always subject to modification, addition or deletion, that's right, From the Man Chair.
Rule #1 - Respect the Man Chair.
Rule #2 - When in doubt, see Rule #1.
Rule #3 - Only the rightful owner of the Man Chair may claim its powers unless a temporary substitute is duly chosen by said rightful owner.
Rule #4 - The Man Chair shall not be overturned, overruled, or appealed except as welcomed by the Man Chair.
Rule #5 - The Man Chair can be bribed.
Rule #6 - The Man Chair will deny Rule #5.
What's next? Only the Man Chair knows. We might be discussing the finer points of micro-brews one day and the rubbernecking of the Jon & Kate + clown car vagina the next.
It might get ugly. It might be weird. It might be exactly what we need. Stay tuned.