Cigar and Wine Reviews: Micallef Grande Bold A Maduro and Ménage à Trois Midnight.

Tonight I have a cigar and a wine to review, so let’s just get right down to business.

Grande Bold A Maduro

This offering from Micallef cigars features an Ecuadorian Broadleaf Maduro wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and long fillers. The size reviewed is a 5″ x 52RG Robusto vitola.

First light is a perfect draw producing thick plumes of smoke. Medium/full body. Earthy and peppery. A tinge of must and an unsweetened cocoa in the background.

The first third tames the pepper a bit while seemingly dialing the body down to medium. Smoke gets creamier and the cocoa asserts itself more on the finish while the earthy tones morph more toward a distinct leather.

The 2nd third sees a subtle shift as the leather takes on a cashew note and the pepper dies out completely allowing an aromatic bright cedar to shine on the retrohale. No further changes were noted in the profile but the body came back up to medium/full in the last third. Ending at 50 minutes for an average burn time for the size and entering a subtle mild/medium nicotine strength.

Flawless construction and a razor sharp burn. Ash holds for half the stick at a time. No issues there.

An interesting complex cigar great for any time of the day. Would go well with a variety of drinks but went very well with tonight’s wine. My only issue is I would have liked the body to maintain its intensity instead of dipping toward the middle. Rating: 4/5.

Ménage à Trois Midnight

This dark red blend from California consists of 59% merlot, 16% cabernet sauvignon, 15% petite sirah and 10% petit verdot.

Pours a deep burgundy color. Ample lacing when swirled. Aromas of black cherry and rose petals. Flavors of blackberries and raspberries, plum, cherry and a hint of nutmeg. Finish contains a slight hint of chocolate. Medium body and mouthfeel.

Very good middle of the road wine for everyday drinking. Not too expensive. Complex enough and easy to please. Went well with the above cigar. Rating: 4/5.

That’s all for today. Have you had either of today’s offerings? Let me know what you thought!

Geez, it’s been 5 months since my last tattoo session.

I’m going crazy here. I long to feel the sweet sting of the needle reminding me I’m still alive and suffering. Hopefully soon…

3 Years in the Crane Business

August 27th is a bit of a personal anniversary as it were – it marks the day I got my start in the crane business. I was quite cynical about the whole thing when I started, thinking I would last my usual 6 months to a year in it before I failed out again, but somehow I have managed to make it a full 3 years now – 2.5 years with my former company and I have just completed 6 months with my new company.

So how are things going? Truth be told, not that great. After the “newness” wore off of this job, I’m about 90% as miserable as I was with my previous company. The upsides? My boss isn’t a verbally abusive tyrant and at least I’m back in my hometown with what few friends I have. In that light, am I better off than I was this time last year? Absolutely. Am I happy? No way.

I almost hate to admit it but I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be happy. It’s been so long it’s a foreign feeling to me. I feel so bad day in and day out. Sure, I have my bits of euphoria but that’s about it – nothing lasting. At the end of any of my fun little excursions I’m right back to where I was previously – miserable.

I just don’t know what to do anymore. Part of me thinks I should find a new industry but will that really be the answer to my woes? Realistically speaking probably not and especially when looking for a new industry involves another probably relocation, which I learned the first time around that’s a big mistake. Abilene is my home. I don’t want to leave it again. The other part thinks maybe eventually I’ll become numb to this whole thing and just quit caring. I also question the validity of that notion.

One way or another I feel trapped, and with the increased FDA regulations on the tobacco industry in the US, L&B just isn’t feasible. Unless the FDA reverses course and grants an exemption to the long drawn out approval process for premium cigars and premium pipe tobacco, the regulations are going to kill that industry in the US. We’ll still be able to get cigars but we’ll have to buy from overseas. It really sucks.

So the next question is, with the revised guidelines now vs. when I was younger, should I maybe consider an aviation career? At 31 years old, that might be very difficult to do with mandatory retirement at age 65. Zero flight time to 250 hours + all ratings takes about five months in an all-intensive training program, and then to even get in the door with an airline I’d have to log another 1,250 hours (the minimum requirement to get an airline job in the US is 1,500 flight hours). That puts me at about age 35 +/- before even getting in with a regional airline, and then about another 10 years at that level before moving up to a major or legacy carrier. By that point, I’m only looking at 20 years in the majors at most before mandatory retirement, all while having to work another job on top of flying because flight instructors and regional airline pilots don’t get paid worth a shit, all while having an incredibly huge debt from flight school (that shit ain’t cheap!). In other words, I’d likely be ass-broke for the next 15 years of my life at least, which presents its own challenges.

I just don’t know what the hell to do. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Natalie Cole once sang “I thought this time, this time we’re gonna make it; why I thought so I really don’t know…tell me lies and I’ll come running.” Well that’s pretty much how I feel right now. On what should be a celebratory day, it feels like I’m lamenting it instead.

And people wonder why I subscribe to the antinatalist viewpoint. Dr. David Benatar was right – it really is better never to exist. Then there’d be none of this BS to deal with. Alas, we do exist and many of us have an interest in continued existence so ceasing to exist once already in existence is also a harm. Again, a catch-22.

Well fuck.

EDIT: Apparently this is also my 500th post. Hah. Two milestones in one fell swoop. I only wish it would have been a happier one. Oh well.

Song Lyric Sunday 8/26/18 – Live Life (Redux)

In probably the most vague Song Lyric Sunday theme I can recall in my time participating in this weekly challenge, we get the curveball “plan.” Like what the hell am I supposed to make of that? A personal plan, plans in general, what?

So, as embarrassed as I am to do this, the only two songs that came to mind for me were songs I’d shared previously. One of them was “Break It Down Again” by you-know-who (which contains the lyric “so those are my dreams, and these are my plans…”) and this one. Alas, the last time I shared this song it was when I had first started participating in this challenge and it got next to no views, so that’s what swayed me this way.

I first heard this song on season 23 (fall 2016) of Dancing With The Stars when IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe and his pro partner Sharna Burgess did their premiere night foxtrot to this song. I think this song actually is, in general, a good plan to live by regardless of who you are.

With that, I share for the 2nd time on SLS the song “Live Life” by Zayde Wolf (written by Dustin Burnett). The songs are in the video so I’ll not transcribe them here.

As a little bonus feature, here’s the aforementioned dance:

Until next week!

Beer Review: W00t Stout

This bourbon barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout from Stone Brewing in Escondido, California in collaboration with Drew Curtis, Wil Wheaton and Greg Koch is a heavyweight in traditional Stone fashion. It weighs in at 11.5% ABV, 45 IBU and an unspecified gravity rating.

Stone always has these entertaining blurbs on their bottles, as can be seen here:

This beer pours a jet black as any good Imperial Stout should. A solid inch of tan head that recedes to a small ring that sticks around and leaves some lacing. Big aromas of chocolate, dark fruit, roasted malt and alcohol and a touch of vanilla. The palate is a big blast of rich caramel and milk chocolate up front supported by a tinge of vanilla and pecan. The middle of the palate turns fruity with notes of black cherry and raisin which eventually gives way to a finish consisting of espresso and the slightest tinge of pine. Bourbon takes over on the aftertaste and on the way down. Thick in body with low carbonation, this one is a sipper for sure, though it drinks easily enough.

What a great beer. It’s big and complex, lots of flavors going on. This one is definitely a sipper. This one is a 5/5 all the way.

Suggested cigar pairings include the Marrero Fuerte, CO Final Third, Padron 80 Years, CAO Brazilia.

Song Lyric Sunday 8/19/18 – Ever Met A Day

Song Lyric Sunday is once again upon us and our topic is “fear.” Well OK, that theme is part of the name of my favorite band (which, if you’ve paid attention, you know what band that is) so I have to take it somewhat in that direction.

Alas, I’m going to incorporate one of my biggest fears into the theme as well so it’s almost a double whammy. Almost all of my friends are considerably older than me. I’m also single and have no children (and likely will stay that way forever). Yeah, I have two younger siblings but none of us really get along. As such, unless I blow my brains out (an option that sounds very attractive at times, don’t get me wrong), get killed in a car wreck or something else, there will come a day where I have absolutely nobody left around me. I’ll have no friends, no family, no descendants. I won’t even be so much as a blip on the radar. Ain’t nobody gonna give a shit about me when all that goes down.

That is a real fear of mine. In fact, it’s probably my biggest fear. It’s not a day I ever want to meet but that I will in all likelihood. As such, the song I’m choosing is “Ever Met A Day” by the band Graduate. Graduate was the band that was founded by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith prior to the foundation of Tears for Fears, so it has that link also. I’m assuming the song was written by Orzabal but I can’t find any definitive credit anywhere.

I’m looking to the right and to the left
Searching each and every direction
What am I gonna find there?
Looking in the east and in the west
Open to all suggestions
Is there anyone who cares?

Have you ever met a day when it seems like
No one wants to know ya?
Ever met a day when it seems like
No one wants to know ya?
Ever met a day when it seems like
No one wants to know ya?

I’m looking for a light and for a home
Wishing there was someone I could talk to
But still I see no answer
All I mean is that I’m all alone
I’m sure that anyone will do
No it, no him, no her

Have you ever met a day when it seems like
No one wants to know ya?
Ever met a day when it seems like
No one wants to know ya?
Ever met a day when it seems like
No one wants to know ya?

So…

I’m looking to the right and to the left
Searching each and every direction
What am I gonna find there?
Looking in the east and in the west
Open to all suggestions
Is there anyone out there?

Have you ever met a day when it seems like
No one wants to know ya?
Ever met a day when it seems like
No one wants to know ya?
Ever met a day when it seems like
No one wants to know ya?

Have you ever met a day when it seems like
No one wants to know ya?
Ever met a day when it seems like
No one wants to know ya?
Ever met a day when it seems like
No one wants to know ya?

Have you ever met a day when it seems like
No one wants to know ya?
Ever met a day when it seems like
No one wants to know ya?
Ever met a day when it seems like
No one wants to know ya?
Source: https://www.flashlyrics.com/lyrics/graduate/ever-met-a-day-09

When listening to the old Graduate material, I always find it interesting the evolution of Roland and Curt into the band they became famous for. It’s totally different. Alas, this song seems to me to be the closest to Tears for Fears that graduate came – the introspective lyrics with streaks of existential dread and depression.

Well that’s a wrap for this week. Until next time!

Autism, Jury Duty and Being of “Sound Mind”

Right now there is a high profile capital murder case about to be tried in my area. Luckily I do not live in that county as I likely would have received a jury summons. It seems like the entire county was called up.

Make no bones about it, I refuse to serve on a jury unless I am compensated dollar for dollar my lost wages. Every company I have ever worked for only allows two days off for jury duty per year and such cases as this one go way longer, which would mean I’d have to either completely expend my paid time off or take unpaid leave while being compensated a measly $40/day. That just ain’t happening.

Don’t give me this whole “civic duty” nonsense either. I do not believe in the notion of such for the same reasons I am not a believer in “social contract.” As a libertarian, I naturally reject state ownership or collective ownership of our lives. Jury service should be strictly voluntary, or if you really want to help someone out, pools selected from those who are unemployed or disabled. Then they get a bit of extra money while the rest of us don’t have to worry about forfeiting a large chunk of our incomes.

Alas, I have only been called for jury duty twice in my life. The first time I was a full time student so I was exempt anyway. The second time I did not have that option and was in full time employment so I used an excuse that I felt I could and that I likely would not be questioned on: I checked the box that says “I am not of sound mind or good moral character” and returned it. I never heard another word about it.

I always figured if in the small chance I was questioned on it I had an easy out anyway, namely my autism diagnosis. I don’t know if that would have flown but if not my 2nd option would be to claim I was not of good moral character – something I probably could do seeing as how I’m a left leaner in a very right leaning area.

Nonetheless I realize what a slippery slope it could be. Obviously I do not believe people on the autism spectrum (and particularly the higher functioning end) are mentally deficient. Could I maybe be doing the whole autism acceptance thing a disservice by using it as an excuse? I don’t want to unintentionally harm the community, and especially those who might be interested in jury service. Then again, how would they ever know unless one self-discloses it?

I don’t know. It’s a complicated topic for sure and something I sometimes struggle with. I can’t afford to take time away from work for jury service so I’m going to use the easy out, but at the same time I don’t want to hurt my tribe. Of course, if jury duty was optional as it should be this wouldn’t be an issue.

I don’t know. I would like to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. How would you react? Autistic or not. Please comment.

No Revolution, Maybe Someone Somewhere Else…

…could show you something new about you and your inner song.

Hmm, I forget who it was that said that. Oh, that’s right, it was the great British philosopher Roland Orzabal! Silly me!

Philosopher, yeah, we’ll go with that…

Anyway, I digress. First things first, glaringly obvious mega fail on my part: I totally forgot Song Lyric Sunday this week. I’m so sorry. I didn’t have hardly any time to think and there wasn’t a glaringly obvious choice for the prompt for me so I’ll just make up for it next week.

Anyway, back to the glaringly obvious song lyric reference in the title of this post (for those who didn’t get it – “Break It Down Again” by TFF). This weekend it really became prophetic. So prophetic in fact, that it’s a direct contrast to an almost complete opposite post I wrote a year ago (which had the preceding lyric in the title – “It’s in the way you’re always hiding from the light”).

So I dropped into my favorite local watering hole last night for some wine and pizza as I always do, and caught up with bartender friend. Well one of her other friends was there in the seat next to me and she introduces us and one of the first things “Friend B” says to me is “I *LOVE* Tears for Fears” (note: I was wearing my concert shirt last night).

So what started off as a conversation about TFF morphed into a general music conversation which then gave way to just general life conversation. I got two certain vibes from her almost straight away but we eventually got around to those topics and I was right – 1) she’s on the autism spectrum and 2) she’s lesbian. We both shared with each other the challenges we’d faced over the years and it led to me pouring my soul out to her. We talked about my tattoos, how and why I got my first tattoo, you name it.

Very rarely do I pour my soul out to someone I just met like that, but she just gave me that vibe and I knew it was going to be the start of something great when we talked each others’ ears off for almost three hours and instead of going our own ways and having tons of leftovers we split a pizza and a dessert. She then asked me if we could be friends, to which I agreed. I looked myself up on FB from her phone and just like that we were FB friends. As I said my teary-eyed “till we meet again” in a long, tight hug, I was hoping I’d see her again soon but I had no idea how soon at the end of the night.

Fast-forward to this morning. Bartender friend and I already had plans to go to lunch and a movie today and Friend B texted bartender friend and wanted to do the same. So what do we do? We go as a trio, of course! I was so excited she wanted to tag along.

So on a nice, serene, rainy Sunday (how appropriate, what comes next after all? – “And all the love, and all the love in the world won’t stop the rain from falling…”) we all set out for Thai food for lunch at a little hole in the wall Thai restaurant, which is always amazing AND hot/spicy!!! Of course, that was just the start of the day. To kill some time between lunch and the screening of the movie we chose to go see, I ran the crew up to the old Episcopal church I used to do change ringing at and showed them the building and gave them a bit of an “education” as it were about the various parts of the building, all while still sitting under a kiss of light rain.

Not wanting to overstay our welcome, and owing to a bathroom emergency, we retired to Friend B’s house just a couple of blocks away. Though I got lost on the way (damn stoplights!!!) I eventually found my way there as Friend B showed us the house, I played a few tunes on her guitar (couldn’t help it!) and we all sat down for a glass of wine and a toast to new friends.

We toasted entirely too long as we all loaded up into Friend B’s car (and I left my car at the house) and headed to the theater hoping we’d be just in time for the start of the movie but done with all the bullshit previews. No such luck, but we only missed about 5 minutes. Our movie choice was The Spy Who Dumped Me, and it was by and large stupid but it was at least hilarious and the fight scenes were very well executed, and the cameo by (a fake, obviously) Edward Snowden just make it that much more epic. The three of us hadn’t laughed so hard in forever. It was so great.

The trek back to Friend B’s house wound up being the scenic route so plenty of fun conversation was had, including a rather long discussion of the soon-to-be-felt after effects of the Thai food we all ate for lunch. You chili heads know what I refer to – the dreaded “firerrhea” of course (let’s just break it down and bring the chorus full circle – “…waste seeping underground”). When you can talk about having lava shits with your friends, you know you’re both awkward, weird and super tight all rolled into one!

The day came to an end as we arrived back at Friend B’s house and bartender friend and I gave our teary-eyed, arm-locked goodbyes to Friend B and I chauffeured bartender friend back to her house where we did the same. Needless to say I didn’t want the day to end but it had to.

Wow. I’m just at a loss for words. I really, really needed this. Going through some personal life bullshit and work isn’t exactly going smoothly right now so meeting someone that I have so much in common with was just amazing. It’s the start of another great friendship for me. What a weekend.

Alas, back to “real life” tomorrow. Don’t make me…