Guest Article By Sargent MacBadger the Third
[Sargent MacBadger marches into the conference room, dressed smartly in his fully decorated military uniform. The badger paces back and forth, puffing his MacArthur cob with a steely look on his face, glancing at the soldiers lined in front of him from underneath his helmet. He stops suddenly and pivots to the men and clears his throat.]
Ah-ten-shun! So, you maggots want to start smoking a pipe, eh? Well, this is a man’s hobby, and if you lily livered crybabies show even the slightest hesitation, it’ll chew you up and spit you out like the dottle you are.
To be a pipe man, you have to throw yerself into it like you mean it! I don’t want to hear any whiny excuses like “I have tongue bite” or “My wife says I spend too much money on pipes and tobacco.” Ha. By the time I’m through with you, yer tongue’ll think ghost peppers are candy, and the direct deposit for your paycheck’ll go straight to smokingpipes.com, as it should. If that’s too much for ya, you can go to yer local Vape shop and work on yer manbun with the other hipsters. Bah, hipsters. I’d spit on ‘em, but that would disrespect my saliva.
Still here, eh? Heh, well, there might be hope for ya after all. Now then, pay attention and ya might learn somethin’ if I can get through that thick skull of yours. I’m only goin’ through this once, so take notes. Yer life might depend on it.
Selecting a Pipe
Okay soldier, so first things first— and this is the most important part, ya need a pipe. Can’t call yerself a pipe man without ownin’ one, right? Right. If you couldn’t figure that one out, ya might as well get outta my sight.
Now, some blogs on that world web wide’ll tell ya you should start off with a cob or an affordable briar. Maybe some’ll point ya to one of those so-called starter kits. Sounds like good advice, right?
If yer gonna smoke a pipe, ya might as well dive head first into the hobby in the deep end of the pool. Sink or swim’s my motto, and I’m the lifeguard tossin’ ya in the pool without arm floaties.
A cheap pipe’s just that, cheap, and more importantly bo-ring. I don’t want to see any Kaywoodies stickin’ outta yer gobs, an’ Dr. Grabrow’s a quack. Fake news. If the pipe has a stinger, then it’s a stinker. Remember that, maggot.
No, whatcha want is one of those fancy shmancy ‘art-i-sanal pipes. Ya know, one of the ones with a pipe maker tied to it. Take a look at yer online pipe retail site of choice. What yer lookin’ for is a pipe with at least three digits in the price, preferably four. The more numbers underneath the pipe, the better it is. That’s pipe law.
Oh, I can hear ya right now. “But Sarge, that’s out of my budget.” Pah, hogwash an’ pipe mud. Get used to workin’ two jobs if ya want a pipe, or ya don’t really mean it.
Found a maker with a large price tag? Good. Now then, let’s find a shape for ya.
First rule of finding the right shape—if the pipe has the word “reverse” in it’s title, then yer on the right track. Reverse Calabash, reverse bulldog, reverse prince, any of ‘em will do. If the man upstairs grants me one favor, it’s that I can live to see the day some genius out there makes the fabled “reverse reverse” shape. I heard the pipe prophet Hacker wrote about it in one of his pipe books.
Second rule, the fancier the shape name, the better it is. I’m talkin’ ‘bout Blowfish, Tomatoes, Anvils, Hammerheads, Large Halogen Collider, all fine pipes if I do say so meself. So buy at least a month’s worth of those, an’ yer set to go. After all, if ya smoke the same pipe more than once a month, then yer ruinin’ it.
Of course, ya can’t go wrong with a good cob. If you ask me, though, there’s only one cob worth ownin’— the MacArthur. Nothin’ sets you apart from all the normies an’ civilians out there more than walkin’ down the street while puffin’ on one of these. It’s a statement that tells ‘em you don’t care what they think.
As for meerschaums, I don’t have time for ‘em. Unless of course it’s in the shape of a dragon. Come on, it’s a dragon pipe.
Now that ya have a dufflebag’s worth of pipes, we’ll move on to the next lesson.
Selecting a Tobacco
Can’t smoke a pipe without baccy, otherwise yer an ignoramus. But all those blends can make a private quiver in fear in his foxhole. Don’t you worry that little head of yers, ol’ Sargent MacBadger’s here to help you out.
Let’s get this outta the way first. I see ya eyein’ those purdy smellin’ aromatics. Stop right there, soldier. This ain’t no vape shop with cotton candy or strawberry juice. So put that pouch of Lane 1-Q down. I’m here to show ya the real stuff. These blends’ll put hair on yer chest and tell the world yer made of stronger stuff.
Now, my own personal blend is a mixture of 90% Perique with some Latakia to scare away the riff raff. If the blend doesn’t knock ya right on your behind, knock the tobacco out of the bowl and try again. Some people, like my personal blender, have called me rabid over this blend, so out of respect of the weaker individuals out there, I’ll give ya my top five recommended blends for lightweights.
Cornell & Diehl’s Old Joe Krantz– A loose-leaf mixture of Burley, Perique, and red Virginias. Old Joe’s like the old tuff guy drinkin’ his scotch in the back of the bar. His arms are covered in faded naval tattoos, and the stubble on his face is as coarse as sandpaper. Oh, he’ll share a drink with ya, but one wrong look an’ he’ll knock ya flat with one punch. He’ll then pick ya up off the ground and toss ya through the window, tellin’ ya you better not show your stinkin’ face in the bar again; unless you want your head mounted on the wall. Recommended for beginners.
Captain Earle’s Ten Russians– A Krumble Kake of Cavendish, Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginias. There’s no collusion with this blend. If you want to dip yer toes in the world of English blends, you might as well start here. Upon lighting this blend, you’ll summon the titular ten Russians, who’ll proceed to take you for a night on the town, drinkin’ more vodka than ya thought possible. Next thing ya know, you’ve been shanghaied on their ship, where the process’ll begin all over again. Remember boys, with Ten Russians, the pipe smokes you, so mind yer step. Recommended for Yakov Smirnoff aficionados.
Samuel Gawith’s 1792 Flake– A pure Virginia Flake with Tonquin flavoring. Here’s a flake that’ll take ya back to the times of the great Revolution. Ignoring the fact this blend comes from the Crown, all you patriots out there won’t find another finer flake out there. Just stuff yer pipe with this flake an’ puff away with your tri-cornered hat on yer head. Don’t panic if ya start feelin’ dizzy, it just means you’ve found yerself in a time slip, goin’ back to the good ol’ days. Tell General Washington ol’ Sargent MacBadger sent ya. He’ll be just as confused as you are. Recommended for tea parties, revolutions, and bloodletting.
STG- Five Brothers– A Birds-eye Burley Shag tobacco. They don’t make tobacco like this anymore. This is pure Burley goodness down to the last crumble. There’s a reason pipe smokers keep a pouch of this handy, it’ll exorcise any of those no good ghosts hauntin’ yer pipe faster that you can say “Who are ya gonna call?” Why, back when I was a Private, some of the boys back on base dared me to stay in the local haunted house fer a night. So I loaded my MacArthur cob an’ spent the night puffin’ away with my trusty side arm. After an hour, the ghosts came out wavin’ the white flag. To this day, there’s a court order that I can’t come within 50 feet of any ghost huntin’ shows, for fear of spookin’ the specters. Ya won’t need to burn any sage after smokin’ this blend, and that’s a badger promise. Recommended for Priests and Paranormal Investigators.
Gawith, Hoggarth & Co.’s Black Irish XXX– A thick black rope of Burley and Virginia. Don’t let the look of the tobacco scare ya away from this blend. If ya ask me, all pipe smokers should cut their tobacco with a knife. It adds to the experience. As for the blend itself? Well, once while I was in the war, I was taken by surprise by an enemy squad. Luckily for me, they were all pipe smokers, so bein’ the gentlebeast that I am, I offered ‘em some of my Black Irish XXX as a sign of respect. Some pipe smokers they were, they all passed out from the nicotine. Took ‘em all captive an’ earned another medal out of the whole thing. Recommended for dreamers an’ those seekin’ visions, because after smokin’ this blend, you’ll have an encounter with the divine or one of those eldritch gods. Recommended for memory loss and madness.
So you’ve picked out a blend to go with yer pipe, so think yer ready? Wrong! Drop an’ give me twenty! Well, much like a solider, a pipe smoker must always be prepared with the proper tools. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, so let ol’ Sarge set ya straight.
Now, if ya go onto these pipe sites, you’ll see ‘em offerin’ all sorts of pipe tools, tampers, lighters, an’ all that ballyhoo. Wanna know a secret? Its all jus’ to nickel an’ dime yer wallet.
See that digit on yer hand you call a thumb? That’s as good of a pipe tool as any! You don’t need some shiny tamper to press down the pipe ash, jus’ use the thumb God gave ya an’ save that money fer somethin’ else. Likewise, when yer pipe’s finished, all ya need to do is give it a good whack, an’ all that ash’ll fall right out. I’ve even used it in battle to knock out an enemy soldier or two. Yer not jus’ knockin’ ‘em out, but yer blindin’ ‘em with the pipe ash. Best of all, there ain’t no rule from Geneva tellin’ ya you can’t do it. If ya ask me, the Swiss should jus’ stick with hot chocolate and step outta the way when it comes to pipe warfare.
Pipe cleaners, ya ask? You mean the silly things kindergarteners use for an arts an’ crafts project that their parents toss in the trash when their brat isn’t lookin’? Don’t have time for ‘em. If my pipe starts actin’ up, I remove it from my jaw an’ give it a good tongue lashin’. If it still acts up, then it’s time for it to go to pasture with a well-placed slug in the stem. I can’t stand traitors, an’ that goes for briars.
Finally, every pipe smoker needs a trusty knife for cuttin’ their baccy. While any ol’ pocket knife’ll do— here’s a tip between you an’ me. You want a baccy knife that gets the job done, the bigger the better. That’s why I use a machete to cut my rope an’ plug tobacco. A bayonet works, too, but you run the risk of accidentally shootin’ yer tobacco, an’ that would be a shame, unless it’s grape flavored. If that’s the case, then yer doin’ the baccy a favor.
How to Pack a Pipe
If there’s one question I get tired of hearin’, it’s “Sarge, how do I pack my pipe?” It ain’t rocket science, idjit! Forget everythin’ you’ve heard about “the three pack method” or “the Frank Method”, they overcomplicate the whole dang thing.
Here’s the trusted MacBadger method, passed on from badger to badger. Take yer baccy an’ stuff as much as ya can inside it. Is there still room at the top? Fill it some more! Every square inch in that chamber should be stuffed with baccy. Yer wastin’ good smokin’ time if ya leave any space in yer pipe. Trust me, it works. An’ if ya can’t get any airflow from the stem, puff harder. Builds up the lungs till they’re made of iron.
How to Light a Pipe
Again, it ain’t rocket science. Don’t waste money on matches or one of them fancy doohickey pipe lighters. Don’t even get me started on those willy-nilly cedar sticks. Go drink yer soy latte in that case, hipster.
A humble flamethrower’ll do the job better than any of those fire makin’ tools. It not only lights yer pipe in one go; it also sends a firm message to the enemy that ya mean business. No need for a second light, too. Ah, I do love the smell of pipe tobacco in the morning.
So you’ve finished yer pipe, how do ya take care of it? Simple, jus’ toss it in yer pocket, or fill it again. Too many folks out there pace around, goin’ “oh, I have to clean the stem an’ the bowl or my pipe’ll go bad.” Malarkey! A pipe doesn’t need any cleanin’. Ruins the natural seasoning.
An’ don’t get yer drawers tied in a knot over this cake business. I smoke my pipes till I can’t fill ‘em anymore, then toss ‘em before buyin’ another one. It’s not like we’re in danger of runnin’ out of briar. I mean, there’s trees everywhere, so its one of them reusable resources. As they say, keep it simple soldier!
There, I’ve taught ya everything I’ve learned in these long years since I started smokin’ a pipe. All these self-indulgent pipe metubers have made the whole thing a lot more complicated than it needs to be. Any knucklehead with a pipe an’ baccy can figure it out, it jus’ takes determination an’ ol’ fashioned will power.
Now yer a red-blooded pipe smoker, ready to take on the world with briar in hand. Do me proud, soldier, an’ show those anti’s an’ hipsters out there how it’s done. Don’t ya fret one bit, Sargent MacBadger’ll lead the charge an’ bring you all to victory.
Till next time soldier,
Sgt. MacBadger the Third
Note: We here at the TheBadgerPiper pipe blog apologize for any misinformation mentioned in this piece. Sargent MacBadger has been reprimanded and posted to a base in the frigid Alaskan wilderness where he will hopefully reevaluate his controversial pipe opinions.