A Guest Article by Sgt. MacBadger
All right, maggots, listen up an’ light yer pipes. It appears that my last address to the Woodlander Regiment caught a bit of controversy, due to my unorthodox methods of pipe warfare. Well, I’m back from Nome, Alaska, an’ jus’ in time for the holidays. It’s a shame, as I was gettin’ a squad of reindeer recruits together for an all out assault on the abominable snowmen causin’ trouble up there. Those good fer nuthin’ furballs were lucky our country decided to call me back, otherwise our troops woulda been feastin’ on abominable burgers fer Christmas chow.
Anyhow, with the holidays fast approachin’, I thought it was important to share with y’all a handy dandy primer on what to buy fer yerselves for Christmas. With all the options ya have online with pipes, baccy, stands, cleaners, an’ whatnot, it’s enough ta make yer head spin. Well, don’t ya worry, ol’ Sarge MacBadger’s here to set ya straight towards a holiday worth celebratin’.
So when that fat man thinks he’s sneakin’ into yer home an’ ya take ‘im prisoner, you can give ‘im this list an’ negotiate his release. Believe me, it works. Now when ol’ Saint Nick pays me a visit, he comes with the white flag wavin’ an’ an open sack.
Anyhow, let’s get on with the list. First things first, let’s take a look at pipes.
MacArthur Classic (‘Neked’ Unfinished) Missouri Meerschaum Corn Cob Pipe $13.97
Here we go, let’s get started with the king of cobs. This is the cob that makes Missouri Meerschaum’s General cob look like one o’ those pathetic nosewarmers. There’s only one cob out there worthy to call itself after the great general, an’ it happens to be the one the man smoked. Most likely, it’s cause you can use it as a weapon to defend yerself in a pinch should ya encounter the enemy while out havin’ a pipe. Some might balk at smokin’ this massive cob, but yer not a true pipe smoker if yer not willin’ to walk around in public smokin’ one. Remember, a pipe smoker should distinguish themselves from the crowd, an’ the MacArthur’ll do jus’ that.
I happen to prefer the rugged style of the, ahem, ‘neked’ variation, but you can find smooth ones if that’s more yer preference. I suppose ya like wearin’ deodorant, too. Natural’s the only way to go, soldier, both in cobs and body odor.
Seven Day Set of Smokable Seconds $26.29
Lookin’ to build up a collection of cobs without breakin’ yer paycheck? Then give this set of cob seconds a glance. Yer gonna get a buncha cobs at a discount price compared to buyin’ ‘em individually. Sure, all these cobs failed their inspections to be sold on their own, but they’re still worthy of smokin’, despite a minor defect or two.
Of course, ya don’t know exactly what’ll end up bein’ sent to ya, but that’s part of the fun of orderin’ a mystery bag. An’ if yer into that cob moddin’ hobby, this is the perfect way to get a buncha cobs to hack an’ shape as ya please. I find it similar to gettin’ a squad of new recruits. They’re not all there in the head, but once ya break ‘em in, they’ll fall in line. Good luck findin’ these fer sale, though, as these sets are in high demand.
Peterson 2019 Christmas Pipe $100
I might be more of a cob fan, but even this badger knows the Irish can make a good pipe. Peterson of Dublin are experts in makin’ briar pipes in traditional shapes that every pipe smoker should own. However, their Christmas pipes are a cut above the rest, even among their top class briars. With a rugged bowl and antique brass ring on the shank, smokin’ one of these pipes on watch’ll make ya the envy of all yer squadmates. But ya better act fast if ya want one, as once they’re gone, they’re gone fer good.
BriarWorks Calabash Pipe with Magnetic Bowl $550
Now we’re movin’ to the top tier of pipes with BriarWorks Calabash pipes. Like the MacArthur, every pipe smoker should have a good calabash in their arsenal. These might not be marchin’ pipes, but a calabash is a high caliber pipe all on its own. There ain’t nothin’ like sittin’ by the campfire an’ puffin’ on a calabash while givin’ yer tired paws a rest. Also, there’s jus’ somethin’ ‘bout a calabash that gives others the impression that ya got smarts up in yer noggin. It ain’t no coincidence that ol’ Sherlock is often depicted with one. Ya see a guy smokin’ a calabash, an ya jus’ wanna hire ‘im fer solvin’ the mystery of where yer missin’ socks go in the dryer. Not that I wash mine or anythin’, so don’t ya go spreadin’ that rumor ‘round here.
What makes BriarWorks calabash pipes worthy of yer money is their magnetic bowls. If ya don’t know, calabash pipes have removable bowls fer ease of cleanin’ both the bowl an’ the gourd chamber. With that magnetic system in place, ya don’t have ta worry ‘bout that bowl suddenly poppin’ off while yer duckin’ fer cover.
Grand Croupier Boneyard $1.26 per Oz
Talk about gettin’ a bang fer yer buck, Grand Croupier’s Boneyard is the thrifty English smoker’s dream, lads. If ya haven’t been payin’ attention, Grand Croupier is one o’ Cornell an’ Diehl’s labels. All their blends are the leftovers from C&D’s normal lines that didn’t make it into a tin. C&D already makes great tobacco, so ya know yer gettin’ high quality baccy, even if it’s the stuff they didn’t use. This ain’t yer Auntie Betsy’s leftover headcheese casserole, it’s prime tobacco.
Boneyard comes from the leftovers of C&D’s English blends, so each bag’ll have a different consistency of blending components. One bag’ll have more Latakia to it, while another might be more Oriental heavy. To quote a famous soldier, “Life’s like a box of unmarked pipe tobacco, ya never know what yer gonna get!” Me? I live dangerously already, so surprises bother me none. A good soldier’s resourceful, so ya should jump on Boneyard and add it to yer arsenal.
Hearth & Home: Fusilier’s Ration 1.75oz $10.59
Now, how can ya pass on a blend with a name like Fusilier’s Ration? Hearth & Home’s Marquee blends are well-respected blends among pipe smokers, an’ Fusilier’s Ration ain’t no exception. Based on the legendary Bengal Slices blend, Fusilier’s Ration is a thick, dark cake of baccy that’ll stain yer fingertips black. If ya think that ain’t a sign of a high quality blend, then maybe this hobby ain’t right for ya. Go make one of those artisan soaps or somethin’, I don’t know.
Rich with Latakia, Fusilier’s Ration is a tasty and smoky English blend, perfect for an after dinner pipe. The baccy generates a fair amount of smoke, too, great for givin’ yerself some extra cover on the battlefield. The only downside is that all yer squadmates’ll be buggin’ ya for some to smoke in their pipes. Tell ‘em to get their own, an’ enjoy yer well deserved ration, soldier.
Prince Albert 14oz Can $35.99
That’s right, THE Prince Albert. Ya know, the one yer grandpappy smoked. In my always right opinion, ever young strappin’ pipe smoker should be assigned to startin’ out on the classics, an’ ya can’t get more classic than the Prince. This champion of codger blends combines the strength and flavor of a burley blend with the sweet aroma of an aromatic. Puff this blend in yer cob while on leave an’ yer gonna have a trail of civilians followin’ after ya, singin’ yer praises. The only problem is ya open yerself up for punk prank callers, thinkin’ they’re mighty clever. The last kid that tried pullin’ that on me still won’t leave his house after I gave ‘im a friendly talkin’ to. Regardless, let the Prince out, an’ let ‘im out often.
Erik Stokkebye 4th Generation Brown Tobacco Pouch Messenger Bag $135
While a pipe smoker’s main essentials are pipes and tobacco, ya need somethin’ to store ‘em in when yer travellin’. My kit and pouches are full of pipes an’ tobacco, but when I’m out on leave, I need a reliable bag to store all the stuff I plan on smokin’. While any bag’ll do, the good folks over at Erik Stokkebye have ya covered with a stylish messenger bag that ya won’t feel ashamed carryin’ ‘round.
Now, most bags out there aren’t made with the pipe smoker in mind, so ya have to be creative in storin’ yer pipes. It can be a pain in the neck tryin’ to keep yer pipes secure so they don’t go knockin’ into each other. The Erik Stokkebye bag has been made from the ground up for pipe smokers, with pouches for two pipes, two tins, space for extra stuff ya want to bring, an’ a section for one of those new fangled tablets all the trendy folks like to carry with ‘em. There’s enough room here to keep ya prepared fer a day trip, or longer dependin’ on how much ya smoke. Personally, I could do for a larger bag, but fer most of ya lightweights; this should suffice.
B. J. Long Regular Pipe Cleaners (100 pack) $2.10
Now I ain’t one fer worryin’ about keepin’ my pipes clean, but even I like to keep a few pipe cleaners around for clearin’ up the occasional gurgle in my stem. B.J. Long is my personal choice for pipe cleaners, an’ they get the job done. Sure, pipe cleaners ain’t the most excitin’ thing to get under yer Christmas tree, but they’re never a bad thing to have with ya. You can also get the tapered and bristled versions, dependin’ on the job ya need ‘em fer.
The nice thing about pipe cleaners is ya can use ‘em for more than jus’ for yer pipe. As I said, a pipe smoker should be resourceful, and I’ve used mine durin’ some close calls out on duty. You’d be surprised at how much damage one can do with a pack of bristled pipe cleaners when ya put yer mind to it.
ThrowFlame.Com’s XL18 Flamethrower $3,199
Now yer playin’ with power! This sucker will get yer pipe lit no problem while ya incinerate the obstacles ol’ mother nature likes to throw at ya. The XL18 delivers incredible downrange power with a generous 110 foot range. Not to mention that you can hook up some napalm to this beast an’ really go to town. I’ve had squadmates in the past tell me it’s a bit overkill to light my pipe with it, but sometimes ya need more than a zippo to get the job done. Believe me, there ain’t no tobacco too damp that won’t light when ya use this beauty. It brings a tear to this hardened badger’s eye every time I use it.
The Ultimate Pipe Book by Richard Carleton Hacker (Used Prices Vary)
Pipesmoking: A 21st Century Guide $19.95
It might come to some as a surprise, but I do enjoy readin’ a good book when I have some down time; an’ what better way to unwind than readin’ the definitive book on pipe smokin’? Richard Carlton Hacker knows his briars and baccy, an’ he dumps all of his knowledge for all o’ us novices in the appropriately titled The Ultimate Pipe Book. While it’s been years since the book went out of print, you can still find a lot of useful information that you can use today.
The Ultimate Pipe Book covers a wide range of topics about pipe smokin’, an’ is the kind of book you can read a bit here an’ there without feelin’ like ya have to finish it in one go. The book’s topics range from the history of pipe smokin’, to how to pick the right pipe an’ tobacco, an’ how to properly collect pipes. There’s even a chapter dedicated to the lady pipe smokers out there, if ya can believe it. My personal favorite chapters focus on pipe smokers in real life an’ in fiction.
Unfortunately, as I alluded to before, the book is long out of print. However, it’s easy to find a used copy fer sale on yer favorite book buyin’ websites. If used books aren’t yer thing, there’s also Pipesmoking: A 21st Century Guide, which ya can buy new. While I don’t own the 21st Century Guide (yet), there’s enough new content in there to justify ownin’ both, as it has a lengthy pipe tobacco review section among other things. Buy both if ya want to have a solid pipe library.
Salamandastron by Brian Jacques, art by Gary Chalk $8.72
While my list is all about pipes, I couldn’t help m’self from addin’ a favorite book of mine. The late great Brian Jacques spent over twenty years writin’ the finest adventure series in all of literature, pennin’ over twenty books chronicling the events of Redwall Abbey, the fortress of Salamandastron, an’ the land of Mossflower country. In this book series, you’ll read about the heroic adventures of brave mice, fierce badgers, bold otters, humorous hares, an’ all sorts of memorable beasts an’ nasty villains that’ll stick with ya fer years to come. This ain’t jus’ fer kids, but readers of all ages, so don’t ya go scoffin’ at it.
While I’d recommend any of the books, my personal favorite has ta be Salamandastron. Salamandastron ain’t yer normal adventurin’ fantasy book— it’s an all out war, an’ the stakes ain’t never been higher in the series. The evil Ferahgo the Assassin an’ his Corpsemakers have laid siege on the fortress of Salamandastron, an’ it’s up to the fearless Badgerlord Urthstripe the Strong an’ his perilous band of hares in the Long Patrol to fend ‘em off. Redwall Abbey doesn’t have it easy either, as an outbreak of dryditch fever threatens to wipe out the peaceful creatures of the Abbey from within unless a cure can be found. Not only that, but the legendary Sword of Martin the Warrior has been stolen from the Abbey an’ must be returned to its rightful place. Bloody battles are fought, characters are killed, an’ heroes rise to the occasion. Add in legendary fantasy illustrator Gary Chalk’s whimsical art, an’ ya have a page turner that’ll keep ya readin’ well past lights out. There’s even an excellent audiobook version, if that’s more yer style.
Briar Report TV Coffee Mug $20 (with shipping included)
Ya might be surprised to learn ya can’t live on pipe smokin’ alone. I know, I couldn’t believe it when our troop’s medic told me that durin’ my boot camp days after passin’ out from dehydration. Turns out ya need to drink, too, an’ what better drink is there than coffee? Nowadays, I can’t start my day without a freshly brewed mug of Death Wish coffee. There’s only one mug that I reach for in the mornin’, an’ that’s my 16oz Briar Report TV mug. Now, I ain’t never stepped a paw in a bistro before, but if they have mugs like this, then I might have ta remedy that, stat. This glossy finished mug holds all the coffee I need in the mornin’, which is enough ta jumpstart my groggy noggin’ fer mornin’ inspection.
Not only are ya gettin’ the finest pipe related coffee mug ya can buy, but yer puttin’ yer money towards supportin’ the best pipe site on the web. Phil an’ the Briar Report team work tirelessly in informin’ all pipe smokers about what’s goin’ on in our favorite hobby, an’ they deserve our support in any way we can help ‘em. Plus, ya get a great mug ta go along with it. So pick up a mug or five, an’ enjoy the blessed black nectar.
That ‘bout sums up my personal picks ya should be keepin’ yer eyes on this holiday season. Pipe smokers have their own preferences fer what they like, but there should be somethin’ here that everyone should enjoy.
Now ta put gifts aside fer a moment, I wanna take a moment ta speak directly to all of you maggots out there. While Christmas is a special time of the year, I know it ain’t everyone’s cup o’ joe. Certainly, I’ve spent many a Christmas away from loved ones alone on the battlefield. Maybe ya’ve lost loved ones durin’ the holidays, or ya had a bad experience that’s tainted the cheerful season.
Regardless of how ya feel ‘bout it, I want all of ya numbskulls out there to know that deep down inside, I appreciate every one of ya. It ain’t all ‘bout gettin’ gifts or eatin’ a fancy meal, it’s the people in yer life that matters. So even if the holidays make ya feel like yer in a foxhole all alone, remember that there’s someone out there that cares ‘bout ya.
Pa-tooie, that’s ‘nuff of that disgustin’ sent-e-mental stuff. Now go out there, have a pipe on the big day, an’ show that red house intruder who’s boss! ‘Till then, I have some business to take care of with this pipsqueak that keeps showin’ up on my shelf. I’ve got a whole list of holiday ‘activities’ to make that runt spill his beans. Let’s jus’ say those bristled pipe cleaners are gonna come in handy.
Now what are ya waitin’ fer? DIS-MISSED!
Here at TheBadgerPiper blog, I want to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 2019 has been an incredible year, and I couldn’t have done it without all of you reading my site.
When I started this little project, I figured it would be a fun way to talk about my favorite hobby that maybe a few people would read. I was honestly worried that I’d quickly run out of things to talk about, but the more I spent on it, the more I had to say. It wasn’t until late this year that I realized I needed to revamp my blog and organize it for newer readers. Hey, I’m a writer, not a design guy! Now, though, I’m happy with where the blog is at, but I’m not done with it yet! I already have multiple articles started for the new year, as well as some other pipe related projects I’m starting.
So for this Christmas season, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, full of joy and plenty of pipe smoke. I’ll see all of you in 2020!