Like peanut butter and jelly, like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager were meant to be together. Their on-air, on-stage chemistry works because it was meant to work. It’s supposed to work.
I am simply the one who made it all happen.
But unlike a coming together of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and a tall glass of cold milk, the union of the foul-mouthed atheist comedian Carolla and the erudite religious conservative Prager was not something as plain as the delicious smell wafting into the nose on your face. There was preparation and man-hours involved. There is a backstory.
Here it comes.
In 2005, while sitting on the roof of a house whose shutters I was painting to make some side cash during my senior year of college, I heard for the first time the commanding voice and demonstrable wisdom of Dennis Prager. In spite of the poor sound quality my small boombox offered, I heard the intellectual mentor for whom I’d been searching. Although the work I was doing at that exact moment was mundane and thoughtless, the monologue Prager unfurled had a zeal and depth that made one want to drop the paintbrush in order that he might go read an important book or start a charity or help an old lady cross the street.
Or, at the very least, do the best job of painting a shutter that one possibly could.
Like greater men such as Andrew Breitbart and David Mamet before me, I “found” Dennis in much the same way Gary Cooper in Sergeant York “found” religion.
To be fair to the Cooper-Breitbart-Mamet analogy, conservatism already coursed through my veins, but up to that point my political appetite had been fed primarily by the red meat served up daily on cable news shows and in Sean Hannity’s books. I believe in Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment, and so please understand that I mean no disrespect to any of the fine people who represent my values in the media, but it was then, finally, that I heard in Dennis’ presentation a voice of strength and breadth and insight that I had secretly craved.
A man of substance. A man of thoughtful inquiry. A man of big ideas.
This was my introduction to what I affectionately call “Prager Conservatism,” and from that point until today I haven’t gone more than a few days without listening to his nationally syndicated radio show or reading his discerning weekly columns. Eventually, after graduating from college, my friends and I began hosting “Prager Hour” nights twice a month where a bunch of guys in their 20s would come over, enjoy a cigar if they so chose, hear a pre-selected segment or two of The Dennis Prager Radio Show’s podcast, and engage in lively discussion and debate for a couple of hours. Dennis was Obi-wan to our band of Luke Skywalkers.
Thankfully none of us have had our hands chopped off with a light-saber by a scary man who claims to have sired us…yet!
I’m sure the editor will change my title, so in case he does — the original title of this post was “More Things You Didn’t Know About Ed Driscoll.” Actually I don’t care if he changes it. I just think it’s funny to picture his face when he reads it and thinks… “Oh dear, what has that woman written this time.”
Anyway, you probably didn’t know that Ed likes a cigar every once in a while and that I usually hate the smell of cigars. This has caused some interesting evenings. There was our anniversary weekend a few years ago. We were staying at the Hotel Valencia at nearby Santana Row for a short weekend “staycation.” As is our habit, we like to indulge ourselves. We went to the spa, had whatever spa services we wanted, ate out, and Ed bought one of his once or twice a year cigars.
We went up to the large outdoor patio outside the hotel bar to enjoy a second dessert, have a drink or two and for Ed to have his cigar. Outdoors is where he can indulge and I can sit up wind. And so he lit up. As the fates would have it, the damn cigar stank to high heaven AND the wind kept shifting so there was no up wind. There was only “smoke gets in my eyes.” Not being shy, I blurted out “My God, I can just smell the cancer.”
What can I say, Ed is the polite one of us.
Needless to say that ruined the experience for Ed, and he didn’t even bother having another cigar for a year or two. But recently we stopped by the cigar shop near our summer Saturday night date-night dinner-out favorite restaurant and Ed asked for a mild cigar. Well, what do you know, I could actually walk around next to him without yelling “You can smell the cancer.” It helps that when we walk around he’s exhaling up where 6’2″ people exhale while I’m breathing the air down here with the 5’2″ people are.
All of which brings us to the fact that we’ve now found that not all cigars stink, which has led Ed to buy more than one cigar at a time, which led to the need for a small humidor, which leads to this review of the XiKar 15 Cigar Travel Humidor. Please, dear readers, remember this is being written by a non-cigar person. But I did my research so there’s some value here.
Expensive humidors have built in thingies (I believe that’s the technical term) where you can put little gel thingies to which you add water and then the water evaporates from the little gel thingies thus providing enough humidity to keep cigars from drying out, but not so much that they start to look like lettuce that was left in the crisper a month too long. Expensive humidors also have hydrometers to measure the humidity so you can spend hours adjusting how many gel thingies you need to keep your cigars at exactly 70% humidity which is apparently the exact level of humidity to balance freshness and lack of green fuzzy mold.
Exiting out of my comfort zone, I went to a place I never thought I would find myself — with a Lancero. A Lancero is, traditionally, a 38 x 7.5″ cigar — long and thin and all together not looking anything like a cigar at all. It’s a skinny Churchill. It’s far too European. Interestingly enough, the Lancero size is one of the most popular sizes in Europe. In America, we think it’s effeminate…in Europe, it’s dignified.
For the Tatuaje Lancero — it’s amazing.
Pete Johnson is the force behind Tatuaje cigars. Since they came into existence, the Tatuaje (TAH-tu-WAH-hey) brand has become synonymous with incredible smokes. Flavor, construction, burn — all remarkable. I’ve had many Tatuaje cigars, and never had a bad experience. But this is my first experience with the Lancero size.
Turns out Johnson is also a huge fan of the Lancero. From a Cigar Aficionado article in 2008, Johnson said of the Lancero:
“Love lanceros…They were part of my original six brown-label sizes five years ago. I was making this in early 2003 when everyone was running from them, except maybe Carlito.”
Carlito is Carlos “Carlito” Fuente, of the Fuente family. That’s good company to be in.
The cigar itself is fairly attractive, a warm, deeper brown. Some prominent veins running through it, but I can’t complain about the construction. The binder and filler are Nicaraguan, while the wrapper is an Ecuadorian Habano. The flavor combination is remarkably smooth, and rather rich. Many comment that the flavors include some leather, mocha and coffee tastes and a bit of pepper. I’m taken at just how much flavor there is, and that is a function of the Lancero size. So much flavor comes from the wrapper, and the Lancero size offers the most wrapper possible. The ash burns a very nice white, but I wasn’t able to get a long ash (which I’m sure has something to do with putting it down ever 10 seconds to write this.)
Much of the enjoyment of a cigar, for me, is how it feels in your hand. The Lancero doesn’t work for me in that regard. It’s just too small in my fingers to rest comfortably. It’s something that I’ll have to get over to smoke this again, because the flavor is just too good. If you are new to cigars, feel free to start here. The more you get into the cigar, the more the flavor you’ll get, but nothing here is too hard to take for the first time smoker. If an experienced smoker, you know how good Tatuaje cigars are. Now, get out of your comfort zone and give the Tatuaje Lancero a try.
No one will look at you funny, and you’ll be too busy enjoying to notice.
It’s good to be writing about something so enjoyable for PJM. As many of you know, I am a proud cigar smoker. More to the point, I don’t believe that grown men and women should be ashamed of the legal things they enjoy. I like a good cigar.
I write about cigars often. For Cigars In Review Magazine, I write about culture and politics. On culture, I write about the experience of a good cigar, the enjoyment of new lounges and locales and the people who partake in cigars. On politics, I write on the growing sickness of the nanny state to regulate cigars, the lies told about the industry and the massive differences between premium cigars and cigarettes. I also do a weekly cigar review on my radio show.
On the Tatler, I write about politics, the Tea Party and the disaster of Statism. On the Lifestyle Blog, I will be writing about cigars, scotch and steaks (depending on how many expense reports I can hand in!) I hope you’ll join me.
Today’s Cigar is the Illusione 888 Maduro. Not a normal cigar for me at all. I usually find comfort in the larger ring gauges – 56, 58, 60. But this is a 48. (The ring gauge refers to the diameter of the cigar. A 48 is 48/64 of an inch.) It’s also a good length at 6 3/4″.
This is a Nicaraguan cigar. Cigars come from all over — Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua and, of course, Cuba. I find myself drawn to Nicaraguan cigars. It’s an overall flavor palette that works for me. The Illusione 888 Maduro also really well built. The draw is easy…on its way to effortless. The burn is nice and even, and doesn’t require relighting if somewhat tended to.
But what is working for me on this is the maduro wrapper — a dark, oily wrapper unafraid to show some vein. With the longer, thinner cigars — like a lancero — the flavor of the maduro wrapper has a chance to build in with the rest of the smoke. There is nothing harsh here. However, the maduro is where my comfort zone is, even if the size is not. The ash doesn’t burn a beautiful white, but it produces great smoke, which is something I look for.
If you are just getting into cigar smoking, I don’t recommend this cigar for you. The more you get in to this cigar, the more you feel it — in a wonderful way — but might be too much for someone just starting out. However, if you have a track record of cigars, then this is well worth the smoke. It is more expensive cigar, at $11 a stick (at one of my local shops in LA.) But overall, a great, worthwhile experience.