A Month of English

I realize this post won't apply to most of my readers, but I would encourage you to read along and add to your general life knowledge. For those who linked here from my pipe and tobacco message boards, I wanted to share a little experiment I did last month.

I've been smoking a pipe since the mid 1980's (with a large break in the early 2000's as I worked out an answer for my children who would ask why I smoke a pipe). My palate was never really refined and I often missed what other pipesmokers picked up and would describe in a bowl of tobacco. Based on some good advice from the boys over at The Country Squire Podcast (HT: to JD/Beau) and in order to improve my palate and really train myself to taste the differences in tobacco, I committed to smoking just English tobacco for an entire month. 

For those non-pipesmokers, the difference between straight tobacco vs. English tobacco is like the difference you would taste between blended whiskey and a single malt Islay whiskey. English tobaccos have a distinct smokey flavor and smell. For the rest of you who can't relate to tobacco or whiskey, it's like the difference between boiled chicken and deep hickory smoked BBQ chicken.

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My experiment was simple: I chose to smoke (mostly) only tinned tobaccos. I opened and jarred the following tobaccos allowing them to breathe before smoking: Dunhill MM965, The Apertif, EMP, Night Cap as well as C&D Mississippi Mud and G.L. Pease Maltese Falcon. I did add one bulk blend of McClelland 5110 that I purchased from a local brick and mortar under the shop blend name of Sherwood Forest. 

I committed to smoking these tobaccos in the morning, afternoon, and evening. I enjoyed them in a variety of settings. From lunting in nature to sauntering in my local neighborhood to quiet reflection with scripture, good books, jazz and scotch whiskey to delightful reflection of the day with good friends, my wife and my dogs, I worked hard to savor these blends.

The results were magical. Midway through the month, I began to recognize and distinguish what I appreciate in a good English tobacco. I began to develop a taste for the different components and recognize the nuances that many have spoken about in tobacco reviews and comments about favorite blends and favorite blenders. 

I had two disturbing setbacks. First, I fell in love with McClellands 5110. The stoved virginia tobacco makes this delicious and adds to an addicting room note (I'd walk back into the garage after smoking this blend and immediately want more). The disturbing part is that due to many circumstances in the world of pipe tobacco, McClelland Tobacco has shut down production of all tobacco in April 2018. How depressing it is to fall in love with something you really love when you can no longer get it. The second disturbing part is that my wife hates the smell of English tobacco in the air and in my beard (I don't think I need to explain the ultimate result of this setback).

On Easter 2018 (April 1), I loaded up a bowl of Dunhill Three Year Matured Virginia to begin my month of Virginia/VaPers and WOW could I smell and taste the overwhelming sweetness that I had been missing during my prior habit of jumping around English, aromatic, and straight virginia blends. 

If you are struggling to appreciate the intricacies of pipe tobacco (scotch whiskeys, hickory smoked chicken), I recommend trying this experiment and letting me know how it works for you.

Keep your pipes lit my friends!

Quietly making noise,
Fletch

The Heart of Man, The Love of God

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Don't miss this one!

You have one more chance to see this great movie!

I love movies. I love movies that are made well. I love films where the director focused his lens on beauty. But I really love movies that make me think and potentially change my view on the world.

The Heart of Man is one of those movies. As a reader of my blog, I don't want you to miss your once chance to see this film on a big screen, surrounded by a full audience in a public theater environment. It really is worth your time and money to experience this film in a theater.

You know how much I love to talk about the gospel and the love of God. It is part of my everyday conversations around here. It is so rare that a film is made and communicates the concepts of God's love and redemption so clearly. 

FILMING TECHNIQUE
The Heart of Man is filmed in a unique way. It very clearly depicts individuals and couples who share their personal lives in a documentary interview format. They are quick to walk you down to the dark spaces in their journey with God. Addictions, hurt, damage, and pain are on display. (Note: this film speaks candidly about sexual sin and you should consider who you bring - more on that below). Had the director stopped there, I would simply not recommend this film. There are plenty of places on the internet where you can listen and watch folks open up honestly about dark sinful choices and how they were redeemed.

What if our brokenness is a bridge, not a barrier?

This director does not stop there.

Within the personal interviews, the director weaves a story of The Prodigal in a beautiful and vivid way. The story is simple and easy to follow, but is told without dialogue. This is why you must see this film. The images still burn in my mind. To see the depth of the love of God and what He does to pursue us before, during and after our descent into sin is life-changing.

THEMES
This film speaks clearly to themes of sexual addiction, infidelity and sexual abuse, but in no way should you pigeon hole this movie in that way. It's a movie about living in freedom and knowing that the Father loves you and pursues you and never gives up on you.

This is a film for those struggling in addictions. A film for those struggling with sin. It is a film for those struggling with loss. It's a film for those struggling with despair and a loss of hope.

In fact, I would say that this film is made for everyone. Sinner. Saint. Believer. Unbeliever. Christian. Non-Christian. Protestant. Catholic. Muslim. Jew. Hindu. Buddhist. Gay. Lesbian. Transgender. Man. Woman.

DISCUSSION
I believe this movie will begin discussions on your walk back to the car. You will leave a changed person with a desire to talk through certain scenes, how they were filmed and what they communicated and how you feel about it.

Kendra and I saw it on opening night during a limited release. We immediately made plans to purchase this film and turn it into a community event where we could invite our friends who are waking up from Gospel Amnesia and those who are discovering the love of God for the first time. We were stoked to hear it was out on re-release for one more night. 

What about kids? We have learned to have discussions sooner rather than later. That being said, we would not hesitate to take OUR 10 year old son. We've had hard conversations already. This film would only serve to clarify the love of God in his life. We are willing to step in and talk about themes of sexuality, lust, adultery, pornography and the brokenness in the world. If you aren't prepared for that, you might want to consider who you invite along.

Are you interested in joining us? Leave a comment or contact me here and we'll keep you in the loop.

Quietly making noise,
Fletch

Tig

"I have cancer..."

That's how Tig Notaro opened her comedy set on Aug 3, 2012. Really? Cancer? Funny?

If you know Tig and her comedy style. She thrives in the awkward. For some reason, her comedy begins to turn on when things get weird on stage. Just when things get uncomfortable, Tig provides a pressure release of comedy. 

I got to the Tig party way too late. I first "found" her comedy while listening to an episode of NPR's This American Life podcast. The podcast was a recording of a live show that TAL produced for their radio show. Ira Glass introduced Tig and for the next 12 minutes she pulled me into one of the best stories I have heard.

Here is the video of that performance. Watch it. Your day will be better.

Back to 2012, Tig walked out onto the stage in Los Angeles and opened with "Good evening. Hello. I have cancer..." Awkward? Yes, but remember, Tig thrives in the awkward. At least she did during this show. She proceeded to walk the audience through a string of life changing difficulties she had recently weathered. Including the diagnosis of cancer a few days prior. The show was a walk-off success!

The audio of this show was captured and released. It went viral. You can find it many places online buy I'd encourage you to spend the money and buy the album Live on ITunes

Last week I had the pleasure of watching, Tig, her recently released bio-documentary about those life changing difficulties. This documentary navigates the audience through the pause in comedy that occurred and her return to the stage. If you have Netflix, you can catch it streaming. If you want to smile, take the time. It's totally worth it.

Quietly making noise,
Fletch

A Night With Willie Nelson

This week I took PopPop and Jack to see Willie Nelson and Family at our local community theater. It was a great night listening to a country music legend. At 82 years old, Willie puts on a fantastic show. He hit all of his classics and our third row seats in this small auditorium was a perfect venue for hearing one of the greats.

My dad (just one year older than Willie) had a great time clapping along! He loved all the old classics, but I personally think he really enjoyed Willie's new ballad: "Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die." Here's a clip of the song from our show below.

I've enjoyed his music over the years and even though I'm not a die-hard fan, it was pretty cool to see a music legend perform. It was even more fun to go to the show knowing that three generations of Fletchers were enjoying the same music.

If you want to hear the full song, this is a video from Jimmy Kimmel about a week before we saw him perform. 

Quietly making noise,
Fletch

Noah - The Movie

You know I'm a huge film buff, so I am excited about this new film. Working with the original screenplay from God and his co-writer Moses, Director Darren Aronofsky's new film Noah is ready for release. Starring Russell Crowe, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson, the film follows the story of Noah from the book of Genesis. 

After visions of an apocalyptic deluge, Noah, the world’s only righteous man, is chosen to undertake a divine mission to build a massive ark to save his family and all of creation before the impending rains fall and the flood waters rise. Click here or on the poster to link to the new trailer.

Quietly making noise,
Fletch