30 September 2009

A Late Night Snapshot

Much like Gallia, this post est divisa in partes tres.

The Cigar
I recently picked up a solitary Hoyo de Montoya Dark Sumatra Media Noche, 5.7" x 54, from Honduras. Ecuadorian wrapper, Connecticut binder, and a blend of Dominican and Honduran filler. While being nearly black in color, this is a mild and smooth cigar with wonderful spice aromas and a rich, savory flavor. The construction is impeccable and I don't think I've ever had a cigar that burned this evenly. Plus, I'm a sucker for cedar-wrapped cigars. It looks classy and I like the flavor/aroma that comes from such contact.

The Beverage
Ever since Sam turned me on to Madeira, I try to keep a bottle in the house. In the current rotation is the Sandeman Fine Rich Madeira. Retailing for around $15, this is an excellent introductory Madeira that has the complex spices, raisin qualities, and slight sweetness indicative of the style. It is a bit more tart and harsh than the more well-aged varieties, but it hits the spot when an after-dinner splash of fortified wine is required.

The Book
One little treasure of my eclectic home library... The Schwa World Operations Manual. It's been out of print for years and pristine copies can fetch upwards of $150*. What is it? The Schwa Corporation was a graphic design project by Bill Barker. This book, which came out in 1997, details an alien takeover of the earth and how the human population will be controlled through dummy companies, advertising, and propaganda. The entire book is designed in stark black and white--no gradients or shades of gray. On top of that the only font used is Gill Sans, though often manipulated in interesting ways.

The book was an underground hit at the time, and a source of confusion for many others as there's no plot or apparent logical organization. It was also repeatedly vandalized at bookstores; if you're buying a copy make sure that it has the membership card, postcards, and stickers in the back. I've been carrying around my Schwa Planet Operator ID for over a decade now.

Barker fell off the radar for a while, but was recently the subject of a search at BoingBoing during which he was successfully located and appears to be working on a new project.

*I bought my untouched first edition for $1 at a Friends of the Library sale in 1998.


Kristin Runnels said...

I love this bottle...quite tasty

Benito said...

Glad to hear it, Kristin. I thought it had an excellent Quality-Price-Ratio.

fredric koeppel said...

interesting about cigars. this one is "Honduran" but its constituent parts come from all over. it's as if you said, "I just had a red blend from California, but the syrah came from Washington and the merlot from New Mexico." Obviously cigars have no appellation regulations.

& something we have never discussed apropos of your interest in typography and graphic design. I collect books designed by W.A. Dwiggens, who was the chief designer for Alfred A. Knopf from the 1920s through the 1950s but also designed for the Limited Editions Club and did many small press books, including for his own press. You'll have to take a look the next time you're here.

Benito said...


Wine is probably a bad comparison to make with cigars. It's more like chocolate: when you buy Belgian chocolate, the beans weren't grown around Brussels but were sourced from various places in the tropics. It was, however, blended and put together in Belgium, and is distinct from German chocolate.

Origin of all the pieces of a cigar is more of a curiosity than anything else; I don't know that anyone pays that close attention, and it generally doesn't say on the box where everything's from. Serious fans really only care about Cuban vs. Non-Cuban, while customs agents and importers need to know the country of manufacture for tax and tariff purposes.

Will definitely take a look at those books the next time!


Samantha Dugan said...

So glad you are diggin' the Madeira. I have a hard time keeping a bottle in the house...cannot keep my hands of the stuff.

cuban cigars said...

Nice Blog. I think this is the latest blogs about cigar and im looking forward for more blogs from you with a main subject about cigar. Thanks! I agree with Kristin. The bottle seems tasty!