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Showing posts from August, 2010

Gurka Beast

Just smoked a Gurka Beast. And in a way it is indeed a beast - I'm not sure what the ring gauge is, but if it were any fatter I'd would have had to cut it in half lengthwise and smoked it that way. But, it turned out to be a great smooth smoke. The dark oily wrapper turned out to be a little sweet. It was perfectly rolled and burned evenly throughout. Draw was smooth.
Nice smoke.

10 Downing Street Houston TX

I was in Houston recently, and went to 10 Downing St, which is a first-class cigar bar. The place was hopping! Not too many of those left in the U.S. as the PC police eliminate what they don't approve of (and my last remaining vice - a good cigar). As they say "God Bless Texas".
Excellent drinks and a fine selection of premium cigars - I didn't see a mongrel brand in the humidor.
I enjoyed one of the most famous Arturo Fuente's: the Hemingway Best Seller, a little robusto, with great mild flavor.
Cigar prices are high, but there is clearly a lot of overhead to cover in a place littered with leather club chairs. One proviso, even with industrial air purifiers everywhere, the volume of smokers in there was overwhelming them. There is outdoor seating, which will work some of the year, but certainly not all summer in Houston.
Still, definitely on my keeper and recommended list. Related articles by ZemantaLondon Gardens Where Smoking Is Encouraged (newsweek.com)

Million Dollar Quartet

Pam & I saw Million Dollar Quartet at the Nederlander Theatre last night. It is based on a real event at the legendary Sun Studios in 1956, when Elvis Presley, Carl Pekins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis were all in the studio at the same time.
If you are of a certain age, and remember the early days of Rock n' Roll, you will likely love this show. Since I grew up in Memphis listening to Dewey Phillips' Red Hot and Blue radio show, (Dewey was the first person to play Elvis on the radio), I know the Sam Phillips/Sun story, and I'm familiar with all the music and I had a blast. The cast is incredibly talented, with Levi Kreis' version of Jerry Lee Lewis stealing the show. Christopher Ryan Grant played Johnny Cash, and did an amazing job. He sounds just like the late Mr. Cash, but perhaps a little better. Terrific rendition of Folsom Prison Blues.
I was surprised at how accurately the Southern accents, and Southern dialect, were delivered. Looking through the Playbi…

To Big To Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin

Here is the companion review to On The Brink by Hank Paulson.

Andrew Ross Sorkin has a huge bestseller in Too Big To Fail. While Hank Paulson's On The Brink gives the Washington Insider view, Sorkin provides the details from inside the banks, and investment banks, as well as some tidbits from inside the various agencies trying to prevent a second Great Depression.
I know there are skeptics about the need for TARP, TALF, etc. If you are a doubter, read this book and see just how close we came to a financial market collapse. If you already understand how close we came, you'll still find this a great read.
The origins of the near-collapse center on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government -sponsored entities that underwrite and purchase mortgages. Sorkin largely glosses over that as old news from the perspective of this book, choosing instead to give the reader a front-row seat on efforts to save Lehman, rescue Wachovia, stave off the collapse of AIG with its financial tendrils…

So This Is What It Comes To...

Yesterday, I flew Continental from IAH to PHL. In a middle seat. On a 100% full flight. The kid behind me must have either kicked my seat back, or open and closed her tray table, oh, seven or eight thousand times.
Continental served lunch, which is exceptionally rare, so I probably shouln't whine about it. But it was a turkey dog in a blanket.
But the weirdest part was my trip to the lav. I was delayed while two flight attendants scrubbed-up like surgeons. What had they seen or touched? I'm still wondering...Related articles by ZemantaContinental Tries Out Self-Boarding (intransit.blogs.nytimes.com)Continental posts 2Q profit on big jump in revenue (sfgate.com)

On The Brink by Hank Paulson

Just completed Henry "Hank" Paulson's On The Brink, his account of the financial crisis, the origins of the recession, and his actions as Treasury Secretary. There are two popular books on this topic,: this one and Andrew Ross Sorkin's Too Big To Fail. In this review I'll concentrate on Paulson's. When I write the review on Sorkin's, I'll make some comparisons.
While I followed the financial crisis closely and had strong opinions of what the appropriate government responses were, this book clearly illuminated much more. In both the popular media and the blogosphere, one can find many criticisms of the various programs undertaken by the government to attempt to stem the tide of financial failure that was sweeping through the market. I would speculate that the majority of that criticism comes from conservatives, which is unfortunate. The information seems overwhelming to me that the country barely escaped a second depression. Find any account of the ban…