30 June, 2008

Orson Welles


George Orson Welles was an Academy Award-winning American director, writer, actor and producer for film, stage, radio and television. Welles first gained wide notoriety for his October 30, 1938, radio broadcast of H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. Adapted to sound like a contemporary news broadcast, it caused a number of listeners to panic. In the mid-1930s, his New York theatre adaptations of an all-black voodoo Macbeth and a contemporary allegorical Julius Caesar became legendary. Welles was also an accomplished magician, starring in troop variety spectacles in the war years. During this period he became a serious political activist and commentator through journalism, radio and public appearances closely associated with Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1941, he co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in Citizen Kane, often chosen in polls of film critics as the greatest film ever made.

He died of a myocardial infarction at his home in Hollywood, California, at the age of 70, on October 10, 1985.

C.S. Lewis


C. S. Lewis, was an Irish writer and scholar. Lewis's works are diverse and include medieval literature, Christian apologetics, literary criticism, radio broadcasts, essays on Christianity, and fiction relating to the fight between good and evil. Examples of Lewis's fiction include The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy.

Lewis was a close friend of J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings. Both authors were leading figures in the English faculty at Oxford University and in the informal Oxford literary group known as the "Inklings". According to his memoir Surprised by Joy, Lewis had been baptised in the Church of Ireland at birth, but fell away from his faith during his adolescence. Owing to the influence of Tolkien and other friends, at about the age of 30, Lewis re-converted to Christianity, becoming "a very ordinary layman of the Church of England". His conversion had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.

On November 22, 1963, Lewis collapsed in his bedroom at 5:30 pm and died a few minutes later, exactly one week before what would have been his 65th birthday.

J.R.R. Tolkien



John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford from 1925 to 1945, and Merton Professor of English language and literature from 1945 to 1959. He was a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972.

After his death, Tolkien's son, Christopher, published a series of works based on his father's extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion. These, together with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about an imagined world called Arda and Middle-earth within it. Between 1951 and 1955 Tolkien applied the word legendarium to the larger part of these writings.

Tolkien died on 2 September, 1973 at the age of 81.

Tolkien along with C.S. Lewis are two of my favorite writers.

General Douglas MacArthur


Douglas MacArthur was an American general and Field Marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and later played a prominent role in the Pacific theater of World War II, receiving the Medal of Honor for his early service in the Philippines and on the Bataan Peninsula. He was designated to command the proposed invasion of Japan in November 1945. When that was no longer necessary, he officially accepted their surrender on September 2, 1945.

MacArthur oversaw the Occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1951. Although criticized for protecting Emperor Hirohito and the imperial family, he is credited with implementing far-ranging democratic changes in that country. He led the United Nations Command forces defending South Korea against the North Korean invasion from 1950 to 1951. On April 11, 1951 MacArthur was removed from command by President Harry S. Truman for publicly disagreeing with Truman's Korean War Policy.

MacArthur is credited with the military dictum, "In war, there is no substitute for victory" but he also warned, "The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war." He fought in three major wars and was one of only five men ever to rise to the rank of General of the Army.

Douglas MacArthur died on April 5th 1964, of biliary cirrhosis.




29 June, 2008

My Favorite Pipe Makers

These are a list of my personal favorite pipe makers.
  1. Bjarne Nielsen -Bjarne Nielsen was the owner and the founder of Bjarne pipes. After a MBA degree from the University of Copenhagen and a career in the Danish Foreign Service the company was founded in 1973 and it is probably Denmark's largest pipe manufacturer of 100% hand made pipes. Each pipe is formed on a lathe and as a consequence, there are no model numbers. Each and every pipe is totally hand made and individual. Bjarne was a friend to all who enjoyed the true pleasures of a good pipe. He will be missed.
  2. Larry Comeaux - Larry Comeaux of Memphis TN has been making pipes for over 30 years. His intricately carved pieces have won him several honors. Larry is a true master craftsman If you can imagine it he can make it.
  3. Savinelli - The Savinelli family and its many skilled artisans since 1876 are made using only the best grades of Sardinian and Corsican briar. Every pipe is made with great care and pride. Savinelli pipes are a must for any pipe smoker they come in an array of different styles from traditional to modern.
  4. Eric Nording - Erik Nørding was originally educated in engineering. Pipe carving began as a hobby, but as time went by, he became more interested in pipe making as a profession. During the last 40 years Erik Nørding has built his own business, which today produces approximately 50,000 pipes a year.
  5. W.O. Larsen - W.O. Larsen of Denmark is one of the most respected and revered pipe making families in the world. Currently in its fifth generation of pipe making, W.O. Larsen pipes are made from the very best Corsican briar and come in a variety of finishes, shapes and price ranges.

Bing Crosby, The Ultimate Crooner



Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby was an American popular singer and actor whose career lasted from 1926 until his death.

One of the first multimedia stars, from 1934 to 1954 Bing Crosby held a nearly unrivaled command of record sales, radio ratings, and motion picture grosses. He is cited among the most popular musical acts in history and is currently the most electronically recorded human voice in history. Yank magazine recognized Crosby as the person who had done the most for American G.I. morale during World War II and, during his peak years, around 1948, polls declared him the "most admired man alive." During 1948, the Music Digest estimated that Crosby recordings filled more than half of the 80,000 weekly hours allocated to recorded radio music.

Crosby exerted an important influence on the development of the postwar recording industry. In 1947, he invested US$50,000 in the Ampex company, which developed the world's first commercial reel-to-reel tape recorder, and Crosby became the first performer to pre-record his radio shows and master his commercial recordings on magnetic tape.

1962, Crosby was the first person to receive the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Crosby smoked two packs of cigarettes a day until his second wife made him stop. He finally quit smoking his pipe and cigars following lung surgery in 1974

Shortly after 6:00 p.m. on October 14, 1977, Crosby died suddenly from a massive heart attack after a round of eighteen holes of golf near Madrid where he and his Spanish golfing partner had just defeated their two opponents.

Jeremy Brett



Jeremy Brett, born Peter Jeremy William Huggins, was an English actor famous, among other things, for his portrayal of the detective Sherlock Holmes in four British television series: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

During the last decade of his life, Brett was treated in hospital several times for his mental illness, and his health and appearance visibly deteriorated by the time he completed the later episodes of the Sherlock Holmes series.

There were plans to film all the Holmes stories, but Brett died of heart failure at his London home before the project could be completed. Brett's heart had been damaged by a childhood case of rheumatic fever and was apparently further weakened by his heavy smoking. In an interview, Edward Hardwicke claimed that Brett would buy 60 cigarettes on his way to the set and smoke them all throughout the day. After his heart problem was diagnosed, Brett reportedly quit smoking for a short while, but began smoking again shortly before his death at the age of 61 on 12 September 1995.

Norman Rockwell


Norman Percevel Rockwell was an American painter and illustrator. His works enjoy a broad popular appeal in the United States, Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life scenarios he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine over more than four decades. Among the best-known of Rockwell's works are the Willie Gillis series, Rosie the Riveter, Saying Grace, and the Four Freedoms series. As an artist his realistic aspect to everyday life showing the simplicity and sometimes humorous side of it, therefore, his artwork also showed his complexity. Rockwell could help people relate to others through his paintings of family life, work, and dedication. That is why I consider Norman Rockwell a genius.

Norman Rockwell died November 8, 1978 of emphysema at the age of 84 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Basil Rathbone, The Great Sherlock Holmes



Basil Rathbone was a British actor most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. Only two actors have done justice to the portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, the first Rathbone and the other Jeremy Brett. Rathbone is most widely recognized for his starring role as Sherlock Holmes in fourteen movies between 1939 and 1946, all of which co-starred Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. The first two films, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles were set in the late-Victorian times of the original stories. Later installments beginning with Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror, were set in contemporary times, and some had World War II-related plots. Rathbone and Bruce also reprised their film roles in a radio series, The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Basil Rathbone died of a heart attack in New York City in 1967 at age 75.

Georges Simenon



Georges Joseph Christian Simenon was a Belgian writer who wrote in French. He is best known for the creation of the fictional detective Maigret. Simenon was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed.

He is best known, however, for his 75 novels and 28 short stories featuring Commissaire Maigret. The first novel in the series, Pietr-le-Letton, appeared in 1931; the last one, Maigret et M. Charles, was published in 1972. The Maigret novels were translated into all major languages and several of them were turned into films.

During his "American" period, Simenon reached the height of his creative powers, and several novels of those years were inspired by the context in which they were written Trois chambres à Manhattan, Maigret à New York, Maigret se fâche.

Simenon also wrote a large number of "psychological novels", such as La neige était sale or Le fils, as well as several autobiographical works, in particular Je me souviens, Pedigree, Mémoires intimes .

In 1966, Simenon was given the MWA's highest honor, the Grand Master Award.

Simenon underwent surgery for a brain tumor in 1984 and made a good recovery. In subsequent years however, his health worsened. He gave his last televised interview in December 1988.

Georges Simenon died in his sleep on the night of September 3-4, 1989 in Lausanne.

Vincent van Gogh



Vincent Willem van Gogh was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. In just over a decade he created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life. They include landscapes, still life, portraits and self-portraits, and are characterized by bold colors and dramatic, impulsive and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art. His suicide at 37 followed years of mental illness and poverty.

Born into an upper-middle-class family, Van Gogh drew as a child and was serious, quiet and thoughtful. As a young man he worked as an art dealer, often travelling, but became depressed after he was transferred to London. He turned to religion, and spent time as a Protestant missionary in southern Belgium. He drifted in ill health and solitude before taking up painting in 1881, having moved back home with his parents. His younger brother Theo supported him financially, and the two kept up a long correspondence by letter. His early works, mostly still life and depictions of peasant laborers, contain few signs of the vivid color that distinguished his later work. In 1886, he moved to Paris, where he met members of the avant-garde, including Émile Bernard and Paul Gauguin, who were reacting against the Impressionist sensibility. As his work developed he created a new approach to still life and local landscapes. His paintings grew brighter in color as he developed a style that became fully realized during his stay in Arles in the south of France in 1888. During this period he broadened his subject matter to include olive trees, cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers.

Van Gogh suffered from psychotic episodes and delusions and though he worried about his mental stability, he often neglected his physical health, did not eat properly and drank heavily. His friendship with Gauguin ended after a confrontation with a razor, when in a rage, he severed part of his own left ear. He spent time in psychiatric hospitals, including a period at Saint-Rémy. After he discharged himself and moved to the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris, he came under the care of the homeopathic doctor Paul Gachet. His depression continued and on July 27, 1890, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver. He died from his injuries two days later.

Van Gogh was unsuccessful during his lifetime, and was considered a madman and a failure. He became famous after his suicide, and exists in the public imagination as the quintessential misunderstood genius, the artist "where discourses on madness and creativity converge". His reputation began to grow in the early 20th century as elements of his painting style came to be incorporated by the Fauves and German Expressionists. He attained widespread critical, commercial and popular success over the ensuing decades, and is remembered as an important but tragic painter, whose troubled personality typifies the romantic ideal of the tortured artist.

Albert Einstein, A True Genius



Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist. He is best known for his theory of relativity and specifically mass–energy equivalence, E = mc2. Einstein received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect."

Einstein's many contributions to physics include his special theory of relativity, which reconciled mechanics with electromagnetism, and his general theory of relativity, which extended the principle of relativity to non-uniform motion, creating a new theory of gravitation. His other contributions include relativistic cosmology, capillary action, critical opalescence, classical problems of statistical mechanics and their application to quantum theory, an explanation of the Brownian movement of molecules, atomic transition probabilities, the quantum theory of a monatomic gas, thermal properties of light with low radiation density, a theory of radiation including stimulated emission, the conception of a unified field theory, and the geometrization of physics.

Einstein published over 300 scientific works and over 150 non-scientific works.

A life member of the Montreal Pipe Smokers Club, Einstein was quoted as saying: "Pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment of human affairs."

In Memory of Bjarne Nielsen

Bjarne Nielsen, died Wednesday February 27, 2008 from a heart attack at the age of 66.

Bjarne Nielsen was the owner and the founder of Bjarne pipes. After a MBA degree from the University of Copenhagen and a career in the Danish Foreign Service the company was founded in 1973 and it is probably Denmark's largest pipe manufacturer of 100% hand made pipes. Each Bjarne pipe is formed on a lathe and as a consequence, there are no model numbers. Each and every pipe is totally hand made and individual.

I had the chance to meet Mr. Nielsen at one of the MAPS meetings in Memphis a few years ago. And he looked to me like Santa Claus, he was short and round with a brilliant white beard and was so joyful. He seemed like one of the boys, even in another country he could be just another guy. But he was an artist whom I admired and respected and was put at a loss for words to find that he had passed. He will be greatly missed not just by me but my the many whom had met and gotten to know him.

God bless you Bjarne, you will be missed.
"indtil vi mødes igen."

Mark Twain



“It has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep, and never to refrain when awake.” ~Mark Twain


Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. Among his novels are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called "The Great American Novel".

Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He served an apprenticeship with a printer and then worked as a typesetter, contributing articles to the newspaper of his older brother Orion Clemens. He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada. He referred humorously to his lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. His humorous story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", was published in 1865, based on a story that he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California where he had spent some time as a miner. The short story brought international attention and was even translated into French. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.

Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, but he invested in ventures that lost most of it—notably the Paige Compositor, a mechanical typesetter that failed because of its complexity and imprecision. He filed for bankruptcy in the wake of these financial setbacks, but he eventually overcame his financial troubles with the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers. He chose to pay all his pre-bankruptcy creditors in full, even after he had no legal responsibility to do so.

Twain was born shortly after an appearance of Halley's Comet, and he predicted that he would "go out with it" as well; he died the day after the comet returned. He was lauded as the "greatest humorist this country has produced", and William Faulkner called him "the father of American literature".


Mark Twain was rarely seen without a cigar or pipe in hand.



28 June, 2008

President Gerald Ford


Gerald Rudolph Ford was the thirty-eighth President of the United States, He served from 1974 to 1977, and the fortieth Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974. He was the first person appointed to the vice presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment, and became President upon Richard Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974. Ford was the fifth U.S. President never to have been elected to that position, and the only one never to have won a national election at all.

Ford served nearly 25 years as Representative from Michigan's 5th congressional district, eight of them as the Republican Minority Leader.

President Gerald Ford also smoked a pipe about 8 bowls a day in the Oval Office.
One of his more controversial decisions was granting a presidential pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal.

Following his years as president, Ford remained active in the Republican party. Ford died on December 26, 2006 at the age of 93.

He was the longest lived president in U.S. History.

“God Bless Gerald Ford.”