Five Great Cigars For Beginners

 

Cigar smoking is a habit that should only be entered into after considering the health risks of tobacco use. Once reviewing them, however, many people decide that they wish to at least give it a try. Maybe there is simply a special occasion; for example, the birth of a child has always been a cause for cigar-centered celebration. Other times, its simply something the user has seen in a movie and has decided they’d like to try. Alas! The budding smoker quickly realizes that they have no idea what to even try!

Flavored And Flavorful Cigars

Backwoods Honey-Flavored Cigars are an excellent choice for beginners. Relatively inexpensive (an eight-pack is approximately $10), this cigar is nevertheless a pleasant experience. A Backwoods cigar is thin; its profile calls to mind a long cigarette, save for the fact that it is wrapped in a tobacco leaf (as most, but not all cigars are) and that the filler tobacco is not shredded and compressed. In addition, the end of the cigar intended to be drawn from has a honey flavoring to it, making it taste quite sweet. It might be “cheap,” but its good!

Another excellent choice and a frequent favorite is an Omar Ortez Original. A short cigar of this brand is about $5, but is well worth the price as it burns slowly and richly. Some may prefer a rounded cap, but others will choose to embrace the torpedo cap for easy clipping, so that beginners may cut their teeth on them. Either is acceptable and downright pleasant. Interestingly, while most cigars have an emblem near the cap, the Omar Ortez Original’s emblem is wrapped about the end of it.

Other Excellent Cigar Choices

Perdomo Limited Edition cigars are fairly long, feature a deep and rich flavor, and burn exceptionally well. It may test a novice’s ability to cut a cap properly, but with a good cigar cutter there should be no problem. Depending on the size, a Perdomo cigar should be in the $6 range, making it both affordable and amazing tasting.

Onyx is a brand marked by its mostly-white emblem, slipped in particular over a torpedo cap. The cigar is fairly easy to cut and is an excellent smoke for the dollar, ranging in the $5 category. It is extremely reminiscent of the Omar Ortez Original, but as with all cigars it has a different taste to it. If the Omar Ortiz Original is a “soft” cigar, the Onyx is a “hard” one – of course, one’s own pallet is the final judge.

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Final Advice for Choosing Cigars

The truth behind smoking a cigar is pretty simple: Smoke what tastes right. Sometimes, a smoker will want nothing more than a Dutch Masters; something that can be purchased at any 7-11 with ease. On the other hand, someone might want another lower-cost cigar, such as a short La Gloria Cubana or Romeo y Julietta; each of these cigars has merits. Rather than suggest a cigar to try, however, the best thing to do is to suggest what to avoid.

Seeking out and purchasing the least expensive cigar in a shop is a recipe for disaster. Always inspect a cigar you want to experiment with and ensure that the wrapper is intact and that the cigar doesn’t crack under gentle pressure. When encountering a cheap smoke that looks nice, but has a shabbily printed emblem, it may be wise to pass as the cigar might well be on the ill-produced end.

Eventually, a smoker will find a cigar they love. It may be cheap, it hopefully isn’t too expensive. That will become their favorite smoke. But, even then, its always fair to experiment with other brands, and to start the selection process again!

Free Seats for London's Theatre, Music & Movies: Cheap or Complimentary Tickets for British Capital's Cultural Events

 

The price of tickets for music, film or theatre has rocketed in recent years. A couple can easily spend £100 seeing a play and that's without the cost of dinner. Music is no different, and even small venues are charging over £20 a head. Yet all these events are chasing a similar audience and there simply aren't enough people to fill every venue. Now, for a performer, there's nothing worse than playing to an empty theatre or concert hall, so management have now taken steps to remedy this. It's a well kept secret that tickets are given out for free at the last minute. And it’s particularly galling if you've paid £60 for your seat, but the person next to you has paid almost nothing.

How to Find Free Events in London

Time Out and free newspapers, like Metro and the Evening Standard, list some free events, but they’re not at all comprehensive. Many events are only advertised through the relevant organization’s website so you have to let your mouse do the walking and browse their sites. Fortunately many also allow you to sign up to an email list and they will update you on what’s coming up.

Many Museums Offer Free Talks and Films

Entry to major museums in London is free and is one of the best bargains in town. But they also stage free events. Good bets are the British Museum, the National Gallery, Courtauld Institute, Tate Britain and Tate Modern, and the British Library. It’s mainly lectures and films but sometimes there’s music.

London’s Churches Host Lunchtime Concerts

This is a real gold mine. Free lunchtime concerts are everywhere, mainly in the City but also in churches like Westminster Abbey, St Martin in the Fields and St James Piccadilly. Details of City of London church concerts can be found here.

Foreign Embassies are Home to Music and Poetry Recitals

Foreign embassies regularly stage free recitals of music, poetry or both, featuring artists from their countries. The Italian Embassy is particularly good at this and events are held in beautiful surroundings of their building in Belgravia. Other countries who put on gigs inside their embassies include Romania, Norway and Brazil and often free refreshments are an added bonus.

London Colleges Provide Venues for Students to Play

Music students are aspiring performers so many colleges provide them with an outlet. The Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama have regular performances by tutors and students alike, and often host guest musicians. SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies, has a world music programme and its Jewish Music Institute also stages music workshops.

SeeFilmFirst Hands Out Free Tickets to Movies and Concerts

SeeFilmFirst is dedicated to giving away tickets. You have to register on their website but they'll then email you codes for free movie previews and also concert performances. You have to be quick, but everything is completely free.

Better Than the Half-Price Ticket Booth in Leicester Square

Everyone knows the half-price ticket booth in Leicester Square where theatres offload the seats they can’t sell on the day of the performance. It’s not such a great deal, however, since the tickets are usually the most expensive and they add a service charge of £2.50 for each one sold.

But, there’s another avenue open to the dedicated freebie grabber and that’s membership of the "Giveaway Networks". It’s an actor’s or musician’s nightmare to perform to an empty house and theatre managements and concert promoters must pack their venues. At the last minute, they offload their unsold tickets to these "Giveaway Groups", which are often no more than a network of friends. They’re highly secret and access is by invitation only.

Once you're accepted, they send daily email updates and you just respond with the number of tickets required. Usually you have to pay a small fee to cover administration but it's a real bargain. And it's not just the turkeys that nobody wants to see. In the last year there’ve been tickets for Beckett, Stoppard, and Shakespeare at places like the Old Vic, Regents Park Open Air Theatre and the Coliseum. How do you subscribe? Well that's a closely guarded secret…

Freebie Addicts Enter a Brave New Cultural World

Once you’ve started getting everything for free then it becomes much harder to pay full price. A dedicated freebie addict will miss out on some great performances just because it costs money. But it does open up a whole new cultural world. Plays you thought you couldn’t stomach suddenly become enthrallling and music you’d dismissed as a dreadful din gets new life when you hear it live. Gone are those nights in front of the TV trying to save money. Suddenly you’re out on the town, in one of the most vibrant capital cities in the world, sampling cultural delights beyond your wildest dreams.

Google's 2009 Marketing Takeover: Friend Connect

It was announced today, June 3, 2008, by Google, that their Friend Connect was on its way to becoming a reality. A spokesperson said it was offering this service to "make the Web more social". Translate that to Google making all the necessary moves to put itself in position to reap the humongous profits from Web 2.0 shopping that were promised in late 2007.

There are many reasons that this is coming to pass next year. Google's Android mobile phone platform will be up and running, and that will play a large part in automatic search behavior. Google was indeed the "happy loser" of the spectrum auction, and opened up the Android platform to the use of "any device". Google isn't greedy. It just wants the ocean of profits of the huge retail move to online and behavioral targeting, or as they would no doubt prefer, Web 2.0 shopping.

Google has lined up everything for their shopping revolution in 2009. In April of this year, they made patent news with a new application that would make behavioral targeting a central part of improving their ads. They will be catering to your every whim before you even have the whim.

But who could ever accuse good old Google of anything the remotest bit underhanded? David Glazer, Google's engineering director and today's spokesperson for the announcement of Friend Connect, acted and spoke so countrified and down-home you'd think he just fell off a turnip truck.

Today's Washington Post reported that he stood beside a campfire with lawn chairs and toasted marshmallows, explaining how through an agreement with Facebook and similar sites Google would be able to "serve a primal human need." The same good old boy simple explanation of the workings of Google's Friends Connect was apparent today online. That video was loathe to express any implication of privacy invasion or the slightest impropriety, simply showing how they are doing the retailer and the customer a service by hooking them up so smoothly. You can watch a video of the procedure at http://www.google.com/friendconnect/home/moreinfo. The retailer doesn't even have to do anything–not write one line of code–to get everything needed for web 2.0 shopping moving to their now content-enriched website. A button here, a click there and you can plug in a ratings/review feature to angle for more direct marketing. Soon Google will know every single friend and relative of every single customer who shares the remotest interest in anything approaching a similar product or service.

And content writers will be kept busier than ever writing about, well, the content of these new websites, helping instruct on how to write good reviews, give articulate ratings, etc.

There are a few rarefied voices here and there, wondering out loud about the legality of all this as well. Then the FTC popped up on May 22, 2008 acknowledging that there is a lot of money involved here–an enormous amount. Television advertising amounts to $64 billion annually. Online advertising amounts to $11 billion. "Every Web site," according to FTC's draft rules, should allow consumers to "choose whether or not have their information collected for such purpose." Somehow, it doesn't look like that has a snowball's chance in hell of happening.

Review: Gurkha Warlord Cigar

 

Reviewing the Warlord cigar, a super premium smoke from Miami-Based Gurkha Cigars.

This holiday season was special for me for many reasons. I got time off to travel and visit family that I haven’t seen in a long time. I got some exceptional gifts from some exceptional people. And I got to experience a Gurkha Warlord cigar that my father-in-law offered me. The lucky guy had just received a whole chest of them as a gift.

The Gurkha Warlord Review

The Warlord is a super premium smoke by Gurkha. Gurkha was opened in 1989 in Miami, Florida, and still operates there, being led by Gurkha’s president Hansotia Kaizad.

My Warlord indicated that it was manufactured in Nicaragua on the band, but I’m told that Gurkha’s line of cigars feature tobaccos from the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Indonesia as well. The Warlord cigar in particular is made of Nicaraguan fillers, a Nicaraguan wrapper, and Connecticut binders.

 

Upon opening the sleeve that the cigar shipped in, the first thought that came to my mind was: bold.

Construction of the Gurkha Warlord

The quality of the construction of the Gurkha Warlord is one not typically seen in cigars today.

The cigar is a 7×55, but feels thicker and heavier than a standard 55 gauge cigar. Mine felt solidly assembled and was densely packed with tobacco – there were no noticeable weak or soft spots to indicate voids left in the rolling process.

The wrapper was smooth and tight with no noticeable veins or bumpy areas.

The Gurkha Warlord features a cloth band at the foot of the cigar with a much larger band made out of cedar right above that. The labeling band with the Gurkha crest in gold lettering with a black-with-gold “Warlord” band below finish off the package. The Gurkha Warlord is not just a cigar, it’s truly a work of art.

Smoking the Gurkha Warlord

The Gurkha Warlord is regarded as a super premium cigar and smoking the Warlord did not disappoint in that regard.

The draw was well-balanced, if not a little bit on the easy side – especially considering how tightly packed the cigar is. The ash burned white, powdery, and thick like you would expect of a cigar of this caliber.

The Warlord was robust and meaty in flavor – a hint of leather perhaps – but nothing too overpowering. As I neared the end of the cigar, I was expecting the flavor to strengthen or develop a bitterness, but I didn’t notice much of any difference. The flavor remained full and satisfying.

The worst part of the cigar was finishing it knowing that I didn’t have another one to smoke.

The Gurkha Warlord was truly a pleasure and I hope I get an opportunity to experience another one in the near future.