Smoke a Cigar without dropping the ashes

First of all English is not my native language, so please feel free to edit any errors in style or spelling.

After reading the column about Clarence Darrow smoking a cigar in a courtroom without dropping the ashes, it came to my mind that in the book “Pancho Villa, que es su padre” it is reported that a federal officer was captured, and was sentenced to die before a firing squad. As his last wish he asked to smoke an eight inch cigar in front of Pancho Villa. The wish was granted and he did so, standing in front of the firing squad, without dropping the ashes, to show Villa that his hand wasn’t shaking and he wasn’t afraid to die

I would have loved to say he was pardoned, but that was not the case. He was shot and Pancho Villa’s comment was “Lástima, qué lindo pelao”, loosely translated as “It’s a pity, some dude”.

Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Boards, carlos, and your English is fine, no worries. Look around, make yourself at home, see what other threads interest you!

Meanwhile, here’s a link to the column you’re referring to:

Hola, Carlos,

Have a cigar. Make it uno Cubano. Por Que?

Because the better the cigar - not only the tobacco but the manner in which the cigar was made as well - the more evenly it will smoke.

Cheap cigars sometimes burn faster on one side than on the other and the ash becomes crooked and deformed.

A fine cigar will burn evenly with all of the ash being the same color, not only all the way around, but from tip to butt as well.

Even the finest cigars, however, will not smoke properly if they are too dry or, sometimes, not dry enough.

The proper humidity at which a cigar should be smoked is 72%

You may have seen someone in an old movie hold a cigar to their ear and roll it between their thumb and forefinger - John Astin used to do it as Gomez on the Adams Family - this is one method of testing to see that a cigar is at the right humidity for smoking; if the cigar can be squeezed just a little and feels firm but yields to light pressure without making a “dry leaves” sound, it is good to smoke. If, on the other hand, it makes a sound like crumbling up a piece of paper or if it will not yield to pressure, it is to dry and needs to be placed into a humidor.

As for the anecdote concerning Poncho Villa, I am sure that the reason an eight inch cigar was stipulated is that these cigars are generally given political names such as “diplomat,” or “Senator,” and the man before the firing squad wanted to make a political statement as well as show that he was not afraid.