29 January 2008

Plain Brown Wrapper

Got my new shipment from Hard Case yesterday. It came in its usual plain, brown, featureless cardboard box. This month features Christa Faust, a self-described "hardboiled bitch" (what's not to like?) and her new novel, Money Shot. Her flash piece, Hit Me, first posted on Muzzle Flash, was featured in Out of the Gutter 2. Your boy here, M.C., made his debut with Tweaker in that very same issue! It was quite a rush seeing my own name on the same ToC with real pros like the aforementioned Ms. Faust. Really looking forward to reading this one:

The Glenn Orbik cover art is sensational, I hope the HC legal squad doesn't mind me posting it here. Hey, I'm pimpin' the book, ain't I?

27 January 2008

MATT CADD, PRIVATE EYE: Don't Drink the Water

Matt Cadd took a holiday in Mexico. Pale and unprotected, his skin burned in the tropical sun. Swimming was impossible, walking was agony. Slathered in aloe, he drank, slept, smoked, and watched fĂștbol. Girls, good times, and fishing trips were gone from his agenda.

Unspent pesos: that's the gringo's lament.

SPF 50

25 January 2008

If You Want to Write:

A book about Art, Independence and Spirit.

I'm finishing the aforementioned book by Brenda Ueland. (Note the link is for Green Apple Books on Clement Street in San Francisco, another wonderful urban oasis.) Although Ms. Ueland has passed on, I find her writing so lively and cogent that the book feels like a homey pot-luck workshop. She's a bit of a mystic, but the barefoot, outdoorsy kind, without the pretension or hauteur we've come to expect from the spiritual types these days. She quotes William Blake quite a lot, so I suppose I'll have to dig up more of his stuff. Mostly, she urges us to write freely, and be unafraid. By "write" she really means create, that is, the book serves as a guide for any passionate endeavor--be it dancing, boxing, cooking, or whatnot. She seems to be one of these people who lived how they wanted to live and felt unfettered by social norms. I was struck by much inspiring, timeless wisdom (the book is from 1938), but this passage is the current dust bunny clinging to my cerebral velcro:

And do not try to be consistent, for what is true to you today may not be true at all tomorrow, because you see a better truth.

To me, this means don't get trapped by your prejudices. Stay open, keep learning, grow. Sound advice for anyone, not just writers, eh?

23 January 2008

Make Mine RYE

Get a good look at this whiskey. You don't see it much. We all know that Wild Turkey makes a kick-ass bourbon in both 101 and 86 proof. But try finding information on their rye whiskey. Good luck. Yet you'd be hard pressed to find a more interesting whiskey than this 101 proof gem. Like the Jim Beam rye, this stuff is not well known. Like the Jim Beam it is delicious. Unlike the Beam, it is a huge, spicy, robust whiskey with intense aromas and flavors. Where the Beam is light and even delicate, the Turkey is bold and assertive. The finish has this unique tang I can't quite describe. The initial nose is massive, the flavor rich and complex. This is my favorite of all the Wild Turkeys. Make mine a rye, dammit!

20 January 2008


Matt Cadd paid the ransom, only now he was the hostage. The money, the lost son, the distraught dowager--all had been a ruse. Now they drove him to his doom.

Gunshots. Exploding tires. A wreck. Honey was there, pulling him to safety.

"Good thing I was following you, hmm?"

Unmarked fifties only.

18 January 2008

Homme Fatale

We might be accused of pickin' on the chicks here a bit at TPP, after all, we have a passion for things noir, and the femme fatale is often de riguer in this genre. Certainly she is as iconic as the P.I. in American popular culture, and the "black widow" ensnaring the hopeless chump (think Jane Greer taking down Robert Mitchum in the quintessential Out of the Past) is good for many, many re-tellings.

But what about that sickeningly familiar role reversal we see every day? The gorgeous babe--or, even more likely, the "girl next door"--falling for the scuzzball? Do we have a body of film or literature dealing with the homme fatale? Sure, we have lots of bad boys out there. And there are the "Bluebeard" characters, of course. But I think this may be an untapped source of entertainment. Certainly the girls could use a break from their image as home-wreckers. And it is time for the guys to get there share. So, along these lines, check out this hilarious website: HCwDB. And tell me, is this guy on to something? Or is it entirely prurient, that is, he just wants an excuse to post pictures of hotties.

16 January 2008

January Joe Montana

On the 16th of January, MCMLXXXII, I went on a "date" with a beautiful woman. We went hiking in the East Bay hills. We were already friends. We went on to be much more. She later became my wife! My life has been immeasurably enriched by her love, and by her astonishing reservoir of inner peace, patience, and emotional strength. We have referred to that wonderful day as "January Joe Montana" ever since, because, of course, Joe was #16. And the 49ers were champs that January. And Joe was a magical performer for the next decade, and we spent many happy hours watching him. (And dude, I hella dig your hairdo.) I love you, SIR! Happy Day!!!

13 January 2008


Wake. Shower. Shave. Dress. Eat. Drive. Park. Board. Fly. Land. Call. Meet. Talk. Argue. Agree. Plan. Look. Fail. Persist. Find. Lose. Recover. Succeed. Smile. Shake. Depart. Travel. Arrive. Change. Drink. Relax. Dine. Smoke. Leave. Walk. Wander. Amble. Brood. Wonder. Return. Lounge. Listen. Watch. Read. Brush. Yawn. Stretch. Undress. Sleep. Dream.


11 January 2008

LAPHROAIG: the most richly flavoured of all malt whiskies

At least that is what they claim. And they may be right, at that. I'm not one to go around putting numbers on things like whisky, or giving grades fer chrissakes, but this stuff is amazing. Whether it is more "richly flavoured" than Talisker or Lagavulin or Auchentoshan Three Wood or Highland Park or Strathisla or any other single malt is up to the drinker. But DAMN, this stuff is tasty. The 10-year old is a spectacularly peaty brew, with a big phenolic aroma reminiscent of burnt rubber on high school asphalt. Yow-zah! The 30-year old (a wonderful gift from a wonderful friend) is a sublimely balanced spirit, with a rich sherry-wood flavor and a softer smokiness. A whisky like Laphroaig is an acquired taste, but I suggest you acquire it. You can't fully appreciate malt whisky until you have experienced the RANGE of possibilities, from the delicate, floral Speysides to the salty, seaweedy islanders. You'll be amazed by the variety that can be created from three ingredients: barley, water and peat. January is Laphroaig month on my whisky calendar (thanks, Nancy!) so that's why it is featured today on TPP. Next month: the aforementioned Highland Park.

06 January 2008


Honey brought the frankincense.

"Thanks, doll."

April Day brought the myrrh.

"You're beautiful, kid."

The last one on the list was gold. Matt Cadd opened the safe and brought out his sack of coins. He gave an Eagle to each of them.

"It's the Gift of the P.I., " he quipped.

Fifty on the face, pal.

03 January 2008

San Francisco Noir

Richard S. Prather's 1952 The Peddler and Charles Willeford's 1955 Pick-up are both set in the City by the Bay. The Peddler--Hard Case's December 2006 pick--starts like a bad mafia movie with too many Italian surnames and too many "dem, dees and dose" dialogues. Actually, the tough guys talk like tough guys: "This sticker will go through you like you were butter. I oughta kill you, you sonofabitch, for talkin' to me like that." Eventually the adventures of our protagonist, Tony Romero, become compelling as we watch his meteoric rise, and by the time of his all-too-predictable fall, we are hooked. It is a tribute to Mr. Prather's skill in creating character and sustaining the pace. This is a man who has sold 40,000,000 books! There's an interesting Prather interview on the Don Pendelton website (The Executioner series). He died in February of 2007. I always enjoy reading books set in my favorite city, and Pick-up is way down low on the mean streets. Mr. Willeford's fictional world is a dark spiral of alcoholism, depression, and violence. The shock ending takes a little getting used to, but the overall hypnotic power of the book is undiminished. If you want hard-boiled, look no further. My copy of Pick-up is a 1987 Black Lizard (Vintage Crime) paperback that I picked up this summer at Powell's. Interestingly, Pick-up makes the grade for the Library of America, being included with Chester Himes, Jim Thompson, Patricia Highsmith and David Goodis in their American Noir of the 1950s collection of novels. A tribute to Willeford's life and career can be found here. He died in 1988.