26 February 2008

Extra Special Brew

Sierra Nevada has a new one they call ESB, or Early Spring Beer. The label is particularly attractive, exceeding even their high standards, and the beer is nothing short of wonderful.

The press release talks about the "earthy" quality of the Challenger hops, and I believe it. The nose is reminiscent of the famously "earthy" Anchor Steam (which supposedly uses Northern Brewer hops), but the sweet maltiness is distinctively Chico-an (Chicoan?). These guys have such an amazing range of delicious beers, but their flagship Pale Ale is iconic. The stuff is mother's milk to a guy like me. I've been drinking Chico's Sierra Nevada beer since it first hit the shelves. When they put out a new one, I'm all over it. And this 2008 ESB is exceptional: rich and full flavored with fresh hops and a clean finish, expertly balanced. Go get some before it is gone.

24 February 2008


Roger Boring was CEO of a top firm and Honey's new beau.

"He's sweet," she said, "and polite. And doesn't chase belly dance bimbos."

"They're dancers, not bimbos, doll," Matt Cadd retorted.

"Sorry, Matt, I know," she said, "but sometimes you act like such a damn . . . "

"Let me, doll: . . . cad?"

Ah, the Fabulous Fifties

23 February 2008

Frank we hardly knew ye

Lagunitas Brewing Company has recently issued the third beer in their series honoring the 40th anniversary of the release of the original Mothers of Invention records. The first two were Freak Out! and Absolutely Free. The latest is Lumpy Gravy, which was actually put out as a "Frank Zappa" album, not MOI, and the next will be We're Only In It For The Money. We are unabashed FZ-heads here at TPP. I became infected with Virus FZ when I met my lovely bride many years ago. Her prized possession at the time was a complete set of all the original FZ/MOI records. Naturally we had to buy the beers, and add the empties with their neat-o labels to our Wall of Fame. The Lagunitas folks are probably best known for their IPA, which I often drank at hideously inflated prices in the former Pacific Bell Park, home of my favorite ball club. The new brew is a unique, spicy-sweet dark ale, unique in that it is refreshing and drinkable. I typically prefer dry beers, with the traditional malt & hops flavors, and have a hard time with some of the weird stuff put out by the trendy micros. My normally intelligent and articulate younger brother J-O has no patience for the fancy stuff, referring to most micro-brewery products as "butt-fuck brown." After endless "double" IPAs, "ultra-imperial" stouts and foul-smelling Belgi-clones, I can see his point. (And by the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, hermano!) The Lumpy Gravy Ale thankfully avoids those extremes. It is a delicious, well-crafted beer that pushes the envelope just enough to make it interesting, but not so far that you can't suck down a pint, smack your lips, and burp heartily afterwards. Frank Zappa, who left this world much too young in 1993, apparenty never drank anything stronger than coffee. He disdained drugs (other than Winstons by the pack), and was notoriously intolerant of stoners, acid heads, coke fiends and the rest of the burn-outs from the hippie heyday. But his astonishing body of work lives on, sounding as lively and "cuttting-edge" today as it must have in 1968. Sometimes Frank is just too bizarre, heaping absurdity upon cacophony like a tweaker surfing channels. Other times he reaches sublime heights of intensity and originality that few pop-era musicians and composers could match. In between there are some great rock songs, fabulous guitar solos and live jams, hilarious riffs on modern society, thought-provoking nuggets, mind-bending experiments, and mountains of intriguing, challenging, and ultimately rewarding music. Ah, Frank me bhoy, we miss ye.

21 February 2008

Fly Like an Eagle

Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me

Who knew that Steve Miller was a bourbon drinker? All this time I thought the song was just another funky-bluesy psychedelic pop tune from my high school days. Now I'm wise enough to read between the lines. Obviously, the "spirit" refers to whiskey. And the "eagle" refers to EAGLE RARE bourbon. Them rock stars are tricky bastards. Makin' us think the song is about one thing when it's really about another. Of course, us youngsters didn't know shit about good bourbon back then. But the folks at BUFFALO TRACE sure do, and I gather from the wikipedia article that EAGLE RARE is made by BT who are a subsidiary of SAZERAC. Regardless of who claims title to this brand, it seems to be cooked up in Frankfort, Kentucky. (Do I have to go there or what?) And it is an ass-kicking brew. It is listed as a single barrel, 101 proof and 10 years old. It has the rough-and-tumble quality of a single barrel, with a big up-front attack on the nostrils and palate, but a surprisingly smooth and flavor-rich finish. Must be the long aging. It is a complex drink, revealing some subtlety when water is added, and unfolding its many layers as you work down the glass. Drink too much of this kind of spirit and you'll think you can fly. I get it now, Steve. I do.

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' . . . (or is that sippin', sippin', sippin' . . . ?)

17 February 2008


Matt Cadd got a steady gig: head of security for Raven; part of her entourage. Too eager fans were the biggest headache, otherwise it was easy money and sexy women.

The Valentine's Day Dance Extravaganza was a smash. And a long night.

"So long, doll."

"Oh, not so fast, mister."

50 centuries of practice.

16 February 2008

The All-Rounder

Cricket is a lovely game, originally English, it is now played internationally by most of the former colonies of Victoria's empire. The Australians routinely whip their Mother Country, and the once subjugated Indians, Pakistanis, and Sri Lankans (just to name a few) dole out sporting punishments to their erstwhile masters on a regular basis. The loss of English athletic prestige in both football and cricket (and, God forbid, even rugby), is the source of much hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing by the punditry. Of course, the English can still thrash their Scottish neighbors at most things, but the doughty Caledonians know that sort of chest-thumping pales in comparison to the magnificent accomplishments of their tiny nation. And speaking of magnificent, where would we be here at TPP without that most wonderful of all things from the northland, the Gaelic spirit known as whisky? In cricket, an "all-rounder" is a unique character, a player who both bats and bowls. Imagine a baseball pitcher who is also a middle-of-the-lineup hitter. That sort of thing is commonplace on high school teams, but impossible at the professional level. They still exist, though, at the highest levels in international cricket--even woeful England has recently produced one, the hard-partying Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff. The recently departed Michael Jackson, sublime drinks writer, used this term to describe a unique and interesting whisky called Highland Park. Whiskies are often grouped by extremes: the sweet, sherry-flavored malts, and the pungent, peat-smoked brews. Highland Park manages to be both at the same time. The 12-year old standard bottling has a distinctly smoky nose and finish, with a full round smooth malt sweetness on the tongue. Lovely stuff. The distillery is located in Orkney, making it the northernmost of all Scotland's malts. Alas, we never made it off the mainland in our sojourn to that beautiful country, so I suppose we'll just have to go back and try again. I wonder if the Orcadians are cricket fans.

10 February 2008

MATT CADD, PRIVATE EYE: To Collect and Serve

It was a tough weekend.

No one likes to receive a subpoena. But Matt Cadd was paid to do the job. And he did it.

Then Barry's Bonds called: a client had skipped. Bounty hunting helped to pay the bills.

Another trip. And another unhappy recipient of a detective's services.

Fifty is the new forty.

09 February 2008

Why the P.I.?

Indeed. What is the appeal? Why is the private detective such an enduring fictional figure? David Geherin tackled this subject in a lively and thoughtful book called The American Private Eye: the image in fiction. In in this out-of-print 1985 edition from the now-defunct Frederick Ungar Publishing Co. (on loan from pal Marcus--thanks, pal!) , Professor Geherin flexes his scholarly muscles without being pedantic. The history of this unique American creation is covered from Carroll John Daly in the pulps of the early 1920's to the 1970's of Robert B. Parker and beyond. Along the way we see the evolution of this iconic figure, carved out by the hugely influential Hammett and Chandler, then put in the hands of modern masters like Lawrence Block. Geherin concentrates on the characters, the P.I.'s themselves, and notes their astonishing variety, even likening the archetype to Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. A reach? Perhaps. But Geherin lays out five arguments. The first is the P.I.'s basic nature: courageous, resourceful, decisive. A man of action, not words, but honest and incorruptible, and willing to fight for truth and justice. Solitary but not misanthropic, the P.I. is the new, urban frontiersman, combining the manly appeal of Natty Bumpo and Daniel Boone with the homey charisma of Huck Finn. The second, I've already mentioned, the diversity of types--all sizes, shapes, temperments, styles and backgrounds. Something for everyone. Third, the vernacular or colloquial appeal of the genre's language. P.I.'s reflect the slang of their times and have a unique argot--much like criminals. Writers have a field day with the lingo and dialogue, and the readers eat it up. Fourth, because the private eye is typically an outsider he (or she) can comment on society and critique its mores. P.I.'s who ruminate on their fellows and the ways of the world are not only a great voice for their creators but an outlet for their fans own musings on the big questions of life, love, death, morality, justice, and you-name-it. Finally, the P.I. is a dynamic creation, able to look, "Janus-like" (Geherin's words), at a simpler, more noble or romantic past, while firmly rooted in the back alleys and mean streets of modernity. May he live forever!

07 February 2008

Hella stoked, dawg!!!!!!

Yep, that's me, I'm hella stoked. Check out the link to Out of the Gutter (or click on the chick) and find your way to "Issue 4 Contributors." Yep, that's me! M.C. has a new story out there. I called it Lonnie's Mom, but after some editorial feedback and revisions, I think we settled on Lonnie's Ride. Matt Louis, the editor of OOTG, was enthusiastic about my submission and worked with me on some final polishing. I appreciated that very much. It would have been easy for him to toss it on the reject pile and pick another piece. But he seemed to want my story to work, so I used his suggestions to flesh it out a bit, and the final product was better for the changes. I'm really thrilled that it made the final cut for issue 4. So, my lovely readers, GO TO THE WEBSITE AND BUY THE DAMN MAGAZINE! Just think, my story is ONLY TWELVE BUCKS! And, the best part is you get a WHOLE MAGAZINE full of OTHER COOL STUFF as well. Such a deal. Tell your friends. Buy, buy, buy ISSUE FOUR of OOTG!

03 February 2008


The Stupor Bowl came to Maxine's Retro Lounge: cheap drinks, free food, and gambling. When it was over, the partyers left, the regulars stayed. TVs were muted for slow Sinatra tunes on the jukebox.

Matt Cadd won the pool, but they had to wake him to give him his winnings.

$50 a square