Monthly Archives: April 2013

Search Term Silliness

Every once in a while I like to look through the search terms that bring internet users to this blog, and it’s usually an experience that mixes sadness, alarm, and hilarity. Each term below was entered into a search engine in the past three months and brought me a visitor. Enjoy.

death by smores – I suppose there are worse awesome ways to die.

2 55 gallon steel drum stacked smoker – Damn clever idea. I just need a soldering torch and some more barrels.

triple barrel 55 gallon drum smoker – So, one is good; Two is better. Is three excessive or awesome?

best beer to drink with lobster – The answer sure as heck isn’t Lobster Lovers’ Beer, which is the best beer to drink if you want to punish yourself.

beer with pcp in it – Uh… that sounds like a terrible idea. Home brewers are getting a little too creative.

wild bills fireworks store – One of the best pictures I’ve ever taken. Glad to help!

arab dad making chicken – What?

apple jacks unhealthy – Huh?

amateur affair tumblr – Seriously?

jp losman fajita – WTF?!

pro bono patentGo away, you cheapskate.

simpson bbq forsale – I’m somewhat intrigued…

big flats birthday cake – I’m extremely intrigued…

short guy drinking beer – YES. The search engine brought the searcher to this picture.

ralph wiggum alcohol – This also brings me joy. But who searches for something like this?

dan simpson bbq beer blog – You’d think that anyone who knows I have this blog would know the very simple URL. Was that search necessary?

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Drink This Super Cheap Beer: Simpler Times

Sometimes cheap beer is nothing more than pale effluvia water, minimally-effervescent and even less flavorful. In fact, most of the uber-cheap swill at the short end of the beer aisle that’s typically loved by hobos and fraternity boys is generally unsuitable for human consumption. Clever marketing has convinced America that some bottled dreck (looking at you, Bud Light) is worthy of some serious coin. Let’s talk instead about an exception to those rules: Simpler Times.

Disclaimer: Can not actually cross-stitched

Disclaimer: Can not actually cross-stitched

Yes, I remember simpler times. I was a broke-as-shit college student who squandered his work study checks down at the liquor store on horrific gutter beer. Why? Because, dammit, that was cheap. Six really amazing beers for $8, or thirty deplorable beers for $14. Simple math for simpler times.

Thanks to the miracle that’s Trader Joe’s, I can relive those simpler times with… (wait for it) Simpler Times. Yes, at a mere $3.49 per sixer, you too can reminisce about your impoverished days (or continue to live in your current destitution) and enjoy a pretty decent beer.

Like many other similarly-budget-conscious beers, this one is pale yellow and exceptionally fizzy when poured. Once poured, all but minimal effervescence remains. It’s as if the carbonation can’t wait to get the hell out of this budget beer.

Using the countertop to add color is deceiving. It's far paler.

Using the countertop to add color is deceiving. It’s far paler.

Instead of a biting acidity or just plain blandness, however, I found this beer to have a mild, smooth, mellow flavor. It wasn’t bad… kind of, uh, good. It was strange and unexpected.

Having sampled a few (at 6.2% ABV, by the way) it tastes better out of an unfrozen beer glass than it does the can. I actually chose the Lager because of it’s higher ABV. The Pilsner is sub-5%, so why even bother with empty calories if you can’t even get to an altered state.

Yes, it smells like the floor of the fraternity house basement the morning after the initiation stag party, but it doesn’t have a nasty aftertaste. I taste cheap-o beer, but probably one of the best cheap-o beers money can buy. I’m shocked and impressed. Honestly, I thought this would be some kind of self-flagellation in the name of beer reviews, but I kind of enjoyed it and I wasn’t even cutting the grass or drafting a fantasy baseball team. I was sitting on my butt watching Seinfeld (the Doodle episode, to be specific).

Cover of GQ

Cover of GQ

So, if you’re short on money and live near a Trader Joe’s, then perhaps you should take yourself back to Simpler Times. I encourage your impoverished ass to: Drink This Beer.

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BBQ Joint Review: PM BBQ

A kid’s birthday party in Chesterfield left me with a couple hours to kill. On the way, I noticed  BBQ restaurant: PM BBQ. Instead of watching my child and others bounce around and eat pizza, I decided to give this place a shot. It’s not he’ll be unsupervised, so I can have some fun, too.

At the corner of Edison & Long in the Gumbo Flats flood plain, the crisp new facade of PM BBQ greets you.

So new and clean... is this place legit?

So new and clean… is this place legit?

Even though the place shows no sign of smoke or grime, they have some hardware to boost credibility.

When your ribbons number such that they cover all the colors of the rainbow, you might be doing it right

When your ribbons number such that they cover all the colors of the rainbow, you might be doing it right

Let’s talk briefly about prejudice. One of my preconceptions of high-end BBQ restaurants includes old buildings, usually either (1) extremely old & original location, or (2) very old building that’s been reclaimed. Examples of the former are Fiorella’s Jack Stack in Martin City, MO, Rendezvous in Memphis, or Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City. Examples of the latter include (previously-reviewedHendrick’s in St. Charles, MO or Pappy’s in St. Louis, MO. Each building has character and charm, and none is in a shiny new building.

Well, as history has shown, not all prejudices hold true. PM BBQ is in a nice new building, and it turns out their BBQ is pretty damn good.

Having never been there before, I sought counsel from the kid at the counter. He advised that brisket sandwich is one of the best things on the menu for first time customers. Additionally, I went with beans as a side, since that’s a decent measure of BBQ prowess, and fries because I was in the mood for some french fries.

Brisket lunch platter

Brisket lunch platter

That’s an impressive portion of meat, which is a good thing because I’m hungry and I love brisket.

Before I came to PM BBQ, I phoned a friend who works in Chesterfield for some input. He didn’t answer, but called me back after lunch. The report was that PM BBQ is the best restaurant in the Valley by far, and brisket is the way to go. I have to agree with his assessment.

Behold the care taken in preparing this cow

Behold the care taken in preparing this cow

The brisket is thin sliced, certainly thinner than I can cut mine without a rotary meat slicer. As you can see from the photo, there’s a nice dark pink smoke line and plenty of peppery spices on it. Extremely tender, very very moist. I’m a little bit blown away by this brisket, and I don’t say that lightly. This is an impressive portion of meat, from the quantity to the quality.

It’s clear to me that significant skill went into this brisket, and as an amateur constantly seeking to better my own brisket, I can really appreciate that effort and skill.

I do have one negative comment, though, and it relates to the bun. I got a dry (not stale) yellow bun that overpowers the meat and makes my bites dry, so that you need to add sauce. Adding sauce then masks the flavor and texture of the brisket, so why go to a really good BBQ place in the first place? No bread needed, so you should just discard it if you get the brisket sandwich, or take it home and feed the birds.

Speaking of sauces, there are four on the table.

4x sauce

4x sauce

Carolina, Golden Mustard, Spicy and Sweet. I’ll review each in turn from right to left.

Carolina – Nice and vinegary, as you would expect from a Carolina sauce. Unlike many sauces that call them selves Carolina, this one is legit. Commercial “Carolina” sauces are more regionally-inspired than the genuine article. It’s very thin and nicely spicy, without a hint of tomato. I’m a huge fan, and the yellow bun absorbed it well.

Golden Mustard – Ah, the step brother of Carolina sauce! There are truly two kinds of Carolina sauce, one being the vinegary eastern North Carolina discussed above, and the South Carolina mustard. This is the latter, and it’s powerful. I don’t have much experience with this type of BBQ accompaniment, but PM’s has a distinct flavor that shows inspiration from or relation to the Asian mustard you get in little packets with your General Tso’s chicken. I liked the consistent texture and solid heat profile, but this was not my favorite. That’s more of a testament to the strength of the others and my virginity to this kind of sauce than an indictment on the PM BBQ Golden Mustard sauce. Perhaps a resident of the Palmetto State would be beside himself with pleasure at this sauce.

Spicy – Good, but not spicy. I was waiting for spicy… Perhaps this town has a bastardized BBQ sauce palate because of all the watered down flavorless goop that passes for pork steak sauce. If you drink nothing but Bud Light all the time, then a Schlafly tastes like a malty porter. If you only put skim milk on your raisin bran, then whole tastes like heavy whipping cream. And if you only dunk your meat in a slurry of Maull’s and beer, then normal sauce with a modicum of zest is “spicy”. I know spicy, and this isn’t it. (And, yes, I did swirl the bottle a few times to arouse any sediment and get a consistent sauce pour.)

Sweet – We have a winnah! Excellent sauce, great spice flavors without a very sugary pop. Perfect sauce to put on the brisket, and I used it to clean up my french fries. Wonderful sauce.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t tout the beans, which were wonderful. I counted three kinds of beans, and a few nice big chunks of pork with some short ribbons of onion. The beans came out very hot and had a nice twinge of spice, coupled nicely with a very subtle sweetness. The tenderness was spot on, and I enjoyed the thickness of the sauce. I took a bite to sample, then destroyed half of my serving before getting to the brisket.

The french fries were french fries. Thicker than shoestring, they came out piping hot. What can I say… I was just in the mood for some fries. I’m told after the fact that I should have gotten the Sweet Corn Spoonbread. Live and learn. I did find that my fries were oversalted, but it’s hard to complain when the rest of the meal rocked as it did.

With my meal, I knocked back some iced tea. They do have bottled beer in the soda cooler, but it was barely noon…

PM BBQ turned out to be an amazing restaurant with intense credibility based on the strength of the brisket. I’m definitely returning, and not just when I find myself way the hell out in west Chesterfield.

Epilogue

It only took 40 minutes to eat. That gave me tons of time to kill after lunch. I got in my car and looked at the storefront before me. Whaddaya know! The Chesterfield International Tap House is next door to PM BBQ. I think I know how to kill some time.

How many beers do they have on tap? A few…

Decisions, decisions...

Decisions, decisions…

I was thirsty and not in the mood to think, so I ordered a known favorite: Charleville Half Wit Wheat.

Charleville Half-Wit

Charleville Half-Wit

That beer was so good, I went with the bartender’s suggestion of Charleville Nitro ESB.

Charleville Nitro ESB

Charleville Nitro ESB

All this beer eventually sent me to the restroom, where I saw this on the stall partition:

Everything comes full circle

Everything comes full circle

A fitting end to my Chesterfield adventure, among the hundreds of beer and restaurant stickers that plastered the walls. I’ll be back to iTap soon, if not this location then another.

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Cold Calling A Patent Attorney

BBQ & Beer enthusiasts, this one probably isn’t for you (unless you need an IP attorney, in which case you may learn a little about cold-calling).

As you might know, my day job entails lawyering. Not just any lawyering, but the specialty known as Intellectual Property. Because of that, I get phone calls.

(Disclaimer: In case you didn’t already know, nothing here is legal advice. Don’t rely on anything here as legal advice. Remember that seeking legal advice from a BBQ & beer blog = You fail at life.)

The subject of cold calling a lawyer has been very well-addressed by Ken at Popehat (although we get different types of calls since we are in different practice areas). This post is a little more specific to intellectual property law.

I do my best to avoid taking legal work from clients who are going to turn into problems. This is not taught in law school. If Mr. or Mrs. Cold Caller seems like someone who will be a nightmare client or, even worse, a nightmare malpractice plaintiff, then I decline. I prefer to let someone else take on the risk of that type of client – as a solo practitioner with a wife, kids, house, dog, massive student loans, etc., I am exceptionally risk-averse.

Each of these things (I swear this is all true) have been said to me. It’s at that point in the call when I know I will never ever agree to take your case.

Invention worth millions of dollars.” – The red flag of all red flags. I hear this MONTHLY. Any iteration of this is an immediate referral out to the bar referral service. It’s a sign of delusion. If you’re deluded about your invention and the chances of becoming a millionaire, then who are you going to be mad at (read: sue for malpractice) when your seven figure check doesn’t arrive? Me. No thanks.

I fired my last patent attorney.” – This isn’t necessarily a 100% dealbreaker, because maybe he/she truly did a horrible job. I can read the patent file online and see the state of the case, but odds are high you are either a pain in the rear client or the application is FUBAR. Either way, my risk-aversion says I’m not the attorney for you.

I filed my own patent application...” – I’m not much of a gambling man. I play a little poker here and there with friends, and I have been known to wager beer during the fantasy football season. But I’ll bet that your application has been hopelessly screwed up by your own hands. It’s a nearly ironclad rule that no one should ever file their own patent application. When the client is looking for someone to blame down the road, it is either them or you… who do you think they’ll choose?

I filed my own provisional patent application 11 months and 3 weeks ago…” – See above. If you file your own provisional patent application because it was super cheap and super easy, you likely super messed it up. You have 12 months from filing to file a non-provisional based on the (probably toxic) provisional. I might be able to help you out in this small window of time, but the earlier filing date is probably forfeit.

The Lord delivered you to me.” – I got this verbatim, followed by lots of Bible quoting and failing to give me the name of the jackass who provided my number. This one was referred to a large general practice firm that I especially dislike.

The FBI is tracking me because of what I have to tell you.” – Not a lie. This guy called me and then showed up unannounced at the office and scared the holy hell out of the receptionist. He was in pajamas, slippers, a robe, had mussed hair, and was obsessed with organizing the sugar packets and pencils at the front desk. Mr. Managing Partner told me that this guy needed to go, so we sent him to the bar referral service.

[Absolutely non-extendable statutory deadline] was last week, but I still want to file. I need [fraud & unethical conduct].” – Sorry, but I’m not risking my law licenses for you. I got this phone call mid-morning the day after Christmas a couple years ago, and a hard 12 month deadline had passed the prior week. Someone really truly asked me to commit fraud on the Patent Office, and I respectfully declined.

My unpatented invention of [ubiquitous product] was stolen by [huge multinational company] and I want to sue.” – This has happened a few times, and the “inventor” can never prove their case. I’m not a fan of being sanctioned by the Courts for bringing cases like this.

Cold caller wants me to take their patent application pro bono. – Pro bono work is not often associated with intellectual property. Indigents who are facing an unflinching criminal justice system, or a destitute person being evicted… that’s pro bono work. You don’t want to pay for a patent application? Not quite pro bono work.

Cold caller wants me to draft application for free (and pay the filing fee!) for a small slice of their future multimillion dollar company. – No, you sleazeball.

Cold caller will only tell me about the invention after I sign an NDA. – I don’t sign Non-Disclosure Agreements. I am bound by the Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct, so anything a prospective client tells me in confidence stays in confidence. (With exception. “I’m off to kill / maim someone…” gets reported to the cops.) If I explain that and they insist I sign, then goodbye and good luck.

Cold caller touts their “social network” invention as the “next Facebook” and wants free legal work – Maybe I’ll look back on this with regret, but probably not. Decline.

Cold caller’s invention cures a serious disease through a special diet – Yes, I got this call. I hesitate to say the illness, but I passed this single-claim inventor-drafted application on to someone else who handles this type of stuff. I hope the inventor is correct.

The one I’m waiting for, and it would make my day: Cold caller has invented a perpetual motion machine. – Please, Jebus, deliver this person and their contraption to me.

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