Welcome to This Week's Obsessions, a regular feature that touches on what has us buzzing in Eye Street.

The thing I gravitated to first this week is "Old Sock," the new album by Eric Clapton. Now anything Clapton does is automatically cool, and I'll automatically get it, but this one is something extra-special. Whenever a big-name artist makes a record, it's a huge deal in the industry. But even a giant like Clapton has to keep the suits happy, which means stuff like song selection and production are heavily influenced by the guys who write the checks. Not "Old Sock." It sounds like Clapton grabbed a few select guitars, called up a few old friends, and went into a studio to do whatever he wanted. The result is an eclectic selection of songs played to perfection by a bunch of guys who really know what they're doing. It's got rock, blues, country and more than a little reggae. Best of all, it doesn't sound overproduced, like most records do these days. Even Paul McCartney sounds completely relaxed and in his element on this record. Maybe that's why I like it so much: It's proof that old guys not only can still get it done, but they can do it better.

SLO ride; take it easy

As I was driving back from the Bob Schneider show in San Luis, it occurred to me that the SLO Brewing Company has become one of my favorite places. They continually book bands that I love dearly, bands that should be playing here but for myriad reasons are not.

But I'm working on it. SLO Brew's passion is evident in its concert calendar, sound and attitude. And the crowds that gather there for these bands are knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Just in the last few months they've brought in Bob Schneider, Paul Thorn, Joe Ely, Carrie Rodriguez, Ryan Bingham and Los Lobos. We make a weekend of it when possible, but sometimes we just drive over for the day, knock around the beach, show up at SLO Brew, have an early dinner, and enjoy the show. The drive home is never a big deal. There's several routes to take, and the newly widened Highway 46 makes getting home a breeze.

The juice on fruit

Maybe the most significant thing I've been obsessing about lately is fruit. Yep, fruit. I've lost 35 pounds since October without any stupid fad diets or buying anything besides healthy food. A big part of this effort has been simple lane selection at the store. That produce aisle is now my favorite place. We've always kept apples and oranges around, but lately we've taken it to the next level. We have a giant bowl full of pears, plums, tangerines -- you name it. And thanks to modern farming techniques, the seasons for fruit seem to be longer. Fresh is good. We'll cut up a pineapple (and I'm the Michelangelo of cutting up pineapple), and put the chunks in plastic zip bags. Bust out some of that with strawberries, and you've got a perfect snack. When that sweet tooth comes calling, it's always a good idea to have something naturally sweet in the fridge. Call my pals Ben and Melissa out at California Fruit Depot (877-366-6309), and just ask what's fresh. I scored a bag of tangerines the other day that might as well have been Dewar's chews, they tasted so good. Believe me, after a month or two, your taste buds will perceive fruit just like candy. I've also discovered that coconut goes great with every kind of fruit, from grapes to pears. If you're a grower, keep me posted as to what's in season at scottcox@bakersfield.com.