Deal of the Week: no deal

Well, after reviewing the weekly ad inserts in the Sunday Commercial Appeal, nothing really jumped out at me as a hot deal this week. I talked it over with a friend who has knowledge of the consumer electronics industry that I don’t have, and he agreed: nothing looked like a deal to him either.

The only thing I could find was the 1 GB Sansa MP3 player, and I already mentioned that two weeks ago. It’s back on sale at both Circuit City and Best Buy for $89. Twice the capacity of the iPod shuffle, ten dollars cheaper, and a lot more features.

Other than that… ummm… I don’t see much this week. Target has an 18-pound bag of Meow Mix on sale for $7.99. Cats ask for it by name, you know.

Anyone know of any deals that I missed? Let me know and I’ll post ’em.

Those little blue crack boxes, and other weekend notes

I never made it to Trolley Tour last night. About 6:00 I was at Sleep Out’s, and some of the other regulars said, “Wanna play poker?” (Texas Hold ‘Em poker is an option on SOL’s NTN trivia game). But I was about to head out to South Main to drink free wine and look at my friend Kat‘s breasts, so I said no. A few minutes later, Kat called and said that she and her breasts couldn’t make it because a big project had come up at work. So I thought, hmmm, an hour or so of poker sounds good, I’ll play until 7 and then head to Trolley Tour by myself. So I asked the bartender for a blue NTN box.

I checked to make sure it was not box number 11 and logged in. (One of the regulars at SOL takes his NTN box to the bathroom with him so he won’t miss a poker hand. The day before, he had been using box number 11. So if you get that box, you might want to ask the bartender to wipe it down with cleaning solution)

Before I knew it, it was 7:00. “I can’t leave now, I’m winning,” I thought. It was a two-hour game, which meant it would end at 8. “I’ll play until the end of the game, then run home and change (I still had shorts on, as it had been a warm day outside) and then catch the last few minutes of trolley tour.” I paid my tab, handed in my NTN box, and prepared to leave.

… and then I thought, “They’re starting another game. I’ve missed the best part of trolley tour already. Most of the galleries will be out of wine by now. What the hell, I’ll play until 10 and then go out.” So I ordered another beer and asked for another box.

Turned out to be a good idea. On the first hand, I was dealt a pair of pocket fives, and then a five showed up in the flop, so I went all-in and knocked about half the people playing out of the game. Trouble is, if you run out of money you just log out and log back in again, and you get a new $4000 to start with. (I wish real life worked that way.) Because of this, you’ll get people going all-in when they don’t even have a pair, because if they lose they can just go get more “money.”

Meanwhile, the guy I mentioned earlier walked to the bathroom – and took his box with him again. He was using box 20 last night, so 11 and 20 are the numbers to watch for, although this is a lottery you don’t want to win.

10:00 came, and the bar showed no signs of closing… so I signed up for another game. Finally, as it was approaching midnight they kicked us out.

Afterward, we went over to a friend’s place. One of the SOL regulars just bought one of the new condos on Main next to Smooth Moves, and we hung out on his second-story balcony for a while. Meanwhile, on the street below, a bum saw us and tried to get our attention. “Gimme twenty-five cent.” Even in someone’s private home, you can’t escape the bums downtown.

Then we ended up at Huey’s, where the SOL staff had gone for some after-work cocktails. By about 1:00 I was too tired to keep my eyes open and walked home.

(If any SOL regulars are reading this: Yesterday was Frenchie’s birthday, so buy him a drink if you see him out this weekend)

So now it’s Saturday. The psychic fair I mentioned earlier in the week is going on today, and I’m trying to decide if I have the energy to drive out there. I don’t think I do. Besides, I’m hungry for an order of corn brats from Big Foot Lodge. Corn brats are like corn dog nuggets, but made with bratwurst instead of hot dogs.

Not sure what I’ll be doing tonight. I’m definitely NOT going to Sleep Out’s – those evil blue crack boxes have occupied enough of my time this week. And everyone else’s. I’ve heard from managers there that NTN Trivia has already paid for itself, and they’ve had it less than a month. Not surprised. Due to NTN, Sleep Out’s has become the bar where I spend the most time, knocking the Saucer out of the top spot for the first time in about a year.

The Soul Party is at the Hi-Tone tonight, but I’m not sure I’ll feel up to driving out there. Downtown, it’s ’80s Night at Swig, and I may have to stop by for that. The Tap Room also seems like it will fit into my plans for the evening at some point.

All right. Time to go get those corn brats….

The best pizza downtown

I stopped by the Black Diamond about 3:30 this morning for a late-night snack. The Diamond has the best pizza downtown by far. Here’s a pic of the sausage-and-black-olive pizza I got:

And of course I washed it down with one of these:

Thursday update: vacation so far, this weekend

I signed a new lease on my apartment yesterday. That’s a huge relief. I had been worried that my building would go condo, or jack the rent up since it’s one of the few remaining apartment buildings downtown. But they signed me up for another year at the same rent I’ve been paying since 2003. So I’m a Downtowner until 2007 at least.

This has been a great vacation week. People have asked me, “Why don’t you take a road trip? Go out of town for a few days?” But the thing is, I don’t need to or want to. There is no place where I’m happier than Downtown Memphis. I have places I enjoy hanging out, and an abundance of wonderful friends.

Monday night I actually made an excursion outside of downtown. I had been at the Saucer that afternoon working on my laptop, and one of the waitresses asked me, “What are you doing tonight? I want to go to Bluegrass Night at the Buccaneer, and I need someone to go with.” Having never been to the Buc, I agreed. I’ve read good things about it in Rachel and the City and other blogs, and was curious. So about 11 she got off work, and we took my car out there. She drove, as I had been drinking beer since about 2 in the afternoon, and she got to watch in amusement as I turned my apartment upside down trying to find my parking pass, and then couldn’t find my car in the garage. But anyway, once we got to the Buc I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Small, dimly lit bar with a great band and reasonably priced PBR on tap. Definitely a place I’ll check out again in the future.

During the days this week I’ve been helping a local company make updates to their website. I know that doesn’t sound like much of a vacation, but I can take my laptop to local Wi-Fi enabled bars and do it there. And besides, I really like this company. They do architectural design and drafting, mechanical drafting, and 3-D and 4-D CAD work, and they have a business model that allows them to deliver top-quality work to their clients at less than half the usual cost. Check out their samples page – that’s mainly what I’ve been working on this week. If you know of any architects or anyone in the design business, they need to take a look at this site.

So what are the plans for the rest of my vacation? Nothing definite for tonight. The Rapscallions are again hitting TJ Mulligan’s for their trivia night tonight, but I spent 6 hours playing NTN at Sleep Out’s yesterday and am absolutely trivia’d out for a few days. Besides, for some reason I just can’t get into Mulligan’s. It doesn’t hold the same appeal as my Holy Trio of downtown bars – Sleep Out Louie’s, the Flying Saucer, and the Tap Room.

Tomorrow it looks like I’ll be hitting the South Main Trolley Art Tour with fellow blogger Kat. Kat has never been to the art tour and I have to teach her how to sniff out free wine at the galleries.

Saturday day there’s a Psychic Fair at the Mt. Moriah Holiday Inn, and I’ll probably swing by and see what’s going on there. I don’t talk about it much in this blog, but I am actually quite interested in this stuff and have read quite a few books about it. Here’s a link to the info about the fair. The Holiday Inn is right off I-240 Exit 17, near the Mt. Moriah Center for the Performing Arts.

Saturday night… undecided on this one. There’s a Soul Party at the Hi-Tone. I went to the last one, and was struck by two things: 1) how incredibly good the ’60s vintage soul music was, and 2) how I knew almost no one there. I’ll figure it out between now and then. If I don’t head to Midtown for the Soul Party, I may do the next best thing and hit Raiford’s. Haven’t been there in several months, and if I go to Raiford’s I don’t have to drive.

And of course, then there’s Sunday brunch at Sleep Out’s to cap off a near-perfect week.

In the meantime, I have simpler pleasures to enjoy. Like taking a bunch of crackers over to Court Square and feeding the pigeons. And I have my downtown lunch spots to hit this week. I’m thinking it’s going to be Erika’s today for some good German food, and then tomorrow I’ll hit Culinary Productions, where it’s usually salmon or some other fish on Fridays.

Couple of other random notes:

– I read in the paper yesterday that Thomas Boggs of Huey’s fame and the chef at Tsunami have teamed up to lease the old Cafe Samovar location, and will be opening a new restaurant there. No info about what type of restaurant yet, but the current sous chef at Tsunami will be running the kitchen.

– Any veterinarians read this blog? Last night I was talking to a friend, discussing a business idea he had. He wanted to bounce ideas off veterinarians or other people who work with animals, and asked if I knew anyone. Surprisingly, I don’t. I had a former student who was going to vet school, but I haven’t seen her in 4 years. So I figured I’d try to use the Power of the Blog to see if anyone can help. E-mail me (paul at paulryburn dot com) if you can.

And that’s the mid-vacation update… the bars open in less than an hour, guess I better shower and get dressed.

Our trivia team’s secret weapon

I’m sitting in the Saucer working on my laptop right now. The waitresses are standing on ladders hanging Mardi Gras decorations.

Since I used to be a college faculty member, it is my pleasure to offer the following SAT prep question:

a) jump ropes
b) sweatsocks
c) nachos
d) tube tops

The correct answer is at the end of this post.

This is my first of two visits to the Saucer today, as I will be back tonight for Trivia Bowl. The Rapscallions continue to pile up victories, with something like 8 first-places in the past five months. People always ask me, “How do you guys do it? What’s the key to your success?”

Well, I’m going to give away our secret. We are fortunate enough to have a true Trivia Master on our team. Definitely one of the all-time greats. Here are a few pics of the master himself:

With a trivia stud like this on our team, we could probably win every week if we wanted to, but we feel it’s only fair to take it easy and give the other teams a chance.

If you think this post was a waste of bandwidth, wait ’til you see what I have in store for tomorrow.

The correct answer is d).

Wow! Memphis has a roller derby team! Didn’t know

Thanks to Rachel, who writes A Pulp Faction, one of the best Memphis blogs, for sending this info: a pulp faction: Tuesday: Memphis Roller Derby Practice and Meeting

Back in the ’80s I used to watch roller derby on TV. For those of you not familiar with it, it’s a physical-contact sport on a round skating rink. I don’t know if this is true of the local team, but the roller derby I saw on TV had some of the sports-entertainment aspects found in pro wrestling, with babyface and heel teams and evil managers.

My vacation is going very well for the most part… I’ll be out somewhere laptopping this afternoon, making updates to a website. I may very well jump over to Blogger and post a Tuesday update at some point.

Just checked my tracker. Someone from Disney is reading my blog. Cool!

Court Square snow pic

Pic from Saturday when the snow was fresh – this is of Court Square, taken from my rooftop on No. 10 Main. Click on the image to see it in full size. Warning to dialup users: this file is almost a megabyte, may take a moment to download. Shouldn’t be a problem for cable, DSL or wireless users. I didn’t want to resize this one (2560 x 1920) and lose any detail.

Snow is pretty rare in Memphis, so this pic is a keeper. You’ll notice that there is something else rare about this pic of Court Square: there aren’t any pigeons or bums.

Deal of the Week

Continuing my “Deal of the Week” series, in which I scour the ads in the Sunday paper to find the best deals…

This week’s Deal of the Week is the Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 5000, a wireless keyboard and mouse combo. It normally runs for $99.95 but Office Depot has it on sale this week for $49.95 ($59.95 plus $10 mail-in rebate). It’s a good opportunity to eliminate some wires from your desktop, and users seem to especially like the feel of the mouse in their hand. It also provides one-touch access to photo-editing and screen magnifying features.

The Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000 is also on sale for $49.95, but reviews on the Web seem to indicate that the Optical Desktop 5000 is better put together and a more comfortable product to use.

One word of caution: Other devices that emit electrical current can interfere with the wireless signal. My manager at work has a wireless keyboard/mouse, and sometimes his telephone cord gets in the way and knocks the signal out. So if your wireless keyboard suddenly stops working, it’s not necessarily a sign that it’s defective; you may just need to move some things around on your desk.

Back next Sunday with another deal.