Nov 302006
 

BREAKING NEWS: Councilmen Rickey Peete, Edmund Ford, and businessman Joe Cooper indicted on federal charges – bribery for the councilmen, money laundering for Cooper. Click here for more info

I’ve read that it’s bad to throw computer equipment in the trash – instead, it should be taken someplace where it can be properly recycled. Question – does anyone know where in Memphis to take this stuff? I have an old monitor and two non-working printers sitting around the apartment, and I’m sick of looking at them and want to get rid of them. I’d prefer to do it the environmentally friendly way but I’m not sure what that is…

Mpact Memphis is having several meetings in December to plan its agenda for next year. For those of you not familiar with the organization, it’s a group of people, generally 21-40, who have come together to meet each other, to promote the city, and to work on projects to make the city a better place and to get other people in the 21-40 age range involved. I used to be a very active member of Mpact, but a little over a year ago they restructured the organization and picked a boring (although worthwhile) theme – financial literacy – as their central focus. It drove a lot of their members away, and now they’re getting back to the way things used to be. Mpact was a whole lot of fun in the 2002-04 era and if they can recapture that magic, I’m all for it.

There are two committee meetings I will probably attend. One is the Social Committee, which will meet Monday, December 4 at Side Street Grill (2078 Monroe) from 6 to 7 pm. That committee will plan fun events that will allow members to come together, socialize, and (god I hate this word but everyone uses it) network with each other. In the past they have planned happy hours, wine tastings, cooking classes, and all kinds of fun things. If you’d like to have a hand in planning those events (or if you have ideas of your own), please come out!

The other is the Promote Memphis committee meeting, which will take place Thursday, December 14 at Davis-Kidd Bookstore (378 S. Perkins) from 6 to 7 pm. Back in ’02-’04 when I was a member of this committee (committees were called “pillars” then) they hosted an intern program so corporate interns from other cities would get to see Memphis and meet locals; they hosted a program for college students teaching them how to network and find jobs; they created programs to showcase local art and music; they created an information packet for new Memphians. Hopefully they won’t narrow their focus to “what can we do to help Memphis corporations recruit and retain talent?” as they did toward the end of the Promote Memphis Pillar’s run in ’05 – I think there’s a lot more to promoting the city than simply asking how we can help corporations find and keep talented people. Anyway, I’ve had a lot of fun on this committee over the years, and look forward to re-joining it.

Couple of other committee meetings which I probably won’t attend but they may be of interest to you: A group will be meeting at Celtic Crossing (South Cooper at Oliver) this Sunday, Dec. 3 from 3-4 pm to plan Mpact’s annual party and fundraiser. Mpact has consistent hit it out of the ballpark with their annual parties and I’m excited to see what they come up with for 2007. Another group will be meeting at the Memphis BioWorks Foundation (20 S. Dudley, suite 900) to plan membership benefits for next year – for example, soliciting local restaurants and businesses to give discounts when an Mpact membership card is presented.

If any of this sounds like something you’d like to get involved in or hear more about, please come out, even if you’re not a current Mpact member. They’re rebuilding the organization and your input would be appreciated.

Hmmm… I have a suggestion for the Promote Memphis committee… “The Memphis Orientation Program for Hot Romanian College Students”… now that’s a program I would be happy to chair. We could hold the orientation sessions at my apartment to keep expenses to a minimum. I have lots of liquor, so, open bar for our overseas guests.

Wow, I actually went two entire weeks without mentioning Romanians. That’s probably a record.

Let’s move on to the “where can I find free alcohol downtown” portion of the post. Lansky at the Peabody will have free wine and cheese tomorrow, Friday, December 1. They will also be offering 20% off on their clothing.

Mode du Jour, a clothing store at 509 S. Main, will hold their grand opening Saturday, December 2, with brunch and mimosas from 10 until noon, and wine and hors d’oeuvres from 2 to 6 in the afternoon. They’ll also be offering 15% off purchases.

The annual St. Jude marathon and half marathon is Saturday morning – so if you’re driving downtown, be aware that there may be delays or detours. Here’s the route map, if you want to know what streets to avoid, or if you want to go out and cheer the runners. Thanks to regular reader Carmel for sending a link to the map. There’s a marathon after-party at Peabody Place mall from 2 to 4 pm, so come on by for that, whether you ran or not.

That’s the news for now. Temperature has dropped from 71 to 50 since I started this post. I think I’ll stay in tonight.

Nov 292006
 

Today I’m blogging from work as I eat lunch. I went to Costa Vida, a new Mexican fast-food place at Poplar and Holmes. I’m having the shredded beef enchiladas with medium sauce. As someone who lived in San Diego for a while, I know quality Mexican fast food when I taste it, and Costa Vida gets my stamp of approval. I went in wondering if I would like it better than Blue Coast Burrito, but I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re both equally good and both worth trying. Check out their menu – they have burritos, enchiladas, and tacos with your choice of sauce – hot, medium, mild, or mango. I just can’t see putting mango sauce on a burrito, but maybe it appeals to some people. Anyway, this place is definitely worth a try. If you dine in they have a big-screen TV for you to watch while you eat.

Beer recommendation: Hacker Pschorr Dunkel Weisse, a draft beer that just landed at the Flying Saucer. It’s a medium-dark wheat beer with slightly fruity (banana) flavor. Also, one of the Beer Goddesses invented a beer mix Monday night that was really good – half Hacker Pschorr Dunkel Weisse, half Avery White Rascal. Since it was invented by Amy (waitress Amy, not bartender Amy) we named it the “A-Team.”

Congratulations to the Rapscallions, who rolled on to another first-place victory at trivia last night, defeating Team PDA who were cheating right out in the open. Again, good triumphs over evil. We now have $270 in Saucer gift certificates, and one of our team members is having a plate party which will coincide with our gift certificate party, bringing the total to $370.

In the news: America breathes a collective sigh of relief as Bill Frist announces that he won’t run for president in ’08. Even he would be an improvement over the White House’s current occupant, but not by much. Hopefully the Republican Party will learn its lesson from the midterm elections and turn to more moderate candidates like McCain or Giuliani.

Crash Kole and Josh Lemons play Sleep Out Louie’s Friday night. Bobby Durango may be there as well, not sure as off yet.

Mayor Herenton boxes Joe Frazier tomorrow night in a charity match. With crime out of control all over the city, I have a feeling King Willie will take a much worse beating in the next mayoral election than he will in tomorrow’s bout. As someone who follows the news, I realize he’s doing what he can to fight back against crime, but it looks like he’s expending a lot more time and effort on this boxing match and I think that’s going to hurt his image in the long run.

I found a lot of good online coupons at MemphisTravel.com, which is the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau’s website. They have discounts for most popular area attractions (theatres, museums, etc.), dining coupons for Corky’s and Maggie Moo’s, discounts for Shelton Clothiers and Memphis Magazine, and more. The site is obviously designed with visitors in mind, but I don’t see any reason why locals can’t use these coupons too.

I got an e-mail this morning from a recruiter looking to fill a MySQL database administrator position. If anyone is interested shoot me an e-mail and I’ll forward the contact info to you.

That’s all for now – time to finish my enchiladas and get back to work.

Even more EP

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Nov 262006
 

I know this blog is beginning to sound like an advertisement for EP Delta Kitchen & Bar, but I went there last night with my friends Mikey, Chad, the Nuh-Uh Girl, and the Nuh-Uh Mom for their late night menu. This time I actually remembered what everyone ordered. Pics below. Also be sure to check out EP’s new website where you can view their entire menu, an entertainment calendar, and a bio of chef Michael Patrick. They need some pics of the the restaurant though.

This is “Not-Yo Crawfish,” crawfish nachos with pepper jack cheese and sweet potato chips (either $7 or $8 – can’t remember). This is enough food to make a meal, and it’s currently tied with the duck gumbo (on the regular dinner menu) as my favorite EP dish.
This is the duck spring roll ($7).

And these are the famous Lobster Pronto Pups ($9) – just like the pronto pups you’d find at the fair, but with lobster inside instead of a hot dog.

I want some more of those nachos… unfortunately, EP won’t start opening on Sundays for a couple more weeks yet. Promise I’ll try to write about something else in the next post.

Again, thanks to Google Picasa for the help retouching these photos… in my opinion these are the first photos I’ve posted that have done the food justice.

Nov 252006
 

Pictures from my birthday party last Saturday night are finally up! We started at Sleep Out Louie’s, where the Nuh-Uh Girl had a cake waiting for me and Pam & Terry sang me a birthday song.



Then we moved on to EP’s Delta Kitchen and Bar (formerly Elvis Presley’s Memphis, at Beale and Second) for dinner. We had a private second-floor room overlooking the stage. Here’s a pic of all of us at EP’s.

And, of course, I can’t do an EP’s post without pictures of the awesome FOOD! Other than mine, I wasn’t able to identify the dishes below… if anyone can help me put names to these, shoot me an e-mail.

This entree was mine – the stuffed chicken.

Here’s a pic of chef Michael Patrick, who cooked all this excellent food, with my neighbor Carmel who has become something of a downtown celebrity thanks to my blog.


I’m sure Carmel would have worn a tube top in honor of my birthday, but she had a wedding to go to earlier in the evening. She wore a tube top to my Flying Saucer plate party back in January though… perhaps we can convince her to wear a tube top again the next time someone else in our group has a plate party.

Here’s a pic of the cake the pastry chef at EP’s made for me. I wish I had taken pics of the inside too – raspberries and blueberries cooked into a white cake.

And, of course, my birthday wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t get to see my waitresses, so we ended the evening at the Flying Saucer. Looks like we had all had a few beers by the time this one was taken.

Complete photo album (92 pictures) is online here. This time I used a different method to create my photo album: I downloaded Picasa, a free program from Google that edits and organizes photos. Picasa also provides storage space for you to upload photo albums to the Web. They only provide 250 MB of free storage (enough for about 9 albums of this size) so in the future I’ll probably go back to using my own server space for photo albums and save the Picasa space for special occasions. Anyway, Picasa is a really neat program and has a very sophisticated interface for editing and storing photos; if you have a digicam and take a lot of pics, you should check it out.

Thanks again to Michael Patrick and EP’s, Mikey, Chad, the Nuh-Uh Girl, and all my friends who made my birthday so special. It couldn’t possibly have been any better.

Ewwwwwwwwwww

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Nov 252006
 

Last night during South Main Trolley Art Tour, I stopped by Earnestine & Hazel’s to use the restroom. I washed my hands using the pink “soap” pictured below. “That’s funny,” I thought, “This bar of soap isn’t slimy, like soap usually is.”



I then smelled my hands, and realized that I had just washed my hands not with soap, but with a urinal cake.

Gross.

Nov 242006
 

One of the benefits of being home in Little Rock is that I can thumb through back issues of Consumer Reports – my mother has a subscription. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m saving up to buy a new car. So I found the annual auto issue of CR and thumbed through it. One car seemed to stand out from the crowd – the Toyota Prius.

The Prius is a four-door hatchback which is about the same size as the Saturn SC2 I drive now, but a little bit roomier inside. It’s an electric/gas hybrid that gets an impressive 44 MPG. Furthermore, it had the highest customer satisfaction ranking of any car included in CR‘s survey – 95% of Prius owners said they were satisfied with their car, even beating out the Chevrolet Corvette at 93%. After adding an option package to get electronic stability control, it looks like a new Prius would cost me $23,970.

Does anyone who reads this own a Prius? If you do, I’d appreciate it if you’d shoot me an e-mail and give me your thoughts on the car.

Basically, here’s what I’m looking for in my next car:

1) I really prefer walking to driving. So I’m not looking for a car that’s loaded or fancy or top-of-the line. I’m looking for something that will get me from point A to point B without breaking down. So, good reliability record is important.

2) Peppy acceleration, because when I do go from point A to point B, I don’t want to be stuck in traffic behind Grandma.

3) Good air conditioning is a must. This is Memphis and it gets hot here. I’m not one of those people who will turn off the air to save a mile per gallon or two. I want my A/C.

4) Automatic transmission. I never learned to drive a manual shift and frankly don’t care to.

5) At this point in my life I absolutely refuse to use debt to pay for a car… so, no financing options, I want to be able to pay cash. Which means I want my next car to be reasonably priced. I was hoping to keep it under $20K, but after looking at what’s available it looks like I’ll be lucky to stay under $25K.

Other models I was considering before reading Consumer Reports:

VW New Beetle – Compared to most cars in its class, comes with a lot of standard features, including a V6 engine. It’s a classic design that will never go out of style. The only car I seriously considered that I could have had for under 20 grand. But: It’s small, it doesn’t get the gas mileage you’d expect considering its size, and reliability is below average. The only car I looked at which didn’t come with an automatic transmission as standard equipment.

Pontiac G6 – I had one of these as a rental car for a day and enjoyed driving it. But, it comes with a 4-cylinder engine as standard equipment, and I’m not willing to put up with a 4-cylinder in a car this big unless it’s a hybrid. Upgrading to the V6 would bump the price into the $23-24K range, in which case it makes more sense to go with the

Buick LaCrosse – I’ve always thought this was a sharp looking car. Since Buick is something of an upscale line, the base LaCrosse would come with everything I need – wouldn’t need any option packages. Cost would be $23-24K. Reliability is above average and I’ve always been fond of Buicks.

Toyota Camry – Of course, you can’t go wrong with a Camry. But like the Pontiac G6, I’m not willing to settle for the base 4-cylinder model. Upgrading to a V6 would push the price above $24K, and if I’m going to go that high I might as well spend a couple grand more and get the hybrid model.

Chevrolet Monte Carlo – Again, the engine puts the price out of reach. I consider it a sin to buy a Monte Carlo with anything less than a V8, but the V8 is only available in the SS package, which would push the price to around $30K. That’s really more than I want to spend on a car. Too bad… the Monte Carlo is one of the few American cars with a very good reliability record.

There are a couple of other options. One is to keep driving my Saturn SC2 until it dies, and right now it doesn’t appear to be anywhere near that point. The interior is starting to fall apart though, as it enters its 13th year. It’s getting a little embarrassing to have passengers see my car. The engine and transmission, though, seem like they could last until the car turns 20.

Another option is to buy a car that has been driven as a rental for a year… that’s a trick that radio host Dave Ramsey has always recommended. As Dave says, cars can depreciate as much as $8,000 in the first year, and why not let someone else take the loss? On the other hand, I kind of like being the first and only owner the car has ever had… that way I know everything that has ever happened to it. Also, I suspect if I go with the Prius, the rental-car route doesn’t make as much sense because I doubt those cars depreciate much at all in their first year.

And finally, I’ll close this post with a couple of cars I wish I had owned:

1992-97 Cadillac Seville – the late ’80s Seville was a crappy little car, basically a Buick Skylark with different door handles and a V8 and a computer. But in ’92 they finally got it right and put out a car that had sleek lines and was a real trendsetter. A lot of its technological advances can be seen in GM cars to this day.

1994-96 Chevrolet Impala SS – this car was a total badass. It was basically the Chevrolet Caprice with the police package, with slight modifications. A gigantic, powerful car that could have revived the era of the muscle cars if the mood of the times had been different. I know people put 24-inch rims on them and turn them into hoopties and drive them all over downtown, but nevertheless I like this car. I always thought the redesigned, smaller Impala released in 2000 was a disappointment compared to the mid-90s model.

Wouldn’t buy these cars used though… they’re too old and they’re GM models, which means their repair record likely sucks.

Anyway, if you have thoughts on the Toyota Prius or know of any other cars I might want to consider, shoot me an e-mail. Heading back to Memphis tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.

Nov 232006
 

Earlier this week I checked my mailbox and found a 500-page catalog from a company named Cabelas. It said it was a hunting and fishing supply company, and since I don’t hunt and fish I nearly tossed it. But, having a few spare minutes I decided to flip through it and it was really, really good.

It had a lot of clothing to keep you warm in winter – fleece, flannel, wool, other warm-weather fabrics, jackets. And it’s not all camo stuff. The majority of their line is nice-looking casual wear. They also had the biggest selection of hiking boots I had ever seen. They had some unique cooking gear, like a system for cooking drunken chicken (chicken with a beer can inserted into the body cavity) and an appliance designed to cook jalapeno poppers. They had items like coolers, air beds, etc. which can be taken camping but which would also be useful around the house and around the city. Tons of other stuff too… even if you don’t hunt or fish you’re going to find a lot to like in this catalog.

You can get on their website and request a catalog, but it’s also worth it to surf the items for sale on their site. On the Web they have some of the same items as the catalog at lower prices.

I just placed an order for two fleece zip-up jackets and two fleece pullovers with windshear, each for $19.95 after discounts. That’s cheaper than you’d find at Old Navy, and likely better quality. I’ll give a report when the items arrive.

Nov 232006
 

This post is brought to you by my mother’s neighbors in Little Rock, who have an unsecured wireless network in their home. I expect to find wireless networks to MoochNet from in Downtown Memphis, but I was rather shocked to find one ready and waiting for me in a suburban neighborhood in Little Rock.

One of the things I look most forward to when I come to Little Rock is a restaurant not far from my house that serves Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese food. As soon as I got to town, it was my first stop, and I ordered a Thai dish called Goony Phatpet. I ordered it for two reasons: it had the “spicy” icon next to its name, and it had the funniest name of any dish on the menu. It was SO good. It consisted of jumbo shrimp, onions, and bamboo shoots in a hot chile sauce, with choice of steamed or fried rice. Possibly the best Thai dish I’ve ever had. If anyone knows of a Thai restaurant in Memphis that serves Goony Phatpet, let me know (I know Sawaddii doesn’t). For those few of my readers who live in or travel to Little Rock, the restaurant is called Saigon and it’s in the 6800 block of Cantrell, in the Stein Mart shopping center. Try the Goony Phatpet only if you’re into spicy food (they have plenty of non-spicy dishes as well).

I also got pork rolls from the Vietnamese side of the menu. They consisted of ground pork and lettuce rolled up in rice paper. Um…. yeah, I gotta be honest, I couldn’t come to terms with this appetizer at all. The combination of tastes just didn’t work for me, even when dipped in the sauce (plum sauce I think) that came with the rolls.

Got some unexpected good news a couple of days ago… some option-trading software I helped develop several years ago got licensed. Twice. So I have a totally unexpected royalty check coming my way. I’m using some of the money to buy my mother a new refrigerator for Christmas. We’ve been sitting in front of the computer all evening picking one out. When she finally found the one she wanted, she printed out every shred of information she could find about it – pictures, specs, the delivery policy, the installation policy. She probably printed as much tonight as I’ve printed on my home printer in the past year.

That’s all for now… I’m wired up on Mountain Dew so I’ll probably be up surfing the web until 3 AM or so.

Nov 222006
 

Hello everybody! I just woke up. Man… taking an extra day off before Thanksgiving was a GREAT idea. Because I work for the city schools, I get the entire week of December 25 off, and January 1 and 2. I’m considering taking January 3, 4, 5 off and having a full two weeks.

Heading out to Little Rock this afternoon, will be back on Friday… for those of you remaining in town on Thanksgiving, I heard that there’s going to be a kick-ass party at Earnestine & Hazel’s tomorrow (Thanksgiving) night. That isn’t confirmed – the person who told me about it said, “it happened last year on Thanksgiving, so I’m assuming it’s happening again.” So you might want to ask around if E&H is way out of your way.

Congrats to my trivia team The Rapscallions, who coasted to a first-place win last night at trivia at the Saucer. We were only one question away from a perfect game. Unfortunately, our theater/opera expert Skippy drew a blank on the answer to “Who wrote Peter and the Wolf?” Oh well, we won, and that’s all that matters. Our only regret is that the team called Laurex wasn’t playing – they have been getting cocky lately and we were really hoping to kick their ass. The Rapscallions now have a stash of $320 in gift certificates, thanks to our most recent win and a team member who is having a plate party. We’ll be cashing them in soon.

Shortly after our trivia game finished, one of the Saucer regulars (who is not on the team) who was sitting at the bar called me over. “Paul, what’s Ali G’s real name?” he asked. He was on the phone with people who were at the Saucer’s East Bumblefuck location, where the trivia game was still going on. They had called him for help answering the questions. I find it amusing that the people are so dumb at the Cordova Saucer that they have to call people at the Downtown Saucer for help.

Speaking of the Saucer, their “Turkey of the Year” “buy the beer, waste money on the glass” night is tonight. Every year they pick a Turkey of the Year and commemorate it on a glass. This year it’s global warming. I personally would have voted for the Saucer’s Halloween costume contest as Turkey of the Year. Or possibly the waitress who used to work there who took 15-minute smoke/cell phone breaks while her customers had empty beer glasses. But global warming, I suppose that’s good too.

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, They Sing Christmas Up In Harlem will be at Hattiloo Theatre (656 Marshall) from Friday through Christmas Eve. Shows are Fri-Sat at 8 pm and Sun at 3 pm weekly. Tickets are $15 adults, $12 students and seniors. I’ll have to get by and see it at some point… not this weekend though, I’ve got South Main Trolley Art Tour Friday night, and the Pink Floyd tribute band Pulse at Neil’s Saturday night.

All right… heading out in a few hours. I’ll have Internet access in Little Rock, so my blogging won’t be interrupted.