What a day!

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Jan 312008
 

What a day at work!  The office building had a water main break this morning, and when we arrived to work we were told there would be no running water in the building all day.  We were told we could walk to the nearby Morgan Keegan office tower to use the restroom.  Of course, my apartment building is just as close so I went there.  In any case, I had to walk in pouring rain, which was not fun.

Then we saw a severe storm on the radar, moving toward Memphis from the west.  The temp was hovering around 32 at the time, and when the precipitation started it was sleet.  At that point management told everyone who drove to work that they could go home.  That was a nice gesture, even though a warmup of a couple degrees caused most of the precipitation to fall as rain.  I remember a few years ago, when I worked for a company that said “WE HAVE A POLICY OF NOT CLOSING FOR BAD WEATHER,” and one day when sleet moved in at noon no one did the sensible thing and left.  Of course, everyone was so stressed out over the anticipated dangerous drive home that no work got done that day.  People were too busy looking out the window.  By the time 4:30 rolled around, I had to drive home on Sam Cooper on an inch of sleet (it never changed to rain or snow that day).  I did about 20 mph and got home fine, although the car in the next lane was going 50 and nearly sideswiped me.  That’s why it’s dangerous not to close Memphis offices in bad weather; it’s not that you don’t know how to drive home in it, it’s that all the other idiots on the road don’t.

So anyway, I was one of a few remaining people in the office.  If I were set up on the VPN so I could use Remote Desktop to connect, I would’ve worked from home too.  Need to talk to the sysadmin about that but he’s in New York right now.

On to today’s news:  The International Blues Challenge competition takes place on Beale Street today and tomorrow.  If you feel like rooting for the home team, the Eric Hughes Band is one of the bands competing.  You’ll be able to buy wristbands for all the participating clubs on Beale tonight and tomorrow; finals are at the Orpheum on Saturday.

The Food Network has been doing more filming Downtown than the previously-mentioned Alcenia’s piece.  They also went to the Little Tea Shop on Monroe.  They were there Wednesday filming and talking to owner and Downtown legend Suhair.  They loved Suhair and will be back filming the lunch crowd on Monday, so stop by and maybe you’ll appear on TV.  It’s for their “American Classics” series.

Circa will be back open for lunch from 11-4 weekdays starting tomorrow.  Chef John Bragg e-mailed me a copy of the menu.  Some of the standout items:  cornmeal fried oysters with red chili sauce ($9); half-pound certified Angus steakburger ($9); crab cake sandwich with roasted pepper remoulade ($12); beef tenderloin medallions with mushroom bordelaise and mashed potatoes ($14); grilled chicken and pasta with pancetta and scallions in white wine cream sauce ($13); and for vegetarians there’s a chef’s vegetarian special ($12).  They have Wi-Fi so you can take your laptop and do a working lunch.

My plans for the rest of the week:

Tonight:  Dempseys @ Saucer.  They take the stage at 9:30 but I’ll probably get there at 7:30-8ish so when they ask from the stage, “You drunk yet, Paul?” I can say yes.  I’ll stay through all three sets then walk home.  of course mcguinness is on the way home

Tomorrow:  Field trip to The Cove on Broad Avenue from 6 to approximately 9-10ish.  I’ll bring the camera and take pictures to post.  After I get back – not sure, maybe the IBC on Beale, will figure it out when I get back Downtown.

Saturday:  No idea.  There’s a Tiger game at noon.  May go someplace close by to watch it, or maybe I’ll just sleep late and turn it on the TV when I get up.  “Buy beer for Sunday’s Super Bowl party” is the only item on my agenda.

Sunday:  McGuinness 11-12:30; Saucer 12:30-2; Super Bowl party at friend’s house nearby 2 til about an hour after the game ends.  I’ve invited a few people who read this blog – if you want to meet up with me at McG or the Saucer beforehand you can walk over with me, otherwise call my cell.

And that’s the news.  Be careful if you drive tonight.  Predicted low is 30 and the streets are still wet.

Jan 302008
 

Tonight after work I hit Circa for one of their happy hour beers, then made the trek down South Main to G.E. Patterson Avenue to watch the Tiger game at Calhoun’s.  First time I’ve been there in 29 days, and first time to see the bar during a Tiger game since they’ve had time to develop a regular crowd.

The place was PACKED.  Luckily I had a friend who saved me a seat at the bar, but otherwise if you want a bar seat you need to get there an hour prior to game time.  Keep in mind that, given the size of Calhoun’s, “packed” means about 40 people. I got to enjoy one of their newest draft beers, a Mexican beer called Dos Equis Special Lager, while I watched the game.  In addition to #1 Memphis defeating Houston, there were a couple of added bonuses.  The only other undefeated team in NCAA Division I, #2 Kansas, lost to #24 Kansas State, and Arkansas defeated Mississippi State.  I noticed that Calhoun’s has a framed photo of a razorback hog above their main TV.  Nice.

My friend at the bar next to me commented that the crowd at Calhoun’s was a “Blue Monkey crowd,” meaning the crowd that hung out at the Downtown Blue Monkey 3 years ago.  That’s a South Main neighborhood crowd, which is what they wanted.  Glad to see them doing well.  They wanted to provide a hangout for the neighbors and they did it.

That said, I don’t see myself hanging out there more than a couple of times a month… simply because, South Main isn’t my neighborhood.  The Downtown core is.  That should not be taken as a negative statement against Calhoun’s in any way.  It’s a GREAT place to watch Tiger games and other sports.  I highly, highly recommend it if you’re a sports fan and/or if you live in South Main.  It’s just that I have too many fun hangouts within 5 blocks of where I live to get down there regularly.  I tabbed out about 9:30 and told my friends I was walking home, and that’s what I did.  I went home and bought a $2.75 Fire Sale (Dos Equis Amber, they almost got it right) and listened to Roxanne Lemmon’s band and watched waitresses walk around.

Let’s get on to the daily news.  Tomorrow, January 31 (which will be today by the time most of you read this), Ballet Memphis will have an open rehearsal at the One One O’ Six Lofts on Main just south of Union from 11:30 AM-1:30 PM.  You’re invited to bring lunch (you can get to-go food from a number of nearby restaurants, including Huey’s, Sawaddii, Rio Loco, Pa Pa Pia’s, Sauces, the Majestic Grille, etc.) and watch.

The Food Network will be in town Friday and Saturday to film at Alcenia’s restaurant in the Pinch District.  The show is “Dinners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”  Owner BJ Tamayo will do some cooking, and her 87-year-old mother Alcenia for whom the restaurant is named will share cooking tips.

Walking home tonight, I saw a sign that said The Flying Fish is now doing happy hour with $1 drafts and $4 margaritas 4-7 PM weekdays.

Time to get a good night’s rest.  With the Dempseys show tomorrow, I know I’ve got another late night coming, so I better stock up on sleep tonight.

Jan 302008
 

The Rapscallions came in third this evening in trivia.  Pete the Trivia Guy expanded the format this week, adding one new question per round.  Not only did trivia get longer, but weirder.  Sample question:  Which sleeping pill commercial features Abe Lincoln and a talking beaver?  Obviously our team got that one, because when I’m at the Saucer I’m all about the b… never mind, no good can come from finishing that thought.  Team member IQ was absent this week, as were many team members.  We had a team of 8, which for us is small.  We took third place, bringing our total to $365.

One post-trivia note I want to make:  Leo Lazarus has been playing after trivia for 5 years at the Saucer on Tuesday.  What I did not know is that anything you tip him goes to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  So come drink, listen, and give on Tuesdays.

We had a new waitress tonight, and because she did not know our names she nicknamed me “R1 longhair guy” on the receipt.  R1 is the rail nearest the door.  Here’s a picture one of the other waitresses drew in honor of my new nickname.

r1guy.jpg

So anyway they were training 4 new waitresses tonight.  And that’s OK – the official Saucer training manual teaches about the different styles of beer, how to make a beer recommendation for the customer, etc.  But that’s not enough.

Therefore I present The Unofficial Saucer Training Manual – the training manual that teaches the REALLY important skills involved in working at the Saucer – how to sit on your ass, send text messages, and twirl your hair.  See pictures below.

m1.jpg

m2.jpg

 

m3.jpg

 

See?  It’s not that had to do.  Just wanted to give you new girls the complete picture, things not found in the training manual.  The skills pictured above will occupy 85-90% of your time.

 

After I got done at the Saucer I went to McGuinness.  The exterminator was in there spraying.  Dude next to me at the bar commented on how bad the place smelled.  He was smoking a cigarette.

 

Post on entrepreneurial event is once again on hold, waiting for a website (to be used to take a vote which is important to Memphis) coming back online.

 

Jan 292008
 

I made it to double digits for the first time in a while last night – 11 beers at Pint Nite.  The great thing about Pint Nite is that almost all the drafts are $2.50, so you can try out different beers and see if you like them.  For example, I tried a beer called Dos Equis Special Lager last night.  In fact, I tried it 11 times.  The verdict’s still out, so I’ll probably have to try some more Special Lager again next Monday.

One of my all-time favorite former bartenders came in last night, and came over to say hello.  “Paul’s the man about Downtown,” she told my waitress.  “He’s everywhere.  He’s a regular at, like, 6 different bars.”

“When does he find time to be a regular at 5 other bars?” asked the waitress.  “He’s always here!”

Let’s get on to today’s news.  The 5th annual Mpact Memphis/Volunteer Memphis Volunteer Expo will happen this Thursday, January 31, at the Botanic Gardens from 4:30 to 7:30 PM.  This has turned into a huge event.  You’ll be able to talk to representatives of many, many nonprofits (last year I think they had about 75) and learn about opportunities to work with them to better your community.  Last year there were about 900 attendees, and they expect more this year.  Besides talking to the nonprofits, it’s a good time to catch up with fellow young professionals and do some networking.

This next event is one that I really like – it’s a wedding reception without anyone getting married.  Considering that I refer to marriage as The Ultimate Mistake I gotta like this one.  It’s a “Wedding Crashers” theme party at Jay Etkin Gallery on Saturday, March 22.  It will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Mid-South Chapter and will be hosted by Team in Training.  There will be dancing, a DJ playing ’80s favorites and wedding tunes, great food, a silent auction featuring local artists, and door prizes.  Tickets MUST be purchased in advance – none will be available at the door.  Tickets are $40 before March 1, $50 after that.  You can call Chris at 825-1159 to purchase tickets.  There’s also an eVite for the party – if you want to be added to that e-mail me (paul@paulryburn.com).

MLGW has a new blog called Bird on a Wire.  You probably wouldn’t expect our local power company to write anything entertaining, but the blog is surprisingly good, dealing with issues like power conservation, recycling, and community outreach.  Check it out, it’s worth a look.

One city has come up with a very unique way to keep birds and squirrels off power wires.  Click here to see how they did it.

Tonight’s trivia night at the Saucer, and the Rapscallions team can push their gift certificate total past the four hundred mark with a victory.  There’s a Saucer Girls team that plays every week (they’re ineligible for prizes, of course) and they’ve been doing very well lately.  Not that I’m surprised at all – when the two blond waitresses left in December, it raised the average Saucer employee IQ about 20 points higher.

Speaking of people with low IQs, George W. Bush gave his State of the Union speech last night.  Here’s a link to a summary and analysis of the speech by NPR.

I forgot to blog about the upcoming entrepreneurial event and don’t want to do it here – it’s worthy of its own post.  Maybe this afternoon after work I’ll do it.

I’m eating turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, and turnip greens from Blue Plate Cafe as I type this.

Tonight after trivia I’ll sit on the benches and listen to Leo Lazarus’ Tuesday night performance for a while, then make an appearance at either McGuinness or Hoop’s Bar.  Gotta put in time at those 5 other bars where I’m a regular, after all.

Jan 282008
 

President Bush will deliver his final State of the Union address is tonight.  According to USA Today, dum-dum has big plans for his final year in office.

Here’s a link to the 2008 version of the State of the Union Drinking Game.

I’ll probably miss the speech on TV, as I’ll be doing Pint Nite at the Saucer, where all of their TVs will no doubt be tuned to much more important matters, like ESPN Sportscenter.  I’ll read the text of the speech online tomorrow.

Yay!  Got to work early today, and am doing a working lunch.  So I’ll be able to leave early.  Will be at Pint Nite about a quarter to 5.

Jan 272008
 

Welcome to one of the most worthless posts in the history of this blog.  It’s Sunday evening at 10:26 PM.  I was out drinking at 11:26 AM.  You do the math.

The Majestic Grille has added the “John D breakfast” to their brunch menu.  It was previously known as the “pain in the ass” breakfast because it consisted of a bunch of a la carte items which weren’t on the menu at all.  I think it’s something like bacon, eggs and grits.  It’s $8 and is best consumed John D style with a Bud Light.

While we were at the Majestic we were watching TV, and there was a commercial showing a woman pushing a washing machine off a diving board into a swimming pool.   At the bottom of the screen it read “Do not attempt.”  I’m glad they had that warning there, because I was seriously considering going and finding a washing machine and pushing it off a diving board.  Did Zeppelin do that in Seattle on their ’69 tour?

Saturday I posted that one of the waitresses at the Saucer needed to go to Wet Willie’s and order a big cup of Attitude Improvement.  Well, her mini-me now needs an Attitude Improvement as well.  Today I got bored at the Saucer and decided to help them bring in business by adding decorations to their “Come in and try one of our 75 draft beers” sign outside.  Specifically, I decorated it by adding a cent sign after the “75.”  Would you believe that the mini-me followed me outside and erased my artwork?  That’s not very nice.

Drink recipe I overheard:  Coconut rum and hot chocolate.  It was apparently very popular yesterday after the Tiger game.

We’re talking about taking a field trip to The Cove on Broad Avenue (formerly The Beer Joint, but it’s a totally different concept now) Friday after work.  I’ve been waiting for over a year for this place to open, and am really looking forward to checking it out.  Looking forward to hanging out with the group both Friday at the Cove and Sunday at the Super Bowl party.  I invited a few people this weekend and will continue to pass out invites.

Random crap that drunk people asked me to put in my blog dept:  Jason Canada: Glad you’re well, from Johnny Mason.  Fancher, get buck, Johnny.  Also Colin (forgot his last name) is having his plate party Saturday.

Off to bed… forecast is for 59 tomorrow, which means it will be warm enough to wear sandals to work.

Exhausted

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Jan 272008
 

Having to be up and out at a bar at 11 AM BOTH weekend days is exhausting.  Stupid Tiger game.  Glad yesterday’s was the last 11 AM Saturday game of the season.  Congrats to the Tigers on holding off Gonzaga and retaining their #1 ranking.  I hope we don’t get scheduled for any early morning games in the NCAA tournament.

After I got done watching the game, I went shopping at A. Schwab’s for a thermal shirt.  I’m sick of wearing a coat everywhere and having to keep up with it.  So I’m going to start layering 3 shirts deep and just doing away with the coat altogether, except on extremely cold days.  While at Schwab’s I noticed what a huge hot sauce selection they have – they probably carry 30 different varieties, made with every different pepper and spice imaginable.  If you’re a hot sauce fan, definitely check out Schwab’s.

I mentioned to a friend of mine that I was going to Schwab’s and he said, “Don’t buy the overalls there, they’re expensive.”  Dude, if you EVER see me in overalls, you have my full permission to shoot me on the spot.  Remember back in the ’90s when it was trendy to wear overalls to clubs?  That’s gotta rank right up there with the fauxhawk haircut as one of the stupidest trends ever.

Looking forward to the Super Bowl next Sunday, not because I give a crap about either team, but because a friend of mine throws the most awesome private Super Bowl party in all of Downtown.  I’ve been assigned the task of going out and finding cool and interesting people to invite to the party.  That’s a task I can handle.  Just don’t ask me to cook anything.  My attempts at cooking make the bar menu at Calhoun’s look like five-star cuisine by comparison.  The party will start early in the day, but I’ll still probably do an abbreviated version of my brunch routine beforehand (next week is week 1 McGuinness, and then of course the Saucer to kick Pete’s ass at pool) just to see who I can round up to bring with me.

And speaking of brunch… that’s where I’m headed in a few minutes.  It’s week 2 Majestic.  By the way… twice this week I’ve had people ask me where to go to get a good steak Downtown, and I recommended the Majestic.  Both people had the filet and came back and told me that it was one of the best steaks they’ve ever eaten.  The Majestic may not call itself a steakhouse, but it’s still earned a place at the top of a lot of people’s lists when they’re in the mood to chow on cow.

It’s possible my favorite blogger/MILF may make an appearance Downtown today.  We’ll see.

With no football this week, I have a feeling we have some of the worst TV imaginable to look forward to as we eat brunch.  I’m sure John D will have many witty and insightful comments.  Heading up there in a few minutes.

Saturday update

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Jan 262008
 

Okay, I have more details on the bookstore going inside the U of M Law School location at Front and Madison (thanks to the several people who sent them).  Don’t get real excited, because it won’t be a real Barnes & Noble or Bookstar.  Rather, it will be the college version like they have on the U of M campus, carrying mostly textbooks and gifts.  Curious to see what hours the Starbucks will be open though.

God.  I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck.  Aquanet rocked the Saucer last night.  The place was possibly the most packed I’ve ever seen it.  Didn’t get a chance to dance with the Nuh-Uh Girl, even though I promised her I would.  Everyone was pretty much wasted by midnight.  I meant to go to Hoop’s Bar afterward but never made it.  My waitress whined that I haven’t yet mentioned her in my blog, even though I have.  “Yeah but not by name,” she replied.  Very well.  ATTN MEGHAN:  Professor Paul has an assignment for you.  Go to Wet Willie’s on Beale Street.  There’s a drink they serve there called Attitude Improvement.  You need to drink several large cups of it.  Actually, not several, but many.  And take your mini-me with you.  Not that I’ve detected a bad attitude in her yet, but it never hurts as a preventative measure.

Great article in the Commercial Appeal yesterday about the FedEx Labs inside the Emerge Memphis incubator.  They’re doing a lot of cutting-edge stuff there.  Mike W. who is interviewed is a member of the Rapscallions trivia team.

My favorite blogger/MILF e-mailed to tell me that she bought two new tube tops yesterday.  When do I get to see them?

Monday is the last Monday of the month, which means it will be Downtown Night at the Westin with free hors d’ouevres and DiAnne Price on the piano.

I’m going to save the announcement about the cool entrepreneurial event that Memphis may be able to land until Monday, because readership is significantly higher on weekdays and I want a lot of people to see this.

Time to get dressed and figure out where I’m going to watch the game.  Go Tigers!

Friday update

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Jan 252008
 

(Edited a second time to include Calhoun’s game specials and opening time) 

(Slight edit made below to fix an incorrect statement I made about the Majestic Grille event tomorrow) 

Last night I posted two news items – that the lead singer of the band at the Saucer had a tube top on, and that I heard a rumor that Downtown will be getting either a Barnes & Noble or Bookstar with Starbucks inside. I promised to follow up with more info this morning. I’m ready to do that now. Here goes:

- The tube top the singer had on was a black tube top

- The singer was blonde

- The name of the band was Swelter.

As for the bookstore, no additional info on it at this time.

Stella is once again open for lunch. It’s a little pricier than your typical lunch spot but the food is excellent. Highly recommended if you want to treat yourself, reward an employee, or impress a client.

Speaking of lunch, I went to Second Street Shoppers Deli on Tuesday and had a chicken alfredo sandwich – VERY good. They make it from scratch and it’s a lot tastier than a generic sandwich from Subway. They’re running an introductory deal where you get free chips and drink with your sandwich (deal lasts for a limited time only). They tell me they will also be serving some homemade soups which have proved to be very popular on the days they’ve had them.

If you’re interested in mentoring our city’s youth, the Boy Scouts will hold a “Learning for Life” open house at Alfred’s on Beale on Sunday, January 27 at 4:30 PM. You’ll be able to learn more about the program, and if it sounds like something you want to do there will be an opportunity to mentor students in grades K-12.

The two new clubs next door to the Westin, Ground Zero and Red Rooster, will host a fundraiser for The Women’s Foundation of Greater Memphis Saturday night. $125 cover gets you hot and cold hors d’ouevres, entertainment from The Legends of Rock, and a chance to be among the first to check out the two new clubs. Call 578-9346 for tickets.

The Foo Fighters play the FedExForum tonight. Apparently they’re staying at the Madison because three large tour buses have been parked outside since yesterday.

The “Silver Don’t Play” party, in celebration of the life of hairstylist and Downtown legend Silver, happens tonight in the upstairs of Earnestine & Hazel’s at 8:00.

Tonight is a special night at the Saucer… one of the longtime regulars has completed his 10th plate in the UFO Club Ring of Honor. That means he’s consumed 200 different beers 10 times. Management has told me they’re doing something very special for him but are being hush-hush on details. Afterward, one of the best bands ever to play the Saucer, ’80s cover band Aquanet, takes the stage at 9:30.

I promised a round-up of who’s opening early for the 11 AM Memphis-Gonzaga game tomorrow. Here’s a list:

- The Flying Saucer will be open early. They have 5 TVs, two of them 42″ LCD HDTVs. They also have a pool table, two dart boards, and hot waitresses in miniskirts. The managers have promised a decent $2.75 Fire Sale beer.

- The Majestic Grille will open at 10, with their Sunday brunch menu (including $3 bloody marys and mimosas, $12 champagne) carried over to Saturday. Brunch will run until 1 PM. They are the official Tiger Live Remote site. They have 2 HDTVs at the bar. (Edit:  I got my wires crossed earlier and posted that they’d have the back room open.  That’s for their Super Bowl party, not tomorrow’s game.)

- McGuinness opens at 9 for breakfast every Saturday, so they’ll be open in plenty of time for the game. They have several HDTVs all around the bar (seven I think?) and a big-screen projection TV.

- Calhoun’s makes it a practice to be open early for Tiger games. They have very reasonable beer prices and five flat-panel TVs, 3 of which I believe are HD.  (Edit:  Just heard back from management.  They will open at 10:30 AM tomorrow.  $2 longnecks of Mich, Mich Light, and Bud Select until they run out.  They will sell tomato juice and orange juice for those who bring vodka – $3 setups.)

- Hoop’s Bar is considering opening early for the game tomorrow – not in time for the game start at 11, but at 2 PM, so people can go there to party after the game lets out.

No telling where I’ll be tomorrow morning. With so many great options, I’m undecided whether to go with the default value (Saucer), where the group decides to go (currently being voted on), or someplace else. I tend to be spontaneous about these decisions and will figure it out after I wake up tomorrow. Hoop’s Bar opening at 2 PM is a scary prospect indeed, as I can see myself arriving at 2 and drinking PBR cans and Coronas until the OTHER 2.

A couple of people have told me that the new Memphis Magazine issue, with the interview with me in the “Q&A” feature, is now out. I haven’t seen it yet but both people have told me “great article.” If it is, the credit has to go to Mary Helen Tibbs who was a great interviewer, and the photographer who knew exactly how to capture images that tell a story. All I did was show up and talk for a while.

Had another good run on the pool table last night, going 5-0 (including handing Pete another ass-whoopin’) before Matty O finally brought my streak to an end.

Winter weather advisory in effect until 6 AM tomorrow. They’re predicting accumulation of up to an inch of snow or sleet. Again, be careful if you come Downtown tonight for the concert. To avoid the traffic snarls in the core, keep in mind you can park in the Pinch or South Main and take the trolley to the core. Trolleys run until 1 AM weekend nights.

Later today: An opportunity to bring a very unique event to Memphis. Should be of particular interest to entrepreneurs. Be sure to check back. If anyone has any more info on that bookstore please let me know.

Jan 242008
 

Two updates for you tonight:

1) The female lead singer of the band that played the Flying Saucer tonight had a tube top on.

2) This is unconfirmed, but from a very trusted source who claims that part of the post office building at Front and Madison, which is being converted into the U of M Law School, will be used to house either a Barnes & Noble or Bookstar bookstore.  My source says Starbucks beverages will be served inside the store.

I can promise you this – I will have an update to this post Friday morning, so check back.

Due to an unexpected Jager Bomb there’s a thunderstorm going on in my head right now.  I’m retiring for the evening.  No early AM drinking at McGuinness tonight.