May 312012
 

The launch party for Unveil Downtown is tomorrow night at Felicia Suzanne’s courtyard from 5 to 7 PM. The public is invited to attend for free. From June 1-20, 20 artists will exhibit their work in 20 venues throughout the Downtown core. The Felicia’s party will include music, food, a cash bar, and an auction for items the artists donated to the DNA. Free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up. From 7-9 the artists will hold receptions in their venues.

More artist news: The Orpheum is seeking artists to exhibit items in their annual Art Auction on Sunday, June 24. The artists get to set the minimum bid for their work, and keep 75% of the proceeds. The other 25% helps fund the Orpheum’s education programs. Deadline to apply to be part of the auction is June 11. More details here.

The Grizzlies are having another open house Saturday from 10 to 2. Get good deals on season tickets, try out your prospective seats, tour the locker rooms. Enter to win prizes, learn about special benefits for season ticket holders.

Get ready for another pub crawl on Beale. The #PrayForTrey pub crawl will happen Friday, July 15 on Beale Street. The crawl will benefit the family of Collierville high school student Trey Erwin, who has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. You must be 21 and wearing a #PrayForTrey shirt, available at the pub crawl and at various venues around town. Entry is $20 and can be purchased here. Registration will be on Beale at Second from 6 to 7 PM. Pub crawl stops:

6:00p – 7:30p : Blues CityCafe & Club 152
7:30p – 9:00p : Silkys, Rum Boogie Cafe
9:00p – 10:00p : Alfred’s
10:00p : Awards & Presentation of Check: Dancing Jimmy’s

Rain possible in the Memphis area until midnight. That’s going to put a damper on tube top watching at rooftop parties and at Italian Fest. It’s also going to prevent me from heading south for poker at Max’s. Saucer it is then, probably followed by the Blind Bear at some later point in the evening.

May 312012
 

Administrative note: This blog will be under construction this weekend. Yesterday at work I had to do a WordPress installation for a third party we work with, and I found a theme called “Suffusion” that I like so much that I want it on my own blog. Content won’t change, just the look and feel. Changing a theme is a good “take the computer to a bar with Wi-Fi” kind of project.

It’s Thursday. Let’s start the post with a look at the outdoor parties happening tonight.

Internationally known blues diva Reba Russell performs on the rooftop of the Madison Hotel tonight. 7-11 PM. $7 cover, with a cash bar and small plates on the roof.

Mudflap King headlines the Peabody’s rooftop party tonight. 6-11 PM, $10 to get in but it includes your first drink. Ladies free before 7. PRO TIP: Station yourself along Peabody Place or Second and watch the Nuh-Uh Girl make a mad dash from the Silly Goose to the Peabody about 6:55 so she doesn’t have to pay cover.

Bleu’s “Retro on the Patio” theme will be the ’80s this week, and The Plaintiffs will perform.

In other news: If you supported MIFA by purchasing a Pyramid brick in 1991, you can get it back this week. Details here. If you don’t claim it, it will be moved to the Ramesses statue’s new home at the University of Memphis. You need to bring ID or something tying you to your brick.

Megabus has added Memphis-to-Dallas service with fees starting as little as $1, if you book far enough in advance. The upscale bus service currently operates out of the North End Terminal with service to Chicago. The MBJ has details here.

Have you always wanted an iPhone but hate contracts? Next month, it will be possible to get an iPhone with a prepaid plan.

I had a very enjoyable Wednesday evening yesterday. I started at the Saucer for a double plate party. Amy, one of the bartenders there, had made it through 200 different beers to get her first plate, earning a $100 plate party. Gary, AKA G-Rock, celebrated his 18th plate. (That’s 3600 beers!) For plates 9 and above, you get $175 for your party. So there was plenty of beer to drink. In addition, one of the Saucer regulars, Margie, had a birthday, and there was Baskin-Robbins ice cream birthday cake – half rocky road, half chocolate mint.

Gary, in honor of his 18th plate, chose “Legal” as his slogan. Since Amy is a bartender at a bar with many good craft beers, she put “No I won’t serve you a Coors Light” on her plate. Congratulations to Gary and Amy, and thank you for having me as a guest at your party.

From there I went over to the Blind Bear, where something resembling our old trivia team assembled for the first time since last summer. It was good to hang out with the old gang for trivia again – and hard to not play with my phone for two hours. I contributed to the bonus question that got us the win. “If you listed the Jackson 5 in alphabetical order by first name, who would be first?” I asked for the score sheet and wrote “Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, Michael” and circled Jackie. Most of the rest of the room guessed Jermaine – Jackie never had a solo career and is not well known – giving us a 20-point boost.

One reason to come to trivia is that Charles will give you the passwords so you don’t have to pay cover at the Bear Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Based on Saturday’s password, I take it that “wears a lot of tube tops” is not necessary to qualify as a password.

All right, time for a quick trip to the grocery store. Yes, I actually buy groceries sometimes. I’ll be out somewhere after work, not sure where. Would like to do poker at Max’s Sports Bar but weather may prevent my getting that far south.

May 302012
 

Let’s start off this post with some random pics from the latter part of this weekend.

Talley relaxing at the Saucer Monday afternoon

Sarah and me at the Saucer Monday afternoon

Kelly and Puckett at the Goose Monday evening. No problem with Puckett’s attire, but Kelly, really? Less hat, more tube top, please.

The 15 rare beers that the Saucer plans to serve this Saturday for its 15th anniversary. One beer per hour. (click for larger, more readable image)

Great Maple Flank Steak at Kooky Canuck last night

Last night was a celebration for our friend Mardoqueo (Kao), his last night in the country before he returns to Mexico. We started at the Brass Door. They are always so nice there, and 16 ounce cans of PBR for $2.50 are all right with me. From there we went on to Kooky Canuck, where I had the steak pictured above. For $9.99 it is possibly the best value on the menu, just the right amount if you’re hungry but not super hungry. After dinner, Kao felt like having a beer at the Saucer, then a cigar on the roof of Barton Flats. I don’t smoke but I joined them for a PBR. What a great wrap-up to a great Memorial Day weekend.

In the news: Pardon me, but your tube top has slipped: Wardrobe malfunction during a pre-match dance at a soccer match in Singapore. Unfortunately there were no pics with the article.

We now have a timeline for the re-opening of Madison Avenue. Mayor Wharton said that Madison between Main and Second should be re-opened in both directions by early fall. By that time it will have been closed/partly closed for nearly 18 months due to the neglect of a property owner.

The last big festival of the spring season is this weekend. Italian Fest happens out east at Marquette Park, at Park and Mt. Moriah. It’s like BBQ Fest in that there are cooking teams with booths, and you have to be a team member or invited guest to get in the booths. There are also public vendors and live entertainment. I rarely go to this festival because it’s so far east, but you might want to ask around and see if you know people on teams. If you do, it may be worth going.

Leadership Memphis is taking applications for its fall FastTrack program. If you want to be a community leader, this program is a great way to get started, and to connect with your fellow future leaders.

Cardinals fans: The 2011 World Series trophy is at AutoZone Park this week through Friday, June 1. You can get your photo taken with it if you make a donation to the Redbirds’ RBI and STRIPES programs. You need to bring your own camera.

Plans for tonight: After work I have a double plate party to attend at the Saucer. Then at 8, I’m finally giving in: Charles has talked me into un-retiring from trivia. I’ll play tonight at the Blind Bear.

Smokin’ Aces

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May 292012
 

Yesterday I made a decision concerning this fall. For the first time in 21 years, I’m going to skip Cooper-Young Fest. Instead, I am going to attend the Smokin’ Aces BBQ Championship in Tunica.

Yesterday I was hanging out at the Saucer (imagine that) and a lot of my friends on the Squeal Street team came in after the Redbirds game. They’ve had a team at Smokin’ Aces the past two years. The festival has already grown from 20 teams into the 50s and should get even bigger this year, mainly because it is so well run by Harrah’s. “They brought us coffee and donuts every morning,” one team member told me. “Friday they brought us pizza. And if you need to run back to your hotel room, which isn’t that far away anyway, they’ll take you on a golf cart.”

It’s a lot more laid back that Memphis in May BBQ Fest, they told me, and noted that I’d get a much closer look at how a team is run than is possible at the Memphis festival. Also, they said, “the teams that are down there are the top 10% of the May BBQ Fest teams. It’s more intimate and you get to know everyone. When BBQ Fest happens in 2013, you’ll find that you know people on all the best teams.”

The time of the year – September 14-15 – is ideal in that it’s still tube top weather, with highs usually in the mid 80s. It’s unfortunate that it occurs the weekend of Cooper-Young, but that was the only week many of the teams on the BBQ circuit could do it. This year I’m going to give it a try and see what I can learn about BBQ.

Plans for tonight: It’s our friend Mardoqueo’s last night in town, so I’ll probably skip poker at the Blind Bear tonight (it’s 8 PM for those who want to play). Other stuff going on Downtown: $3 pint night at Bardog, a special movie trivia night at Ferraro’s with Kevin Cerrito, and also trivia at the Saucer at 7:30 and 10.

Idiot of the day

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May 282012
 

L.A. Lakers forward Ron “Metta World Peace” Artest just wished everyone a happy Labor Day on Twitter. Seriously. It doesn’t get much stupider than that.

Heading out to the bars. The Redbirds just started a 1:05 game, so there should be good tube top watching Downtown about 3:30.

May 282012
 

I spent the second weekend day in a row at Barton Flats yesterday. We had a paella party with our friend Mardoqueo, who is visiting from his home in northern Mexico, wearing the chef’s hat.

Kao (short for Mardoqueo) explained that paella is a Sunday dish. You take whatever is left over from the rest of the week and make a meal of it. It’s originally a Spanish dish, interpreted by many of the Spanish-speaking countries. The last time I had paella was a Cuban restaurant in Atlanta’s Little Five Points district in 1999.

Chef Kao (chopping) with assistant Chad (left)

Nikki getting ready to pour sangria. You can’t buy wine on Sunday so we made PBR sangria.

Robin cut up the bread. “Look at me. I’m COOKING!”

BACON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This was the side dish, an egg-based “torta” with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. I commented that it looked like the Mexican version of egg fu yung, and Chef Kao didn’t disagree.

My plate

View from Barton Flats rooftop, May 27, 8:43 PM

All right. Before I continue I just have to mention that my friends Chad and Nikki, who own the condo in Barton Flats where we hung out, have the coolest kids ever. And I normally hate kids. Their oldest, Elsie, had a Kindle Fire on the rooftop and I helped her and her friend play the guess-the-corporate-logo game.

Also, for the first time in my life, I saw the value in having kids. After we got done eating, the place was messy, with dirty dishes and beer cans all over the place. I figured we’d have to take an hour cleaning the place up before we could go out and hit the bars. But Nikki turned to Elsie and said, “If this place is clean when we get home, I’ll give you and your friend $10.” They were ON IT. Oh my God that was just brilliant. They should start a rent-a-kid service.

So, we went to the Bear, then the Saucer, but not much was happening at either place. So we went to the Silly Goose next. The Goose has a Foursquare “mayor” who defends his mayorship almost as religiously as I do the Saucer. However, last night the mayor couldn’t be there due to other obligations (I hear he may have been watching a Tosh.0 marathon). So I appointed myself mayor pro tem for the evening.

Bee and Nikki with the mayor pro tem

Clint and Joe with the mayor pro tem

Cerha with the mayor pro tem

Most in attendance seemed to agree that the regime change was refreshing, if only for one night. Things had gotten rather stale under the real mayor’s reign.

Plans for today: It’s a Monday off, so I’m thinking Pint Nite at the Saucer around 2, after I get a couple of errands done. Cerha (pictured above) is playing poker at the Goose for the first and last time as part of his bon voyage tour, so I’ll be there for sure at 7:30. I’ll warn Poker Jon in advance that I plan to be on my worst behavior, even though my reign as mayor pro tem will have expired by the start of the game. It’s Memorial Day. Let’s honor our veterans properly by drinking beer!

May 272012
 

Kooky Canuck is celebrating Memorial Day a day early, with 99 cent 12 ounce Bud Light drafts all day today. Kooky Canuck is a place that combines the best of Canada (great food and drinks) with the best of Memphis (weather warm enough to wear tube tops). They’re on Second, across from the Peabody.

May 272012
 

Squeal Street BBQ is one of the most successful Patio Porker teams in the history of BBQ Fest. In my opinion, the secret to their success is their adaptability. They’re able to spot what works and quickly implement it.

So, this year my team The Moody Ques added a new option for team attire: Tube tops. Within days Squeal Street had said, “Wow that’s a really good idea” and this happened:

I’ve thought for a while that Squeal Street should write a book on how to run a BBQ team. I’m not exaggerating – they really should, because Amazon makes it easy for any author to self-publish these days. If they do it, maybe the book will contain a chapter on tube tops.

May 272012
 

Contrary to popular belief, my life Downtown is not all about the bars. Sometimes it’s just about relaxing with friends. Yesterday was one of those days. Those turn out to be the best days. I was invited to a “kiddie pool party” on the roof of Barton Flats, a way to watch the Sunset Symphony fireworks without dealing with the crowds at Tom Lee Park. As I headed down there, I stopped by City Market for PBR. The smallest they had was an 18-pack, so I went with it.

Frank enjoying a hot dog in the pool

Chad: “Boys, why do you keep squirting my pee-pee with water guns?”

Otto (far right) explaining to us how WordPress the company works. Otto is something of a celebrity in the WordPress world and we were commenting how to us, Otto is just a normal guy. Did we call Otto normal last night? May need to re-think that.

Barton Flats sunset over the foot of Mud Island

About 10 minutes later

I knew Saturday night in the Downtown core would be a mess, with thousands of people swarming into the bars when Sunset Symphony let out. Early in the day I hatched a plan to escape south to Max’s Sports Bar. However, I never made it because my friends had an even better plan: Game night at their condo at Barton Flats. I really didn’t miss being out at all.

We played Taboo, a game where your teammates have to guess a word, based on descriptions you give. The five most common words associated with your word are listed and you can’t use them in the descriptions. So when my turn came, I was given the word “BARE.” My clue: “If you pull down a tube top, the breasts are this.” There are games I have a natural talent for (pool, poker) and games I will eternally suck at (darts, cornhole). Taboo seems to be in the first category.

The game broke up at 1:15, just in time for me to make last call at the Saucer. I shut down the Saucer, then the Blind Bear. I easily could have lost my Bear mayorship yesterday, except my competition was on the same rooftop I was. To bed at 3:20, up at 9:20, time to do it again. Skipping brunch at the Majestic this morning, because our friend in town from Mexico is cooking paella today. I’ll hit the Saucer at 12 then head over there.

May 262012
 

I never got around to finishing my BBQ Fest wrapup, so I never told you about this, but one of my very favorite authors was in our team booth last Saturday. Tim Ferriss wrote a book called The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. It has many valuable lessons, but if I could summarize them in one word, it would be this: “Simplify.”

Not long after BBQ Fest, I received an update that I need to run a software upgrade on all my Amazon storefront sites by May 30. The upgrades aren’t hard, taking about 5 minutes apiece – but I have 110 storefronts. That’s a real pain. After thinking about ways to simplify my life, I’ve decided that it’s time for the storefronts to go away. I have an FTP client open and am deleting them as I type this.

For those not aware what I’m talking about, I am an Amazon affiliate partner. About 5 years ago I started creating storefronts for product lines on Amazon, including a tube top store. People would shop in my storefronts, put items in their cart, and then get transferred to Amazon to check out. In the stores’ heyday I could make as much as 8% commission per sale (it varied based on monthly volume). It was never full-time level income but it was a nice little boost on the side. When the startup I was working for laid me off in October 2008, the stores’ income helped keep me going until I found a new place to land 5 months later. They kept me from having to file for unemployment, and they allowed me to stay free until I found the job I wanted, rather than accepting the first thing that came along.

However, the stores were a hassle to maintain. Software upgrades were a nightmare. I didn’t keep the stores up as well as I should, search optimizing them and removing dead links and all that stuff. Plus I had to deal with GoDaddy renewals all the time. And it was a real pain to round up all the related expenses come tax time. If I didn’t have a full-time job I could have run them properly. But I didn’t have time, and by 2012 the income from the stores didn’t justify the amount of work I had to do to keep them going.

So I’m killing them. You may notice that the stores have been removed from this blog’s sidebars. As I said, simplify. I always thought they made the blog look kinda cluttered, but I needed the link juice.

All right. It’s early in the morning. Time to go buy Mountain Dew and figure out a plan for today.

(By the way: That link to the book is an Amazon affiliate link. Which is rather ironic given the subject of this post, I guess.)