Fri update: Russian Federation day, Comcast, Church Health Center happy hour, things your bartender won’t tell you, Aldo’s Pizza Pies coupon

If you like to learn about different cultures of the world, head to South Main this Sunday, January 13. The Russian Cultural Center at 509 S. Main will host Russian Federation Day from noon to 4 PM. This will be a Russian bazaar with music, food, photos, and speakers including Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.

I saw a comment on Twitter this morning about Comcast’s terrible new logo. If they want a logo that truly reflects their brand, it should immediately bring “waiting” to mind. As in, waiting in an endless line at their customer service center… waiting hours and hours for the service rep to show up for an appointment… waiting forever on hold to talk to a human on their customer service phone line. I experienced that last one earlier this week. Anything over 5 minutes on hold is unacceptable except when there’s a major network outage. I was on hold 22 minutes.

Ever wanted to learn more about the Church Health Center? If so, put Wednesday, January 23 on your calendar. There will be a Church Health Center happy hour on the second floor of A. Schwab on Beale Street. You’ll be able to mingle with friends and enjoy food and drink while learning more about the center. It’s from 5 to 7 PM.

Slideshow: Things Your Bartender Won’t Tell You.

There’s a 20% off Aldo’s Pizza Pies coupon in this week’s Memphis Flyer.

There’s a Pi Kappa Alpha convention in town this weekend. They’re very nice guys, but the convention usually means 200 extra dudes in the Flying Saucer, which is not really what I hope for. I may spend much of the weekend in alternate, less-crowded venues. That’s all for now, got a couple of errands to run. Later!

Thur update: Local 3rd birthday, murder mystery night, Live from Memphis ends its run, Pastner chat, Circa relocating, what does MT mean?, and more

Edit: see correction to Josh Pastner chat date below.

When I’m out at the bars, I use Evernote to jot down notes on things I hear that I need to blog about. It’s a high-tech replacement for the pen and note cards I carried around for years. So let’s see what notes I took from last night. I tend to abbreviate quite a bit.

“local 3 see fb”

I pulled up Local Gastropub’s page and remembered that they had announced the 3rd birthday party for the Downtown location. It will be tomorrow, Friday, January 11, starting at 9 PM. There will be $2 Fireball shots, giveaways, food specials, and beer and cocktail specials. They promised more details to come. “Like” Local’s Facebook page to read those details as they are posted.

“coming soon bear muder mystery every thur”

It took a minute to stir my memory on this one, partly because I wondered what I meant by “muder” and partly because I got bought a Jameson shot almost as soon as I sat down at the Blind Bear last night. Jeannette told me that they’re going to start a murder mystery night every Thursday. (I don’t think it begins tonight – Jeannette, if I’m wrong let me know.) That will be a lot of fun. Something different, and a 1920s style speakeasy is the perfect venue.

Sad news: Live from Memphis is closing up shop. The independent website covered Memphis music and the creative, positive side of Memphis for 12 years. Please click the link and read their message.

Kerry who writes the I Love Memphis Blog will have a live chat with Memphis Tigers basketball coach Josh Pastner (correction: next Friday, January 18). Got questions you’ve always wanted to ask CJP? This is your chance.

A few years ago, popular restaurant Circa by John Bragg closed its Downtown location (now the Blind Bear) and moved east to the Regalia Center. Many of us missed Circa, but traveling east to Regalia is about the equivalent to traveling east to Thailand in many Downtowners’ minds. Well, good news: Circa is moving back closer to us. Circa is relocating to the old Ronnie Grisanti location at Poplar and Humes. This is a good thing for John and the restaurant, because he can use the additional space. Sekisui is taking over the Regalia location.

I learned something this morning. Most of you who are on Twitter know that RT means “retweet,” but have you ever seen MT used in a similar context and wondered what the difference was? This article explains. Basically, a rewteet (RT) indicates that you did not modify the original tweet at all. If you did, it’s proper to use MT (modified tweet) instead.

So let’s say @twitter_guy tweeted, “Going to Dollars for Doggies this afternoon.”

I could tweet “Me too RT @twitter_guy Going to Dollars for Doggies this afternoon.” and that would be proper.

So would “Me too MT @twitter_guy Goin 2 $ 4 Doggies this afternoon.” if I needed to modify the original tweet to get it under 140 characters. See what I mean?

Plans for tonight: I’m going to check out the new poker night at Dancin’ Jimmy’s (corner bar in the old Pat O’s building) at 8. Prior to that, I’ll get out about 6 and pre-game at the Saucer and/or maybe the Goose. has predicted possible severe weather with damaging wind tonight between 6 and 11. That block-and-a-half run from the Saucer to Dancin’ Jimmy’s may seem more like a mile and a half this evening. On the plus side, it will be warm enough to wear shorts in January, so there’s that.

I’ll try to take some pics of the new poker venue tonight. Happy afternoon everyone.

Wed update: New poker night, yummy dessert @ Johnny G’s, Grizzlies watch party, opportunities to learn, new Memphis blog, social media/marketing jobs

There was no post yesterday because I finally caught the bug that has been going around. Monday night I was sniffling and coughing a good bit, but didn’t have a fever so I deluded myself into believing it was just a bad allergy attack. Tuesday morning, however, I had a fever and called in to work. I bombed myself with NyQuil and got lots of quality sleep, which I believe is the best medicine of all for a bad cold. Back at work today, and I’ll be out tonight.

Apologies to those I played poker with Monday night. If I had known I was actually sick I would not have come out and passed around cards with you guys. Hope none of you caught it from me.

Speaking of poker, there is a new poker night Downtown starting this week. Dancin’ Jimmy’s, in the old Pat O’ Brien’s building on Beale, will hold a game on Thursdays at 8 PM. Muruako who hosts the Monday game at Silly Goose and the Wednesday game at Double J will run Dancin’ Jimmy’s poker. For more details “Like” the Bluff City Poker page on Facebook.

The Hungry Memphis blog posted about the deep-fried strawberries at Johnny G’s Creole Kitchen. I was just in there Sunday. Why didn’t I try these? Next time they ask “Dessert?” I need to resist the reflex “no” answer.

There will be a Grizzlies watch party Downtown Saturday as the Grizzlies travel to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers. TJ Mulligan’s Pinch will host the party starting at 8 PM. There will be prizes, games, and more.

Like to learn new things? Got a couple of leads for you today. For one, I was surfing Kerry’s blog and learned about a new organization called Guild Local. This organization lets you learn new skills from local teachers at a very affordable price. Recent classes being offered include basic jewelry-making, creative writing, hip-hop aerobics, publicity, film developing, and photo techniques and lighting for any camera. Have an idea for a class you’d like to teach? Have an idea for a class you’d like to take? Get in touch with them. When I lived in San Diego for 6 months, there was a group like this. Glad to see the idea has spread to Memphis. We have much to learn from each other.

Meanwhile, Lifehacker has posted the best online courses from Spring 2013. Take college courses from some of the very best in the field for free. Categories include computer science and technology, finance and economics, science and medicine, social science, classics, humanities, law, and cross-disciplinary courses.

New blog to keep an eye on: Memphis Cup. This blogger has lived in Memphis for a while, but his blog is a journey to conquer Memphis in 2013. When people ask him “Have you been there? Have you done that?” he wants to be able to say yes. So far he’s covered Shelby Farms dog park, Center for Southern Folklore, the Arcade, Belmont Grill, Mosa Asian Bistro, and Gus’s. Thanks to Craig from the excellent Memphis Que blog for making me aware of this.

If you’re looking for a social media/marketing job, the Twitter account @tmj_mem_adv tweeted a couple of them this morning.

That’s not all I’ve got, but it’s all I’ve got time to post now. Coming soon: Info about a new group that will help you make friends as you get fit. I’ll be out about 6 tonight. People pre-gaming for Tigers will probably take over the Saucer, so I’ll probably look for an alternate initial venue until they leave for the game at 7.

Mon update: Cisco certification Groupon, I-55 bridge repair, fight against blight, blood drive, unfair airport fares, BCS title game tonight and more

I’m starting today’s blog post with another Groupon deal. This one is not a local deal, but it is one of the most incredible values I have ever seen. They’re selling a complete Cisco certification IT network training bundle for $99. The bundle is a $3,295 retail value. It includes instructor-led training, hands-on exercises, multimedia presentations, and exam simulators. It’s everything you need to get your CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) and CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) certifications. As someone who works in IT myself, I can tell you that you rarely see CCNAs and CCNPs in the unemployment line.

Heading to Arkansas this week? Take I-40. Lanes will be closed on the I-55 bridge for construction. Crews will be patching concrete between 9 AM and 3 PM. Work should be done by Friday.

Great article in the Memphis Daily News today about efforts to battle blight by the Downtown Memphis Commission. Paul Morris, who runs DMC, notes that the current tax codes punish developers for improving blighted structures. The DMC tries to counteract that with tax incentives and developmental loans, as well as their internal resources which include an architect, and attorney, and an accountant. The Barking Lot, the Chisca Hotel, and the demolished parking garage at Court and Jefferson are a few recent wins in the blight battle.

One Commerce Square is having a blood drive in The Columns from 9-4 Thursday. All are welcome, whether or not you work in the building.

Political statistical analysis blog FiveThirtyEight carried extensive analysis of the 2012 presidential election (and called all 50 states correctly). Now that the election is over, though, the blog has time to focus on non-political matters. Its author Nate Silver did a statistical analysis of airports with the most unfair fares. Not the highest, because some cities have good reasons for fares to be higher than others; but the most unfair, all other things being held equal. Guess which city made the list? Thanks a lot, Delta!

Lady, the stray shepherd mix who wandered Beale Street for years, has found a forever home. Action News 5 has the story.

The BCS national title game is tonight. I’m torn whom to root for. Bama is an SEC team. It has traditions I deeply respect, and I have a lot more friends who are Bama alumni than Notre Dame alumni. On the other hand, I like how Notre Dame has stayed independent and refused to join a conference. I think I’ll stay neutral on this one.

Recommendations on where to watch the game: Flying Saucer and Silly Goose in the Downtown core; Double J and Max’s Sports Bar in South Main. If smoking is an issue, the Saucer and Double J’s downstairs are nonsmoking. Double J loft bar, Max’s, and the Goose allow smoking.

It’s also the beginning of a new poker league at the Silly Goose. Game begins at 8 PM, free to play. There are going to be more prizes and a restructured way of awarding points. “Like” Bluff City Poker on Facebook to keep informed of happenings within the poker league.

That’s all for now. I’ll probably hang at the Saucer until close to 8, then wander over to the Goose to play poker and get more info on developments with the new league.

Grizzlies to deal Rudy?

For those who haven’t been following sports blogs and talk radio, word from the rumor mill is that the Grizzlies are looking to trade starting small forward Rudy Gay. If the Grizzlies don’t reduce their payroll by the end of the season, they will be forced to pay luxury tax. The Memphis Flyer’s Chris Herrington has a fantastic blog post on why Rudy is the team member most likely to be traded, and which teams would be most likely to work out a deal. Read it here.

Sun update: Kudzu’s Groupon, High Cotton Brewing, Bardog news, and more

First of all, a very happy birthday to my friend Air Traffic Mike. ATM retired three years ago after 25 years as an air traffic controller here. He now spends most of his time in South Jersey, but his Memphis friends keep up to date with what’s going on in his life via his blog. Since today is his birthday, ATM took the day off and a guest food blogger is filling in. “Pepe’ El Desatascador” likes to review the foods in the gas station deli. Yeesh. I don’t know if this is the worst food blog I have ever read, but it’s definitely in the top two.

There’s a Groupon for a Downtown bar and restaurant today. Kudzu’s is on the eastern edge of Downtown, on Monroe Avenue east of Danny Thomas. It’s a locally owned neighborhood bar with sandwiches and live music. The Groupon will get you $16 worth of food at Kudzu’s for $8. You know, I have lived Downtown for almost 11 years now and have never made it to Kudzu’s. I need to do something about that soon. It’s only about a 2 minute cab ride away.

Kudzu’s will soon have a new neighbor. Action News 5 reports that construction continues at High Cotton Brewing Company at 598 Monroe.

Grizzlies have an away game at Phoenix tonight. Tip-off is at 7 and the game will be on SportSouth. If you want to keep track of game times, follow @MemphisOnTV on Twitter.

Bardog has announced that there will be new menu items in the coming week. They’re also close to finalizing plans to have the Underdog (downstairs) room open for brunch Saturday and Sunday. That’s a good thing. At times I’ve seen it so busy in there for brunch in the upstairs that they’ve had to turn people away.

In other Bardog news, they closed for the first few days in January to make some improvements to the place. Here’s Panda showing off one of the improvements:

The employees complained that they couldn’t hear the phone ring because of the jukebox, so Aldo installed this antique red pay phone above the bar. It rings when the regular phone rings. You can hear this thing in West Memphis, I’m pretty sure, so no more missed calls.

All right, time to read the Sunday comics. Or maybe I’ll just read Pepe’s blog post again. I’m going to take a week off from brunch at the Majestic, but I’ll be out about noon.

Filet w/ green peppercorn Jameson sauce @ Majestic Grille

This is not the first time I have reviewed the filet at the Majestic in my blog. Back in August I had the filet with gorgonzola crust.

But the thing is, at the Majestic you have options. You can get the filet with gorgonzola crust. Or you can get it with green peppercorn Jameson sauce. Or bearnaise sauce. Or you can add a side of six garlic shrimp. Or four scallops. I could compute the number of permutations in which you could get a filet at the Majestic. But this is a drunk post so I won’t take the time or the brain power.

I went with the green peppercorn Jameson sauce this time. It’s funny, I could almost hear someone going “hell yeah, Jameson, let’s take a shot and get fucked up” in my right ear as I ordered. I thought I imagined blond hair. But I can’t place where I heard that quote beyond that. Anyway, the sauce retains a little of the flavor of the Jameson Irish whisky but none of the alcohol.

The filet was delicious as always. Last time I took a photo of the inside, which I always order medium rare. This time I couldn’t line up a good shot but let me say it again: This is a damn fantastic steak and I dare anyone to show me a better steak Downtown.

PRO TIP: The green peppercorn Jameson sauce comes in a cup on the side. Although it’s listed as an addition to the filet, don’t dip the filet in it. (In fact, when I polled my Facebook friends, some said the steak was perfect as is and don’t add extras). Instead, dip the garlic mashed potatoes in the sauce. Oh my God. So good.

PRO TIP #2: Ask your server or bartender for some of the Majestic’s foccacia bread to accompany dinner. It comes with butter and will make any meal you have there better.

PRO TIP #3: Have the bartender or server recommend a wine with your filet. I told Brandon, the bartender, that I planned on ordering the filet, and he found a delicious Cabernet to make the meal complete.

Filet at Majestic is my absolute favorite meal Downtown. Do yourself a favor and try one soon.

Fri update: Basketball news and Blind Bear specials, State of Downtown speech, Cardinals Caravan to return, discovered cool private party space last night

Finally, a day with a decent amount of news to report. Let’s get started.

It’s a big basketball night for Memphis. The Grizzlies host the Portland Trail Blazers tonight at the FedExForum. Game time is 7 PM. Meanwhile, the Tigers are on the road for a game vs. the Tennessee Vols. Game time is also 7. If you’re a former Memphian now living in another city, this is a rare chance to see your Tigers on TV. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

The Blind Bear is starting its basketball special an hour early tonight. Normally from one hour prior to the start of game time through the end of the game, you can get $2.50 domestic bottles, 1/2 off appetizers (so $3.50 apps) & $5 Chili Cheese Dawgs. Tonight they’re extending the start time to two hours before tip-off, or 5 PM which is also their opening time. You have to ask your bartender or server for “the basketball special” to get the discounts. I had a sausage & cheese plate last week for $3.50 on the basketball special. That is a seriously good deal.

Downtown Memphis Commission president Paul Morris will give his annual “State of Downtown” speech Tuesday, January 8 at the South Main Association meeting. In past years, this speech has been a fantastic way to get the scoop on all that is going on Downtown. Even if you’re not an SMA member, it’s worth attending (free for members, $10 non-members). The meeting will be in Bleu, in the Westin Hotel across Third from the FedExForum. Bleu will provide appetizers and there will be a cash bar. 6:00 social, with the program to start at 6:30.

The Cardinals Caravan returns to AutoZone Park for its annual visit to Memphis on Sunday, January 20. Special guests include former Redbirds Matt Adams, Tony Cruz, Sam Freeman, and Brad Thompson. Former Memphis Chick and National League All-Star Ryan Franklin and Cardinals’ 2012 first round pick Michael Wacha will also join the Caravan along with broadcaster Dan McLaughlin. There will be an Autograph Ticket system this year where the first 400 kids under 15 are guaranteed an autograph from all the current and former players. Event will begin at 6:30 PM in the Champions Club on the Club Level. Seating will be first-come, first-served and the doors will open at 5:30. Admission is free and there will be complimentary food and soft drinks. Free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

In other Redbirds news, today the team announced that Ron “Pop” Warner will return for his second year as the team’s manager in 2013.

Two friends and I went to Blues City Cafe for dinner last night. We were going to sit at the back bar (George Paul’s Last Call) and watch the Fiesta Bowl, but a private party had it rented out. I had no idea that could be done. Something to keep in mind if you want to give out-of-towners a unique taste of Memphis. I don’t know the exact capacity, but it looks like that back room could hold about 30. I had the tamales and chili and my friends split a rack of ribs. My friends confirmed my belief that Blues City has the best ribs on Beale. PRO TIP: They have hot sauce on the tables – I forget the exact name but it’s New Orleans Bourbon Street Hot Sauce or something like that. It is delicious sprinkled on top of the tamales.

Bardog Tavern has reopened after a week of paint and polish. Only the upstairs is open today, though.

Plans for tonight: It’s a friend’s last night in town, so there will probably be some shots done. Location TBD. Of course, we’ll have to keep an eye on ESPN2. Go Tigers and suck it Vols!

Slow news week update

No news post yesterday, and very little news today. It’s not that I’m ignoring my blog. It’s just that there isn’t all that much news out there. Have a look at the events page, which is one of my sources of blog material. Normally you’d see 10-20 event listings per day. Now we’re seeing 2-4 listings per day and none at all for some days. New Year’s Day through St. Pat’s tends to be the slow season Downtown, except when there are Grizzlies or Tigers home games.

One of the few things I have is some beer news. South of Beale will host a Yazoo Brew promo on Wednesday, January 16. They will have a limited supply of Yazoo barrel-aged Porter, and when you buy the beer you will be able to keep the glass.

One other piece of South of Beale news: Every month, they donate a portion of their profits to a local charity. January’s charity is a good one: Door of Hope. From Door of Hope’s programs & services page: “The Door of Hope works to end homelessness by helping our guests access whatever they need to reintegrate into the community: mental health benefits, addiction counseling, money management, food, friendship, activities, listening, support and caring.”

Lots of jobs open at the Peabody right now, including bell person, restaurant server, security officer, line cook, valet parker, and general maintenance.

Also, Terminix is having a job fair today from 4 to 7. They are looking to fill 40 positions.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Maybe the volume of news will pick up as the weekend approaches.

Downtown New Year’s Day bar and restaurant openings/closings

Just grabbing what I see on Facebook and Twitter here….

Brass Door will be closed today.

Flying Saucer will open at 5.

Aldo’s Pizza Pies will open at 5.

Bardog will be closed until 8 AM Friday for a little paint and polish.

Blue Monkey (Downtown) is open.

South of Beale is open.

Local is open.

Rio Loco is open.

Flying Fish is open.

Kooky Canuck is open.

Double J (loft bar only) is open.

Gus’s is open.

Green Beetle is open (blackeyed peas and collard greens served).

Trolley Stop Market is open (blackeyed peas and collard greens served).

eighty3 is open (traditional dish of ham, cabbage, blackeyed peas and cornbread served).

McEwen’s on Monroe will be closed for lunch every day this week. They will be closed for dinner through Thursday and will re-open for dinner Friday.

Majestic Grille will be closed today.

Huey’s is open.

Beale Street Tap Room is closed today.

Just confirmed: Blind Bear will open at regular hours today (which would be 5 PM) with poker at 8.

I don’t have this one confirmed either but I’m reasonably sure Silly Goose will be open by 5.

I’ll update this post if I learn of more. General rule of thumb: Most bars will open around 5 if they threw a big New Year’s Eve bash. Those that didn’t are generally open regular hours. Restaurants are hit-or-miss, best to call and ask if there’s a particular place you want to eat today.