Amateur Night

“The best time to come here on New Year’s Eve? I’d say about 1:30 in the morning. That’s when you get to watch people puking in their beer glasses and doing all kinds of crazy stuff.”

That was a quote from a bartender I talked to this week. It illustrates why New Year’s Eve is one of my least favorite nights of the year. It’s Amateur Night. People who lack self-control come out in droves. Too much puking. Too much drama. Having to pay a $15 cover at a place where I could come for free any other day of the year and have a better time. Being bumped into over and over. People shooting fireworks out of car windows to celebrate the new year. People shooting GUNS out of car windows to celebrate the new year (no kidding, this happens). Long lines for drinks. Long lines for the restroom. Long lines in the freezing cold to get in bars. Jacked-up parking prices and traffic jams, although I don’t have to worry about those.

Holly has a good guide for stuff to do tonight here.

Tip for tonight: Keep your valuables – purses, phones, whatever – where you can see them at all times. Do not turn your back on your purse or phone to have a conversation, even for a minute. That is all the opportunity that is needed. A friend of mine had her phone stolen at a Beale Street bar this week. The next day the thief called her sister’s phone, and said she could have the phone back for $40. That kind of scam happens a lot in crowded bars on or near Beale, so be careful.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s office posted that they only give rides to a few places on New Year’s Eve, and you won’t like those places much, so arrange alternate transportation home if you plan to drink. 323-3333 and 577-7777 are the numbers for the major cab companies in Memphis.

From LifeHacker: How to survive the perils of New Year’s Eve

I saw a post from a club manager about how people are coming out of the woodwork texting, “Hey can me and my six friends get in for free?” If I managed a club or bar I think I’d just put my phone in airplane mode today.

Starting tomorrow, Amazon will collect taxes on purchases made by Tennesseans. Happy New Year to us.

The Liberty Bowl will be on ESPN at 3 this afternoon. The Memphis Tigers vs. USF game will be on ESPN2 at 6.

Office is closing at 3 today, which will give me time to get a couple of beers at Flying Saucer and be long gone before their Amateur Night party starts. Whether I stay out TBD – I have a couple of different options but staying home is a good option too. This is probably my last post for 2013, so happy new year everyone.

Mon update: Green Beetle NYE, Globetrotter Groupon, Liberty Bowl shuttle, FedExForum dining, and Blind Bear poker news

Late update today. I woke up this morning and felt a cold coming on. I NyQuil-bombed myself and went back to bed and have been asleep and off social media all day. I learned the NyQuil bomb/sleep trick about five years ago. I’ve learned that if it is indeed a cold, that will nip it in the bud. If it’s the flu, it doesn’t matter what I do, I’m going to get sick but I might as well be in bed knocked out anyway. This must have been a cold because when I got out of bed around 4:30, I had no fever and felt a little better.

I’ll pass on what news I do have. I’ve been asked to mention the Green Beetle’s plans for New Year’s Eve tomorrow night. If you’re looking for last minute plans, prepaid $25 will get you music from Justin Moore from Ingram Hill, some appetizers, some kegs, some wine, some fun, and a champagne toast at midnight. Contact Adam at for additional details.

If you plan to go see the Harlem Globetrotters Saturday, January 11 but haven’t bought your tickets yet, there’s a Groupon that will save you some money. You can get $84.22 value tickets for $50.

MATA will provide express service from two Downtown hotels to the Liberty Bowl game tomorrow. The bus will pick you up at the Sheraton or the Peabody tomorrow at 1:30 and take you to the game which has a start time at 3 PM. Fare is $8 round-trip, $4 one way.

FedExForum posted a list of dining options today, listing what food is available in all its restaurants and where they are located in the arena. This might be a good thing to bookmark in your smartphone’s web browser for the next time you go to a Grizzlies game.

Since tomorrow is Amateur Night, er, I mean New Year’s Eve, the Blind Bear will not be holding its regular Tuesday night poker tournament. For the second week in a row, Jamie took to social media to determine if there would be interest in a Wednesday night game. There was sufficient interest, and a lot of people requested a 6:30 start time (which is the normal start time for Sunday night, rather than 8 PM as is the case on Tuesday). So it looks like the game is on for New Year’s Day.

Speaking of poker, I guess I should mention that I played in the Blind Bear’s Sunday night game last night, and… WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER! Well, actually a $50 gift card, but I suppose I could by a chicken dinner on the card. My heads-up opponent was none other than the Nuh-Uh Girl, who after eating our buddy Dennis’s fries accumulated a large stack and made it to the final two. I was a bit worried, because she’s one of the better poker players, but I managed to hit some cards and get the win. Between that and my second-place finish last Tuesday, I’ve rung up some serious points toward the final table in the last 7 days.

You know what I just realized? Pretty much all the female poker players who play regularly are among the better players. Every time I see somebody make a play and I think, “Wow, that was unbelievably bad,” it’s almost always a guy (and sometimes it’s me, although I try not to do that).

All right. I have no food in the house, so I guess I’m going to have to go somewhere and eat. I should be back at the regular time tomorrow with a pre-Amateur Night post.

Saturday update

First of all, I owe an apology to the folks at Cafe Keough. I said yesterday on the blog that I’d go there after work. However, I had friends from out of town, two of my favorite former Downtown Memphians, text me to tell me they were in town for the evening and asked if I wanted to meet up. So I went to the Saucer and Goose with them, since those were our stomping grounds when they lived here. Sorry for not making it in to give Keough a try, and I promise I’ll be in the place next week if not sooner.

I did my Saturday morning grocery run to City Market not long ago, and I noticed that I usually walk right by the metal shelves across from the cash register without ever stopping to notice what’s on those shelves. Some of the most interesting items in the store are there. One item I noticed, which I had never even heard of before, was seaweed snacks. They still have the masala peanuts in stock, and Nikki’s Hot Ass Chips which I mentioned earlier this week are in that area too. If you have a habit of walking right by the way I do, stop and take a look next time. You’re missing out on some good stuff.

As I expected, Zach Randolph got fined $25,000 by the NBA for his public comments about the bad officiating in Thursday’s Grizzlies-Rockets game.

Today’s a basketball doubleheader at the FedExForum: The Memphis Tigers host Jackson State at 11 AM, and the Memphis Grizzlies have Denver at 7 PM.

The Flying Saucer is having a Hawaiian shirt party tonight at 9. They’re bringing back live music for one evening only, and FreeWorld will take the stage.

That’s all the news for now. I’m off to my usual Saturday morning visit to Bardog.

Z-bo Day update: Kill the Keg, Trolley Night, parking meters, Chisca, Zac Brown Band, free albums today

Happy Zach Randolph Day! The mayor has named today Zach Randolph Day in Memphis to recognize all that the Grizzlies forward has done for the community. It looks like Z-bo will be paying a fine to the NBA on his day. Last night he said it was eight against five when Houston played the Grizzlies – the five Rockets players and the three referees versus the five Memphis players. Criticizing the officials is a no-no in the eyes of the NBA, so Zach will soon have to write a check.

There’s a “Kill the Keg” party at Tamp & Tap this afternoon starting at 4, with $2.50 pints until the keg runs out. Yazoo Brewery cellarman Ivan Chester brewed up a special batch of Hop Project, using Tamp & Tap’s coffee as an ingredient, for the party. Spencer Kellum will provide live music beginning at 6.

If you’re a Rice or Mississippi State fan, there’s a team welcome party for the Liberty Bowl at 6 at AutoZone Park. Tickets are $25.

It’s Trolley Night tonight on South Main. Classic cars will be parked along South Main and G.E. Patterson, and many of the shops will be open and serving libations and hors d’ouevres to guests. Free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up. There will be live entertainment at the following locations, according to the Trolley Night Facebook page:

Mara Danielle-Sache
Kris Acklen Trio-D’Edge Art (tentative location)
Po Boys-Green Beetle
Double J-Donnie Smith
Also music at New Connection

The new electronic parking meters have been a topic of discussion lately. Last night friends pointed out that the meters are generating additional revenue beyond charges from the meters themselves. New meters have been placed on streets where you could previously park for free, and there’s pretty much no free parking in the Downtown core anymore. As a result, many Downtowners are now forced to pay monthly parking garage fees, and guess who owns many of the garages – the city. One way or another, they’re going to get ya, get ya, get ya.

The MBJ blog has an update on what’s happening at the Chisca. Not a lot of progress is visible from the outside yet, but will be in early 2014.

The Zac Brown Band plays the FedExForum tonight at 7.

Google Play is giving away two albums for free today. The albums are Kanye West’s Yeezus and CHVRCHES’ The Bones of What You Believe.

Everyone have fun tonight, be safe, don’t drive drunk, and if you do drive drunk at least try not to run your car into any bar patios. I’m going to lead off at Cafe Keough after work, my first trip there since the coffeehouse opened to the public. If I find anything newsworthy there (and I suspect I will) I will have a report on the blog this weekend.

Christmas Day update

No pics of unwrapped presents here, just a long, rambling post since I have nothing to do until the bars open at 5.

It looks as though I will unexpectedly be in town for New Year’s Eve. I had planned to go over to Little Rock December 30-January 1, but I won’t be able to get a part installed on my car until January 2 so the trip has been delayed. So, what to do on New Year’s Eve? I’m normally not a fan on that night – I refer to it as Amateur Night – but if I can find something different and fun to do, I’ll consider it. If you know of anything shoot me an email at It can be either a “this is for the blog” item or a “don’t blog this, but we’d like to invite you to come” type of thing.

I bought some Nikki’s Hot Ass Chips from City Market this week. If you like spicy foods, these are really good. Better have an ice cold beverage while you eat these, though; you’re going to need the relief.

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There was a controversy about Nikki’s Hot Ass Chips earlier this month when Whole Foods decided not to carry them because of the name. Glad City Market did not make that decision. Is “ass” even considered a profane word in 2014?

Last night reminded me how much I love going out on Christmas Eve. I started off at the Flying Saucer mid-afternoon, hanging out on the couches with friends. Got invited to a plate party while I was there (it’s nice to be an invited guest at plate parties). The Saucer has re-done their “Fly Paper” beer menu, with a laminated sheet of the draft beers, mixers, and flights, and a smaller “Fly Paper” listing the bottles. I like the new menus a lot. It’s easier to read about the different styles of beers and find exactly what you want.

Random thing I heard at the Saucer last night: “I had a Furby when I was little, but it has bullet holes in it because my brother shot it.” We need to get her an Elf on the Shelf.

About 5 a group of Saucer regulars and off-duty Saucer people migrated to the Silly Goose. The Goose is so much fun when it’s not busy. I could have easily stayed there until closing time. While I was there, they got the new door to the kitchen installed. Since one of my buddies helped tear down the bookcase and rebuild the kitchen entry area, I snapped a pic to text to him. MMS wasn’t working though, so I’ll just post it here for everyone to see.

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I really like the new design. They retained the character of the old bookcases, but they reclaimed 3-4 feet of space. That wall was hand-crafted and took nearly 3 days to finish, with people staying as late as 4 in the morning working on it. In the lower right of the photo, you can see the island that has replaced the two tables next to the bookcase. The people who built it called it “a second bar” but I prefer “island” because there’s not actually liquor or beer being served there. About 12 people can sit or stand at the island, four more than the two tables next to the bookcase could seat. Meanwhile, the island takes up considerably less space, eliminating the bottleneck between that space and the bar when it gets busy on weekend nights. If you’re a sports fan, the best seats in the house are the seats at the island that face the kitchen door. Daniel has moved the 70″ HDTV above the door.

About 8 I moved over to the Blind Bear. Poker night did not happen, as Jamie and Jeannette enjoyed a much-deserved Christmas Eve at home with the kids. However, they did get on Facebook and poll the poker players whether there would be interest in an 8 PM game tonight. Based on the responses, they have decided that they will hold the game.

While I’ve been sitting around waiting for bars to open these past few days, I’ve been engaging in one of my favorite hobbies: surfing Wikipedia. In particular, I’ve been reading the entries on human evolution. It’s amazing how many discoveries have been made and how facts have changed since I last read about evolution in AP Biology in high school. Here are a few:

– In high school I was taught that the line of species that evolved into humans split off from the line that became chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. Recent DNA evidence has shown, however, that gorillas and orangutans are not the closest living relatives of chimpanzees – we (humans) are. So the entire human/ape family tree has had to be redrawn.

– Also in high school, I was taught that the Neanderthals were the last human species other than homo sapiens to walk the Earth. That’s not true anymore either. In the last decade, fossils of a previously undiscovered species were found on an island in Indonesia. This three-foot tall species seems to have split off from the line that became homo sapiens in the earliest days of humans. Fossils were found from as recently as 13,000 years ago. Island folklore suggests that the species was still alive when European settlers came to the island in the 16th century, and may have been alive as late as the 19th century. It possible that the species may still be alive today, living in caves on the heavily forested island.

– At the time I took AP Biology, it was unclear whether a species called Homo habilis from 2.3 million years ago belonged in the family of humans or not. It’s still controversial but most experts now agree that the species should be called human (and is therefore the earliest human) because of a sizable increase in brain capacity compared to the pre-human species that preceded it. That said, homo habilis was kind of a dum-dum by modern standards. It made tools but hadn’t yet figured out how to use tools to defend itself against animals. As a result, homo habilis was a preferred item on the dinner menu of big cats of the era.

– If you thought hippies first appeared in the 1960s, you’re way wrong. Paranthropus boisei was rocking it 1.2 million years ago.

And now, let’s finish this post up with some linky links that may be helpful to you today:

That’ll wrap it up. I’ll lead off at the Flying Saucer when it opens at 5, and I’ll walk over to the Blind Bear sometime before 8 for poker. Merry Christmas everyone.

Christmas Eve update: Cafe Keough, Liberty Bowl parade, clothing drive for the homeless, crawfish, New Year’s day drinking news, places open today and tomorrow

Yesterday I noticed that Cafe Keough, the new coffeehouse at 12 S. Main, was open to the public for the first day. I meant to get back by there yesterday evening, but due to friends showing up at the Saucer I didn’t make it. I’ve been told the cafe’s next night open will be Friday, and I intend to hit the place after work (probably about 5:45ish) if anyone wants to join. My apartment building had its Christmas party is there and it is a fantastic space. I will very likely be a regular customer.

The Liberty Bowl parade will happen on Beale Street Sunday, December 31 at 3 PM. I have been to a few of these and they are a lot of fun. They are very different from the St. Pat’s and other, more local parades. Definitely worth checking out if you’ve never been to one. Mississippi State fans travel well and are really good folks – State is the class act of Mississippi public universities. As for Rice, the last time they won a conference championship, the game had to be temporarily halted when a woolly mammoth walked onto the field. You know they are excited to be going to a bowl and will come out in force. After the parade there is a pep rally at Handy Park at 5.

The Memphis Flyer reports that several local bars will hold a clothing drive for the homeless, and two of the drop-off locations are Downtown. You can bring gently used clothing to either Blind Bear or Local on the Main Street Mall. If you’re out east, Newby’s may be a more convenient drop-off location. Clothing will go to two places – the Manna House, a hospitality hub for the homeless, and Room at the Inn, a program that pairs homeless with local churches to provide shelter during the cold winter months. Drop off dates are the day after Christmas through January 8. I have a big pile of clothes that has been sitting on my bedroom floor for a while, and it will be taking a trip to the Bear with me later this week.

Downtown Memphis foodie the Nuh-Uh Girl posted that crawfish season has started early this year. Usually it’s about the third week of February before live crawfish starts to appear on restaurant menus, but they’re already being served in Louisiana. I would not be surprised if we see the Nuh-Uh Girl eating crawfish off the plates of paying customers as early as January.

Last night I was drinking beer with a manager from Aldo’s Pizza Pies, and he told me that they are opening at 11 New Year’s Day. Even if you’re not hungry for pizza that hour, it has a bar that serves 60 different beers, if you’re looking for someplace to day-drink in the Downtown core on New Year’s. Most bars don’t open until 5 after having had big crowds for New Year’s Eve.

Speaking of bars: Here’s a list of bars that I know will/will not be open today and tomorrow:

  • Bardog: Open until 3 AM tonight, open at 5 PM Christmas
  • Flying Saucer: Open until 5 PM tonight, open at 5 PM Christmas
  • South of Beale: Closed today, open at 5 PM Christmas
  • Tamp and Tap: Open until 5 PM tonight, closed Christmas
  • Double J: Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
  • Local: Open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

If I get more later today, I will try to add to this list. I will also try to tweet/retweet openings/closings from my @paulryburn Twitter account. General rules of thumb that can be assumed: Restaurants that are not connected to hotels and are not chains and are not Chinese restaurants will most likely be closed tomorrow, and bars generally open at 5 PM on Christmas Day.

I’m in town for the holiday, so I will be out tonight. Christmas Eve is one of the most mellow bar nights Downtown, and a pleasant night to be out. I much prefer it to my most hated bar night of the year, New Year’s Eve, which is a week away. I guess I need to get my annual anti-New Year’s Eve rant/recommendations for people who hate it as much as I do together sometime soon. Anyway, I’ll be at the Saucer from about 3, then use social media to figure out my after-5 plan.

Christmas Eve Eve update: Madison Groupon, Blind Bear party, fast break, beer news, inspiring message sent by Pope Francis, and more

December 23 was one of my favorite days as a kid. Growing up in Little Rock, one of the local TV stations had a Christmas TV special that day on its noon news/Dialing for Dollars program. All the kids of TV station employees would sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. Santa, by the way, was Little Rock’s version of Bozo the Clown on days other than December 23. At the end of the show the kids would get their presents and unwrap them. When I was a little kid it was a reminder that my presents were only two days away. As I got older I watched the show to see the atrocious outfits parents dressed their kids in for TV, some of which would have won the tacky sweater contest I judged at the Majestic last Wednesday night.

Okay, enough storytelling. Let’s get to the news. There’s a Groupon going on right now that would make a great Christmas gift for someone you want to have the Downtown Memphis experience in style. It’s a one-night stay at the Madison Hotel, with queen-bed rooms going for $129 and king-bed rooms for $159. That’s a very good deal. If you don’t live Downtown, why not give yourself this gift and experience what it’s like to be a Downtown Memphian for a day? Good way to take the neighborhood for a test-drive if you’re thinking about moving down here.

The big thing going on in the Downtown core tonight (other than the Grizzlies-Jazz game at FedExForum) is the Blind Bear’s 2nd anniversary party. It starts at 8 with the Micheal Brothers 8-11 and DJ Eric Hurston 11-2. There will be many $3 drink specials and giveaways. Since I have Christmas Eve and Christmas off and am not traveling out of town, this is an effective Friday night for me, and you better believe I will be there until late into the evening!

If you haven’t seen this, you need to take a minute to watch the dazzling Memphis Tigers fast break from the game vs. SEMO Saturday night. It features a no-look pass, a behind-the-back pass, an alley oop, and a thundering dunk to finish it off.

Got a couple of pieces of beer news today. First of all, tickets to the 2014 Memphis Brewfest are now on sale. This event happens every April in AutoZone Park. They usually have quite a selection of not-normally-available-in-Memphis beers to sample and it’s one of the best beer festivals of the spring season.

Also in the news, Memphis Made Brewery has made the decision to go seasonal.

Thanks to one of my college classmates and Facebook friends for posting this: Pope Francis condemns racism and declares that “all religions are true” at historic Third Vatican Council. “The time has come to abandon all intolerance,” said the Pope. I’m not Catholic but I really like the message this man is bringing to the world. “God is changing and evolving as we are,” said Pope Francis. Exactly! This is what I have been wanting to hear (and have not been hearing) from organized religion all my life.

That’s it for now. I’ll be at the Blind Bear’s party at 8, and will probably pre-game with a few Pint Nite beers at the Flying Saucer beforehand.

Sat update: Farm truck, parking meters, drinking news, phone chargers/parking passes, events Downtown today, social media and more

There will be a farm truck selling produce at the corner of Front and Nettleton tomorrow, Sunday, December 22, from 1 to 3 PM. The truck will have cabbage, broccoli, red taters, sweet taters, greens, Hagan oranges, grapefruit, and a few other items in limited supply. Nettleton is two blocks north of G.E. Patterson, and two blocks south of Gus’s.

If you park in any spaces Downtown where you pay the new electronic meters, better bring some change. There are reports that credit cards are not always working with the new machines.

In case you missed it: A survey out from Sharecare today says that Memphis women are the heaviest drinkers in America. Go Memphis! The more you drink, the harder it is for those tube tops to stay up.

Got a question for any of my readers who might know: A TV crew was interviewing people outside the Flying Saucer yesterday afternoon around 4:30. Anyone know what TV station? If the video is online I’d like to post a link.

Got a word of advice for Downtowners who park in garages and own external phone chargers: Don’t carry your phone charger in the same pocket as your parking pass. My PowerGen Juice Pack is one of the best purchases I have ever made. It fits in my pocket and has enough juice to charge my iPhone about 3 times. That allows me to text, Facebook, tweet, Instagram and check in to my heart’s content without ever having to worry about running out of battery power. I guess I could use the extra power to call people too, but I hardly ever do that.

Earlier this week I had to have the car serviced. I got it to a garage about a mile east of where I live, and started to walk home. For some reason I had my parking garage pass on me, and I brought the phone charger with me just in case. I almost never carry those two items at the same time, but this time I did. When I got the car back and tried to get into the garage, I couldn’t – the parking pass had been de-magnetized. Shout-out to the people at Republic Parking who just couldn’t have been nicer to me as I was getting it replaced. They had a rogues’ gallery of all the bums who run fake parking attendant scams, and I recognized nearly every photo. I had a good time exchanging notes on them with the security guard who was working. I found out that one of our top scammers is recently deceased. My sympathies to all who are sad that he’s gone – which probably include his crack dealer, and… yeah, that’s about it.

Facebook misery index
Facebook misery index

Have you been naughty or nice this year? Social Santa will analyze your tweets and tell you. I’m afraid to find out. Found on the same site: The Facebook Misery Index. Speaking of Facebook, I wish Miley or Kim K or somebody would do something stupid or controversial so people can move on from talking about Duck Dynasty.

The Tigers take on Southeast Missouri tonight at FedExForum at 7 PM.

AutoZone Park will show Home Alone on the video board this afternoon at 3 PM. Bring a blanket if you want to sit on the field. Might want to bring an umbrella too. Admission is free.

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra will perform their annual holiday concert at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts at 2:30 and 7:30 today. If you prefer something with more of an edge, there’s a Merry Metal Christmas at the New Daisy at 7.

Starting it off at Bardog at 11 as usual. Last Saturday was the first one without Panda at the bar. She’s given up her Saturday shifts until after she has the baby. We wondered who would take over Saturdays in her absence, and got a pleasant surprise – the substitute bartender is none other than Bardog’s original Saturday bartender, Brooke! Because she was back, I stayed longer than I usually do, leading to other bartenders complaining on Facebook that I wasn’t at their bar at the usual time. Geez. I’ll buy my “DAWG” John D a PBR if he shows up, since yesterday was his birthday. Right now, it’s time for laundry, a trip to Walgreens, and other exciting Saturday stuff, so I’m signing off.

Thur update: Grizzlies deal, Orpheum open house tomorrow, letter to the editor/marathon, Best Memphis Burger Fest, jewelry market gets facelift

The Grizzlies have a deal on tickets going on until 11:59 tonight. You can purchase tickets to the December 23 game (Utah), December 28 (Denver), or December 30 (Chicago) for up to 45% off. Get the deal here.

The Orpheum will have an open house beginning at 10 AM tomorrow. Tickets for the Tony Award-winning show War Horse (March 25-30) will go on sale. There will be a Wurlitzer Organ concert at noon. With a canned good or coat donation, you get free admission to a showing of Miracle on 34th Street on the big screen at 2. Historian Vincent Astor will give a presentation about Memphis movie theaters at 4:30, and will have a book-signing at 5. If you purchase the Orpheum’s Holiday 4-pack at the open house, you will get a free Orpheum calendar. Free coffee, hot chocolate, and donuts. Free donuts? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

There’s a good letter to the editor in this week’s Memphis Flyer by my friend Dennis James. Every year he and his wife Mary Pat travel to Memphis from Huntsville, Alabama to run in the St.Jude Marathon. Dennis commended the marathon organizers and pointed out that even though the marathon was called off due to ice, it was still a success because of the millions raised for the hospital. You can read the letter here (scroll down to the second letter, “Thanks, Memphis!”)

It’s a big night for Seth and Tim, organizers of Best Memphis Burger Fest. Tonight they will present a big portion of the festival’s proceeds to Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services. The festival is growing and hopefully they’ll get to write an even bigger check at the end of 2014.

Botto Jewelry Market is getting a new facade thanks to a 1-to-1 matching grant from the CCDC. The Main Street Mall will look better once this gets done. The folks at the jewelry market are good people and this is where I go to get my watch battery changed.

I had a wonderful time at Clark’s Christmas last night at the Majestic Grille. The two other judges and I had filets for dinner, then walked around and judged the tacky sweaters and Griswold costumes. It’s always such an honor to be asked to judge what has become a Downtown holiday tradition. Thanks to Patrick and Deni for having me.

Plans for this evening: I’ll lead off at the Silly Goose about 5:30, if the Goose’s renovations are complete and it’s back open. I ran into someone who’s helping with the renovations last night and he showed me photos. It’s going to look good when complete.

Wed update: Clark’s Christmas, pepper jack mac is back, Silly Goose remodeling, new pizza place, new South Main businesses, new hotel (maybe), Cocktail Wars winners, Grizzlies giving back

Today is one of my favorite days of the holiday season. Tonight is “Clark’s Christmas” at the Majestic Grille. The restaurant shows National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on the big screen, featuring the holiday misfortunes of Clark Griswold and his family. During the movie there is a costume contest, with Majestic gift cards as prizes for the best movie-themed costume and best ugly sweater. I’ve once again been asked to serve as a celebrity judge for the contests. My honorarium for being a judge? All the PBR I can drink and a holiday meal. Reservations had been booked for a month in advance, but yesterday the Majestic tweeted that a few tables were available, so give the restaurant a call if you want to go.

Blind Bear news: The pepper jack mac & cheese is returning. After it won an award on Yelp for best mac & cheese, the owners decided it was time to bring it back.

The Silly Goose has been doing some remodeling. They are re-doing the bar area and also ripping out the bookcase to create more room for seating. The Goose was closed Monday and yesterday while they did the work. Not sure if it will be open today. When I walked past the place about 5 last night, it looked like they still had plenty to do.

The MBJ has a good article about New York Pizza, the new pizza place on Main between Union and Monroe. It’s in between Family Dollar and Jewelry Market. The owner, Saleh Ahmed, said “I just want to serve my neighbors.” Businesspeople who think like that, wanting to be part of the community, usually do well Downtown.

There’s also a good MBJ article about new South Main businesses including bookstore/gift shop South Main Book Juggler and several pop-up shops.

We’re getting a new hotel Downtown – MAYBE. It’s planned for Union and Fourth, on the site of an old parking garage. However, the new hotel is a Hilton, and two previous plans to build Hiltons have fallen through in the last five or so years. Don’t get your hopes up.

Dishcrawl’s Cocktail Wars winners have been announced. Many Downtown bartenders were on the list.

The Grizzlies have been active in the community this week. The Lakers were in town yesterday for a game, and Pau Gasol joined his brother Marc to visit the kids of St.Jude. Meanwhile, Tony Allen and Zach Randolph took 200 kids Christmas shopping. Each kid received a $100 gift card and an hour to spend it.

If you’re going to Clark’s Christmas tonight, I will see you there! I will probably pre-game with a couple of beers at the Flying Saucer, where their annual Christmas glass (“Yule Fuel”) goes on sale at 7.