Quick Saturday update

There’s a Big Wheel Relay at 1 PM today on Beale Street to benefit the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. Teams of four will compete, with their $80 entry fee going to the Angel Tree program, with a maximum of 40 teams.

Aldo’s Pizza Pies is hosting Pizza with Santa Friday, December 12 from 4 to 8 PM. There will be fun and games and photos with Santa, prior to the annual performance of The Nutcracker down the street at the Orpheum. Bring an unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots or a $5 donation to the Mid-South Food Bank.

When was the last time that there was more reason to be excited about the Memphis Tigers football team than the men’s basketball team? The 8-3 Tigers host UConn today at the Liberty Bowl at 3. Prior to the game, the True Blue Hospitality Tent opens at Tiger Lane at 1 ($10/person). There will be a pep rally at 2:15 and Senior Day recognition at 2:30.

There are Christmas trees for sale at the Memphis Farmers Market Winter Market today. It’s open until 1 at Front and G.E. Patterson.

That’ll do it for now. Leading off at Bardog as usual on Saturday, with Bloom filling in for Panda behind the bar. Rest of the day TBD.

Thanksgiving update

I missed the holiday potluck at the office yesterday because I was busy deploying stuff. For those who aren’t programmers, “deploying” is the process of taking web application code that you have thoroughly tested on a server built for that purpose, and pushing it live to your production server so the public can start using it. That way the public never encounters bugs because they got stomped out in development and testing. (At least that’s the way you hope it works.)

So anyway, by the time I got home from work yesterday, I was starving. That was not a problem because Shorty has the $10 pasta bar at the Silly Goose. I walked up there and ordered a bowl of chicken, artichoke hearts, spinach, and onions and Shorty’s pesto parmesan sauce with alfredo. “Paul, let me give you one of my cards,” Shorty said. “I can come to your home and cook for you if you ever need it. Let me make a meal for you and your girlfriend. I can do that.”

I told Shorty I don’t currently have a girlfriend. “Well, if I cook for you you’ll get a girlfriend quickly, believe that. And I do catering too if you ever need it.” If anyone is interested in in-home cooking or catering, drop me a note at paul@paulryburn.com (or text me, Facebook me, ask me in person, whatever) and I’ll pass on his contact info. Trust me, he has the culinary skills to impress a potential girlfriend or business clients.

Here’s a one-minute time-lapse video of the Peabody Hotel’s Christmas tree being set up. Although condensed into one minute, the full setup required 20 people and seven hours to get done. Setup was done by the folks at Holliday Flowers, the same people who designed the award-winning booth for my team The Moody Ques at BBQ Fest this year.

Tomorrow the Peabody will have its tree lighting ceremony, beginning with the morning Duck March at 11. Marching the ducks will be the actor currently playing Randy in “A Christmas Story, the Musical” at the Orpheum. There will be performances throughout the day by local choirs, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and a band of soul musicians led by the STAX Academy music director. At 5 the evening Duck March will take place, and after that, the tree will be lit and Santa and his elves will pass out holiday candy.

There’s a Groupon going on for Havana’s Pilon, the great little Cuban restaurant on Second east of Madison. For $8 you can get two $7 vouchers, each good for one visit; or for $16 you can get two $14 vouchers, each good for one visit.

Counting down to the part of Thanksgiving I like the best… 5 PM, when the bars open. Nothing says Thanksgiving like a PBR, and I plan on saying Thanksgiving that way quite a few times tonight. Back tomorrow with more news.

Thanksgiving Eve news

The Mid-South Food Bank was still short about 1400 turkeys of the amount they need to feed hungry families this Thanksgiving as of around 9 this morning. If you want to help, go to midsouthfoodbank.org. $15 provides a turkey for a family.

Holly has updated her list of restaurants and bars that will be open tomorrow. It includes places that will be serving a special menu for Thanksgiving as well as places for which it will be business as usual.

From Serious Eats: How Cajun deep-frying turkey took over America

Actually, though, you know what’s even better than deep-frying a turkey in oil? Infrared turkey fryers. A friend of mine who lives on Mud Island has one of these and I’ve eaten turkey cooked in it the past couple of years. It takes less time than frying with oil (and a LOT less than the traditional way of preparing turkey in the oven), there’s no danger of a fire breaking out, and the turkey is just as good if not better.

Another way to cook a turkey, from Mashable: We microwaved a turkey and it was actually pretty good

From the MBJ: Several Memphis liquor stores now have beer growler-filling stations. These include Pyramid Wines on A. W. Willis, which I blogged last week has received rave reviews from some of my friends. The growler stations will help liquor stores offset losses from wine being allowed in grocery stores.

South Main Book Juggler at 548 S. Main will host a book signing for the book Memphis Type History Friday from 6 to 9. More info about the book can be found here.

Mark James, who a few years ago authored a book on Memphis wrestling history from the ’50s to the ’70s, has a new book out on the history of wrestling in Atlanta from 1960 to 1984. It covers stars like Mr. Wrestling II, the Assassins, the Fabulous Freebirds, Tommy “Wildfire” Rich, Ole Anderson, and many more.

Kevin Cerrito’s trivia at Tamp & Tap and the Green Beetle is taking this week off for Thanksgiving. Sunday I talked to the burlesque dancer who runs Burlesque Bingo Thursdays at the Mad Earl (8 PM) and she told me it is on for tomorrow.

The Grizzlies are giving away a free Grizzmas scarf when you purchase a 7 game holiday pack. If you purchase this Friday you get an 8th game, against the Miami Heat, for free.

DJ Cody Rogers is doing a rare Wednesday at the Silly Goose tonight. He will start mixing the videos around 10. Thanksgiving Eve is traditionally one of the busiest nights of the year, so expect the bars to be packed tonight.

I’m on call for work this Thanksgiving weekend, as my company hosts a major national tournament in Providence, Rhode Island starting tomorrow. Therefore, I won’t be able to get TOO crazy this weekend (in other words, my no-Fireball shot rule is in full effect). That said, I will be out, and I plan to make it a late night tonight. Time to go out and have some fun before Turkey Day gets here.

Gift card news and a lot more

If you want to eat some good food Downtown in 2015 at a discount price, next Wednesday, December 3, is a big day for you. I had previously mentioned the 3rd would be the day of the Majestic Grille’s annual half-off gift card sale. Now Kooky Canuck has announced that they will also do a half-off gift card sale that day (both the Downtown and Cordova locations). They make great stocking stuffers, or you can use them yourself!

Here’s another gift card offer – At Felicia Suzanne’s, get a free $20 gift card for every $50 gift card you buy. Offer runs Wednesday through Sunday of this week. More details here.

The Brass Door is doing a Black Magic show Friday and Saturday at 8 PM. The show features three of Memphis’ top stand-up comedians: Mo Alexander, Spanky Brown, and Just Larry. From the event listing:

BLACK MAGIC features Extreme Magic, Adult Beverages, Hilarious Stories, and more filthy words exclaimed than a Collierville soccer mom fighting for the last Door-Buster sale “My Little Pony” at a Target on Black Friday morning!!!”

Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

Bass Pro is getting things moving on its bowling alley in the Pyramid. YESSS!!! Of all of Bass Pro’s amenities, this is the one my friends and I are most likely to use. The bowling alley will be inside Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill and will have an underwater theme.

There’s a Groupon for So You Think You Can Dance Live that is currently running. The show is December 7 at the Orpheum.

Another Downtown Groupon is running, this one for Spaghetti Warehouse. You can get two $20 gift Groupons ($40 value) for $25.

I’ll mention one more Groupon as well, this one not a Downtown one but it’s one of my poker buddies’ restaurant: $19 for two-course seafood dinner at Boneheads.

Local has announced a new happy hour from 11 AM-7 PM Monday-Friday. $2 domestic bottles, $3 select draft beers, $3 well drinks, $5 wine specials. From 4 to 7 they have a happy hour food menu including thin & crispy potato chips, loaded tater tots, baked buffalo cheese dip, short rib grilled cheese, and BBQ duck nachos.

Choose901 reports that Slide the City will be coming to Memphis in summer 2015. This is a 1000-foot water slide. There will also be live music, food, and drinks.

In case you missed it: Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph passed out 450 holiday boxes filled with Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings to families in need. Z-bo’s family relied on holiday boxes when he was growing up, and now he’s in a position to give back. I am so happy the Grizzlies found a way to keep this man in Memphis through at least 2017. What a positive role model for the kids.

FreeWorld is playing this Saturday at the Flying Saucer starting at 9 PM. No cover.

Posting a bit early today because I’m about to get handed a high-priority project at work. It’s possible this may be the rare night when I don’t get out at all. That’s the news for now, see you tomorrow.

Friendsgiving pics and Sunday news

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I’ll lead off this Sunday blog post with a few pics from our Friendsgiving potluck on Mud Island yesterday. There were about 30 of us there and there was turkey and ham and all the side dishes and it was a blast. No kidding, it seemed like there was more food at this dinner than we had the entire week of BBQ Fest. Everyone who wanted to go back for seconds, did, and the Nuh-Uh Girl could have gone back for sevenths, eighths, and ninths if she had been in town.

Although it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, I got an early Christmas present as the potluck got started. My Razorbacks shut out #8 Ole Miss 30-0. You think we’ll be ranked this week? My guess is not in the AP or the coaches’ poll (although we’ll come close) but we will be in the college football playoff poll. Has a 6-5 team ever been ranked before? It’s a testament to how strong the SEC West is this year. We’re bowl-eligible and it’s time to CALL THOSE HOGS!!!!!!!!

From the Bleacher Report: Arkansas sends a message to the SEC with back-to-back shutout wins

If you see these at a party, beware:

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These are alcoholic gummy worms and they are far more potent than Jello shots. They got me Thursday night at BBQ Fest. They got me again last night, but it was a delayed effect. I actually managed to last from 11 AM to 1:45 AM without a “halftime” nap. We stayed on the Island until about 10 and then went out. Despite having four of these “shots” forced on me I was coherent and even managed to dance a little. About 1 I went over to the Saucer to have a beer at Jim’s bar and then called it a night. As I was walking home some of my favorites were coming out of the parking garage and said, “Paul! Come to Purple Haze with us!” but thanks to the gummy worms I had no energy left.

And now, on to the news… allow extra time if driving Downtown mid-afternoon. There’s a Break-a-Leg 5K departing from the Orpheum at 2 PM.

Memphis in May Beale Street Music Fest three-day passes go on sale for $75 Wednesday. The lineup has not been announced yet (nor has the forecast) so if you buy, you’ll be buying on blind faith at a big discount.

The Grizzlies host the L.A. Clippers at FedExForum at 5. All the Grizzlies have recovered from the stomach flu and are healthy for tonight’s game.

All right. Sunday morning. Time for church dranks. Leading off at Bloom’s bar at Bardog at 11, other stops to follow.

Busy day two weeks from now and other news

The Downtown holiday parade has been announced for Saturday, December 6. It will happen on Beale Street at 4 PM, and the Grand Marshal this year will be none other than “The Grindfather” himself, Memphis Grizzlies shooting guard/small forward Tony Allen. There is a LOT happening that day, as always happens the first Saturday in December.

  • St. Jude marathon/half-marathon in the morning
  • Holiday parade at 4 on Beale Street
  • People crowding all the Downtown bars to watch the SEC championship game (expect the bars to be extra, extra crowded if Mississippi State, Ole Miss, or Alabama is playing)
  • Stumbling Santa, a 1000+ person pub crawl starting at the Flying Saucer at 7
  • Memphis Tigers host Bradley at the FedExForum at 8:30

If you drive Downtown on the 6th, I would recommend allowing at least 30 extra minutes for heavy traffic, parking, and walking from where you park to your destination. The DMC has a parking map that can help you figure out where to park.

If you’re an IT professional looking for a job, the Church Health Center just added a database administrator opening.

The Metal Museum is having its annual holiday sale today starting at 10 AM. You can purchase jewelry, metalwork, and housewares made by renowned artists.

Here’s an article I disagree with for multiple reasons: Lorde just made history as the only person to ever look good in a tube top. This kind of thing is the reason I have to spend an entire month on this blog educating the public about the greatest fashion item ever. Not only do many women look good in tube tops, but in the photos in the article, Lorde isn’t even wearing her tube top correctly: She’s wearing a jacket over it, a no-no. I guess “The Gloss” is a magazine? I’m going to have to fire off an angry letter to the editor.

There’s a This Is Memphis Festival tonight at 7 at the New Daisy. Pretty good lineup of bands for only a $7 cover, and if you go VIP for $8 more you get a BBQ meal.

The annual Victorian Yuletide celebration kicks off Wednesday and runs through January 4 at the Woodruff-Fontaine House. Each room in the house will be decorated with items from the museum’s collection. There will be gowns from the period, as well as toys and dolls, and beds dressed in quits and blankets. The museum is at 680 Adams Avenue just east of Downtown.

Out in Cooper-Young, the Memphis Made Brewing Co. tap room opened yesterday. It will be open Fridays from 4 to 9 and will expand hours later. For those of you who know who my favorite pair of librarian glasses is, she’s working there.

Today should be a really fun day. About 30 of the Downtown crew are gathering at a house on Mud Island for the second annual “Friendsgiving,” a Thanksgiving dinner when all our friends can be together before many of us travel for the Thanksgiving holidays. I missed the first one last year and am really looking forward to tonight. There’s a strong possibility of shenanigans afterward. I’m going to start off at Panda’s bar at Bardog at 11 as usual, but with no time for an afternoon nap I am going to have to take it extremely slow at Bardog and subsequent stops. Time to go buy some PBR to take to the island then get this beautiful Saturday under way.

Cookbook signing at Winter Farmers Market tomorrow and other news

Tomorrow is a big day at the Memphis Farmers Market’s Winter Market at the pavilion at Front and G.E. Patterson. Cookbook author and master preserver Eugneia Bone will be there. At 9:30 she will give a cooking demo, showing how you can use every part of your Farmers Market purchases, even parts of vegetables that you thought were scraps. She’ll also give tips on how to preserve items you buy at the market. From 10 to 12:30 she will sign copies of her cookbook, The Kitchen Ecosystem. Adam Levin will provide the live music at 11. The Flyer has more about Bone’s weekend in Memphis here.

I was looking at Twitter last night and found an interesting map on Thrillist: most popular burger chains by county. The results were not what I would have expected. Most popular burger chain for Shelby County? Krystal, believe it or not. For my hometown of Little Rock, Sonic is most popular. The thing that really surprised me was the the most popular restaurant in San Diego County, where I lived for six months, is NOT In-N-Out Burger. It’s Carl’s Jr.

Potential good news for the Memphis tourism industry: Visa rules are being relaxed for Chinese tourists, making it much less of an ordeal for Chinese to visit the U.S. I see quite a few Chinese here touring Downtown and Graceland, especially in the winter months. People from China are among the highest spenders for tourists, so this could be a gain for the local economy if we can make it easier for them to get here.

The Grizzlies are up to seven players that are questionable for tonight’s game against Boston due to a stomach virus. However, all but Quincy Pondexter attended this morning’s shootaround and are now being said to be probable.

And while we’re on the subject of the Grizzlies, some people never change. Guess who sent this tweet yesterday?

“Hi @RobertPera! Any good promos going on for Bay Area @memgrizz fans to attend the Grizzlies/Kings game Nov 30? :) #GoGrizz”

Yep, the Nuh-Uh Girl is still asking for free stuff and discounts, even though she’s 2000 miles away. And she isn’t shy about asking, even asking the Grizzlies’ lead owner. Maybe there’s a ticket package that includes free food at the concession stands that Pera can give her.

You can view the Toronto Raptors tribute to Vince Carter that brought tears to his eyes at a recent game.

The Memphis International Jazz Festival is happening in South Main this weekend.

The Flyer has an article about the new Love Pop craft soda pop store on South Main, and on the updated lounge and new dishes by Chef Ana Gonzalez at Bleu. Love Pop has its grand opening tomorrow evening at 6 PM. 200+ craft sodas, ice cream floats.

Don’t forget that the annual Downtown tree-lighting is happening at Beale and Rufus Thomas this afternoon starting at 4:30. Jerry Lawler, Santa, Grizzlies Claw Crew, fun for kids.

A few more hours until the weekend! No definite plans for tonight but I’ll find something to get into. Thanksgiving dinner with our Downtown crew (Friendsgiving) tomorrow night, then Sunday I will take a night off from poker to watch WWE Survivor Series on the Network. Time to wrap up a few final things at work then kick the weekend off.

Discover the Ice Age this weekend, and other Thursday news

Back at work after a couple of birthday days off, putting together a dining guide for an upcoming tournament my company is holding in Rhode Island. One of the nearby restaurants has a build-your-own mac & cheese bar. Yum.

Oh wow. There’s a gourmet grilled cheese store too. My friend Katie Mac would be in heaven at that place.

This is mainly an event for kids, but even as an adult I think it sounds pretty cool: Discover the Ice Age is coming to the Cook Convention Center this weekend. You can meet mammoths, mastodons, saber-toothed cats and other megafauna that ruled the world during the Ice Age.

The Foo Fighters have announced a concert series for next summer and fall. They will come to the FedExForum October 7, 2015.

Big positive news for Memphis: Readers of the USA Today selected Memphis as the number-one NBA destination.

The Flyer has a Q&A with Billy Orgel, new owner of the Tennessee Brewery, about what he plans to do with his new piece of property.

From the MBJ: Live music venue The New Daisy has changed ownership.

The Bar-B-Q Shop is the winner of the MBJ’s 64-restaurant BBQ brackets.

The Methodist Healthcare Foundation is holding a cancer center fundraiser luncheon with Rob Lowe tomorrow. I wonder if he’ll bring Creepy Rob Lowe and Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe with him? Watch out for guys with binoculars if you take a swim at the Y tomorrow.

GoTigersGo.com has fan information for Saturday’s Memphis Tigers football game vs. South Florida. MemphisWeather.net says that we’ll be mostly rain-free for the game with temps in the 60s.

That’s it for this post. I’ll be at my usual Thursday spots after work this evening.

Downtown Dining Week recommendation and Tuesday news

For those of you who are looking for a place to try for Downtown Dining Week but haven’t made a reservation yet, I’ll offer a recommendation: Cafe Keough. Like most participating restaurants, the cafe recommends reservations, but you may be able to get in without them for several reasons. For one, the cafe has been open less than a year and is relatively unknown. Another reason is that it is a huge space that would take a lot of diners to fill up. Also, it flies under a lot of people’s radar because a lot of people tend to not look north of Monroe for places to eat.

Chef Demitrie Phillips posted a photo of one of the Downtown Dining Week menu items, lamb souvlaki skewers over Moroccan cous cous, and it looked delicious. It’s part of their $20.14 “Tapas for Two” menu this week. You get a meze of olives, babaganoosh, and bulgur salad with warm pita to share for the first course, and then for the second course each person gets to choose an entree of the aforementioned souvlaki skewers or shrimp with garlic, mushrooms, peppers, and sherry butter over baked polenta.

Unfortunately I have already heard of one DDW restaurant that is half-assing it, putting out lower quality food than what you would get on their regular menu. I’ll be nice and not name the place, but one of my friends got sick last night from eating there. I guarantee you that won’t happen at Cafe Keough. Chef Demitrie takes too much pride in his craft to do that. I talked with the cafe’s GM last week and he’s really looking at this as an opportunity to impress people who might not otherwise stop in and get them to come back again and again and become regular customers. That’s what Downtown Dining Week is all about! The cafe is on Main Street between Madison and Monroe, in the ground floor of the Number 10 Main apartment building, across Main from Felicia Suzanne’s. Here’s a link to their DDW page. Although I am saying you can possibly get in without reservations, it might not be a bad idea to call and make them if you know you’re going to go.

Aldo’s Pizza Pies is giving away free pizza for a year to one lucky member of its beer league. If you join the league, you get $1 off beers except during happy hour, and upon completion of the quest to drink all 60 of Aldo’s beers, you get a 64 ounce stainless steel growler filled with the beer of your choice. If you want to sign up, bring your ID and talk to the bartender.

Interesting news hidden in an MBJ story about Crye-Leike moving its offices to Midtown: The move will clear the way for the building at the southeast corner of Third and Madison to become a boutique hotel. I have always loved that building’s architecture, which is just beautiful. With the already-existing Madison Hotel, and the Exchange Building being converted into mixed residential/hotel, Madison Avenue is going to become almost as much of a Hotel Row as Union is.

Here’s one for my fellow wrestling fans: Trailer for the upcoming Iron Sheik movie. Sheikie Baby has lived a heck of a life. He was an Olympic athlete, and a bodyguard for the Shah of Iran. He was forced to flee the country when the revolution took place, relocating to the United States and becoming one of wrestling’s top heels. Although he played an anti-American gimmick, he actually loves the U.S. He is one of Twitter’s most interesting accounts to follow, at @the_ironsheik.

Today is “constant Facebook notifications” day for me, also known as my birthday. Thank you to all of my wonderful friends who posted on my timeline. I truly am lucky to have all of you. Usually I show up at Blind Bear at 11 AM on my days off for day-drinking, but I figured I’d be taking up a bar stool drinking a $3 PBR that could be taken by a Downtown Dining Week customer, so I’m staying away until about 1. That’s still the lunch hour, but hey, a man can only go for so long without beer. That’s all for now, back tomorrow.

Brad & Joe & me & Monday news

Last night I stopped by the Flying Saucer for a Dos Equis Lager or two, and who did I discover sitting on the rail but Bradley D. Birkedahl and Slick Joe Fick, two-thirds of legendary Memphis rockabilly band The Dempseys. They invited me to join them for beers and I snapped this pic.

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From 2003 to 2010, I went to many Dempseys shows at the Saucer, Huey’s, and Blues City Cafe. They have since gone their separate ways and are enjoying successful careers. Thanks for inviting me to hang out, guys. It was truly a pleasure seeing you.

The Memphis Fire Museum is holding a Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, December 13. Santa arrives on a MFD engine at 8 AM. There will be two sessions. The first will have breakfast from 8 to 9 and professional photos with Santa from 8:30 to 10. The second will have breakfast 10 to 11 and photos 10:30 to 12. $10 for adults, $7 for kids. Admission includes a full breakfast, story time with Izzy the Dalmatian, and entrance to the Fire Museum. Make reservations at firemuseum.com.

CNN is coming to Beale Street on New Year’s Eve. “An Evening with… ALMOST… Elton John” will be playing the street that night and CNN will broadcast the entire show. This is CNN’s first time ever on Beale. I’m normally not a big fan of Beale Street on NYE but I have to admit I would consider going to this.

The Sacramento Kings have filed a protest of Thursday’s loss to the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies inbounded the ball with three tenths of a second left and scored the winning basket. The Kings said that one of their players may have tipped the ball, which would have started the clock sooner.

Sbnation.com has updated its college football bowl predictions. They’re projecting Memphis playing Arkansas in the Birmingham Bowl on January 3. That would be an interesting matchup. The Hogs need one more win to get bowl-eligible.

The Grizzlies host the Houston Rockets tonight at 7 at the FedExForum.

That’s it for now. I have tomorrow off for my birthday, so I’ll be staying out a bit later than usual tonight.