Monday update

Happy Presidents Day! Every eight years, historians rank all the former presidents from first to last. For the first time, Barack Obama was eligible to be ranked. He was rated 12th best out of the 43 former presidents, behind Woodrow Wilson but ahead of James Monroe. Not suprisingly, Lincoln topped the list, followed by George Washington. James Buchanan was ranked last, but fear not, Buchanan fans; the next time the rankings are done I have a feeling we will have somebody new at the list’s bottom.

There will be a celebration of Johnny Cash’s 85th birthday at Memphis Made Brewing Co. this coming Sunday, February 26. Jack O and The Sheiks will perform. Doors will open at 3, with music beginning at 4. Donations will be accepted toward a Johnny Cash statue for Memphis.

The Memphis Redbirds and Major League Baseball have made donations totaling $25,000 to Memphis area public schools. The donations will give 460 students baseball and softball equipment so they can get on the field, benefiting 24 baseball and softball teams at 16 schools.

Memphis in May will announce the lineup for Beale Street Music Fest on Wednesday. The event happens the first weekend of May every year. If you’re enjoying the May weather we’re having in February today, be aware that February weather usually shows up in May for Music Fest.

Want a little extra energy to get through afternoons at work? Downtown Yoga offers lunchtime classes from noon to 1 every weekday.

I had fun visiting my friend Hannah at the bar at Aldo’s Pizza Pies Midtown yesterday. Go see her on Sundays if you live in the area. She’ll take good care of you. I have yummy meatball pizza in my fridge that will last me the next two days.

The zoo is having a seasonal job fair Wednesday, February 22, from 3 to 5 PM. Applicants are encouraged to fill out an online application in advance.

That’s it for now. I will be out at one of my usual spots after work but haven’t decided which one yet.

Moody Ques news: Troll recruits new members, margarita machine, spring regionals and more

The Moody Ques’ Deputy Director of Public Relations had a big day yesterday.

I led off at Bardog yesterday, informing Bloom that it would be a very short stay because I had a BBQ team board meeting at noon. The guy two seats down from me asked, “Paul, where’s your troll?” She was still in my coat pocket at that point and I got her out. We started talking and I mentioned I was about to go to the meeting. “Do you have any open spots?” he asked. “My wife and I were thinking about joining a team this year.”

“We do and we’d love to have you,” I replied. An hour later he showed up at the Silly Goose with $500 cash for a couples’ membership. And the whole conversation started because of my troll. Congratulations to Deputy Director Perjorie T. Roll on her outstanding recruitment effort yesterday!

New member Jeremy (on the right) talking with Pitmaster Frank. Jeremy had some cooking ideas to share. Welcome Jeremy and Jeana to the Moody Ques!

We convened the meeting a little after 12 and got down to business.

We slightly reconfigured the board of directors this year, bringing on John D as vice president. That will allow Erik to focus on things in the kitchen without having to worry about front of house too. Here’s the list of directors for this year:

President – Clay Thompson
Vice President – John Denman
Pitmaster – Frank Howell
Treasurer – Misty Roberson
Director of Engineering – Brent Long
Director of Communications – Win Bonner
Kitchen Manager – Erik Karlsson
Bar Manager – Chad Rodgers
Director of Public Relations – Paul Ryburn

Although, as president Clay pointed out, these are just titles. We all help each other out.

Adding Chad as bar manager is a huge plus for the team. Chad will be entirely in charge of the bar. He will order liquor, he will have the power to hire bartenders, whatever he feels he needs to do. His leadership frees up the rest of the team to focus on other aspects of BBQ Fest. Of course, he can count on all of us if he asks for help.

We are going to have a margarita machine behind the bar this year. Thanks to John D for making that acquisition.

We are pleased to have Holliday Flowers back with us for 2017. Their creativity and their resources have been key to our past finishes in Best Booth.

We are still looking at doing Atoka BBQ Fest March 31-April 1 and Southaven Springfest April 28-29. We discussed doing the Southern Hot Wing Festival instead of Southaven, but that isn’t a BBQ competition and the cover charge for the public is ridiculously high.

A third festival, Esperanza Bonanza in Marion, Arkansas, was discussed. However, the dates listed on the website are load-in weekend for BBQ Fest. Not quite sure how that will work.

We still plan on wrapping up the BBQ season at the Tate County Fair June 3 and 4.

Sarah Dalesandro, the artist whose ideas led to our 2014 Best Booth victory, is back to contribute her creativity to the team this year. She, Brent from Holliday Flowers, and president Clay are forming a subcommittee that will talk regularly about booth design ideas. Several ideas were presented yesterday to honor this year’s Memphis in May country, Colombia.

We need to have a full team meeting in March or April. This is important because we need ideas from as many people as possible. Also, it is nice for team members, especially new ones, to get to know to each other prior to BBQ Fest, when everyone is running around working on various things. This date is not set in stone yet, so watch for updates, but I suggested to Brent that we do it at the Holliday Flowers warehouse in The Edge on Saturday, March 25. There will be a jalapeno popper festival next door at High Cotton that day. Admission is free. I can see several advantages to that date and location for a full team meeting:

  1. The popper festival is organized by Seth who does Best Memphis Burger Fest. Since we are participants in Burger Fest, it would be nice for us to come out and support Seth’s new event, even if we are not participating as a cook team.
  2. The presence of the popper fest next door might draw more people to the meeting than would otherwise come. Kill two birds with one stone – have the meeting, then go try some jalapeno poppers. Or vice versa, depending on what time we have the meeting.
  3. The popper fest could be a fertile recruiting ground for new team members. “Oh, this is your first time at a cooking competition? Have you ever thought about being on a BBQ team?”
  4. It’s never bad to hold a BBQ team meeting next door to a brewery.

Again, this not set in stone. Brent has to check his calendar to see if he has events at the warehouse that day. By the way, not many people know it, but the Holliday Flowers warehouse on Monroe has a beautiful event area that is great for business events, wedding receptions, etc. Check them out if you are looking to plan an event.

My troll asked if there was a Best Troll competition and suggested we enter it. I told her there was no such thing and, given who some of the other BBQ teams hang out with, I’m not sure we would win anyway. Then my troll complained that she didn’t like her Deputy Director of Public Relations title because she thought people might confuse her with Barney Fife.

At that point I decided the troll would spend the rest of the meeting in my coat pocket.

After the meeting I wandered down to my “home away from home on the south side,” Max’s Sports Bar, then caught an Uber back to the Blind Bear. I had their famous chili mac.

It’s the Blind Bear’s pepper jack mac & cheese combined with Colin’s award-winning three-bean turkey chili, topped with shredded cheese, onions, and sour cream. If I ever wind up on death row I may order this as my last meal.

I don’t have a lot of news to report this Sunday, but if you’re looking for something fun to do and don’t mind driving out east, check out the Tennessee Equality Project gumbo contest at the Hilton this afternoon. Taste some of the best gumbos in the city while supporting equality for all regardless of sexual orientation or identification.

It is going to be a beautiful April-in-February kind of day outside. I am headed out to D-RANKS with B-RAD at the Blind Bear for Sunday brunch. After that, I will see where the day takes me. Back tomorrow with more news.


Saturday update

Every Saturday Ghost River does Small Shop Saturday in its taproom from noon to 4, allowing people to discover the works of a local vendor while enjoying locally made craft beer. This week’s vendor is Michelle Duckworth, an illustrator who does children’s illustrations and anything else requiring a whimsical and slightly peculiar slant. Today you can expect to find wood paintings, colorful pieces, cute paintings, and more.

I was in Belle Tavern a couple of evenings ago and noticed they have added a new thing on Tuesday nights: live music by South Side Supper Club. Very happy to see this talented band getting a gig in the Downtown core. I have heard them several times and they are well worth checking out. If you’re not familiar with the tavern, the entrance is in the alley between Main and Second, half a block south of Union.

Beer and history, who can beat that? One month from today, Saturday, March 18, Elmwood Cemetery will host Suds & Stories. Meet in the chapel at 1 PM for stories about the men and women of the Emerald Coast who rest at Elmwood. Cost is $15 and advance registration is required.

Don’t miss this High Ground News story about South Main Book Juggler. In an era when many bookstores are closing, Jean and Clayton are bringing the works of local and regional authors to South Main. They are wonderful people. If you are a reader, go see them. I am sure they can make a recommendation if you are looking for a particular genre.

I don’t know if I have any readers who are vegetarians and who love dogs, but on the off-chance that I do, Zaka Bowl out in East Memphis will donate 20% of the proceeds from sales this weekend to Streetdog Foundation, an organization that fosters and adopts dogs.

In other dog related news… I don’t know if I have any readers who love dogs and who work at a brewery, but on the off-chance that I do, you might be interested in this story of a brewery in Scotland that offers puppy paternity leave. If you adopt a puppy, you get a week off work to play with your new puppy and bond with it.

Trolley Stop Market is currently hiring part-time employees.

This is awesome:

Where else but Paul Ryburn’s Journal are you going to go to learn important scientific facts. Take this one, for example:

I’m going to lead off at Bardog today at 11. I hope I don’t encounter proof that the statement above is true.

It will be a short stay at Bardog, though, because at noon I will be at the Silly Goose for the Moody Ques board meeting. The Public Relations Committee – Director Paul, Deputy Director Perjorie, Buddha, and Ian – met Sunday 1/29 and I plan on giving the board a full report. Some have asked if I will hand the team website over to my troll, now that she’s Deputy Director. Having seen her guest posts, I don’t think that’s a good idea. I fear we’d get a bunch of selfies and minimal team news. I’m also concerned she would use the website to recruit other trolls to the team, and really, one is more than enough.

Team members, feel free to stop by if you want. I went to board meetings all the time before I actually became a board member. I am going to push for us to have a full team meeting sometime in March.

All right, that’s the news for now. I’m going to watch the rat video about 20 more times and then do a bunch of laundry, now that “Squeaky,” my dryer, has been replaced. Back tomorrow with more news. Look for a Moody Ques website update (by me) sometime next week.

Friday update

Yesterday I was very excited to post that a speakeasy-style cocktail lounge with an entrance on November 6th Street was being planned. The entrance would be just steps from my back door. Today, however, plans for that project may be in doubt. The project’s developer is being accused of bribery in Palm Springs, California. The same developer is also working to redevelop buildings at 477 S. Main (former MCA building) and a former bank building on Madison into boutique hotels. I hope those projects still happen.

Meritan, Inc. is an organization that provides compassionate assistance to those suffering from the effects of aging, injury, illness, developmental or intellectual disability, or critical family situations. They promote well-being and independence. Tonight they will host Meritan Celebrates Mardi Gras at the High Cotton taproom from 6 to 9. Your suggested donation of $10 gets you a High Cotton on tap-beer, king cake, a pint glass, a koozie, and beads. The Southern Delight food truck will be on site and it is trivia night as well.

A pop-up park is being planned for Riverside Drive, the summer equivalent of the Fourth Bluff Ice Rink that operated this winter. It would be in the area of Riverside and Jefferson and would have basketball courts and food trucks. It’s being planned by the Riverfront Development Corporation. Yeah, they were such able stewards of the taxpayers’ money on the Beale Street Landing project, why not throw some more money at RDC? By the way, work on the park could temporarily close that part of Riverside.

Here’s a full transcript with video of President Nutcake’s press conference yesterday. NOTE: You may think you’re on The Onion’s website as you read this. You’re not.

At the time of the Garth Brooks concert a couple of weeks ago, people asked me if I was going to any of the shows. I replied, “Nah, as far as country goes, the classic stuff is great. Johnny Cash and George Jones and Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard. Jerry Reed’s stuff in the ’70s was good. East Bound and Down and tunes like that. Country was even good when 9 to 5 came out in 1981. But sometime in the early ’80s, country started to suck and it has been that way ever since. You can’t hear good country music in concert anymore.”

Well, maybe I was wrong about that. The Malpass Brothers play the Halloran Centre Friday, March 17. Their music is steeped in the tradition of the legends I mentioned above. “If you like cornbread & hushpuppies, you’re going to love the Malpass Brothers,” it is written on the Orpheum/Halloran Centre website.

You don’t have to wait until 3/17 for country music at the Halloran Centre though… there’s country music on 2/17, tonight, at 7:30. Kathy Mattea, the Acoustic Living Room featuring Bill Cooley will be on stage at the Halloran Centre. She’s in the music hall of fame in good ole West Virginny and she has had 16 songs in the Top 10.

Big Don’s Three Piece Chicken and a Biscuit Blues Band plays King’s Palace Cafe next Tuesday, February 21, at 8 PM. I have no idea if they’re any good but based on their name alone, I felt the need to mention them.

Happy travels, YOGA! The Madison Hotel has introduced in-room yoga for its guests. Certified local instructors lead the sessions, which can be 30 or 60 minutes long. Sessions must be booked at least 24 hours in advance.

I have withdrawn my application to be a judge for 901 Jalapeno Popper Throwdown. Last night friends of mine on one of the other BBQ teams said they will be competing, and I want to be free to hang out with them all day long without the appearance of a conflict of interest. I don’t want people calling me Paul “Rex Tillerson” Ryburn, after all. Looking forward to a full seven hours of jalapeno poppers and great craft beer! It’ll be weird drinking something other than PBR on a Saturday afternoon.

Sad to hear about the passing of George “The Animal” Steele, the turnbuckle-eating monster who wrestled in the WWF in the 1970s and 1980s. In real life he was a schoolteacher with a Master’s degree who wrestled during the summer months when the kids were out on vacation. In his early days in the ring he wrestled under a mask as The Student so that his identity would not be revealed to his students.

A very happy birthday to one of my very favorite bartenders, Jessica! Come see her at the Silly Goose for happy hour tonight (and TIP HER well). I plan on being there and so does my troll. Come hang out with us!

A newsy Thursday update

Exciting news for the NBA and for the Memphis metro: The NBA’s developmental league, currently known as the D-League, will become the G-League next season thanks to an expanded partnership between the NBA and Gatorade. The Memphis metro will get a yet-unnamed team that will play its home games at the Landers Center in Southaven. The new team will be affiliated with the Grizzlies. Currently, the Iowa Energy are the Grizzlies’ D-League affiliate, but that agreement ends at the end of this season.

Soulful Food Truck Sunday will happen at Clayborn Temple on Sunday, March 12 from noon to 6. It’s an event to celebrate the final day of Memphis Black Restaurant Week. There will be five food trucks, serving everything from BBQ to southern comfort food. Local beer and wine will be on sale. There will also be a Soulful Concert featuring Jerome Chism, Keia Johnson and Courtney Little. Tickets will be $10 in advance. At the door they will be $15 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under, with children under 2 free.

Given where I live, I got some great news yesterday that I am excited to share with my neighbors. The CCDC has given a developer a $80,000 grant for improvements to the building at Madison Avenue and S. November 6th Street (119 Madison). That’s the four-story building next to the Goodwyn. The plan is to put a speakeasy-style cocktail bar, with alley entrance, on the ground floor.

Wait a minute… you know where else there is a door opening onto November 6th Street? The back door of my apartment building! We are going to have a bar just steps away from where we live! Construction is not set to start until summer, so don’t get too excited just yet… but just thinking about it, when my building has its holiday party in December 2018, perhaps we will be saying to each other, “You remember when we had to walk all the way to Bardog to get a drink?”

The ground floor of the building will also house a coffee shop. The upper floors will be converted into three market-rate apartments. Good plan for a building that has been vacant for a long, long time. With several boutique hotels opening on Madison this year, the timing is perfect for the ground-floor bar and coffee shop.

I do have to make one comment here, and I am not going to mince words. If the cocktail bar with the alley entrance is to be a success, something must be done about the bums who hang out on the block of Madison between Main and Second. No, I am not going to refer to them as “panhandlers” (which would be politically correct). I am not going to call them “homeless people” (they’re not). When you beg for money all day and then go to CeCe’s Liquors and buy rotgut booze and you drink it then toss the bottle on the sidewalk, and harass passersby and act in a disorderly manner and then start begging again so you can get another bottle, YOU ARE A BUM. End of story. They are terrible on that block. They hang out at the northbound Madison trolley stop on Main. They hang out in front of that convenience store at Second and Madison. They hang out in front of CeCe’s. Patrons won’t feel comfortable going in an alley entrance until their presence on the block is completely eliminated.

News on the event for kids at AutoZone Park on Saturday:

Wiseacre is having a My So-Called Beer, the 90s release party tomorrow, Friday, February 14, from 4 to 10 in their taproom. The beer is a pale amber ale, “the kind that ran wild in the pre-21st century world.” Nirvana will be playing on the big screen and there will be ’90s jams all night. Wear your best ’90s gear for beer discounts.

The NCAA is modernizing the way it picks March Madness teams, moving away from RPI in favor of more modern ratings systems. Congratulations, by the way, to my Arkansas Razorbacks, who probably punched their dance card last night with a road win over a top-25 team at South Carolina.

Bardog got creative with its special today:

Facebook alert: Beware of private messages from Facebook friends that read something like “(your name) is this you?” along with what appears to be a YouTube video with hundreds of thousands of views. Do not click on the link! It will take you to a fake Facebook login page that, if you fill it out, will give hackers your username and password. More information here.

I’m browsing the tweets about Trump’s press conference this morning and all the “messes” he inherited. George Takei had the best tweet of all, that Trump’s mission is to boldly go where Nixon has gone before.

I got a pleasant surprise at the Blind Bear last night. I was sitting at the bar watching TV when out walked the members of Squeal Street BBQ from the back room. They were having a full-team meeting. Smart of them to do that so early in the year! As for my team, the Moody Ques, we are having a board meeting on Saturday to take care of the legal business associated with being an LLC, and then we will plan a full-team meeting, probably for sometime in March. Deputy Director of Public Relations Perjorie T. Roll had an idea for the full-team meeting that I will discuss with the board on Saturday.

Back tomorrow with more news. I plan to be out at the Silly Goose for happy hour as usual, drinking alcohol because I can.

Wednesday update

Today is one of the best shopping days of the year, as Walgreens marks down all their Valentine’s candy 50% off.

The community is invited to a public meeting at the Cannon Center Thursday from 4:30 to 7 PM, the first meeting to discuss creating a historic district on the north end of Downtown Memphis. This new district’s creation is designed to coincide with St. Jude’s $9 billion investment into the area, the revitalization of the Pinch District that began with Bass Pro, the renovation of the Cook Convention Center, the development of Fourth Bluff, and the redevelopment of Mud Island.

The Peabody has a number of jobs open including a Marketing Coordinator and a Communications Coordinator.

A Food Network show will be filmed at Bedrock Eats and Sweets next Monday, February 20. The name of the show has to be kept a secret for now. The filming will happen between 11 AM and 1 PM. Also note that the restaurant will be closed 2 PM-3 PM for some quiet interview time. Bedrock Eats is a healthy dining restaurant at South Main and Vance.

The Grizzlies host the New Orleans Pelicans tonight at 7 at FedExForum. This is the last game before the All-Star break.

If you want to get the full BBQ Fest experience without the responsibility of being on a team, VIPit Passes are now on sale for 2017 for $495-595. The pass gets you admission to all the public days of BBQ Fest (it says all three but aren’t there four this year?). You will get invites to up to 6 team booths to sample their BBQ, get grilling tips, and learn what it’s like to be on a team. A Memphis in May certified judge will give you tips on what it takes to win. You’ll have your own special booth with light snacks, soft drinks, beer and wine, and you will get a complimentary goodie bag.

Rep. Steve Cohen approves of the presidential appointee to be VA Secretary, Dr. David Shulkin. Gotta love Steve’s sense of humor:

In other political news, there’s this:

I have started the 2017 roll call of members on the sidebar of the Moody Ques website. Teammates who don’t see your name on there: Pay your dues and your name will be added within 48 hours. You can pay via PayPal widget on the site sidebar, or you can email to arrange payment by check or cash. If you’re viewing the site on a mobile device, the sidebar appears on the bottom of the page. The team leaders are meeting this weekend to discuss plans for 2017, so I will probably have a website post and team email out next week. If any new people are interested in joining, I will find out this weekend if we are taking new members and if so, how many spots we expect to have open. I do expect us to have at least one spot, as Trump’s wall will prevent team member Mardoqueo from attending this year.

That’s it for now. I’ll be out at the Silly Goose happy hour after work.

Valentine’s Day update

Happy Valentine’s Day! One of the most unique and fun ways to enjoy Valentine’s Day happens tonight at Bardog Tavern at 8 PM. It’s a burlesque show! Performer Kitty Wompas and her troupe of dancers will tantalize the crowd. From what I hear, the windows will have to be blacked out for this performance, if that gives you an idea what you can expect. There will be shot specials during the show.

Electronic dance music legend Paul Oakenfold comes to the New Daisy’s Daisyland Saturday, May 20 from 10 PM to 4 AM. Before you buy your ticket, keep one thing in mind… that’s the Saturday of BBQ Fest.

The Redbirds are hosting a Seasonal Job Fair Monday, February 20 (10 AM-2 PM) and Tuesday, February 21 (1 PM-5 PM) at the Home Plate Club in AutoZone Park. Positions open include bat boys/girls, box office ticket seller, field crew, ushers, and usher supervisors. All positions are part-time and seasonal.

The Downtown Neighborhood Association has announced a Mardi Gras-themed monthly meeting on Tuesday, February 28 at the Center for Southern Folklore, 119 S. Main. Phil Trenary, President and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber, will speak on the topic of “The Magic is in the Mix,” the people and places that make Memphis a world-class city. There will be king cakes, compliments of the Center for Southern Folklore. There will also be culinary lagniappes, compliments of Cafe Pontotoc. Of course there will be booze as well, with donations to DNA appreciated. Free for members, $10 non-members. Social at 6:00 with the program starting at 6:30.

The Flying Saucer is having a couples beer dinner ($40) tonight at 7. The appetizer will be cheese fondue, the entree will be braised beef, and there will be chocolate fondue for dessert. Of course, each will be paired with beer. You know the drawing of Disney’s Lady and the Tramp sharing a strand of spaghetti? The Saucer poster advertising the dinner has that drawing… except with Trump and Putin.

Is your favorite restaurant crowded on Tuesday and Wednesday nights? It may be Tinder’s fault. Those are the most popular date nights for people who met on dating apps.

High Cotton is running a couple of specials at their taproom today. Their saison is $1 until the keg is empty. They are also doing a buy two pints, pay only $3 for the second pint special. Hours today are 4 to 9 PM.

Cafe Eclectic has announced that its Harbor Town location will begin closing at 4 PM. The Midtown location still stays open until 9.

Congressman Steve Cohen has been appointed to the House Ethics Committee. An excellent appointment in a year where there may very well be ethics investigations.

That’s it for now. Getting my hair cut after work, then over to the Blind Bear for some Valentine’s Day PBR.

Monday update: Delivery place that serves breakfast all day, and more news

Downtowners are always on the lookout for restaurants that deliver, especially ones that serve food other than pizza. This past weekend I came across a menu for a place called Duffies at 212 N. Fourth Street. They are open 8 AM to 10 PM (I guess every day, the menu didn’t say), they deliver Downtown, and they serve breakfast all day. So if you want a waffle delivered to your home at 6 PM, there you go. They also have wings, salads, sandwiches, and yes, they do have pizza as well. Click the images below to view the menu in a larger size.

Got a couple of pieces of Monday-specific news… the Flying Saucer is now doing Songwriter Night with Roland and Friends every Monday night at 7 PM. I am assuming this is the same Roland who is co-organizer of Stumbling Santa.

Cafe Pontotoc is now open on Mondays, and they have some good specials. Every Monday night that will have $5 margaritas, $2 tacos, and $2 tamales.

From Lifehacker: A James Beard Award-winning chef has tips on building the perfect plate of nachos.

Astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson comes to the Orpheum tonight at 7.

Lisa’s Lunchbox will not be coming to the Front Street Deli location after all, the CA’s Jennifer Biggs reports. The deal fell through last week, which is why Lisa’s Lunchbox acquired the Tuscan Italian Eatery space a block away.

Experimental rules have been approved for the postseason college basketball tournament that determines who is the 69th best team in the country, the NIT. The Tigers may be headed there, so you might want to take a minute to get familiar with the rules.

That’s it for now. Probably going to hit happy hour at Bardog this evening, then over to Blind Bear to watch college basketball. Back tomorrow with more news.

New food festival: Jalapeno popper throwdown comes to Memphis March 25

For the past few weeks, Seth from Best Memphis Burger Fest and a few other folks have been working on putting a new Memphis food festival together, and yesterday they made the announcement: 901 Popper Throwdown is happening Saturday, March 25. This will be a cooking competition to determine who makes the best jalapeno popper in Memphis. Here are the rules if you want to enter. Entry fee is $60, $65 counting credit card fees. The event will be held at High Cotton Brewing Co. at 598 Monroe. Teams will be able to hand out samples in exchange for donations to Memphis Paws, Inc., an organization that provides funds to animal rescues. There will be live music, a jalapeno eating contest, and great craft beer.

A few minutes after Seth announced the popper fest, he made another announcement: He’s looking for judges. With a regional in Atoka the following weekend, I knew the Moody Ques wouldn’t be competing in Popper Fest. I texted the team president and asked if the team had anything scheduled for March 25.

“Nope,” he replied.

So I filled out the judging application! I love spicy food. One of the questions was “what is the spiciest food you have ever eaten?” I gave two answers: One is that I have a bottle of Crazy Good ghost pepper sauce that I sprinkle on fries and whatever else needs to be taken up a notch. Also, one time I ordered a seafood curry at Bangkok Alley and asked them to make it spicy. They asked how much on a scale of 10 and I told them 9 out of 10. YIKES! I only did that once. I have since settled at 6/10 as my comfort zone there. Given that I’m not a certified food contest judge, there’s no guarantee that I’ll be accepted, of course. However, I do have judging experience (the first Best Memphis Burger Fest), 10 years experience on a BBQ Fest team, and 4 years experience on two Burger Fest teams. We’ll see what happens. Maybe all the certified judges will be busy that day.

On to the next subject… I went to the crawfish boil at Max’s Sports Bar yesterday, and having eaten a box, I have no problem making this statement: The crawfish at Max’s Sports Bar’s crawfish boils are better than the crawfish at any public crawfish festival in Memphis. They are better than Rajun Cajun. They are better than the Overton Square crawfish fest. A guy named Glaze cooks the crawfish, and they have the perfect amount of spice, and each box comes with corn, taters, and smoked sausage that have been cooked in the crawfish boil.

I decided to visit Clarence at Earnestine & Hazel’s yesterday morning, then got to Max’s a few minutes after 11 to get a good seat. Good thing I did – an hour later the place was PACKED! By 1 PM every square foot of Max’s was filled with people waiting in line to get tickets for boxes of crawfish, and for beer.

The crawfish are big for this time of year!

This must be one of the best crawfish seasons ever. Normally you don’t see crawfish in Memphis until the last week of February. Not only are they here ahead of schedule, but they’re already the size of the ones usually served at the crawfish festivals in April. I wonder what they will look like at the boils at Max’s at the end of the season in June. At what point do they stop being crawfish and start being lobsters?

Due to the size of the crowd, they ran out of crawfish about 2. Glaze told me that he brought 4 bags of crawfish. They’re going to do the next boil at Max’s two Saturdays from now, and Glaze is bringing 6 to 8 bags.

The Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team has a home game this afternoon, hosting Temple at FedExForum at 1:00.

That’s it for now. I’m going to catch up on my WWE Network subscription (new episode of Legends with Stan Hansen just dropped) then off to D-RANKS with B-RAD at Blind Bear at 11.


Saturday update

Pam & Terry love posing for photos with their fans. Last night they played Blind Bear and their newest fan, Perjorie T. Roll, got her photo opportunity.

About a week ago, I was sitting in Max’s Sports Bar watching TV, and a man named Duncan introduced himself. He told me he was opening a new restaurant in the former Double J building across the street. He said it would be called The Vault (because at one time that building was a bank) and that he would serve Creole and Italian food, and maybe some steaks. The cat is out of the bag now, with the Flyer reporting on The Vault yesterday. It could be open as soon as the beginning of next month. Each booth will have its own TV, and both downstairs and upstairs will be open.

Yesterday was the last day for Tuscan Italian Eatery on Front Street. The location has been sold to Lisa’s Lunchbox, which is odd considering Lisa’s is taking over Front Street Deli a block away. The Tuscan Italian Eatery location inside 200 Jefferson (the Darth Vader Building) will continue to operate.

archimania, the award-winning architecture firm currently located at 356 S. Main, has dropped plans to move its headquarters to a building at Main and Carolina. They apparently feel that their business would stick out like a sore thumb in a neighborhood that has unexpectedly blossomed with new apartment dwellings. They will seek a location elsewhere Downtown, or in Midtown.

Not much news today, but that’s all right; it’s going to be beautiful outside! Time to go hit the usual spots and celebrate a very productive week.