Tuesday update: News and first impressions of River Rat Rounders poker

When the Winter Olympics were on TV earlier this year, there was one sport that kept my eyes glued to the TV: curling. It’s like shuffleboard on ice, basically, with teams of four sweeping heavy stones to get as close to a target (the “house”) as possible, and trying to knock their opponent’s stones away from the target. At first glance I thought curling was stupid, but after watching a match or two, I began to realize what a cerebral sport it is, how much it relies on critical thinking, planning and strategy.

So, yesterday as I was waiting for poker to start at the Silly Goose, I learned that there’s a place in the Mid-South that offers curling. It’s a bit of a drive from Downtown though. The place is called Mid-South Ice House and it’s out in Olive Branch. They have beginner classes for those without experience in the sport. They also have curling leagues, as well as corporate events. Very cool… or actually, very cold, since you play on a sheet of ice.

Cordelia’s Market Fall Festival and Grand Re-opening will happen this Saturday, October 20, from noon to 6 PM. This will be a fall festival to celebrate the market’s recent remodeling as well as its 20th anniversary. Free food and drinks, live music, pumpkin patch, bobbing for apples, cornhole, many vendors onsite, and more.

My BBQ teammate Mike wanted me to let my readers know that a unique apartment is about to come available in the South Main District. He and his wife have lived in an apartment at 509 S. Main for the past five years, and in fact love the place so much that they got married there. It’s on the second floor of the row of buildings above Bluff City Coffee and Downtown Yoga. The building was originally a warehouse built in 1910, and still has the brickwork, hardwood floors, and industrial skylight. It’s a two-bedroom unit, huge master suite with bath in-suite and walk-in closet. The second bedroom is loft-style, also huge, with a walk-in closet. There is a second bathroom, laundry suite, and you get two parking spaces in the gated parking lot next to Bluff City Coffee. Mike says this would be ideal for a single person or couple who can use the second bedroom as an additional living space, which is what he and his wife did. The unit will be available mid-November and is managed by Phil Woodard Properties.

The Community Alliance for the Homeless is looking to hire a Coordinated Entry Facilitator.

The Daily Memphian has a great article about the $34 million homeless shelter being built by the Union Mission at 383 Poplar, replacing its outdated facilities. The new shelter will be known as “The Opportunity Center.” “If Jesus was our guest, how would we serve him?” asked the Mission’s executive director, with the intent of serving their homeless guests the same way.

In the remainder of this post, I want to give my first impressions of Texas Hold’em with the River Rat Rounders poker league, based on the game I attended last night at the Silly Goose. Technically this is not a “first” impression, because I did play a RRR league game at the Mad Earl. However, that was over four years ago and I have not played in the league since, so last night was very much a new experience to me.

First of all, a little background about me: I have been playing bar poker since it came to Downtown Memphis in 2010. At the time I was playing online on PokerStars for real money, and was starting to figure the nuances of the game out: things like position, bet sizing relative to the pot, being aware of your chip stack size relative to the big blind, pot odds, that kind of thing. I’m not claiming to be the best player at the Downtown bars, but I got good enough to win now and then. I won some sweet Grizzlies tickets at a Bardog game. I won the Silly Goose game multiple times, going heads-up with some of the players I respect the most. I won multiple Thursday Buzztime poker games at Max’s Sports Bar. I’m a two-time final table champion at Blind Bear.

Around the beginning of 2015, I lost my interest in bar poker. There were several reasons why, but let me explain the main one. In Tennessee, if you run a poker game in a bar there cannot be a cash buy-in. It has to be free to play for all, by law. What you can do, however, is offer incentives to purchase the bar’s products. You can offer add-ons – extra chips – for purchasing particular drinks and/or menu items. Also, if someone goes all-in and loses all their chips, getting knocked out of the game, they can rebuy (get more chips and get back in) by purchasing items the bar offers.

The thing for me is, I play poker because it’s a game where you never stop learning. It’s a game where you can get better with every hand you play. It truly is a mind sport. However, by about 2015 it seemed that a player’s results at the Downtown bar poker games had more to do with how many shots of Fireball they ordered than their skill as a poker player.

I’ll give you an example: A player looks at his hand and sees 9-3 offsuit, and decides to go all-in for his stack of 50 big blinds. By conventional poker strategy, that’s a really stupid move. 9-3 is one of the worst starting hands at Texas Hold’em, and going all-in pre-flop eliminates the strategy of betting the flop, turn, and river. However, their logic is, “Well, if I lose I can pay $8 for two Fireballs and get back in.” Most of the time they lose, most of the time they’re buying shots – but 9-3 is 40% against a random hand (I have a poker calculator on my iPad in case you’re wondering how I know that), so if they rebuy often enough, they’re likely to outlast someone who plays proper poker strategy and tries to avoid getting wiped out and rebuying. They run up a $40 tab trying to win a $50 first-place gift card, which is a pretty horrible expected value, but they don’t care. They also don’t care that they ruin the game for those of us who want to play real poker. In fact, I think some of them enjoy ruining the game.

Recently, though, I have heard from friends who play in the River Rat Rounders games that the kind of chaotic betting, the high-variance poker I just described, does not exist in their games. People play real poker. When the Silly Goose announced it was converting to the River Rat Rounders league, I decided to give bar poker a second chance.

The game was at 8 PM but I got to the Goose early… way early. My plans for yesterday were to drive out east because I needed to do some shopping at Best Buy and Target, but it looked like it was going to rain on and off throughout the day, and I prefer not to drive in the rain. So I postponed my trip until Wednesday (there’s a chance of rain today too). That left me free to hit the Goose, which is my normal Monday happy hour spot anyway, a little bit after it opened at 2 PM. I stuck around until poker started.

Teresa, the league owner, was hosting the game along with her co-host Mike Tucker. They got there about 7 and started setting up the felt overlays.

The Goose game under the River Rat Rounders retained the previous prize structure: $50 gift card for first place, $25 for second. However, players also earn points toward the River Rat league. Every three months or so, top point earners are invited to play in a Tournament of Champions freeroll tournament with a total of $1000 in prize money. The winner of the tournament gets an additional prize, a seat at an event in Tunica when the World Series of Poker comes to town on tour. As an additional incentive, one player at last night’s game would win immediate entry into the Tournament of Champions freeroll: the player who knocked Muruako, who was the Silly Goose poker host for years, out of the game.

About 7:50 Teresa told me, “Are you playing, Paul? We do check-ins online.” I had downloaded the River Rat Rounders app the day before, and Teresa showed me how to check in. The app remembered my RRR player number from when I played at the Mad Earl years ago. No clipboards to pass around, no illegible names for the poker hosts to try and decipher. Very well organized.

“How many PBRs have you had, Paul?” Teresa and Tucker then asked me. “You get extra chips for every one you’ve ordered.”

“Well, the thing is, I’ve been here since 2,” I told them, not expecting to get chips for beers I drank hours before poker began. Teresa said it didn’t matter. I had been drinking slow, wanting to conserve my wits for poker, but still, one beer an hour added up to six beers. Tucker handed me 6 bonuses, giving me a monster starting stack.

The felt poker-table overlays seat 8, although you can squeeze 10 in if it gets busy. The four seats in the middle are for people who don’t mind being dealers. Rather than the deal being passed around, the four middle seats alternate the deal. In addition to handing out the cards, dealers are responsible for managing the pot, making change for large chip denominations, and handling things like dead dealer buttons and dead small blinds. By having multiple dedicated dealers, you can get more hands played per blind level. Dealers get extra chips for their effort. I chose a corner seat, not wanting the additional mental effort of being a dealer. I wanted to be free to observe my fellow players and their tendencies.

The starting stacks, not counting any bonus chips, were 8000. The first five blind levels were 100/100, 100/200, 200/400, 300/600, 400/800, and 500/1000. I like it that the blinds went up slowly, rather than doubling every level. More time to play deep-stack strategy and accumulate chips.

The players were a mix of league regulars who came from other parts of the city, probably people who play league games every night; and holdovers from the Monday night Silly Goose poker game. I noticed that the Silly Goose players who bet chaotically – the 9-3 all-in specialists – were not there. Not sure if that was a coincidence or if they knew their style of play would not be tolerated.

I picked up some small pots at the first two levels. It was 300/600 when I played my first major hand. With a couple of people who called the big blind ahead of me, I was on the dealer button. I looked down and found a pocket pair, 5-5. I raised to 2000. Small pocket pairs don’t play well against multiple opponents after the flop, so I hoped to chase at least one of my opponents away. They both called though.

Flop was three overcards to my Fives, I don’t remember what, an Ace, a picture card, and a medium card, I think. Both opponents checked to me. They either missed the flop, or they wanted to see what I would do before making their decision, since I took the initiative in the initial round of betting. Their checks told me my Fives were probably the best hand at the moment – but, I knew there was almost no chance they would still be the best hand by the river. I bet about two-thirds the size of the pot. My pre-and post-flop betting looked a lot more like a big hand than two Fives.

My bet worked. Both opponents folded. At the bar poker games I am used to, multiple opponents would have called my bets all the way to the river, where one of them would have sucked out a card to beat me and win a huge amount of my chips. I felt like I was playing real poker strategy in a bar for the first time in years!

More people came in – they allowed late entries until 9:35 – and Tucker broke us up into two tables. That put me at a different table than Muruako, putting my plan to eliminate him and get into that $1000 freeroll on hold.

The new table brought me luck. After a few hands, I found myself holding Q-Q pre-flop. I raised the big blind and got a couple of callers. This time I was out of position, meaning I would be first to act on the flop, turn and river.

The flop came something like low card-Queen-medium card. I had a “set,” a three-of-a-kind where two of my three are hidden. It’s a great spot because my hand was well disguised. Being out of position, I decided to further disguise my hand by just checking the flop. My one remaining opponent bet 500. I decided that now was the time that I should project the image of a bar poker doofus who’ll call all the way to the river with nothing. I meekly called his 500.

When the turn card came, again I checked to him. He bet 1000. Again I meekly called.

I checked a third time on the river card and my opponent bet 2000. This time I had a surprise for him. I raised to 5000. He thought for a minute and folded. Teresa told me that was one of the few times she’d ever seen another player make him fold.

Anyway, I’m sharing these two hands with you not to brag or gloat, but to share the thrill I experienced of playing actual poker strategy, and having it work, for the first time in a bar in years! I felt like I was learning with each and every hand, that I was getting better. I felt like, if I get to the point of winning one of those WSOP tour seats, my experience with the River Rats will prepare me well to make it into the prize money. (As a side note, at least one RRR member cashed in every WSOP tour event held in Tunica in 2018.)

Kudos to Tucker on keeping all the players supplied with drinks, and also with the bonus chips they got for ordering those drinks. Also, thanks to Tucker for noticing that at one point, I knocked my good luck charm Perjorie T. Roll off the felt overlay and down to the floor. He picked her up and handed her back to me. I know there are some people Downtown who would be very sad if I lost my troll.

Old Dominick brought a bag full of swag by, and there some very nice T-shirts. Teresa told us we could go pick one out if we bought two specialty cocktails made with Old Dominick. I don’t know if “beer before liquor, never sicker” is true, but experience has taught me that “beer before liquor, your poker game goes to hell in a handbasket” sure is. I decided I didn’t need another T-shirt that bad.

Unfortunately about 9:45 I received a text that my presence was requested down the street, that it would be nice if I could be there for a friend. My luck at the table was starting to turn bad anyway, so I donked off my remaining chips – went all-in for 4 1/2 big blinds with 9-8 offsuit, not a terrible move but not ideal – and got out of the game. Teresa told me there was a second-chance turbo at 10, but I explained to her why I needed to go.

Overall, I was very happy with my experience playing in a River Rat Rounders game, and it has re-ignited my enthusiasm for  bar poker games. I plan on being back next Monday, and Mondays after that as well.

If you want to give the RRR games a try, check out their schedule. There are games to play 7 days a week. Downtown games include

  • Mondays – Silly Goose – 8:00 main game, 10:05 turbo
  • Tuesdays – Green Beetle – 6:30 main game, 8:35 turbo
  • Saturdays – Club 152 – this is a once-a-month game

Oh – by the way – in case you’re wondering who knocked Muruako out and got the entry into the Tournament of Champions freeroll – no one did. Muruako won last night’s main game.

That’s it for now. Back tomorrow with more news.


Monday update

We had a Sunday brunch quote of the day yesterday when a couple of friends showed up at Pontotoc Lounge, having just got done having brunch in the suburbs. We asked them how it was.

“The mimosas got better after they ran out of orange juice,” was their reply.

A holiday market is coming to South Main. On November’s Trolley Night, Friday, November 30, South Main Street will be lined with vendors selling hand-made art, crafts, fashion, gifts, jewelry, photography, and more. Want to become a vendor for the holiday market? There will be an application on the South Main website later this week.

More Trolley Night news… you may remember that The State of Downtown and Downtown Vision Awards, set for October 3 on the Civic Center Plaza, were rescheduled. A new date and location has been announced: The third floor of 409 S. Main on Friday, October 26, the night of October South Main Trolley Night. Welcome reception at 4:00, Vision Awards at 5:15, and the program will be over by 6:45 so everyone can enjoy Trolley Night.

In a preseason coaches’ poll, the Memphis Tigers were picked to finish fourth in the American Athletic Conference behind UCF, Cincinnati and Houston. Memphis even got one first-place vote.

Halloween at Mollie Fontaine Lounge will happen October 31 from 8 PM to 3 AM. This tends to be one of Downtown best and spookiest Halloween parties. $10 cover, with either cash or credit card accepted.

For those of you who work at AutoZone, ServiceMaster, or other businesses in that area, you have a convenient new lunch option beginning tomorrow. Blind Bear will begin opening for lunch at 11 AM Tuesday, October 16. Jeannette showed me the menu yesterday. I’m pleased to see they’re offering half orders of two of their most popular dishes, Hibernation Fries and Pepper Jack Mac & Cheese. They’ll have a half-sandwich and cup of soup option, a veggie plate, Bear Balls, burgers and sandwiches, and more.

Somebody ordered a Corona Extra with cherry juice poured in it yesterday. Sounds interesting… I may have to try one of those.

I don’t know if I have any vegetarians who read this blog (although I had at least one in 2009), but if I do, 117 Prime is introducing Meatless Monday at lunch today. Every Monday, their daily Draper Special (entree, soup or salad, and drink for $16 including tip) will be vegetarian-friendly. Today’s Draper is a meatless Farmer’s pie with mushroom, carrots, onion, celery, and red wine gravy, topped with mashed potatoes.

That’s it for now. Back tomorrow with more.

Sunday update

Halloween is among the most popular holidays of the year, but attending loud parties or handing out candy to trick-or-treaters is not everyone’s cup of tea. Here’s something different. Regina’s Cajun Kitchen at 60 N. Main will be hosting a murder mystery Wednesday, October 31 from 5:30 to 7:30. $30 cover includes an appetizer, dinner, and a glass of wine and a well drink. If you just want to solve the murder, cover is $15. You get $5 off cover charge if you wear a costume (no masks allowed). Cash prize to the first person or team to solve the murder.

Another option is Rocky Horror Picture Show trivia at Loflin Yard on Halloween night. If you plan on going, click the link and register. Tables at Cerrito Trivia often get all reserved in advance.

Rep. Brian Kelsey wants to introduce a bill into the Tennessee legislature that would allow sports betting in Downtown Memphis and Downtown Nashville. The gubernatorial candidates stated their positions on the issue Friday night in a debate. Karl Dean would sign the bill if the legislature passed it. Bill Lee would try to prevent the legislature from passing such a bill, although he would be more open to it if left to local governments to decide. We need sports betting in Memphis. With Tunica just a few miles away, any Memphian who wants to gamble on sports, is going to do it. Why not keep that tax revenue in the state?

Plus, having a sports book lounge-type place Downtown would be one more amenity that would bring people down here. Perhaps bettors would have dinner, spend a night in a hotel, go watch a Grizzlies game while here.

There’s a tea tasting experience at The Broom Closet, 546 S. Main, this afternoon 3-5. $15 to participate and note that they ask you to bring your own cup.

Carolina Watershed will show Silence of the Lambs tonight at 7:30.

Teardrop City and Limes will play the amphitheater at Maria Montessori School on Mud Island, in the third installment of this fall’s River Series. DJ at 3, bands start at 4. A $5 donation benefits the school.

I saw a photo of low-cal beer PBR Easy sitting on the bar at Max’s Sports Bar, so add them to the places that carry Easy along with Silly Goose, Bardog, and Blind Bear.

I see people saying, “I’m going to hate on UCF for the rest of the season now” following their 31-30 victory over Memphis yesterday. Why? UCF didn’t beat Memphis; Memphis pissed that game away. I knew when Mike Norvell burned a timeout to ice the UCF kicker, that he had made a mistake. The Tigers would have been able to call that timeout with two seconds left and get a chance at the go-ahead field goal.

Also, why wouldn’t Tigers fans want an American Conference team to have a chance at the College Football Playoff? Good ole West Virginny (WAY overrated at 6), Washington, and Penn State lost yesterday, so UCF could move up to as high as 7 in today’s AP poll. If UCF runs the table and Clemson and Ohio State stumble, I’d think UCF would at least have to be in the conversation. The committee seriously considering a Group of Five team for a playoff spot is a mindset change that could benefit Memphis in the future.

I finally signed up for a Daily Memphian subscription. Being an IT guy, I know how to get around paywalls if I want, but why wouldn’t I pay $7 a month for quality writing about the topics I care about? Proud to support local journalism.

Time for Sunday brunch at Pontotoc Lounge. B-RAD only works one day a week so it’ll be time to catch him up on who’s being shady and who’s being crazy down here. Rain’s moving through so I guess I will take the umbrella. Back tomorrow with more news.

Saturday update: Downtown Dining Week and more news

Downtown Dining Week for 2018 has been announced. 40 Downtown restaurants will offer amazing deals, often multi-course, for the low price of $20.18. (Some will offer lunch for $10.18.) Click the link to see participating restaurants and their menus. Many restaurants have menu “to be announced” at this early point in time. The dates are Monday, November 5 to Sunday, November 11.

Let me repeat the advice I give every year: If there’s a restaurant you KNOW you want to visit for Downtown Dining Week, go ahead and make reservations NOW – even if they haven’t announced their menu. The most popular times at the most popular restaurants will get booked up quick. If you procrastinate, you might find yourself with a 5:00 or a 9:30 dinner seating – or no seating at all.

However – I do want to ask you to not do one thing I heard some people did last year. “Well, we’re not sure whether we want to dine at McEwen’s, or Majestic, or South of Beale Tuesday night. So we made 6:30 reservations at all three, and we’ll decide the day of.” PLEASE don’t do that. It’s inconsiderate and unfair to both the restaurants and your fellow diners.

When we get closer to time and menus get posted, I’ll come back and do a “Paul’s Picks” for DDW. For now I’ll do a “Can’t Go Wrong” list of places where I would gladly make reservations, menu unseen. First and foremost, Rizzo’s, where Michael Patrick always manages to offer a tremendous value every year. Felicia’s, McEwen’s, Majestic, and Bleu are on the list as well.

Fourth Bluff will host the grand opening of River Garden at Mississippi River Park and the new River Line walking and biking trail on Friday, November 9.

The Redbirds are looking to hire a Special Events Manager who will work aggressively to bring more weddings, conferences, and corporate events to AutoZone Park, as well as create new signature events.

The Redbirds are also seeking a Motion Graphics Designer to join their team.

A C-17 will conduct a military flyover at the end of the National Anthem at today’s Memphis-UCF game.

From the DailyMemphian: Chef Gary Williams is back in the kitchen at Krewe of DejaVu at 936 Florida.

The Flyer reports that there’s a GoFundMe effort to save the Gay Hawk, the popular soul food restaurant on S. Danny Thomas. The building is in need of extensive repairs.

City Block Salumeria and Wok’n in Memphis will team up for an October Butcher Dinner on Friday, October 19. Courses will be paired with beers from St. Louis’ Earthbound Brewery.

Very glad to hear that MPD and the Tennessee Highway Patrol have stepped up presence on local interstates in an attempt to get aggressive drivers off the roads. The people who go 100, weave in and out of lanes, never signal, and tailgate 3 feet behind the car in front of them are the problem – not the person going 72 in a 65 trying to get to work on time. Too bad it took several road rage-related deaths before the police shifted their focus.

For the second day in a row, Bardog Tavern had pho, Vietnamese noodle soup, as one of its specials. I gave into temptation and ordered it.

What makes pho such an interesting dish is that you can customize it to your liking. You start with meat and rice noodles. Bardog’s version of pho came with shaved New York strip and two meatballs.

Then you get to decide what veggies you want to add to your soup.

Bardog’s pho came with a plate of cilantro, bean sprouts, green and white onions, jalapenos, and a lime.

My complete creation. I added almost all of the veggies to my soup, although experience has taught me to go easy on the jalapenos. This was yummy and was a special I never expected to see at Bardog. They’ve got it going on in the kitchen there.

Unfortunately, with the closing of Oshi, there is no longer a place Downtown where you can get pho on a regular menu. There are several places not far away in Crosstown and Midtown that have it, Phuong Long being the one I hear the most talk about.

I didn’t know until a couple of years ago that pho is pronounced “phuh” (rhymes with “ugh”), rather than “phoh” with the long “o”. There’s a restaurant in L.A. called “Pho King” and, knowing the correct pronunciation, that’s a really good name. A quick Google search revealed that there’s a restaurant in Houston called Pho Q Long.

The Memphis Tigers host UCF in the Liberty Bowl in the biggest game of the Tigers’ year at 2:30. People are talking like a Memphis win would be a huge upset, but ESPN FPI shows UCF as a 54-46 favorite. That’s a probability I am well familiar with from playing poker. If you have a pair of Nines pre-flop, an opponent goes all in, you call, and he flips over Ace-King, you are about a 54-46 favorite and commentators term it a coin flip because it is so close to dead even. Assuming the Memphis that beat UConn, and not the Memphis that got blown out by Tulane, comes out to play, it will be close. One fumble, one interception, one missed field goal could make the difference.

You don’t have to leave Downtown to get Nashville hot chicken today. Hattie B’s food truck will be at Ghost River noon to 7. They have six heat levels for their tenders – Southern, mild, medium, hot, damn hot, or shut the cluck up. A word of advice, based on recent stories friends of mine have shared: If you’ve never had Nashville hot chicken before, don’t go above hot the first time.

That’s it for now. Time for a long day of football. I’ll start off rooting for Auburn to embarrass Tennessee (although the Vols are quite capable of doing that without help). Next up it’ll be time to cheer for the Tigers to get a signature win over a Top 10 team, and after that I’ll be pulling for Arkansas against Ole Miss.  Back tomorrow with more news.

Friday update: PBR Easy comes to Downtown Memphis, River Rat Rounders come to Silly Goose, and more

Yesterday I had a good shooter at Bardog Tavern. It was a Peanut Butter Cup, with peanut-infused Jameson whiskey, floated with Kahlua. If you like Reese’s and you like alcohol, and you don’t have a peanut allergy, give one a try.

(I took the shot in the photo by the way)

While there, a beer rep came in and talked with some of the staff at the far end of the bar. About four people said “Paul Ryburn!” all at once, and I learned the rep had asked if there was anyone who was a big fan of PBR. He brought me a beer in a sample glass. “Try this and let me know what you think,” he said.

The beer was PBR Easy, a new, low calorie version of PBR. It tasted like PBR although slightly lighter. The rep said the ABV is 3.8%, a little lower than I’m used to, but these days I drink to socialize, not get drunk. I sure as hell would drink that before I’d drink low-cal swill like Mich Ultra or Miller Lite.

Later in the day I found out Silly Goose and Blind Bear carry PBR Easy. Rico at Bardog apparently promised the rep he’d order some if I liked it.

While at Bardog, Bloom and I posed for a photo in our hoodies. Jameson and PBR just go together.

Weezer along with the Pixies will play FedExForum March 22, 2019. Tickets go on sale to the public next Friday, October 19.

The Flying Saucer has announced its Nightmare Before Christmas Halloween party Saturday, October 27. $3 mystery beers, costume contest with $300 in prizes, live DJ, Nightmare Before Christmas themed cocktails.

The Memphis Wassail comes to Memphis Made Brewing Co. Saturday, December 8. It’s free to join this sing-along of holiday drinking songs, carols, and even some Christmas pop.

Great news for Silly Goose poker players. Starting Monday, their weekly game becomes a River Rat Rounders league game. Muruako will still be around, and the weekly gift card prize structure will remain the same, but there will be opportunities to get into freerolls for real money at affiliated casinos, as well as swag, prizes and Silly Goose card guards. Game starts at 8 with late entries through 9:35. So very excited to finally have a weekly River Rats game at one of my regular spots… Hey Nikki, ice down a few extra PBRs for me… you’re gonna start seeing more of me on Monday nights.

Oh also they will have a 10 PM turbo as well, so those knocked out of the main game early will still have a chance.

Don’t know what to be for Halloween? Ask Siri.

Sunday, November 18 is Bring your dog to bingo day at Loflin Yard. All players with a dog get an extra card. That day is also Buy Paul a Beer for his Birthday if you’re so inclined.

Yesterday as I was crossing Union, I saw my friend Rahul on his first day on the job on a delivery truck. “Put this on the blog!” he said. Knowing how his boo thang Tony loves a man in uniform, I wonder if Rah Rah is going to be uncomfortable sitting on that truck bench seat for his second day on the job today.

Celebrate the Indie Memphis Film Festival a bit early with the Indie Memphis beer release at Crosstown Brewing Co. next Thursday, October 18. Talk with the fest organizers about the films you’re most excited to see. My friends with the New Wing Order food truck will be there.

The Blind Bear started putting their Halloween decorations up this week. For the benefit of my readers who can’t go there for whatever reason, here are a couple of photos.

The demon baby is back

Spooky Jeannette and Spooky Stacey

Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean plays the Halloran Centre tonight.

There will be a 13 mile bike ride starting at Health Sciences Park tomorrow morning at 7. There is a 0.00% chance I will be there.

I can pretty much guarantee you I will be following along with this Saturday’s Memphis Farmers Market theme: Hit the Sauce. You can buy fresh ingredients at the Market to make your own sauces, or you can buy pre-prepared sauces from the creative vendors. Project Breathe will be at the Market all day tomorrow, with recommendations on the right vaccines to beat the flu, as well as information about asthma. Live local music all day. The Market runs for three more Saturdays under the pavilion at Front and G.E. Patterson, 8 AM to 1 PM.

The Farmers Market has the 2018 Farm Fest photo album online. So glad I got to attend this event.

Thaddledoo it for now… back tomorrow with more news.

Thursday update

So, LYFE Kitchen in the Chisca closed a couple of weeks ago. What I had been hearing was, they had wanted to close for months, but they had to find a business willing to take over their lease. This led to much discussion among Downtowners, particularly about how the space is so big, including that large patio, and it is in such a prime spot, that a chain restaurant might have to take over the lease rather than a local operator.

Some of my friends lamented the thought of a chain restaurant coming to the heart of Downtown. I disagree. There are chain restaurants that wouldn’t work Downtown. I can’t imagine a Cracker Barrel down here, for example. Or an O’Charley’s. Or a Chuck E. Cheese. Those are restaurants that appeal almost exclusively to suburbanites. However, there are restaurant chains with cool, hip vibes that I think would add a lot to Downtown.

Yesterday I got a text that such a chain restaurant will be taking over the LYFE space. I haven’t confirmed this yet, so I’m not going to name the restaurant; but I will give you a couple of hints.

  1. I’m not saying this is a posh or upscale restaurant chain, but maybe you could get a thesaurus and look for a synonym for those two words.
  2. Several years ago there was a rumor this chain would open a location in One Commerce Square, but it never materialized.

In this week’s edition of The Daily Memphian’s Bar Talk, Jennifer Biggs sits down with Drew Barton, co-owner of Memphis Made Brewing Co. She sampled three Memphis Made beers that will be served at Cooper-Young Beerfest on October 20. She got to hear about the beers from the very person who brewed them, which is exactly what you get at the beer festival.

Jennifer Biggs also went In the Kitchen with my friend Jonathan Cole who writes the excellent Place at the Table food blog. He shared his recipe for squash soup.

Liz Brasher performs tonight at Old Dominick Distillery in the next installment of the Pure Memphis Music Series. $5 of every ticket sold goes to nonprofit partner The Soulsville Foundation which funds projects like the STAX Music Academy. Doors at 6:30, music at 7:30.

McEwen’s lost power for a couple of weeks due to a fire next door. Good news… the power is back on and they will spend today prepping food… then tomorrow, Friday, October 12, they will open for lunch at 11 AM! Come support a great restaurant.

LocalMemphis.com has an interview with Shamichael Hallman of the Fourth Bluff/Cossitt Library about CitizenFEST which is coming to Memphis this weekend. It’s an enlightening day where people learn how to truly be citizens. In a preview of what will be discussed, Hallman said there are two keys to being a citizen: power and character.

That’s it for now. Back tomorrow.

Wednesday update

Yummm… Perjorie T. Roll and I are having a Mushroom Swiss Burger for lunch from Sam’s Hamburgers and More. The new location is open at 7 N. Main and it is already popular. By 11:10 there was a line four or five people deep.

117 Prime has a deal for Orpheum members. 5-7 PM through Sunday, October 14, enjoy a 3-course dinner for $35 when you show your member card. Not a member? You can get the dinner for $45.

Beatles tribute band The Mersey Beatles: Four Lads from Liverpool perform at the Halloran Center tonight.

Catherine & Mary’s has a featured drink this week:

Video: D.J. Stephens on what he can bring to the Memphis Grizzlies and Hustle as a 2-way player

Bluesman Eric Hughes will play brunch at Sunrise Memphis this Sunday from 10 to 1.

Funeral arrangements have been set for legendary Rendezvous server Big Jack Dyson.

On Friday, October 19 at 409 S. Main there will be a City Block Salumeria Butcher’s Dinner featuring Spencer Coplan of Wok’n in Memphis and Nick Scott of Alchemy, Brad McCarley, and Lee Mitchell.

The CA has info on the Museum Lofts Apartments to be built by the Civil Rights Museum.

Fourth Bluff will present Outdoor Library at Greenlaw Park in Uptown, 190 Mill, Friday from 4 to 5. The Cossitt Library will bring books, and there will be pumpkin carving and lawn games. PRO TIP: The park is not far from Roxie’s Grocery, so go get you a Mr. Good Burger.

I hope my friends who live on the Florida Gulf Coast all evacuated safely. Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall near Panama City Beach in the next few hours and it looks like a nasty one. Hurricane warnings through central Georgia, and tropical storm warnings all the way to the Carolina coast.

That’s it. Back tomorrow with more news.

Tuesday update

The New Kids on the Block will headline a throwback tour coming to FedExForum Friday, May 10, 2019. The MixTape Tour will also include Salt-N-Pepa, Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, and Naughty by Nature.

Former Memphis Tiger D.J. Stephens has signed a two-way contract with the Grizzlies. That will make him a member of G-League affiliate the Memphis Hustle, but he will be able to spend up to 45 days on the Grizzlies main roster. Great PR move with that signing. D.J. will put butts in seats at Hustle home games.

Check out this Curbed.com article on Memphis redevelopment.

KIX 106 will present two free shows in Handy Park on Beale in the upcoming weeks. The Thursday, October 25 show will be headlined by Walker Hayes with special guest Dylan Schneider. The following Thursday, November 1, Maddie & Tae will perform along with special guest Waterloo Revival.

The Breeders with special guest Flasher play the New Daisy tonight at 7.

Today is the last day to register to vote for the fall election. Your vote matters more than ever!

Random tip I received Sunday night: If you say “elephant” when you feel like you’re about to sneeze, you won’t. “Yeah, but why not just sneeze?” was my response.

Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari recently commented that Penny Hardaway’s desired Memphis-Kentucky home-and-home series Is unlikely to happen, but the two coaches have talked.

From the CA: RiverArtsFest moves from South Main to Riverside Drive. The annual arts festival happens October 27-28.

A new Thai and sushi restaurant called The Nine is going in the former Bangkok Alley location on Union.

And they’re hiring.

I walked past The Nine on my way to Kooky Canuck, where the Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October. They had a special Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings yesterday.

My troll especially liked the green bean casserole, commenting that it was the same color as her hair. I guess she only has 8 crayons in her Crayola box.

After lunch I saw this outside the Flying Saucer:

Are they trying to win my business back?

Clayborn Temple will have a Preservation Open House Sunday, October 21 from 2 to 5 PM.

The Grizzlies players and coaches volunteered at the Mid-South Food Bank yesterday.

Memphis Bigfoot Festival returns to Memphis Made Brewing Co. Saturday, November 17. It will feature The Year In Bigfoot report, trivia, a costume contest, videos, and your stories. T-shirts and posters will be on sale. This is a free event.

Memphis hosts #10 UCF at the Liberty Bowl at 2:30 Saturday. For my out-of-town readers who are Tigers fans, you’ll be able to catch this game either on ABC or ESPN2, depending on where you live.

The other day I saw an ESPN analyst propose an interesting scenario, one which I’m not totally crazy about because it involves the Tigers losing Saturday. Let’s say that UCF runs the table and goes undefeated for a second year in a row. Furthermore, let’s say that Clemson, good ole West Virginny, Washington, Penn State, and Texas suffer bad losses between now and the end of the season. That could leave us with the following CFP rankings:

  1. Winner of Alabama-Georgia SEC title game
  2. Notre Dame
  3. Loser of SEC title game
  4. UCF

That would leave the Big 10, the Big 12, the ACC, and the Pac-12 – four of the Power 5 conferences – on the outside looking in. Bet a bunch of ADs would be screaming to expand the playoff to 8 teams if this (unlikely) scenario plays out.

So, Friday I posted that both my laptop and my router were having issues, and the blog only stayed populated with new content over the weekend due to my iPhone’s WordPress app. Well, good news… after a day of troubleshooting menu options, I got the laptop to do a reset and it is working again – no more blue screen of death. I lost a lot of programs but that’s okay. I would rather spend a day re-installing programs than a day at Best Buy buying a new computer.

By the way… this past weekend reminded me a lesson that I would pass on to my Computer Literacy students if I were still teaching. Any important document, file or image – anything you can’t afford to lose – should be saved to the cloud, not to My Documents or some other place on a local hard drive. Hard drives fail. Computers in general fail unexpectedly. I save my documents to Dropbox, but iCloud and Microsoft OneDrive are also good. Just get some kind of service where your files are accessible from any device, via a web interface or an installed program or an app.

As for my wireless router, trying to work on it getting back up. The issue there is, it thinks the Wi-Fi password has changed, but I never changed it. This is an Arris router I own outright, not one I rent from Xfinity. I unplugged the Ethernet cable from the router and plugged it directly into my laptop, and voila – I had working Internet again, but I can’t carry my laptop around the apartment with me. I Googled the model number and found instructions to access the router’s control panel via an IP address. I got in, but when I tried to access the Advanced settings, it wanted a Password of the Day, which is different than the router’s Wi-Fi password. I found a couple of different Password of the Day generators. The promising news was, they all generated the same password for October 9, 2018. The bad news was, that password didn’t work. So I’m trying to figure out a new way to hack my router. If I can’t figure it out by the end of the week it’ll be time to visit Best Buy. At least I can make it a fun trip and get in a visit to PizzaRev while I’m out in that neighborhood.

That’s it for now. Kind of a long post today but it’ll make up for the short ones the past few days. Back tomorrow with more news.

Monday update

With 3 football home games left in the regular season, the Tigers are selling 3 game packs for $75. That gets you tickets to see the Tigers play UCF, Tulsa, and Houston.

The musical School of Rock, featuring 14 new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber, will be at the Orpheum Tuesday through Sunday.

There will be live wrestling at Meddlesome Brewing Co. in Cordova this coming Saturday, October 13 at 6 PM.

Mighty Lights, the lighting of the I-40 bridge, will happen Saturday night of RiverArtsFest, October 27. Admission to the festival will be free after 5 and the bridge will get lit at 6:30.

There will be a protest of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation tonight outside of Bob Corker’s office, 100 Peabody Place, at 7 PM.

The monthly South Main Association meeting will be this Tuesday at 2 Vance. Christin Yates, contributing columnist for the Daily Memphian and co-founder of BreakFest 901, will speak as will a representative of Mighty Lights. Light apps and beverages by SMA. 6:00 social, 6:30 meeting. Free for members, $10 guests.

That’s all for now. Back tomorrow.

Sunday update

There will be a benefit for Dr. Herman Green Saturday, November 10 at Rum Boogie Cafe and The Blues Hall. Dr. Green, saxophonist for FreeWorld and legendary Beale Street musician, is recovering from an illness and hospitalization earlier this year. Over 20 musicians and groups will perform and there will be a silent auction.

The Blind Bear has its annual poker tournament to fight breast cancer on the 18th.

The MBJ has The 20 top selling beer brands in the U.S. Give me number 18 all day long!

The Harahan Bridge goes purple Wednesday night in a show of support for survivors of domestic violence.

There will be a safety meeting this Thursday, October 11 from 6 to 9 PM at 409 S. Main. Representatives from the MPD’s North Main Precinct, DMC, and Blue Suede Brigade will be there. Obviously the main topic will be what can be done to keep Downtown safe in light of the recent murder of Phil Trenary.

Sad to hear of the passing of longtime Rendezvous server Jack Dyson.

Fall is on the way. A cold front moves through Wednesday, and following that, MemphisWeather.net is predicting highs in the low 70s and lows in the 50s. WeatherBug is predicting even cooler than that, with mid-upper 60s highs Thursday to Saturday.

I’m disappointed by the Kavanaugh confirmation, of course, but I am equally disappointed in some of my fellow liberals’ reaction to Phil Bredesen supporting the confirmation. Seeing a lot of “F you, Phil, I was going to vote for you but now I am not so sure.” While I understand the anger, withholding your vote will only make things worse.

Phil has unique advantages in that he is well known and popular, and he has accomplished things like balanced budgets and sensible health care plans that no one in Washington seems to be able to get done. The problem, as Memphis Flyer staff pointed out recently, is that Philly-B (nice nickname by the way) cannot win by appealing only to his base. There are not enough Democrats in Tennessee for that strategy to work.

Bredesen has one more asset; an opponent, Marsha Blackburn, who is completely unlikable. A lot of Republicans don’t want to vote for her. If Bredesen can show that he will not be s rubber stamp for the Democratic position as Marsha will be for Trump, he has a chance to siphon votes away – the votes he needs to win.

So please, don’t let Phil’s comments deter you from getting out to vote. It’s too important. Tennessee could be the state that determines if the Senate is red or blue next year.

Tuesday’s the deadline to register. Check to see if you’re registered here.

That’s it for now. Back tomorrow with more news.