Dec 172014
 

In case you haven’t been following the news today, the U.S. is taking steps to normalize its relationship with Cuba. What this means to you and me is that travelers to Cuba will be able to bring back rum and cigars.

Photo Dec 17, 12 03 37 AMLast night I went to Clay from the Mad Earl’s going-away party. After two years running the Mad Earl, Clay has accepted a dream job in Maui. Congratulations Clay on getting to live your dream, and thanks for the PBRs last night.

I got there late and missed the Master Chef Junior watch party (won by local Memphis kid Logan Guleff), but I did get there in time for Burlesque Bingo – well, minus the “bingo” part of it because there just wasn’t enough room to run it. Now that I’ve seen what happens, though, believe me, Burlesque Bingo is a must-see. It happens every Thursday at the Earl at 8 PM.

If you feel like watching Shaq Goodwin sit on a bench in foul trouble for most of 40 minutes, you’re in for a treat tonight: The Memphis Tigers host USC Upstate at the FedExForum at 7.

Meanwhile, over at the Flying Saucer, the annual “Yule Fuel” glass goes on sale tonight, also at 7. Santa has a big package for you!

Speaking of dirty Santas, Santa will make an appearance at the Silly Goose Christmas party tomorrow night. Breaking Jazz will kick it off at 9 and DJ Cody starts spinning the tunes at 11. The flyer for the party says “dress to impress.” Jerry Lawler wore a T-shirt with a Christmas sweater and tie printed on it at a recent TV appearance. I need that shirt for tomorrow’s party.

The Blind Bear is having its third birthday party on Sunday. Party will begin at 6. There will be poker as usual, with the Michael Brothers playing live music after poker. There will be drink specials as well.

Buy local for Christmas: MemphisWeather.net is now selling its 2015 calendar. With the purchase comes a free MWN iPhone or iPad app.

That’s it for now. Out at the usual spots after work.

Dec 162014
 

In case you missed my evening post last night, there’s a Festivus celebration tonight at the Mad Earl that will also include Clay’s goodbye party, Master Chef Junior watch party, and Burlesque Bingo with a ukulele performance. Last night I ran into the burlesque dancer who performs during bingo and she said the bingo portion of the evening will not begin until after 10. Also, Clay messaged me this morning that they’re going to do poker at 10 as well.

The Grizzlies play a huge home game tonight, against the team with the best record in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors. The game starts at 7 and will be nationally televised by ESPN. Prior to the game, there will be live music in the lobby by Amy LaVere and John Paul Keith.

Wiseacre Brewery on Broad Avenue is having a rare Tuesday opening of its taproom which will be a game-watching party on their new projector. The taproom will open at 4 and close when the game ends.

Yes, there really are people this stupid: Airline passenger uses emergency slide to “get off the plane quicker.” He said he didn’t pay attention during the pre-flight briefing on emergency procedures, and therefore didn’t know the side door/slide was for emergencies only. It cost $16,000 to reset the slide.

Trace Adkins performs his 2014 Christmas show tonight at the Orpheum at 8.

Confirmed: IKEA is coming to Memphis. It will create 225 jobs and the store will hire 500 for the construction phase.

The 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees have been announced, and my “DAWG” John D will not be happy that The Smiths got snubbed.

Tickets are on sale for the 2015 Memphis Brewfest at AutoZone Park.

Most likely I will take a night off from Blind Bear poker (although I will stop by for a little while) and check out the Mad Earl event. Clay told me “I’ll buy you a few PBRs” which is music to my ears. Besides, I’ve never been to a Festivus celebration before. This has the potential to be an interesting event. See you tonight if you’re going.

Dec 152014
 

Tamp & Tap is opening a second location. The MBJ reports that the restaurant will open in the ground floor of 6070 Poplar, and will target the East Memphis workforce. They will have the same menu as the Downtown location but will add delivery and catering to appeal to those who work in nearby office buildings.

There will be a Festivus celebration tomorrow night at the Mad Earl starting at 8. The Seinfeld-inspired holiday celebration will include the airing of grievances, feats of strength, burlesque bingo, and a ukulele performance. It will also be a Master Chef Junior watch party, to cheer on local kid chef Logan who has made it to the finals of the show. In addition, it will be a chance to say goodbye to Clay and celebrate the past two years of his version of the Mad Earl before he moves to Maui.

The Memphis Tigers are selling Holiday Mini Plans where you get to go to four home basketball games for $39. The games are Oral Roberts, Western Illinois, Houston, and Tulane.

One of my Facebook friends posted a good link this weekend: 10 things food banks need but won’t ask for. Might be good to keep these things in mind next time you donate to the Mid-South Food Bank.

Mayor Wharton will make a major retail announcement tomorrow. Word on the street is that Memphis is getting an IKEA.

Time for beer, outta here.

Dec 152014
 

I’d like to thank the Blind Bear for an excellent poker league final table last night. They really went all out for the top 10 point earners in their 16-week poker league that concluded Tuesday. There was a new development at this final table: We got snacks.

Photo Dec 14, 6 44 09 PM

I’d also like to thank poker host Charles for listening to us about the structure of the game. We all started with 30,000 chips, seven and a half times the starting stack of the weekly games. However, he was going to start the blinds at 1000/2000, meaning we would start with only a stack of 15 big blinds – not enough to skillfully play a hand all the way through the flop, turn, and river. After several of us protested, he gave each of us some 100-denomination chips, and started the blinds at 100/200. With a starting stack of 150 big blinds, there was plenty of opportunity to play some solid poker.

The table started with 10 players, but after a couple of hours it dwindled down to eight, then seven, then five, then three… and I was still in. “Do I have a shot at winning this thing?” I thought to myself. I had not won a final table since the first one at the Blind Bear, back in April 2012.

My chip stack was the smallest of the remaining three, but I was able to run a couple of bluff all-ins to win the blinds and improve to second biggest stack. My left-hand opponent correctly figured out that I couldn’t be getting that many good hands in a row, and decided to call one of my all-ins. Unfortunately for him, he chose to call a hand when I wasn’t bluffing. That time I had “pocket rockets,” two Aces, the best starting hand in Hold’em. To add insult to injury, I hit an Ace on the flop, giving me a “set,” three of a kind where two of the three are a pocket pair. My opponent was drawing dead on the turn and river and I eliminated one of the most skilled players who comes to the Blind Bear games.

That left me heads-up with my buddy Dennis. He and his wife Karen are two of the nicest Downtowners you will ever meet, and there is just about no one I would rather have as a final opponent. He had won the last two final tables prior to this one.

We went back and forth for several hands, and in the process my chip stack surpassed Dennis’s. I was being very aggressive, betting when I didn’t have much, representing that I hit flops that I actually completely missed. In the deciding hand, I got dealt Queen-Five and decided to go all-in to try and steal Dennis’ big blind. I definitely didn’t want to get called with a hand that crummy.

Dennis called.

Even worse, he had Queen-Ten, both hearts. That meant I had only one live card in my hand, the Five – if I hit my Queen it would help Dennis more than it would help me. Also, since my cards were unsuited and his were suited, he had a better chance of making a flush.

It was time to deal out the cards. The flop was something like 2-3-8. No help so far for my crummy Q5 and it looked like the vast majority of my chips were on their way to Dennis.

Turn was a 6. Dennis still had the best hand with his Queen-Ten high, but I’d picked up a straight draw. Only a 4 could save me.

River was a 4, giving me the miracle I needed and the final table victory! I definitely can’t chalk up the win to poker-playing skill. I got lucky!

I had my picture taken and then it was time to pick the prizes. There was some really cool stuff that distributors had donated, including a Jagermeister fire pit. I have to admit I was awfully tempted to pick it, but I don’t even have a yard, what would I ever do with it? Dennis and I agreed that we both wanted restaurant gift cards as our prizes. The way it works is, there are five $100 gift cards, to the Blind Bear itself, Local, Majestic Grille, Bluefin, and Kooky Canuck. As the first-place winner, I got to pick the three I wanted, then Dennis would get the remaining two.

Of course I picked the Blind Bear, since I’m in there nearly every day. I’ve been on a sushi kick lately, having stopped in Bluefin two of the past three Sundays before poker. So I picked the Bluefin card.

Since Dennis is my buddy, I asked him if there was one of the remaining three cards that he really wanted. He said it would be nice to have the Majestic card, so he and Karen can take the grandBeauties there when they come visit. With that in mind, I selected Kooky Canuck as my third card, leaving the Majestic and Local for Dennis. You really can’t go wrong with any of those five restaurants.

It was a fun time with good people. The Bear’s new 16-week poker league starts tomorrow night at 8:00, as we begin accumulating points toward the April 2015 final table.

I may do a news post before I go out tonight, so check back.

Dec 132014
 

I don’t have much news or much time so this is gonna be quick…

The Silly Goose has added some new menu items, one of which is a half-pound sriracha dog. Daniel gave me a sample of one a few weeks ago when he was considering the dog for inclusion on the menu, and let me tell you, it is really, really good. If you’re into spicy food you need to give it a tray.

Not sure if I have any Nashville readers, but if I do, you have some good beer coming your way. Wiseacre Brewery is expanding into the Nashville market starting Monday. Follow the brewery at @wiseacrebrew on Twitter for updates.

Tickets are now on sale for the February WWE pay-per-view event, which will be held on the 22bd at the FedExForum. It’s a new PPV concept called Fast Lane and it will replace the annual Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. Fast Lane will be the last PPV before WrestleMania and we should see a lot of storylines advance.

Gotta run… a friend invited me to a plate party at the Flying Saucer this afternoon. When I say “invited,” I mean he contacted me and told me the date and time of the party and told me he would like me to come. By “invited” I don’t mean that I heard about the party from someone else, and when I saw my friend at the bar I hovered around him and said, “Well, you know… I hear you’re like, having, you know, a plate party or whatever…” Our friend Ciara is working the party, so we can count on excellent service. Time to hit Publish and head out, and get a quick stop in at Panda’s bar at Bardog before the party.

Dec 122014
 

Did your high school teacher ruin Shakespeare for you with book reports and tests? Here’s a way to make The Bard fun again: Memphis Made Brewing Co. is hosting Shakesbeer 2 in its taproom tomorrow evening from 7 to 10. It’s a fundraiser for Threepenny Theater Company and will feature performances by company members, as well as special appearances by Gil Worth and Alan Long of oamaudio.com, who will record and special edition of The Game Show Podcast. Your $15 admission fee gets you not only the performances, but three hours of pulls from the Memphis Made tap handles. The taproom is at 768 S. Cooper. More info about this event on the Memphis Made blog and Facebook.

The Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team will be on national TV tomorrow. They host Oklahoma State at the FedExForum at 5 PM, with the game broadcast on ESPN2.

There’s a Choose901 po-up shop at 50 Peabody Place today until 7 PM. Grizzlies in-arena voice Rick Trotter will be available to sign autographs at the pop-up shop until 5:30. From WREG: Pop-up shops driving business Downtown

Our Lights Shine Bright is the theme of the Memphis Farmers Market Winter Market tomorrow, the final market of the Winter Market season. From 10 AM to noon there will be a double book signing: Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence will sign their book The Southern Vegetarian: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table, and Jennifer Chandler will sign her book The Southern Pantry Cookbook: 105 Recipes Already Hiding in Your Kitchen. From 9:30 to 11 there will be a workshop where you can make homemade ornaments for your Christmas tree, and Santa makes a special appearance at 10. Music by Opera Memphis from 10 to 10:30, Germantown High School from their musical “Big Fish” 10:30 to 11, and Adam Levin 11 to 12:30. Market runs from 9 AM to 1 PM at the pavilion at Front and G.E. Patterson. After tomorrow there will be no market until April 5, opening date of the 2015 season.

A resolution goes before the City Council next week that would create a Beale Street Tourism Development Authority that would have a nine-member board and that would oversee the Beale Street Entertainment District. The district is currently managed by the Downtown Memphis Commission, having taken it over from Performa on January 1 of this year.

Ole Miss fans: You’re going to have Tim Tebow commentating on your bowl game.

FiveThirtyEight has coverage of the Beer Mile World Championships.

The Orpheum is giving away a Lion King fun pack.

That’s it for this post. I’ve got nothing definite planned for tonight but I have a fun weekend ahead including a Flying Saucer plate party (not mine) and a poker league final table. Time to hit Publish and wrap up the work week.

Thursday update

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Dec 112014
 

If you’ve been meaning to take the family out to see a Grizzlies game, tomorrow may be a good night to do it. The Grizzlies host Charlotte tomorrow night at 7 at the FedExForum and there’s a special deal for the game: You can get four tickets, four hot dogs, and four Pepsis for $58.

The closure of Mulberry between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave and Pontotoc has been approved. The street closure will accommodate a parking lot next to the Chisca Hotel, which is being remodeled into apartments and retail space.

The St.Louis Cardinals organization has announced the promotion of Mike Shildt to Memphis Redbirds manager. For the past three years he has managed the Cardinals’ Double-A team in Springfield, Missouri, leading them to a Texas League championship in 2012. Shildt has been with the Cardinals organization for 12 years.

Microsoft is giving away music that you might actually want, everything from the Stones to the Biebs to Kanye.

I’ll be taking my earbuds out with me tonight, because I have some TV watching to do on my iPhone. If you’re a WWE Network subscriber, tonight’s NXT Takeover R Evolution special is a can’t miss. I expect this show to be every bit as good as one of their main roster pay-per-views. My earbuds, iPhone and I will be out at the usual spots for happy hour, then I will decide where to go from there.

Dec 102014
 

Photographer Frank Chin has 50 photos of the Stumbling Santa pub crawl on the Memphis Flyer site. I’ve been told the pub crawl, which raised toy donations for Porter-Leath, drew between 1100 and 1200 participants. I also heard that around 7 PM Saturday, the line to get in the first stop, the Flying Saucer, extended from the Saucer’s front door all the way down to Texas de Brazil.

The January I Love Memphis podcast, hosted by Holly Whitfield and Kevin Cerrito, is going to be a must-listen: Their guest will be none other than Paula Raiford. They are recording the podcast today.

Congratulations to Memphis Tigers football coach Justin Fuente, who has been named the American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. The selection was unanimous. Six Tigers made the All-AAC first team, and four more made the second team. Tank Jakes is co-Defensive Player of the Year, and Jake Elliott is Special Teams Player of the Year.

From Vox: The Elf on the Shelf is the greatest fraud ever pulled on children

Venezuelan restaurant Arepas & Salsa’s cachapas have made John T. Edge’s list of top 10 dishes for 2014.

If you’re a fan of Christmas movies, there’s Christmas movie trivia tonight at Tamp & Tap at 7.

Kerry Hayes (@kerry901) tweeted a game-changer yesterday: The First Tennessee ATM inside the Peabody dispenses bills in increments of $5. It’s hard to find any ATM that dispenses in increments of smaller than $10.

Classic computer game SimCity 2000 can now be downloaded for free.

From the Orpheum’s blog: Win tickets to the upcoming Trace Adkins Christmas show. You must enter by 11:59 PM today.

Last night I had a nightmare, of all things, about poker at the Blind Bear. I dreamed that I won this coming Sunday’s league final table, but that the second-place finisher stole part of my first-place prize. The final table, which begins at 6:30, will prevent me from going on a 7 PM field trip my friends are making to the Gold Club. I really couldn’t care less about the Gold Club itself, but the people who are going will make it a very entertaining night, I am sure.

Time to get back to work. Back later today or tomorrow with more news.

Dec 092014
 

2014-12-08 20.10.56

For the past three years, David Lowes has been running British Bingo at various locations around town. Would you believe that, up until last night, I had never been? There was always a conflict. A trivia night here, a poker night there, a favorite bartender I go see… I never got the chance to go, until last night when Dave started a new Monday bingo night at the Blind Bear.

British bingo is different than American bingo in several ways. In American bingo, you usually play one game per card, with the card divided into five columns with the numbers 1 through 75. A bingo in American games is usually made by getting five in a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

On a British bingo card, however, there are six games:

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Each colored area on the card is a separate game. British bingo uses the numbers 1 through 90 (90 being called “top of the shop”) and you have fifteen of those 90 numbers on your card per game. Rather than getting five in a row, you play for a “full house,” meaning you try to be the first to mark off all 15 of your numbers. As in American bingo, when your card is done you yell “BINGO!” and take it to the host, who checks your card.

Dave has his own computer system that draws the numbers for him. There’s a new number every eight seconds, which means you really have to pay attention – if you get distracted and miss one of your numbers, you won’t be able to complete your full house. If you ask nicely Dave may pause the game and read out the numbers that have already been called. They are also visible on Dave’s computer monitor.

There’s a British bingo lingo Dave uses to call out the numbers:

“Dirty knees, 33.”

“Snakes alive, 55.”

“Knock at the door, number 4.”

“Monkey’s cousin, 12.” (one dozen)

“Crutch and a duck, 72.”

“Nearly there, 89.” (because 90 is “top of the shop”)

Some of the numbers have special meanings:

“Doctor’s orders, number 9.” (prescription for a World War II laxative pill)

“PM’s den, number 10.” (The British Prime Minister lives at 10 Downing Street)

“56, was she worth it?” (5 shillings 6 pence was at one point the price of a marriage license)

Dave commented on his accent, “It’s the Queen’s English.” Dave’s particular type of British accent is that of Northwest England. He hails from about 40 miles southwest of Scotland.

As I played the first round, I didn’t seem to be doing very well. Late in the game, though, I hit a succession of numbers to score the first ever BINGO at the Blind Bear.

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Prizes are Blind Bear gift cards. The first four games pay out a $10 card, the fifth game pays a $20 card, and the sixth and final game pays a $40 card.

There definitely isn’t time for chit-chat with friends while games are going on, but Dave keeps the games moving quickly and there are breaks after the second, fourth, and fifth games to give you time to chat with your friends, run to the restroom, or get another drink.

Dave hooks his automated bingo system up to one of the TVs to use as a monitor. I wondered if bar patrons would mind that one of the bar TVs was being used for bingo when Monday Night Football was on, but it was still on the other TV as well as the TV by the pool table, and no one had an issue with it.

The nice thing about bingo is, you don’t have to use your brain a lot the way you do in other bar games like trivia and poker. if you have the number, you cross it off. If you don’t have it, you do nothing. If you know the numbers 1 through 90, you have all the smarts needed to play.

Dave finished right on time, at exactly 10, so those who have 8-to-5 jobs have plenty of time to play and still get a good night’s sleep. Since there are six games, run in succession, you can get there an hour and a half late and still have a shot at a $40 prize.

Dave calls British Bingo

  • Mondays at Blind Bear, 8:00
  • Tuesdays at Bardog (downstairs), 8:00
  • Thursdays at Slider Inn, 8:00

Check it out if you’re looking for something fun and different to do.

Dec 082014
 

The college football bowl schedule is out. Here’s a roundup of regional games of interest:

  • Liberty Bowl: Texas A&M vs. West Virginia Dec. 31
  • Memphis plays BYU Dec. 22 in the Miami Beach Bowl
  • Arkansas plays Texas Dec. 29 in the Texas Bowl
  • Ole Miss plays TCU Dec. 31 in the Peach Bowl
  • Mississippi State plays Georgia Tech Dec. 31 in the Orange Bowl
  • Tennessee plays Iowa Jan. 2 in the TaxSlayer Bowl
  • Arkansas State plays Toledo Jan. 4 in the GoDaddy Bowl

Oregon plays Florida State at 4 PM January 1 in the first of two national championship playoff games, with Alabama vs. Ohio State to follow. Many bars open at 5 PM on New Year’s Day; this year, they may want to back that opening time up an hour or two. Those that stick to the 5 opening time will be leaving money on the table.

Santana has announced a concert at the Orpheum for Saturday, March 14. Tickets will go on sale this coming Friday.

There’s a Center for Southern Folklore Groupon on sale right now. $12 for a value of $25. You can enjoy a show for two, four, or six, or use the value as a credit at the Folklore Store. The store is a great place to shop for Christmas gifts for people into regional music, culture, art, food, or history.

There’s also Groupon for American Apparel which has a store at South Main and G.E. Patterson. $40 worth of stuff for $20 or $80 worth of stuff for $40. American Apparel sells a lot of tube tops so this an excellent place to gift shop for the ladies.

Traffic alert from Wendi Hays (@trafficbabe on Twitter): Adams will be closed for the next nine months between Dunlap and Manassas just east of Downtown. The closure is due to the LeBonheur Parking Garage Project.

Vote for your favorite nonprofit to receive six months of free PR from Obsidian. Contestants include Ballet on Wheels Dance School and Company, Concerts International, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, DeNeuville Learning Center, The Exceptional Foundation of West Tennessee, Friends of the Levitt Pavilion Memphis (operators of the Levitt Shell), Hospitality HUB, Kingsbury High School Alumni Association, and RestoreCorps.

In the news: Delta to start serving craft beer. Good move. Now Delta flyers will have something delicious to drink while they sit on the runway for two and a half hours waiting to take off so they can get to Atlanta and miss their connection.

Diamond Dave is bringing his British Bingo to a new bar: The Blind Bear. Bingo will be tonight and every Monday at 8 PM. $100 worth of prizes, with specials of $4, $6, and $8 margaritas and $6 tacos and quesadillas.

Plans for tonight: No Melissa at Bardog tonight, so no Melissa Monday happy hour. However, the places I would consider alternatives, the Flying Saucer and Silly Goose, will be packed with people pre-gaming for Usher at the FedExForum. Therefore, I’m inclined to go to Bardog anyway for happy hour, where Panda will be subbing for Melissa. With the entire evening open, I may wander over to Blind Bear a few minutes before 8 and give British Bingo a try. Believe it or not, I’ve never been in the three years Dave has been running his bingo games. Might be something fun and different to check out.