Mar 262015

Before I get started on the news, a Moody Ques BBQ team announcement: April 1 is the deadline to pay your dues. That’s next Wednesday. Pay on the team website or get a check to us. You don’t have to pay the PayPal fee if you pay by check.

Also: We need one of these for the booth. Automated Jello shot maker. Kind of like the Keurig of Jello. We would be the coolest BBQ team ever if we had both a flamethrower and a Jello shot maker.

From WREG: Some complain Riverside bike lanes cause traffic delays. YES YES YES they do. Public meeting about Riverside tonight, Central Station, 5:30 to 7.

The fabulous Pam & Terry perform tonight at the Blind Bear from 8 to 11. No cover. With great live music and the NCAA tournament to watch, it’s pretty much a no-brainer that I will spend some time at the Bear this evening.

There will be a Goose Island beer dinner at Bardog Thursday, April 21. 4 courses, 5 beers. $45 ticket, and seating will be limited, so purchase early from your friendly bartender.

General seating for the Redbirds’ April 3 exhibition game with the Cardinals is sold out.

Conversation with tourists last night at the Silly Goose:

Them: “We have heard Gus’s is a place we should try. We’re going to drive there later. It’s about a mile from here, isn’t it?”

Me: “No, it’s only four blocks. You can easily walk there from here. Turn left on Main, go past Beale and MLK Avenue, and when you get to Pontotoc turn right. Walk one block to Front Street and you will see it.”

Them: “But what if we get murdered on the way? That’s in the worst section of Memphis, isn’t it?

ARGH! People’s misguided perceptions of Memphis frustrate me. Thinking back on the conversation, I don’t think they realized that South Main is a different part of town than South Memphis.

I’m not going to be able to make it to the Riverside meeting tonight, but a friend who feels the same way I do about four lanes is going to go and give me a report on what happened. I will be out at the Blind Bear to hear Pam & Terry and to watch NCAA tournament games. I will have to stay out past 11 to see the late game, but the prospect of Calipari going 36-1 makes it worth it.

Mar 252015

There was a long Facebook discussion last night among many of my friends about how two-lane Riverside is just a really, really bad idea. I understand city planners wanting to make the city, and especially our riverfront, more appealing to runners and bikers. And as longtime readers of this blog know, I tend to lean left of center and take the progressive/liberal side on most issues. But I’m also a realist, and I just can’t take a progressive view of two-lane Riverside. I take that road to work every morning, and I can’t tell you how many times I have seen drivers lurch over the center line as they play with their phones. With Bass Pro opening, it is only going to get worse. It is time to admit the reconfiguration of Riverside was a mistake and restore it to four lanes.

There is a meeting tomorrow at 5:30 at Central Station, S. Main at G.E. Patterson, to discuss proposed plans for Riverside. All the plans are bad ideas, and none of them include restoration to four lanes. If you want to see 4-lane Riverside come back, go down there and make some noise.

The city has filed a lawsuit against the owners of a blighted property at 107 S. Main. That is the boarded-up building just north of Gayoso, two doors down from Yao’s China Bistro. That property has been abandoned for over a decade. I actually talked to the owner, Allan Long, about renting an apartment there in 2001 when he was supposedly planning to renovate it. That never happened and the building is not only an eyesore on what has turned into a beautiful demonstration block of Main, but it is also a hazard to adjoining buildings Main Street Flats and Cornerstone Flats. Water is leaking from shared walls and the two Flats buildings are seeing increased moisture levels.

This Daily News story has several pieces of good news for Downtown. We may be getting a second grocery store, and it sounds like more of a big-box store than another City Market-type place. We may be getting a movie theater, a smaller one like Studio on the Square. And an anonymous donor is going to pay to light up the Harahan Bridge.

Sports writer/radio host Gary Parrish reports that Nick King and Pookie Powell are both transferring out of Memphis. They were both top-100 recruits but saw limited playing time last year under Josh Pastner. My favorite blogger/MILF tweeted, “Love CJP, but I’m tired of seeing great players leave.” I’m starting to feel the same way. All those guys were probably alpha-dogs at their respective high schools. As much as it kills me to say anything good about Cal, he knows how to make a bunch of alpha-dogs work together as a team. Josh doesn’t.

MPD says that car break-ins are on the rise Downtown. Park in well-lit areas and don’t leave valuables in plain sight. I’ll add that this applies to small valuables as well as large. You may not think it’s a big deal to leave something worth $5 in plain sight, but that item could fund a burglar’s next purchase of a crack rock or bottle of booze.

Today is National Waffle Day. Is there a day left on the calendar that is not National (Something) Day?

I’ll be out at the usual spots after work. With great weather and LeBron at the FedExForum, I expect places to be packed for happy hour. Outta here for now.

Mar 242015

Want to see something beautiful? Have a look at the NBA conference standings and scroll down to view the Western Conference. Notice the little x next to Memphis. The Grizzlies have made the playoffs. Not that it was much in doubt, but it’s still nice to see.

My friend Angela Copeland who is a career coach is co-hosting a very cool event at Hilton Memphis next month. It is the 2nd Annual Multicultural Career Expo, from noon to 5 on April 12, seeking to help all cultures achieve their career goals and contribute to a greater Memphis. Over 40 companies including FedEx, First Tennessee, and St. Jude will be represented, across a diverse group of industries including healthcare, financial services, travel, logistics, higher education, and non-profit. Read more at

In other job-related news, Bass Pro will be recruiting for its two new restaurants in the Pyramid Thursday. They will be at the Workforce Investment Network building, 480 Beale, from 8 AM to 4 PM.

From the MBJ : Aldo’s Midtown is here

If you want to volunteer for the April 11 MEMFix Pinch event, you can do it here.

The Downtown Neighborhood Association’s monthly meeting is tonight at the Fire Museum on Adams. Michael Putt, deputy chief of special operations, will speak. Social and networking at 6, meeting at 6:30. Non-members welcome too.

Marketing fail: Jagermeister threw a pool party to promote its brand, but due to a lack of understanding of basic chemistry they poisoned the water.

Tamp & Tap is having another Kill the Keg party this Friday. $2.50 pints of craft beer from 4 to close.

From ESPN: Arizona State Herb Sendek will meet with his AD today and learn whether he still has a job. If he is let go, Josh Pastner is seen as a top candidate to replace Sendek.

Memphis in May has posted an application to be a BBQ Fest judge. We are a mere 50 days away from BBQ Fest.

Fun night out last night. I managed to hit Bardog, Silly Goose, Flying Saucer, and Blind Bear. I was telling everyone at the Saucer about our BBQ team’s new flamethrower. I think I am a little bit too excited that we bought that thing.

Out at the usual spots after work. Another beautiful day. Going to get some outside time for the remainder of my lunch break.

Mar 232015

Felicia Suzanne’s is celebrating its 13th birthday with special events all week. Wiseacre beer dinner on Tuesday, communal cooking class on Wednesday, Tacos & Tunes returns Thursday ($2 tacos), 4-course tasting dinner Friday, and Saturday is dinner in the kitchen with Masterchef Junior winner Logan Guleff. Complete details here. Space is limited for some of the events.

The Memphis Flyer has a story about a new book about the history of Beale Street. Beale Street Dynasty covers the period between the Civil War and World War II. Fact I did not know: Beale Street won Tennessee for the Republican party in 1920. It is said that Boss Crump would not have been able to build his machine without Beale.

Vendors have been announced for MEMFix Pinch on April 11.

A friend of mine has a South Main town home for rent. 3 bedroom/3 bath, attic, 2 car garage, all appliances, private courtyard with waterfall.

Poker at the Blind Bear has been so successful that Jeannette has decided to add a third game. It will happen at 6:45 Thursdays. So there are now poker games in the Downtown core five nights a week: Sunday at Blind Bear, 6:30; Monday at Silly Goose, 8:30; Tuesday at Blind Bear, 8:00, Wednesday at Bardog, 7:30; Thursday at Blind Bear, 6:45.

Boscos is having a fundraiser next Sunday for singer Joyce Cobb, a Beale Street fixture who is going through a battle with pancreatic cancer. 6:30-9:30 PM, $50 per person, open bar and food, silent auction, music by friends of Joyce and STAX Academy. Get tickets here.

Interesting fact I learned today: More money was gambled on the NCAA Tournament the past four days than was spent on the 2012 presidential election.

Looks like I was wrong about my Razorbacks being able to handle North Carolina. Now that Arkansas is gone from the tournament, I have a new favorite team to root for, and its name is “whoever is playing Kentucky.”

I’ll be out at Bardog for Melissa Monday after work, probably followed by Pint Nite at the Saucer. Right now, time to take a walk and enjoy this beautiful day.

Mar 222015

In past years, one of the most painstaking operations for the BBQ team has been lighting the smoker. Not anymore. We got ourselves a new toy. :mrgreen: The team bought a flamethrower that reduced lighting time from 30 minutes to 5 seconds. Here’s a video.

It’s a good thing that we have mature, responsible people on our team who don’t do any stupid shit when we’re drinking. In the wrong hands that flamethrower could be dangerous. Our team president Moody, a lawyer, commented that we need to make a list of people who are authorized to use the flamethrower. Yes Moody we will be sure to do that. Then we will print the list out and set it on fire with the flamethrower.

We had a meeting in Midtown – yes, I actually left Downtown on a weekend – yesterday, at our booth designer Brent’s house. He has a beautiful home and a large back yard, and it was a perfect place for us to get together. You know, I’m friends with the leaders of another BBQ team, Squeal Street, and I hear them talk about their plans, especially on Melissa Mondays at Bardog. I hear them say things like, “Yeah, we have a team meeting this weekend, better run to West Memphis Wal-Mart and pick up a couple of 30-packs of Miller Lite.” This is what the big boys drink at team meetings:

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Yep. Two locally-made craft beers from downtown brewery High Cotton on tap. We had two of their main staples, the Scottish Ale and the ESB. Man that Scottish Ale was delicious. I will definitely be knocking that off the list for my next plate next time I am in the Flying Saucer. Anyone up for a field trip to their taproom now that the weather is nice? It’s no farther a walk than Max’s and we do that all the time. It’s just the stigma a lot of us have that any point east of Danny Thomas is more or less a trip to China.

There wasn’t much of an agenda for this meeting. Rather, it was a chance for the team to get some cooking practice in, and for the team members, especially new members, to get to know one another prior to the festival. I am SO HAPPY we have started doing this. It builds team unity and gives everyone a chance to feel like a part of this team.

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The team discussing targets for our new flamethrower. Foreground: Katie Mac, who was kind enough to offer me a ride to Midtown.

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Fire pit time. Back left: My down-the-hall neighbors Mary Ann and Peter, who I am super excited to have as new team members. Peter knows I don’t work Downtown, so every year he offers to get me gift cards at the Majestic’s annual half-off sale.

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The team waiting for the meat to come off the smoker

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Some pigs dream of lying on a plate next to beef brisket, coleslaw, a piece of pepper jack cheese, and a red pepper. We saw the potential in the pig that perhaps the pig did not even see in itself. We truly walked a mile with Jesus yesterday. It was divine. It was a dead pig on a plate and it tasted damn good. (Squeal Street: Please note that there is no microwave popcorn anywhere on this plate)

Our sauce recipe is coming along nicely. Earlier this week it received compliments from someone who knows a thing or two about food – Shorty, who runs the pasta bar at the Silly Goose, who has been cooking at Owen Brennan’s for 22 years, and who is featured in this month’s Memphis Magazine.

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Acting president Clay addresses the team as head cook/treasurer Frank looks on. You know, I don’t hand out compliments easily, but I have to say that my buddy Clay is doing a FANTASTIC job running the team this year. In past years, around this time I have thought, “Yeah they say things are going well, but I still see five or six different ways the train could go completely off the rails.” This year I don’t have those reservations. We are on track for an awesome year.

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My “DAWG” John D tries some craft beer. Normally he’s a Bud Light kind of guy so it is nice to see him thinking outside the box.

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The girls. Sapana, Nikki, Katie Mac, and Laura.

Shout-out to our teammates Nick and Sarah, who couldn’t make the meeting because they are about to become new parents. You were missed and we look forward to seeing both of you and the new addition to the family soon.

Whew. Yesterday kicked my ass. Usually I take a “halftime” nap on Saturday but yesterday there was just no way. I am going to take today as a recovery day. I am going to brew a fresh pot of tea, wrap myself up in my down comforter on the couch, munch on some Wheat Thins and gouda I bought at City Market, knock out a couple of chapters in the book I have been reading, watch 60 Minutes, and then call it an early bedti… AW FUCK THAT. If you really believe that’s the Sunday Fun Day I have planned, I have some crocodile-infested swamp land about 30 minutes south of Miami to sell you. I need to text a few people before I have the exact running order figured out for today, but two things that will be on the agenda for sure are D-RANKS with B-RAD at Blind Bear and (weather permitting) a trip south to Max’s Sports Bar. Hmmm… two-thirds of the group I used to refer to as Amateur Hour are working at South of Beale now… wonder if either of them is working today. If they are I may stop in. I’m trying to venture beyond my usual five bars. We shall see. Time to hit publish and get this ball rolling.

Mar 212015

One of my Facebook friends (who I only knew for a few brief weeks in real life) posted a rather interesting link yesterday: Women on 20s. The idea is that it’s time to put a woman on the 20 dollar bill. Nothing against Andrew Jackson, the current face on the 20. It’s just that it’s somewhat ironic that he is on money at all – he was against creation of a national bank. The site is petitioning President Obama to put a woman on the 20, and asks visitors to vote for one of 15 women. Personally, I’d like to see Harriet Tubman on the 20, but there are a lot of good choices.

I discovered something I did not know yesterday: Arkansas star forward Bobby Portis went to the same high school I did. He won championships for Little Rock Hall High earlier in the decade. We had a pretty strong team when I went there too, but our two star players were 5’7″ and 5’9″ and therefore had limited opportunities to play college ball.

Random fact I learned this week: Cincinnati was known as Porkopolis in the 19th century. It was the country’s chief hog-packing center at the time, and pigs wandered the streets.  If BBQ Fest had existed back then, it might have been in Cincinnati rather than Memphis.

Interesting MakeUseOf article: Introverts love Facebook more than extroverts. Yeah I can see that being the case.

Happy birthday to one of the sexiest women in Memphis, the fabulous Paula Raiford.

The Grizzlies host Portland tonight at FedExForum at 7.

The Center for Southern Folklore is holding a Blues Legends Birthday Bash tonight. Details here.

Panda’s bar at 11, librarian glasses later in the day, BBQ meeting at 6, Hogs at 7:40. Should be a good day.

Mar 202015
"Mr. Load-in" at BBQ Fest 2014

“Mr. Load-in” at BBQ Fest 2014

My BBQ team the Moody Ques has a meeting tomorrow evening at 6. Part of my job as “Mr. Load-in,” the Moody Ques workhorse, is to inspire the team. Therefore, I would like to offer the following message.

Every year I post photos of the food that my BBQ team puts out. One of the side effects of posting those pics on a well-known blog is that occasionally I get feedback from animal-rights activists. “Pigs are highly intelligent animals with unique personalities,” they tell me. “You need to appreciate the pig. Each pig is an individual.”

That is 100% correct. Each pig IS an individual, with individual dreams and aspirations.

Some pigs dream of lying comfortably on a bed of nacho chips, covered in cheese sauce, dry rub, and jalapenos.

Some pigs dream of having an apple in their mouth as they are lowered into an underground pit by men wearing Hawaiian shirts and leis.

Some pigs dream of sitting on a plate next to baked beans and coleslaw, covered in a tangy sauce.

Some pigs dream of vacationing in a place that is nice and warm, like a smoker, in temperatures between 225 and 250 degrees.

Yes, every pig is an intelligent individual with its own unique dreams and aspirations. And as the most intelligent species on Earth, it is the job of the human race to help every pig realize its potential. In fact, it is more than that: It is our job to see the potential in the pig that perhaps the pig does not even see in itself.

For those of you who follow the Christian religion: Is that not what Jesus was said to have done? To see potential in others that they did not see in themselves? When we see the potential in the pig, we are truly walking a mile with Jesus.

Or, for those of you who follow Eastern schools of thought: Is “I see the divine in you” not a commonly used greeting? Let us look at the pig, and imagine how divine it will taste after it comes off the Moody Ques smoker and is pulled apart and topped with Moody Ques sauce.

Or, for those of you who are atheists: It’s a dead pig on a plate and it tastes good.

You see, BBQ Fest is more than a Memphis in May event. It is a religious feast, no matter which religion you follow, as I have proved above. You shouldn’t really even have to use vacation to take off work for BBQ Fest. You’re just observing your religious practices. Feel free to print this out and show it to your company’s HR department if you think it will help.

Let us come together for an evening of prayer and meditation and gluttony and beer tomorrow night at the team meeting. May this message remain in your heart and inspire you all the way to BBQ Fest. Amen.

Mar 202015

I made an excellent decision last night to wander down to Max’s Sports Bar to watch the Arkansas-Wofford game. The place was full but not too full, and they had the sound on for the Hogs. Sitting at the table next to me was famous Twitter cat lady @StephMEM, and our friend Otto commented that it was something like a 1 in 200,000 chance of us both being in Max’s at the same time. Arkansas survived the curse of the 5 seed, holding Wofford off 56-53. Michael Qualls led the scoring with 20. I have a prediction: Bobby Portis is the bigger college star, but I think Qualls will have the longer, more accomplished NBA career, although it will take him a year longer to get there and it will be the 2020s before he out-earns Portis.

Next up: #5 Arkansas vs. #4 North Carolina at 7:40 Saturday, once again on TNT. CRAP! I have a BBQ team meeting at 6. I’m going to have to figure that one out. I hope Brent has cable.

Suggestion for bar owners/managers: Have a list of the channel numbers for TV stations that carry sports by the cash register as a handy reference for bartenders. That way they won’t have to spend minutes surfing the directory to find the channel. TNT HD is 826 on Comcast, by the way.

So, all five schools from Texas were eliminated, and Arkansas advanced. I guess that settles who was the class act of the old Southwest Conference.

Right as the game ended, my Facebook Messenger app went “ding.” It was my neighbor Phil, just getting off his job as an Amtrak engineer at Central Station. “Do you want a ride home?” he asked. I sure did! Thanks Phil.

Speaking of Central Station, “Let’s Stay Together, Memphis,” a community-wide visioning session, will take place there tomorrow from 11 to 4. From 11 to 1 there will be an open house/meet and greet type of session, and you can write “tough love” letters to your city, explaining why you love it and what needs to change. From 2 to 4 there will be “sticky issues” conversations about getting around, public investment, the relationship between public surroundings and quality of life, and what makes a place special. Come to one session or both, lunch provided between sessions, free parking. The event is hosted by the University of Memphis Design Collaborative. If the Nuh-Uh Girl were still in town, she’d show up for this at 12:59 and leave at 1:59.

The Commercial Appeal has named the spaghetti at the Calvary Lenten Waffle Shop a dining best bet.

Rumors are floating around on Twitter that a popular Memphis restaurant will announce a new location inside the Hotel Chisca in the coming weeks.

Do these women look familiar? A tourist wanted to have some fun in Memphis, and he met two women on Beale Street and took them back to his room at the Residence Inn. They stole his cash, credit cards and phone. They introduced themselves as Stacy and Morgan and have been going on a shopping spree in the greater Memphis area.

From the NY Post: Root for Kentucky, where they don’t pretend school matters

This brings back memories: the 1982 JCPenney Christmas catalog

Interesting article: The makers of WordPress learned years ago that the ultimate office perk is not having an office.

I have inspirational words for my BBQ teammates, so a second post will be up shortly.

Mar 192015

That is what one of my Facebook friends posted after two 3 seeds, Iowa State and Baylor, exited the NCAA tournament at the hands of 14 seeds this afternoon. Considering Arkansas is a 5 seed, I hope the old 12 is not the new 12 tonight.

From the @FantasyShirley (Raines) Twitter account: “It is clear that the @Big12Conference doesn’t need us to make it a disappointment.” Ha.

A Facebook event has been created for April 11’s MEMfix event in the Pinch. Sounds like fun. Food trucks, new retail pop-up shops in vacant storefronts, art, live music, kids’ activities, community resource stations.

Dogs missing just south of Downtown, stolen from a yard near the Metal Museum:

This does not surprise me. From the MBJ: Want to hire better employees? See which browser they use to surf the web. Those who use Chrome and Firefox have been found to stay at their jobs longer and perform better than those who use the system defaults, IE on Windows and Safari on Mac. I would have to agree with this. Great people use Chrome and Firefox. Average people use IE and Safari. Clueless people use the default browser that comes with an AOL subscription.

College juniors/seniors: The Redbirds have a marketing internship available.

Barack Obama would like to see changes to college basketball, including a 30-second shot clock (down from 35 today), a 3-point line closer to the NBA’s, and a wider lane like the NBA has. Republicans did not previously have a position on the shot clock but I’m sure they’ll issue a statement soon lobbying for the restoration of the old 45-second shot clock, pointing out that the 30-second clock is one more step in Obama’s plan to bring communism to the United States.

Cool news for Downtown Memphis: The Cook Convention Center will host the U.S. Women’s boxing team trials October 25-31. Those selected will go on to represent the U.S. in Rio in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

If Romania is looking for a venue to host its women’s gymnastics team trials, I would like to offer my bedroom free of charge.

Outta here for happy hour drinks. Silly Goose for a bit then south to Max’s to watch the Hogs.

Thursday update

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Mar 192015

Last night Jamie from the Blind Bear posted on Facebook that they had $1 green PBR on sale. To me, that’s as good as a hand-engraved invitation, so I went over there. Charles was short on trivia teams to play, and given my past history as a trivia player, he drafted me to be a team of one. Each round’s bonus question is a Family Feud style question: 100 people surveyed, write down the top 5 answers. Being a guy who basically has girl hair was an advantage for the first bonus question: Name five things women put in their hair.

Charles told me I got four of the five right: Shampoo, bows, hairspray, and color/dye. The fifth one that I missed was hair clips/ponytail holders. I showed Charles an answer I had put down and then crossed out. “That’s not really something women put in their hair,” I said with a smile. “But sometimes it gets in their hair if things get kinky.”

That’s what I love about being an independent blogger. I can be as inappropriate as I want.

The NCAA Tournament (the real tournament, not that stupid “First Four” crap) is underway. My team, #5 Arkansas, plays #12 Wofford tonight at 8:50 on TNT. I’m also interested in the game that comes on TNT right before, #4 North Carolina vs. #13 Harvard. The winner of that game will be the Hogs’ opponent on Saturday, assuming they take care of Wofford. I hope Bobby Portis is in beast mode tonight and Michael Qualls gets some of those highlight-reel putback dunks. It’s time to CALL THOSE HOGS!!!

There will be a “Live Happy” Happiness Wall tomorrow at Court Square beginning at 8 AM. Fill out a happiness card and get a free happiness bracelet. It’s brought to you by the #HappyActs Challenge. Tomorrow is International Happiness Day and the challenge is to do as many little things as possible to make other people’s day brighter.

Grawemeyer’s is hosting a benefit for the Mid-South Food Bank tonight with the music of Tori Tollison. Bring non-perishable items for the food bank and you get $3 off your entree and half off wine.

The Alcoholic Beverage Commission and cops have really been cracking down on Memphis bartenders and servers about IDs lately. First they sent minors in with fake IDs. Then they sent people in with expired IDs (you aren’t supposed to be allowed to drink in Tennessee without a valid ID on you, regardless of age). Their latest trick is to send someone in who is over 21 and has a real ID, but the birthdays don’t match on the two dates in red, the DOB: and EXP: fields on the ID. I understand the need to keep minors from drinking but what they are doing to bartenders is reaching the point of harassment. Does anyone know why there has been such a severe crackdown the past 6-8 months or so and particularly the last 1 month?

Single-day BBQ Fest tickets are now on sale. New Moody Ques members: You will not need to buy tickets, because your team wristband gets you in. Guests you invite will need to buy a ticket to get in the park.

Cheesecake Factory is coming to Memphis. Well, suburban Memphis. 2760 N. Germantown Parkway to be exact. I haven’t been to a Cheesecake Factory since 1999, when I was in Cambridge, MA training on Lotus Notes. Man I miss my traveling corporate training job. Well, I miss the part of the job where I would visit new places and eat and drink on the company expense account. There are some things I don’t miss, like pretending Lotus Notes was anything other than a hulking piece of shit, and Atlanta Hartsfield airport.

Max’s Sports Bar opened at 11 today and will be open at 11 all weekend for NCAA tournament watching.

WordPress just told me that “people eating seafood” is one of the top search terms sending traffic to my blog. WTF?

Time to eat and run errands. Out at the usual places after work.