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When I’m at work, I tend to drink 20 oz. Mountain Dews one right after the other. I need lots of caffeine coarsing through my veins to be able to deal with 8 hours a day in a cubicle.

Recently, Mountain Dew has had a promotion where you collect 20 bottle caps from specially-marked bottles, and you can send them in for a free Memphis Grizzlies cap. It took me less than 2 weeks to save up 20.

Well, the promotion is still far from its end date, and I have now saved up another 20 bottle caps. The promotion has a limit of one per address, and what would I do with a second Grizzlies cap anyway? (I don’t plan on growing another head.)

So, I’m offering the second Grizzlies cap as a reward to one of you, my loyal readers. First person to e-mail me their mailing address (needed so they’ll know where to send the cap) gets it. E-mail me at paul at paulryburn dot com.

The fine print: They only ship the caps to U.S. addresses, so my international readers are out of luck, and I assume no responsibility if they run out of Grizzlies caps and don’t send you one (which happens all the time with these kinds of promotions).

First to reply gets it.

Midweek update

– It arrived a week late, but I just got what I really wanted for Christmas. No, not a Romanian girl. I got the 30 GB iPod Video. It’s plugged into my USB port charging up now (it charges its battery through the USB – there’s an AC adapter but it’s optional), and once it’s done I’ll start loading music in.

– That reminds me… I have a question concerning batteries – cell phone batteries. My cell phone goes through cycles where its battery can’t hold a charge for even an entire day, and I keep having to plug it in. And then it will go through periods where it will go four, five days, sometimes even a week without needing a charge. My usage patterns are about the same during both periods. This has happened with every cell phone I have ever owned, by the way. Can anyone provide an explanation for this?

– And while we’re on the subject of questions… I have another one. Sunday night/Monday morning I woke up in the middle of the night and popped a couple of Advil (actually, the Walgreens equivalent of Advil) to try and prevent the expected hangover the next morning. On the side of the bottle it read, “Best before 03/05.” How can something like Advil have an expiration date? It seemed to work fine for me in 01/06 (prevented the hangover as hoped). Can Advil really go bad? Is there something like a half-life for Advil, where chemical decomposition makes it go bad? I mean, I realize I wouldn’t want to take any that’s WAY old (just as I would want to eat pear jelly from NINE…TEEN…SEVENTY), but a year past its expiration date, is there really anything wrong with it? I know there’s at least one pharmacy student who reads this blog. What’s the deal?

– I had to take the hangover medicine Sunday night because I was hanging out at Big Foot Lodge, drinking some of their 34 oz. beers. While there I met downtown attorney Stephanie Calvert, one of those people I’ve seen around for years but never officially met before. We hung out and talked for a couple of hours, and I promised I’d give her a link on my blog, so there you go. Here’s a memory trick to remember her name – Lord Calvert is what the bums drink, and Stephanie Calvert is the person to go to for aviation, corporate, and criminal law matters.

– Stephanie told me that she had actually seen my site years ago, back when I was a math teacher at the U of M. Said she used my Superstars of the Web page all the time. Superstars of the Web, for those of you who are relatively new to the site, was a list of the best links on the web. I discontinued it about 4 years ago because I simply didn’t have the time to maintain it. Probably the closest thing you’ll find is Marilyn Ryburn’s “Best of the Web,” my mother’s site, which is still updated on a regular basis.

– All right… time to go to the Saucer and watch the Rose Bowl… back later…

– Crap. Texas won. I hate Texas.

– But on a more positive note… I found out I could request a particular waitress for my upcoming plate party… let’s just say that the waitress I asked to work my party is a real “Princess”

– The past two nights, there have been girls in “winter tube tops” at the Saucer. I like this new fashion trend.

– ATTN CARMEL: My plate party would be a great time to model your winter tube top.

– By the way… we will be celebrating tube top month in June again, for the second year in a row here at Less than 5 months away! Every post for the month of June will contain a reference to tube tops, no matter how irrelevant to the rest of the post.

– Back to my website… I was noticing that Rachel and the City has a “Make a Donation” button… maybe I need one of those. It’s getting expensive to go online and tell you people that I went out to a bar and got drunk… alcohol ain’t free ya know… you could contribute.

– Seriously though… where the “Make a Donation” button would really work on my site is the Grade Calculator. In April/May and November/December it out-draws this blog in terms of visits, and I get e-mails every semester going, “You saved my life… I had no idea what I needed to get on the final to make a B in this class”… I doubt I’d be able to retire off the proceeds… but it would occasionally buy an extra bottle of champagne at Sunday brunch, I’m sure.

– Attn Joy: Yes I remember the topic you proposed for a future journal article. I have several articles in mind in front of it, but it will eventually come up.

– All right… I had 5 beers at the Saucer… my most hated team in college football won the NCAA championship and my iPod still isn’t charged yet. I’m off to bed. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Second dart board post in a row: Rapscallions win again

The Rapscallions took home ANOTHER first-place victory tonight in Team Trivia at the Flying Saucer. But this time, we didn’t take the $25 gift certificate for our prize.

Among the prizes to choose from was a beautiful Sam Adams dart board cabinet. Since we all live at No. 10 Main, we decided to take it and talk to the building owners about letting us put it up someplace. Pictures below – team member Chad shows off our prize:

It didn’t come with a dart board and chalk, but those are cheap. If we put it up, though, we won’t have a reason to go to the Saucer anymore. Wait, yes we would, there are girls in miniskirts at the Saucer. Maybe we can get Carmel to play dress-up or something.

Special thanks to the team of 18 sitting at the table behind us for getting up and leaving mid-game (they would have beaten us if they had stayed) and for giving us their unfinished pitchers of beer.

I am absolutely exhausted but I will post a mid-week update soon… got lots to talk about.

The power of Internet activism

The picture above was taken yesterday afternoon at the Flying Saucer… you will note that this is a pic of a BRAND NEW DART BOARD! And there’s another one to go along with it.

Now, I can’t say for sure if this has anything to do with my public complaining, via this blog, about the Saucer’s worn out dart boards (see my “Turkey of the Year” post from sometime around Thanksgiving)… but whatever the reason… good job guys! By the way… when ya gonna hire some more Romanians?

January 1: Downtown = Ghost town

I’m typing this post from Dan McGuinness Pub’s public computer.

Man, downtown is DEAD today. I got up ready to roll this morning… all the amateurs had their fun last night and they had gone home and passed out, and I was ready to start MY partying, which begins on January 1, and lasts 365 days.

So I walked to Sleep Out’s for my weekly bottle of champagne, to discover that it wasn’t open. No other place I know of downtown does champagne brunch at a reasonable price (now that the Monkey is no more), so I walked back home. I thought, well, at least I can hit the Saucer when it opens at noon, but I checked their website and it’s not opening until 5 today.

So I spent the afternoon at home working on my laptop and drinking… believe it or not… WATER. I went out at 4:30. I’m here at McGuinness just long enough to drink one beer and type this post and switch the wallpaper on their public computer to my pic of Angie and Melanie in their outfits from the Pimp & Ho party. By the time I get done with that, the Saucer should be open.

Kudos to Big Foot Lodge, Dan McGuinness Pub, and the Tap Room, which opened at their regular times today. Downtowners gotta have places to drink!

One good thing did come out of this: Because I spent the afternoon at home, I got an evening’s worth of work done in advance – so Tuesday is now a going-out night. ATTN RAPSCALLIONS: I’ll be back at trivia this week, after a month absence.

And tomorrow is a day off work, and I’m treating it as a bonus Sunday on a Monday, and dammit, Sleep Out’s BETTER be open tomorrow, because I’m gonna be in a grouchy mood all week if I don’t have my champagne.

12/31 update: Culinary Productions opens

Congratulations to my friends at Culinary Productions, who have their new restaurant open at 22 S. Main, on the Main Street Mall between Madison and Monroe, in the location that used to be Memphis Grits.

Long-time readers of my blog will recall my writing last summer about a chef who moved into my building and started a catering company. He had worked in four-star restaurants across the US, and my neighbors and I enjoyed many fine meals that he cooked on our apartment building’s rooftop.

Well, now you can enjoy his cooking too! They’re open for lunch and dinner at their Main Street Mall location. Menu changes daily. It’s four-star food but it’s also very informal, and reasonably priced for what you get. So if you work downtown, I highly recommend you stop by for lunch and treat yourself to some great food.

Other notes:

– My blog generated a record 88 visits on Thursday, although 3 of those were mine, checking to see if my pages published. Wonder if I’ll have my first 100+ day in January.

– I didn’t make it to the Dempseys show at the Saucer as planned. I came down with a cold, and I knew that I needed to knock myself out with some NyQuil and get a good, solid 10 hours’ rest, not go out and drink beer until 1:30 in the morning. In my experience there’s nothing better to beat a cold than good, sound sleep. The Dempseys will be playing Huey’s downtown location Sunday, January 8, so I’ll see them then.

– I did make it out to the Trolley Art Tour for a couple of hours last night. You know how I’ve written a couple of times about “that gallery on G.E. Patterson, in the Arcade building” that I like so much, but never could remember the name? Well, last night I made it a point to get the name. It’s Universal Art Gallery, owned by artist Arnold Thompson. He features a different artist every month, but if you go in make sure you ask Arnold to see HIS work, which I think is really outstanding.

– Also found out that my friends at Etched Art are closing their Main Street storefront, but their custom laser etching business will live on.

– After Trolley Tour I ended up having a couple of drinks at the bar at Stella. Very inviting place and I felt right at home there, friendly people. I really appreciate that one of the finest places to eat in the city has such a down-to-earth atmosphere.

– I was annoyed to discover that I couldn’t get in the Tap Room last night. Tulsa fans, in town for the Liberty Bowl, had rented out the entire half-block consisting of King’s Palace, the Tap Room, Blues Hall, and Rum Boogie Cafe. I’d love to know what they paid for that. Somewhere in the five figures, I’m guessing. AND all of them were jam-packed with Tulsa folks buying food and drink, probably as busy as they are for Music Fest in May. Bet that made it a happy new year for Preston Lamm, who owns all those businesses.

– But since it was Tulsa’s fault I couldn’t visit my mug at the Tap Room, I’m rooting for Fresno State in the Liberty Bowl.

– Still no plans for tonight, which is exactly the way I want it. New Year’s Eve is amateur night for partying, and those people can have the town. Unless inspiration hits me tonight, this will be the last blog entry of 2005. So have fun, be safe, and I’ll see you next year!

– COMING SOON: Read my blog, get free stuff. Check back in a few days to find out how.

Breakfast: not the time to go ’70s retro

“Paul, it’s 7:05.” said my mother as though it was the end of the world.

It was a summer morning in 1984, and I was lying in bed in a hotel room in Dyersburg, Tennessee. We were there on a trip to visit my grandparents, who lived in a small town about 14 miles to the north. My mother was trying desperately to get me up.

“Paul, Grandpop and Nana are country people. They get up and have breakfast at six. We’re late.”

“So, why don’t we get up at a reasonable hour, go to the Shoney’s across the street and have the breakfast bar, and then meet up with them afterward?”

“Paul, we can’t do that. We came up here to see them.”

“We WILL see them! Say we eat at Shoney’s, and then get to their house at nine. And we’ll be there until nine P.M. That’s twelve hours! We’ll see plenty of them!”

“Paul, they don’t want us to have to go to the trouble of going to Shoney’s.”

“How is that trouble? Eating out is fun! They have all kind of different stuff on their breakfast bar… sausage, pancakes, French toast… we can eat as much as we want, and we don’t have to be there at six, or even 7:05.”

“Paul, we’re obligated to have breakfast with Grandpop and Nana. We owe it to them. When you’re an adult you’ll understand these things.”

The absolute worst way to convince me to do anything is to tell me I’m obligated to do it. But, I could tell my mother wasn’t going to back down, so I got up, showered and got dressed, and got in the car.

My mother would soon be wishing I had won the argument. I would too.

We pulled up to my grandparents’ house and walked into the kitchen. “There he is, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!” said my grandfather. “We hope we didn’t get you up too early.”

“No, not at all,” said my mother cheerfully.

So we sat down to a breakfast of bacon, sausage, biscuits, and eggs. There were several Mason jars of homemade preserves on the table. “We have an entire freezer full out back,” my grandmother told us. “This stuff keeps forever. Like that jar of blackberry preserves there – we canned that in 1982.”

“Well!” said my mother. “It tastes just like it was canned yesterday.” Personally, it seemed to me like a lot of work to pick or buy the fruit, cook it, and store it when you could just drive to the grocery store and buy a jar of Smuckers for three bucks. But it made them happy, so I was happy for them.

“Paul, try some of this pear jelly on your biscuit,” my grandfather said, pushing a jar my way.

I hesitated. The contents of the jar looked… funny. The jelly was brown, approximately the color of Coca-Cola. From what I remembered, pears were yellowish-white, or whitish-yellow… you know, pear colored. But, I reasoned, maybe they added cinnamon or other spices that turned the jelly that color. And I loved my grandfather and didn’t want to hurt his feelings. So I spread some on my biscuit and took a bite.

It wasn’t bad. It tasted like pears. I smiled and took another bite.

“Guess when that pear jelly was canned,” my grandfather said proudly.

“1983?” I guessed, which would have been last year at the time.

“No, way before that,” he said.

“1982? 1981?”


1970????? Fourteen years ago? I was barely able to stop myself from spitting the biscuit across the room. I managed to get out, “wow, that was a long time ago,” as I tried not to choke.

And because I didn’t want to hurt my grandparents’ feelings, I had to finish the rest of that biscuit, with pear jelly on top that was old enough to get a learner’s permit to drive.

And to top it all off, my grandfather picked up the plate of biscuits and “accidentally” lost his balance and dropped another one on my plate. “Whoop!” he said. “That’s all right, there’s plenty more jelly!”

I can’t remember for sure – it’s been 21 years – but I’m pretty sure that the next morning, we found a reason to explain why we were running late, and since we didn’t want to put them out, we’d just run by Shoney’s breakfast buffet.

Plans for this weekend

Thursday 12/29: The Dempseys at the Flying Saucer. Show starts at 9:30. I plan to be there for all three sets.

I was in the Saucer Monday afternoon, and they were having a cattle-call type interview for positions at their new Cordova location, scheduled to open mid-January. I didn’t see any Romanians applying for jobs, so I doubt I’ll feel the need to visit the new Saucer.

Attn Saucer management if you’re reading this: Since you’ll probably be ordering dart boards for the Cordova location, how about ordering a couple of new ones for the downtown Saucer as well? Might be able to save on shipping if you buy ’em all at once.

Friday 12/30: South Main Trolley Art Tour. Yes, it still goes on in the winter. Come spend your Christmas cash on some art, and drink some free wine.

That reminds me – last Saturday I was in Little Rock and was wandering through the Forest Heights district, the nearest shopping district to my house there. If you like the feeling of South Main, it’s worth a trip over. Lots of art galleries and antique shops and cool clothing stores similar to Muse on South Main. There was one, on Kavanaugh Blvd. called Attitudes and Latitudes, where as soon as I walked in they said, “Would you like a beer, or a margarita?” They sell men’s and women’s clothing and have mannequins with a parrot’s and a toucan’s head. They told me they’re having a Parrothead party the second Thursday in January, and that in general they have happy hour “Thursdays, and whenever else we feel like it.” The attitude of downtown Memphis, 140 miles away.

Saturday 12/31 (New Year’s Eve): As of the moment, absolutely NO plans. And that’s just fine with me. I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Eve: high cover charges, crowds everywhere, traffic jams, drunks who have to be loud and belligerent to convince themselves that they’re “partying.” I’m not saying I WON’T go out if someone contacts me with a fun idea for the evening; but I am saying I don’t feel like I NEED to go out. Because the REAL party starts on

Sunday 1/1 with a bottle of champagne at Sleep Out’s. Maybe 2 bottles. There will likely also be stops at the Saucer and the Tap Room at some point during the day.

Monday 1/2: Sleep, wonderful sleep! Then Pint Night at the Saucer and at Dan McGuinness.

And those are the plans. Sorry this blog entry isn’t more entertaining, but I’m exhausted. If you know of anything fun going on this weekend that I don’t know about, drop me an e-mail.

Bloggers’ Bash report

Finally, almost a week after the Bloggers’ Bash at Quetzal, I’m getting around to posting my report.

First of all, Quetzal. VERY nice place. Big room, free wi-fi, good selection of coffee, beer and non-coffee drinks. They have a pool table and lounge area in the back, and a meeting room which we used. Suggestion to Quetzal – update your website saying that you have free wireless at your Memphis location. Right not it only talks about your San Fran location, where it looks like you’re charging $7.95 a day for wireless. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t been in Quetzal before now.

So I went in and I met Mike, who writes Half-Bakered and who was the host. (I’m not going to try to link to the blog of every person I met.) But if you go to Mike’s site and find his Bloggers’ Bash review (should be 12/21/05 or 12/22/05 I think) you’ll find all the links.

The next person I met was Mark, who writes The Conservative Zone. The name of his blog would indicate that I’d spend a lot of time disagreeing with him, but no – I immediately liked him. I tend to judge people by the energy they give off more than their politcal views, and he struck me as a listener – someone who was more interested in hearing what other people have to say than pushing his own agenda. I enjoy hearing the opinions of people who think differently than I do, so I look forward to reading his blog.

And, I can’t go anywhere without running into a former student – in this case, Markus, who took my computer literacy class 1997ish and is now an indie film actor. He writes A View From The Middle.

I spent a good amount of time talking to Derek (autoegocrat) who writes for The Pesky Fly. I had never checked out his blog before (he co-blogs with several others, including Chris Davis from the Flyer who was also there) but I had read some of his posts on the old Mid-South Raves board and was impressed.

Derek told me that after Christmas is THE time to shop at thrift stores. People get stuff they don’t want for Christmas and don’t even bother returning it – they take it straight to Goodwill.

He also told me how to find cheap stuff on eBay. Type in a product you want and search. Note the misspellings in the listings. Now search on those typos. You’ll find more typos, and then search on those. Eventually you’ll come across items that no one else can find because they’re so badly listed. He also said, try rearranging the words you’re searching on – that can make a difference. “Massage your search,” as he put it.

He then posed a question: Is Bush really stupid or really evil? I would’ve voted for stupid (Cheney and Rumsfeld are evil) but Derek raised a good point. He thinks Bush is actually smart, in the area of social intelligence, because of the way he deals with power, and because of the way people who work for him react to him. Never heard it explained that way before, but it makes sense.

I then met Rachel who writes Pulp Faction. I immediately liked her because she brought in a cold flask filled with vodka. I hereby name Rachel an honorary downtowner for that move.

Rachel told me that the Hi-Tone has thrown psychedelic parties, with vintage psychedelic music and movies. Wayyyyy cool! I’ve read biographies of bands like The Pink Floyd (back when they still used “The” in the name) and in the late ’60s, they’d have these psychedlic, freak-out parties with wild lighting and trippy music. Always wish I could have attended one, but I was born about 20 years too late.

(“Interstellar Overdrive” remains my all-time favorite Floyd song, surpassing the later, more commercial stuff that happened when Roger and then Dave were leading the band)

The other Rachel (Rachel and the City) couldn’t make it. I found out that she mentioned me in her blog as the downtown version of her. Does that mean I’m a “hipster”? Hmmm… I can drink the hell out of some PBR, so maybe I do qualify.

Those of you who write blogs about going out to bars in Midtown: Do any of these bars employ Romanian women?

I also met EJ who writes Cherry Blossom Special. I like him, he puts a lot of himself into his blog. Which brings me to a topic that was brought up… once your blog develops a theme, it’s hard to write anything that departs from that theme because it’s not what your readers expect to see. “You’re stuck portraying a character,” as one of the bloggers put it. That’s one reason I’ve kept my blog as “Paul Ryburn’s Journal” rather than call it the blog about going out downtown or something similar. Maybe one day I’ll write about a new restaurant on Union, and the next I’ll write about some deeply held belief of mine, and the next I’ll write about how you can see the face of Jesus in the pigeon crap on the side of the Exchange Building.

We also discussed places like MySpace that host blogs. I think MySpace is way cool – kind of a combination of Blogger, Friendster, and a photo album. But I want to continue to host my own blog rather than use MySpace or another service, if for no other reason than it gives me the freedom to use the word “fuck” in my blog if I feel like it.

Hmmm… let me flip through my notepad… the only other thing I have is a recommendation for Quetzal’s Caramel Apple shake from one of the other bloggers.

That’s it for now… congrats to the Tigers on a big win over Gonzaga tonight, and congrats to the Rapscallion trivia team who won in my absence tonight. We have FOUR $25 gift certificates now!

Hope the links to the other blogs work – I’m too lazy to actually check them or anything. If they don’t work let me know. And welcome to readers from other blogs who have clicked over to this one. And it’s late, so I’m off to bed. Back tomorrow with more to talk about, unless I decide I don’t feel like typing a post tomorrow.

Must suck to be Bill Clinton sometimes

While in Little Rock for the Christmas holidays, I read an article that said Bill Clinton had visited several galleries in the River Market district to buy Christmas presents. Made me think… it must suck to be Bill Clinton sometimes.

Here’s why… I wander through art galleries all the time. And 99% of the time I don’t buy anything. In some cases, it’s because I don’t have the money. In other cases, it’s because there’s nothing in the gallery that appeals to me. For whatever reason, I thank the owner and walk out empty-handed.

But, imagine if you’re Bill Clinton. You walk in a gallery, and the owner is just thrilled that a former president is in her gallery. But then, say you do what I do, and turn around and thank her for her time and leave. Now the gallery owner is hurt and disappointed that nothing she had was good enough. So if you’re Bill Clinton, you’re pretty much obligated to buy something every time you walk in an art gallery. Which means you’re likely to run up a big tab and possibly some crappy art.

So you can’t just go incognito like I do. And that’s why it must suck to be Bill Clinton sometimes.