Thanksgiving in Little Rock

The great thing about this blog is that you, my faithful readers, get to read the same stories I’ve been telling all over downtown the past two weeks. This time the stories concern my recent trip to Little Rock for Thanksgiving with my mother.

As I drove in, I passed through downtown and the hip, trendy Hillcrest district. I was shocked at all the art galleries and coffee shops and fun new restaurants. It was like the South Main arts district in Memphis x 100. What’s happened to my original hometown, I thought. It had started to look like a place I could actually live in!

Then I turned on the TV.

“It’s the Shotgun Special from (a local Ford dealership)! Buy an F-150 or higher pickup this week and we’ll give you a free rifle just in time for duck hunting season! That’s right, folks, we’ll throw in a free shotgun with the purchase of any full-sized pickup!”

WTF???? Who gives away a GUN as a PROMOTIONAL GIFT? And it had to be a popular promotion, because the commercial ran 3 times during the 6:00 news. It made me want to found a new town called White Trash, Arkansas, force all the people who took advantage of the promotion to move there, and encourage them to bring their new guns, so hopefully they’ll shoot each other.

But the commercial turned out to be the best thing I saw on TV that night. My mother informed me that we had to watch the 3-hour season finale of The Bachelor. It was down to the final two contestants, and I had to sit there and watch the bachelor meet each girl’s parents, then each girl went on a “date” with him and met his friends, then everyone sat around and talked about their feelings, then he proposed to one of the bimbos, then everyone sat around and talked about the experience in front of a live audience for an hour.

YUCK. It should be illegal to make someone watch that crap without having any liquor in the house to make it go by faster. However, my mother was treated to my running commentary during the show.

“Is it over yet?” (at 7:03)

“This is horrible. Even a 3-episode marathon of Days of Our Lives would better than this.”

“Hell, three hours of Passions would even be an improvement.”

“Three hours of Beavis & Butt-head would be better than this.”

“Bimbo #1 has fake boobs.”

“Are her parents reading off a teleprompter? Sure looks like it to me. I thought this was supposed to be a REALITY show.”

“Three hours of George W. Bush speeches would be better than this.”

“They should come to Memphis and make a reality show about the hooker who works the lobby bar of the Peabody, it couldn’t be any worse than this show.”

The only saving grace was that the Bachelor had good hair. I need to get a screen cap of that show so I can get my hair stylist to cut my hair like his. Why do the crummiest shows have people with the best hair? There’s a kid on Days of Our Lives with great hair as well.

The rest of the weekend was less eventful, most of it spent listening to my mother telling me that I need to cut my hair, dress better, stop spending so much time in bars, go to church at least once in a while, find a nice girl and get married, etc., etc., etc.

Oh, there was one other funny comment. I was telling her about the nightclubs I go to – Raiford’s, 152, etc. And she asked, “When you go to these clubs, do you take your laptop computer with you?” That one left me speechless.

Two more weeks until it’s time to go to Little Rock for Christmas. I’m sure I’ll come back with even more good stories.

Wine tasting, and the difference between downtowners and everyone else

If you ever need to find me on Sunday, it’s real easy – go to the downtown Blue Monkey on Front Street. I get there about noon and order a bottle of champagne and orange juice, make mimosas, and catch up with the other downtowners who come in.

Last Sunday I was there and noticed a card sitting on the bar. “WINE TASTING – 5:30 PM.” Sounds interesting, I thought, so I decided to hang out until then.

So at 5:30 I tabbed out at the bar and went into the back room for the tasting. I paid my $15 and took a seat. The Monkey’s day shift manager, who got off at 5:30, also stuck around and sat at the table with me. There were about 12-15 people at the other tables, and I found out that they came from Collierville and Cordova.

There were six wines, two white and four red. The sommelier, in my opinion, did an excellent job – rather than the tiny sips they usually pour at wine tastings, this guy was pouring full glasses. Only problem was, the tasting was moving along at a brisk pace, about 5-7 minutes between wines. I had to have an empty glass ready by the time the next bottle came around, and I know better than to slam glasses of wine, especially red wine. So I had to do something that goes against everything I believe in – I had to pour the remainder into the discard bucket in the middle of the table.

As the wine began to flow, everyone loosened up and started joking around. “Look at all those different wines in the discard bucket,” commented the day shift manager. “It’s like a Diver from Silky O’Sullivan’s.”

So the tasting went on….three, four, five, six wines. Each time I had to pour out about half my glass to be ready to move on. I enjoyed the tasting thoroughly but was a bit disappointed to see so much of my $15 investment in that discard bucket.

So I did what, to me, seemed like the logical thing…I picked up the bucket and poured myself a glass.

The people at the other tables were appalled. “What are you doing?” they asked. “That’s the throwaway bucket!” I’m sorry, but I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I was only sharing the bucket with one other person, who happened to be a friend of mine. How is that any different from taking a sip from a glass that she just drank from, which I do all the time with my friends. I wouldn’t have done it if people I didn’t know were also using the bucket.

Over the past week, I’ve told this story to numerous people and have noticed two distinct reactions. About half the people have responded, “You drank out of the wine bucket, what’s wrong with that? You paid for it, after all.” Nearly all of those people live downtown.

The other half have said, “Paul! What’s wrong with with you? Drinking out of the discard bucket is just gross! Wine tastings are classy events, you need to act appropriately when you attend one.” Almost none of the people who responded this way live downtown – they live out east, in the suburbs, or (surprisingly) in Midtown.

So there you have it. The difference between downtown and the rest of the city. I’m glad I’ve picked a neighborhood that shares my attitude and values.

Pigeons and people

Part of living downtown is sitting in my favorite coffee shop and watching what I call the bum-and-pigeon show out the window.

Today, the pigeons took center stage. There were two of them on the Main Street Mall, hunting and pecking for food. It was interesting to watch them. Whenever one would turn, the other would turn as well, even if it could not see the other pigeon. It was instinctive. It was like a dual-pigeonal unit of consciousness.

They stayed out on the street for about 30 minutes. Later on, one of the pigeons turned around and discovered, to its horror, that it was more than an acceptable distance from the other pigeon. So it rushed to catch up, bobbing its little head all the way.

Later this evening, I went out to Club 152 on Beale Street. There were a lot of people on the dance floor and I grabbed a beer and watched. There was this cute Asian girl who was dancing with an American girl, a brunette. It was interesting to watch them on the dance floor. The American girl would turn, and the Asian girl would instinctively turn too, even if she couldn’t see the Asian girl. Or vice-versa.

Later in the evening, the American girl turned around and discovered, to her horror, that the Asian girl was more than an acceptable distance away on the dance floor. So the American girl rushed to catch up, bobbing her little head all the way.

I bet I could have gotten the girls’ phone numbers, if I had thrown them a cracker or a piece of stale bread.

Catching up on the mail

I’ve been busy lately, so I’ve gotten behind reading through the e-mail in my Inbox, so let’s see what’s in there.

Subj: add 3 inches to ol johnson

Obviously, this e-mail was sent to me by mistake. It was intended for a Mr. Johnson, who seems to be looking into methods to make himself taller. I’ve heard that it’s possible to undergo a surgical procedure that can make a person several inches taller, but involves breaking both legs and there is a danger that they won’t heal properly. I would advise Mr. Johnson to look into platform shoes, or perhaps take a self-esteem class – adding three inches of height won’t necessarily fill the emptiness he feels inside.

If anyone knows Mr. Johnson’s e-mail address, let me know and I’ll forward the message on.

Subj: U R Stupid Dumbass If You Pay Full Price For Softwarees!

Gotta give the sender an “A” for marketing. After all, do I want to go around thinking, “I M Stupid Dumbass?” Of course not! Therefore, I will seriously consider buying his softwaree, or so0ftware or soooffftwares as it is referred to elsewhere in the message.

The main program they are promoting is W1ND0WS XP Pro. They point out that when I shop and buyyy it in a box I paayy $299.00. But they can seeell it to me for only $32, which according to them is a saav1ngs of $254. These people obviously have the world of software figured out. I don’t know whether to be more impressed with their spelling skills, or their math skills. I better start ordering those softwaarres now. Oops, I accidentally deleted the message. Too bad.

V1agra, Xan@x, more – no doctor visit required! zxqvba shjol

This V1agra must be good stuff, because I have received over 1000 messages about it over the past month. Obviously a lot of people I’ve never met before are concerned with my health and well-being and thought I should know about this. The world is full of wonderful souls, isn’t it?

As for Xan@x, I’m sure it’s great too, but don’t you think people might mistake it for an e-mail address? Someone might think it’s used to send mail to Xan at x (I think they may have meant Xan at though) and miss out on the amazing benefits one gets from taking Xan@x.

And no doctor visits – that’s just brilliant. I hate going to see doctors. They poke you with needles and charge you lots of money. Who needs doctors?

I clicked on the website listed in the e-mail, and discovered to my delight that they also had Phenterem1ne as well! How lucky am I?

Well, that’ll do it for e-mail today. Feels good to be all caught up.

Got a job

After 6 weeks or so of hunting, it looks like I’ve found a great job. It’s with the Advertising Checking Bureau, a company that audits print and Internet advertising and does rebate programs. I start Monday.

Looks I’ll primarily be working with Visual Basic and Microsoft Access, and doing web development with Active Server Pages. From what they tell me, I’ll also have a chance to learn some of the hottest new technologies. I may get the opportunity to do some development with .NET, XML, and/or Web Services.

Hard to believe I’m actually looking forward to an 8-to-5 job, but I am. I think I’m going to learn a lot and it will be good to have a steady income again.

Paul’s Constitution

Last week I was sitting around, reviewing some of the books I have read in the past few months, and decided to create a blueprint for where I want to go and who I want to be the next few months. I initially wrote it in the notebook I keep as a private journal, but I’ve since decided that I’d like to make it public. I decided to call it my “Constitution” because it’s a base on which I can build, in the way that the real Constitution was that base on which the U.S. was built. So here it is:

Paul’s Constitution – September 2004

I embrace all of my actions. I embrace everything I have thought, said and done in my life up until now. Some worked well, some didn’t; but they are all parts of me.

I intuitively know that things will work out. No matter what situation I may be in, I know I will be presented with the perfect opportunities.

I seize opportunities quickly as they arrive.

I cast a wide net, knowing that some will work out and some won’t. Casting a wide net prevents attachment to any one opportunity.

Some of those opportunities will turn out better than I expected, and some will turn out to be duds. But I can’t know which are which in advance. So never prejudge and explore them all.

I get the daily, mundane, necessary obligations of life out of the way quickly. I’m talking about bills, laundry, the kinds of things none of us want to do but we all have to. If not taken care of, these things can fester into guilt and worry. Once out of the way, I’m free to focus on opportunity, possibility, the wonder in the world around me.

In addition, I’m careful not to clutter up my life by taking on any additional daily obligations without very good reason.

I am playful in everything I do. Playfulness is like a magnet, attracting good events and good people to you. Its opposite, over-seriousness, repels these things and is the kiss of death. Even when in situations where it’s not appropriate to overtly exhibit my playfulness, I know it’s there, under the surface.


…Okay. So that’s the constitution. I typed it up in Word and have made it a point to review it once a day since.

Now, here’s an interesting “coincidence” that I think is a result of adopting this constitution. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have decided to go back to work full-time doing something with my technology and/or training background. Back in March, I met a recruiter for a technical placement agency at an Mpact meeting, but I had misplaced his card. Just the other day I thought to myself, I need to find a way to get hold of him. Well, today I ate lunch at Court House Deli, stopped to feed the pigeons, then ran by my aparment to grab some library books I needed to return. As I walked out the door of my building, I bumped into the very recruiter I had been looking for. He had heard my building was nice and had come by to check on vacancies. So we talked for 15 minutes and he asked me to send him a resume. He also promised to say I referred him if he moves in, which will get me a $400 discount on rent.

Maybe it’s just me, but I have a lot of trouble believing that was a coincidence. “No matter what situation I may be in, I know I’ll be presented with the perfect opportunities.” People are event magnets.

Okay, enough for now, gotta get that resume out.

An example of what’s wrong with the world

Every year, I like to take a day near the start of the college fall semester and head up to the U of M. I just sit outside, watch people walk to and from class, talk to the people I know who are still there. This past Wednesday marked my 2004 trip to campus. “Just about this time every year I see you,” commented a math professor I used to work with. “It’s like, you’re in periodic orbit or something.” Periodic orbit – geez. You can always tell when you’re talking to a math guy.

Anyway – while there I picked up a beginning-of-school issue of the Daily Helmsman, the campus newspaper. I read an article saying that the U of M had a good chance of being a stop on the Rock The Vote tour this fall. This would be a Good Thing for students in the short term because there would be bands, games, a good time on campus. It would be a Really Good Thing in the long term because hundreds of 18-22 year olds would register to vote and get in the HABIT of having a voice in who leads this country.

But, I have since learned that Rock The Vote won’t happen here. And the reason why really pisses me off.

One of Rock the Vote’s major sponsors is Pepsi. The University of Memphis, however, has an exclusive contract with Coke. And Coke put their foot down and vetoed the tour.

So instead of fun and games and bands and voter registration, the students instead get a lesson – that Doing The Right Thing in America means doing what’s in the best interests of the large corporations.

I think that lesson sucks.

My mother has been telling me for years that I need to drink fewer Cokes and instead drink more water. If Coke keeps acting like this, I may well start listening to her.

That is all. Again, have a good weekend.