Nov 072014

More news. Let’s do this…

The Memphis Business Journal has a good story about SynapsePay, the mobile payment system that was created by a local startup. Businesses Downtown that accept payment via SynapsePay include Central BBQ, Aldo’s Pizza Pies, Tamp & Tap, The Mad Earl, Oshi Burger Bar, and Local. The advantage of accepting SynapsePay is that businesses only incur a 10 to 25 cent fee, as opposed a fee of a couple percent of the transaction. On a $100 transaction that’s a big difference.

Kooky Canuck Cordova has officially opened. If you live out that way, go by and get Kooky this weekend! I saw people from Twitter asking for one south of the border (TN-MS border that is). Considering I work in Horn Lake, I would like to second that motion.

In tech news: Facebook is giving you more control over your News Feed. Much needed! I pull up Facebook and see that my friends Dennis and Karen had dessert at the Blind Bear 23 hours ago. Know when that information would have been useful? 22 hours and 50 minutes ago! Not now! The article says you will have “show me more of this type of post” and “show me less of this type of post” options, which sounds really good.

Memphis Magazine has a good post about brunch at Belle Bistro. The bistro is on Union in the old Rio Loco space.

River Rat Rounders bar poker club will give away seats to Deal Cancer Out to the winners of its poker tournaments next week, including the 10 PM and midnight games at the Mad Earl. Deal Cancer Out is a charity poker tournament at Dan McGuinness on the 22nd. Normal entrance fee if you haven’t won a seat is $35, $45 at the door.

Weekend! Time for beer. Outta here.

Nov 072014

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My favorite pair of librarian glasses came to the Flying Saucer last night for International Stout Day.

Every year the Memphis Tigers basketball team plays a secret scrimmage that is closed to the public before the season begins. This year’s secret scrimmage is said to be at FedExForum and the Daily News is 99% sure the opponent is St. Louis.

If you’re a fan of Nikki’s Hot Ass seasoning and chips, they now have a Bloody Mary mix. You can “like” the Bloody Mary page on Facebook for updates.

Teach for America is hosting a free “Get Riverfit” class with coach Lauren Phelps tomorrow at 11 AM at the Grizzlies’ pop-up fitness park at Tom Lee Park.

The Memphis Farmers Market’s winter market starts tomorrow at the Central Station pavilion. Hours are 9 AM to 1 PM.

Radio host Chris Vernon tweeted a photo of the camo Grizzlies hat that will be given away to fans who attend next Tuesday’s home game. First 5000 fans in attendance will get one.

There was another small fire at the Chisca Hotel, currently being renovated into apartments and retail space. The fire was on the top floor and was put out quickly.

There will be a Heroes in Recovery 6K starting at Court Square tomorrow. Runners will be mainly on Second and Riverside and traffic will be affected from approximately 8 to 9:15 AM.

If you’re looking for a place to watch the Memphis Tigers football game tonight, Max’s Sports Bar will have it on with sound. They have plenty of TVs so you can watch both the Tigers and Grizzlies at the same time.

The Grizzlies’ D-League team the Iowa Energy plays tomorrow at the FedExForum at 5. Former Memphis Tigers Pierre Henderson-Niles and Ferrakohn Hall play for the Energy.

I’ll be out at Blind Bear at 10 to catch the Eric Hughes Trio. Hope to see you there for some great live music!

Nov 062014

This has been a newsy Thursday. Let’s get going…

Earlier this year city officials were told that the Bass Pro Shop in the Pyramid was expected to open in time for the 2014 holiday season. Now the MBJ is reporting a revised opening date: May 1. *Sigh* How many times has the opening date been pushed back? Oh well, the good news is, by the time the store actually opens, we’ll have our Social Security checks to spend there.

The MBJ article has more information about the plans for Bass Pro, including the two restautants, a Sky High Catfish Cabin and Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill. There will also be a duck aviary, an archery and pistol range, a hotel, an aquarium, and a pit of 20 live alligators.

A soul food restaurant called Marie’s Eatery is opening in the former Rizzo’s spot on G.E. Patterson. Rizzo’s moved around the corner to 492 S. Main.

The Eric Hughes Trio plays Blind Bear Friday. Highly recommended if you have never heard this band. If you have, I don’t have to highly recommend them – you already KNOW how good they are.

Want to be a certified Storm Spotter? is offering a class next Tuesday, November 11, taught by National Weather Service staff. You can take the class at home on your computer or mobile device.

The Rock & Soul Museum is launching renovations on a space inside the new Hard Rock Cafe on Beale. The space will become the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.

From the NBA website: Grizzlies Foundation works to provide greater impact for Memphis youth

Rock & roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis will perform at the Cannon Center at 7:30 Friday night. Not only will there be a musical performance, but also a talk with Lewis’ official biographer Rick Bragg.

Home from work. I was wrong about the day of my friend’s birthday today so regular line-up of Thursday bars as usual for me.

Nov 062014

Last night I was sitting at the bar at the Silly Goose, and the Northern Illinois vs. Ball State football game was on. Ball State’s mascot is the Cardinals, and I couldn’t help but notice something.

First of all, have a look at the Arizona Cardinals logo. Nice looking bird, yes?

Now look at the Louisville Cardinals logo. Again, very sharp, very professional.

And now look at the Ball State logo. How much do you think they paid a graphic designer to create that logo? Ten dollars? Maybe? It’s just awful. I have minimal design skills, but give me a copy of Illustrator and a few hours and I could make something better than that. I mean, I know Ball State’s athletic program doesn’t have the revenue of an NFL team or a major college sports team, but damn, they couldn’t even afford the extra color to make the bird’s beak yellow. Ever seen a cardinal with a white beak? Maybe it’s an albino cardinal. I rooted for Northern Illinois because I assume Ball State sucks as much as its logo.

Holly has a list of places that will be open on Thanksgiving. Many (but not all) Downtown bars open late afternoon and stay open until regular closing time.

From the MBJ: 85, 87, and 91 S. Second will be renovated into 16 apartments and two restaurant spaces. I believe that is the former Pancho’s location.

Want to be the first to check out Memphis Made Brewing Co.’s new tap room? Come to this Church Health Center event there on Monday, November 10 from 5:30 to 7:30. The event is free and the first 100 will receive a free beer.

If you own an iOS device, Microsoft Office apps are now free. Free versions will be coming to Android early next year.

St. Jude Christmas tribute cards are now available here.

Aldo’s Pizza Pies has announced a new meal deal: During any Grizzlies or NFL game, get a large one-topping pizza for $16.99.

Way too much news to get online on a lunch break, so there may be a second post after work.

Nov 052014

Tomorrow is International Stout Day, a worldwide celebration of that particular style of beer. The Flying Saucer will be pouring rare beers in observance of this beer holiday. Here’s what will be on the menu:

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The Orpheum is currently running an online auction, but it ends tomorrow, so if you want anything better get in there quick and bid.

Work on the Harahan Bridge is about to commence. The bridge, which spans across the Mississippi River, is a railroad bridge built about 100 years ago. Lanes were added on the sides to accommodate vehicular traffic until the I-55 bridge was completed after World War II. Construction will renovate the lanes for bike and pedestrian traffic as part of the Main-to-Main project connecting Memphis’ Main Street with West Memphis’ Broadway. On Monday, there will be a celebration at 2 PM at the Church of the River on Virginia Avenue near the bridge. Paul Morris who runs DMC and others will speak.

I want to give a shout-out to a poker game Downtown that I don’t mention enough on this blog: The Wednesday 7:30 game in the Underdog Room (downstairs) at Bardog. People have asked why I don’t play that game much; it isn’t anything against Bardog or poker host Joe, who from what I hear does an excellent job. It’s just that I have a regular bartender I go see at the Silly Goose on Wednesdays. Bardog’s game is free to play and the game usually gets over in two to two and a half hours, giving players who have 8-to-5 jobs plenty of time to get a full night’s sleep. You don’t have to worry about it lasting past midnight the way some games Downtown do. There are weekly prizes and points toward a league final table.

Felicia Suzanne’s will host Banjos & Bonfires on Friday, November 14. The event honors Felicia’s dad, J.W. Willett, who managed to beat cancer and lived cancer-free for several years. It came back, however, and he passed away October 3, 2008. There will be beers, bourbon and bites on the patio for the event. Guests are invited to wear flannel and grow out their beards. Best flannel, beard, and mustache will win prizes. Tickets are $50. Proceeds from the event will go to the Church Health Center. One ticket will cover the cost of two prostate exams.

From High Ground News: Harbor Town Turns 25. Did you know that there was once a proposal for the I-240 loop to go through what is now Harbor Town?

That’s it for now. I’ll be out at the Silly Goose after work eating a bowl of Shorty’s pasta.

Nov 042014

We are now within a month of a much-anticipated day Downtown: The Majestic Grille half-price gift card sale. On Wednesday, December 3, you will be able to buy $50 Majestic gift cards for $25. You can buy as many as you want. There are a couple of restrictions: They can’t be used to purchase alcohol, and you can’t use them until after the first of the year. More info here. The cards will be on sale from 8 AM until they run out. PRO TIP: Call in to work, tell them you’re running late, and go in at 8 AM. There’s a chance the cards will run out by lunch hour, and it’s likely they will by the end of the business day. If you can’t be late for work, find someone who will be going to the sale that morning, and have them purchase the cards for you.

The Grizzlies won another one last night, getting off to a 4-0 start for the first time in franchise history. From Bleacher Report: The Grizzlies are the NBA’s most dangerous dark horse. It’s sure looking that way. If they keep up this level of play, Mike Conley, Z-bo, and Gasol could all make it to this season’s All-Star Game.

Meanwhile, the Memphis Tigers football team is just one win away from becoming bowl-eligible. The Tigers play Temple Saturday and are favored to win.

The Orpheum is adding a high-end sound system. It’s the first upgrade to the theater’s sound system since 1983.

From Lifehacker: Tips from a former server on how to get the best service in a restaurant. Most of these are common sense but a lot of people don’t do them.

After a second-place finish and $20 gift card won Sunday night, I will be back at Blind Bear poker tonight at 8 to try and do even better. I doubt tonight will be as interesting as Sunday’s game was though. I will do a little pre-gaming at Flying Saucer and Silly Goose beforehand to get in the right state of mind to play. Time to go run errands, so I’m outta here for now. Possibly a second news post tonight before I get out.

Nov 032014

You never know what’s going to happen on Sunday Fun Day in Downtown Memphis. Yesterday I led off the day at Bardog. One of the regulars there had dressed up as a bunny for Halloween. He brought the bunny suit and people took turns putting it on. There are large wooden stairs by the window right now, that were used for people to climb up on the bar for the Halloween costume contest. They haven’t been taken back to storage yet and people got up on the steps and danced, in the bunny suit, in the window. I can’t imagine what tourists thought as they walked by. Maybe every bar in the city should get a dancing bunny. It could be a Memphis thang.

After the bunny crowd left Bardog, I saw a friend of mine check in at Silly Goose, commenting, “Bardog puked and it landed on the Goose,” so I guess that was their next stop.

I’ll be at Bardog this evening for Melissa Monday (happy hour with Melissa), but I’ll be there for an additional reason as well: To see who wins the bike.

Bardog is giving away a New Belgium Fat Tire bike tonight. Since early September, an entry in the drawing has come with each purchase of a Fat Tire. Tonight is the drawing.

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Stumbling Santa has been announced for Saturday, December 6. This is an enormous pub crawl that happens every yea
r to collect toys and money for Porter-Leath. Over 1000 people dress up as Santa and stumble around from one Downtown bar to another all evening. Want to be part of it? Put on your Santa suit (or Mrs. Claus, reindeer, whatever) and bring one or more toys to the Flying Saucer at 7 PM. The Saucer will be the starting and ending point of the crawl; other stops to be announced.

Kinda funny… Grizzlies rookie Jordan Adams missed trick-or-treating because there was a game on Halloween. He tweeted that he hoped someone saved him some candy, and got a response from owner Robert Pera.

The Memphis Business Journal’s BBQ Brackets are down to the Swinal Four. Two of the round of eight matchups were very, very close to a 50-50 tie.

Time to get back to work. I’ll be out at Melissa Monday and Pint Nite at the Saucer after work.

Nov 012014

The Mad Earl posted a chart (hope that link works, it’s a Facebook image) of their 17 types of chicken wing sauces. To help you choose, they have the sauces graphed, with “hot” on the x axis and “crazy” on the y axis. There seems to be a sauce for everyone, even Memphis residents who are natives of the planet Zambodia – for them there’s “The Zambodian” with maple syrup and cereal sauce. Burlesque dancer and bingo host Kitty Wompas has a sauce named for her, and from the description it sounds like the one I would be inclined to order, equivalent to extra hot at other wing joints. Bartender Ugly has a spicy BBQ sauce named after him. Their hottest and craziest sauce is called “F-U-J” and Clay claims it will shut up anyone who says that the Mad Earl’s wings are not hot enough. Wings are 75 cents apiece and are discounted to 50 cents on Mondays and when the Grizzlies are playing.

Kooky Canuck is days away from opening its second location at 1250 Germantown Parkway. For those of you out in Cordova who have never been to the downtown location, you’re going to love it. Here are a few of my recommendations:

  • Great maple sirloin – it’s just the right portion if you want steak but don’t have a huge appetite. It comes in a skillet with blue cheese mashed potatoes and green beans.
  • Four cheese burger – my favorite burger on the menu. I like to add mushrooms or bacon to this one.
  • Yonge Street burger – a close second favorite. A double decker with bacon and special sauce.
  • Wings – Kooky’s wings are big, tasty, and served in generous portions. I usually get them with the hot sauce, although some of my friends rave about the strawberry jalapeno. The Holy Smokes wings are the equivalent of suicide wings at other restaurants and should be approached with extreme caution. At most places I prefer blue cheese with wings but Kooky’s Dill Ranch sauce is the bomb.
  • Fried ham and cheese sandwich – you won’t find “American Heart Association approved” next to this on the menu.
  • Southwest chicken salad – I love the cilantro sour cream that comes with this one. You can substitute fried green tomatoes for the chicken if you like.

This is also an excellent place to go if you’re a hockey fan, because the owners are too.

The Loony Bin, the new gallery at 8 South Main, has announced that they will do pet photography starting today. You can make an appointment to bring your pet by to be photographed by professionals.

The Mystery Beer Tub got me again! After getting off work early, I met a buddy at the Silly Goose for happy hour. About 6:30 he went home to change and I went to the Flying Saucer, planning to meet him back at the Goose in a couple of hours. I started with my usual Dos Equis Lager (now $5.50 a pint) then switched to the $2 mystery beer tub that they have every Halloween. My first pull from the tub was a can of Old Milwaukee, my bad luck streak from 2013 continuing. My second pull, however, was a large bottle of beer I didn’t recognize that must have had an ABV of close to 10%. It was delicious but it hit me hard. By the time I got back to the Goose I was out of it and sleepy. Got home pretty early for Halloween.

If you want more Halloween fun, the Blind Bear is doing Halloween all weekend long. $5 Rogeue Dead Guy 16oz drat, $3 for 16oz aluminum bottle of Bud or Bud Light, Fireball or moonshine, $4 drink specials through close Sunday. Costume contest tonight at midnight, and live music tonight as well.

As usual, I’m leading off at Panda’s bar at Bardog today at 11. This afternoon I will head south for the Memphis Farmers Market’s Barnyard Ball. I still have my extra ticket so text me if interested. Check back, because I plan on posting a sample chapter from my new book before I go out today.

Halloween update

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Oct 312014

Usually I do a post the week before Halloween announcing what parties are happening on what nights… but with Halloween on Friday this year, there’s no need. Damn near everyone is having a Halloween party tonight. Just take a look at the Downtown Memphis newsletter to see what your options are.

There are a couple of FedExForum Groupons that may be of interest. One is to go see the Grizzlies play a home game. There are four different games and two different options to choose from.

The other FedExForum Groupon is for the Harlem Globetrotters on Saturday, January 10. There are three different ticket options.

The Mid-South Heart Walk is tomorrow morning, so allow extra time if you have to drive the streets of Downtown.

Last night, an angry crowd told city leaders that they want Riverside Drive converted back to four lanes of car traffic. The city proposed four alternate plans for Riverside. I was neutral on the Riverside issue until I took it home from work one day and was caught in a traffic jam that extended south from Beale almost all the way to Georgia. Since then I’ve sided with the “give us our four lanes back” crowd.

Normally I don’t promote anything that happens in Germantown, but India Fest, tomorrow from 10 to 6, is worth a drive out there. One of the lucky side effects about getting my Master’s in Computer Science is that I met a lot of Indians and got exposed to their culture and especially their delicious food. Pot-luck holiday parties with Indians were the best.

From Gizmodo: A court fined Google $2000 for using a cleavage shot of a woman that the company took with one of its StreetView cameras. She told the court she suffered “extreme emotional trauma” because of the image. Are you fucking kidding me?

They’re letting us go at 3 today, so I’ll be out for the full Happy Hour doing the Ickey Shuffle with my cold cuts. I hear I might be made famous later tonight, so I’ll be staying out late.

Oct 302014

(Administrative note: Today’s lunchtime post is a little late going up thanks to GoDaddy and its stupid 500 Internal Server Errors. Thank goodness I had a draft saved.)

Yesterday evening I was at one of my favorite after-work watering holes. A woman came up to the bar and ordered $20.50 worth of food for herself and her friends. When the food arrived, I watched in astonishment as she handed the bartender a 20, then proceeded to fish around in her change purse for two quarters.

Do you think bartending is volunteer work?

Do you think you don’t have to tip because the bartender didn’t mix you a drink?

The bare minimum I would have left would have been $24, which would be about a 17% tip. However, since I am a regular at this particular bar and the bartender is a friend of mine, I would have been inclined to leave something more like $27.
The bartender makes $2.13 an hour. There’s no law saying you HAVE to tip, but not doing so is in extremely poor taste.

The Cotton Museum will hold an artist talk with Lisa McCord this evening from 5:30 to 7:30. She will discuss her two new books of photography, Osceola and Highway 61. Free to the public and there will be refreshments and snacks.

Memphis is a finalist for the location of the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame. Get on Facebook and show your support for our city and tell the people in charge that the Hall of Fame needs to be here.

Jay Sieleman will step down as the head of the Blues Foundation in 2015. Jay has done an incredible job increasing awareness of the foundation and the blues. His successor will have big shoes to fill.

Matt Mullenweg is the head guy at WordPress, the CMS used to publish this blog and 23% of websites worldwide. WordPress was my BBQ team’s sponsor from 2009-13, and I still check out his blog from time to time. He blogged an interesting fact this week: No More Platinum. Not one artist’s album has gone platinum in 2014. How the music industry has changed.

The MBJ has an update on Bass Pro construction progress at the Pyramid. The project is on-time (for once), and a new glass skywalk has been announced similar to the one at the Grand Canyon. There will be a restaurant and an aquarium inside the skywalk.

Restricting myself to a York peppermint patty for lunch today so I can talk to Shorty about a bowl of pasta after work. I’ll be out about 5:30 and we’ll see where the evening takes me. Possibly coming tomorrow: A sneak preview of my new book. We’re having an office cookout tomorrow for lunch so I probably won’t be doing my Friday update post until mid-afternoon.