Quick Tuesday morning update: new look, Fresh Slices

This one’s gotta be extra quick because I’m at work…

I received feedback that Fresh Slices is not a pizza place. According to my reader, it’s more of an all-purpose, cozy neighborhood deli. Pasta, burgers, sandwiches, and live jazz several nights a week. She’s not even sure pizza is on the menu.

And yes, I agree, the font is too small. This is a blog template named Beckett that I grabbed from some site. I’ll go in and bump up the font size when I get a chance, but it looks like I’m going to have to dig through a stylesheet to find it, so it may be a day or two.

All right, back to the rat race.

Monday evening update: New look, spam, Rio Loco

Well, I finally updated this blog with a new look. And I even bothered to upload a pic of myself, although it’s a pic that’s about 2 years old. At least the shirt I was wearing that day matches the template of this blog.

So I logged into the control panel of my website today. “Total space: 1 GB. Space in use: 587 MB.” WHAT???? Last I was aware of, I only had about 25 MB of files uploaded to my web server. Then I remembered that I have an extra e-mail account where I redirect all my spam. So I logged into that account (last login was around December 15). “You have 57,681 new messages.” Oh goody. And I have to delete them 1,000 at a time. And it’s a webmail interface which is slow as molasses. Guess I have something to do at work tomorrow.

I walked by Rio Loco tonight. I didn’t go in – it looked like there were tables open but I usually prefer to sit at the bar when I’m by myself, and the bar was packed. But, I did get a menu. It’s run by the same people who own El Patron out in Bartlett, and the menu looks very good – quite extensive with combo and enchilada plates in the $7-8 range, fajitas around $10-11, seafood from $9-12, house specials $10-15. And they have a full bar! As I walked down Union a guy staggered down the street and pointed to the place and said, “Their margaritas are strong.” Actually he said, “sshhherrrmargariiiaaaserrrshtrong.” Good to hear. They’re open seven days a week, which means Rio Loco will probably become a regular stop for me on Sundays.

I think tomorrow I’m going to skip trivia and give it a try. Tuesday is the slowest night of the week for dining out, so surely I’ll find a seat at the bar. Soon as I try it I’ll provide a report.

Monday update: Nashville blogger, Mpact, cars

Saturday night after my drunk post, I wandered down to Earnestine & Hazel’s for a beer. There I ran into a guy who calls himself Mr. Roboto, who writes a blog called Thursday Night Fever which is somewhat of the Nashville equivalent of my blog. Apparently he has been aware of my site for a while and checks it out from time to time. Enjoyed talking to him… he told me that at one point, his blog was averaging 500 visits a day (this blog currently averages about 60). He said if I wanted to attain “celebrity blogger” status, he had some tips – a lot of it I agreed with, like more pictures for one thing. He also suggested that I come up with a catchy name for the blog, as he did for his site. Hmmm…. that one I’m going to have to think about… I kind of like it being MY blog, rather than a blog about going out downtown (which it frequently is). I’ll think about it.

I do need to redesign the look of this blog, though. That’s on my list of things to do in the next month and a half or so. I’ve always referred to winter as “The Sleepy Season” and have considered it a good time to catch up on personal projects. Because if I don’t get them done now, they sure won’t get done once it starts to warm up outside (which in Memphis, tends to happen in March). Once that happens, I’ll want to start going out every day of the week like I did last summer.

That means that I may be missing some regular weekly outings (like Tuesday night trivia) a little more often between now and March. Don’t worry, once it warms up I’ll be a full-timer again.

One weekly outing that will definitely NOT be affected is Sunday brunch at Sleep Out’s. You better believe I’ll still be there. Yesterday they asked me to fill out a comment card suggesting changes to the place – they’re thinking about things like adding a mezzanine area above the bar with couches, or replacing the tables with booths, or getting rid of the ties that have been hung. Here’s how I responded: DON’T CHANGE A THING. Keep the big-screen TV, but otherwise leave it alone. The regulars are happy there. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Actually, after I turned in my card someone else had an interesting suggestion… crawfish night. Boiled, cooked crawfish by the pound. Now, I would be all over that. As one of the other regulars pointed out, no other bar downtown has a crawfish night, and crawfish are so cheap that it would be a sure money-maker for SOL’s. Hope they decide to do it.

I haven’t talked about Mpact in a while. I rolled off the board of directors in November, but am still a member. I’ve decided that this year I’m going to be a “consumer” rather than a “producer,” to use terms coined by our Membership chair. Meaning, I’m just going to go to the events and enjoy them, rather than take an active role in planning them (unless someone specifically asks for my help).

One event coming up is the annual Non-Profit Expo, scheduled for Thursday, February 2 at the Memphis Botanic Gardens from 5:30-8:00. There will be about 35 nonprofits there, providing info on how you can volunteer and help them out, be it on a one-time or ongoing basis. Great way to get involved in the community and meet people. You don’t have to be an Mpact member to attend. Last year I believe it was $5 for non-members; not sure about this year.

Another event that I’ll likely attend is the After Hours/Mpact 101 at Fresh Slices Cafe, at 1585 Overton Park Avenue in Midtown, this Wednesday, January 25 from 5:30-7:30. After Hours is a chance for members to hang out and get to know one another socially; it’s one of my favorite recurring Mpact events. They will also be doing Mpact 101, which is an opportunity for people who want to find out about the organization to get some information. Non-members are encouraged to come – no fee other than your tab. Never been to Fresh Slices and am looking forward to see how they stack up against other local pizza joints.

Okay, I want to get on my soapbox for a minute. The address above (1585 Overton Park Ave.) came from BellSouth’s yellowpages.com website. It certainly didn’t come from Mpact’s site – their event listing shows the address as “Overton Park.” Come on, guys, you can do better than that. Overton Park is a park. Overton Park Avenue is a street. They’re two different things. Fresh Slices is a building on Overton Park Avenue, and like all the other buildings, it has a street number. Hopefully people will find the correct address on their own and won’t be driving through the park looking for a pizza place.

This kind of stuff has been happening too often in the organization. I remember last year, when I showed up at the Blue Monkey for a 6 PM pillar meeting. Three other people and I were sitting there for 45 minutes wondering where everyone was. I made some calls and discovered that an e-mail had been sent out at 4:44 PM that day saying that the meeting was cancelled. Hey, you know what? A lot of people have already left work by 4:44 and won’t see the e-mail until the next day… This kind of stuff shouldn’t be happening. There are a lot of people with great ideas, but sometimes the implementation of those ideas falls apart at the detail level, and it makes us look bad.

Okay. Rant over. Let’s talk about something else.

I take walks every day at work to break up the monotony of sitting in a cubicle. One thing I’ve been noticing lately is all the different types of cars in the parking lot. When I was a kid I used to know all the makes and models of cars, what types of engines they had, length/width, options, etc. But since the last time I bought a car (11 years ago) I’ve been out of touch. I need to buy a book on the 2006 cars and catch up.

Last week I went to the mall and they had 2006 Buicks on display and I was really impressed with the product line. Recently Buick had been putting out some really boring cars. Their entire line – Century, Regal, LeSabre, Park Avenue – all looked alike, just shorter or longer versions of each other. So for 2006 they made a bold decision. They scrapped the entire line and started over. There are now only two cars – the Lacrosse is the LeSabre’s replacement, and the Lucerne replaces the Park Avenue as the top-of-the-line luxury sedan. These are really sharp looking cars, and very distinctive. With Cadillacs becoming gaudy ghetto status symbols more and more every year, Buick may turn into the true upscale model line for GM.

All right, that’ll do it for now. It’s Monday and I’m going to need about a gallon of caffeine to get through the day. Haven’t yet decided if I’m going to hit Rio Loco for their grand opening tonight. Hope your week is off to a good start, and I’ll see you later…

Saturday night drunk post

Hey, the computer at McGuinness is free! Let’s post. I’ve had 5 beers so I take no responsibility for typos.

Let me explain how I got here. I went to the Saucer tonight and the crowd SUCKED. So I walked out and went to the Tap Room. There I actually ordered a beer and drank it and thought about how much the crowd SUCKED. Then I went back to the Saucer and the crowd still SUCKED but I drank several beers anyway before I decided I just couldn’t take it anymore.

Then I came here. Ran into a guy I knew and he said, “So, did you go to the monster truck show at the FedExForum tonight?”

Okay, that explains the crowd.

I was so bored tonight that I actually called The Most Annoying Woman On The Planet and left a message on her voice mail. Earlier on I had thought about going to Raiford’s and figured I’d invite her to meet me up there. Then I realized, if she agreed to meet me at 11, she’d call back at 12:50 and say, “Sorry, I went over to a friend’s house to complain about my ex-boyfriend for a while. But I’m on my way”

There’s still a chance she could return my call. Hang on…

Okay, I put my phone on Silent mode.

Anyway, I’m at McGuinness and that’s not a bad thing at all. I came in here last week and there was a guy on the public-access computer playing Texas Hold’Em. I recognized him as the brother of one of the Romanians who worked downtown this summer. Which I guess would make him Romanian too. I never officially met him but I knew who he was because a bartender at Blues City pointed him out one night. So anyway, I was sitting at McGuinness’ bar and he was sitting next to me playing Texas Hold’Em. I felt like I should say hello, but I couldn’t really think of anything to say other than “Hey, your sister’s hot.” So I just sat and drank my beer and let him play.

Some of the guys in my building have a weekly poker game. Maybe I should invite him.

Coming up on midnight. God this town sucks tonight. I have a feeling I’ll end up drinking cans of PBR at the Black Diamond 4-5 hours from now and that’s never a good thing. By the way… several weeks ago I asked a trivia question asking the significance of the PEA VINE RAILROAD and no one got it. There’s a painting on the Diamond’s wall of a train station from that railroad company. I’m sure many of my readers have seen it, but am not surprised none of them remembered it.

All right, guess I’ll get off now and let the other drunks use the computer.

More Mexican: Rio Loco opening, Sgt. Jalapeno’s Tortilla Company review

– Today I was walking down Union, and I noticed a new sign in the window of Rio Loco, the Mexican restaurant that is taking over Buckley’s old building: “Grand Opening Fiesta Monday, January 23.” That’s this Monday! Hmmm… anyone want to go? I’d be up for it… e-mail paul at paulryburn dot com if you’d be interested.

– Well, that got me hungry for Mexican food, so I walked down to Adams to try the other new Mexican place, Sgt. Jalapeno’s Tortilla Company. So here’s my review…

They brought me a basket of homemade tortilla chips and homemade salsa. The tortilla chips were not the typical Tostitos-type chips you find in most restaurants – looks like they were made with flour rather than corn, fried golden brown, lightly salted. Very tasty. Salsa was very good too. I ordered a bowl of cheese dip, which was about halfway between yellow and white and I’d rate it as average.

They have a TV over the register, and they had basketball on. Good addition – I don’t remember that being there when I passed by a couple of weeks ago. Duke lost today. YEAH!!!!

For my entree I ordered the Houston Solution – two cheese enchiladas topped with red sauce and meat ($7.95). It came with rice on the side, a jalapeno pepper (a whole one, not sliced) and on the side was a bowl of pintos with bacon. All the food was homemade and very good.

To use the restroom, I had to get a key and walk down the hall to the Comfort Inn. I know they can’t do anything about that but it reminded me a bit of a gas station.

What else… they had La Prensa Latina by the door, for those of you who like to read Spanish-language news while you eat. Overall, food was quite good – far, far better than Pancho’s, and cheaper. I recommend paying them a visit.

I hear they do a booming lunch business from the nearby federal buildings. When I was in there I was their only table, but it was 3:00 on Saturday, so what would you expect? They had a party of 25 coming in later in the day so it sounds like they’re doing all right. Hope they stick around for a while.

– And that’s it for now… time to go enjoy another Saturday night in downtown Memphis. And tomorrow will be an exciting day of drinking mimosas and watching Team I Don’t Care About and Other Team I Don’t Care About battle it out for the conference championship on Sleep Out’s new LCD wide-screen TV. If anything interesting happens, I’ll write about it. And if nothing interesting happens, I’ll write about it too. See you later…

Deal of the week

Walgreens is selling 7×50 Vivitar binoculars, suggested retail price of $49.95, for $9.95. I bought a pair and tried them out tonight – they seem to work very well, much better than I’d expect for ten bucks. They have glare-resistant lenses and come with a very nice case.

Since a lot of my readers live or work in downtown high-rises or other buildings with a view, I figured I’d mention this. People in the Suntrust Building might especially want to take heed, since I hear there is sometimes “activity” worth watching in No. 10 Main’s rooftop hot tub.

Not sure if the downtown Walgreens carries these. I’ll look the next time I go in. I got mine at the Walgreens near my work, at Macon and Whitten Roads. This does NOT appear to be a weekly ad deal – looks like they will be $9.95 until they sell out, although I’m not 100% positive.

(Edited Saturday morning 11 AM to add:) Just checked the downtown Walgreens and did not see the binoculars. So I guess you’ll have to make a trip out east if you want a pair.

Very quick Thursday update

Congratulations to my friends Ira and Stephanie at I. Siegel Culinary Productions, who were featured in an article on page 34 of this week’s Memphis Flyer. It talks about their how they arrived in Memphis and decided to open a catering business. Menu for tomorrow (Friday, January 20) at their new lunch restaurant next to the Peanut Shoppe:

Pan Seared North Atlantic Salmon – Baby Shrimp and Lemon Butter
Rice Pilaf
Grilled Asparagus

Appetizer and Salad Bar, Homemade Soup, Dessert Bar
Lemonade, Ice Tea or Spring Water

I also noticed that there’s ANOTHER new Mexican restaurant downtown. It’s in the South of Forum district, right where Second Street veers left and St. Martin splits off. I drove past it about 6:00 tonight. It didn’t look open. Anyone know the details on this place?

All right – the Dempseys are playing the Saucer tonight so I’m getting outta here. I’ll try to return to a more regular posting schedule this weekend.

Storyteller

I don’t think I’ve posted this one before… this happened about five years ago, in 2001. I was at this club called the Dance Plex – it’s that fire station at Linden and Third, which had been converted into a club with ’70s, ’80s, and modern dance music rooms. I was upstairs, in the ’80s room (which had the best dance floor I’ve ever seen in a club – I miss that place), and I was sitting at a table talking to a girl, who for some reason thought I was fascinating.

So we were talking for a while, and she looked at me and smiled and said, “Tell me a story, Paul.”

Me: A story?

Her: Yeah. Tell me something funny, or amazing.

(The wheels in my mind started turning, and a mischievous grin flashed across my face)

Me: Well… did you ever watch The Andy Griffith Show when you were little?

Her: Yeah, all the time!

Me: Well, did you hear about the big scandal that was going on backstage?

Her: No… tell me!

Me: Okay. Remember Howard? He was the county clerk… he was on the show for the last couple of years, after they started doing them in color.

Her: Sure, I remember him. He wore a bow tie, didn’t he?

Me: Yeah, I think so. Well, he was involved in a major sex scandal, although they kept it a pretty good secret. He was doing it with one of the female cast members… I mean, they were going at it all the time in the dressing room between scenes!

Her: Who was it? There weren’t that many women on the show… there was Opie’s teacher… and Barney’s girlfriend… but Barney and Howard weren’t on the show at the same time…

(I must admit, I was impressed with her knowledge of Andy Griffith. I need to find her and invite her to come play on our trivia team!)

Me: Nope… it was none of those….

It was Aunt Bee!

Her: OH MY GOD! AUNT BEE???!!!

Me: Aunt Bee.

Her: Oh my God oh my God… Aunt Bee!

Me (imitating Aunt Bee’s voice): “Now, Opie, I want you to eat all your vegetables, and after dinner, I want you to wash your face and do your homework.”

Her: Aunt Bee… oh my God! She was like, somebody’s grandmother!

Me: Well, apparently the guy that played Howard preferred a more… experienced woman. And Aunt Bee… well, she just couldn’t get enough of it. They had a signal they’d give each other and… they’d disappear backstage.

Her: Howard was doing it with Aunt Bee? That’s sick! Ugh… that’s just wrong!

Me: Yeah, they managed to keep it a secret for a long time, even from the rest of the cast. But then one day… who was that guy who hung out with Howard and Andy and Goober all the time?

Her: Floyd, the barber?

Me: No, this was the guy who replaced Floyd. The Mr. Fix-It guy who was on the final season… Emmett!

Her: Oh yeah, I remember him!

Me: Well, one day the guy who played Emmett walked into Howard’s dressing room… and there were Howard and Aunt Bee on the couch, buck naked, going at it like bunnies!

Her: Oh my GOD!!!!!

Me: Yeah. The guy who played Emmett agreed not to tell anyone until after the woman who played Aunt Bee died, which was more than 20 years after the show went off the air. That’s why it has remained one of Hollywood’s best kept secrets.

Her: Oh my God oh my God!!! (She ran off to tell her friends, who were busy drinking and dancing and didn’t care.)

Of course, I totally made the whole thing up. I guess it’s a good thing she didn’t try to sell that to the National Enquirer or some other trashy gossip magazine. Just having a little fun at the expense of some dead actors and actresses!

Monday evening update: No pics yet, but restaurant info and followups to previous posts

– There’s another new Mexican restaurant downtown, Sgt. Jalapeno’s Tortilla Company. It’s in the space that used to be O Kypos, on Adams between Front and Main, in the Comfort Inn. I walked by tonight after work – didn’t eat there, but I checked out their menu and they have tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and all the usual stuff you expect to find at a Mexican place. Price was in the $6-10 range for entrees. The menus say they’re open until 9 Monday-Thursday and 10 Friday-Saturday, but the sign out front said 11 to 7. Good to have a real Mexican restaurant downtown. Hope it makes it – that location has not been lucky for past restaurants. I plan to go back and try the food sometime soon, maybe this week.

– Also, Quizno’s is open again on the Main Street Mall, across from Court Square. Good to have them back. They’re open until 8 on weekdays.

– There are also some restaurant closings. I was sad to find out that Cafe Samovar closed at the first of the year. I used to go there all the time on the weekends, back when a couple of my former students belly danced there. Their food was among the best in town. But there were simply too many other places to go downtown, and people forgot about Samovar. I hadn’t been there in over a year. I’m sad to see them go, and wish I had supported them more.

– And, Joey’s Pizza on Main near Jefferson is closed. They had some really good pizza. But the walk I took past Joey’s today made me understand why people didn’t want to go eat there. I walk past the place twice, and both times I was approached by bums asking for money. One got right in my way as I was trying to walk, and the other called me a “fucker” when I said no.

– I’ve received comments from blog readers about several past entries. First of all, Teresa who attended my plate party told me that I should look into potassium as a hangover remedy. She told me that alcohol depletes your body of potassium, which is partly responsible for that depressed, droopy feeling the next day.

– Carmel wrote to tell me that I was wrong in saying that the Romanians were copying American culture when they did their own version of Big Brother. The show began in Holland and is a hit around the globe. She spent part of 2001 in Ireland and just about everyone over there was addicted to the British version.

– Carmel and my mother also sent summaries of the back-story behind that stupid kid on Days of Our Lives. It sounded like the most confusing stuff ever and made me realize that one week of that garbage was enough. I’m removing it from my DVR’s programming list tonight.

– And regular reader Lacey responded to my question about whether it’s okay to take Advil after the expiration date on the bottle. She says it’s fine to take, won’t be harmful, just less effective. I guess since I walk to Walgreens almost every day on my lunch break, I could buy some NEW Advil.

– That reminds me… one day I was walking to Walgreens and I walked past an open field. Someone had thrown away a can of Milwaukee’s Best Light, and there was a straw sticking out of the can. You know you’re in Memphis when you see stuff like that.

– All right… I’m tired of typing so I’m going to hit the Publish button now. Plate party pics will be up soon.