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.

Quick Sunday update

I have some sad news to report. The pigeon that worked the sidewalk in front of Empire Coffee, walking around and pecking for crumbs during the daylight hours, was found dead this morning. He will be missed. Anyone wishing to contribute to the Paul Ryburn Drinking Fund in the pigeon’s memory is encouraged to do so.

The Dempseys just re-did their website. Looks good! They’ll be playing downtown Huey’s tonight at 8:30.

Thanks everyone for a great time at my plate party last night. Sorry I pulled a disappearing act later on in the evening, but there was a good reason. I took about 30 pics (including some good ones of the waitresses) and I’ll have them up soon. In the meantime, here’s one of the pics, of regular blog reader Carmel in a tube top.

Good TV: soap operas, wrestling, and Romanians

– I received a tip from a friend that I should record the soap opera Days of Our Lives this week, that I’d really enjoy it. Now that struck me as odd, because Days of Our Lives is one of my most hated TV shows ever. I try to avoid it as much as possible, but sometimes I’ll go to Little Rock to visit my mother and she’ll have it on.

But curiosity got the best of me, so I set the DVR to record it this week. I came home, hit Play and was immediately reminded why I hate this show so much. Super-couple Bo and Hope were sitting around the Christmas tree with their stupid son Zack, who is about four years old. To tell the truth, Days of Our Lives wouldn’t be a half bad show if it wasn’t for Hope. I think she’s supposed to be the ideal woman that all the soccer moms who watch this show are supposed to dream of being – smart, classy, perfect marriage and family. I hate Hope. I want bad things to happen to her.

So they’re sitting around the damn Christmas tree, and Hope is hugging Zack, and Bo is hugging Zack and calling him “Tiny Man,” and Zack is saying “I love you mommy” and I’m sitting on the sofa thinking how cool it would be if Zack would die.

Sometimes TV can be pretty cool.

Just as I was contemplating taking the TV up to the roof and pitching it onto Main Street (and hopefully hitting a bum as a bonus), I realized something – the lovey-dovey Christmas moment wasn’t current – it was a flashback from a prior episode. In the current episode, Zack was having a sleep-over at a friend’s house, and had wandered outside to look for the cat.

Meanwhile, this chick was driving a truck down the road and it was New Year’s Eve and she wanted to party and she reached for her cell phone to call a friend and

* THUD! *

“AAAAAHHHHH! What was that?”

It was ZACK!!!!!!

Cool!

And it gets even better. Guess who ended up finding Zack lying there in the street?

His mother, HOPE!!!!

Man, TV hasn’t been this good since Kelly Bundy was parading around in a miniskirt in 1988. I fast-forwarded through the other crappy storylines (actually, I did watch part of the one involving Sami; when Sami’s on the show it’s actually worth watching) and cued up the next day’s episode to see what would happen.

The chick driving the truck didn’t realize what she had done. She thought she had just hit a pothole. Messed up the truck pretty good though. Oh, by the way, the chick in the truck, guess who she was?

She was Zack’s SISTER!!!!

So the stupid brat is whining and whimpering and I’m thinking, “Damn. He’s going to make it” and I nearly deleted the rest of the episodes and went out to a bar. But I didn’t. The next episode showed them wheeling Zack into the hospital and Hope is bawling, “I can’t lose him! I can’t lose my baby!”

And then I fast-forwarded through a day and a half worth of crap involving them talking about what a great kid Zack is, until I got to an operating room scene. They were trying to do everything they could to save him. I was jumping up and down on the sofa yelling, “DIE Zack! DIE!!!!!!!!!!”

And the doctors said they had done everything they could, and it was too late. One of the docs was a family friend and she kept trying to push on. “No!” she cried. “There are more things we can do…” The other doctors had to restrain her. “We’re too late. It’s over.”

Zack was DEAD!!!!!!!!

WOOOOOOHOOOOOOO! First I get an iPod and now this. 2006 is turning out to be a pretty good year.

And in the last scene of yesterday’s episode, Hope and Bo got the news. “NOOOOOOOOO! WAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

That was just some great TV. I guess I’ll tape next week too, since they’ll probably have the kid’s funeral. Next week? Who am I kidding? The way soap operas work, they probably won’t be done burying that kid by March.

– Then last night, I went out and went to a bar. Then I went to another bar. Then I went to another bar. The third bar was Big Foot Lodge and I sat down with my friend Angie, one of my ho’s from the pimp and ho party. The great thing about Big Foot is they have 6 TVs over the bar, so you have your choice of things to watch.

One of the TVs was tuned to the ESPN Classic channel, and a show called “Cheap Seats” was on. I’d never seen it before, but it appeared to be these two guys sitting on a couch making fun of bad sports TV. And for last night’s episode, they were watching an episode of Mid-South Wrestling from 1980. YES!!!

Man, that brought back memories. TV host Boyd Pierce’s suit looked like it could generate 220 volts of electricity. Gotta find out where Boyd Pierce shopped so I can get some new clothes to wear to Raiford’s.

The other announcer was “Cowboy” Bill Watts, a former wrestler who owned the Mid-South promotion. I heard Bill Watts was a real asshole to work for. There’s a story that one of the top guys, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, legitimately broke his arm in a match. According to the story, Watts told him to cut off the cast and get back in the ring the next week, or he’d lose his spot.

Then they had the first match. It was the Iron Sheik (which Mid-South Wrestling misspelled, “The Iron Shiek”) vs. Buddy Landell. Buddy Landell still had brown hair at this point. Later in his career he’d dye it blond and become “Nature Boy” Buddy Landell, a second-rate version of Ric Flair. The Iron Sheik would go on to win the WWF title a few years later, and then drop it to Hulk Hogan, marking the beginning of the Hulkamania era. The Sheik took the win. He had those pointed boots that he brought with him from his hometown of Teheran, Iran, and people claimed they were loaded. This was 1980, in the middle of the hostage crisis, so I’m sure the Sheik was quite the villain.

The next match featured The Great Kabuki (misspelled “The Great Kabuiki”), managed by “Playboy” Gary Hart. Kabuki was a Japanese wrestler who painted his face. He was known to spit green mist in the face of his opponents, blinding them. Sometimes he’d make some kind of adjustment to his throat and then spit red mist, which was even more lethal. Kabuki got an easy win over some jabroni.

Then they had an interview with Ted DiBiase, who at this point was a good guy or “babyface” in wrestling terms. A year later he would turn on the fans and become the most hated guy in Mid-South Wrestling, and a few years after that he became the “Million Dollar Man” in the WWF.

Great stuff… great memories from my childhood. I know they sell DVDs of 1980s Mid-South Wrestling somewhere on the Internet. I’m gonna have to look into ordering some.

– I haven’t watched much WWE wrestling in a while, but there’s a new guy who I think is going to be big… The Boogeyman. You know, the monster who hid under your bed or in your closet when you were a kid.

Here’s a link where you can see some video of the Boogeyman. He paints his face red and black and most of his teeth are missing. He’ll sing a few lines of some random song, then he’ll pick up a handful of worms (yes, real live worms) and eat them. Then, as a few stray worms fall out of his mouth, he goes, “HA HA HA! …The Boogeyman… is coming to getcha!”

Great stuff. I predict that this is going to be the WWE’s most successful gimmick since the Undertaker debuted 16 years ago.

– Really crappy reality TV has come to Romania. I was doing some web searches this morning, looking for some information a friend gave me on how to find Romanians in Memphis. Never found the site she told me about, but I did find this: Big Brother II, Romania. If Romania is going to copy American culture, couldn’t they find something better to copy than Big Brother? Looks like some of the girls on the show are pretty hot, though.

– Off to enjoy the rest of my weekend. I’ll have pictures from my plate party at the Saucer online sometime next week.

Read my blog. Get free stuff.

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 paulryburn.com/blog. 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?”

“NINE… TEEN… SEVENTY!”

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.