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.

Plans for this weekend

Tonight (Friday): Turbo 350 is playing at the Tap Room on Beale Street. I’ll probably buy the $10 wristband that gets you in all the clubs, then spend most of my time at the Tap Room but hit some of the other clubs too.

Saturday day: The Center for Southern Folklore is having its annual festival. It’s on the Main Street Mall between Gayoso and Peabody Place. Good music, good food, good art and the people who run the center are really nice. They make Memphis a more diverse place and I’m happy to support.

Saturday night: Years ago, the Map Room used to have bands in their basement late at night. Well, the Map Room has become Empire Coffee, but this week they’re bringing back the bands. Cyrrus Range is playing this week from 10 to midnight. No idea what they sound like but I’ll be there because Empire’s basement is a damn cool place, and they actually CLEANED it, which is more than the Map Room ever did. $2 cover. They’re also selling beer.

Sunday: Getting drunk at the bars downtown. Around noon I’ll hit the Blue Monkey for champagne brunch and will probably hang out there until midafternoon. Afterward, I’ll probably head back to Main Street for the second day of the Center’s festival.

Monday: The FedEx Forum’s grand opening is today. They’ll be open from 11 to 6, offering tours, autograph sessions, and live music by the Venus Mission, After Dark Band, the Gamble Brothers, and the Dempseys. I know Venus Mission will be on first, not sure of the order of the other bands. I have seen the Dempseys twice in the past five days and will make it three times on Monday.

And I’m too lazy to start a new post, so here’s everyone’s favorite weekly feature, WHAT THE BUMS ARE DRINKING THIS WEEK. (Based on the empty boxes outside the liquor store around the corner, the one that caters to people who beg for money for food, then eat out of the garbage can and spend the money on cheap liquor)

– Mad Dog 20/20

– Dark Eyes vodka

– Grey Goose vodka??? WTF? A bum could buy a gallon of Dark Eyes for what a pint of Grey Goose costs. Bums are into quantity, not quality. I wonder if there’s a vodka named after a pigeon? Bet the bums would drink that.

– Calvert Extra

– A whopping FOUR CASES of Wild Irish Rose. Bums like “fortified wines” like Wild Irish Rose and Mad Dog because they contain 17-18% alcohol rather than the normal 12-13% found in regular wines.

That’ll do it for now. Happy Labor Day weekend everybody!