Random kibbles ‘n’ bits for your Monday reading pleasure

– This weekend I found out that my journal has a significant readership from my building, Number 10 Main. I learned that the marriage rant hit close to home for one of my neighbors, and that another person is a regular at Blue Coast Burrito because of my journal.

– I asked how my neighbors knew I had a blog. “Paul, this building is the Melrose Place of downtown,” I was told. “Everyone knows everyone else’s business here.” Hmm, now I’m curious what the other gossip is about me, besides the fact that I have a website.

– My mother LIKED my “Popester in tha Hizzy” rap! She writes: “Good rap about the pope. Not offensive but trendy.” I thought for sure she’d send me a message telling me how sacreligious it is and asking me to take it down.

– WOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO I just found out that the two vacation days I requested, Monday, April 25 and Monday, May 2 have been approved. I don’t have any special plans in particular, just wanted some long weekends. Going to work five days in a row every week kinda sucks. And I figure it would be good to have the day after Music Fest off since I’ll probably be out until the wee hours Sunday night.

– I’m NOT going to Music Fest though. I have a lot more fun hanging out on Beale than I do actually going to the fest and listening to the bands. Too crowded, too muddy, it rains every year, overpriced concessions, bunch of drunk-ass rednecks.

– Now, Sunset Symphony I like. Much more laid-back, and you can bring your own picnic baskets and coolers in.

– Some of the Sunday drunks are talking about moving our weekly alcoholathon from the Blue Monkey back to Sleep Out’s. I’m starting to miss Sleep Out’s, it has an open, airy feel with all those big windows. And it’s a much shorter walk home. And they’ve started doing $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon on Sundays.

– A friend of mine just started bartending at LoLo’s, the new place on Monroe that used to be Aristi’s. She made me promise to stop by this week. Great, because what I really needed was one more bar to sit at. I feel like I’m turning into Barney from “The Simpsons.”

– Bar TV: Thanks to hanging out at the Tap Room, I’m now addicted to “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” and that reality show where people compete to become an Ultimate Fighter. And, of course, I’m down there most Monday nights to watch wrestling with Darrell.

– Won’t be there tonight though. Last night I wandered by the Flying Saucer and ran into a friend of mine who I know through Mpact. She said, “You’re! Coming! To! Pint! Night! Tomorrow! Dammit!” as she pounded her finger into my chest so hard that it left a bruise.

– She also reminded me that Tuesday night we’re doing salsa lessons as a way for new Mpact members to get to know each other. She and I then proceeded to bust out some salsa moves (read: drunkenly stumble around) right there at the Saucer.

– If it weren’t for alcohol, bums, and pigeons, I’d have nothing to write about.

– What the bums are drinking this week, based on the empty bottles lying in the alley behind my apartment building: 50-cent, 50-mL bottles of Lord Calvert.

– When we did the Easter egg hunt a couple of weeks ago, I suggested buying some of those little bottles, putting them in plastic eggs, and hiding them in Court Square for the bums. But it was Sunday and the liquor store was closed.

– And that’ll do it for today. I need to go check the news and see if a new Popester is in the hizzy yet, they were supposed to start the election process today. See you later…

Popester in tha Hizzy

As I write this, we are currently without a Pope. The college of cardinals will meet in the coming week to elect one. In this transitional time, I’ve been thinking what the next pope can do to reach a 21st-century audience.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time for the pope to update his image a little. Instead of appearing on the balcony and chanting a blessing in Latin, it’s time to turn to the medium of the masses: rap.

POPESTER IN THA HIZZY
(c) 2005 Paul Ryburn. All rights reserved.

Listen up, party people, on your spiritual search
Listen to the grandmaster of the Catholic Church
‘Cause the Vatican is where I make my home
And some people know me as the Bishop of Rome

I’m the P-O-P-E to tha S-T-E-R
And the Popemobile is what they call my car!
The windows are covered in bulletproof glass
So can’t nobody bust a cap up in my ass

As I ride through the crowd, and preach the Word loud
And try my best to make St. Peter proud
‘Cause Peter was the first, he was Popester number one
And a personal acquaintance of God’s only Son

So listen up, party people, you women and you men
I will tell you what is righteous, I will tell you what is sin
Let us all come together on this most holy day
Bend down on our knees, bow our heads, and let’s pray.

Heavenly Father
Heavenly Father
We love thee
We praise thee

You GO God!
You GO God!
Get down
With yo bad self

Get doooooooowwwwwnnnnn……..
(drums)

The Catholic Church, in its infinite knowledge
Brought its leaders together in the Cardinal College
And they elected me, they said I be’s da man
Who can lead the church like no one else can

So I come with blessings for each and every one
The bishops, the priests, the cardinals and the nuns
Looking mighty sexy in my flowing papal robe
I give shout-outs to my dawgs across tha globe

You Italian priests and you bishops from France
Shake it down, shake it like you got a bee in your pants
And you American priests, stand up and make some noise!
You ain’t Michael Jackson, stay away from the young boys

My name is the Pope, I bring the world hope
If you ain’t down with Jesus, you must be smoking dope!
So spread the word across the Holy See
That the man they call the Popester is in tha hizzy!

GO POPESTER!
GO POPESTER!
GO POPESTER!
GO POPESTER!

GO POPESTER!
GO POPESTER!
GO POPESTER!
GO POPESTER!

GO POPESTER!
GO POPESTER!
GO POPESTER!
GO POPESTER….
Yeah…
Popester in tha hizzy fo shizzy in tha zero zero five, dawg
Know what I’m sayin’?
Werrrd…..

38103

I have a new favorite T-shirt…it’s a black shirt with “38103” printed on the front with big, bright digits. 38103, of course, is the Downtown Memphis zip code. It’s a great way to show pride in the neighborhood that has truly become my home. If you want to see what it looks like, come to the Rajun Cajun Crawfish Fest tomorrow on Wagner place – I’ll be sporting it.

You can get your 38103 shirts at Etched Art, a gallery at 505 South Main. Actually, though, the shirts are probably the least interesting items in the store. They etch photos – new or old – onto marble, granite, glass, wood or acrylic using laser technology. I bought my mother a 4-pack of coasters with historic Memphis photos etched onto them, and she loves them.

So check out Etched Art next time you’re downtown, and look for people wearing 38103 shirts this summer.

The mathematics of Mountain Dew

Here’s something I just realized.

On average, I drink two 20-ounce bottles of Mountain Dew a day. Each 8-ounce serving has 110 calories, so that’s 550 calories a day that I consume by doing the Dew.

So I decided to whip out the calculator….if I switched to Diet Mountain Dew for a year, I would save over 200,000 calories. It’s generally accepted that 3,500 calories equals one pound of body weight, so I could lose 57 pounds in one year. And I wouldn’t have to give up the burgers, pizzas, fried bar appetizers and all the other crap I eat. Nor would I have to give up the voluminous amounts of alcohol I consume on the weekends, and sometimes during the week. All I’d have to do is switch to Diet Mountain Dew.

57 pounds. Wow.

But, Diet Mountain Dew tastes like piss. So I probably won’t do it.

I’m watching you

I’ve added the Extreme Tracker back to this page. (Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see a little planet icon) It offers lots of useful stats about who is viewing this blog. Click on it, it’s pretty cool. If you have a website, you ought to get one for yourself.

However – the Extreme Tracker is one of TWO trackers I have on this page. The other one has been on there since the beginning, and only I can view the stats. And lately it’s been VERY interesting to see who has been viewing this page – people I didn’t expect to see on here.

So, welcome to my journal, and welcome to my planet. Because an island was just too narrow a place for me.
(Inside joke, but at least one of the people lurking this blog gets it)

Court Square rap (full lyrics)

The following is a rap about Court Square, the park in the heart of downtown Memphis, that tells it like it is. The first verse was printed in my journal in 2003. The Center City Commission is going to hate me for this.

ODE TO COURT SQUARE: A DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS PARK
(c) 2005 Paul Ryburn. All rights reserved.

Boarded-up buildings
Don’t pay no rent!
“Look here, mayne,
Lemme get about fitty cent”

When I see bums. And pigeons.
Bums and pigeons.
Bums, bums, pigeons, pigeons,
Bums and pigeons.

Bums. And pigeons.
Bums and pigeons.
Bums, bums, pigeons, pigeons,
Bums and pigeons.

Sleeping on a park bench
All night and day
Liquor store
Is just a block away

From the bums. And pigeons.
Bums and pigeons.
Bums, bums, pigeons, pigeons,
Bums and pigeons.

Bums. And pigeons.
Bums and pigeons.
Bums, bums, pigeons, pigeons,
Bums and pigeons.

Drinking Mad Dog 20/20
With Crazy Homeless Sally.
Throw the bottle on the ground
Urinate in the alley.

With the bums. And pigeons.
Bums and pigeons.
Bums, bums, pigeons, pigeons,
Bums and pigeons.

Bums. And pigeons.
Bums and pigeons.
Bums, bums, pigeons, pigeons,
Bums and pigeons.

It shows no sign of stopping,
And this is why I’m rapping.
Lots of bums, lots of pigeons,
Lots of begging, lots of crapping.

Bums. And pigeons.
Bums and pigeons.
Bums, bums, pigeons, pigeons,
Bums and pigeons.

Bums. And pigeons.
Bums and pigeons.
Bums, bums, pigeons, pigeons,
Bums and pigeons.

Death of a Pope

So they buried Pope John Paul II today. As I read the news reports, I remembered something I read years ago. Nostradamus supposedly described every pope from his death in the 1560s to present day with a phrase of two or three words. What’s interesting is, according to him there were be only two more popes after John Paul II. The next pope will be “Gloria Oliviae,” or Glory of the Olive. Either that or the description means that the next pope will be named Gloria or Olivia, but I don’t think women are allowed to become pope.

(Unrelated side note: Olivia was the first name of Mother Jefferson. Remember her? She was only on for the first few seasons, played by Zara Cully. She never thought Weezie was good enough for her precious George.)

After “Gloria Oliviae,” the final pope will be named “Petrus Romanus,” or Peter the Roman. The prophecies seem to indicate that he will preside over the end of the world, which is kind of scary since his reign will almost certainly take place in our lifetimes.

Here’s my take on it: Petrus Romanus will actually preside over the end of the Catholic Church (and all organized churches as we know them). To Nostradamus, a Catholic, this would have indeed seemed to be the end of the world. But instead it will be the beginning of a new era of spirituality, where people begin to look inward to find truth, rather than looking outward to religious leaders to tell them what to do. In a sense, we will each be our own Pope.

Oh, man. The floodgates are opening in my mind. There’s so much more I want to write about this, but right now I have to get ready to go to Raiford’s. Priorities, you know. But, I hope to get back to this point and say more about religion and the role it currently plays in our lives and in society. It’ll have to wait until later though….

Sons of Saddam portfolio clobbers U.S. stock market returns

Around the time the war with Iraq broke out, I had a really strange investment idea. What if I invested in UDI and QSII, in honor of Saddam’s two sons, Udai and Qusai? Of course, I didn’t really do it. But today, just over two years later, I decided to check and see how I would have done.

On the day the war started, which I think was March 19, 2003 (I may be off by a day or two), UDI was trading at $22.11. Today it’s at $73.89, better than a triple in two years. QSII traded at $24 at the start of the war, and is now at $49.65 – but, the stock split 2-for-1 during that period, so each $24 share has turned into TWO shares at $49.65 each. That’s a quadruple in two years.

$10,000 invested in Sons of Saddam on 3/19/03 would have turned into $37,397.13, a 274% return in just over two years. To compare, $10,000 invested in an S&P 500 index fund on the same date would have turned into only $13,612.04, a return of 36%. Too bad there isn’t a stock with ticker symbol W – that would make for an interesting comparison to Sons of Saddam.

Mr. Squid

Last Sunday some people in my building had a sushi party, and I went. The instructions for the guests were to bring something Asian-themed to share. Now, of course, I don’t cook. So I went to the Asian market to find something already prepared.

I came across a red can that at first I thought was Pringles. But, upon examination, I discovered it was something called “Mr. Squid.” Apparently people in Thailand eat the stuff like we eat Pringles in the States – but instead of potato chips, it’s dried, baked squid. I bought a can to take to the party, and when I got it home from the market, popped it open and tried one. It definitely was squid – you could smell it a mile away. Texture was crunchy, and the taste was, um, interesting.

Mr. Squid is healthy, though. According to the can, a serving has only 110 calories and 12 grams of protein. Now that I think about it, I’ve never seen a fat Thai person. Maybe we should get rid of the Lay’s and Doritos and start stocking Mr. Squid in the vending machines. That’s my plan for a healthier America!

The Overton Square Crawfish Fest has jumped the shark

Last Saturday I found myself with a choice. I could either attend Mpact’s Beyond College event, and teach graduating college students how to network, interview, and find a job; or I could attend the Overton Square Crawfish Fest, and eat crawfish and get drunk. You can probably guess which event won out.

It was a nice day and I decided to walk to Overton Square from downtown. We’re having a contest at work to see who can walk the most steps in a 2-week period, so I had a pedometer on. It took me an hour and five minutes and 7700 steps to get there, but it was a beautiful April day and I didn’t mind.

The Overton Square crawfish fest used to be one of my favorite outdoor festivals of the year, but this year it jumped the shark. True, it was well-attended, but it wasn’t well organized and was way too expensive. I had to wait in a line of at least 70 people to get a box of crawfish; even during peak times, I can’t remember lines of over 15 in previous years. Also, five years ago I paid $5 and got a huge box of crawfish with a tater and a piece of corn (there’s nothing like vegetables cooked in the pot with crawfish and that spicy Cajun seasoning). This year, I paid $10 for a much smaller box of crawfish, no tater, no corn. I could barely tell I ate at all. It was more like an appetizer than a meal.

The beer was too expensive as well. $3.50 for a 16-ounce Michelob draft? Come on, even the outdoor bars on Beale Street don’t charge that much! A lot of people chose to skip the official beer table, hit the nearby convenience store, and buy 40s to sneak in. And the people manning the beer table were not nice at all. I got really bad energy from them, and didn’t tip, which is unusual for me, but I just didn’t like them. A guy in front of me in line had accidentally left change for a $50 sitting on the table, and it was gone when he came back to claim it, and the people behind the table were downright rude: “Well, ANYBODY could come up and say they left their change.” I didn’t expect them to pull 50 bucks out the register and hand it to him, but they could have been a lot nicer about it.

Then there was the bathroom situation. In past years, they’ve had entire rows of porta-johns available for use. This year they had TWO – one men’s and one women’s – for the 600 to 1000 people that attended. What were they thinking? When I coordinated an outdoor music event in Court Square, I was told the rule of thumb was one porta-john for every 75 people. There were long lines all afternoon, and I never remember waiting at all in previous years. I just snuck in nearby restaurants and used their bathrooms instead.

Not that the fest was all bad – the people made it worthwhile. I had several groups of friends there to hang out with, and I caught a ride back downtown with some people afterward and we had a few drinks at Sleep Out’s. The bands that played were excellent. And the weather couldn’t be better – sunny and 65 degrees.

I’ll be back next year, but I’m going to eat before I go, and if I feel like having a beer I’m going to keep that convenience store in mind. I hope that the Bayou Bar & Grill, which puts on the festival, focuses more on execution, logistics, and customer experience next year.

What I’m looking forward to, though, is the downtown crawfish fest Sunday, April 17. The downtown fest used to suck because they ran out of crawfish too early, but in recent years they’ve solved that problem and it is now far and away the better crawfish festival. Last year yhey had huge buckets, enough to fill you up, for $10, and they gave away the first 500 pounds for free. Looking forward to that one. See you on the 17th!