Sacred sounds, poetry, spoken word, music this Thursday

I ran into Memphis’ poet laureate IQ last night and he told me about an event happening this Thursday, April 26, at the Memphis Theological Seminary (East Parkway at Union) from 5:30 to 8:30. Here’s a scan of the flyer:

Looks like they have an impressive lineup: Dr. Valerie Bridgeman Davis, a professor at the seminary and a finalist in “My South Speaks”; IQ, who has been to three National Poetry Slams and is the local Slam Master; John Hancock, the 2000 Southern Fried Champion; da Shade Moonbeam from Austin, and many others. Check it out if you get a chance.

Tuesday update: Wallet, new WiFi location, Apple discount, Amazon aStore, .NET positions, and more

– Question for my male readers: Can anyone recommend a THIN wallet that they really like? Someone last night commented that I have a “George Costanza wallet” – about an inch and a half thick – and it occurs to me that sitting on that thing all day probably has a lot to do with the pain I’ve experienced in my lower back and leg. Time for a new one. E-mail me if you have recommendations.

– So last night about 9:30 it occurred to me that I’m COMPLETELY out of toothpaste. No problem, I thought, I’ll run down the street to Walgreens and pick up a tube… OH, WAIT, THE DOWNTOWN WALGREENS CLOSES AT 8. Sorry, I know I’ve ranted about this before but… HOW RIDICULOUS IS IT that our neighborhood drugstore won’t stay open past 8 PM, when Number 10 Main, the Shrine Building, the Renaissance, the Claridge, the Exchange Building, the Springhill Suites, the Sleep Inn, the Comfort Inn, the Madison, the Holiday Inn Express, the Peabody, and the Residence Inn by Marriott are all within a 3-block radius. So many times I’ve been walking down Main at 8:30, 8:45, and seen people standing outside Walgreens with a dumbfounded “You’re kidding, it’s closed?” look on their face.

– Bon Ton Cafe, a breakfast/lunch spot on Monroe between Second and Third, now has wireless Internet, so add that as one more place to take your laptop. Bon Ton has great breakfasts and lunch specials. I believe they’re open until 3 PM weekdays, 2 on Saturday, closed Sunday.

– If you’ve been thinking about buying a Mac, iPod, or iPhone, this weekend would be a good time to do it. Friday through Sunday, April 27 through 29, Apple Stores nationwide will be open extended hours and will pay the sales tax for you. In a state like Tennessee that’s a pretty significant savings.

However, you may want to compare Apple’s prices against MacMall, Apple’s #1 reseller who often undercuts their prices. Even with the sales tax savings, MacMall may still have a better price… click the button below to check them out.

MacMall - #1 Apple Direct Reseller

– Tonight’s Tuesday, so it’s time to see if the Rapscallions can win trivia and add another $50 to their prize stash. We finished out of the money last week, but at least I got to see the Nuh-Uh Sister in a tube top licking an ice cream cone… possibly the hottest thing I’ve seen since the Romanians left town last October.

– I’m turning back into Laptop Paul this week… I’m setting up my first aStore. aStores let you create your own personal store selling offerings, and every time your store sells an item you get a commission. I had an idea for a unique themed store yesterday and have begun work on it… will post a link when it’s ready, but I have a few hundred items to add first.

– A friend of mine who is a recruiter has a couple of .NET programmer positions open… if you’re a .NET programmer looking for work, shoot me an e-mail listing your qualifications, and I’ll pass it on to him.

That’s all for now… I have a few crawfish fest pics to post, but I have to download them from the camera first.

Deals: Restaurants and mid-sized MP3 players

I’m dropping my other blog, the “Better, Bigger Deal” one… I simply don’t have time to update two blogs on a regular basis. What I’ll do instead is report on Deals here from time to time. A lot more people read this blog anyway.

From now until the end of the month, you can get 60% off gift certificates bought through the links on the left of this blog, through my Memphis Discount Dining site, or through my national affiliate partner Just use code APRIL at checkout and hit “Recalculate total.”

In addition, with every order you place, you’ll get a bonus $10 gift certificate, free of charge. This is the best promotion I’ve ever seen them roll out, so make sure to get your order in before the end of the month.

Also, today I became aware of a GREAT deal on mid-sized MP3 players. Creative Labs is putting two of their players on closeout, and for a limited time you can get a 5 GB player for $69.99, or a 6 GB player for $79.99. These are refurbished units, but as I’ve explained before, refurbished electronics come with the same warranty as new units, and often have to pass even more rigorous testing before they’re allowed to be sold. So there’s no need to be scared. Click the link below to get a player that holds 5-6 times as much as a similarly priced iPod shuffle.

Save on Refurbished Zen Micro 5 GB!!

Monday update

Today, as a new employee I got to tour the city schools’ Central Nutrition Center out on Jackson. Pretty fascinating place… there they do as much advanced prep as possible to feed the schools’ 118,000 students every day. I got to see these enormous cooking vats, as well as systems that allow cooked product to be cooled for later distribution, without losing any of the food’s flavor. I also got to walk through the biggest refrigerator I’ve ever seen – that thing must’ve been close to the size of a football field.

Couple of interesting facts I learned… this year, MCS started serving breakfast free of charge to ALL students (not just those eligible for reduced-price meals). “We didn’t have federal funds to cover all of it,” they explained, “but we thought it would be worth it to go ahead and do it, knowing that students will perform better if they have a proper breakfast.” Lunches normally cost $1.50 (elementary) and $1.75 (secondary) but 75% of the students in the district are eligible for reduced-cost lunch, which lowers the price to 10 cents. Not bad… for a dime, 75% of the students can get two good meals a day. Once again, I tell ya, the city schools do a much better job than most people realize.

I had to wear a hairnet when I toured the kitchen… I kept it, maybe I’ll put it on tonight and take a pic.

Couple other notes:

– Isaac Hayes’ restaurant in Peabody Place closed yesterday. Mall management thinks they’ll have no problem leasing the space back out. That would be another good space for a large bookstore chain to consider.

– Meditrina has also closed (not sure exactly when). That location, if you ask me, needs a different type of business than the niche restaurants (Meditrina, and before that Samovar) that have been there. Something that grabs the attention of people walking out of Parking Can Be Fun and looking for a place to eat before the ballgame or Orpheum show… whereas, Meditrina and before that Samovar were kind of destinations of their own. Seems to me that something with a menu similar to Huey’s/Big Foot/Sleep Out’s would work well.

Another post to come soon, so check back.

Quick Sunday update

The Highland-Walker fest wasn’t as big a deal as I had hoped. I had heard they were going to block Highland off, but no, just one block of Walker. There were only about 15 crafts booths as opposed to the 300+ you find at Cooper-Young. I got there about 2, and they were having beer races (similar to the downtown wine race) and the security guy told me the band would start at 4. I didn’t feel like sticking around until then, so I ate a burrito at Blue Coast and then left.

I did get to stop by Buster’s Liquors on the way home and replenish my liquor cabinet. Unfortunately I didn’t have the wine recommendations all of you sent me (thanks everyone by the way, and I’ll post a summary later this week) so I played it safe – picked up a couple of bottles of Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay ($4.99 each!) which I know is good, and a bottle of Rosemount Diamond Label Chardonnay ($8.99). I went to a Rosemount tasting a couple of years ago at the downtown Blue Monkey and it was the only tasting I’ve ever attended where ALL the wines were excellent.

I also bought new bottles of Maker’s Mark and Ston vodka, which I’ve been without since February, when I donated a bottle of each to the Super Bowl party. So I’m fully stocked and ready to go now. Should probably get some cranberry juice in the apartment for mixers though.

Schedule for today:

11:00-11:59: Mimosas at the Majestic
12:00: Arrive at crawfish fest.
12:01: Walk past the “500 lbs. of crawfish free at noon” line (they give you a little styrofoam cup full – it really isn’t bothering with). Count how many of downtown’s panhandlers have shown up for the free handout.
12:05: Buy a bucket of crawfish. Will probably take them to Barton Flats’ rooftop to eat.
12:50: Decide I’m full with a third of my bucket of crawfish to go. Give the remainder away.
12:55: Get fussed at by the Nuh-Uh Girl for giving someone else besides her my leftover crawfish.
1:00-6:00: Back on the street all afternoon for the festival. I tend to be a wanderer at these things, not someone who stays in one location for very long.
6:00-?: At some point I’ll stop by the Saucer for at least one beer. Who knows though… my post-6:00 plans will probably be figured out between 1 and 6.

Weather forecast: High 81, low 64. Ladies, that sounds like tube top weather… don’t forget, I’ll have the camera on me, so if you want your tube top pic in my blog just ask me to take one.

Questions for downtown dog owners

This morning I was contacted by someone who will be moving to Memphis in July, and is thinking about moving Downtown. She has a dog – a 25-pound terrier mix who adores people – and is curious how dog-friendly Downtown is. I’ve never owned a dog, so I thought I’d post the question and let my readers respond. Particularly she wants to know

  • For those who live in condos, where nearby do you walk your dog?
  • Are there are any outdoor restaurant patios that allow a well-behaved dog to sit with its owner?
  • What pet-sitting services and/or boarding services are available downtown? (She’ll be traveling a few times in the months after she moves here.)
  • Anything else you can think of that a dog owner should know about downtown?

If you’ll e-mail me your responses, I’ll pass them on. I’d be interested in hearing from people who live in both the Downtown core and the South Main district.

Cool service for sending large files

One of the hassles my friends and I face is picture sharing. There will be four or five of us with digital cameras taking pictures at an event, and afterward it’s a challenge to get all the pics together in one place. Each person will have 20-100 MB of pics so they’re too big to attach to an e-mail message, and running around burning CDs or transferring files onto memory sticks can be a pain.

Couple of days ago I found a solution… there’s a site called that lets you upload files up to 2 GB in size. Once the files are uploaded, it gives you two links – a download link, and a delete link if you decide you don’t want the files there anymore. You can then mail the download link to whomever you wish.

I gave it a try and it worked pretty well – the only thing is, the interface is SO simple it almost makes you wonder if you’re doing it right. There are no logins at all, either for the uploader or downloader. Also, in Classic Upload mode (which it asks that you use for large files) there’s no status bar. It took me 45 minutes to upload a 100 MB test file (cable modem upload speeds are typically slower than download speeds) and I almost closed out of it because I didn’t think it was working… so give it some time, the “upload complete” message will eventually appear.

Give it a try. Looks like a good solution to our picture-trading problem.

Friday update: Spindini, new sports bar on South Main, festivals

Tonight I met a friend at Spindini for a drink after work… first time I’ve ordered anything there, although I did walk through and check the place out right after it opened. I had heard the service was a bit “iffy” and was relieved when the bartender walked up within 10 seconds of my sitting down. She offered me a wine list, and about 3 minutes later was back and filled my order immediately. Off to a good start. But…

Five minutes later, my friend arrived, and we decided to move to the comfy chairs by the front window. She hadn’t ordered yet and assumed a server would be right over. For the next 15 minutes we watched as a manager and two waiters stood by the computer and talked, occasionally looking over at us – but not one of them bothered to come over and see if my friend needed a drink, given that they could see she clearly didn’t have one.

Finally my friend walked up to the manager and asked who was serving the chairs/couches near the window. She told me that his reply was, “Well, I guess we could send someone over, but it isn’t much of a section.”

1) At the places I frequent regularly, it’s the responsibility of EVERY employee to make sure the customers are well taken care of. If you see a customer without a drink, you go ask if they’ve been waited on at the very least.
2) We come to your restaurant/bar to eat, drink and have a good time. Not to fill your section. Downtowners tend to tip very well, but not when the servers cop the attitude displayed in the above response. The last time a server downtown got that snotty with me, she got $47 and the change in my pocket on a $48 tab. No kidding. And I normally tip 30%. If you expect the people who sit on the couches and chairs to go to the bar for drinks, fine, but say “I’m sorry, ma’am, but there’s no server for that section, but the bartender will be happy to take care of you.”

Seriously doubt I’ll be going back there.

Down the street, there’s better news. The Memphis Business Journal reports that the space next to The Cheesecake Corner on G.E. Patterson, most recently a convenience store, is being converted to a sports bar. The bar will seat about 80, will have pool and darts, and will be a place where they know your name when you walk in. They’re viewing the condo and apartment dwellers within walking distance as their clientele. Very good thing for South Main. I told one of my friends who lives there, and “ecstatic” would describe his reaction very well.

Early evening tonight. Had a couple of beers at the Saucer on the way home, regretted not being able to stay for more of Ten Mile Bayou’s show, but I really need a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow I’ll be at the Highland-Walker Festival out by the U of M. Should be there no later than 1. If it’s good I’ll stay all day; if it sucks I’ll stay a couple of hours. I expect to be there all day though. I think this could evolve into the spring equivalent of Cooper-Young if done right.

And of course Sunday I’ll be at the Majestic for brunch from 11:00 to 11:59, and the Rajun Cajun crawfish fest noon to 6. I tend to be a wanderer at festivals… some of the gang are planning a cookout on the rooftop of Barton Flats, but I plan to spend very limited time there. I want to be on street level, hanging out and talking to people I haven’t seen in a year, and talking to future good friends I’m just meeting for the first time.

Off to bed… I can barely keep my eyes open.

Another new convenience store coming to the downtown core

Tuesday night I was walking down Second and I noticed this sign in the old Carabella’s location (99 S. Second I think):

Very cool. Wonder what their hours will be? In that location, directly across from the Peabody Hotel, there’s definitely justification for them staying open 24 hours.

Oh lord… this likely means there will be microwave chili dogs available on my drunken stumble home from the Saucer. That’s bad news.