Tuesday update

First day on the new job went well.  At lunch I drove around the airport/Whitehaven area and located the nearest Walgreens, ATM, etc.  Discovered that there’s a Popeye’s Chicken within striking distance of the office!  Nice!  Also, there’s a Domino’s literally next door.  I hear their oven-baked sandwiches are pretty awesome.  Looks like I’ll be trying them soon.

It’s SO nice to have my own office rather than a cubicle.  This week it looks like I’ll be investigating ways to use the JQuery Javascript library to snazz up a website.  I started to get into JQuery right before I got laid off the old job and saw all kinds of potential for it.

The FedExForum is being transformed for the NCAA South Regional men’s championships this weekend.  There’s a story on Fox 13 about the work being done.  According to the FedExForum’s Facebook page, #2 seed Oklahoma tips off vs. #3 Syracuse at 6:27 PM Friday night, followed by #1 North Carolina vs. #4 Gonzaga.  So you’ll have plenty of time to get home from work and to the FedExForum (or your favorite bar, if you prefer to watch games there) in time for the games.  Friday’s winners meet in a Sunday afternoon game for a trip to the Final Four.

I’ve already picked my watch location for Thursday night’s 8:37 PM Memphis Tigers vs. Missouri Tigers game.  This time I’ll be at the Flying Saucer.  My reasoning is that people from out of town will be arriving for Friday’s games, and will be out for a night of fun before their teams take the court.  I want to be where the action is.

And it’s a BIG bar with plenty of good seating… last night I heard my friend Mikey advise people to take off work early to get to Calhoun’s in plenty of time to get good seating for the Tiger game.  The 8:37 PM Tiger game, you know, which starts more than 3 hours after most people get off work.  That kind of thing is exactly why I don’t watch Tigers tournament games at Calhoun’s.  Too crowded.  Great bar otherwise but simply too crowded.

Doesn’t it seem like every time a TV commercial mentions a discount these days, they have to refer to it as a “bailout” or a “stimulus?”  Those are becoming the most overused terms of 2009.

Here’s a Commercal Appeal article on the economic impact to Memphis of this week’s NCAA South Regional.

Don’t forget that Friday night is Trolley Tour in the South Main district.  Looks like it may rain, but if the rain stays away, it should be a perfect night for walking from gallery to gallery, with a predicted high of 75.

Off to work… the usual trivia night tonight at 7.  Maybe a stop at Bardog Tavern for their $3 pint night after that.

Mon update: New job, basketball stuff

Starting the new job today.  Feeling excited because there is a lot more marketing/creativity than in past jobs.  I’m going to get to do neat stuff like work with Photoshop and Illustrator and write copy, which will be fun.  I’ll have my own office for the first time in more than five years, which is great because I hate cubicles.

For those of you who are unemployed or employed fewer hours than you’d like, here’s a great post by Seth Godin in how to invest the extra time in yourself.

On to the news this morning:  If you missed out on filling out an NCAA bracket, or if your bracket has been blown to bits by upsets in the first two rounds, you have a chance at a do-over.  The Flying Saucer is doing a new bracket challenge starting today, involving the Sweet 16 teams only.

According to this CA article, the #2 seed Memphis Tigers take on the #3 seed Missouri Tigers in Glendale, AZ at 8:37 PM CDT Thursday.  Good, a night game – that means I’ll be able to catch it on TV.  Should be a good matchup.  The Mizzou coach was an assistant coach under Nolan Richardson at Arkansas, and has adapted the “40 minutes of hell” style of play that won Arkansas a national championship in 1994.

Grizzlies news:  The NBA is doing a bracket match-off for dance teams.  All-Access members can go here to vote for the Grizz Girls vs. the Denver Nuggets dance team.

Look for info here on how the Grizzlies are giving back to the community.  On April 3 they’ll be educating fans on going green, and later in the month they have the largest silent auction in team history, and a Fan Appreciation Night.

Off to work.  I guess this means my posts will be returning to the early morning/lunch post times as they did when I had my last job.  Since I’m working by the airport I won’t be able to take my “what’s the Fire Sale” walks on weekdays anymore, but if someone wants to text the Fire Sales to me, I’ll update them on the blog.

Tonight:  Dollar Depression-era cocktails at Silly Goose from the time I get home until 7, then Pint Nite at the Saucer.

Dollar PBR at Silly Goose during the Tiger game

The Silly Goose will have dollar PBR during the Memphis Tigers vs. Maryland Terrapins game this afternoon.  Game starts at 2:20 PM CDT.  I was equally divided on Saucer, Goose, and Bardog as possible watch locations, but I suppose dollar PBR will win the day for the Goose.

I watched basketball at Bardog for a few hours yesterday afternoon with Air Traffic Mike and John D.  They had the sound on for the Oklahoma State vs. Tennessee game, and it was quite an enjoyable place to watch the action.  I’d never considered Bardog an NCAA watch spot before, but it’s on my list now.  After the game, I felt it was my duty to text all the Tennessee fans in my phone’s Contacts and tell them that their team lost.  Thank goodness we’re done looking at Bruce Pearl for another seven months.

Quote of the day:

Air Traffic Mike: “Both the Great Pumpkin and Bruce Pearl come out in October.”

Me: “Yeah, but how can you tell which is which?”

After that, I went to the Saucer, where Ghost River was on hand to tap their keg of Wee Heavy.  It was delicious, and was 8.5% alcohol by volume, odd because the Wee Heavy the Saucer normally carries (Belhaven) is 3.9%.  I’ll have to get one of my beer-brewing friends to explain that variation to me.  As I drank the beer, I thought to myself that it would go great with some salted-in-the-shell peanuts and Gus’s chicken.  A couple of hours of NTN Poker at Calhoun’s wrapped up the evening.  Watched off-duty Saucer bartender Marci cheer on her Arizona Wildcats to an upset of Utah.  Guess they proved that they belonged in the tournament after all.

My bracket is still looking pretty good so far.  I picked 25 of the 32 winners in the first round.  I only picked two teams to go to the Sweet Sixteen (Utah and West Virginia) and one to go to the Elite Eight (West Virginia) that have already been knocked out.  All of my Final Four (Louisville, Duke, Memphis, Oklahoma) are still intact.

What’s going on tonight?  It’s my last party night before the job starts and I’m hoping to stay out late.

Time to take the laundry out of the dryer, then head to the Goose to get a good seat.  Go Tigers!

Not much going on…

Wow… really not much to write about today.  I know of a SQL Server 2005 database administrator opportunity if anyone is looking.  E-mail me at paul@paulryburn.com if you are.

Only thing I’ve got on the agenda for tonight is the Saucer at 7 PM, where the Ghost River people will tap a special keg of Wee Heavy.

Tigers play Maryland at 2:20 PM CDT tomorrow.  So far my bracket is looking pretty good – got 13 out of 16 right yesterday, two better than our President did.  I didn’t have any of the three I got wrong winning another round, so the damage is minimized, and I’m particularly proud of picking #12 Western Kentucky for the upset over #5 Illinois.

I had the crab stuffed trout at Majestic Grille last night, and it was fantastic.  Thanks to Air Traffic Mike for the recommendation.  If you want to try it, you better get there tonight – it’s the last night for their St. Patrick’s week dinner specials.

Last day of freedom before the new job begins Monday… guess I’ll wander up to the Saucer and watch the Oklahoma State-Tennessee game.

Thur update: URBANEXUS, Paula & Raiford’s Disco, March Madness and mudbugs at Calhoun’s, more mudbugs at Orleans

Next American City is holding an URBANEXUS salon tonight at Stax Museum (926 E. McLemore).  This will be a discussion of civic engagement in moving Memphis forward, and what various organizations around town are doing to accomplish this.  Presenters will use 4 slides per minute for 4 minutes to illustrate what’s going on with their organizations.  Presenters include

Audience Q&A and reception will follow the presentations.  Event starts at 6 PM.  Good chance to learn about the positive things going on in Memphis, and learn about ways you can be an active citizen.

There was an article in the paper yesterday about Paula & Raiford’s Disco, set to open April 3.  Says the new club will be 4 times the size of the old one – NICE!  While it will resemble the old Hollywood Raiford’s, it will have Paula’s unique decorative touches.  Can’t wait to see the place.

Calhoun’s will open early for the NCAA tournament this week, and they have the March Madness package.  After sunset their 120″ projection HDTV will be tuned to the games on the back deck.  They are also the latest bar to get into the crawfish boiling business – they’ll do boils every Sunday at 6 PM for $4.50 a pound.

Orleans on Front will have crawfish every Thursday (that’s tonight!) in addition to the boils they have on some Sundays.  Don’t forget about their $4 happy hour!

I was downstairs in their Voodoo Room last night, where they were showing a Led Zeppelin concert on TV.  It looked like it was their 1975 tour and was just amazing.  They played songs I’d never seen on concert video before – “In My Time of Dying,” “Trampled Under Foot,” “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” and a few others, and of course “Stairway.”  Jimmy Page was just amazing.  It was amazing how much he improvised during the songs, and yet it all sounded like perfection.  I gotta start collecting Zep concert DVDs.  My only complaint is that Bonham wasn’t featured more.  They cut to him occasionally, but he looked like just another drummer.  The video didn’t give him the credit he deserved.  Page and Plant were clearly the stars.  I think I saw shots of John Paul Jones maybe twice in the hour of footage they showed.

Sitting at the Saucer watching the Tigers vs. Cal State-Northridge game.  The Tigers apparently left their “D” back in Memphis and are down by 1 as I type this, with 12 minutes left in the first half.  Hope they turn it around.  Haven’t watched a game here in a while.  There are a lot of different bars Downtown that show the tournament games, but the Saucer is home.  Not sure where I’ll go to watch Saturday’s game (assuming we put CS Northridge away), but I definitely plan on watching the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight at the Saucer, because there will be a lot of people around for the tournament games held here.

Go Tigers!  Gonna try and build a website while I watch the game.  Tigers have turned it around and are up by 4 now.

Important DNA meeting tonight at Pearl’s: Vote NO on boundary expansion

Normally I stay out of the Downtown Neighborhood Association’s business, because I haven’t been active in that organization for several years.  However, several DNA members have contacted me, asking me to blog about this issue, and I feel compelled to do so.

The DNA’s monthly meeting is tonight at Pearl’s Oyster House (Main at Pontotoc; social at 6:30, program at 7).  They will take a very important vote on whether to expand the boundaries of DNA.  Current president Cathy Simmons and past president Tommy Volnichak want to expand the association’s boundaries to include the Medical Center district, and even past it, all the way to Watkins in some places.  Many members are opposed to this.  No one considers the area around Watkins to be part of Downtown.  Members feel that expanding to include those neighborhoods will dilute DNA’s focus.

Also, the neighborhoods did not ask to be included in the DNA’s boundaries.  If they had, it might be a different matter.  Rather, it was presented to the DNA board as a fait accompli by the president and past president.

If you’re a DNA member, tonight at Pearl’s is your one chance to stop this expansion.  It’s possible that some expansion of the boundaries needs to be done, but members tell me it needs to be carefully studied and planned, which apparently is not the case here.

That’s the morning post… got more stuff to talk about, but I want this to stay at the top of the blog for a couple of hours.  Tigers play at 11:25 AM.  I will probably take the laptop to the Saucer and watch the game there.

A look at this week’s Memphis Flyer

Time for my weekly flip through the pages of the Memphis Flyer, where I spotlight stuff of interest to Downtowners.

p. 4 and p. 38:  I have two Downtown lunch days remaining before I start the new job.  Trying to decide if I should spend one of them at Calvary’s Lenten Waffle Shop.  The food sounds fantastic.  Writer Stacey Greenberg recommends a waffle topped with peppermint ice cream, and that sure sounds like a winner.  Also sounds like a good place to mingle with other Downtowners.  How does it work though?  I see they have a lunchtime preaching series.  Do they preach at you while you eat?  I’m not much of a churchgoer, although years ago when I was, I was an Episcopalian, which is Calvary’s denomination.

p.9:  Article about renovations at the National Civil Rights Museum.  Several design firms are offering proposals.  You can view them here.

p. 12:  Homes are available in Uptown Memphis.  Great place to live, and they’re “green” homes so you save on utility bills.  The one pictured lists for $99,900 – not a bad price for a starter home for a family that wants to be near Downtown.  Visit UptownMemphisHomes.com to see what they’ve got.

p. 31:  Bardog is “quickly becoming your March hoops mania headquarters.”  I haven’t watched any Tiger games there, but I’ve heard that Aldo has started putting the sound on for some of the games.  Good move.  You can turn the sound on for games without risking being labeled a “sports bar.”  I’ve been leaning toward the Silly Goose and the Flying Saucer as my NCAA watch locations of choice, but maybe I’ll give Bardog a chance too.  I always have a good time there.

I also see they’ll be starting their weekend brunch in mid-April.  Hmmm looks like I’ll have another new place to try.

p. 32:  Nope, absolutely nothing worth mentioning on this page.

p. 33:  The Red Rooster is doing “March Basketball Craziness.”  Half off all pizzas and $2 drafts before, during, and after all games.  Wonder if they really mean ALL games, or just Tiger games?  If you missed the Sunday crawfish boil at Orleans (or if you were there and want more), you can do the Friday one at the Rooster, 6-9 PM.

p. 41:  The Saucer will tap a cask of Ghost River Wee Heavy Friday night.  Time not listed but it’s usually 7 PM.  Brewer Chuck Skypeck will be on hand.  Hmmm interesting… the article also says that all Ghost River beers will be $2.75 on Thursday nights from now on.  I like it!

p. 46:  Automatic Slim’s is hiring cooks and waitstaff.  If you’re a cook, this is an opportunity to work for one of the best chefs in town, Michael Patrick.  He would be a great person to learn from.

Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar at Main and Monroe, in the old Stella location, is hiring too.  I suspect that would be a pretty fun place to work, and when your shift ends Bardog is right down the street for an after-work cocktail.

In other news – get your Coach Cal mask here.  Thanks to Midtown blogger Ryan Jones for the link.

Off to the Saucer to drink Happy Hour beer and play the Window Game.  Beautiful 74 degree day – perfect for sitting in the window and watching the world go by.

Wed update

Got a couple of e-mails about my advice post to a couple staying in West Memphis.  One said that he rode a cab to West Memphis once, and the fare was a hefty $35 one way!  Ouch!  Didn’t realize it was that much.

He and anoher reader who responded recommended MATA’s 78 bus, which runs from West Memphis to the North End Terminal.  Here’s the route map.

President Obama, a huge basketball fan, has revealed his picks for the Final Four:  Louisville, Pitt, Memphis, and North Carolina.  Further proof that the president is a very smart man.  A computer model also picks Memphis to reach the Final Four.

The Lowenstein Building at Main and Jefferson has its grand reopening today.  Here’s an article about it in the CA. The building has been vacant since Rhodes-Jennings Furniture left in 1980, and it narrowly survived demolition in the 1990s.

That’s all for now.  Recovering from St. Pat’s.

Visitor questions: Staying in West Memphis

I got the e-mail below from someone who plans to visit Memphis in the near future.  I thought the answers to his questions might be useful to others, so I’m going to answer them here.

Due to cost we’ve decided to stay over the bridge in West Memphis.  What parking garages do you recommend when we come Downtown?

Park in a garage that has an attendant 24 hours.  Parking Can Be Fun, on Union between Front and Main, is a good one.  Also, the three Peabody Place garages are good too.  There’s one between Main and Second, next to the Flying Saucer; one between Second and Third, across from Peabody Place Mall; and one between Third and Fourth, next to Hooters.

I’ve heard stories about bums threatening to damage your car unless you pay them protection money.  Is this common?  I have Canadian plates, so it will be obvious we’re tourists.

I’m not saying this never happens, but I think it’s a lot less common than people talk about.  There are a lot of bums who will try to wave you into metered spaces or free parking on city streets, then try to charge you.  Some of them may even have parking credentials, which are most definitely fake.  Do not pay anyone to park along a city street, and call 545-COPS if they try to charge you.  However, if you refuse to pay them, I doubt they will try to damage your car, if you’ve parked along a well-lit, well-traveled street.  Most likely they’ll just move on and try to park another car.

Of course, you’ll want to remove everything valuable from your vehicle before you park (this is true even if you park in a garage).  Even small items like loose change, CDs, and sunglasses can get you a broken window.

If you’re concerned about the out-of-country plates, I’ll tell you a trick some of the locals use:  You may want to consider leaving your doors unlocked.  That defies common sense, but if they see your license plate, they may wonder what’s in the trunk and be willing to break into your car to find out.  Better that they open the door rather than break a window to get to the trunk release.  Again, this is much less of a problem if you park in an attended garage or on a well-lit, well-traveled street.

Or should I leave my car at the hotel and taxi around Memphis?  How much would a cab from Downtown to West Memphis be?

I’ve never taken a taxi to West Memphis but I’d estimate the fare at $10-15 one way.  A cab is not a bad idea – you won’t have to pay for parking and your car will be safe.  Plus, if you consume any alcohol while out in Memphis, you won’t have to worry about a DUI (Tennessee) or DWI (Arkansas) on the way home.

Your hotel should be able to call you a cab from West Memphis.

Once you’re Downtown, it’s easy to find cabs on Second across from the Peabody, at Second and Beale, and at Third and Beale.  If you don’t see them there call 323-3333 or 577-7777 to request one.

Is there a bus or similar transport from Memphis to West Memphis?

I don’t know of any kind of a public shuttle that runs between the two cities.  However, your hotel may have a shuttle service that will take you into Memphis, and give you a ride back upon request.  Ask about this when you check in.

Welcome to Memphis, by the way.  Despite the safety warnings above, Downtown is statistically the safest part of the city, and also the friendliest and most fun.  Look for the Blue Suede Brigade if you’re Downtown and have questions – these are the Center City Commission’s public ambassadors.  They wear white safari hats, white shirts, and when it’s cool, blue jackets.  They can answer any questions you have, and they can give you brochures, maps, and coupons.  Also, if you come Downtown, stop by Kooky Canuck and ask if owner Shawn is around – he always loves to meet fellow Canadians.

Hope that helps!

Musicians on Call benefits at Hard Rock, and more

Hard Rock Cafe on Beale has two shows coming up in support of a great charity, Musicians on Call.  Musicians on Call brings live and recorded music to health care patients.  It uses music to support and promote the healing process.  Programs include bedside performances by musicians, donations of CD libraries to hospitals, and giving patients the chance to record their own live music.

The first show to benefit MoC is this Saturday, March 21.  National country artist Lee Brice will appear, along with local country acts Brad Kessler, The Dirt Brothers, and Bethilea.  $3 per guest, $5 per couple, and 100% of the door goes to Musicians on Call.

Then, two Fridays from now, on April 3, Art Alexakis, the lead singer of Everclear, will perform onstage at the Hard Rock, along with Memphis’ own Second Chances as the opener.  Alexakis is making his way through a tour of 17 Hard Rocks, and his final stop is Memphis.  $2 cover, FREE when you bring a friend.  Again, 100% of the door goes to Musicians on Call.

Of course, I’m sure if you wanted to donate more than the cover price to Musicians on Call at the door, they’d accept it.  Those are some of the lowest cover charges on Beale.  I met with the management of Hard Rock last month and was really impressed with their dedication to charity.  They truly want to give back to the Memphis community, not just take from it as some of the other property owners on Beale Street do.  Downtowners, if you’ve overlooked Hard Rock until this point (and I admit I have), it’s worth giving it a chance.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day!  Ladies, here’s a fashion suggestion for this evening:


A green tube top is always a good choice for St. Patrick’s Day.  It’s going to get into the 70s this afternoon, so it will be warm enough to wear them.  Tube Top Month is only 2 1/2 months away!

Of course, I know many people are skipping St. Pat’s parties to throw watch parties for the Alabama State vs. Morehead State play-in game for the NCAA tournament.  It’s on ESPN tonight at 6:30, and some experts are predicting that this will be the game of the season.  If you’ve never experienced the level of basketball played at the local Boys and Girls Club, turn on ESPN tonight, it’ll be about the same thing.  Can also be recorded to DVR and used later in the evening as a sleep aid.  Winner gets the honor of being decimated by Louisville in round one.

Captain Keith, the beer expert for the Flying Saucer chain, now has a blog.  After I take my “what’s the Fire Sale” walk I’ll update what the Irish food and beer specials are tonight at the Saucer.

Speaking of which, it’s time to take that walk now.  Outta here.