NO MO WILLIE! Rah rah rah! Plus: Sole, Circa, Trolley Tour, Bravo, and more

WOOOOOHOOOOO! After 17 years, King Willie has finally stepped down. Myron Lowery is the new mayor as of 12:01 AM. The best commentary I’ve seen on the matter was a comment left in response to this CA article. Scroll down and read what cherryblossdotorg wrote on July 30, 6:13 PM. It’s time for Memphians to think about who we want to be.

Don’t forget that Sole Restaurant has a fish monger onsite every Saturday from 8 AM to 3 PM selling fresh fish. This week’s special is Hawaiian barracuda. You could hit Sole and then the Memphis Farmers Market and have all you need for a great dinner. If you’re not on Sole’s e-mail list, you’re missing coupons at the bottom of their weekly e-mails.

Circa is having their 2nd birthday celebration on August 27. They’ll have live music, a cocktail buffet, and drinks from 6 to 7:30 PM, and then there will be happy hour prices at the bar until 10 after that. Half price wine in the dining room all night. Cocktail buffet? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

More details on the Bravo Memphis kick-off party, also on the 27th of August, at Main and Huling. Performances by Ryan Peel and the Blazing Tangerines. Huling Row businesses will be featured, including ArtFunction by Ed Vining, Memphis Downtower Magazine, Hannah Davis Gallery, Marketing Strategies LLC, Joysmith Gallery, Shannon Lazek Personal Training, and the Jack Robinson Gallery. Drinks by D. Canale, and hors d’oeuvres by Whole Foods. Wow Bravo is getting healthy this year. Free food in two locations on Main Street on the same night… guess the Nuh-Uh Girl will be riding the trolley. More info about Bravo here. If you’re between 21 and 45 and you enjoy the arts and want to meet people, this is worth checking out. Kick-off party is free to the public.

The South Main Association now has a group on LinkedIn. Look them up if you’re on LinkedIn and are an SMA member.

The SMA will be serving free Boscos beer and grilling hot dogs and burgers for its members tonight for the South Main Trolley Tour. Not a member? You can join at the entrance, just bring $25. Free burgers and hot dogs? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up. I believe she’s a member of SMA.

Down the street, MPACT Memphis will show off their new digs at 506 S. Main with a grand opening party tonight. Live music, the MPACTini, and food. Free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up. Actually, she’s already responded “attending” to their event listing on Facebook.

It should be a fantastic night for Trolley Tour – according to the Weather Channel, the forecast is high 84, low 69, with only a 10% chance of rain. It’s rare to get such a nice trolley tour in the month of July, when it’s usually 99 and humid. The galleries will be open and lots of people will be out, so come on down.

Happy birthday to my buddy Frank… we’re having a Trolley Tour porch party in his honor tonight. Air Traffic Mike said he’s making gazpacho and some other people are bringing food as well. Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

Earlier this week I mentioned an Elvis pub crawl in the works… somehow Mike King and I got drafted to coordinate it. Details to come. The date has been changed to Saturday, August 15, and it will involve barhopping among 4 of the best bars in the Downtown core in Elvis gear. Tentatively the lineup will be the Saucer, Bluefin, Hard Rock Cafe, and the Red Rooster, although Mike and I still have to get with some of the bars and finalize plans. Stay tuned for more info.

I went to Calhoun’s for the poker tournament last night. After getting short-stacked early on, I clawed my way back to a respectable third place. I have no regrets about the way I lost either… with three of us left, I got dealt suited Ace-King, and went all-in. Bartender Michele called me and had a queen… I was winning until the river, when a queen showed up and killed me. How can you not go all in with Big Slick when only 3 people are left, though?

I’ll be at Trolley Tour not long after 6, probably splitting my time between my friends’ porch party and the MPACT party, with an occasional swing by SMA for Boscos beer.

Thur update: Visible School open house, RiverArtsFest, and more

Not a whole lot of news to report, but let’s see what we can do.

Visible School, a music and worship arts college, has leased the space at 200 Madison that has long been vacant. This Tuesday from 4 to 6 PM, they’re having an open house from 4 to 6 PM to let people get a look at the place. There will be live music and refreshments will be served. Free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up. More info in this CA article.

On October 27 the city will have a special election (I hope, I hope) to determine who will be our new mayor. Uh-Oh. RiverArtsFest is the weekend before, October 24 and 25. I hope that doesn’t turn RiverArtsFest into a highly politicized event where mayoral candidates are running around all over the place, detracting from the reason the festival takes place. I have a feeling that’s what will happen though.

What to do tonight, now that rooftop party season has ended… it’s the poker tournament at Calhoun’s, and you never know who you might bump into there, or who might bump into you. I may just stay home and take another crack at PokerStars though. Last night’s bad beat aside, I think I can make more online than the $15 first prize certificate at Calhoun’s. Besides, Otto is the god of poker and will win anyway. If you do go to Calhoun’s, be sure to try the wings.

In other Thursday night activity, there will be country music on Beale, some band will be playing the Saucer, some other band will be playing the Rooster, lots of people will be out at local bars getting drunk, it will rain a lot, and there will be plenty of bums out asking for change.  The trolley will run until around 11, unless it breaks down, which it often does.  And that’s all for now.  Trying to find info on whether the Jim Rome Circus/Jake “The Snake” Roberts show at the New Daisy for tomorrow got canceled – someone told me on Twitter that it did…

Maniacs and bad beats

I stayed home and played PokerStars again last night, and suffered my first “bad beat” – I lost a hand I was pretty sure I had won.

I sat down at one of their virtual poker tables not long after I came home from work, and during the first round I observed the other players. One guy was raising almost every hand before the flop. At the level I play, it’s typical for players to see the flop (i.e. not fold their first two cards) about 20% of the time. This guy was not only seeing the flop but raising more than 50% of the time. This is what’s known as a “maniac,” someone who will raise aggressively even with mediocre hands.

Maniacs scare novice poker players, because they force you to shove a lot of money into the pot if you want any chance of winning hands. They can be very frustrating. Once you get a little experience, however, you realize they’re great people to have at the table – just wait until you get a good hand and then call them and clean them out.

So I got dealt a suited AJ and the maniac raised pre-flop. “Now it’s time to roll up my sleeves and go to work,” I thought, and happily called.

The flop was garbage – let’s say 295, three different suits so no threat of a flush on the board. Maniac bet. I only had Ace high at this point. Against a conservative player, I’d get out, but I was reasonably sure the maniac was trying to scare me out of the pot. I called.

The turn came, and I was delighted to see a Jack. So the board was 295J, and I had a pair of Jacks. Maniac bet again. I snickered as I called. “Now I’ve got him!” I thought.

The river was a 10. So I still had top pair. He bet again. I thought to myself, “If he were a more conservative player, I’d worry he paired up two of the low cards on the flop, and he’s staying in with two pair. However, he’s demonstrated that he’s willing to stay in with almost nothing. I think that, at best, he also has a pair of Jacks. But in that case he still loses, because I’ve got the Ace kicker.” So I raised, and he re-raised. “Wow, he’s really trying to get me out of this pot,” I thought. I called him.

To my horror he turned over JJ. He had what’s known as a “set,” three of a kind where two of them are hidden. Sets are almost impossible to defend against because you never see them coming. And you especially don’t expect to see them from a player who routinely calls and raises all the way with bad cards. But even maniacs hit a lucky hand now and then.

It’s all part of learning the game… sometimes you lose hands you expect to win. A few hands later, the maniac went all the way holding a 78 with face cards on the board, and someone cleaned him out, just as I expected would happen. Shame that it wasn’t me. Needless to say, I never made it out for celebratory 25 cent Wednesday beer at the Rooster.

Going to experiment more with my poker style tonight. The good thing about online poker is, the other players can’t see what else I’m doing. So I think I’ll keep the random number generator at open, and consult it to determine how many times the big blind to bet/raise when I get a premium hand, when I get a low pocket pair, when I get suited connectors like the 8 and 9 of diamonds. If I don’t make the same bet every time under the same circumstances, I’ll be much harder for my opponents to figure out.

Not much news today, but what I’ve got will go up in the next post in a few minutes.

Wed update: SDB in jail, Elvis pub crawl, BOM voting open, regatta on the river, and more

For those of you who know Sharp Dressed Bum, good news… he’s been picked up on outstanding warrants and is currently a guest of the city as he awaits trial. He’s been identified as a repeat offender, which is going to make it harder for him to operate on the streets of Downtown in the future.

SDB is a very aggressive panhandler who has been down here for as long as I’ve lived Downtown. He’s called “Sharp Dressed Bum” because he tends to dress in neat, clean business casual type attire when he panhandles. He often looks like he’s on his way to work, or to a nice club. It’s his way of getting passersby to drop their guard so he can ask for money. When told no, he’ll often follow people down the street, cussing them and threatening them, sometimes even with physical gestures. He has an apartment south of the FedExForum, so he’s not homeless, although he’ll claim to be if he thinks it will help generate panhandling revenue.

Kudos to the Center City Commission’s safety patrol, and to MPD, on a fine job. MPD has really been stepping it up in recent weeks. Lately I’ve seen a police car parked near the Elvis statue on Beale more often than not. That block has been prime ground for parking scams for as long as I can remember. Glad the cops are paying more attention to it.

Stay tuned for details on an Elvis-themed pub crawl Saturday, August 8, where people dress up as Elvis and move from bar to bar in a group. It will be kind of similar to the “Stumbling Santa” event that happens in December. More details to come. The list of participating bars is being worked out this week.

The Memphis Flyer’s Best of Memphis ballot is now online. You can vote for the best of everything in the city through August 10. Access the ballot through the Flyer’s home page.

There’s a powerboat regatta called the Memphis International Riverfront Regatta this weekend on the Mississippi River.  Tens of thousands of people are expected to come Downtown and watch.  Note that Riverside will be closed from Union to Carolina starting tomorrow.

Last night I played on PokerStars for about an hour before I headed to trivia… sat down with a stack of $100 and got up with a stack of $116.25. Sixteen bucks an hour is not bad. Every day I analyze the previous night’s poker game for things I could have done better. I see lots of ways to improve. Tonight I have no plans, so I think I’ll stay home and play a long session. If I do really well, I’ll celebrate by going out to the Rooster for their 25 cent beer night.

Congrats to the Rapscallions on a first-place trivia victory last night… we won a tiebreaker to earn a $50 gift certificate, bringing our stash for the next party to $160. Gotta e-mail the team about that today. More news to come – some things I can’t look up and link until I get home. I’ll try to take a break from poker at some point tonight to do a post.

Tue update: MATA routes, Sriracha, stock photos and more

It looks like I was a little premature reporting that MATA had launched a new bus service among the major north-south and east-west thoroughfares in Downtown and Midtown, called Parkway Express. The service, to have ETA updates via website or text message, is only a proposal at this point. When they get the website up, I’ll link to it, and maybe we can start an e-mail and phone campaign in support of it.

I’ve been told that Sriracha sauce, which I recommended to flavor Bloody Marys, is available at Kroger and Schnucks in the ethnic food section. You don’t have to go to an international market to find it.

Award-winning Downtown restaurant Circa by John Bragg now has a presence on Facebook. You can search for “Circa Memphis” and become a fan.

I got news this morning that, probably my favorite free stock photo website, has been bought out by iStockPhoto. They say they’re keeping SXC free. I hope so. Any time I see corporate America (or corporate wherever) get involved, I get worried they’ll screw things up. If you’re a web developer and you need any royalty-free images, you may want to grab them while the site is still there.

Couple of things coming up at the Power House gallery this week: A panel discussion on Articulating Race and Power through Public Spaces on Thursday, a panel discussion featuring D’Army Bailey, Ernestine Jenkins, Richard Alexander Lou, Lee Millar, Wanda Rushing, and John Weeden. It will be a discussion of how art, space, and place can either break down or reinforce racial/cultural divides.

Then on Friday, they’ll have the finale in their Midnight Matinee series. Tsotsi will be the movie, and doors open at 11:15 PM. Here’s the synopsis: “Tsotsi is the street name of a young Johannesburg delinquent who has taken to a life of crime in order to support himself. One evening, Tsotsi shoots a woman while stealing her car, and only later discovers that her infant son is in the back seat. As Tsotsi finally looks back at his own childhood, he tries to take care of the infant on his own.”

Friday is, of course, South Main Trolley Tour as well, so if you want to see the movie, you could come early for Trolley Tour which is from 6 to 9, then either grab dinner at a good restaurant nearby (Harry’s Detour, Safari, Onix, the Blue Monkey) or hang out at a local bar for a couple of hours (Earnestine & Hazel’s, Calhoun’s) to pass the time. Plenty to do in South Main. During the trolley tour hours, MPACT Memphis will show off their new space at 506 S. Main with live music, the MPACTini, and food. Free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

Playing an hour of PokerStars, then off to trivia.  With nasty Turbo Dog as the Fire Sale, I’m in no hurry to get to the bar.

Cashew deal

Just got back from a trip to Walgreens.  If you’re a fan of cashews, you might want to stop by a Walgreens this week – they have cans of Planters whole cashews for half off.  Normally they’re almost 8 bucks, but this week you can get them for under 4.

I saw this deal at the Whitehaven Walgreens, but I assume it’s chain-wide, at least in the Memphis area.

Poker vs. bridge

In college I started playing poker, often staying up until 3 AM in the dorm playing all kinds of weird variations of 7-card stud. About 5 years ago I played Texas Hold’em for the first time and immediately got into it. At first I played at friendly games held in people’s apartments and condos Downtown. Then I started playing Buzztime poker at Sleep Out Louie’s, and later Calhoun’s. Earlier this year I created a paid account with PokerStars and started playing for real money online. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m pretty good and can usually walk away from the table with a profit. I stayed home last night, determined not to go to Pint Nite until I made $20. By 8:15 I had my $20 and off to the Saucer I went. I kinda like the idea of poker paying my bar tabs.

It’s been a culture shock, being a poker player working for an organization that sanctions the card game bridge. They are two entirely different worlds.

When you play bridge, you fill out a “convention card.” This spells out how you play common situations in bridge – your overall strategy. Stuff like, “if my partner bids 4 notrump, when I raise him in response, I’m not actually bidding, I’m telling him how many aces I have, and here’s how I tell him.”

Guess who gets to see your convention card? Your opponents. Can you imagine something like that in poker? Imagine if I wrote down, “Pre-flop, I raise 3 times the big blind when I have a pocket pair. If the flop indicates a flush or open-ended straight possibility, I raise 2/3 of the pot to scare speculators away.” And then show that to my opponents? In poker, I might as well just start passing out the contents of my wallet to the other people at the table.  In bridge, though, that’s considered part of the ethics and fairness of the game.

Bridge players enjoy playing against opponents who are better than they are. As a poker player, the last thing I want to see when I sit down at a table are good players. I keep a list of bad players I’ve previously encountered on PokerStars, and make it a point to search for them when I get online. If I find any of them and there’s an open seat at their table, I sit down.

After the hand is over, bridge players will often discuss the hand – this is the advantage of playing with more experienced players, so you can learn from them. On the other hand, in poker, the last thing I’d ever do is tell bad players what they did wrong – I want them to continue to play badly and fork over more of their money. “Dude, that was a sharp move, going all in with your unsuited J4 after AKK came down in the flop. Yeah, it didn’t work out this time, but hey, maybe next time Lady Luck will smile on you instead of me. Maybe you’ll get an even better hand to go all in with, like a suited J4 or maybe even a J5. Hey, I enjoy playing with you, let me add you to my buddy list so I can find you and play with you again.” That would be the only kind of hand analysis I’d offer an opponent.

If you get good at bridge, you get “masterpoints.” Accumulate lots of masterpoints and you become kind of a big deal in the bridge world. In poker, if you get good, you get “money.” To me, money is kind of a bigger deal than masterpoints.

Different strokes for different folks. They’re both great games, fun to play and fantastic mental exercise. Still, though, when I get home tonight and get in front of my laptop, I’ll be firing up PokerStars, not BridgeBase. Actually, it will be a short session, because tonight is trivia night. Hmmm and it’s also $5 34 oz. drink night at Kooky Canuck… perhaps there’s a maple flank steak and a Flying Moose in my future after trivia.

Buy this man a beer… or shot

Please take a good look at the pic posted below… this is one of the best people I know.


This is Pete.  He’s a teacher for the Memphis City Schools.  He’s also a good friend and lousy pool player.  Today (Tuesday, July 28) is his birthday.  So if you see him out, buy him a beer, a shot, or something.  The way we Downtowners do it, your entire birthday week is fair game for free drinks, so if you don’t see Pete tonight, buy him one this weekend.