Tue update: Election Day discounts, Stumbling Santa pub crawl, Tiger game-day challenges at Flying Fish, Brass Door Bond party, tree-lighting @ AutoZone Park, Instagram rolling out Web Profiles

It’s Election Day. If you vote today, wear your “I Voted” sticker to South of Beale for 20% off food. Offer is good for lunch, dinner, and late night. It does not include Downtown Dining Week and cannot be combined with any other specials.

For a lot more “I voted” discounts all over Memphis, check out Kerry’s post. I see that K’Presha on South Main is offering 10% off clothing purchases with your “I Voted” sticker today. Sache is offering $10 off a purchase of $75 or more with the sticker.

The 8th annual Stumbling Santa pub crawl will happen Saturday night, December 1. Throughout the year, there are several pub crawls that take place on the streets of Downtown Memphis, but this is the grandaddy of them all, attracting 700 participants last year and even more are expected this year. Participants are requested to dress as Santa, Mrs. Claus, or in another holiday-themed costume. They are also asked to bring a toy or two for Porter-Leath children (no stuffed animals; these can’t be accepted due to health reasons). Pub crawlers will meet at the Downtown Flying Saucer at 7 PM, and toys can be dropped off there. The crawl will then move down Beale, stopping at various pubs and bars to spread the holiday cheer.

It is quite a sight to see 700 Santas walking down the street. This is one of those events that is uniquely Downtown Memphis. Even if you choose not to participate, you should consider at least coming to watch.

Meanwhile, down the street at the Saucer’s sister restaurant the Flying Fish, the Tiger challenge is back. Every Tiger men’s basketball home game, the Fish challenges the Tigers to hit a certain statistic. If they do, people who attend the game can show their ticket stub and get free food. Tomorrow is the first home game, and if the Tigers hit 65% or better at the free throw line, you can exchange your ticket stub for two free catfish tacos. Free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

The Brass Door is having a Bond Party this Friday, November 9, to celebrate the release of Skyfall. Drink specials will include $3 Heineken and $5 martinis for those in Bond attire. There will be a $50 Brass Door Dollars prize for the best Bond character, and a $50 Brass Door Dollars prize for the best Bond girl. 2 times 2 pairs of tickets to see Skyfall at Malco will be given away. There will be a Bond photo booth, and casino games on the mezzanine. Bond themes and movies on the TVs.

AutoZone Park is getting into the holiday spirit. A 35-foot artificial tree is being delivered and set up in “Rockeyfeller Plaza” this week. On Friday, November 16, a “flip-the-switch” party will be held on the plaza, and the tree’s holiday lights will be turned on at 5 PM. Entertainment will include caroling by Downtown Elementary School, and music by the River City Concert Band Brass Ensemble. The event is free and open to the public, and there will be free hot chocolate and apple cider.

Throughout the season there will be other performances at Rockeyfeller Plaza. These include Star & Micey (Saturday, December 8 at 3 PM) and the Tennessee Mass Choir (Saturday, December 15 at 3 PM).

Mobile social photo-sharing service Instagram is rolling out Web Profiles, where you’ll be able to show off your images and paint a picture of who you are. I haven’t got mine yet but here’s a sample of what a Web Profile will look like.

Plans for tonight: Watch the election results somewhere, of course. In 2008 a bunch of us gathered at Calhoun’s (now Max’s) to watch, but given the chilly temperatures, I’ll probably remain in the core. I’ll stop in the Saucer to extend my streak to 131 days, but I don’t see myself staying there for election results since it’s trivia night. One of Goose, Bear, Aldo’s, or Bardog will probably be my final election-watch destination.

Chopped antipasto salad @ Aldo’s Pizza Pies

When Aldo’s Pizza Pies first opened, I was all about the pizza. I was determined to try every pizza on their menu, especially ones I had never seen before, like the ones with vodka or roasted poblano cream base. However, I kept hearing how good the non-pizza menu items were too. Sunday I stopped in for lunch, and decided it was time to try one of their salads. My choice: An Italian classic, the chopped antipasto salad.

Years ago, I attended a seminar held by one of Memphis’ top chefs at the time. Chefs like being complimented on the taste of their food, said the presenter. But then he shared an inside tip: If you really want to make a chef beam with pride, compliment the presentation of the food. They take a lot of time making it look perfect before it goes through the kitchen doors. The kitchen staff at Aldo’s certainly deserve high praise for the presentation of this salad. Look at it! Could it be any more beautiful?

It tasted as good as it looked. It was like an Italian sub sandwich in a bowl, without the bread and a whole lot healthier. In the salad are salami, pepperoni, ham, provolone, mozzarella, black olive, roasted red pepper, pepperoncini, mushroom, and your choice of dressing. I sprinkled a little parmesan and roasted red pepper on top. Delicious, enough to satisfy even the heartiest appetite, and reasonably priced at $10 considering the amount of food you get.

Most of the time, I’ll be sticking to the pies at Aldo’s. When in the mood for something different, though, this salad is a welcome, healthy change.

Mon update: Basketball news, Beetle to open for breakfast, Aldo’s/beer, Downtown Dining Week

Huge basketball day here in Memphis. At 10 this morning, Robert Pera, the new principal owner of the Grizzlies, held a press conference introducing himself, the new ownership team, and new CEO Jason Levien to the city. I didn’t get to see the conference live, but comments I saw later on Twitter certainly indicate that the new owners are seriously committed to Memphis.

While the conference was going on, however, an even bigger piece of Memphis basketball news came across the wire – and it was not about the Grizzlies. Briarcrest Christian power forward Austin Nichols committed to the University of Memphis. Rivals.com ranks him #6 at his position and #19 in the country. He’s a huge get for Josh Pastner, especially considering Pastner out-recruited Duke’s Coach K on this one.

Awesome day for Memphis basketball, and it’s not over yet. The Grizzlies’ home opener is tonight at the FedExForum at 7, and tickets are still available.

The Green Beetle will start serving breakfast on Wednesday, November 7. They will open at 7 AM. Good to see breakfast options expanding for those who live and work in the South Main district.

Yesterday afternoon I stopped at Aldo’s Pizza Pies to visit Maddison and grab lunch. The manager told me that they are getting rid of imports like Bass and Harp and making room for more beers from smaller craft breweries on their 30-tap wall. Sounds like a good move . Now I’ll have an additional venue besides the Saucer where I can go and try new and interesting beers.

I take notes on Evernote when I’m out and hear things for the blog. Usually I translate them into something more readable but this line is so good I’m pasting as is: “Sob has laughing skull. Also I hear great things about their brussels sprouts . Aldo’s has that beer too” (Sob = South of Beale)

I had the antipasto salad at Aldo’s for lunch. I’ll do a separate food post on it later.

Today is the start of Downtown Dining Week, with dozens of restaurants offering three-course meals or other dining values for the low price of $20.12. I have the over/under for how many dinners the Nuh-Uh Girl will eat this week at 16.

Plans for tonight: Pint Nite at the Saucer for sure. Also possible stops at Aldo’s Pizza Pies (also Pint Nite), Silly Goose (poker at 8:30), Blind Bear.

Random Saturday stuff

BREAKING NEWS: Shawn Danko from Kooky Canuck just checked in on Foursquare at the World Food Championships in Las Vegas. His cooking team has made it to the final table! GOOD LUCK SHAWN!!! We’re all rooting for you back here in Memphis!

This is going to be a lot less organized than my typical “daily update” post, as I attempt to clear the cobwebs from the final Halloween party last night.

The first item today is for cigar lovers. Last night I was at the bar at the Saucer. I had tentative plans to meet a friend at the Bear, but I was nearly falling asleep standing up and knew I needed to call it a night. So I paid my tab (I think I paid my tab; if not I’ll surely hear about it from Christina in a little while) and wandered up to Huey’s for Paul’s Drunkass Food. On the walk there, I noticed that Havana Mix, the cigar shop on Second, was empty. Then I saw this sign in the window:

Havana Mix has moved around the corner to Peabody Place west of Third, next door to Hooters. I believe that would be the old South Philly space. It seems like a less desirable location based on foot traffic, but it’s a bigger space and they can probably expand their lounge. I’m not a smoker so I never went in, but they had really nice leather couches and HDTVs for their customers to relax and enjoy their cigar. Hope they do well in the new space.

Starting next week, the National Civil Rights Museum will partially close for renovations. There are many ways to make museum exhibits more experiential – audio, video, interactive displays – than were possible when the museum first opened 21 years ago. The museum’s curators plan to modernize the displays and make it a true 21st century experience. During the renovations, the museum’s annex across Mulberry will still be open to visitors. Later this month the museum will open access to the balcony where Dr. King stood, something that has never before been done.

Last night, I attended the South Main Dirty Dozen party in the back room of Earnestine & Hazel’s. This is a private party thrown by about a dozen South Mainers every year to raise funds for the Church Health Center. It was the final Halloween party of the season, and there were plenty of costumes. My personal “best costume” award goes to Ruchee.

Not exactly sure what she was trying to be, but who cares… she had a TUBE TOP on!!!!! Excellent costume! It looked like a lot of money was raised for the Church Health Center, one of Memphis’ most excellent charities.

Tonight is a big party night as well, because we fall back an hour. That means the bars won’t close until what would otherwise be 4 AM! Don’t forget to set your clocks back.

I noticed that my birthday falls on a Sunday Fun Day this year (it’s not tomorrow, but soon), so you better believe I took the following Monday as a vacation day. No definite plans for that day (and I don’t want plans made for me), just plan on doing what I usually do on Sundays, but more of it.

I’d like to give a shout-out to a former Downtown diva this morning. Six months ago you could have found her stylin’ on the Majestic’s patio with a flatbread… or on Local’s patio having mimosas with her bestie… or at the bar at the Blind Bear or Silly Goose having lively conversation with friends… or in her team’s booth at BBQ Fest, enjoying pork shoulder and festive beverages overlooking the river. What’s she up to this weekend? THIS.

“Antique Tractor Judging.” Oh my God. I guarantee you that’s not the only “judging” going on right now. Also, I see no evidence on the festival website that booze will be sold. What’s the point then?

Although, now that I think about it… you know what would go well with sweet potatoes? Fireball. I’ll have to ask our local Fireball ambassador if he has any recipes when I see him tonight. I will probably need to change the subject at some point and this is a perfect topic with which to do it.

I’ll wrap up this post with “The Book of Holy Hammered,” a costume prop which I only took with me one of the three days I portrayed the Jesus character:

It’s designed to look like a Bible but is actually “The Book of Holy Hammered,” perhaps a more appropriate book to take to the parties I attended Downtown. At the time I bought it I didn’t realize it was anything more than a fake book. I thought the $12.95 price tag was a little steep, but I wanted to do the costume right. When I opened it, however, I discovered it was not a book at all. It was a way to conceal a flask and two glasses. The flask was for “Reverend Horton Hammered.”

This is way too cool a prop to only use one year. Next year I guess I’ll have to be a reverend, or a priest, or a monk, so I can bring the book back out. Thing is, though, I don’t exactly frequent priests’ place of business so I don’t really know what they wear or what they do. If any priests are reading this, how about taking a Sunday off, and joining me at the bar at the Majestic to explain what you do? I’ll buy you a couple of mimosas or some PBR.

Time to run down to the Corkscrew to pick up a new bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon. What little I had left went in the flask. Tentative plan is Saucer at 4, then Brass Door at 6 for a birthday party. Undetermined after that, but not very likely I will remain with the birthday party crew for their second stop. Forecast for today: High 83, low 44. Yeah that’ll be easy to plan an outfit for. Do I burn up in my Pink Pig fleece from Shelton this afternoon, or freeze to death walking home?

National Stout Week November 5-9

Next Monday-Friday, the Flying Saucer will celebrate National Stout Week. Every day they will tap a new rare stout beer. Here’s the lineup:

Even if you’re not a fan of dark beers, this is a good chance to try something different and educate yourself on this style of beer. I plan on trying all five. At the very least, I’ll get five beers knocked off the list toward my seventh plate at the Saucer.

Of particular interest is the Lazy Magnolia Cask Bourbon Oak Age on Friday. If you’ve never had cask beer, it’s worth trying for that reason alone, regardless of what you think of stouts. Cask beer doesn’t necessarily taste different than keg beer, but the mouthfeel is different. There’s less carbonation in cask beer, so there are fewer bubbles and it’s smoother, creamier, silkier. This particular beer will be poured from an oak barrel that was once used to age bourbon, which will surely add extra nuances to the flavor.

If you want to learn about beer, there’s no place better than the Saucer. Come check out National Stout Week and experience this style of beer.

Election prediction

Three days out, I’m going to try my hand at making an election prediction:

Obama 303, Romney 235; Obama barely wins VA; Romney barely wins FL

(Map created by the create-your-own-electoral-map generator at RealClearPolitics.com)

Romney will win swing states Florida and North Carolina.

Obama will win Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, and the other states considered to be swing states in this election.

Two states will see outcomes close enough to warrant a recount: Virginia (Obama +0.1%) and Florida (Romney +0.3%). However, neither will happen, because the best-case scenario for Romney will only get him to 248 electoral votes, short of the 270 needed to win. Romney will issue his concession speech at 9:20 AM Central time Wednesday, November 7.

Check back… I know I have stuff to write about today, just need to check my phone camera and Evernote. Probably not getting out until about 4 PM today. Apartment needs a post-Halloween cleaning and I’ve got a friend’s birthday party at 6.

Fri update: Majestic Grille gift card sale Nov 28, Conley giving away tix to Grizz season opener, Beale Street Landing pics, CA endorses Cohen (and I do too), Downtown Memphis Electronics Recycling Drive Nov 15

The Majestic Grille has announced its annual half-off gift card sale. On Wednesday, November 28, the restaurant will open at 8 AM and begin selling its $50 gift cards for $25. You can buy as many as you want. You must buy them in person; no phone, fax, or email orders. If you can’t be there in person, find someone who can buy the cards for you. The cards can be used only on food – tax, gratuity, and alcohol must be paid for separately. The cards purchased on the 28th cannot be used until January 2, 2013.

Despite all the restrictions, this is still a great deal. I plan on sending someone down there with about $150 that morning to get me $300 worth of cards. What can you buy with the cards? Well, how about the absolutely gorgeous gorgonzola-encrusted filet pictured here? It’s $37 ($32 for the 8 oz. filet plus $5 for the crust), but I only paid $18.50 for the portion of the 2011 gift card that I used to pay for my dinner.

These cards would also make great stocking stuffers or gifts for co-workers, particularly if your office is Downtown or if your co-worker lives Downtown.

The Majestic has more holiday events on the way that I will announce on the blog soon. I’ve already covered the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation viewing party Thursday, December 20 with me as the judge for the costume and tacky sweater contests. If you want to be there, call 901-522-8555 and make reservations ASAP.

Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley has purchased 500 tickets to the season home opener on November 5. He will give the tickets away in the lobby of the FedExForum Sunday at 1:30 PM, first come first served, limit of two tickets per person. More info on the giveaway here.

The Memphis Flyer has a slideshow, First Glimpse of Beale Street Landing, this is worth taking a minute to check out.

The Commercial Appeal has endorsed Steve Cohen and I do as well. The editorial dispels myths opponent Dr. George Flinn has been spreading about Cohen’s travel and missed votes. Cohen has taken no taxpayer-funded trips in the past year. He said he missed 20 votes when his mother died, 11 to attend a friend’s funeral, nine because of scheduled elections in Tennessee and 16 because his flights were late or canceled. Congressman Cohen has done an excellent job for our district and I am proud to send him back to Washington for a fourth term.

The Downtown Memphis Commission will hold a Downtown Electronics Recycling Drive Thursday, November 15 from 3 to 6:30 PM. Acceptable items include computers, televisions, printers, cameras, cell phones, VCRs, and CD/DVD players. Find a complete list of acceptable items here. Most items can be recycled for free, but there will be a fee for a few:

  • Wood console TVs, $30
  • Projection TVs, $30
  • Wooden speakers, $10
  • TVs or computer monitors with broken glass, $10
  • Bare CRT tubes, $10

All computer hard drives brought to the event will be cleaned according to Department of Defense standards. If desired, a certificate of cleansing can be made available for $10.

There is no limit to the number of items you can bring to the recycling drive.

All right, my work for the week is done. Time for beer and one last Halloween party. Saucer first, party on South Main later, stop at Max’s Sports Bar in between. Friday nights don’t get much better than that.

Stuff going on this weekend: Anthony Bourdain, India Fest, Cedric the Entertainer, Artafactor @ Beale Street Landing, MFM Harvest Celebration

It seems like most years, when October fades away into November, life becomes a lot more dull. Festival season and Halloween party season are over, we fall back an hour, and the weather starts to get cold. However, this year’s first weekend in November is not boring in the least. Let’s have a look at some of the fantastic events taking place this weekend.

Guts & Glory: An Evening with Anthony Bourdain is tonight at the Orpheum at 8. Bourdain will share insights about his life in restaurant kitchens, and there will be an open Q&A session with the audience. The chef has tweeted that every dollar he makes from this performance will go to New York City storm recovery efforts. More details and ticket info here.

This isn’t a Downtown event, but it’s worth a drive out east to the Agricenter: India Fest happens this Saturday starting at 10 AM. There will be school band performances, a performance of salsa set to Indian music, and Indian dance performances. There will also be activities for the kids, a concert by the Raga Boyz at 5:30, and a cooking demo from 11:30 to 1:30. Free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

Tomorrow night at the Orpheum, Cedric the Entertainer & Friends will perform. That show is at 8 as well. Details and ticket info here.

Want to be among the first to check out the newly-completed Beale Street Landing? All you have to do is buy a ticket to Artafactor, which happens tomorrow night. According to the website, Artafactor “is an annual event that celebrates the best in Memphis arts – past and present – while raising funds to ensure their future and build a vibrant cultural community for everyone.” They go on to say of the event, “Rhythm ‘n’ blues to ballet and barbeque…we’ve got it all on the Mississippi! See original works, dance to old favorites, eat and drink in the arts.” Tickets are $75.

Moving on to Sunday, it will be time for the Memphis Farmers Market’s annual Harvest Celebration. The theme is “Barnyard Ball, where party animals come to make hay.” Heavy hors d’oeuvres from some of the city’s best restaurants will be served. Beer, wine. Live entertainment by the Bluff City Backsliders and Deering and Down. 4-7 PM.

As for me, I have one more Halloween party to attend tonight. It’s a private party thrown by some of my South Main friends that raises money for the Church Health Center. I’ve missed it the past two years due to conflicts with other parties. Super excited that it has its own night this year. After bar parties at the Bear, Saucer, Goose, and Mollie Fontaine’s, it will be nice to wrap things up with a super-sized house party with friends. If you missed my Jesus costume, it will be back tonight. I’m going to simplify things and wear the fake beard that came with the costume, rather than paint a beard on with brown makeup. The painted beard looked cool but it proved messy when I tried to hug people.

I think what I’m going to do is put the Jesus costume in a bag, then walk down to Max’s Sports Bar near the party and put it on once I get there. That way I don’t have people shouting at me from cars, “HEY DUMBASS, HALLOWEEN IS OVER!”

Check back this evening. I easily have enough news for a second post. One of the news items will be a much-awaited announcement of an annual gift card sale. If you’re going to the same party I am, see you on South Main tonight.

Quick Thursday update

Freddy Kruger and Jesus having a drink at the Silly Goose Halloween party

Tonight is the Justin Bieber concert at the FedExForum. It is sold out, doors open at 5:30, show is scheduled to start about 7:10 and end around 9:40. Two things to keep in mind: First of all, traffic and parking will be a headache. Whether you’re going to the concert or just coming home from work, allow yourself extra time.

The second thing is that the people-watching should be exquisite – possibly even better than it was at the Justin Timberlake concert a few years back. If you’re not going to the concert, where to go people-watch? I hate to say it, because this isn’t normally a venue I recommend, but the second-floor patio at Alfred’s is probably the best place. The window seats at the Flying Saucer would also be good bets, and unlike earlier this week it’s warm enough for them to open the garage windows.

Grantland had a great story about Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins yesterday. I’m sure new owner Robert Pera will make some changes, but I hope the head coach is not one of them. From everything I’ve read, Hollins the type of coach players respect and love to play for.

Victorian Village will have a “Tent Revival” Sunday, November 11. There will be live music by Di Anne Price, Cypress Creek Bluegrass, Adams Avenue Camerata, and the Independent Presbyterian Church Choir. The Mallory-Neely House will reopen that day, and there will be Southern catfish dinners by Trolley Stop Market. For more details see the Victorian Village website.

I’m enjoying my half day off work; I go in at 1. I had an Emergency Eggsit breakfast burrito from Elliott’s this morning. Harry saw me at the register and asked if I wanted to kick it up a bit with extra jalapenos and spicy Western seasoning. Of course I did. So good.

Fun night last night. Started at the Silly Goose for their Fireball Fear party, then hopped in a car and headed to Victorian Village for Mollie Fontaine’s Halloween party. It was a blast but it got super crowded. We decided to call a cab and head back Downtown. Once again, 577-7777 got us nowhere and 323-3333 had us a cab in 5 minutes. Hurry up and fix your dispatch system, Yellow Cab! Once Downtown we decided to skip the rest of the Halloween party madness and go to the Blind Bear instead.

I’ve noticed that the past few months the Bear has become my default go-to spot when I have no definite plan for what to do next. Odd because for years the Saucer played that role. And it’s not that the Saucer has done anything to turn me off… it’s just that the Bear is that damn good. Good atmosphere, good crowd. And they have PBR on draft.

All right, time to drive to Horn Lake and probably find 8 hours worth of work to do in my 4-hour day. Tonight I’ll park a couple of levels higher in the garage than usual thanks to The Biebs, then I’ll go out and people-watch.