First-world problems, BBQ Fest style

Tonight is “Friends & Family Night” at BBQ Fest. It’s like a practice day before the park opens to the public, a soft opening of sorts. You can’t buy tickets at the gate, and even a 3-day park-hours-only wrist tik won’t get you in. You have to have a separate ticket for Friends & Family Night, or a 24-hour-park-access wristband, in either case purchased by your team about a month in advance. There’s a limit to how many of each you can buy. I think the limits are 50 for the tickets and 15 for the wristbands. Counting team members, sponsors, and cook team, we have about 60 people on our team. So Wednesday tends to be more “Just Us Night” than Friends & Family Night.

Hours are 5:30 to 10:30 PM. Closing time is earlier than the midnight closing time Thursday and Friday. But that shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Well, tonight it’s a big problem.

You see, our booth is all the way to the south of the park. When the park closes, it’s about a 25-minute walk to the bars in the Downtown core. Most likely I’ll be hanging out at our sponsor the Blind Bear, although Silly Goose and Flying Saucer are also options.

So, what’s the problem?

The problem is that the average NBA game is 2 hours and 20 minutes long, counting timeouts, commercial breaks and halftime. The Grizzlies-Thunder game, a very important game because a win sends us to the Western Conference Finals, starts at 8:30. Now, I don’t feel like I have to see ALL of the game. But I’d like to see the last few minutes.

But the last few minutes of tonight’s game, I’ll be walking. That’s a problem. What to do? Leave early? Go to the much-closer Max’s Sports Bar on the south end rather than one of my usual bars in the core? Between now and tonight I’ll have to figure it out.

Congrats to the Grizzlies on making the cover of Sports Illustrated. The title is “True Grit” and there’s Mike Conley driving to the basket.

There’s an after hours at Mud Island River Park from 6 to 8 tonight. Wine tasting, river views.

There’s also a wine tasting at Spindini tonight. Northern Italian food paired with “vine to table” wine. $45 per person, reservations highly recommended.

The Memphis Flyer had a recent article about two gluten-free options available in Downtown Memphis and elsewhere. At the Memphis Farmers Market, you can purchase gluten-free boxes of Chocolate Ginger Macadamia Muffin Mix, Cinnamon Raisin Pecan Muffin Mix, and Richard’s Favorite Waffles and Pancake Mix produced locally. Also, Huey’s has rolled out a gluten-free menu.

Just saw a tweet that the Church Health Center offers free cooking classes, and you don’t even have to be a member of the Church Health Center Wellness program to attend. I wonder if there are tastings at the end of the cooking classes, and if so, I wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

Envision Memphis, the health club on the top floor of the Cadre Building (Second at Monroe), will have a dodgeball bootcamp on Wednesday, May 30.

That’ll wrap it up for now. Today I’ve got to do the errands I didn’t get done Monday (too hung over) or Tuesday (went to the park because the team was desperately short-handed). About 3 I’ll pre-game at the Saucer, and then I’ll head to the park at 5:30. Mostly I’ll hang out in my own team’s booth (Moody Ques S-215), although I do plan on going over to Squeal Street for a minute, where Bob, Mike, and Bones will have an ABBA dance-off in honor of MiM host country Sweden. No Number 2 in their port-a-john please!

I had to abandon my post

Today I got to the Flying Saucer around noon, totally intending to stay there a while to hold the fort for the BBQ team again. It wasn’t very busy, and I started playing with my phone. After about an hour I checked Gmail just for kicks, and saw an email saying that only 4 people had shown up at the park to help build the booth. I actually felt bad for the people in Tom Lee Park. With a 2-story, 25×35 foot structure plus more space for the cookteam, it simply wasn’t going to get done on time  with that few people. So I did the unthinkable, at least for me. I texted one of our team captains and told him I was on the way down.

While there, I snapped a few pics of the booth in its early stages:

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The facade. I’m told that anyone who has been to Stockholm will instantly recognize what this has to do with Memphis in May’s honored country, Sweden.

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The interior of the booth looking in from the entrance. The booth will be divided into a small front room/patio and a larger room which will serve as a place to eat during the day and a dance floor/Blind Bear Speakeasy at night.

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The second floor in an unfinished state. As you can see, even though we didn’t pay for a riverside space, team members will have no trouble viewing the river.

And yes, I did actually do some work. I laid carpet on both floors and then helped hang some silver curtains. I was down there for about three hours.

Big thanks, by the way to BBQ teammates Justin and Roglly. They saw that I had abandoned my post at the Saucer to go help at the park. They were at a Redbirds game, and after the game concluded they stopped by the Saucer to check on things for me. They reported that all was well and that nothing had come up that one of our team members would need to handle.

It’s 6:00 and I’m home to hydrate and to drop off my team packet so I don’t lose it. Then I’m back out to check on the Saucer again, then over to Blind Bear to continue my research on their PBR. One more day when I have the daytime to myself, then Friends & Family Night kicks off at 5:30.

Holding down the fort

Yesterday was scheduled to be the main load-in day for the BBQ team. Now, as I’m sure you all know, there is nothing I love more than getting covered in mud and sweat building our team booth. However, yesterday I was not allowed to. “Paul, you know that it is absolutely vital that we leave one team member behind at the Flying Saucer to hold down the fort and handle anything that comes up there,” the team captains told me. “You’re the mayor of the Saucer on Foursquare and you have experience in this role. Please please PLEASE put the team ahead of yourself and do this for us.”

As much as I wanted to be at the park, I knew they were right. I stayed behind and entered into negotiations with beverage consultant Sara. “Dos Equis Lager is on the menu for $4.75,” I told her. “Is there ANY way we can knock the price down a little?” Sara thought about it and gave it to me for only $3. Based on her tone, I got the feeling that if I’d waited even one more day to take care of this, I would not have been able to make this deal. About an hour after I got there, three teammates arrived to help me hold down the fort and they got the deal too. In fact, everyone in the bar seemed to be getting the deal. Glad I could lay the groundwork.

Later in the day, I showed support for the Memphis Grizzlies on behalf of the BBQ team by watching the Saucer girls hang blue and yellow balloons that read, “Believe Memphis” and “Grit-n-Grind.” Of course, the Grizzlies went on to win last night in overtime, and if I contributed to that victory in some small way through the support I showed, I am happy to have done so.

Manager Ollie, who was back at the Saucer after having been gone a couple of years, didn’t seem to understand my role. “Holding down the fort?” he asked. “What does that involve? It sounds like you’re just standing around here drinking all day and avoiding work.” People who aren’t on BBQ teams simply have no idea what all is involved to make things happen. Different team members contribute in different ways.

Unfortunately I didn’t get all my work done yesterday. I finished the day at our sponsor, the Blind Bear, where I sampled the PBR to make sure it is fit for consumption in the team booth. After seven 16-ounce samples I still had not made up my mind. I will have to go back there and put some more time in today.

A team email went out last night that we got the hard part of the booth’s facade done yesterday, but there are a lot of tent items to be delivered and they really need everybody in the park between 10 and noon. They didn’t even mention me holding down the fort again today, but I guess they assume that I will handle it. They’re starting to take me for granted.

Okay, let’s get on to the news. There’s a new food truck in Memphis called Hunger Monkey. The owner plans to provide healthy alternatives for vegetarians, vegans, and those following the paleo diet. Hmmm it doesn’t sound like I’ll be spending much money at this truck. Food truck diversity is a good thing though, so I’m glad it’s up and running.

Soccer fans: The Brass Door will show the Arsenal vs. Wigan Athletic game today at 1:45.

Game 5 of Grizzlies-Thunder will be on TNT at 8:30 Central time Wednesday. Since that’s Friends & Family Night at BBQ Fest, I won’t be able to watch it at the Blind Bear as usual.

The state of Tennessee is zeroing in on office space Downtown to replace the space they are vacating. They are leaving the Hill Building in Civic Center Plaza.

Historian Jimmy Ogle is conducting one of his famous manhole cover tours today at 11:45. That sounds weird but I hear those tours are very interesting and you learn a ton about the history of the city in a most unique way. Free. Tour starts at the Cotton Museum.

Taking a quick look at Foursquare. Our team vice-president checked in a few minutes ago and commented “going to be another long-ass day.” I “Liked” his comment to show my support for all the hard work he will do at Tom Lee Park today. By the way, the booth was wrongly marked as “The Moody Ques S-214” on Foursquare. That’s last year’s number. I used my superuser powers to change it to “The Moody Ques S-215.” Just another thing I do to add value to the BBQ team. If it were left as S-214 people might not be able to find the correct location of the booth.

All right. Time to go accomplish stuff. If there’s more news I’ll make a second post.

Bar poker the way the “experts” do it

In this post, I’m going to analyze how “experts” at the weekly bar poker games Downtown – Silly Goose, Blind Bear, Double J, and Dancin’ Jimmy’s – play select hands. The game is Texas Hold’em.

Why am I posting these hands the way other people would play them, as opposed to the way I would play them? Well, you see, I’m just a recreational poker player. I just play in these games to have fun. I might drink a few PBRs and run up a $6 tab while there. The “experts,” on the other hand, often run up a $48 tab in the same time period. If they’re willing to spend that kind of money, they must know a thing or two about poker.

Why am I posting this to my main blog, rather than my poker blog? Because my poker blog is about how I play hands. Whereas, in this blog I share good things happening around Downtown. In this post, I share the excellent poker play of others.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Hand 1

Blinds are 25/50, and it’s the first hand of the tournament. Player A raises to 200, Player B makes it 700, and player C goes all-in for 4000. You take a look at your cards.

Your hand: Q♣ 2

Do you fold, or call all-in for 4000?

Solution: You call all-in. There are five community cards to be dealt, and if one of them is a Queen, you have yourself a mighty big hand, my friend. Now, it’s true you’d be in trouble against a few other starting hands if your Queen pairs, namely A-A, K-K, Q-Q, A-Q, K-Q, Q-J, Q-10, Q-9, Q-8, Q-7, Q-6, Q-5, Q-4, and Q-3. But those are only a small subset of all the possible starting hands that could be out. And besides, who would really be foolish enough to call all-in with a hand like Q-4 or Q-3? It’s better to focus on the positive outcomes, such as when both a Queen and a Deuce are dealt, giving you two pair. And what about the dream scenario, when the flop comes 2-2-2? How could you ever live with yourself for folding four of a kind? All-in it is.

Hand 2

Blinds are 200/400. Player A goes all-in for 5600.

Your hand: 9♠ 5

You have 4500 in your stack. Do you call all-in, or fold?

Solution: This one is absolutely a no-brainer. This hand has the potential to make a straight if an 8, 7, and 6 fall. You certainly are not going to fold a straight draw pre-flop, under any circumstances. All-in. I almost didn’t include this one in the post because it should be obvious what a powerhouse hand 9-5 is.

Hand 3

Blinds 50/100. Player A calls 100, and five more players follow. You’re in the small blind.

Your hand: K K♠

You have 3400 in your stack. Do you fold, call 50 to complete the blind, make a raise to something in the 300-500 range, or go all-in?

Solution: You just call. Sure, with the second-strongest hand in the deck, some people would argue that a raise is the correct move here, especially facing so many other players. But this is not the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event. This is a bar game, where you know most of the other players. Do you really want to be that douchebag who makes all his friends fold without even seeing a flop? No. You call for 50, and the big blind checks his option to raise.

Flop: 9♣ 8♣ 7♣

As small blind, you’re first to act post-flop. Do you check or bet?

Solution: HA! This is exactly the kind of flop you were looking for!!! Someone surely is holding a Nine, Eight, or Seven, and has made a pair. If that’s the case, they are about to lose all their chips to your pocket Kings. There’s no point in waiting to build the pot, though, with seven other players in the hand. You bet 50, and after the tournament director tells you that you have to bet at least the amount of the big blind, you make it 100. Two players call, a third player raises to 400, and a fourth player goes all-in for 3200. Folded around to you.

Do you fold, or call for 3200 of your remaining 3250?

Solution: You call. Like I said, you just KNOW your opponent has paired a Nine, Eight, or Seven. Looking at the board, there certainly don’t appear to be any other threatening hands that could have a pair of Kings crushed.

There’s an additional consideration here. If you call and lose, you are NOT knocked out. You will still have a stack of 50 left that you can wield like a club against your opponents. As the man once said, “All it takes is a chip and a chair.” This is a compelling reason to call.

In the actual hand, your opponent turned over J 10 for a straight, and your Kings did not improve on the turn or river. Unfortunate, but that kind of thing will happen from time to time, and well, that’s poker. You shouldn’t let it discourage you from making the same excellent pre-flop and post-flop plays next time.

Hand 4

Blinds 25/50. You are “under-the-gun,” first to act pre-flop, at a nine-handed table.

Your hand: J 4♣

Do you fold, call 50, raise to an amount like 150-200, or go all-in for the 3850 remaining in your stack?

Solution: One time you were watching the Aussie Millions on ESPN. There were four players left at the final table. Blinds were 250,000/500,000. Johnny Chan was first to act, just like you, and like you he had Jack-Four. He went all-in for his remaining 860,000 chips. Any time you can emulate one of the world’s top pros, you should. All-in for 3850.

Hand 5

Blinds 1000/2000. Player first to act goes all-in for his remaining 19,000.

Your hand: 8♠ 3

You have 14,500 left in your stack. Do you fold, or call all-in?

Solution: You call all-in. You see, folding just isn’t very fun, and going all-in is so much fun. So you go all-in!

Hand 6

Blinds 1500/3000. Player A goes all-in for 36,000. Action to you, with five players left to act behind you.

Your hand: 8 2

You have 32,000. Do you fold, or call all-in?

Solution: There has to be a method to your madness when you’re playing poker. In the last hand, you were willing to call all-in with Eight high. This time you have Eight high suited, which is much much better! Therefore, you should be willing to call all-in with this one too. Just think how sweet it will be if three hearts hit the board and give you a flush. Of course, it won’t be so sweet if someone else is holding two hearts if one of them is a Nine or higher, but you can’t dwell on worst-case scenarios all the time. And besides, what if those five players behind you all call, you pair your Deuce, and none of the other players improve their hand? You would build yourself a huge chip stack. This hand just has too many positives to consider folding. All-in it is.

Hand 7

Blinds 100/200. Player A raises to 700 and player B goes all-in for 3200.

Your hand: 10 4♠

You have 2800. Do you fold, or call all-in?

Solution: Sometimes it helps to think back to previous hands when making your decision. A few weeks ago you were in a hand with A♠ A, known in poker terminology as “Pocket Rockets.” You called a player who had gone all-in pre-flop with King-Queen suited, and two players called behind you with Q-Q and J-J. Your Aces held up and you took down a huge pot. The lesson to be learned here is that hands with nicknames are lucky. And nothing matters in poker more than luck, am I right?

Truckers who communicate with each other via CB radio have their own code that they speak in. For example, they refer to cops as “Smokey” or “Smokey the Bear.” Perhaps the most famous piece of code they use is “10-4” to communicate “yes” or “OK” or “I got ya.” For example, “That’s a big 10-4, good buddy!” For that reason, Ten-Four in poker is a hand with a nickname, the “Good Buddy.” Because of that, you have to be all-in. If you end up against K-Q suited, Q-Q, and J-J as you did a few weeks ago, mathematically you’ll be at a disadvantage, but you’ll still have luck on your side. All-in. Let your “Good Buddy” work its magic for you!

Hand 8

Blinds 50/100. Ten-handed table. The player first to act pre-flop raises to 300. All fold around to you in the big blind, last to act pre-flop.

Your hand: 9 3♣

You have 3100. The player who raised has 21,700. Do you fold, call, or raise, and if you raise, how much?

Solution: As much as people have been doing kamikaze all-ins pre-flop, it would be nice to see a flop for a change. You call for 200 more.

Flop: A♠ K J♠

You’re first to act after the flop. What do you do?

Solution: Folding is an option you consider long and hard. But then you realize, bluffing is a key skill in poker, and this is an ideal spot. By going all-in, you could convince your opponent to fold, and take down the pot right here.

There’s an additional thing to understand about this spot though. If you go all-in, it’s not a pure bluff, but rather a semi-bluff. Yes, you could get better hands to fold, but worse hands might call. You’re a mathematical favorite against Eight high, Seven high, Six high, Five high, Four high, and Trey-Deuce, all hands that could potentially call your all-in bet. With two ways to take down the pot, your hand is looking exceptionally strong and you go all-in.

The player who raised pre-flop calls, and turns over A A♦ for a set of three Aces. You turn over your hand for Nine high.

Turn: 9♣

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG! You hit a Nine and made your pair. OMG!!!!!!!!!!

You go all-in, but the tournament director informs you that you were already all-in and your cards are already face-up. Well that sucks! You could have made some serious chips if you had the chance to go all-in again!

River: J

You start to rake in your chips with your pair of Nines, but the tournament director informs you that your opponent won, full house Aces over Jacks. You’re disappointed that you did not win, but that’s poker. Semi-bluffs do not work 100% of the time. The fact that this time didn’t work out should not discourage you from making the same excellent pre-flop and post-flop moves in the future.

I hope these hands have provided you with some insight into the great minds of poker. See you at the table! Bonus tip: Fireball will make your poker skills exponentially stronger. Even if you’re a novice, you’ll find that after 10 or 12 Fireball shots, you’ll be playing as well as the “experts” discussed here.

Sunday update with BBQ map

Several people have asked where our BBQ location is so I made this helpful map. We are on the bluff/sidewalk side, almost all the way to the south. If you come in from the north (Beale Street) entrance, you’re going to have to walk for a while. Sorry. That’s the drawback of being a shoulder team.



I hear there’s an Indian food truck that has been showing up at the Memphis Farmers Market on Saturdays. I will definitely have to check that out soon. I love Indian food. A friend of mine had sesame scallion naan bread from the truck yesterday.

As usual, I watched the game at the Blind Bear yesterday. I hear people have been showing up based on my recommendation. Great place, huh? And you can’t beat those basketball specials. Next game is tomorrow at 8:30. Grizzlies are up 2-1 and have been perfect defending the home court so far this playoff series.

My friend Karen combined orange juice with Blue Moon while she watched the game. I bet orange Tang mix would be good in Blue Moon.

There’s a new menu for Grizzlies fans at the FedExForum.

So, let’s say you’re secretly in love with a bartender. You show up when she’s working and sit at her bar for hours and hours. Nothing has come of it, and lately, the only time she has been talking to you is when you order another beer. Do you

( ) give up and move on
( ) continue to sit at her bar for hours and hours

Because, you know, option B is not pathetic or anything.

Today is painting day for the BBQ team, painting what will be our booth’s facade. As usual, that means I need to get to the Flying Saucer to hold down the fort in case anything happens there that I need to deal with on behalf of the team. It’s hard work but someone has to do it.


Sat update: Bitch I Might Be, a talking pigeon, National Train Day, and a bunch of other stuff that I’m too lazy to put in the title

This morning I received a sign that this vacation is long overdue. I had a dream about marking up unordered lists using HTML and CSS. Seriously, I did. I should be dreaming about tube tops and PBR. Hopefully events of the coming week will effect that change.

Speaking of tube tops, here’s a scenario that will likely occur sometime this week at BBQ Fest. I’ll get caught looking and be asked, “Are you staring at my tube top?” And I’ll have to consider my possible responses:

() yes
() no
() bitch I might be

It’s National Train Day today. There will be special exhibits and trains by Amtrak and Canadian National at the Memphis Railroad and Trolley Museum. The museum is in Central Station at S. Main and G.E. Patterson.

The Blind Bear is opening early today, at 2 PM, for those who want to pre-game before heading to FedExForum as well as those who want to watch the game there. Say “basketball special” to your server or bartender from 1 hour before game time until the end of the game for $2.50 select domestics, $3.50 apps, and $5 chili cheese Bear dawgs.

In a new TV show, Mike Tyson will team up with a talking pigeon to solve mysteries. No, I’m not kidding.

The Redbirds host the Fresno Grizzlies (hey, nice name!) tonight at 6:05 and there will be fireworks after the game. The theme will be “2 strikes, 2 outs, no problem,” paying tribute to the clutch hitting of the Cardinals’ David Freese in the 2011 World Series and Pete Kozma in the 2012 NLDS.

Interesting how social media and apps add value to BBQ Fest. Yesterday I started the annual “BBQ” note in Evernote to keep track of who said they were stopping by the booth and what day and time, so I can make sure I’m there. After I got home, I checked Foursquare to see who was out and about. In addition to the usual checkins, there was a notification that the Nuh-Uh Girl had saved several BBQ booths to her Foursquare “to-do” list. Free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

Good catching up with one of the leaders of one of the other local BBQ teams last night at the Flying Saucer. Although I have great respect for their team in general, they made a bartending hire that I wouldn’t have made. When I go visit their booth I’ll make sure to get a full cup of beer in my own booth before I walk over, so I don’t have to deal with their bar. My prediction is that when BBQ Fest is over and they look back in review, this will be a “WTF were we thinking” type of thing.

I see one of the new patio porker teams has “We like pig butts and we cannot lie” as their slogan. Wow. That’s original.

Back to Foursquare for a minute… It’s going to be nearly impossible for me to maintain three bar mayorships while in a park for 12-13 hours a day. The Saucer opens early, so I can stop by there on the way. The Blind Bear is the sponsor, so most likely I’ll get by there after the park closes. But the Silly Goose mayorship is probably going to change hands before BBQ Fest ends. I’ve been watching checkin patterns and have identified the three people most likely to steal it, and I’m comfortable dropping it to any of the three. If I thought some dumbass from Collierville or Cordova might steal it I’d fight to keep it.

In case you haven’t heard, the majority of ESPN analysts are now expecting a Memphis Grizzlies-Miami Heat matchup in the NBA Finals next month. Let’s make that happen with a win today at the FedExForum! For those not going to the game, it will be on ESPN at 4. As usual I will watch the game at the Blind Bear. Dennis and Karen, will you be joining me?

Fri update: Mother’s Day at Hooters, Bluff City Oktoberfest, Geek Trivia, highest-paid public employees by state, what rent will get you in NYC

I normally don’t post a lot of Mother’s Day specials at Downtown restaurants, but this one is too funny to pass up: Moms eat at Hooters for free on Mother’s Day. Well, as long as their meal is $10 or less. If you’re trying to get written out of your mother’s will, this is about as good a way to make that happen as any.

Downtown’s newest festival, Bluff City Oktoberfest, will be discussed tomorrow on Action News 5 in the 8 o’clock hour with Kontji Anthony. The festival will be held on Riverside Drive in early October.

The first-ever Geek Trivia will be held Tuesday night at Ferraro’s, 8 PM. Test your knowledge of Sci-Fi, video games, comic books, fantasy, zombies, and more. All six rounds will be themed toward stuff you would see at Comic Con. $1 PBRs during trivia.

Chart that has gone viral today: Highest-paid public employee, by state. In most states, the highest-paid public employee holds the same job. Can you guess what that is?

Think you pay too much for rent? Check out these rooms for rent in New York City.

Vacation will start at 4:45 and I’m off all next week. There will still be posts but on a much less structured schedule, and also THE FILTER WILL BE COMPLETELY OFF. That applies to Facebook and Twitter too. Time for a quick lunch and then “I know you’re about to leave for vacation, but before you leave, can you…” requests this afternoon.

Drunkass Thur update: We love our Grizzlies, Bike to Work Day, RDC in question, pupplies, bacon-infused bourbon, Trader Joe’s

Last night, after the BBQ team meeting ended about 7:30 at the Blind Bear, I walked over to the Flying Saucer, wanting to see what the Grizzlies commemorative glass looked like. I didn’t get to! The glasses went on sale at 7 and were sold out by 7:10. Just goes to show how crazy people are in this town about our Memphis Grizzlies!

Memphis will participate in National Bike to Work Day next Friday, May 17.  It’s a day to celebrate the bike as a viable means of transportation. Sounds like fun, although for me that day will be National Walk to Tom Lee Park and Eat BBQ Day.

Mayor Wharton is questioning the effectiveness of the nonprofit Riverfront Development Corporation that manages our city’s riverfront. ABC 24 article WMC-TV article Wharton wonders if the riverfront could be managed as effectively by the city, with employees who make less than those working at the RDC. I’ve generally been a supporter of what the RDC does over the years, and I’m not real concerned with their salaries. What I want to know is, that $16 million cost overrun building Beale Street Landing – which still isn’t done – where exactly did that money go? I do not support giving them any more until we get a complete explanation, with open books.

Puppies were found in a laundry basket on Harbor Town last night. Take a look if you’re interested in adopting.

South of Beale will have bacon-infused Maker’s Mark by the time you read this. My favorite bourbon.

There’s still no word on Memphis getting a Trader Joe’s, but a new distribution point gives us some hope. There’s one opening in Irving, TX, less than 500 miles away, an easy day’s truck drive.

That will do it. Home from Max’s Sports Bar/Saucer with to-go food from Huey’s. 8 more cubicle hours and vacation will begin.

Moody Ques BBQ team update: New pitmaster who’s in it to win it, menus planned for each team meal, booth with two large stories, parties in the evenings with drinks by Blind Bear and music playlist by DJ Cody

Last time I wrote about the 2013 BBQ team, we had entered a partnership with last year’s next-door team. They would join forces with us, cooking both the championship meat and the day-to-day meals for the team, and we would supply the party. Since then there has been a change, but things are working out very, very well.

The next-door teamwill still be with us, but the man who was going to be our pitmaster will not be able to cook due to medical reasons. None of the other next-door members felt qualified to be a pitmaster, so we had to search for one. One day the team leaders were discussing the matter at our sponsor, the Blind Bear. Various names were tossed around. Then Jeannette said, “Hey, how about David Scott Walker?”

Jamie and Jeannette visited Chef David Scott Walker (I’ll abbreviate DSW from here on out) on a vacation to New York City a couple of years ago, where he was executive chef at a trendy restaurant. Jamie and DSW had known each other since college. Since that visit, DSW decided he wanted to move back to Memphis. He took a job as a chef at Rhodes College’s cafeteria, affectionately known as “The Rat” by students. That’s important, because he knows how to feed the masses, and he also knows how to do upscale catering for special functions. After a couple of interviews, we were convinced that he could do the job and was a good personality fit for the team. So DSW will be our pitmaster and head cook for the day-to-day team meals, and the remaining crew from next door will act as his sous chefs.

One thing DSW didn’t have was competition experience, but we had that covered. Robert aka “Bones” from the Squeal Street BBQ team, who has been to judging classes, offered to meet with DSW, cook a few shoulders, and show him the things the judges are looking for when they award top scores. “Paul, I tell you, DSW isn’t just here for the party. He’s in it to win it,” Jamie told me last night. Besides pork shoulder, the team is entered in three ancillary categories: beef, seafood, and poultry. Jamie told me DSW is serious about winning trophies in every category that we entered, and DSW confirmed that in a team leadership meeting I attended last night.

For the competition pork to be served to the judges, DSW located the best pork he could find in a 5-state radius. Since other teams read my blog, I won’t say where he found the shoulders, but they are a cut about what is typically served at BBQ Fest in terms of quality.

Then DSW told us about the menus he has planned. To discourage freeloaders (well, you know…) I won’t post exact dates and times, but menus include a fish fry with hushpuppies… a whole hog luau… a traditional BBQ meal with ribs, chicken, beans and slaw… “breakfast for lunch” with pulled pork benedict… a backyard picnic… and more. Of course, on Saturday there will be plenty of leftover competition shoulder after the judges leave, and there will be leftover beef, seafood, and poultry after the ancillary judging. Between meals there will be meat and cheese trays for snacking. Our team members are going to be well-fed throughout the festival this year.

Our booth location will be almost all the way to the south end of the park, on the bluff side, booth S-215. We decided to go 2-story again, and it’s a tall structure so team members will have access to river views. Brent from Holliday Flowers is helping again this year as time permits, but it’s a much simpler structure than last year. However, I’ve seen the artistic rendering, and this thing is still going to have a shot at Best Booth. It’s going to be huge and orange and you’ll feel like you’re in Stockholm when you see it.

For those of you who have a lot of friends on Squeal Street BBQ, their booth will be about a 1 minute walk from ours. The south side of the park is the place to be this year!

Our sponsor WordPress will be back, and much of what you’re reading about is possible thanks to their generous donations. Team members will get to meet WordPress guru Matt Mullenweg and his crew.

The Blind Bear will be running the bar. With pros stocking the liquor, we won’t have a situation like last year where someone thought “any clear liquor must be vodka” without reading the labels, and we ended up with 15 more handles of gin than we expected. Lots of vodka, rum, and bourbon. For those who prefer beer, there will be kegs available (I hear there will be some PBR) with tap handles that work.

We expect Thursday and Friday evenings to be big party nights. DJ Cody, who performs at the Silly Goose on the weekends, has stocked our iPod with playlists, so the music will be excellent. By the way, we party Saturday night too – we’re not one of those teams who starts breaking down right after the awards ceremonies. And with Chef DSW so serious about winning trophies, we may have a lot of reason to party on Saturday!

Team members: An official email just went out. Team member bags will be available for pick-up at our sponsor, the Blind Bear, starting Saturday.  (The Bear opens at 3 Saturday and Sunday, 5 weekdays.) T-shirts are being printed by Sache and won’t be ready until Monday. If you pick up your bag Monday or later, your shirt will be in there; if not, you can get your shirt on Wednesday Friends & Family Night.

Help is needed for painting Sunday, May 12, 10 AM at the Holliday Flowers warehouse; with load-in from 10 to 5 at Tom Lee Park on Monday, May 13; and load-out on Sunday, May 19, all day. In past years we have learned that during load-in, it’s a best practice to leave one team member behind at the Flying Saucer to handle anything that comes up there. I have volunteered to cover that extremely important role on Monday.

If you’re a paid team member and did not get the team email, email me at and I will forward. It includes things I didn’t post here, like the dates and times for each of the menus.

Last night someone was saying the park opens at noon some days. I don’t know where they got that info but it’s wrong. Park hours are 10 AM-midnight Thursday, 11 AM-midnight Friday, and 10 AM-10 PM Saturday. I believe the Friends & Family event Wednesday night is 5:30-10:30 PM.

Looking forward to partying with my teammates next week! See you at Tom Lee Park.

Quick Thursday update: Grace Askew @ Bear, Peabody rooftop party

I’m probably going to do a BBQ post at lunchtime, so let me go ahead and bang out a quick news update before work.

Grace Askew, who recently competed on The Voice, performs at the Blind Bear tonight at 10 PM. They’ve been booking some really strong acts on Thursday nights and it definitely continues today.

Kevin and Bethany Page play the Peabody rooftop tonight. $10 cover includes first drink, doors open at 6, ladies free until 7. Buffet will have red beans and rice with smoked sausage and catfish dip. If you’re in VIP, you will also have a buffet of shrimp remoulade shooters, mini fried oyster po’boys, and savory bread pudding with andouille sausage. Svedka Strawberry Colada will be the drink special ($4) and the VIP Budweiser of Memphis tasting will be Beck’s Sapphire.

16 hours left in the cubicle until vacation. I have a fun project to work on, so the time should fly by. Most likely back around 1 to talk about the BBQ team.