Wed update: Smokin’ Aces, RIP Corey Maclin, BBQ Fest on TV, Jehovah’s witnesses in town this weekend, and more

The Smokin’ Aces BBQ festival is happening after all. For a while there we had been told there would be no Smokin’ Aces in 2013, but yesterday’s announcement on the website and Facebook makes it clear that the Tunica BBQ festival will be back. My friends on Squeal Street BBQ have participated the past two years and love it. They say the folks at Harrah’s treat them like royalty. Glad to hear it will happen this year.

Condolences to all those who knew wrestling promoter Corey Maclin. He died in a car crash last night in Panola County, Mississippi. I have fond memories of many Saturday mornings watching Memphis wrestling with Dave Brown and Corey at the announcer’s table.

A show on the Travel Channel, Adam Richman’s Fandemonium, will feature Memphis in May’s BBQ Fest on Sunday at 8 PM. The show tracks “superfans” and why they go to the lengths they do to pursue their interests. More info here.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses will hold a convention this weekend at the Cook Convention Center. 10,000 JWs will be in town. There will be two more of these conventions in August. All sessions are free and open to the public.

Free racing tickets: Get free tickets to the upcoming American Drag Racing League 2013 Tour tomorrow in Court Square 11 AM-1 PM. Folks from Memphis International Raceway will be there handing them out.

Kerry’s recent post on the ultimate guide to cheap drinking in Memphis is a good one to bookmark in your smartphone’s web browser.

I won poker at the Blind Bear last night. The poker night has become so popular that four tables were in play. When we got down to three-handed it seemed like the battle would never end, and heads-up play seemed to go even longer. When I finally won I thought, “I wonder what time it is. It’s got to be past 11.” I looked at my phone, and I was right, it was past 11. It was 12:32! Usually when I win Bear poker, I walk over to the Flying Saucer for a victory beer, but it was so late that they’d already done last call. Needless to say I am a bit sleepy this morning. If you want to give Blind Bear poker a try, it’s free to play and there are games at 6:30 Sunday and 8:00 Tuesday.

Plans for tonight: The Start Co. Lounge networking event is at 5:30 at the Silly Goose, and since I usually stop at the Goose first on Wednesdays, I guess I’m going. If anyone has anything about their startup business or entrepreneurship in general that they want me to mention on the blog, come find me. I’ll be at the bar drinking a PBR. That’s it for now. Time to run to Circle K and buy a Mountain Dew so I can stay awake this afternoon.

Tue update: Filming on South Main, hotel tip, chicken livers, terrible TV, Start Co. Lounge, America’s Got Talent Live, pop-up shop

There will be a TV series filming in the South Main area today. If you plan on doing any dining or shopping in that neighborhood, be aware that there will be no parking today on parts of South Main Street and G.E. Patterson Avenue.

I got a tip recently from a friend who was checking out event venues. He says that the Downtown Econo Lodge is really, really nice. Many people don’t even know we have an Econo Lodge. It’s tucked away on North Third Street, occupying the top 3 floors of a building that houses a parking garage, A&R Bar-b-Que, and Memphis Sounds Lounge just south of Court Avenue. My friend said the rooms are very good and the pool area is so nice that he wished it could be rented out for private functions. I got on the hotel’s website and did some searches for rooms and they are very reasonably priced. It looks like that’s a hidden gem of a deal if you have friends coming in to town and they need a place to stay.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that my grandmother got me hooked on fried chicken livers when I was a little kid. Since Flying Fish took them off the menu, I’ve been looking for a place within walking distance to get them. Sunday I found such a place – Miss Polly’s Soul City Cafe on Beale. They have a chicken liver appetizer for $5.99. The menu says you get eight livers, but there were way more than eight on my plate and they were huge. More than enough for a meal, and nearly double the amount that came on the Fish’s chicken liver dinner.

There’s a new reality TV series called WWE Total Divas, featuring the women of the World Wrestling Federation. The first episode was this week. I didn’t catch it, but based on this recap, Total Divas just may be the worst show in the history of television. It sounds so bad that I wonder if it will attract a cult following the way Honey Boo Boo did.

Start Co. Lounge is holding an event at the Silly Goose tomorrow after work. It’s a chance to network with people involved or interested in startups – innovators, creators, coders, creative types. It starts at 5:30. Happy hour drink specials. May I recommend the PBR?

America’s Got Talent Live is coming to the Orpheum Friday, October 11. Tickets go on sale August 6.

A pop-up shop is coming to Hoot & Louise on Thursday from noon to 8. It will be called “Paper and Clay” and will feature the work of artist/ceramicist Brit McDaniel. There will be music and refreshments including Ghost River beer.

That’ll do it for now. Sorry I haven’t been around the past couple of days. Should be back to posting daily now.

Sat update: BBQ reality show, alternative to Smokin’ Aces, Hernando food, Lansky hiring, wine ice cream and more

WMC-TV reports that casting is underway for a BBQ reality show that will be filmed in Memphis. They’re looking for candidates between 25 and 45 with big personalities who love their neighborhood. Winner of the show gets $10,000.

Earlier this week I mentioned that Smokin’ Aces, the BBQ festival that has taken place in Tunica the third weekend of September the past several years, will not happen this year. A lot of local BBQ teams are understandably disappointed. If they’re looking for something else to do now that they have the weekend free, I have a suggestion: Enter Best Memphis Burger Fest. A few of my friends were asking about this last night. You can enter the burger competition whether you’re a guy with a backyard grill or a corporate chain with 5000 restaurants. They take all comers, so if you think you cook a mean burger, bring it. My recap of last year will give you an idea of what the judges are told to look for.

Speaking of Best Memphis Burger, the blog that led to the festival: Seth recently gave a restaurant in Hernando five stars for their burger. As many of you know, I work in Horn Lake. My lunchtime choices are mostly suburban hell filled with Chili’s, Applebee’s, O’Charley’s and every fast food restaurant that exists. Not much opportunity to get real food, good food. But now that I think about it, Hernando is within driving distance on lunch break, and Seth is not the first person to highly recommend a restaurant there. One day at the Saucer my friend Steve O told me about a number of good restaurants, but I’d been drinking since 11 AM that day and forgot to take notes. My friend MILF2B hangs out in Hernando a lot, but she has the most boring Foursquare timeline on Earth so I never took her recommendations seriously. But now the evidence is starting to build up. Maybe I need to give Hernando a chance.

Lansky at the Peabody, along with its sibling stores Lansky Accessories and Lucky Duck Gifts, is looking to fill open full-time sales positions. They need someone who is energetic, loves to meet new people, and can work nights and weekends. Resumes can be emailed to Refer a friend and get a $250 gift card. Refer a friend and have them mention my blog, and both you and I get a $250 gift card. :)

South of Beale is now serving wine ice cream. Last night they had Chocolate Cabernet and Cherry Merlot.

Foursquare provided unexpected entertainment last night when several of my friends checked in at Southland Greyhound Park. I knew why they were there and commented “Poker?” and got a reply of “Yeh.” As far as I know, none of them have much experience with poker beyond the bar games at Silly Goose and Blind Bear. Based on comments later in the evening, I got the feeling that they didn’t have a good time. In cash games you can’t play hands like Q-5 and J-7 where 50% of your hand is garbage. And if you’re the first to enter the pot pre-flop and you call rather than raise, you’re advertising that you’re a bad player. And if you bust out and rebuy, guess what, you’re rebuying with real money. Also, if you’re playing for cash, it’s advisable to stay sober, something my friends are not known for doing on the weekend. Southland has video screens rather than real cards and I bet my friends hated them. I can’t wait to hear the stories.

I’ll be at Panda’s bar at Bardog as usual at 11. It’s been a long week at work and I’m glad I’ll get to stare at tube tops rather than PHP code today.

Fri update: BOM voting, Tamp & Tap, Trolley Night, pop-up chocolate store, ghost movies, Rock’n Wild Picnic, roast @ Brass Door, new hospital

If you haven’t voted in the Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll yet, you have until Sunday.

IMPORTANT BEER NEWS: From 4 PM until they run out (into the weekend if necessary), all of the beers on tap at Tamp & Tap will be $2.50.

It’s July Trolley Night on South Main. Tonight many of the shops and galleries will be open from 6 to 9 as people mill around and shop. There will also be artist and vendor booths set up along the street including an info booth for the Dixon, a sculpture and jewelry booth, dance demos by the Rumba Room, glass jewelry, the Memphis Roller Derby, and Miss Birdsong’s Sweet Tooth Desserts. There will also be live music in many South Main venues. Weather is unusually mild for this time of year, so I have a feeling this month’s Trolley Night will be well-attended.

There will also be a pop-up store at Trolley Night. Phillip Ashley Chocolates will be selling at Charlotte Fine Jewelry, 526 S. Main.

There’s a scary ’80s movie double feature at the Orpheum tonight with Ghostbusters and Poltergeist. First movie is at 7, but come early at 6:30 for a discussion with Memphis filmmaker Chris McCoy and WKNO’s Professor Ghoul.

The Memphis Farmers Market’s Rock’n Wild Picnic is tomorrow night, Saturday, July 27. Bring your lawn chair or blanket for pizza by the slice on the lawn. Music by Faith Evans Ruch 5 and Misti Rae Holton with Jimmy Arnold. Pizza + 4 wine tickets $25; pizza with no wine $15.

If you have fond memories of roast for Sunday dinner, head on down to the Brass Door this Sunday. From 11 until they run out they will have a Sunday roast special of beef and Yorkshire puddings.

A $200 million hospital for woman and infants has been proposed for the corner of Adams and Dunlap. It has been said that the hospital will be world-class and state-of-the-art.

That’s all for now. After work I’ll make a last-minute decision whether to start at the Saucer as usual or check out Tamp & Tap.

Thur update: Welcome home Mike Miller, beer sampling, Dirty Dancing, Peabody party, Masquerade Ball @ Blind Bear, Jerry Lee Lewis to perform at his club, Bluefin specials, Elvis app, and Shut Up Juice

Well, that was one of my longest post titles ever. Lots of news.

Grizzlies fans got some great news last night. Multiple sources have reported that former Grizzly Mike Miller has said he plans to return to Memphis. Miller played here from 2003 to 2008, and then we traded him in one of several bad personnel decisions made around that time. He has since won two championship rings in Miami, but the Heat had to amnesty him to save money. His shooting abilities will be valuable to the Grizzlies in 2013-14. Welcome back Mike!

Cash Saver on Madison Avenue in Midtown is having a beer sampling this afternoon. You can sample Palm and Rodenbach beers from 4 to 6 PM.

Orpheum Summer Movie Series: Classic movie Dirty Dancing plays tonight at 7. Come early for a free dance lesson by Salsa Memphis at 6.

Crossin Dixon plays the Peabody rooftop party tonight. Included in admission is first drink at a buffet of tuna salad sandwiches, ham & cheese sandwiches and potato chips. The buffet in the VIP area will have deli sandwiches, chicken salad croissants, pasta salad, corn chips, and dill pickles. $10 cover, ladies free before 7.

There’s a Masquerade Ball at Blind Bear tonight beginning at 9 PM. Wear your masks, wigs, and crazy outfits, because five $20 gift cards will be rewarded to the best costumes. The Davis Coen Blues Band will perform 9 to 12.

Jerry Lee Lewis plays Jerry Lee Lewis Cafe and Honky Tonk on Beale Saturday night. Tickets are $100 and are limited to 100 people, chosen by lottery. Find out how to enter the lottery here.

Bluefin has a pretty awesome summer special going on right now. From 5-7 PM Sunday through Thursday, they have buy one, get one free apps. Hmmm I wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will cut her workout short to get there by 7. They will also have 2-for-1 sake and $1 off all domestics during that time.

Elvis Week is coming August 10-17. There’s an app for that.

Last night I was in the Silly Goose and a rerun of Man v. Food was on TV. It featured my hometown of Little Rock, showing the Clinton Library, River Market, and trolley. The first stop was a huge outdoor barbecue, where now-deceased philanthropist Jennings Osborne fed firefighters. Next was a visit to The Mean Pig, a BBQ restaurant in Cabot, about 10 miles north of Little Rock. The host attempted to finish a BBQ sandwich covered in “Shut Up Juice,” a BBQ sauce so hot that he had to wear gloves while eating it to avoid burning his hands. I see that you can purchase Shut Up Juice in The Mean Pig’s online store. You have to agree to a waiver to order it, though, and it’s $30 for a 5-ounce bottle!

Quick lunch break then back to an afternoon of programming. I’ll probably be out at the usual spots around 5:30.

Wed update: Bardog alley party, Party at the Palace, Dejavu to open soon, Grizz goes international, Italian ice stand, career fair

I have updated information on the Bardog Alley Party, to be held in the alley next to Bardog (“Scratchy’s Alley”) on Sunday, August 18. A couple of new events have been added, and when I read about them, I thought, “Aldo must have thought ‘How can I make Paul Ryburn like this party even more’ when planning them.” The first new event is an “All Around the World” beer tent where you can pay $20 to sample 10-15 beers from 11:30 to 5 PM. The second, which I mentioned yesterday, is a poker tournament in the Underdog Room. It will start at 3 PM, there will be a $30 buy-in, and some great prizes will be awarded.

Events which will be coming back from last year are the Bardog 5K at 9 AM, post-race party afterward, dunk tank, food from Bardog, live music, and a meatball eating contest. The raffle will be back, with many big prizes to be given away, including two Fat Tire bikes. All money raised goes to St.Jude. Aldo hopes to hit the $35-45K range this year. Complete details of the party and race registration can be found here.

The Silly Goose will provide signature cocktails at the Phoenix Club’s 4th annual “Party at the Palace” at the Pink Palace Museum. The party will be Saturday, August 24 from 6 to 11 PM. There will also be a DJ, food trucks, and beer trucks. Tickets are $25 in advance, $35 at the door and can be purchased here.

Chef Gary Williams blogged that the Downtown Dejavu location at 51 S. Main will open in a few weeks. The Creole restaurant’s original Florida Street location will remain open. The new restaurant will have extended hours (11 to 10). It will also have a few new additions, including beignets and cocktails. When it opens, Downtowners won’t have to go to Beale Street to get a Hurricane.

Grizz is on his way to Manila, capital of the Philippines. The Grizz Girls are currently touring China.

My friend Air Traffic Mike was working the Italian ice stand at Main and Union last night and I snapped this pic.

Photo Jul 23, 5 37 07 PM

Mike is on the left with the Santa Claus beard, serving Uncle Ray. He had lemon, mango, blue raspberry, and orange-vanilla swirl flavors yesterday. Not sure if the flavors rotate by day. I had the lemon and it was very good. Mike told me the mango is a big hit too. He’s watching the stand for friends who are out of town, and he will be at Main and Union for the next week.

The Memphis Public Library will host a JobLINC Career Fair tomorrow from 10 AM to 3 PM. It will be at the main library at 3030 Poplar, in Meeting Rooms A, B, and C and the Gallery. The library advises job seekers to bring plenty of resumes and dress for success.

I’ll be out after work as usual. Silly Goose will be the likely first stop tonight.

Tue update: Festival news, Italian ice correction, new Memphis job board

Lots of festival news this Tuesday. The Best Memphis Burger Festival has announced a new judging category, one that is very appropriate considering the fest is held on Sunday Fun Day. If you think you make a good Bloody Mary, this year you’ll be able to compete for the title of Best Bloody Mary. Get an entry form here. The festival will be at Minglewood Hall on September 22.

The people who organize Bardog’s alley party are gathering complete information to send me, but I’ve already heard of one new event to be added this year: A poker tournament. All money raised at the alley party (except alcohol sales) goes to St. Jude. The party is August 18.

One of my BBQ team leaders confirmed last night that the Smokin’ Aces BBQ Festival will not be happening in Tunica this year. In past years it had happened the third weekend of September. I’m sad to hear of the cancellation, because my team the Moody Ques had hoped to compete this year. I guess we will have to look for another regional event.

One correction from yesterday: My friend Air Traffic Mike will be working at an Italian ice stand starting tomorrow at Main and Union, not a shaved ice stand as I previously reported. Italian ice is made by a different process, where fruit juice is blended into a liquid and finely frozen.

Looking for a job? There’s a new board called MemphisJobFever that you might want to check out. It lets job hunters make a direct connection with prospective employers.

That’ll wrap it up for today. I’ll be out at the usual bars tonight.

Mon update: Memphis to Moore auction, Havana’s Pilon Groupon, Stumblin’ Elvis, Beale video, Lit hiring, and ways to beat the summer heat

The Memphis to Moore online auction is now open. You can buy items from a vendor or make a donation to support the rebuilding of the Moore, Oklahoma public schools.

There’s a Groupon for Havana’s Pilon today. $6 for $12 worth of food, or $18 for three $12 Groupons. This is the new Cuban restaurant on Madison near second. I had the ropa vieja a couple of weeks ago and it was fantastic, as were the rice and beans and plantains I got as side items.

I know a fair number of people only read my blog on weekdays, so I want to mention again an event I talked about in Saturday’s post. On Saturday, August 17, the Stumblin’ Elvis pub crawl will return. A group of us will dress like The King and stumble our way to some of the best bars on Main, Second, and Beale. You have four weeks to get your costume and join us! We’ll be raising non-perishable food donations for the Ronald McDonald House.

Good time lapse video of Beale Street that is making its way around social media today: Beale Street Revealed

If you need a Downtown job, check out page 42 of the current issue of the Memphis Flyer. Lit, a very well-established restaurant supply company on Union, is hiring.

On that same page, I see that a Downtown restaurant is for sale.

Want to beat the summer heat? Starting Wednesday, for seven days my friend Air Traffic Mike and his assistant Splitty the Maul will be selling shaved ice at the stand at Union and Main. You’ve read about ATM in this blog (and in his) for years, and now you can come meet the man in person.

Another way to beat the summer heat is to enjoy an ice cold, refreshing Buckler’s beer. At 0.5% alcohol by volume, Buckler’s will help you stay alert, whether your plans are to stare at a waitress for hours or to try really really extra extra hard to be a part of other people’s conversations. Buckler’s: A great way to spend your hard-earned dollars. Or your unemployment check, whichever.

Plans for tonight: Pint Nite at the Flying Saucer, to knock off beers 147-149 for my next plate at $3 a pint. I will probably play poker at the Silly Goose tonight, since the game there seems to have gotten a lot better. 8:30 start time for Goose poker.

Feedback on MATA’s proposal to cut trolley hours

A few days ago, I posted a link to an article about MATA’s proposed plan to cut trolley hours. The cut that seemed like it would hurt Downtown the most was a cut to the Main Street Trolley’s morning hours. They plan to change the trolley’s start time from 6:25 AM to 9:00 AM. That seemed like a horrible thing because one of the selling points of Downtown is “move down here and ride the trolley to work.” You can’t do that when the trolley starts running a half hour or more after you have to be at the office.

Since I made that post, I have received several pieces of feedback in email and on Facebook. Most of the feedback came from South Mainers, and they all said pretty much the same thing: The trolley is completely unreliable as a means for commuting to work. People said they could walk to work faster than they could wait on a trolley to show up. It seems to operate on no schedule whatsoever, they said, and one person commented that the northbound trolley is particularly unreliable in the mornings. Most of them said that the trolley is only useful as a tourist attraction and nothing more.

Surprised to hear it but maybe I shouldn’t be. Is there any other city in the U.S. the size of Memphis with a public transportation system as bad as MATA?

5th annual Stumblin’ Elvis pub crawl Saturday, August 17

2013-07-19 19.16.21

The flyers are up and the announcement has been made… the Stumblin’ Elvis pub crawl will return to the streets of Downtown Memphis the evening of Saturday, August 17. Every year a bunch of us get dressed up like Elvis and wander from bar to bar, while participating in a food drive for charity. There are drink specials at the participating bars and it’s a whole lot of fun, although tourists will ask if they can take your picture about seventy thousand times over the course of the evening. That’s the way it works though. You are the spectacle.

You have plenty of time to find a costume, since the event is four weeks away. I did a search at Costume Craze and it returned 100 Elvis-related items, so you should be able to find what you need. Amazon also has many Elvis costumes, and then there are local costume shops where you can rent. The gift shops on Beale have Elvis scarves, glasses, sideburns and wigs.

This year’s list of bars has yet to be announced, but the lineup is typically some of the best bars on Main Street and Beale Street. I seem to remember a peanut butter and banana shot at one of the bars last year. It’s bound to be a fun night, so save the date and start planning your costume!