Star Wars-inspired art show in The Edge plus more Wednesday news

Coinciding with the theater debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there will be what sounds like a very cool art show at 444 Monroe this Friday from 6 to 9. A Force of ART will feature works of art celebrating the greatest blockbuster of all time.

Besides the Star Wars art, you should consider coming just to check out this space. 444 Monroe is the Holliday Flowers warehouse where the Moody Ques do our practice cooks. It is a converted 1961 motor lodge with a seafoam green color scheme that has been converted into a warehouse and event space. I love this building. Most Downtown residents have no idea it is there. It is on Monroe east of the ballpark, between Lauderdale and Marshall. The High Cotton brewery is next door, on the other side of a creek in between.

Speaking of the BBQ team, I know I have some readers from Chicago. For those of you up there, be sure to check out the Pilsen Winter Market this Sunday at Honky Tonk BBQ, owned by Willie who was our team cook 2007-2011.

Rizzo’s Diner is starting a Loyalty Lunch card program. Come in and get your card, and get it punched every time you have lunch at the restaurant. Get it punched 5 times, and your sixth lunch is on the house.

Ride the Roo, the shuttle which transports people from Overton Square to Cooper-Young and back, was sideswiped near the Beauty Shop Saturday night. Damage was pretty substantial. If anyone witnessed this or has information about who did it, please call 901-577-7700.

My friend Rodger, the Texan who loves chicken fried steak, is on a trip to San Antonio and tagged me in this photo:

Photo Dec 15, 7 36 07 PM

Now that’s a nice-looking chicken fried steak! I like it when they take up the whole plate.

New blog that is worth checking out: One901, the adventures of a Memphian. Although barely a week old, this blog is off to a great start. Recent posts include photos from the DNA Christmas party and a review of the Sushi Jimmi food truck. Follow the blog on Twitter at @one901blog.

The new bar/restaurant and entertainment space to be renovated at Florida and Carolina (see yesterday’s post for details) has a name – Loflin Corner. The building used to be Loflin Safe & Lock Co.

As a web developer I love this tweet:

From Choose901: Meet the founders of Memphis City Football (soccer) Club

Time to drive up to Elvis Presley and get some Jack Pirtle’s. Possibly a second post after work for the third consecutive day. I will probably hit the Silly Goose for happy hour this evening.

A new soccer club, an indoor “farmers market on steroids” coming to South Main and more (Tue update #2)

This is pretty cool: Memphis is getting its own professionally managed soccer (futbol for you purists) club. The Memphis City Football Club will have an informational gathering at the Brass Door this Thursday at 6 PM. Tryouts and game schedule will be discussed, and they may have a couple of surprises for their future fans as well.

Indoor food markets are all the rage in nearby cities including Little Rock and Nashville. Now there are plans for Memphis’ first indoor food market at 409 South Main. The article describes the concept as “a farmers market on steroids,” with vendors selling everything from breakfast to flowers to soaps to cheese to bread. The person opening the market is also in talks with a very well-known chef who would use the place as an incubator for new items. For those of you who have never been to Little Rock’s River Market or something similar, it is a very neat place to be and I hope 409 S. Main will be just as good or better. Downtown’s offerings continue to get ever more diverse!

Rates are proposed to go up a quarter on Downtown parking meters, to $1.25 an hour. However, the hours will stay the same. Parking is free after 6 PM and on weekends and holidays. There had been discussion of extending hours to midnight. Glad that is off the table as it would hurt the revenue of my many friends who own businesses down here.

Job opportunity: Crosstown Arts is seeking a communications coordinator.

A source of light in a world of darkness: Artist Ephraim Urevbu has developed “Freedom” candles, a line of specialty candles designed to uplift and ignite a movement of peace in an effort to counter hate, bigotry and terror that is ravaging our global village. Get them at Art Village Gallery at 410 South Main.

There will be an ugly sweater party by Tasty Entertainment this Friday at Purple Haze from 9 PM to 5 AM. $500 in prizes will be given away for the best ugly sweaters. Entertainment by DJ Decepticon + Haf Def Tha Chef. High energy dance party with holiday attire encouraged but not required. 2 for 1 beer and $2 well drinks 9-10 PM.

Felicia Suzanne’s will be closed the 24th through the 28th of this month.

Home, time for beer. I’ve decided I don’t feel like making the trek to Max’s Sports Bar (but don’t worry, I plan on spending PLENTY of time there in 2016) so Blind Bear it is. Possible Saucer stop later in the evening.

Tuesday update

Just one last reminder that the Downtown Neighborhood Association/South Main Association holiday party is tonight at Community Family Medical, 364 S. Front from 5 to 9 PM. You do not have to be a member of either organization to attend, although I’m sure it would make them happy if you considered joining. Complimentary food (by Rizzo’s Diner!) and beverages, along with live music.

This has been all over the news but in case you missed it: The only proton therapy center in the U.S. that accepts children has opened at St. Jude. Proton therapy is beneficial because it attacks tumors without harming normal tissue nearby. St. Jude’s beam is accurate down to 1-5 mm.

The Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team hosts the Southern Jaguars tonight at FedExForum at 7. Although schools with any kind of regional reference in their name are usually cupcakes, the Jaguars are not going to be easy to get by. They already hold wins over Mississippi State, Tulane, and Wyoming.

The Church Health Center tweeted that through December 31, all new monthly gifts will be matched dollar for dollar. Giving a monthly gift in someone’s name would be a great Christmas present if you know someone who is a big fan of the Center.

From Gizmodo: This Chrome extension blocks Star Wars spoilers

Here’s a little Liberty Bowl preview for you: Liberty Bowl brings Snyder, Bielema back together

Bluefin is closed again as of 1:10 yesterday, according to Jennifer Biggs of the CA. General manager Nick Scott had been asked to stay on to help with the transition, but on Friday new owner James Woo asked him to leave. When he did, most of the remaining staff did too. Woo wants to revamp Bluefin to make it more like the other places he owns in the New York area. Does anybody else think this has BAD IDEA written all over it? Just because a concept works in other cities does not mean it will work in Memphis. See Republic Nightclub for a fairly recent example. I was talking to a multiple-restaurant owner the other day about how you have to know your market. It doesn’t sound like James Woo does. Also, I have known Nick for years – my famous I LOVE ROMANIAN GIRLS/Santa hat photo was taken at his wife Laura’s baby shower – and I can tell you, anyone who lets Nick go does not know what they are doing.

For those of you who remember Prime Minister’s Steakhouse, this is the direction I see the new Bluefin going.

The Rendezvous will be closed January 3-11, as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Here are full results from this past weekend’s grilled cheese fest at the Hi-Tone. Whoa! Weekend at Porky’s hit top three in one of the categories! (That’s the team many of the members of my Sunday brunch crew are on. Also the team that used a George Foreman grill at Burger Fest.) Here’s a slideshow of the festival.

That’s it for now. Just rollin’ through the last full five-day work week of 2015. Next week will be eventful. Blind Bear is my likely first stop after work, although it’s a pretty day and I haven’t totally ruled out a walk south to Max’s Sports Bar. Time to go grab some sushi (not at Bluefin) then back to work.

Restaurant/bar coming to South End and more (Mon update #2)

The Daily News has big news about an entertainment destination planned for the South End neighborhood. A building at 7 W. Carolina will be renovated into a bar and restaurant. The bar, the Daily News article says, will be patterned after a bar called Bacchanal in the Lower Ninth of New Orleans, which describes itself as “a wine laboratory” and “Mediterranean living/New Orleans style.” The South End bar, the article reports, would have a well-stocked bar and domestic and craft beer. The restaurant will serve “cookout food.” This is great news for that neighborhood. Right now entertainment and food destinations don’t exist much south of G.E. Patterson, leaving South End residents a half-mile to walk or ride to get to much of anything interesting. Now they will have their own meeting place, what Tug’s is to the island, what Westy’s is to the Pinch, what Kudzu’s was to the Edge before it closed, what Sleep Out Louie’s was to the core 25 years ago.

Meanwhile, a building at 721 Florida will be renovated into a 5000 square foot rentable entertainment space. I have my friends ask me where to rent spaces like this all the time, and this gives Downtown one more option. Between the two buildings will be a large yard which can be used for bocce and other outdoor activities.

The developers of One Beale are considering adding a third tower to the two already planned to be built. There would be a 12-story office tower, a 22-story hotel, and a 30-story apartment tower.

The Matador Network has the top 11 hangover cures in Memphis. Many of them can be bought Downtown. I’ve had many a Majestic Mimosa to cure Saturday night hangovers. Bardog’s Daily Dog will do it, as will the Soul Burger at E&H and the Double-Double at Dyer’s. I have never had the Bloody Mary at the Peabody lobby bar but certainly agree about the atmosphere. The two I can’t personally vouch for, but would have to believe are very good, are the chicken & waffles at the Blind Bear (yes there are menu items there I have not tried) and the chicken skin BLT at the 5 Spot. There are hangover cures on the list from other parts of the city as well.

The Rendezvous has gift bags and stocking stuffers on sale for under $50. There is free shipping for non-perishable items ordered by December 17.

I told you Hog fans travel well: Razorback fans a force at box office. Arkansas has sold just under 17,000 tickets to the Liberty Bowl. Due to high demand, the school had to go back to the Liberty Bowl and request additional tickets beyond its allocation. The game is January 2 vs. Kansas State.

If you needed more proof Donald Trump is crazy: Trump has promised to appoint Sarah Palin to his cabinet. This alone should be enough to make you consider voting for anyone but him. Can you imagine Secretary of State Palin, or Director of Homeland Security Palin? That would be quite a Christmas gift for ISIS (wait, I guess they don’t celebrate Christmas, but you get what I mean). Director of the Interior Palin or Director of Energy Palin would speed up the end of our planet’s habitability by thousands of years.

Two tugboats crashed on the Mississippi just south of the I-55 bridge. One boat appears to be taking on water. The Coast Guard is there to assist.

Home from work, time for PBR. Grabbing a wooden nickel and heading to Melissa Monday at Bardog. Back tomorrow.

Cheap meal recommendation and Monday news

If you want a cheap, but good meal, I have a recommendation for you: The bean nachos at Maciel’s Tacos and Tortas. I ordered this as a side along with a huarache Saturday, and for $3.50 I wasn’t expecting much. “Probably just some beans thrown on tortilla chips, maybe with a little cheese,” I thought. I was wrong. They loaded it up with all the toppings you would expect on a large, pricey order of nachos, including a thick, generous covering of cheese. Unless you are extremely, extremely hungry, this is a meal in itself. If you have to have meat to make your nachos complete, there are chicken, steak and spicy pork versions of the nachos for $6.

There was a bad crash on Riverside Saturday when a car plowed into several motorcycles. Amazingly, no one was killed. The driver admitted to having fallen asleep at the wheel.

Choirs will sing Christmas carols at the Peabody all week. Horn Lake High School sings today, and Center Hill High School tomorrow. Wednesday is White Station Elementary, with Cordova Elementary on Thursday and Keystone Elementary on Friday.

The Liberty Bowl Parade has been announced for Beale Street 3:00-4:30 New Year’s Day. The fans of Arkansas and Kansas State will be out in large numbers, I am sure.

Wait a minute, I just realized something… where are the fans of those schools going to pre-game for the parade? I ask because last year, the parade wasn’t on New Year’s. It was on a Sunday and I led off at Bardog as was my custom at the time (B-RAD did not yet work Sundays at the Blind Bear). The place filled up with West Virginia fans by 11:20 and they drank with my BBQ teammate Mardoqueo and me. They were the nicest, most down-to-earth people ever and asked all the right questions about what the locals do Downtown. I was looking forward to pre-gaming with Liberty Bowl fans this year – naturally I am partial to my fellow Hogs fans – but will anyplace be open? Of my “Big Five,” Silly Goose and Blind Bear don’t normally open early on any day, and Saucer never opens until 5 New Year’s Day. Bardog? Max’s? Would out-of-state fans even know about Max’s, as far away as it is from all the hotels? If Bardog opens at 11, I will definitely do everything I can to herd Arkansas fans there.

Tickets for the February 2 WWE Smackdown taping at FedExForum are now on sale. RAW tends to be the show where there is more storyline development, but the wrestling is better on Smackdown.

From Distractify: How to find your Facebook friends who “Like” Donald Trump and delete them

The Silly Goose’s annual Christmas party is this Thursday beginning at 9 PM. There will be music by the John Paul Keith Trio and DJ Cody, and Naughty Santa will make an appearance. Come sit on his lap, ladies!

Congratulations to Downtown coffee shop Tamp & Tap on being voted grand champions at the first annual Memphis Grilled Cheese Festival yesterday in Crosstown.

I’ll be hitting Melissa Monday at Bardog after work about 5:30. Possibly a second post before I go out, so check back.

Open houses and more Sunday Fun Day news

Lesouque, a socially conscious lifestyle brand offering jewelry, scarves, handbags, and home & house items, will have a pop-up shop this afternoon from 1 to 6 at High Cotton Brewery on Monroe. FREE BEER ALERT – Lesouque will buy the first 200 beers. The event is dog-friendly and the Hot Mess Burrito food truck will be on hand.

Not far away at 597 Madison, Garden Path Studio will have an open house, also from 1 to 6. Ceramics, mosaics, wearable art, cards, paintings, jewelry, living art terrariums, and live music.

The CA has a really good summary of the awesome work done by Paul Morris who ran DMC for five years. Under his management, the DMC saved the Chisca, made the Main-to-Main project a reality, and took over management of Beale, along with many other accomplishments.

Bardog has had trouble with its phones. This is the reason why:

2015-12-03 14.11.39

Picture taken a week ago Thursday but still relevant. Workers dug a giant hole in Monroe. Don’t you love how they’re all standing around going, “Yup, that sure is a nice hole we dug” and none of them seem to be working? Thanks to AT&T, Bardog’s phone service is spotty. If you call and can’t get a hold of them, just walk over there to place your to-go order.

There will be a holiday gospel concert by The Bell Singers this afternoon at 4 at the Center for Southern Folklore. Their new CD will be on sale and they will sign it for you.

Opinion piece: Does Memphis need iconic riverfront skyscrapers?

Also from the CA: Bluefin closed after new owner comes in. The article says employees had to re-apply for their jobs, but from what I have heard nearly everyone quit and they are having trouble finding people who want to work there.

The DMC is considering an app that would take visitors on a walking tour of Beale Street.

Coyote Ugly is holding a Back to the Future fundraiser to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research today at 4. Drink specials, raffles, silent auction.

I’m leading off at D-RANKS with B-RAD at Blind Bear at 11. It’s possible I may hop a Lyft and go see my friends Weekend at Porky’s at the grilled cheese festival in Crosstown later this afternoon.


Roaming the wilds of Arkansas

About 3:50 Wednesday I was sitting at my desk at work, banging out PHP code to handle website change request tickets that had been pouring in. After three weeks off I was refreshed and starting to feel very confident in my work.

My iPhone rang. It was a 501 (Central Arkansas) number that was not saved as a contact. I answered. It was the phone call every son or daughter dreads.

“Is this Paul Ryburn?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Mr. Ryburn, this is a paramedic with (can’t remember name of company). Your mother has had a stroke. We are with her now.” In the background I heard them calling her name over and over trying to bring her back to consciousness. The paramedic told me she opened her eyes, a good sign.

“Will you call me from the hospital with an update?” I asked.

“The doctor will call you,” said the paramedic. I thanked her and hung up.

I ran and told my director what had happened, then grabbed my stuff, locked my computer without even doing a git push on my day’s work (developers will understand what a violation of protocol that is) and got in the car.

I usually drive less than 5 over the speed limit, but this time I sped home. The paramedic’s voice sounded grim. This could be the big one, I thought. I could be burying my mother this weekend.

I’m an only child. Growing up, I loved being an only child. I never had to share. But that means I have no one to share the burden at times like this. I’m going it alone. Yes, I have a huge support network in my friends, but I will be in a different city.

I got home and packed a suitcase, crying as I realized I had to consider the possibility of a funeral when I packed. I packed a dress shirt and some slacks. I packed daily clothes too. I saw it would be in the 70s in Little Rock this weekend so I packed some shorts as well as jeans. I made a list of other things that needed to come with me: iPhone charger, external charger, the cords for the MacBook.

2015-12-12 09.12.37I packed the stuffed love bug my mom gave me for Christmas last year that giggles when you press its tummy. I realized that might be one of the last Christmas presents I ever get from her. I felt incredibly bad for not going home for Christmas last December.

I had to deal with the fact that I have an older car that is a little scary to take on trips. It broke down two years ago and it took mechanics almost five months to figure out what was wrong. It has not needed anything except routine service since, but still, a bit scary. I had no choice though.

All packed and still probably an hour away from the phone call from the ER, I realized I needed to see my friends. I walked down the Main Street Mall, tears streaming down my face. I went to the Silly Goose and talked to my friends John D and Jessica. I went to the Blind Bear and talked to my friend Feeny. Of course I drank water at both places. I know that seems absurd to some of you that I went to bars facing the death of a parent, but bars are where my friends hang out/work.

Then I went back home. Having heard nothing by 5:38, I couldn’t take it any more. I called Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock and asked for an update. After several transfers, I was handed to her attending doctor in the ER. He had good news for me. “It’s not a stroke,” he told me. “We’re not sure what it is, but we ran a CAT scan and there are no signs of blood on her brain. She’s very confused. She’s complaining that she is in pain but can’t tell us exactly where. Of course, we are going to keep her for observation but she’s out of the danger zone.”

“So I’m safe waiting until the morning to come over there?” I asked. I hate driving in the dark. I hate driving in general.

“I think you are,” the doc assured me.

Reassured, I went back to the Blind Bear for a bit, coming home at 10:30. I had checked the sunrise for Thursday – 6:58 AM – so I had pegged 7 as my departure time. I read in bed for an hour and a half, hoping to fall asleep as I read, but it wasn’t happening. About midnight I decided food might help, so I got dressed and walked over to Huey’s and got a Texas Toast Burger. From 1 to 5 I drifted in and out of consciousness but never reached deep sleep. At 5 I got up and got ready.

At 7 I loaded the car and got onto I-40 West. “Please don’t fail me, car,” I pleaded. I had looked out the window before I left and noticed fog over the area. “Guess I’ll be driving with my lights on,” I thought.

The fog wasn’t that bad as I crossed the bridge, but by the time I hit West Memphis visibility was 1/16 of a mile or less. As the speed limit went up to 70, I found myself doing about 50. I just didn’t feel safe going any faster. I didn’t know what was in front of me. I had to pay close attention to the lines to stay in my lane. I veered out of my lane a couple of times. “If there are any cops around, they are going to think I am drunk,” I thought. “But then again, how could the cops see me in this fog?”

Meanwhile, my phone was blowing up. The “ping” of Facebook Messenger, the “ding” of texts, the “bloop” of notification of Facebook comments. I had posted my mom’s condition to Facebook and everyone was sending messages of support. That’s one thing that I knew would get me through this, that I have hundreds of friends who care about me.

By Exit 265, about 19 miles into Arkansas, visibility had been reduced to maybe two car lengths in front of me. I was down to about 45 MPH. Truck drivers more experienced with fog than I were passing me, which was terrifying. I prayed I would not be sideswiped. “I hope today is not the day I precede my mother in death,” I thought.

Of course, there was all kinds of road construction too. I had to veer into the shoulder several times and then back over. The speed limit was reduced to 60 in the construction zones. “I don’t think that’s a problem for me today,” I observed.

As I got over Crowley’s Ridge the fog eased up a tiny bit, back to 1/16 mile visibility, and I got up to the low 60s for the first time since I had crossed the river bridge. By Brinkley the fog was gone and I hit normal speed. I started passing the trucks that passed me in the fog. At exit 155 I turned off onto I-30, noting that the giant JESUS sign at the intersection of the two interstates was still there. Gotta love Arkansas.

I pulled into Baptist’s parking garage at 9:40. Normally a trip to Little Rock takes an hour and 45 minutes. The fog added almost an extra hour. Turns out it didn’t matter, though. When I got to my mom’s room, she was out getting tests done. I paced the floor, a Foo Fighters song stuck in my head. I actually got a lot of stuff about my life in Memphis figured out during this period. And damn it was hot in that room. Not everyone keeps their A/C on 68 like I do. And yes I have the A/C on right now. In December.

View from hospital room window. If you look closely you can see Pinnacle Mountain in the background.
View from hospital room window. If you look closely you can see Pinnacle Mountain in the background. (May need to click to view full size to see it)

About 11:30 they wheeled her in. She was awake but looked out of it. She didn’t notice me, even after I called out “Mama” a couple of times. All she was interested in was getting back in her bed. “Look who’s here!” the nurses said several times. Finally she swiveled her head and noticed a black T-shirt that read “Blind Bear Speakeasy” and realized she could only know one person who would wear that shirt. “Paul!” she said. We hugged and I helped her into bed. We spent the next hour catching up.

Her case manager came in. She asked my mother (and me) about her living situation, how far away I was, how handicapped-accessible her home was, whether she had a walker, that kind of thing. The case worker took notes and made recommendations for a few items that could make my mother’s life easier. “Do you think you’re ready to move from independent living to assisted living yet?” the case worker asked. My mother said no.

The doctor came in about 1, and he had good news. “You are fine,” the doc said. “There is no evidence of a stroke. We want to run some more tests to determine what happened, but we can probably let you go home this afternoon, or Friday morning.”

That was good news not only for my mom, but for me. After having just missed three weeks of work for personal reasons, and work being INCREDIBLY understanding about it, I wanted to get back in there and knock it out of the park for our 168,000 members. And now here I was having to take more time off work again. I wanted to at least be back at work by Monday at the latest. (And, I have to admit, I really didn’t want to miss D-RANKS with B-RAD on Sunday.)

I ate lunch then ran over to my mother’s apartment on a wild goose chase trying to locate her purse. All her neighbors were curious about who I was. Her neighbor and friend Sylvia and I exchanged phone numbers. That was probably a good thing not only for this immediate trip, but for the future. Sylvia was super sweet and told me she bawled when the ambulance arrived and saw it was for my mom.

Back at the hospital, they told us they would not get the results of the tests until Friday morning, so my mom would be staying overnight. It was time for me to find a place to spend the night. “I’m not using my apartment tonight,” my mom told me. “You can stay there.”

“I’m not staying in a retirement community!” I told her. I got on Google and started searching for a hotel. Since my mom moved into her community in 2008, when I have visited I have stayed in Downtown Little Rock hotels, so I could walk to the Flying Saucer. This time, however, the Saucer just didn’t seem that important. I started searching for West Little Rock hotels, eventually settling on the Hampton Inn at 1301 South Shackleford, about a mile from the hospital. Shackleford south of Kanis is an up-and-coming area, with a new shopping center, restaurants, and hotels.

I checked in about 6, getting a room on the second floor. There was a king-sized bed, a big TV, refrigerator, and microwave. I unpacked, got the MacBook out, and caught up on what I had missed all day. I had absolutely no desire to go hit the West Little Rock bars, which for the most part suck anyway. This was going to be a “me” evening. I was going to unwind, watch Thursday Night Football, and write in my journal (my personal notebook that I keep, not this blog).

I did get a hankering to go one place, though: The mini-convenience store in the lobby of the hotel. You decide what you want and they add it to your bill. The prices are slightly above average but not ridiculous. About 7:30 I decided I needed some snacks for the football game. I went down and selected a bag of Tostitos Scoops and a jar of salsa. A little while later I decided water was not interesting enough and went down and bought a bottle of orange juice. They had beer and the prices weren’t too bad ($3.75 for a bottle of Heineken for example) but what fun would it be to drink beer in a hotel room by myself? I wasn’t interested.

My mom told me there was no way she would be released before 10, so I saw no reason for an early bedtime. I went to bed at 1 and got a fabulous night’s sleep. At 8 I got up and went down for breakfast. I must say, hotel breakfasts have improved over the “continental breakfasts” I remember from my time as a traveling Lotus Notes instructor in 1999.

Ham, a bagel top, donut holes, some chocolate thing (is that a cruller?), and peach yogurt
Ham, a bagel top, donut holes, some chocolate thing (is that a cruller?), and peach yogurt

As I was eating, Sylvia called to let me know she would be there to let us in my mom’s apartment (she had lost her keys but eventually found them in her shoe) and that she was bringing my mom lunch. Then my mom herself called at 9. “They’re asking if you will be able to drive me home,” she told me.

“I didn’t think they would release you this early!” I replied. I expedited packing and hurried over there. They wheeled her down and we got her in my car. She lives in the Good Shepherd retirement community on Aldersgate Road, also about a mile from the hospital. I helped her to her apartment – she was able to walk, no wheelchair needed.

“Since it’s still early in the day, I have time to grocery shopping for you before I go back,” I told her. She hadn’t been able to get out in 10 weeks and had been relying on Amazon Prime, but they don’t have everything she needs.

“Here’s my long list,” she told me, and pulled out this 11-foot list (no I am not exaggerating) of stuff she needed. “Now, I don’t expect you to get that. So here’s a short list.” And she pulled out a 3-foot version of the list.”

“I will be here until Sunday if I even get the short list,” I told her. “I don’t know how to shop. I never buy more than a few items at a time. Pick the 10 items you need the most, write them down with exact brands and sizes so I don’t have to guess, and I will go get them for you.” So she did.

I drove to the Kroger at Markham and Shackleford where I have shopped for/with her in years past. Oh no! The Kroger sign was gone and the building was empty. Now what? I didn’t know where another Kroger was.

Fortunately, I had help. “Siri, where is the nearest Kroger?” I asked. “See for yourself,” Siri said, and showed me a map of a Kroger at 8415 West Markham, next to the Red Lobster at Rodney Parham. Having learned to drive in Little Rock, I knew where that was. Now it was just a matter of getting there. I got on Shackleford and made a left onto Markham. It was lunch hour and Little Rock traffic was FIERCE. I thought I would never get there. I almost turned into Chip’s BBQ for a sandwich but I was getting impatient to get back to Memphis, realizing I could make Silly Goose’s happy hour if traffic on I-40 was agreeable.

I got even more irritable when I got to Kroger. I don’t know how to shop for another person. I couldn’t find the bread. I couldn’t find the frozen orange juice. I had to ask the butcher where the olive loaf was (they were out). People seemed to have no awareness that they were in the way. I hated every minute of being there. My mom would have been horrified that I used the self-checkout instead of standing in line, which she thinks is the proper way to do it. I took Rodney Parham to Kanis back, nearly having a stroke of my own at that damn light at John Barrow Road. Kanis really needs to be four lanes from 12th Street all the way to Bowman.

At 1 I was on the road again. I thought about taking a car selfie to post to Facebook. “All that’ll do is show people how shitty my car’s upholstery is, better not,” I thought, deciding against it. This time weather and traffic cooperated and I crossed into Tennessee at 2:50, giving me an hour to unpack before hitting the Goose. Later yesterday evening I attended my apartment building’s holiday party with Motel Mirrors (John Paul Keith and Amy LaVere), a huge buffet and booze. Thanks to Number 10 for treating its residents so well.

I am so glad I went over there, even though I knew by Thursday morning my mother’s condition was not life-threatening. The shape she was in when she was wheeled in that room at 11:30 – when she didn’t even notice I was in the room – and the shape she was in a couple of hours later, physically and mentally, was totally different. Having me there improved her health so much.

As many of you know, I have been in something of a dark period of my life from mid-August through my three-week vacation. I believe I have figured out the antidote: Being there for others. From helping my neighbor Moody move, to giving that giant bear to the girls, to banging out change tickets at work, to helping my mom while she was sick – it’s just a tremendous boost. I feel normal again, my confidence is back, and I am ready to face the world now. Some of you have noticed that I have been wearing my hair darker than normal, a medium brown, to match the dark period. This morning I re-blonded myself. The dark period is over.

Thank you so much to all of you who have commented, texted, or messaged to express your concern. This week could not have gone better given the circumstances and I learned a lot about myself. I appreciate all of you.

Apologies if there are typos in this post. Usually I proofread them but this one is just too damn long and I am about out of time. I have already missed my window of time to go to the holiday farmers market and I am going to be late for brunch with Bloom at Bardog if I don’t get going. Hopefully I will be back with normal news posts by Monday at the latest. Thanks everyone.

Wed update 2

One last post then heading to Little Rock to see my mom for an indefinite length of time.

Man, that Grizzlies home loss to the Thunder in the last FedExForum home game was just painful to watch! However, it’s time to move on to the next one. And the next one is a good one.

They play the Charlotte Hornets at FedExForum at 7 Friday and it will be a Star Wars themed night. You will want to get there early, because the first 3000 fans will get a free Tony Allen Star Wars robe for his “padawan learners.”

Friday also has a special offer of a beer tasting ticket for the game. The featured brewery is Sierra Nevada and the pricing is $77.50 for a club level seat or $39.50 for club level seat. You get a Grizzlies commemorative pint glass with the ticket. Deadline to order is Thursday.

The Center for Southern Folklore is having a holiday bazaar Saturday from 11 to 4. Their Facebook description is too long to summarize so I will just quote it here.

Spend a day in Downtown Memphis shopping for great holiday gifts at the Center at 119-123 S. Main @ Peabody Place Trolley Stop. Saturday, December 12. From 11:00 to 4:00 the Center’s Folklore Store will be filled with handmade items such as Vintage jewelry art by Astrid French, Insect earrings and shadow boxes by Stacey McNeill, and Sweet treats cookies, brownies and candied apples by Meekie’s Munchies, Water Tower and Bike Arch T-Shirts by Tyler French, Children’s handmade play tents by Colby Davis, handcrafted bracelets by Je Mora Jewels, and Handcrafted earrings, hats and scarves by Funky Knits and Naturals. Shoppers will be also have a chance to purchase Memphis Music & Heritage Festival posters, archival photographs, folk art by Stephen Hudson, Frank Lilly Dr. Bob and Edwin Jeffery, Copper baskets by Virginia Fisher, Great Center-produced videos such as All Day & All Night: Memories from Beale Street Musicians, CDs featuring Joyce Cobb, Mose Vinson, Daddy Mac and many more performers presented by the Center at festivals and throughout the year. For details call the Center at 901.525.3655

This is convenient: Ship your unwanted stuff to Goodwill for free with free shipping labels from Give Back Box. I have a pile of unwanted stuff lying in my bedroom I have been meaning to put in the car and drive to a Goodwill.

The Chisca Apartments is just 10 days away from completion. The MBJ has a sneak peek inside.

Sunday is the annual Beerknurd Appreciation Party (6 PM), with a free pint and a buffet for UFO Club members only.

Post I saw on Facebook today: Have a purse you don’t want? Fill it with snacks, sanitary, and hygiene items and give it to a homeless woman. Great idea!

There will be no more new gas stations in Uptown.

I hear AT&T crossed Bardog’s phone lines today, meaning no one could order Bardog delivery unless they knew the number of the law firm next door.

I hear Bluefin had a “Plum Work, Open Tomorrow” sign on its locked doors today. Sure sign of quality, that you close to harvest your own plums. Didn’t realize they were a huge ingredient in sushi though?

Oh wait the “Plum” could be their employees walked out.

I’m done. In Little Rock for the next couple of days. Will post if I can.

What if the farmers market sold alcohol? Some ideas

In last night’s, post, I reported that the Memphis Farmers Market had put up its end of year survey up, where patrons could leave feedback on the things they liked best. There was an interesting question: How would you feel if MFM served alcohol at the market? And a follow-up: If MFM were to serve alcohol, what type would you prefer? Here are some ideas I came up with last night.

Walk-me-down… that aisle to purchase fresh produce

Gin & juice… Taking juicing to a whole ‘nother level

Ultra late night party spot for those who want to keep going after Purple Haze closes: “Hey, the farmers market opens at 7, let’s walk down there and keep drinking!”

Spike the watermelon you just bought without ever having to leave the market

Breakfast shot: Take a shot of Jameson followed by a shot of orange juice then eat a piece of Pigasus smoked bacon (called a “breakfast shot” because the combination tastes like a pancake)

Turn Whitton Farms into a pickup joint by putting a bar out front. Where else in Tennessee can you buy a woman locally grown fresh flowers and a vodka soda at the same place?

Or, if you want to go more upscale: Wine, locally-baked bread, and locally-produced goat cheese. Let the romance begin!

PBR under the pavilion: Potatoes, beets, radishes

If you drink enough booze, even kale tastes good

Call a cab to the farmers market, then have a Call-a-Cab at the farmers market

Learn to can your own vegetables… and your own moonshine

Sign up for Crop Hop 5K and get a dollar Beam and Coke

Ultimate hot shot: Fireball followed by a bite of a fiery pepper

Note: These are all meant in good fun and I am not trying to denigrate the farmers market or the idea of selling alcohol there (which by the way, I am neither for nor against) in any way. Don’t forget that the holiday market will happen 10-1 Saturday at the pavilion at Front and G.E. Patterson.

I will probably be back this evening with a news post, so check back after 5:30.

Tue update #2

Been a while since I made two posts in one day! I’m feeling much better and I want to thank those of you who emailed me, either telling me your own stories about anxiety issues or expressing concern that I didn’t post for a week. Not only am I feeling good, but I made a life decision yesterday which I think will keep me feeling good in the future.

The Memphis Farmers Market has its end of year survey up, where you can give feedback on how often you go, when you go, how much you spend, and what your favorite things are about the market. There was one interesting question: How would you feel about alcohol being served at the market?

My first reaction, as you can imagine, was “YESSSSSS!!!!!!” But then I thought about it a little more. One reason I like the market is because it’s a place to hang out that’s NOT a bar. I see a different crowd down there than I do when I go to, say, the Saucer. Would alcohol change that dynamic? Plus the market is family-friendly. On the other hand, I would not mind being the bad, bad man with the mimosa in his hand when I go there. (It’s too early for PBR and they would never sell it there anyway)

The award-winning Newsies opens at the Orpheum tonight. Local has a special menu for patrons who want to grab dinner before going to the show.

Inc. Magazine has an article on the city that might be up-and-coming as the hottest startup hub. Guess which city it is? Hint: The city has an intersection of Main and Union and there’s a company called Start Co. there.

That’ll do it for this fairly short post. Heading out to Blind Bear for beer and possibly poker.