Bluff City (Memphis) – On the banks of the Mississippi…

IMG_2947Why Memphis?  Well, it’s becoming one of my favorite cities and it’s my 70th birthday.
Yes, yes, it’s true, I have spent the last fifteen or more years turning various ages in Las Vegas. And wow, LV is so much fun.  All those lights, that action, the people watching. And our friend Amber is the most extraordinary host and she always makes my birthday one to remember.  She leaves strawberries and IMG_1949champagne in our room and always surprises me with a show-stopping birthday cake, each cake more impressive than the year before.
So why Memphis? I don’t know. 70 just seems different.  More reserved and quiet than Las Vegas.

TWWNCBUIP and I, and Linc and Lola love to stroll the banks of the Mississippi and don’t forget, there’s Gus’s Fried Chicken, the Pink Palace, and the Five in One Social Club. And our boy lives here with his bride and their dog Frank. Also, the humidity reminds me of home.

So for this year I turned 70 in Memphis.
We were greeted by MMCB at our hotel with a picnic dinner gathered from the goodies found at Ms. Cordelia’s.  When we went up to stow our bags in the room we discovered that the hotel had left

Sears Crosstown Before

The Old Sears Crosstown

chocolate covered strawberries and champagne…what??  How did they know? Did Amber call ahead?
We gobbled the strawberries and toasted to my old age with the champagne before going out for our midnight picnic. Did I mention that our hotel is located on the banks of the Mississippi?  It’s pretty cool to walk out of your room and get to take a midnight stroll along the river.  Linc and Lola love it.

As many of you know, waking up at TCON is a little late for the 10am coffee in the hotel library nook.  This trip I was

The new Sears Crosstown

determined to get down there in time for coffee no matter what. So I left the curtains open in our room and sure enough, that Mississippi sun broke through my dreams and woke me up just in the nick of time. I grabbed my fluffy hotel robe and made my way to the nook.  Yes! The coffee pot was still there! I poured myself a little china cup of coffee and settled in to enjoy my morning. I think getting up before TCON may have potential for my new old age.

MMCB arrived at our hotel a little later and we set out for the day.  First stop, Five in One Social Club.  It was the last day before they closed up to move to the new space on Summer Avenue.  I must say it was bittersweet.  We are thrilled for the kids moving into a new space but that little red building was a special place and we will miss it….even though it is only a block away from the Summer Avenue space.


We decided to lunch at Sears. Not really “Sears” anymore.  The Sears catalog distribution center (remember the Sears catalog?) in Memphis Tennessee may seem like an odd place for lunch (as it happens the center has been converted into a …. well,  Crosstown Arts. This massive space hosts a public high school, restaurants, bars, a YMCA, residences and office spaces and art. Art everywhere. It’s such a great space. As I was saying,  we lunched at the Global Cafe in Sears and dined on Sudanese, Venezuelan ad Syrian cuisine.  You may have seen this on NPR.  Really good food. Global.

Memphis is not just about bar-b-que anymore. But the birthday cakes from Amber still can’t be beat.

A black SUV with Florida plates …..

The weekend started early last week with our trip to CB’s Steamroller Printing event in Memphis.  We arrived in Memphis around 9:30 and walked from the SWA gate to the National Car Rental Terminal which honestly seems like a two miles.  You may remember that on our last trip National Car Rental had absolutely no cars on the lot at the airport, they actually had cars at the airport this time, so TWWNCBUIP, Linc, Lola and I checked into a black SUV of some sort. Color is relevant here.

The set up for the Steamroller Printing was finished by the time we arrived so we had a quick drink and and went to our boutique hotel on Mud Island, which you may remember from the Tom Cruise movie – The Firm (River Inn of Harbor Town for anyone interested in a room with a view of the Mississippi River in Memphis) to rest from our exhaustion brought on by sitting in an airplane for an hour and testing Rusty Nails at the Cove.

I had intended to get an early start Friday but not at 7 am when the alarm sounded through the hotel.  I made it down the hall to the elevator in my fuzzy hotel robe for what I presumed was a fire alarm. I was stopped by housekeeping at the elevator doors and they explained that the elevator was being repaired and the techs kept setting off the alarm. I might add the that for the rest of our stay TWWNCBUIP would not use the “unreliable” elevator.

It was a great getaway. We were joined by friend from Houston and explored the city’s restaurants, “supervised” the printing process on Broad Avenue, hung out with Frank the Dog at Mr. Mrs. CB’s house/studio/workshop/warehouse, stood in line for 45 minutes to have dinner at Gus’ Fried Chicken, walked Linc and Lola along the Mississippi.

As trips go it was up among my favorites right up until Monday at noon.

Since we were out late Sunday night celebrating the success of their event we had gotten a late check for Monday. We started packing up around 11 and by around noon I starting taking stuff to the car. We were gonna have one last meal with the kids before heading to the airport.

I took 2 of the bags down to the car, unlocked the car with the remote and put the 2 suitcases in the back locked it up and went back the room to collect the rest of our bags, souvenirs, and puppies (I wasn’t forgetting TWWNCBUIP, she just wasn’t ready yet.

Back downstairs I opened the trunk of the SUV to finish packing our stuff and the dogs into the car.

As the door opened, I realized that there were no bags in the car. I also noticed that the dogs sleeping mats were however in the car. Just remember that I am operating at TCON and it took me a minute to get my head around the situation. Slowly I gathered that I had probably put my bags in the wrong car, so I looked around for another black SUV with Florida plates that I could have mistaken for my own.

I soon realized that there were no other SUV’s parked in front of the hotel. After checking with hotel and letting them know my predicament, I found out that no one had checked out of the hotel after 11am except me.

I let them know that I was driving a rented black SUV, and the manager said he would check their security cameras and get back with me while we went for lunch. I checked the restaurants next door to see if they had had anyone leave in the last few minutes. Struck out again.

I have neglected to say that in addition to my stylish vacation wear, our suitcases also contained our 2 laptops, my 35mm DSLR, a electronic camera stabilizer (no it’s not a selfie stick) AND my ONLY calendar for all our upcoming band bookings.

In route to meet Mr. & Mrs. CB for lunch we thought that the since the black SUV that I had put the bags in also had Florida plates that it was also probably a rental and would soon be turned in at the airport. So while I called lost and found for all the rentals agencies, TWWNCBUIP thought that since our computers are Macs that we could use the find my Mac app and get a location for our bags.

No luck on either idea (in case you ever need to track a Mac you should know that it can’t be found until someone opens the computer).

After lunch we checked back at the hotel. Frederick invited me back to the footage recorded earlier in the day. As I sat down in front of the screen, Frederick turns and says to me, “Rusty, here is the video of you walking across the parking lot and putting your bags in the back of a WHITE SUV. Them video then shows a couple leave the restaurant next door, get into their WHITE SUV and drive away. Well, thought I, I’ll just bet that the plates weren’t from Florida either.

The look on the faces of TWWNCBUIP and Mr. & Mrs. CB when I told them this updated info was …. what do you call it? Priceless.

As we rode our company jet (SWA) back home I was contemplating the cost and time of replacing our computers. I couldn’t even begin to think how to get the my band schedules back in order.

Wasn’t the best finish to great weekend.

Then, just as the plane was touching down in Houston my phone rang.

“Hello, is this Rusty?”


“This is Sheila and I believe I have your luggage. My husband found it in the back of our car when he arrived home tonight.”

The passengers around me, I am sure thought I had just won the lottery. We made arrangements for CB to retrieve it, I thanked her profusely and was about to disconnect the call when Sheila said,

“Rusty, before we go, can you tell me how your luggage got to be in my car?

I didn’t really know where to begin ……

“You know how to install a battery?”

I like to start Sunday mornings with a nutritious breakfast (or someone does), a nice bowl of blueberries, fresh pineapple and Greek yogurt, so you can imagine my dismay (joy) when I discovered that there were no blueberries, no pineapple and almost no yogurt (apparently bacon and eggs were not an option).

Oh well. It was time to put Plan B into action.

A movie. And a maybe not quite so nutritious breakfast of a Regal Crown Club Kosher Hot dog and a tub of popcorn. Called the M-I-L to let her know that it was movie day but got turned down, said she was washing her hair or her dog or something like that.  So no movie.

Was there a Plan C you ask?  Why yes, there is always a Plan C.

Today’s Plan C: TWWNCBUIP says it’s the perfect day for a picnic in the park. We will take the “fun” car says she, “the puppies love the wind in their faces.”

The fun car is also known as the “Sunday” car for insurance purposes and doesn’t get out much so I thought I would make sure it had enough gas for the trip.

Well, plenty of gas, but no battery. Dead as a doornail, which, in case you don’t know, means “quite dead.”

No worries, I am a great planner and am always prepared for emergencies, so I got my super charger for car batteries out and connected to my quite dead battery.  Nothing happened. The super charger was also quite dead.

Oh yeah, I remember now, we had used all of the super charger battery juice all up when the lights went out during Harvey.

Luckily there is an auto supply near the house.  I was able purchase a new fully charged battery and install it before TWWNCBUIP was even aware that Plan C was in jeopardy.

Got the car started and rounded up the dogs for their trip to the park. As we were backing out of the driveway I mentioned to TWWNCBUIP that I had replaced the battery this morning while she was getting ready. The look I got could easily be described as incredulous.

“You know how to install a battery?”

I’m not sure I want to a ride in a car that you have repaired.”

I was able to reassure her that I have some skills and after all, how hard can it be to put in a battery?

Off we went to picnic in the park, Linc, Lola, TWWNCNBUIP and Mr. Goodwrench.

The Japanese Garden was just closing when we got there but we got to watch the sun set over the lake and the puppies never took their eyes off the ducks. Don’t know what they had in mind, but we have a feeling they might loose a battle with the birds.

And the moral is …. lost on me.

But I had a great day, got a new battery, and remembered to pick up some bananas and strawberries for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Murder by the Book

I just finished my summer reading list and now must find new material in time for my annual birthday trip coming up.

While TWWNCBUIP swims, Linc, Lola and I like to sit poolside with mojitos and murder mysteries.

Now that I am approaching 50, I find that my memory is often not as good as it used to be.

I often find myself in Murder by The Book perusing the titles and making great selections only to arrive home and find that I already have two or three of the books I just bought sitting in my just read stack.  

So I made a new plan. I took pictures of all the books that are in my possession so that I can scroll through my photos before I buy and make sure I am not duplicating.


I’ll let you know how my photo memory trick works out after I get back from Murder with my purchases.

Wish me luck on the birthday trip … which has also become known as Shane’s annual Fantasy Football trip and Mr. & Mrs. Chicken Boy’s Anniversary. If I don’t forget them, it should be a doggone good trip … Linc can’t wait …..


I just had another great idea!
Suppose the dealer would let me use my new photo memory technique at the blackjack table?

For whom the bell …..

My summer reading list is always full of action adventure stories (hurry up Lee Child with my next Jack Reacher) and English mysteries.

Sometimes life imitates art.

The forty nine year old “Case of the Missing Bell” was partially solved this week when a mysterious package was left at our doorstep.

Inside the package was the bell. With a note.
A note from “Mr. Z.”

One can only imagine the tales of the many places this bell has been over the years.
The purloined bell shared a lifetime, on a ship to announce its arrival, on a bar to signify closing time … who knows for whom the bell tolled (sorry couldn’t resist).

Continue reading

Sunday checklist…..

Breakfast of yogurt before snuggling up with the puppies to watch “Marley and Me” 
It was probably a good thing that the puppies dozed off before the end…spoiler alert, Marley didn’t make it. There wasn’t a dry eye in the household by the time the credits rolled.
Finish my “Foreign Agent” spy novel and take a dip at Gramma’s 
I was down to the last 73 pages and Scott Harvath still hadn’t managed to save the world, but, by the time we were packing up to leave Gramma’s pool, Scott had accomplished his task and my tan was looking pretty good.
Catch a movie  

After checking through all the movie listings and coming up with several holiday weekend movie choices, one of which received a 22% of a rotten tomato rating along with the following quote: “worst film I’ve ever seen considering the unexpected horrible death that blindsides, the mediocre acting, the implausibility, and the completely impossible flawed storyline.” and with other selections like Captain Underpants, Cars 3 or The Smurfs, we opted for “Baby Driver” which Frank had said was “pretty good.”

We hesitated on that recommendation because with the word “Driver” in the title  TWWNCNBUIP was worried that it might be a car chase movie, however,  Frank assured us that while there may be a car chase or two, that wasn’t the main thrust of the movie.  So we picked up Gramma and headed off to see “Baby Driver.”

After the opening car chase, the car chases in the middle and the one at the end,  there was a nice relationship that developed between the young man and a sweet girl, what else could you ask for in a movie? And the hot dogs and popcorn were the perfect lunch for a Sunday afternoon.

I’m now back at the ranch cueing  up the latest episode of the Outsiders …. all in all – a good day