The Third Degree at Beale St., then Karaoke at The Boulevard

One of Ali's friends was having a combination birthday and engagement celebration. We met them at The Beale Street Cafe (689 South Ave.) as Ali's friend's neighbor's uncle [or something] was in the band, Third DegreeMySpace link. We had a few drinks there and a good time. The band did a fine job with the classics and standards … sometimes encroaching on exceptional, in fact.

Afterward, we all went out to ruin music in our own way: karaoke. The first suggestion on the table was The Boulevard Restaurant (412 Empire Blvd.) I looked to see if the much-closer Elixir (938 South Clinton Ave.) still had karaoke on Saturday nights but to no avail in the local papers present at the bar. So it was off Empire. I managed to sing The Turtles' "Happy Together" without much trouble but I also gave Jimmy Buffet's "Come Monday" a go as well. Alas, despite having self-administered the right amount of public singing fluid, the song still didn't sound good to me. I decided that it was in fact a difficult song to sing. Others fared better, including Ali, and particularly this guy who was in our group who broke karaoke: halfway through his song, the computer conked-out and had to be rebooted.

We were very happy to have a generous fiancée who played a staunch designated driver role. He brought us back to the city and we had planned to go to Mark's Texas Hots (487 Monroe Ave.) but Ali observed he wasn't excited about it so made some excuse about the person lying in the sidewalk with the paramedics around them being a reason to not go. Ali and I, however, walked from her house there.

We got in around 3 and double-dated with a couple guys we met in line to share a table as there was — of course — a line, and it was — of course — cold. I corrected my prior attempt at the perfect plate and came pretty close: macaroni salad and fries topped with meat sauce and over-easy eggs — this time skipping the onions. Much better than my last attempts.

Doing the Mistletoe Mingle

Ali, Christina, and I decided to do the Mistletoe Mingle pub crawl. As it turned out, it wasn't associated with Michael Warren Thomas at all — it was part of The Business Association of the South Wedge Area (BASWA) under the Savor Our Flavor moniker. We started at Little Venice Pizza (742 South Ave., formerly Skippy's) so Christina could get some food in her stomach before drinking; Ali and I had already eaten. From there we started at the north end at The South Wedge Colony Bar and Grill (503 South Ave., formerly Dashen Restaurant) I still have very lukewarm feelings about the place — it just seems so much like a poor imitation of an East Avenue bar; and as such, it wouldn't get better by being a better imitation. We got our first playing card there for the poker contest.

Next we went to Solera Wine BarMySpace link (647 South Ave.) and picked up another card and had a decent glass of wine that was on-special for the crawl. At Lux LoungeMySpace link (666 South Ave.) we figured out the card-marking scheme and devised a way to cheat — the goal was to have the best 5-card poker hand at the last of seven bars. The Beale Street Cafe (689 South Ave.) offered welcome relief as they set up their back restaurant room for the pub crawl and we got a chance to sit down and warm up for a bit. But it was short-lived as we headed for The Tap and Mallet (381 Gregory St.) a half-hour later. Although The Keg (315 Gregory St., behind German House where Rohrbach's used to be) set me up with a half-shot "shot" drink special, at least the band was amusing and there were holiday cookies and stuff.

Caverly's Pub (741 South Ave., formerly Genesee Co-op Credit Union) was our last stop and we paced our drinks well by skipping a few along the way. It turned out our cheating scheme was for naught — Ali had an honest full house which was better than we could have cheated together. Alas, someone else pulled out 5 aces that went unchecked, card-marking-wise. The way I figure it, the odds of getting 5 or more aces from 7 decks is about 399,672:1 against so, although possible, I kind of doubt it was done honestly. Regardless, we had quite a good time.