The Rant (August 28, 2014) 

Level Nine Services, raccoons, gnats, airhorns, neighbors, The Bridge, the Happy Mexican, and Midtown Fresh Market.

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First of all, and at the risk of being an unethical journalist (a term I use loosely here), I want to say thanks for some payola. Yeah, payola, but hilarious payola. In my last column, I mentioned a Memphis company I'd just read about named Level Nine Services, a concierge company that will do anything legal for you that you want done, from driving you around in a limousine to picking up your adult diapers and delivering them to your home. So I cried out for help with the ongoing, seemingly insurmountable raccoon and gnat problems at my house. Well, they delivered something fabulous to me: a kit to help me with my problems. All assembled in a very cute cage are the things I need to rid my house of the nocturnal cat food thieves and irritating insects along with these instructions:

Leave trail of sunflower seeds (included) leading to cage (included)

Easily find hiding spot amongst the clutter (wait, L9, is the hiding spot for the cage or for me? Oh, there's enough clutter for both; just trying to make sure I get this right)

Wait . . .

Sweat . . . (not hard in this heat in my attic, or in any other part of my house that is cooled with antique window units)

Attack raccoon (this I'm not so sure about; my ASPCA membership might get cancelled, but hey, it would save me some money every month)

Apply ointment/bandages as needed (included)

Sound horn (included) to notify neighbors of injury (there really is an air horn in the package) OR

Call Level Nine (850-0033)

Drink a cold beer (included) (and yes, it was included and cold!)

This, my friends, is marketing. And while I admit that I haven't had time to try all of this, I did want to say thank you for the package, particularly the raccoon-print fabric with which it was lined. I might make a throw pillow out of it so that my home more resembles that of Sarah Palin. And okay, no more about your company here or it might look like I'm taking favors (pssst, send me some more stuff; I need a linen blazer that fits a portly man).

But you know, sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due. Like the new Fresh Market in Midtown. I hate that my life is so mundane that I get so excited about a new grocery store, but I am excited about the new Fresh Market, especially since I can walk to it from my house. And the people there are so friendly and they have great chicken sausages in all sorts of different flavors, and their olive bar, while a bit out of my price range, is my new friend for special occasions.

So while I am saying thanks, I'm just going to continue in that vein.

Thanks to Cookie, the lovely young woman who works at the Ballinger's Midtown service station at Cooper and Union. Cookie is quite often the first person with whom I interact daily, when I stop to get coffee on the way to work, and she is like a ray of sunshine. Thanks, Cookie. You are the bomb.

Thanks to the students at Rhodes College, who founded and put out The Bridge every month, the newspaper written by and sold by those experiencing homelessness. And it is the only street paper in the world operated by college students. You ladies and gentlemen are awesome. Go to thememphisbridge.com for more information, including their upcoming "Under One Roof" dinner party fund-raiser, which will be held at Rhodes College on September 20th. Everyone in Memphis should support this group of young people and the hard work they are doing.

Thanks to my next-door neighbors Katie and Dani for being the best next-door neighbors in the world.

Thanks to Memphis yurt mogul Andy Cates for ... well, just for being who you are.

Thanks to Congressman Steve Cohen for always doing the right thing.

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Thanks to Bob Loeb and his company for all they are doing for Overton Square. I remember the good old days at the square, when they had to put a padlock on the cooler at one restaurant to keep the employees from sniffing the gas out of all the whipped cream cans to get high. Those "glory days" might be over, but Overton Square is definitely back and makes the 'burbs appear even more boring than they already do.

Thanks to the Happy Mexican Restaurant downtown for your chicken soup. If you haven't tried this, you must. There must be two whole chickens in it, and it comes with a cup of brown rice, a cup of really good pico de gallo, and free chips and salsa, and I think it's either $5.95 or $6.95.

Speaking of food, thanks to Flyer writer and editor Susan Ellis for her weekly "Guess Where I'm Eating" contest, in which she posts photos of food and/or little restaurant images and receives probably 1.2 million emails each week from potential winners, who get gift certificates if they are the first to email her with the correct answer. I'm probably disqualified from ever winning since I write for this paper, but we have fun emailing each other back and forth about it.

Finally, thanks to all those who "endorse" or "recommend" me on the social media networking site LinkedIn. I rarely know who you are, but thanks. I endorse you all back here and now. And now I have a date with an air horn.

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