First off: thanks for all the replies and help on the forum. You made my first smoke a successful one!
I fired up the coals at 730 and had the smoker up to 200 by 800. Minion method worked perfectly.
Decided to do a slab a babyback ribs and six Southern style spare ribs instead of the bird I was originally planning. The pork butt was a nice 5# from the local grocery. Didn't go all out for the premium meat shop cut--I read too many horror stories about people throwing out their first butts after failed smokes...! Used the Renowned Mr Brown Dry Rub to start them all off.
Turned and basted the ribs every 2hrs and the butt every four hours. Ribs came off in 6 hours, sat foiled in the ice chest while everyone drank left over Guinness and enjoyed the unseasonably warm Maine weather! What a great day.
A stogie or two later....
We were hoping to have the butt done by dinner time but it stalled at about 165F around 8 hours in. I started to lose temps in the smoker after 9hours and fired up some more coals in the chimney to add to the fire. Not sure why since I started with a full bag of Kingsford. I think I ran the smoker a little hot the first couple of hours as I got a feel for the vents.
Either way after 10 hours we brought the ET-73 receiver inside and cooked up some jalapeno macaroni, beans, slaw and cornbread and chowed down on the ribs. Amazing. The ribs simply fell apart in your mouth and had the best smokey flavor you could ask for. People couldn't stop talking about how well they turned out.
People started heading out around 8 (12hours after the meat went on). At 10pm, with my smoker temps dipping again and the butt stalled at 185, I cried "Uncle" and foiled it and finished it in the oven. Wife pulled it this evening and we had some amazing sandwiches with the Carolina style and Kansas style bbq sauces she whipped up.
And now...Suggestions for keeping my smoker hot enough to endure the 12+ hour butt stall next time?