paul nicholson

Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Permanent Records

In Family, Friends, Me on October 19, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Sunset over the wing
A post I just read over at The Art of Manliness just helped me think through something that’s been in the back of my mind for a while now – my mortality. The post is on how one grieves a friend. I got pretty choked up reading it, which is pretty rare for me. Normally it takes ‘Saving Private Ryan’ or ‘A Snoodles Tale’ to make me get misty. But this got to me. Though the writing was very good, I wasn’t sure why it affected me so. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was because I could so easily identify with the writer. While I haven’t had any close personal friends die, I do know of several men my own age – with families and young children like mine – who have died recently. I’ve been in that life stage for a while where many of the older generation of relatives and friends have started to pass. But seeing people who have always seemed ‘old’ pass away hasn’t effected the image of my own mortality the way seeing someone very much like me suddenly struck with cancer and die. Combined with annual insurance enrollments that this year included increased life insurance coverage on both my wife and myself, and I’ve been thinking about this stuff a lot.

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Movember 2010

In Family, Friends, Me on October 30, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Every Feburary there is a massive “Go Red For Women” movement for women’s heart disease – even though men have a higher chance of having a heart attack than women, and heart disease is the number one killer of both women and men in the US. Every October everything turns pink as people raise awareness for women’s cancer issues – even though 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lives compared to 1 in 2 men. Yes, 50% of men will have some form of invasive cancer in their lives. 1 in 5 women will die from cancer, 1 in 4 men will. 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer, 1 in 6 men will get prostate cancer. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for supporting raising awareness for women’s health issues. But where’s the equivalent focus on men’s issues?

Turns out there is a movement for men’s health – I caught on too late to do join last year, but I won’t miss out this time. And yes, I’m asking for a donation…

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Mustachioed Me

Mustachioed Me

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Wherein I explain (but do not excuse) my actions

In Christy, Family, Friends, Me, Pictures on September 5, 2010 at 11:07 pm

(Note that this is a long, cathartic, touchy-feely post about me. And my friends. And family. If you’re looking for hockey stories or insight into social media marketing this isn’t the post for you)

I feel like I’ve been a bit of a jerk lately. I know don’t exactly have a reputation as being cuddly. Most of my life I’ve heard the criticism that I’m too sarcastic, too quick to voice my opinion of others and their work, and too casual with my communication of said sarcasm and criticism. But lately I find myself regretting more and more that has been coming out of my mouth or fired off on Facebook/Twitter, etc.

I suppose for those that aren’t up to speed, I should backup provide a bit of a preface before I proceed.

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Little Help!?

In Cool Tech, Friends, Me on April 24, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Just a quick post to beg for money. Ok, kinda.

For those following the saga of the ReTweetBot (vote here for a new name, we don’t like that one), you’ll know that it is a cool Twitter app that i had an idea for, and i talked Garrett into coding for me.

Well, i’d like to pay Garrett back for his trouble (and ok, i might keep a little for myself).

So… ChipIn here. Heck, even if it’s just $0.50, that’s fine.

Thanks!

Fantasy Hockey Time!

In Friends, Hockey, Sports on September 22, 2008 at 7:54 am

I’ll try to do a big breakdown and talk smack later, but for now wanted to post a brief analysis of my fantasy hockey league for this year.
This is the sums/averages of all stats for each category.

Blue = Best in league
Red = Worst in league
Bold = Above the league average

Run down of the managers this year:

303 4 Life – Bradley S (co-worker and fellow Cell block 303er)
PredFans – Paul Nicholson (yours truly)
Barrys Bolts or Bust – George Scoville, aka stackiii (hockey blogger/forum guy)
Becker’s Wreckers – Joel, aka Introverted One (friend/blogger)
Fantasy Hockey Guru – Kevin Hicks (co-worker & sports nut)
Ice Holes – Paul McCann (Preds PA annoucner & Hockeybuzz blogger)
Nolensville Knights – Dirk Hoag, aka The Forechecker (Kuklas Korner blogger)
Old School Blues – Gary Nicholson (my dad)
Pond Hockey Rulez – Michael Nick (co-worker)
Puckhounds – Joshua Frizzell (co-worker)
RebelMandos – Kevin Peters (random friend)
Tallahassee Warthogs – Andy B (fellow Cell Block 303er)
The Felder Flu – Brandon Felder (Hockeybuzz blogger)
The Knack – Ken Knack (co-worker)

How WALL-E was not an environmental movie

In Entertainment, Family, Friends, Movies on July 24, 2008 at 2:31 pm

Ok, i mentioned this briefly in my last post (recapping all the summer movies i’ve seen), but this apparently needs to be addressed again.

My cousin-in-law just made a post about the movie and he has comments disabled, so you get to hear my rebuttal here. Be warned that this post will be as spoiler free as possible, but if you haven’t seen the movie, just know that both Brian and I liked it and you should go see it. Then come back and read the article and participate in the discussion.

Brian starts off by taking issue with “the crystal clear liberal environmental objective.”

Just gotta take that first and ask: Why does anything environmental have to be liberal? Christy and i are very environmentally conscious. Letting the left-win-liberal-politicos co-opt environmental responsibility is just as bad as letting the right-wing-conservatives co-opt Christianity. But then again…that gets us down the broken two-party system rat hole (see here for another example)… Moving on…

“The entire premise of the movie is that the earth has become overrun with garbage and taken over my big business.”

Nope. Those are important facts, but that is not the premise of the movie – that would be the setting and set-up for the movie. The premise and plot of the movie… well…he actually gets close to it here in a second…

“…this is a really good illustration of how we have to be very sensitive to what messages our families – especially our children – are bombarded with…It is our responsibility to protect our children and shape a biblical worldview in their hearts”

Now we’re getting closer to what the movie was actually about. The fact that the Earth was grungy and people had to move off of it wasn’t the point at all. As Brian said “The hero of the movie is of course Wall-E [sic], a garbage compactor.” And what is WALL-E’s story about? A relationship. He is lonely and wants a relationship. Brian describes what he finds on the spaceship: “people are on a space ship, where they have been for hundreds of years, and are now all overweight and lazy.” …and…haven’t seen each other face to face and interacted as people in generations.

The point of this movie was not that we trash the planet then move off, become even fatter and more lazy (and more commercial), and then WALL-E convinces them to go fix the Earth. The whole fixing the Earth bit at the end thing is what the industry calls a “subplot”. It was EVE’s motivation through the movie and helped provide conflict for the antagonist to give the movie some action. The point of this movie – the real message, is summed up very well by something i heard writer/director Andrew Stanton say in an interview after i saw the flick: “What would happen if the most human thing left in the galaxy was a robot”. You could call this an anti-technology movie. A pro-social/relationship movie. A love story. But environmental movie it was not.

WALL-E reminded the people on board how to be human. He pushed through barriers and loves EVE. That message, together with a subplot reminding us that we were put on this planet with a specitic instruction from God: GEN 2:15 “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

Both of those are messages i’d be glad for my kids to internalize one day.

hockey for the fans

In Friends, Hockey, Sports on April 9, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Quick random post…

First, everyone wear your Predators gear tomorrow (Thurs 4/10/08). It’s Predators Pride Day!

Also, our good friends Matt and Josef of Beyond The Edge and Batter’d n Fried were caught in the “official” video of the standing ovation “moment” from last weeks game. Here they are (Matt and Josef in that order are the two guys in the lower right):
Also wanted to share this picture sent to me by the guy that sits next to us at Preds games (Andy). Hee hee.
Lastly – we are very close to having enough sign-ups to finally get a Predators license plate. Less than 100 to go, so hit this page and order yours now! Just $35


The Onion also just posted a story about goalie Dan Ellis having literally moved into the net.

That is all

all things hockey

In Christy, Friends, Hockey, Sports on April 7, 2008 at 6:35 am

Well, for those living under a rock, the Nashville Predators secured their 4th consecutive playoff appearance last week. We drew the same opponent we had during our first shot in the 03-04 season, the Detroit Dead Things Red Wings.

The Preds will be the 8th seed against the first seeded Wings which, for the uninitiated, means we will start this series on the road. The NHL just released the schedule for the playoffs last night, and the Preds/Wings series is as follows:

2008 WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTER-FINAL
SERIES E TIME (Central) #1 Detroit vs. #8 Nashville Network
Thur, April 10 6:00 pm Nashville at Detroit VERSUS
Sat, April 12 1:00 pm Nashville at Detroit NBC
Mon, April 14 TBD (6pm?) Detroit at Nashville VERSUS
Wed, April 16 TBD (8pm?) Detroit at Nashville VERSUS
Fri, April 18 6:30 pm Nashville at Detroit VERSUS
Sun, April 20 2:00 pm Detroit at Nashville NBC
Tues, April 22 TBD Nashville at Detroit

(UPDATE: Confirmed- Game 3 starts at 6:30, game 4 starts at 8:00pm)

I already have my playoff tickets, and for anyone who’d like to try to grab the (very) few that are left for games 3 or 4, direct message me on Twitter (pwnicholson) or call my Grand Central number (615-823-1734) and i will gladly hook you up with a referral to my rep (Tiffany Vanek – 770-2338) and let you buy off my account (i get referral credit – thank you new ownership!)

Anyway…

First game is of course this Thurs night. Haven’t decided yet where i’ll be watching it, but rest assured i will.

Game 2 (in Detroit) is going to be on NBC! Which means, that Paul and Christy get to actually watch it at home!! (We don’t have cable…season tickets instead)

If you’d like to join us in East Nashville (and watch the game in HD on a 100″ projector screen), just drop me a line via email, phone (615-823-1734), or Twitter (pwnicholson) for directions. Party will start shortly before the game at 1:00pm of course.

For games 3 and 4 here in Nashville – they haven’t set times yet, but for the game will be on Versus and the only other game on Versus that night is scheduled for 9:00pm central, which means i think we’ll get an early start – probably a 6:30pm or maybe even 6:00pm start time. Game 4 on the 16th is the reverse situation. It is on Versus again and the only other game on Versus that night starts at 6:00pm central, so we may have a late one – guessing an 8:00-8:30 start time.

I’m seriously considering getting in my “i’ll be in late” request to work for the 17th now :-)


In related news, the end of the regular season means the end of Fantasy Hockey. Final Standings ended thusly:
  1. Fab Forechecker (Dirk Hoag)
  2. Ice Holes (Paul McCann)
  3. Rebel Mandos (Kevin Peters)
  4. Preds (Paul Nicholson – me!)
  5. Novice — Fresh Meat (Kevin Hicks)
  6. Disastros (David Calrson)
  7. PuckNtheMouth (Brandon Felder)
  8. Old School Blues (Gary Nicholson)
  9. Nashville Starcats (Christy Nicholson)
  10. Predheads (Ryan Cassell)

Not too bad all things considered. The championship bracket was everything i though it’d be, with Paul McCann (hockey blogger and PA announcer for the Predators) up against Forechecker (hockey blogger and statistician extraordinare). They actually tied 5-5-1 in the championship “game” and had to go to the tiebreaker (team goals) which Forechecker won handily (23-9). Also worth noting is Kevin’s (Mandos) nice recovery from last year, where he finished 7th out of 8th in an admittedly much weaker field – this year he pounded me in the 3rd/4th place game in the final week.


Lastly, for all those truly obsessed with hockey, make sure to watch the NHL Draft Lottery tonight. This isn’t the actual draft of course, just the lottery to determine where the picks lineup. Good news for the Preds is that thanks to the Tomas Vokoun trade from last summer, we own Florida’s first and second round picks, and they finished with the 9th worst record in the league. This translates in draft to mean that the Predators will have somewhere between the 5th and 10th overall pick in the draft. Show is available on Versus and online at NHL.com. Starts at 7:00pm central.

LAN Party!!!!

In Cool Tech, East Nashville, Entertainment, Friends, Games, Me on February 20, 2008 at 11:13 am

It’s that time of year again: My good friend Matt and I are celebrating another trip around the sun (my birthday is March 7th, his is March 1st). So, we’re going shoot each other. :-)

Yes, we are throwing another LAN party!

dark picture from last year’s party

This year we’re going to try to make things a little more coordinated. For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to base the day’s gaming around the Valve Orange Box and games distributed through Steam. Specifically, mods for Half-Life 2, but we’ll probably throw some Team Fortress 2 in there, and may break out Quake 3 Team Arena, Battlestations: Midway, or any of the other free demo games on Steam.

Depending on who is there, we may end up playing some Tribes 2 (now free online), or some RTS or other (Battle for Middle Earth?) and we may even devolve into playing some console games (like 8-player NHL 08 on my shiny new PS3). But we’ll mostly stick to stuff on Steam.

The party will be March 8th at my place in East Nashville, from 1:00pm to… late (probably around 10:00pm or 11:00pm…)

Here’s the fun part – you’re all invited!

What you have to bring:

* Your own PC (with monitor, keyboard, mouse, and headphones!)
* A running copy of Steam and Half-Life 2 installed – before you arrive if possible
(the full Orange Box package is a plus, but not needed)
* $5 for pizza

We’ll provide snacks and drinks, as well as seating, tables, power, and network connections.

If you are interested in attending, then let me know by either commenting on this post or direct message me on twitter (just post to Twitter “d pwnicholson: i want to come to your cool LAN party”) and i will get you directions. If you are some really random person i’ve never heard of before, i may want to at least…ya know…talk to you first. But all my rad blogger buddies are certainly invited, male and female alike (of course, be warned: to have fun at this party there is something of a requirement to be a gaming geek at some level).

If you can only come to part of the party, that’s certainly fine. Several people are already planning on being there for “only” 4-5 hours. It’s cool.

meme: me, me, me

In Blog Stuff, Friends, Hockey, Me, Movies on February 10, 2008 at 8:41 am

Christy just tagged me (and i guess Matt would have if i hadn’t been already) so…

Rules: Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you. Post the rules on your blog. Post 7 random or weird facts about yourself on your blog. Tag 7 people and link to them. Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.

1) I took 7 years to get through college and only took 2 semesters off the whole time (including summer sessions). I attended 3 Universities, changed my major 5 times and minors 7 times. My eventual degree required 120 hours, but I attempted 177 and attained 152 (only actually failed a few, but dropped many). But i did finish, dang it! My degree is a B.S. in Recording Industry Management (Music Business emphasis) with a Marketing minor. I sell printers for Dell as a living right now and don’t use any of it (for my day job anyway). [slaps forehead]

2) Unlike my wife, i have seen Titanic (hated it). What is interesting is that i saw it with a bunch of college buddies (4 of us if i remember correctly). No girls in sight. We went to a midnight show that didn’t get out until after 3:00am. I still don’t know how they talked me into it, but we all regretted it later.

3) I am, technically speaking, a member of the Bar Association. I was part of a special debate-team-kinda thing in Middle School back in Texas and was made a junior member of the Bar Association. I still have the membership card in a box somewhere. Unfortunately this does not afford me better pay at work.

4) I learned to love hockey in Huntsville, AL. I attended the Univ. of Alabama at Huntsville for one semester only (worst 4-5 months of my life). There was absolutely nothing to do for out of town college students in that town if you didn’t like drinking (i could only go to the NASA exhibits so many times). But UAH did have a hockey team, and Huntsville had a minor league team. Attendance was so bad they used to let UAH students in free to both games (frequently back-to-back). I spent many nights watching 4-5 straight hours of hockey (which i had never seen live before) that was mostly filled with lots of scoring and fights. The games frequently finished with 6-8 scores. It wasn’t great hockey, but it was good enough to win me over.

5) My wife Christy and i have been married for about 5.5 years, but we started dating Sept 23rd…i think it was 1994 (maybe 1995). Homecoming was our first date (everyone say “awwwww”). I only really dated two other girls my entire life (though i ‘went out’ with 2 more in middle school). We waited until one of us graduated (as you can guess from #1 above, that was her) to get married (no, we never lived together before that). So we dated for about 8 years, were engaged for a year and half, then got married. If i have my math right, we’ve been a couple for nearly 15 years.

6) I don’t consider myself a fearful person, but i do have one issue that borders on a phobia: bugs. Especially if they surprise me by being where they shouldn’t be. I can handle water, crowds, snakes, small woodland creatures, and can survive heights (though i don’t love them)… but if a bug suddenly shows up on our bedroom wall: Christy gets to handle it.

7) Rote memorization has never been a strong point for me. Always had trouble studying for tests and memorizing Bible versus. But two things i can remember: movies and song lyrics. I can pretty much recite every line in three Star Wars movies, any Pixar movie, most of the Indiana Jones trilogy, and the movie version of Much Ado About Nothing…and tons of other movies – if i am watching them. I can lip-sync (or speak) right along with them. Exact timing of the lines and everything. Same with most songs: if i listen to it more than a few times and like it, i’ll pick up lyrics very easily (usually) and can sing along with it later. But, if you asked me to just write out the script of lyrics on a sheet of paper from memory i’d be hurting for all but a few movies and songs.

Ok. That’s it.

I guess i’ll go try to tag a couple of people.

Nurse Anesthetist

In Friends, Funny, Videos on January 28, 2008 at 9:11 pm

In answer to a question Rob (aka: ThinkTrain) posted on Twitter a few weeks back – here’s how you celebrate Nurse Aneshetist week.

My good friend Jeff just through this video together. Hilarious.

Also make sure to check out Jeff’s “Runny Bakes a Tath” video.

Pictures of Me

In Friends, Me, Pictures on October 13, 2007 at 12:43 pm

At first i was thinking this would be a post in poor taste. A little too self-centered. Then i remembered that the entire concept of a blog is pretty self-centered and, well, being self-centered isn’t something i struggle with – i give in regularly. So here goes.

My friend Jeff just posted some pictures he snapped of me at a Preds game. Wanted to share.

This one is of me talking to the NHL refs, down from Toronto to watch the game.

And this one is of me taking pictures.
So now you know where all these come from.


THANKS JEFF!

Fantasy Hockey Update II

In Friends, Hockey, Sports on September 5, 2007 at 6:42 am

Well, things are looking pretty good.

We now have 10 people signed up for the league, with a few more potentials. Last year we had only 8 people, and i found it a challenge at times to find quality talent to fill my roster with. Given roster sizes (19 players per team) we’ll be at least 190 players deep. According to Yahoo’s pre-set draft rankings, that means we’ll be drafting down to the range of Ladislav Nagy, Jere Lehtinen, Jordan Staal, Mike Sillinger, and Doug Weight. Really not that bad. I think we can survive taking a few more people on board.

So anyone else interested?
Here’s who we have in the league so far so you know who you’re up against:

Brandon Felder – HockeyBuzz blogger, Sports Journalist student
Christy Nicholson – my wife, hockey blogger, general fan (6)
David Carlson – general fan, friend of mine from work
Dirk Hoag – aka “The Forechecker”, Nashville area hockey blogger
Gary Nicholson – my dad, general fan, first-time fantasy sports player
Kevin Hicks – sports nut, and frequent fantasy player, friend from work
Kevin Peters – general fan, friend of mine (7)
Paul McCann – HockeyBuzz blogger, PA announcer for the Preds
Paul Nicholson – Me, sometimes hockey blogger, general fan (1)
Ryan Cassell – general fan, Denver native, friend of mine from work (2)

The numbers listed indicate their standing in the league last year, for those who played. So Ryan and i are back for more, Christy and Kevin are here for redemption :-)

I think with all the hockey bloggers among us, it is going to be interesting to see how it plays out. Several of these guys (McCann and the Forechecker in particular) tend to get news very quickly from time to time. I’ll be curious to see how that might effect their strategy. Do they post news on their blog first, risking that someone else in the league takes action first? Or do they pickup/drop a player from their roster then post about it online, risking that someone else online gets the scoop? The rest of you should probably start reading those guys blogs regularly.

One things for sure, i think this is going to be a lot of fun. Kevin and Christy can both tell you that they should have done much better than that last year, but injuries hit them hard. This is also just a game of stats, so it is very possible for a first-time fantasy player like my dad to beat someone like McCann. Anything can happen.

I will probably set the draft to ‘ready’ status over the weekend. I’ll make sure to send out a note to all the ‘managers’ at least 2 days in advance to give you plenty of warning so you can fix your pre-draft rankings.

If you are interested in signing up:
Just visit- http://hockey.fantasysports.yahoo.com/hockey
when prompted for the league ID, enter 15408. Password is “mason” (without quotes).

Signings and Trash Talk

In Blog Stuff, Friends, Hockey, Sports on September 4, 2007 at 10:54 am

Jeremy Roenick just signed with the San Jose Sharks. This allows me the first opportunity to trash-talk during the new season with my Sharks-fan-friend, Jim.

Jim commented on my posts about Roenick back in July:

Roenick=washed up, done, loudmouth, that still thinks he can play like he did 10 years ago, he should have left a very very long time ago, kinda feel the same way about Tkachuk.

I gotta give the Roenick props. His personal website (which most hockey players don’t even have) already has the news updated. Kinda funny though, his site links to the TSN article about it, not the Sharks page making the announcement.


In only partially related news: The Predators just signed another two-way prospect forward, Josh Langfeld. Of course, this is a ‘prospect’ that is 30 years old, so i think this is more about depth than future.

welcome matt

In Blog Stuff, Friends on August 8, 2007 at 8:51 am

My good friend Matt has joined the world of bloggers.
Pay him a visit.

gimme and welcome

In Blog Stuff, Cool Tech, Friends on July 19, 2007 at 9:20 pm

A quick non-Predator related post.

You have no idea how badly i want one of these. LG’s 2nd generation all-format drives. They read and write Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD+/-RW, DL, etc, etc… And they are “only” $500. $400 if you just want to read the new formats and write to old ones. That really isn’t bad at all considering it replaces about $1200 in cutting edge equipment.

But that will sound very familiar to my wife. I talked her into letting me buy an awesome 4 format DVD recorder back when DVD+R and DVD-R were fighting it out. Little did i know that they would both win and both are now standard in every drive. At the time, i thought this Sony drive would be a rarity and i totally misjudged how fast prices would drop. We paid $400 for a drive that only 6 months later cost $95. I still apologize for that one occasionally, just at random points over dinner.

So unless someone is feeling real generous around Christmas-time, i’ll be waiting on these to drop a little more.

[sigh]

Also…i’d like to welcome my friend Jim Craig to the world of blogging. He’s been commenting on my blog a lot (i appreciate dude!) and has decided to launch his own. Check it out: I have strong opinions and i’m gonna tell ya.
Add him to your blog rolls and feeders.

new name

In Blog Stuff, Friends, Me on June 26, 2007 at 8:00 am

It is done. My friend Jim made the suggestion. I think it fits well. Thanks Jim!
I wonder how long it will take for the RSS feed to update the title? (Answer: about an hour.)

not alone in our fight

In Blog Stuff, Friends, Hockey, Me, Nashville, Sports on June 24, 2007 at 9:08 pm

I just received a fabulous note from Jim Henshaw (Canadian TV writer/actor/etc). In short, it was his response to the pending sale of the Predators and the mess surrounding it – and he ties in lessons he learned when he had a chance to hear Fred Rogers (as in “Mister Rogers”) speak years ago. As a huge fan of Mister Rogers, this really hit home for me.

His note really made my day, and his piece on the Predators gave me hope. With the chaos that has been happening lately, i was really starting to get fatigued defending my fandom and my city. And though i keep telling all my friends ‘we have a chance’ and ‘we control our own destiny’, in my heart i was beginning to get discouraged. This piece reminded me that, while reality is still what it is and we have an uphill battle, i can at least rest knowing that not everyone outside of Nashville is against us. Thanks Jim.

His writing is superb (surprise), if a little long. So from here, with his permission, i’ll just let Jim do the talking:

Paul,
I finally posted my thoughts on Jim Balsillie. It’s part of a much longer post on Canadian TV, but I wanted to give you the chance to share it with Nashville fans… All my best on the fight to keep the team. Believe it or not, a lot of Canadians are with you.


HOW RICH BOYS BREAK THEIR TOYS

A cold snap hit New Orleans on the opening day of The 1997 NATPE Convention. Within hours, the trendy men’s wear store across from the Convention Center had sold out its entire stock of overcoats, sweaters and gloves as the California contingent snapped up anything they could find to fend off the bitter chill.

Inside the cavernous meeting halls, attendance was slim for the early morning panels and lectures, as attendees opted to breakfast in the comfort of their hotels before venturing to the icy banks of the Mississippi. Television luminaries from franchise showrunners to network heads found handfuls instead of hoards awaiting the insights and information they had come to deliver.

All except one.

Fred Rogers took the stage at the final breakfast meeting, accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award to a standing ovation from several thousand television execs who had either grown up or watched their children grow up in his neighborhood.

Wearing his trademark sweater and sneakers, the man who once said, “I went into television because I hated it so.” was as gentle and ego-less as he had been for more than 30 years in the public eye.

But “Mr. Rogers” didn’t want to talk about making television for children or share anecdotes from his career that morning. He wanted to talk about the people in that room — and what was wrong with us.

Arriving at New Orleans airport, he’d noticed the squadrons of private planes parked on every spare patch of runway. He’d seen the long lines of limos outside and had toured the lavish sales displays of the world’s networks and studios. He wondered what any of it had to do with making good television.

As the hushed room hung on his every word, he read a poem. I don’t know whether it was something he’d penned some time before or on the spur of the moment. But it was about kids defining themselves and their status by their toys, instead of sharing the best that was inside them. It concluded with a wonderful line…”Remember your toys aren’t you — your toys are beside you.”

Two events of the last couple of weeks got me thinking about that speech. The first was the sale and subsequent dismembering of the CHUM/CITY empire. The second is the ongoing hockey soap opera as Canadian Billionaire Jim Balsillie attempts to buy and move the Nashville Predators to Hamilton.

It’s far too early to know for certain how either of these events will finally play themselves out. But in both cases, they feel like the triumph of money, power and ego over something that was special and good and more important to the future.

[Here, again with Jim’s permission, i will skip over the discussion of Canadian TV mergers, etc. While it is of no small importance in its impact, even here in the US, most of you won’t know the background. I encourage you to read Jim’s original piece to get the full story – he has a lot of good things to say. Sufficed to say, large media companies are buying up others and programming could/may/will suffer.]

My big fear is that they’ll beat each other up acquiring US programming that comes with a more or less quantifiable return; rather than invest in programming they can actually own and fully exploit in the future.

But then Guys with money wouldn’t have money if they didn’t know what they were doing and success always breeds success, right?

Which brings me to Jim Balsillie, Billionaire owner of Research in Motion, creator of the Blackberry and aspiring NHL owner.

Jim (and I can call him Jim because we Jims are informal that way) bid on and backed away from purchasing the Pittsburgh Penguins a few months ago. Depending on which story you believe, either he or the NHL killed the deal over his plan to move the franchise to Hamilton.

Now he’s bidding $50 million more than the Nashville Predators are worth with the same plan in mind. The conventional wisdom is that his offer vastly increases both the paper value of all current NHL franchises as well as what can be charged bidders for expansion teams. Therefore, Jim’s made all the other owners a ton of money just by turning up with his wallet, so how can they say “No” to him?

His first move after over-bidding for the franchise was to tell Commissioner Gary Bettman he wasn’t moving the team and his next was to sign an arena deal in Hamilton and start selling season tickets.

This puts him in conflict with the League’s bylaws, the Commissioner, the Fans of Nashville as well as the two current franchises (Toronto and Buffalo) whose local jurisdiction intersects the city of Hamilton. In layman’s terms, this means Jim can’t move there without infringing on their existing fan bases, television penetration and God Given right to print money without interruption.

According to what passes for wisdom on Sports radio stations, this may all sound duplicitous and dumb when Jim doesn’t even own the team yet. But he’s “a real smart businessman who doesn’t make mistakes”, and “has pockets deep enough to win this fight”.

In other words, he’s the richest guy, so he should get to make the rules.

Well, for starters, Jim’s a really smart businessman who paid $450 Million to another software firm a couple of years back for patent violations in the design of the Blackberry. He dragged that suit out, because he was the big dog, when he probably had the option to settle earlier and for much less. Only when a federal court in the US began considering a ban on Blackberry service did Jim cave — and then the patent holder turned the screws a little more to maximize his own profit.

Somehow, all that doesn’t strike me as the mark of a smart businessman.

I heard a friend of Jim’s interviewed this week, relating a story that was also quite telling. By all accounts, Jim’s a real nice guy (his name’s Jim, how can he not be) but after losing a $20 bet on a golf game, he apparently was almost beside himself. The friend told him to relax, it was only $20. Jim’s heated response, “No! It’s not!”

Rich guys. Money buys deference. But it doesn’t make you something you’re not.

And if you look at the big picture, selling a team to Jim and moving it to Hamilton could be one of the worst things that could happen to the NHL.

Maybe hockey isn’t thriving in Nashville, but it’s doing better than it was 10 years ago. New fans are constantly finding the game. They may not provide the immediate gratification an owner would find in Hamilton, Winnipeg, Halifax or anywhere else in Canada. But to grow, a sport needs to cultivate new fans, not just keep preaching to the same choir.

The NHL is hoping to expand to Houston, Kansas City and Las Vegas, where producer Jerry Bruckheimer wants to place a team. None of those are hockey hotbeds. But they are large and viable markets that can further expand the fan base and make a major American television deal for the NHL more likely.

One has to wonder how much that TV deal is jeopardized if the Nashville market is lost by Jim moving the team. And one also has to wonder if expansion to the cities mentioned makes sense at the current $190 Million price tag, but much less if the price cranks up (because of Jim’s overbid) to $220 or $240 Million.

More kids are playing hockey every year in the US. This year the top picks in the Junior draft were all Americans. These kids are going to need new places to play or all that hard work, training and growth of a fan base will have been for naught.

But the Canadian fan who just wants a local rooting interest doesn’t care about those things. Hell, as a frustrated Leafs fan, I wish Jim would move the Predators to Toronto. It’s been a long time since we had a real NHL team in this city!

But here’s what money talking in this instance could mean…

Atlanta sees Hamilton do well in the hockey mad Golden Horseshoe and moves to Niagara Falls. Tampa decides to set up shop in Mississauga; both places offering access to larger markets than Winnipeg or Quebec City.

Given the rule changes Jim would have to force to make his move, neither he nor the league would be able to prevent these eventualities. And suddenly, Jim’s team isn’t making money either — and what the nets are paying for TV rights becomes as fragmented as the local market.

If you want an example of where this already exists, look at Australian Rules Football, an incredibly wild and exciting game that was born in Melbourne. Today, Melbourne is home to 9 of the AFL’s 17 teams. That’s right. Half the league is in one city. And while Melbourne has more than enough crazed fans to fill its stadiums, when half the games are only of rabid interest in one location, there’s no money in National broadcasts. So the game has never grown as it should have.

Adding another team in the Ontario TV market can only further fragment already declining audience numbers for the Leafs and the Sabres. God knows what it’ll do to Ottawa, who have been the poor cousins for 12 years in a local market already splintered by Montreal and Toronto.

So if Jim gets what his money says he should have, he may actually hurt the financial base of two Canadian teams that are currently making money and a team in Buffalo that’s on the bubble.

I can’t believe I actually agree with Gary Bettman on something! I might be required to turn in my passport.

The problem with our world is that it’s all about money, numbers and market share. Too many good things wither because people with money can’t see an immediate return.

Which brings me back to Fred Rogers…

Through the 1950’s, Mr. Rogers wasn’t very successful with his concept of using television to “nurture” those who watched it. Then in 1963, he moved to Toronto, where he had been contracted by the CBC for a 15 minute children’s program entitled “MisteRogers” (sic) in which he made his on camera debut.

The show was a hit with kids, but 3 years later, the CBC decided it knew better and that its money was better spent elsewhere, canceling the show. Fred moved back to Pittsburgh, launching the identical concept as “Mister Rogers Neighborhood”. Four decades of children later, his sweater and sneakers reside in a place of honor in the Smithsonian Institute along with the trolley, Eiffel tower, tree and castle that were created by CBC Designers.

The Guys with the Gold will always make the Rules. But money is short-sighted and rarely gives worthwhile endeavors a chance. What endures and makes a difference in life does not come from the toys. It comes from people who care about more than that.

“Remember. Your toys are not you. They are beside you.”

Great piece Jim.
Thank you so much for sharing it.

the nick hilscher quartet

In Friends, Me, Music, Videos on June 19, 2007 at 6:54 pm

We did it. We got the band back together!

One of Nick’s friends was getting married, and asked him to play for the wedding. Nick called us up, we practiced a few times, and played the reception. Much fun! This time we also were able to add a bassist (Allan Douglas) and it really helped our sound. (Getting our piano tuned for practices didn’t hurt either). So the Nick Hilscher Trio, grew into the Nick Hilscher Quartet.

I was really really happy with how this came together. We actually only had one practice with all four of us present, but we were able to establish a really good groove (it helps with the bassist grew up obsessed with Stax Records and Motown). This is a really good group of guys and i’d love to play with them more.

Nick is obviously an amazing talent but also a really good friend. I’m always blown away when we play – he’s a great vocalist but an amazing pianist. I think he’s a lot like Nat King Cole (or maybe Diana Krall): make a career out of singing, but all the musicians and jazz fanatics love his piano work just as much. I really wish him well in getting his band going, though i want to put out the vote again for him to really work on the smaller combo stuff. (For those that don’t know, Nick used to sing and play piano for the Glenn Miller Orchestra and recorded an album with them.) It might be my personal preference, but as much as he’s great in front of 20+ people, his personality and amazing talent are better showcased in a small combo setting. But maybe that’s just me.

Jamie is a great friend and a great musician. We were just talking and realized that he and i have known each other about 10 years now. The longest i’ve known anyone outside of my wife and blood relatives. He has an extremely wide breadth of musical knowledge that overlaps mine quite a bit, and we’ve known each other and played so long together i feel like we can really mesh well together, but we also know what we are capable of and when and how to push each other. We (almost) always have fun playing together too. It only takes one of us playing a few notes to start right in to a song like we’ve practiced it. He’s also a better improviser than he’ll usually admit.

Allan i haven’t known nearly as long, but our first conversation was about obscure early 90’s alternative Christian music bands and their production style. And it went up hill from there. He grew up playing and listening to Booker T and the MG’s (who you will find in my playlist on the right panel of this blog) – which is exactly the background i would want any bass player to have. He also has an album of his own about to be released. Go check out his MySpace page for details and clips.

So anyway, back to the gig.

Christy took some pictures and videos during the wedding. Unfortunately, due to an strange accident with a network attached storage drive that decided to go wonky on us, only one video survived. It’s really a pity because Christy took some great photos and captured some good video too. Fortunately i think the one video that survived is one of the better ones, as it was recorded near the end of the reception when we were more relaxed. For the record: the strange off-beat splash cymbal stuff i randomly start doing at the 1:15 mark was in response to someone who was being goofy and doing the can-can. Gotta work the crowd.

So, here’s that video. Don’t judge too harshly: the piano was horribly out of tune and we were there to be a dance band, not putting on a jazz concert (in other words: having fun, not making art).

We all want to play together more, and we already have one invitation to play for a friend’s parents’ anniversary party coming up in another few months. Hopefully Nick moving to Atlanta won’t prevent us from playing some more. I think (hope) they are planning on coming back to visit occasionally, so hopefully we can jam some and keep our chops up. Who knows, i might actually practice and feel confident enough to use sticks instead of brushes on more than one song this time :-)

(Note: the phrase “Nick Hilscher” is already the most popular search term people hit my site with)

avoid me for a while

In Blog Stuff, Family, Friends, Me, Nashville, Work on June 6, 2007 at 4:35 pm

Everyone may want to avoid me for a while.

Not because i’m angry or violent or anything. I just feel like i have one of those little personal rain clouds following me around.

First the whole mess with the Predators being bought and likely possibly moving.

Then i went out and did a bunch of yard work over the weekend a while back and ended up with so many bug bites of various kinds that i had to work from home (couldn’t put shoes on) and take Benadryl for 72 straight hours. Thanks to work policy, still had to take PBA time for staying at home, but couldn’t afford not to work a little. I was glad to find out that chiggers don’t actually burrow into your skin as i’ve frequently heard. But man it feels like it sometimes.

Then my company announces that they are laying off 10% of their global workforce, which is between 4,000-8,000 people depending on who’s article you read. My job is reasonably secure, but less so than when i was a normal old sales rep. The perils of promotion.

Then i start getting myself all worked up over stuff in the news and things i’m reading online. Just good old tilting at windmills kinda stuff too. Like our Political system being horribly broken. Yeah. I’m gonna fix that one alright. But of course, they aren’t the same things everyone else is upset about, so not many people join in the conversation with me. They are all too distracted with even more explosive debates that i don’t even want to get caught up in. People are just mean.

Then i find out that Brittney’s quitting NiT and who knows what is going to happen to that site now. It really is a cool site. Good sense of community. Good place for me to find other bloggers and photographers around Nashvegas. (and the link love, don’t forget the traffic and the TV time!).

And now i come home and read that Market Street Pub, a place that i didn’t exactly frequent but was a sentimental place for me, is closing. Or rather, changing over to a…chain. I shudder at the word.

Many times i’ve gone there with my dad or friends before going to a Predators game. There was just something right about going to a place like that and ordering fish and chips before going to a hockey game. It was especially fun on nights against the Red Wings because large groups of both fans would sit in various parts of the bar and start chanting at each other. Whenever anyone would enter the bar wearing a sweater (read: jersey), which of course i always was, one side would cheer wildly while the other booed. It was great.

It is really strange, but i’ve formed a lot of friendships, and had some really deep conversations there. I’ve only been there maybe…10 times. But every time was somehow loaded with something deeper. For no particular reason. So i think this is hitting me harder than some other places closing.

It was where Christy and i really started to get to know Brett and Anne, old co-workers of mine who we go to Preds games with now. I went to dinner with a friend there and we had a good heart to heart about some hard stuff the guy was going through, and never really recovered from (as far as i know) before he left his family and friends and ‘gave up’. I don’t know where he is now. It was one of the places where Jamie and i had dinner together after not seeing each other for nearly a year, renewing our friendship for the 3rd (or 4th) time.

A lot of stuff happened there for me. And i just now realized it. Strange how it matters to me so much all of a sudden.

…oh, and now i also can’t get Amy’s xanga login info to work, so i can’t post her latest entry about her trip to Moscow. (My sister is in Moscow, and i have her blog login so i can post her emails about her exploits). She did upload a lot of really cool pictures to Flickr though. Everyone go check them out! Apparently there are silly girls and cats in Moscow too. Great pictures Amy!

Anyway…i’m not really that grumpy or angry or anything. Just down.
It’s been a rough few weeks and i’m drained.

Update: Wow. It felt really good to write that post. Not that i feel a ton better, but it is amazing how cathartic that was.

Update 2: My wife and i watched Hellboy tonight for the first time (Blockbuster online lets us watch all sorts of mediocre movies we’d otherwise never see). Really strange movie, but oddly enough, i think i was in the perfect mood to watch it. Really weird, dark, and kinda…happy…i think…? Oh – and there’s an example of yet another sequel coming your way.

be there!

In Blog Stuff, Friends, History/Politics, Hockey, Me, Sports on May 30, 2007 at 4:33 pm

According to SaveThePredators.com there will be NO “Save The Predators” fan rally for June 16th. That’s is the weekend for the Bonaroo festival. If you see any on-line fliers, etc. just disregard them.

There IS a huge rally in the works for mid-July that 104.5 The Zone and the Chamber of Commerce (among others) are putting together.

Stay tuned.

Also – go sign the petition

Having said that…i don’t think the Preds are in that much trouble. Don’t want to seem too desperate. But hey, even if the team hadn’t been sold and sold out every game last year – i’m always up for a party supporting the team!

Oh, and a great post from Paul McCann (who should really be on NiT’s roll – hint hint Brittney). Best quote:

[Hockey] is the only sport that I can think of who’s fans believe that it doesn’t “belong” in certain places. Could you imagine a die-hard football fan in Chicago saying that football doesn’t belong in Seattle… Maybe a big hoops fan in Philly saying that the NBA shouldn’t be in Phoenix… Perhaps a crazed baseball fan in St. Louis saying that baseball doesn’t belong in Toronto? It truly boggles the mind to think that hockey fans wouldn’t want more hockey fans in more places.

Amen brother.

pirate review

In Entertainment, Friends, Movies, Reviews on May 25, 2007 at 7:02 am

This is going to be quick, since i am actually at work today:

[Warning – not bad spoilers, but if you are like me and don’t want to know anything about the movie before you see it, you might as well stop reading]

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Very good movie. Not great, but worth seeing in the theater (even a non-digital one).

However, it was much like Spiderman 3, it took a jump to the goofy side several times that is going to make it hard to re-watch.

Overall, i was gratified to find that it lived up to my expectation as a very similar trilogy to the original Star Wars trilogy. First movie is fun, beat the bad guys, could stand alone. Second movie is much much darker, and our scoundrel hero dies/disappears in the end and the rest of the team (young and fragile) is left all alone in the world. Third movie they first have to come of age on their own, go rescue the scoundrel, and the audience has to deal with silliness (Ewoks and split personalities) and there is a major battle at the end.

Of course with Pirates, the ending was a little more complicated and slightly less obvious than Star Wars – and not quite as completely happy, but solid overall.

Last statement is that the writing stayed fantastic. The pace was good, the plot twists did not disappoint, but were not impossible to follow, and the dialog was appropriately simple/complex for each character. Lots of good quotable quotes from Captain Jack and other characters without being too silly (most of the time).


I will also say that i went back on my promise and watched this movie on film (at Opry Mills) but the experience was tolerable. Much better than my previous film experiences. However, my friend (one that i drug with me to see Spiderman 3 in digital) leaned over to me after the movie and cursed me for spoiling him. He had never thought film was bad until he saw a movie in digital. This was a great film showing, the sound was good, but there were still flecks, the light still flickered, and the picture still shifted laterally and in and out of focus. We’ll see where we end up going to see our next movie on the list (Ocean’s 13 is probably next), but i have a feeling it will be digital. No question we’ll see Ratatouille in digital, but my hope is that we wont have to goto the ghetto to see it – Opry Mills was showing Shrek 3 in digital last night (but everything else on film).

digital conversion

In Entertainment, Friends, Movies on May 3, 2007 at 2:55 pm

Well, the first of my must see movies for the summer, Spiderman 3, is opening tomorrow. My friends and i aren’t the midnight crowd (not usually), so we won’t seeing the movie tonight.We always watch Stargate on Friday nights, so that means we’ll be seeing it Sat.
Anyway…

The point of this post is to tell you that i am finally going to make good on my threats to never pay to see a movie on film again.

I’ve spend far too much time this afternoon calling around to local theaters, but i finally have the list of which theaters have made the move to digital projectors:

Carmike Rivergate 8 – Yes
Bell Forge 10 (Hockory Hollow)- Yes
Wynnsong 10 (Rivergate) – Yes
Wynnsong 16 (Murfreesboro) – Yes
Green Hills 16 – No
Opry Mills – No
Hollywood 27 – No
Thoroughbred 20 – No

What is really odd about this list: All the old theaters have gone digital, while all of the “nice” new theaters are still showing film. (The girl at Opry Mills try to tell me that IMAX was digital…it is 70mm film for those that don’t know). I guess this makes sense for two reasons: 1) those theaters are losing audience to the newer stadium-seating theaters so they need a ‘gimmick’ and 2) they are older and were due for upgrades, so they get the new stuff.

Either way, i plan on frequenting these places from here on out. Outside of focus, there shouldn’t be any issues with picture or sound at these places again. (gum on the seats and sticky floors may be another issue all together)

100

In Blog Stuff, Christy, Entertainment, Family, Friends, Funny, Me on January 16, 2007 at 7:52 am

Well this is it.
My 100th blog post.

I know you were all keeping track and waiting in anticipation.

In grand tradition, i will now say “blog” 100 times.

Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog

(…you know, that doesn’t look as big or long as i thought it would. And now to the actual post….)


Two issues:
  1. Many of my posts, especially recently, have been about the Predators, or hockey, or at least sports.
  2. None of you are commenting!

Point 1) I am considering branching off and making a Predators/Sports blog. Not that there aren’t enough good forums and even a few decent blogs…but more than a few have gone silent. OK…even the official blog is pretty poor. Predators’ PA announcer Paul McCann‘s is the only really solid, consistent one I have found.

Point 2) I know that many of you that read my posts may be new to this ‘blog’ thing, but it is traditional (or at least common) for people to actually comment on my posts. Can be as simple as “Amen brother!” or as long as the comment my dad posted when i ticked him off about the Billy Graham statue. My wife is the only person to comment more than once i think (thank you sweetheart).

So – your assignment…

USING THE COMMENTS FIELD – ANSWER THE QUESTION:
DO YOU THINK I SHOULD SPLIT OFF A SPORTS/HOCKEY BLOG, OR JUST KEEP POSTING EVERYTHING IN ONE PLACE?

Thank you for your time and attention.

cuteness

In Family, Friends on December 16, 2006 at 8:04 pm
Those who need a dose of cute, i just updated www.anniehilscher.com

Annie got to go home yesterday. Which just amazes me. She was born 7 weeks early, spent two weeks in the hospital, most of it just for observation, and is now home. She barely weighs 4 lbs, but is just fine. One tough little cookie!

Oh, and if you go to the shower pictures on the site, you can see shots of our living room and the awesome cupcakes Christy made :-)

(If any of you are confused…check here.)

updates

In Friends, Hockey, Me, Work on December 7, 2006 at 9:22 pm

Wow, for a while there i was on a pace of better than one post a day. It’s been a crazy week though, so, not much lately. Hopefully i’ll get to post more over the weekend.

BABY:
Quick update though on Annie Hilscher. She and mom Sarah (and dad Nick) are all doing fine. Last update i heard she is actually off oxygen and doesn’t have to be under the anti-jaundice-lamp-thing anymore. She may actually get to come home relatively soon, which is amazing to me. I was assuming she’d be in the hospital for a month or more at least.

JOB:
In other news, my new job is going really well. It’s a lot of fun and really hits my strengths and comfort spots. But don’t get me wrong, it is definitely a challenge. My new group’s numbers are very low by the standards of the group i came from, so there is a lot of room for improvement. It is great to feel like i might actually be in a position to do something about it though, as my last few jobs often felt like great places for ideas, but no resources for follow-through. It is also going to be very challenging in learning the new organization (i use that term very loosely). This group is BIG and complicated. I have about 30 names and faces i need to learn fast (managers) and several hundred people i support overall. I am certainly better at names/faces than i used to be, but it is still a challenge.

PREDATORS:
I think the NHL board of governors needs to not only fix the schedule back so we can play all the teams, but they need to change the game to just two halves. The whole three-period thing is quaint, but it is costing the Predators games. We have been ahead or tied at the second intermission in almost every game we’ve played lately – and in the last several have either given up a lead we’ve had to re-earn, or lost the game entirely. Even in the blow-out against the Ducks the other night, we were competitive until the 3rd, then gave up a lot. The thing that is odd is that i don’t think it is a conditioning thing, which would be my first guess. We are a team built for speed and endurance and i haven’t noticed us slowing down in the 3rd. Just getting sloppy.

Plenty more to post about later (my new phone, East Nashville happenings, computer issues, etc) but that is all for now.

later

annie hilscher

In Family, Friends on December 1, 2006 at 7:18 pm

Good friends of ours, Nick and Sarah (Sarah was Christy’s roommate in college) just had their little girl a little earlier than planned.

Annie Hilscher was born last night, 12-01-06 at 8:18pm. She weighed 4 lbs, 1.25 oz. She’s still in ICU, but is doing fine. Sarah’s doing good too.

Pictures here: AnnieHilscher.com

More to come i am sure.

introducing…

In Friends, Me, Music, Pictures on November 17, 2006 at 10:59 pm

Tonight was the first performance of what could be many, by (what is now unofficially known as) the Nick Hilscher Trio.

My friends Nick and Jamie agreed to play with me for a friends birthday party Friday night. We just did a small jazz/swing combo. Lots of fun. We were all out of practice, but really did sound pretty good. We are probably going to keep playing together for fun at least, if not possibly more…

Anyone know a good jazz bass player?

The Trio

Nick Hilscher
vocals, piano
Jamie Tyson
guitar

Paul Nicholson
drums