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Paul Nicholson
Nashvegas TN
Digital Marketing Manager at HealthTrust. Social media junkie, strategist, and app idea guy. Hockey fan, photographer, and father to 2 awesome boys.

(Opinions expressed here are not those of my employer. Heck, they might not even be mine.)
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Friday, November 30, 2007

my alley cat review

Nashville Restaurants just got through posting a review of Alley Cat over here in East Nashville. I could not keep silent. My review (rebuttal) follows:

The food is very good, though a little confused at times (i'll get to that in a second). Most of all, i have to argue this place as "tex-mex" or a "grill". It is neither. It is more a fancy french-style restaurant's take on foods that share names in common with tex-mex foods. While excellent, very little on their menu is really tex-mex. The fajitas in particular are very mixed up. They are, strickly speaking, accurate insofar as they are beef with veggies served with tortillas. However, the beef is not marinated skirt or even flank steak, but brisket. Some of the best smoked brisket i've had outsite of central Texas mind you, but brisket none the less. Completely wrong for fajitas, and ruined as great brisket by the veggies. It turns out to be an interesting meal worth eating, but not what i'm looking for when i order fajitas.

Their greatest failure remains the value however. This is why they fit into the fancy french restaurant category as far as i'm concerned (though fail there as the atmosphere and service is inconsistent with the size of the inevitable bill). The portions are small, and - worst of all - they charge for chips and salsa. Now, this is some of the best salsa i've ever had in my life - and i'm a frequent tex-mex eater that grew up in San Antonio. This salsa is amazing. It also costs about $5 to order. Unforgivable. If they sold it by the 20oz bottle on the way out the door i might pay $20 for the stuff, but when i sit down at the table and place an order for $40-$50 worth of "tex-mex" for 2 people, i darn well expect to get chips and salsa gratis.

To give you an example of how much in the fancy-smanshy category this place is: on my first visit there i ordered the scallops. I forget exactly what they called them, but they were essentially seared scallops with a cilatro-based sauce. Excellent...all 4 of them. They were big scallops, but it took me precisely 8 bites and i had finished my meal, while my wife was just starting into her dinner.

[added, not in original comment]
However, it is not a nice restaurant. The service has always been very very slow (we've been 3 times) and the atmosphere inside borders on a dive bar. Outside on the patio (where we always sit) is nicer, but extremely casual. Like we're sitting on someone's back porch. A nice back porch if it was a neighbors, but not a nice restaurant.
[/finish add]

If this place was nicer (like, say a Trace or Eastland Cafe vibe) and quit pretending like they were a tex-mex grill, then i'd be all for it. As it is, i just can't justify it or tolerate it. Even for that oh-so-wonderful salsa.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

NHL BoG Approves Preds Sale and New Schedule

Looks like Nashville hockey fans have two things to be happy about.
104.5 is reporting (that TSN is reporting) that the NHL Board of Governors has approved the sale of the Predators to the "local" group. Despite my recent criticisms, i strongly believe this is a very good thing, particularly in light of the recent comments about a push for promotion off the ice byt he about-to-be-owners.

The BoG have apparently also approved a new schedule format that will mean 6 games against each divisional opponent (3 home, 3 away), 4 against each conference foes (2/2), 1 game against opposite conference teams (could be home, could be away), plus a few random games against other opponents. The wild card games i particularly like. As i understand it, it gives the opportunity for out-of-division and out-of-conference rivals (like Colorado and Detroit) to play just a little more often if they want.

And after 2 periods the Preds are up 3-2 and JP Dumont (on my fantasy roster) has 1 goal and 2 assists. The Preds won 6-5 in a crazy shootout. Wow. Best of all, between JP Dumont and Martin Erat i got 2 goals, 5 assists, +2, 9 shots, and 2 short handed points for my fantasy team this week. Thanks boys! :-)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

vindicated

Normally i'm not the type, but i just had to say when i read this, i thought "i told you so" (and by "you" here i mean 'the interwebs').

Definitely has me wondering if i should lay off getting it until they get production stabilized. Thankfully (?) i think my budget will make that decision for me for a while longer.

preds breakdown

Just wanted to point everyone over to Forechecker, who just posted a great analysis of the Preds first 1/4 of a season.

(I just realized the title of this post could be totally misinterpreted a very pessimistic post. I hope no one thinks that. I think we're doing really well, actually.)

That is all.

Monday, November 26, 2007

proof it wasn't a dream

Some of you who know me and have heard me talk about the Predators, have heard me tell the story about the night the Predators Flying Tiger (seen in its normal state here) got stuck in the rafters at a playoff game. It was actually the first every home playoff game for the Preds on April 11th, 2004 (a game we won handily by the way).

Basically what happened was this: The Flying Tiger was doing its usual thing, flying around and dropping passes for free stuff to fans. Then all of a sudden the crew directed it down over the ice, which it never does. They flew it lower and lower until someone went out on the ice and grabbed its "tail" (mooring cable i think) and began to lead it gingerly to the zamboni entrance floating about 6 feet above the ice. Then, all of a sudden, the whole fan/motor system on the bottom just fell off. Of course, all the weight of the fans, batteries, etc was the ballast for the balloon, and now it weighed far too little. The keeper holding the cable was unprepared and the whole thing shot straight up in the air and jerked the cable out of his hand. It flew straight up and jammed itself in the catwalk and remained there for the rest of the evening (probably a great view from there actually).
Well, i was just digging through a whole bunch of old pictures in my archive folders, and i stumbled upon video that i actually shot of the occasion on my old Sony Clie UX50. It's not pretty, but it's proof! You can definitely see the Flying Tiger motionless at the top of the arena, stuck in the rafters above the ice.

So here ya go. Enjoy!

Predators Flying Tiger stuck in the rafters from Paul Nicholson on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

blogger

Test

Thursday, November 22, 2007

showing off hulu

First off, here's your promised list of all shows currently on Hulu (* denotes a show currently on air):

24
30 Days
* 30 Rock
The A-Team
Adam-12
Age of Love
Airwolf
Alfred Hitchcock Hour
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Alias Smith And Jones
* American Dad!
Andy Barker P.I.
* Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?
Arrested Development
* Back To You
Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica Classic
Big Ideas for a Small Planet
* Bionic Woman
The Bob Newhart Show
* Bones
Boo!
Breaking Away
Brother's Keeper
Buck Rogers
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Burn Notice
Chicago Hope
* Chuck
The Comebacks
* Cops
Cover Me
The Crow: Stairway To Heaven
* Damages
Doogie Howser, M.D.
Dr. 90210
Dr. Steve-O
Dragnet
Eco Biz
Eureka
Exosquad
Family Guy
* Firsthand
Flipping Out
* Friday Night Lights
* Ghost Hunters
* Heroes
Hill Street Blues
* House
Inside the Actors Studio
* It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Jack of All Trades
* Journeyman
* K-Ville
* King Of The Hill
Kitchen Confidential
* Kitchen Nightmares
Kojak
L.A. Dragnet
Land of the Giants
* Las Vegas
* Late Night with Conan O'Brien
* Life
The Loop
Lost in Space
Lou Grant
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
McHale's Navy
Miami Vice
Monk
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
Murder One
My Bare Lady
* My Name is Earl
Nanny and the Professor
Night Gallery
* The Office
Over There
Peacemakers
* Phenomenon
Picket Fences
The Practice
The Pretender
* Prison Break
Psych
Queer Eye
The Real Housewives of Orange County
Remington Steele
The Riches
Rob and Amber: Against the Odds
Saturday Night Live
* Scrubs
Simon & Simon
* The Simpsons
Sitting Ducks
Sixth Sense
Solitary
St. Elsewhere
Stacked
Standoff
The Starter Wife
Swamp Thing
* Talkshow with Spike Feresten
Tequila & Bonetti
* The Tonight Show
Total Recall 2070
Vanished
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
WKRP in Cincinnati
Woody Woodpecker (New)

And here are the full-length movies that are avialble (yes, that is the Arnold Schwarzenegger version of "Conan"):
The Breakfast Club
Conan the Barbarian
The Blues Brothers
Bulworth
The Jerk
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
October Sky
Sideways
Weekend at Bernie's

Interesting thing about the movies: some of them are 'edited for TV' (like "Master and Commander") - pan-and-scan and edited for content...

...while others (like "Conan") are show in their 'original format' or at least close to it. They just cram the super-wide cinemascop into 16:9 TV format, which means the whole full length movie is all squishy.

Note: You can also see on the screen shots above how often the commercials happen - they are the little gray dots on the timeline at the bottom of the screen. Each one represents a single 30-second commercial. Not too bad considering the movie is 2 hours and 16 min long.

Another really cool thing about watching some of the longer content: it apparently sets a cookie. If you watch a movie (or show) on one PC - stop - then come back, it remembers where you left off and starts at that point. Pretty sweet, i think.

Oh, and here are a few other random things they have on the site...
Fox Movie Channel presents "Casting Session"
Fox Movie Channel presents "Making a Scene"
Fox Movie Channel presents "World Premiere"
IGN Videos
...as well as clips (not full shows) of a few other programs like soap operas. Whatever.

And now, what i think is the single best part - here's an embed of the Lost In Space pilot for your viewing pleasure (complete with the theme music stolen from Bernard Herrmann's score for "The Day The Earth Stood Still"):


And to really show things off, here's a clip i created out of the pilot for Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century which i think qualifies as the first mention of a "Stargate" on TV.


Good stuff. Good stuff indeed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

hulu review

Last night I was finally granted access to the semi-public beta of the new online video-on-demand service, Hulu. There have been many other reviews of this service already, but I just wanted to throw my two cents in, since I think that’s one of the reasons I was granted the beta.

For those not familiar with Hulu, it is a joint venture between Universal (NBC) and News Corp (FOX), so a large number of shows that belong to those networks is available, and a few full length movies to boot. There is even speculation that Warner Brothers TV will be adding it's shows to the fold (maybe i can finally catch up on Smallville). It works pretty much the same as ABC’s and NBC’s websites when it comes to streaming existing shows. They are occasionally interrupted by commercials, and the quality of the image depends on your internet speed.

First: Huge advantage to Hulu over other similar sites: it works in Firefox! I’m not sure, but I would assume it also works for Apple users. This is huge for me personally, and I think gives it a big leg up. Being browser agnostic means just that many fewer people that have a frustrating experience with streaming media sites that can be finicky at times.

The other awesome thing about Hulu you have to notice right away is the HUGE and I mean MASSIVE amount of content it has compared to other sites. My hope is that this is just the tip of the beta ice berg. They already have not only many full episodes from current running shows on NBC and FOX, but also a huge catalog of older shows. Simon and Simon? I forgot that show even existed. Remington Steele. Classic. Mary Tyler Moore, The A-Team, Airwolf, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, …on and on and on. It isn’t every episode by a long shot, but some of the shows go back pretty far.

And it’s not just TV shows – there are a few full-length movies on here too. Master and Commander among others right now. Curiously, the TV shows are in wide-screen high-def were applicable, but the movies are 4:3 pan-and-scan and edited for content – clearly the ‘old’ TV versions, which I find curious.

No doubt though, with this amount of content available, Christy and I are thinking about cancelling Netflix and going straight to the local library and Hulu for our entertainment for a while.

The ads were also pretty tolerable. Not the same ones over and over and over again the way some of the other VOD services can be, and the always-up ad banners aren’t an issue as long as you make the video full-screen, which is simple enough. I really don’t know why anyone would watch anything on here and not have it full-screen. Quality was also very good. We watched a few episodes on our projector and everything looked great. At least as good as SD cable if not better.

If you want to sign up for the beta yourself, you can at www.hulu.com, but I think it will be open for everyone by the time you get access to it at this point (it took them 3 weeks to process my beta application). When I get back home, I’ll put a full listing of the shows currently available up here for reference (Hulu, like most streaming media sites, is blocked at work for me).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I fell for it


I just paid $0.89 extra for a large combo i very much didn't need, just to get a free download that normally cost... $0.89. Stupid.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Apologies to fantasy sports owners

Fantasy sports players (any sport, not just hockey) need to watch this video. Now. Just the beginning. Don't have to watch the whole thing. If you don't want to or can't watch the video, you can check this summary here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Finally! ..or not

It looks like our long national municipal nightmare frustration is over.

UPDATE: It isn't. I'm leaving the rest of this post up, but though the city has put forth it's "final" offer, the local ownership group hasn't signed off on it. So, no press conference...return to your holding pattern.

This is really getting old.
The Preds and the City are announcing a deal this afternoon. Thanks to the Nashville Post, we have the agreement in hand already.

I still have huge reservations about this deal as it is laid out in this document. The Preds can leave after just 3 years if they lose $20mil during that time ($6.6mil a year) and attendance is under 14,000 per game (the statement doesn't specify if that is 14,000 average over all three years, or if they average under 14,000 for any time during those 3 years...or just during the last year). There is also a stipulation that the city will be paid back all of the many concessions and incentives they are paying the team if the team does leave.

So if you want to keep the Preds here past 3 years, it still comes down to attendance. Normally i would say that with this new, energized ownership group (and hopefully firing Steve Violetta) hitting attendance marks will be easy. But my faith that this ownership group is really going to be a knight in shining armor and be much better than Leipold are starting to waiver. It really won't take much to get attendance up. I just overheard more co-workers talking and one mentioned the Preds game tomorrow night - the other responded with "they're playing again, didn't their season just end. I'll have to go to a game". Much work to do, but so much of it is so easy. We'll see if the ownership group chooses to invest in those simple efforts, or let the team languish...

The most troubling element of this to me is that it takes a 30 year lease (with 20 years left on it) that would keep the team here as long as they hit 14,000 attendance at least once every 3 years and turns it into a lease that allows them to leave after 5 years - regardless of attendance - and allows them to leave after (theoretically) only one year of under 14,000 attendance.

Had any owner stepped up and supported the team with any marketing campaign, the team would have to stay. They could lose money and be on the salary floor every year, but they would have to stay as long as tickets were bough. Under the new agreement, they can leave after only 5 more years, potentially after 3.

(Conspiracy theories in 3...2...1...) I'm begining to wonder if the new "ownership" group didn't get in over their heads, get taken over by outside interest, who then worked a deal with politicians on the inside to make it look like they were saving the team, and in reality are moving it after 5 years (roughly the amount of time it will take to get an NHL caliber arena built in any city that doesn't have one...like...Hamilton, Ontario). Man i hope i'm wrong. I really really do.

I'm just glad the team on the ice has things turned around. This could turn out to be a very good year.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Seeing Red

Preds were absolutely robbed tonight. The Wings played well, but that game should have been 4-2 Preds. 2 goals taken off the boards just kills ya. The refs just blew it. As my dad said: "Isn't the NHL supposed to be the league with the best replay officiating options, that never misses a scoring call?" But they blew the plays dead not once, but twice, right as the Preds scored. Either of those goals count, and the game is very, very different.

Best part: we made it a game anyway. The game was 2-0 and the Wings were clearly satisfied with letting that be the final score. I don't think anyone would have been surprised if the Preds were as well, especially with plenty of excuses to make for how they should have won. But they played through it and stayed after it and played harder in the third than in the first, which is hard to do against Detroit. Shows a lot of character and the type that this team is absolutely going to need if they are to have any success. We'll be coming from behind far more this year than we did last.

Mason was fabulous in the game, but looked slow (tired) in the shoot out. Before the game i told my wife that i'd almost rather see a 1-0 or 2-1 loss than a 7-5 win. I wanted to see a good, responsible, disciplined hockey game and that's what we got the vast majority of the time. Mason was outstanding in net all night, and i think that the game was a solid boost in confidence he needed. I just hope he doesn't take the shootout loss too hard and too personally. He could have done better in the shootout, but after facing 45 shots, killing off a 4-3 through overtime, and with Holmstrom logging as much time in the crease as Mason through the game, i don't blame him for being less than sharp by the time the shootout came around.
But hey, i'll take the point for OT.

Predators Deal Done?

The Hockey News is reporting that the deal between the new ownership group and the city is a done deal, just waiting for sign-offs from all the councils and authorities needed.

Why am i not jumping for joy?
While the new agreement supposedly says the Preds will get the funds from the city, and upgrades to the arena that they wanted, they only have to stay in town for the next three years. They do have to stay for the next three years, no matter what, but after that, not even attendance can keep them in town.

Right now this sounds like a horrible deal. As optimistic as i am, i think the Predators are at best still 5-8 years away from real profitability. Which means in 3 years the new owners can just up and run, and nothing can stop them...if this report is correct. This is a very short, very spotty article that i don't completely trust. So we'll see...

UPDATE: The Tennessean is reporting that the Mayor's office has denied any deal as being "done" - they are still working. Hopefully that's a good thing.

Monday, November 05, 2007

i is smart

Hee hee.
I wonder what specifically justified my humble recreational sports and personal introspective online journal a "collegiate level" evaluation?

cash advance

(note: do not just blindly copy all the HTML for your blog they have to embed it in your site - it includes links for loan spam)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Firefly Cast: Where are they now?

OK, i'm not actually going to give you an update on the whole cast. This is mostly just an update on one i just heard some news on. But first i'll give you a few other quick notes:

  • Nathon Fillon (Capt Reynolds) was on another cool new show (i heard it was cool, never watched) that got canceled called "Drive". Now he's been on a few Deserate Housewives episodes - let's hope his cancel curse continues just one show longer, then the guy picks up a winner. He's great.
  • Alan Tuduk (Wash) is filming a new "TV pilot" for Barry Sonnenfeld (the guy that did Men In Black) that also stars Kurtwood Smith (who has been in absolutely everything). Could be interesting.
  • Of course, Jewel Staite (Kaylee) is now a regular on Stargate: Atlantis as the new doctor (no, not that 'new doctor'). Liking her work there so far, but i have to say: they have her in the show as an American, but her Canadian accent is thicker than most hockey players, much less David Hewitt (Dr McKay, who is supposed to be Canadian) since he's actually from the UK. They need to at least establish that she is from Minnesota (like Col O'Neill) quickly, cause it's just getting distracting.
Anyway...this is mostly an update on news i just heard about Summer Glau (River). She is apparently set to play a Terminator...on TV. Gonna be a great role for her. She apparently gets to play a semi-love interest and continue to kick butt at the same time. The show takes place after the events in teh 2nd movie. I still haven't seen any of the Terminator movies (i know, i suck...they are in my Netflix queue though!) so i can't weigh in on what i think the new show will be like, but it is interesting none the less. Glau will play the Terminator sent to protect everyone (read: good guys). I'm curious if this will even attempt to be a special effects and 'splosion heavy show like the movies, or a more "character driven" engagement. I know Summer could pull off either, but not sure about the other cast or the budget the studio has lined up. So don't get your hopes up, the show is on Fox which means there is a 85% chance it will be awesome, and a 95% chance it will get canned before they finish shooting the first season.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Rock Band: First Impressions

Update: this review wasn't based on the final version of the game, as it has only today (11/5) "gone gold". So the vocal issues may have been addressed in the retail version. Unfortunately i think it's a little too late to do anything about the guitar controller. We'll see.



Just got back from hanging out with my wife and sister, doing some shopping. Once we wrapped up finding what my sister needed, i forced them to follow me to Best Buy to try out Rock Band. I had heard on Engadget that many Best Buys had the demos, so wanted to see if ours did. It did!

So...how was it?
Not so fabulous.

First, the good:
The graphics looked great, and the parts were well written. The game also sounded good (as good as it could sound at an in-store demo). The song selection we rocked in store included "Should I Stay Or Should I Go", "Say It Ain't So", and "Main Offender". The demo also had "Suffragette City", "Tom Sawyer", and a few other tracks we didn't get to.

As a drummer, i was very skeptical that the drums would "feel" like drums, but i will say, it was remarkable how fast it felt like i was back home drumming. It was actually pretty funny, on the 'Beginner' settings, i found the drums very difficult, mostly because it over-simplified the more complicated rhythms (triplets, etc) to songs i knew well. I kept trying to play the "real" rhythm and getting being marked wrong. Once i upped the difficulty though, it was a lot of fun. But since i was already playing on 'Hard' on the demo in the store without breaking a sweat, i don't think drummers should look for a challenge in this game. The drum controller also felt like it could really take a beating (a good thing for a drum simulator). I will note: the in-store demo didn't have the foot pedal controller (though i was playing the kick part on the floor anyway to keep myself honest, and i really found that easier anyway), so no promises there, it could be flimsy.

Now, the bad:
The new guitar controller, which i was excited to play (with its extra 5-frets keys), was a major disappointment. It felt flimsy, and worst of all, proved to be so. The strumming switch (is that what it's called) was already toast. It wasn't registering strums unles you really mashed down on it hard. The whole guitar just felt lighter and flimsier than the Guitar Hero 2 controller i have at home - which is strange since i think it is also a little bigger. It was so bad, we actually couldn't play with the guitar. We kept failing every song, even though we had it on easy. It would only register about 1 in 3 notes. Bad bad sign, since this in-store demo has only been there for about 48 hours, and the Guitar Hero 2 demo that has been at the same Best Buy for months was still up and rockin' perfectly.

Equally disappointingly was the vocal gameplay. My sister and wife are both singers - and i don't just mean they lead Christmas carols with the family. They both majored in music with their vocal chords as their 'instrument'. We've played SingStar (a console karaoke game) too, and did very well (even i did). But over and over again, the vocal track failed out on both of them, even on 'Easy'. Now, there are a lot of people out there who are going to be horrible singers, but will want to play this game and have fun with their friends. On 'Easy', it should require absolute silence to fail out of the vocal track as far as i'm concerned. Maybe it was a problem with the mic, but if so, that again doesn't bode well. Same problem as the guitar - this Best Buy's SingStar demo has been running just fine for months. If this mic was dead after just 48 hours, that really doesn't bode well.

So...do i want this game? Would i recommend it?
Meh.

I have to honestly say, not so much anymore. I'd love to play some of those songs on Guitar Hero, and playing drums was fun... but for $170+ this game was very, very disappointing over all. Fabulous concept, obviously. I just think there will be a lot of frustrated vocalists and down right furious guitarist in January as their controllers start dying. I'm actually going to remove it from my wish list until i have assurance that the game doesn't fall apart inside of a few months.

(I am kicking myself right now that i didn't take any pictures with my phone to make this a really good review. But if you want to see what the game looks like, check here)

It's a little slow today


It's been a little slow at work today.