Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Saturday Night With Mary & More

Today the entertainment world and TV fans all over the country are remembering Mary Tyler Moore who passed away yesterday at the age of 80. 

A ground breaking TV actress, Miss Moore was a role model for many many of the young baby boomer girls in the 1960s. Her star started to shine when she played Laura Petrie, Rob's wife on the Dick Van Dyke show. 

Her role was supposed to be that of the supportive wife but she made it so much more. She quickly became a break out star. Laura was as funny as Lucy but with sex appeal. Mary Tyler Moore made that character so much stronger than any other stay-at-home character on TV had been before. 

 Then in the 1970s she starred in her own show. As Mary Richards she pioneered the way single women are portrayed on television. 

One of the things that made the MTM show funny and popular was the supporting characters portrayed by talented ensemble cast. The actors and characters were so well liked 3 of them were developed into spinoffs: Ed Asner as Lou Grant, Valerie Harper as Rhoda, and Cloris Leachman as Phyllis.  Here are a couple pictures of that amazing group. 

 A couple of years ago I listened to the audio version of a very interesting book about the history of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. If you are a fan of the show, I highly recommend picking up a copy. You'll learn a lot of the people behind the scenes and cast you didn't know.

The thing that makes TV shows and their stars endure the test of time and continue to loved by millions over the years is how it continues to resonate with each fan. Everyone has their own personal memories of how their favorite TV shows fits into their life story. 

For me, the Mary Tyler Moore Show was part of what I consider the best night of television ever. I'm talking about the CBS Saturday Night lineup throughout the mid 1970s. 
Although the combination of programs varied over the course of the years, the lineup I remember most consisted of these shows:
8:00-All In The Family
8:30-The Jeffersons
9:00-Mary Tyler Moore Show
9:30-Bob Newhart Show
10:00-Carol Burnette Show

I enjoyed this line up so much that, most Saturday nights while I was in high school, I make it a point to stay home just to hang out with the Bunkers, George & Weezy, the WJN news team, Bob Hartley's therapy group, Eunice & Ed Higgins and their Mama. 

Blogger's Note: Okay, I'll admit, the lack of friends, dates, a driver's license and a car were the main reasons I was home on Saturday night. But the CBS Saturday night comedies were responsible for the best night in television, at that time in my life.  On a lot of those  Saturday nights my parents were usually out visiting friends and my sister was staying over night at a cousin's or friend's house. So it was the only time I had the house, fridge and TV to myself. Other than a girl, what more could a teenage boy want? Because of this I really didn't mind that I didn't have anything else to do and I enjoyed staying home alone on a weekend night.  

I remember one night that all the previously mentioned friends from TV land were there for an very significant first in my life. 

It was a Saturday night in December 1977, during my senior year in high school. As had become the "norm" I found myself with the house all to myself. 

A new pizza place (I think it was called "Apollo Pizza") had just opened across the bridge in Easton and it offered free delivery to certain parts of the Phillipsburg area. This was in the days before the big pizza chains were around and home delivery from any restaurant was very rare. I was really excited when I found out that my house was in their delivery area. 

I had earned some spending money that week, so I treated myself. As "All In The Family" came on, I called and ordered a large 16 inch pie with extra cheese, sausage and mushrooms. The guy who took my order said they were very busy and it would be about 45 minutes. 

Right as the closing credits for "The Jeffersons"
 were running and the Mary Tyler Moore show was on the way, my dinner arrived at my front door. 

Other than friendly neighbors or members of our church, it was the first time I could remember anyone delivering food to our house. 

With all the elements to the perfect Saturday night in place (sans friends or a girlfriend) I set the pizza box on the dining room with the top open, facing into the living room. 

Then I put up a snack tray in front of the couch facing the TV. It had a plate, a can of soda, and some napkins. I was set for my feast. 

As the CBS eye logo came on the screen...
   ...and the announcer declared, "This Is CBS", I was pulling the first of eight slices from the box. The hot melty cheese resistantly stretched in effort to remain with the rest of the pie. But eventually it snapped away. The aroma of Italian seasonings delighted my olfactory zones,  and my plate was loaded with deliciousness. 

By the time I was settled onto the couch ready to take that much anticipated first bite, Sonny Curtis had finished singing the line, "You're gonna make it after all" and Mary's iconic hat had been thrown thrown into the air. 

I took my first bite just as Mary Richards was walking into the WJN news room greeting Murray who was tapping away at his manual type writer, making a lame joke at the expense of anchorman, Ted Baxter. 

Soon I finished that first slice and started second. When the opening billboard for Bob Newhart Show ran over the scenes of it's star leaving his office, commuting through Chicago to get home to Emily (which is the title of the theme song, by the way), I was on my 3rd slice.

After finishing #3 I thought of something that I hadn't considered until then. I had never had the opportunity to eat an entire pizza before. I mean I paid for it with my own money. It was mine. It's fate was totally up to me. That's when I set the goal to for the first time in my life, finish a whole pizza.  

As Carol Burnette came out to answer the audience questions at the start of her show, I was on slice 5. I was a bit full but after "resting" for a few minutes; I was back at it again. 

I was a teenage boy with one of nature's most amazing combinations: a bottomless pit for a stomach and an seemingly endless appetite. I had challenged myself with this quest. There was no going back now. I was going to do it, no matter what.  

At 11PM when the WCAU news anchor man came on the air with the news out of Philadelphia, the pizza box was empty and my stomach was overfull.  I had eaten an entire 16 inch pizza for the first time in my life, in the space of 2 hours. 

I knew I had achieved an accomplishment to brag about with the guys at school on Monday. But that was a couple of days away. 

There was now something on the horizon that I  hadn't considered until I let loose with that very first post-consumption burp and looked at the empty box on the table.

How my parents would react once they came home and saw the evidence of how I had spent my evening? My first inclination was that they wouldn't be pleased. I decided to do my best to do everything I could not to have to discover the answer to that question.  

I took the pizza box to the kitchen, strategically placing it between the between the tall trash can and the stove. It was as hidden as much as possible. I was pretty sure the white side of the stove would serve as camouflage. I was banking on the fact that like a chameleon the evidence would remain hidden in plain sight. At the very least maybe they wouldn't see it for a day or two. By then it would be too late to chastise me for my gluttony. 

Don't ask me why I didn't just tear up the box and put into the metal covered trash can on our back porch.  I was a kid. The fear of being "caught" by my parents clouded the logic in my under developed mind. 

I also decided that another strategic move would be to be in bed and asleep when they came home. I went to my room, and started watching Saturday Night Live on my small portable black & white TV. I fell asleep before mom & dad got home. I didn't realize that being in bed before they got home served to raise their suspicions rather than defer them. 

At one point, my dad woke me up when he opened my door but I pretended to be deep into dreamland. He lingered a long few seconds but didn't bother me. 

The next morning, I was awakened by the sun shining bright into my bedroom window. I meandered downstairs and there my mom & dad were at the dining room table drinking coffee. 

They both turned to me with a look that was a combination of both wonder and disdain. "A whole pizza? Really Ronnie?" my mom asked with a bit of amazement in her voice. I swallowed hard, took a beat to decide how I would answer. 

"I was hungry and there were some good TV shows on", I returned. "I paid for it with my own money" I added in my defense. My dad shook his head, "I don't know about you, Son". With that they both shook their heads and went back to their coffee cups. The conversation was over. 

Happy that I wasn't in any kind of trouble, I turned and went into the kitchen, got a bowl, spoon, the box of Raisin Bran and the gallon container of milk. I was hungry. 

As I ate my breakfast while watching Charles Kuralt report a story on the CBS Sunday morning news show. I smiled to myself. Sure, it was most likely that some of the guys I knew had spent the night before sharing a bucket of popcorn with their date. A night that would soon be forgotten. But I,  unforgettably, had eaten a whole pizza. 

Me and my Saturday night TV friends had our own special memory. One that I knew I would be sharing with my school friends with pride on Monday.  Now, I share that story with you 40 years later. It's my way of demonstrating to you what the Mary Tyler Moore show meant to me.  

Mary Tyler Moore was just as much of an influence outside the world of TV as she was within. You can access stories and articles online about all the things she advocated throughout her life. She will be remembered for all of them. 

Because recollections of history turned personal are called "memories" I felt today was the day to share with you one of my favorite memories about a night in December 1977, when me and my favorite TV shows shared a pizza...kinda. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Twitter, Twitter, I'm A Winner!!!

Back in 2015, when I was working as a driver, I used to listen to the radio all day long. Because I called in to a couple of the local stations to participate in their listener contests I won free tickets to nearby concerts and shows, quite often. As a matter of fact, of the 6 live events I went to that year, I only bought tickets for 2 of them. 

Since I haven't been listening to morning radio shows since March of last year, the free stuff has been hard to come by. But on Tuesday night my "winning ways" made a comeback in a big way. 

If you've been reading this blog you already know that I have become a real fan of the Nashville Predators hockey team. 

Following their season from October through April is the thing that has filled my personal "sports gap". I'm referring to what used to be the couple of months between the Superbowl and opening day of the Yankees season each year when nothing happened in sports that really interested me. 

Up until a couple of years ago there was only the "madness" of the college basketball season to watch throughout February and March. Because I live in Kentucky I am "required" to pay attention to NCAA tournament, but it's a pedestrian interest at best. 

But that gap was filled back in 2015, when I became interested in NHL hockey again. That's when I started watching the Nashville Predators. 

I get all their games on the Fox Sports Tennessee cable channel. I watch as often as I can. 

On each broadcast the announcers ask for those watching to send them a question about the team by way of Twitter. At the start of the 3rd period of the game and they pick one they consider the best. The author of that question gets a special prize. It's usually tickets to an up coming concert or event at the Bridgestone Arena. 

Most of the time the winning entry somehow incorporates a mention of the event that will be the prize. 

Last night I was watching the Predators play the Buffalo Sabers when the "Tweet of the Night" contest was announced. The prize was a pair of tickets to the May 20th Lionel Richie concert. 

I thought that might be a good concert to go to. So I decided to enter the contest for the first time. 

My tweet asked about the recent improvement in the play of a couple of my favorite Predator player, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Advisson. I carefully composed the 140 characters using a couple of funny song title puns and sent it off through the "Twittersphere." I confirmed via the hashtag that it was received. From what I read in the other entries, I thought I might stand a chance. But then I always think I should win when I enter a contest like that. There was nothing to do but wait and hope I was right.  

With the game tied at 2, the start of the third period finally arrived. The broadcasters announced that it was time for the "Hunt Brothers Pizza Tweet of The Night"

Willy Daunic, the play-by-play guy, started off by saying that given the Lionel Richie theme, tonight's winner took this year's tweets "to another level". The color annalist, Stu Grimson, said that the tweet blew his mind on several levels. 

Then they put up a graphic of the tweet and it was mine!!

They took a couple of minutes to answer the question. But then as the third period face off got the game going again they complemented me by saying that the tweet was so clever that they could have just presented it as a rhetorical question. Willy concluded the segment with the phrase "Ron Havens, we salute you."

I was excited on a couple of levels. To see my name and my Twitter profile picture on the TV screen was cool. And then there was the fact that I won free concert tickets. 

When Paula got home from working late, I showed her the video of the announcement. She was excited about the concert. 

It was a fun night of winning and watching hockey. Coincidentally, the two players I tweeted about both scored goals. The evening would have been perfect if the Predators hadn't blown a 4-2 lead to lose in overtime, 5-4. Oh well, you can't have everything. 

Now all I have to do is watch my Twitter feed for someone from the Predators to contact me with information on how I'm going to get my tickets. 

It's really nice to win something again. It's been a while. I hope my lucky streak continues through the end of the month. I'm entered in a contest to win a terrific vacation. The winner will be chosen on January 30. It's by random drawing so all I can really do is "wish upon a star". That's all I'm going to say about that.  I don't want to jinx myself. 

Even if that doesn't work out, thanks to my very first tweet to the Nashville Predators, I'm already a winner. 



Monday, January 23, 2017

RHFactors 2017 Digest #1

It's been a couple of days since my last post so it's time to share a few things I've been up to lately.

This is a picture of me from last year, getting ready to record myself playing the ukulele. I've been playing ever since I taught myself some of the basics back in 2013. But over the last year or so, I realized that there were some things that I want to learn but i need someone with a little more experience to help. I tried to watch some tutorials on You Tube but they really didn't help. 

So two weeks ago I started taking ukulele lessons at the Guitar Academy in Bowling Green. I am really enjoying the lessons and learning some new techniques as well. 

My first lesson was more of an evaluation of my abilities. I played some of my favorite songs and showed her some of the ones I have trouble with. This helped to define the course of future lessons. 

I also took my ukulele song book with me, which has quite a few songs with chord charts. My teacher was impressed with all the songs. She offered to give me a free month of lessons if I made her copies of the songs she wanted. That works for me. I'll keep y'all up to date on my progress. 

It's been a while since I've posted anything to do with Lego. Over the Christmas holiday I built my favorite kit from all of 2016. It was a motorized Christmas train. It's the first time I've ever used the option of adding power to any of my builds. Here's a video of the Lego Holiday Train. 
With the geek community's anticipation of the release of the Lego Batman movie next month, Lego released a special Batman Movie mini-figure set the first week of this year. 

On January 3rd, I went to the Lego store to get some of the blind bags in anticipation of the "seek & find" mini-figure method of collecting a set. I have become quite good at it over the last couple of years and it's a lot of fun. I can look at the pictures of the figures in the set and by feeling the outside of the blind bags open a complete set. I've gotten to where I only open 3 or 4 duplicates. 

I walked into the Lego store and asked one of the employees where I could find the new mini-figures and what the per person purchase was. 

He asked me if I was looking for a complete set. I told him that was my plan. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a yellow Lego shopping bag with blind bags in it. "Here's one" he said smiling. I was totally surprised.  

I didn't have to go through the random opening game. I would have a complete set and no doubles. Can't beat that. Here's a picture of the complete Batman Movie mini-figure set. 

Last week I posted about the fun night I had at the Nashville Predators game on January 10. I mentioned in that post that I purchased a #9 Forsberg t-shirt. That's just part of my NHL t-shirt collection. I just got these this month.

The New York Islanders were my favorite team when I was growing up. Back in the early 80s when they were winning the Stanley Cup. I really like their color scheme and team logo. 

The San Jose Sharks were in the Stanley Cup finals last year but lost. I really like their team colors, especially their teal uniforms.

Then of course my favorite NHL team now, the Preds and favorite player #9 Fhilp Forsberg.

I am a reader. I love reading books on my Kindle Fire and listening to audio books on my I-Pod. I also still enjoy reading printed books. This past Thursday night I had an evening that included all three experiences. 

Our local county library sponsored a evening with Jim Morris aka former WWF professional wrestler, Hillbilly Jim. 
Mr. Morris (or "Hillbilly" as he's also known to his fans") is a proud resident of near by Bowling Green and the subject of a biography written by local Kentucky author, Gary P. West.
Mr. West has written books that specialize on places of interest throughout the Bluegrass state. Check out his author's page on

I read Hillbilly Jim's biography in late 2016. I picked up a copy last October at another of Jim's public appearances. 

When I heard about that he was going to be at the Bob Kirby branch of the library, I marked it on my calendar. It was the first time I'd ever gone to hear someone talk about their book having already read it. 

It was a dark and stormy night (no really it was) so I got to the library about half an hour early. There was already a couple dozen people there. All of the front row seats were already taken. I found one on the end of the aisle of the 4th row of the right side of the room. 

I had about 20 minutes to wait for the program to start and I didn't recognize anybody I could talk to. So I got out my phone and opened the Kindle app. I brought up the book I'd been reading, off and on, for the last few months. It was a 
a behind the scenes account of the 1980s kids show, "Pee Wee's Playhouse". 
I'll write more about this book once I've finished with it. The point here is that I as I was sitting waiting to hear more about a book I'd already read, I was reading a digital copy of another book. 

Gary P. West introduced the local celebrity and Jim began to talk about his life, his career, and the people he has met throughout both. 
Here's a short video clip in which Jim explains that he realized early that he needed to something different in his life in order to happy.  

 He talked a lot about time spent with his friend, Andre The Giant. His story about having dinner with him in France that turned out to be outrageously expensive was probably the most entertaining one. 

After about 45 minutes Jim asked for questions from the audience. I asked him one. During his time in the WWF which wrestler's success surprised him and whose failure puzzled him? 

He said he was surprised by the success of Jim Hellwig, who was a WWF phenom as "The Ultimate Warrior" because no one in the wrestler's locker room liked him. His answer about a failed career was former Canadian weight lifter, Tom Macgee. Jim remarked, that Macgee's career started out on the right path. But then, all though he didn't know why,  Vince Mcmahon just seemed to sour on him. Magee only lasted a year in the WWF. 

After the conclusion of the event, I was going to try and get a short interview with Jim recorded on my new digital recorder. But the line of fans that were waiting to get their books sign was rather long and I didn't want to stay too late. So I left the library and headed home. 

My third book encounter of the night came in yet another digital format. On the way home, I listened to part of a novel, recommended to me by my nephew, Bobby, during visit last summer. It's called "Ready Player One." 
It's about a treasure hunt in a virtual reality world known as the "OASIS". The audio version is read by actor Will Wheaton. 

I had just started the book on the ride home that night. As I'm writing this post, I'm about 3 hours into it. I'm really enjoying it. If you are into video games and nostalgic about pop culture of the 1980s I highly recommend it. 

An in person talk, a digital device, and an audio version on my I-pod those were my 3 different book experiences in the same night. What a great time it is to be a reader. 

So there you have several of the things that I've been up to lately: Ukulele lessons, building and collecting Lego, and enjoying books on various platforms. 

One last thing before I wrap up this post. I want to thank you for faithfully reading my blog. Since the start of the year I've had more than 550 page views. That takes me to within 600 of my goal of 50,000 overall. I appreciate your help with this goal. It looks like I'll be reaching it a lot faster than I thought I would. That's a good thing and means I'll just have to raise the bar on that particular goal for this year. 

Once I do reach that 50K, I'll show my appreciation with my first ever RHFactors blog give away. Keep reading for details when that happens.  

Hope you were entertained by my first "digest" post of 2017. In an effort to provide you with new and interesting content , there may be a few more of these, throughout this year. Be sure to check back again soon for yet another post on my quest to reach 1000 in 2017.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Day Of Rememberance

The weather in "The Grove" today is cloudy and rainy. Earlier today, as I drove though my quaint little town I passed the cemetery. What I saw made the day seem even more dismal than it already was. 

Through the steady rain I could see that there was a canopy with rows of chairs set up under it. The scene was obviously waiting for a family with the unfortunate task of saying "good-bye" to a loved one. 

Although I had already been thinking about it, the scene brought back to my mind a January day, when my family went through the same thing. 

It was 25 years ago that my sister Peggy's youngest daughter, Teressa, left us. She was only 9 years old. 

While this anniversary is hard enough to think about, sadly for us, I believe there are people who are living their lives effectively managing to live with the same condition that took my niece from us. The medication and treatments that could have extended her life are now in use. While I'm happy for those who they help, I can't help but be a bit selfish harboring a bit of frustration that those breakthroughs didn't happen in time for Teresa. 

Twenty five years ago, my family was faced with a heart-breaking loss. Sure, we all knew that she had been born with her condition but it still was a difficult thing to deal with. 

Teressa was the youngest member of our family. My sister, Shari, was almost 8 months along with my nephew, Bobby at the time. That kind of loss is very hard to get through and something you never get over. I remember how our family and friends rallied around us with their support.

Of course, I can't help but wonder what kind of teenager, young adult and woman my niece would have grown to be. But that's something I'll probably never know. I can only imagine something I'm sure my sister, Peggy, and brother-in-law, Gene have thought about, themselves, thousands of times over the last 25 years. 

Given my preferences I would much rather honor my niece on the anniversary of her birthday in August. But I felt like I should mention something about the significance of today.

When my mind and heart go back to those grievous days there is a particular moment that I remember more than any other. 

I was in my car on the day of the funeral driving in the processional headed to the ceremony for the graveside part of the service. 

I was feeling especially low, and probably crying, when a song by Amy Grant came on my radio. It helped me realize that all though we were all heart broken we still had our love for each other to get us through.

It is with that song that I end this post and for two reasons. One is to remind my family of just how we got through those tough days back then and as a tribute in the memory of my niece. Here's a link to the song on You Tube. That's What Love Is For.    


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

By The Skin Of My Nose

Everyone has heard the idiom, "it's no skin off my nose". It's used to express indifference about something that has no effect on you either way. 

Yesterday, the exact opposite of that saying made its way into my life for real. At first I wasn't sure I should share this with you. But I will as a way of keeping myself humble. I can't believe I did it but it happened. 

After spending a couple of hours in Bowling Green yesterday, getting some things done (oil change for my car, paying bills, some store returns, picking up groceries, ect.) I had one last stop before heading home.  

I had to stop at our vet's office to pick up a new supply of supplements I give my dog. Because the vet's parking lot was a bit full, I decided to back into a space so I could get out easier. This meant that the back of my car was just a couple of feet away from where the lot's blacktop drops off and the grass begins.   

Because of all the stops I had made, I had things I was going to have to carry into my house in both the front and back of my vehicle. Before I went into the office, I decided to take the stuff from the front seat and put it in the compartment in the back so everything I needed to carry in would be in one place. 

I opened the back hatch and put the stuff in the compartment. Now at this point several things were going on at the same time. I was surveying what I had to take into the house in an effort to decide if I would be able to carry it all in one trip. At the same time, I was trying to remember the "official" name of the supplement I was going to have to ask for once I got to the desk inside the vet office. Third my feet were sending a message to my brain. 

Feet: Uh, brain, this is your feet. Just wanted you to know that the heels are dangerously close to the edge of the blacktop. If we step back any more we'll fall off. We're not too concerned for ourselves. We're pretty durable. We're worried that the whole body will become off balanced, the ankles may twist and there's a likely possibility for other injuries.   

Brain: Understood feet, we confirm that scenario and will have the legs alter your position to stabilize balance and lessen the risk of a fall. Thanks for the notification.

So while my mind was busy thinking about a couple of things in my immediate future, my body made a sub-conscience adjustment to keep me upright and safe. 

But here's where the problem comes in. By moving my feet away from the edge of the blacktop to keep me from falling, my brain moved the rest of my body closer to the open hatch door. But apparently my hands didn't get the memo about the position change. So when they forcefully pulled the door down to close it, the front of my face was in the way. 

Bang! the edge of the door hit the bridge of my nose, knocking my glasses off. Totally startled and I saw stars and for a very brief moment felt like I had just knocked myself out. Fortunately, I stayed on my feet, stepped back, closed the hatch, found my glasses and started to access what I had just done. 

I looked at my reflection and saw that I had taken a chuck of skin off the bridge of my nose just below where my glasses set. I decided it wasn't all that bad but I needed a better look. I went into the vet's office and into their bathroom. I looked in the mirror.  Then the wound started to bleed. I pressed a paper towel on it to stop the bleeding. I managed to work through getting the supplements and keeping my nose covered. 

When I got home I waited until most of the bleeding stopped before I took this picture. 
   Once the blood loss was under control I decided that my nose wasn't broken. Since I had only taken off the first layer of skin only basic first aid care would be necessary.  I had a slight headache so later in the night I put an ice pack on my face to reduce the swelling. It helped. 

I covered the wound with an adhesive bandage and antibiotic ointment for over night. 

This morning, as I write this post, it's a lot better. The loose flap of skin is now firmly back into place and I am well on my way to healing. 

 I know I don't look very happy in this picture. Believe me I'm very pleased with how well its turned out. 

I'm not in any pain. There's nothing to left to do but keep it clean and do my best to make sure it doesn't leave a scar. 

I'm a little embarrassed about what a stupid thing I did. Its my fault because I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. But that's why it's called an "accident". 

I'd like to say that the whole thing was no big deal. That it was "no skin off my nose" but that's not true. However for the next couple of weeks when asked what happen I will be able to use another common idiom. I will just simply say, "I ran into a door". 

While most of the time people don't believe you when you tell them that. This time they will have to because it's the truth. It's as plain as the nose on my face.    

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Fun Night In Smashville

This past Tuesday for the first time in the NHL's 16-17 season, I went to Nashville to see a Nashville Predators game. Last year I went with my friend, Mark, and I really enjoyed it. This time I decided to go by myself for the first time. 

Now I don't want get into the details of why I don't mind going to places and do things by myself. Yes, I've thought a lot about it and I do have some uneducated theories. But that's a different discussion for a different post. This time around I want to share with you what a fun time I had on my excursion to Nashville. 

Because there was supposed to be some rainy weather and I had some things to do in Bowling Green before hand, I left my house about 2 o'clock and headed down I-65 about 3:15. 

On the way down the rain was at a minimum but the wind was really howling. The trip got off to an exciting start when I stopped at the Pilot truck stop in Franklin, KY. While I was pulling in, I slowed down, hesitating to decide whether to go left or right take past the pumps and into a parking space. Just then a wind gust caught the message section of the Wendy's sign. It came crashing down about 10 feet to my left, smashing into pieces as it hit the ground. My car wasn't damaged at all but it could have been had I not hesitated. 

I got to the Nashville area a little earlier than I had anticipated. I didn't want to head into the downtown area and then not have anything to do before the arena doors opened at 5:30. So I decided to take a quick side trip to Opry Mills Mall. I made a quick stop at the Lego store and the calendar kiosk. You know the one that pops up in every mall before Christmas and stays til mid January? 

I bought my wife a daily calendar that has a small picture for her to color every day. It was just my way of saying "thank you" for allowing me to go to the game. 

I left the mall and headed down Lebanon Pike into downtown Nashville; arriving about 5 o'clock. In this picture you can see the arena tower off to the left. 

Even though it was going to cost me $25, for convenience, I decided to park in the arena garage. With my wallet out, I pulled into the driveway stopping to pay. "You looking for a handicap spot?" the attendant asked, seeing the sign hanging on my rear view mirror. I responded in the affirmative. "There's one on level 3 and it won't cost you a thing", he responded. What a lucky break. It was a great start to a very good night. 

Once I left the garage I only had to walk about 20 feet to get to the arena's back entrance. I only had to wait about 5 minutes for the doors to open. 

I went through the security check and metal detector with no problems. My ticket was on my phone so the ticket taker scanned it and printed out a stub for me. She also gave me a scratch off card as part of a Tennessee Lottery promotion that was going on that night. I put it in my pocket for later.  

I walked down a couple sets of stairs and came out on the main concourse which was good. But I was on the exact opposite side of the building from my seat in section 115. 

A little further down the concourse was the set where the Fox Sports South channel did their intermission broadcasts. I saw that they were already taping their pregame show. 

They were interviewing someone I knew was famous but didn't recognize at first. 

After watching them for a minute or so I realized it was country singer, Vince Gil. 

I stood there watching them waiting for the chance to ask Mr. Gil for a picture once he finished. But I felt a little awkward standing there watching by myself. I walked over to a small little Predators merchandise kiosk just a few feet away. I started looking at the clothes just to pass the time. I saw a really nice hoodie that I thought I might buy if I got cold during the game. I asked the clerk how much it was. $25 was not a bad price.  

As I was putting it back on it's display, I looked up and saw Vince Gill walk past me. He had left the interview and was now walking with purpose down the concourse. I called out to him, but he must not have heard me cause he kept on walking. Oh well, I thought, an opportunity missed but at least I had a story to tell. 

I had quite a bit of time before the game started and to get to section 115 I had to walk around the concourse. So I just took my time getting around to it. I just liked looking around at the variety of fans coming in and their interaction with the ushers, Bridgestone employees, and those working at the food stands and the other booths set up. One thing I noticed was that there were a lot of "official" looking guys in suits & ties standing in various places talking. I don't know what that was all about. Maybe it was some kind of security. Anyway the walk around was an enjoyable people watching time.  

Once I got to section 115 and I gave my ticket to the usher so he could allow me to get to my seat. I got another surprise that was of my own making. The usher pointed out that my ticket was for a seat on the exact other side of the rink. Since I couldn't walk down the aisle and across the ice (or at least not if I wanted to stay in the building and watch the game), I had to walk back around to right where I had entered the concourse initially. 

Resolved about what I had to do I decided to enjoy the walk back. I picked up a t-shirt and a flimsy backpack from the Geico booth I passed. I stopped at the Tennessee Lottery prize redemption table to scratch off the card I was given on my way in. The prize I won was $10 off the online purchase of Tennessee Symphony concert tickets. Wow, was I lucky or what???

I bought a hot dog and a drink then went to find my seat and relax a bit before the game started. Whenever I go to a place or event I'm excited about its always a bit surreal slightly overwhelming when I get that moment when I realize; "Wow, I'm finally here." Walt Disney World and Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati are a couple of places this happens. Bridgestone Arena is another. This was my first view. 
Once I finished my hot dog, I realized that it was going to be about 40 minutes before the teams came out onto the ice. So I decided to go out and look for a Preds t-shirt with my favorite number, 9, and player, Philip Forsberg's, name on it. 

I browsed through a couple of merchandise places but had no success. Finally I ended up going into the Team Store at the main entrance of the arena. 

I walked down the steps and saw anything and everything that you could imagine with a Predators theme on it, especially clothing. If I didn't find the shirt here I wasn't going to find it at all.

Then I got a pleasant surprise. Standing in the middle of the store working as one of the store employees was Vince Gil. I don't know why but he was helping people get shirts off the wall using a hook on a long stick. He was also taking pictures with those who asked him. 

I went past him and over to the corner of the store where the t-shirts were on display. I found the #9 shirt in a 2X. I wasn't sure if it would fit me so initially I decided not to buy it. 

As I started walking toward the exit I had to stop because Vince Gil and some one of his fans were taking a picture right in front of me. 

I decided that I needed to take advantage of this second chance photo op. So I asked one of his assistants if she would take picture for me. Vince said "hello", asked my name and what I was going to buy today. I told him about the t-shirt I had been looking at. Then we posed for the picture. 

 At that point I thought our conversation was over and I turned to leave. He then came back over to me and he led me over toward the rack on the wall and got it down for me.

As he handed me the shirt he told me that those who sit in his section of the arena call #9, "Scoresberg". A pretty clever play on his name. Wish I'd thought of that. 

At that point there was nothing to do but go pay for the shirt. I could have put it back but it would have been really awkward and I really wanted it.

As I walked out of the store I took a picture of an store employee who was all decked out in character as a Predators super fan. 
She wanted to take one with me but I only wanted her in the shot. When I thanked her she reminded me to make a lot of noise during the game as a way of cheering on the team. 

I got back to my seat just as the PA announcer introduced the Predators arrival on the ice for their shoot around and warm ups. 

I got a couple of shots of Forsberg shooting from the blue line. 
I took the opportunity to take a selfie with the team on the ice but it didn't turn out to be very good. The lights on the ice were too bright.  

Once the game started I put my camera away and enjoyed the action. Forsberg scored about the middle of the 1st period but it was taken away because his stick was too high when he hit redirected the puck into the goal. During the period, each team had a shot hit their opponent's goalpost. At the end of the first 20 minutes the game was still scoreless. 

At the first break I did what I had planned to do from the minute I first entered the arena. I went out to the Fox Sports set and got on TV. 

I showed you a picture of the way the set looked from the front this is what it looked like as I stood in the back. 

I did get on TV but I wasn't sure until I watched the video on my DVR the next day that I realized it. Here's some screen shots I took and a short video from the broadcast. I am on the right side of the screen under the word "Zone". 

I don't know about you but to me, that video has a little bit of a "Forrest Gump" feel to it. I didn't intend for it to be that way but that's how it turned out. 

The mission to get on TV took up most of the intermission time. I got back to my seat with about 2 minutes to go. Since the concession stand was right outside section 105, I figured I had time to get my soda refilled and get back for the start of the 2nd period. 

While waiting in line I realized that I was going to miss the start of the game. But I figured it would only be a minute or two so I wouldn't miss anything.

But as I stepped up to the counter, I heard the crowd roar and the horn sound. I realized I had missed the first score of the game. Austin Watson had put it in the net on a rebound off the backboard behind the goal. Slightly frustrated about missing the goal, I got back to my seat as quickly as I could. My hope was that what I missed wasn't the only goal of the night. 

Although the game had been quite exciting up to that point, it got even better than I could have expected. The defense and goal tending on both ends of the ice was practically perfect. The Preds net defender, Pekka Rinne, was magnificent.  

The score stayed at 1-0 until there was less than a minute left in the 3rd period. That's when a Predator's mistake at mid ice resulted in Vancouver tying the score. Regulation play ended with the teams knotted at 1-1.

This meant I was about to see my first live overtime game. At this point I was fortunate to see quite a few things in a hockey game I'd never seen before. (granted I can count the number of games I've been to on one hand but still there were some cool first time things...) 

The 3-on-3, five minute, overtime period started off with some controversy. About a minute into it a Nashville goal was once again disqualified; this time for a player interfering with the Vancouver goalie. 

This ruling caused the arena full of Nashville fans to chant insistently that in their opinion that the referee resembled a vacuum cleaner.  

With 1:40 to go in OT the Predators were called for an interference penalty. Unlike regulation play, a penalty in overtime meant Vancouver got an extra skater for a 4 on 3 advantage. I had never seen this before. This meant that the Preds would most likely be in defensive mode hoping for the chance to win during the shoot out. 

They held the Caunuks off for the remaining time. As the clock wound down to under 10 seconds a couple of the Preds stepped in front of and blocked a Vancouver shot. 

The puck rebounded back into the middle of the Pred's zone and Roman Josi picked it up and rushed down the ice. Along with him was Calle Jarnkrok. The two on none break was both an opportunity to score and a race against time. Deep in the Canucks' zone, Josi passed Jarnkrok, who with 1.5 seconds on the clock put the puck passed Vancouver's goalie for the overtime win. 

The building went wild and so did I. The Preds, had won the game and snapped a 6 game home losing streak. 

After a brief but intense celebration, I was quickly out of my seat, through the exit, and back in my car in about 10-15 minutes. It took me about half an hour to get out of the parking garage, through downtown and onto I-65 but that was perfectly fine with me. 

The night couldn't have turned out any better. My first solo trip to a Predators game was a memorable one. A whole lot of fun. I would like to go back again in April when they play the New York Islanders, my favorite team since I was a teenager. 

Maybe I'll take my wife along with me if she wants to go. She's not a hockey fan but just being there is an experience. If it's anything like this one was, I can't wait.