Fight! Fight! Fight!

This weekend will likely be a glorious celebration of the end of summer. I hope you have time to attend a cool musical event that will help the victims of this year’s wildfires.
At 9 p.m. Saturday, Nick’s Night Club is hosting “The Ultimate Firefight! Beatles vs. Rolling Stones.” The event features a large number of Chico and regional acts playing covers of songs from the two iconic musical groups.
If it’s anything like last year’s Elvis vs. Elvis (Presley vs. Costello), the event will be a total blast although I demand a recount of Costello’s “victory”. It’s a great way to spend an evening for five bucks and the fact that all proceeds go to the North Valley Community Fire Victims Fund makes it all the sweeter.

The four-day weekend begins

Heading home from work tonight showed that the four-day Labor Day weekend has begun.
It’s a three-day weekend for us working stiffs, but it appears that most Chico State students have Friday off so they’ve stretched the festivities into another day. More power to them.
It’s definitely interesting seeing how activity downtown shoots up when school starts. It almost seems to reach a fevered pitch during holiday weekends such as this. There was a definite uptick in people heading to and fro tonight.
I hope many people lay low until Sunday. That’s when the weather is supposed to turn positively pleasant as temperatures are expected to plunge by nearly 20 degrees from the 100s to the high 80s.
When it’s all said and done, I hope people have a safe and fun weekend.

A desire called streetcar

Over the years, some have expressed an interest in bringing back streetcars to Chico. After all, once upon a time, streetcar lines threaded through the heart of Chico. Some cars went all the way to San Francisco. My colleague Vince Abbate wrote more about electric trains and streetcars here.
I happen to enjoy taking mass transit, for the most part. I’ve taken rides on streetcars in San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Toronto and more. It’s a good way for me to learn about a city without getting horrendously lost in my car. Many have their advantages and disadvantages, but I imagine cost is one of the biggest factors.
There’s a certain nostalgia for the streetcar or trolley. There’s a painting of one in Chico City Plaza and there’s a bus dressed up to look like a trolley. A streetcar system for Chico would be cool, but I wonder about the practicality, cost and flexibility of a light-rail system in such a modestly sized city. Especially given the struggle about growth and how building up (or denser) seems like an unpopular option among many.
Still, it’s nice to dream and look at what other cities are doing. The New York Times recently looked at streetcar projects across the country.
Now, I would be very happy if someone could explain the difference between streetcars and light-rail transit (I imagine a Venn diagram is in order).

More on the “New York” Olympics

As I noted earlier, NBC is having announcers in New York do the call on events happening half a world away. I’m not the only that’s noticed, The New York Times did a story titled “New York-Based Crews Just Call It as They See It” looking inside the Peacock’s New York broadcasting center — set up on the stages of “Saturday Night Live.”

It’s an interesting story that answered a lot of questions I had about the New York operation, including the number of sports being broadcast in this fashion (13) and the reason why they did it (because NBC agreed to send fewer people to the Games).

Fake fireworks and “live” coverage

In my earlier post, I was somewhat hopeful that NBC took pains to note when their Olympic announcers were in New York instead of live in China.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so hopeful after I found out that some of the Opening Ceremony fireworks were apparently digital fakes. Commentators and bloggers are jumping on the fact that the ceremony producers were worried about the display of the fireworks so they created a fairly convincing reproduction to air on TV while the real display took place around Beijing.
A blog from The Hollywood Reporter goes into pretty good detail about the matter. That blog post gets responses to some pretty good questions, including how NBC feels it can get away with graphics that say events are “LIVE” when they are most certainly being tape-delayed for the West Coast. It’s a minor frustration for me — I’d rather see sporting events live.
Aaron Barnhart has more about the digital fakery at TV Barn.

Exploring the city’s limits – It’s not too late for me

My shadow on Lower TrailConfession time.
Every time I move to a new city, especially since becoming an adult, I feel bad that I didn’t take full advantage of the place I’m leaving. This happened when I left San Diego for the east and when I departed Houghton, Mich. for the West Coast.
I regretted never using the snowmobile trail that ran right behind my work (and two blocks from my house) and I never went. Heck, there was a ski slope five minutes away and I never strapped on skis once.
I have to admit that I’ve been guilty of ignoring many of Chico’s natural landmarks as well. The first time I really went to Bidwell Park was when I helping someone find their keys at two in the morning. The One-Mile Recreation Area seemed pretty peaceful but that’s all I got from it because, you know, it was dark.
I was able to follow that up with some fun videos and 3-D panoramas of Sycamore Pool, an in-creek pool filled by Big Chico Creek.
Still, after 3.5 years, a large part of Chico’s large urban park remained a seldom-seen frontier for me — Upper Park. I made some short journeys, but no true explorations.
Since passing a milestone birthday, I realized I’m going to need to check some of these places out more often. My first stop after a late lunch — Upper Park.
220547243141.jpgI was kicking myself that I didn’t go sooner. After parking my car by Horseshoe Lake, I was quickly impressed by the vast canvas of nature stretched from Chico’s core. It was a completely different feel from Lower Park.
Setting out, I picked what appeared to be the easiest trail – Lower Trail. I like easy and it seemed the one that would offer the most shade for someone who wasn’t prepared for a long walk in the sun. The walk, which frequently paralleled the road that runs alongside Big Chico Creek, had a wide variety of terrain including open fields, groves of trees and slightly hilly terrain. It was a great deal of fun for a short, impromptu hike.
It was nice to get in to the open. Aside from the relatively calming sounds of nature, there were only a few man-made noises. The electric buzz from high power lines over the park was the biggest distraction.
The walk was extremely fun and broadened my horizons about this area. There’s a lot of things I want to see in Northern California and it makes sense to start in my own relative backyard. It’s definitely an experience that I want to continue soon.

Live from New York … it’s the Beijing Olympics

Watching the overnight, live coverage of the Olympics on USA Network has been interesting. One huge thing caught my eye, or rather my ear. When equestrian dressage and soccer started, the NBC announcers took care to note that they were watching the action “along with the audience” from the NBC studios in New York.

It struck me as odd that at least two live events would be called out of a broadcasting booth 6,800 miles away. I wonder how many events will be aired like this.

Part of me thinks its a little ridiculous. If these announcers are “watching along with the audience,” why have professionals do the call at all? Wouldn’t an equestrian enthusiast perhaps have an equal chance to provide some interesting insights to a general audience? Especially when I’m fairly sure they spend a considerable amount of time trying to explain their sport to people.

Still, I can think of a couple possible reasons why they would do this. It might be the best way to cover some of the less-mainstream events when the alternative is to not cover them at all. I can scarcely imagine how much NBC is paying to produce its coverage when the license fees cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Maybe not flying some staff to China helps save costs.

I’m sure there are a few dirty secrets about airing a huge sporting competition halfway around the globe. Sometimes the announcers don’t record their play-by-play until after an event ends when they know it’s going to air later on tape. Also having broadcasters do a play-by-play far removed from the playing pitch is a trick that goes back to the days when there was just radio.

Ultimately, I guess it’s a good thing that they’re noting that the announcers aren’t on-site. Although the Internet and other near-instantaneous media have their advantages, I think someone who’s actually present has a unique perspective that a broadcast booth in Rockefeller Center can’t match.

The live Games – Part of me really wants to get into badminton and equestrian dressage, but the tired, up-since-9-a.m. part of me just wants to go to bed. Still, kudos to Katerina Emmons of Croatia for winning the first gold of these games for an air rifle event. She won shortly after the West Coast airing of the Opening Ceremonies ended.

The Opening Ceremonies – I didn’t get a chance to watch much of the ceremony while I was at a house party. There were some pretty rabid Oakland Raiders fans who wanted to watch a pre-season game instead of a show recorded 15 hours ago.

One thing stood out as I watched Yao Ming and Lin Hao, his young companion who survived the Sichuan earthquake. Lin Hao’s Chinese flag was upside down, which is either a sign of protest or distress in the United States (it most often generates ire when it’s flown in protest). Repeated displays of such an image stood out in what was otherwise a carefully and beautifully choreographed event.

The glances that I saw of the 4.5-hour event were pretty spectacular and I managed to see the climatic cauldron lighting. Good thing there’s a repeat of this taped event airing right now so I can catch up.

Online – Have I mentioned that you can keep up with the Games with’s Olympics section? I’m just saying. 😉