One last Christmas card idea …

This really doesn’t pertain to the Chico Christmas card theme, but I had one last idea for a Christmas card. I wanted a simple photo of a Christmas tree with a twist — it would be presented in the same graphical style as the Obama HOPE poster. Here’s a refresher if you need it.
I was wondering how to recreate the effect. Thanks to the internets, I quickly found a tutorial. This step-by-step guide by Zach Wentz on Vectortuts makes it look relatively straightforward if you have the right software (namely Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator).
Instead of red and blue hues, my card would have green and red tones. The caption could say “TREE,” but it seems kinda lame. (Did the original poster say “OBAMA”? I think not.) I guess “HOPE” applies to Christmas too.
I guess I could do it next year, but it might be a little passe at that point. Perhaps I can produce it in a couple of year when it will seem retro, like old “Nixon for President” T-shirts.

Presenting my 2008 Chico Christmas card

As diehard readers know — I’ve been working on a Chico-themed Christmas card for 2008. A lot of people, myself included, wanted me to create the Sierra Nevada Santa. However, logistics and time constraints made that really difficult to do. The good news is that I’m on course to do it next year.

With Sierra Nevada Santa out of the picture (no pun intended), I was scrambling for another idea. At the last minute, inspiration struck me and I went with a toy theme. Chico is home to the National Yo-Yo Museum and that is where I took this year’s card photo. I went to the Bird-in-Hand store and photographed a yo-yo — with a twist.

Here’s the front of the card (click to see the inside):

I wanted to give this to you for Christmas …
I wanted to give this to you for Christmas …

Click more to see the inside of the card.

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This just in: Fat guys don’t always have attractive wives

BBC News published an article about how watching romantic comedies can spoil your love life. Apparently, the survey conducted by Heriot Watt University in Scotland showed that the films gave people unrealistic expectations (including, in the sack) and fans of such films often fail to communicate with their partners.
The whole article had some pretty interesting details about fate and destiny and stuff like that. It’s worth a read.
It’s funny we needed a study to show us that romantic comedies provide unrealistic images of romance. I would venture to guess that these movies also provide unrealistic images of comedy as well. After all, how many rapping grannies have you encountered at weddings?
Aside from romantic comedies, I can think about a few things that give unrealistic expectations about love, partnerships and bedroom stuff.

  • Sitcoms – As alluded to in the headline, how realistic is it for an overweight common man to land a hot wife? Examples include “King of Queens,” “The Simpsons” and “According to Jim.” I guess the first example would be “The Honeymooners.”
  • Adult films – Hypothetically speaking, this genre really doesn’t delve into romantic love, but there are unrealistic expectations about practically everything else.
  • Musicals – I would like to spontaneously break into song while on a date, but I’m worried the commuters on the subway would give me dirty looks instead of joining in.

Can you think of other genres of films or media that offer unrealistic expectations about romance?

Do-it-yourself TV antenna

I recently purchased a DTV converter box for my secondary TV (using the $40 coupon from the guv’ment). Unlike my larger, living-room TV which uses cable, I have a smaller TV that still uses an antenna.
I plugged everything in — antenna to the converter box to the TV. To my dismay, I only reliably got two DTV stations (and two subchannels for total of four channels). The results were worse than my earlier test (which you can watch the video of here).
Odds are, I’ll probably need to get an outdoor antenna to pull in a decent number of digital TV channels. There is one thing that I would like to try — make my own antenna (PDF link). The instructions are from “Make,” a new public TV program. The directions look cool and pretty straightforward — well, I guess if some old metal clothes hangers, some wood and a freakin’ transformer are straightforward.
Still, it sounds like it’s worth a try. The antenna is designed to pull in the UHF channels that most local stations are going to.

Here’s more about “Make” from the public-broadcasting publication, Current.
On the jump is my earlier video story about the DTV switch and what local viewers might encounter:

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OK, now I have to find a Santa suit

Perhaps I have bitten off more than I can chew. In an earlier post, I asked you — the reader — to help me pick my Chico-themed Christmas card. In what amounts to overwhelming response for both me and my blog, the following has become clear:

  • No one liked my object d’arte idea. Especially when I used a creepy holiday decoration at a nearby restaurant as the prop.
  • The Senator ornament idea got a lukewarm response. Some noted that the Senator was an unusual object for holiday decoration while others liked the idea.
  • The City Plaza Christmas Tree idea was greeted by only chirping crickets.
  • But, hands down, people liked the Sierra Nevada Santa.

The Santa idea was hugely popular with people saying I should definitely do it. Now it is my responsibility to carry this off in a tasteful fashion. I think that will be the key for success.

Part of my problem is finding the right “look” for Santa. As I said before, I want to depict the fun and warmth of the earlier campaign involving the cola-flavored sugar water.

Some people have suggested giving a bottle to a mall Santa. A mall Santa. Regardless of what one may think about mall Santas, I just think there are too many variables in play there.

I also want to be a part of the photo, so I don’t think a mall Santa can play the role of Santa for my card. Someone suggested the idea of my posing with mall Santa and a bottle of Sierra Nevada, but that just disconcerts me.

I think the best person for the role of Santa for my Christmas card is me. So, now all I have to do is find a Santa suit.

One good thing about the NFL Network …

… I won’t be able to easily see tonight’s game between the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers.
For years, the National Football League has been pushing to get its limited-appeal NFL Network on to cable systems’ basic tier. Their goal — to get into as many homes as possible and increase the amount of per-customer subscription fees that the cable companies have to pay. Many cable companies object — pointing out that subscribers who want to fork out the dough for the NFL Network can easily subscribe to a higher level of access to watch the channel.
Anyway, whenever there’s a big game on the NFL Network, the league uses the game and upset fans to put pressure on the cable systems. This happened last year when the New England Patriots put their perfect season on the line during a game scheduled to be aired on NFL Network (the network’s coverage was ultimately shared with two broadcast networks).
It’s really silly — the only time I would want to see the network is when there’s a game on. That’s about eight or 10 times a year. For the remaining 355 days, I have no desire to watch or pay for the NFL Network.
That’s when the games are worth watching. Tonight’s rivalry matchup between the two struggling franchises doesn’t really inspire me (even if it is being broadcast in 3D in certain locations).

Making a Chico-themed Christmas card – Help me decide

Ah, the holidays. It’s the time of year when we turn our thoughts to Christmas, the overwrought and overfought War on the War Against Christmas, the other holidays and stuff. This also means Christmas cards, gifts and more.

While there are a lot of different people and publications will encourage you to shop local for the holidays, I will refrain from discussing that subject until later. (Besides, I prefer to shop loco).

No, the most important thing for me now is to get cards out to friends and family. I haven’t sent the cards out in a few years and I feel like a heel.

At the same time, I don’t want to send the same old boring card — no stale winter themes or dramatic newsletters of my accomplishments for me. I want to add a local flavor. For example, when I lived in Michigan I used stamps that were launched in the town where I lived.

So, how do I kick it up, Chico-style? I could try to get the musical group Yule Logs to pose for a picture, but I don’t know if friends back east would get it.

I’ve been pondering some ideas, but I wanted to give you all a chance to weigh in. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • A – Remember that great Coca-Cola ad campaign with the portraits of Santa holding the iconic soda bottle? OK, picture this — me dressed as Santa holding the Chico-equivalent, a big bottle of Sierra Nevada ale. I’ll try to make it look classy and less like a poorly dressed nerfherder with booze.
  • B – I took a photo of the Senator Theatre through an ornamental metal fence in Chico City Plaza. For this, I would try to recreate it with a holiday theme — a wreath and some ornaments.
  • C – An image of the holiday tree in City Plaza. I’ll try to jazz it up somehow.
  • D – A photo of me in some holiday garb holding a local object d’arte.

What do you think? Help me decide and you might win the grand prize — a Christmas card from yours truly.

Here are some illustrations to help with your decision:
B – The Senator Theatre concept
D – Me, holding an object d’arte

Sierra Nevada featured in “Viewfinder” public TV program

It’s always nice to see coverage of one of Chico’s breweries, so I was pleased to turn on KVIE’s “Viewfinder” program and see Sierra Nevada featured in the episode, “On Tap.”
As someone with just a passing familiarity of the NorCal beer scene, I liked the half-hour episode. It featured stops at Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, Napa Smith Brewery and Sierra Nevada. Napa Smith is a new brewer, but it has some roots in the long-defunct New Albion Brewery (the first micro-brewery).
Host Gary Gelfand interviews Ken Grossman on the brewery’s second floor. Grossman talked briefly about the brewery’s early years and its current initiatives on energy and resource conservation.
There are no commercials, so the episode ran for about 26 minutes. I’m sure some people could talk for hours about the intricacies of brewing, but I thought it was a concise look at highlights of Northern California’s impact on modern brewing. It also matches with my brief reading on the subject — home brewers got a huge boost when it was legalized in the late-1970s, but quality control was vital for companies to survive and expand.
For a program from a Sacramento-based broadcaster, I thought it did a nice job of covering the north state. Sacramento gets its mentions — for the old Buffalo beer and a panel recommending their favorite Sac brews. UC Davis also gets a segment for its brewing program.
The episode is available through Wednesday via Comcast On Demand in the Local section. I’m also embedding the episode here (YouTube via KVIE). Bottoms up … in moderation, of course.