Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas in Downtown Sacramento Isn't the Same

Time for me to add holiday cheer to my blogs, web page and Twitter page. Before I do that, I took some time to see what Christmas is like in downtown Sacramento.

The recession has already taken a toll on Downtown Plaza. The annual lighting of the traditional tree was cancelled. Instead we have this...

I'd rather have the big tree

A toy display in front of the former Hard Rock Cafe. If that is not symbolic of hard times in downtown, this is...

This is NOT the same

A dozen small trees with lights is not the same. We could have just one in my house.

So, it's left to Old Town to bring in the big Christmas cheer. They have a new show called Theater of Lights that happens twice a night from Thursdays to Sundays. It's a bit of Disneyland in Old Town. It's hosted by a guy who says he's Mark Twain.....

Mark Twain? Maybe

He gives a brief history of Old Town, but the highlight is a reading of The Night Before Christmas. The performance I saw on November 27th was actually a hoot. We have Santa with his eight reindeer...

Here Comes Santa Claus

Then he ho-ho-ho'ed just a bit too much, resulting in this...

Hey! Santa's hair is attacking him!

He should perfect this part of the job in no time, and do it perfectly by Christmas Eve.

There's also the tree as the area's centerpiece. This is a lovely view at sunset.

Old Town Christmas Tree

I also liked this row of trees, with hats instead of angels on top.

Christmas Trees With Hats

So, if you happen to be at Old Town this holiday season, take some time to enjoy the way they celebrate Christmas. It also shows the advantage of having local businesses. I bet Westfield decided to pool all their holiday cheer at the Roseville Galleria and neglect Downtown Plaza because people would rather go to Roseville and its better variety of shops. Well, adding a Hyundai store to Downtown Plaza doesn't make up for not having a tree this year. Not in my opinion.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Is It Too Soon To Judge Conan?

It didn't take long for people to decide if Conan O'Brien's new show on TBS would be a hit or a miss.
After big ratings Monday, they have dropped, as expected. It happened when he took over The Tonight Show. In the long run, he did pull in a bigger audience than Jay Leno, but NBC wanted that "comfort midnight snack" that carried the show since 1992.
After three days, USA Today is saying the show is just like the one he had on NBC, which is both good and bad. Entertainment Weekly, for some reason, is upset he makes fun of TBS a lot. Yeah, and why shouldn't he? The other hosts mock their networks,. It's kind of like federal law.

I think I know the problem: everyone wants Conan to be the TV version of the Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on TV Tour. They expect that because they think cable can allow it.
You know, they may be right. I'd like to see Conan go free-form a bit more, and maybe involve his guests in comedy bits, make it more of a variety show with interviews. Tuesday's whale-watching bit with Tom Hanks proves that. Imagine what they could do with Jon Hamm, the most handsome SNL host in years, and damn funny to boot.
Maybe Conan isn't sure what he can do or get away with right now. He's starting the new era with what he knows best, which is the show he's been doing since 1992. Then, he can decide what walls he can remove.
Here's another idea: bring back the characters he had in the NBC days, and say, "OK, NBC, I expect your gun-toting lawyers tomorrow. Come and get me!"
That would be worth it, to see Triumph, the Masturbating Bear. the Preparation H guy, S&M Lincoln, and the like. Heck, bring back Amy Poehler as Andy's little sister Stacy. This time, since she's grown up since then, we can see if she still has a crush on Conan or is dating a Jay Leno clone.
Also, with the Conan Blimp being grounded by winds, why not do a bit about that? Conan can say the Blimp is grounded because those assassins who shot him in the first show now want to blast the blimp out of the sky. However, you get the pilot armed with a "say hello to my little friend" rocket launcher, and he blasts the assassins away. Then, the blimp flies again, and finally starts its West Coast swing.

The point is this: we shouldn't say if Conan has succeeded or failed after a week. We shouldn't complain about his choice of jokes. Let him spit out the last of the NBC-caused venom. Let him mock his new surroundings, even if they're nicer than the old set. Let him admit his new situation. he'll know that after a week or two, he'll tell the crowd that he's gone through the Seven Stages of Grief, and from now on, it's gonna be Conan time every night.
If there is a time to make any judgement, it should be during the holiday break. Then we can decide what works, what doesn't and what changes can be made.
Heck, he had a hard enough time trying to keep his job at NBC during his first year. Let's not be hasty. That's too prime-time. It's also too much like pro sports.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nice Little Vacation

Well, that was five days that went fast.
Much of it was spent hammering out stories about the "Weekend of Whedon", which apparently is giving Whedonopolis a lot more visitors these days. I was sure someone else would recap what happened at several other websites. Apparently, I have been thanked for going the extra mile getting all the big stories.

Aside from that, I did something I hadn't done since Comic-Con two years ago when I wanted to see the premiere of Inglorious Basterds: I woke up at the crack of dawn to get a standby ticket for Conan O'Brien's second show for TBS. As you can see....

Not the premiere, but close

I made it, but barely. I was number 11 on the standby line, and the magic number was 14. Still, it was worth sacrificing some sleep to get to see the real beginning of Conan's career on basic cable. I got there about seven a-m, and wondered how many people would be there. There were seven people in front of me, including five that had been here since 2 AM. It was cold but at least it was dry. I had a book about Dollhouse to keep me occupied. Couldn't have brought the iPod, since I could also prove it doesn't record anything.
The best part, of course, was Tom Hanks very happy to get the new show on a good start, since his next movie is more than eight months away. The best part was when he got drenched by the CGI whale. You can bet the backdrop will be the scene of many a strange situation. That's one-up on most late-night shows, except for Letterman. At least his backdrop can feature some trains, planes, and orange blimps.

Because of the usual prohibition of cameras, I decided to take a picture of some of the first fans from Monday's show.

Lucky Ones

A food truck called the Patty Wagon dropped by, to sell sliders to hungry Conan fans. It didn't show up for Tuesday's show, for some reason.

I also got a chance to see a taping of Jeopardy. The shows won't air for four months, but they have one guy who just make take the show for a lot of cash.
It was a lot better than the Catch 21 taping I saw last year. The seats at the Sony studios are much more comfortable. The set looks high-tech, but it's the contestants we're supposed to look at. Alex Trebek is also a very sharp wit. If Dancing With the Stars started ten years ago, he'd host it..or should.

So, that's my last visit to SoCal of 2010. I'll make another trip in late January. I hope this time the people who run The Ellen DeGeneres Show will accept my request to get a ticket. I lost out last year because they changed the schedule, and still got my "guaranteed" ticket three weeks after the episode aired. If my request for the November 9th show was accepted, I never would have gone to see Conan. I'll ask for tix for both, and maybe I'll be lucky this time. Getting a ticket to Kimmel is never a problem.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Changing Times

As you may know, it's the end of Daylight Savng Time for this year. We all experience something we haven't had to do for aware at 7:25 AM while thinking it's still 8:25.

At least I put the extra hour to use by finishing my stores from the frist day of the LAX CreationCon. They'll be posted later today at Whedonopolis. They're basically summaries, but with pictures very few people can see anywhere on the net. I really wish I could have talked to Nick Brendon some more abut his recent role in Private Practice, such as what convinced him to take the role, what's been the response (pretty good so far, according to yesterday) and whether he'd take darker roles in the future. If I do get a chance in the future, I'll do that.

But back to time itself...

It's interesting the reaction we have when we have to change our clocks. In the spring, we get upset that we've lost an hour right off the bat. Once we see we can stay out in the sun a bit longer, that anger is gone.

When we turn our clocks back, we think we have an advantage. We wake up an hour early, and realize we woke up just in time for football. Others, meanwhile, wonder what can they do when the sun is up earlier, and whish they could sleep a little longer. They are also usually the ones with big hangovers, and I don't mean from Election Day.
Once we see the sun set an hour earlier, we see that "profit" we had in the morning go away. Soon, our body clocks will be reset, and we'll get used to earlier mornings and longer nights. At least, though, it's just in time for Christmas.