Archive for December, 2006

Jack Frostbite

December 29, 2006

Bob RedellThere’s nothing I hate more than warmth and sunlight. Thank goodness for North Pole, Alaska. I was up there just before Christmas, doing live shots in front of Santa’s house for us and NBC. The forecast called for minus 23 degrees. But fortunately for me, those forecasters were way off.

Phew… It was only minus 18 degrees. Pool Party!

Late morning sunrise. The sun never really got above the horizon. Only about four hours of sunlight. It’s really great – if you’re a vampire. Hey, talk about a serious bite.

Someone needed to feed the reindeer outside Santa’s house (where we did our live shots from.)

Donner went to town on that cable that belonged to Trent (our satellite truck guy from Anchorage.) BTW: People who live in Alaska are the ultimate survivalists: the McGyver’s of the North. Super nice people…. and they’re so environmental. Check out all those electric cars!

Oh, wait. Those are the plugs for the car heaters so the fluids in the engines don’t freeze up because it’s so freakin’ cold!

In all seriousness, Alaska is a beautiful place to visit. The air is so fresh. Don’t have to worry about traffic or large crowds. And the summers are something else. Spent part of July a long time ago at my great aunt and uncle’s cabin outside Anchorage. (They were homesteaders.) Cool thing was it never really got dark. The streams were loaded with salmon. And the views were extraordinary.

To get to North Pole, Alaska: Bay Area flight to Seattle to Anchorage to Fairbanks. North Pole is a little town about 15 minutes outside Fairbanks, about 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle. At least I didn’t have to worry about Jack Frost nipping at my toes. Even he was trying to borrow my gloves.

Bob Redell
NBC11 Reporter

Christmas Memories

December 21, 2006

Brent Cannon

I’ve been recalling some of my favorite Christmas memories. We talk about how the weather has changed over the years – and it’s true. When I was a kid growing up in Denver, we seemed to get more snow storms and they were bigger. One year, I got a new bike, but there was so much snow I couldn’t go out to ride it for several days. I got a new Schwinn three speed “Spyder.” It had metallic green paint (metallic was kind of new back then) – and a banana seat – and a racing slick style tire on the back. Having multiple speeds was big. They had ten speeds, but not many kids had those – and there wasn’t any such thing as a 21 speed. No mountain bikes – no bikes with shocks, etc. I was thrilled. I loved that bike.

Another year, I got a tape recorder with a little microphone. I about wore the heads off that thing. We used to listen to my little transistor radio, and when we heard a song we liked, we’d hurry and record it on the tape recorder. But if anybody moved or spoke, coughed, laughed or what have you – you could hear it in the background when we played the song back. We filled tape after tape with our favorite songs. It was the best quality we could get in those days. Now I have an iPod and I make “playlists” on the computer. But many of the songs are the same.

I made a new Christmas memory this weekend. I was asked to be Santa at a Christmas party with dozens of little kids. I had to don an entire suit – glue on a beard – and paint my eyebrows. The reaction of the kids was
unforgettable. Only a couple were too afraid to sit on my lap. But I found, if I talked to them and let them take their time – they usually came over after a bit. Most couldn’t wait for Santa. Laura got a snapshot of one little boy – peeking out the curtains to see if Santa was coming yet.


One kid was skeptical. He wanted to know where my sleigh was. I told him I had the reindeer circling until I was done. Later, he asked if I knew his name. Lucky for me, I heard somebody say it – and knowing he was skeptical I remembered. He was stunned. I think he started to become a believer. A girl said I was looking younger. I told her I had been moisturizing. She didn’t seem to flinch. Another little boy said he thought he had seen elves around the house the past few days. I said I sent them to make sure my sled had a safe place to land. Is it wrong to lie to young children? Anyway, I told another kid I like cookies by the fireplace to keep me going during the big delivery on Christmas Eve. He was so excited he ran around the party and collected me a plate of cookies right there on the spot!

There were some older kids too. One teen had to sit on my lap as his mom snapped a picture. He quickly tried to leave – but I grabbed the back of his shirt and pulled him back down and told him he had to stay a little longer until he was good and embarrassed. He was stunned – but then we both had a good laugh. I hope his mom gets him a good present. All in all, a good night and I am sure a Christmas memory to add to my list of favorites. By the way – it’s not so nice there now – but the forecast in Denver this Christmas – sunny and 44.

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

Shannon’s Top 10 Movie Rentals For Your Holiday Break

December 15, 2006

Shannon O'Donnell

Since the weather outside is turning frightful (at least by California standards…”oh no, some drizzle and highs in the 50s–look out!”), staying indoors and watching movies sounds more and more inviting. In our household, we don’t own many DVDs as I don’t like to watch the same story over and over again. However, there are a few exceptions.

I have to watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ at least once every Christmas season (and since it’s on pretty much non-stop for the last two weeks of December, it’s not hard to catch it). I always completely lose it in the first 10 minutes of the movie, where a young George Bailey is getting his ears boxed by the old pharmacist for not delivering a prescription on time. When it’s revealed that he had accidentally put ‘poison’ in the bottle instead of the intended medicine and that George had saved the patient’s life, I always cry as hard as the distraught, not-so-sober pharmacist. My other perennial favorite is ‘The Sound of Music’–I was in awe of all of those dancing, singing children from the first time I saw the movie at age four. My little boys often go to sleep to Mommie’s warbly version of ‘Edelweiss’ or ‘Raindrops on Roses.’

You can count on those two classics to hit your local small screen several times a year, but if you’re looking for something ‘old-school’ to add to your Netflix order, here are my top 10 favorites that time may have forgotten:

1) For your young daughters: Anything Shirley Temple. Again, I guess I’m impressed by adorable young children who can sing and dance. My Grammie & I used to watch these together when they were featured on TV every Sunday morning, so they’re sentimental to me. My favorites are Heidi, A Little Princess, and Captain January, but they’re all great! Much better than all the too-sassy shows (‘Bratz’? Ugh!) out for little girls nowadays.

2) For your little boys: Disney’s’ original The Fox and the Hound. I see that a sequel was just released, but the original version was a favorite of mine and my brothers throughout our childhood (the record we had of this got as much play as our ‘Greatest American Hero’ 45!). I love the story of Copper & Todd, ‘should-be enemies’ who remain the best of friends. My brother and I still quote the, “And we’ll always be friends, forever” part that echoes over the hills at the end of the film.

3) For teenaged girls: Steel Magnolias. I know, I know, this is THE chick-flick ‘most-hated’ by all the guys out there. But any woman worth her salt has to see it in her lifetime, and I think there is a whole generation of young ladies out there who has not been exposed to Sally Field’s powerful cemetery scene… the combination of anger and profound grief she expresses upon losing her daughter makes me ‘like her, really like her!’ And when Olympia Dukakis’s character drawls, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me…”; well, let’s just say that like it or not, most women gossip, and this statement sums it all up.

4) For mother and daughters: The Joy Luck Club. This may be my all-time favorite movie. It’s the one I quote the most to be sure. I.E. “you take worst quality crab, because YOU have best quality HEART” and, on occasion when various girlfriends of mine have gone through a bad break-up with a guy that wasn’t good for them, “losing him does not matter. It is YOU who will be found.” But somehow you have to use these quotes with the thick Chinese accents of the characters in the movie, otherwise they lose their oomph! At any rate, the strong mother-daughter relationships of the four sets of characters in the movie breaks all cultural boundaries. I LOVE this movie.

5) For the lovelorn: The Mirror Has Two Faces. Starring Barbra Streisand as the underdog who finds herself, and finds true love, in the process.

6) For those that HATE scary movies: The Sixth Sense. Believe it or not, there are still people out there who have not seen this movie, including some close friends of mine. I try to tell them that it’s much MORE than a scary movie, that it’s a story about everlasting love… a story about our connection to the ‘other side,’ but they refuse to see it thinking it will be along the lines of the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ movies. My favorite scene is when the little boy tells his Mom that, “I talk to Grandma. She wanted me to tell you…”

7) For those that don’t get the Reese Witherspoon phenomenon and her Oscar win (I mean, didn’t she like, just star in those Legally Blonde movies?): Election. Brilliant acting, extremely clever script, tongue-in-cheek black humor. Love it!

8) For those that have never seen a Hitchcock movie: Rebecca. This spooky, suspenseful movie won best picture in 1941. One of my faves.

9) For those that love a good nail-biter: 12 Angry Men. This 1957 masterpiece features Henry Fonda as the juror that forces the other eleven to consider the meaning of ‘reasonable doubt.’

10) For your teenagers who think Lindsay and Hillary run the world: St. Elmo’s Fire. Or 16 Candles. Or Can’t Buy Me Love. Any of the good 80s movies about teen angst! Teenage stars may fade faster than you can say ‘rehab!’, but these are the classics of MY generation.

11) Bonus feature: 24. I know, this isn’t a movie. It’s better. When my husband and I rented season 1 the first time, the guy at the Blockbuster just shook his head and said, “uh oh.” I asked what the problem was, and he said, “you may as well be starting a crack addiction.” Sure enough, Kiefer Sutherland’s ‘Jack Bauer’ is James Bond-meets-MacGyver in this oh-so-twisty-turny-clever television show. I’m a bit partial to it as my husband looks an awful lot like Kiefer; it’s not a total coincidence that we named our newborn son ‘Jack’…!

Alright! Make a good tub of buttery, salty popcorn, and enjoy!

Shannon O’Donnell
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist

Signs of the Season

December 15, 2006

Mike InouyeIn cities around the country, we see footage of snow-covered roofs, people bundled up with hats and mufflers, leafless trees and kids sledding down the hillside. To most, these images say “winter” and “holiday season.”

Here in the Bay Area, though, signs of the season are a little different. They’re there if you look, just… different.

Local coffee houses stop pushing their Pumpkin Spiced Lattes and start pushing their Gingerbread Lattes and Peppermint Mochas.

Shoppers in short sleeves and flip-flops are intently browsing the scarves and overcoats.

We also know the holidays are coming because of two San Jose traditions, Christmas in the Park and the San Jose Holiday Parade. The entire morning team was honored to be part of it again this year, the 25th anniversary!
The parade started from the icy HP Pavilion. (Well, the ice was inside and the palm trees were outside where we were parked.)

The day was great, we all had a blast, Curious George looked appropriately curious with one leg flat and by the end of the morning Casper was even floating a little lower.

Many wonderful groups of performers participated in the parade. One we passed consisted of a number of young ladies in stretchy Christmas Tree outfits.

Purple Christmas Tree Gal?

That sorta says the Bay Area Holidays but nothing… NOTHING says “Holiday Parade” like a cowboy clown coming at you waving knives.

I leave you with that.

Happy Holiday Season!

Mike Inouye
NBC11 Traffic Anchor

Gosh Darned Gravy Boat

December 8, 2006

Scott McGrew

Okay, I don’t think I can start my blog post without commenting on Laura’s post below. Their marriage really is that strong. It has to be, really, because they spend all their workday together, they commute together. I’m not sure what they would say, but as an outside observer, I think the key to their strong marriage is patience with each other.

Now my wife will probably kill me for telling this story, but my best “marriage and the holidays” story actually involves an argument.

You see, way back in the previous century when we were engaged, we decided our wedding would be in Chicago, my hometown. During a brief trip there a few months before the wedding, we realized we needed to register for wedding gifts and had about an hour to do it before our plane left. This was back before the Internet — I’m sure it’s easier now — but back then we had to physically go to Marshall Fields and fill out a piece of paper listing the things we wanted.

So imagine having an hour to look through four of five floors of a department store to come up with about one hundred different items that 1) you want 2) are appropriate for a wedding gift 3) are realistic for your guests to afford.

There was a lot of pressure, in other words, and at one point one of us lost it and said “I really don’t care about the Gosh Darned gravy boat.” Only it wasn’t Gosh Darned, if you follow.

We realized quickly that sliver serving dishes were not worth arguing over and laughed about it.

And ever since, at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, it’s been the “Gosh Darned (you know what I mean) Gravy Boat.” As in, “honey, these potatoes are delicious! Please pass the $*@% gravy boat.”

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter

Traditions Brought ‘To Light’

December 7, 2006

Laura Garcia Cannon

I can’t believe the holidays are here. I always heard my parents talk about years flying by when I was a kid, but now as an adult I’m living it!! Since being married, I always try to be conscientious of incorporating my husband’s family traditions into mine. But it makes for either a lot of food, or a really bright tree. Let me explain. I come from a family where the lights on the tree where all white, glistening in beauty with rich ribbon and ornate ornaments. It was a no brainer for me to go to the store when we got married and pick out several strands of white lights for our tree, mantle and balcony. Brent usually puts the lights on ( I’m too short ) and when he opened the bag of lights I bought he said, “All white?” I answered gleefully, not even thinking of a possible problem, “Yes!” He put them on, along with the ornaments and sat back to admire his work. He then said, “You know, we always had colored lights at my house.” He wasn’t mad, just mentioning what his family did.

So, every year the same lights get dragged out of storage for decorating and every year I hear the slight mention, “We always had colored lights.” Well after 10 years of the same lights, this year when Brent plugged them in, fffftzzz! They blew out! Brent decided to go to the store to get new lights. I thought — he’s definitely getting colored lights this year, I didn’t ask, didn’t fuss, what’s the big deal I thought? It’s his turn for colored lights. Little to my surprise, when I got home later that day Brent had put up some sort of weird switch on our tree. He proudly said, hey take a look at this! He turns a switch – all white lights!! He says,”This one is for you”. Then turns the switch again and all colored lights come on! He says, “This one is for me!” and then, yet one more switch flip and both colored and white lights illuminate our living room tree! He says, “This one is for us!” I know, I know, some of you reading this will think it’s totally cheesy, but I thought it was really sweet and he’ll probably hate me for sharing it, but it’s a good example of how two people, with different backgrounds, and traditions, can incorporate both into the holiday cheer. I guess it brought ‘to light’ – pun intended, how important everyone’s traditions are!

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

Tongue Tried

December 1, 2006

Brent CannonEverybody is talking about the trainer at Sea World who was attacked by one of the Killer whales in the Shamu show. I have had up close experience with the whales at Sea World. A few years ago I did a series of reports from Sea World. The staff took me behind the scenes so that I could understand what the crew goes through in taking care of the many sea creatures there – where they come from – how they train etc. One day they took me to see Shamu in the massive tank behind the one where fans come to see the shows. They asked if I wanted to pet Shamu’s tongue. It turns out these powerful creatures like their tongue scratched much like a cat likes to be scratched behind their ears. I hesitantly agreed. The trainer called Shamu – whom I could not see in the tank. But soon I saw a big wave rolling from the other side of the tank – and coming right at me. It was Shamu under water – the sheer speed and power creating a mini tsunami. At the edge of the tank where I was waiting is a ramp into the water – and Shamu slid right up on it – out of the water next to me. It was thrilling – awe inspiring – and frightening all at the same time. This massive body comes sailing out of the water with ease, like a friendly puppy dog wanting to play. Shamu’s mouth opens like a small cave with rows of sharp teeth above and below. The trainer tells me to stick my arm in there and scratch the tongue. Are you kidding! Shamu could snap my arm off with one quick chomp. Or snatch me off the ramp and drag me underwater. But for some reason I did as I was instructed and scratched away. Shamu seemed content enough and seemed to enjoy it – although it’s not like they purr or anything. I got my arm back and called it a day. I got to do something many people will never experience – and I still have both my arms. But it made me realize what an amazing thing occurs each time these trainers and whales do a show – working hand in fin (?) as a team. Something went wrong the other day at Sea World. But the trainer was not seriously hurt. We have to remember that these whales are still wild animals and anything can happen. Considering the possibilities – everybody was very lucky.

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor