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Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

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Forget playing/singing/jumping in the rain

1. Downtown Christmas Parade
The is the parade’s 85th year. The theme is Candy Canes and Christmas Carols. I’m hoping it’s a sing along.

2. Uppitees’ Holiday Handcraft Boutique
There are only 12 shopping days until Christmas.

3. “A Shot in the Dark
A performance piece from Fresno poet Stephen Mayu Jr.

4. Fresno Holiday Jam
For hip-hop fans young, old and other.

5. Christmas Tree Lane Ride
I’ll always mention a good group bicycle ride.

Here’s a bonus five live-music, concert-type events:

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Win tickets to Lively Arts Foundation’s “The Nutcracker”

Little known fact: In my younger years, I served as a stage hand for a local production of “The Nutcracker.” Essentially, I made sure that the Christmas tree got wheeled on stage at the right time and that the floors were mopped between shows (lest the dancers slip or trip). So, I’ve seen the show a couple of times and can say that there are few things more quintessentially Christmas than this ballet.

The Lively Arts Foundation presents its version of the retelling of “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” this Saturday and Sunday at the Saroyan Theatre. We have two tickets to give Saturday night’s performance for one lucky Beehiver. To enter to win, leave a comment on this post telling us what you think of as quintessential to the season. Deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday.

Please don’t enter more than once. Winners will be chosen at random and notified via email Thursday night. So check your email if you entered. Reminder: Because there are physical tickets, you will need to pick them up at The Fresno Bee office (1626 E. St.) during business hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m.). Complete rules on the jump.

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Do This! The 2012 Fresno Synced Christmas Light Tour

All right, Christmas-light chasers, we’ve reached the time of the year where you’re hunting for colorful displays. Like in years past, we’ve put together a guide to houses that do something a little different — they create dancing lights shows set to music.

Inspired by that viral video turned Miller Lite, these tech-savvy homeowners add a different element to light-looking. Something beyond Christmas Tree Lane and Cindy Lane. This is more like a choose-your-own-adventure outing, where the family piles into the car and criss-crosses the city to watch these shows one at a time. There’s no official map or organization behind the displays. We’ve tracked the houses the past few years. But the light shows come and go, depending on the year. So feel free to send us updates! Look below for a Google Map.

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Is this the worst Santa you’ve ever seen?

Wee Mike Oz had the rosiest cheeks and a smile on his face when Mommy took him to see Santa way back in 1983 (ish). He probably asked for a Power Wheel. Or some G.I. Joe’s. Or whatever else pre-schoolers wanted back then.

When grown-man Mike Oz found this picture last year, he had to wonder what Mom was thinking. This guy passed for Santa?!? And someone let me sit on his lap?!? Maybe it was the times. Maybe all Santas looked drunk and downtrodden in the early 80s.

This weekend’s Santacon (Saturday night in the Tower District) got me to thinking about horrible Santas. More than likely — at a pub crawl where participants dress in Santa costumes — you’re going to see some things that wouldn’t fly in the mall. You might see Santa making out with some ho-ho-hos, barfing in the bushes or dancing to LMFAO songs.

So here’s the question: Has anybody encountered a worst Santa than this guy? If you have a pic, great, post a link. If not, use your words and make us all feel the disgust oozing off the page.

Do this! The 2011 Fresno Synced Christmas Light Tour

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As promised, here’s this year’s list of local houses with their Christmas light shows synced to music.

If you’re new to this: It makes for a good self-guided tour for Christmas-light seekers. The houses are like the one in that famous Miller Lite commercial. Each show is about 10 minutes. You tune your car stereo into the specific station and watch the lights dance. It’s free, fun and local.

If you enjoyed the list last year, here’s a word for you: Two of the last year’s houses aren’t doing it this year, but tell me they hope to return in 2012. However, this is a new house on the list (the last one).

In the Oz Household, we find that this makes a nice addition to our annual outing to Cindy Lane and Christmas Tree Lane. Enjoy!

[photos: Craig Kohlruss / The Fresno Bee]

To-Do Tonight: Seasonal soul

Looking to re-capture some of that holiday spirit after the Shankmas Tree Lane news? Then head over to Fulton 55 tonight, which is a hosting a soulful seasonal concert. It features some nice up-and-coming local soul/R & B talent. I’ve heard a lot of great things about both Desirae Monique and Epiphany Tones. And B. Wash is back too, after his recent Crest Theatre-headlining show.

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Check out some music below:

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This is why we can’t have nice things

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Ya know, Fresno, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear news about someone getting stabbed at the mall or the fair or outside of the Walmart. But Christmas Tree Lane?!? Is nothing sacred to the hooligans in this town?

In case you missed the news:

One person was stabbed at Christmas Tree Lane on Tuesday night after a fight escalated, Fresno County sheriff’s deputies said.

One person was in custody in connection with the stabbing, a sheriff’s spokesman said Wednesday morning. There was no immediate information about the suspect’s age or identity.

Around 8 p.m., deputies were dispatched to Griffith Way and Van Ness Boulevard for a call about a stabbing. The victim was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, officials said. The condition of the victim is unknown.

Perhaps you should count this as another reason — aside from it being just a better light display — to visit Cindy Lane in Clovis.

PREVIOUSLY: Hey, Christmas Tree Lane, is that what we think it is?

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

In addition to this weekend’s Fresno Filmworks’ offerings

1. DON’T SLEEP ON A ROCK NIGHTMARE
Selland Arena rocks again. Thank New Rock 104.1 for Saturday’s Nightmare Before Christmas concert. It features a diverse cast of rock acts: Rise Against, A Day to Remember and Awolnation, who I interviewed for today’s newspaper. [Tix]

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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

Other than waiting for a table at Yard House.

1. START A NEW CHRISTMAS TRADITION
This weekend brings us a couple of new holiday-themed events that are a little different than the usual Christmas fare. It’s something I wrote about in my Bee column today. There’s the inaugural SantaCon Fresno happening Saturday with people dressed as Santas bar-hopping around the Tower District. Then there’s Fresno’s first-ever festival celebrating the “Seinfeld”-created holiday, Festivus, which is happening tonight at Fulton 55. It’s organized by the Dirty Dowdy Podcast and features local bands and comics as well as many of the Festivus traditions as outlined on “Seinfeld” — the Festivus pole, Airing of Grievances and so forth.

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Mark your calendar: Christmas downtown

Looks like next weekend is taking shape as a big Christmas celebration in downtown Fresno. There’s the annual Christmas parade — which was resurrected after being canceled — at 10 a.m. Saturday. Afterward, the city has organized a variety of activities around downtown as part of something it’s calling WinterFest.

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The cool thing about WinterFest is a “passport” game where attendees can win prizes while exploring downtown:

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Merry (belated) Christmas from Julio Iglesias

Every day in December, I checked my mailbox hoping my Christmas card from Julio Iglesias would arrive. I returned to The Bee today after being gone for 11 days to find that I had one last Christmas present waiting for me. My card from La Familia Iglesias.

The short version of the backstory, for those who haven’t followed in the past: A few years back I interviewed Julio before a Fresno show and I’ve been on his Christmas card list ever since. It’s an annual reminder that he and his model wife have disgustingly beautiful children. The younger ones — not Enrique and the like.

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Fres-Know: Fresher than a batch of homemade Christmas cookies

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NEWS: Local activist Robin McGehee invited to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal [The Bee]

GOOD READ: Last-minute generosity saves Christmas for local needy [The Bee]

BLOGGINGS: 2010 Fresno blogosphere awards [Daily Dues]

WATCH THIS: “On the Scene” at opening night for “Tron Legacy” [Dumb Drum]

BLOGGINGS: Mayor Ashley Swearengin shares her Xmas food tradition [Taste Fresno]

SURVEY SAYS: Fresno = worst city of business [The Business Journal]

ON THE LIST: Fresno State’s Pedro Ramirez named a top role model [Huffington Post]

RECOMMENDED: Sunday night jazz at Tokyo Garden [Fresno Famous]

SECONDS: More on Claim Jumper’s closing [News Blog]

WATCH THIS: I Heart Fresno talks to local MLB player Jason Donald [I Heart Fresno]

YAY FRESNO: Semi-local band Stone Foxes opening for Black Keys [AZ Central]

STYLIN: Yay. “Famous People” is coming back to life. [Fresno Famous]

KEEP VOTING: Fresno is still No. 1 … but we need to finish strong [Fighting Hunger]

[photo: Associated Press]

The Beehive’s ‘Buy Local’ Gift Guide

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Still looking for that perfect gift for your friends and family? The Beehive is here to help with suggestions for some cool gifts you can find locally.

BIRDSTONE WINERY: If you’re looking for a gift that gives back to the community, head to Birdstone Winery in Madera for a bottle of Alegria Reserve Chardonnay or Dolcetto, both of which benefit the Alegria Guild of Children’s Hospital Central California. Can’t get much better than buying alcohol in the name of charity!

TWEE BOUTIQUE & GALLERY: Don’t know what you’re looking for? Then head to the cutest little shop in town selling hand-made goods. It’s called Twee, and it’s full of fun, quirky and original gift ideas, many of which are made by local folks. You know those Fresno-themed buttons that you’ve seen people wearing all over town? Well, you can get those here and stick them in someone’s stocking. Twee also carries everything from stationary to stuff for your dog.

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The Week Ahead: Alien Ant Farm, Wilson Phillips, Brother Ali, Big Sandy and more

TOUR STOPS: It’s pretty quiet these next few days, but the weekend offers a bunch of touring shows you may dig. Among them: Tone Loc at Crossroads, Alien Ant Farm at Roe, Wilson Phillips at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino and Brother Ali/The Grouch at The Cellar Door in Visalia.

FOR XMAS: The Wilson Phillips show is one of a few Christmas-related shows this weekend — including a smooth jazz show with Peter White, Mindi Abair and Rick Braun at Tower Theatre. There’s also the annual Christmas show(s) from Sons of the San Joaquin (Saturday at Visalia Fox Theatre), The Loungemen’s holiday gig at Full Circle Brewing Co. and Patrick Contreras‘ show at The Revue.

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Fres-Know: High speed and jam packed

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NEWS: Fresno OK’d for first leg of High Speed Rail [The Bee]

YAY FRESNO: S.F. blog lauds Fresno’s expanding bike network [SF Streets]

SURVEY SAYS: Least brainy: Merced, Visalia, Bako, Modesto … not us. [Huff Post]

RUMOR ALERT: Are Police Chief Jerry Dyer’s days numbered in Fresno? [Opinion Talk]

BLOGGINGS: Mike Scott went to the Best of Party so you didn’t have to. [CBS 47]

NEWS: These Fresno folks are really in the holiday spirit [ABC 30]

DRINK THIS: The 12 Days of Christmas cocktails [Fashionably Bombed]

OR DRINK THIS: It’s not December anymore — it’s Decembeer. [Taste Fresno]

BLOGGINGS: Daily Dues has revived its 31 Bloggers of Fresno series. [Daily Dues]

EFF YEAH, FRESNO! Oh, it’s not our Fresno? *sad* [F*ckYeahFresno]

COMING SOON: A new local nightlife site? We’re interested. [559AfterDark]

YUMMY GIFTS: This Foodie Gift Guide has ideas from near and far. [Taste Fresno]

BLOGGINGS: How the fat cats fly at FAT. [The Fresnan]

PARTY TIME: Picture Fresno is having a holiday party on Dec. 7 [Picture Fresno]

UPCOMING: State of Downtown breakfast is Jan. 25. [Downtown Association]

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

Other than heading out to the final Fresno State home football game of the year or creatively blending at Eureka!Burger …

1. GET FESTIVE
All the Christmas-related stuff revs up this weekend around Fresno. That includes the opening of Christmas Tree Lane (and the first walking night tonight), the tree lighting at City Hall, Tuba Christmas and the Tower District’s Christmas festivities. Here’s a list of 12 different Christmas things to get out and do this season that includes details on all those plus more. For a deeper look behind some of your favorite Fresno light displays, check out this Bee story.

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Give the gift of Fresno this holiday season

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This evening, Fresno Etsy Especial is holding its Cirque Du Noel at The Big Red Church. It’s a craft fair, but it’s not your grandma’s craft fair. It’s got a DJ!

The Etsy Especial group brings a younger, hipper touch to the world of homemade crafts — heck, they even blog and Tweet.

If you need a laundry list of reasons to check out tonight’s event, then check out their most recent blog post.

But if just need one, I can give you that: It’s a good opportunity to buy some local goods this holiday season. Whether you’re looking to give them as gifts, or keep them to decorate your casa, odds are you’re going to find some cool shiz.

I think that idea is worth looking at on a larger scale too: What kinda Fresno stuff can we buy for Christmas presents? How can we give Christmas a little buy-local flair?

I’m shamelessly stealing adding onto a blog post that James Collier penned last week.

Fresno State Wines seem like a good idea. Perhaps a Fresno Grizzlies fitted cap. One of FTK’s Nickel Nickel Nine T-shirts. Fashawn’s CD. Beyond that, I’m thinking about hitting places like Simonian Farms and Kwirkworld to stuff stockings.

What do you guys say? What ideas can you share for local-izing your holiday shopping?

Christmas music? In April? No way!

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Anybody tune to 105.5 FM lately? Notice something odd? The station — formerly set to play smooth jazz — has gone to all Christmas music. In April, that’s more Bright Christmas than White Christmas.

A press release from the station has a headline that screams “Christmas Music Around the Clock, 24/7, 365 Days a Year on 105.5FM!!” But Rick Bentley writes in his column today that it’s all a gimmick and that we should expect a format change from the station on Friday.

On-air teasers are asking, “Are you ready for the truth?” Which fits with a rumor that it’s going to a talk radio station. Another talk radio station in Fresno? Well, well, well … I can barely contain my excitement.

PREVIOUSLY: Nooooooooooo! It’s too early for Christmas music …