<![CDATA[NBC New York - holidays]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feature/holidays http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Wed, 26 Nov 2014 02:35:47 -0500 Wed, 26 Nov 2014 02:35:47 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Black Friday 2014 Details]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 22:55:38 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/black+friday3.JPG

Get that turkey and stuffing to go, because Black Friday doorbusters are no longer confined to Black Friday. Retailers like Target and Best Buy are starting their Thanksgiving sales even earlier than they did last year—and in many cases, those sales will keep going for days afterward. Here’s how the biggest stores are trying to lure customers away from Thanksgiving dinner and into the checkout line:

Walmart: After years of ever-earlier sales on Thanksgiving Day, the world’s largest retailer has transformed Black Friday into a five-day event. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced Wednesday that sales will begin at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Walmart will roll out sales in stores and online on different categories of merchandise like home goods, toys, and electronics. “This year, we're blowing it out with five days of deals in store and online,” said Duncan Mac Naughton, the company’s chief merchandising officer.

Target: Target is launching its “biggest, most digital Black Friday ever” at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, with a range of deals over the weeks leading up to Black Friday. Target, which opened its doors last year at 8 p.m., is also offering free shipping up to Dec. 20. The biggest steal? Target is selling the Samsung Galaxy S5, regularly $200, for one whopping cent each (with a two-year contract).

Best Buy: In an attempt to one-up its retail competitors, Best Buy will kick off its sales at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, an hour earlier than the store opened last year. (Best Buy is even handing out tickets up to two hours before the doors open.) As to be expected for an electronics giant, Best Buy’s flagship deal is a 50-inch Panasonic TV for $199.99.

Macy’s: Macy's will kick off its Black Friday sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving afternoon, two hours earlier than its opening time last year. The department store's big deals, which last until Nov. 30, are focused on clothes, shoes, jewelry and homewares.

The Holdouts: Many retailers are bucking the Black-Friday-on-Thanksgiving trend. Costco, for one, is giving shoppers a chance to digest their Thanksgiving dinner, saying that its employees “deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families." Nordstrom, Dillard's, Barnes & Noble and GameStop are also closed on Thanksgiving, but are planning Black Friday sales.



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NBC Brings the Holiday Viewing Cheer]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:35:41 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NUP_165234_1792.JPG

From classic Holiday moments such as "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," the lighting of the tree during "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" and watching the beloved "It's a Wonderful Life," to getting cozy in front of new seasonal specials including "Peter Pan Live!" and "Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas," NBC is the place to be for family fun and holiday cheer in 2014.

Through the dawn of 2015 the network will feature holiday programming featuring stars Allison Williams, Jim Parsons, Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, Jason Alexander, Dennis Haysbert, Trisha Yearwood, Michael Bublé, Sara Bareilles, Cyndi Lauper, Seth MacFarlane, Idina Menzel and Christopher Walken.

Walken stars as Captain Hook in one of the most highly-anticipated productions of the 2014 holiday season: "Peter Pan Live!" Williams tackles the titular role of the boy who never grew up in this live musical retelling of J.M. Barrie's children's tale.

Beginning with a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at "Peter Pan Live!" and ending with a cheer as we celebrate "New Year’s Eve With Carson Daly" live from Times Square, NBC has the holidays covered.

"The Making of Peter Pan Live!"

This hourlong special will go behind the scenes to give viewers an inside look at the incredible teamwork it takes to create the event “Peter Pan Live” (Thursday, Dec. 4, 8 p.m.). Watch Allison Williams learn to fly and Christopher Walken practice his sword fighting as he prepares to play the villainous Captain Hook. From casting to costume design, this is an all-access pass to whet viewers’ appetites for all things “Peter Pan Live!” Wednesday, Nov. 26 (8-9 p.m. ET)

"SNL Thanksgiving"

An hilarious compilation of the best Thanksgiving-themed clips from 40 years of the iconic late-night series “Saturday Night Live.” Wednesday, Nov. 26 (9-11 p.m. ET)

"Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade"

Matt Lauer, Al Roker and Savannah Guthrie of "Today" will host one of the biggest spectacles of the holiday season as more than 8,000 participants make their through the streets of New York City. Celebrities participating include Lucy Hale, Nick Jonas, Idina Menzel and Meghan Trainor. The parade will include high-stepping numbers from this season’s Tony Award-winning best musical "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder," Sting’s "The Last Ship," "On the Town" and "Side Show," as well as a sneak peek at NBC’s "Peter Pan Live!" Thursday, Nov. 27 (9 a.m.-noon ET)

"The National Dog Show Presented by Purina"

Hosted by award-winning actor, author and Broadway star John O’Hurley ("Seinfeld," "Dancing with the Stars") and expert analyst David Frei, an AKC-licensed judge and host of USA Network’s "The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show," the 13th annual "National Dog Show" showcases the best of America's purebred canines. Thursday, Nov. 27 (noon-2 p.m. ET)

"Christmas in Rockefeller Center"

The arrival of the holidays wouldn’t be complete without a dazzling display of musical talent and the lighting of the famous Christmas tree. Hosted by "Today" show anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Natalie Morales, this year's star-studded lineup includes Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett, Cyndi Lauper, Seth MacFarlane and will feature Sara Bareilles, Idina Menzel, Pentatonix, LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood. Wednesday, Dec. 3 (8-9 p.m. ET)

"SNL Christmas"

The funniest Christmas-themed clips from 40 years of the iconic late-night series “Saturday Night Live.” Wednesday, Dec. 3 (9-11 p.m. ET)

"Peter Pan Live!"

The classic Broadway musical about a boy who refuses to grow up, "Peter Pan Live!" stars Allison Williams as Peter and Oscar winner Christopher Walken as the villainous Captain Hook. Thursday, Dec. 4 (8-11 p.m. ET)

"How Murray Saved Christmas"

From four-time Emmy-winning writer and executive producer Mike Reiss ("The Simpsons"), "How Murray Saved Christmas" is based on Reiss’ best-selling children’s book of the same name and is written entirely in rhymed verse. The musical centers on cranky deli owner Murray Weiner (Jerry Stiller), who is forced to fill in for Santa (Kevin Michael Richardson) one Christmas and, with the help of Edison Elf (Sean Hayes), does a weirdly wonderful job. The special also stars the voice talents of Dennis Haysbert, Jason Alexander and John Ratzenberger. Friday, Dec. 5 (8-9 p.m. ET)

"It’s a Wonderful Life"

The NBC annual tradition continues as the iconic 1946 film once again returns to primetime. Directed by Frank Capra, "It’s a Wonderful Life" stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, who contemplates suicide before a guardian angel intervenes and allows him to see all that is right in his world. Saturday, Dec. 6 (8-11 p.m. ET) and Wednesday, Dec. 24 (8-11 p.m. ET)

"Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas"

Starring four-time Emmy Award winner Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory") as Buddy, this original stop-motion hourlong animated special is based on the popular film "Elf" and the hit Broadway show "Elf: The Musical." Santa narrates the story of Buddy’s travels to New York City to meet the father he never knew he had. Along the way his unrelenting cheer transforms the lives of everyone he meets and opens his father’s eyes to the magic of Christmas. With nine new songs, the special features a voice cast including Mark Hamill, Ed Asner, Fred Armisen, Jay Leno, Matt Lauer and Gilbert Gottfried. Tuesday, Dec. 16 (8-9 p.m. ET)

"Michael Bublé’s Christmas in New York"

Grammy Award-winning singer Michael Bublé celebrates the season with his fourth annual special. Special guests join Bublé at the storied Radio City Music Hall in New York City for an hourlong celebration of his favorite holiday songs. Wednesday, Dec. 17 (8-9 p.m. ET)

"The Sing-Off"

A two-hour holiday special of the popular musical competition series showcases six new groups who compete for a prize of $50,000. Returning judges Jewel and Shawn Stockman will be joined by Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump, while Nick Lachey once again hosts. Wednesday, Dec. 17 (9-11 p.m. ET)

"One Direction: The TV Special"

From Universal Studios Orlando, this musical special offers TV viewers a rare inside look at the wildly popular band, and its members: Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. Tuesday, Dec. 23 (8-9 p.m. ET)

"WWE Tribute to the Troops"

A tribute to the men and women who serve our country, WWE brings together the best of sports entertainment and pop culture with superstars and divas celebrity appearances, as well as performances from music’s most popular acts. Saturday, Dec. 27 (8-9 p.m. ET)

"New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly"

“The Voice” host will celebrate the arrival of 2015 from Times Square with an array of musical guests. Wednesday, Dec. 31 (10-11 p.m. ET and 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET)



Photo Credit: Nino Munoz/NBC
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<![CDATA[10 New Holiday Albums for 2014]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:00:32 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Wopat+Schneider+album+cover+cropjpg.jpg

From "Frozen" star Idina Menzel to Darius Rucker, LeAnn Rimes, Anthony Hamilton, Renee Fleming and "Christmas at Downton Abbey," there's new holiday music to suit every taste this season.

Here, 10 new releases sure to put you in the festive mood:

"Holiday Wishes" — Idina Menzel 

It's only fitting that "Frozen" star Idina Menzel would release her Christmas album in 2014, following the international success of "Let It Go," her hit from the animated smash.

For this new release (which doesn't contain the Disney hit) the Tony-winner lends her soaring vocals to such seasonal classics as "Silent Night," "When You Wish Upon a Star," "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and a duet with Michael Bublé on "Baby It's Cold Outside." (Warner Bros.)

"Home for the Holidays" — Darius Rucker

The singer once known as Hootie is taking his country music crossover to the Holidays. 

Along with two original recordings — "What God Wants for Christmas," "Candy Cane Christmas" — Rucker covers seasonal classics including "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Winter Wonderland," "You're a Mean Once Mr. Grinch," and duets with Sheryl Crowe on "Baby, It's Cold Outside." (Universal Nashville)

"Home for Christmas" — John Schneider & Tom Wopat 

On the first full recording since they screeched onto screens in a cloud of dust as "The Dukes of Hazard" 35 years ago, former co-stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat take the pop/jazz route and mostly leave the country in the past.

The pair blend their accomplished voices on traditional seasonal fare including "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas, as well as some lesser-known holiday songs such as the anti-commercialism "Blue Xmas," by Bob Dorough. (D13 Entertainment)

"Christmas in New York" — Renee Fleming

Metropolitan Opera soprano Renee Fleming goes jazz for this collection of 13 holiday standards also featuring the talents of singers Rufus Wainwright ("In the Dark Midwinter"), Kelli O'Hara ("Silver Bells"), Gregory Porter ("Central Park Serenade," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas") and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis ("Sleigh Ride," "Winter Wonderland"). (Decca)

"Christmas at Downton Abbey" — Various artists

No, Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) does not bust out a rendition of "Jingle Bells," but he does recite "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" with an orchestral backing on this two-disc compilation featuring 45 holiday tracks.

Aside from the spoken-word performance by Carter the only other "Downton" cast members participating are Julian Ovenden (Charles Blake) and Elizabeth McGovern (Countess of Grantham), both accomplished singers in their own right. (Warner Bros.)

"At Christmas" — Sara Evans

A sentimental collection of classics including "O, Holy Night," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Walking in a Winter Wonderland," and "O Come All Ye Fathful" is given a contemporary boost with the new titular song and a rendition of "Run Rudolph Run," made popular by Chuck Berry. (RCA Nashville)

"Home for the Holidays" — Anthony Hamilton 

Grammy-winning R&B singer Anthony Hamilton brings soul to the season with versions of "Little Drummer Boy," "Away in a Manger" and "Please Come Home for Christmas." Hamilton also harmonizes with Chaka Khan on "The Christmas Song" and Gavin DeGraw on "Home for the Holidays." (RCA Records)

"One Christmas" — LeAnn Rimes

The new reality-series star returns to her musical roots with this collection of Holiday standards that includes "Silent Night, Holy Night," "Carol of the Bells" and Elvis Presley hit "Blue Christmas." (Red)

"Motown Christmas" — Various artists

The first holiday album from the Motown brand in more than 40 years serves up familiar classics including "Joy to the World," "Little Drummer Boy," "Silent Night" and "Angels We Have Heard on High" and features performances from Smokey Robinson, India.Arie, Anita Wilson and Ne-Yo. (Motown Records)

"Heart & Friends: Home for the Holidays" — Heart

The new additions to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lend their big sound to this live CD and DVD of less well known Holiday fare including "Seasons," "Santa's Going South" "Stairway to Heaven" and "Please Come for Christmas." (Frontiers)



Photo Credit: D13]]>
<![CDATA[Find the Perfect Present: Gift Guide 2014]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:59:48 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/gift-guide-promo2.jpg
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<![CDATA[Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Through the Years]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:09:18 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP831821451169.jpg Click through for images of the iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade through the years.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[7 Tech Trends for 2015]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:40:21 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP836878317132.jpg

Will 2015 be the year of wearable tech?

The long-awaited Apple Watch will be making its debut in early 2015 and consumers will be able to get their hands on newly available 3D printers to make food and collectibles. Smart home devices are also among the hot tech trends in the new year, experts say.

“It’s a world of synced devices that will become mainstream in 2015," said Stacy Glasgow, a Chicago-based consumer trends consultant for market research firm Mintel. "It’s no longer about startups or early adopters. We’re seeing a lot of big retailers giving consumers smart products and devices.”

Glasgow said that in Mintel’s research, the company found that 59 percent of U.S. consumers were interested in using an app or device to control their home. About 22 percent already owned a wearable device already. “We definitely see that number in a position to grow,” she said.

Eric Openshaw, vice chairman and U.S. technology, media and telecom leader for Deloitte based in San Francisco, said that the wearable technology market is exploding but is probably going to be more important for businesses rather than consumers.

“I think there are huge benefits for the industrial user,” he said.

Coye Cheshire, an associate professor for the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley, said most of the trends we’re seeing have to do with playing with user data.

“It’s called instrumenting the experience,” he said. “It’s all these apps, such as fitness apps or other metrics, capturing user data and returning it back to the consumer.” The hype is exciting, but he said society is not quite sure what it really wants to know. “The assumption is that if there’s more of this data and you turn it back to the people it will equal better experience, but it remains highly unknown if that’s the case.”

Here's a list of seven tech trends for 2015:

TellSpec

The TellSpec is a small spectroscope that uses a beam of infrared light to figure out the composition of food and help users determine exactly how many calories and grams of fat, protein or carbohydrates they are consuming just with a wave of the device. The TellSpec shoots the information to a smartphone (Android or iOS) where users can see not only the vital stats of the food, but also if it contains allergens like eggs or gluten. The company has been busy scanning foods so the spectroscope has a full database and can identify traces of ingredients, according to Faster Company.

Cheshire seemed interested but not optimistic about the scanner. “Will some people carry them around? There are a small amount of people who are responsible for almost all the uptick of all devices,” he said of the new adopters. But will it be popular with the mainstream – that’s another story.

Wearable Technology

The Apple Watch will likely be a must-have for those who want both a status symbol and a stylish timepiece (they come in different colors, from sensible stainless steel to elegant 18K rose gold). Other wearable tech, such as Google Glass, have already made their debut and caused the public to crave more gadgets like it. Samsung is launching a new platform, Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions (also dubbed SAMI), to capitalize on wearables. Expect to see more offerings from Microsoft, Motorola, Jawbone and others, including the Polo Tech Shirt which also offers biometric readings with a designer label.

Gartner Inc. predicts more wearable tech will come on the market because our society is becoming increasingly mobile and wants it available in more environments, including work. Cheshire said that cheaper sensors are making it possible. “This is the early stage of wearable technology and different companies are trying to throw things at the wall and see what sticks,” he said. "If were playing futurist, I wouldn’t bet on many of these things being around in a few years."

Smart Appliances and Smart Homes

“Virtually every large appliance is looking at the ‘Internet of Things,’ from sensor technology to smartphones to home networks,” Openshaw said of today's smart appliances and machines. Both Nest and Apple have devised ways to tell your house to turn on lights, adjust the thermostat or record TV programs via your smartphone, and you can expect to see more in 2015.

According to GigaOm, small startups are also joining the smart home movement by adding Bluetooth so users can control light bulbs, outlets or even receive pictures with their smartphone of who is knocking at your door. Expect all these apps to work with voice integration, so you will literally be talking to your smartphone to start your dryer or start preheating the oven.

Digitized Dining

We’re all familiar with making reservations online with apps such as OpenTable or finding food online via GrubHub, but now more restaurants are letting you order your food online. Already Pizza Hut offers that capability (and receives half of its online orders from mobile devices) as does Panda Express. Some Chili’s and Applebee’s provide tablets for customers to order, while McDonald’s and White Castle are also working on a touch-screen customizing kiosk, which may do away with a cashier altogether.

“I think the trend is rooted to an unprecedented expectation for on-demand convenience,” Glasgow said. “It’s this new immediacy in shopping and food service.” She said to expect more “blurring” between online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Paying With Your Phone

The idea of “click and pay” with a smartphone has been around for the last few years, but perhaps it needed Apple’s new iPhone 6 to bring the mobile payment system to the mainstream. Security professionals say it's a "significant improvement over using a credit card" and Apple said it "doesn't collect your purchase history, so we don't know what you bought, where you bought it or how much you paid for it."

But there are still some issues. According to Consumer Reports, a reporter used his wife’s credit card after scanning it into his iPhone without impunity or questions and in October, Bank of America apologized for charging customers twice for purchases they made using the system.

Cheshire said that digital payment isn't enough to the transaction more seamless. “Paying by your phone alone doesn’t make it efficient,” he said, “but if you also make an order and pay for it with the same phone it can be.”

Life360

It may sound a bit creepy, and your teenagers will hate it, but keeping tabs on your entire family at all times is now a reality with this free Life360 app.

“If I had an application for (my kids aged) 11 to 12 so I could know what they’re doing, I would be thrilled,” Openshaw said.

Parents will likely love the “Places” part of the app that is literally a map that shows everyone in the circle coming or going from certain spots and alerts users when members have left or have entered a specific area.

“I think the social implication is that we’re raising our kids to know they can’t be trusted or trust people in general,” Cheshire said. Glasgow disagreed, saying that it may calm parental anxieties. “If I have an application for (my kids aged) 11 to 12 to know what they’re doing, I would be thrilled,” Openshaw said.

3D Printers

How would you like to have a printer that can create a gun or a pizza? Apparently many people are interested. The shipments of 3D printers will double in 2015 and double again in 2016, according to Gartner Inc. Previously the domain of scientific labs or universities, 3D printers have captured the interest of the masses perhaps because it can reduce costs and create facsimiles almost instantly.

“We see another trend that consumers are finding they enjoy making things on their own and I think 3D printing facilitates that,” Glasgow said, mentioning the beauty of 3D printer Mink which can create custom-colored eye shadow or lipstick.

Consumers may also be interested in exploring cuisine with the Foodini, a 3D printer that creates your favorite foods from “sweet to savory” according to CNN. Lynette Kucsma, co-founder of Natural Machines which creates the Foodini, says a consumer version of its product will be out soon and retail for around $1,000.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Movies to Be Thankful For]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:13:37 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/freebirds.jpg

Give thanks this holiday season for movies that remind us of what we love most about Thanskgiving: the coming together of families; how our own dysfunctional clan pales in comparison to the strangeness of others; and of course, turkey.

The following holiday-themed films offer something for all ages and tastes. So cut a slice of pumpkin pie, give thanks, and grab the remote.

"Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (1987)

Del (John Candy) turns to Neal (Steve Martin) and says, "There's no way on earth we're going to get out of here tonight. We'd have more luck playing pickup sticks with our butt-cheeks than we will getting a flight out of here before daybreak." And so it goes in this epic comedy of errors from director/writer John Hughes about an impromptu duo's quest to return from a business trip in time for Thanksgiving dinner. A beloved classic with enough laugh-out-loud gags to temper the holiday schmaltz, "P,T and A" is a reminder to be thankful for the genius collaboration of Candy, Martin and Hughes, and that you already made it home to be on the couch watching a movie with family. (Available on Netflix, On Demand)

"The Ice Storm" (1997)

Set during Thanksgiving 1973 as a dangerous storm approaches New Canaan, Connecticut, this drama from Oscar-winning director Ang Lee features a stellar ensemble cast that includes Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci and Elijah Wood as two families struggling to come to terms with the changing political and social climates of the 1970s. Sexual experimentation, drugs and familial responsibilities are major themes in this insightful look at a period guaranteed to make you thankful for the current enlightened, if still sometimes confusing, state of modern society. (Netflix, Amazon Prime, On Demand)

"Free Birds" (2013)

For the younger members of the clan gathering for turkey day this bird's tale follows Reggie, a gobbler who goes from outcast to hero when he receives a presidential pardon and embarks on a time-traveling mission to try and turn Thanksgiving into a turkey-free holiday. Featuring the voices of Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler, George Takai and Woody Harrelson, this movie will have you giving thanks you decided to wait and watch it after the big meal. (Netflix, On Demand)

"Home for the Holidays" (1995)

Jodie Foster directs this darkly comic look at that fine line between loving and liking your family. Claudia (Holly Hunter) is apprehensive about her decision to return to her parents house for Thanksgiving. With good reason: she's just lost her job; her teenage daughter (who is not making the journey with her) has announced she plans to spend the holiday losing her virginity; her homosexual brother arrives with a new friend in tow; her brother also barely tolerates their prim younger sister and openly antagonizes their brother-in-law; and eccentric and boozy Aunt Gladys is also on the guest list. Also starring Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Geraldine Chaplin, Dylan McDermott, Cynthia Stevenson and Steve Guttenberg, "Home for the Holidays" will leave you thankful for your own dysfunctionally normal family. (DVD)

"Pocahontas" (1995)

Disney's first animated film to be based on actual events and people retells the story of Pocahontas, the daughter of an Algonquin chief who is betrothed to a member of her tribe but becomes enamored of European settler John Smith. Featuring the voices of Irene Bedard, Mel Gibson, David Ogden Stiers, Christian Bale, Linda Hunt and Billy Connelly, this fictionalized account has been given the Disney spin, but younger viewers will enjoy the Oscar-winning melodies, sweeping drama and give thanks for Grandmother Willow, the wise old talking tree. (Netflix, On Demand)



Photo Credit: Relativity
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<![CDATA[Coolest Toys for Kids 2014]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:43:43 -0500 Zoomer costs $79.99 and is for ages 5 to 7 years.]]> Zoomer costs $79.99 and is for ages 5 to 7 years.]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Toy+5.png Here are the hottest toys of the 2014 season.]]> <![CDATA[Eco-Friendly Gifts ]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:50:57 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Jetson_Bike.jpg Check out these green gifts for your eco-conscious loved one. Whether it's a repurposed wooden picture frame or jewelery, get them something they will love without hurting the environment.]]> <![CDATA[8 Classic Christmas Commercials]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:28:41 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-11-21+at+9.14.49+AM.jpg

Each year the holiday season delivers a sleigh-full of new Christmas advertisements. But more often than not, the latest commercials soon fade into a distant memory like the appeal of last season's must-have toy.

But along with mistletoe, holly, eggnog and holiday ornaments, a few classic ads never fail to get people into the holiday spirit.

Here is a collection of some old favorites:

M&Ms Meet Santa

In a classic M&M’s commercial, the red and yellow "spokescandies" that haved appeared in many advertisements carry a bowl of the Mars chocolates. When they encounter Santa Claus next to a Christmas tree, the red M&M and St. Nick faint upon realizing that they both are real. 

Coca Cola Polar Bears

Coca Cola first presented polar bears to be used in many of its Christmastime campaigns in a pair of commercials that first aired in 1993. The first shows a polar bear showing off some smooth ice skating moves before falling. Santa arrives to give the poor polar bear a Coca Cola. Another shows the animals successfully dragging a Christmas tree up a mountain before enjoying bottles of the soft drink.

Scrooge Eats Cheerios

This Honey Nut Cheerios commercial uses the well-known Charles Dickens' tale “A Christmas Carol.” The cereal's cartoon mascot bee Buzz knocks on Ebenezer Scrooge’s door on Christmas, but the angry miser tells the cartoon to go away. However, the bee passes the Scrooge a bowl of cereal, which put a smile on his face.

Campbell's Soup Snowman

In this classic Campbell's soup commercial, a snowman eats a bowl of hot chicken noodle. The snow melts with each spoonful and it is revealed that the snowman is actually a young boy.

Hershey's Kisses Bells

Sometimes less is more. In this Hershey's Kisses commercial, a group of chocolates ring like bells and perform the holiday tune “We Wish You a Merry Christmas." One chocolate rings harder than the rest and has to wipe its “brow” with the narrow strip of paper on its top.

A Bedrock Christmas

As it turns out, even Bedrock celebrates Christmas. Santa Claus comes down a chimney and Fred Flinstone gives St. Nick a bowl of his Fruity Pebbles cereal. However, Barney Rubble also comes down the chimney to trick Fred into giving him a bowl. Although Fred isn’t fooled, he still gives Barney a bowl because “tis the season to be sharing,” as Santa says.

Oreo Cookies for Santa

In this commercial, a boy tries to stay up through the night to see Santa Claus and give him Oreo cookies and milk. He says to himself, “I’ll just take a little rest.” Santa stops by and begins eating the cookies with delight. But when the boy starts to wake, Santa disappears and the boy discovers the cookies are gone.

Michael Jordan Shoots Hoops With Santa

Santa Claus went head-to-head against Michael Jordan for a Nike commercial. The ad features some smooth moves from the basketball player. Although St. Nick delivers presents, he doesn’t seem to be gifted when it comes to the sport.


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<![CDATA[Greatest Christmas Movies of All Time, Ever]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 11:29:29 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/movie7.jpg As we all know Christmas is just around the corner. While we head into the festive season, take a look at the best Christmas movies to get into the holiday spirit.]]> <![CDATA[Your Holiday Photos ]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:37:51 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/brandyohea-treeCNcrop.jpg 'Tis the season! The Rockefeller tree is one of the most popular holiday attractions for visitors in New York City. Viewers sent us their photos of themselves in front of the Rockefeller tree. Send us your photos by emailing them to tips@nbcnewyork.com or uploading them here: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/ugc/

Photo Credit: Brandy O'Hea]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: "All About That Baste" Parody Video]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 07:37:02 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Baste.jpg

Some families prepare for Thanksgiving by planning out meals. Others make music video parodies based on pop songs.

The Holderness family of Raleigh, N.C., created a turkey day music video called “All About That Baste,” a parody of the number one Billboard single “All About That Bass" by singer Meghan Trainor.

The video features the family of four -- dad Penn, wife Kim, six-year-old daughter Lola, and 4-year-old son Penn Charles -- singing about the father's inability to perform tasks other than basting the turkey for the holiday.

Penn sings about setting “all the wrong forks in all the wrong places” and being “all about that baste, more butter.”

Although the patriarch sings about being banned from other Thanksgiving tasks, he wrote in a recent blog post that he isn’t whining about his basting duty.

“I am not complaining,” Penn Holderness wrote. "Kim does a phenomenal job every year. I’m lucky to be in the same zip code as her on Thanksgiving.”

The family has created many parodies, including one of Will Smith’s “Miami” entitled “Christmas Jammies,” and others you can see at their Youtube channel.  


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<![CDATA[Woman Gives House, $100K to Charity]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:44:23 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Delaware-Food-Bank-Gift.jpg

Just in time for the holiday season, a Delaware food bank received an unexpected gift from a woman who recently passed away.

Patricia Beebe, president and CEO of the Food Bank of Delaware, received a letter stating a former Newark, Delaware nurse in her 50's who recently died of cancer left her home as well as $100,000 for the food bank.

“This is a Thanksgiving miracle,” Beebe said. “This is a really big deal, not only because it represents such a generous gift but also the way it was done.”

The woman didn’t have a spouse or children, but workers believe she had once been a food bank client.

After giving it a few upgrades, volunteers helped stage the home for the open house. Michael Haritos, a local realtor who had volunteered with the food bank, helped sell the house. Haritos told NBC10 he did the work for free.

“How could we take a check for $6,000 commission and not give it back?” Haritos asked. “It wasn’t even anything that was discussed. This was just what we were going to do.”

The home, located at 19 Sentry Lane in Newark’s Lexington Square neighborhood, was listed for $199,000, according to the Newark Post. Food Bank officials told the Post they received an offer on the house and a settlement is expected within a month. The Newark Post reports the money received from the sale of the house will go to the Food Bank’s general fund.

NBC10 will not identify the woman to honor the request of her niece, who told us her aunt would not have wanted her name out there. A neighbor said the woman wasn’t flashy and described her as a good person who did a good thing that will help others.

While they’re grateful for the incredible gift, workers at the Food Bank still wish they could’ve met the woman before she died.

“We have this woman who has given us the largest gift we’ve ever received,” Beebe said. “We can’t thank her because she’s already passed away.”
 

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<![CDATA[What to Give the Holiday Party Host]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:56:18 -0500 Infused olive oils are an easy do it yourself host gift idea. All you need is some good olive oil, rosemary sprigs, hot pepper flakes and a few empty bottles. ]]> Infused olive oils are an easy do it yourself host gift idea. All you need is some good olive oil, rosemary sprigs, hot pepper flakes and a few empty bottles. ]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/1de89438a2c15ccc8a007347b3caaeac.jpg Whether you're staying over at a friend's house, attending a co-worker's party, or spending the holidays with your in-laws, a chic gift will show your appreciation for their hospitality. ]]> <![CDATA[Perfect Pop Culture Gifts]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:51:49 -0500 mug set, featuring song titles from Beyonce's latest album, “Flawless” and “I Woke Up Like This.” Price: $25.00]]> mug set, featuring song titles from Beyonce's latest album, “Flawless” and “I Woke Up Like This.” Price: $25.00]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BeyonceMugs.jpg This holiday season, give your friends and family gifts inspired by 2014 hottest movies, TV shows and artists.

Photo Credit: Etsy.com]]>
<![CDATA[Hottest Tech Gadgets Under $50]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:48:24 -0500 Cuff offers a line of stylish accessories that have a small sensor that can send an SOS notification and your location to a small circle of people you trust if you find yourself in a tricky situation. Price: $49.]]> Cuff offers a line of stylish accessories that have a small sensor that can send an SOS notification and your location to a small circle of people you trust if you find yourself in a tricky situation. Price: $49.]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/CuffLink.jpg This holiday season, give your friends and family some awesome technology gifts for under $50!

Photo Credit: Cuff]]>
<![CDATA[Best Gifts for Foodies]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:49:55 -0500 handrail BBQ to someone itching to host a city-style barbecue. ]]> handrail BBQ to someone itching to host a city-style barbecue. ]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/balconybbq.png From a sriracha key chain to an on-the-go barware set, this gallery has the perfect gifts for all food lovers. ]]> <![CDATA[10 Stores to Shop on Turkey Day]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 08:12:28 -0500 Target— Target is opening earlier than ever — 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours ahead of last year's 8 p.m. start — with plans to kick off online sales the week before Black Friday. Target's biggest deal? The new Samsung Galaxy S5, which normally sells for $200, is going for one cent (with a two-year AT&T contract). Check out Outrageous Black Friday Behavior here.]]> Target— Target is opening earlier than ever — 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours ahead of last year's 8 p.m. start — with plans to kick off online sales the week before Black Friday. Target's biggest deal? The new Samsung Galaxy S5, which normally sells for $200, is going for one cent (with a two-year AT&T contract). Check out Outrageous Black Friday Behavior here.]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Target-2012.jpg More and more retailers are opening their doors earlier and earlier in the run up to Black Friday, with many national chains opening on Thanksgiving Day. Click here to see store hours and the deals to expect.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gift Guide 2014: 15 Hot Holiday Toys]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 09:09:19 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Gift-Triptych_edited-1.jpg

Reptiles, princesses and interactive robots are among the most talked about toys this holiday season. Check out the items kids are likely dreaming about as they draw up their wish lists.

Disney Frozen Snow Glow Elsa Doll

Disney’s hit 2013 movie “Frozen” has inspired perhaps the most popular toy of the season, the Disney Frozen Snow Glow Elsa Doll. “Frozen” is the highest-grossing animated film of all time, so it’s no wonder that the Elsa doll has sold out at many online retailers. Raise Elsa’s arms and she’ll sing the hit song “Let It Go.” Touch her snowflake necklace and it will light up as Elsa says 15 phrases from the film. Elsa can even speak and sing in English and Spanish.

Transformers Age of Extinction Chomp and Stomp Grimlock Figure

Another massively popular film franchise gave rise to the Transformers Age of Extinction Chomp and Stomp Grimlock Figure. “Transformers: Age of Extinction” is the highest grossing film of 2014 worldwide. Kids are sure to dig this toy version of the Dinobots leader, which is the largest Dinobot toy ever created. The part-robot, part-dinosaur can transform in an instant and features battle sounds, pop-out weapons and light-up eyes.

Zoomer Dino

But Grimlock isn’t the only prehistoric reptilian roaring into the holiday season. Zoomer Dino does more than transform — he spins, dances, roars, and even burps and farts. But don’t let his temperament fool you. Dino won the 2014 Toy of the Year Award in the Innovative Toy of the Year category and uses True Balance technology to explore his owner’s house on two feet.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Stretch N Shout

Speaking of reptiles, kids will love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Stretch N Shout dolls, which are available as turtles Raphael and Leonardo. Coming on the heels of this year’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” film, these flexible fighters let out battle cries and recreate sounds from the movie when their arms are stretched.

LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lair Attack

And that’s not the only Ninja Turtles toy worth checking out this holiday season. The LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lair Attack set features everything a fan of Leonardo, Raphael and the gang will need. Train and battle in all three stories of the Turtles’ lair with tons of weapons, gear, and of course, pizza.

My Little Pony Equestria Girls Collection

Another gang worth checking out this holiday season is the My Little Pony Equestria Girls Collection dolls. You can find Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy and the rest of the My Little Pony characters in this collection. They’ve all traveled through a magic mirror and have transformed into little girls. Collect them all and relive all the fun moments from the hit television series.

My Friend Cayla Doll

Another girl is tearing up the U.K. and is sure to be a hit over here in the United States too. The My Friend Cayla Doll is much more than a doll, she’s a friend that can chat about her favorite hobbies, tell stories, share recipes, play games and answer all sorts of fun questions. Simply download the free app for Android and iOS and connect Cayla to the Internet via Bluetooth. She uses speech-to-text technology to look up answers to all your kids’ questions.

MiP 2 Personal Robot

The MiP 2 Personal Robot is another interactive pal that could become your child's best robotic friend. MiP has 7 built-in play modes, but the fun is endless when you download this lively robot’s app for iOS and Android. It’ll play maze games, dance to songs and interact with its environment at the push of a button — all on two wheels!

Little Live Pets Bird Cage’s Friendly Frank

In a similar vein, the Little Live Pets Bird Cage’s Friendly Frank will interact with your kids just like a real parrot pal. If they talk with Frank and press the button on his chest, he’ll repeat what they say. And if he’s really happy, he’ll chirp or sing a little song. He’s always ready to explore the world, whether he’s traveling on a finger or in his portable cage.

Razor Crazy Cart

And if adventure is what your kids are after, the Razor Crazy Cart is the answer. This go-kart doesn’t just go forward, it goes backwards, sideways, diagonally and any direction in-between, all at speeds up to 12 mph. If that isn’t enough, riders can go into Crazy Cart mode and spin in rapid, 360 degree turns. It may be the most extreme toy of the holiday season.

Hot Wheels Street Hawk Remote Control Flying Car

If the ground isn’t enough, then take to the sky with the Hot Wheels Street Hawk Remote Control Flying Car. Although this car is made to tear up the streets, it performs best when it’s flying at heights of over 200 feet. It uses dual propellers spinning at over 35,000 RPMS to achieve this feat. Friends can team up with their Street Hawks and see who dominates the land and air.

Nerf N-Strike Elite Demolisher 2-in-1 Blaster

Kids can also face off with the Nerf N-Strike Elite Demolisher 2-in-1 Blaster. This Nerf gun on steroids fires darts, missiles or both at distances up to 90 feet away. A 10-dart clip ensures that the Blaster’s owner never runs out of ammunition. Anyone with inferior firepower is headed for defeat on the battlefield.

Disney Jr. Doc McStuffins Get Better Talking Mobile Cart

Future physicians can come to the rescue with the Disney Jr. Doc McStuffins Get Better Talking Mobile Cart. This mobile clinic has motion-activated sirens that light up and play the “Doc Mobile” song when little doctors are on call. Boo-boos are history when this cart rolls by with its EKG, otoscope, thermometer, bandage sticker dispenser, CB radio, gurney and more.

VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch

Photographers-to-be should check out the VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch. This touch screen watch has a camera enhanced with photo effects, video recorder, voice recorder, learning games, and all the watch staples like a timer and alarm clock. It’s the most fun way to teach your kids time. It’s also splash proof and features 50 clock face designs.

LeapFrog LeapTV Educational Active Video Game System

The LeapFrog LeapTV Educational Active Video Game System is another great educational toy that combines fun and learning. This console teaches reading, math, science and problem solving, and gets kids moving while they learn. Over 100 educator-approved games use body motion, pointer play and classic control to create an interactive and fun experience.

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<![CDATA[Celebrities' Favorite Holiday Treats]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:29:53 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP2104428855971.jpg

While celebrities have the privilege of dining out or hiring a personal chef to cater their holiday party, many like to get in the spirit of the season by doing the cooking and baking themselves.

Here are some celeb-approved recipes for those looking for some sweet and savory inspirations to try this holiday season:

1) Gwyneth Paltrow’s Molton Chocolate Cake

Gwyneth Paltrow is known for her successful career as an Oscar-winning actress, but she also has a big passion for food. She wrote several cook books titled, “My Father's Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family and Togetherness,” “It's All Good: Delicious Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great,” and co-wrote “Spain... A Culinary Road Trip” with Mario Batali.

The 42-year-old also launched a website called "goop," where she posts delicious recipes, provides fashion and wellness tips and more. Paltrow’s recipe for the Molten Chocolate Cake includes just the right amount of chocolate and crème fraîche for a perfectly warm holiday treat.

2) Taylor Swift’s Chai Sugar Cookies With Cinnamon Eggnog Icing

When Taylor Swift shared a photo of her chai sugar cookies with cinnamon eggnog icing, she aptly called the creation “Christmas in September.”

The 24-year-old singer-songwriter shared the recipe with fans eager to try this delicious treat on her tumblr. “Why? Cause the bakers gonna bake bake bake bake bake bake.”

Swift said she made the cookies from scratch with a recipe she found on a baking blog, originally from a book called The Pastry Queen.

3) Al Roker’s Hot and Spicy Chili

What better way to warm up this winter than with Al Roker’s very own Hot and Spicy Chili? With about a two-hour preparation time, the "Today" show anchor says “a good chili recipe is a good versatile thing to have.” You can serve the chili in deep bowls, with cheese, scallions, sour cream, and cilantro, or you can top the chili on hot dogs or baked potatoes.

4) Lauren Conrad’s Rice Krispies Treat S’mores

Lauren Conrad combined her favorite childhood foods, rice krispies and s’mores, to create the “ultimate s’mores hybrid.” With the help of her favorite baker, Lauren Lowstan, the two made a dessert with melted marshmallows and chocolate that you can try at home this holiday season.

5) John Legend’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookie

Having trouble choosing between peanut butter cookies, oatmeal cookies, and chocolate chip cookies… why not have it all in one? Singer John Legend baking his favorite peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies with his wife, model Chrissy Teigan, will surely inspire you to whip up a batch to wow coworkers at your holiday potluck.

6) Michelle Obama’s Shortbread Cookies

Every four years, Family Circle magazine holds a presidential bake-off for future first ladies. In 2008, Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain both submitted their recipes, and while McCain’s Oatmeal-Butterscotch Cookies took home the title, the first-lady’s Shortbread Cookies are still a delicious treat. The cookies have just the right amount of orange and lemon flavor, with chopped nuts and dried fruit.


7) Kris Jenner’s Chicken Soup

Kris Jenner stopped by the "Today" show to share her favorite comfort food dishes, which are included in her cookbook, “In the Kitchen With Kris: A Kollection of Kardashian-Jenner family Favorites.” The mother-of-six shows how she makes her hearty chicken soup and also gives recipes right from her book, including a Kim Kardashian inspired macaroni and cheese, pumpkin bread, and berry cobbler, found on Today.com.

8) Giada De Laurentiis’ Pumpkin Ginger Chocolate Muffins

Chef, writer, and television personality, Giada De Laurentiis, stopped by "Today with Kathie Lee & Hoda," and shared her recipe for pumpkin ginger chocolate muffins, swapping sugar for coconut sugar as a healthier option. She also included her recipe for roasted acorn squash and Gorgonzola pizza.

9) Neil Patrick Harris’ Ooey Gooey Bars

Upcoming Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris’ trademarked Ooey Gooey Bars are filled with smooth cream cheese, crunchy pecans, and white cake, perfect for a sweet holiday treat.

10) Miranda Lambert’s Peanut Butter Pie

Country superstar Miranda Lambert knows the way to her man’s heart with a delicious holiday pie. The country singer shares her recipe for her husband, Blake Shelton’s, favorite peanut butter pie.

 

11) Meryl Streep’s Heart Cookies

Meryl Streep may have learned a thing or two while successfully portraying culinary legend Julia Child on the big screen in “Julie & Julia.” Her heart cookies do not require any fancy ingredients, and you could replace the heart-shape cutters with holiday-cookie cutters for a festive touch.



Photo Credit: AP
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Presidential Turkey Pardoning Through the Years]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 09:01:15 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/edt-AP742552680493.jpg JFK was the first president to pardon a Thanksgiving turkey. Here is a look at how his successors honored the tradition throughout the years.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Airlines Expecting More Thanksgiving Travelers]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:44:42 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/452288387.jpg

Flying this Thanksgiving is going to be a bit more crowded this year.

Airlines for America, the nation’s leading airline trade group, projected that 24.6 million passengers will fly on American planes Friday, Nov. 21 through Tuesday, Dec. 2. This is a 1.5 percent increase from the estimated 24.2 million Thanksgiving airline travelers in 2013.

Here's what else you should know about flying on Thanksgiving:

 



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands of Turkeys Spill on Road]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 09:06:16 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/turkey-truck-6-main.jpg

A semi-truck carrying up to 30,000 pounds of frozen Butterball turkeys took a turn too quickly Wednesday morning, flipping over on its side, spilling diesel and thousands of Thanksgiving meals headed for Costco.

But since stores can't sell food that's spilled on the road – even though the turkeys were kept perfectly safe in cardboard boxes – the poultry is instead headed to feed the hungry and homeless at the Alameda County Food Bank in Oakland, spokesman Michael Altfest said. Some of the turkeys will be shared with shelters in Contra Costa County, too.

"This is a fantastic windfall as our Food Bank heads into one of the busiest times of year," Altfest  said. "Receiving this volume of meat protein is rare for us any time of year – and a donation like this simply couldn’t come at a better time. This is going to add a significant helping of holiday joy to thousands of households throughout our community.”

The shipment was handed over before noon on Wednesday.

"Unfortunately an accident happened, and fortunately low-income people in both Alameda County and Contra Costa County are going to benefit," added Suzan Bateson, executive director of the Alameda County Community Food Bank.

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Joseph Azevedo told NBC Bay Area that the driver "got confused" when he was traveling on Interstate Highway 680 in San Ramon about 2:30 a.m. He originally tried to take the I-580 interchange, but ended up taking the Alcosta Boulevard ramp instead.

And because he was "not familiar" with the ramp, he rounded it at a "high rate of speed" and his rear trailer went out of control, Azavedo said. He hit the brakes but wasn't able to prevent his rig from hitting the guardrail, he said. Between 20 and 40 gallons of diesel spilled on the road, shutting it down for hours.

The driver and co-driver were trapped inside, Azevedo said, and had to be extricated by San Ramon Valley firefighters. The driver suffered minor injuries.

The turkeys had been headed to a wholesale distributor for their eventual delivery to a Costco in Livermore.

In July, 60,000 pounds of African jackfruit and bananas spilled on the side of Interstate Highway 580 in Livermore. The load of squished fruit went to feed the elephants, giraffes and bears at the Oakland Zoo.

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<![CDATA[Weird News Photos: Holiday Edition]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 09:04:35 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*120/turtle-1217.jpg From the Santa Bandit to the Grinch Cop, check out these weird, offbeat news photos — with a holiday twist — from around the world.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Your Photos: The Rockefeller Tree Through The Years]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 12:01:29 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*231/4660e918e1674725a7ba6d43ec4e283f.jpg It's beginning to look a lot like a NYC Christmas! Your photos in front of the iconic Rockefeller Center tree.

Photo Credit: Robyn Roth-Moise @RobynNYC]]>
<![CDATA[National Christmas Tree Lightings Through the Years]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 09:02:05 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tree-2.jpg View photos of past National Christmas Tree lightings in Washington, DC.

Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday Lights in Dyker Heights]]> Thu, 26 Dec 2013 11:43:01 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Holiday-Lights-Brooklyn.jpg Every year, merrimakers looking to see holiday lights visit Brooklyn's Dyker Heights neighborhood, where blocks upon blocks of homes are decorated for the season. Checkey Beckford reports.]]> <![CDATA[ 2013 Holiday Sing-Along]]> Tue, 17 Dec 2013 06:43:32 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/singalong+newer.jpg Happy holidays from NBC 4 New York! Enjoy this sing-along of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." (60-second version)]]> <![CDATA[WATCH: Stunning Time-Lapse Video of Rockefeller Tree]]> Tue, 10 Dec 2013 10:52:05 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/453640521.jpg

Watch the most famous Christmas tree in the world get installed, decorated and lit with 45,000 lights in just one minute in this incredible time-lapse video.



Photo Credit: FilmMagic]]>
<![CDATA[Lights Tested on Times Square New Year's Eve Ball]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:39:12 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/times+sq+ball+test.jpg News Chopper 4 captures the light testing on the famous Times Square New Year's Eve Ball on Monday, Dec. 30. This is sped-up video.]]> <![CDATA[2014: A Year of New Frontiers - And Concerns]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:41:20 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Google-Glasses.jpg

Andrew Howard, like anyone, loves the rapidly expanding array of gadgets that connect his life to the internet.

But it also makes him nervous.

Howard, a scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, spends most of his waking hours thinking about how to keep computer networks from getting hacked — a risk that grows with each new household appliance that links to the cloud. And so while he swoons over his new Nest thermostat and smoke alarm, he worries about the day when all of his devices go online, collecting data about him and opening up more "avenues for attack."

This struggle will become more common in 2014, as the so-called "internet of things" envelopes our lives.

Everyday equipment, from televisions and cars to coffee makers and refrigerators, are becoming wifi-compatible, making life more manageable and efficient. But for each added convenience, there is a trade-off in privacy and security. Some analysts estimate that in two years, between 15 billion and 25 billion devices will communicate across the internet, and it's not clear whether safety measures will keep pace.

To researchers like Howard, who try to anticipate risks, revelations like the National Security Administration's domestic data-collection program, and the work of quasi-governmental hackers in China and Syria, offer important lessons for the new year. He wouldn't mind if more people in 2014 will ask themselves a question before they buy a wifi-enabled pacemaker or smart watch or a biometrics-sensing t-shirt or Google Glass:

Just because you can connect to the internet, should you?

"The answer may be yes," Howard said. "But we need to ask these questions. We should all be concerned about how much data is being aggregated on all of us."

Mobile's new frontiers

While Howard concerns himself about the security risks of increased connectivity, Andrew Lippman focuses on another challenge: keeping people engaged with the world around them.

Lippman is the associate director of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where his students are developing products that explore "the intersections of mobile networks with physical spaces."

Many of these pursuits could edge closer to commercial application in 2014.

Among the most encouraging, he said, is a project called "encoded reality," which inscribes objects with digital codes, which can then be read by smart phones to provide more information about their use. Its developer, Travis Rich, envisions using the technology to identify medication, prevent the spread of counterfeit consumer goods or replace care labels on clothing. Ultimately, he sees it being used to reproduce or repair objects using 3D printers.

"In the same way that in 1998, owning an MP3 meant you could copy and share the song easily, owning an encoded object will mean that you can remake that object and share — which seems to be something that would fundamentally change the commercial product industry," Travis explained in an email.

Grace Woo, a recent graduate of the Media Lab, has developed an alternative to the ubiquitous print QR codes, called VR codes, that allow users to point their smartphone at a screen and receive additional information, such as an audio track for an otherwise silent video. She is currenetly seeking opportunities to apply the technology to advertising.

Lippman compares these experiences to taking first steps of exploring a new frontier offered by mobile devices.

"We turned the corner a couple years ago, and we're now beginning to see what it's like around that corner," he said.

Martian discoveries

The coming year will also be remarkable for the exploration of an entirely different frontier, millions of miles away.

Sometime in mid-2014, about two years after landing on the surface of Mars, the SUV-sized NASA rover Curiosity will reach its main destination: a mountain, 18,000 feet high, called Mount Sharp.

The trip to Mount Sharp has already yielded a treasure of discoveries, including evidence of ancient waterways conditions that billions of years ago hosted conditions "favorable for microbial life" — meeting the rover's main scientific objective.

It will take several months for slow-moving Curiosity to navigate rugged terrain and reach the mountain, whose layered rock scientists hope to examine for evidence of how the Red Planet evolved.

Meanwhile, Lego will start selling a highly detailed model of the Curiosity, including a fully articulated robotic arm.

Drones at home

Back on Earth, American officials will continue arguing the legal and scientific implications of using unmanned drones in U.S. airspace.

Sometime in 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration will issue a draft rule regulating the use of drones under 55 pounds. At the same time, the government will continue to support testing for drones used by police agencies, universities and others.

Drones have been used for years by the American military in its overseas efforts to kill terrorists, and has been the subject of unrelenting protests about the impact on non-combatants and civilians.

The idea of using drones back home has stirred passionate debates pitting the needs of science and safety against the right to privacy.

Firefighters want to use them to monitor burning buildings and forests. Meteorologists want to use them to track storms. Police want to use them on search and rescue missions, and to find criminals. But a backlash has prompted many states to curtail the use of drones out of fear they'll be used to collect information on innocent, unsuspecting people below.

On Dec. 30, the FAA named six states — Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia — as the sites for drone development tests. 

Obama's crucial year

In Washington, 2014 could very well be the year that determines whether President Obama can turn around after a rough start to his second term.

His signature piece of domestic policy, the Affordable Care Act, goes into effect Jan. 1. But the websites that serve as portals to a system designed to provide universal access to health insurance have been plagued by glitches. If the problems continue, and the number of enrollees does not significantly increase, then the program could become a lasting political liability for Obama.

The president has many other challenges on his mind. They include a February showdown with Congressional Republicans over the country's debt limit and the mid-term elections in November. The elections could feasibly result in the GOP gaining the six seats it needs to take control of the Senate.

History does not look favorably on the Democrats' chances of holding the Republicans off.

Since  World War II, the president's party almost loses seats in Congress in the sixth year of a two-term president's rule, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

Whether Obama can avoid that fate in 2014 depends not only on the health-care rollout and debt-limit fight, but also on many events, foreign and domestic, that are impossible to predict, Sabato said.

Republicans, which already control the House, have good shots at gaining Senate seats in West Virginia, South Dakota, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina, Sabato said.

"You've got enough there for a wave," he said.

"But," he added, "that's a long way from saying it's a done deal."

Key decisions

Obama will also spent much of 2014 with his eye on his legacy: lasting policy initiatives that will define his presidency for the better.

The partisan gridlock in Washington limits his options.

"The depressing news for Obama is that it's hard to see anything in his legislative hopper that will matter," Sabato said.

But Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University, said Obama has a shot as passing one of his signature campaign promises, the reform of the nation's immigration laws.

Obama may also use executive orders to bypass the virtual blockade in Congress in order to implement environmental regulations over smokestack and carbon dioxide emissions, Baker said.

At the same time, Obama will need to decide whether to accept the recommendations of a task force to change the government's surveillance programs, including limits on the NSA's collection of American's phone and email data.

The president has promised a "definitive statement" about the recommendations in January.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Year in Review 2013: Red Carpet Fashion Highs & Lows]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:41:20 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/dressed_add_P4.jpg Check out the best and worst looks off the red carpets in 2013.

Photo Credit: WireImage]]>
<![CDATA[2013 in 90 Seconds]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:42:55 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/2013-yearend-thumb.jpg From the election of a new pope, to the Boston Marathon bombings, to the U.S. government shutdown, take a look at the biggest stories of 2013 in photos.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/AP]]>
<![CDATA[2013 Celebrity Weddings and Engagements]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:42:56 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/gabrielle4.jpg As the year comes to a close, we take a look at the most memorable celebrity weddings and engagements of 2013.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2014: What You'll Be Watching]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:42:56 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/kevin+spacey2.JPG

"Downton Abbey" Returns for a Fourth Season

24 million Americans tuned in for the third season of the British drama, making it the highest-rated PBS drama of all time. Needless to say those millions of fans are breathlessly awaiting "Downton Abbey's" return in early January. Can Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham continue to maintain control of his vast estate in a rapidly changing, post-World War I world? Will Lady Mary ever recover from the grief of losing her husband? And could the Dowager Countess become any more caustic? When it comes to the latter question, our most fervent hope is, yes! (Jan. 5 on PBS)

“Maleficent”

Angelina Jolie as one of the most infamous storybook witches ever created? Count us in. Disney revisits the world of "Sleeping Beauty," though in this fable the action centers around the untold story of the woman who will ultimately condemn the beauty of the 1959 animated classic to a life of eternal slumber. Elle Fanning stars as the Princess Aurora, but if the early trailers are indication, the film belongs to Jolie in all her elegantly-horned wickedness. (In theaters May 30, 2014)

2014 Sochi Olympics

The biggest Winter Olympics in history, set to take place in the world's biggest country (Russia) will receive the most US coverage in Winter Games history. NBC will present more than 1,539 hours of coverage across NBC, NBCSN, MSNBC, CNBC, USA Network and NBCOlympics.com.NBC's coverage begins in primetime on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. and continues up until the closing ceremony on Sunday Feb. 23. Primetime coverage will include the opening and closing ceremonies, figure skating, short track, alpine skiing and freestyle snowboarding.

A New “Doctor Who”

Fans of the venerable British science fiction series were saddened in 2013 when it was announced Matt Smith (the youngest ever actor to play the titular Time Lord) would be leaving "Doctor Who" after three years. That anguish was allayed when news broke that Scottish thespian Peter Capaldi would become the thirteenth Doctor during the annual Christmas special that aired on Dec. 25. How Capaldi will interpret the 900-plus year old Doctor remains to be seen, but as the last 50 years has proved, fans will continue to support the series as long as the Doctor continues to fight evil across the galaxies. (Return date to be advised)

Sequels and Prequels Dominate

Wondering what else you'll be seeing at the movies in 2014? Chances are high that a few films you choose will feature actors reinhabiting characters for a second or third time. Sequels and prequels slated to hit theaters next year include “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1," “Captain America: The Winter Soldier," “X-Men: Days of Future Past," “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “Transformers 4,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “Expendables 3,” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” “Muppets Most Wanted,” "Sin City 2," "300: Rise of an Empire," "The Hobbit: There and Back Again," "Dumb and Dumber To" and “22 Jump Street.”

"Believe" on NBC

From executive producers Alfonso Cuaron ("Gravity") and J.J. Abrams ("Star Trek," the upcoming "Star Wars 7"), this science fiction/fantasy series with X-Men overtones centers around Bo, an orphaned girl with special gifts - telekinesis, levitation, the ability to control nature. At the age of 10 Bo's powers begin to amplify and she requires a full-time protector. Only problem is the best person for the job is currently on death row, and has no interest in the job. Until they break him out of prison. (Air date to be advised)

"True Blood" Finale

Season seven of the weekly HBO series based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels created by Charlaine Harris will be the last. Based on the premise that vampires and other supernatural creatures live among us, "True Blood" revolves around Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), a telepathic human-fairy hybrid known as a halfling. To go into all the character developments, deaths, possessions, murders and scenes featuring a half-naked Joe Manganiello as the werewolf Alcide over the past seven years would take more space than allotted here. So let's just get ready for the end and say: Fangs for the memories! (Season begins Jun. 1 on HBO)

Biblical Epics

In 2013 reality TV kingpin mark Burnett and The History Channel showed how popular religious programming could be with their 10-episode series based on the Bible, the first installment of which drew more than 13 million viewers. A sequel to that series, "AD," has been given the greenlight and will air on NBC when it debuts, most likely in the spring of 2015. Those needing a bible story fix in the interim need only head to the local cineplex where Russell Crowe will build an ark as "Noah" (Mar. 8) and Ridley Scott will direct Christian Bale as Moses in "Exodus" (Dec. 12).

Reboots Continue to Roll Out

For every audience draw like "The Amazing Spider-Man," there's a "Lone Ranger" languishing at the bottom of the box office. Regardless, reboots continue to roll out in 2014 with new versions of “Robocop,” “Godzilla,” “Hercules,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” "Annie," "I, Frankenstein" and “Dracula Untold” all scheduled to bow in theaters. Also getting an origins makeover is the Tom Clancy character Jack Ryan, embodied this time around by actor Chris Pine in "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" (Jan. 17).

"House of Cards" Season 2 - In Ultra HD, No Less!

Netflix changed the viewing landscape when they began streaming their original series and made the entire season available for subscribers to view on day one. "House of Cards," the Emmy-winning political thriller starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as a power-hungry pair of DC denizens, returns Feb. 14. Adding yet another bow to their quiver, Netflix announced the new season will be available in 4K Ultra HD on select Internet TVs. While Ultra HD screens are still a rarity in most homes, adding highly-anticipated content such as "House of Cards" can only promote and generate interest in the high-res format, say execs at Netflix. Ultra HD provides resolution four times that of full HD 1080p. Evil has never looked so good! Whoops, scratch that and reread "Maleficent," above.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Man Slashes South Florida Couple's Inflatable Santa]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:42:57 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Inflatable-Santa.jpg

A South Florida family is trying to figure out why a man cruelly slashed their 12-foot inflatable Santa.

The Oliva family always goes all-out with Christmas decorations. This year, Alexa Oliva touched her husband Bert's heart with a brand-new version of the jolly old Saint Nick outside their Kendall home. The surprise was meant to replace an older model that had been part of the family for about 10 years.

"I thought my Santa was dead, but no, he was alive and I thought it was awesome," Bert Oliva said.

His Santa surprise had extra special meaning this Christmas.

"It's my husband's first Christmas without his mom and I wanted to make it special for him because he's big on Santa and big on family," Alexa Oliva said.

But just three hours after Santa made his debut in front of the Oliva home, surveillance cameras captured a man running out of a black car and onto their property. They said it was clear the man had one mission in mind.

"[My friend] picked him up and she saw a big gash on his leg and she's like, 'I think somebody stabbed Santa,'" Alexa Oliva said.

The person responsible tore the inflatable Santa with some kind of sharp object. The decoration cost $90, but the Olivas say it's not about the money.

"I just want him to know that you know, he doesn't know what our family situation was and for someone to go around killing the Christmas spirit like that, it's just cynical," Alexa Oliva said.

The couple wants the local Grinch to come forward and apologize. They hope he learns his lesson, but they say they definitely won't let him steal Christmas.

"He killed Santa, but he didn't kill Christmas," Alexa Oliva said.



Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida]]>