Friday, September 17, 2004

Ministry of Sound Annual DVD

Along with the new Kylie DVD, I picked up a MOS Annual DVD of dance parties all around the world. It all looked fun, although it became a haze of bikinis and sunglasses after awhile. The dancing itself was unoriginal, but the crowds were large, the music loud, the special effects great, and what's not to like, especially when they featured Klea's 'Tic Toc'?
More Dreams

I dreamt that DMTC's 'Bye, Bye, Birdie' was opening at the 24th Street Theater instead of at the Varsity, and the theater was confusingly placed adjacent to the Safeway Supermarket on Alhambra Blvd. I was informed, to my surprise, that I was in the show. Even though it was half an hour before curtain and didn't know any of my lines or the songs, I left to go relax at an anonymous season ticketholder's house. As I left the theater, I passed the first gas station ever managed by Mel Brooks (carefully maintained as a museum). Once at the house (conveniently left unlocked so I could relax), I dawdled away so much time looking at costumes, I couldn't make curtain time. Then I awoke.
Marc's Tropical Update

Tropical Storm Jeanne:
It will be interesting to see what happens with this storm (weakened today to a tropical depression but maybe strengthening again soon). Forecasts now show the storm as staying well off the Florida coast, and moving north, off the coast of South Carolina, but the forecasts diverge about what happens after that. The GFS model shows the storm slowly getting dragged eastwards by the cold front carrying remnants of Ivan. The NOGAPS model, which brings the storm a little closer to shore than the GFS model, and hence a little more under the influence of the developing high pressure system centered in PA, shows the competing eastwards and westwards forces making the storm stall off the coast. The storm is finally brought into the SC coast, painfully slowly, about a week from now.

Hurricane Javier:
Moisture from the hurricane has been working into northern Mexico (and now portions of SE AZ, southern NM, and far western TX) for the last day. Rain showers have already started in AZ's White Mountains, but the big plume of moisture has yet to arrive. It's possible the storm itself will be brought into the Colorado River Valley, similar to the way Nora came in back in 1997 (which, as I recall, despite bringing heavy rains to Yuma, brought very little rain to Phoenix). Nevertheless, this should be fun!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Spirit at Gusev Crater

I love poring over the information in Science's August 6th issue, with a special section dedicated to the early scientific discoveries at Gusev Crater. All kinds of information, like the severe diurnal temperature swings (limited mostly to the surface environment, a function of the thin, thin atmosphere), partial eclipses of the Sun caused by the moons Phobos & Deimos, and the locally low albedo caused apparently by dust removal by dust devils. Instead of a playa generated by water pouring into the Crater down Ma'adim Vallis, people were shocked to discover more volcanic basalt than any one had a right to expect (technically, near the junction of basalt, picrobasalt, and tephrite), and just a few signs of water, maybe just groundwater long ago - much different than the hematite being probed by the fellow Rover Opportunity on the other side of the planet.

After poking around at Bonneville Crater, the Spirit Rover was ordered to flee to the Columbia Hills, where the rocks seem more interesting. Currently the Rover is hibernating for about 11 days as Mars passes behind the Sun (interfering with communication).

Mars is certainly simpler than Earth. The 1997 Mars Pathfinder expedition found lots of andesite (or a surficial crust on rocks that certainly looked like andesite), which suggested some subduction had once taken place on Mars. But the stuff was virtually pure andesite. At Gusev, the primitive basaltic mineral content is virtually identical everywhere. Soil content is very similar over the whole, windblown planet. And very little has changed for billions of years! Mars is red, white and black: Earth is shades of grey, blue and white.

I suspect Mars isn't suited for human settlement, even with a major investment of resources. Certainly it would be a challenge. What did Elton John sing?

Mars ain't the kind of place
To raise your kids
In fact, it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to raise them
If you did

And all this science
I don't understand
It's just my job
Five days a week
A Rocket Man
Rocket Man

Marc's Tropical Update

(To Friends in Tampa, FL)
Things are going to be dull in Tampa - maybe afternoon showers at the most. Hope tedium isn't a problem. After all, tedium is welcome today, in Pensacola.

(To Friends in West Palm Beach, FL)
Tropical Storm (likely Hurricane) Jeanne will approach West Palm Beach on Sunday night. The storm will approach Florida's east coast and veer north. Jeanne is in pursuit of Ivan, and if Ivan lingers too long in the U.S., then Jeanne will come into the Florida coast. Currently, the GFS model calls for an early departure of Ivan, so Jeanne never gets within 200 miles of the coast. The NOGAPS model calls for a later departure, and thus brings Jeanne nearly up to the coast. Ivan has got to be completely off the eastern coast by Sunday night, however, when Jeanne makes its closest approach, for all to go well.

(To Friends in Aiken, SC)
Then Tropical Storm Jeanne comes your way! Starting on Monday morning, a strengthening high pressure system over Pennsylvania will drive Jeanne's moisture through Aiken, SC, clear across Dixie, ending up in Missouri (!) by Wednesday morning.

(To friends in Phoenix, AZ)
The GFS model is finally registering the coming Hurricane Javier rain event for the desert SW, starting Sunday morning and ending Monday night. The event might be highly focused. Currently, both NOGAPS and GFS models are showing a narrow plume of heavy rainfall, affecting the Colorado River Valley the most (interesting, since it is normally so dry there), but there will be rain for Phoenix as well. It should be an interesting time in the SW!
DMTC Theater Construction

....Is proceeding apace. The first payment was made to Steve Harrison Construction, in excess of $124,000. More payments will come fast and furious. People have been generous. Nevertheless, I certainly hope we get big backers soon, whether a loan guarantee from the city, Bank of America, Buzz Oates, or some other source: that will greatly aid the process and prevent delays. One week from opening 'Bye, Bye Birdie', about nine days from 'Anything Goes' auditions, and working under the absolute necessity of opening 'Anything Goes' in the new theater. Too many construction delays could be awkward.
A Dream

I had a dream Monday morning. I was walking Sparky along a ditchbank, and a skunk poked his head out of a hole and chattered at Sparky. Provoked, Sparky furiously started tunneling into the ditchbank. Abruptly, water began pouring into the hole, draining the ditch and sweeping Sparky away. I think it was all a metaphorical description of Sunday night at the casino.
Zogby Shows Kerry Blowout: 85 Point Lead Over Bush

Well, why not be optimistic? After all, when Drudge ran this headline this evening:
there was no link that said anything like that over at Gallup. So, as usual with conservatives, bullshit walks. Remember, all this crap is just meant to deflate liberal hopes. Things actually aren't that bad, and could very well improve.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Prayers Tonight

For the Mobile - Pensacola area, as they wrestle with annihilation.
Jay Leno Back-Tracks

Jay Leno says, “I’m not conservative. I’ve never voted that way in my life.” Wouldn't have guessed it from his actions in last year's Recall campaign!
Nobody Can Do Republican Voodoo Like You Do!

(courtesy of a friend)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Kylie Minogue's 'Body Language'

Kylie's new album, 'Body Language', was finally released here in the U.S. boondocks in February. The DVD featuring her album launch concert, apparently held last November at London's 'Apollo' Theater, was released in July in Europe, but in the backwards U.S., it was released apparently only just last week (I cancelled my order with out of sheer frustration just a week ago, but on the weekend I saw the DVD on sale at Tower, and last night, after an impatient and angry eternity, I finally got to see it).

Once again I'm in love! As I walked Sparky through the darkened streets of Sacramento, dodging blundering possums, I was in a daze as I tried to interpret her Brigitte Bardot revamp. I was mesmerized by the whole DVD, of course, but particularly her sweet reworking of 'Breathe/Je T'Aime'.

Unlike most popular musical stars, Kylie these days seems captivated by the idea of perfection: the perfect look, the best dancers, the most solid musicians. Visual aesthetics dominate. There is a word for this, of course: classicism. Kylie seems to be reaching out for a kind of sensual classicism, or classical sensualism, in her performance. There is a sense of perfect, almost yogic, stillness. Indeed, the pace is a bit slower, more metronomic, more hypnotic, than in past efforts.

I suppose it shouldn't be surprising to the classical impulse in music, but it's a bit strange to see it in pop music. Several months ago, flipping channels, I saw 'Xanadu' on television, and I was thunderstruck at how this musical's style (Gene Kelly's last full-length movie) seemed so akin to Kylie's style. She would have been about 11 or 12 years old when it came out - just the right age to make a tremendous impression. I wonder if she was influenced by 'Xanadu'? The plot description is very suggestive:
The Greek muses incarnate themselves on Earth to inspire men to achieve. One of them, incarnated as a girl named Kira, encounters a musician/artist named Sonny Malone. With the help of Danny McGuire, a man Kira had inspired forty years earlier, Sonny builds a huge disco roller rink.
Fellow Australian Olivia Newton-John played Kira, of course. And Kylie's (aka Kira's) disco roller rink encircles the entire Earth.

One reflection of the classical urge in both 'Body Language' and 'Fever' is the anomie of the dancing corps. On 2000's 'Light Years' DVD, a few men in the dancing corps had remarkable impish personalities that they were able to express on stage. The effacing women, however, had sensed Kylie's true direction. On 2002's 'Fever' DVD, the dancing corps had nearly been stripped of personality foibles, and that effort continues with 2004's 'Body Language'. Not that the dancers are metronomes, but the demands of perfection necessarily squelch individual expression.

On the older CD's, sometimes you heard a different Kylie, a more rebellious, troubled, even lazy Kylie. That Kylie is gone now - years of discipline have exiled that bad girl. But now there is a danger that, having climbed Mt. Olympus, she won't be able to get back down. Perhaps she'll have to change direction yet again.

Kylie needs her own Romantic revolt. Say, Kylie as an inmate of an asylum for the criminally insane, or as a bargirl, or as a soldier - a Kylie willing to experiment with ugliness and pain (but in a different way than bad-girl Madonna, who often wallowed in ugliness, and never really got her own clear view from Olympus). Kylie would have been a better 'Satine' than Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge (and not just as The Green Fairy). For the dancing corps (their many successes notwithstanding) I yearn for the imps of 'Light Years', and a greater equality with 'Venus de Melbourne'. So unusual, and so refreshing!

Monday, September 13, 2004

More Tales of Sacramento at Night

(Although the sun hadn't quite set yet.) Yesterday, eight teenage boys were riding bicycles past my house, as I put green cuttings in a pile on the street corner for pickup. Then, with multiple thuds, three of the boys tangled in a messy bicycle collision. I hesitated to intervene, in order to avoid embarrassing them, as they slowly and painfully struggled to their feet. I warily returned to my task, and ten minutes later I saw them slowly ride away, egos and bodies bruised, but apparently with bicycles that still functioned.

That's the second accident in nearly the same location in six months. I still don't know how one of my neighbors fared at the hospital, after being struck on her helmetless head in a hit-and-run accident as she bicycled past my house. I hope she kept her memories - they were fading when they carted her away.
More Ivan

Today, the forecast has changed only slightly. The NOGAPS model nudged eastwards, bringing the storm ashore at Lake Ponchartrain, LA, whereas the GFS model shifted westwards, bringing the storm ashore at Mobile, AL. The most interesting feature is that the model predictions have never been closer. That indicates that the uncertainty in modeled storm path prediction is beginning to diminish as the storm enters the Gulf of Mexico. The NHC (a lagging indicator) has finally moved their forecast storm path as far west as Mobile, AL.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

More Ivan

The NHC consensus has caught up to where the NOGAPS model was yesterday. NHC model consensus now puts the storm track into Pensacola (on Wednesday, I think). NHC today indicates they have no reason to change their forecast from yesterday.

Nevertheless, today, the NOGAPS model is pushing Ivan yet farther west, moving the storm onshore in the Mississippi Delta area of Louisiana. The NOGAPS model is pushing the storm through the watery gap between Mexico and Cuba, so it is possible the storm will hardly impact Cuba at all - maybe just at the western tip.

Indeed, the storm avoided a direct hit on Jamaica by jogging farther to the west (even without a direct hit, Jamaica suffered quite a bit).

There was some concern two or three days ago that the storm could abruptly make a break for Florida after it passed over Cuba. That concern is an discussion artifact about diverging model predictions, and there is no reason to believe a sharp in direction is likely. There are no strong upper level winds around to make such an abrupt shift possible.

If the storm keeps moving west, I would be surprised if Tampa sees winds even as high as 20 mph. There are indications that there will be afternoon thundershowers for days after Ivan passes - basically normal Florida summer weather.

My thought is that Ivan will avoid inflicting Tampa with tropical storm level winds - maybe 20 mph. The NHC is being overcautious about moving the storm track west, to keep Floridians on their toes, but to the detriment of people in Louisiana, who may be unprepared for the calamity of a direct hit.

Keep an eye out where on Cuba the storm hits: the farther west, the better for Tampa, especially if the storm avoids Cuba altogether. Right now, with the current history of NOGAPS leading an overcautious NHC to the west, if I were Tampa's shoes, I'd stay put.