Saturday, February 26, 2005

"Annie" Opens!

We opened "Annie" last night at DMTC! By and large, it was a real smooth opening. Fortunately, the show doesn't have high-wire, split-second timing issues, such as many of the quick costume changes that other shows have, so we were able to focus on the task at hand.

The audience was small, but filled with enthusiastic supporters. Annie and the Orphans won great waves of applause.

I had a few problems myself, such as messing up lyrics on some songs and bumping into a few people. My biggest problem of the night occurred in the Cabinet scene, over which I preside as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But first, a little background...

Any theater company has a standard corps of people that can be relied upon to fill standard roles you might typically find in musicals - cops, musclemen, landladies, etc. Because of her dancing skills, general good looks, and stage presence, DMTC regular Dian Hoel has often filled the 'sexpot' role in DMTC shows. In the Cabinet scene of this show, however, partly because of our lack of men, Dian is taking the role of Louis Howe, Roosevelt's campaign advisor (she's been redubbed as Lois Howe).

When I introduce Annie to the Cabinet, I'm supposed to say, "and this is Lois Howe, my friend and aide." Instead, what I said last night was "and this is Lois Howe, my friend and companion." A true Freudian slip! I spent the rest of the show on the verge of giggles as a result of my blunder!

I'm pretty tired today. I bet the others are too: last night, little Leona said she wasn't going to eat any opening-night chocolate cake because she was so tired. But we perform again tonight, so once again, we will summon our energies and sally forth. It's a Hard-Knock Life!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Juggle nihilist

A few - very few - of the spam E-Mail messages I get have interesting, post-modern-sounding subject lines. Here are a few cryptic subject lines from the last month or so....
  • You are made active
  • Transcendental jolla
  • Vanished, vanished were the
  • Beck tease
  • Careen idiomatic
  • Juggle nihilist
  • Nasser's god's project
  • Never take a fail!
  • Treasonous assiduous
  • Hello where
  • Fishmonger amaze
  • Functional textile
  • I am part of
A Fun Game

Via heatherdavis and friends (slightly revised by myself):
  1. Grab the nearest book;
  2. Open the book to page 123;
  3. Find the fifth sentence;
  4. Post the text of the sentence in the comments section of this blog, as well as in your own blog, along with these instructions.
  5. Don’t search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.
Dictionary of American Biography entry for (not Jefferson but) Jeff Davis, 1862-1913, Governor and U.S. Senator from Arkansas:
"He rarely wore black, his favorite suit being a Prince Albert of Confederate Gray."
High-Blood Pressure

Stop me before I kill myself. Despite taking blood-pressure medication, I ate two incredibly-salty "Big Grab" bags of Fritos just ten minutes ago, and now I read this:
Despite advisories to take it easy on sodium, Americans are now consuming about 4,000 milligrams a day -- nearly double the recommended limit to keep blood pressure under control, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said.

So the CSPI renewed a lawsuit first filed in 1983 to ask federal courts to force the Food and Drug Administration to declare sodium a food additive instead of categorizing it as "generally recognized as safe." This would give the agency the authority to set limits for salt in foods.

"There is no way the FDA can look at the science and say with a straight face that salt is 'generally recognized as safe,"' CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson said in a statement.

"In fact, salt is generally recognized as unsafe, because it is a major cause of heart attacks and stroke. The federal government should require food manufacturers to gradually lower their sodium levels."
I was impressed, in 2002, when a French doctor who campaigned against adding salt to processed foods was accused of threatening national security (since food processing is an important French industry, anything that can remotely interfere with it can be construed as a crime against the state):

Scientist Pierre Meneton received a less-than pleased response from the French government when he filed a report on the delicate topic of salt. By attributing 75,000 heart attacks a year to excessive salt intake, and pointing out the French food industry’s opposition to limiting salt in their products, Meneton was added to the swelling ranks of names listed as a threat to national security.His membership to the club came complete with surveillance by secret service agents of him, his family, friends and colleagues, as well as phone taps and interception of cell calls. A leaked governmental memo ordering the surveillance was published in an issue of Le Point magazine.
Salt may be the perfect weapon of mass destruction. Everywhere where there's food, you can find the white crystals!

So what to do know, post-binge? Purge? Nah, the stuff is soluble: I wouldn't get but a fraction of it. I know! Lots and lots of diet cola! Purge electrolytes with fluids (and let's not mention the caffeine, phosphoric acid, and the mysterious phenylalanine)!
Albuquerque's Response to "The Gates"

Courtesy of Julia, from West Virginia, who apparently passed through our mutual hometown recently. Do I sense a food theme in public art?

(photo credit is apparently Jaelyn DeMaria Leary at the Albuquerque Journal, but I have no link: the cheeseballs who run the Journal have such a high opinion of their Web Site that it requires $60/year just to gain the privilege of looking at it.)
Christo: The Gates, Central Park, New York

"The Crackers," courtesy of Deborah, and a chain of E-Mail forwards, ultimately from a recent visitor to New York City. More on Christo's work.

F-Bomb Reverberations

After Cheney went nuclear last year, there was bound to be fallout: among Colorado legislators.
Bloggers and Rappers

Rappers and bloggers love the same things: strip clubs, Bentleys, and especially, all the eye-popping bling-bling! As bloggers and rappers both know, it's all about the Benjamins, baby!
An Embarrassment

If this actually is how Condi Rice spoke to the Europeans, it indicates her complete intellectual bankruptcy, her descent into pure, servile hackery, a feminine 'Dean Rusk' of the Bush administration:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, seeking to impress French intellectuals in her meeting with them in Paris, referred to Iran as "totalitarian," as if the authoritarian Shiite theocratic regime neatly fits the model of the Soviet Union. With this rhetorical legerdemain, she extended to Persia the already overstretched analogy of the "war on terrorism" as the equivalent of the Cold War. But her juggling of labels left her interlocutors dismayed by her lack of intellectual adeptness. One of the French told me Rice was "deaf to all argument" and spoke in a "Soviet style," but that no one engaged her gaffe because "good manners are back."
You Won't Be 'Endorphin' For Long!

We had our final dress rehearsal for "Annie" tonight. Things worked well, although the pace suffered a bit in the Christmas mansion scene. As FDR, I need to work on my look a bit: I'm a dead-ringer not for FDR, but rather for one of his presidential predecessors, Woodrow Wilson. Maria banged her finger, Amanda banged her eyebrow, and Kaylynn's dress fragmented at an inconvenient time, but we soldiered on. At least Mike Jones succeeded tonight with his 'Daddy Warbucks' skull cap!

This show can serve to educate the young girls. Last night, youngest Orphan (about age 7) Leona Craig asked: "What's 'The Depression'?" I would have explained it to her, but we were too busy recreating a theatrical version of the Depression to afford to stop to explain it!

It's an outrage that, at the direction of the City of Davis, we had to remove every bit of our materials from the Varsity Theater, in order to make room for a sorority talent show tomorrow night. We'll have to move everything back in there on Friday. Very disruptive, and it would not have happened if the City had been more careful regarding scheduling.

Every arts group I've ever worked with has had a rocky relationship with its facilities provider: the facilities user and the facilities provider have inherently different, clashing interests. In the DMTC New Theater, there will be a better, unified approach!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

"Annie" Tech Week (2)

The effort continues. Last night, I worked with a FDR cigarette holder for the first time. The gold cigarette holder had a nice flat tip to fit in-between the teeth, but the longer black one looked better. Unfortunately, the black cigarette holder had a round cross-section, so it didn't fit so well in-between the teeth. It's too long too: I turned my head in the Cabinet scene, and jammed the cigarette tip into Diane Hoel's blouse. I apologized, fumbled with the damned pointy thing, and in the darkness of the Varsity Theater, I could hear an amused Michael McElroy laughing!
Expelling Immigrants

This story reminds me of a summer afternoon, in 1988. I was sitting in an Indian restaurant in Phoenix, when a big fat man in a cheap suit entered the restaurant. Surprisingly, the first thing he did was to grab a bearded man who was serving water to the customers, yell at him, shove him into a corner, and only then flash a badge. Fatso was apparently making an arrest. The poor immigrant was clearly in deep trouble. The immigrant was hauled away, and we were left, waterless and angry, to carefully consider the merits and difficulties of U.S. immigration policy.
Jeff Gannon

Likely a Rove plant:
Additionally, Guckert attended the invitation-only White House press Christmas parties in 2003 and 2004, and last holiday season, in a personal posting on GOPUSA, Eberle thanked Karl Rove for his "assistance, guidance, and friendship."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A Dust-Covered Sea of Ice?

On Mars? Maybe! People have wondered whether there might be such a landscape there, especially in the north, where it's unusually flat, but this is the first I've heard about any such landscape near the equator:
"It's been predicted for a long time that you should find water close to the surface of Mars near the equator," Jan-Peter Muller, from University College London, UK, said.
Really? I disagree: I thought there was an irreversible process on Mars whereby equatorial water was being slowly cold-trapped at the poles, leaving the equator dessicated. To be generous, it sure looks like there are dusty ice-shelf cracks there in the image, but perhaps there are alternate explanations: maybe surface appearances deceive and the ice is long-gone, or maybe these are volcanic mesas largely buried in sand. But who knows, right? Let's check it out!

3D images of pack ice near the Martian equator have been taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on board the Mars Express probe. The detected ground features are reminiscent of fractured ice floes on Earth. (Image: Esa/DLR/Berlin/Neukum, downloaded from BBC.)
Strange Weather

As strange as the weather is here in California, with Los Angeles making an earnest effort to get the rainiest season ever, there is strange weather elsewhere as well. I'm struck at how robust the polar easterlies are forecast to be over northern Canada, such that lows heading east out of North America instead pivot around the high over eastern Canada, and plunge westwards across Baffin Island and northern Hudson Bay. The Icelandic high is heading south next week, and a series of California-like cutoff lows will be crossing the Mediterranean as well.

According to this morning's Sacramento Bee, a tornado touched down north or NE of Dunnigan, in Daron's neighborhood. I wonder if there was any damage out there?
Non, Cher

You should know better, Miss Hollywood-Wannabe from the 60's, than to comment on Britney and J. Lo!
Some Meteorologist I Am!

Computers are a blessing and a curse. I noticed the lights flicker this afternoon here at work, so I saved my spreadsheet, but I didn't bother to look out the window (what modern meteorologist looks out the window anyway?), and so I missed all the excitement! A tornado! In the Sacramento area! As the National Weather Service stated:
At Last, Greenhouse Gas Sense!

Paradoxically, it's always easier to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, through conservation and efficiency improvements, than to go through the rigamarole of calculating greenhouse gas emissions and thereby try to get some ostentatious public recognition of one's supposed good intentions and good works. This is true even though the calculations for CO2 emissions, for example, are simpler than for typical criteria air pollutant emissions.

Only the utilities seem very interested in the California Climate Action Registry, created two years ago by the state legislature, but that's because they fear regulation and need that crucial public recognition of their efforts. The City of Sacramento doesn't have the luxury of plunging into the numbers, though, as Joel Levin, the Registry's vice president of business development explains:
Levin said power suppliers are especially interested in grappling with their emissions voluntarily, fearing that if they don't, government mandates will follow.

"For a city that's completely strapped, they see this (registry) as more of an environmental reputation thing," Levin said. "They don't have the fear of God they'll be regulated."
As I've stated before, for green house gas reductions, I fear regulation will never work. Instead, the slogan for dealing with greenhouse gas emission reductions should be the one Nike uses: "Just Do It!" And cities all over the state are coming to the same conclusion. Hooray for common sense!

Monday, February 21, 2005

"Annie" Tech Week

We're sailing into Tech Week for "Annie" at DMTC. Things are basically under control, but since we have a scheduling conflict at the Varsity Theater for Thursday night, we don't get the benefit of a final, dress rehearsal. So, we've got to get it as right as we can for Tuesday and Wednesday night.

Tonight, Mike Jones tried on his Daddy Warbucks skull cap, to simulate baldness. Worked pretty well, but it peeled a bit after awhile, and his dome began to remind me of a shar pei puppy. I'm sure he'll get that nailed (or at least glued) down. If not, maybe he'll reconsider that Mohawk look he joked about last night.

Blundering a bit with the FDR wheelchair. Got hung up in the Christmas Tree tonight. Last night, collided with Daddy Warbuck's desk. For some reason (like slipping on a banana peel), it's funny (how easily the mighty fall!)

I'm trying to remain in character, even in blackouts, and not jump out of the wheelchair and run off in the dark, because the audience can see somewhat, even in blackouts. It's hard because Jan Isaacson insists they need help stage right, but I am determined not to break the character of FDR.

According to the script, towards the end of the Cabinet scene in Act II, Annie is supposed to quickly kiss my (FDR's) cheek before making her exit. In rehearsal, upon hearing there was a kiss, I quipped, "What, on the lips?" There was a moment of awkward tension: people laughed too hard. Meanwhile, Annie (Kaylynn Rothleder) looked aghast, like she had just swallowed 55 snails. Kaylynn was sick all last week, so now, when it's time for the sentimental buss, it's me who's aghast. Since we are both approaching each other like a form of toxic waste, the moment is likely to remain awkward, but fortunately it's not crucial how the moment is handled - a quick hug works fine.

Kaylynn sure sings great for someone who still is coughing. I wish I could sing healthy as well as she sings sick. The girls are doing great - it's a very strong corps of orphan girls. Chloe especially is doing great.

My inclination to forget names is scaring me, especially in "New Deal for Christmas," when I recite a list of Cabinet member names to music. My weakness, which really became a problem about ten years ago, might bite me at any time. Last night, for example, I got the City Tech's name wrong (James Henderson - I called him by his father's name, Mark), an error for which there is no excuse, since all three of us did "Guys and Dolls" together at the Woodland Opera House in 2001.

Well, we'll see what tomorrow brings. After all, it's only a day away!
It's Still There!

This fear-flogging article about hurricane forecasts (recommended by Drudge, of course) made me laugh my head off! Apparently the stealth factor regarding where North Atlantic hurricanes go is the Bermuda High Pressure System:
And, perhaps most worrisome for Florida, the Bermuda High still lurks in the western Atlantic.
Well, but of course, that's where it belongs. The Bermuda High is but one of several, semi-permanent sub-tropical highs girdling the globe, a surface expression of Hadley Cell circulation within the Earth's atmosphere. Being surprised at the existence of the Bermuda High is like being surprised at the existence of the Atlantic Ocean. You wake up every morning in Miami, look east, and say: "DAMN! That water is STILL there!"

But reading further, it's not so much the existence of the Bermuda High:

The high is somewhat mysterious, a clockwise-swirling ridge of high pressure that wobbles back and forth across the Atlantic, strengthening and weakening, in response to weather patterns over Iceland and the Azores islands near Portugal. Sometimes it's in the western Atlantic near Bermuda — hence the name.
but rather its location in the western Atlantic, that is the issue:
Guess what? The Bermuda High is still in roughly the same place, according to the National Weather Service.

If the high lingers there through the summer and fall, Florida could be nature's punching bag for yet another hurricane season.

Experts say it's too far soon to tell whether that dire scenario will occur. But it's not too soon to prepare for it.

"If in fact the subtropical (Bermuda) High is going to be more frequently positioned farther south and west like it was in 2004, then one clearly has to be concerned," said James Elsner, a Florida State University hurricane researcher.

Jim Lushine, a meteorologist for the weather service's Miami office, offered one hint to watch for: If May is unusually dry, as it was last year, that could be evidence that the high is still lingering — and an omen of bad things to come.

"I'm not saying we'll have four hurricanes in one year," he said. Then again, "I wouldn't be shocked if we had six."

Others cautioned that the high's behavior was just one of many weird occurrences in 2004, a year so off-the-wall bizarre that a hurricane hit Brazil — in March. (The storm, unofficially named Catarina, was the first hurricane in at least four decades in the South Atlantic.) The Earth's climate is so complex that scientists don't understand everything that goes into creating a vicious hurricane season.
I was really surprised that Brazil doesn't see more hurricanes in March (late summer), and I was surprised that everyone, especially the Brazilians, were surprised (guess the Earth is stranger than we think). But the Bermuda High has gotta be somewhere, and the western North Atlantic is just as good a place as any. But then the article goes off the deep end again:
Forecasters confess they don't have an easy way to gauge the high's behavior.

"We don't know why it's there or how long it's going to be there," Lushine said after the weather service issued a bulletin Feb. 2 blaming the strong Bermuda High for four months of record-dry weather in Palm Beach County. "It's not anything we keep track of."

Lushine added that the high has remained strong and stayed, on average, in the same general area since March. The weather service doesn't have detailed records on its location before then, he said. The high can shift dramatically from day to day, in response to cold fronts and other disturbances.

The high also can stick around the same neighborhood for thousands of years — with vast consequences for the hurricanes spinning toward Florida.

During a 2,800-year stretch ending around 1000 A.D., the Bermuda High seemed to linger near Haiti, said Kam-biu Liu, a geography professor at Louisiana State University who studies prehistoric sediments for clues about past climate conditions. That era was also a "hyperactive" period in which catastrophic hurricanes struck Florida and the Gulf Coast three to five times more often than today, Liu said.

During the past millennium, he said, Florida has enjoyed a quiet period — although that quiet included Andrew in '92 and the 1928 storm that killed more than 3,000 people near Belle Glade.

Here's the scary part: The Bermuda High could easily move back toward Haiti, giving Floridians another thousand or so years of blue tarps.

"We don't know how much longer this quiet period will last," Liu said. "That's the biggest lesson: We haven't seen anything yet."
Why would the Bermuda High find itself around Haiti? No reason for it to be there, as far as I can tell. But wondering about the climate was not the reason why the article was written. The real reason?

Be afraid! Be very afraid! Even now, the Bermuda High is wobbling between the Azores and Bermuda, like it has done since just about the dawn of time. BE AFRAID!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Egregious Inhofe

The Senator from Oklahoma is apparently unimpressed by the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators/Association of Local Air Pollution Program Administrators (STAPPA/ALAPCO):

The Republican head of the Senate's environment committee directed two national organizations to turn over their financial records after they criticized President Bush's plan for cutting air pollution.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., also requested membership lists and tax returns in a letter to the groups' representative who told a Senate subcommittee last month that Bush's Clear Skies Initiative was too lenient and undermined state efforts to regulate emissions.

The organizations said the action was meant to intimidate opponents. The request appeared to be "some sort of retaliation against some very legitimate criticism of (Bush's) Clear Skies proposal," said William Becker, executive director of (STAPPA/ALAPCO). The two groups represent the views of state and local regulators before the Environmental Protection Agency and Congress.

Andrew Wheeler, majority staff director for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, defended the request. He said the panel had an oversight responsibility and wanted to determine if the organizations got funding from environmentalists and other outside interests.

"It has nothing to do with Clear Skies," Wheeler said. "If we wanted to intimidate them, we would have done it before they testified, not after." Becker said neither association receives money from private interests. "We have a limited constituency - the 50 states and local agencies," he said. "These are the only ones for whom we can work."

Inhofe must have a very primitive idea of who the various interested parties are in air pollution work. STAPPA/ALAPCO is in an in-between place, neither with the utilities (the good guys), or with the environmentalists (the bad guys), similar to how, with medical care, doctors are in an in-between place, neither with the drug companies (the good guys) or with the patients (the bad guys). Imagine, air pollution program administrators have two - TWO! - similar-sounding programs, working together. Are they good guys, or are they bad guys? Who can tell? Must be an enviro/communist plot of some sort! Demand to see their records (notice nobody else gets asked!)

What an ass Inhofe must be!
AM/PM Graveyard Gossip

The question the regulars are apparently asking is:
"So, who's the perv with the dog?"