Saturday, November 26, 2005

More on Melody Davi

Folsom newspaper article
San Bernardino review
Underwhelmed reviewer (review already posted on this weblog: 10/16/05 archive), but also including comments by readers who are underwhelmed by the reviewer

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Asteroid Touchdown

This is so cool, but I hadn't heard anything about it until now:
During its descent, Hayabusa captured images of its shadow looming over the marker (circled) that it dropped onto the surface of asteroid Itokawa (Image: JAXA/ISAS)
Michael Newdow's Atheist Musical/Lecture

Well, the Sacramento Bee's reviewer was less-than-impressed. It's harder to do musicals than you might think, particularly if a lecture is sandwiched in-between. Yet, I'm curious about the dinosaur dance - there's a lot of potential in dinosaurs. Imagine, a velociraptor chorus line!:
His singing was so-so, his lyrics inane, his rapping just plain ridiculous, his stage presence saved only by a brightly colored shirt. He rushed his lecture. And his lecture, essentially about the history of civilization, was way too long by biblical proportions.

As a performer, Newdow committed his first sin by showing up late to the theater at Sheldon High School. Sure he's a busy guy, but a one-man show can't go on when that one man is stuck in traffic.

...Yet, true talents can win back a disgruntled audience with energy and enthusiasm. Newdow took it in another direction. In his first number, a song about equality, the recorded music drowned out his singing voice, prompting one helpful heckler to shout: "We can't hear you. The music's too loud."

...Outside it was a different story.

"What is he? A lawyer, a doctor, an atheist and now he's a singer?" said protester James Musgrave. "What is he going to do next, remodel bathrooms?"

Indeed, grout work might have been more entertaining, given Newdow's second song, about dinosaurs. Newdow and four students did a dinosaur song-and-dance. Only a man who paid $1,700 to rent the theater could get away with such a thing.

...It said something about his speaking skills when this listener wondered when the next song would begin. It eventually did.

Which leads to the big question many believers and nonbelievers might pose after seeing this one-man disaster: If there really is a merciful God, how could he have stood by and allowed this to happen?
Into The Woo?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

She's A Star! "42nd Street" Comes to Stockton, With Melody Davi

Tony and Kathy Davi issued the invitation months ago: their daughter, Melody, touring with Big League Theatrical's revival version of the quintessential tap-dance musical, "42nd Street," would come as close to Sacramento as Stockton in its national tour. Would I like to come see her perform? Absolutely! Melody has always been among the strongest performers I had ever seen, and she was only getting better as she got stage experience. I eagerly looked forward to November 22nd, the date of the performance.

Melody succeeded her sister Mara as the lead actress and dancer, Peggy Sawyer, in the national and international tour of "42nd Street." It's quite unusual that sisters succeed each other as the lead, but then, great musical talent sometimes flows in families (veteran Mara is instead doing 'White Christmas' in Boston this year).

The venue was the Bob Hope Theatre in downtown Stockton. I got lost trying to locate the theater, so I stopped at a pizza joint for directions. The fellow behind the counter said the theater was only a few blocks away and that I couldn't miss it because it was all "litted" up (I like that word, "litted.")

The theater was very pretty: awash in neon outside, and very art deco inside, and, Tuesday evening, it was packed with an excited audience. The big problem for the show, however, was that the stage was quite small. According to Kathy, the stage was about the smallest of the entire national tour, so the cast would be doing its "C" version of the show - and a very cramped version of its "C" show too: many flys would be absent, and there would be no awesome dancing on steps at the end. (After the show, Tony remarked on how many changes to the ensemble dancing had been made, apparently with no noticeable problems, in order to adjust to the small space: a mark of true professionalism on the part of the cast.)

None of this really mattered to me, though. I was there to see Melody perform, whatever the drawbacks might be. In the lobby, I loaded up on the "42nd Street" CD, and the T-Shirt, and the souvenir program (I turn into an uber-consumer at emotional times like this). Sacramento musical theater folks were there: Andee Thorpe, Brian McCann, a number of RSP folks. A big contingent of Melody's friends and relatives from the Folsom area were there too.

What a glorious, glorious show! Strong, strong dancers and performers, with Melody leading the way! The first, big attention-grabber, for me, was the endurance tap sequence in Act I, Scene 2 ('Go Into Your Dance'). Very hard to do, but Melody and fellow dancers made it seem so - effortless! Just one of many, grueling, apparently effortless dance numbers ('With Plenty of Money, and You,' 'Montage,' etc.) Then, there were all the classic songs ('I Only Have Eyes For You,' 'We're In The Money,' 'Lullaby of Broadway,' 'Shuffle Off To Buffalo,' and, of course, '42nd Street.') Throughout the entire second act, tears filled my eyes, it was so beautiful.

Afterwards, a scrum of friends, fans, and relatives waited out back, where the trucks were being loaded and where the buses were idling, waiting to take the cast and crew to tomorrow's show in Bakersfield. Everyone wanted pictures and autographs, and to say hello. The avalanche of well-wishers and memories must have been a distracting, emotional experience for Melody.

I greeted Melody, gave her a bouquet, kissed her on the cheek, took a photo of her, and kissed her again on the cheek. I told her I missed her, and she reciprocated by saying likewise.

It wasn't until ten minutes later, however, when I was moving around on the periphery of the group, that Melody really saw and recognized me. Then I kissed her on the cheek again, took another photo of her, kissed her on the cheek again, etc.

How odd! It was like some kind of wacky science experiment. What can possibly push Melody Davi's facile brain into the "Red Zone?" Is it:

Q.) hours of white-hot tap-dancing with world-class professionals, on stage, in front of many hundreds of people?

A.) No. Not even close.

Or is it, instead:

Q.) dozens of life-long friends, relatives and admirers, armed with flashing cameras and clamoring for attention all at once in the dark AFTER hours of white-hot tap-dancing with world-class professionals on stage, in front of many hundreds of people?

A.) Yes, at least until the clamor dies down a bit.

Melody really IS a star these days, and Stockton saw the proof, last night! Try to coordinate your travel schedule with the national tour if you can: you will be amazed! Melody has posted the tour schedule at her Web Site.

Ray Fisher and Melody Davi.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Cool Border-Crossing Gear

I saw this the other day in the Bee, and I thought "hmmmm.... I should get a pair!":
These are no ordinary shoes.

A compass and flashlight dangle from one shoelace. The pocket in the tongue is for money or pain relievers. A rough map of the border region is printed on a removable insole.

They are red, white and green, the colors of the Mexican flag. On the back ankle, a drawing of Mexico's patron saint of migrants.
Neither A Lender Or Borrower Be

This sort of squabble creeps me out, mostly because Calpine has indirectly paid a substantial chunk of my salary over the years, and I don't want that gravy train to end soon. But then, why should I give Calpine any advice? I'm seriously leveraged myself, and I know I try to avoid paying that 'speculative premium' whenever possible!
Calpine used $139 million in sale proceeds to buy back some of its top-priority debt at face value of the notes, but other bondholders refused to sell at that price. Calpine, which claims some bondholders want a "speculative premium," then withdrew more than $300 million from the account to buy natural gas in storage, a move that angered some bondholders.
Can't Resist

Just a couple of pictures from "Victor/Victoria": Lauren Miller with Chris Scarberry and Marcy Goodnow.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Forbidden Thought

Are the torments of junior high school that close to my daily consciousness? How much of a mark did bullies leave, way back then?

I saw this headline:
Three-fourths of state kids not physically fit, test shows
and the first thought in my head was "at last, someone I can kick around and get away with it."

For my thought-crime, I'll do a hundred push-ups, in penance (it'll just make me more formidable, anyway, when I bust people up at recess for lunch money).
Bob Woodward, Pathetic Hack Reporter

He ruined his reputation - the best reputation in all of journalism! - all for 'access'. How sad!

Life Imitating Art, Imitating Life - "The Thin Blue Line"

Another interesting example of how the existence of the ultimate remedy - the death penalty - makes errors in sentencing more likely, not less: the very story line of that excellent movie from 1988, "The Thin Blue Line." Here's what the jury forewoman in Texas thinks now, AFTER THE EXECUTION:
"We did the best we could with the information we had, but with a little extra work, a little extra effort, maybe we'd have gotten the right information," said Miriam Ward, forewoman of the jury that convicted Cantu. "The bottom line is, an innocent person was put to death for it. We all have our finger in that."
Gotta Smoke

Sleepwalking, they say:
A WOMAN passenger tried to open the emergency door of a plane at 39,000ft so she could step outside for a cigarette.

Fellow passengers on the Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Brisbane were alarmed to see French tourist Sadrine Helene Sellies, 34, get up from her seat, holding a cigarette and a lighter, and grab the emergency door handle, Brisbane Magistrates Court was told yesterday.
A Year

A year (sigh....) What is a year?

What is that song from "Rent", 'Seasons of Love'? (lyrics from Let's Sing It:

Five hundrend twenty five thousand
six hundred minutes
Five hundrend twenty five thousand
moments so dear
Five hundrend twenty five thousand
six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year

In daylight, in sunsets, in midnights,
in cups of coffee, In inches, in miles
in laughter in strife,

In Five hundrend twenty five thousand
six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life

How about Love
how about love
how about love
measure in love
seasons of love
seasons of love
Well, I'm reminded by Frontier Touring Company's latest announcement:
Kylie's Australian tour promoter The Frontier Touring Company announced on Sunday evening that they are holding dates at the end of 2006 for the rescheduling of the Australian leg of Kylie's Showgirl: The Greatest Hits Tour.

The announcement coincided with TEN's airing of highlights from Kylie's Earls Court Showgirl concert. The special was aired at Kylie's request as a preview for the tens of thousands of fans still holding tickets to her Australian tour.

Promoter Michael Gudinski said Kylie's thoughts were still with her Australian fans.

"Kylie's touched that so many of her fans are waiting so patiently for the rescheduling of her Showgirl tour.

"She wanted fans to have a small taste of the concert that she will bring them in the future."

Michael Gudinski confirmed that The Frontier Touring Company are holding dates with venues for the end of 2006 and that the company hoped to make an announcement of exact dates in the New Year.

"Our aim is to give Kylie the time she needs to recover fully. We appreciate that the end of next year is a long time away for ticket holders and the option of refunding tickets will remain available to fans."

In some very exciting news The Frontier Touring Company also announced that Kylie has decided the 2006 version of Showgirl will be varied and updated from the original version seen overseas in 2005 as a thank you for the patience and understanding of Australian ticket holders.

"Fans that hold onto their tickets will be part of a tour that they won't ever forget. Kylie's been thinking about these shows a lot over the past months, and they're going to be something special," Michael Gudinski said.
"Charlotte's Web" - DMTC's YPT

Bows Sunday evening at "Charlotte's Web." Foreground, Nora Unkel (Charlotte) and Ed Bianchi (Wilbur). Between them, in the polka dot dress, is Camille Totah (Fern Arable). Immediately to the right of Wilbur is Chris Danti (Templeton), Cass Olson and Lisa Parente (Goose and Gander).

Nice show! I liked the costumes, particularly Nora's many arms (not easily visible here) which underline and emphasize gestures: spiders may thus have an advantage over humans as stage actors. The baby spiders were cute as well. Ed Bianchi was lovable as Wilbur. Camille Totah was excellent, as always.

I got confused regarding what distinguishes the Arables and the Zuckermans from each other: it's been a long, long time since I've read the book.

This is the first time I've seen Chris Danti perform. Something about his performance reminded me of something, and it took awhile to figure out what it was: he reminds me, a little bit, of Marlon Brando. Picture Brando as a lovable but opportunistic rat, constantly looking for food, and that's something like Danti's performance.