Friday, February 24, 2006

Final Dress Rehearsal - "Titanic - The Musical"

Took longer than expected, in order to restage 'To The Lifeboats' with a tilting stage, but we have a show!

At one point, there were 36 people on the tilted stage. Assuming for the sake of argument, that each person weighed 160 pounds, that works out to roughly 36 x 160 = 5760 pounds, or nearly three tons. Add in the weight of the stage itself (600 pounds?) and that's more than three tons.

'To The Lifeboats' was restaged so that there won't be more than about 24 people on the tilted stage at any one time - roughly two tons civilian cargo, maximum.

I've been worried about two types of potential failure:
  • rigging failure, such as snapping cables; or,
  • tilting stage structural failure, such as snapping 2 x 12 timbers.
The first kind of failure would be by far the most dangerous - an abruptly falling stage weighing tons, plus flying cables. It might not kill you to be whipped by a cable, but afterwards, you might want someone to kill you. Plus, falling people would be bad - real bad. Nevertheless, I have complete confidence in the rigging. There is no indication whatsoever of any untoward strain there. We could swing several automobiles from the truss system, if we wanted.

The second kind of failure is more likely. The stage noticeably bows: it's hard to bend coupled 2 x 12 timbers depthwise, but the bend is there. After trying the maximum load test last night, the tilt angle was increased for 'Still,' and several of us got on the tilted stage, but abruptly left, when pops were heard on the rear coupled 2 x 12. Apparently the front coupled timber had already been stiffened with steel, but not the rear one, where the pops were heard. Today, the rear coupled timber will be stiffened as well. Even if there is a catastrophic failure of the coupled timbers, the presence of the broken timbers themselves would blunt the stage's fall, and therefore help limit the damage. It would be bad, and embarrassing, but probably not catastrophic.

I was puzzled why a load of fewer people at a greater tilt angle would pose a greater problem than many people at a shallow angle. Chris Neff said "well, the torque is greater," but I don't think that's correct. Still, there is a shift of pressure within the coupled timbers, less contact of the timbers with the floor, and that pressure shift may somehow be to blame. [update: with the presence of blocks, the hypothesis of greater torque becomes more plausible - the axis of rotation is not at stage level, but rather at the top of the block. Therefore, a steeper stage will have a greater moment arm, as the block is moved closer to the bottom end of the tilted stage.]

The design of the tilting stage is quite impressive: clever forethought! Some carping has been overheard - one cast member suggests a better design might be a counterbalanced stage rotating around a central pivot, and elevated several feet above the main stage, in order to give room for movement, but that idea hasn't been clearly thought through. Such a design would place the entire weight of the stage (plus counterbalance) on just two points - a potentially dangerous concentration of weight, especially with musicians in the orchestra pit below. McElroy's design distributes weight much better.

Oh yes, and did I mention that the Titanic cast is sounding better all the time? That kind of improvement gets overlooked when dealing with a novel apparatus.

Last night, walking the dog past the 24th Street Theater at 2:30 a.m., I noticed the lights burning. Ah! I know what they're up to! "Baby" opens tonight at Runaway Stage Productions!
Drip, Drip

The approaching West Coast storm is so large that even rain-proof Arizona can't avoid getting something (Feb. 28 - 29).
"D00d Check Out My Bl0g!!"

*response* "How about you check out the edge of my knife?"
One of the 29 entries alone for the word "blog," plus many, many other slang words, over at Urban Dictionary.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Proof Of Concept

Left: Cracking wood? No, a shout that the stage is about ten degrees from horizontal!

On Broadway, "Titanic - The Musical" was notable for its incorporation of a tilting stage, and Set Designer Michael McElroy has been designing exactly that marvel for DMTC. Last night, we tried it out to see if the concept actually works.

It apparently does! Applying the concept will be interesting, because there will be people on the stage - small, fragile heavy people. There was some bowing of the stage: the stage alone weighs hundreds, maybe even more than a thousand of pounds, and the addition of people will only add to the burden, but it looked acceptable last night. Nevertheless, the engineers were dissatisfied with some of the rigging, and thus that whole assemblage is being reworked today.

Michael and James McElroy, father and son. Michael is Set Designer, and also plays Tom Andrews, Chief Builder of the doomed vessel HMS Titanic.
There she is!
Towering high!
Broad and grand!
Stage of dreams!

'Lady's Maid': Wednesday night rehearsal of "Titanic - the Musical."

Meanwhile, Laurie Fio completes her portrait of the First Dogs of DMTC, Scruffy and Mrs. Lovett!
Lambda Acting Opportunity

Updated information from Juan Ramos regarding ballplayer acting roles:
The Lambda Players will be holding a second audition for their upcoming production of "Take Me Out" specifically for the purpose of casting the lead role of Darren Lemming (African-American or mixed race), Davey Battle (African-American or mixed race), Martinez (Hispanic or mixed race) and Rodriguez (Hispanic or mixed race). We will also audition all actors who can recite Spanish dialogue directly from the script for the roles of Martinez and Rodriguez. Auditions will be held at the Lambda Players Theatre, 2427 17th Street (17th and Broadway) on Saturday, March 18th at 1:00 p.m. For more information, please contact Juan Ramos at (916) 653-8863 during the day and (916) 428-1555 during the evening.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Spirit Reaches 'Home Plate' on Mars

And finds that it's layered. That's a surprise - most people believe Home Plate is a shock effect from an ancient impact, and finding these layers wasn't anticipated.
Secret Food Spam

I just received some spam entitled: "Wanted: Secret Food Critics."

I have an opinion about that spaghetti over there, but it's strictly need-to-know information, for-eyes-only, and that's all I'm going to say.
Is It Hitting The Fan Yet?

Maybe so. According to Juan Cole, the bombing of the Askariyah shrine in Samarra has triggered momentous events in Iraq. Iraq, not a terribly stable place, barely under U.S. military control, and after Saddam, a seething cauldron of religious hatred, looks set for a volcanic eruption of violence:
They told B. how the demolition was carried out. You see, it was nothing like a hipshot sneaking up bombing by night. It was meticulous, skilful piece of work, taking a lot of time, the guards knowing all about what was going on. At least that´s what they told him today.

So now they all gather downtown Nejef rallying, preparing a gruesome revenge. Sistani tries hard to stop them, they told him, but the boys won´t listen. They´re heading for Samarra. '
Furriners Running Ports

A conservative friend had this reaction:
Hey Marc: I just read this excellent parody in the ONION! It said how President Bush wants to turn over cargo unloading responsibilities at 6 US ports to a group of Arabs. Furthermore, if the deal somehow fails to go through, that would send a "terrible message" to the world that we don't trust Arabs. According to the ONION, Bush says that there is no reason to treat an Arab importation company any differently than, say, a British company. Then, the article goes on to say that Bush later revealed he didn't actually know about the approval beforehand, but found out about it after the fact. But he still wants to let Arabs run the ports. After all, what could happen?

What a hoot!
It's a hoot! Too bad the ONION doesn't seem to have anything to do with it! (Just checking, today's ONION has an article entitled: "White House Had Prior Knowledge of Cheney Threat: August 2005 Briefing Warned 'Cheney Determined to Shoot Old Man in Face'" They're a couple of days behind....)

What's interesting is that the Chinese already run the Port of LA, and Singapore runs the Port of Oakland, so it's not like there aren't precedents. That's probably why Bush thinks it's a small shift.....

Nevertheless, an Arab state-owned company sets off alarm bells. After Sept. 11th, I'm with the alarmists.
Zombie Mob

Here's an acidic quote I liked from Daily Kos regarding the port deal, and Bush supporters' unwitting role. Really, even Michael Moore couldn't have come up with a better illustration of the power of Middle Eastern oil money to corrupt the American political process. Bin Laden himself has entertained UAE princes at camps in Afghanistan. Wake up, zombie mob!:
The 'trust us on this port deal' meme was never directed at those of us who don't trust Bush and Company to run a Dairy Queen, it was a plea to the Bush-base. That in itself is more evidence of a White House disconnected from reality. The negative reaction among the right-wing faithful was an all too predictable, classic example of the monster turning on its creator: After years of pumping their fawning admirers full of terror and working as hard as they can to blur the distinction between regimes in the Middle East that had nothing to do with 9/11 and the people who did, the Bush Administration shouldn't be surprised that their supporters are unwilling or unable to objectively whip out the analytical razor-blade and expertly split hairs between a nation with direct links to 9/11 and Al Qaeda, and a company owned by that nation's government.

Faced with that self created dilemma, the comically feeble Bush Administration talking point is that the everyday terrorist sympathizer will think better of us if we help further enrich a handful of obscenely wealthy oil Sheiks? Here's an idea for improving our image in the Arab World: Stop torturing Muslims. But either way, it's doubtful the zombie mob that Bush and Rove have spent the last five years shocking back to life care what the citizens of Muslim nations think about the United States.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Love In The Age Of The Wireless Telegraph

Radioman Harold Bride (right, Robert Coverdell) reconsiders a request from stoker Frederick Barrett (left, Steven Ross) to send a love note across the Atlantic Ocean, to Nottinghamshire.

"Titanic - The Musical," DMTC, opening this Friday.
Irish Dancing

Gabe is intrigued by (as Yoda might say).
More Bush Non-Sequiturs

The NREL scientists who were supposed to take the lead on Bush's switchgrass initiative had already been dismissed because of Bush budget cuts. So, they've now been reinstated.
The 32 layoffs this month included eight researchers working on many of the alternative forms of energy Bush came here to champion. But on Monday, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced that $5 million would be transferred from another government account to bring the workers back -- and avoid an untimely political embarrassment for Bush.
Baffling Bush

George W. Bush is threatening his first veto ever, in order to transfer shipping operations at several American ports to a state-run company in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). September 11th clearly showed how Arab terrorists can take advantage of legitimate business contacts between the U.S. and the Arab world to further their own agenda. It's time to call GWB's bluff:
Lawmakers from both parties have noted that some of the Sept. 11 hijackers used the United Arab Emirates as an operational and financial base. In addition, critics contend the UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by a Pakistani scientist.
As might be expected, Digby gets the best dig in on the liberal side:
If there are three hallmarks of this failed Bush administration, it is hubris, incompetence and cronyism. This port deal features all three.

The hubris is illustrated by the fact that they actually thought after years of fear mongering and beating of Islamic terrorist war drums, they wouldn't be questioned about a United Arab Emirates contract for port security. The king shall not be questioned. The incompetence feature is that they believe it is smart to outsource security, of all things, to another country. If there is one thing all sides can agree upon, it's that the US should control its own borders and ports. It's common sense.
Check Digby for the cronyism angle. And as for Josh Marshall:
Does he wear it well? I really did chuckle when I heard him with this stuff. I mean, with racial profiling pretty much the whole world, not outsourcing our foreign policy to people with funny accents, eavesdropping without warrants because that's what tough guys need to do to get the job done, a whole foreign policy framed around the premise that the rest of the world can blow it out their $#@#&.

Even if he's right on the merits, it just doesn't work from a president who makes his political coin of the realm not caring what anybody else thinks or even what the law might be so long as security is even conceivably at stake.
Mystery Goo

Attacks Los Angeles.
Just Say NOAA

TV meteorologists in Roanoke, VA, have their hands full battling heroin addiction.

Acting Opportunity

News flash from Juan Ramos (who played 'The King' last summer for DMTC's "The King and I"), for local males:

I will be directing the Lambda Players upcoming production of "Take Me Out" by Richard Greenberg which won the Tony award for Best Play of 2003.

I am looking specfically for:

  • Two African American or mixed race actors (21-35 years old) to portray Darren Lemming, the lead, and his best friend on an opposing baseball team, Davey Battle.
  • An Asian or mixed race actor (21-35 years old) to portray Takeshi Kawabata, a pitcher recruited from Japan by the New York Empires (based on the New York Yankees). This role requres the actor to be able to recite in Japanese from the script as well as English. The actor chosen will be coached in Japanese dialogue if necessary.
  • Two Latino or mixed race (21-35 years old) to portray Martinez and Rodriguez, two Hispanic baseball players on the New York Empires. These two roles require the actors to recite dialogue in Spanish. Jake Montoya comes to mind and if you can get this information to him, I would appreciate it.
This is a rare opportunity for actors of color to really display their acting chops. As an actor of color myself, these opportunities do not present themselves often in Sacramento. This play is very intense and adult and requires very skilled actors or at the very least, actors who have the guts to tackle these roles. I welcome both.

We had auditions last night and they will be held again tonight (Tuesday, February 21st, 2006) at 7:00 p.m. at the Lambda Players Theatre, 2427 17th Street (Broadway and 17th). I will audition serious interested actors on an individual basis if they are unable to attend auditions tonight. They can contact me during the day at (916) 653-8863 and (916) 428-1555 during the evening hours. Thank you again.

Juan Ramos

Monday, February 20, 2006

Making Plans

Kylie's been lying so low the last two months she's practically invisible, but there may be a reason why:
KYLIE wedding rumours are gaining strength after a Melbourne wedding dress shop closed its doors for a special VIP customer on Saturday.

The shop is saying nothing, but some brides-to-be had their appointments cancelled at Mariana Hardwick's Brunswick St store after being told the place was off-limits.

Fashion experts told The Eye it was highly unlikely Kylie Minogue would get married in one of Hardwick's dresses, but an outfit for the mother of the bride, Carol Minogue, could be a possibility.

Kylie had been sighted in the shop a week before, according to witnesses. Sources also said she was in Fitzroy clothing store Shag again last week.

The shop closure comes as boyfriend Olivier Martinez's mother, Rosemarie Martinez, was quoted as saying Kylie and Olivier would marry at Kylie's French Island getaway in April.
Opening "Titanic - The Musical" This Friday!

Tech week is here! (Picture from rabid peanut, etc. at B3ta).
Noise and Memory

I don't know about drug Ecstasy, but I do like noisy discotheques - the noisier, the better!
Listening to loud music exacerbates the effects on the brain of taking ecstasy, researchers have found.

Italian scientists gave the drug to rats who were then exposed to music at nightclub noise levels.

The researchers measured the electrical activity in the rats' brains and found that noise prolonged the effects of ecstasy by up to five days.

...Ecstasy is usually taken by clubbers - who are in an environment full of flashing lights and loud music.

The drug produces feelings of euphoria and energy, and a desire to socialise.

But there is mounting evidence from both animal and human studies that it may damage nerve pathways in the brain. Long term use has been linked to memory loss and depression.

Experts have suggested that loud music may also affect higher brain functions.

The researchers, from the Institute of Neurological Science in Catanzaro, found low doses of ecstasy did not modify the brain activity of rats if no music was played.

But total electrical brain activity in the animals significantly decreased in the presence of loud music, selected to mimic levels commonly found in clubs.

High doses of ecstasy reduced brain activity even without noise, but the effect was enhanced by loud music and lasted for up to five days after the drug was administered.

...Martin Barnes, chief executive of the drugs information charity DrugScope said: "Ecstasy is very much associated with the clubbing and dance scene and users report a heightened sense of awareness and a greater appreciation of music and their surroundings.

"After taking ecstasy users may feel tired and low and this may last several days leading to a 'mid-week hangover'.

"Short-term memory can be impaired and there is emerging evidence that prolonged use can lead to periods of depression.
I had a particularly important point to make regarding this post, but I't quite recall what it was.....and that bums me out SO bad!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Erin Jones and Tevye Ditter - The Happy Couple Wed

St. Francis Church, 26th and K Street, Sacramento, across the street from Sutter's Fort. Beautiful church - first time I've ever been inside.
Tevye patiently waits as the photographer takes her last pictures of Erin, before Erin's grand entrance as the bride (to Pachelbel's "Canon in D Major.")

Behind Tevye is Laurent Lazard: seated to the right - is that Gil Sebastian?

Many local musical theater veterans were in attendance (Kelly Mustain, Pepper Von, the DMTC crowd, the RSP crowd, Gil and Lenore Sebastian, etc.)

Blue luminarias at the entrance to the reception hall: Clunie Auditorium at McKinley Park. Erin credits her mother for the inspiration, but it could be Erin's idea: luminarias are popular walkway decorations at Christmastime in New Mexico, and Erin attended St. Johns College in Santa Fe (or was it College of Santa Fe? - either way...)
First dance of the happy couple.