Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Ginger or Mary Ann?
February 12, 2011

A Long Way From Gilligan's Island

NOT my grandmother...but it is Tatiana

On This Date in History:  If I am not mistaken, Elizabeth Carter Symon was born on this date in 1898.  My grandmother lived to see February 11, 1998.  It always amazed me that she was born in the Oklahoma Territory.  I’ve seen a photo of her and her best friend in a horse and buggy.  She and her best friend went on to marry two men who were friends as well.  They remained as such for the rest of their lives.   Think about it.  My grandmother was born in Oklahoma before it was a state, rode around in a horse and buggy and in her lifetime, the invention of the automobile, the airplane, the atomic bomb and numerous medical breakthroughs took place.  She saw her territory become a state and saw man walk on the moon.  When she began there was no radio, no phonograph, no tv and probably not too many phones or running water where she grew up.  She did go to college though, which was rare in those days for a woman.  So many other things changed during her lifetime including the notable birth of Tatiana Josivovna Chernova Blacker on this date in 1934

I Think Jonas Grumby Would Have Had a Heart Attack if he Saw This Waiting in his Hut instead of Gilligan

Tatiana was born in New York and was raised by her mother, Betty Horn, who was a fashion model.  She went by the name Tina Blacker and told her high school teacher that she was the only girl in class without a middle name.  At the age of 17, she began taking acting classes and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  At 17, she started taking acting classes and did some modeling, showing up in some old “pin-up” magazines such as Modern Man and Adam, Sir!  In 1952, Tina made her acting debut on Broadway in a Bette Davis musical revue called Two’s Company.  More Broadway shows followed as did appearances in Playboy in May 1958 and April 1959.  I guess Hef must have dug her to put her in twice.  She probably caught his attention when she gained notoriety in 1957 for her performance with future Catwoman Julie Newmar in the Broadway adaptation of Li’l Abner.  That same year, she released an album with a couple of popular tunes, “Embraceable You” and “I’m in the Mood for Love.”  I mean, 1957 alone must have screamed “Hef! Hef!” for the budding star and she seemed destined for greatness.  And you know what, she became a household name; even to this day.

As We Remember, Ginger

She had film roles in the early 1960’s as a leading lady for the likes of Robert Ryan, Richard Widmark and Robert Taylor.  She turned down a role in Operation Petticoat, which would have put her on the wide screen with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis.  She opted instead for more Broadway shows.  Then, in 1964, she teamed up with Bob Denver in a beach party movie called For Those Who Think Young.  No one remembers that movie but Tina will always remember that as the catalyst that changed her career and life.  You see, Denver was set to star in a new TV Show in 1964 and she took the role that was turned down by Jayne Mansfield.  Tina had taken as a stage name the middle name her high school teacher had given her, which was Louise.  Tina Louise starred in Gilligan’s Island as Ginger Grant.  She became unhappy with the role as she feared she would be typecast.  She was right.  But, she also became a television icon.

Cast Your Vote in the Poll

She continued her career and even had a memorable role in The Stepford Wives.   But, for all the acting credentials, playboy shoots and pinups, she will always be remembered as Ginger and be part of arguments over the question that will last forever: “Ginger or Mary Anne?”  While she generally refused to reprise the role of Ginger in any of the follow up movies related to Gilligan’s Island, she did make cameos on a few talk shows with a reunion theme.  While she may have tried to run from her role as Ginger, she couldn’t hide.  In fact, in 2005, TV Land listed her as 2nd all time in that cable channel’s top ten greatest sex-symbols of TV.  I once had a job in which I got to see all 98 episodes of Gilligan’s Island as I edited and dubbed the entire series.  I could watch every show frame by frame.  An interesting way to try to analyze the question: Ginger or Mary Ann?  And, it provided answers to other questions:  The Skipper was Jonas Grumby, the Professor was Roy Hinkley, Mary Ann’s last name was Summers and Gilligan was never given a last name, though creator Sherwood Schwartz once said that Gilligan was his last name.

Weather Bottom Line:  Believe the hype; it’s going to warm up.  The oscillation over the Arctic changed last week which had been oriented such that the North Pole has been warm all season and the continental US so cold has flipped.  It takes a little while for the change to come down stream but it will come.  The jet stream will move well north and we’ll be pushing toward 60 by the end of next week. If this shift persists, then winter is effectively over…but…it could shift back..after all it is an El Nino year so enjoy it while you can.

The Roots of Reality TV Go Back More Than 60 Years
August 10, 2010


Jimmy Johnson can thank Allen Funt for his stint on Survivor

On This Date in History:  With the success of Survivor on US airwaves in 2000, the trend for the first decade of 21st century American television has been “reality” tv.  We’ve seen everything from washed up celebrities sharing a house to Donald Trump firing people for ratings.  While Survivor seems to have been derived from a 1997 Swedish television show, the history of the genre really goes back farther than that; much farther.  While this notion may leave you scratching your head, it’s really something that even the youngest of Americans have probably heard of, even if they never saw it.

Allen Funt Was A Creative Genius in Early TV

On this date in 1948, Candid Camera debuted. Its creator, Cornell University gradutate Allen Funt, was somewhat of a prodigy.  He graduated from high school at 15 and, after graduating from Cornell, he attended Columbia University school of Business Administration and then took some art classes at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.  That led him to a job in the art department of an advertising agency and then a copywriter.  From there, he was transferred to the radio department.  His radio experience was used in his service in the US Army Signal Corps where he experimented with location recording.  The predecessor to the tape recorder was a device known as a wire recorder and the mobility of the recorder allowed him to try out several concealment techniques.  That led to a career in radio following the war when he took his skills to ABC Radio and a show he called Candid Microphone.  The budget must have been tight because Allen Funt played the roles of several different characters to set up the gags on unsuspecting people.  He played the part of a dentist or a mechanic or some other occupation to create situations in which the victim would react to some unexpected set of circumstances.   Here is a sample of a Candid Microphone episode with Bela Lugosi (part1) (part 2) He took the concept to TV but for the first season he kept the name Candid Microphone.

Candid Microphone Bits Are Still Available

Candid Camera is much catchier and made more sense for TV and it was probably pretty fortunate for Funt that he wised up.  In developing the show, Funt is credited with hidden camera style comedy programming.  At one time or another, Candid Camera was shown on all three television networks but it had its greatest success on CBS from 1960 to 1966.  After that, it lived on as a syndicated show.  There have been  several attempts to revive the show, most recently with Funt’s son as the host.  But, it never really caught the same fire it had in the past.  But, with the Internet and camera phones, the concept lives on today but in its day, Candid Camera provided some of the funniest moments in television history. If you think about it, Funt really created reality TV. So I guess we can blame him for Big Brother.  The Museum of Broadcast in Communications credits Candid Camera as “the first and longest running reality-based comedy program.”

Kids are Always Great TV

Allen Funt will forever be known for his Candid Camera antics and, after he got in front of the camera instead of behind the microphone, he became quite the celebrity.  Funt was once offered a citation for bravery from the FAA.  Seems that in the early 1970’s, he was on an airplane that was hijacked with the villains demanding that the flight be diverted to Cuba.  Now, the passengers had all seen Funt and recognized him from this successful tv show.  So, they assumed that it was a Candid Camera gag.  The passengers repeatedly broke out in laughter at the hijackers actions and, at one point, broke out in applause.  The folks on the plane were not the least bit nervous and the hijackers were totally perplexed.  Funt turned down the award saying that he was just another passenger.  The truth was, he was probably the most terrified person on the plane because he was the only one who knew that it was not a joke.  After the plane landed in Cuba, all of the passengers returned safely to the United States.  By then, the rest of the passengers realized the joke that there was no joke was on them.

Funt Used His Celebrity to Raise Money for Schools in Carmel and Big Sur

I suppose Funt was running out of family friendly material for his hidden camera but there was all sorts of areas of the human experience left to be explored.  In 1970, he produced a full length film called, What Do You Say To A Naked Lady?  The premise is to uncover the reaction of people to unexpected encounters with nudity.  In one scene,  a young nude woman casually exits an elevator in an office building.  Funt also turned the cameras on a test audience watching a preview of the film.  Some members of the audience, no doubt expecting something like the tv show, were quite indignant while others were outspoken in praise.  In the 1980’s, he went even further by producing a series of adult oriented videos called Candid Candid Camera which featured nude women in various situations and ran on the Playboy Channel.  Perhaps this little bit of trivia gives some insight as to why he was twice divorced; once in 1964 and a second time in 1978.  I suppose it may have been difficult to be living with someone who liked to set up hidden cameras all over the place.  Or maybe its just difficult to live with a genius.  His creativity really pushed television entertainment forward, which I believe is lacking today.  At the turn of the century, “reality TV” was seen as a real breakthrough by those who never considered that Allen Funt had done it about a half century before.

Weather Bottom Line:  The dewpoint is back into the mid 70’s and that is pretty soupy.  In spite of the moisture, we’ll be visting the mid to upper 90’s for the rest of the week.  The only real hope for a break will be a scattered thunderstorm as a frontal boundary flops around close enough to perhaps focus some activity in our area for the next couple of days.  Look for a better chance sometime Saturday evening with a cold front approaching area.  The front will stick around as an area of low pressure moves up along the boundary and that should enhance our prospects for rain further on Sunday into the first half of Monday.  The biggest deal about it, though we need the rain, is that it will knock out the extreme heat for a few days.  So, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

The Original Little Orphan Annie Did Not Match Her Broadway Image
August 5, 2010

The Original Little Orphan Annie Was a Far Cry From An Obnoxious Little Girl Screaming/Singing "Tomorrow"; In this Episode from the 1930's She was Rescued From Kidnapping



On This Date in History: Harold Gray had been toying with an idea he had regarding a comic strip. He had sent several to Captain Joseph Medill Patterson, who was the founder of the New York Daily News. Patterson liked one of the ideas in 1924 and called Gray into his office. The main character in the strip was a boy named Otto. While Patterson liked the concept, he wasn’t enthused with the main character and thought that Otto was a mistake.

Wonders What it would be like to be Otto

Wonders What it would be like to be Otto

Seems that there were already 40 other strips that featured a boy. Beyond that, Patterson also thought that Otto looked pretty effeminate. Now, the paper had from time to time taken to reprinting a poem by James Whitcomb titled “Little Orphan Annie.” That gave Patterson inspiration. The story goes that Patterson told Gray, “put skirts on the kid and call her Orphan Annie.” Artists don’t always succomb to management pressure when it comes to their art, but I suppose that Gray needed the gig. So, he did what Patterson suggested and on this date in 1924, the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip first appeared.   Comic strips of that time were different from today in that adventure strips ran a single story that lasted for months, if not for an entire year.  On Sunday’s a single comic might take up an entire page.  Little Orphan Annie was different too.   Little Orphan Annie is regarded by some as one of the most violent comic strips ever to hit the news pages. 

Nazi Admiral is Made to "Disappear"

Her adventures took her into the realm of crooked politicians, gangsters and do-gooders.  She even took time out to do battle with Nazis.   The “life” of Annie also was not the stuff of which the now famous song was made but instead was filled with violence.  The original Annie went months at a time without seeing her father, her house was burned down numerous times, she lived in run down flop houses, was kidnapped and even tortured.  She seemed to walk endlessly with the threat of murderer lurking behind her every move.   The strip also had a touch of the supernatural as, at times, it featured leprechauns and ghosts.  A character that appeared from time to time was “Mr. Am” who had lived for millions of years. 

Daddy Warbucks and Annie Were Often Depicted as Poor

Gray continued to produce the strip until his death in 1968. The correction of Gray’s mistake of Otto by Patterson most likely resulted in one of the longest running and most recognized comic strips of all time. For some reason, I don’t think “Little Orphan Otto” would have been so endearing as the revised version.  But, the revised version has skewed far away from Gray’s creation.  “Little Orphan Annie’ continued after Gray had died but it’s popularity faded as the writing was considered by many to be poor and lacked the creativity and relevance of Gray’s work.  The artwork also did not meet the standards set by Gray.  In the late 70’s, the Broadway play Annie had gained great popularity and so Leonard Starr revived the old strip on December 3, 1979 under the moniker of “Annie.”   However, that version of the strip was cancelled in 2010 with further plans to once again revise what is now considered a “franchise.” 

Annie Comes Upon Kids Looking for Food

Tribune Media Services, the syndicator, says that it wants  “to  go where this new base of Annie fans finds their entertainment.”  The repackaging will be an effort to make Annie to a global, cross-over audience of children and adults.  In other words, they want to be the next Harry Potter.  I wonder how Gray would like the way his little girl has changed over the years?   Seems that the message and story that made the original Little Orphan Annie so popular has now been clouded by marketers and profit motive.   Gray wrote a book, Arf! The Life and Times of Little Orphan Annie and a synopsis of Little Orphan Annie in the form of a book review draws a good picture of how far Annie has come, for better or worse.

Weather Bottom Line:  Fortunately, my great idea of there being a much better risk for rain came about on Thursday morning and even came through better than I imagined.  My sunflowers loved it.  There were some big thunderstorms on Wednesday night up near Seymour that I could see from my house.  I was called by a family member who claimed he could see the northern lights.  There has been a huge solar storm going on but reports of the Aurora being visible have mainly been from Southern Canada and the northern states.  He was disappointed when I told him the frequent flashes he saw from various spots in the sky was nothing more than a distant thunderstorm.  Well, its all behind us as are the extreme temperatures as we go into the weekend.  Look for highs in the upper 80’s on Friday and Saturday before we heat back up into the 90’s starting on Sunday.

Will Pioneer 10 Ever Phone Home or Return with Some Friends?
June 13, 2010

The Close-Up Picture Taker of Jupiter Not Only Left the Building, it left the Solar System

Pioneer 10 Says Good-Bye To Earth With Nixon in the White House

On This Date in History:  When the space probe, Pioneer 10, was launched by NASA from Cape Canaveral on March 3, 1972 its primary mission was to encounter Jupiter in December 1973.  Pioneer 10 met the challenge of its mission as earthlings stood spellbound watching the images sent back from the tiny spacecraft.  For the first time, from up close, people were able to see the “Great Red Spot” that had fascinated and perplexed earthbound observers since it was first observed.    It was during the encounter between the mosquito Pioneer 10 and the Giant Jupiter that it was confirmed that the mammoth planet consisted of liquid hydrogen without a solid surface below the thick clouds that envelop it.

Pioneer 10 Kept Going and Going

In reaching Jupiter, Pioneer 10 also proved that it was possible for a spacecraft to navigate through the asteroid belt as on July 15, 1972 it was the first man-made satellite known to do so.  Pioneer 10 also answered the question as to whether a spacecraft could handle the powerful radiation belts of Jupiter.  Pioneer 10 truly lived up to its moniker as when it got done with its Jupiter observations, it just kept on going.  It became the first spacecraft to cross the orbits of Uranus, Pluto and Neptune.  On this date in 1983,  over 11 years since it first left the earth, Pioneer 10  left the solar system using a first ever used nuclear power plant.  

NOMAD Thought that Kirk was the Creator

Now, Pioneer 10 was not alone.   Its twin, Pioneer 11 was launched about a year after Pioneer 10 shoved off from earth.  Pioneer 11 got the first close up views of Saturn and its rings, unlocking more centuries old mysteries.    The two Pioneer spacecraft paved the way for the more sophisticated Voyager probes 4 years later.  The Voyager probe became the premise for the original Star Trek movie, but that too had been more or less an expansion of a story told during the original series.  (Remember the one with “NOMAD”  the wayward 20th century probe that was looking for the creator?) 

Pioneer 10 plaque designed by Frank Drake Carl Sagan and Jon Lomberg. I'm Not Sure How Any Alien Could Make Sense of It.

When men first landed on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left behind a plaque with a greeting from President Nixon in which he said “we came in peace for all mankind.”  I think that there were also some symbols or maps or something, just in case any aliens couldn’t read english.  Well, America felt like it had to say something in the event that their little probe might wander into the hands of someone else so on both Pioneers, there is a plaque. In fact, most human probes into space have plaques.   The two on the Pioneer spacecrafts are but 6 inches by 9 inches and each plaque is designed to show any intelligent life that may come upon them where they came from and who sent them.  There is a diagram of a man and woman along with some basic scientific symbols along with a  diagram of the solar system.  Never mind that the vast majority of the humans living on the earth could probably not recognize the solar system and certainly not the scientific symbols, any space men might think that we’re all that smart.  Scientists have noted that the plaques represent a “mark of humanity that might survive…the Solar System itself.”    One thing that they don’t say is that one of the Pioneers just might fall into the hands of someone who can decide that there is a pretty primitive civilization out there that is easily invaded and is so dumb that it provided an road map related to how to invade it.  If you look at the diagram, then you see how really far fetched it is because it seems pretty random to me, but then again, presumably, an alien would have a little more going on.  Either way anyone who finds Pioneer 10 would have a long way to come to bring it home.  The last signal received from Pioneer 10 was on January 22, 2003 or 30 years after it was launched. I think the American taxpayer got its money’s worth on a gizmo that was only supposed to last 21 months.  At last contact, Pioneer 10 was 7.6 billion miles from earth and it took over 11 hours for the faint radio signal traveling at the speed of light to reach the earthbound listeners. 

Who Knows Who May Bring Back Pioneer 10. They'd have to Be pretty advanced to figure out the schematic invented by Carl Sagan

Maybe far fetched but, how different is it really to the American Indians.  Here they were  minding their own business when from across the ocean comes some beings that look similar but different from them.  They have tools and machines that they did  not have and they just kept coming and coming from somewhere.  Would not natives of any particular region of the world look at exploring or invading Europeans much in the same way that we would view aliens from another world?  After all, even the Europeans called North America “the New World” even though it wasn’t new to the Indians.  In any event, wherever Pioneer 10 is today, 27 years after it left our Solar System, it is well beyond the imagination of those who struggled in covered wagons across the continent in the 19th century.  In fact, if you think about it, the frontier of the United States was considered closed in 1890 and  just 93 years later, man had left the Solar System.  Perhaps this is symbolic of a society whose technology is developing faster than its humanity.

NAM Called for Over 1.5" of rain from 8P to 2AM Saturday Night..It Was WRONG!!

Weather Bottom Line:  This weekend is a great example of why one should not get too married to a particular model or make grand pronouncements.  I had explained all of the caveats related to the forecast and the various solutions of the models.  I had said that there would be disturbances coming through the flow from time to time but that the timing and exact track of each would be tough.  I had guessed that late Saturday night and early Sunday morning was the best chance for heavy rain with a secondary chance early Saturday morning.  I left myself a lot of wiggle room.  Well, I saw on local TV the station that is supposedly “rated most accurate” on Friday.  The guy then had a grand pronouncement of “Local Flooding” for Saturday.   Not a percent chance or heavy rain but, “Local Flooding.”  I told Snow White that was not very wise as it was possible, but not necessarily probable and that was an awfully long limb to be on. If he was right, he’s a hero, if he’s wrong (which was the most likely scenario) then he’d look like a goat and people would definitely remember it.  In TV y0u’re usually doing well if your mistakes are not highlighted.  Even in my scenario of heavy rain on late Saturday night, the wettest models were only throwing out 1.5 to 2 inches of rain over 6 hours and I don’t think that would cause “local flooding.”  Beside that, it was possible that the main storm track would be to our North.  Some of the models did have that.  Another thing that bothered me about the forecast that I saw was the depiction of a low sitting right in the middle of a high pressure ridge.  Made no sense…but then again I had the sound turned down so maybe the error was pointed out or there was some other explanation…a supposed upper low, perhaps? I dunno.  Twas confusing to me.

SPC Severe Outllook Monday-It's obvious where the expected storm track resides

Anyway, on Friday night, the lead shortwave was mainly to our North with an appendage sticking down bringing some pretty decent rain across the area.  As I had suspected, when that guy got farther east, the sun was coming up and it got pretty rough in Eastern Kentucky and Western Virginia.  We were in the wake of that one which would provide subsidence or sinking air behind it and therefore it would  be tough for afternoon heating to overcome that resistance.  Nevertheless, Snow White was at a wedding and reported that they saw someone on in the afternoon saying that storms would be prevalent until 5 pm.  I told the brides father that if we got anything it would be well after 5 pm and to go ahead and take the photos out side. 

SPC Monday Severe Weather Probability

I believe what we have is a couple of folks looking at computers and not bothering to look and see what is really happening or not having the ability to know what is going on.  In this case, the computers were wrong.  It was not a bad forecast to call for a healthy chance for t’storms or rain Saturday evening or Saturday night.  It was wrong headed to call for “Local Flooding” 24 hours before anything ever happened.  That’s either sensationalism, ignorance or foolishness.  By Saturday afternoon, it was apparent that there was not going to be much in the way of storms in the region beyond isolated activity.  Again, its either foolish, ignorant or attempts to scare people to continue give a forecast based on what a computer said it was supposed to do instead of looking out the window and seeing what is really going on.  As it turns out, about 11pm on Saturday night…our big shortwave did come across the Ohio Valley…trouble was it was farther north, taking an Indy-Cincy route and any appendage sticking down faded out before it got to Louisville.  So, as I had feared, the models were right about the upper disturbance and even the timing, but the exact route was off by about 90 miles, which isn’t too bad given that the earth is 25000 miles around. 

Tuesday SPC Severe Outlook

So, what the hell does this have to do with anything?  We will stay in this pattern which is unsettled.  There will continue to be a trof out west that will be kicking out small pieces of energy from time to time and it will continue to be tough to know exactly where and when these guys will be tracking until they actually show themselves.  It will continue to be hot and humid.  Therefore, it will continue to be a situation in which we are just loaded with energy.  If we get a good spark in here under the right conditions, and we could see some rough weather.  But, with nothing real specific to hang your hat on, its pretty tough to give anything of reasonable certainty.  I can say that it will be unstable, hot and humid and each day there will be a risk of t’storms at least through Wednesday.  I would say that, if we do get storms in the afternoon or early evening, stay tuned to local tv or radio because there would be a fair chance of any afternoon/evening storms being trouble maker.

Elvis Presley’s 1st National TV Appearance Huge, Not On Sullivan
June 5, 2010

Elvis Began His Road to Coronation As King of Rock and Roll on the Milton Berle Show June 5 1956

On June 5, 1956 A National TV Audience Got the Full Elvis on the Milton Berle Show

On this Date in History:  I would wager that if someone asked you which TV show was Elvis Presley’s first television appearance, you would answer the Ed Sullivan Show.  That would be wrong.  His first TV appearance was on January 28, 1956 on the little remembered, Stage Show, co-hosted by Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey.  He appeared on the next 3 episodes and a total of 6 appearances.  I’m not sure if the show lasted much longer than that but the press really didn’t pay much attention.  His first national TV appearance was on April 3, 1956 on the Milton Berle Show.   Berle remembered that there were many stars on that night including Hugh Jarrett, Esther Williams, Buddy Rich and Harry James.  Milton Berle also mentioned Buddy Hackett but the rundown of those who appeared does not list Hackett.  In any event, Elvis was an unknown young performer.  Elvis’s agent, Colonel Parker (see book about Parker and Presley) had called Berle and asked him to give Elvis an audition.  Berle did and was impressed enough to book Elvis on the show.  Elvis performed “Shake Rattle and Roll,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Blue Suede Shoes.”  Of the three, Elvis wrote “Heartbreak Hotel.”

Steve Allen Came Up With a Creative Way in Which to Control Presley When He Sang "Hound Dog"

The story gets a little cloudy here because in an interview of Berle, he seems to mix two appearances into one.  Apparently, Elvis was gaining in popularity but the press still generally ignored him.  You see, it was the second appearance of Elvis on the Milton Berle Show on this date in 1956 that launched him into immortal superstardom.  On that show, Elvis performed “Hound Dog.”   For some reason, the press decided to pay attention this time.  Perhaps Elvis had not shown much style in his first appearance but I suppose he was feeling more confident the second time around because he showed off his moves.  He gyrated and shook and the kids went wild, the parents were aghast and the censors were frantic.  The New York Journal-American wrote that the young man’s “primitive physical movement difficult to describe in terms suitable to a family newspaper.”  The San Francisco Chronicle called the performance “In appalling taste.”  The New York  Daily News said that Elvis “gave an exhibition that was suggestive and vulgar, tinged with the kind of animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos.”  Berle said that 4 days after the show he received 400,000 “pan” letters.  Not “fan mail” but “pan mail.”  People wrote to Berle and said that they would never watch his show again after he showed that disgusting young man.  Berle said that he called Colonel Parker to inform him that he had a star on his hands.  Berle recognized that if that many people took the time to write letters then he had to be on the minds of just about everyone.  All publicity is good publicity.

Sullivan Initially Said No To Elvis

Now, Ed Sullivan had vowed to never book Elvis on his show due to all of his controversial wiggling.   But, there were more shows besides Sullivan.  Three days prior to his groundbreaking second appearance on Milton Berle, Elvis showed up on Your Hit Parade and went on the show again on June 9, 1956.  The first of July found Elvis on the Steve Allen Show where he wore a tuxedo as he performed “Hound Dog” singing to a sad looking basset hound.  Allen had considered pulling him from the show after the backlash of the Berle appearance.  Instead, he took a comic approach and put Elvis in the tuxedo with the dog in an effort to control him.  Elvis went along with it.   An appearance with Jack Benny followed that.  Sullivan had turned down an offer to pay $5000 to put Elvis on his show but after Allen with Elvis destroyed Sullivan without Elvis in the ratings, old Ed promptly changed his mind.  The show was called originally called “Toast of the Town” and the guest host on September 9, 1956 was Charles Laughton of Captain Bligh fame from Mutiny on the Bounty.  Also on the show was the same Hugh Jarrett who was booked on the Milton Berle show on which Elvis made his national debut.   Sullivan wasn’t in the New York theatre as he was recovering from injuries suffered in an automobile accident so Laughton filled in.  Elvis wasn’t in the theatre either.  He was in Hollywood shooting his first movie.  So, Laughton tossed to the guest by saying “away to Hollywood to meet Elvis Presley.”  Elvis performed from a studio there.  Sullivan was happy because his show that night got boffo ratings and he must have also been relieved.  His delay resulted in Sullivan signing Elvis for 3 appearances for $50,000 which was an unheard of some in those days. 

I Think Charles Laughton in 1935 Made a Better Bligh Than the Real Bligh

By not having Elvis on sooner, Sullivan may have helped himself even though he cost himself money.  Other shows built his popularity so, by the time he made it to the biggest show on TV, the Sullivan Show, people watched in record numbers.  Myths get spread so much that often that the myth becomes the truth.  As previously mentioned, many people probably remember the Sullivan appearance as Elvis’s national TV debut.  They also probably recall that the censors on Sullivan’s show required that all shots of his performances would be from the waste up.    Well, on that first Sullivan appearance, his first song was “Don’t be Cruel” and the cameras did in fact stay from the waste up, showing The King in a very loud plaid jacket.  But the jacket was not the only thing that screamed out.  Women in the audience were screaming at something Elvis did beyond the camera range.  He then performed “Love Me Tender” which was his new song associated with his first movie of the same title.  But, the cameras gave the television audience the full Elvis for his second segment.  They showed his feet, his hips, his legs…everything wildly moving about as he performed the Little Richard song “Ready Teddy” and a couple of verses of “Hound Dog.”  So, Elvis was not really censored by Ed Sullivan. 

Plenty of Ladies Got to See Elvis Wiggle on the Sullivan Show

The myth was created by the press who noted that tight shots were used whenever he started to dance.  Perhaps it was censorship but more likely it was a director taking different camera shots.  The audience saw plenty of Elvis in action and they certainly heard the women in the audience sqeal every time Elvis grunted, crossed his eyes, moved his tongue or even just stood perfectly still.  Laughton concluded the show by saying, ”Well, what did someone say? Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast?”  On that night, Ed Sullivan’s show was seen by  82.6% of the total television audience in America.  Steve Allen didn’t even try as NBC pre-empted his show with a movie. 

It may have been Parker (left) and Not Sullivan who had the cameras show Elvis from Waist Up for just one song but the public got the "Full Elvis" on other segments. Myth Busted

Now, the last time that Elvis appeared on Sullivan’s show (by that time it was called the Ed Sullivan Show) was on January 6, 1957 and the TV camera’s did indeed only show him from the waste up as he sang the Gospel song,  “Peace in the Valley.”  Given that these close ups were for a non-rock and roll tune, many historians believe it was Parker’s idea to limit the camera shots as a way of creating publicity and not an order from Sullivan.   Elvis never performed for Sullivan again but it wasn’t because Ed was upset; he was a tightwad.  Colonel Parker had raised the fee for his star to perform on TV to $300,000 with a stipulation that the network had to agree to put him on two additional guest spots as well as a one hour special.  Parker credited the Sullivan appearances as the key to the success of the single and the movie “Love Me Tender.”  And many music and tv historians say that it was the 3 Sullivan appearances by Elvis to gain support from the parents of the kids who already loved  the king as Sullivan somehow bridged a generation gap.  Obviously, Elvis’s movements were tame by today’s standards, or lack thereof, but it was his breakthrough in his performing style that continues to influence rock stars today.

SPC Severe Outlook Saturday June 5, 2010

Weather Bottom Line:  A pretty strong cold front is sagging down from the North.  It will eventually get here but during the afternoon and early evening heating hours the focus of the attention will generally be to our North.  The SPC has put an area from near Gary, IN to Seymour IN in a moderate risk for severe thunderstorms with a 10% risk of tornadoes, a 30% chance for hail and 45% chance of high winds.  The reason for this is that there will be a little jet streak running across the region as the front sags through.  By the time the front gets to Louisville,it will be night and the heating of the day will be on the wane and the jet streak will have moved through.  However, there will be sufficient latent heat to support thunderstorms with the frontal passage.  While the slight risk of the severe weather threat is officially to the North of Louisville, do not be surprised to see some strong storms in our area on a isolated basis. 

Once the front moves through, we will get relief from the heat and humidity with highs on Sunday and Monday in the low 80’s to upper 70’s.  It will warm back up by the middle to late part of next week.  Depending on how pokey this front is, it is possible on Sunday to have some isolated, mainly elevated afternoon storms in the afternoon.
Alpha Inventions Ranking

Chimp Challenges Experts For 2010 Hurricane Season Forecast
May 28, 2010

Hurricane Andrew Sequence Aug 23, 24, 25, 1992

"Dr. James Hansimian"

2010 Hurricane Season Forecast: Let us begin with the 2010 hurricane season prognastication of Dr. James Hansimian(video).   He is predicting 6 to 8 hurricanes for the 2010 season.  Never heard of him?  You probably will.  You see, he is a chimpanzee whom the National Center for Public Policy Research has put on the record in an effort to emphasize how little humans really know about the climate.  They claim that NOAA has been “wrong three out of the last 4 years and 7 of the last 11.”  They say they are not hiring “Dr. Hansimian” to ridicule  the effort and dedication of climate and hurricane specialists but instead to highlight that, even with the greatest minds, competence, tools and methodology, humans do not have a complete understanding of the climate.  They say that they will make another video in December 2010 of Dr. Hansimian and determine who was more correct.  In the meantime, let us look what some of the leading authorities have to say. 

Hurricane Headlines Used to Contain Facts, Not Sensational Hyperbole

Now, I already had a pretty good idea of what the National Hurricane Center would say.  What is amazing to me though is the media coverage.  I looked at the headline from USA Today and it says, Fierce Hurricane Season Predicted.   CNN had a story about the exact same subject but its link was a more subdued, “Hurricane Season Could be Above Average.”   Nevertheless, the actual headline to the story was a more menacing, “Hurricane Season Could be ‘Active’ or “Extremely Active.'”  AFP via Yahoo News was even more dramatic by trumpeting, “2010 Hurricane Season May Be Worst on Record.”   But, Reuters via Yahoo News had a little different spin as its headline read, “Government Warns of Worst Hurricane Season Since 2005.”   Fox News says, “Hurricane Season Could be Strongest Ever Say Top Meteorologists.”  I have yet to find any quote from anyone at NOAA or the NHC that verifies any  of these headlines except fo the one from CNN, which not-coincidentally is the least sensational.   Interestingly, CBS4 in South Florida took a different tact.  Instead of focusing on the threat to the United States, instead its headline was, “NHC Director Fears For Haiti This Hurricane Season.”  That one is right on the money.  A tropical cyclone for Haiti of any magnitude would not be good and they get nailed in one form or another very frequently.

Atlantic Hurricane Season Names 2005 to 2010 (In 2005 they ran out of names so went to Alpha, Beta...etc.)

So, what did was the National Hurricane Center 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast on May 27?   To begin with, the press release from the NHC had a headline that read, “NOAA Expects Busy Atlantic  Hurricane Season.”  Note that this headline lacks the hyperbole and extreme adjectives of the media.  As usual, they give themselves a wide berth by saying that there will be between 14 and 23 named storms.  That would be tropical cyclones of tropical storm force or more.  The difference between 14 and 23 is pretty large.  Eight to 14 of those storms are expected to be hurricanes with 3 to 7 becoming major hurricanes which means category 3 or greater.  For the past several years, NOAA taking some of the thunder from the NHC.  I believe they are in the process of changing the name of the NHC to the NOAA National Hurricane Center; I suppose it’s an effort to establish that its a governmental agency.  In any event, the initial quote from their press release is not from an NHC forecaster or the Director.  Instead, its from the Under-Secretary of Commerce, who said, “If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record.”   Notice she said “If” and “could” and related it to “one of the more active” seasons.  The reason they give is warm ocean waters, no El Nino and a decadal cycle.  The last one is the most significant.  Accepted science generally has concluded that the Atlantic season goes in cycles of about 30 years in which there is great activity and, conversely, 30 years with low activity.  Since 1995, we have been in an “active era.” 

2005 Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Tracks

Now, the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season was the most active in recorded history.  Keep in mind that it fell in part of the current “active era” and that recorded history is limited.  The first hurricane tracked by satellite was Hurricane Camille in 1969 so prior to that, only ship reports were able to confirm hurricanes and ships kinda like to avoid storms so its possible there were several over the years that were missed.  Anyway, in 2005 there were 28 named storms with 15 hurricanes including the two notable powerful storms, Rita and Katrina.  That means, in order for the headlines of some of these media outlets to be accurate, the 2010 hurricane season would have to have 5 more named storms than the top end of the forecast and one more hurricane than the extreme forecasted.  The headlines also neglect to take into account a very important and possible caveat from the press release that could put a damper on the number of storms:

“The main uncertainty in this outlook is how much above normal the season will be. Whether or not we approach the high end of the predicted ranges depends partly on whether or not La Niña develops this summer,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “At present we are in a neutral state, but conditions are becoming increasingly favorable for La Niña to develop.”

Dr. William Gray: Making Hurricane Season Forecasts for At least 27 Years

Now, for 27 years one of the leading hurricane forecasting expert has been Dr. William Gray from Colorado State University.  Until recent years, he was about the only one who tried to make a forecast.  The NHC lately has been getting into the game and diminishing the role of Dr. Gray.  Dr. Gray is now has handed over some of the duties to Dr. Phil Klotzbach and the pair lead the efforts at Colorado State.  Back in early April, the Colorado State University  team issued their 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast and noted warm ocean temperatures and a weakening El Nino as the reason for a more active season.  However, their numbers are more pedestrian.  They suggest 15 named storms with 8 becoming hurricanes and 4 of those becoming major hurricanes.  They go a step further and say that there is a 69% probability of major hurricane striking the US which is higher than the 52% of the 20th century.   Another tropical cyclone forecasting service, Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) has 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast is somewhere in between the NHC  and  CSU with 16.3 (+/- 4.1) named storms, 8.5 (+/- 2.8) hurricanes and 4 (+/- 1.7) major hurricanes.

Atlantic Hurricane Tracks 1851-2005

On average, the number of named storms in any given year in the North Atlantic is 10 (9.6) with 6 (5.9) hurricanes and 2.3 of those becoming major hurricanes.  So, both forecast teams are predicting an above average season.  It would seem that the folks at CSU might be a looking on the low end with an eye on the El Nino not diminishing completely to neutral until after the hurricane season has started.  The NHC seems to be banking on the El Nino coming to an end sooner, or at least allowing for that possibility, thus they have the substantially larger number of storms on the high end of their range.  But, again….Dr. Gerry Bell’s words make it sound as if they think that a La Nina condition developing is a real possibility.  The two forecasts are almost identical except that the NHC gives itself a wide berth so, if by chance there are a bunch of storms, then they can say they said so.  They also can avoid making any huge revisions as the season progresses as has been done with some initial hurricane season forecasts in the past.  The truth is, it’s just a forecast.  We’re in the middle of an active 30 year cycle and so its expected to be more active.  How much more active is an academic exercise.  In the first place, it’s impossible to predict so far out any specific disturbance developing in exactly the right conditions.  Remember, you need more than just warm water to have a tropical cyclone.   Also, just because a tropical cyclone develops, it doesn’t mean that it will hit land.  A tropical cyclone’s job in nature is to transport heat and moisture from the tropical region to the polar region.  They don’t really care if there is land in the way or ocean. 

Just Because It's a Headline, Doesn't Mean that It's True

And one more thing….note that nothing was said about Global Warming in either the Colorado State University forecast or the National Hurricane Center outlook.  They do refer to a warm surface temperature anomoly, but that is about as close as you get.  And, if it were due to Global Warming or Climate Change, then it would stand to reason that there would be more tropical cyclones all around the world.  As it happens, the NHC forecasts a Below Average Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season.  Beyond that, Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) has a 2010 NW Pacific Typhoon Season Forecast that is near average.  TSR also has a forecast for the Australian region for tropical activity to be about 10% below average.  Going by the forecasts…well above average for the North Atlantic, below average for the Eastern Pacific and Australian region and about average for the NW Pacific.  Doesn’t sound like a global climate calamity, does it?  So, if the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season does have a signficant number of hurricanes, get ready for the media reports that try to tie it to Global Warming.  But, don’t believe it.  And, if the number that actually does come about is less than forecast (as was the case in 2009) then look for an explainer, which the NHC has already conveniently put out there.  See, they’re pretty smart.  If the season is slightly above average, they can say, “we said so.”  If its way above average, they can say, “we said so.”  And if the number of storms is less than the predicted range, they can say, ” we warned you about a possible La Nina.”  All the bases are covered.  That’s what a lot of guys on TV do as they can always claim victory, no matter what, when they say “Variable cloudy skies and a 50% chance of rain.” 

NAM Friday Evening Precipitation Forecast

Penn's Store in Gravel Switch, KY Since 1845

Weather Bottom Line:  I had to go to Gravel Switch Kentucky to help the folks at Kentucky’s oldest store, Penn’s Store.  Actually, it’s not just Kentucky’s oldest store, it is considered the oldest country store in America.  I am told that it began operation in 1845, though I’ve seen published reports that claim 1850.  But, I think I’ll go with the word of the Penn family.   About a month ago, when Tennessee was getting relatively sparse coverage of flooding, Kentucky got even less coverage.  Of course, South Central  Kentucky only got 11 inches of rain and parts of Tennessee got 15-20 inches so I suppose that it fits that if Tennessee got slim coverage, then Kentucky got none.  Anyway, I was helping them clean up and rid the store of a snake and so I could not post on Thursday when the NHC  Hurricane Forecast came out.  So, I’m a day late.

GFS Monday Evening Precip Outlook

I did see a few towering cumulous clouds late in the day…about the time I was playing St. Patrick and ridding the Penn’s Store of a 4 or 5 foot snake.  On our return to Louisville, there were some pretty decent wind gusts and it was much cooler, leading me to believe that there were some decent thunderstorms around, which did not surprise me.  The weak boundary will still be in the area on Friday so we will see some scattered storms again with highs in the mid 80’s.  We warm a bit over the weekend with highs in the mid to perhaps upper 80’s.  We may have an isolated t’storm on Sunday but more likely there will be scattered afternoon storms on Memorial Day.

Pioneer Makes Son’s Corpse Focus of Teachable Moment
May 25, 2010

William Keil

Like Yogi, Keil was Not Your Average Bear

On This Date in History:  William Keil  was an immigrant from Germany and worked as a tailor and a medical practioner.  He had been a Methodist but turned to mysticism.  So, like Yogi, he was not your average bear.  He possessed a very strong personality and fully expressed his religious convictions such that people readily followed his words and actions.  He seems like a pretty educated man, but he was considered something of but a shade north of literate.  Nevertheless, he established a colony at Bethel, Missouri in 1844 and took the reigns as the community’s leader. 

According to this book, Not Everyone Was Happy in the Bethel Colony

The Bethel Colony  was about 45 miles west of Hannibal, MO and mainly consisted of German immigrants and was intended to be a utopian type society.  However, unlike other such experiements such as the one in New Harmony, Indiana, the Bethel Colony was reasonably successful.  Apparently, it was not successful enough to meet Keil’s liking as he felt ever crowded by secular society that continued to flow in from the East.  I suppose he knew how the American Indians must have felt.  So, he sent scouts west almost as far as he could.  The scouts staked out a claim in the Washington Territory and Keil decided that he would lead a part of the colony to a new location. 

Keil as a Young Man. Kinda Scary lookin'?

William Keil promised his son, Willie, that he could have the honor of leading the wagon train.  But, shortly before their departure, the 19-year-old Willie fell victim to malaria.  Willie’s death delayed the planned early May 1855 departure date but it did not derail the entire mission nor did it cause William Keil to break his promise.   Instead,  Keil led the first wagon from the Bethel Colony which included the preserved corpse of his son.  He did not do as a sentimentalist but instead he used his misfortune as what we might refer to as a “teachable moment.”  Keil carried the preserved corpse across the continent to illustrate to his followers the strength of the bond of a man’s word.  He promised Willie that he could lead the wagon train and I suppose that meant dead or alive. 

Marker Near Willie's Grave

 So, on this date in 1855, the bearded, somewhat rotund, Keil let loose a blast from his trumpet to signal the departure from the Bethel Colony with Willie’s coffin in the lead.  But, it was no ordinary coffin.  It was a lead-lined version and was filled with whiskey so as to preserve the body.  Colonists followed and sung funeral hymns.  If they sang all the way to Washington, it must have been the longest funeral cortege in history.  Apparently, they did so for some length of time because the Indians whom they passed along the way left them alone out of respect,  fear or awe, or in a combination of all three.

Band Behind Pioneer Hotel ca. 1877 in Aurora, Oregon

In October 1855, the colonists reached their destination.  But, Keil wasn’t too happy with the location staked out in the Willapa Valley.  He thought that it was totally unsuitable for settlement.    Nevertheless, after a five month journey, Willie finally found his resting place as the long overdue funeral ceremony took place.  Keil was almost out of money but not energy and he led the group into the Oregon Territory.  There they founded the colony of Aurora.  He acheived his objective of establishing a new colony and he kept his promise to his son.   Today, Aurora, Oregon is about 20 miles from Portland and has about 700 residents.

Not Much to Investigate with Invest 90

Invest 90 Spaghetti Model Track Shows Media's Folly

Weather Bottom Line:  To begin with, lets get the Non-Tropical Low off the SE Coast out of the way.  As I said yesterday, all of the hype in the media is way over board and if this were three months from now no one would be covering it or even really making mention.  The Weather Channel has a crew down on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and they talk about 3-5 foot waves and very little beach erosion.  The guy said something about “out bands” of rain, which is nonsense because it’s not a tropical system.  The National Hurricane Center has gone down to just a 10% chance of it developing into a subtropical cyclone, let alone a tropical system.  If you look at the spaghetti models you see that none of them take the system on land anywhere except one that wants to carry it to Europe.  Almost all of them take it east, away from the US.  It’s drifting North Northwest but is expected to turn Northeast and then at least East Northeast.  It’s a non-story except for those who want to drive ratings or to alerty people that the hurricane season is near.  I’ll post the various hurricane forecasts on Thursday.

Friday 8 AM

As for our region…same old thing.  Upper 80’s and a very small chance of isolated afternoon t’storms.  My guess is as we go into the week deeper, there will be a cap developing and that will most likely  diminish the already low prospect of isolated activity.  When you see on TV a 20% chance, that’s the old CYA forecast, just in case.  I do not think that the conditions warrant that high of a percentage.  But, when we get to Friday, a frontal boundary should be here and that will help lift this humid mess and provide a chance for rain and t’storms.  Perhaps elevating chances ahead of it on Thursday night and then carrying into Friday as I suspect this guy will be moving rather slowly by the time it gets here.   Then, for the weekend, it should be closer to seasonal temperatures.

Always Alert, Samuel Morse’s Success Came From Unlikely Origin
May 24, 2010

Finding Success can be an Enigma...ask William Tell

Finding Success can be an Enigma...ask William Tell

I guess Morse Ended Up Finishing His Lafayette Painting

I guess Morse Ended Up Finishing His Lafayette Painting

On This Date in History: In 1810, a young man graduated from Yale and immediately went to England to study art. He created a giant painting and a small sculpture and called them both “the Dying Hercules.” These were his most significant works and I suppose that he figured that was the best he could do and so he came home to America. He decided to paint portraits for a living. He had some works that were considered outstanding including one of Lafayette and other historical figures that were recognized for the extreme detail. Among his portraits of famous people was one of Eli Whitney. The young man gained a pretty big reputation but also was known as a man with a small income. That makes me think that if he was such a big painter, then maybe he would figure out that he needed to charge more for his paintings. I guess perhaps his reputation was good at the price he charged. Had he charged more, then maybe he wouldn’t have been so popular. Well, its a good thing for him, and for the rest of the world, that he had other pursuits to relieve his creative mind.

Signal Flags Were Still Used in Spanish American War When Other Communications Were Not Practical

The word “telegraph” derives from the Greek word, “to write far.” Pretty good description. Before there was electricity, there was a communication system that fit that description. It was in the form of tall poles that put up different arms and other signals. It could be seen at a distance. It was used during the Battle of Waterloo to let the folks know back in London what was going on with the struggle against Napoleon. I suppose that has its use but for long distances, you probably would need a series of big poles with a guy hanging around each one and waiting for a signal to be seen from one direction so he could then relay it to someone in the other direction. I suppose it was better than nothing and probably faster than relying on a guy on a horse, like Paul Revere…though Paul was pretty fast and he could travel at night, which obviously was a limitation for this early form of “telegraph.”

1844 First Telegraph Receiver

1844 First Telegraph Receiver

So, along comes electricity. Now, a bunch of inventors had figured out the basic principals involved but it was left to the somewhat successful American painter, Samuel Finley Breese Morse, to understand the practical application of those principals and the first to take pragmatic steps to invent a way to take exploit those principals. While at Yale, Morse had taken a keen interest in electricity but was lured by his love for art. He studied under Benjamin West and Washington Allston, who were considered two of the better painters of the day. He got married in 1818 but, while he was working on his painting of the Marquis de Lafayette, he got news his wife died. He left the painting unfinished and became an artistic recluse in his grief. But an odd thing happened, in his grief, he rediscovered his interest in electricity. He attended some lectures of academics but eventually returned to art.

William Cullen Bryant by Morse

William Cullen Bryant by Morse

In 1829, he went back to Europe to study art.  Had he not done that, he may never had received the inspiration of the telegraph. You see…in 1832 he was on board a ship returning to America when he came upon some scientists who were discussing the properties of electricity. One man queried whether electricity lost its velocity over a long distance. When another remarked that in Ben Franklin’s experiments, he had noted that a captured electrical current traveled over several miles of wire without any time differential as the reaction at the end of the wire seemed to be coincidental with the intialization of the current. That statement triggered the small spark of inspiration in Sam Morse’s head.

Old Sam Looks Like a Decorated Warrior

Old Sam Looks Like a Decorated Warrior

That left Morse with a tough choice. If he wanted to immerse himself in electricity, then he had to give up painting but, with no painting, he had no income. He was already rather poor, often skipping meals for extended periods or depending on the help from friends. In 1835, he was granted a teaching position in the Art Department of the State University of New York. That gave him access to the facilities and faculty at the University and afforded him the opportunity to expand his electrical research. With the help of a colleague, he made numerous successful experiments and developed a code of communication, known today as the Morse Code. In 1842, Morse went to Washington to build a telegraph line. In early 1843, he convinced Congress to grant him $30,000 to build a line from Washington to Baltimore. And finally, on this date in 1843, Samuel F.B. Morse demonstrated his telegraph to the world. His friend, Miss Ellsworth, came up with the first words to be transmitted. It was “What Hath God Wrought?” Indeed…what? It was the beginning of the information age that eventually progressed from communications by telegraph to radio to television and now the internet. All because a painter became heartbroken by his wife’s death and because he had run off to Europe as part of his grief.

I suppose, this might be an example of “don’t give up.” Difficult situations today might make you say “why me?” or make you angry. But, it could be that circumstance that proves necessary for your later success and happiness.

Weather Bottom Line:  Everything is going right along as scheduled.  However, it got a bit warmer sooner than I expected. Snow White and I were out and about on Sunday afternoon.  Even though we officially hit 90, I think just about everyone was in the mid to upper 80’s since no one lives at the airport where they decided a few years ago to keep the official records.  Necessarily, that means that the temperatures will be hotter.  It’s going to be very difficult for Louisville to break all time low temperature records.  Anyway, my thinking was that there would be so much humidity that it would be difficult to get to 90 this week and I still think that is the case.  But…whatever.  Its going to be pretty warm and humid.  Having said that, isolated afternoon t’showers will be possible..the exception not the rule. One way you can tell if they are going to be an issue if, at noon time you see any towering cumulus clouds. If you do, then there is a good bet that there will be storms in the afternoon.  If not…if you just see puffy cumulus or ones that are kinda flattened out, that would suggest that there is somewhat of a cap and that storms aren’t likely.  Now, at the end of the week, there is a frontal boundary that will be approaching that may bring a better chance for general rain and t’storm activity. 

This is What the actual satellite photo of the Atlantic and the disturbance looked like on May 24 2010

As mentioned yesterday, there is a little system north of the Bahamas.  I’ve seen it show up on the models for several days.  Generally they only take it to 1004 mb and keeps it meandering offshore of the SE US before it scoots away.  I found several news outlets though that, last Friday, claimed that we could have a tropical storm over the weekend.  The Palm Beach Post said “…there’s a chance the first storm of the season will form this weekend.”  That was such nonsense except that 1% chance I suppose qualifies as a “chance.”  There was nothing to suggest that.  Even the guy from the local NWS office didn’t say that. They just made it up. And they weren’t alone.  It’s headline writers and producers in news rooms that often give meteorologists a bad name because they write things that are not accurate. 

This is the photo the TV station uses in association with a story that says absolutely nothing about a tropical storm, tropical depression or hurricane. You decide using this old photo is a responsible act.

Now, WXJT in Jacksonville has one of several headlines put out by various media outlets today that are just as far off base.   They show a picture of a very mature and completely developed hurricane, which who knows when that was taken, but its not this one and they know it but a casual reader may not.  All they see is the photo and a headline that reads,  “Tropical System Brewing in Atlantic?”  If the TV station bothered to read the first sentence of the special statement put out by the National Hurricane Center (found below) it says “…the non-tropical low pressure system….”  That should answer their question mark. They suggest that there is less than a one in three chance for it to acquire subtropical characteristics in the next few days… nothing about tropical.  Now, last night, I found one model run that wanted to run this guy off the Virginia coast and then deepen it quickly to about 984mb as it ran up  just offshore the Northeast and New England coast.  Seemed a bit odd and now that abherration is no where to be found.  Every model that i looked at today still has a 1004-1008 mb low wandering about for a few days off the South Carolina and Georgia Coast before it moves northeast.  From the satellite picture,even an untrained eye like a news producer can see it looks nothing like a tropical cyclone.  Is it possible for it to acquire those characteristics?  Yes. Probable? NO.  And it would have to become a fully developed major tropical cyclone to affect the oil slick operations in the Gulf, and that seems very unlikely…though I suppose the headline writers might say there’s a chance if I said it was .00025% chance.  They like to scare people so they will buy the news paper, read their webpage or watch their news.  Don’t worry about it.  Having said all of that, I have seen in the past where an early storm of dubious distinction was given a name with the “subtropical” modifier. I have speculated that if there is an excuse for a name, they find it early on just to make people more aware of the season’s start.  I have no proof but, I have sometimes wondered if a couple of storms have actually met the criteria and qualified for a name.  So, I won’t be surprised to see a name, deservedly or not…but either way…..there is no indication at all that it will be anything but a moot point.



Tennessee Flood Disaster Largely Ignored By National Media
May 8, 2010

Nashville TN May 3, 2010

Tennessee Precipitation May 1 and May 2 2010

So, What About Tennessee?  Last weekend, the media was focused on a failed attempt of a terrorist to blow up a bomb in Times Square.  The media was focused on the Gulf Oil Spill that threatened the spoil the ecosystem of the Louisiana Coast.  Nearly a week later, the oil had yet to reach the US mainland but had spoiled some uninhabited islands off the coast. 

May 2010 is already the wettest May ever for parts of Tennessee

Certainly,  the oil has caused great harm to marine life and the ecosystems of those islands.  It seems inevitable that the oil will eventually find its way to the US mainland.  Nevertheless, it seems counter-intuitive but it’s not completely out of the question that ocean currents keep the oil offshore.  Probable? No.  Possible? Yes.  The point is that we can thank the ineptitude of the bomber  that the Times Square Bomb did not go off and no one was hurt. We can thank the NTSB and NYPD that the guy was caught.   Thank goodness that so far the oil has not had the feared effect and, if luck holds out,  we will dodge a bullet.  So,  those two events were big news that held great potential for harm but had done no huge harm.  Yet,  on May 1 and May 2, 30 Americans were losing their lives in parts of the South and parts of Tennessee were feeling great harm from flooding that has not been seen in the region for at least a generation.  That news received relatively little attention.  People were dying. Property was in fact being destroyed.  No if; No maybe; No could or might.  It was happening.  Yet the media dismissed it.

Cumberland River at Nashville Record Crests

The Cumberland River at Nashville crested on May 3 at 51.86 feet, which is not an all-time record.    The all-time record on New Years Day 1927 was over 56 feet.  The next six highest crests were in the late 19th Century.  The eighth all-time high point was last weekend’s event but it was the highest by far since the Cumberland River was controlled by a dam system in the 1960’s.  The previous high since the control system was put in place was was 47.6 feet on March 15, 1975.  The Cumberland River at Clarksville set an all-time record river level of over 62.5 feet.  That surpassed the previous March 14, 1975 record by nearly 5.5 feet and was 16.5 feet above flood stage.  Record river levels were also found in various locations on the Duck River and Harpeth River as well as on the Red River and Buffalo River. 

Nashville Area Rain May 1 and May 2 2010

Nashville also had some other records broken:  Calendar day rain total of 7.25″ breaking old record of 6.60″ on Sept. 13, 1979; 12 hour rain total of 7.20″-old record 6.37″ Sept. 13, 1979; 6 hour rain total of 5.57″-old record 5.17″ Sept. 13, 1979; 24 hour rain total of 9.09″ spanning parts of May 1 and May 2-old record 6.60″ Sept. 13-14 1979; greatest 2-day calendar day total of 13.57″ shattering the old record on Sept 13-14 1979 of just 6.68″.  It should be obvious the previous big rain days was September 13 and September 14 in 1979.  That was the result of the remanant of Hurricane Frederick that had come on shore at Mobile Bay the night before.   Oh, by the way, there were also 3 tornadoes confirmed in the Nashville region.  The clean up will take months. (slide show)

Some Areas around Memphis Received 20 inches of Rain

It wasn’t just Nashville and the surrounding area.  It was almost all of Western Tennessee.  The Memphis region confirmed 13 tornadoes, one of which killed three people.  Many parts of Western Tennessee received 10-15 inches of rain with doppler radar estimates as high as 20 inches in some areas.  The main rail line of the CSX railroad connecting Nashville and Memphis is closed.  Why you ask?  Two bridges were washed away.  The railroad will try to work quickly but the line will be closed for 4-6 weeks.  Memphis and Shelby County health experts are concerned about disease resulting from prime mosquito breeding conditions following the flood.  Of particular concern is the West Nile Virus and St. Louis Encephalitis.     On Thursday a flood victim was discovered in Memphis.  He has a name.  It’s 32-year-old Terrance Williams who went missing 5 days before early Saturday morning.  Williams death brings the storm death total to 30 with 19 killed in Tennessee from flooding, one from a tornado and 10 others in Mississippi and Kentucky.  CNN says its 31.

Downtown Nashville has been shut down with many iconic destination locations like the Grand Old Opry suffering damage that may take weeks to repair.  But, more importantly, one of Nashville’s two water treatment plants is out of commission.  Much like the well publicized flooding in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, the flood waters are contaminated with a number of toxic elements including raw sewage.   The AP reports that in the Cottonwood subdivision in Nashville, residents were trying to withstand the malodorous smell and one resident reported lots of white things in the water.   Those white items were pieces of toilet paper.   We saw all sorts of stories like that with Katrina;  Very few for Western TennesseeIn a story in which he questions why the media has largely ignored the flooding, Newsweek reporter Andrew Romano says that Google had 8390 hits for “Times Square bomb” and 13, 800 for “BP Oil spill.”  “Nashville Flood” had 2430 hits with many of those being local. 

Media Often Determines News Value By Whatever Everyone Else is Covering

Romano points to several reasons for the dearth of reporting.  Initially,  he says  that the national media tends to determine what is news by what others are covering.  I’ve seen that before and some refer to it as a “pack mentality.”  I’ve been in many a TV newsroom that determines what to cover that day based on what is in the morning paper.  I”ve done an informal study and looked at the pie charts in USA Today and found that, more often than not, it seems like at least one of those pie charts finds its way as a story on a national  evening news cast. Romano describes it as such:   “Everyone is talking about BP and Faisal Shahzad 24/7, the “thinking” goes. So there must not be anything else that’s as important to talk about.” 

Satellite View of Rain Swollen Cumberland River

He then adds that the Nashville story didn’t have enough sizzle.  It lacked a political hook and there were no plots of intrigue like the BP oil spill and the Times Square story.  But, in my mind, those stories lacked a basic underlying theme: human misery.  And this was not human misery on the other side of the world.  This was misery for  Americans dying and suffering.  Damage estimates are climbing to the $1 billion level  and the governor thinks it will go higher.  The flooding in Western Tennessee could end up being one of the costliest natural disasters in US history.  Yet, by Friday, national news headlines were about the stock market and more on the BP oil spill.  The stock market is bouncing around.  The oil is still there “threatening” the mainland and BP is still trying to figure out how to stop the oil.  30 people are dead in Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky and the misery continues.   Romano says that the media suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder and that no story lasts forever.  For many news outlets, the Tennessee flooding story never existed in the first place. 

Find the Banks of the Cumberland River

The BP oil spill story is huge. It could be a great calamity and in some regards already is a huge disaster.  The Times Square bomber story is a tremendous issue relating to the security of the nation.  But, the Tennessee flooding story is historic in many regards, especially for those families who have relatives whose history has ended.  Country music stars Faith Hill and Tim McGraw say they are in shock over what they’ve seen in Nashville.  Perhaps it is the fact that Nashville is the home of many of country music’s biggest stars that attention will be brought to the plight of the people through celebrity effort.  CNN’s Anderson Cooper has been on the seen but one cannot say that the national media has really focused on the needs of Tennessee.   In other natural disasters in the United States or around the world, telethons are held for the victims.  I haven’t seen any for this disaster yet, but one is in the works by a country music cable channel.  There is an immediate need for donations cleaning supplies, face masks and work gloves.   Relief supplies are coming in from fellow Tennesseans. A TV station in Nashville had a local telethon that raised over $1.7 million.   A radio station in Knoxville teamed with the Salvation Army to send much needed items, like clean water.

No Wake Speed on Nashville Streets

When Louisville was devastated by a tornado in 1890, the residents received no help from the Federal government but instead rebuilt the city in a year on their own.  Tennessee is known as the “Volunteer State” and no doubt, Tennesseans are and will continue to lend a hand to their neighbors. Much as Louisvillians didn’t run to someone else for help in the late 19th century,  it is evident that Tennesseans aren’t waiting around for someone else to help.   HCA in Nashville has donated a half million dollars and is giving its employees leave to help with local relief efforts. Country music star Taylor Swift donated $500K of her own.    But, this is not a country music disaster.   These are our countrymen; fellow Americans.  The governor has asked and received a Federal disaster declaration but by and large, Tennesseans aren’t looking for handouts.  But, Americans should and will lend a hand if the media would tell them how bad it is in the Volunteer State.    From wherever you are, you can find out how to help by clicking here to  Country music cable network  Great American Country Television will be airing a National Telethon on May 16, but I doubt if the major networks will plan any such thing.  They just don’t have the time.

Weather Bottom Line:  Weekend weather will be spectacular if not coolish.  After topping out at 88 on Friday,  the front was windy with a t’storm or two but that’s about it.  Pretty much what I anticipated.  Look for highs in the low to mid 60’s on Saturday and for Mother’s Day.  We could see some action around here about midweek next week.

Oil Disaster In Gulf Is Not Unprecedented, but Past Reveals Little Hope
May 4, 2010

Deepwater Horizon Blew Out Two Weeks Ago But It Took Time for the Media To Understand the Disaster Potential

The Deepwater Horizon in Better Days

Today, oil industry experts and government entities are attempting to find a way to cap an offshore oil well in the Gulf of Mexico that has become uncontrollable due to a blow out.  The blow out resulted in the destruction of the oil platform and the loss of 11 crew members.  On June 4, 1979 oil industry experts and government entities were attempting to find a way to cap an offshore oil well in the Gulf of Mexico that had become uncontrollable due to a blow out.  Yes, the incident near the mouth of the Mississippi River in the Gulf is not totally unprecedented. Red Adair practically invented and perfected the trade of capping wild wells.   Red was instrumental in capping the 1979 wild well.  Unfortunately, Red Adair is  no longer with us and the previous incident does not provide much hope for a happy ending.

Like the IXTOC I, The Deepwater Horizon Ultimately Collapsed

The Deepwater Horizon rig was a semi-submersible, state of the art drilling platform leased by British Petroleum.  The location was about 65 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River but it was drilling in depths of 1520 meters (about 5000 feet) of water in the Mississippi Canyon sector 252.  It was meteorological station number 42916 and  was about 150 miles SE of New Orleans.   Back in 1979, it was a little different situation.  The IXTOC I was a semi-submersible rig located about 600 miles SSE of Brownsville Texas in the Bay of Campeche.  It was drilling at a depth of about 11,000 feet below the ocean floor in just a few hundred feet of water.  While the cause of the current Horizon blowout is unknown, the IXTOC blowout was the result of a loss of drilling mud in the casing.  The general idea of mud in the shaft is to equal pressure throughout and allow for monitoring of gas.  Without the mud, there was a buildup of gas pressure that blew out the well.  The oil ignited  and the rig collapsed. 

IXTOC I in Bay of Campeche in 1979

 Now, there are supposed to be blow out preventers and several layers of “fail safe” back ups to prevent such an incident.  But,  just like the Titanic was not supposed to be able to sink, anything that man builds can and does fail.  It doesn’t happen often but it does happen.  A big difference between the current incident and the IXTOC I was the water depth.  There was a bunch of wreckage blocking the wellhead but divers and submersibles were able to work at the site.  In the case of the Horizon, divers are not able to go to such depths and the environment is extremely dark naturally.  With the presence of oil, visibility will be quite difficult.  Throw in the fact that there are probably quite chaotic currents in the Mississippi Canyon at those depths and submersibles are very difficult to operate. 

Red Adair Helped Cap IXTOC I and It Will Take the Work of the Next Generation of Wild Well Men to Cap the Deepwater Horizon Well

At IXTOC, divers were eventually able to reach and activate the blowout preventer on the ocean floor but pressures built up by the well resulted in valves that began to rupture.  The blowout preventer was subsequently reopened to prevent it from being destroyed.  As an alternative, two relief wells were drilled to relieve pressure and that allowed for the well to be capped.  Here’s the bad news.  It took about 9 1/2 months to complete the work. In the meantime, oil flowed at the rate of 10,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day.  Notice I said “barrels.”  That is what is the common unit of measure for oil.  The media uses that term when it comes to trading other economic activity.  But, in recent years when its a ecological matter, they go to gallons.  The argument as to why they do that is because, in journalism, you are to write conversationally.  Most people don’t know how much a barrel of oil but everyone knows the volume of a gallon.  The only trouble with that argument is that they don’t apply the “coversational” principal consistently.  I submit that since a barrel of oil is 42 US gallons, then it makes the numbers 42 times larger and therefore more headline grabbing than if they used barrels.  No one seems quite sure of how much oil is flowing from the Horizon blowout, but most media estimates seem to be between 3000 and 5000 barrels per day.  I just heard a newscaster say “200,000 gallons a day.”   If that estimate is correct, then it’s a long way from the IXTOC disaster which was the worst oil spill in history aside from the deliberate destruction of the oil wells in Kuwait

Initial Weather Conditions Initially Took Oil North but General Current Pattern Should Take it East and then Possibly Southeast

So, while the numbers are large, even Forbes Magazine points out that the world has seen far worse.  However, I disagree somewhat with the point that the article  makes.  It says that,  in order for this to surpass the 3 million barrels of oil (126 million gallons) of oil spewed out into the Gulf by IXTOC,  the Horizon well would have to continue its current pace for 200 days.   I say, “so what?”  Hey it took them over 9 months to cap that well.  This well is in a far more inhospitable an environment than the IXTOC I, which may hamper the capping efforts.  Its proximity to so many populated areas and economic concerns adds to the potential problems.  Then, when one considers the natural ocean currents takes the flow generally to the East and then Southeast, you consider that almost the entire US Gulf Coast is at risk.  If that is not enough, then it’s not totally out of the question that the flow could get caught up in the circulation that feeds into the Gulf Stream which would take the flow through the Florida Straits and off the US East Coast toward England!

Oil on South Texas Beach in 1979; Notice How it Globs Together

Will all of that happen?  Probably not.  First off, they will most likely have to drill relief wells in order to slow the flow from the original well. Given that the Horizon was drilling at some 18,000 feet deep, estimates are that it would take about 3 months for that to come about.  Then, there is also the consideration that this oil tends to glob together after a period of time.  We used to call them “tar balls” and they were  a nuisance when we went to  the beach in Galveston.  While the tar balls would no doubt be much larger and more numerous, it may not affect the marine life quite as much as feared.  Also, the ocean itself will probably break some of it up and a certain amount will evaporate.  Still, its potentially an enormous disaster.  A fly in the ointment of all of this is hurricane season.  I’m not sure if anyone is really sure how a tropical cyclone would affect the oil.  Would it break it up?  Would it spread it out?  It’s not clear.  What is certain is that the effects will continue for a long time and it will be interesting how long it takes the media to move on to another subject.  Marine life will be greatly adversely affected.  The economies of coastal communities will suffer and it will bring great economic hardship to all the people whose livelihood depends on the ocean.  Let us hope  that this incident does not come close to rivaling the IXTOC I disaster.  It’s bad enough as it is.

Weather Bottom Line:  Look for temperatures to warm to the mid to perhaps upper by Wednesday.  A cold front will try to come though Wednesday night and will get close enough to raise the chances for rain and t’storms but it will retreat in response to another system behind it.  That system will be much stronger.  With a good amount of moisture to work with as well as higher temperatures, that front will have plenty to work with for the potential of strong to severe thunderstorms Friday afternoon and evening.  Following that look for temperatures for Mother’s Day Weekend about 20 degrees cooler than they had been.