April 23, 2010 |
In 1783, a dense, murky fog settled over Paris, darkening the daytime skies for weeks on end, a phenomenon that excited the curiosity of Benjamin Franklin while he was in France to sign the Treaty of Paris. Franklin wrote a paper describing the cooling effect of the haze and theorizing that it had blown over from an Icelandic volcano. He was right: That year much of Europe was blanketed by sulfur particles from Laki, an erupting crack in the ground that spewed enough poison gas to wipe out about a quarter of Iceland's population and kill people as far away as the British Isles.
April 20, 2010 |
Volcano a show stopper That pesky Eyjafjallaj?kull volcano - its eruption grounded, like, two-thirds of Europe's air traffic, and now it's also messing up the entertainment world. Last weekend, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., lost acts such as The Cribs, Bad Lieutenant and Frightened Rabbit to the ash clouds. The Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan, which begins Wednesday, might suffer, too, with some stars and filmmakers stuck in Europe. Some say NYC could lose as much as $250 mil. Whitney Houston took matters into her own hands.
April 2, 2007 |
In September, my son asked his new teacher if he could do a magic trick in class. "Sure," she said. Two days later, dressed in a vest, cape, top hat and gloves, he did three. Later, he explained to the class that he learned the tricks by reading a magic book. That month, two other kids did tricks, too. And the teacher made time for each of them, including one who made a stuffed bunny magically appear. In October, a fierce wind blew through the classroom window, knocking over the teacher's books and sending her coffee cup crashing to the floor.
February 25, 2007 |
Show me an accessible adventure, and I'm game. So I recently resolved to conquer two huge mountains in record time - 24 hours. Nepal's Everest and Pakistan's K2? No, my objectives were a bit closer to home: the Big Island's Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, Hawaii's largest. If you measure them from their below-sea-level bases to their peaks, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are both at least 33,000 feet tall, almost a mile higher than Everest. If you want to get technical about it, in the record books Mauna Kea measures 13,796 feet above sea level and Mauna Loa, 13,677.
February 16, 2007 |
I never thought I'd say this . . . but here goes. I miss Meg Ryan. Especially this time of year, when soggy romantic comedies starring the likes of Mandy Moore (!) remind us that since Ryan abdicated her throne with 2001's Kate & Leopold, no actress has come along to make Valentine's Day movie-going safe again. Say what you will about Ryan's twinkly persona, but nobody this side of Doris Day had a longer run as a romantic-comedy queen. And the movies she made - even the misfires - were at least fun. I'd gladly catch Ryan - playing three women, no less - in Joe Versus the Volcano again before watching Sandra Bullock trot out one of her wounded lonely-hearts or enduring an endless string of Renee Zellweger scrunchy faces.
February 26, 2006 |
When the most famous volcano in America began rumbling again in 2004, it was like a siren song. The lyrics were: "Build a new lava dome, and they will come. " Not being disaster groupies, we didn't drop everything and head out to western Washington. But when an opportunity arose for a family trip to Portland, Ore., in June, we knew the first place we wanted to visit. It's an easy, one-hour drive north on Interstate 5 to Castle Rock, Wash., the gateway to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, as it is somewhat grandiosely called.
June 5, 2005 |
Summer evening settles quietly over Yellowstone National Park. Shadows deepen the forest. The air turns cool. Steam rising from hundreds of hot springs forms a thickening ground fog. Elk drift wraithlike across the meadows, grazing on tender summer herbs. This is Yellowstone, wild and peaceful, as most people know it. Few realize that America's flagship national park is also a place of unimaginable violence. Catastrophic destruction on a scale beyond all human experience has ravaged the region many times.
March 27, 2005 |
The beautiful Hawaiian island of Maui is home to Haleakala, called by some the largest dormant volcano in the world. At 10,023 feet above sea level, the volcano boasts a crater that some say would fit Manhattan, spectacular sunrises and sunsets, a ruggedly beautiful landscape, and a terrific view of the stars at night. Most travelers who visit the summit go down the way they came up: by car. My husband and I, like many intrepid tourists, chose to bike down, coasting 38 miles along switchbacks at roughly 15 to 25 m.p.h.
March 25, 2005 |
If recent history has taught us nothing else, it is that we always seem to plan for the wrong things to go wrong. Remember Y2K? That was the computer glitch that was supposed to turn the turn of the millennium (well, actually, the arrival of the year prior to the turn of the millennium) into instant turmoil. For months before the event, even as teams of experts joined in a frantic eleventh-hour attempt to keep civilization from being plunged into chaos and confusion, citizens were busy preparing for it by stocking their homes with emergency provisions, water, generators and guns.
August 6, 2004 |
Imax movies are stationary roller-coasters, in your face, down the gullet, leaving squat to the imagination. They're more visual assault weapons than entertainment. The theaters are the trophy additions of science museums, misguided logic in temples of contemplation while overshadowing the beloved planetarium, places of infinite wonder and nascent snogging. Underestimating contemporary patrons, the thinking is that children won't come unless lured by yet another video, this one on a dinosaur scale.