Cirque du Soleil KÀ

Cirque du Soleil KA

Ka is a show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with an emphasis on aerial acrobatics like no other show I know of. $225 million dollars was spent developing a custom built theater with seems to have no floor but only cat walks and aerial platforms.

The New York Times Travel section says:

The story is by turns funny, tragic, and whimsical. There are at least two moments that are nothing but simple stagecraft and yet are exquisite, among the most memorable of any current Vegas show. The theater is cavernous, but extensive catwalks and other staging tricks mean that those in the back won’t feel far from the action. It might be too long and intense for younger children, but older ones will be enthralled — and so will you.

This TechCrunch article describes the marvelous technical achievement.

Wikipedia says:

Due to the speed in which artists fall from the decks, an array of airbags had to be used en lieu of traditional nets alone. These airbags sit atop two nets, which at times are 70 feet (21 m) below the point the artist begins the fall. The airbags contain individual cells which can inflate and deflate independently. In case a power outage occurs, each airbag has its own uninterruptible power supply which can last up to 30 minutes.

This video briefly describes some of the incredible moving platforms in the theater.

Cirque du Soleil – Totem

I saw Cirque du Soleil’s Totem yesterday (September 9) in the Washington, D.C. area after driving five and a half hours from Greensboro, NC. I saw O in Las Vegas several years ago and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If I had the money I would see all the Cirque du Soleil shows. Totem, In D.C. was performed under a custom built big top tent which they call the Grand Chapiteau. You enter the tent at ground level and descend towards the circular stage which is built below ground level to allow for stadium seating. Once inside the tent you forget that this is a temporary structure with a fabric roof. The venue is fitted with state of the art lighting, sound, video projection, rigging, and mechanical stage lifts. And for everyone’s comfort the tent was air conditioned. Wikipedia has an excellent article describing some of the technical details behind the show. Totem will be in Washington, D.C. until October 7. Later the show moves to Atlanta and then Miami.

The thing I like best about Cirque du Soleil is that every act flows smoothly into the next act. Every move from the entrance on stage to the final bow is thought out and carefully choreographed. I drove 300 miles and paid $150 to see Totem and it was worth every bit.

List of acts:

Parallel bars and trampoline
Hoop dance
Rings trio – much like gymnastics rings except high in the air
Clown act
Chinese unicycle and bowls – fantastic act
Foot juggling – rug spinning
Perches – climbing and balancing on poles more than 30 feet tall
Devil sticks
Hand Balancing – hand stands, acrobatics, etc.
Cone juggling – juggling inside a 10 foot tall clear cone
Clown act
Hoop dance
Roller skate – beautiful act. A pair of roller skaters spin and whirl on a drum-shaped platform in a scene that evokes a wedding night
Russian bar – Acrobats flip and bounce off of flexible beams held by burly assistants


Portal was a game released in 2007 by Valve Corporation and “received praise for its unique gameplay and darkly humorous story.”1 I like the way Ben Gelinas puts it, “In Portal, your ‘gun’ isn’t really a gun at all, it’s a tool used to create doors (portals) in walls to [other locations]. Shoot a wall and it makes a portal. Placing these portals at key points inside rooms that otherwise hold you captive is essential for your escape into the more difficult room ahead.” I’ve only played partially through the game, but so far I have been able to create an orange portal and a blue portal. When you go in the blue portal you come out the orange portal and vice versa. Depending on where you place the portals you can be transported around obstacles or from room to room.

If you fall into a portal from a high ledge your momentum carries you out the second portal at the same acceleration. If you place one portal on the floor and the other on a wall this will convert your vertical movement into horizontal movement and allow you to jump large gaps.

One side effect of being able to place portals almost anywhere is the creation of infinite loops. If you place two portals opposite each other in a hallway you will see an infinite regression of yourself as you look through one portal into the other. If you place a portal on the floor directly under a portal on the ceiling you have set up a similar kind of situation. When you step into the portal on the floor you fall out of the portal on the ceiling and back into the portal on the floor. This will continue until your computer dies or until you push your joystick to one side and cause yourself you miss hitting the portal as you fall.

Valve Corporation has announced that Portal 2 will be released in 2011. The new game features the ability to direct tractor beams, laser beams and liquids through portals. Watch the videos at


Echochrome – Optical illusion puzzle game

Typically when you play a puzzle game, you are given an objective and perhaps a few different ways that you can accomplish this task. However, you’re not frequently asked to readjust the reality of the world simply by manipulating the camera to close gaps between platforms. The same could be said about erasing pitfalls by changing a camera angle so a column appears to cover a hole. These optical illusions form the basis behind Sony’s latest PSN title, echochrome, which asks players to constantly tweak, bend and change their perceptions to solve deceptive puzzles. While the choice to use optical illusions is a unique one, the decision to focus upon a simple wireframe presentation adds a surprising amount of depth to this spatial puzzle title. –

For PlayStation 3 ($10 US) and PSP

Inflammatory Speach

Come to think of it .. maybe the United States government ought to cancel all assistance to LA until these people develop an ability to think rationally. -Neal Boortz regarding California’s stand on Arizona’s immigration laws.

I know Neal Boortz is being facetious and being facetious is entertaining, but he seems to be trying to be rational and reasonable in the rest of his post. It just gets under my skin when talk show hosts make ad hominem attacks even if they are kind of kidding around. All talk show hosts are guilty of this more or less and it makes it hard for me to listen to anything else they have to say, even if I already agree with their position.