Friday, August 24, 2007

Copying Multileader Styles in AutoCAD 2008

I love the new Multileader capability in AutoCAD 2008, but while helping a client today, I discovered a somewhat glaring oversight on the part of Autodesk. Judging from postings on the AUGI forum, many other users have already discovered this problem.

The customer asked how he could copy a multileader style from one drawing to another. I naturally assumed that he could use Design Center to accomplish this. Imagine my surprise therefore when I realized that this capability was not added to Design Center in AutoCAD 2008.

After a bit of searching, I found several threads on the AUGI forum that dealt with this. There are two documented work arounds.

METHOD 1: Drawing Insertion method
  1. Open the drawing into which you want to copy the multileader style.
  2. Use the INSERT command to insert the drawing containing the desired multileader style.
  3. When AutoCAD prompts you to select the insertion point, press ESC to cancel the command.

Note that this method will also add all of the text styles, dimension styles, etc. from the drawing being inserted, which may not be desirable. If that is the case, here's another way to copy a multileader style.

METHOD 2: Tool Palette method

  1. Create a multileader in the drawing in which the desired style exists (using the style you want to copy) and then drag-and-drop that multileader onto a tool palette.
  2. Open the new drawing and then start the MLEADER command using the multileader you placed on the tool palette.

Note that this method will initially insert the exact same multileader as you created in the first drawing, including the text. But you can delete that multileader and then just use the MLEADER command normally to create new multileaders. But this method will definitely add the multileader style to the second drawing (and only the multileader style, not all of the other stuff that comes in if you use Method 1).

I would hope that the ability to copy multileader styles from one drawing to another using Design Center is high on the AUGI AutoCAD wish list. It seems silly that Autodesk neglected to add that in AutoCAD 2008. Hopefully, the company will remedy that situation very soon.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Young Frankenstein Comes to Life in Seattle

Mel Brooks has said that “Young Frankenstein” was his best film. I tend to agree. And I can now say that Young Frankenstein the Musical is his best show. I got to see it yesterday in Seattle where it is in previews before moving to Broadway in October. A friend suddenly found herself with two extra tickets and invited my daughter Emma and me to go with her and her daughter.

As a huge fan of the original movie, I can state with conviction that the new musical, currently at The Paramount theatre in Seattle through September 1, is everything one could hope for, and more. Like the stage adaptation of “The Producers,” the musical version of “Young Frankenstein” is both a faithful reproduction of the film and a unique musical theatre experience. From the minute the orchestra starts playing the overture—with lightning flashing on the huge curtain painted with an image of Castle Frankenstein—you sense that you’re about to experience something fun and magical.

Act One opens in Transylvania Heights, a village in Transylvania in 1934, with the villagers celebrating the death of the dreaded Dr. Victor von Frankenstein (Frankenstein is Dead/The Happiest Town in Town), led by Fred Applegate as Inspector Kemp (who I last saw as Max Bialystock in the London production of “The Producers”). Things quickly move to a medical school in New York City, where we first meet Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (that’s pronounced “Fronkensteen”), wonderfully played by Roger Bart (he played Bette Midler’s gay friend in the 2004 remake of “The Stepford Wives”). While There is Nothing Like the Brain is a clever number (and the scene faithfully recreates the bit from the movie where Gene Wilder knees the old man in the groin), things really haven’t started moving yet.

Next, we meet Frederick’s socialite fiancĂ©e Elizabeth (Megan Mullally), who comes to see him off at Hudson River Pier 57. With last minute passengers boarding the ship (yes, there’s a ship on stage, and Elizabeth utters Madeline Kahn’s great one-liner “Taffeta, darling.”), Elizabeth and the other voyagers sing Please Don’t Touch Me.

But once Frankenstein arrives at the railroad station in Transylvania (“Pardon me boy. Is this the Transylvania station.”), the show jumps into high gear and never downshifts. With Christopher Fitzgerald practically channeling Marty Feldman’s Igor, he and Bart sing Together Again for the First Time. I’d like to say that it’s one of my favorite songs in the show, but then I’d contradict myself by saying that about several others. Suffice it to say that it’s the first one that made me grin from ear to ear, a grin that never went away thereafter.

Next, we meet Inga, the sexy Transylvanian girl who signs on as Frederick’s lab assistant (played stunningly by Sutton Foster). In the first tour de force of staging, the hay wagon really appears to be pulled through the forest by a pair of horses as Inga sings Roll in the Hay. And of course, the scene includes the exchange between Inga, Igor, and Frankenstein: “Werewolf? There. What? There wolf. There, castle.” The arrival at Castle Frankenstein is filled with all of the great lines from the movie —the horses bray every time they hear the name of housekeeper Frau Blucher, Frederick utters the double-entendre “what knockers” while staring at Inga’s breasts, and before retiring for the night, Frau Blucher offers Frederick “a brandy before retiring? Some varm milk perhaps? Ovaltine?”—but it’s the production number Join the Family Business that simply wows the audience. Under Susan Stroman’s incredible direction and choreography and fantastic scenery and lighting design, somehow the castle walls actually dissolve and Frederick finds himself in his grandfather’s laboratory.

Then there’s the recreation of the scene with the hidden entry to the laboratory (“Put…ze candle…back”) and the discovery of Frau Blucher playing weird violin music, leading to another of my favorite numbers. Asked how exactly did she know his grandfather, Frau Blucher (played to perfection by Andrea Martin from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding and SCTV fame) sings He Vas My Boyfriend.

I could keep on going. There’s the famous laboratory scene in which the monster (Shuler Hensley) is brought to life, and plenty more songs just in Act One, which concludes with a real show stopping song and dance number Transylvania Mania.

And things don’t slow down after the intermission either. The monster gets loose. There’s the great scene between the monster and the hermit (played by Fred Applegate, who in this scene looks strikingly similar to Gene Hackman in the movie), including all of those great bits (but missing the line “I was going to make Espresso”).

Frederick and Igor recapture the monster. And then there’s the big second act number Puttin’ On the Ritz. I’d compare this to the dance number in “The Producers” with all of the old women dancing with their walkers. It’s a great expansion on what was just a short scene in the original movie version of “Young Frankenstein” and it works perfectly.

Suffice it to say, I loved the show. I think it’s going to be a huge hit on Broadway. Buy your tickets now, because if I’m correct, they’re soon going to be very hard to come by.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

If This is Wednesday, It Can't Be Tuesday

What would a trip be without at least one more travel story?

I had a bit of an interesting experience flying home from Hawaii. First of all, let me just say that if Northwest Airlines wants to cancel one of my flights in the future, they should cancel the flight HOME from Hawaii at the end of my trip (is there anyone out there that wouldn't want to spend an extra day in Hawaii?), NOT the one on the way TO Hawaii.

My NWA flight back from Honolulu operated on time and was completely full. There were no empty seats, but there were also no extra passengers turned away due to overbooking. I got to see everyone from my vantage point in the very last row (row 47) of the 757-300 OW. We were wheels up around 9:15pm local time on the evening of Tuesday, July 31.

Upon arriving at Seatac Airport at 5:30am on Wednesday, August 1 (keep those dates straight...this is important) I made my way to the Alaska Air Boardroom to sit down and relax during my nearly 2-hour layover.

The NWA agent in Honolulu had been unable to give me a boarding pass for my Horizon Air flight back to Bellingham because the Honolulu/Seattle and Seattle/Bellingham legs had been purchased as separate tickets. So I asked the woman at the Boardroom counter if she could print one for me. After several minutes of typing away at her computer, she finally informed me that she could not find a reservation for me on this morning's Horizon Air flight. She called a second agent over to help, but she ended up just as puzzled as the first.

Then we finally all looked at the dates on the ticket. My travel agent had purchased a ticket from Honolulu to Seattle on July 31 AND a ticket from Seattle to Bellingham on July 31. Unfortunately, the flight from Honolulu didn't actually arrive in Seattle until August 1. So my flight from Seattle to Bellingham had been for yesterday.

I had to walk over to the Horizon Airlines service counter to talk with an agent there before I could finally get things straightened out. Luckily, the fare basis for my ticket was such that Horizon was able to make the change without charging me an additional fee. Of course, the printer at the Horizon Air service counter was broken, so I had to ask the woman back at the Alaska Airlines Boardroom to print my boarding pass when I got back there.

One final note. If you travel much at all, I encourage you to join the club room at your airline of choice. Yes, I know it costs several hundred dollars per year, but it's been well worth it. Had it not been for the wonderful woman at the Alaska Airlines Boardroom in Seattle, I never would have gotten to Hawaii on Friday night when my original NWA flight was cancelled. And there have been plenty of other times this year when the agents at the club room have handled all manner of travel problems with incredible efficiency. And even if you don't ever need them to go to bat for you, the club rooms are a haven of peace in the madness of the modern airport, not to mention the free food, newspapers, internet connection, and even a free bar at the Delta club rooms (which I get to use in most airports when there is no Alaska room). Anyway, just a thought.