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Deval Patrick for Governor of Massachusetts

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September 2, 2006

eBook: Arcadian Adventures With the Idle Rich Stephen Leacock, 1914

A droll, sarcastic description of the final year of the Belle Epoque. This is the first Stephen Leacock I've read, but won't be the last! Good fun.

Oops, actually it turns out it isn't my first Leacock...just noticed that I had previously read The Mariner of St. Malo.

Tova moved into her new apartment, East Cambridge so she can walk to M.I.T.

Installed Parallels Desktop and Windows XP on my new PowerMac Pro, so I can switch back and forth betwixt Mac OSX and Windows XP Pro. It was a huge hassle to get it working, I wound up having to completely reformat the disc, but fortunately everything was backed up. Turns out that the presence of my Mac "Mighty Mouse" is incompatible with the installation of Parallels Desktop. Once I unplugged the mouse, it installed just fine. Once the software was installed, I was able to use the Mighty Mouse with no problems.

Rode my Bianchi B.a.S.S. to the library with the Sram iMotion 9-speed hub, having finally received a replacement shifter. Still seems to be something funky with the shifting. With my current gear adjustment it is unusable in gears 1 and 3, but the other 7 gears work fine, and it shfits well. I hope I didn't damage the hub when I was riding it with the broken shifter.

September 5, 2006

Book: Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events-The Omninous Omnibus Lemony Snicket,

This volume includes the first three Lemony Snicket novels, the ones on which the film was based: The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, and The Wide Window.

These are a lot of fun, very engagingly written. I'm looking forward to reading later volumes in this series where I don't already know the story from seeing the film.

September 8, 2006

eBook: Sharpe's Fury Bernard Cornwell, 2006

Same old Peninsular War formula, this time Cadiz in 1811, but I can't get too much of it!

September 9, 2006

eBook: The Dawn of Canadian History, Volume I Stephen Leacock

I had thought Leacock was strictly a humorist, but this is intended to be a serious history (or pre-history) of Canada from the ice age to the early exploration era, before the arrival of Cartier. Not all that interesting, and probalby not all that accurate either.

House Concert Matt and Shannon Heaton

I don't know how have missed this wonderful married duo. Matt plays guitar and sings, Shannon plays flute and whistles, and sings like an angel. The informality of a house concert is the ideal setting for their music, no amplification was needed nor wanted. A bunch of their friends joined them on "stage" in the second set.

Matt and Shannon Heaton House Concert Matt and Shannon Heaton House Concert

September 10, 2006

Tova moved into her new apartment in East Cambridge, fairly easy walk to M.I.T., it seems like a good location for her. It's so nice to have her close by after being 3,000 miles away for so long!

Play Twelfth Night Shakespeare-Cambridge University traveling production.

Tova had seen this yesterday, and highly recommended it. We went to see the second performance, in the M.I.T. student center. Very fine production of a play I was not familiar with.

September 11, 2006

Alison Lee Freeman CD Release Party, Club Passim, Harvard Square, Cambridge

I know Alison from the M.I.T. Chantey Sings, where she's one of the mainstays. Enjoyed the event, though Harriet had an academic event which meant I had to go alone.

It's been a while since I was last at Club Passim, I had been planning on getting dinner there, but hadn't remembered that it was a vegetarian venue, didn't find much that appealed to me on the menu. I went with the black bean soup, which was pretty good for being vegetarian, but would really have benefitted from a ham bone...

Alison Lee Freeman Alison Lee Freeman

September 12, 2006

Film: (DVD) Trainspotting Danny Boyle, 1996

I had seen this five years ago but didn't remember it.

September 15, 2006

Film: (DVD) To Catch a Thief Alfred Hitchcock, 1955

I'm sure I must have seen this years ago, probably on a black-and-white TV. I was stunned by how good it is! Hitchcock very rarely shot on location, preferring to work on closed sound stages where he could control everything, but the French Riviera locations were familiar stomping grounds for him, and he photographed them beautifully in this early "Vistavision" release. Cary Grant and Grace Kelly star, one of Hitchcock's finest works.

Flawed somewhat by so-so writing. The plot involves a cat burglar, and it was very irritating that the characters repeatedly referred to the crimes as "robberies."

September 16, 2006

Two more MRIs, upper and lower spine. Took a long time, not much fun. That's number 10 and 11 since I started seeking help for my leg problem.

eBook: Choosers of the Slain John Ringo

Baen books offers monthly bundles of ebooks, so sometimes you need to take some clinkers to get the good ones at a favorable price. This is one of the clinkers. The protagonist is a retired Navy Seal, who moves to Georgia (former U.S.S.R.) and becomes a feudal warlord, fighting Chechen terrorists and Albanian white-slavers. Very militaristic, extremely right-wing book. Not recommended.

September 17, 2006

Harriet's off to Washington DC for some government stuff.

M.I.T. Chantey Sing

I went over to Tova's place for coffee, then we drove over to the U.S.S. Constitution Museum in Charlestown for this months M.I.T. Chantey Sing (Tova's first.) This is not the usual venue, but was a very nice spot for it. We had a grand old time. I led "Passant Par Paris", "Barrett's Privateers" and also regaled the company with Monty Python's "We Love The Yangtze" song. Sorry Harriet couldn't make it this month, but it was nice to have Tova along. She wasn't ready to lead anything but she is a fine singer, and her strong, pure voice contributed a lot to the choruses.
M.I.T. Chantey Sing U.S.S. Constitution Museum, Sept 17. 2006

September 18, 2006

Film: (DVD) Fargo The Coen Brothers, 1996

This is a great film. I have seen it a couple of times before, but it's still a treat. Frances McDormand and William H. Macy turn in fabulous performances as a pregnant country sheriff and a sleazy car salesman. Not to be missed!

September 19, 2006

Got an unexpected visit from an old friend, Bob Langdon. We used to ride together back when I was in high school. When I built my first tandems, he was my usual stoker. He dropped by the shop. I think it has been at least 40 years since I'd seen him.

September 20, 2006

Film: (DVD) American Splendor Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini; 2003

Excellent and very quirky biopic of Harvey Pekar, writer of the American Splendor comic book series. Recommended.

Films: (DVD) Inspector Morse 1988

This is a British TV series we've been watching for a while. Senior Inspector Morse is an intellectual police detective in Oxford. A bachelor in his 60s, he's a fan of Wagner and a crossword fanatic.

The mysteries are convoluted and difficult, but the settings are gorgeous and the characters are mostly pretty convincing and interesting.

Cinematography is sometimes a bit over-fond of gimmicks like shooting through the rear-view mirror of a parked car, but otherwise generally good. Harriet and I like these a lot.

September 22, 2006

Film: (DVD) Love's Labour's Lost Kenneth Branagh

I own the DVD of one of my great favorites.

September 25, 2006

To Las Vegas (Interbike bicycle show)

The trip pretty much killed the day.

I had arranged the rental of an electric scooter for this trip, knew my legs wouldn't be up to the challenge. Used a company called Scootaround, they delivered the scooter to the Stratosphere where we were staying. Pretty cool machine, more maneuverable than I had expected.

September 26-27, 2006

Interbike Show, Las Vegas/H4> See my detailed report here.

Venetian Panaorama

September 28, 2006

Fly home to Boston

eBook: The Hohenzollerns in America With the Bolsheviks in Berlin and other impossibilities Stephen Leacock, 1919

This is a collection of short humorous/propaganda pieces from the era of the Great War. Quality is rather uneven.

Book: Falling Free Lois McMaster Bujold, 1988

This novel is set in the same future universe as the The Miles Naismith/Vorsigian series, but 200 years before Miles's birth.

A space construction corporation has done a genetic experiment to produce workers better able to function in microgravity. The "quaddies" are equipped with 4 arms, no legs among other modifications. 1,000 of them are being brought up on a remote, secret space habitat, but they become redundant when artificial gravity technology becomes available...

October 3, 2006

Television: Boston Legal

This has become one of my favorite shows. I was a fan of the original Star Trek, but never was all that thrilled with William Shatner's "Captain Kirk" character. However, in Boston Legal, his "Denny Crane" is just terriffic...the best thing he's ever done. James Spader and Candice Bergen are also excellent. Interestingly, Shatner isn't the only Star Trek veteran on this show. René Auberjonois (Odo from DS9) and Armin Shimerman (Quark from TNG and DS9) are also regulars.

The show is a spinoff from The Practice, formerly another of my favorites, but has a much lighter, more comedic tone than that show had.

October 6, 2006

Film: (DVD) King Kong Peter Jackson, 2005

I'm not generally a fan of horror films, or of remakes of classics, but this one is really good! Fabulous computer graphics, especially the dinosaurs. Naomi Watts is excellent in the Fay Wray role.

October 7, 2006

Harriet and I went over to Charles River Canoe & Kayak and rented a canoe for a short run up the Chuck. We used to do a lot of canoeing when we were first married, not so much after Tova was born. It has been a couple of years since our canoe was in the water, and we really can't get it up on the roof of the car these days due to my crippled condition, so renting was the way to go. Even so I needed a lot of help getting in and out of the boat. Definitely worht it though, it was nice to be able to get a bit of a workout using my upper body (which is not affected by my neurological problem.) Even so, we're both out of shape in the arms, so we didn't go very far, only about a mile altogether. We did enjoy it a lot, it was a beautiful autumn afternoon. We'll certainly do this again soon.

Film: (DVD) The Final Countdown Don Talylor, 1980

I'm a big fan of time-travel stories, and also am fascinated by aircraft carriers, so this film combining the two seemed like it should have been a winner, but I found it pretty disappointing. The premise is that the 1980 state-of-the-art nuclear-powered carrier U.S.S. Nimitz gets zapped back to December 6, 1941 a couple of hundred miles from Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately the writers chose to avoid temporal pardox as much as possible, so there is no major interaction with the Japanese.

Film: (DVD) Team America-World Police Trey Parker, 2004

*****

October 8, 2006

Chantey singing on the schooner Roseway

Harriet and I picked up Tova, and the three of us headed over to Rowe's Wharf to board the gorgeous 81 year old Essex schooner Roseway for a two-hour sunset/moonrise chantey sing with some of the folks from the MIT Chantey & Maritime Sing series group. It was a deligitful evening, pleasant weather and the nearly full moon rising over East Boston.

There are a couple of dozen photos on my Roseway Page . Here are a few as a sample:

roseway roseway-oct8-2006-01 roseway-oct8-2006-11 roseway-oct8-2006-23

October 9, 2006

Film: (DVD) The Incredibles Brad Bird, 2004

Pleasant cartoon with retired family of superheroes called back to fight Evil.

October 10, 2006

Film: (DVD) Star Trek VI: The Voyage Home Leonard Nimoy, 1986

Somehow I missed this the first time around. It was enjoyable, with the Enterprise's crew time-traveling back to 1980s San Francisco.

October 12, 2006

Gasoline Prices

Just a few weeks ago, gasoline was over $3/gallon. As the mid-term elections draw closer it has been steadily dropping. Today, on the way to work I passed a station where it was $2.19/gallon. I'm predicting that it will break the $2.00 barrier just before the election, then immediately go back up. 3 1/2 weeks to go.
+--------------------------------------------------+
|   Cynic: A blackguard whose faulty vision sees   |
|   things as they are, not as they ought to be.   |
|                              --Ambrose Bierce    |
+--------------------------------------------------+

October 13, 2006

My sister Arlene is just back from a trip to South Africa with her daughter Christine. Harriet and I picked up Tova and visited them at Chrissy's place in Charlestown, a pleasant family evening. It had been quite a while since Tova and Arlene were in the same place at the same time.

October 14, 2006

Rode the Greenspeed trike 8 1/2 miles, pretty long for me these days. Beautiful autumn day, foliage not yet peaked. Even encountered another Greenspeed rider along the Charles River.

Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra Vaughan Williams, Shostakovich, Prokofiev; Ludovic Morlot, conductor; Lynn Harrell, Cello

Started out with the Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, a lovely work, but a bit too soporific for me at that time of the evening. (I frequently get drowsy around 8-8:30 in the evening, though after that I'm usually up 'til 2:00...)

For me the pièce de résistance was the Shostakovich Cello Concerto #1. The orchestra was great in this, though the solo cello was frequently drowned out. Harrell pulled the horn player up for a bow at the front of the stage in recognition of his excellent solo work.

Morlot ended up with a bunch of snippets from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet ballet. The individual pieces were well played, but didn't seem to fit together in any sort of coherent whole.

October 15, 2006

M.I.T. Chantey Sing

Went with Harriet and Tova, back to the usual termperate-weather venue, the M.I.T. Sailing pavilion. Got to sit next to Jerry Bryant , heard him sing his "Ballad of Harbo and Samuelsen" one of my favorites. That's him on the left:
Venetian Panaorama

October 17, 2006

Sent my Nikon D70 back to Nikon for service. Turns out there's a design flaw in this model, which has rendered mine inoperable. Nikon will fix it for free.

October 20, 2006

Got up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 to drive Harriet to the airport. (I'm used to rising at the crack of ten!) She's off to Portland Oregon for a confernence, I'll be batching it for a week, miss her already.

Film: (DVD) White Squall Ridley Scott, 1996

A teenagers-coming-of-age film, set on a training brigantine, based on real events. Pretty predictable, but well done.

October 21, 2006

Loaded the Greenspeed onto the back of the Pontiac, drove to Lexington to ride on the Minuteman path. Wound up doing about 9 1/2 miles, including some off-road past the Bedford end of the paved trail. Beautiful fall day.

October 22, 2006

Made a new, sturdier camera mount for the Greenspeed, using a threadless-type handlebar stem. It's nice and solid, but a bit too low so my toes sometimes show in the corners with the wide-angle lens.

Rode to the library and back via Chestnut street, a bit over 3 miles.

Film: (HBO) Amistad Steven Spielberg, 1997

What a great movie this is! I had forgotten how good it was since the last time I saw it. Deals with a 1839 legal case where African captives revolted and captured the Spanish slave vessel they were imprisoned in, wound up in New Haven, with a thorny legal status and no clue what was happening to them.

October 23, 2006

Film: (HBO) Walk the Line James Mangold, 2005

Quite good biopic of Johnny Cash.

October 25, 2006

Saw Dr. V. this morning. His diagnosis is multiple sclerosis, the rare and un-treatable positive progressive variety. He says some experimental treatments may be able to slow the progression of the disease, but that I shouldn't expect any improvement. I took it pretty hard. More on my Health page.

October 26, 2006

Harriet back from the West Coast, very glad to have her home again, it's been pretty lonely without her.

Got my Nikon D70 back from repair, can't complain about the service.

October 29, 2006

Tova at MIT A date with my wife and daughter! We picked Tova up at M.I.T. and drove to Harvard Square to see:

Film: Marie Antoinette Sofia Coppola, 2006

If we were deaf we would have really liked this film. Visually it's terrific, but the soundtrack has problems, most egregiously the use of wildly inappropriate rock music. The opening and closing titles were also extremely inappropriate, some ugly sanserif font popping up at random spots on a black screen while the anachronistic pop music plays.

The film traces Marie's life from her arrival at Versailles through her departure, but we don't get to see her tragic end. She is shown as a basically naive teenager cast adrift friendlessly nin the hyper-formal court of Verailles. Most of the film seems to deal with her difficulties in getting the young Louis XIV to consummate the marriage.

It would seem to have been more appropriate for Kirsten Dunst to have attempted a bit of a German accent, at least in the earlier parts of the film.

Did I see correctly? There's one scene where the camera is panning along a row of pair of fabulously ornate ladies shoes belonging to Marie...and I could swear that I caught a fleeting glimpse of a pair of blue and white Keds sneakers at the end of the line!

Anyway, the costumes were great, and Versailles was glorious as ever (they got it looking a lot cleaner than it was when I visited it.)

After the flick, we went to the Yenching restaurant in the Square, first time any of us had been there. The decor wasn't much but the food was unusually good.

October 31, 2006

Drove out to Salem with my nephew Rusty to the Peabody-Essex Museum, a favorite of mine. The particular occasion was an exhibit of turn-of-the-century yacht photography by Willard B. Jackson.

The photographs were great, but the prints not so much. Most were 8 x 10 or 10 x 12 contact prints, from a stash of 3,000 odd prints found in his attic by his daughter. I suspect they were mostly reject prints, as many of them had uneven exposure or were generally poorly exposed. Back when I did darkroom work, I know I would often do multiple prints before getting one that I was happy with...then I would give away the good one, but keep some that were almost good enough, too good to throw away. I suspect that's what Jackson did as well.

Even when perfectly printed, contact prints are not ideal for naked-eye viewing. I would much rather have seen good modern enlargements of these images, especially given the subdued light the museum used to preserve the original prints. (The museum evidently owns the original plates.)

Film: (DVD) Island at War Peter Lydon, Thaddeus O'Sullivan, 2005

This is a TV miniseries from Grenada in the U.K., dealing with the German occupation of the Channel Islands during WW2. It's rather gloomy despite gorgeous scenery, but very well directed and well acted. Even features a character named "Sheldon", a somewhat slimy blacket marketeer.
Spoke

Forward to:

November-December 2006

Back to:
2007:
November-December September-October July-August May-June March-April January-February
2006:
November-December September-October July-August May-June March-April January-February
2005:
November-December September-October July-August May-June March-April January-February
2004:
November-December September-October July-August May-June March-April January-February
2003:
November-December September-October July-August May-June March-April January-February
2002:
November-December September-October July-August May-June March-April January-February
2001:
November-December September-October July-August May-June March-April January-February
2000:
November-December September-October July-August May-June March-April January-February
1999:
November-December September-October July-August May-June March-April January-February
1975-98:
November-December, 1998 April-May, 1975

Spoke

The overall Booklist has been moved to a separate page.

Books reviewed on this page:
Falling FreeLois McMaster Bujold9/28/06
Sharpe's FuryBernard Cornwell9/8/06
Arcadian Adventures With the Idle RichStephen Leacock9/2/06
The Hohenzollerns in AmericaStephen Leacock9/2/06
The Dawn of Canadian HistoryStephen Leacock9/9/06
Choosers of the SlainJohn Ringo9/15/06
A Series of Unfortunate Events-The Omninous OmnibusLemony Snicket9/5/06

Spoke

The overall film list has been moved to a separate page.

Films reviewed on this page:
American SplendorSeptember 21, 2006
AmistadOctober 22, 2006
FargoSeptember 19, 2006
The Final CountdownOctober 7, 2006
The IncrediblesOctober 9, 2006
Island at WarOctober 31, 2006
King KongOctober 6, 2006
Marie AntoinetteOctober 29, 2006
Star Trek VI: The Voyage HomeOctober 10, 2006
Team America-World PoliceOctober 7, 2006
To Catch A ThiefSeptember 15, 2006
Inspector MorseSeptember 20, 2006
Love's Labour's LostSeptember 22, 2006
TrainspottingSeptember 10, 2006
Walk the LineOctober 23, 2006
White SquallOctober 20, 2006

Spoke

The overall music list has been moved to a separate page.

Music reviewed on this page:
DatePerformersWorks
October 15, 2006M.I.T. Chantey Sing
October 14, 2006B.S.O., Ludovic Morlot, Lynn HarrellVaughan Williams, Shostakovich, Prokofiev
September 18, 2006M.I.T. Chantey Sing
September 11, 2006Alison Lee Freeman
September 9, 2006Matt and Shannon Heaton
August 12, 2006La bottine SourianteQuébecois folk/rock/jazz

Spoke

Plays:
November 29, 2002Lorraine BraccoThe Graduate
November 23, 2001Helen Mirren, Ian McKellnThe Dance of Death-August Strindberg
September 30, 2000Tova/Black Box Theatre, Cornell UniversityThe Maids-Jean Genet
May 30, 2000Kelsey Grammer/Colonial TheatreMacbeth
May 26, 2000The Huntington Theatre Co.King Hedley II
September 3, 1999The Publick TheatreNine
August 21, 1999Orange Tree Theatre, Ithaca, N.Y.Sonata
August 13, 1999Firehouse Theatre, Ithaca, N.Y.Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All For You
May 22-29Newton South/North High SchoolsRichard III
December 18, 1998Newton North High SchoolThe Bone Violin, May Flies
November 12, 1998Newton North High SchoolTo Kill a Mockingbird 052999
Spoke

Travels:
September 25-28, 2006Las Vegas (Interbike)
June 10-20, 2006Santa Cruz, California
May 5-7, 2006Aurora, Indiana
November 23, 2005Plantation, Florida
September 26-29, 2005Interbike, Las Vegas, Nevada
August 26-28, 2005'Bentride 2005, Bath, N.Y.
July 21-24, 2005Family Reunion, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
April 29, 2005Cirque de Cyclisme, Greensboro, N.C.
February 16, 2005Indianapolis
November 24, 2004Plantation, Florida
October 8, 2004Santa Cruz, California
October 4, 2004Las Vegas, Nevada
June 8, 2004France, England
December 22, 2003Halifax, Nova Scotia
November 27, 2003Florida
October 31, 2003Potomac, Maryland
October 10, 2003Las Vegas, Nevada
September 21, 2003New York, N.Y.
November 27-30, 2002New York, N.Y.
October 8-13, 2002Evanston, Illinois
October 4-8, 2002Las Vegas, Nevada
July 3-9, 2002Canso, Nova Scotia
May 24-27, 2002Long Island, New York
November 21-24, 2001New York City
October 16-19, 2001Cape Cod, Massachusetts
September 29-October 3, 2001Las Vegas, Nevada (Interbike Show)
June 16-23, 2001Nags Head, North Carolina
October 5-14, 2000Evanston, Illinois
September 30-October 2, 2000Ithaca, New York
June 22-25, 2000Urbanna, Virginia
October 7-13, 1999Chicago/Evanston, Illinois
August 19-28, 1999Ithaca, New York
August 12-13, 1999Ithaca, New York
July 23-25, 1999Bridgeton, Maine
November 25-28, 1998Fort Lauderdale, Florida
1988-89France, England
1980Yucatan, Mexico
1975England, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Turkey

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