Film: (DVD) Cats and DogsI figured anything with Jeff Goldblum couldn't be too bad. I was wrong. How could he associate himself with such a clinker? His role and characterization are basically the same as Rick Moranis in Honey I Shrunk the Kids.
Film: (DVD) Race for Freedom: The Story of the Underground Railroad
Film: (DVD) The Scent of a Woman 1992
Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra Colgrass, SchubertGuest conductor Hans Graf led the premier of Michael Colgrass's Crossworlds concerto for flute and piano and the Schubert "Great" C Major Symphony.
The Colgrass has a dialectic between the flute (Marina Piccinini) and piano (Andreas Häfliger) something like the dialectic between the side drum and the orchestra in Nielsen's 5th, though the end is more of a synthesis than a victory as in the Nielsen.
The Schubert is one of my very favorite pieces, and I don't recall to have ever heard it live before. Graf's performance was good, but not great. Some of the balances were a bit off--the trombones rather overpowered the strings, and the coda didn't have quite the power it could have.
Book: The Eyes of the Calculor Sean McMullen 2001This is the conclusion of the Greatwinter series begun with Souls in the Great Machine and continued with The Miocene Arrow. I enjoyed this trilogy thoroughly.
Film: (DVD) The Longest DayAn all star cast, but not a great film. This story of the D-Day landing rather pales in the shadow of Saving Private Ryan
Film: (DVD) What Women WantMel Gibson reveals a talent for comedy in this film, as a MCP ad man who suddenly acquires the ability to read women's minds.
Film: (DVD) Left BehindPickings were slim on the DVD shelves at the library when I spotted this. I had read the book last month, and was mildly curious to see how it would translate onto film. Rather a clinker, mainly of camp interest.
eBook Worldwar: In the Balance Harry TurtledoveThis is the first volume of Turtledove's WorldWar series. I've read them all before, but it was fun to re-read this in the light of hindsight, knowing the destinies of the various characters.
The premise is that invaders from another planet arrive at Earth with an invasion fleet of starships in 1942. They are a very mature society, slow to change. They had sent robotic probes to examine Earth in advance, and the most recent of the probes sent back an image of a typical earthling warrior--a knight on horseback, with chainmail and a sword. They figure Earth will be easy pickings, since they've got machine guns, jet aircraft, helicopters, guided missiles and even nuclear explosives. They find an unpleasant surprise when they land and find a planet armed to the teeth with weapons inferior to theirs--but not all that inferior.
This series follows a great many characters all around the world, some of them fictional, others real. The aliens are also interesting characters; reptilian, but not monsters. Highly recommended.
eBook: The Time Machine H. G. WellsWith the new film version just opened, I thought it might be nice to re-read this classic. This might be the first novel to imagine a time machine (and Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court might be the first time-travel story ever...this is not an old genre.)
This is a cautionary tale, based on Wells's Socialist politics. Wells's Time Traveller visits the far future, and finds that the division between upper and lower classes has caused humanity to bifurcate into two distinct and hostile species. The Eloi, gentle, idle, elfin creatures who spend their days dancing, picking flowers and eating fruit in the parklike ruins of their ancestors, and the Morlocks, pale subterranean toilers who tend the machinery...and come up to the surface at night to feed on the Eloi.
Did a bunch of work on sheldonbrown.com/org, particularly getting the photography stuff organized. There were a lot of bad links, some to defunct xoom.com and geocities.com pages. Here's the revised photography grid:
|Sheldon Brown's Photography|
Film: (DVD) Troilus and Cressida
Film: (DVD) American Flyers
Opera: (DVD) Khovanshchina MussorgskyI've lately been listening to a lot of Russian opera, and was excited to find this DVD at the library. I was not familiar with Khovanshchina, which was left unfinished at Mussorgsky's death. This Wiener Staatsoper version uses a score orchestrated by Shostakovich, with the final scene by Stravinsky.
Set in 1682, it deals with the resistance of the Old Believers, the Boyars and the Streltsy militia to the reforms of Peter the Great. It ends with pretty much the entire cast being burned as heretics. I found the politics a bit confusing, with multiple factions struggling against one another. It probably would have been easier if I'd read the synopsis first.
Despite the gloomy subject matter, the music is gorgeous. The singing was excellent, and the acting was pretty good. The rather mechanistic, abstract set was very dark and sinister. All in all, a fine DVD for those of us who like this sort of thing.
With the demise of Mediaone, the cable company that provides our home cable modem connection, I lost the Web space that had been hosting my genealogical files. Now they're back on line, at sheldonbrown.com/org/genealogy. There's a forwarding link at sheldonbrown.com/genealogy
eBook: My Mark Twain William Dean Howells, 1910Howells was Twain's editor at the Atlantic Monthly, and the two were lifelong friends. Howells wrote this biographical memoir shortly after Twain's death. He is fulsome in his praise for Twain, as a writer, a friend and as a humanitarian.
Film: (DVD) Now, Voyager 1942This film makes me think of my mother. I've seen it once before, several years after her death, and was startled to see how many similarities there are between her and Bette Davis's character. I'm certain my mother must have seen this film, quit likely read the Olive Higgins Prouty novel on which it was based, as well. Like the film's protagonist, my mother was a Bostonian, with a strong, domineering mother. The house they live in on Marlborough Street is decorated much as my grandmother would have decorated, had she not lost her fortune in the Crash. (My grandmother reputedly owned some 200 pieces of Boston real estate in November 1929. In December, she owned a Packard touring car full of antiques, and set out for Hollywood to try to make it in films. Family lore is that she was an extra in a couple of Mack Sennett comedies, but nobody knows for sure.
) My mother would have been about 26 or 27 at the time the film was released, a borderline spinster, like Charlotte. She too, met and fell in love with a man with children, namely my father. Fortunately, unlike "Jerry" in the film, my father was a widower, and available.
This Warners film features two actors made immortal in Casablanca: Claude Rains (Col Renaud) as a psychiatrist, and Paul Henreid (Victor Laszlo) as the unattainable beloved.
First rehearsal for the Spring Revels. This year it's focussing on the Padstow 'Obby 'Oss ritual and a theory that it might be derived from African roots...picked up by Cornish seafarers in, perhaps the 16th century.
Film: (DVD) Buckaroo BanzaiA charming send up of '50s science fiction flicks. The eponymous hero is your typical nuclear physicist/rock star/brain surgeon. Jeff Goldblum plays his sidekick, and John Lighgow (the High Commander from the late, lamented Third Rock from the Sun) is the villain.
One of my fans sent me a really nice CD, an obscure release from the CBC, Bach's Goldberg Variations transcribed for string trio, played by a trio called "Triskelion." Very tasty!
I'm bummed that the corporate bean counters at ABC have cancelled my favorite TV show, Once and Again. I'll miss those folks.
My back has been bothering me for almost two weeks now, been a while since I was on a bike.
We've had a cel phone for a year or two, but never remembered to bring it with us when we went anywhere. Now we've got a second one, so that there's one for Harriet and one for me. I plan to start carrying it around, see how useful it is.
Oh, I wish I didn't live so close to Israel! What a mess. The Israeli army is closing in on Arafat, but I can't believe that Arafat has any control at all over the suicidal nut cases that are blowing themselves up in Israel.
Film: The Time Machine 2002Went with Harriet and George to see this on the big screen at the Capitol in Arlington. Nice theatre.
The luke-warm reviews were right. There are some nice special effects, and the recreation of 1899 New York (!) was a treat. The Time Machine itself was nicely executed, with huge rotating fresnel lenses.
The stop in 2300 was nicely done, but the film went down the tubes when it moved on to the distant future of the Eloi and the Morlocks.
The film totally missed the political point of the book. The Eloi were Polynesian-style neo-primitives living in cute basketry dwellings on the faces of a river gorge. The Morlocks were generic horror film monsters, and the whole point of the division being the result of the English class system carried to an extreme was lost.
Well it's that time of year again:
eBook: WorldWar: Tilting the Balance Harry TurtledoveVolume 2 of the series, see WorldWar: In the Balance. Possibly more fun the second time around, as the characters are better known to me.
Rode my bike to work for the first time in about 3 weeks...threw my back out, so I was taking the 4 wheeler--but now things are back to normal.
When I got home, I found we were incommunicado. Cable modem, telephone and cable TV all dead...I guess that's what we get for putting all of our eggs in one basket with the digital phone service. Fortunately, we've now got two cel phones, so was able to call it in. Took a few hours before service came back, tho'.
Film: (DVD) A Map of the WorldI figured, Sigourney Weaver, how bad could it be? This is a major tear-jerker, no fun at all. Weaver was excellent as a school nurse falsely accused of child molestation, and the cinematography was quite good, but the whole thing was such a downer...
Film: Rules of Engagement
Film: (DVD) My Man Godfrey
Play: Guys and Dolls
eBookWorldWar: Upsetting the Balance Harry Turtledove
Operetta: The Gondoliers M.I.T.G.A.S.P
Film: (DVD) Body Heat
The Boston Globe Business Section had a nice article about me today.
No longer available.
I've wanted to learn how to do a custom "404" page for a long time, but never found any info on creating one...until today! One of my fans sent me a URL of a site that explains just how to do it, and it turns out to be easier than I would have expected. See: //sheldonbrown.com/@#$%#
Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra Mahler, Symphony #9Seiji Ozawa led his last rehearsal as B.S.O. music director, an open rehearsal. The actual season-ending concert was sold out, but we were able to get tickets to this morning event.
It was strange to see the orchestra in civvies, and to hear the music broken up between movements, by applause, notes, and an intermission betwixt the Scherzo and the Rondo. I'v never heard the Scherzo played so fast. The Rondo:Burlesk was blistering in its intensity. I'll look forward to the broadcast.
TV: Once and AgainThe final episode was broadcast on Monday the 15th, but I didn't watch it 'til this evening. So sad to see this wonderful show end, I'll miss all of the characters...
The departure of Once and Again breaks the tie, and leaves The West Wing as my current favorite TV series.
Film: (DVD) Out of the Present
Zipped out to Natick for 1 1/2 hours of N.E.F.F.A., George dancing with Red Herring Morris. Had to rush away to get George to an orchestra rehearsal.
Concert: Brandeis University Jazz EnsembleHarriet had committee work at N.U., so I videotaped this for her. George was super, several very major solos. Very nice concert.
Concert: Brandeis/Wellesley Symphony Orchestras, Brandeis ChorusHoughton Chapel, Wellesley College. George played Trombone in the Brahms First , but there was no 'bone in the rest of the concert: the Vaughan-Williams Serenade to Music and Beethoven's Choral Fantasy. The orchestra sounded great, especially the strings which were of professional caliber.
Much as I like Brahms, his symphonies don't do too much for me...a bit too ponderous for my taste. this was, nevertheless, a good performance. The Vaughan-Williams was the high point of the concert. I've only heard this on recordings in the past, it was nice to hear it in the flesh.
Film: (DVD) BraveheartI'd seen this
eBook Worldwar: Striking the Balance Harry TurtledoveThis finishes the original tetralogy. It's the first Turtledove I've read a second time, and it holds up well.
Film: (DVD) Carmen JonesDorothy Dandridge, Pearl Bailey and Harry Belafonte in a re-setting of Bizet's Carmen set in WWII in the American South and Chicago, with an all Black cast. Mainly of camp interest, many could find Oscar Hammerstein's stereotyped treatment offensive.
It appears that Belafonte isn't even singing...his two main arias are sung by a very operatic voice that doesn't sound much like him.
Revels Saturday all-day rehearsal. I've got a featured bit as the blacksmith in "Twankydillo."
I sometimes like to think that if I had lived in an earlier age, blacksmithing would have been my trade. I've always enjoyed working with metal, and generally have a feel for it. In, say, medieval society, a blacksmith was an unusually valuable member of the community, with skills and strength that put him near the top of the pecking order of common folk. Nobody was likely to pick a fight with a blacksmith, and he would certainly be too valuable plying his trade to be sent off to war...
Film: (DVD) Open City 1946Grim, gritty film about resistance to the Nazis in WWII Rome. This film could really use some better subtitles. An awful lot gets said that isn't translated.
I do enjoy the black and white certitude of war films made during or just after the war...no troubling ambiguities, you know the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad to the bone.
|November-December, 1998||April-May, 1975|
|Books reviewed on this page:|
|The Eyes of the Calculor||Sean McMullen||3/9/02|
|My Mark Twain||William Dean Howells||3/23/02|
|WorldWar: In the Balance||Harry Turtledove||3/16/02|
|WorldWar: Tilting the Balance||Harry Turtledove||4/1/02|
|WorldWar: Upsetting the Balance||Harry Turtledove||4/13/02|
|The Time Machine||H. G. Wells||3/17/02|
|Films reviewed on this page:|
|Cats and Dogs||March 3, 2002|
|Race for Freedom: The Story of the Underground Railroad||March 3, 2002|
|The Scent of a Woman||March 6, 2002|
|Music reviewed on this page:|
|April 18, 2002||B.S.O., Seiji Ozawa||Mahler, Sym. # 9|
|April 13, 2002||M.I.T.G.a.S.P.||Gilbert &Sullivan, The Gondoliers|
|March 7, 2002||B.S.O., Hans Graf, M. Piccinini, A.Häfliger||Colgrass, Schubert|
|November 29, 2002||Lorraine Bracco||The Graduate|
|November 23, 2001||Helen Mirren, Ian McKelln||The Dance of Death-August Strindberg|
|September 30, 2000||Tova/Black Box Theatre, Cornell University||The Maids-Jean Genet|
|May 30, 2000||Kelsey Grammer/Colonial Theatre||Macbeth|
|May 26, 2000||The Huntington Theatre Co.||King Hedley II|
|September 3, 1999||The Publick Theatre||Nine|
|August 21, 1999||Orange Tree Theatre, Ithaca, N.Y.||Sonata|
|August 13, 1999||Firehouse Theatre, Ithaca, N.Y.||Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All For You|
|May 22-29||Newton South/North High Schools||Richard III|
|December 18, 1998||Newton North High School||The Bone Violin, May F lies|
|November 12, 1998||Newton North High School||To Kill a Mockingbird|
|November 21-24, 2007||Plantation, Florida|
|September 25-28, 2007||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|August 18-25, 2007||Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts|
|November 22-26, 2006||Plantation, Florida|
|September 25-28, 2006||Las Vegas (Interbike)|
|June 10-20, 2006||Santa Cruz, California|
|May 5-7, 2006||Aurora, Indiana|
|November 23, 2005||Plantation, Florida|
|September 26-29, 2005||Interbike, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|August 26-28, 2005||'Bentride 2005, Bath, N.Y.|
|July 21-24, 2005||Family Reunion, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.|
|April 29, 2005||Cirque de Cyclisme, Greensboro, N.C.|
|February 16, 2005||Indianapolis|
|November 24, 2004||Plantation, Florida|
|October 8, 2004||Santa Cruz, California|
|October 4, 2004||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|June 8, 2004||France, England|
|December 22, 2003||Halifax, Nova Scotia|
|November 27, 2003||Florida|
|October 31, 2003||Potomac, Maryland|
|October 10, 2003||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|September 21, 2003||New York, N.Y.|
|November 27-30, 2002||New York, N.Y.|
|October 8-13, 2002||Evanston, Illinois|
|October 4-8, 2002||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|July 3-9, 2002||Canso, Nova Scotia|
|May 24-27, 2002||Long Island, New York|
|November 21-24, 2001||New York City|
|October 16-19, 2001||Cape Cod, Massachusetts|
|September 29-October 3, 2001||Las Vegas, Nevada (Interbike Show)|
|June 16-23, 2001||Nags Head, North Carolina|
|October 5-14, 2000||Evanston, Illinois|
|September 30-October 2, 2000||Ithaca, New York|
|June 22-25, 2000||Urbanna, Virginia|
|October 7-13, 1999||Chicago/Evanston, Illinois|
|August 19-28, 1999||Ithaca, New York|
|August 12-13, 1999||Ithaca, New York|
|July 23-25, 1999||Bridgeton, Maine|
|November 25-28, 1998||Fort Lauderdale, Florida|