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November 2, 2002

I've already lost about 5 pounds in my new diet, managed to get through Halloween without falling off the wagon.

Yesterday I loaded Microsoft Office X into my iBook, a couple of days after putting up OS X 10.2 ("Jaguar"). Today I tried using it at the shop. It was mostly workable, but too slow. Also, for some reason I couldn't send email over the shop Airport in OS X. Last night I downloaded a couple of very nice OS X add-ons, "Fruit Menu" and ASM. Fruit Menu restores the functionality of the "Classic" Apple Menu, a feature that I have come to greatly rely on, while ASM provides the application switcher menu.

Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra Copland, Ravel, Shostakovich

Andre Previn led the BSO in Copland's Appalachian spring, a favorite of mine. (This was the first piece in which I can ever recall being consciously aware of counterpoint, in the fugal section based on Simple Gifts.) Jean-Yves Thibaudet played the Ravel Concerto for the Left Hand, and the concert concluded with Shostakovich's 6th Symphony. A fine concert indeed. I've always liked the Ravel, and I'm currently going through a bit of a Shostakovich kick.

November 6, 2002

Film: (DVD) Gorky Park

A rather grisly murder mystery set in the old Soviet Union.

November 7, 2002

Film: (DVD) The Importance of Being Earnest Anthony Asquith, 1952

Considerably better than the recent remake. This one features Dame Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell, and the inimitable Margaret Rutherford as Miss Prism. Amazing costumes, particularly on Lady Bracknell.

November 9, 2002

eBook: Honor Among Enemies David Weber, 1997

Number 6 in the Honor Harrington series finds our heroine back from Grayson, recalled to the Manticoran navy. Though she was an Admiral in the Grayson service, her Manticoran rank remains Captain. She is still in the doghouse politically, and is assigned to lead a squadron of Q-ships, armed freighters, to repress piracy in a neighboring star nation, where Manticoran merchantmen have been under attack.

November 10, 2002

Film: (DVD) Designing Woman

Lauren Bacall and Gregory Peck in a comedy rather marred by antique attitudes toward sex roles.

November 15, 2002

Film: (DVD) Clerks

An oddball, low-budget dark comedy centering around a pair of friends who work in a New Jersey strip mall. Recommended.

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November 16, 2002

Film: (DVD) Caddyshack

Lowbrow comedy of the Animal House sort. Had its moments, but not a great piece of work.

November 17, 2002

eBook: In Enemy Hands David Weber, 1998

Number 7 in the Honor Harrington series finds our heroine back in Grayson service. Sacrificing her own ship to save a convoy including 100,000 Manticoran military personell from death in a Peep ambush, she and what's left of her crew are captured, and fall into the hands of the sinister Cordelia Ransome, Goebbels-like member of the ruling Peep triumvirate. She is sentenced to death by hanging on a trumped up charge...

Car Trouble--AAA Drops The Ball

We'll be heading down to New York in a few days for Thanksgiving, so I brought the minivan in to Dan's Auto Service for service. They did a bunch of stuff, including replacing the serpentine belt that runs everything.

Today, George has his first performance of the year, with the Brandeis Jazz Ensemble. We've been looking forward to this with keen anticipation. Unfortunately, about 3/4 mile from the campus, there is a flapping sound from under the hood, and the power steering stops working. I dropped Harriet off to walk the rest of the way, and tried to limp home. Unfortunately, the belt also runs the fan, and I'm not able to get all the way home without overheating. I walked home, called AAA for a tow. They said a truck would be there within 45 minutes. I explained that I had left the key in the van, so they could just tow it to Dan's. The AAA person said, no I had to go back to the disabled van and wait for the driver, probably missing most of my son's performance as a result.

I drove over and sat in the Pontiac as "45 minutes" stretched into 2 1/2 hours! Serious bummer, and I'm about at the end of my rope with AAA.

November 19, 2002

Audition: Patience - The Sudbury Savoyards

This is my first time with this group. I sang a verse of "I Stole The Prince" from The Gondoliers, and read a bit for the roles of the Colonel and the Major.

Didn't get a lead, not surprising as a newby with the group, but I'll be in the chorus for the show, which goes up in February.

I'm a bit disenchanted with the M.I.T. group I've been with since 1994, due to their student preference policy which seems to doom me to be a perpetual chorister. I figure the Sudbury group will give me a fair chance, once I've paid my dues there.

November 20, 2002

Film: (DVD) Message In a Bottle

A romantic film about a widower and a divorcée. He's a boat-builder on the outer banks, she's a reporter for the Chicago Trib.

The cinematography of this film is unusually beautiful, one gorgeous image after another.

November 23, 2002

Operetta: The Pirates of Penzance M.I.T. Gilbert & Sullivan Players

I've seen/heard this a zillion times, but it's still hilarious. A pretty good production, though I think not as good as the one George and I were in back in 1998.

We had to leave just before the end of the show to pick Tova up at the airport. It's so nice to have her back home!

She and George were up very late, with much loud hilarity betwixt them.

November 24, 2002

Gilbert & Sullivan

Tonight was the first rehearsal for the Sudbury Savoyards' production of Patience. The cast is excellent, and the group seems unusually well organized. They even provided rehearsal cds for the individual parts to make it easier to learn the music! This is gonna be a good one!

November 27, 2002

Off to New York for Thanksgiving

We left about 1:30 shortly after the snow stopped, arrived at the Hotel Empire around 6:30 after hitting some traffic in western Connecticut (used the MassPike/86/84/284 route, but made the mistake of picking up 9A along the Hudson too soon, very slow through Ardsley and Yonkers.

The whole nuclear family is together for this trip, along with Ethan, Tova's significant other. I drove the whole way. I'm feeling great lately, after losing 20 pounds in the last month, and getting better sleep thanks to the blower machine.

November 28, 2002


The Hotel Empire is only a couple of blocks from Columbus Circle, so we went down to watch the parade.:
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Had a smaller-than usual family Thanksgiving at the home of some old friends of Harriet's family on the upper West Side. Harriet's mother and elder sister couldn't make it this year, nor could some of her nephews. I had planned to stick to my diet except for a slice of pumpkin pie, but there was no pumpkin pie, so I just had some turkey. We walked from the hotel on 63rd street up to 81st and Riverside, also walked back, rather longer than I'm used to walking but I'm feeling so much better that it wasn't bad at all.

Film: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

We saw this newly-released film in a very nice Loews theatre on upper Broadway. I enjoyed it, no opinion on whether it was better or worse than the first one. I haven't read this book, though I had read the first one (in the dumbed-down U.S. version.)

November 29, 2002


Play: The Graduate

Lorraine Bracco (Dr. Melfi on The Sopranos) starred in this stage adaptation, and was quite excellent in the role (her Broadway debut!) The whole concept worked very well on stage, and the cast was fine. The set was marvelous, consisting of 36 louvered doors, (11 of them filling the role of proscenium curtain.) Various of the doors transmogrified into other scenic elements as needed.

This was a very enjoyable show, lots of laughs. Though it was billed as featuring music of Simon & Garfunkel, they were represented only in occasional instrumental riffs, and when there was recognizable (canned) music, it was mostly the Beach Boys. Even the signature song Mrs. Robinson was only played as the audience was leaving the theatre, never during the play proper.

We walked down to Times Square and back for the show, about 18 blocks each way. I was a bit footsore at the end, but it wasn't too bad.

Concert: New York Philharmonic

Christoph von Dohnanyi conducted, with Pierre Laurent-Aimard, piano. The program began with the Janacek Cappriccio and Richard Strauss's Burleske. After the intermission was the Brahms second symphony. I've probably heard the Brahms at least 50 times, but I don't ever recall enjoying it this much!

This was my first time in Avery Fisher Hall, and also my first time hearing the NYPO live. I was very well impressed with both. We had last minute seats in the middle of the very back row, under a balcony not so deep as the first balcony at Symphony Hall. The sound was surprisingly good, considering how far away we were. The orchestra was as good as any I've heard.


Cosmic Coffee Shop

The Hotel Empire is right near Lincoln Center, 63rd and Broadway. We've tried all of the nearby inexpensive eating places and found them all to be horrible in one way or another. I guess that's not too surprising for high-rent NYC real-estate.

Today, however we found an exception 5 blocks unpretentious place away, Broadway and 58th the Cosmic Coffee Shop is a diner-like, informal restaurant, the kind of place where you don't feel you need to take your hat off...but the food is excellent, and the staff very friendly. Very highly recommended! Well worth the 5 block walk to us, even though there's a deli in the same building as the hotel.

November 30, 2002

eBook: Echoes of Honor David Weber 1998

Number 8 in Honor Harrington series. This book begins with the broadcast of the execution by hanging of our heroine, but it's a CGI fake. Honor was captured by the Peeps in In Enemy Hands, but at the end she managed to escape with the remnants of her crew, and land on a deserted part of the prison planet Hell. Most of the book doesn't directly her, but deals with the general conduct of the war and the reaction to her "execution." A major plot thread, however, takes place on Hell, where she is plotting to take over the prison planet and rescue the 400,000 POWs held there.

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December 1, 2002

Film: (DVD) Chocolat

This is a lovely film, set in an out-of the way French village, which is under the thumb of an extremely conservative and ostentatiously religious local nobleman. An unwed mother and her daughter turn up one dark and stormy night, rent a storefront and set up shop making and selling exotic chocolates...just at the beginning of Lent! The count is scandalized, and basically declares war on them, but the chocolatieres triumph in the end. The basic struggle is between emotion and control, represented by the protagonists and the count.

This film is actually rather reminiscent of Babette's Feast. Highly recommended, especially for Francophiles and chocolate lovers.

December 3, 2002

Film: (DVD) The Electric Horseman

Robert Redford as a drunken, washed-up rodeo star, Jane Fonda as a reporter. Don't know how I missed this one, I'm a big fan of both of them.

Redford has become the figurehead for a giant agribusiness conglomerate, with his picture on every box of their flagship breakfast cereal. They trot him out to ride around and wave at fans wearing a set of Christmas lights for half-time shows, mall openings and the like. He hates it but the money is good.

He comes into contact with a similarly retired race horse, who is being drugged to keep him docile while he stands around a Las Vegas parking lot. Our hero decides to rescue the multi-million dollar horse and set him free to run wild with the mustangs.

Jane Fonda follows him initially as a reporter, ultimately as a collaborator. This is a fun, feel-good movie.

December 4, 2002

Film: (DVD) Rififi 1954, Jules Dassin

The ultimate French film noir "caper" flick. Not a single likable character to be seen, each of the gangsters is scarier than the next. A fine piece of work.

December 6, 2002

New Computer!

I'm so psyched! Just received my new Titanium Powerbook, 1 gHz speed, a gigabyte of memory, 60 gb hard disc, CD/DVD writer!

December 7, 2002

The Diet is going great, I'm down from 270 to 245 in only 5 weeks!

Music-Christmas songs in Hardwick

Drove out to sing Christmas songs with Nym Cooke at the funky old Hardwick Town House, an annual tradition that we always look forward to. Tova's still out west, so it was just the three of us.

The crowd was somewhat sparser than in previous years, hope this isn't a sign of decline.

I did my usual solo in Good King Wenceslas, but this year I rather blew it, losing my key and my place.

Hardwick Town House
Hardwick Town House
Hardwick Town House
Nym Cooke
Hardwick Town House
Symphony Hall

Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra Bartok, R. Strauss

This was a good one! Began with the Bartok 3rd Piano Concerto, one of my favorite Bartok pieces. Piotr Anderszewski played it very nicely indeed, Marek Janowski conducting. I know this piece mainly from my 78 rpm set played by Geza Anda, which sets the bar rather high, but Anderzewski's performance was quite satisfying.

During the intermission, the guy who sits behind me asked "Are you Sheldon Brown?" He and his wife turn out to be fans of my site. He wanted to know why I had not written up the previous concert in our series. Hi, Seth and Rebecca! It was an oversight, but I've added the entry!

The concert concluded with Strauss's Eine Alpensinfonie, a wonderfully bombastic, sensual favorite piece of kitsch. I'd never heard either of these pieces live before. One of the musical highlights of my year.

December 11, 2002

Film: (DVD) The Young Lions

I saw this as a teenager in first run, and liked it a lot...indeed, so much that I bought the book. I only got 2/3 of the way through the book when a sadistic Xaverian brother confiscated it from me in my horrible freshman year at St. John's Prep in Danvers. I was absolutely stunned and somewhat traumatized by this gross injustice--I'd never been subject to censorship before!

Anyway, I liked this WW2 film the second time around. This was one of the first WW 2 films that was not a propoganda piece, and Marlon Brando plays a German officer who is basically decent, caught up in an evil system. Also features excellent performances from Montgomery Clift and, believe it or not, Dean Martin!.

This is the first film I've watched on my new Powerbook, but surely won't be the last.

December 14, 2002

Felt Tip Sound Studio

I got this really nice audio recording and editing software. Now that I have the Powerbook, I have the ability to make nice CDs. I've been doing some audience recordings I did up at Canso, and also a bunch of B.S.O. concerts that I've recorded on VHS-HiFi over the past few years. This software is a delight to use, highly recommended. I've even got it set up so that it can record radio broadcasts directly automatically.

December 15, 2002

eBook Ashes of Victory David Weber

Another Honor Harrington, #9. After being presumed dead, Honor has returned to the Star Kingdom along with half-a-million liberated POWs, and the Peeps finally get their comeuppance.

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December 16, 2002

Film: (DVD) The Bank Dick

Low comedy with W.C. Fields.

December 17, 2002

Film: (DVD) The Ladykillers

A classic British Shepperton comedy, starring Alec Guinnes, and also featuring the screen debut of Peter Sellers. A great example of the genre.

December 19, 2002

Film: The Two Towers 2002

The second of the Lord of the Rings trilogy only opened yesterday, but we couldn't wait. It's on a level with the first, though I could have used less fighting. The animated character Gollum features very prominently in this one, and the animation technology makes Yoda look like Fred Flintstone by comparison. The scenery, real and computer-generated, is gorgeous, but it seemed to me that the color balance was a bit skewed toward cyan for most of the film.

Viewing tip: it appears that a character's goodness is inversely proportional to his need for orthodontia.

December 20, 2002

S.T.A.R. party

Went to the annual Christmas party at S.T.A.R., where Harriet works part of the time. Had a good time, pleasant conversation at the table with people I had not previously met, also good roast beef.

Film: (DVD) Antonia's Line

A Dutch film tracing 4 generations of in a small farming village. Bears a certain similarity to Chocolat. This was a good one.

December 23, 2002

The Christmas Revels

This year's production was based on Armenian and Georgian themes, featured an Armenian ensemble, also a "funambulist" juggler and slack-rope walker. A very fine show, but with less of the traditional English carols than usual, and more foreign-language material than usual.

December 24, 2002

Film: (DVD) The Big Country 1958

A classic Western, starring Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Burl Ives. Thoroughly predictable, but a fine example of the genre.

December 25, 2002

Film: (DVD) Once and Again

I loved this TV series when it was on, and now that it's out on DVD I'll be going through it a second time thanks to Netflix.

Due to flight availability issues, Tova won't be arriving 'til tomorrow, so we're postponing our family Christmas by a day.

I spent most of the day working on the Harris Website, getting a start at adding cassettes to the shopping cart system.

We did go over to friends for Christmas dessert, a fairly longstanding tradition. I was reasonably faithful to my diet, had a small portion of plum pudding (Yum!!!) 3 sugar cookies, 2 small glasses of Sabra liqueur and a beer.

When we came home, George played a bunch of Christmas songs from Nym's book on his baritone horn. He's gotten good enough to be able to play quite well by sight/ear even material he hasn't played before.

December 26, 2002

A late Christmas

Due to the snow scare, Tova's flight was rescheduled. She finally arrived about 6 pm, so once again the whole family is together for a while. It's so nice to have her here! We had a nice evening opening gifts and watching the Simpsons on DVD with director's commentary.

December 27, 2002

Rode my Bianchi B.a.S.S. in to work, kinda dodgy on the slick tires with the current state of the roads. I installed a studded tire on the front wheel for the return trip, it seems to work just fine, and not as slow as I had expected it to be.

First Human Clone?

That's the story we're hearing, though there's some doubt being expressed as to the truth of the story. The tests should be back in a few days. A number of politicians have whipped themselves into some sort of demagogic fury over this, and I'm fearful that they may stampede into some stupid legislation to deal with the "problem" of cloning.

Personally, I think it's great, and wish them all success. As far as I can tell, the only real objections to cloning are religion-based, and we are supposed to be a country with a secular government.

December 31, 2002

Nothing special for New Years Eve, we stayed home and watched:

Film: (DVD) Say Anything

Everything John Cusack does is good.

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November-December, 1998 April-May, 1975


The overall Booklist has been moved to a separate page.

Books reviewed on this page:
Honor Among EnemiesDavid Weber11/9/02
In Enemy HandsDavid Weber11/17/02
Echoes of HonorDavid Weber11/29/02
Ashes of VictoryDavid Weber12/15/02


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

Films reviewed on this page:
Antonia's LineDecember 20, 2002
The Bank DickDecember 16, 2002
The Big CountryDecember 24, 2002
ChocolatDecember 1, 2002
The Electric HorsemanDecember 3, 2002
Gorky ParkNovember 7, 2002
The Importance of Being EarnestNovember 6, 2002
The LadykillersDecember 17, 2002
Once and AgainDecember 25, 2002
RififiDecember 4, 2002
Say AnythingDecember 31, 2002
The Two TowersDecember 19, 2002
The Young LionsDecember 11, 2002


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

Music reviewed on this page:
December 7, 2002 B.S.O., Marek JanowskiBartok, Strauss
November 29, 2002 New York Philharmonic, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Pierre Laurent-AimardJanacek: Cappriccio; R.Strauss: Burleske; Brahms: Sym. #2
November 2, 2002 B.S.O., Marek JanowskiBartok, Strauss


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


November 21-24, 2007Plantation, Florida
September 25-28, 2007Las Vegas, Nevada
August 18-25, 2007Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
November 22-26, 2006Plantation, Florida
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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