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September 1, 2003

eBook: A Damsel in Distress P. G. Wodehouse, 1919

No Jeeves in this, but it's still pure Wodehouse, a delightful farce.

Film: (DVD) Glengarry Glen Ross James Foley, 1992

David Mamet's gritty look at con-artist real estate salesmen, rather depressing but highly convincing. Jack Lemmon is terrific.

September 4, 2003

Went to a birthday party for a member of the Revels cast at the Cambridge Boat club, the same venue where Harriet and I were married in 1979. A grand time was had by all, with much music. I led the closing song, The Parting Glass, and made them only do the two good verses, not the sappy generic lovesong verse that was added after the fact.

September 5, 2003

Film: (DVD) Blown Away Stephen Hopkins, 1994

Not a great film, but fun to see the Boston locations. Jeff Bridges works for the Boston Police Bomb Squad, but has a secret past as he had been involved in the IRA. Tommy Lee Jones is an escaped psycho bomber, formerly associated with Bridges's character, and now out to get even for Bridges's desertion of The Cause.

This film plays the Boston card very prominently, with bombings in Copley Square, M.I.T. and under the Salt and Pepper Bridge. Bridges's wife is a violinist in the Boston Pops, and the climactic scene, of course, takes place on the 4th of July...

September 6, 2003

Rode the Hetchins out to the Minute Man Bikeway, then followed the old roadbed for several miles past the end of the pavement. First time I've taken the Hetchins off road. Quite a delightful ride, the old roadbed is hard and fairly smooth, like a tunnel through the trees, nearly deserted. Parts of it are "whoop-de-dos", wavelike features perhaps 8 feet in wavelength and a foot or so in amplitude, causing a sort of rocking-horse effect at speeds in the low teens.

Film: (DVD) Glory Edward Zwick, 1989

Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts, the first regiment of African-American volunteers in the Slavery War. A very fine film, well worth seeing again.

September 12, 2003

Film: (DVD) The House of Mirth Terence Davies, 2000

Not a bad filmic version of the book, though the decision to combine Gerty and (I forget the name) the aunt's companion and later heir into a single character was a bit confusing.

Film: (DVD) Miller's Crossing Ethan and Joel Coen

The Coen brothers take prohibition-era gangster films, lots of black sedans and tommy guns, with the inimitable Coen touch. Recommended for fellow Coen fans.

September 15, 2003

Film: (DVD) Restoration Michael Hoffman 1994

Set in the London of Samuel Pepys, this follows the career of a playboy physician, as he gains, then loses the favor of King Charles II. A lavish production, very bright and cheerful until The Plague hits...

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September 16, 2003

Went to the Midsummer Revels video party. Mike Kolowich did a great job with the video as usual, and it was good to see the folks again. George came along, he had missed the show 'cause he was out in Duluth when it went up.

September 17, 2003

Film: (DVD) Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Pedro Almodóvar 1988

A Spanish comedy of adultery and general craziness. Enjoyable all in all.

September 18, 2003

eBook: The Shiva Option David Weber & Steve White 2002

I've generally enjoyed David Weber's books, but this was an exception. It's all interstellar warfare all the time, mostly detailed descriptions of space battles in mind-numbing detail withs of incomprehensible acronyms to describe various weapons systems, and a perfectly evil arachnoid opponent race which in the end must be genocidally exterminated. Not recommended even for David Weber fans.

September 20, 2003

eBook Daisy Miller Henry James 1879

I hadn't read any Henry James before, always had the idea that it was boring and recondite. On the contrary, it was quite readable. I sort of bumped into this as a result of reading The House of Mirth, as James was noted as one of Wharton's close friends.

Actually, both of these books deal with very similar subject matter: a lively, vivacious, beautiful young woman who meets disaster as a result of violating the "virtual purdah" imposed on unmarried young women a century ago. Neither of them actually commits any "sin" or has more than a chaste kiss, but just being seen in public in the wrong place without a chaperone was enough to "ruin" a marriageable young woman in those Bad Old Days.

Film: (DVD) Frequency Gregory Hoblit 2000

I'm always a sucker for a time-travel story. In this one, there are two protagonists, father and son. The father is a firefighter, killed on duty in 1969, the son, aged 6 in 1969 is a police officer in 1999. A mysterious aurora enables them to communicate across the decades via a ham radio set. Much of the film is generic action/adventure genre, but the ending is somewhat surprising and happy. Not a great film, but not a bad one either.

September 21, 2003

Drove George to Newark Airport, saw him off for his Junior year in Bristol, U.K. Now the nest is definitively empty, we'll miss him a lot, but expect that it will be a great experience for him. He plans to do a lot of maths and Morris dancing, but also brought his trombone.

We stopped over in New York at the Hotel Empire, went out with old family friends for dessert, had a nice time catching up with them.

Talk about bad luck, my brother was scheduled to have his first one-man show in Maryland, but hurricane Isabel knocked out the power, causing it to be cancelled. Hope it can be rescheduled, maybe in November, maybe next year.

September 22, 2003

Harriet and I drove back from New York, stopped in Hartford to tour the Mark Twain house. This was very much worth the trip. Both of us are big Mark Twain fans, and the house was full of his spirit, though the cigar smoke has cleared out. We had a terrific docent, a true Twain scholar with a surprising Aussie or British accent (not sure which.)

On the way home, I got a ticket for failing to use my signal while changing lanes. I'm usually quite punctilious about this, but picked the wrong time to slip up.

September 24, 2003

Well, in some ways it's a good thing that the presidential election is over a year off. Until recently, I had been undecided between Howard Dean and John Kerry. Now, however I'm undecided between Clark, Dean and Kerry. I think my personal politics are more in line with Dean than with either of the others, but factoring in electability, Dean seems to lose points.

One of the things that makes me most unhappy with the Bush regime is the arrogant, unilateralist foreign policy that has been in effect since he was appointed. Clark's experience as head of NATO inspires some confidence in his ability to possibly undo the horrific damage Bush has done to the U.S.s place and reputation in the world.

September 26, 2003

Film: (DVD) The Man From Snowy River George Miller, 1982

An Australian "western" set in 1888, with Kirk Douglas playing estranged brothers. This is a fine example of the genre, with gorgeous mountain scenery (though the cinematography is uneven.) Lots of horsy stuff, including an amazing chase scene with a scary ride down a precipitate slope. Could never make this film now, too many dangerous stunts for the horses.

September 27, 2003

eBook: Noise Hal Clement, 2003

Hal Clement, a high school science teacher in real life, is among the "hardest" of hard science fiction writers. He's best known for "Mission of Gravity", a story of seagoing life on a very high-gravity planet. Noise is also nautical, set on a planet that is totally covered by ocean 3000 km deep, no land whatsoever. The ocean bottom is directly in contact with the magma of the planet's core, and the resulting interaction causes the ocean to be full of lethally loud noise. The inhabitants are descendents of Polynesians, living in floating cities and traveling in sail craft of traditional design. I didn't like this quite as well as Mission of Gravity, but did enjoy it all in all.

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October 1, 2003

eBook Wheels of Chance H. G. Wells, 1895

This novel features a draper's assistant on a cycling holiday who comes to the aid of a cycling damsel in distress. The story is a light thing, but this is an interesting peek at the brief period between the development of the pneumatic-tyred safety bicycle and the onset of the automotive age, a time when the bicycle was king of the road. A very interesting period piece for cycling fans, not recommended for general readers though.

October 4, 2003

Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra Bernard Haitink, Dubravka Tomsic

First BSO concert of the year, an all-Beethoven program: Consecration of the House overture; Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage cantata (BSO premiere!), the Choral Fantasy, and, after the intermission, the Fifth Symphony. Haitink is good at Beethoven, as is Tomsic, thought I thought the symphony could have had more energy.

This was our first concert in our new seats, which are in the front row of the second balcony, in the middle of the curve connecting the center section to the audience-left side. For watching the hands of a pianist, I think these are the absolute best seats in the hall!


October 5, 2003

Rode the Hetchins out to Berlin, 53 miles--it's probably been 15 years or more since I last broke 50. Busy roads, but a beautiful afternoon and nice scenery. Stiff west wind, plus the general upward trend made the ride out a bit tough, but made the return trip fast and not too hard. Averaged 13.15 mph, not bad for a 59 year old fat guy...

I guess it was a particularly fine day for classic cars. I passed some sort of expo where there were a bunch of very similar '70s American cars (don't know what) parked all with their hoods open. Also saw on the road a Morgan 3-wheeler and a 1950 VW beetle (tiny, split rear window)(license plate "1950 VW", that's how I know the year) both all shiny and evidently lovingly restored.


October 6, 2003

One of the oldest and most highly respected cycling organizations in the world is the 125 year old Cyclists Touring Club. I'm very, very proud that they have voted to issue a Certificate of Commendation to me for my Website and other Internet activities:


October 8, 2003

Well, the presidential campaign has gotten really nasty: John Kerry has accused John Dean of being...a closet Yankees fan! With the Red Sox/Yankees playoffs to start tonight, this is a terrible thing to accuse him of.

But it gets more bizarre! says:

With Boston preparing to face archival New York in the American League Championship Series, Kerry said Tuesday that if New York beats Boston in the best-of-seven series that begins Wednesday, he'll send New England clam chowder to Dean's campaign. He wants Manhattan chowder from Dean if Boston wins.
What on earth will Kerry do with the Manhattan "chowder" if Dean accepts the bet? Would he actually eat the noisome pink brew?!

October 10-13, 2003

Interbike, Las Vegas

See my separate pages on this.

October , 2003


I don't always write in this journal right away...I make notes in my PDA, which I later refer to...but I've suffered a crash, with tardy backups, so I've lost a couple of weeks of notes...

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October 25, 2003

Film: (DVD) Barton Fink The Coen Brothers

Weird and wonderful, as one has come to expect from the Coens.

Dura-Ace Wheels

While out in Las Vegas for the Interbike show, I won a pair of Dura-Ace wheels as a door prize. They arrived today, and I'm going to put them on my Hetchins. Blasphemy!

October 26, 2003

Book: Quicksilver Neal Stephenson, 2003

This one snuck up on me...I didn't even know it was in the offing until brought it to my door, a gift from my sister!

This is sort of a prequel to Cryptonomicon, part of a projected trilogy of such prequels. The main characters are ancestors of characters in Cryptonomicon.

Quicksilver is mostly set in the later part of the 17th century, roughly 1660-1690, except there are chapters set in 1715 Boston. The main story ranges from England, across Europe to Vienna, with stops in Paris and Germany.

This was a very eventful time, lots of very interesting stuff going on that the history books make to appear less interesting than they were. The struggles between Catholicism and Protestantism, Roundheads and Cavaliers, is still going on quite seriously, though the Thirty Years War and the Cromwellian Revolution have both ended shortly before the period of the action. In addition, the Ottoman Turks are at their apogee, with the siege of Vienna.

Outside the political realm (but overlapping with it) there's a total revolution in science, with real, experimental science on the verge of giving the quietus to alchemy. Newton and Leibnitz both feature prominently in the book, each claiming to have invented the calculus first.

Stephenson brings this whole historical stew to bubbling life, and the only thing I didn't like about the book is that it ended after a paltry 900 pages...very highly recommended.

October 28, 2003

Down to 220 pounds. It's been just about a year that I've been on the Atkins diet, down from 270.

October 30, 2003

iPod [That's really all he wrote here. -- HF]

October 31, 2003

eBook: The Gilded Age Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, 1873

One of Twain's earlier novels, not one of his best...but still pretty good. It's a bit ironic that this novel deals with feckless, luckless speculators who keep losing their shirts, keep trying again, and keep failing. It seems like a cautionary tale against speculation...too bad Twain didn't take his own advice!

Flew down to Maryland for my brother's art exhibit. I had reserved a "two door mid-sized" car with Alamo--when I got to the counter, they asked if I wanted to upgrade to an SUV for a mere $5/day extra. I said no thanks. When I got out to the garage, however, there was a Chevy Blazer waiting for me at no extra charge, since they were out of the midsize sedans!

I've never driven an SUV before, can't say as it knocked my socks off...I prefer our Chrysler minivan. I found the Blazer a bit clunky, and was not happy with the visibility.

I drove to Glen Echo and met my brother there. I helped him hang the show, then went to dinner with him and his wife. It was nice to see them again, and the show looks great.

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The overall Booklist has been moved to a separate page.

Books reviewed on this page:
NoiseHal Clement9/27/03
Daisy MillerHenry James9/20/03
QuicksilverNeal Stephenson10/26/03
The Gilded AgeMark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner10/31/03
Wheels of ChanceH. G. Wells10/1/03
The Shiva OptionDavid Weber & Steve White9/18/03
A Damsel in DistressP. G. Wodehouse9/1/03


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


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

Music reviewed on this page:
October 4, 2003 B.S.O., Bernard Haitink, Dubravka TomsicBeethoven


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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Sheldon Brown's Personal Pages

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Since November 8, 1998

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