Film: (DVD) AmélieI've seen this before, but it was definitely worth watching again, an absolutely charming film.
eBook Dune: House Harkonnen Brian Herbert & Kevin J. AndersonThe second of the trilogy of Dune prequels that began with Dune: House Atreides. A must for Dune fans.
Audio Book How Few Remain Harry Turtledove 1998I had previously read this book, and the rest of the series it begins. Harriet, Tova and I listened to the audio adaptation while driving to Nova Scotia, though we didn't have time to listen to the whole thing on that trip.
This is a masterpiece of the "If the Rebels had won the Slavery War" genre. It is set in 1881 and early '82, and deals with the "Second Mexican War" between the rump United States and an alliance of the Confederacy, France and Britain. The U.S. president is James G. Blaine of Maine; Longstreet is president of the Confederacy, with Stonewall Jackson as his commander-in-chief.
Turtledove is a master at imagining how actual historical characters would react to different historical "realities." This book, the first volume of the Great War/American Empire series, features:
All of these characters, as well as Turtledove's original characters, are well drawn and speak with very convincing voices. Sam Clemens's editorials really do sound like Mark Twain.
- Samuel Clemens, as a successful San Francisco newspaper editor.
- Frederick Douglass, as a journalist and anti-slavery crusader.
- Theodore Roosevelt as a young whippersnapper volunteer cavalry colonel.
- George Armstrong Custer, a military success due to luck, despite stupidity.
- Alfred von Schlieffen, German attaché to the U.S.
The reader of the CD audiobook, whose name escapes me, does a fabulous job of all the various voices and accents.
Video: (DVD) Upstairs DownstairsHarriet and I have been running through the 5 seasons of this since early September, thanks to Netflix, and are sorry to reach the end.
Video: (DVD) Firefly 2002I had seen one episode of this cancelled Fox series, and rather liked it, but somehow missed following up on it. My sister gave us the 4 DVD set for Christmas, and, after seeing the episodes in sequence I'm just blown away by how good it is! It's a science fiction series set about 500 years hence. Having much the flavor of a classic western, it follows a shipload of interstellar smugglers as they try to make a living and avoid death and incarceration. The special effects are good, but, as with most really fine TV, it's the writing and acting that really make it. The characters are all very different, very distinctive, and very interesting. The situations are generally not formulaic. We just loved this series, and it's a shame that Fox was so short sighted as to pull the plug on it. Very highly recommended!
Film: (DVD) The Affair of the Necklace Charles Shyer 2001A "caper" drama set in pre-revolutionary France, this is not a great film, but it's not terrible either.
Simon Baker plays an aristocratic gigolo, a role very, very different from the dark and controlled Nick Fallin in The Guardian (a favorite TV show of mine.)
Art Exhibit: Rembrandt at the Museum of Fine ArtsThis was a bit disappointing, as there were not too many paintings, mostly just tiny etchings that really needed a magnifying glass to be seen properly.
I am curious as to what Rembrandt used as a light source in his studio. The main light on his subjects seems to come from a higher angle than one would expect from a window. The effect is quite dramatic, and, indeed, many photographers (myself included) make use of "Rembrandt lighting" but I still wonder how he did it with the technology at his disposal.
Film: (DVD) Popeye Robert Altman 1980Didn't much like this.
Book: Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right Al Franken 2003This book is wonderful fun, tweaking various right-wing pundits and the Republican administration with careful research and a rapier wit. Highly recommended.
Film: (DVD) Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Gore Verblinski 2003This Disney swashbuckler is loads of fun, if you don't mind a ton of historical inaccuracy. Recommended.
Check up resultsI went for a physical last week, kinda overdue. I've been on the Atkins diet for 14 months, down from 270 pounds to 220, 8 new holes in my belt and I feel great, but some concerned folks have warned me of possible side effects.
I got the results in the mail today, and looks like all is well:
- Blood pressure 138/80
- Cholesterol 190
- HDL 65
- LDL 105
- PSA 0.8
Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra Mozart, Carter, Dvorak - James LevineLevine has not yet officially taken the helm of the B.S.O., but he's already making some changes. The seating has been rearranged, in particular, as shown below.
This was a good concert. I'm not normally a Mozart fan, but this performance of the "Paris" Symphony (#31) did win me over. The two Elliot Carter pieces didn't do anything for me at first hearing, maybe they'll grow on me. I did record this concert from the broadcast on my Mac. The program closed with the Dvorak 8th Symphony, always a treat.
I'm so glad that the B.S.O. has landed Levine. I hope his health stays OK--he was conducting from a stool, which is not something I'm used to seeing.
With New Hampshire following Iowa, it is looking like John Kerry will be the one. That's fine with me, if he can beat Bush, and I think chances are good for that.
Here's a list that's making the rounds of the Internet:
GEORGE W. BUSH
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS PRESIDENT:
RECORDS AND REFERENCES:
- I attacked and took over two countries.
- I spent the U.S. surplus and bankrupted the US Treasury.
- I shattered the record for the biggest annual deficit in history (not easy!).
- I set an economic record for the most personal bankruptcies filed in any 12 month period.
- I set all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the stock market.
- I am the first president in decades to execute a federal prisoner.
- I am the first president in US history to enter office with a criminal record.
- In my first year in office I set the all-time record for most days on vacation by any president in US history (tough to beat my dad's, but I did).
- After taking the entire month of August off for vacation, I presided over the worst security failure in US history.
- I set the record for most campaign fund raising trips by any president in US history.
- In my first two years in office over 2 million Americans lost their job.
- I cut unemployment benefits for more out-of-work Americans than any other president in US history.
- I set the all-time record for most real estate foreclosures in a 12-month period.
- I appointed more convicted criminals to administration positions than any president in US history.
- I set the record for the fewest press conferences of any president, since the advent of TV.
- I signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than any other US president in history.
- I presided over the biggest energy crises in US history and refused to intervene when corruption was revealed.
- I cut health care benefits for war veterans.
- I set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously take to the streets to protest me (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind.
- I dissolved more international treaties than any president in US history.
- I've made my presidency the most secretive and unaccountable of any in US history.
- Members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in US history. (The poorest multimillionaire, Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her).
- I am the first president in US history to have all 50 states of the Union simultaneously struggle against bankruptcy.
- I presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud in any market in any country in the history of the world.
- I am the first president in US history to order a US attack and military occupation of a sovereign nation, and I did so against the will of the United Nations and the vast majority of the international community.
- I have created the largest government department bureaucracy in the history of the United States, called the "Bureau of Homeland Security"(only one letter away from BS).
- I set the all-time record for biggest annual budget spending increases, more than any other president in US history (Ronnie was tough to beat, but I did it!!).
- I am the first president in US history to compel the United Nations remove the US from the Human Rights Commission.
- I am the first president in US history to have the United Nations remove the US from the Elections Monitoring Board.
- I removed more checks and balances, and have the least amount of congressional oversight than any presidential administration in US history.
- I rendered the entire United Nations irrelevant.
- I withdrew from the World Court of Law.
- I refused to allow inspectors access to US prisoners of war and by default no longer abide by the Geneva Conventions.
- I am the first president in US history to refuse United Nations election inspectors access during the 2002 US elections.
- I am the all-time US (and world) record holder for most corporate campaign donations. The biggest lifetime contributor to my campaign, who is also one of my best friends, presided over one of the largest corporate bankruptcy frauds in world history (Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron Corporation).
- I spent more money on polls and focus groups than any president in US history.
- I am the first president to run and hide when the US came under attack (and then lied,saying the enemy had the code to Air Force 1) I am the first US president to establish a secret shadow government.
- I took the world's sympathy for the US after 9/11, and in less than a year made the US the most resented country in the world (possibly the biggest diplomatic failure in US and world history).
- I am the first US president in history to have a majority of the people of Europe (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and stability.
- I changed US policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.
- I set the all-time record for the number of administration appointees who violated US law by not selling their huge investments in corporations bidding for gov't contracts.
- I have removed more freedoms and civil liberties for Americans than any other president in US history. In a little over two years. I have created the most divided country in decades, possibly the most divided that the US has been since the Civil War.
- I entered office with the strongest economy in US history and in less than two years turned every single economic category heading straight down
- I have at least one conviction for drunk driving in Maine (Texas driving record has been erased and is not available).
- I was AWOL from the National Guard and deserted the military during time of war.
- I refuse to take a drug test or even answer any questions about drug use.
- All records of my tenure as governor of Texas have been spirited away to my fathers library, sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.
- All records of any SEC investigations into my insider trading or bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.
- All minutes of meetings of any public corporation for which I served on the board are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view. Any records or minutes from meetings I (or my VP) attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.For personal references, please speak to my dad or Uncle James Baker. (They can be reached in their offices at the Carlyle Group where they are helping to divide up the spoils of the US-Iraq war and plan for the next one.)
(Note: this information should be useful to voters in the 2004 election. Circulate to as many citizens you think would be helped to be reminded about his record.
Film: (DVD) Wit Mike Nichols 2001I generally avoid films on depressing themes, and a film about a woman dying of cancer is not on my list of good-time topics. However, I'm a huge Emma Thompson fan, so I made an exception for this one.
Good thing I did! This is a towering masterpiece, one of the finest films I've ever seen. In particular, it should be required viewing in every medical school. Thompson's performance defies description. This is a truly great film.
The use of Ives's The Unanswered Question near the end of the story was highly appropriate.
eBook: (DVD) Dune: House Corrino Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson 2001The conclusion of the Dune prequel trilogy that began with Dune: House Atreides. These are all of a piece, so I won't go into details. This concluding "volume" takes us up to just before the beginning of the original Dune.
Film: (Big Screen) Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Jackson, 2003This concluding film of the trilogy was probably the best of the batch. While I find most of the battle scenes boring, the super-elephants were wonderful, as was the catapult and trebuchet duel. The big spider was also really well done.
I loved all of the architecture in this seriers.
One kvetch about all three films, however was the excessively blue color balance. I presume this was done for emotional effect, but it was too much.
eBook: Ring of Fire 2004 edited by Eric FlintThis is a series of stories set in the universe of Flint's 1632. Lots of fun, but not the place to start out. This one probably fits best between 1632 and 1633
Opera: (DVD) Simon Boccanegra
I've been looking for a keyboard that would let me touch type with my Clie, tried a couple, that should have been compatible, but they weren't. I even posted an inquiry about this to a Clie listserv, with no luck. Then, last week, I received a reply to my posting that "Think Outside had a model that would work, using the IR port.
I went to their website, and was a bit dubious because the specified model said it was for the Pocket PC operating system, not Palm 5.0. I decided to chance it. It arrived today, and the software included was, indeed incompatible, but the hardware looked as if it ought to work.
I went to the Think Outside Website, poked around and found a Palm 4.0 driver, loaded it up and...voila! In fact, I'm typing this on the new keyboard right now, and will upload it to my Powerbook next time I hot sync.
I've got a speaking role in Thespis, the very first Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. This is the one where Sullivan's music has mostly been lost, except for "Climbing Over Rocky Mountain" which he re-cycled in Pirates. I play the role of 'Preposteros" a member of the theatrical troupe, the member who plays the "heavy villains." I've got a fair number of lines early on, though no sung solos.
eBook: Pompeii Robert Harris 2003An enthralling historical novel. The hero is one Attilius, a Roman aqueduct engineer. It's full of fascinating details of the Roman water system and gives a realistic feel for what life must have been like in 79 AD. A major character from real life is Pliny the Elder, admiral, scientist and historian.
Concert: Ed TrickettNice to hear this old favorite. last time we saw him, was with the Bok, Muir & Trickett trio, but he's a fine solo artist as well.
Film: (DVD) Waking Ned DevineSeen this before, but it's lots of fun, well worth another look.
First Thespis sing through. Nobody knows the music yet, tried to sing along with a score projected from Dave Jedlinsky's computer, but that was a bit tough.
eBook: For Us The living Robert Heinlein, 1938Recently rediscovered first novel by the "grand master." The protagonist, a Navy flyer, goes off a cliff in his car in 1938, wakes up in 2086, where the United States has become a Utopia. The novel is highly didactic, mostly consisting of various 2086 experts explaining to him how the new system works, both socially and economically. The economics are based on the Social Credit" system endorsed by Upton Sinclair in his campaign for Governor of California (Heinlein was an active worker in this campaign, and made an unsuccessful run for the California Assembly around this time.) The protagonist gets in trouble because he still suffers from sexual jealousy, which is considered a serious mental illness in 2086. Die-hard Heinlein fans like me won't want to miss this, but it isn't recommend for general readers. If you haven't read Heinlein, start with "Citizen of the Galaxy" or "Double Star" or "Stranger in a Strange Land" instead.
Went to the annual Bikers' Banquet in Waltham. A good time was had by all, as ever, though a number of familiar faces were among the missing.
Off to Chicago
Film: (DVD) Remnant Population Elizabeth Moon 1996A big corporation pulls the plug on a 40 year old colony on a distantEarth-like planet. They're not making enough money, even though the colonists (perhaps a couple of hundred of them) are doing OK. Orders are given to evacuate, and the colonists are to be transported in cold sleep to a different planet to start all over again. One 70-year-old woman doesn't want to leave, and the corporation doesn't much want her anyway, as they consider her useless. She manages to hide out as the final shuttle leaves, and has the entire planet to herself. That's as much as I'll write, for fear of spoilers, but I enjoyed this book very much, as with other Elizabeth Moon stuff.
My sister was interested in getting more capable image editing software for her PC, to use with her digital camera. I suggested the amateur version of Photoshop, variously known as "Photoshop LE" and "Photoshop Elements." Turns out this software costs a hundred bucks, but it is als available bundled with scanners that don't cost all that much more. It occurred to me that Arlene could very well find use for a scanner, and she jumped on the idea when I suggested it. We got an Epson ****** at Best Buy and set it up. It's working great, and Arlene is really grooving on the possibilities of Photoshop Elements.
Drove out to Northbrook to a Japanese restaurant called "Kegon" that Arlene had a coupon for. The coupon said it featured "Sushi & Steaks" so there was something for everybody. Actually, there was some confusion over the name, because the coupon stuck to the refrigerator had "Kegon" in a funny typeface which doubled up the vertical lines, so it appeared to say "IKIEGONI." I quipped that "any restaurant that begins with "Icky" can't be all bad. It was, in fact pretty good, though full of boisterous, birthday-partying pre-teens who appeared to be unchaperoned.
Comedy: Mort SahlWent to the Steppenwolf little theatre for Mort Sahl's opening show. In his early'70s, Sahl is still on top of things, in some ways more so than I--his comments about Diane Sawyer and other contemporary TV "personalities" didn't do much for me, as I know nothing about the people involved.
He considers Kerry to be a right-winger, but doesn't consider anybody alive in the USA to be left-wing, sez they were all killed or exiled during the McCarthy era...
He had a great bit about Bush and Vladimir Putin:"Putin spent most of his life in the KGB, and said: 'The first thing they taught us in KBGB school was to never give anything away by the expression of our eyes.'Art exhibit: Northwestern University's Buck Museum-American Expressionism. This was a fabulous show of mostly political art from the 30s through the '50s, organized by theme.
After Bush met Putin, he said 'As soon as I looked into his eyes, I knew this was a man I could trust.'
The pieces related to lynch law were probably the most horrifying. I was especially struck by ****** Turnbull's painting of an African-American family hiding in the tall grass of a field while hooded clansmen searched for them with torches. Another of his powerful paintings showed a chain gang and its guards, understated but very powerful. ***** "Lynch family" depicts a grief-wracked African-American mother holding a blissfully oblivious baby. 2/16 Went cross-country Skiing very briefly. Only went a couple of hundred meters, I found the experience terrifying. I don't have good front/back balance at all, and am generally terrified of falling. This seems to have gotten worse since my fall from a horse last fall, which I still haven't completely recovered from.
Film: big screen The Triplets of Belleville Sylvain Chomet, 2003Wonderful fun! This is an animated cartoon in which bad guys kidnap 3 Tour de France racers for nefarious purposes, only to be thwarted by the grandmother of one of them, and faithful dog Bruno.
Film: (DVD) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Stephen Norrington, 2003I didn't expect much from this film, but it was even worse than I had expected. Sean Connery was its only redeeming feature, total bomb.
Dinner at Las Palmas in Evanston with Arlene and Mel. Somebody was having a birthday party, so there was a mariachi band, an extra treat.
Helped my brother-in-law install iTunes, and showed him how to use it. PC version appears quite similar to Mac version, and Mel is having a lot of fun with it.
Off to Minneapolis.
On the way to the airport, I saw a van with the ultimate in over-the-top corporate naming. The previous champion was "Perfection Auto Body", but when I saw the van with "Resurrection Health Care" painted on it, I think that tops every extravagant claim I've ever seen!
eBook: Trading in Danger Elizabeth Moon 2003Trading in Danger Elizabeth Moon, 2003 I'm really becoming a big Elizabeth Moon fan. This one features Kylara Vatta, daughter of a shipping magnate, and cadet at the Space Academy of her planet. Through no fault of her own, she is forced to resign in disgrace, and her father puts her in charge of an aging, condemned freighter to get her away from the snooping news media for a few months. Her assignment is to deliver the ship to be sold off for scrap, but she has other ideas...
This was a lot of fun, highly recommended for fans of space-opera.
eBook: The Ship that Saw a Ghost Frank Norris 1902This short story tells of a group of treasure hunters meeting a sort of 'Flying Dutchman' Didn't knock my socks off.
I'm out in Minneapolis for the Quality Bicycle Products "Frostbike" open house.
Dinner at Town Hall brew pub, very pleasant evening among mostly bike folks from North Carolina.
After dinner, a party at One On One, a combination bike shop/art gallery. I drank a bit too much excellent Minnesota beer.
QBP (Quality Bicycle Products) open house. Caught most of a talk on fitting by someone from Seven Cycles. Can't say I learned anything new from it.
There was also a hands-on seminar on Campag Ergo brifters, which was highly worthwhile. Turns out the trick is to use a 3 mm allen wrench to wedge the release button in place while you wind up the counter spring.
Flew home via St Louis. I was surprised to see nasty racist graffiti in the airport men's room.
Mac ServiceThe CD drive on my Ti Powerbook croaked last week, so I again had the pleasure of dealing with Computer Loft in Allston. Being in the service business myself, I know the good ones when I find them, and this is definitely one of the good ones! Highly recommended for Macintosh repairs if you're anywhere near boston.
I brought my Mac in about noontime today, the tech was eating lunch, insisted on swapping out the drive right then even though his lunch was getting cold, though I told him I would be glad to wait, having a good science-fiction book in my Clié, and Computer Loft having comfy chairs for customers to wait in.
Concert: Brookline Chorus Vaughan Williams, PurcellThe first part of this concert was On Wenlock Edge, by Vaughan Williams. This is a piece for tenor (Aaron Shear) and small orchestra, using texts from A Shropshire Lad. I was unfamiliar with this piece, so I had looked it up on the Web, and had even downloaded the text to my Clié. This was fortunate, because the program only printed the text of the first of the six movements. It's a fine piece, somewhat gloomy and elegiac in tone. The performance was excellent.
After intermission, there was a concert performance of Purcell's Dido and Æneas, also quite good.
|November-December, 1998||April-May, 1975|
|Books reviewed on this page:|
|Ring of Fire||Eric Flint||2/1/04|
|Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right||Al Franken||1/15/04|
|For Us the Living||Robert A. Heinlein||2/10/04|
|Dune: House Harkonnen||Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson||1/6/04|
|Dune: House Corrino||Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson||1/24/04|
|Remnant Population||Elizabeth Moon||2/15/04|
|Trading in Danger||Elizabeth Moon||2/20/04|
|How Few Remain||Harry Turtledove||1/8/04|
|Music reviewed on this page:|
|January 17, 2004||B.S.O., James Levine||Mozart, Carter, Dvorak|
|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|