Film: (HBO) Prime Ben younger, 2005A romantic comedy featuring Meryl Streep as a highly conflicted psychotherapist. She's eager for her 23 year old son to find a nice Jewish girl to marry and start making grandchildren for her. She also wants to encourage one of her patients, a Shicksa 37 year old recent divorcée, to get back on the market, but then she discovers that they have hooked up, leaving her in an impossible position. Good fun, highly recommended.
Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra Beethoven and Schoenberg; James Levine, Conductor; Christian Tetzlaff, ViolinBeethoven's Grosse Fuge was played twice, once at the beginning and once at the end of the program.
In between were the Beethoven and Schoenberg violin concerti.
I really enjoyed the Beethoven, wish I knew who was responsible for the cadenzas though...the first movement cadenza was in the form of a duet between the violin and typmani, worked really well!
The Schoenberg concerto was, I'm afraid, incomprehensible to me.
Listening to my recording of the broadcast on my iPod, it is very evident in the Grosse Fuge performances that Levine has "Glenn Gould Disease" as his humming and singing along were clearly picked up by the stage mikes!
Daylight Saving Time ended, we "gained" an hour...but did we? These days I've got so may dang electronic doodads around the house with clocks built into them that it takes the better part of an hour to get them all reset!
Film: (DVD) Prét a Porter/Ready to Wear Robert Altman, 1994Altman's inimitable take on the Paris fashion scene, features an all-star cast and quasi-comprehensible plot. Not Altman's best work, but good fun anyway.
Film: (DVD) The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns Ken Burns, 1990A masterpiece.
Here's Sullivan Ballou's last letter, written a week before he died at Bull Run:July 14, 1861
Camp Clark, Washington
My very dear Sarah:
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days-perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more . . .
I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing-perfectly willing-to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt . . .
Sarah my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me unresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood, around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me-perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness . . .
But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights . . . always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again . . .
Feeling pretty good this morning in the aftermath of the mid-term election!
We've re-taken the House, and looks like chances are good to re-take the Senate (as I write, Virginia is still up in the air, but leaning to Webb, the Democrat.)
Also delighted that Deval Patrick has been elected governor despite the disgusting campaign tactics of the Healy Republican machine. (They tried very hard to make "rape" the big issue of the campaign, a particularly sleazy way to try to play the race card for a white woman running against an African-American man.)
Had another fall in the evening, entering the kitchen. Banged my left shoulder pretty hard on the corner of the support post, hurts like the devil.
eBook: The Grantville Gazette, Volume 8 Eric Flint, 2006More from the 1632 universe. A mixed bag, some of it's pretty hard to follow because there are so many characters to keep track of.
Film: (DVD) Killing me SoftlyKaige Chen, 2002I liked the first part of this film, which has some pretty hot sex scenes, but liked it less and less as it went on into the "Bluebeard" thriller plot.
Operetta The Sorcerer M.I.T. Gilbert & Sullivan PlayersLighting
Film: (DVD) Dark Victory Edmund Goulding, 1939This tear-jerker was a big hit for Bette Davis. She plays a wealthy young socialite who learns she only has a few months to live due to a brain tumor. Features small roles for Humphrey Bogart (with a hokey fake Irish brogue) and an impossibly young looking Ronald Reagan.
Ségolène Royal a Gagné!I've been following Ségo's campaign for president of France for some time now, and I'm delighted to see that she has locked up the PS nomination in the first round, so there won't need to be a runoff.
eBook: The Fallen Angels Bernard Cornwell; Susannah Kells, 1985I've enjoyed Bernard Cornwell's historical fiction, so I was intrigued to find this one, co-written with his wife, set in England and France in 1792-93. Unfortunately, it turns out to be more of a gothic bodice-ripper than a historically accurate novel. Features devil-worshipping "Illuminati" as the villains and a wildly implausible story line.
Another EMG test, OUCH!
Got the piano tuned in the afternoon, sounds a lot better, now maybe we'll be able to sell it!
To FloridaFlew JetBlue to Ft. Lauderdale, staying in the Amerisuites in Plantation. First time on JetBlue, I liked it. Tova, Harriet and I all flew together. George flew in from Madison to meet us.
Thanksgiving dinner at Grill Time, a glatt kosher restaurant in North Miami Beach. Had a tasty (but rather fatty) steak...I'm really not much of a fan of turkey.
Film: (DVD) South Pacific Joshua Logan, 1958A classic musical, lots of great songs. One thing that struck me was that, although the central theme of the story is anti-racism, there are many aspects of the production that strike a 21st century sensibility as being somewhat racist. Not as bad as, say, Finian's Rainbow, but definitely politically incorrect, including the implication that the penalty for interracial romance is death.
Went for an excursion boat ride on the New River in Fort Lauderdale. Photos to follow...
Film: (DVD) Carousel Henry King, 1956Another classic Broadway musical. Some very good songs, and fabulous dancing.
I've seen this several times before, but never noticed it's attempt to justify wife beating...
Film: Borat Larry Charles, 2006Hilarious parody documentary, but not for the squeamish.
Flew home from Florida. Surprisingly smooth, easy trip. Too bad George didn't have as easy a flight...he missed a connection in Chicago and it took him a long time to get back to Madison.
Book: Titan Ben Bova, 2006"Hard" science-fiction novel, set in 2095-96 in a space habitat orbiting Titan, Saturn's largest satellite.
Earth has been taken over by religious fundamentalists, so "reality based" folks are personae non gratae, and 10,000 of them are exiled to a space habitat circling Saturn. I liked it, but wouldn't recommend it for anybody who isn't a fan of the genre.
Film: (DVD) Cold Comfort Farm John Schlesinger, 1996Hilarious English farce, highly recommended for fans of British humour! Set in the early '30s, an impoverished London socialite moves in with distant relatives in the Sussex countryside.
Film: (DVD) CSA: The Confederate States of America Kevin Willmott, 2003Uneven faux documentary based on a contemporary America where the rebels won the Slavery War and slavery still exists in 2003. Good, not great.
eBook Grantville Gazette 9 Eric Flint, 2006More of the same...
27th Wedding Anniversary!When I was 35 I had pretty much resigned myself to bachelorhood, but then Harriet came along, the best thing that ever happened to me. I can't believe how fortunate I am!
Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths.
No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century. --Mark Twain
Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra Albéniz, Rodrigo, Palomo and Falla, Rafæl Frübeck de Burgos, Conductor; Pepe Romero, GuitarFrübeck de Burgos's arrangement of the Albéniz Suite Española came first, quite delightful. Then the pièce de résistance, Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. Like everybody else who has heard it, I just love this piece, but this was the first time I've heard it live. It was a treat, though the third movement seemed a bit mechanical.
After the break there was Palomo's Nocturnos de Andalucia, the only item on the program that was completely unfamiliar to me. On first hearing I liked it, but got the impression that I'll like it better after I get to know it better. Fortunately, I got a good recording from WCRB, so I'll be adding this to my iPod. The concert ended with The Three-cornered Hat. All in all, an excellent concert, and a nice way to celebrate our anniversary.
Film: (DVD) The Civil War Ken Burns
eBook: High Justice Jerry PournelleI've been meaning to re-read Pournelle & Larry Niven's wonderful The Mote in God's Eye and recently received an offer from Bæn Books for the complete CoDominium Future History series, which culminates with that book and its sequel, The Gripping Hand.
The seven earlier books in the series are by Pournelle without Niven, though two of them are with S. M. Stirling. I haven't read most of these, so I started with High Justice and mean to go through them in sequence:
High Justice, West of Honor, The Mercenary, Prince of Mercenaries, Go Tell the Spartans, Prince of Sparta, King David's Spaceship, The Mote in God's Eye and The Gripping Hand.I can't say that I greatly enjoyed High Justice. It's a collection of shorts, set in the early 21st century, the early days of space travel. Pournelle is extremely right wing, makes Heinlein look like Ted Kennedy. His books are also extremely militaristic, but I'll probably read them all anyway...they're not that bad, at least for a fan of "hard" science fiction like me.
Film: (DVD) Adaptation Spike Jonze, 2003Postmodern, highly self-referential film. A film writer is assigned to do a screenplay based on The Orchid Thief, a book which is an expansion of a New Yorker profile of a Floridian who poaches rare orchids. Problem is that the book has no plot, so how to make it into an interesting film? The actual film then traces the problems of the screenwriter and his various false starts. The screenwriter and his imaginary twin are played by Nicholas Cage.
This was recommended to me by my daughter, and she was right, as usual! Good one!
Film: (DVD) Matchstick Men Ridley Scott, 2003Nicholas Cage again, this time as a con artist with OCD. An entertaining "caper" film.
Film: (DVD) Tristram Shandy, A Cock and Bull Story Michæel Winterbottom 2005Another post-modernist, self-referential film about filming an unfilmable book. Good fun, quite funny.
Music: The Christmas RevelsA good show as usual, this year on a German/Swiss theme. I'm scheduled to go with an extended family group on the 29th, but a friend had an extra ticket for tonight and made me an offer I couldn't refuse...
I was surprised at how little Morris dancing there was in this edition, I guess it just didn't work with the German theme.
eBook: 1824: The Arkansas War Eric Flint, 2006This is the sequel to 1812: The Rivers of War, an alternate history in which the Cherokees are able to maintain their independence. 12 years after 1812: The Rivers of War, the independent nation of Arkansas has been established. It's part of a confederation between Cherokees and other Indian tribes. Arkansas itself is mainly inhabited by African-Americans; some are escaped slaves, others are freedmen who have been expelled from the United States, as most of the states have banished all free blacks.
Sam Houston is again the principal character, but other major characters are John Brown, Dick Johnson, Zachary Taylor, Andrew Jackson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams. Poet William Cullen Bryant and retired general Winfield Scott are active as journalists, and the main villains are Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun.
Film: (DVD) The Station Agent Thomas McCarthy, 2003This was billed as a comedy, by the blurb on the DVD box, but it certainly isn't a comedy. You might call it a drama, but there's really too little plot for me to do that. Probably best described as a character study. It's quite well done for what it is, a portrait of a few lonely people in rural New Jersey.
eBook: West of Honor Jerry Pournelle, 1976Sequel to High Justice, more of the same. A guilty pleasure.
Book: Zorro Isabel Allende, 2005Entertaining swashbuckler, well fleshed out.
Palm Treo 700pI got my Christmas present from my wife early this year, a new Palm Treo 700p PDA/phone. My Sony Clié is almost 4 years old and getting kinda flaky. My LG4400 phone has always been unreliable, mainly because the ringer mute button often gets pushed by bumping up against other things in my pocket.
The Treo is smaller than the Clié and has way more memory and way better battery life, my two major areas of dissatisfaction with the Sony. I kinda miss the larger screen and the folding feature of the Clié but the Treo is a very nice upgrade on balance. It uses an SD card for expansion memory, temporarily it's using the 1 GB card from my Kodak D570 camera, but I've ordered a 4GB card...
Got the stitches out from my muscle biopsy, 8 of 'em along about a 2 inch incision on my left arm. Still no word about the results of the biopsy.
Bummer! As I was walking out of the Beth Israel parking garage, my cool antique cane busted! The "gold" handle snapped right off with no warning at all. I was lucky not to fall. I drove over to Belmont Medical Supply and got a high-tech modern adjustable cane, with a contour-fitted handle, but I miss my classic ebony beauty.
The family is all together for the holidays! George flew in from Madison early this afternoon, and Harriet picked Tova up from Cambridge, so the nest is once again (temporarily) full.
Got our Christmas tree, a small, table top one this year, because the usual spot where we have been putting the tree is an area I need for a handhold going down the two steps to our back room addition.
eBook: The Mercenary Jerry Pournelle, 1977.More of the same...
Fixed the flat tire on the Greenspeed and took it for a ride. 5.67 miles along the Charles River bike path, average speed a blistering 4.9 mph. I was only just able to make it up the "hills" on the path, and, indeed, got passed by a pair of elderly pedestrians on one of the pitifully shallow "climbs." I think I need to put the granny ring back on. However I'm not sure how much use I'll be able to get out of it this winter...although the weather was very mild for late December, I still got cold, 'because my weakness prevents me from exerting myself hard enough to generate much body heat.
ChristmasHad a pleasant family Christmas, pretty low key. Harriet cooked a leg of lamb, and a "Tofurkey" for Tova. Went over to the Kittredges for dessert (home made plum pudding...mmmm--mm!) as usual.
Film: (DVD) The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) Adam Long, 2001This was a hoot, a 3-man live comedy take on the Bard of Avon. Good fun.
Happy New YearAlthough my health has declined steadily this year, I still consider myself to be an unusually fortunate person.
Went to a party at the home of a colleague of Harriet's, had a good time. A couple of the guests were members of the BSO, and I was able to satisfy my curiosity about the cadenza in the Beethoven Violin Concerto performance last month. It turns out the cool version with tympani was actually an alternate cadenza written by Beethoven himself.
- My wife and I are still very much in love after 27 years.
- We've got two great kids who are happy and thriving, both of them currently working on doctorates in math, following their mother's footsteps.
- I have a job that I love, working for a great boss who gives me a great deal of discretion and freedom.
- We live comfortably, in a comfortable house in a one of the nicest small cities in America. (Alas, I don't know how long we'll be able to stay here...if I wind up in a wheelchair, this house will no longer be suitable.)
- We have Tasha, the world's nicest dog, if not the smartest.
|Books reviewed on this page:
|The Fallen Angels
|Bernard Cornwell, Susannah Kells
|1824: The Arkansas War
|Grantville Gazette 8
|Grantville Gazette 9
|West of Honor
|Films reviewed on this page:
|December 8, 2006
|November 25, 2006
|November 24, 2006
|The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns
|November 7, 2006
|Cold Comfort Farm
|November 27, 2006
|The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
|December 26, 2006
|CSA: The Confederate States of America
|November 28, 2006
|Killing me Softly
|November 10, 2006
|December 10, 2006
|Prét a Porter/Ready to Wear
|November 5, 2006
|November 1, 2006
|November 23, 2006
|The Station Agent
|December 17, 2006
|Tristram Shandy, A Cock and Bull Story
|December 12, 2006
|Music reviewed on this page:
|November 4, 2006
|B.S.O., James Levine, Christian Tetzlaff
|December 2, 2006
|B.S.O., Rafæl Frübeck de Burgos, Pepe Romero
|Albéniz, Rodrigo, Palomo and Falla
|November 29, 2002
|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
|May 26, 2000
|The Huntington Theatre Co.
|King Hedley II
|September 3, 1999
|The Publick Theatre
|August 21, 1999
|Orange Tree Theatre, Ithaca, N.Y.
|August 13, 1999
|Firehouse Theatre, Ithaca, N.Y.
|Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All For You
|Newton South/North High Schools
|December 18, 1998
|Newton North High School
|The Bone Violin, May Flies
|November 12, 1998
|Newton North High School
|To Kill a Mockingbird
|November 21-24, 2007
|September 25-28, 2007
|Las Vegas, Nevada
|August 18-25, 2007
|Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
|November 22-26, 2006
|September 25-28, 2006
|Las Vegas (Interbike)
|June 10-20, 2006
|Santa Cruz, California
|May 5-7, 2006
|November 23, 2005
|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
|November 24, 2004
|October 8, 2004
|Santa Cruz, California
|October 4, 2004
|Las Vegas, Nevada
|June 8, 2004
|December 22, 2003
|Halifax, Nova Scotia
|November 27, 2003
|October 31, 2003
|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
|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
|September 30-October 2, 2000
|Ithaca, New York
|June 22-25, 2000
|October 7-13, 1999
|August 19-28, 1999
|Ithaca, New York
|August 12-13, 1999
|Ithaca, New York
|July 23-25, 1999
|November 25-28, 1998
|Fort Lauderdale, Florida
|England, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Turkey
Last Updated: by Harriet Fell