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November 1, 2006

Film: (HBO) Prime Ben younger, 2005

A 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.

November 4, 2006

Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra Beethoven and Schoenberg; James Levine, Conductor; Christian Tetzlaff, Violin

Beethoven'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!

November 5, 2006

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, 1994

Altman'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.

November 7, 2006

Film: (DVD) The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns Ken Burns, 1990

A 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 . . .

November 8, 2006

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.

November 9, 2006

eBook: The Grantville Gazette, Volume 8 Eric Flint, 2006

More 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.

November 10, 2006

Film: (DVD) Killing me SoftlyKaige Chen, 2002

I 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.

November 11, 2006

Operetta The Sorcerer M.I.T. Gilbert & Sullivan Players


November 12, 2006

Film: (DVD) Dark Victory Edmund Goulding, 1939

This 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.

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November 16, 2006

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.

November 18, 2006

eBook: The Fallen Angels Bernard Cornwell; Susannah Kells, 1985

I'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.

November 21, 2006

Another EMG test, OUCH!

Got the piano tuned in the afternoon, sounds a lot better, now maybe we'll be able to sell it!

November 22, 2006

To Florida

Flew 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.

November 23, 2006

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, 1958

A 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.

November 24, 2006

Went for an excursion boat ride on the New River in Fort Lauderdale. Photos to follow...

Film: (DVD) Carousel Henry King, 1956

Another 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...

November 25, 2006

Film: Borat Larry Charles, 2006

Hilarious parody documentary, but not for the squeamish.

November 26, 2006

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.

November 27, 2006

Film: (DVD) Cold Comfort Farm John Schlesinger, 1996

Hilarious 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.

November 28, 2006

Film: (DVD) CSA: The Confederate States of America Kevin Willmott, 2003

Uneven faux documentary based on a contemporary America where the rebels won the Slavery War and slavery still exists in 2003. Good, not great.

November 29, 2006

eBook Grantville Gazette 9 Eric Flint, 2006

More of the same...

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December 2, 2006

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, Guitar

Frübeck 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.

December 3, 2006

Film: (DVD) The Civil War Ken Burns

December 7, 2006

eBook: High Justice Jerry Pournelle

I'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.

December 8, 2006

Film: (DVD) Adaptation Spike Jonze, 2003

Postmodern, 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!

December 10, 2006

Film: (DVD) Matchstick Men Ridley Scott, 2003

Nicholas Cage again, this time as a con artist with OCD. An entertaining "caper" film.

December 12, 2006

Film: (DVD) Tristram Shandy, A Cock and Bull Story Michæel Winterbottom 2005

Another post-modernist, self-referential film about filming an unfilmable book. Good fun, quite funny.

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December 16, 2006

Music: The Christmas Revels

A 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.

December 17, 2006

eBook: 1824: The Arkansas War Eric Flint, 2006

This 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, 2003

This 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.

December 19, 2006

eBook: West of Honor Jerry Pournelle, 1976

Sequel to High Justice, more of the same. A guilty pleasure.

Book: Zorro Isabel Allende, 2005

Entertaining swashbuckler, well fleshed out.

December 20, 2006

Palm Treo 700p

I 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...

December 22, 2006

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.

December 23, 2006

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...

December 24, 2006

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.

Christmas 2006


Had 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.

Christmas Tree      Christmas Dinner

December 26, 2006

Film: (DVD) The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) Adam Long, 2001

This was a hoot, a 3-man live comedy take on the Bard of Avon. Good fun.

December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

Although 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.

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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:
ZorroIsabel Allende12/19/06
TitanBen Bova11/26/06
The Fallen AngelsBernard Cornwell, Susannah Kells11/18/06
1824: The Arkansas WarEric Flint12/17/06
Grantville Gazette 8Eric Flint11/9/06
Grantville Gazette 9Eric Flint11/29/06
High JusticeJerry Pournelle12/7/06
West of HonorJerry Pournelle12/19/06
The MercenaryJerry Pournelle12/23/06


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

Films reviewed on this page:
AdaptationDecember 8, 2006
BoratNovember 25, 2006
CarouselNovember 24, 2006
The Civil War - A Film by Ken BurnsNovember 7, 2006
Cold Comfort FarmNovember 27, 2006
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)December 26, 2006
CSA: The Confederate States of AmericaNovember 28, 2006
Killing me SoftlyNovember 10, 2006
Matchstick MenDecember 10, 2006
Prét a Porter/Ready to WearNovember 5, 2006
PrimeNovember 1, 2006
South PacificNovember 23, 2006
The Station AgentDecember 17, 2006
Tristram Shandy, A Cock and Bull StoryDecember 12, 2006


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

Music reviewed on this page:
November 4, 2006B.S.O., James Levine, Christian TetzlaffBeethoven, Schoenberg
December 2, 2006B.S.O., Rafæl Frübeck de Burgos, Pepe RomeroAlbéniz, Rodrigo, Palomo and Falla


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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