Film: (DVD) Veronica Mars-Season Three 2006How could those stupid bean counters cancel this wonderful show? We now own all 3 seasons on DVD. The title character played by Kristen Bell is absolutely adorable, and Enrico Colantoni is great as her dad. The relationship/chemistry between them is delightful, and the dialogue is so snappy and clever. I'm really going to miss this one.
Film: (HBO) The Deal Stephen Frears, 2003Political film about the relationship between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in their days as young back benchers. I liked it, but if you're not reasonably up on British politics, you might not.
Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra Berg: Violin Concerto; Mahler, Symphony #9. James Levine, cond., Christian Tetzlaff, ViolinThis was a great concert. I had not known the Berg Concerto, but really liked it. The Mahler is possibly my all-time favorite piece of music. Levine and the BSO did a great job of it.
YouTube Video: Jerry Bryant Crossing the LineI made this video over a year ago at one of the M.I.T. Chantey Sings. Finally got around to asking Jerry for permission to put it on YouTube.
Crossing the Line is a very fine song that Jerry wrote, even though you might think it was traditional. It describes the time-honored initiation ritual for sailors crossing the Equator for the first time.
Gilbert & Sullivan: Yeomen of the GuardI thought my days of performing on stage were over, but I spoke to the folks putting on the upcoming Sudbury Savoyards production of Yeomen of the Guard, and they believe they can work around my gimpiness! I did a production with them 5 years ago, Patience. I'll just be in the chorus, but it's better than nothing.
Went to the auditions tonight. Heard a bunch of the folks trying out for lead roles, and I was VERY impressed with the quality of the singing of all of the candidates. This should be a terrific show. Yeomen has probably the best music of all of G & S, with the possible exception of Iolanthe. The show goes up from February 22 to March 1, 2008.
TV: (DVD) Lost, Season 1I love this show, have seen, I believe, all of the episodes. I spotted this DVD set at our local library so I thought it might be fun to watch it again. Unfortunately, a lot of its appeal is lost when you know the answers to the mysteries beforehand, but it's still fun, and the characters are great fun to follow...most especially Evangeline Lilly's "Kate" who seems to be able to do just about anything, while looking absolutely fabulous all the time. We only had time to watch the first 3 discs (12 episodes.)
Had another fall, just before bedtime. Tripped on the base of the stairs, and landed on my right side. Fortunately, it was a carpeted wood floor so it didn't hurt too much, though my right shoulder is a bit sore, as is my right hip. This is the first time I've fallen since September 1st. This is, I believe, because I've become super careful walking, and almost always have either two canes or one cane and a secure handhold on a wall, door frame, or solid piece of furniture.
Chantey Singing at M.I.T.The M.I.T. Chantey Sings have moved to the warm confines of the M.I.T. Museum for the winter.
This was a fun one. My contributions were: Blood Red Roses, When I Was a Lad (H.M.S. Pinafore), Jerry Bryant 's Ballad of Harbo and Samuelson, A Sailor's Consolation.
One of the features of this event is the "Shipwreck of the Month." Lynn sang a song about the S.S. Portland, but mentioned that she hoped somebody else would sing The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. That's not a normal part of my repertoire, but I quickly looked up the lyrics on the Web (on my trusty Treo 700p) and managed to stumble through it.
Three of the participants got together a little skit based on the Crossing the Line ceremony, which I managed to capture most of on video. It's probably not much interest to folks who weren't part of the event, but here it is anyway, thanks to YouTube:
Film: (DVD) The Pursuit of Happiness Gabriele Muccino, 2006Schmaltzy tale of struggle and the American Dream. Totally predictable.
Off to FloridaFlew down to Ft. Lauderdale for Thanksgiving with my mother-in-law. Uneventful flight, but too early in the morning for me. I only got about 3 hours of sleep, having to rise at 5 AM, as opposed to my usual 10-11 AM (I'm not a "morning person!")
Drove to our usual stopping place, the Hyatt in Plantation. Went to lunch at TGI Fridays, the first time I've been to one of these. Probably the last time too. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger. Like a few other mega-chains, their lawyers have decreed that all beef must be overcooked, so, although the waiter asked me how I wanted it cooked, when I told him, he said that "medium" was the closest they were allowed to do. It was, indeed badly overcooked, and with only a skimpy single rasher of bacon. Bleahhh!
For dinner we went to Alexanders, next door to the Hyatt. This is a favorit place of ours, got an excellent steak there, and a very nicer merlot to go with it. The only drawback of Alexanders is the poor acoustics...it's very noisy, making conversation quite difficult.
Unfortunately, I forgot to pack my handicapped parking placard, so we can't use HP parking spaces. My walking has gotten pretty bad, even with two canes, so I'm needing to be dropped off at the door then have Harriet go off to park. Harriet has been just great about this, as about so many other things. I'm so lucky to have her in my life!
ThanksgivingWent to Grill Time in Miami again. It was a smaller party this year, only 9, all family. We sat at a round table together, which was much nicer than the long table we had been at in previous years. Also we ate a bit early, so the restaurant was mostly empty. As a result, it was actually possible to carry on conversations during the meal. I had a tasty properly-cooked (rare) steak.
Remembering JFKI was 16 during the 1960 campaign. My brother was 26, back from studying in France, with his wife and baby, and living in the 3rd floor apartment of our house while he was studying at Harvard for his nascent career in the State Department. This was probably the period when we were closest as brothers, as the age difference was no longer the barrier it had been earlier, and the geographical barriers that had separated us since our father's death in 1953 no longer applied. (He had been off at college, then in Germany in the Army, then college again, including his year in Montpelier.) I was very much in awe of Richard (still am, for that matter!) and we shared a great enthusiasm for the young Jack Kennedy. I remember watching the famous debates with him, and our delight when the election returns came in and it seemed that the torch had been passed to a new, young and vibrant generation. The old guys in the double-breasted suits were getting out of the way, and it seemed that the millennium had arrived!
Fast forward to 1963...I was out of school, working at my first "real" job, selling hi-fi equipment at Minute Man Radio on Boylston Street (Now J.F.K. Street) in Harvard Square, Cambridge. I remember I was having lunch in Charlie's Kitchen across the street from the store, and heard somebody speaking about a "Kennedy" getting shot...but for some reason I thought it was a Boston policeman of that name in a local bit of crime. When I got back to the store it was all on the TVs, the word was that he had been shot and wounded, taken to a hospital. I don't recall exactly how long it was until it became clear that he was actually dead. I do remember crying, along with most of the rest of America on that very sad day. I'm not alone in remembering a lot of details of that day, it's burned into the memory of most Americans old enough to have been aware of it.
I have not felt the same enthusiasm for any politician since then, with the possible exception of Gene McCarthy, who I campaigned for in '68...and maybe Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Yes, I'm still on the fence between these two candidates, and my dream ticket would include both of them.
Jungle IslandJungle Island (formerly "Parrot Jungle") is one of the old time Florida tourist traps, dating back to 1936. Kind of tacky, but fun. The best part was the bird show, with amazingly trained birds flying around in formation above the audience. Shouldn't have tried to eat there though, the cafeteria food was horrible and grossly overpriced.
Beach Watch Restaurant, Dania BeachWe dropped George off at the airport, but Harriet, Tova and I had a later flight, so we had a couple of hours to kill. We decided to poke around the shoreline and see if we could find a congenial spot to sit and watch the sea. Lucked into the Beach Watch restaurant, on the fishing pier at Dania Beach. We sat out on their veranda drinking margaritas and watching the boogie boarders, pelicans and passing ships. We liked this place a lot, and will certainly be back. This is one place in Florida that knows how to make a really good cheeseburger!
Flew home to Boston, arriving pretty late in the evening. Took a cab home with an amazingly stupid cab driver. He consistently drove 2-5 miles slower than the speed limit, and was constantly fiddling with the temperature knob on the heater. He would crank it all the way up, until the cab got unbearably hot, then he would crank it all the way down for a minute or so until the cab started to get unpleasantly cold, then he would repeat the cycle, over and over again.
First Rehearsal: Yeomen of the GuardThis is going to be a good one. I'm so glad they're going to be able to find a workaround for my lack of mobility , as I have really missed performing on stage. I have never done Yeomen, though it is one of my very favorite Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. It's got Sullivan at his best (though not so much Gilbert.)
Film: (DVD) The Triumph of Love Clare Peploe, 2002Mira Sorvino is adorable in this costume farce, based on a 1732 play by Marivaux. I enjoyed it quite a lot.
NuVinci Continuously-Variable HubGot one of these amazing new hubs installed into my Greenspeed trike. It's pretty slick, and so far I like it a lot, though I've only had opportunity to ride it for a couple of miles so far.
Got a flu shot.
The Importance of Being...Wilde?Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest might be my all-time favorite play. A key plot element of this hilarious farce involves the two ingenues who both require little of a prospective husband than that his "christian name" be Earnest.
It occurs to me to wonder whether the author's scandalous and wild life was in part an attempt to live up to his surname? If he had been Oscar Bland (or Oscar Blande) would he have grown up to be quite so outrageous and notorious as he did? Kurt Vonnegut says we become what we pretend to be, maybe there's something to this...
Film: (DVD) Zardoz John Boorman, 1974I don't know why I try. I'm a big fan of written science fiction, but for some reason almost all science fiction films suck big time. This is no exception.
Book: Night Soldiers Alan Furst, 1987My brother turned me on to Alan Furst, but a reader of this journal recommended this particular book, mainly based on its sequence. The action runs from 1934 to 1945, from Bulgaria, to Moscow, to civil-war Spain, occupied Paris and back to Bulgaria.
The protagonist is the son of a Bultarian river fisherman, appalled by the rise of fascism in his village. He goes to Moscow and joins the N.K.V.D., but later becomes disillusioned with his Stalinist masters and takes up with the O.S.S.
This is a great example of the spy novel genre, very highly recommended.
Dream:I'm out in California, riding a rickety wooden tadpole trike that is always on the verge of falling apart as I try to make my way to Walnut Creek where I'm to visit Rivendell. Someone is traveling with me, also on a wooden trike, but I can't recall exactly who it is...
Val, R.I.P.Got the sad news that a good friend of ours has died in England, of lung cancer. She never smoked, but then she did live in London...
Our hearts go out to her widower and her children.
Film: (DVD) Amazing Grace 2006Biopic of William Wilberforce, prime mover of the move to abolish the slave trade at the end of the 18th century England. Not the most cinematic of subjects, but I enjoyed it...despite having to listen to that song a couple of times. I'm really sick of that song, and really dislike the message of the theistic words to it, though the tune is catchy.
Christmas Songs with Nym CookeHarriet and I drove out to north-central Massachusetts for Nym Cooke's annual event Singing Christmas Songs in Parts. This was held in a lovely old farmhouse in the deep boonies, and was a grand time for all.
I did a solo as King in Good King Wenceslas wearing my crown from Utopia, Limited. We weren't able to stay for the pot-luck afterwards, 'cause we had to skedaddle to get to Symphony Hall in time for:
Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra Golijov: Ausencia, for cello and strings; Azul, for cello and orchestra & Dvorak's Symphony #8 (or #4). Miguel Harth-Bedoya, cond., Yo-Yo Ma, CelloI'm a big fan of the music of fellow Newtonite Osvaldo Golijov, and was looking forward to these two new pieces. Asencia didn't do too much for me on first hearing, but Azul was a treat indeed.
Harth-Bedoya (whom I had never heard of before) did a nice lively job with the Dvorak symphony.
Film: (DVD) Singin'In the Rain Stanley Donen, 1952Possibly the best of the classic MGM musicals, with amazing dancing by Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse and Donald O'Connor. One of Hollywood's best, very highly recommended.
Film: (DVD) The Band Wagon Vincente Minelli, 1953The bonus materials that came with Singin' in the Rain mentioned this as one of the "great Warner Brothers musicals" so we gave it a try. Didn't like it as well as Singin', but it was still quite good. This one features Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. The dance numbers are uneven...the best of them quite good, but the worst of them pretty bad.
Film: (DVD) As You Like It Kenneth Branagh, 2007I'm a big fan of Branagh's Shakespeare films, especially the comedies.
His Much Ado About Nothing is one of my all-time favorite films, and I dearly love Love's Labour's Lost as well. This one isn't quite as delightful as those, but I suspect that's Shakespeare's fault more than Branaghs. Highly recommended.
Film: (DVD) The Golden Compass Philip Pullmann, 1995I learned of this from reading about the controversy surrounding the new film version of this book. I was intrigued when I learned that christian groups objected to the depiction of religion in the book. Reportedly, the film version soft-pedals that aspect.
Indeed, the villains of the piece are an alternate version of the Roman Catholic Church. As an ex-Catholic I enjoyed this aspect of the book.
Indeed, I liked this book very much, though I'm not normally a fan of the fantasy genre.
It's set in an alternate version of Earth of our own time, but a version where every human has a "dæmon," something like a witch's familiar. The dæmons of children are able to shape-shift into different animal forms, but at puberty, the dæmon settles down to one particular animal shape.
The heroine's dæmon is sometimes a moth, sometimes one of many feline species, and sometimes a bird.
I won't go into detail on the story, but it is indeed a (virtual) page turner. Highly recommended.
Film: (DVD) The Harvey Girls George Sidney, 1946I had not heard of this MGM musical, but it was mentioned in the extra features included with the Singin' in the Rain DVD so I decided to get it from Netflix.
It was rather a disappointment, a very corny western, with so-so music. The big number is The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe. This tune becomes the leitmotiv for the whole film, and it is a catchy number. None of the rest of the songs are memorable. Judy Garland's acting is wooden, and her singing isn't great either.
As I deal with my declining health, I keep coming up with strategies to help me cope with my un-cooperative legs. Here's the latest:
I've been finding undressing increasingly difficult, especially getting my trousers off. It wasn't so bad when the weather was warmer and I was wearing shorts most of the time, but long pants have been a challenge to get my feet out of. The spasticity of my legs makes them very stiff and keeps me from bending them much. I would drop my pants to the floor then try to step on the bunched-up material of one leg with the opposite foot, but my coordination is so poor that this didn't really work too well.
The breakthrough came tonight when it occurred to me to use the tip of one of my canes to press the material down past my heel. This works really well, and saves me from scary one-footed gymnastics!
Saw Dr. A. about my sore shoulder. I banged it a month ago in a fall, think I hurt the rotator cuff. I put a lot of weight on my right arm using the cane, and it hasn't been getting better. He scheduled me for an MRI of the shoulder next week.
Coming home I slipped in the snow on the landing of the front steps and got painfully stuck in a semi-kneeling position with my left foot being twisted very hard outward. I yelled loudly for help, and fortunately my next-door neighbor came to my assistance and helped me get back up onto my feet.
My left knee is still quite tender from this, making walking even more difficult than usual.
Book (online): Agnes Surriage Edwin Lassetter Bynner, 1886Just above Gas House Beach in my home town, Marblehead, Mass., there is (or was) a historical plaque describing the "Agnes Surriage Well." I recall a brief paragraph about a Marblehead maiden and an English Lord in Colonial times.
For some reason this popped into my head and I decided to Google for Agnes Surriage.
I came upon this charmingly melodramatic 1886 semi-novel. It's melodramatic and floridly written, not Great Art, but a fun read for someone who spent a lot of time around Little Harbor as a kid. It begins in the 1740s, at the time of the construction of Fort Sewell, when Agnes, the daughter of a fisherman, was working as a menial at the Fountain Inn, the only inn in Marblehead at the time.
Later chapters are set in Boston, Hopkinton, London and finally Lisbon.
It might be considered a sort of Victorian bodice ripper, but based on historical facts. The subject matter was probably a bit scandalous back in 1886, as our plucky protagonist lived "in sin" with Sir Harry Frankland for several years, which was probably a greater scandal in 1886 than it was in the 1750s when the events described occurred.
I'm kind of a fan of 19th century literature, and rather enjoyed this, though it won't be to everyone's taste.
Google Books has it on-line, and I read it on my computer screen.
This is the first time I can recall reading a whole novel on a computer screen, I just clicked on the magnifying glass and made the page images big enough to see from a comfortable distance and leaned back in my swivel chair with my feet up and the mouse in my hand.
Had another fall this evening, upstairs in my study. I tripped on the edge of the rug, but was able to use a cardboard box to break my fall, so I was not injured...though my adrenaline level certainly spiked!
Film: (DVD) Futurama - Bender's Big Score Dwayne Carey-Hill, 2007This science-fiction/comedy cartoon from the twisted mind of Matt Grœning was cancelled by the clueless suits at Fox, but is re-born as a feature film. Good fun all around.
Woke up to George playing They Might Be Giants on his euphonium. He's really good at this!
Film: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Tim Burton 2007Went to see this on the big screen, but I didn't enjoy it all that much. It's a "black comedy" but this production featured too much black and not enough comedy. Johnny Depp acted well in the title role, but neither he nor Helena Bonham-Carger (Mrs. Lovett) are good enough singers for these roles. The only really good singer in the cast was Ed Sanders (Toby.)
Burton went pretty heavy on the special effects, and if watching blood spray out of severed carotid arteries is your thing, you'll enjoy this film.
Unfortunately, as with the recent Harry Potter film, this was all shot underexposed and with a bluish cast to the color. I guess this is supposed to enhance the mood, but it really loses its effect when the whole film is done this way. Not recommended.
Went for an MRI this evening on my right shoulder. It's been pretty sore since my a fall last month , partly from the fall, partly from the load I put on it when walking with a cane.
Moved my office down to the first floor, Harriet's up to the second floor. This way I won't have to climb the stairs so often.
The plan is to also move the bedroom down, then I won't really need to go upstairs at all.
I'll still have to deal with the front steps to get in and out of the house. Undecided whether to go with a ramp or a platform lift for that. There are 9 steps up from street level which would require a very long ramp. However, I hear that platform lifts are not such a great idea in places where it snows.
Moving DownstairsAs stairs become increasingly difficult and dangerous for me, I'm gradually moving to the first floor. Today, with the help of my family and Tova's boyfriend, my "home office" got moved down to the first floor, and Harriet's stuff up to the second floor. It's a big job, not just the computer equipment and audio equipment, but a lot of reference books and other stuff going both directions. It will take a bit of settling in and adjustment to get comfortable down here, but it's good not to have to go over the stairs so much. The stairs are a straight flight with no landing, and I've long had a premonition about falling down all the way and seriously injuring myself.
My bedroom is still upstairs, that will be another project to get moved (including the queen-sized waterbed!) but that will have to wait for another day.
We still will need to deal with the entry to the house, which currently has 9 steps to climb (fortunately with a bend and a landing.) Undecided whether to go with a ramp or a platform lift. A suitable ramp would be very long, but I hear that lifts are not so practical in areas that get snow.
The Christmas RevelsAll four of us went, had front row seats for a great show. This year it was a Balkan theme, not too much that was familiar. Guest artists included Lubana, a 5-woman a capella group specializing in Balkan music. I asked George what was the strange characteristic harmonic interval that pervades this music. He said it's a major second, but in the Pythagorean "perfect" temperament.
There was lots of great dancing (though rather a dearth of Morris dancing...this is the first Christmas Revels I've seen that didn't feature a sword dance.)
I did an in-camera panoramic near the end of the show, with my Kodak V570. The perspective was somewhat distorted due to my close position, and I played around a bit with Photoshop. Here are three different versions:
This is the basic image as the camera stitched together the three separate exposures:
Here is a cropped version, with some highlight/shadow correction:
The version below is the result of using the "lens correction" filter to compensate for pincushion distortion. I did this twice, to make the folks on the edges bigger.
This also made them look fatter, so I stretched the image vertically to compensate. This made the folks in the middle look skinnier, but I don't expect any complaints about that!
I've put up 127 bicycle-related images for use as a screensaver. I've had these as my own screensaver (along with a bunch of other images) but it occurred to me that other folks, especially fellow bike nuts, might enjoy these as well.
Film: (DVD) Billy Budd Peter Ustinov, 1962I saw this on the big screen in its first run. A very fine film, based on a Herman Melville novel. Good and Evil and Law in the Royal Navy of 1797, a story heavily freighted with allegory.
Film: (DVD) The Sandy Bottom Orchestra Bradley Wigor, 2000Based on a Garrison Keillor and Jenny Lind Nilsson novel, this is a somewhat saccharine, highly predictable slice of midwestern small-town Americana. Pleasant enough nonetheless.
|Books reviewed on this page:
|Edwin Lassetter Bynner
|The Colden Compass
|Films reviewed on this page:
|December 7, 2007
|As You Like It
|December 15, 2007
|The Band Wagon
|December 13, 2007
|December 31, 2007
|November 8, 2007
|Futurama - Bender's Big Score
|December 23, 2007
|The Harvey Girls
|December 18, 2007
|November 17, 2007
|The Pursuit of Happiness
|November 19, 2007
|The Sandy Bottom Orchestra
|December 31, 2007
|Singin' in the Rain
|December 9, 2007
|Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
|December 26, 2007
|The Triumph of Love
|November 26, 2007
|Veronica Mars-Season Three
|November 7, 2007
|November 30, 2007
|Music reviewed on this page:
|December 29, 2007
|The Christmas Revels
|December 8, 2007
|B.S.O., Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Yo-Yo Ma
|Golijov: Ausencia, Azul; Dvorak Symphony #8 (or #4)
|November 10, 2007
|B.S.O., James Levine, Christian Tetzlaff
|Berg: Violin Concerto; Mahler: Symphony #9
|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