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May 7, 2003

Shave And A Haircut!

hairy Sheldon On May 5, 2003 I shaved for the first time since 1968.

I didn't just do the chin, I went for the full Sinead O'Connor!

Summer's coming, my long hair and beard were getting cumbersome, so I decided to try a new look.

Nobody recognizes me until I open my mouth. Neither my wife nor my children had ever seen my chin before.

I've been having a lot of fun with it, but I plan to grow the beard back, though probably not as full as before. My face is certainly more expressive without it, but I think I look better with something to relieve the roundness of my face.

In addition, I don't want to face next winter without some chin insulation!

bald Sheldon

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May 16, 2003

Film: (DVD) The Thin Man

Classic '30s detective comedy, slow paced by modern standards, but lots of fun for those (like me) who like this sort of thing.

May 17, 2003

Film: (DVD) A Fish Called Wanda

I've seen this before, but it's worth another look or two, hilariously funny.

May 18, 2003

Steve Grimes Memorial Service

This was a very nice event, held at Northeastern University's Henderson House in Weston. Quite a good turnout, probably 49-50 people. Several people shared their memories, myself among them.

May 20, 2003

Harriet off to Nebraska for one of her research projects.

May 21, 2003

Revels Pub Sing at Doyle's

George and I went to Doyle's in Jamaica Plain for a Revels Pub Sing, first one of these we've been to. It was great fun. I soloed in Barret's Privateers and The Man That Waters the Workers' Beer.

May 22, 2003

Film: (DVD) The World of Henry Orient

May 23, 2003

A visit from my brother, always a treat. Harriet was out of town, so it was just Richard, George and me.

May 24, 2003

Opera: (DVD) Les Huguenots Meyerbeer

I liked the Australian National Opera's DVD of Die Meistersinger so much I thought I'd give this one a try, though the actual opera isn't too highly regarded. It was a fine production, and was definitely worth seeing. Dame Joan Sutherland appears in her swan song as Margaret of Navarre.

It's a grim tale based on the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572.

May 25, 2003

Film: (DVD) Mr Deeds Goes To TownFrank Capra, 1939

May 26, 2003

eBook: War and Peace Leo Tolstoy

I was first exposed to this work via the Hollywood movie, which I enjoyed, but it was far too short to do justice to a 1500 page book. What really hooked me was the British TV version starring Anthony Hopkins as Pierre. (This also turned me into a major Hopkins fan, just wish he'd stop doing those crappy horror films, they're not worthy of his talents.)

In the late 1970s, the late Bill Caveness read the whole thing on WGBH radio in daily half-hour segments, and I was able to hear the whole book.

I finally actually read it sometime in the 1980s, in the two volume Maude translation, and enjoyed it very much.

In early January, I downloaded a different translation in Palm DOC format, and have been re-reading it with much enjoyment.

Aside from Pierre and Natasha, I think my favorite character is General Kutuzov. This fat, old half-crippled one-eyed general is a man of the 18th century "age of reason" surrounded by fire-breathing young romantic glory seekers. He alone understands the balance of forces engaged, and his young officers consider him a fool and a coward as he keeps moving back from Bonaparte's advancing juggernaut. Kutuzov knows that he can't beat the Corsican Tyrant's forces in open combat, but that if he can preserve the Russian army long enough, geography and winter weather will decimate the invaders by attrition to the point that the hardy Russian troops will be able to expel them. This, indeed turned out to be the winning strategy in the long run.

Toynbee said "Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it" and there is no better example of this than Hitler's invasion 130 years later, which the Russians opposed with identical tactics, with identical results.

Much of the novel is devoted to Tolstoy's thesis that wars are not caused nor controlled by leaders, but are the results of the accumulated pressures of the actions of hundreds of thousands or millions of ordinary people, and that the "leaders" are merely figureheads expressing the national will. He derides the "great man" theory of history rather convincingly, heaping particular scorn on the supposed "genius" of Napoleon. He goes into considerable detail about a number of battles, explaining how the "leaders" gave detailed orders as to which detachment should move where--when, in the event, none of the detachments on either side ever made it to their assigned posts!

He believes that the morale of the individual soldier on the front line who says either "Let's go guys, we've got 'em on the run!" or "Run for your lives, there's no stopping them!" who makes the difference, to a much greater extent than anything the commmander in chief or general staff can do.

May 28, 2003

Film: (DVD) Rabbit Proof Fence

Quite a fine, rather unusual film. Set in Western Australia in 1931, 3 half-Aboriginal sisters, 8 to 14 are taken from their mother to be raised in a special, rather Dickensian facility, due to racist laws that prevailed at the time. They run away and try to return to their home 1200 miles across the Outback, while evading pursuers. No subtlety at all, but an inspiring film. Kenneth Branagh is the well-meaning but terminally racist Protector of Aborigines.

May 30, 2003

Film: (DVD) The Producers Mel Brooks, 1968

I had forgotten what a hoot this is, especially the first half with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder redefining "over the top." Unfortunately, it degenerates into rather dated hippy-bashing toward the middle of the film, but it remains a masterpiece, even though flawed.

May 31, 2003

Film: (DVD) Monsoon Wedding

This was recommended by Harriet's cousin Rennie, and a great tip it was. An absolutely delightful film about an upper-middle class wedding in present-day India. Very highly recommended.

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June 1, 2003

eBook: (DVD) Worlds of Honor David Weber and others

This is a collection of prequel novellas to the Honor Harrington Series. They mostly deal with the relations between Sphinxian treecats and humans. Quite enjoyable for HH fans.

June 2, 2003

Film: (DVD) Kolya

A lovely Czech film about a curmudgeonly 'cellist who becomes saddled with a 5 year old Russian boy just as the Velvet Revolution is going down in 1988-89. Highly recommended.

June 3, 2003

Film: (DVD) 28 Days

This is a sporadically funny but largely predictable paean to 12 step programs. So-so.

June 6, 2003

Film: (DVD) Dark Blue World.

I liked Kolya so much I sought out more films by ****, and this is what I found. This is rather gloomier than Kolya, dealing with Czech Air Force pilots who escape to England after the Anschluss, and join the R.A.F. Those of them who live through WW2 and go home find that they're not in good odor politically with the Soviet occupiers, and they get chucked into the gulag.

June 7, 2003

Film: (DVD) Ice Age

This prehistoric cartoon was rather disappointing. Although the animation quality was pretty good, the story was basically on the intellectual level of a Roadrunner cartoon.

June 8, 2003

Took George to the airport, he's off to Duluth for the summer to do abstruse math. We'll miss him!

June 14, 2003

All day rehearsal for the Midsummer Revels. First time doing the whole mummers' play in the costume. The head needs more work, 'cause it fell off when I died.

June 15, 2003

Music Two Siberians

I found this disc left behind by George in one of our CD players, electric violin & electric guitar. All instrumental, and just wonderful! George does have excellent taste, don't know where he found this..

Harriet and I commemorated our empty-nest Fathers' Day with a 25 mile ride on our fixed-gear tandem. I can't remember the last time we rode tandem together. It was a very nice ride, down through Dover and back.

It is quite noticeable that my wrist problems have greatly diminished since losing 40 pounds.

Film: A Mighty Wind

This was great fun, a folkie equivalent of This is Spinal Tap. Highly recommended for those old enough to remember The New Christy Minstrels, Ian & Sylvia and the Kingston Trio.

eBook: Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

This marvelous book is well worth a second reading. Marvelously engrossing story, written with élan and humor. Very, very highly recommended!

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June 20, 2003

The Midsummer Revels

This was a departure for Revels, a single free outdoor performance at Museum Wharf, co-sponsored by the Children's Museum. It was a celebration of the Summer Solstice, also featuring Chinese dancers, a pipe band, several Morris sides and a steel drum band.

In addition to being in the chorus, I had my highest-profile role so far as the front of the 4 person dragon in the mummers' play. I also did some dancing, and actually enjoyed it...having lost 40 odd pounds made a big difference!

There was a capacity audience, good weather and the whole thing was a great success. It is hoped that this will become the seed of a new Boston tradition, perhaps expanding into a major festival on the Common.

June 21, 2003

Film: (DVD) Mississippi Masala Mira Nair

We liked Monsoon Wedding so much that I ordered a couple of other Mira Nair DVDs from Netflix. This one is mostly set in 1990 Mississippi, with flashbacks to 1972 and earlier in Uganda. The central character is an ethnic Indian woman, born like her parents, in Uganda, and expelled by Idi Amin's ethnic cleansing of 1972.

She falls in love with a young black man who has a small carpet-cleaning business. Due to the racism of their respective families, both of their lives are turned upside down. It's quite a good film, though rather sad.

June 22, 2003

eBook More Than Honor David Weber et. al.

This is a collection of 3 novellas and a major appendix relating to the Honor Harrington series.

A Beautiful Friendship (David Weber) deals with the First Contact between Sphinxian Treecats and human settlers, specifically, 11 year old Stephanie Harrington (Honor's grandmother.) A Grand Tour (David Drake) set close to the beginning of the Havenite war, involves a Manticoran Earl on an archaeological expedition, who becomes caught up in hostilities with Haven. A Whiff of Grapeshot (S. M. Stirling) details the Levellers revolt on Haven, when Admiral Esther McQueen saves the Pierre regime from ruin. The Universe of Honor Harrington (David Weber) is a collection of essays explaining some of the background detail of the series, including details of space ship drive characteristics, planetological details and historical/political background information.

I quite enjoyed the first two novellas, the rest of the book rather less so.

June 23, 2003

Film: (DVD) Kama Sutra Mira Nair

June 24, 2003

Installed GB Randonneur bars and Veloce Ergo shifters/rear derailer on my Hetchins. Really a considerable improvement in the ergonomics and comfort of the bike.

June 25, 2003

Film: (DVD) The World According to Muriel

This is the first Argentinian film I've ever seen. Technically crude, it tells the story of a single mother and her daughter and their adventures in the Argentine boondocks. All men are pigs seems to be the central message.

June 26, 2003

Film: (DVD) Truly, Madly, Deeply 1991

A sad comedy, about a Londoner who is haunted by the ghost of her late lover. Enjoyable all in all.

June 27, 2003

Film: (DVD) About a Boy Chris Weitz 2002

Hugh Grant as a playboy bachelor who pretends to be a single father as a way of meeting women. A pleasant comedy, not side-splittingly funny though.

June 28, 2003

eBook Lt. Leary, Commanding David Drake, 2000

David Weber's Honor Harrington series was created by transplanting C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower formula into a distant space-opera future. David Drake appears to be trying to do the same thing with Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series.

Daniel Leary is the Aubrey analogue, a valiant and skillful naval officer, estranged from his politician father. Adele Mundy fills Maturin's slot, a genius at communication and codebreaking, but rather a bumbler at spacefaring life. Her entire family, including her 10 year old sister, has been massacred as the result of an unsuccessful coup attempt, and she's pretty much alone in the world.

The universe of this series features space ships that make use of an altered space time called "The Matrix" for FTL travel. Navigation within The Matrix is by sails, which have to be manhandled and rigged in much the way the sails of a traditional sailing ship do, with space-suited "riggers" climbing the masts and yards.

It's a good tale for those with a taste for military SF.

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1975-98:
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The overall Booklist has been moved to a separate page.

Books reviewed on this page:
Lt. Leary, CommandingDavid Drake6/28/03
CryptonomiconNeal Stephenson6/15/03
War and PeaceLeo Tolstoy5/26/03
More than HonorDavid Weber et. al.6/22/03
Worlds of HonorDavid Weber et. al.6/1/03

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

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

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Plays:
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

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Travels:
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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Articles by Sheldon Brown and Others

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Last Updated: by Harriet Fell