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March 4, 1999

Concert: Winterfest 1 at Newton North High School

Various groups performed, including the Wind Ensemble, for which George plays baritone horn. Our seats were too low to be able to actually see him, but he sounded good.

March 5, 1999

Jazz recital of student groups of Harvey Finstein School of Music, including Tova and George. Tova played drums on one number, and sang Summertime, very well indeed. George played trombone. I made a video of much of this recital with my new digital camcorder. George's group will be auditioning (via my video) for a national Jazz competition in New Orleans...

March 6, 1999

Dream: Lescaux caves

I don't customarily remember dreams, but this morning I did:

I was visiting the famous Lescaux caves, by myself. In my dream, they were in Portugal instead of in France. It was a highly-organized theme-parkish setup. I was in a large hall, something like an airport lobby. There were lighted computerized signs with numbers and stuff, but I don't know what they said...p'rhaps because the signs were in Portugese.

Like all of the other visitors, I was issued a supermarket shopping cart to carry my luggage in (I didn't have much, maybe just a coat.) I was told that I had a space in the group after next, and that my number was 51. It was not made clear to me when my group would leave. All of the visitors then went through a door, with their shopping carts...I followed (I was the last one...maybe this wasn't actually my group, but I didn't want to stay in the lobby while everybody else left, and I didn't know if they were just going to a staging area. The person in front of me was kind of slow, and we got separated from the group. Then the slowpoke decided to turn around and go back to the lobby for some reason, leaving me alone in a sort of fairly dark corridor with branches. Not being sure which branch the group had taken, I picked a branch off to the left, which led me outdoors to a gradually rising path along a cliff. This turned out to be a dead end, overlooking a river with smooth rocky banks, with many people swimming, maybe 50 feet below me. It looked like a pleasant swimming spot, and I wanted to go there after seeing the caves. I headed back to the lobby to try to find out where I should go...

Film: Mrs. Brown

This was a very good film, highly recommended. I may write more about it when I have time. The central characters are Queen Victoria, her Scottish manservant, and Benjamin Disraeli. Fascinating story, extremely well acted.

I finally got around to figuring out how to work the fancy editing features built into the JVC camcorder, and made some pretty good tapes for Harvey to send in to the competitions.

March 7, 1999

Concert: Mozart Requiem, Symphony #38 (Prague)

The Newton North High School Orchestra and Chorus performed twice today at the Newton Presbyterian Church. My kids covered themselves with glory! George had the most important instrumental solo in the piece, the trombone part in the Tuba Mirum. This represents the final trumpet at the Last Judgement. He handled this unusually difficult and prominent part quite well. Tova was alto soloist in two of the quartet movements, Tuba Mirum and Pie Jesu. She did great, too. I got it on video for posterity.

March 13, 1999

All day rehearsal for the Sea Revels, followed by the Black Jokers' Morris team's "Non Tour" in Brookline. Banbury Cross was the main guest team to show up, and they put on a hilarious Morris dance adaptation of Hamlet, written by George. It was a triumph!

March 14, 1999

Major work on the Revels website, over 5 1/2 hours. New Sea Revels page, in particular, plus various links and updates.

March 18, 1999

Book: Honor Among Enemies, by David Weber Baen

This is part of a science-fiction version of the Horatio Hornblower series. The "H H" in this one is Honor Harrington, starship captain and superwoman. Her star empire is a mercantile constitutional monarchy at war with a radical revolutionary tyranny, led by "Rob Pierre" (get it?) head of the Committe of Public Safety. This is the most recent of the series. For a sci-fi/Hornblower junkie like me it was entertaining, but I don't know as I'd recommend it to the general reader.

I've also been working on my 1999 April Fools page, it's coming along pretty well.

March 21, 1999

So, I've been thinking of starting a new business. It would be a combination brew-pub/beauty parlor. My plan is to call it "Coif & Quaff"

Also considering trying to synthesize a single all-purpose Catholic ritual, by combining elements from all of the major sacraments...sort of a potpourri of Popery.

March 23, 1999

The situation in Kosovo is getting pretty scary. I'm of two minds on it.

On the one hand, as a long-time "one-worlder" I'm strongly in favor of international police action to squelch this sort of foolish violence, and can't imagine any other solution working in the long run...

On the other hand, I've driven across Kosovo, back in '75 (Thessaloniki to Pec to Titograd (now Podgorica, Montenegro) and on to the Montenegrin/Croatian coast.) At the time I recall being struck by what perfect terrain for guerrila warfare this was, and understanding why Hitler was never able to subdue Tito's partizans. This is very rugged, wooded mountain terrain. The roads run along the sides of steep gorge slopes, and there are innumerable tunnels where the roads run through rock. The steepness of the terrain makes it mostly inaccessible to helicopters, at least as far as landing, and the tunnels provide bomb-proof shelters for the defenders. Thus, air power is pretty much negated, and the hills above the roads would allow ambushes to interdict land movements. It would seem to me that a local guerilla force could easily hold this terrain against a very much larger regular army...

March 24, 1999

Book: The Man of Property, by John Galsworthy, 1906

This is the first volume of the Forsyte Saga, which traces an imaginary upper-middle-class London family from the mid 1880s...

I had seen the 1967 British TV version of this, and enjoyed it, but this is the first Galsworthy I've read. The characters seem more focussed on money than I recall from the TV series. It is a persuasive portrait of the Edwardian ruling class, quite funny in parts, though the characters aren't particularly likable.

March 27, 1999

Today we spent the day working on George's Eagle scout project, cleaning up a neglected bit of woodland called the Avery Woods, not far from our house. It was quite a mess.

April 1, 1999

My annual April Fools page is up, "Symmetrispokes" proposing left-hand threaded spokes for the left side of the wheels. Not quite as good as POWerwheels two years ago, but generally satisfactory.

In the evening I went to a seminar put on by MAVIC, mainly dealing with their new "Mektronic" electronic shifting system. I rode there on my 1916 Mead Ranger, which made quite a contrast to MAVIC's high-tech products. I brought the bike into the seminar room; it attracted quite a bit of interest. The Mektronic seems quite nice, and I really like the ergonomics of the levers very much.

Chatting around after the formal presentation was over, some interesting possible spinoffs were bandied about, including my suggestion that the directeur sportif of a team could be supplied with a powerful transmitter which would allow him to control the shifting from the team car when the team was out training together. David Bond (I think it was him) suggested that computerized shifting could be connected up with a heart monitor, for a "smart" automatic transmission. Putting both ideas together, you could have the DS watching remote readouts of his riders' heart rates to determine who was dogging it and who needed a break. O brave, new world...

April 4, 1999

TV: Horatio Hornblower, The Duel

A not bad adaptation of Mr. Midshipman Hornblower. One could quibble about the lack of recoil when the guns go off, but the general effects were good, and it showed the crowded conditions on board Justinian quite well. I look forward to future editions in this series.

April 10, 1999

Book: Colonization: Second Contact by Harry Turtledove.

This is the newly released fifth volume of Turtledove's World War series. This alternate history science-fiction series began with Worldwar: In the Balance. The premise is an Earth invaded by reptilian (but fairly sympthetic) aliens in 1942. The invaders come from 10 light years away, and have been studying Earth for hundreds of years. Their society is very old and very stable, changing but little over hundreds of millennia. This is also true of the inhabitants of the two previous planets they have conquered and absorbed into their empire, thousands of years agoe. Their last Earth probe left Earth 600 years ago, and they have planned meticulously how they will conquer and "civilize" the locals, whom they believe to fight with swords and lances, mounted on horseback.

The aliens receive a very unpleasant surprise when they land in 1942 and find the whole planet in arms, and rather more formidable arms than they'd expected.

The "race" is equipped with machine guns, jet aircraft and advanced tanks, but none of this equipment is all -that far advanced with respect to that of the Earth forces. They also have nukes, but are hesitant to use them, because they don't want to damage the environment for the colony fleet that is scheduled to arrive 20 years after the conquest fleet, with 3 million frozen aliens.

The warring powers of Earth temporarily put aside their differences to fight the common enemy, but they distrust and fear one another too much to really cooperate. By the end of the original tetrology, there has been a limited nuclear war, and a stalemate truce leaves the aliens in control of the southern hemisphere, all of Africa, and all of Asia that is not under Soviet Poland, which acts as a buffer between the Nazis and the Soviets, with the Poles and surviving Jews allied with the aliens (who have nipped the Holocaust in the bud, aghast at the savagery of Earth folk.)

The story is told through the eyes of well-developed, 3-dimensional characters, human and alien, and also involves real historical characters coping with this alternate time line. This is very engrossing and entertaining for fans of alternate history.

Colonization: Second Contact is set in 1962, with the arrival of the colonization fleet. Many of the surviving characters from the original tetrology return, older and wiser, along with some new ones. Historical personages include U.S. President Earl Warren, General Curtis LeMay; Reichschancellor Heinrich Himmler; and General Secretary Molotov with his colleagues Beria and Zhukov. The Ayotollah Kohmeni also makes a brief appearance, as one of the plot threads unwinds in Basra. The cover features Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but if he appears in the text I must have missed a page. Highly recommended for alternate history fans, but you ought to begin at the beginning with Worldwar: In the Balance.

April 11, 1999

Just after I passed the 300,000 hit mark on Friday, my site went down. I had hoped that the problems I'd previously had with ICOM were "teething" problems, and that it would be stable, but I guess I was wrong. Since they don't work weekends, I guess I'm stuck 'til Monday.

April 13, 1999

I got a Papal dispensation to miss Revels rehearsal tonight, so I could go see/hear/videotape Tova and George playing jazz at the Watch City Brewery in Waltham. Tova didn't sing this time, hélas, but she drummed quite well, as usual. The fiddler in her grop would have had a great night if her pickup didn't keep falling off her violin. What I could hear was quite good, but half the time she was inaudible.

The big treat was George's absolutely killer trombone solo, far the best I've heard from him. Everybody was amazed; it was very intense and free.

This was the first time I'd been to the Watch City brew pub; quite a nice place. The stage area is in the front window, so you watch the traffic going by on bustling Moody Street. (Moody Street has been making a remarkable recovery from its depressed status even 3 or 4 years ago, and is now as full of nightlife as it used to be of vacant storefronts.) I had their Tick Tock Ale, which was a bit bland for my taste...I'll try something stronger next time I visit.

April 29, 1999

Dress rehearsal for Sea's finally falling into place. Peet Foster, the designer of the set, had taken some photos of the dress rehearsal with a digital camera. I saw him looking at them on his Powerbook, and suggested that they'd be a good addition to the Web site, at least temporarily. He emailed them to me, and I tweaked a bunch of them and put them up at

April 30, 1999

Opening night of the Sea Revels, a good time was had by all. The Majestic is such a gorgeous place to perform in, all 1903 gilded rococo gingerbread. The backstage area is a bit cramped with all of the high-tech theatrical whiz-bangery that's been added in the meantime.

May 1, 1999

A very long, tiring but satisfying May day.

Started off with maypole dancing on the banks of the Charles at dawn (5:30), then home and back to bed to rest up for a Sea Revels doubleheader. Scott Alarik had a very nice review of the show in the Boston Globe.

Between the two performances, I went out with a bunch of other members of the cast and crew to the legendary Jacob Wirth's restaurant, which is just around the corner from the Majestic. Near the end of the meal, a woman came up to me and asked if I had been in the show she'd just seen. I guess I must just have that kind of a face, or something, because I was seated at a table with 10 other cast members, including 3 of the principals!

May 2, 1999

The final final Sea Revels show, a matinee, followed by strike and a cast party out in Watertown. There had been some concern about traffic and parking, due to the fact that the annual "Walk for Hunger" was going on at the same time. To be on the safe side, I cycled in, along Harriet's "Street With Seven Names, from Oak Square to Cambridge St., then in Brighton Ave. and Commonwealth Ave. I rode my fixed-gear Raleigh International, though only after starting out did I remember that I'd just switched to a 42/14 gear, rather than my usual 42/15. I did this since I mostly use this bike on my flat, short commute...but the Street-WSN does have a bit of climbing. The return trip along the river was quite pleasant, with a bit of tailwind.

May 8, 1999

Book: Foundation and Chaos, by Greg Bear Foundation's Fear Gregory Benford Isaac Asimov

May 9, 1999

George and I went down to Fan Pier, where the Canadian schooner Empire Sandy was tied up, for a sea chantey event. This featured Barry Finn, who I appeared with in the recent Sea Revels, as well as Daisy Nell, another former Reveller. 'Twas a grand show, and I ran into lots of frends and acquaintances there.

May-June, 1999

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November-December, 1998 April-May, 1975

The Man of PropertyJohn Galsworthy3/24/99
Colonization: Second ContactHarry Turtledove4/10/99
Honor Among EnemiesDavid Weber3/18/99
Click here for more Books


Mrs. BrownMarch 6, 1999

April 13, 1999Harvey Finstein School of Music student groupsGeorge and Tova at Watch City Brewery
March 7, 1999Newton North High School Chorus and OrchestraMozart: Requiem, Symphony #38 ("Prague").
March 5, 1999Harvey Finstein School of Music student groupsGeorge and Tova in Jazz recital at Newton Congregational Church.
March 4, 1999Newton North High School various groups.

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