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March 3, 2002

Film: (DVD) Cats and Dogs

I figured anything with Jeff Goldblum couldn't be too bad. I was wrong. How could he associate himself with such a clinker? His role and characterization are basically the same as Rick Moranis in Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

Film: (DVD) Race for Freedom: The Story of the Underground Railroad

March 6, 2002

Film: (DVD) The Scent of a Woman 1992

March 7, 2002

Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra Colgrass, Schubert

Guest conductor Hans Graf led the premier of Michael Colgrass's Crossworlds concerto for flute and piano and the Schubert "Great" C Major Symphony.

The Colgrass has a dialectic between the flute (Marina Piccinini) and piano (Andreas Häfliger) something like the dialectic between the side drum and the orchestra in Nielsen's 5th, though the end is more of a synthesis than a victory as in the Nielsen.

The Schubert is one of my very favorite pieces, and I don't recall to have ever heard it live before. Graf's performance was good, but not great. Some of the balances were a bit off--the trombones rather overpowered the strings, and the coda didn't have quite the power it could have.

March 9, 2002

Book: The Eyes of the Calculor Sean McMullen 2001

This is the conclusion of the Greatwinter series begun with Souls in the Great Machine and continued with The Miocene Arrow. I enjoyed this trilogy thoroughly.

Film: (DVD) The Longest Day

An all star cast, but not a great film. This story of the D-Day landing rather pales in the shadow of Saving Private Ryan

March 11, 2002

Film: (DVD) What Women Want

Mel Gibson reveals a talent for comedy in this film, as a MCP ad man who suddenly acquires the ability to read women's minds.

March 15, 2002

Film: (DVD) Left Behind

Pickings were slim on the DVD shelves at the library when I spotted this. I had read the book last month, and was mildly curious to see how it would translate onto film. Rather a clinker, mainly of camp interest.

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March 16, 2002

eBook Worldwar: In the Balance Harry Turtledove

This is the first volume of Turtledove's WorldWar series. I've read them all before, but it was fun to re-read this in the light of hindsight, knowing the destinies of the various characters.

The premise is that invaders from another planet arrive at Earth with an invasion fleet of starships in 1942. They are a very mature society, slow to change. They had sent robotic probes to examine Earth in advance, and the most recent of the probes sent back an image of a typical earthling warrior--a knight on horseback, with chainmail and a sword. They figure Earth will be easy pickings, since they've got machine guns, jet aircraft, helicopters, guided missiles and even nuclear explosives. They find an unpleasant surprise when they land and find a planet armed to the teeth with weapons inferior to theirs--but not all that inferior.

This series follows a great many characters all around the world, some of them fictional, others real. The aliens are also interesting characters; reptilian, but not monsters. Highly recommended.

March 17, 2002

eBook: The Time Machine H. G. Wells

With the new film version just opened, I thought it might be nice to re-read this classic. This might be the first novel to imagine a time machine (and Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court might be the first time-travel story ever...this is not an old genre.)

This is a cautionary tale, based on Wells's Socialist politics. Wells's Time Traveller visits the far future, and finds that the division between upper and lower classes has caused humanity to bifurcate into two distinct and hostile species. The Eloi, gentle, idle, elfin creatures who spend their days dancing, picking flowers and eating fruit in the parklike ruins of their ancestors, and the Morlocks, pale subterranean toilers who tend the machinery...and come up to the surface at night to feed on the Eloi.

Did a bunch of work on, particularly getting the photography stuff organized. There were a lot of bad links, some to defunct and pages. Here's the revised photography grid:

Sheldon Brown's Photography
Bicycles Bicycle
Gilbert &
1975 1989
France IPIX
Québec Yucatan

March 18, 2002

Film: (DVD) Troilus and Cressida

March 19, 2002

Film: (DVD) American Flyers

March 22, 2002

Opera: (DVD) Khovanshchina Mussorgsky

I've lately been listening to a lot of Russian opera, and was excited to find this DVD at the library. I was not familiar with Khovanshchina, which was left unfinished at Mussorgsky's death. This Wiener Staatsoper version uses a score orchestrated by Shostakovich, with the final scene by Stravinsky.

Set in 1682, it deals with the resistance of the Old Believers, the Boyars and the Streltsy militia to the reforms of Peter the Great. It ends with pretty much the entire cast being burned as heretics. I found the politics a bit confusing, with multiple factions struggling against one another. It probably would have been easier if I'd read the synopsis first.

Despite the gloomy subject matter, the music is gorgeous. The singing was excellent, and the acting was pretty good. The rather mechanistic, abstract set was very dark and sinister. All in all, a fine DVD for those of us who like this sort of thing.

March 23, 2002

With the demise of Mediaone, the cable company that provides our home cable modem connection, I lost the Web space that had been hosting my genealogical files. Now they're back on line, at There's a forwarding link at

eBook: My Mark Twain William Dean Howells, 1910

Howells was Twain's editor at the Atlantic Monthly, and the two were lifelong friends. Howells wrote this biographical memoir shortly after Twain's death. He is fulsome in his praise for Twain, as a writer, a friend and as a humanitarian.

March 25, 2002

Film: (DVD) Now, Voyager 1942

This film makes me think of my mother. I've seen it once before, several years after her death, and was startled to see how many similarities there are between her and Bette Davis's character. I'm certain my mother must have seen this film, quit likely read the Olive Higgins Prouty novel on which it was based, as well. Like the film's protagonist, my mother was a Bostonian, with a strong, domineering mother. The house they live in on Marlborough Street is decorated much as my grandmother would have decorated, had she not lost her fortune in the Crash. (My grandmother reputedly owned some 200 pieces of Boston real estate in November 1929. In December, she owned a Packard touring car full of antiques, and set out for Hollywood to try to make it in films. Family lore is that she was an extra in a couple of Mack Sennett comedies, but nobody knows for sure.

) My mother would have been about 26 or 27 at the time the film was released, a borderline spinster, like Charlotte. She too, met and fell in love with a man with children, namely my father. Fortunately, unlike "Jerry" in the film, my father was a widower, and available.

This Warners film features two actors made immortal in Casablanca: Claude Rains (Col Renaud) as a psychiatrist, and Paul Henreid (Victor Laszlo) as the unattainable beloved.

March 26, 2002

First rehearsal for the Spring Revels. This year it's focussing on the Padstow 'Obby 'Oss ritual and a theory that it might be derived from African roots...picked up by Cornish seafarers in, perhaps the 16th century.

March 27, 2002

Film: (DVD) Buckaroo Banzai

A charming send up of '50s science fiction flicks. The eponymous hero is your typical nuclear physicist/rock star/brain surgeon. Jeff Goldblum plays his sidekick, and John Lighgow (the High Commander from the late, lamented Third Rock from the Sun) is the villain.

One of my fans sent me a really nice CD, an obscure release from the CBC, Bach's Goldberg Variations transcribed for string trio, played by a trio called "Triskelion." Very tasty!

March 28, 2002

I'm bummed that the corporate bean counters at ABC have cancelled my favorite TV show, Once and Again. I'll miss those folks.

My back has been bothering me for almost two weeks now, been a while since I was on a bike.

We've had a cel phone for a year or two, but never remembered to bring it with us when we went anywhere. Now we've got a second one, so that there's one for Harriet and one for me. I plan to start carrying it around, see how useful it is.

March 30, 2002

Oh, I wish I didn't live so close to Israel! What a mess. The Israeli army is closing in on Arafat, but I can't believe that Arafat has any control at all over the suicidal nut cases that are blowing themselves up in Israel.

Film: The Time Machine 2002

Went with Harriet and George to see this on the big screen at the Capitol in Arlington. Nice theatre.

The luke-warm reviews were right. There are some nice special effects, and the recreation of 1899 New York (!) was a treat. The Time Machine itself was nicely executed, with huge rotating fresnel lenses.

The stop in 2300 was nicely done, but the film went down the tubes when it moved on to the distant future of the Eloi and the Morlocks.

The film totally missed the political point of the book. The Eloi were Polynesian-style neo-primitives living in cute basketry dwellings on the faces of a river gorge. The Morlocks were generic horror film monsters, and the whole point of the division being the result of the English class system carried to an extreme was lost.

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April 1, 2002

Well it's that time of year again:


eBook: WorldWar: Tilting the Balance Harry Turtledove

Volume 2 of the series, see WorldWar: In the Balance. Possibly more fun the second time around, as the characters are better known to me.

April 8, 2002

Rode my bike to work for the first time in about 3 weeks...threw my back out, so I was taking the 4 wheeler--but now things are back to normal.

When I got home, I found we were incommunicado. Cable modem, telephone and cable TV all dead...I guess that's what we get for putting all of our eggs in one basket with the digital phone service. Fortunately, we've now got two cel phones, so was able to call it in. Took a few hours before service came back, tho'.

Film: (DVD) A Map of the World

I figured, Sigourney Weaver, how bad could it be? This is a major tear-jerker, no fun at all. Weaver was excellent as a school nurse falsely accused of child molestation, and the cinematography was quite good, but the whole thing was such a downer...

April 10, 2002

Film: Rules of Engagement

April 11, 2002

Film: (DVD) My Man Godfrey

April 12, 2002

Play: Guys and Dolls

April 13, 2002

eBookWorldWar: Upsetting the Balance Harry Turtledove

Operetta: The Gondoliers M.I.T.G.A.S.P

April 14, 2002

Film: (DVD) Body Heat

April 15, 2002

The Boston Globe Business Section had a nice article about me today.
No longer available.

I've wanted to learn how to do a custom "404" page for a long time, but never found any info on creating one...until today! One of my fans sent me a URL of a site that explains just how to do it, and it turns out to be easier than I would have expected. See:$%#

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April 18, 2002

Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra Mahler, Symphony #9

Seiji Ozawa led his last rehearsal as B.S.O. music director, an open rehearsal. The actual season-ending concert was sold out, but we were able to get tickets to this morning event.

It was strange to see the orchestra in civvies, and to hear the music broken up between movements, by applause, notes, and an intermission betwixt the Scherzo and the Rondo. I'v never heard the Scherzo played so fast. The Rondo:Burlesk was blistering in its intensity. I'll look forward to the broadcast.

TV: Once and Again

The final episode was broadcast on Monday the 15th, but I didn't watch it 'til this evening. So sad to see this wonderful show end, I'll miss all of the characters...

The departure of Once and Again breaks the tie, and leaves The West Wing as my current favorite TV series.

April 19, 2002

Film: (DVD) Out of the Present

April 20, 2002

Zipped out to Natick for 1 1/2 hours of N.E.F.F.A., George dancing with Red Herring Morris. Had to rush away to get George to an orchestra rehearsal.

Concert: Brandeis University Jazz Ensemble

Harriet had committee work at N.U., so I videotaped this for her. George was super, several very major solos. Very nice concert.

April 21, 2002

Concert: Brandeis/Wellesley Symphony Orchestras, Brandeis Chorus

Houghton Chapel, Wellesley College. George played Trombone in the Brahms First , but there was no 'bone in the rest of the concert: the Vaughan-Williams Serenade to Music and Beethoven's Choral Fantasy. The orchestra sounded great, especially the strings which were of professional caliber.

Much as I like Brahms, his symphonies don't do too much for me...a bit too ponderous for my taste. this was, nevertheless, a good performance. The Vaughan-Williams was the high point of the concert. I've only heard this on recordings in the past, it was nice to hear it in the flesh.

April 22, 2002

Film: (DVD) Braveheart

I'd seen this

April 24, 2002

eBook Worldwar: Striking the Balance Harry Turtledove

This finishes the original tetralogy. It's the first Turtledove I've read a second time, and it holds up well.

April 26, 2002

Film: (DVD) Carmen Jones

Dorothy Dandridge, Pearl Bailey and Harry Belafonte in a re-setting of Bizet's Carmen set in WWII in the American South and Chicago, with an all Black cast. Mainly of camp interest, many could find Oscar Hammerstein's stereotyped treatment offensive.

It appears that Belafonte isn't even singing...his two main arias are sung by a very operatic voice that doesn't sound much like him.

April 27, 2002

Revels Saturday all-day rehearsal. I've got a featured bit as the blacksmith in "Twankydillo."

I sometimes like to think that if I had lived in an earlier age, blacksmithing would have been my trade. I've always enjoyed working with metal, and generally have a feel for it. In, say, medieval society, a blacksmith was an unusually valuable member of the community, with skills and strength that put him near the top of the pecking order of common folk. Nobody was likely to pick a fight with a blacksmith, and he would certainly be too valuable plying his trade to be sent off to war...

Film: (DVD) Open City 1946

Grim, gritty film about resistance to the Nazis in WWII Rome. This film could really use some better subtitles. An awful lot gets said that isn't translated.

I do enjoy the black and white certitude of war films made during or just after the troubling ambiguities, you know the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad to the bone.

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The overall Booklist has been moved to a separate page.

Books reviewed on this page:
The Eyes of the CalculorSean McMullen3/9/02
My Mark TwainWilliam Dean Howells3/23/02
WorldWar: In the Balance Harry Turtledove3/16/02
WorldWar: Tilting the Balance Harry Turtledove4/1/02
WorldWar: Upsetting the Balance Harry Turtledove4/13/02
The Time Machine H. G. Wells3/17/02


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

Films reviewed on this page:
Cats and DogsMarch 3, 2002
Race for Freedom: The Story of the Underground RailroadMarch 3, 2002
The Scent of a WomanMarch 6, 2002


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

Music reviewed on this page:
April 18, 2002 B.S.O., Seiji OzawaMahler, Sym. # 9
April 13, 2002 M.I.T.G.a.S.P.Gilbert &Sullivan, The Gondoliers
March 7, 2002 B.S.O., Hans Graf, M. Piccinini, A.HäfligerColgrass, Schubert


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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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.
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November 24, 2004Plantation, Florida
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November 27, 2003Florida
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November 21-24, 2001New York City
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September 29-October 3, 2001Las Vegas, Nevada (Interbike Show)
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November 25-28, 1998Fort Lauderdale, Florida
1988-89France, England
1980Yucatan, Mexico
1975England, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Turkey

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