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July 3, 2003

I've taken to keeping my Clié at my bedside, partly to use it as an alarm clock, and partly because I can use the voice recorder function to note down dreams while I still remember them.

Dream 4:15 am

I dreamt that the new (un named) conductor of the New York Philharmonic was substituting violas da gamba for the cellos in a Mahler symphony. This was depicted in a video clip on a Website, playing a very slow adagio section of one of the symphonies, perhaps the second.

The new conductor had announced that he was going to fire one of the principal cellists and replace him with somebody else.

There was to be a concert (probably not the NYPO, a totally different concert) involving some Russian soloists, perhaps a string quartet. The musicians were making their way down the aisle of the half-empty concert hall. I was looking back from my seat, and as the cellist came down the aisle, someone in one of the seats stuck out his leg and tripped the cellist, who was last in line. The cellist stumbled and very nearly fell on top of his instrument (not in a case). He got back to his feet, dragged the malefactor out of his seat, and bodily threw him several rows forward...

July 4, 2003

eBook: Fallen Angels Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

This is the worst piece of hackwork I've ever seen Niven put his name to. Full of rightwing political stereotypes, and science fiction fandom in-jokes. In the early 21st century, the Northern Hemisphere is faced by a new ice age, which is all the fault of environmentalists and feminists. An entertaining story despite the heavy handed political overlay. Don't judge Niven by this, he has done much better stuff in the past.

July 5, 2003

Dream 7:45 am

I dreamt I was in a high school, possibly as a teacher, possibly as a visitor. Time was after school, I was in the hall with two teachers, one male, one female. A tiny baby came down the hall with a flask of nitric acid. The baby's feet were in the acid. I pulled the baby out, sniffed and determined that it was nitric acid (I'm quite familiar with nitric acid, because my mother used to keep some in a pickle jar for the purpose of testing gold content in jewelry.) The people I was with took the baby off to seek medical attention, and I went with the acid in search of somebody from the chemistry department to report the incident to. I found a utility sink in the cafeteria, where I washed the acid off of my hands.

There were also black gang members stealing tvs from the school and smoking dope. As I was washing my hands, the assistant principal came by, and we went together to search for the TV thieves. We were traveling in a school bus, and I spotted the malefactors in a storeroom full of TVs, pointed them out to the assistant principal. He went after them, and I woke up.

July 8, 2003


This was the first Carmen rehearsal with the orchestra, what a kick! I'd forgotten how nice it is to sing with an orchestra, and also what very fine music it is. This is gonna be good!

July 10, 2003

eBook Hunting Party Elizabeth Moon, 1993

This was a chance acquisition as part of the Baen WebScription series. It is the first novel in the "Familias Regnant" universe. This is somewhat reminiscent of the Honor Harrington series, though rather more original in concept. The protagonist, Heris Serrano is a newly civilian starship captain, having left the Navy under questionable circumstances. She takes a job as skipper of a wealthy noblewoman's yacht, and the adventures go on from there. This is the first I've read by Elizabeth Moon, but I liked it very much, and will certainly seek out the rest of her writings.

An unusual feature of this series is that horses and horsemanship play a major role. There are fox hunts, dressage and the like, as the aristocracy of the Familias Regnant is extremely "horsey."

July 12, 2003

eBook Sporting Chance Elizabeth Moon, 1994

Book two of the Heris Serrano trilogy, quite enjoyable, but to be read in sequence.

July 14, 2003

I'm 59 years old, but no special celebration, since I've got a Carmen rehearsal tonight.

eBook Winning Colors Elizabeth Moon, 1995

Book three of the Heris Serrano trilogy, quite enjoyable, but to be read in sequence.

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July 17, 2003

Film: (DVD) Les Destinées Olivier Assayas, 2002

An epic film about two upper middle-class French families running over the period from 1900 into the 1930s. Visually gorgeous, sometimes a bit hard to follow, very well acted. Recommended for francophiles.

July 19, 2003

eBook Once a Hero Elizabeth Moon

A successor to the Heris Serrano trilogy, this novel features Esmay Suiza, who was introduced near the end of Winning colors. Another fine space opera for those (like me) who enjoy such things.

July 23, 2003

eBook Man-Kzin Wars X: The Wunder War Hal Colebatch & Larry Niven, 2003

The latest in the Known Space series, 3 linked novellas set on Wunderland, the first extrasolar colony in the Centauri system. I can't get enough of this stuff!

July 25, 2003

Film: (DVD) Moonlight Mile Brad Silberling, 2002

Susan Sarandon and Dustin Hoffman turn in spectacular performances as a couple whose only daughter has died in a random shooting. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the late daughter's fiancé, who they attempt to virtually adopt as their only living link to their lost daughter. This is a very fine film, not as depressing as the subject matter might suggest.

Set in 1966 in an unspecified Massachusetts town, parts were shot in Marblehead, Gloucester, Cohasset. Features a well selected pop music score.

July 26, 2003

Film: (DVD) Waiting for Guffman Christopher Guest

This is a hilarious takeoff on community theater, a predecessor of Best in Show and A Mighty Wind

July 27, 2003

eBook Ruled Britannia Harry Turtledove, 2003

Turtledove turns his alternate history vision to England in 1598. It has been 10 years since England was conquered by Spain, and the Roman Catholic faith forcibly restored by the Spanish army and the Inquisition. There are two main protagonists: lope de Vega, a Spanish lieutenant is one, and the other is an English actor involved in a rebellious conspiracy, one William Shakespeare.

Turtledove has done a masterful job of telling a fascinating tale, involving mostly actual historical personages, and in imitating the language of Shakespeare's time. Indeed, we often hear lines we know from Shakespeare in the mouths of Will Kemp or Richard Burbage or others, which we know Shakespeare will later expropriate for his dramas or comedies. The conversation is full of very plausible Shakespearean puns, and I can heartily recommend this book to readers with a general familiarity with Shakespeare. (Conversely, to those who aren't reasonably up on Shakespeare, most of this book will be incomprehensible.)

One fictitious character is Constable Strawberry, whose hilarious malapropisms suggest him as the prototype of Constable Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing.

July 31, 2003

eBook Rules of Engagement Elizabeth Moon

Another of the Familias Regnant series, I'm really hooked on these.

Opera Bizet's Carmen M.I.T. Gilbert & Sullivan Players

This was my first appearance in an actual grand opera, and was a lot of fun. The production turned out to be quite a good one, with an excellent orchestra. I'm very proud to have been associated with it. I was a soldier in Act 1, a Gypsy in subsequent acts.

When gays can marry, will there then be divorces on grounds of "irreconcilable similarities?"

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August 2, 2003

Film: (DVD) Happy Accidents

August 3, 2003

eBook Change of Command Elizabeth Moon

Another of the Familias Regnant series, I was sorry to come to the end of it.

August 4, 2003

Film: (DVD) Scotland PA Christopher Guest

The story of Macbeth, translated to a fast food joint in Pennsylvania, in the 1970s. Quirky fun.

August 6, 2003

Family reunion Eastover, Lenox, Massachusetts

Harriet and I drove out to Eastover, neither of our kids was able to make it, though. George was in Duluth, and Tova's in California.

August 7, 2003

eBook Against the Odds Elizabeth Moon

This is the most recent of the Familias Regnant series, I was sorry to come to the end of it.

eBook The Elevator William Dean Howells, 1911

This is a one-act farce about guests arriving at a Back Bay dinner party, and some of them getting stuck in the newfangled elevator. Not the best thing Howells ever wrote.

"The Mount"

The Mount was the mansion designed and built by Edith Wharton in 1902. After a hard century of use, it is being restored to its original grandeur by a local foundation. I had not known much about Edith Wharton, aside from the fact that she had written Ethan Frome, which I was forced to read in high school. (I wasn't ready for it then, but might be now...I've downloaded it and added it to my collection of ebooks to read...) Turns out that Wharton was actually famous as a decorator/designer before she became a novelist. According to the information provided, she may have invented the profession of interior decorator, and her writings on this topic were key in the transition from the Victorian to the Neo-classical style in the early 20th century.

The house and grounds are indeed lovely, and I wish I could have stayed longer to wander around.

In the late afternoon, I went for a brief mountain bike ride around Eastover, going down a looooong dirt road to a swampy trail that appeared to be built on an old railway bed. Finally got the M8000 muddy.

raleigh m8000

August 8, 2003

eBook King Solomon's Mines H. Rider Haggard 1886

This might be the prototypical Great White Hunter in Africa novel. Seemed to me full of clichés, but that could be because it has had so many offspring. For whatever reason, I didn't much enjoy it. It was about as racist as one might expect for something of its time.

Play Two Gentlemen of Verona Shakespeare

This production by Shakespeare & Company was my first exposure to this early comedy. It was presented in the "Rose Footprint Theatre" on the Shakespeare & Company campus. This theatre is intended to have the same layout as the original Rose Theatre of Tudor times, though it is housed in a conical tent top rather than a permanent building. We had front row seats, and greatly enjoyed the show. The actors were very exuberant and communicated well despite the occasionally difficult language. I'm sure I didn't get all of the puns and in-jokes, but was never in any doubt of what was going on. Anna Brownstead as Speed was particularly funny, adding excellent physical comedy to her role.

August 9, 2003

Went skeet shooting in the morning, something I haven't done since I was at Boy Scout camp in the 1950s. Back then it was with little .410 shotguns, the equivalent of a .22 rifle. Eastover, however provided a 12 gauge, larger and more powerful than any gun I've ever fired before. I'd heard lots of stories about what a powerful kick a 12 gauge had, and the result was a bit of an anticlimax. Of course, this was just firing AA shot, probably would have been more impressive with a heavier load. I got 6 shots, only hit one clay pigeon...took me a while to get the hang of shooting with only a front sight. I think I would have done better if I had more chance to practice.

Museum Mass MOCA North Adams, Mass.

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is housed in a group of converted factory buildings in North Adams. The facility was most recently the Sprague capacitor factory ("Don't be vague, ask for Sprague!").

It was well worth the drive up from Lenox, and indeed would have been worth coming quite a bit farther...this is a fabulous museum.

My favorite exhibit was Robert Crewdson's Twilight series of large format photographs. These are very elaborately staged setups, involving weeks of preparation and a large crew of stagehands and gaffers. The results are eerie in the extreme, especially in their juxtaposition of quotidian suburban settings with ominously theatrical lighting effects and surrealistic elements. This exhibit is just a knockout!

The other exhibit that I found particularly powerful was Robert Wilson's 14 Stations, a very large installation inspired by the Stations of the Cross. This is a very powerful work, even without reference to the Passion story.

In the evening, I started to come down with a cold.

August 10, 2003

Drove home along with my cousin Buzz. Harriet is cycling back, expects to make two days of it.

August 11, 2003

eBook The American Claimant Mark Twain, 1892

August 14, 2003

Wayne has been organizing a weekly Thursday evening ride out of the shop, tonight was the third one, but the first I was able to make it to.

Nobody but shop folks showed up this evening, but we had a nice ride together, heading out through Weston and into Lincoln. Here's a photo taken by a passerby at the Campion Center in Weston:

Click for larger image

Wayne, Elton, Sheldon, Jay
Wayne, Elton, Sheldon, Jay

August 15, 2003

I wasted a lot of time today thanks to Norton SystemWorks. I had already owned version 2.0, and it said that my hard Mac G4 PowerBook's disc was badly fragmented...but I couldn't get my machine to boot from the Norton disc to run Norton Speeddisc. I figured this was because the version was too old. I bought Norton SystemWorks 3.0, and tried to run it...only to receive the error message:
The directory structures on disc "TiHd" are too large for the current version of Norton Utilities."
So, I spent a great deal of time copying off tons of files from the 60 GB internal disc to my external 200 GB firewire disc, clearing up about 47 GB on the internal disc...but it still wouldn't work! I paid $89 for this "upgrade" only to find out that it won't work on my 7-month old computer!

Took even longer to copy the files back and get everything working again. I feel seriously ripped off by this. I checked with Symantec's tech support Website, where I learned:

Symantec is aware of this problem and is working on a solution. There is no solution at this time. We will continue to track this problem, and this document will be updated when new information becomes available or a solution is found.
Thanks a lot!

Film: (DVD) Doctor Strangelove, or How I Learned to stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Stanley Kubrick, 1963

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August 16, 2003

eBook: The Years of Rice and Salt Kim Stanley Robinson, 2003

This was intermittently riveting, though parts got too mystical for my taste. It's an alternate-history novel, with the point of departure being the Black Death in the 14th century, basically wiping out all of Europe, all of Christendom. It continues from then down to about the present day, following a "jati" of characters through the various lives they are reincarnated into over the centuries. I mostly liked it very much. In fact I liked it so much that I continued to read it even though the new Harry Turtledove book arrived when I was less than half way through!

August 18, 2003

Tova and George are both home at the same time, and the family is all together for a couple of weeks at least.

August 20, 2003

eBook: American Empire: The Victorious Opposition Harry Turtledove

This episode of the American Empire series brings us up to 1941, thorough the Hoover administration and into Al Smith's Socialist government in the U.S. with the Confederacy firmly under the control of Jake Featherstone. A mostly grim tale, and we say goodby to several of the characters. One of the things that makes Turtledove's approach so gripping is that he has so many protagonists, that he can kill them off, and does. This creates a greater level of suspense than more conventionally structured novels can pull off.

August 22, 2003

Film: (DVD) Gangs of New York

I had been looking forward to this, Netflix finally got me a copy, but in the end it was rather disappointing. I had been anticipating something more historically informed, but this seemed a bit too much like Mad Max predux.

The New York draft riots during the Slavery War were certainly tragic, and especially tragic because the rioters misdirected their anger at the hapless black population, rather than the war criminals who were out to enslave them as soldiers.

To quote myself: "Military conscription is the worst form of slavery; a more enlightened age will consider it to be a war crime."

August 23, 2003

Film: (DVD) AI: Artificial Intelligence Stephen Spielberg

This was less of a commercial success than many of Spielberg's other films, but I liked it. Story of an android child obsessed with the story of Pinocchio.

August 24, 2003

Film: (DVD) The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! Norman Jewison 1966

I've seen this several times before, but I had forgotten what fun it is. A bit of an anomaly in the middle of the Cold War, as it depicts Soviet military men as all too human, as they run aground on Nantucket and then try to escape without starting World War Three. Alan Arkin is wonderful as the sub's exec, Theo Bikel as the skipper, and many other great comic actors of the period. Highly recommended.

August 25, 2003

Film: (DVD) The Spy Who Loved Me 1977

Took this out of the Library in a weak moment, figuring "how bad could it be." This turned out to be one of the Roger Moore James Bond treatment, and it was much worse than I could have imagined. What a horrible piece of clumsy hackwork!

August 26, 2003

Drove out to Marblehead with the whole family in the afternoon. Stopped at the light and climbed on the rocks a bit, then drove over to Grace Oliver's beach for a swim. I had forgotten how nice Grace Oliver's is at low tide. We swam out to Brown's Island (well, George waded) and had a nice time indeed. First time I've been in the ocean this year, forgot how much I like it.

Went to the Landing restaurant for dinner, then walked down to Fort Sewall to view the harbor from the other side. A very pleasant afternoon.

Went by way of the new Ted Williams Tunnel and Route 1A. Much nicer and faster than the old way via the Central Artery. Thanks Tip!

August 27, 2003

eBook The House of Mirth Edith Wharton 1905

After my visit to Edith Wharton's house I was inspired to download one of her novels. The House of Mirth is the story of a beautiful woman born to wealth, and raised to be a trophy bride for a super-rich husband, but she has too much integrity to settle for any of the wealthy men available to her, and too much love of luxury to settle for the impecunious lawyer she actually loves. It all comes to a bad end. I found this a fairly engrossing read, and very well crafted, but the downward arc of the story was depressing and gloomy.

August 28, 2003

Harriet joined Elton, Jay, Wayne, two civilians and me for our Thursday evening shop ride, first time for her. She basically smoked everybody. Glad to know I'm not the only guy who can't keep up with her!

Film: (DVD) Spirited Away

This was a charming Japanese animated film about a young girl who is "spirited away" to a mythical land of spirits. Very fine piece of work, highly recommended.

Something has gone seriously wrong with my Eudora email program, it crashes every time I try to start it up. This is quite worrisome, and I won't be able to contact support until tomorrow noontime. Due to my current volume of email and the prevailing spam level, even if tech support gets me going by midday I'll probably have a backlog of over a thousand messages...

August 30, 2003

Film: (DVD) Fargo Joel and Ethan Coen, 1996

My second-favorite Coen brothers film, only excelled by The Big Lebowski I won't try to describe it, if you haven't seen it you gotta!

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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:
Man-Kzin Wars X: The Wunder WarHal Coleman & Larry Niven7/23/03
The ElevatorWilliam Dean Howells8/7/03
Against the OddsElizabeth Moon8/7/03
Change of CommandElizabeth Moon8/3/03
Hunting PartyElizabeth Moon7/10/03
Rules of EngagementElizabeth Moon7/31/03
Sporting ChanceElizabeth Moon7/10/03
Winning ColorsElizabeth Moon7/10/03
Once a HeroElizabeth Moon7/10/03
Fallen AngelsLarry Niven/Jerry Pournelle7/4/03
The Years of Rice and SaltKim Stanley Robinson8/16/03
American Empire: The Victorious OppositionHarry Turtledove8/20/03
Ruled BritanniaHarry Turtledove7/27/03
>The House of MirthEdith Wharton8/27/03


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


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


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
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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
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October 4, 2004Las Vegas, Nevada
June 8, 2004France, England
December 22, 2003Halifax, Nova Scotia
November 27, 2003Florida
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October 10, 2003Las Vegas, Nevada
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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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