Rode the Raleigh Cadent out to Dover, 22 miles, fairly long ride for me these days due to my gimpiness and the fact that this has been the rainiest spring in memory. This is the first time I've ridden this bike since swapping out the rear derailer for a Shimano XT low-normal unit. I was quite pleased with the way the gears work.
I had worn my MUSA shorts, which work as a bathing suit as well as for cycling, and went for a swim in the Charles off Claybrook Road, first time this year. This turned out to be more exciting than I had expected. I've always swum upstream first, then back to the starting point...at least that's what I thought I was doing! This is a wide, deepish section where the current is normally so slow as to be just about undetectable. With the record rain we've had the last few weeks, however, there is now actual current present, and it turns out to be flowing in the opposite direction of what I had always assumed! I got a ways down noticing what good speed I was making...then realized my mistake, but found it took swimming as hard as I could to make even a little bit of headway against the current! There aren't many spots along the banks in this section where one can climb out...pretty steep and overgrown. I swam to the side, at a section that was clearly not climbable, at least not for someone in my condition. I held on to a rock for a couple of minutes to rest up, then swam upstream a few difficult yards to a less overgrown, but still quite steep section. After considerable struggling I managed to get up to the road and walk back to the bike. All was well in the end.
Film: (HBO) Must Love Dogs Gary David Goldberg, 2005A pleasant romantic comedy.
Up early to drive Harriet to the airport. She's off to the Midwest for a week so I'll be batching it. Shaved my noggin and trimmed my beard, but it looks as if I was a bit late with the shaving, should have done it before I went out to Santa Cruz, 'cause I got a lot of sun out there and now I'm kinda piebald with the light colored parts of my head that had been sheltered by hair.
Book: Heretic Bernard Cornwell, 2003The concluding volume of the Grail Quest trilogy (The Archer's Tale, Vagabond. Much of a piece with the other books, I liked it.
Film: (DVD) Nanny McPhee Kirk Jones, 2006I'm a huge Emma Thompson fan, so I had to Netflix this, since she stars and wrote the screenplay. Unfortunately, I guess I'm too old to appreciate this totally predictable Mary Poppins retread.
Film: (DVD) Casanova Lasse Hallström, 2005A costume farce, not as funny as it might be but redeemed by being shot entirely on location in Venice, so it's a treat for the eyes.
Film: (DVD) Syriana Stephen Gaghan, 2005A confusing cynical thriller about the politics of oil in the middle east. A good film, but hard to follow because it jumps around so much from Washington to Beirut to Teheran to "The Persian Gulf" to Spain and back again.
10 miles on Greenspeed
Film: (DVD) Howards End James Ivory, 1992How did I ever miss this? Edwardian England with my favorit male and female actors: Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson! Actually, I know how I missed it...I had assumed that I had already seen it but just didn't remember the details. I found it at the Library last week and decided to watch it "again" but it turns out that I had never seen it before! What a treat!
Now I need to read the book. I don't believe I've ever read any E.M. Forster to date.
I'm not usually much a drinker, but I'm a bit bored and lonely with Harriet out of town so I thought I might try to "drown my sorrows" in some of the hard stuff. Found a bottle of rum in the larder, drank 3 glasses, but it really wasn't all that much fun.
Greenspeed TrikeTook the trike on the Charles River bike paths, on the South bank from Newton in along to the Smoots Bridge, then across the bridge and down to the dam on the Cambridge side.
I had thought to try the new "bike lanes" on the Smoots Bridge, but there was a guardrail preventing me from getting to them, so I used the sidewalk on the bridge.
Came back along the Boston side to Western Avenue, then over to Memorial Drive, which was "closed" (it always bothers me that the signs say it's "closed" on Sunday afternoons...it seems "opened" to me!) Then I crossed over the Eliot Bridge to the Brighton side as far as Arsenal Street, then back to the Watertown side to Bridge Street. 23 miles in all.
It was a hot, sunny day, gave me a chance to work on my tan too! (I don't generally wear my helmet when I'm on the trike.)
I had rigged a camera mount on the front and took video as far as about the Smoots Bridge, but the battery ran out shortly after I got to the Cambridge side.
For the first 10 miles I was moving along at a decent clip considering my somewhat crippled condition, but then I was pretty well tuckered out, and the rest of the ride was at unusually slow speeds. (My average speed for the 23 miles was 6.5 mph.) It was a bit of a revelation, riding so slowly on the recumbent trike, and it made the bike path a lot more pleasant than I have usually found it on summer weekends. I even used "pedestrian" traffic-light pushbuttons for some of the road crossings. They were easy to reach from the trike, and the fact that I didn't need to dismount or put a foot down, but rather just sit in my rolling lawn chair, made the wait quite tolerable. Indeed, I rode the sidewalk-like section from Arsenal Street to Watertown square, sometimes going slower than a walking pace on the climbs.
The thing about trikes is not that you have to go slower, but that you can go slower, or stop if you want without needing to dismount or stand up.
I was having trouble with my cleats. I kept getting bounced out of them by the #@*$%! tree roots, and was finding it very hard to get clipped back in. However, the Greenspeed has two-way pedals, SPD on one side, grippy cage type on the other, so I just gave up on the cleats after a while and that seemed to work surprisingly well too. I slumped down a bit farther in the seat and was pedaling more on my insteps than on the balls of my feet. It was pretty comfortable.
Film: (DVD) The Lady from Shanghai Orson Welles, 1946Interesting cinematography for the time, but a pretty cockamamie story, unconvincing dialogue and hammy acting. Not recommended.
I wish I had remembered that I had seen it before!
Harriet's back home! ;-)
Picking her up from the airport was a bit of an adventure, because last night the ceiling of the collector tunnel from the Mass Pike to the Williams tunnel fell down, killing a woman, so "you can't get there from here."
My mind is still a bit boggled by the concept of making a suspended ceiling out of concrete!
eBook: The Wandering Jew Eugène Sue, 1844This 11 volume serial novel was a huge best-seller, the Da Vinci Code of its day. The villains in the piece are scheming Jesuits and their accomplices, who will stop at nothing to gain hegemony over the world.
The "Wandering Jew" of the title is actually a fairly minor character, an Israelite cobbler who refused Jesus when he wanted to rest on the cobbler's bench while carrying his cross to Calvary. As punishment, the W.J. is condemned to walk the Earth until he is able to atone for his sin. He acts as a sort of "guardian angel" for the various protagonists, incidentally spreading an epidemic of cholera wherever he wanders. In this story, set in the early 1830s. The protagonists are all descendents of the W.J.'s sister.
The writing is delightfully florid. Here's an example, describing the hair of the principal heroine:"We have already said that Adrienne was red-haired; but it was the redness of many of the admirable portraits of women by Titian and Leonardo da Vinci,--that is to say, molten gold presents not reflections more delightfully agreeable or more glittering, than the naturally undulating mass of her very long hair, as soft and fine as silk, so long, that, when let loose, it reached the floor; in it, she could wholly envelop herself, like another Venus arising from the sea. At the present moment, Adrienne's tresses were ravishing to behold; Georgette, her arms bare, stood behind her mistress, and had carefully collected into one of her small white hands, those splendid threads whose naturally ardent brightness was doubled in the sunshine. When the pretty lady's-maid pulled a comb of ivory into the midst of the undulating and golden waves of that enormously magnificent skein of silk, one might have said that a thousand sparks of fire darted forth and coruscated away from it in all directions. The sunshine, too, reflected not less golden and fiery rays from numerous clusters of spiral ringlets, which, divided upon Adrienne's forehead, fell over her cheeks, and in their elastic flexibility caressed the risings of her snowy bosom, to whose charming undulations they adapted and applied themselves..."It is a very long book, gripping in sections, less so elsewhere, and does not end happily.
Film: (DVD) Swimming Robert J. Siegel, 1999A Lauren Ambrose (Claire in Six Feet Under star vehicle. A "coming of age" film set in Myrtle Beach. I always enjoy Lauren Ambrose, but the film didn't really speak to me.
I'm 62! Happy Bastille Day!Today was the day of the arrival of:
The Big Fix
Samuel Adams, Big Fix Riders & Support Crew, Faneuil Hall
Harriet and I met them in Kenmore Square to ride the last few miles with them. Harriet was on the frame she built , and I was on my Quickbeam. Unfortunately I was unable to get up Beacon Hill on fixed in my current condition so we cut around through Boston Common and Downtown Crossing. I was on one of my low-dose days with the steroids, and was having even more trouble than usual getting on and off the bike. It was a very nerve-wracking ride, dodging the peds and with as much starting and stopping as there was.
Rather than face the ride back to our van parked in Kenmore Square, I let Harriet and Elton ride back to bring the van down to Faneuil Hall and pick me up. This turned out to be a mistake, because a Red Sox game was just about to start, and they got caught in horrific traffic.
In the evening we went to the celebration dinner at a nice Italian restaurant in Park Square.
Revels 35th Anniversary PartyDrove out to Mott's Farm in Acton for this pleasant event. My new rollator came in very handy for this indoor/outdoor event, both for getting around and for always having a place to sit at a convenient height.
The main event for me was the "sing off" an elimination event where a bunch of us sat in a circle, each in turn singing a verse and chorus of some Revels song. When you couldn't think of one that hadn't been used, you were out. I was 5th from last.
Film: (DVD) Barbary Coast Howard Hawks, 1935Edward G. Robinson starred in this kitschy tale of San Francisco in the days of the Gold Rush. Lively dialogue by Ben Hecht makes the hokey plot bearable. A young Walter Brennan appears in an early version of his usual schtick. Good fun.
Finally broke down and got some orthotics for my new Brooks sneakers. They've got arch support and a 4 degree slant under the heel to try to help unflatten my feet.
Film: (DVD) Lenny Bob Fosse, 1975Dustin Hoffman and Valerie Perrine are terrific in this gritty biopic of Lenny Bruce. Harsh lighting and B&W filmstock add to the grim ambiance.
Tried to go on a CRW ride today, but didn't have the strength for the hills, so I bailed after a couple of miles. Probably a combination of my ongoing health issues, a slight cold and the muggy heat of the day.
eBook: Destiny's Forge Paul Chafe, 2006I have been a big fan of the Man-Kzin Wars series since I first met the Kzin in Ringworld. I've liked all of the books in this series, but this one was unusually good. It's set almost entirely on the Kzin homeworld, gives lots of highly plausible detail and texture about the Kzin. The characters (most of whom are Kzin) ar well drawn and multidimensional. Very highly recommended!
Rode the Raleigh Twenty to work today, but didn't feel up to riding home, Sonny gave me a ride back.
Film: (DVD) Windtalkers John Woo, 2002Very bloody WW2 movie, set in the Solomons and Saipan. Lots of special effects as Nicholas Cage goes buddabuddabudda with his tommygun that hardly ever needs to be reloaded. He's a heavily traumatized sergeant put in charge of a Navajo radio code talker. The kicker is that he has unwritten orders to kill the Navajo if there's any chance he might be captured by the Japs.
Film: (DVD) Lady Jane Trevor Nunn, 1985Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Jane Grey, queen of England for 9 days in the late 16th century. I'm a sucker for these historical costume epics, but this one was a bit slow moving, and I'm by no means sure that it was all that authentic.
I got an email from someone at the Great Russian Encyclopedia, they want to use my photo of Memorial Hall for their entry on Harvard University in their 4th edition. I gave permission.
Film: (DVD) The Long Night Anatole Litvak, 1947A gritty, overlooked film noir starring a very young Henry Fonda and Barbara BelGeddes and Vincent Price. Set in an Ohio industrial city, Fonda is a returned WW2 vet who gets undone by jealousy. It opens with the beginning of a police siege, and the story unfolds in a series of flashbacks. Quite a good example of the Genre. Dmitri Tiomkin takes credit for the music, but it is mostly recycled Brahms.
eBook: Settling Accounts: The Grapple Harry Turtledove, 2006The latest in the World War series, mostly set in an alternate 1943. The USA and CSA are racing to see who can develop the A bomb first, and the Confederates advance their holocaust against their African-American population.
It appears that I neglected to do a journal entry for the previous volume, Settling Accounts: Drive to the East though I did read it. This series is pretty grim, but still fascinating.
Harriet's Birthday-SIGGRAPHWent in to the World Trade Center to meet Harriet for the SIGGRAPH video show. Harriet is attending the whole conference, but this is the only part I went to. Some very impressive stuff, some not so good. The tech is great, but not all of the filmmakers have anything worth saying. Indeed, some of the items were pretty icky.
My favorite was a Guinness advert recapitulating phylogeny in reverse.
A Bad WeekThese are very scary times:
Damn I hate religion! So much bloodshed over so much nonsense.
- Isræl and Hezbolla are going at it hammer and tongs in southern Lebanon and northern Isræl, with no solution in sight.
- Iraq gets more and more into civil war between the Sunnis and Shi'ites, also with no end in sight.
Sram iMotion 9-speed HubThe Big Brown Truck brought me a cool new toy, a Sram 9-speed hub. I've been eager to try one of these out since I heard they were coming out with one. I've built it up into a new wheel and installed it on my Bianchi B.a.S.S. Unfortunately, I busted the shifter by trying to install it on a handlebar that was a bit oversized, so I haven't had a chance to try riding it yet. A new shifter is supposed to be on the way from Germany though...
So the good people of Kansas have voted out the nut jobs who wanted to teach so-called "Intelligent Design" instead of actual science in the Kansas school system.
It kind of boggles my mind that the media is referring to these fringe zealots as "conservatives" though. There's nothing "conservative" about trying to replace well established science with superstitious claptrap.
An Example to Us AllI spotted this fashionable dude riding the wrong way on Lowell Avenue:
Book: Justinian H. N. Turtletaub, 1998Fictionalized biography of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian II, late 7th century. A grim an grisly tale in the form of the monster's memoirs, with interpolations from his chief bodyguard.
"H. N. Turtletaub" is a pseudonym for Harry Turtledove ("Taub" is German for "dove.")
I did not enjoy this as much as I usually do Turtledove's work. Possibly this was due to the nature of the subject, partly because it doesn't lend itself to the structure Turtledove follows in his alternate history books, where you follow multiple strands with different characters. The plot of this is much more linear. Turtledove is a Byzantine scholar by training and profession, and it all seems quite plausible, but not as much fun as his alternate histories.
Film: (DVD) Intimacy Patrice Chéreau, 2001A dark and gloomy film about a divorced Englishman and a married Englishwoman who meet every Wednesday afternoon for silent sex on the floor. Their intention is to avoid emotional entanglement, but it doesn't work out that way...
Film: (DVD) V for Vendetta James McTeigue, 2006Entertaining action film made from a dystopic comic book set in a fascist England around 2030.
Film: (DVD) Attack of the 50 Foot Woman Christopher Guest, 1993Campy remake of a 50s sci-fi potboiler. Not Guest's best work, but entertaining.
Religion strikes again...or almost. British security forces thwart a plan to blow up 10 airliners in the name of god. Thanks, MI5!
Massive disruption of air travel again. Tova is scheduled to fly back from Santa Cruz next week, hope things have settled down by then!
Concert: La Bottine Souriante, Boott Mills Park, Lowell, MassachusettsThis Québecois band has been a favorite of mine for many years, but this is the first time I've gotten to see them live.
Harriet and George and I drove up to Lowell for this, and a grand time was had by all.
The group's style has changed a bit over the years, these days they have more of a jazz influence than formerly. The first set was all newer material, but they did some of their older, folkier stuf in the second set.
There are 9 members in the current lineup, most of whom are multi-instrumentalists. This leads to a very wide variety of sounds as the different instruments are called into play.
They've also got a woman dancer who has more energy than any one person has a right to have...
Larz Anderson Bike Show
Book: In The Presence of Mine Enemies Harry Turtledove, 2003A stand-alone alternate history, set in 2009-20, Germany won WW2 (and WW3) and rules the world aside from Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Most of the characters are Jews in deep cover, as it is presumed that Jews are now extinct.
The principal characters are two couples, one Jewish, the other gentile, who get together regularly to play bridge. There's actually rather a lot of detailed description of bridge games and strategy which went over my head, but it wasn't enough to detract from the story.
The plot also involves a Nazi version of perestroika. The book opens with "Kurt Heimwald" the 91 year old Führer ruling with an iron hand, sort of a composite between Stalin and Brezhnev. (Though he's also clearly intended to be Kurt Waldheim in our timeline.)
When Heimwald shuffles off his mortal coil, winds of change begin to blow, as Heinz Bucklinger fills the Kruschev/Gorbachev role, complete with a "secret speech" at Nürnberg. Rolf Stolle, the gauleiter of Berlin fills the Yeltsin slot, and things go pretty much as in the Soviet Union of our time line.
A real page turner, highly recommended for fans of the genre.
Tova is home!Picked her up at Logan late at night, got lost on the way home due to the continuing detours caused by the geniuses who designed the Big Dig tunnels.
Film: (DVD) Song of the Thin Man Ed Buzzell, 1947The last of the William Powell/Myrna Loy detective comedy series. This was great fun, as they try to solve a murder in the milieu of jazz musicians. The film has a lot of fun with the jazz argot of the day, much of which has since become popular slang, dig man? We got a big kick out of learning the term "slush pump" is a synonym for "trombone!"
(DVD) WeedsJust watched the first 6 episodes of this Showtime series on DVD, really liked it a lot. Upper-middle-class California family loses the father/sole breadwinner (Jeffrey Dean Morgan-who seems to be getting type cast as "sweet guy who dies of heart attack") mom (Mary Louise Parker) turns to selling herb to support her family's life style.
Film: (DVD) Another Thin Man W. S. van Dyke, 1939We enjoyed Song of the Thin Man so much that I had to grab this when I saw it at the library. It was fun, but not nearly as good as Song of the Thin Man.
Chantey Sing at M.I.T.Harriet, George and I went to this, first time for George. He led a couple of songs, did very well. Tova was apartment hunting so she couldn't make it.
I did Harbo & Samuelson, Passant Par Paris, Noah's Ark Chantey and The Wreck of the Athens Queen.
Book: Over the Wine Dark Sea H.N.Turteltaub (Harry Turtledove) 2001A historical novel set in 310 B.C., centering on cousins Menedemos and Sostratos, sailing their fathers' trading galley on a merchant voyage from their native Rhodes to Italy, stopping and trading at various islands on the way. Turteldove is a scholar of this part of the world, and this book has a lot of verisimilitude. Also pretty exciting with many hair-breadth escapes from pirates, jealous husbands and other threats. Recommended to fans of historical fiction.
eBook: Freedom Mark Tier & Martin H. Greenberg, 2006This is an anthology of libertarian/anarchist/utopian stories, some pretty good, some not so hot.
Film: HBO When The Levees Broke Spike Lee, 2006This 4 hour film about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in New Orleans is pretty shocking, even if you followed the story as it occurred. There are a lot of VERY angry people, and right to be angry at the shocking mismanagement of this disaster. The film was quite good, though there was rather too much religion in it for my taste.
Henry Brunelle, R.I.P. My last uncle died this morning, gently of natural causes, in his home, with his son and daughter-in-law by his side. I'll miss him, but am comforted to know that he had a long, good and fortunate life.
On a more cheerful note, I met my newest family member, my great-nephew Ethan Ty, aged 2 weeks.
Film: (DVD) Mrs. Henderson Presents Stephen Frears, 2006Judy Dench in a tour-de-force, as a wealthy widow, advised to take up a hobby or to buy things. Instead of embroidery and baubles, she buys a derelict theatre and hires a manager to turn it into Britain's first nude vaudeville house! Set in the late '30s and early '40s, the heart warming film shows the indomitable spirit of The Blitz. Highly recommended.
|November-December, 1998||April-May, 1975|
|Books reviewed on this page:|
|Destiny's Forge||Paul Chafe||7/23/06|
|In the Presence of Mine Enemies||Harry Turtledove||8/14/06|
|Settling Accounts: The Grapple||Harry Turtledove||7/29/06|
|Justinian||H. N. Turteltaub||8/5/06|
|Over the Wine Dark Sea||H. N. Turteltaub||8/20/06|
|The Wandering Jew||Eugène Sue||7/12/06|
|Films reviewed on this page:|
|Another Thin Man||August 19, 2006|
|Attack of the 50 Foot Woman||August 9, 2006|
|Barbary Coast||July 18, 2006|
|Casanova||July 6, 2006|
|Howards End||July 8, 2006|
|Intimacy||August 5, 2006|
|The Lady from Shanghai||July 10, 2006|
|Lady Jane||July 26, 2006|
|Lenny||July 21, 2006|
|The Long Night||July 28, 2006|
|Mrs. Henderson Presents||August 26, 2006|
|Must Love Dogs||July 1, 2006|
|Nanny McPhee||July 4, 2006|
|Song of the Thin Man||August 16, 2006|
|Swimming||July 13, 2006|
|Syriana||July 7, 2006|
|V for Vendetta||August 8, 2006|
|When the Levees Broke||August 24, 2006|
|Windtalkers||July 26, 2006|
|Music reviewed on this page:|
|August 12, 2006||La bottine Souriante||Québecois folk/rock/jazz|
|November 29, 2002||Lorraine Bracco||The Graduate|
|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||Macbeth|
|May 26, 2000||The Huntington Theatre Co.||King Hedley II|
|September 3, 1999||The Publick Theatre||Nine|
|August 21, 1999||Orange Tree Theatre, Ithaca, N.Y.||Sonata|
|August 13, 1999||Firehouse Theatre, Ithaca, N.Y.||Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All For You|
|May 22-29||Newton South/North High Schools||Richard III|
|December 18, 1998||Newton North High School||The Bone Violin, May F lies|
|November 12, 1998||Newton North High School||To Kill a Mockingbird|
|November 21-24, 2007||Plantation, Florida|
|September 25-28, 2007||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|August 18-25, 2007||Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts|
|November 22-26, 2006||Plantation, Florida|
|September 25-28, 2006||Las Vegas (Interbike)|
|June 10-20, 2006||Santa Cruz, California|
|May 5-7, 2006||Aurora, Indiana|
|November 23, 2005||Plantation, Florida|
|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||Indianapolis|
|November 24, 2004||Plantation, Florida|
|October 8, 2004||Santa Cruz, California|
|October 4, 2004||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|June 8, 2004||France, England|
|December 22, 2003||Halifax, Nova Scotia|
|November 27, 2003||Florida|
|October 31, 2003||Potomac, Maryland|
|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||Evanston, Illinois|
|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||Evanston, Illinois|
|September 30-October 2, 2000||Ithaca, New York|
|June 22-25, 2000||Urbanna, Virginia|
|October 7-13, 1999||Chicago/Evanston, Illinois|
|August 19-28, 1999||Ithaca, New York|
|August 12-13, 1999||Ithaca, New York|
|July 23-25, 1999||Bridgeton, Maine|
|November 25-28, 1998||Fort Lauderdale, Florida|