I read the newest volume of Fables, and I must say that the series has jumped the shark for me.  The writing  has turned to parodying comics rather than good storytelling, and it is getting quite boring.  The resolution of the story with the Dark Man was highly unsatisfying: 10 issues or more to end with a quick resolution?  Argh.


I keep reading Stephen Brust's books like a habit: they come out every few years, I read them.  I can remember the fun I had reading the first one: the most recent almost seemed like a chore, because I couldn't remember anything from the previous books, given the interminable wait between books.  Oh well, this one a fun story, at least.  I read it some weeks ago, but forgot to blog it.

Downton Abbey

Netflix streaming is good, no matter what all of the people who dropped the service say.  Downton Abbey was worth the price of admission: a fantastic series set around the start of World War I about the fortunes of an aristocratic family.  Watch this show!

The Smartest Guys in the Room

This movie is worth watching, just to see the excesses of the 1990's and the bubble that popped in the early part of the 21st century.

Shu Swamp

At the Shu Swamp Nature Preserve, we were close enough to touch the swan! Almost.
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Lost in Austen

Haven't written anything in a while.  Just remembered while taking a break at work that I should post about this cute little TV series before I forget.  I liked it: a science-fiction-like take on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.  Surprisingly, Ming didn't like it: I think it spoiled the purity of the original novel for her.

Hurricane Irene leaves us in the dark

Well, the lights went out around 3am Sunday morning, and hasn't come back yet.  Pitch blackness except for the neighbors who have generators (and there seem to be a good number of them).  We're fortunate that the weather post-hurricane has been quite good.  No damage at all to our house: just a few major branches down (one in our yard, one in a neighbor's yard) that hit our fence.  Phew!  Although the lack of electricity is annoying, it is good that we have nice neighbors with power.

The King's Speech

We watched this film on Blu-Ray.  Excellent!  Colin Firth did a great job, and the cinematography was interesting: everything was just slightly askew/off-center.  Richly costumed, and well acted.  Boy, my reviews are getting terse.  Well, two thumbs up!

Captain America!

We took a break from unpacking our house to see another Marvel-superhero blockbuster movie, Captain America.  He was never one of my favorite characters, but the movie was really well done.  Another Marvel movie with serious actors: Stanley Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones being the most obvious ones.  Hugo Weaving is making a career out of comic/sci-fi/fantasy movies!

This movie and the prior well-done release of Thor bode well for next year's Avengers movie...

A Magic Flute

We saw this performance of a minimalist version of Mozart's The Magic Flute.  Titled "A Magic Flute", this version by Peter Brook was stunning: I really enjoyed watching it.  It was adapted for piano and singers, with a minimal bamboo stage set: I could swear that the opening notes echoed the music from Lost (is it possible that it's vice versa?).

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

We saw this energetic, happy musical today!  Act I was so-so at best, but Act II had some great numbers.  I was a bit taken aback that most of the score consisted of non-original music (a lot of Madonna songs) in Act I: but it worked better in Act II.  The cast was clearly into it, and Nick Adams (the character of Adam/Felicia) was a total blast!

Worcester Art Museum

We stopped at the small (but nice) Worcester Art Museum over the long weekend. They have this gorgeous Roman mosaic, which is better than some we've seen in Italy. They have a couple of lovely Matisse paintings as well. I'm sure I'm not doing the museum justice: if you're ever in the area, it's worth stopping for a few hours.
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True Grit

Jeff Bridges delivers another great performance as a crusty old guy.  This time with a gun, and with Matt Damon too.  The young actress who drives the plot forward was fantastic too!

Gnomeo and Juliet

Fun movie! Lots of great British actors, including the new Charles Xavier, James McAvoy, and a hilarious script. Elton John score too!


A really good telling of the origin story: hard to beat with James McAvoy as the young, charismatic Charles Xavier. Kevin Bacon was quite entertaining too!

Midnight in Paris

This film about Paris as a center for artistic expression is a lovely tribute to the city: I wonder what made Woody Allen fall in such love with Paris?  All of his earlier movies are all about the beauty of Manhattan, but Paris now seems like his true love.  Owen Wilson does surprisingly well as the lead actor, although he isn't required to do much except act befuddled and stunned by meeting such historical figures as Hemingway and Gertrude Stein.  Overall, the film is worth watching, but there isn't a lot of substance in it.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Wow, what a great film: the last one by Sydney Lumet.  Great cast, fantastic writing, compellingly disturbing plot.  What's not to like?

Sherlock Holmes

The original Irene Adler story, told well in this adaptation.  Not much to say otherwise: Netflix is wonderful for making all of these old TV shows available!


I took a day off work, and watched this movie as part of enjoying the beautiful weather; or, at least, to avoid my allergies.

The storyline felt forced (redemption through sacrifice, brotherly conflict, identity issues), but you really can't expect too much from a superhero movie in that respect.  It was fun to see Hawkeye make an appearance, in preparation for the Avengers movie.  Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard, Kenneth Branagh (director), Patrick Doyle (music): quite the talent assembled for this movie!

Book of Mormon

Wow.  Hard to know exactly what to say about this sometimes profane, always irreverent, profoundly hilarious, and wonderfully written and performed musical.  It had its South Park moments (especially in the Cartman-esque voiceovers that explain the life of Joseph Smith), of course.  And the profanity was extreme enough that it startled me: maybe because when I grew up it would have been unimaginable for such profanity to have been on Broadway.  Overall, though, a fantastic production with a great cast.

White House Correspondents' Dinner | C-SPAN

Seth Meyers rags on Donald Trump. The Donald looked mighty pissed...

Easy A

This modern-day "adaptation" (if it could really be called that) of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter is predictable yet quite charming to watch.  Lots of well-known actors in the supporting cast: Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Fred Armisen, Malcolm McDowell.  Emma Stone is fun as the protagonist: I give this movie an A!


Got around to seeing this, even though I knew it wouldn't be as good as the comic of the same name.  And, of course, it wasn't.  It had some of the same attitude, though (lots of swearing and killing), and they made the movie somewhat unpredictable, even though the comic already had some surprising plot twists.


A cute little Japanese movie about a boy and his fish.  Or maybe a fish and her boy.  A little trite, but enjoyable in the spirit in which it was made.  Hearing Tina Fey and Matt Damon voice the boy's parents was a bit disconcerting!


This movie (like Expendables, featuring a cast of older actors) is a lot of fun to watch.  Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman,, and Brian Cox play a bunch of "retired" spies/assassins who are forced to unretire.  Quite the fun film!

The Expendables

My first Blu-Ray movie from Netflix.  The picture quality didn't make up for the poor storytelling.  At first I thought it might be an action-oriented remake of The Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven.  That would have made for a fine movie.  Oh well, what can you do: bad movies will continue to be made.

Despicable Me

A charming, if somewhat predictable, animated film.  I thought this film was cuter (in terms of the kid-friendliness and charm) than Megamind, but the latter was the more entertaining story.

Conversations with Other Women

Two of my favorite actors (Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter), and some interesting writing (although disorienting cinematography).  I enjoyed it!


Excellent South-American food.  I know, rather generic classification of food over a large continent: but it's how they describe themselves.  A heart-of-palm salad was great; the oxtail empanadas acceptable, but not so special.  The ceviche was excellent: we had tuna with a mildly spicy coconut sauce.  The salmon entree was good, but not as good as the ceviche.  We finished with a passion-fruit curd topped with a coconut sauce.  All in all, an excellent meal.


Megamind is hilarious!  The spoof of the comic genre was well-done, and had lots of quick little inside jokes (like when Marlon Brando made his parental appearance).  Quite fun to watch, although it's really an adult movie dressed up like a kids' movie.

The Social Network

The "story of Facebook".  Backstabbing, a dislikable protagonist, $, all the makings of a good story.  I'm not convinced the story is very accurate, given what I've seen of what the media tends to say about things that I have been familiar with.  But it was entertaining, nonetheless.  And it reminds me of why I don't have a Facebook account too...

I'm not quite clear on why Jesse Eisenberg deserved an Oscar nomination for best actor.  I liked him better in Zombieland and Adventureland.  Facebook-land?

Rick Santorum's problem

Boy, pissing off the wrong people will sure cause one problems these days...

Prime Suspect 5

Another Helen Mirren-as-hard-boiled-detective-fighting-in-a-man's-world tale.  These Prime Suspect episodes are always fun to watch!

The Checklist Manifesto

I finally managed to finish a book!  While Penelope was sleeping, of course, and I was on vacation.  And on my Kindle.  This book is well worth reading: it is all about how professions need to be systematized, because only well-run systems can cope with the complexity of modern life (be it engineering, flying airplanes, or practicing medicine).  It reminded me what I dislike most about libertarianism: which is that it focuses much more on the individual than on the systems/groups of individuals that exhibit emergent behavior due to the interactions of the individuals.  But that's a topic for another post.  This book focuses on why the medical "system" fails in the particular subfield of surgery, which is that modern surgery is too complex to avoid errors, without systematizing how surgery is run (which Dr. Gawande argues implicitly is best done by a team, and not by one doctor).  His recent New Yorker article on reducing health-care costs reinforces that latter point (and you should read that article if you haven't already).


This fascinating little museum had an interesting exhibition on the concept of "speed" in the 20th century titled Speed Limits.  Pretty interesting, including the bit about kitchen design and efficiency.

Snow in Syosset

Here's a photo (taken from my iphone) of the big pile of snow in the Syosset LIRR parking lot. It's as high as some of the buildings in the area!
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LIRR absurdity

Talk about lousy customer service.  Tickets are only good within 14 days of purchase.  Fine, you say, if I changed my plans I'll just return the tickets.  Well, there is a $10 return fee for tickets: so if you buy a round-trip ticket for $10, you effectively can't return it!  No wonder everyone complains about the MTA.


Record snow this January, and it's not yet over!  I'll try and post a picture if I can get a good one.  90 minutes of shoveling this morning to get our 2 cars cleared.


Wow.  What a bad movie.  Before watching it, I thought it wouldn't be a brilliant work of art, but at least I had hoped it would be entertaining.  But the movie was disjointed and broken into about 3 different parts, with little interesting action.  And it became obvious who the real villain was just by the pacing of the movie.

Liev Schreiber was so much better on Broadway when I saw him there...


Oh well, they had a nice run this year.  I didn't think they would make it to the Super Bowl: they have played too inconsistently to get by the better teams on a regular basis, and they just ran out of luck (by making too many mistakes) against the Steelers.  They did an admirable job of coming back in the 2nd half to make the game interesting, though!

Blogger mobile templates

Hey, I enabled mobile templates on my blog (and Penelope's blog).  The blog looks great on my iPhone now!

Lower Costs and Better Care for Neediest Patients : The New Yorker

Lower Costs and Better Care for Neediest Patients : The New Yorker

Atul Gawande's writing is always thought-provoking. I read this article on my commute this morning, and thought it was worth a blog post. Revolutionary thinking about redefining a doctor's job!

Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center

This nice little museum was worth a visit: it had some interesting international art that we liked.  Their web site is kind of sparse, though, so I don't have any good pointers.

Cincinnati Art Museum

We attended a beautiful wedding in this cute little art museum.  We did not get to see much of the museum, but the building itself was gorgeous.

Cincinnati starchitecture

This building is by Daniel Libeskind (the architect in charge of the Freedom Tower). It is in Cincinnati, and looks kind of empty at night.
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A Single Man

We watched this beautiful film on DVD (from Netflix, of course; all other sources of DVDs seem to have gone out of business).  Colin Firth was wonderful, even though I always think of him as Mr. Darcy.  I found the film gorgeously filmed, written, and acted, and yet somehow less compelling than I would have liked.  Maybe this film was just too focused on the main character's interior lives for my taste.  In any case, I did enjoy watching it.