Wednesday, 10 January 2001

Entry #130

Listening to:
Holst, The planets. The next traversal CD. This is Holst's most famous piece of work, being a musical depiction of the seven non-Earth planets known in his day. Of course, planets don't really have characters, so Holst made them up, with some reference to Graeco-Roman mythology. For example, the first planet "described" is Mars, the Bringer of War. This music is often used as a backdrop to militaristic scenes in movies and TV programmes. It's a very successful evocation of menacing military fervour. When I was younger, I could consistently send shivers down my spine just by listening to Mars with my full attention, and imagining some great army marching to death and destruction. The last planet is Neptune, the Mystic, which doesn't seem to have anything to do with Neptune/Poseidon, the god of the sea, but does summon up images of distant quiet and solitude very well.
Just read:
Well, where do I start? I'm just back from a 6 week holiday and I read quite a bit while away. I think I'll have to take a few days to describe the books read. First up then, is the Aubrey-Maturin series of naval novels by Patrick O'Brian.
  • Master and Commander. This introduces the series, and is quite compelling. I think you'd have to be reasonably keen on the idea of following the adventures of a naval captain to stick with it, as this novel is the most sea-bound of the seven I read. There's lots of naval terminology to come to either ignore or come to grips with, and I suspect that having a knowledge of what tacking and going about is would help. If you read and enjoyed the Swallows and Amazons books (by Arthur Ransome) as a kid, there's got to be a reasonable chance that you will like this.

    About my only criticism of this book is the cop-out way in which the situation with Lieutenant Dillon is resolved.

I have decided that I wasted too much time in the morning reading online comics in 2000, so I'm giving them up entirely. To mark their passing, I'll briefly describe (again over a number of entries) what I'm forgoing.

I've mentioned Sluggy Freelance before in these pages. In February last year, I described it as "pretty funny .... [but] a bit juvenile at times". This would still be my verdict now. I think that its success is based on the author's willingness to be wacky. Examples of this include the ongoing feud between the pet rabbit and Santa Claus, the commando-like secret information organisation built up by disaffected ex-elves from Santa's factory, and the hapless demons from the Dimension of Pain who never quite manage to abduct the main character, Torg.