Despite indications to the contrary, I do read on occasion. Finished David Drake's Lt. Leary, Commanding last weekend. Apart from some issues with some of the underlying assumptions, I enjoyed it. It is totally a reworking of the Aubrey-Maturin books as science fiction, and I liked it far more than Master and Commander. For one thing, both Leary and (particularly) Mundy are more interesting characters than Aubrey or Maturin. Plus, there's an honest-to-god plot, even if some of it makes no sense.
My main issue with the book is that in his attempt to mimic the feel of the Aubrey-Maturin series, Drake has devised the most ridiculously implausible method of faster-than-light travel this side of Battlestar Galactica. There are masts and spars and sails on his starships, and they tack against winds of a heretofore unknown type of radiation that yanks the ship into an artificial universe called "The Matrix." It also requires that there be riggers hanging off said masts and spars to trim the sails according to the captain's trained eye to yield the fastest transit times. Yeesh! You really need to suspend a lot of disbelief, too, because the FTL system is integral to the plot of the novel. More on this at some point.
Started in on The Silmarillion again. I'm at about the middle, trying to keep straight a million different elves whose names are all Finsomethingorother. Very annoying trying to keep track of who the frell is who. Maybe if Tolkein had given them different nicknames, like "Buddy" or "Big Pussy" or something. It's not like he doesn't give every other figure (and place) more than one name. I think I've pretty much got the map of Beleriand memorized at last, so that makes it somewhat easier. Now it's just a matter of slogging through the story.
I considered walking away, but it's become a matter of honor and principle now. I will not let this book defeat me again. Besides, I really am curious to find out how Beleriand winds up under water. I just wish he'd give me someone worth rooting for. Right now the only figure in the book that I'm at all sympathetic towards is Morgoth.
Also finally got around to starting X-Ray, the "unauthorized autobiography" of Ray Davies of the Kinks. Ray has taken straight recollections of the early days of his life, and of the Kinks, and embedded them in a novel about a young corporate flack interviewing the aging, reclusive ex-rock star named Raymond Douglas Davies. The novelly stuff is okay, but I've beem skimming most of it for the actual history. Actually, I've heard a lot of this before, because Ray used the book as the basis for his Storyteller solo tour and album, and I both have the CD and went to one of the shows. There's more stuff here, and it's also fun to hear Ray's voice doing the narration in one's mind as one reads.
There was one laugh out loud moment today as Raymond Douglas recounts the story of the tour the band did as an opening act for the Beatles. The Kinks got the usually unwanted slot immediately preceding the fab four, where by design most bands just meekly did their set while being shouted off the stage by the legions of Beatle fans. To the surprise of almost everyone, the Kinks managed to engage the crowd somewhat, so the promoters moved them to a better slot, mostly to put what they thought would be a more docile band in the lead-in slot. The "docile" band that got the Kinks old slot was a group called the High Numbers, who later changed their name to The Who.
Okay, I thought it was funny.
Did some more fiddling with the face frame. Also noticed that the gutter on the dormer is about to fall off the side of the house, which means I need to get a ladder, climb up to a great height (which, needless to say, I'm thrilled about), and reattach it. Bother...