January 1st, 2005


Ring Out the Old...

It was a bad year, like a lot of others I've had lately. That doesn't mean there weren't good moments, and last night was one of them. Didn't really do the NYE thing, but veejane and I went out early and had an extravagant dinner. I had perfectly grilled venison on a bed of chestnut spaetzel, and it was marvelous. Vee had some kind of bass, and seemed equally impressed. Afterwards we split a bottle of champagne with her flatmate, et al., and watched a silly movie. Called it a night around 10 pm, and I headed home to ring in the new year on my computer.

Slept in this morning, then spent much of the day playing Commander Keen, and totaling up the books I read this past year.

No resolutions this year, because I did so badly on them last year. The last thing I need is to pile more guilt upon myself.
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The Year in Books, and a Meme

The final book I finished in 2004 was Elephant Song, by Barry B. Longyear, a prequel to his Circus World collection that I talked about a couple of weeks back. Elephant Song is about the shipwreck of the City of Baraboo, the event that stranded the members of O'Hara's Greater Shows on the uninhabited planet of Momus, and its aftermath, focusing on a single group of survivors, the bull handlers, i.e. the elephant trainers. Having the elephants around in the early days after the crash was a stroke of luck, as they were available for the heavy work that needed doing while building the roads through the wilderness to connect the scattered groups of survivors on the planet. The problem was that all of the surviving elephants were females, so once the last elephant dies, there won't be any left on Momus. The story spans forty years, more or less, about the lifespan of an elephant, and concentrates on the lead bull handler and her family. There's a sad inevitability about the story. What happens to a group of people who has their way of life slowly taken from them, and what happens to to the larger group as such a powerful symbol of their identity slowly dies off?

I liked this book a lot. It does have its weaknesses, but they mostly stem from Longyear doing a little story stretching to show the origins of some of the customs that are present in Circus World. Still, I liked his explanation for why so many Momans wind up with various psi abilities, and the rest doesn't drag the story down too much. It's also fun to be reading it at the same time as watching Lost, which is a different take on what is essentially the same situation, shipwrecked in a mysterious place. The circus people seem to be a lot smarter and more practical than the islanders. Anyway, very much recommended.

Meanwhile, it's time for the annual list of books read this past year: Collapse )

Current reads are Baseball and Philosophy, Thinking Outside the Batter's Box, edited by Eric Bronson, a collection of essays applying philosophical principles to baseball, and The Shadow of Saganami, David Weber's latest Honorverse novel (although Harrington isn't actually in it). Baseball and Philosophy is the most recent volume in the Popular Culture and Philosophy series. Other volumes look at, among other pop culture subjects, Buffy, and The Lord of the Rings. I got about halfway through it over Christmas, and some of the essays are interesting, especially the one about the philosophical implications of the sacrifice bunt.

And finally, a meme: Collapse )