What’s New for the 14th of February: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, bluegrass, music from Solas, Parisian culinary memories, fantastic Victoriana and much more!

Darkness, Darkness
Be my pillow
Take my hand
And let me sleep
In the coolness of your shadow
In the silence of your deep

Jesse Colin YoungRed holly

Breakfast was waiting for me as I came down the stairs. Canadian bacon sizzlimg in its pan, cheddar buttermilk biscuits warm in their basket, eggs ready to be cooked however I want them, bread sliced and ready to be toasted, and coffee standing ready to poured. Mind you it was noon when I sort of graced the Kitchen staff with my presence but it’d been a long night, as we’re hosting a curling tournament and they do love to drink so I assisted Reynard and Finch, his associate Pub manager, and we all worked late into the night.

I accepted the offer of a shot of Pappy Van Winkle straight up with my breakfast. The Coyotes, an American band that played here a few months back, had sent the Estate Steward several bottles of this superb bourbon in appreciation for the the time they were here, along with a note that both I and Reynard should get one of the bottles. Though a whiskey drinker by choice, that particular bourbon is damn fine!

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You might be aware that we’re very fond of works of Roger Zelazny here and April has a look at a work about his longest work: ‘Roger Zelazny’s Amber series spans three decades, ten volumes, several short stories, a RPG, graphic novels and even a recent revival attempt (John Betancourt’s Dawn of Amber series). Packed into those original books and stories is a wealth of characters, settings, items and plots — far too much minutiae for any but the most die-hard fan to remember. And that’s where Krulik’s The Complete Amber Sourcebook comes in. The Sourcebook is not for someone who has not read the entire series, as spoilers are literally everywhere. Krulik assumes an audience already familiar with the core set of books.’

Grey looks at a work quite deep in editors (Teya Rosenberg, Martha P. Hixon, Sharon M. Scapple and Donna R. White)  but a reasonably short and I must say poetic title, Diana Wynne Jones: An Exciting and Exacting Wisdom. You’ll find that her review is excellence in writing indeed!

Kathleen looks at an academic work with a rather longer title than the previous work but just one writer, to wit Charles Butler’s  Four British Fantasists: Place and Culture in the Children’s Fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones & Susan Cooper. Like the previous review, her superbly written in-depth review looks at both the strengths and weaknesses of this work.

Kelly says of the mighty tome that’s Jess Nevins’ The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana that ‘To the casual reader or observer, it sometimes may seem that the twentieth century was the time of real blossoming in terms of the Fantastic in literature: after all, that’s when science fiction really came into its own, and when a certain Don of Oxford penned a tale about hobbits and gold rings. But the more rigorous student of the Fantastic knows that Fantasy, as well as those tropes that eventually spun away to become science fiction, are far older than just a hundred years.’

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Kage says ‘With The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, alas, the malign gods were paying attention and behaving not unlike Terry Pratchett’s Auditors, practically warping time and space to mess with Terry Gilliam. They failed to ruin the film — Munchausen is magnificent, and a fitting conclusion to the Trilogy of the Imagination — but they ruined everything they could, to such an extent that Munchausen is unfairly and incorrectly called one of the most expensive disasters in cinema history.’

Robert, thanks to his new TV and DVD player, was persuaded to review the first two seasons Grimm, a TV show that spans genres: ‘If I had to place the series in a genre, it would come out as dark fantasy/supernatural police procedural, which at one point would have sounded weird, but given the direction television has taken since Buffy the Vampire Slayer hit the screen, maybe not so much these days.’

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Camille looked at three bars from Chocolove (orange peel, toffee almonds and raspberry) which she summed up thusly: ‘All in all, three delightful chocolate bars if one has a particularly sweet tooth. Pleasant finish and texture to each, and a variety of interesting flavors to choose from and dead poets to sample.’ Read her full review of how she reached this conclusion.

Simon McKie’s Making Craft Cider: A Ciderist’s Guide comes with a warning from Gereg: ‘Let’s get the down side out of the way first. This is not a book you’ll pick up for light entertainment. It’s not a particularly a lively read, nor is it often witty (though the wit, where it comes out, is as dry as a good cider).’ If however you want to make hard cider as the Yanks call it, you really should read his review!

Mia has a lovely book for you:  ‘In Found Meals of the Lost Generation author Suzanne Rodriguez-Hunter not only takes us back to the Paris of the Lost Generation, she allows us to dine with the literary and artistic personalities of that vibrant and mythic time.’

Let’s finish this off with a letter Reynard sent to Ingrid, his wife, about some baking that the Several Annies, my Library Appentices, undertook to make chocolate brownies that used all local ingredients. Impossible you say?

Read his letter to see why it was possible.Red holly

It’s about time for another look at a manga series, and Robert brings us his take on Studio Clamp’s Legal Drug, Vols. 1-3: ‘The story opens with Kazahaya Kudo wandering the streets in a snowstorm. He realizes he is freezing to death, but even though he’s determined not to die, the elements are about to have their way when he is rescued by a gigantic young man, Rikuo Himura, and taken to the Green Drug Pharmacy.’ And it goes on from there.

Robert also brings us a brief take on a collection of illustrated fairy and folk tales: Jim Henson’s The Storyteller is a collection of fairy tales from around the world, adapted and illustrated by a wide variety of artists and writers. The result may not be what you were expecting — or maybe it is.’

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Gary is quite fond of the bluegrass music of Laurie Lewis, including this new release The Hazel and Alice Sessions that pays tribute to Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard. The album features guest musicians from several generations including fiddler Tatiana Hargreaves and singers Aoife O’Donovan and Linda Ronstadt.

Gathered is the first album Lars looks at: ‘Nick Burbridge is something of a Jack-of-all-trades. For more than a quarter of a century he has been active as a writer. He has written poetry, novels, short stories, plays and songs. ‘

He next looks at Beoga’s Live at 10: ‘There are times when reviewing is a sheer pleasure. This is one of those moments.’ Now go read his review to see why he thought the DVD was even better than the CD.

Colleen Raney’s Here This Is Home garners a high compliment from Lars in that he says that the Portland, Oregon, native sounds truly Irish to him.

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The quality of concert recordings has improved immeasurably over the past thirty years, particularly those that are made directly from the soundboard. (I always sit three or four rows back behind soundboard as that’s the sweetest spot for most amplified acoustic music.)  Case in point is this recording of ‘Darkness, Darkness’ as performed by Solas at the State Theater in Ithaca, New York on the 17th of Much 2002. Isn’t the vocal by Winifred Horan amazing?

About Iain Nicholas Mackenzie

I’m the Librarian for the Kinrowan Estate. I do love fresh brewed teas, curling, English mysteries and will often be playing Scandinavian or Celtic  music here in the Library.

I’m a violinist too, so you’ll me playing in various contradance band such as Chasing Fireflies and Mouse in the Cupboard as well as backing my wife Catherine up on yearly Christmas season tours in the Nordic countries.

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