I decided to return to the library and see what I could learn there. Besides, I like libraries. It makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around me. I always feel better when I can see that there is something to hold back the shadows. — Corwin in Roger Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber
Someone was possessed of a great and uncommon kindness back in the late Victorian Age anonymously gave us a very large sum to finance a new Library. That’s how the present one came to be an open cube, four stories up and three down into the earth with bookshelves and other things such as the musical Ganeshes that got moved here from the Pub rising up around triple glazed windows.
The old Library was kept, just repurposed for other uses such as the Turlough O’Carolan Irish Trad Music collection and the Agatha Christie Reading Room which houses our extensive mystery fiction collection.
If you’re here during one of our blizzards, and we get a number of them every Winter, make sure you come here sometime during the evening to watch it as the storm is amazing as the lights inside make it look magical. I’ve been known to get a dram single malt, peated preferred and definitely no water, and just watch the storm for several hours. Now I must take my leave of you as I need to finish this edition…
Craig has a look at three mystery novels by the venerable Ray Bradbury, as collected in an omnibus. See for yourself why Craig says, ‘Where Everything Ends is a trio of fine detective novels (together with the short story that provided the starting point) from Bradbury in his inimitable style. He plays with the conventions, but since he so obviously loves the genre, this is easily forgiven — embraced, even — because the end results are, simply put, fine additions to the canon. This series is also dear to fans because it is likely the closest thing to an autobiography we will receive from this man who has brought so much joy to so many people for so many years.’
If you’ve ever wondered about John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera and how it came to be perhaps the best known English language opera, Jack has the book for you, a work by Charles Pearce: ‘Given such a rich and rather racy plot, it’s no surprise that Polly Peachum and The Beggar’s Opera, which details how The Beggar’s Opera has fared from its inception ’til the late Victorian period, is a lively read.’
A mythology infused series featuring Detective Inspector Chen is next up. The first one finds favour with Liz. She opens thusly — ‘Snake Agent, like any good detective novel, all starts with a dame …’ But does it lay ‘a solid framework for future novels in the series’?
Robert takes a look at one of Glen Cook’s early series, Starfishers, beginning with Shadowline: ‘Glen Cook dedicated Shadowline, the first volume of his Starfishers trilogy, to Richard Wagner. Yes, that Richard Wagner. Think Götterdämmerung.’ Click through to start the survey.
Muzsikás’ The Bartók Album gets an appreciative look by Brendan, who also reviewed Bartók’s Yugoslav Folk Songs which you’ll see connects intrinsically to this recording: ‘During a recent festival in celebration of the works of Béla Bartók — one of this century’s most important musical composers — at Bard College, the Hungarian tradition revivalist band Muzsikás discovered that many people were quite familiar with Bartók’s classical compositions while being quite ignorant of the Hungarian folk musical traditions that inspired much of those compositions’
Gary reviews a new release from Richard Thompson, the home-studio recorded Acoustic Classics Vol. II. ‘It’s a handpicked selection of some of his currently most popular songs from his solo acoustic performances, hitting all the major periods of his 50-year career in folk-rock and what is now called Americana music.’
Next up from Gary is some jazz from Finland. ‘Finnish trumpeter Martti Vesala attempted to capture the sounds and flavors of his home base Helsinki with a classic jazz quintet,” he says. ‘The aural picture that emerges on Helsinki Soundpost is a delightful tour.’
Gary also reviews Nightfall, the aptly titled somber second release from June Tabor’s jazz-folk trio Quercus. This time out along with traditional British folk songs, the group tackles some contemporary fare from Dylan to Sondheim.
Rounding out his reviews this week, Gary looks at On That Other Green Shore from John Reischman and the Jaybirds. ‘Bluegrass, oldtime, gospel, multi-part harmonies, danceable instrumentals, even a Beatles cover – as usual, The Jaybirds do it all just right.’
Robert came up with a look at what amounts to a survey of Béla Bartók’s career in a recording featuring a number of his works: ‘It’s no secret that I am very fond of the music of Bartók, and I’m particularly pleased to have a chance to revisit these recordings, which include some of his most revealing works. The arrangement on the disc is somewhat odd — sort of a trip backward through Bartók’s musical thought, but then, thanks to the marvels of modern technology, you can listen in any order you like.’
The What Not this time is on the matter of breaking long standing traditions. The email I got from Adweek was Crayola Is Vowing to Retire One Crayon From Its Iconic Box of 24 This Week.
Meanwhile Parker Brother had started out the week by removing the thimble and boot both of which had been in Monopoly since its start in 1935 and the wheelbarrow was introduced a generation later in the 1950s. tradionalistd were appalled and vented their disgust loudly.
Now it’s Crayola tinkering with longstanding tradiation. On March 31st of this year, the company announced that Dandelion will be retiring. Crayola has also announced that there will be a new color that is supposed to be a kind of blue that will replace Dandelion. Sigh — Has no one a sense of history?
So the music this week is from Midnight Oil, an Aussie rock group fronted by Peter Garret, whose politics infused the band over the decades it exisited. Tip O’Neil, an Irish- American politician from Boston, once said that all politics is local, a sentiment that is mirrored in this band as all of their music has a political angle, usually in an unsubtle fashion.
Indeed Garret ran for a seat in Parliament and won. He represented a district in New South Wales for the Australian Labor Party. That in turn led to the Prime Minister choosing him to be the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts.
I’ll stop prattling on about the political bent of the group and pick something by them from the Inifinite Jukebox, our digital media server. So let’s listen to ‘Blue Sky Mine’ which was performed as an acoustic set sans drum kit at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London on the 23rd of June, 24 years ago.