Not of father, nor of mother
Was my blood, was my body.
I was spellbound by Gwydion,
Prime enchanter of the Britons,
When he formed me from nine blossoms.
From the Robert Graves translation of ‘Hanes Blodeuwedd’
Who am I? Why I’m Ástríður, one of the Several Annies, the Estate Apprentices here, and I have the deep honour of writing up the edition this week as your usual hosts, Iain and Reynard, are both unavailable right now. Yes, I know Iain, the Librarian here, thinks we’re his Apprentices but most of what we learn is applicable to the entirety of this Scottish Estate.
Under the tutelage of Laith, our Archivist, I’ve been editing an article that Reynard wrote for The Sleeping Hedgehog, our in-house newsletter. It’s titled The Fate of Unmarried Women Who Have Sexual Intercourse with Soldiers in Certain Songs: A Comparison of ‘Yankee Go Home,’ ‘Cold, Haily Wind’ and ‘The Gentleman Soldier’, ‘Alternatively Titled Why F’ucking a Soldier is Never a Good Idea.’ It most certainly should engender a lively discuss by the group studying British folk songs this coming Winter!
I’m off to finish this Edition but I’m looking forward more to the s’mores ‘contest’ on the patio this evening, as we’ll attempting to create the best tasting s’mores. I’ve got my kroner on the dark chocolate, homemade marshmallows and home baked grahams made with Kungsörnen Grahamsmjöl flour that Gus is using for his recipe. Väldigt gott!!
Cat says about Rita Mae Brown’s Let Sleeping Dogs Lie ,that ‘This series grows out of her passions for horses, hounds, and American fox hunting which show up frequently in her fiction and non-fiction works – she has for some time now been a member of a local fox hunt club. Please note that American hunt clubs do not kill the fox as part of their hunt but let it escape. Indeed they care for the foxes on their property by feeding them and making sure they get enough food in harsh winters.’
Mia says that ‘A Circle of Cats is intended to be the prequel to the de Lint/Vess collaboration Seven Wild Sisters. Since I’ve been thwarted in every attempt to procure a copy of Sisters, and haven’t had a chance to read the story sans Vess’ artwork in Tapping the Dream Tree collection, I have no idea how A Circle of Cats stands in relation to that rare release. In relation to de Lint’s body of work as a whole, and indeed to the field of modern fantasy and fairy tale overall, this piece is simply outstanding.’
Kate has an update on an classic tale: ‘Children’s author, Kathryn Lasky has finally asked and answered a question that was ignored since Hans Christian Andersen first presented the world with The Emperor’s Old Clothes: Where did his old clothes go? With the help of David Catrow, an award-winning illustrator, Lasky has directed this tale at the world of 3- to 7-year-old children.’
Robert brings us a new version of another classic tale, this one titled The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse: ‘You’ve undoubtedly heard this story, or at the very least heard of it, probably under some variation of “The Country Mouse and the City Mouse,” or the reverse. It’s a well-loved children’s story that has received innumerable treatments throughout the years. Author/illustrator Helen Ward has brought us the latest version.’
Zina finishes off our book reviews with an affectionate précis of What the Mouse Found and Other Stories: ‘Ah — two of my favorite things, paired in one slim volume. (Sorry, I’ve always wanted to use the phrase “slim volume” somewhere.) Fairy tales and Charles de Lint. The postman dropped the package through the door this afternoon. Just a bit later, here I am at my computer. I couldn’t not read it right away, could I?’
A thunderstorm, gentle rain, and rhythmic chopping are among the sounds depicted on Guzuguzu, the latest release by the Norwegian jazz group Helge Lien Trio. Its odd title is a hint to what’s going on in the music, Gary says. When naming the tunes, the trio ‘turned to the Japanese language and its rich store of words that are onomatopoeic – words that sounds like what they depict.’
Jo found a lot to like in Shouting at Magpies: ‘It is really refreshing to see top-caliber pipers taking the bagpipe to new horizons. In the past, many great Highland bagpipers that have pursued the bagpipe beyond the strictly traditional have tended to be the pipers that didn’t have enough talent to cut it in the highly competitive, strictly traditional bagpipe world. Recent years have seen a new trend of interest in music outside of the Highland pipe’s traditional milieu. One such piper to break new ground is Ann Gray.’
Robert came up with more Scandinavian jazz, this time the Christian Jormin 3, a group from Sweden, and their album Sol Salutis: ‘The Christian Jormin 3 is a jazz trio based in Sweden, comprised of Christian Jormin, piano and percussion; Mattias Gröroos, bass; and Magnus Boqvist, drums. Sol Salutis is, indeed, jazz, and sometimes subject to that cold intellectualism that I often find off-putting. This particular collection, however, has many redeeming qualities.’
In a more traditional vein, Robert has a look at some down home fiddling, in A Henry Reed Reunion from Alan Jabbour, James Reed, and Bertram Levy: ‘[D]espite my reputation in some quarters as a highbrow with a taste for the esoteric, I am developing a distinct fondness for good old-fashioned fiddling. I can’t think of anything more likely to bring a twinkle to your eye and a bounce to your step, and A Henry Reed Reunion is no exception.’
For today’s What Not, we have — well, it’s either a new take on cuisine, or a new take on literature. From our friends at Penguin/Random House, we have a video: ‘It’s a ‘mini-doc’ about a monthly event held at the restaurant Egg in Williamsburg called Tables of Contents, where Chef Evan Hanczor makes dishes based off of book passages, and authors give readings. Here’s the vid, which features authors Adam Gopnik (At the Strangers’ Gate, New Yorker writer), Victor LaValle (The Changeling), and Sarah Gerard (Sunshine State).’
So let’s finish out this week with ‘The Two Sisters’ by Clannad, taken from a concert in Köln, Germany nearly forty years ago. This is one of the lesser known variants of the Child Ballad more commonly known as ‘The Cruel Sister.’ Pay attention to the lyrics at the end as they tell the gruesome end that the murderous sister deservedly comes to. It’s an ending worthy of the original Grimm Tales, and is noted in other folk ballads as well.