Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always
been the two most beautiful words in the English language. –– Henry James
The piper at gates of dawn has resumed his or her ritual after taking most of the summer off. Now from just before the first light hits the high meadow with its benediction of the new day ’til several minutes later when it’s the slate roof of Kinrowan Hall which the sunrise glistens on the moss covered slate roofing tiles up there, the piper plays on. Some say the instrument is Great Medievel Pipes but I doubt that as I’ve never seen them here; more likely is that they border pipes or uilleann pipes.
I’m now inside our Kitchen this morning as it’s bone numbing cold this morning. No not just chilling but rather a brutally cold damp with the promise of rain and strong winds later today. Autumn’s not even here but the weather’s giving us an early taste of November is usually like. Even the Estate felines and canines who like going outside are sticking close to the fireplaces and other warm spots inside Kinrowan Hall today.
In between lots of coffee and setting up my ‘office’ which is myself, a large mug of Blue Mountain coffee and my iPad, in the sitting corner of the Kitchen, I’ve been editing this Edition which includes a Russian River Brewing Company release, Gerard Way’s GN series, modern Balkan music, an unusual A.A. Milne work and much, much more.
The manor house and the woods that surround that A.A. Milne lived in as that inspired the tales of Pooh and friends is for sale for a staggering number of pounds, but for considerably less you can read The Red House Mystery, a classic English manor house novel by him that gets a look-see by Lory: ‘The story is not really a “whodunit” — the “who” is pretty clear from the outset — the question is “how” and, even more, “why” he did it, and Milne keeps us guessing until the end. The plausibility of the solution is not one that would hold up to heavy scrutiny, but the pleasure lies not in the verisimilitude of the puzzle but in the ingenuity of its construction and unravelling, and the witty repartee among the characters.’
Denise has been holding on to her review of Crystal King’s Feast of Sorrow, but that’s just because she couldn’t resist going back to it over and over again. If you’ve a taste for a story full of intrigue, Ancient Rome, and flamingo tongues, you need look no further. And if you just want a page-turner, you’ve come to the right place as well. ‘Sorrow is so thoroughly researched it feels as if her tale is exactly what happened, instead of what possibly could have. … Come for the fascinating premise, stay for the amazing characters and wonderful way King has with prose.’
Marian looks at a trilogy by Jane Yolen that deserves to be a classic. First up is ‘The Books of Great Alta which is the compilation of Yolen’s two books in the series, Sister Light, Sister Dark and White Jenna. It is the story of the women of Dale, who worship Great Alta, the mother goddess and what happens to them for better or worse.’ If you’ve read these already, then do read Marian’s review of the final volume, The One-Armed Queen, but otherwise do not as it has major spoilers about what happens in the first two novels.
Robert has a book that should resonate with all those who are familiar with images such as the Green Man: Garth Dahl’s Masks from Around the World: ‘Masks occur in every human culture I’ve ever run across, and their purpose is always the same: disguise. In the theater of ancient Greece, the disguise served to submerge the actor in the persona of the god or hero he portrayed. Among the Cherokee and Iroquois of North America, the fearsome headgear served to frighten malignant spirits away. In Mycenae, masks were funerary effigies, a practice found throughout the ancient world and also found among the great pre-Columbian cultures of the Americas.’
The history of beer is, if nothing else, tasty. And that’s why I’m offering you a review as done by Kelly of a Russian River Brewing Company release: ‘Wandering through my neighborhood grocery store on a Saturday afternoon, I came across a wine tasting. “What the heck!” I said to myself and sauntered up to the guy with the wine glasses. I was chatting pleasantly with a couple sipping next to me when the male part of the party stopped a young man in an apron walking by and asked if they had any Pliny the Elder in the back. The young man scowled, but said he would bring one. My fellow taster boldly asked for a second bottle for his wife and received another black look.’
It’s summer here which means lots of fresh hand churned ice cream with various fruits, principally the Border strawberries that start out blood red and turn as white as bleached bone as they ripen. So it’s apt that Richard has this book for us: ‘Ask anyone waving around a Drumstick cone or Klondike Bar where ice cream comes from, and you’re lucky if you get a smart-aleck response like “the freezer”. Ice cream may be near-universally loved (there’s an ice cream truck going down my block as we speak, and it’s not being shy about it), ice cream has an oddly shrouded history. Admittedly, most consumers of ice cream wouldn’t care if the first ice cream cone sprang, fully formed, from the forehead of Zeus, but for those who are actually curious about where their double-dip hot fudge sundaes originated – and who don’t want to read a tome the size of a cinderblock – there’s Ivan Day’s slender Ice Cream.’
April has a look at the opening salvo in a not-run-of-the-mill graphic novel series, The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite: ‘Part steam punk, part superhero comic and all attitude, Umbrella Academy is the brainchild of rock front man Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance). The titular “academy” is actually a group of oddly powered kids, raised by an eccentric space alien masquerading as an entrepreneur known for his work with chimpanzees.’
Robert follows up with his take on the second volume, The Umbrella Academy: Dallas: ‘The story is rather fragmented, but does draw together into a coherent narrative focusing on the assassination of JFK — eventually. But first there’s a dog race (Number 5 loses heavily), a trip back to 1963, a short interlude in Heaven, and a stint in Vietnam before everyone winds up where they’re supposed to be.’
American indie folk-rockers Deer Tick have returned from hiatus with a self-titled two-disc set, Deer Tick Vol. 1 & Deer Tick Vol. 2. The former is mostly acoustic folk-rock, the latter mostly electric rock of the punk or garage variety, but built around lyrics that largely wouldn’t be out of place in folk-rock. Gary says it ‘is an impressive release, one not to be missed by fans of thoughtful, independent-minded music, whether you call it folk or rock.’
English singer-songwriter Jack Cooper usually plays in a two-man band called Ultimate Painting. But he’s just released his first solo album. Gary says Cooper’s Sandgrown ‘is a song cycle of sorts painting a sonic picture of his hometown, the port city of Blackpool on the Lancashire coast in northwestern England.’
Gary also looks at the modern Balkan album Dvoijka by Sarajevan Damir Imamovič and his band Sevdah Takht. The music comes from a mix of tradition and innovation, he says: ‘Growing up in Sarajevo, he steeped himself not only in the roots of legends of sevdah like his father and grandfather, but also in the other Sarajevo, the city of rebels and bohemians.’
And not far from the Balkans, at least geographically, is Italy. Robert gives us his take on two CDs of Italian music, Italia 3: Atlante di Musica Tradizionale — Roots Music Atlas and Italian Café: ‘Hmmm’ says Robert.
For our What Not this week, Robert gives us a look at one of his favorite places in Chicago, Lincoln Park Zoo’s South Pond Nature Boardwalk: ‘If you’re visiting Chicago and need a break from the museums, architecture tours, shopping, and theater, check out South Pond in Lincoln Park, just south of Lincoln Park Zoo, for a nice relaxing hour or two. It’s another restoration project in the Park, this one under the auspices of the Lincoln Park Zoological Society, and it’s come along quite nicely — I call it “the Lakefront, BC — Before Chicago”.’
And as we linger on the last long summer afternoons, a song to to tuck away with our memories: ‘Summertime’ from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.