What’s New for the 22nd of July: The Art of Mouse Guard, Medieval Japan, Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’ and some other possibly odd things

Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head

White Rabbit’, written by Grace Slick

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Yes, we love chocolate a lot around here, to the extent that Ellen Kushner once shared her hot chocolate recipe with us, the same chocolate drink quite popular with the characters in her Swordspoint novel and other Riverside tales. You’ll have to ask Mrs. Ware and her Kitchen staff for it as I’ve never actually been told what it is. Oh, and that toast is spread with the Lindt Chocolate Hazelnut Spread which they’ve just starting selling here in the UK. Really, really ymmmy!

It’s summer, so the Neverending Session has decamped from the Pub to the Greensward ‘til the sun starts to come down to take advantage of the fantastic summer weather. Yes, I know this is Scotland, which has shitty summer weather, but we share The Border with that place, call it, if you will, Tír na hÓige, and their Summer Court love warm, sunny summers so we get the same. Now guess what it’s like when the Winter Court holds sway…

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Cat has a rather good SF novel with mythological underpinnings for us: ‘On a whim, I picked it up a novel and started reading it — it felt like classic Zelazny such as The Isle of The Dead, so I kept reading. Now keep in mind that this never before published Zelazny novel was finished posthumously with the help of his coauthor and companion, Jane Lindskold. But unlike so many of this sort of collaboration, Donnerjack has Zelazny written all over it.‘

Robert has a look at a poetry collection, Mark Doty’s Sweet Machine: ‘I don’t know if it’s possible for anyone not to be taken by Mark Doty’s poetry. Reading one or two (which I try to do with poetry, so as not to become too glib about it) is like eating one or two pistachios: before you know it, you’ve done the book cover to cover and your mind is too congested for any use whatsoever. And your hair is standing straight up.’

How about life in medieval Japan? That’s what’s in store in our next offering. Robert says: ‘f the title sounds daunting, don’t be worried. William E. Diehl’s Handbook to Life in Medieval and Early Modern Japan is a well-organized and eminently usable reference to the history, arts, and customs of Japan from 1185, the beginning of the Kamakura Period, to 1868, the end of the Edo Period, which is to say, the end of the Tokugawa shogunate and the restoration of the Emperor.’

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Robert has a Scandinavian candy bar for our inspection: ‘Troika is one of those candies that comes only in Norwegian — the label is in Norwegian, the web site is in Norwegian, and so on. Nidar is one of three companies that consolidated to form Orkla Confectionary and Snacks in 2013, and is a major confectioner throughout the Baltic region, with companies in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Latvia and Estonia.’

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Sometimes the companion work to an awesome series is every bit as good as that series, as Cat tells us here: ‘The Art of The Mouse Guard is nearly three hundred and seventy pages of awesomeness and it’s packed with artworks such as sketches, pen and ink illustrations, and painted art. Let’s not overlook the photos of miniature sets of interiors and buildings that were used as references. Yes miniature sets of interiors and buildings were built by David Peterson to help him visualise the unique reality that his mice exist in.’

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Three albums from one of the legendary San Francisco rock bands, Jefferson Airplane, get an appreciative look-see by David: ‘Psychedelic music was originally so named because it sought to recreate musically the mind-expanding experience of LSD. “Psychedelic, man!” The center of this music was unquestionably San Francisco, with bands like the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and the Jefferson Airplane. Straight from Haight-Ashbury to you they brought in special lighting techniques, extended trippy solos, exotic Middle Eastern modal influences, and more . . . “far freakin’ out!” These three albums provide a workshop on yhe latter’s efforts to expand the minds of a nation.’

After you’ve read that review, go read Deborah’s Flight Plan: A look back at the Jefferson Airplane an essay which not only covers some essential recordings and even a few books about the band, but is also a fascinating look at her relationship to that music.

Gary reviews a new CD by Clay Parker and Jodi James, a musical couple from Baton Rouge. Their album The Lonesomest Sound That Can Sound ‘stands out quietly in the crowded Americana field,’ he says.

Canadian folk-rockers Cowboy Junkies are marking the 30th Anniversary of one of their best-known albums The Trinity Session. Gary says  ‘All That Reckoning, all these years later, still is built around Margo Timmins’ hushed vocals, but this one seethes with a barely suppressed rage at the present state of the Western world.’

‘John Prine is the folk singer America deserves. And needs,’ Gary says. ‘And boy, do we need this new album of his.’

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We’re not sure who wrote this Folkmanis review as our What Not this time, as that information does seem to have gone walkabout: Folkmanis has gained an excellent reputation in recent decades for its overwhelming array of puppets. The plushies range from eerily lifelike to utterly fantastical. Right now I’m holding the Sea Serpent Stage Puppet in my hand. Well, okay, I’m wearing it on my hand. . . is that so wrong?’

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If there’s any voice that match the cool, strong feel of Grace Slick, it’d be in my not so humble opinion that of June Tabor, whom I’ve heard live and that we’ve reviewed many a time, including this review of An Echo Of Hooves. Now imagine that she performed Slick’s ‘White Rabbit’ with quite possibly the finest English folk rock band ever in the form of the Oysterband which has been reviewed here many, many times, including Ragged Kingdom which is their second second album with Taborr, the first being Freedom and Rain some thirty years ago .

Well you don’t need to imagine it happening as it did and you can hear ‘White Rabbit’ as performed by her and the Oysterband at City Varieties in Leeds on a November night just seven years ago.

About Reynard

I’m the Pub Manager for the Green Man Pub which is located at the KInrowan Estate. I’m married to Ingrid, our Steward who’s also the Estate Buyer. If I’m off duty and in a mood for a drink, it’ll be a single malt, either Irish or Scottish, no water or ice, or possibly an Estate ale or cider.

I’m a concertina player, and unlike my wife who has a fine singing voice, I do not have anything of a singing voice anyone want to hear!

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