A note: At long last, we’re back after some misadventures in online publishing. We now resume our regular programming:
‘Name the different kinds of people,’ said Miss Lupescu. ‘Now.’ Bod thought for a moment. ‘The living,’ he said. ‘Er. The dead.’ He stopped. Then, ‘… Cats?’ he offered, uncertainly. — Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book
So it’ll be a John Crabbie’s Ginger Beer for you? Excellent choice. Did you know the Company’s in the process of opening up a new whisky distillery? The Scotsman has the details here on their website. Give their whiskies a few dacades to age and they should be rather good.
Too damn bad that Iain Banks, author of such SF novels as The Hydrogen Sonata, hadn’t lived to see it open as I’m sure that he as author of Raw Spirit, a book suitably subtitled In Search of the Perfect Dram would have had a few thoughts on their products.
We’ve got some fantasies for you this time, all I’d say suitable for the coming Autumnal evenings. We’ve also got some Irish music, both reviewed and for you to listen to, Robert has a film that was more fun than he expected it to be and some interesting manga for you as well, and he’s makes yet another a visit to his favorite museum. Oh and Denise look at salmon and cookies, no not a single product… So let’s get started…
Cat starts off our book reviews with a look (a listen?) to the latest from GraphicAudio, Simon R. Green’s Once in a Blue Moon — but first, a bit about the publisher: ‘First, a thanks to the GraphicAudio staff for providing this for review. I’ve reviewed quite a number of their productions in the past, including several in their World of Lipi, Ghost Finders and Rogue Angel, so I’m going to lead this review off by talking about what they do and also about the GraphicAudio app, which is how I’m listening to this work.’
Kestrell waxes poetic on Theodora Goss’ In The Forest of Forgetting: ‘Every book is a grimoire, a witch’s recipe book for summoning thoughts and feelings, travels and transformations. Books of different genres can be used to invoke different seasons: horror for the haunted harvest time of late autumn, mysteries for the long nights of winter, and ghost stories to accompany the thunderstorms of spring. But fantasy — with its bewitching call to be out and away — is for summer. One June day you may open a book of fantasy stories and notice that, as if dried petals had been pressed between its pages, the faintest scent of roses begins to stir upon the air, banishing the last memories of wool socks and raincoats. Your senses begin to awake, slowly noticing that wisps of birdsong and tendrils of soft breezes have come curling like magically growing vines through the crack of a half-open window, inviting you to escape.’
Richard says ‘Lavondyss is perhaps the most problematic of the Ryhope Wood books, the least accessible and at the same time the richest. It also plays the most games with time, narrative flow and character identity, and as such is either going to delight or frustrate the reader far more than an ordinary tale of a young girl lost in the wood has any right to.’
Robert was going through his bookshelves and ran across one that’s worth a look: Greg Bear’s Songs of Earth and Power: ‘Greg Bear is known for his science fiction, despite the fact that his first two published books were fantasies — Blood Music and The Infinity Concerto, which is the first part of Songs of Earth and Power. The second part, The Serpent Mage, was originally published a number of years after Concerto. Bear has revised them to stand as one novel, and quite a novel it is.’
Robert found a DVD that turned out to be a lot of fun — it’s pure Edgar Rice Burroughs: Andrew Stanton’s John Carter: ‘I missed John Carter in the theaters, but ran across the DVD on one of my browsing trips through Amazon. I figured I’d probably enjoy it, but I remember my first question was “Who is Taylor Kitsch?” As it turns out, Taylor Kitsch portrays Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and the combination of pretty face and gruff voice was too much to pass up. And I found the DVD for half price. How could I say no?’
Epic Bites’ Maple Glazed & Smoked Tender Salmon Bites Get gets, errr, consumed by Denise: ‘ Mmm, salmon. I never liked fish when I was a kid – blame that on a mother that overcooked every finned creature to sawdust – but when I started cooking for myself I fell in love with salmon. Miso glazed, wood plank grilled, poached, however it’s prepared I’m up for it. So when I found out that Epic came out with a jerky-esque salmon – “100% Wild Caught Salmon” – I couldn’t wait to give it a try. And these Bites are, in fact, Epic.’
On the other hand, Stonewall Kitchen’s Cocoa Sea Salt Caramel Waffle Cookie doesnt quite please Denise: ‘I fell in love when I visited Belgium. Waffle cookies. Stroopwafel. While the cookies originated in the Netherlands, I first tasted them on a trip from Paris to Amsterdam, a small packed of two I grabbed up during a break at a gas station. Now a US company has decked out these cookies with luscious add-ons like cocoa and sea salt…but I’m missing the plain-ol’ deliciousness of the original.’
Robert offers a take on one of the most unusual superhero duos, James Asmus’ Quantum and Woody! Vol. 1: The World’s Worst Superhero Team: ‘I’ll be very honest here: James Asmus’ Quantum and Woody! had me at the cover. How can you beat “The World’s Worst Superhero Team”? (And yes, there’s a goat.)’
Brendan says in his review of the first four Chieftains recordings that ‘For an excellent assortment of really great Irish music, this set of CDs really cannot be beat. Each clocks in at about 40 minutes, which means that the Chieftains packed their LPs as much as possible, and which also means that there are many other gems on these CDs that I’ve left out in this review. ‘
Cat says: ‘Australian author and Celtic musician Paul Brandon, who wrote of one of the finest fantasy novels of recent years, Swim the Moon, has a new novel, The Wild Reel, coming out this summer. He’s also a great fan of Lúnasa, who are capable of some really wild reels! Now, I know that Paul hasn’t heard this album yet, but I’m certain that he’ll find the very wild reels and jigs here to be quite fine, as The Kinnitty Sessions is the first live recording that this group has released. ’
He also looks at this recording: ‘It’s no secret that we love Gaelic music around here. For this issue, Cat takes a listen to Skara Brae’s Skara Brae, an album that is widely considered the most important album of Gaelic music ever produced. ‘Skara Brae was the first group that put harmonies to Gaelic songs…. For lovers of songs in Irish this album is a must.’
Mike looks at one of the the more interesting Irish sort of trad bands: ‘Nightnoise was formed in the early 1980s by the recently departed Irish traditional musician, Micheál Ó Domhnaill and American violinist, Bill Oskay. They were soon joined by Micheál’s sister, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill and flautist, Brian Dunning, with Oskay eventually being replaced by the late Scottish fiddler, Johnny Cunningham. Pure Nightnoise presents a compilation of material spanning the band’s career, from their first album — 1984’s Nightnoise, right up to their 1995 album, A Different Shore.’
For this week’s What Not, Robert makes a visit to his favorite museum, this time to the Cyrus Tang Hall of China: ‘No, I don’t know who Cyrus Tang is, or was, but I suspect this exhibition is named for him because a major portion came from his collection. That said, the exhibition itself gives an overview of the history of China from the Neolithic to the early 20th Century.’
Our parting music for you this Edition is ‘An Cailin Rua’ from Skara Brae’s Reunion Concert recording made at the Dunlewey Lakeside centre in Centreon, Donegal on the second of January, some fifteen years ago. Now don’t go looking to order it as it was never released commercially but I was handed a soundboard recording of it and it’s one of the most played performances by me as both the music itself and the recording of it are first rate.