Traditionally, people are always supposed to feel empty, devastated, when a god leaves them. Nobody seems to wonder how the god might feel. Leaving the only people who almost understood. — Peter Beagle’s Summerlong
Yeah that’s Peter Beagle — author of such delightful works as the above-quoted Summerlong along with In Calabria, Tamsin and of course The Last Unicorn to name but three of his many works — over in the sitting area in the Kitchen here at Kinrowan Hall.
Reynard and he have been talking about ales and he says that ‘When I can get it — and I only know one pub in Berkeley that stocks it — I’ll take Blackened Voodoo, which is really a dark ale (as is the Brazilian Xingu, which is even harder to find). Blackened Voodoo is a Dixie Beer product; I think Katrina almost put them out of business — anyway, I couldn’t find it for quite a while. Sierra Nevada’s always a reliable bet, but BV’s worth the extra searching…’
He’s just been offered a particularly decadent chocolate bar and the Several Annie is asking him if he wants it: ‘Whatever you may have heard, it is not true that I have ever killed for really good chocolate. Trampled … well, sort of. But only when the person was directly between the chocolate and me. I mean, after all …’ and I see the chocolate is indeed to his liking.
If you like chocolate, may I recommend the strawberries dipped in dark chocolate over in the cooler? Tasty, aren’t they? Yes they’re bone white in colour — all Border strawberries start red and turn white when ripe. You can find them in Emma Bull’s Finder — A Novel Of The Borderlands which is reviewed this time and whose first chapter can be found in our Words section.
Cat has one of his favourite novels for us: ‘Emma Bull has written a fair number of novels in her career and all of them are superb in their own way. Be it Bone Dance, Finder or War for The Oaks, all are superbly written. So when I recently was looking for a novel to read on one of the many cold, rainy nights we’ve had this Autumn, I turned to Finder, a novel I enjoy re-reading every few years. You can read the first chapter here courtesy of her.’
J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec’s Gaslight Grimoire: Fantastic Tales of Sherlock Holmes gets a review by Kage: ‘Here we have an anthology of eleven stories by diverse hands set in Sherlock Holmes’ universe. As the subtitle implies, however, there are more fantastic creatures roaming around in this particular universe than ever Holmes encountered in the days when Arthur Conan Doyle was getting the royalty checks.’
Ellis Peters’ Black Is the Colour of My True-love’s Heart, a favourite novel of mine for autumnal reading, receives a loving look by Lenora: ‘This is a book of music, of silence, of words; it has love, hate, and all their analogues. Myths and fact combine to wrap the storyline in a heavy cloak of authenticity. This is a story of high passion and cool deliberation; it dances through the morals and minds of another age and gives the reader a wide window into the world of folk music and ballad-singers.’
Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series took a while to hit its stride, but, as Robert notes in his review of Summer Knight, it did: ‘I read Storm Front and Fool Moon, the first two volumes in the Dresden Files, when they first came out, and enjoyed them but wasn’t so overwhelmed that I kept up with the series. My bad. Summer Knight, the fourth book, shows that the series has grown up and become a substantial companion to Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake novels and Tanya Huff’s Blood series.’
Denise digs into Epic’s Bison Uncured Bacon & Cranberry Bar, and thought it was absolutely delicious. But she’s got a warning; ‘Think of this as a snick-snack, and you can enjoy this delicious bar as it should be enjoyed; as a treat. But folks looking for a long-term hunger basher and/or meal replacement will want to look elsewhere.’ Read why in her review!
It’s late Summer and Jennifer has an easy way to make a damn fine mint julep, a classic American southern drink: ‘Some author, I believe it’s Wodehouse, reports that the mint julep is like a baby sister who steals her little hand in yours, and the next thing you know, the judge is telling you to pay five pounds to the bailiff. (That’s an approximate quote.) Sounds like Wodehouse, doesn’t it?’
More Jim Butcher, this time in graphic novel form, which Robert has some thoughts on: ‘Jim Butcher has moved the Dresden Files into the realm of graphic novels with Welcome to the Jungle, a prequel of sorts to his series on the adventures of Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only wizard for hire.’
Kim notes ‘This is the album that got the Hedningarna phenomenon going, a richly textured, darkly fascinating instrumental album by the “core” trio of Björn Tollin (frame drum, string drum, hurdy-gurdy, moraharpa), Anders Norudde (fiddle, hardanger fiddle, moraharpa, swedish bagpipe, bowed harp, jews harp, wooden and pvc bass flutes) and Hållbus Totte Mattsson (lute, baroque guitar, hurdy gurdy). On more recent albums, the group has expanded to include other players and some dynamite vocalists, most recently exploring the roots of Swedish folk traditions in Russia on Karelia Visa.’
A debut recording that turned out to be the only recording by a Scottish group caught the ear of Naomi: ‘The sound of the CD really does reflect this large cast of musicians, revealing a broad spectrum of styles and influences with forays into country and pop music. However, the overall feel of this recording is remarkably unified and thoroughly Scottish at its core, although the members of Cantychiels clearly have the knack for injecting a pleasant modern sensibility into their music. Fans of early ’80s Clannad will not be disappointed with this CD.’
It’s Leonard Bernstein’s centennial,and Robert brings us two landmark recordings. The first is Bernstein’s Mass: ‘Lights! Camera! Kyrie! Sounds rather theatrical, doesn’t it? Some might even say disrespectful. It’s no surprise, then, that Leonard Bernstein’s Mass generated so much controversy at its premiere in 1971. Thirty-five years later, the controversy is muted.”
He follows up with The Original Jacket Collection: Bernstein Conducts Bernstein: ‘I’ve mentioned before that there are vanishingly few orchestra conductors in the twentieth century whose names have become household words. There are, if anything, even fewer composers who have achieved that degree of notoriety. Leonard Bernstein is all of the above: conductor, composer, and household word.’
In 1971 John Lennon and Yoko Ono filmed the recording of John’s Imagine album. They created a conceptual film also called Imagine, edited to a soundtrack created from that album and Yoko’s FLY. It’s being re-released to cinemas (as well as DVD and Blu-Ray), and we’re pretty excited about that. Its guest stars include George Harrison, Fred Astaire, Andy Warhol, Dick Cavett, and more. It’s got previously unreleased cinema-exclusive bonus material such as studio footage of John and the band (including Harrison, Nicky Hopkins, Alan White from Yes and Klaus Voormann) performing ‘How Do You Sleep?’ and ‘Oh My Love’ in Dolby surround sound. Here’s a trailer for Imagine, and you can find out where and when it’s playing here and learn more about the related releases, too.
Our coda this week is a tribute to the late great Aretha Franklin. Watch this very upbeat performance of one of her signature songs (there are so many), ‘Respect’.