Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta
As Manager and thereby self-assigned evening Barkeep in the Estate Pub, breakfast for me is around three in the afternoon as I rarely stir before two in the afternoon. (Ingrid, my wife, who’s the Estate Steward, keeps roughly the same hours, arising about noon as RHIP and her work has no set hours.) Fortunately I work nights so I don’t notice the shortening days.
When the weather turns nasty, as certainly has it this November afternoon, I’ll always go with an old favourite of mine — huevos rancheros, which for me are eggs and chorizo wrapped in warm tortillas, then covered with a green chili sauce. That and strong black coffee served with real cream will do nicely, provided all of this is served ’round noon, when I’m, more or less, ready to be awake. If I don’t ‘ave that, I’ll settle for a full Welsh breakfast of three thick Welsh bacon rashers, pork sausage and two lovely eggs. And strong tea.
Our Edition time is our usual mix of old material from the Archives, such as the review of de lint’s Dreams Underfoot collection which we strongly recommend for Autumnal reading, along with such material as a newly penned look at Halloween candy, a recent DVD release of a Joni Mitchell performance almost fifty years ago, and of course we’ve got music in the form this time of The Men They Couldn’t Hang’s ‘Homefires’, their take on Guy Fawkes Day to see us out.
Elizabeth has a Big Dumb Object SF Novel for us: ‘Helix is one of the few science fiction books that manages to make the future of humanity look both bleak and hopeful at the same time, and that’s a testament to Eric Brown’s skill with characterization, description, and narrative.’
Richard has this lead-in to a classic English work of fantasy: ‘The first fully fledged novel in the Robert Holdstock’s epic novel cycle is Mythago Wood. The book, which first saw print in 1984 (though part of it appeared earlier in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction) is awash in both the Oedipal struggle and the Jungian subjective unconscious. At its heart, it’s a tale of family struggle. Sons war against each other for the love of a woman, and both struggle against their monstrous, inhuman father. Or so it seems.’ And though he’s doesn’t note it in that review, he does note in later reviews of other novels in the series that Mythago Wood is a character unto itself.
Robert has a wonderful fantasy collection for us: ‘Charles de Lint’s Dreams Underfoot is another collection of Newford stories, rather different in feel than those in The Ivory and the Horn. While that collection leaned more toward the “ghost stories” category, this one is much more inclined toward what we’ve come to know as de Lint’s own brand of fantasy: urban, contemporary, drawing on mythic traditions from both Europe and North America, and not quite like anything anyone else is writing. These stories are also what I’ve come to think of as “mature de Lint”: the boundaries between the worlds have become not only intangible, but largely irrelevant, the here-and-now is not irrevocably here or now, and magic is where you find it – if it doesn’t find you first.’
Equally wonderful, in Robert’s view, is a collection of two collections of works by Robert Frost: ‘A Boy’s Will was Robert Frost’s first published collection, seeing print when he was nearly forty, in 1913. North of Boston, published in 1914, was his second collection. Published together, they provide a good signpost at the point where 19th-century poetry became 20th-century poetry.’
Kelly joyfully exclaims that ‘Joni Mitchell’s 1970 Isle of Wight performance is captured in Both Sides Now, a stunning historical document of an artist at the peak of her powers amid the chaos of this iconic festival.’
Denise here, taking over the Food & Drink section with more candy reviews. Why? It’s the Season of the Witch, is it not? Donovan says so, and I will not argue. So go take a gander at my reviews for Reese’s Snack-Size Peanut Butter Pumpkins, Treat Street’s Zombie Hand Gummy Lollipops, Jelly Belly’s The Original Gourmet Candy Corn, Wonka’s Halloween Fright-Tins, and Sour Patch Kids’ Zombie Candy! Of course I have a quote for you. I’d never forget. But this time, you’ll have to figure out exactly which review it’s from. (Spoiler: it’s not chocolate…) ‘Perhaps I’m not cool enough, but…there’s only so much I can take.’ It’s a tough job, reviewing candies, but someone’s gotta do it. And on that note, I’ll be off to the kitchen, where I hear that the Cook has whipped up a batch of sugar-hangover cure.
Denise has a look at the film version of V for Vendetta: ‘It’s been said that Guy Fawkes was the only person who ever entered the Houses of Parliament with honest intentions. He honestly meant to blow the place to smithereens, and though he was foiled in his attempt, at least his motives were easy to understand. . . . the titular hero of V for Vendetta has a similar plan, but his intentions are darkened by involved self-interest.’
David looks back at the original V for Vendetta: ‘It was Dickens who said, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” but by the time it rolled ’round to Alan Moore and David Lloyd, it was worse: nuclear holocaust, fascist dictatorships, concentration camps for the disenfranchised. And who is disenfranchised? Just about anyone who doesn’t toe the party line. It’s not a pretty sight this England imagined by Moore and Lloyd in their 10 month comic series from two decades ago.’
Gary saw Jakob Bro recently live: ‘The beautifully restored Presbyterian Church in downtown Portland that is The Old Church Concert Hall was a perfect spot for this music. It’s a warm, acoustically gorgeous and intimate venue that made this gig feel more like a house concert.’
Jayme looks at what I’d say is essential listening for Celtic music fans: ‘There’s no gloss and polish here like you’d find on, say, an Altan disc, no studio jiggery and double-tracked harmonies that are so commonplace on a Clannad release. Not that those are necessarily bad things, mind you, but every one of the 11 tracks on The Best of Silly Wizard sound like they were recorded in one take in the studio, with the entire band playing at once, rather than the more common practice of laying down each instrument separately and mixing later. Now, I don’t know if that’s actually the way Silly Wizard recorded the music here, but the end result.’
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.’
Robert has a look at music from Merrie Old England, the England of Elizabeth and James — and Guy Fawkes. It’s a twofer review of Seven Teares: Music of John Dowland and The York Waits’ Fortune My Foe: Popular Music from the Period of the Gunpowder Plot: ‘Guy Fawkes made the mistake of getting caught with the barrels of gunpowder intended to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605; he was neither the instigator nor the leader of the plot, just the fall guy. He has the somewhat thin consolation of giving his name to the English holiday on which things explode. (Every country has one, you know.)’ (I know, the titles don’t sound so merrie, but that’s just the way it was.)
While Guy Fawkes Day is still on our minds around here, there’s another tale that I can’t help but come back to when November begins. With a yearly masquerade to attend, I can’t help but think of Poe’s ‘Masque of the Red Death’. This tale blends the chills of the recently departed Halloween with the horrors of what I like to call The Sickness Season. While we can hopefully count ourselves lucky enough to avoid Prospero’s fate this season, this time of year raises goosebumps for more reasons than one. Let’s hope ‘Darkness and Decay and the Red Death’ bypasses us all. (Save for the tale itself, of course.) Shall I fetch us all hearty cups of soup? I feel the need for one right now.
Our music for you quite naturally is The Men They Couldn’t Hang’s ‘Homefires’, their look at Guy Fawkes Day and what it means to British culture. Where and when they recorded it seems to have been lost right now though I’ll add in if I find out that information.