What’s New for the 25th of November: Doctor Who goes Victorian, cornbread, music from Nightnoise, concert hall staples, color photography, and there’s a bite on the air

The roasting, the feasting and the hours of horseplay helped to create a special warmth on this cold, hard day. Then the fire was stoked and fed to make a warm place where there could be dancing until darkfall. Martin was very drunk. Rebecca danced alone, wide skirts swirling, hair flowing as the accordion wheezed out its jig, and feet stamped on the stone flags at the edge of the field, where the pit had been dug. — Robert Holdstock’s Merlin’s Wood

It smells this afternoon, if you venture outside, like Autumn should: tannin from the ancient oaks and wood smoke, thick with resin from the spruce scarps being burned in the fire pit near this Hall. It’s got a bite on the air, but not enough to be unpleasant. And I’ve got enough readers in the Library for it to pleasantly busy without being hectic as it is if the weather turns too nasty.

I’ve already dressed warmly and taken my long walk for the day, a morning sojourn with the Estate wolfhounds, complete with a thermos of tea and a breakfast ham and cheese biscuit in a pocket of my mackinaw, out towards one of the Standing Stones and back. Now I’m quite content to tackle my paperwork and assist folks here as need be. Let’s turn to this Edition while I see what Irish trad music I’ll see you off with on this Autumn day…


Grey has a fairy tale collection for us: ‘So what does Iona and Peter Opie’s The Classic Fairy Tales have to offer that makes it worth being reprinted numerous times since its first publication in 1974? Chiefly this: collected here are twenty-four of the best-known traditional fairy tales as they were first published in English. The earliest is “The History of Tom Thumbe, the Little, for his small stature surnamed, King Arthvrs Dwarfe: Whose Life and aduentures containe many strange and wonderfull accidents, published for the delight of merry Time-spenders,” dated 1621. The text from which “Hansel and Gretel” — the last tale in the collection — is taken was published in 1853.’

Susan Gaber did the illustrations for The Princess and the Lord of Night, which Marian notes was written By Emma Bull, who ‘is best-known to readers as a writer of urban fantasy novels, including War for the Oaks, Bone Dance, and Finder. She is also a musician involved with the bands Cats Laughing and the Flash Girls. However, in this book she turns her hand to writing fairy tales, and is, in my humble opinion, very successful.’

Robert brings a look at, of all things, a museum catalogue, but one that’s quite out of the ordinary: ‘William Eggleston is one of a small group of people who created color photography as a viable medium in art. William Eggleston’s Guide, the catalogue for an exhibition of his work at the Museum of Modern Art in 1976, is a group of approximately 50 images that served to establish Eggleston’s reputation as a major figure in American photography. In addition to Eggleston’s astonishing photographs, the book is graced by a brilliant essay by John Szarkowski, the legendary Curator of Photographs at MOMA.’

Stephen says of an Alan Garner work, which is definitely aimed at adults, that ‘These are only the questions which I find myself considering today. When I read Thursbitch again (and I will), they may be different, as they may be for you, when you read this book. The reasons for this are that Thursbitch is a book that casts the reader as an enthralled participant, rather than a passive recipient. It is, to repeat, a mystery. It may unsettle you (if not actually give you nightmares), but you’ll love it unequivocally nonetheless.’

Our Editor looks at a Doctor Who adventure beloved by many fans of the series: ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang which featured Tom Baker, one of the most loved of all the actors who’ve played The Doctor, and Leela, the archetypal savage that British Empire both adored and despised, played by Louise Jameson. That it is set during the Victorian Era is something that British have been fond of setting dramas in, well, since a few years after the era ended. Doctor Who has had stories set in this era myriad times.’

Kage says ‘With The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, alas, the malign gods were paying attention and behaving not unlike Terry Pratchett’s Auditors, practically warping time and space to mess with Terry Gilliam. They failed to ruin the film — Munchausen is magnificent, and a fitting conclusion to the Trilogy of the Imagination — but they ruined everything they could, to such an extent that Munchausen is unfairly and incorrectly called one of the most expensive disasters in cinema history.’

There’s Jiffy Corn Bread (25¢ a box when I was a bride, and a great help) and then there’s scratch corn bread, such as the bride makes from good old Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook (with the faux red-and-white-check tablecloth cover), and then there’s real scratch cornbread. That’s what you get when you do all the right things to make the chymical magick of corn bread happen perfectly. Do it Jennifer’s way and you’ll amaze them all.

Remember Abe Sapien? Well, if you don’t, Robert has a look at three stories about him: ‘Among the many spin-offs from Mike Mignola’s Hellboy is the series Abe Sapien, relating the exploits of the eponymous hero, the amphibious man introduced as part of the B.P.R.D. This collection, The Devil Does Not Jest, is the second Abe Sapien collection and contains three stories.’

Ian Anderson at the Beacon Theater a decade ago says Chris was wonderful: ‘This show was billed as an acoustic performance, and fans of the band were not disappointed. For years we hoped Anderson would do an acoustic album– The Secret Language of Birds (2000) and Rupi’s Dance (2004) albums filled that need, and his solo performances work from that mindset.’

Judith looks at at something strictly Irish trad: ‘Natural Bridge is a delight for session musicians and traditionalists. More progressive Irish music enthusiasts should keep in mind that it is a record of earlier 20th century styles and thatLennon and his friends are making little attempt at innovation.’

Play Each Morning Wild Queen gets praised by Michael: ‘The Flash Girls were the musical equivalent of Thelma and Louise, a pair of wild women musicians who’d taken their songs on the road, spreading chaos behind them merrily. They’re what happens when you throw in the Celtic rock talent of Cats Laughing or Boiled in Lead, the peculiar English sentiments of Neil Gaiman, the urban phantasms of one “Colonel” Emma Bull, and the genius of “The Fabulous” Lorraine Garland, self-styled Duchess of Hazard, into a blender and serve chilled with a twist of lime. Or, to put it another way, it’s what happens when some really creative, talented people got together and decided to have some serious fun.’

Robert brings us some holiday music of a different sort: he calls them ‘warhorses’, the concert-hall staples guaranteed to please an audience, presented in Hi-Fi Fiedler, a recording by the master of ‘light classical’: ‘Arthur Fiedler has the distinction of being the best-selling classical conductor of all time, due in no small part to his immense popularity as the musical director of the Boston Pops, a post he held for fifty years. His recordings of so-called ‘light’ classics and orchestral settings of show tunes, jazz, and popular songs sold 50 million copies during his lifetime. After listening to this collection, it’s not hard to see why.’

Our What Not this week is yet another trip to Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, this time to take a tour of the Nature Walk: ‘About halfway down the west side of the Field Museum’s Stanley Field Hall, the three-story central atrium of the Museum, there is the beginning of a boardwalk with a sign announcing the “Nature Walk” (not to be confused with Lincoln Park Zoo’s Nature Board Walk, although there are some similarities). The entrance is between two dioramas depicting birds at the potholes that dot the Great Plains of North America (or used to: 90% of them are gone).’

Ahhh now that’s a rather fine piece of music! ‘Toys, Not Ties’  which was recorded by Nightnoise at Teatro Calderon, Spain on the 23th of April, 1991. Now I admit it is not strictly speaking an Irish trad band by any stretch though the band did include siblings of the late Ó Domhnaill and  Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill who were was raised in Kells, County Meath in it.  The band also included the late Scottish fiddler Johnny Cunningham who was honoured here in in a memorial concert.

About Iain Nicholas Mackenzie

I’m the Librarian for the Kinrowan Estate. I do love fresh brewed teas, curling, English mysteries and will often be playing Scandinavian or Celtic  music here in the Library.

I’m a violinist too, so you’ll me playing in various contradance band such as Chasing Fireflies and Mouse in the Cupboard as well as backing my wife Catherine up on yearly Christmas season tours in the Nordic countries.

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