So how can you laugh when your own mother’s hungry,
And how can you smile when the reasons for smiling are wrong?
And if I just messed up your thoughtless pleasures,
Remember, if you wish, this is just a Christmas song.
Jetho Tull’s ‘A Christmas Song’
In our hearts, we all want to hear those three little words: “pie for breakfast”. Well hand pies, anyways. Mrs. Ware and our ever-so-skilled Kitchen staff are keenly aware that a working Estate doesn’t mean staff can always take the time out of their busy schedules to sit down and eat a meal, hence breakfast hand pies. Ham, egg and cheddar; apple and yet more cheddar; sausage, egg and cheese — something to please any hearty appetite, no matter what time of day.
I’ve been helping Gus, our Estate Head Gardener, decorate Kinrowan Hall for the Holidays so I’ve been up early for me, around nine in the morning, and I grabbed a ham, apple and cheddar hand pie before heading out to string more wreathing around the Hall. It was warm and oh, so tasty.
I’m back in the Pub now, so let’s turn to this Edition. Oh and be advised that next week is an updating of our Charles de Lint Edition, which is full of wonderful looks at books he’s done (rather obviously as he’s an author) and music as well (bet you didn’t know he and his wife MaryAnn Harris have albums out). So do come back next week to see what we have by him and her!
Camille says that ‘In The Moon and the Face, Patricia McKillip revisits Kyreol and Terje from her lovely Young Adult novel Moon-Flash. Kyreol and Terje, having followed the river to the Dome in book one of this duology, now push beyond the new boundaries of their expanded world: Terje back into the culture they left behind, though as a ghostly observer; and Kyreol outward, into the stars. When Terje discovers the Healer (Kyreol’s father) is dying and Kyreol barely survives a crash landing on a distant desert moon, both of them must find inner resources to meet challenges they never anticipated.’
Denise takes a look at the new DC Comics novels with Harley Quinn: Mad Love. ‘Who can say where this new series of books may take Daddy’s Little Monster? It’s too early to even guess, but with a starter like Love, I’m game for wherever she’ll lead me.’ Sounds promising, no? Read her review for the full story!
Jane Yolen, Shulamith Oppenheim and Stefan Czernecki’s The Sea King is appreciated by Grey: ‘This lovely folk tale has many old friends in it: Vasilisa the Wise, a beautiful princess who is also a bird; Baba Yaga the witch in her house that runs by itself on chicken legs; the King of the Sea in his underwater palace of crystal; and the innocently wise boy who finds his way because he’s generous and observant. And it has one of the most poignant story lines of all: the father who promises to sacrifice the first thing he sees when he returns home — only to find out that he’s just been borne a son.’
Robert says the poetry of Billy Collins is a delight, as is readily apparent in Questions About Angels: ‘Born in 1942 in New York City, Collins has published numerous collections and garnered, among other recognition, fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He is possibly one of the most widely exposed of living poets. Questions About Angels, originally published in 1991, was selected by Edward Hirsch for the National Poetry Series.’
An English country house murder mystery gets reviewed by David: ‘As traditional as the genres he chose might have been, in Altman’s hand they were turned upside-down, and sideways. Warren Beatty and Julie Christie became anti-hero and opium addict in Altman’s “western” McCabe & Mrs. Miller, set to the music of Leonard Cohen! A laconic Elliott Gould became Raymond Chandler’s private dick Phillip Marlowe in an updated LA for Altman’s “detective” classic The Long Goodbye. Robert Altman has been the most American of directors, and now, in Gosford Park, he takes on the English country house murder mystery. Altman’s Agatha Christie film? What could this mean?’
As cold weather comes to stay, warm beverages take center stage around here. So Denise looks into Smashmallow’s Cinnamon Churro marshmallows to see if they’d be a welcome addition to our stores. She’s happy with what she found: ‘I have a love-hate relationship with marshmallows. I love how they bob on the top of my drink, but hate that most of the time I’m left with a soggy bit of ‘mallow bloof (it’s a word because I just used it) as I empty my mug. However, that’s about to change, thanks to Smashmallow.’ See why she’s pleased in her review.
Gary notes that ‘There are memoirs, and there are cookbooks. A few authors have combined the two, but none that I’ve read have been so successful at it as Diana Abu-Jaber with her delightful The Language of Baklava’. Read the rest of his equally delightful review for the details on this book.
I noted last week that the DC Universe streaming service in the States was doing a live action Doom Patrol series (and Netflix will be having it here in the UK and Europe we’re told), and we’re also being being told that they’re also doing the same with Swamp Thing! So let’s turn to April’s look at this tasty offering: ‘For the first time, Moore’s early work on Saga of the Swamp Thing — the first eight issues — has been released in hardback format. This edition includes issue 20, which has not previously been available outside the original single issue. Original creator Len Wein provides the introduction, while author Ramsey Campbell add a foreword.’ It is not the first live action series for this DC being as this review by Debbie shows.
Brendan has a tasty recording from Finland for your consideration: ‘JPP — short for Järvelän Pikkupelimannit (” Little Folk Musicians of Järvelä”) — originally formed in 1983 as a local fiddle orchestra in the small town of Järvelä, Finland. Formed around the nucleus of 3 fiddlers, including leader Arto Järvelä, a harmonium player, and a bass player, they spent most of the Eighties and early Nineties gathering a devoted following in Finland and across the world and the reputation of being particularly inventive interpreters of Finland’s rich folk heritage. With the publication of Kaustinen Rhapsody, JPP proved itself to be excellent performers of contemporary music as well.’
Got a Tull fan on your Christmas shopping list? Oh does Chris have a suggestion for you: ‘Over the past several years, many classic rock bands have been re-releasing their backlist, and Jethro Tull is no exception. Like most Tull fans, I already have these albums, in some cases in multiple formats, so I was initially skeptical of the new releases. Did I really need a box set of an album, when I already had an LP, cassette tape, and, as in the case of Aqualung, the 25th anniversary CD? However, I found myself tempted by Songs from the Wood, a personal favorite album of mine, and decided to take my chances with it, and the reissue of Heavy Horses. I wasn’t disappointed.’
Gary reviews a digital release of recordings from the New York Ragas Live program, an annual festival in which musicians play ragas for a live audience and live radio broadcast for 24 hours straight. The Ragas Live Retrospective gathers performances from 2012 through 2017, and Gary says ‘It’s a rich, creative and infinitely rewarding exposition of the current state of the New York raga renaissance.’
Robert brings us a review of music that’s fit for all seasons, namely Joseph Haydn’s Die Jahreszeit: ‘I’m always delighted and amused by what the eighteenth century — one of the most mannered and formal periods in Western history — considered “lacking in artifice.” However, whatever my personal opinion (coming, as it does, from a casual and fairly spontaneous contemporary American Midwesterner), that was one of the major points of praise by his contemporaries for Joseph Haydn’s oratorio, The Seasons.’
Krampus, that dark side of Christmas folklore doesn’t get always get the recognition he deserves but writer Elizabeth Hand who is familiar to many of of you has a book to recommend: ‘The Devil in Design: The Krampus Postcards, edited by Monte Beauchamp, on Fantagraphics. Beautifully reproduced artwork from 19th and early 20th century Austrian, German, and Czech postcards featuring the diabolical Krampus, St. Nicholas’s demonic sidekick. Perverse and a nice, dark, folkloric alternative to Christmas kitsch.’
We started off with lyrics from Tull so let’s finish off with them as well. ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ has no apparent entry in the Infinite Jukebox database which I admit is rather odd but it’s fine sounding none- the-less. It was, as Ian notes in the brief intro to it, done in the lead-up to the release of the Jethro Tull Christmas Album which means it was recorded in the summer of fifteen years ago.