But you must stop playing among his ghosts — it’s stupid and dangerous and completely pointless. He’s trying to lay them to rest here, not stir them up, and you seem eager to drag out all the sad old bones of his history and make them dance again. It’s not nice, and it’s not fair. ―
Britain is getting one of its snowiest, most troublesome Winters in generations and that means this Scottish Estate is pretty much centred on Kinrowan Hall as the condition outside it aren’t terribly safe. So except for those folk who live in the cottages around the Estate such as Gus and his wife, most of the thirty or so residents here live in Kinrowan Hall, that ancient but throughly updated living space that’s the centre of all things here. So you’ll see folks reading, conversing, eating and just enjoying each other as they watch the storm outside.
This edition has such things as classics like The Three Musketeers, reviews some tasty Nordic music and Americana jazz, a recipe for yummy ham hocks, yet another Thirteenth Doctor Who figure and a whole lot more. So while I go see what the Bar patrons want, why don’t you give it a look-see?
Denise digs into another of the Titan DC Comics novelizations with her look at Batman: The Killing Joke. She’s not particularly thrilled. ‘Sadly, unlike Tritan’s excellent work with Harley Quinn: Mad Love, Joke is a padded tome that does too much digging into characters we never see in the graphic novel, while paying lip-service to the electric confrontation between Batman and the clown prince of crime.’
Not a book review as such, but a loving look at a book instead, so let’s have Christopher tell us his love: ‘As much as I love The Hobbit , the trilogy always appealed to me more, even as a child. There’s a terrible wisdom that hangs over The Lord of the Rings, a thematic undercurrent that is all about mortality and acceptance of the limits of humanity. In so many ways, it’s about twilight. Yes, there’s love and magic and the brotherhood of human society that we must embrace and relish, but the joy that brings is a wistful joy, draped with melancholy. In the midst of orcs and songs and grand battles and fellowships, those are the things that have always spoken most intimately to me, and what make The Lord of the Rings, in my heart and mind, Tolkien’s greatest achievement.’
Down the decades, we’ve reviewed most everything Patricia McKillip has published, so it’s only fitting we have a review by Richard of her latest book: ‘With Dreams of Distant Shores, Patricia A. McKillip delivers something that is not quite your typical short story collection. While the point of entry is a series of shorter pieces, the collection builds to and is anchored by the lengthy novella “Something Rich and Strange”, with an essay on writing high fantasy orthogonal to the usual tropes. The book then ends with appreciation of McKillip’s work (and the stories in the collection) by Peter S. Beagle, an elegant coda to a warm, thought-provoking collection.’
Robert takes a look at a classic, in the ‘rollicking adventure’ category, Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers: ‘Alexandre Dumas père was, in real life, a character as colorful as his heroes. He was the son of Napoleon’s famous mulatto general, Dumas, became a successful playwright, had numerous mistresses, took part in the revolution of 1830, spent extravagantly, built the Chateau de Monte-Cristo, and fled to Belgium to escape his creditors.’
Robert has a look at a film that’s fun, if not all that substantial: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief: ‘Percy Jackson is a special guy. Maybe it’s the dyslexia. Maybe it’s the ADHD. Or maybe it’s that his father is the god Poseidon.’
Jen has a recipe for some down-home, down-to-earth hearty fare: Black-eyed peas and ham hocks: ‘Long ago and far away in one of the grimier neighborhoods of New Haven, Connecticut there was a food co-op, the New Haven Food Co-op. . . . One of the benefits of shopping there was that some zealous members created leaflets with recipes for cheap but hearty fare, all themed. These were given away free at the check-out counter. One leaflet gave classic recipes for beans. That’s how I discovered black-eyed peas, and this recipe, somewhat modified over the years, but recognizable to its original author if s/he lives.’
Gary reviews a new album of jazzy Americana, or is that Americana-flavored jazz, from fiddler John Mailander. Of Forecast he says ‘Mailander is more about breaking down barriers than setting them up.’
‘Memorable tunes, superb musicianship, lyrics that are darkly hilarious or deeply dramatic, all in a loud, twangy, rocking package.’ That’s how Gary describes They Made Her a Criminal by Texas Noir rockers The Transgressors.
Kjell-Erik Arnesen and Jørgen Larsen’s Calls and Frydis Ree Wekre’s Ceros are recommended by Joel — ‘Both of these albums are horn-based. The horn is much less popular, it seems, than its cousins in the brass family. Most jazz bands have saxophone, trombone, and trumpet sections (in order of decreasing size), but no horns. I haven’t heard much where the horn was the primary instrument before now (nor as the only brass instrument), but two talented horn players demonstrate its versatility on these albums.’
Robert has some thoughts on some music that will liven up these long winter evenings, namely Johannes Brahms’ Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major and his Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra in A Minor: ‘There are certain artists whose work becomes an inextricable part of one’s life, whether it be a writer, a painter, or a composer. One develops a sense of the work, sometimes to the point where it all becomes one great work. Brahms is one of those artists in my life — my first experience with Brahms was a scratchy, hand-me-down 78 rpm of the great Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in D Minor, when I was about eight or nine — I fell in love. I’ve heard more Brahms than I can sometimes remember until a phrase drifts past and I think, “I know that one.” And sometimes, no matter how well I think I know the artist or a particular piece, I run across a new interpretation that opens new doors for me.’
Robert brings us up to date on the doings of the world’s most famous dinosaur, Sue the T. rex: ‘Sue, the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found, has been a big draw at the Field Museum for seventeen years. Last year, she was taken off display and her place taken by Maximo, a replica of the skeleton of the largest dinosaur ever found. But, Sue is back, in her very own new quarters on the second floor in a side gallery in the “Evolving Planet” exhibition.’
Still hungry for more Who? Denise has you covered with her review of seven20’s SuperBitz Doctor Who Thirteenth Doctor Plush. ‘I’ve seen SuperBitz items here and there, but this is the first time I’ve ever been able to get a really good look. And it’s a well made plushie with great attention to detail.’ Read her review for a deeper dive into this Doctor!
I think some Irish music would be appropriate this time, so let me see what I can find on the Infinite Jukebox, our Media Server. Ahhhh that’ll do… ‘A Tune For Mairéad And Anna’ by Altan, one of my favourite Irish trad groups, which was recorded at the Folkadelphia Session on the 7th of March four year ago. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!