What’s New for the 3rd of March: Bond, Beast, Dr. Who, Hedgehogs and other late winter matters

I’ve always been impulsive. My thinking is usually pretty good, but I always seem to do it after I do my talking—by which time I’ve generally destroyed all basis for further conversation. — Roger Zelazny’s This Immortal, a novel that stated life as Call Me Conrad, a novella


It’s but three weeks until Spring officially arrives and I actually saw yellow crocuses up against the south side of Kinrowan Hall this past week! Which promptly got buried under a foot of snow several days later. Oh well. They’ll soon be back as the snow will soon melt away as the sun’s too strong for it to last that long.

One moment while I feed Hamish, one of our resident hedgehogs, his live grubs. I keep trying to convince him to try woodworms, but a hedgehog is not an innovator. Unfortunately. Ingrid, one of my Seveal Annies, is in charge of maintaining the supply of the grubs, not an easy task. Though I usually only note Hamish here, we’ve actually a half dozen ‘hedgies here as they’re social beasts.

The Library is its usual busy self this time on a Winter evening so I’ll need to turn to my duties so I’ll have to let you go. Now that means you can get to this Edition. You’ll find a visiting author on his favourite Tolkien work, Jen on a yummy recipe of hers,  Cat on a rather unique Doctor Who graphic novel, another author we adore sharing her hedge photos and other neat stuff as well. Oh and and live music from the Oysterband tonsee us out.


Book reviews aren’t the only source of opinions on literature here. Sometimes we ask authors questions like which of the Tolkien books is their favourite one. James Stoddard, author of The High House whose first chapter you can read here and The False House, when asked that question said ‘Is this a trick question? The Lord of the Rings is a masterpiece in so many ways. I recently listened to a reading of the trilogy on CD. Despite having read the book five or six times, I was amazed at how it kept my attention. Only the Council of Elrond chapter flags a bit for me. I see the work differently every time I read it. I thought Sam a silly fellow when I read the book as a fifteen-year-old; now his constant loyalty invariably moves me. But the best part of many excellent scenes is at the Crossroads–the thrown down head of the statue of the ancient king, garlanded with flowers, a single ray of sunlight shining on the shattered visage. ‘They cannot conquer forever,’ Frodo says, and my eyes always unexpectedly mist over. It is the book’s theme, captured in four words. Brilliant.’

Donna R. White’s A Century of Welsh Myth in Children’s Literature is examined by Robert: ‘The prospect of an adult discussion of some of my favorite childhood authors has great appeal, if only because it legitimates my occasional re-reading of Alan Garner and Lloyd Alexander as an adult. Although my adult self wishes to quarrel with certain aspects of their interpretation of the Mabinogi (a series of Welsh tales told orally for centuries and then written down in various forms), their work undeniably had a great impact on how I came to view the world, at least the best parts of it. White delivers a very competent discussion of both Garner and Alexander, particularly the influence of poet Robert Graves‚ White Goddess on both authors, and includes enough interview material to satisfy adult fans looking for a reason to revisit these works.’

Scott has for us a review of Untangling Tolkien: A Chronology and Commentary for The Lord of the Rings, a book that has some serious flaws. Michael Perry’s book is a mixed bag for him: ‘Perry intends the book to serve as a reference to The Lord of the Rings, enabling the reader to get a better sense of what events happened simultaneously in the story, where in Tolkien’s writings a particular event is described, and a deeper appreciation of the structural coherence of Tolkien’s work. Untangling Tolkien generally succeeds in these regards, especially the latter; this book is essentially an exposition on Tolkien’s attention to chronological detail. Unfortunately, the book also gives every appearance of having been put together in great haste, as though the publishers were more concerned with releasing the book by a certain date than with presenting the best possible book.’

Warner brings us a new take on an old fairy tale in Leife Shalcross’ The Beast’s Heart: ‘The retelling of fairy tales is a time honored tradition. As a result, Leife Shallcross’s The Beast’s Heart is in excellent company. This volume attempts to do a perspective flip, by focusing upon the Beast of Beauty and the Beast rather than a more usual view of following the young woman. It is a clever decision, as the character is not quite an antagonist and thus somewhat easier to make sympathetic, but it’s still an unexpected point of view for such a tale.’


Robert takes a look back at one of the ‘new’ James Bond films, Skyfall: ‘Full disclosure: I was an early James Bond fan, and saw all of the early films. Then, as happens sometimes with early enthusiasms, I lost track of them, but did give myself a treat one Christmas Eve and caught the remake of Casino Royale with Daniel Craig. After that, it was probably pretty much a given that I’d be up for Skyfall, the next release in the saga — Daniel Craig and Judi Dench: how could you go wrong?’


Jen revisits the Indiana Dunes home of an environmentalist family friend with a heartwarming dish of potatoes rough-cooked with chipotle peppers and garlic. Her ymmmy recipe can be found thisaway.


For all you Dr. Who fans out there — you know who you are — Cat has a look at what may be the ultimate Dr. Who comic: The Thirteenth Doctor, The Many Lives of Doctor Who: ‘So being interested in what they’d published, I purchased the one that appears to be the first in the series. What it turned out to be is a rather interesting way to bring delight to fans of the series by giving them a conversation that spanned all Thirteen Doctors and many of the Companions in a manner that was both fun and refreshingly well-done for this sort of comic.’


Nearly twenty years ago, Barb went to see Childsplay at the Street Church in Portland, Maine:‘Imagine anywhere from 21 to 28 fiddlers/violin players on one stage with a rhythm section, throw in a random banjo or wooden flute … sound like a party?’ Childsplay is still holding these annual concerts twenty years later,  this past year saw them undertake a Pacific Northwest tour.

Joe K. Walsh, a talented mandolinist, singer and songwriter in the progressive stringband vein, has released his debut solo CD. ‘Borderland is full of excellent ensemble music all around, with solid contributions from all involved,’ Gary says.

Iain looks at an opera based on a Grimm story:  ‘Philip Glass, one of my favourite composers, and his fellow composer Robert Moran, whom I had not encountered before, collaborated magnificently in equal measure on the composition of The Juniper Tree. Each Glass scene is followed by a Moran scene, with transitions composed by each. The result works a lot better than I expected, though the styles of each composer are quite different and neither surrenders anything of his own identity. If you like Glass, you’ll want to hear this opera.’

Let Kim calm the frisson of fear that might steal up your spine upon reading the words ’12th century chants, 21st century sounds.’ With her review of Garmarna’s Hildegard von Bingen, she assures you that you don’t have to worry about the commercial appropriation of Gregorian chants; rather, you can look forward to ‘a powerful interpretation of medieval music brought forward through astonishing vocals and accompaniment, that for the most part, really work.’

Lars finishes off his review of McDermott’s 2 Hours’ Besieged by saying ‘I could go through the record track by track, but just believe me, If you are looking for something powerful, with good singing and musicianship, variation, catching melody lines this could be for you. Highly enjoyable.’ Now go read his full review to see why he say this.

Vonnie finishes out our music reviews with a look at an album in which they returned to their roots with a collaborator: ‘June  Tabor has reunited with the Oysterband for a second album, Ragged Kingdom and the two suit each other better now than when the first album, Freedom and Rain, made in 1991. Considering that the first album was magnificent, many of us had high expectations for this album. It a very different creature, and very good.’


Our What Not comes courtesy of Terri Windling, author of The Wood Wife, who had a charming essay back one May on a favourite subject around the Kinrowan Estate, as our in-house journal’s aptly named The Sleeping Hedgehog: ‘It’s Hedgehog Awareness Week, sponsored by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. I adore hedgehogs…’, so she shares some of her favourite hedgie photos and gives us a look at them in myth and folklore down the centuries. You can read it here.


Now what shall I leave you with for music? Let’s see what sounds cool… So how about the  ‘Red Barn Stomp’ which is  a traditional sounding tune by the Oysterband that was actually composed by band member John Jones? It was performed in Minneapolis in 1991.

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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