April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain. — T.S. Eliot
I spent some time in Southeast Asia many years ago working for the British Consulate there, and so acquired a taste for the food served there. Mrs. Ware and her Kitchen staff blessed me this morning with a repast worthy of being called magnificent — sunny side eggs done up in the Thai style, both pork and shrimp dumplings pan fried of course, fried Thai donuts, and a mug of tea with a generous lashing of cream. They amazingly even got me a day old copy of the English language Bangkok Post to read with it. Not sure how they did that, but I’m certain there’s a favour in the asking for later.
Now here’s our Edition…
Deborah gives us a glimpse of fairy tales by Neil Gaiman, in M is for Magic: ‘There is a child who burns with curiosity, who is full of the Wood. He knows there are scary things in the world, and amazing things too. This child understands that trolls still lurk under bridges and she knows that magical things can be found in the most ordinary of places. She knows that she should be careful in the world but that she shouldn’t let that keep her at home. He realizes that the categorically scary can be oddly comforting and that the impenetrably beautiful can often times be terrifying indeed. And yet this is all to say there’s a child who’s every child.’
Faith brings us a bit of gothic horror by way of Douglas Clegg’s Isis: ‘Have you ever read “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs? It’s a nasty little story that proves quite graphically that bringing the dead back to life, no matter what the motive, is a horrible idea and not for amateurs. Although its plotline is not identical, Isis nicely illustrates the same thing.’
Robert has a look at a book for anyone with an interest in folklore and its place in the arts: ‘While the authors of Re-Situating Folklore are concerned largely with the relationship between folklore and literature, what they describe is something that happens across the spectrum of “high art” and the vernacular: folklore, or the vernacular (which is the ultimate origin of folklore), in its forms or content, is adopted as high art, while reciprocally, literary or artistic works work their way into folk or pop culture.’
Robert bought the DVD for an X-Men spinoff that was pretty impressive: The Wolverine: ‘It should come as no surprise that I saw The Wolverine when it came out. I was impressed enough that I bought the DVD when that came out. (Another coupon – I try to avoid paying full price for anything.) Yes, it was worth it.’
Garth Ennis’ Midnighter: Killing Machine got an ambivalent reaction from Robert: ‘I have to confess to some ambivalence toward Midnighter: Killing Machine, the first collection of the eponymous series on the character introduced in Stormwatch and who continued as part of the Authority in the Wildstorm universe. I think that ambivalence will be apparent as you read through this commentary.’
Chris got tickets to Martin Barre’s concert of “greatest hits” from Jethro Tull: ‘Martin Barre, who for more than four decades was the guitarist of legendary rock band Jethro Tull, is celebrating the band’s fiftieth anniversary this year with a greatest hits show that delves into the band’s deep, wonderful catalog. . . . The show I saw at the Iridium in New York on April 25 featured reworked versions of songs spanning much of the band’s career, and was in every way worthy of Tull’s long history.’
Lars has a look at a rather unusual mix of traditions in Alban & Josué’s Polska på Pan: ‘
f you are the least interested in Swedish traditional music, keyed fiddles, Indian flute music, or just crosses between different musical cultures, you should well consider giving some of your listening time to this. It is an excellent example of what can be achieved if one is firmly rooted in a tradition but daring enough to expand the boundaries of that tradition.’
Robert looks at a pair of recordings of music by twentieth-century Russian masters, performed by twentieth-century legends, including none other than Van Cliburn and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra: ‘Music by Russian composers in the twentieth century presents some interesting contrasts, not only between those who remained in the Soviet Union after the 1917 Revolution, such as Dmitri Shostakovich, but also among the expatriates, such as, in this case, the composers I have been calling over the past few days “The Two Sergeis”: Sergei Rachmaninoff and Sergei Prokofiev.’
Our What Not this week is a convention. Denise says: ‘Washington DC’s Awesome Con was this weekend, and it was a chance to check out all sorts of entertainment-type things. But my personal favorites are the science-y type stuff at Future Con. Educational booths from the Smithsonian, NASA, National Geographic and many more sated wannabe science nerds like me with tales of robotics and biological research. But I think I enjoyed panels that combined genre fandoms and hard science, like The Science of Aquaman, Germ Warfare: A Very Graphic History (with special guest Max Brooks!), and Harry Potter and the Genetics of Wizarding. Who says you can’t have fun and learn something? Weekend well spent, and I’m already looking forward to next year.’
So how about some tasty pop from nearly forty years ago? ‘Come On Eileen’ is from the Dexys Midnight Runners, a Birmingham pop band with soul influences founded by Kevin Rowland and Kevin Archer. The song was a success in large part because of heavy radio play and because of MTV airing its video in heavy rotation in ‘82, just four years after the band was formed. Our version is from Rockpalast, a German radio programme that apparently let everything it taped loose in the marketplace as soundboard recordings as I’ve seen amazing music productions ‘released’ by them. This was done on the 9th of April, the year after the song was officially released.