What’s New for the 4th of August: Alternative Egypts, American Indian Literature, The Final BronyCon, Irish trad music, Alan Moore’s Mind, Hunter’s smoky egg dip and Other Matters

The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances. ― Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express

Yes, that’s a bagpiper, a smallpiper to be precise, that you can hear playing outside in the evening mists. Finch, my associate Pub Manager, decided she’d see the sunrise out this evening so she’s playing a set of tunes she thinks are apt. Right now, she’s playing ‘Sunset on the Somme’ by Pipe Major George S. McLennan. It commemorates the first day of the battle of the Somme in which the British suffered nearly sixty thousand casualties.

Right now I’m  reading a collection of short stories by Naomi Kritzer, Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories. If you read nothing but the title story, do read that as it’s absolutely charming, with a completely believable scenario. If more than a bit scary. Of course the other stories are first rate as well.

Now let’s see what I’ve got for you this time.

Cat brings us The Haunting of Tram Car 015, a mystery set in an Egypt that never was — or maybe it might have been: ‘This is a remarkably detailed story for something a mere three and a half hours in length. It was in the Recorded Books folder that I have ongoing access to and which has any number of Really Great Books in it; the name intrigued me, so I downloaded it to my iPad. I’d never heard of P. Djèlí Clark, no surprise there as he’s written a scant three works to date, two set in this steampunk, djinn infested Egypt and one in a New Orleans where things are quite different as well.’

Reamde, the title of a Neal Stephenson cyber-thriller from a few years back, is a corruption of “ReadMe,” those text files that often come with software discs or downloads. Gary took it as a command and tackled the 1,100-page book, which he found hard to put down. ‘It was the first time in quite a while that I’d read such a big book that got me so involved, and it was a welcome change from the usual absorption with screens and social media.’

Robert takes us somewhat out of our ordinary territory with a review of Kathleen Tigerman’s Wisconsin Indian Literature: Anthology of Native Voices: ‘What makes this collection particularly rewarding is that in addition to the more or less standard roster of creation stories and tales of mythic heroes, Tigerman has included a series of orations, polemics, poetry and drama by Native writers which serves to bring the narrative into the present and also gives an indication of how diverse the Native voice is.’

Warner has a look at Jim C. Hines’ Terminal Uprising, which might be a take=-off on Douglas Adams. Or maybe not: ‘As a successor to Douglas Adams, I cannot say that Hines succeeds, matching neither the tone nor style of the original. Fortunately, Hines makes no attempt to imitate the Adams, instead forging his own worlds and dealing in his own brand of distinctively less-than-classical British humor. In its place is a somewhat more American style. . . .’

Remember when you were in school and you couldn’t, for whatever reason, make it home for a major holiday? With a recipe for Hunter’s smoky egg dip, Jennifer recalls the kind soul who kept Yale Drama School students from starvation and loneliness on a bygone Fourth of July.

April has a look at The Mindscape of Alan Moore: ‘Filmed in 2003, this 78 minute long film consists of a one-on-one interview with comic creator Alan Moore, best known for works like From Hell, Watchmen and V for Vendetta. Although Moore does touch on his past and his comic career, Mindscape isn’t so much a straightforward autobiographical film as an exploration of his more philosophical musings. Moore posits himself a modern-day shaman, and much of the latter part of the film is a discussion about magic.’

Brendan says in his review of the first four Chieftains recordings that ‘For an excellent assortment of really great Irish music, this set of CDs really cannot be beat. Each clocks in at about 40 minutes, which means that the Chieftains packed their LPs as much as possible, and which also means that there are many other gems on these CDs that I’ve left out in this review.

The Alt’s The Alt garners this from Lars: ‘Irish music comes in many forms, from the loud and boisterous to the soft and soothing, from the long slow ballads to the fast furious instrumentals. The Alt is a trio focusing on songs, only three of the eleven tracks are instrumental sets, and traditional material. No pipes, no fiddle, but plenty of guitar, bouzouki, that special wooden Irish flute and vocal harmonies. Their sound is much closer to the style set by groups like Sweeney’s Men, Planxty and Patrick Street, than the Dubliner-side of Irish folk.

Naomi says of Beginish, the first album by an Irish group of that name, that they’re ‘a potent Irish traditional group which was born from four musicians who are successful in their own right, and have a long history of collaborating with one another. This history of collaboration is what brought about the birth of this talented group, and I can only hope that they’re here to stay.’

Stephen looks at three of Lunasa recordings (LúnasaOtherworld and The Merry Sisters of Fate) in a long and thoughtful essay that touches upon the changes in Irish music they created: ‘Sitting here in my house in Cornwall, on a balmy spring evening in 2003, the 1990’s feel like a long time ago. Back then I was living near Slough, one of those modern, overcrowded railway towns that form a steel and concrete archipelago along the West London fringe. Not, in many ways, the most salubrious of locations, but a paradise for anyone who frequented the numerous Irish music venues of the area. Why? Because, and here comes the bold assertion, the 1990’s, those faraway days of less than a decade ago, were a GOLDEN AGE for Irish music!’

It is with a heavy heart that I witness the end of an era. That’s right folks; this weekend marks the final BronyCon. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. I love ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’ and I’m a grown-ass woman. Is it the anime-esque animation? The lovely voice actors? Or the stories that have a moral that’s just obvious enough for kids to grasp, yet couched in enough fun and cheeky humor to keep adults from gagging on treacle? All of the above y’all.

With more: the fandom is amazing. From the little girl who shyly offered me a ‘bro-hoof’ (aka fist-bump) and then absolutely beamed when I responded – I could see her self-confidence grow as our fists made contact – to actual military service members who thank MLPFiM for keeping them sane during tours of duty. And every type of person in-between, including fans who grew up with poni and now share it with their kids. It’s a wild, woolly (furry? Yeah, those folks are awesome too #freehugs) and I’ll miss the hell out of every single person I’ve had the pleasure to see each year.

This year, to commemorate all the staff has done over the years, a local bakery made cakes for staff and crew that had a different BronyCon logo. Nine logos, nine cakes. The looked delicious, but I’m betting they’re bittersweet. I’ll miss you, BronyCon, but I’ll be a fan forever. FOREVER.

So let’s have some music from Planxty, the great Irish group, to see us off. ‘Chattering Magpie’ and ‘Lord MacDonald’s’ was recorded at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin nearly forty years ago. It’s a sweet set of music.

About Reynard

I’m the Pub Manager for the Green Man Pub which is located at the KInrowan Estate. I’m married to Ingrid, our Steward who’s also the Estate Buyer. If I’m off duty and in a mood for a drink, it’ll be a single malt, either Irish or Scottish, no water or ice, or possibly an Estate ale or cider.

I’m a concertina player, and unlike my wife who has a fine singing voice, I do not have anything of a singing voice anyone want to hear!

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