‘Order me some of that delicious-looking lager those people are drinking and I’ll reveal everything,’ said Angela. ―
It’s been unusually hot and humid here, so Mrs. Ware and her ever so talented Kitchen staff have been doing cold food all week such as smoked chicken, American style ham-and-cheese breakfast biscuits, salmon and new pea pasta salad, mustard and vinaigrette dressed new potato salad and of course strawberry ice cream for dessert. Lots of iced tea and the like to keep folks hydrated has been on tap as well. She has had the oven on in the cooler hours to make up chocolate chip cookies and even brownies as those never go out of demand around this Estate.
I’ve been farming off the Festival work we do this time of year to the younger Pub staff who don’t mind the long hours of being elsewhere on the Estate, so I can stay here in the cool environs of basement Pub. It’s also quieter here as the musically and literary inclined are elsewhere. So I’ve been enjoying a re-read of the original four issues of Charles Vess’ The Book Of Ballads And Sagas which he released on his own press decades back. They’re hard to find today, but Tor did a revised edition called The Book of Ballads which is readily available.
We’ve got a nice fat edition full of new material and some carefully curated material from deep in our Archives. And I do mean deep. Read on to see not one, but two first recordings from bands we like a lot here.
Jennifer leads off our literary reviews this edition with a wonderful commentary on some of the great audio dramas from ZBS Media that she listen to. Read on for her delightful commentary.
Robert has a look at two classic books about Africa, Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass: ‘Isak Dinesen is the pseudonym of Karen Blixen, who was, when all is said and done, quite a remarkable woman. Born in Denmark in 1885, she arrived in Africa in 1913, where she married Baron Bror Blixen, a Swedish cousin; they owned a coffee plantation in Kenya until 1921, when they were divorced, after which Baroness Blixen ran it herself until 1931, when the collapse of coffee prices forced her to sell the farm and return to Europe. Out of Africa, thanks to Hollywood, is probably her best-known book.’
Next, Robert has a travel book: ‘It occurs to me, reading John Gimlette’s Theatre of Fish, that there are certain prerequisites for being an effective travel writer. One must be, obviously, fairly peripatetic in nature, and interested in the exotic and new. One must also be very accepting, non-judgmental, and open to a wide range of differing attitudes. It also seems to help if one has an unrestrained, completely irreverent, and somewhat bizarre sense of humor. Mmm . . . and a heavy dose of fearlessness. That helps.’
Warner brings us his thoughts on a new entry in the Military SF field: ‘Military SF has a long history and more than one tradition, complicated by the issues of patriotism and war. Some are in the business of glorifying one or both of these, others are dismissing one or both as folly. Joel Dane’s Cry Pilot overall takes the latter approach, and yet attempts to keep battle morally justifiable through use of enemies that are not political, but more in the way of natural disasters.’
Gary waxes all nostalgic about crunchy tacos. ‘Now, I know seasoned ground beef with lettuce and cheese in a shell made of a crunchy, pre-shaped tortilla is about the least authentic bit of faux-Mexican food that’s ever graced a plate.’
Jennifer revisits the typing pool at that consulting firm for a fiendish bean dip served up by a creature out of fable. How does a Southerner kill a dinner guest? Does flimflam make the world go ’round? And what exactly was in the Pound Cake that Killed Elvis?
Denise starts her review of Season One of The Muppet Show by quoting the opening song: ‘It’s time to get things started/ On the most sensational, inspirational,/ celebrational, Muppetational/ This is what we call the Muppet Show!’ For her enthusiastic review, you’ll need to hop over here.
Adam has a Summer suitable recording for us: ‘Mellowosity, the debut CD from the Scottish band the Peatbog Faeries, is wonderfully misleading in its packaging. A quick glance at the credits on the back reveals a synthesizer alongside all the usual traditional instruments (bodhran, fiddle, whistles, pipes, etc.). So this is another Corrs-type band, blending traditional Celtic songs with pop beats, right? Wrong.’
Gary brings us news of an album by Che Apalache, a bluegrass band with members from North Carolina, Mexico and Argentina. ‘Rearrange My Heart just brims with hope and joy and humanity, beautifully sung with great verve and played in more styles than you can count by musicians who are virtuosos on their instruments.’
Háliidan is recommended by Scott: ‘The contemporary folk music emanating from Scandinavia in general, and Finland in particular, has branched out from home-grown traditions to incorporate a great variety of musical styles across the globe, from Western pop and rock to Balkan and Middle Eastern folk music. The Finnish band Vilddas goes even further than most of their compatriot folk performers in this regard. Their lead singer Annuka Hirvasvuopio is a native of Utsjoki, the northernmost city of Finland, in the heart of Lapland. Hirvasvuopio writes and sings in Sámi, the language of the indigenous people of the far north of Scandinavia.’
Vonnie looks at Blue Horse, the first album from a trio of women: ‘These are lovely voices, but maybe not the ones that you’re used to! The three women who are the Be Good Tanyas create a distinctive sound that includes the sort of rawness that’s been completely expunged from contemporary pop music.’
Our What Not is as stated in my review of them: ‘My favorite two characters on The Muppet Show were the audience members high up in the box seats that served as the Greek Chorus for many of the acts, particularly those that they considered particularly bad. Statler and Waldorf are two generally disagreeable old men and heckled the rest of the cast from those balcony seats. They appeared in all but one episode of the show. Like Bryant & May in Christopher Fowler’s mystery series of the same name, they apparently are very old and I’d guess always been. And these are the Macys Limited Edition figures.’
Something cooling like the lager Angela craved would be apt on this hot, humid day, so how about ‘Croftwork’ from the Peatbog Faeries, a Scottish neo-trad band, recorded at the Arches, Glasgow on the nineteenth of January thirteen years ago. They play for a lot of ceilidhs in their Scottish region which makes them unique among their sort of band.