One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats, and if some of these can be inexpensive and quickly procured so much the better. — Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea
Would you like a taoscán of Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey? It’s not cheap but it’s considered the Pappy Van Winkle of Irish whiskies, as it’s both that good and that uncommon as well. We paid dearly for our bottle and I don’t expect that it’ll last very long. Good, I’ll get that for you. I’m sure you’ll find it quite amazing.
So Autumnal weather arrived today with a sharp tang in the air and rain as well. You’ll notice that it’s busy here in our Pub as both Estate staff and visitors are enjoying the fact that I’ve got Falstaff’s Fireplace well stoked this afternoon. And the Kitchen sent over several baskets of baked treats such as blackberry scones and their ever so popular dark chocolate chip cookies too.
Everything we review here could, by the measure established by Iris Murdoch, be considered a small pleasure. So read on to which ones you would like to be your small pleasures.
Kestrell says ‘Rebecca Munford’s Re-visiting Angela Carter should be considered a necessary text for any scholar of Angela Carter’s work. Due to the density of the lit crit language, the this book is probably not for the general reader, although the dedicated Carter fan with a familiarity with literary criticism terms may wish to acquire a copy. It would also be wonderful to find this text being used in classes which focus on feminist approaches to film, radio, and other media.’
Kestrel in her second review apprehensively says ‘when I sat down to view Lifeline Theatre’s live stage production of Neverwhere, I had my doubts. Works of fantasy offer a particular challenge for live theatre in that the fantastic often translates poorly to the limitations of the flesh and the material world, resulting in bad fur suits and the omission of many favorite passages.’ Now read her review to see why she was amazed by this performance!
Michael has a collection of short stories from a very prolific author: ‘Azazel is a collection of eighteen of his modern fantasy stories, all written during the 1980s. They originated in a story Issac Asimov wrote for a monthly mystery magazine, but, as the editor objected to the recurring fantasy elements, he soon found a home for an altered version of the concept at the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. After two such stories, the editor at Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine objected to the titular head of the magazine selling stories elsewhere, and thus, the next sixteen found a home at IASFM.’
Robert has the first volume of what could be an exceptional fantasy series, if this book is any indication: ‘Despite what the church claimed and the people believed, this was still a Kingdom born of younger sons, the land-hungry and the dispossessed. Thus begins one of the more fascinating books I’ve read in a while, Chaz Brenchley’s The Devil in the Dust.’
Robert has some very special chocolate for us: ‘Willie’s Cacao is the name of a chocolatier owned and operated by William Harcourt-Crooze, an Englishman with a passion for chocolate. Willie maintains that cacao from particular locations is like a fine wine, with its own flavor and character. Not surprisingly, given that approach, each of his chocolates is made from beans from a single estate.
David looks at the The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers, both directed by Richard Lester: ‘The two films stand on their own merits individually but also form a wonderful whole when viewed together. The characters develop from the first to the second film. The relationships grow convincingly, and the action never lets up. There is sex, romance, and true love. There is action, and wit, and slapstick comedy. The scripts are glorious models of the screenwriter’s art, and there is not a bad performance to be seen. The sets are rich and faithful to the time, and the score (by Lalo Schifrin) underpins it all.’
Gary was moved by La misteriosa musica della Regina Loana, a tribute by two Italian jazz masters (Gianluigi Trovesi and Gianni Coscia) to their late friend, author and philosopher Umberto Eco. ‘It’s a loving tribute to Eco and at the same time a masterful performance of music that evokes an era but lives utterly in the present.’
Jessica notes that ‘Though The Lonesome Crowded West deals with ugly subjects, it does so effectively, with honesty and understanding. Stylistically, it can at times be both coarse and difficult. And Brock’s wavering lisp is not for everyone. However, I consider Modest Mouse to be one of the most talented and original young groups currently making music, and the way in which they graft various roots-music styles into the stuttering alienation of post-punk gives me hope that their appeal is not as limited as the self-referential indie rock scene.’
Green Linnet went out of business quite some decades ago, but Patrick reminds us that they were quite important in the Celtic Music music scene once upon a time: ‘And through it all, we can always count on Green Linnet to assemble some of the finest groups and most wonderful music in the genre, thanks in no small part to founder Wendy Newton’s willingness to stop and marvel at the musicians and revel in their music. As for finding something to rejoice about, take your pick of any of the artists featured on Nua Teorainn, one of the label’s latest releases. Each is extraordinary.’
Tim disclaims ‘I’ll admit, I don’t care for electronics in traditional musical forms, so I didn’t expect to like this CD. I didn’t want to like it. In the end, though, the arrangements were so inventive, and Kerstin Blodig’s voice so compelling, that I found myself listening to Valivann over and over again.’
Our What Not this week is from Cat, who takes a look at a Rock Candy figure of Lady Thor. Rock Candy? That’s what it says.
Good music of course is always a welcome small treat and so I’ve got such a treat for you in the form of ‘Jenny Rocking The Cradle’ by the Irish group De Dannan Lee by Frankie Gavin as recorded at the Canal Street Tavern in Dayton, Ohio thirty seven years ago. This version of De Dannan seems to have gone defunct as their website has been shuttered. Actually neither version of the group (don’t ask, it’s too long a story to tell now and it’s depressing to boot) appears to exist anymore.