Never trust the storyteller. Only trust the story.
Québécois style pork pies, spiced with nutmeg, are the main entree for the eventide meal somewhat later on this Autumn day, along with roasted carrots, beets and onions, as the weather turned decidedly nippy over the past week, with even some nasty periods of freezing rain and sleet. Ironic, as I was putting together the invitations to Sixtieth Annual Estate Croquet Invitational which will be held here next Summer.
Before heading into the Pub for my evening shift, I was assisting Gus, our Estate Head Gardener and all around groundskeeper, with the gathering of the squashes, which had to be harvested before a hard frost harmed them beyond them being usable. And I do so look forward to the squash and smoked pork with pickled ginger soup that’ll be served for some cold Winter eventide meal!
Now shall I pour you a Conor McGregor’s Proper Irish Whiskey to enjoy while I put the finishing touches on this edition? And if you’re feel at all peckish, I recommend one of the apple and cheddar tarts that are still warm in the basket on the Pub bar. They’re quite excellent.
I’ve picked some fiction for you that I feel is perfectly Autumnal in nature. Even the Babylon 5 script is, though I’ll let you figure out how.
Triskell Press has released a digital edition of Charles de Lint’s Yarrow: An Autumn Tale, which Grey delightfully notes is ‘set in de Lint’s Ottawa, the one he first envisioned for his novel Moonheart, and expanded in its sequel, Spiritwalk. Those readers who have fallen in love with the wonderful Tamson House of these two novels will be delighted to note its brief appearance in Yarrow as well. However, the characters in Yarrow are part of different story than the residents of Tamson House and their associates, and Yarrow is a stand-alone novel.’
Neil Gaiman’s Day of the Dead: An Annotated Babylon 5 Script gets the lead-off note in Grey’s review: ‘Whenever two Babylon 5 fans meet, whether it’s at a used book store, a sci-fi speakeasy, or somewhere else that’s safe for our species, it doesn’t take long for conversation to turn to the required topics: “Who’s your favorite character?” “What’s your favorite season?” “What’s your favorite episode?” and so on. And whether your favorite character is Commander Sinclair (the real Commander) or G’Kar, whether your favorite season is the first or the third, it’s almost universally agreed that Season Five, Episode Eight, “Day of the Dead,” is one of the show’s top ten episodes.’
A fine version of the Tam Lin story is reviewed by Richard as he looks at a Pamela Dean novel: ‘An early part of Terri Windling’s Fairy Tale series, Tam Lin is by far the most ambitious project on the line. The story of Tam Lin is one of the better known ones to escape folklore for the fringes of the mainstream; you’ll find references scuttling about everywhere from old Fairport Convention discs to Christopher Stasheff novels. There’s danger inherent in mucking about with a story that a great many people know and love in its original form; a single misstep and the hard-core devotees of the classic start howling for blood. Moreover, Dean is not content simply to take the ballad of Tam Lin and transplant it bodily into another setting.’
A review from William finishes off my picks: ‘In his typically enlightening and always entertaining style, Ray Bradbury puts his cold hand in ours and leads us through the darkness of a million wind-swept October nights in The Halloween Tree, a classic novel of dark fantasy. Recognized as a living legend of imaginative fiction, Bradbury is one of those few, precious authors who delivers the thrills he promises. Revered for such novels as Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Martian Chronicles, and Fahrenheit 451, the author breathes such life into his fictions that we can’t help but share the enthusiastic energy exploding from his pen.’
Brownies anyone? Jen makes her whiskey, yes whiskey, soaked cherry brownies in big batches so she give them out as she so desires. Are they good? Oh YES!: ‘Eat them warm for a terminal chocogasm, alone or with ice cream and a glass of red wine.’
Robert got something rather nice from Bissinger’s Chocolates, a company founded in 17th Century France: ‘The example of their products that crossed my desk (well, landed on it) is the Caramelized Blood Orange, covered in dark (60%) chocolate, with hazelnuts. Being somewhat of a chocolate purist, I’m often dubious about additives, but since orange and chocolate are one of the classic combinations, I decided to give it a try.’
April says of a Matt Wagner graphic novel that ‘As far as character re-imaginings go, Madame Xanadu: Disenchanted is a lively, lovely read and more is definitely something to look forward to!’
She goes on to tell us about that second volume, Matt Wagner And Michael Wm. Kaluta’s Madame Xanadu: Exodus Noir: ‘ This second collection in Matt Wagner’s back story of Madame Xanadu has a more intimate focus than the first, which spanned a number of centuries and exotic locales.‘ Read her review for all the details on this story.
A sad note to lead off our Music section. Ciarán Carson, author of Last Night’s Fun: In and Out of Time with Irish Music, has passed away just recently. Both a keen trad Irish musician and a writer of quite some note about that music and all things Irish in general, he was a native of Belfast who died at seventy of lung cancer. A brilliant poet by trade, which you can see in our review of his translation of Táin Bó Cúailngne:The Cattle Raid of Cooley).
The Oysterband are certainly a folk rock band but Ed has a review of their very early years when they weren’t: ‘I stumbled onto the Oysterband several years back via a copy of Little Rock to Leipzig, received as a premium during a college radio station’s fund drive. This was blind good luck. The two CDs I had originally wanted were gone, so I picked this one based on its “folk-rock” label. I haven’t stopped listening to this band and now own ten of their CDs. As a devoted and possibly obsessed fan, when the chance came to review some of their earliest and long out-of-print albums, I jumped. I now feel blessed to have acquired this piece of their history. In short, these LPs prove that the Oysters were always good, but have nevertheless gotten much better.
Norwegian singer and songwriter Jens Carelius has turned a legendary figure in his ancestry into a unique album, Gary says. ‘Opsi is a song cycle based on the diaries of Carelius’s great-great-grandfather Fritz Doerries … a German naturalist who spent much of his young life collecting butterflies and other animal specimens in the sub-arctic lands of eastern Siberia.’
Istanbul psychedelic rockers BaBa ZuLa have a new recording out, their first new release in five years but following close on the heels of their 20th anniversary retrospective called XX. Gary says the new CD, Derin Derin has ‘plenty of transcendant sound packed into each song and tune.’
A Parcel of Steeleye Span — Their First Five Chrysalis Albums 1972-1975 contains Below the Salt, Parcel of Rogues, Now We Are Six, Commoner’s Crown, and All Around My Hat! which was released as a set. Iain, our Librarian, got to review that impressive set which is taken from some of their early albums. ‘So the bottom line is that this is a near perfect introduction to one of the finest folk rock groups ever to grace Albion. Hell, you even get to hear the original recording of the song which they end nearly every concert with — ‘All Around My Hat’, off (obviously) the album of the same name.’
Our What Not this week is another treat from Folkmanis. Says Robert: ‘I seem to have another Folkmanis puppet lurking around, this one the Rat In a Tin Can. The Folkmanis website describes him as being ready for a playful picnic (note the napkin in one paw). However, it seemed to me that he might just as easily be a waiter in an upscale rat restaurant: his black-and-white pattern might almost be taken for formal wear.’
Steeleye Span is rather appropriately providing our taking leave song for this Edition. Not their ‘Tam Lin’ as that’d be more a Halloween thing, but rather their ‘One Misty Moisty Morning’ which seems so Autumnal in nature. It was recorded at My Father’s Place in Roslyn, NY on the twentieth of April forty six years ago.