Whats New for the 8th of December: Scarecrows, A Classic H.G.Wells’ Novel , Metallica in Antarctica, So-so chocolate, Improv Jazz, Steeleye sans Maddy and Other Interesting Matters

I cursed him in my heart. “Um, what day is it?” With the infinite patience of someone used to dealing with drunks, musicians, and techies, he replied, “Sunday.” — Sparrow in Emma Bull’s Bone Dance: A Fantasy for Technophiles (First chapter is here.)

Yes I’m covered with kibbles and bits of straw. It’s the time of year that we make new scarecrows, bodach ròcais in Scots Gaelic, to replace the ones created the previous Autumn as they only last a single growing season. No, they don’t go out until Spring but the straw’s available now and the Several Annies assist in the creation of them. There’s a minor magic placed upon them to keep the mice from eating them, plus the Estate cats are very good at keeping the mouse population way down.

Give me a few minutes to get clean clothes on and I’ll serve you. I’ve got a whisky that I think you should try, it’s Toiteach, which is a wonderfully peaty single malt from the Bunnahabhain distillery. Served neat with neither water nor ice is how we do it, as there’s no single malts here that shouldn’t be appreciated that way.

If you’re interested in knowing more about Scots whiskeys, take a look at the review by Stephen of the late Iain Banks’ Raw Spirit: In Search of The Perfect Dram as I believe it’s simply the best look at single drams ever done.

Iain M. Banks’ The Hydrogen Sonata according to Gary is ‘a book of equal parts jaw-dropping wonder and world-shattering violence, relief is offered by the Ships: their names themselves and the droll and witty dialog between and among them as they go about debating their course of action and concocting rationalizations for once again meddling in the affairs of another civilization.’

Marian looks at a trilogy by Jane Yolen that deserves to be a classic. First up is ‘The Books of Great Alta  which is the compilation of Yolen’s two books in the series,  Sister Light, Sister Dark and White Jenna. It is the story of the women of Dale, who worship Great Alta, the mother goddess and what happens to them for better or worse.’ If you’ve read these already, then do read Marian’s review of  the final volume, The One-Armed Queen, but otherwise do not as it has major spoilers about what happens in the first two novels.

Naomi has what could considered what’s called a cozy mystery for us: ‘In Cat on the Edge, the first novel in a delightful series of fast-paced mystery and whimsical fantasy by Shirley Rousseau Murphy, we find tomcat Joe Grey undergoing a strange metamorphosis. Not only is he able to understand human speech, he can actually speak! This is enough to shake a cat out of at least eight of his nine lives, but then Joe Grey witnesses a murder in the alley behind his favorite delicatessen, and it could very well cost him his final ninth life!’

Warner has the newest edition of a classic for us: ‘There is something to be said for the extremely fine additions being put out at small presses today. An example of such would be the new edition of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau  released by Beehive Books, featuring an introduction by Guillermo del Toro and illustrations by Bill Sienkiewicz.”

Jennifer Stevenson substitutes a fancy brand of all vegan, all gluten-free, all dairy- and nut-free, all singing, all-dancing chocolate mega chunks in her whisky-cherry brownie recipe and reports on the results.

Gary reviews an album of trance and drone by a group called Nous. ‘Nous is a New York-based experimental music project with a fluctuating group of artists “exploring ritual and spontaneity,” and Nous II is an album of improvised instrumental works that seamlessly blend acoustic and electronic instruments and percussion.’

Gary also liked the two-disc vinyl LP reissue of Mal Waldron Trio’s Free At Last: ‘This package is a perfect way to put a wrap on ECM’s 50th Anniversary celebrations and to introduce Waldron to a generation of jazz fans who may have forgotten his unprepossessive genius.’

Kim sees an Irish singer sans her usual band: ‘If you are a fan of Solas’s early work, or if you’ve heard Karan Casey in one of her guest spots on other albums, you know why you will love Songlines. She’s simply got an amazing voice that is unique among Irish singers. I suspect this somber album will also work for those of us who long for more and find tales of like-minded, discontented types soothing. It certainly works for me, and I look forward to hearing Casey’s more recent work.’

And Tony sees Steeleye Span sans Maddy: ‘True of all Steeleye members is a good sense of humour; and Gay is no exception, during the inevitable ‘Hat’ instead of singing ‘a small sprig of thyme,’ Gay changed it to ‘a small sprig of logic’ which I found most amusing. If I was going to make any criticism of the evening it would-be that I would have liked to have heard more of the new album, and maybe a few more really old classics from years gone by, but I am nitpicking really, It was an excellent gig and a relief to know that Steeleye Span, despite a major upheaval, have lived to tell the tale, and here’s wishing them every success for a good few years to come.’

Vonnie really likes this recording: ‘Eivør Pálsdóttir has an astounding voice. I was speaking with two of my folk-music heroes at a folk festival the first time I heard her sing, and I stopped mid-conversation to find out who had hit that range of notes with such a clear and pure sound. In fact, the entire album of Eivør is about clarity and purity of sound, tempered by human concerns.’

Tis the season to hit the theater!  From Rockettes to your local school’s holiday concert, there’s a whole lot to enjoy. (Or sometimes to be dragged to, if we’re talking your distant relation’s piano recital…) But there’s one show that you’re gonna wish you could get to; Signature Theater’s A Chorus Line. Why am I excited about a musical that’s been around since 1975? Well, because this musical is incredible – don’t take my word for it, Line earned a Pulitzer in ‘76 – and in this production, the choreography has been modernized.

That’s right; except for ‘homage paying’ at the introduction and that epic kick-line ending, Signature’s choreography gives a fresh spin on the musical numbers, fitting perfectly in the smaller-ish theater. It’s the very first production to gain approval for a dance makeover in this musical’s history. And it’s outstanding. The production could easily go straight to West End or Broadway with little more than re-setting a few marks here and there to adapt to a larger stage. This Line is that good. And it had this Grinch’s heart growing three times when I saw it. Sadly, the rest of the run is completely sold out, but here’s hoping an extended run is in the cards. Trust me; it’d be a lovely holiday gift to any theater lover.

Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ is a definitely dark take on the Sandman myth for which vocalist and rhythm guitarist Hetfield wrote the lyrics, as it deals with the concept of a child’s nightmares. The lyrics such as this stanza, ‘Hush little baby, don’t say a word/ And never mind that noise you heard / It’s just the beasts under your bed / In your closet, in your head’ are as dark as any tale was that the Brothers Grimm collected oh so long ago.

This hour long concert was played acoustic outside with the sound transmitted to the listeners on wireless headphones so as not to disturb the the residents who weren’t human. Here’s what their website had to say about it:

This was the most unique show Metallica has ever done. The band, contest winners, research station scientists (from Russia, South Korea, China, Poland, Chile, Brazil and Germany), and the ship crew, all crammed in this little dome out on the helipad of Carlini Station in ANTARCTICA! The energy in the little dome was amazing! Words can not describe how happy everyone was.

The band cranked out 10 songs for the small crowd including Creeping Death, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Sad But True, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), Master of Puppets, One, Blackened, Nothing Else Matters, Enter Sandman, and Seek & Destroy.

No word on if there were any penguins were attendance.

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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