One should not attend even the end of the world without a good breakfast. — Robert A. Heinlein’s Friday
Potatoes… Onions… Smoked salmon… Well-aged cheddar cheese… Oh the eggs? Chicken, duck or goose? Your choice as we’ve got all of ‘em. They’ve all got their own unique colour, flavour and, yes, texture. The Kitchen has decided to do omelets on this Winter morning along with thick sliced bacon and oh so delicious corn bread with warmed butter for breakfast on this Winter morning. Oh and of course coffee. With cream.
Yes we like breakfast here a lot. It’s been covered here in the form of baked eggs, a history of breakfast, a Bison Uncured Bacon and Cranberry Bar (really it tastes great), Spam: A Biography (it is a superb breakfast food, particularly with eggs and sharp cheese) and Charles Stross on the full Scottish breakfast to name but a few of the things we’ve covered. Care to join us? Of course you do!
Charles de Lint’s The Cats of Tanglewood Forest with illustrations by Charles Vess is based on A Circle of Cats by the same talented duo, which Mia reviewed here. Cat found a lot to like in this charming novel, so read his review to see why he liked it.
Jack has a rather charming book for us to consider: ‘Not surprisingly, the Kinrowan Estate library where the Green Man offices are contains many items related to J. R. R. Tolkien and his works. Tolkien is one of the best creators of fantasy that ever lived, period. And the recent films based on The Lord of The Rings have caused a resurgence of interest in him and his works. I have no doubt that you’ve read both The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings, as you wouldn’t be reading this review if you hadn’t, but have you ever encountered the man who wrote those works? Well, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien will give you a look at Tolkien himself in ways that are both charming and perhaps surprising.’
Robert has a look at an entry in Elizabeth Bear’s Promethean Age series, this one titled Blood and Iron: ‘One of the freshest and most interesting developments in fantasy literature over the past decade or two has been the emergence of what I tend to call “contemporary fantasy.” Known also as “urban fantasy” or sometimes “mythic literature,” it combines the trappings and motifs of classic fantasy and sometimes horror with a modern-day, usually urban milieu. It also moves freely into other genres. Call it fantasy’s answer to cyberpunk: it has that kind of fluidity and, more often than not, that kind of hard-edged, dark vision.’
Warner has a choice bit of Sherlockian fiction for us: ‘Interesting new points of view for Sherlock Holmes tales are difficult, and even finding a new way to express an old point of view is impressive. Michelle Birkby, in All Roads Lead to Whitechapel, has produced a very nice mystery, one that simultaneously feels true to Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories while also producing an interesting and unusual read. The beginning of the unusual approach can be seen in the simple fact that rather than focusing upon Holmes and Watson, the story features them as secondary characters, with none other than Mrs. Hudson and Mary Watson as the leads.’
Denise decided to go with the Valentine’s weekend vibe and pop open a (mini)bottle or two of Cook’s Brut Champagne 187ml Bottle 4 pack. Wait, you ask; has our resident beer snob decided to slum it? Yep, and she’s just fine with that. ‘Sure, the purists will scoff, but it’s a lovely bottle to crack open on a Taco Tuesday when you’re feeling a bit Treat Yo Self.’ So why not treat yourself and read her in-dept review of this bubbly!
Jennifer loves the new Edward Norton film Motherless Brooklyn, which tears a strip off the unholy trinity of commercial real estate, public works projects, and corrupt government with a big fat creamy jazz-soaked noir project full of stuff to love.
Motherless Brooklyn talks explicitly about the role of racism in the (re)building of New York, but class is implicit, too, in everything from characters’ dress to their accents, homes, and the way they walk: class and race, race and class, joining and dividing these New Yorkers. PS, if you think you can’t get a crush on a guy with OCD and Tourette’s Syndrome, tough girl, give this a look.
Gary takes an extensive look at three publications that marked the 25th anniversary of Maus, Art Spiegelman’s groundbreaking graphic novel about his family’s experiences in the Holocaust. They included the original books, Vol. 1, My Father Bleeds History and Vol. 2, And Here My Troubles Began; and a hardcover volume called MetaMaus, about the making of the original works.
Aaron Copland’s A Copland Celebration gets looked at by Gary who notes that ‘Sony Classical disgorged a cornucopia of Copland works. This three volume, six-CD set gives a good overview of the career of this quintessential American composer. It includes the best-known works — chamber, orchestral and choral — as well as a smattering of some of Copland’s lesser-known works, and some alternate versions and rarities previously unreleased on CD; and even a few never before released at all.’
He next has a review of an album by jazz saxophonist Oded Tzur. The mostly mellow music on Here Be Dragons is a blend of jazz and Indian classical styles and techniques. He says that if you listen closely, ‘you realize that this isn’t some variant of smooth jazz, just utterly controlled melodicism.’
He then says of porous structures a recent release by an acoustic quartet led by Belgian multi-instrumentalist and avant garde composer Ruben Machtelinckx: ‘Each of the eight performances recorded here is a variation on gently plucked guitars, high-pitched droning from reeds or voice, and a compendium of percussion.’
Gary rounds out our music reviews with a recording by Amarillis which has Allison Thompson on accordion and concertina and it gets high praise from him as a contradancer: ‘Waltzing in the Trees is a delightful record that brings lively contra dance music into your home.’
Our What Not is our perennial question of what’s your favourite Tolkien. Catherynne picked The Silmarillion: ‘I love The Lord of the Rings. I was once a hardcore Sindarin-speaking LoTR geek, in the days of my misbegotten youth. It is a vast and important book. But I have to say that I feel the book is incomplete without The Silmarillion, which provides a depth and mythology, an understanding of the forces at work, a breadth and beauty that LoTR does not have on its own. I am one of the few who loves The Silmarillion for itself, devoured it in one sitting, had no trouble with the archaic language. It should get more love than it does.’
It’s been bloody cold here so let’s se if I can find something to remind us that every season will pass on the Infinite Jukebox, our media server. Ahhh Judy Collins will do very nice. ‘Turn, Turn, Turn (To Everything There is a Season)’ was recorded by her at the Newport Folk Festival fifty five years ago this coming July. (Now I’m feeling old.) It’s a lovely take on a very old story that reminds us that everything is transient, even this time of bitter cold.