What’s New for the 24th of May: All things Zelazny, Kasaugai Roasted Nuts, James Gunn’s Inside Science Fiction, early Doc Watson, new Cotton-Eyed Joe, Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, Kronos Quartet, and more

I know, too, that death is the only god who comes when you call. ― Roger Zelazny’s  “24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai

I’m still continuing my read of all things Zelazny this week by diving into his short fiction.  “24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai,” which won a Hugo for Best Novella, is collected in his Frost & Frost collection, which is recommended by me and which I should review soon. Not much of his work is readily available these days for reasons not terribly clear. Some like Roadmarks is just now decades makes in the digital realms.

I’m ensconced in the Kitchen right now having a snack of a raspberry tart and hot chocolate. Ahhhh, I see they’re discussing how many American style buttermilk biscuits they’ll need with that beef stew for the eventide meal.

And I see one of my Several Annies, Rebekah, is being asked by Mrs. Ware if she’d like to join her staff when she gets done with her Estate, errr, Library apprenticeship in two years. She’s the one who introduced us to wonderful Jewish baked treats. Oh and I see that someone has been mushroom hunting, so the beef stew will have these tasty morsels in it. Barrowhill beef is always a treat no matter how it’s used.

So let’s see what I’ve got for you this outing…

A thriller from Roger Zelazny? Oh yes, and April says it’s quite good: ‘Dead Man’s Brother is a delight to read — Zelazny’s language and characters seem right at home in this genre — and regrettably over all too fast at less than 300 pages. If only more such jewels were left to unearth…’

Robert has a jewel that’s also something of a puzzle: ‘Samuel R. Delany is one of the most challenging writers of speculative fiction, ever. (I say “speculative fiction” because he has written major works of both science fiction and fantasy.) And so, faced with They Fly at Ciron, I have some problems.’

Science fiction used to be the domain of geeky boys and cosplayers at conventions, but no more, as Robert points out in his review of James Gunn’s Inside Science Fiction: ‘It’s interesting to see the history of something as told by some of the people who made it. In the case of James Gunn’s Inside Science Fiction, the “something” is, indeed, science fiction, and Gunn was one of the history makers.’

Shifting genres to detective fiction, Warner has a look at a neat story collection: ‘Settling Scores: Sporting Mysteries is editor Martin Edwards’ look at the myriad different crime and mystery short stories in which one sport or another serves as a major story element. The book collects 15 stories from several decades, each by a different author and featuring a wide variety of sports, ranging from track to cricket and beyond.’

Denise shares a particular favorite of hers, Kasaugai Roasted Nut Assortment. ‘This particular gathering of treats has been a favorite of mine for years, and I’m so happy to let you in on my little no-so-secret.’ Check out her review of a beloved treat!

Chocolate-covered is the name of the game, as Cat looks at Diana’s Bananas’ Dark Chocolate Banana Babies: ‘OK, it’s way too cute a name, I’ll grant you, but once you meet them and taste them for the first time you’ll forgive the overly cute name, as they’re amazingly good. Diana’s Bananas’ Dark Chocolate Banana Babies are one of those snacks that are both an indulgent treat and, surprisingly, rather good for you, as I’ll detail shortly.’ (Well, no, he didn’t just look at them.)

David has a look at a remake of one of his favorite films: ‘King Kong has long been one of my favorite films. Some might say, “it’s a movie, not a film.” But that’s nitpicking. The original is a stunning work of animation, blended with live action to create an entirely believable world in which a giant ape could fall in love with a screaming girl. I even loved the remake — especially for the wonderful performance of Jessica Lange as the naive wanna-be movie star Dwan. But neither of these films could prepare me for the cinematic experience that is Peter Jackson’s King Kong. It’s bigger, longer, louder, scarier, and it manages to maintain the same naivete that keeps the original version on everyone’s top ten list!’

Robert was more than a little ambivalent about another installment in the Captain America/Avengers saga: ‘I picked up Ed Brubaker’s Winter Soldier: The Longest Winter on one of my periodic trips to the comics store, mostly on the basis of the juicy cover art and the blurb on the back — this one brings us up to date on Bucky Barnes, Captain America’s sidekick who was killed in World War II. Except he wasn’t.’

Gary reviews a new release of some old music, a recording of a 1962 concert in Greenwich Village by Doc Watson and Gaither Carlton. ‘As much as I love Doc Watson’s playing and singing, the appearance here of Gaither Carlton is equal in importance. … the unadorned Appalachian style of the self-taught Gaither Carlton has a sturdy purity to it that brilliantly fits this music and complements Doc’s guitar picking.’

Gary also has a tale about the long and twisted history of the song ‘Cotton-Eyed Joe’, including a link to a review he wrote here way back in 2001, and a new, dark version of the song by ‘Swedish gothic garage blues singer and guitarist Bror Gunnar Jansson‘ whose video of it was released this week.

Robert looks at a work by a perennial favorite, Terry Riley’s Salome Dances for Peace, performed by another perennial favorite, Kronos Quartet: ‘Terry Riley begins the notes for Salome Dances for Peace by stating that the idea for the work came from “an improvisation on a theme from The Harp of New Albion. Around that time, David Harrington called me and asked me to write another string quartet.” That’s the kind of thing that happens when composers hang around with performers.’

Arvo Pärt is another of Robert’s favorite contemporary composers. This week, he takes a look at a group of shorter works collected as In Principio: ‘Arvo Pärt, like so many contemporary composers (particularly, for reasons that may have something to do with domination by officially atheist regimes, those of Eastern Europe), finds great inspiration in the liturgy. Something like the Passio, of course, will count as a major work, but much of his oeuvre, even relatively minor works, falls into what I generally class as “church music,” which seems to offer the impetus for some of the most profound and moving musical statements ever made, no matter the time or place. . . . This collection gives us a range of the composer’s music spanning the years from 1989 to 2007.’

It seems Robert has a lot of favorites among the contemporary avant-garde. (‘Well,’ says Robert, ‘It’s the music of my time. How can I not love it?’). Here’s yet another selection: ‘The Philip Glass Ensemble: A Retrospective isn’t, actually. Granted, it covers Glass’ music, and the Ensemble’s history, over more than thirty years, but it is, in reality, a live recording done in 2004 in Monterrey, Mexico, the Ensemble’s first actual “concert” since 2001.’

Word came this past Monday of the passing of Nolan Porterfield, the highly respected writer, teacher and broadcaster who dedicated much of his career to furthering our understanding of American roots music. He grew up in Texas, served in the U.S. Army, worked for newspapers in Texas and New Mexico, and had a distinguished teaching career at colleges and universities in Missouri as well as serving as a consultant for the Smithsonian Press in Washington, D.C. In later years he was well known for his vintage music program on WKU FM in Western Kentucky. His biographies of Jimmie Rodgers and John Lomax are acknowledged as definitive.

Robert has yet another favorite for this week’s Coda. He says, ‘By far the best version, in my humble opinion, of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings is that by the Kronos Quartet. It’s lean, spare, and avoids the sentimentality that so often creeps into performances of this piece. You can hear it here. And, as I noted in discussing this album, Thomas Schippers does an excellent rendering for full orchestra, with the New York Philharmonic.’

About Iain Nicholas Mackenzie

I’m the Librarian for the Kinrowan Estate. I do love fresh brewed teas, curling, English mysteries and will often be playing Scandinavian or Celtic  music here in the Library.

I’m a violinist too, so you’ll me playing in various contradance band such as Chasing Fireflies and Mouse in the Cupboard as well as backing my wife Catherine up on yearly Christmas season tours in the Nordic countries.

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