If you can’t change the world with chocolate chip cookies, how can you change the world? — Pat Murphy
So, would you like a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie? Mrs. Ware and her ever so talented Kitchen crew decided that they would make cookies and milkshakes today, so they’ve been having lots of Estate staff show up to indulge in these delicious treats. I went for my favourite one — dark chocolate, peanut butter and banana. (The latter are grown in The Conservatory that Lady Alexandra Quinn, Estate Gardener during the Reign of that Victoria, had built.) I took my treat and retreated to the Library where I’m working on the Hugo nominations packet that I’m reading.
Yes the WorldCon this year, because of the pandemic, is virtual, so I decided to be a member and attend the panels, watch the readings, vote for the Hugos and decide where it’ll be post pandemic. The Hugo voting packet of all the material was downloadable from Best Novel and Semi-prozine nominees to even the Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, which was episodes of Doctor Who and The Expanse. It’s been a lot of fun to go through!
Cat goes back to what should be, and maybe is, a science fiction classic: ‘Roger Zelazny’s Isle of The Dead is a prequel of sorts to To Die in Italbar, though you don’t really need to read it first. It amuses me that, as I noted in reviewing To Die in Italbar, Zelazny considers that to be his worst novel, as it’s stylistically identical to this novel — He wrote them both in the same year. I could make the argument that they’re really one novel published in two pieces. Certainly I would suggest that it’s worth reading both of them in a single go as they form in a continuous narrative.’
Jennifer gets her paws on Daniel Pinkwater’s upcoming Adventures of a Dwergish Girl, at least as subversive as his Devil in the Drain but longer, and therefore funnier by volume. She fails to mention how much food is mentioned in this book. Thank goodness I can bring it up here. Lot of great food. He even makes parsnips sound yummy.
Robert came up with three books by Pat Murphy, an author he thinks deserves your attention: ‘I am having an immense amount of fun discovering the work of Pat Murphy. Aside from laudatory comments picked up from other writers, I first ran across Murphy as one of the editors of the James Tiptree Award Anthologies, the first three of which we reviewed here and here. (Strangely enough, she had no stories included in those collections, which is, I think, our loss.) When the chance came to review some of her work, I smiled and said “Sure!”‘
Warner has the latest installment in an audiobook series: ‘The Confessions of Dorian Gray is a longstanding series of audio dramas from Big Finish Productions. The latest episode, “Isolation”, was conceived, written, recorded, mixed, produced and released in less than 5 days. It was written by Scott Hancock and stars Alexander Vahos as Dorian Gray of Oscar Wilde fame.’
Jennifer pulls out somethibg to go with your spicy barbecue delights. Some people think cilantro tastes like soap, others, like the food of the gods. Cilantro adds color and freshness to this raita, with avocado to make it fluffy and Greek yogurt to add creaminess and heft. It’s a perfect foil to jerked goat or tacos arbol. It’s fast, it’s soothing, it’s green!
It’s not a film, but rather a teaser for a film of Emma Bull’s War for The Oaks that never got made made. Let’s have Michael explain in this excerpt from his review of it: ‘Imagine, if you will, the movie version of War for The Oaks. Adapted directly from the book, and directed by Will Shetterly, with Emma Bull undoubtedly acting as a very close, very personal creative consultant. It was shot on location in Minneapolis, with a soundtrack provided by Cats Laughing, and the Flash Girls. When you consider how Hollywood traditionally and typically butchers adaptations, this must sound like some sort of blessing.’ Now you can watch this short but highly entertaining film over here.
In honor of Pride Month, we have a look at a stellar example of boy’s love manga. Says Robert: ‘Ishihara has made full use of the potential of the graphic novel medium in this one. Kimi Shiruya is to my mind not only a superb example of BL, but a remarkable example of graphic literature in any genre.’
Mister Kitty, errr, Cat looks at Andrea Hoag, Loretta Kelly and Charlie Pilzer’s Hambo in the Barn: ‘Back in the twentieth century, a lot of Scandinavians relocated from Sweden and the surrounding countries to the upper Midwest where they became farmers and shopkeepers for the most part. Naturally they brought both their instruments and their music with them. Not surprisingly, this music has persisted to this day which is why this lovely CD exists.’
I always think of Frifot as being a summer group as I first saw them in Sweden at midsummer, so let’s have Barb tell us about one of their albums: ‘If there are superstars to be named on the Swedish music scene, I would like this opportunity to nominate Lena Willemark (vocal, fiddle, viola, whistle, drone whistle), Per Gudmundson (fiddle, viola, bagpipes, vocal), and Ale Möller (octave mandola, overtone flute, cow’s horn, drone whistle, folk harp, shawm, harmonica, vocal), otherwise known as Frifot. The group’s CD Sluring is most certainly a masterpiece.’
Some composers also invoke Summer for me and Aaron Copland is one of them, so let’s look at what Gary has to say about A Copland Celebration: ‘To mark what would have been Aaron Copland’s 100th birthday in 2000, 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.’
John Hartford fans be advised that Gary has a treat for you to finish off our music reviewers : ‘Working with Hartford’s family, Nashville-based fiddler Matt Combs has put together two massive projects from those archives: a book called John Hartford’s Mammoth Collections of Fiddle Tunes and this album, The John Hartford Fiddle Tune Project, Volume 1. The album brought together a multi-generational who’s who of contemporary roots musicians to celebrate Hartford’s legacy.’
I dug out this review from the Archives of some twenty years ago — OK, you do know that we have a resident hedgehog at this Scottish Estate by the name of Hamish? So it won’t surprise you that Robert reviewed this puppet: ‘Well, I finally got my first Folkmanis puppet to review, and appropriately enough, it’s the Little Hedgehog — and let me tell you, he’s a real charmer.’
Our music coda this time comes because a member of File 770 community mentioned that his book group was reading Emma Bull’s War for The Oaks. In it, you’ll find the lyrics for a song called ‘For It All‘ which Eddi and The Fey sing in the story.
Now usually that’d be it and you’d never actually get to hear the song but Emma went on to be a member of Cats Laughing whose first two recordings are reviewed here. So they recorded that song and a lot of other great music.
They broke up as bands are wont to do but they came back together a few years back at Minicon and did A Long Time Gone – Reunion at MiniCon 50 recording with a DVD of the concert, so read the splendid review thisaway.