Welcome to GMR

IMG_8393If you haven’t encountered us before, read on; otherwise skip to the weekly edition which is up every Sunday morning and alternates with a Story every Wednesday morning.

Everything that interests us as a diverse group of individuals will get attention here, be it Irish music,  jazz or classical recording, tarot decks,  puppetsmanor house mysteries and science fiction novelsfiction inspired by folklore, science fiction filmsegg nog recipes,  ymmmy street foodchocolatewhisky and cookbooks… Well you get the idea.

Stories about the Kinrowan Estate will show up every Wednesday, be it Gus the Estate Head Gardener talking about pumpkins; Reynard, our Manager of the Green Man Pub located in Kinrowan Hall, sharing stories; Zina on the Neverending Session and Midsummer as well; or even Iain, our Librarian, talking about life there such as the Several Annies, his Library Apprentices.  And you’ll see material from The Sleeping Hedgehog, the in-house newsletter for our staff, such as Lady Alexandra Margaret Quinn, Estate Gardener here in the Victorian Era, on a tree spirit. You might even meet Hamish, one of the current hedgehogs living in the Library who sleep the Winter away in a basket near the fireplace in our Library.

So if you’ve got something you’d like reviewed, whatever it might be, email me here as you never know what’ll tickle our fancy.

PS: you’ll also get to hear some choice music here every week such as Michele Walther and Irina Behrendt playing Aaron Copland’s ‘Hoe Down’  from his Rodeo album. I sourced it off a Smithsonian music archive which has no details where or when it was recorded which surprised me given how good they usually are at such things.

Background is a William Morris wallpaper design; the greenman is by Lahri Bond  for us and may not be used elsewhere. 

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A Kinrowan Estate story: The Calamity Janes

Fall leaves

They called themselves the Calamity Janes and were a Americana group that showed up here.. Jack hadn’t booked them, indeed hadn’t even heard of them, but they decided to visit us one fine summer day as they’d heard they could get room and board for playing here which was (sort of) true. Jack consulted with Ingrid, the Estate Stewart who makes that decision, and she said yes if they were willing to also help around the Estate as we always could more bodies during the growing season which they were enthusiastic about doing anyways.

They were a three woman group (fiddle, dobro, and mountain dulcimer) all in their thirties. Visually they were a striking group: all red haired with green eyes and abundant freckles with a ready smile for all they encountered. In concert, they had a sweet sound, blending old-timely, bluegrass (both of which are relatively new forms) and celtic into something unique that worked nicely.

Of course they played acoustic as does everyone here and we got permission as we always do to record them for inclusion in our Infinite Jukebox, our MP3 archives. Their performances were attended by almost everyone on the Estate. One concert alone ran over three hours and a number of the musos here ended up sitting with them for their jams after the concerts.

Ingrid arranged for them to play and give a hands on work for the children at the Lewis Carroll School of The Imagination. In the village nearest us. The teacher there said the students were in rapture from the entire time they were there. Several of the female student vowed that they would be musicians!

He also handed them, to their delight and surprise, a rather nice cheque even though they hadn’t expected to be paid. He also handed them three Eurorail passes so they could get around easily while they were still travelling. And Jack arranged for them to come back the next time that they over this way.Fall leaves



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What’s New for the 17th of September: Louisiana’s Lost Bayou Ramblers, live music by Kathryn Tickell, Ottawa based urban fantasies by Charles de Lint, Norwegian saxophonist Karl Seglem, Gus on the Estate Kitchen garden and other Autumnal matters

Every good fiddler has a distinctive sound. No matter how many play the same tune, each can’t help but play it differently. Some might use an up stroke where another would a down. One might bow a series of quick single notes where another would play them all with one long draw of the bow. Some might play a double stop where others would a single string. If the listener’s ear was good enough, she could tell the difference. But you had to know the tunes, and the players, for the differences were minute. — Fiaina in Charles de Lint’s Drink Down the Moon

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The end of Summer is nigh upon us as the Autumnal Equinox is but a few days out and we here on this Scottish Estate have begun the only partly conscious shift into Autumn as a given thing. Everything — from the behaviour of the lynxes as they hunt their prey to the food served up by Mrs. Ware who’s our Head Cook and her staff — starts the shift to serving the heartier foods what the increasingly cold, too frequently wet weather causes us to crave.

By October, even the Neverending Session starts folding in on itself as the ancient boon of food, drink and a place to sleep is outweighed by our remoteness. So that group is largely comprised of the mmusicians here, a number somewhere around a third of the Estate staff such as myself (violin),  my wife Catherine (voice and wire strung Welsh violin), Béla (violin), Finch (smallpipes) and Reynard (concertina). It’s always interesting to see who’s playing in it at any given moment. Nor is it by any means always present, a myth started by the musicians a long time ago.

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Early in his career, Charles de Lint did a number of novels set in the real city of Ottawa where he and his wife, artist MaryAnn Harris, live and have made their home for many decades. We’ve reviewed these works so we decided to  feature some of  those reviews in this edition. At the end of each review, you’ll  find the URL for purchasing the digital Triskell Press edition of  the novels or novels in that review.

His Yarrow: An Autumn Tale gets a loving look by Grey: ‘Cat Midhir has stopped dreaming. People assure her that it isn’t possible, that she just doesn’t remember her dreams, but Cat knows they’re wrong. Where her dreams have been, there is only heaviness and loss. For Cat, this loss means more than it would to most of us, because she is that rarest of all dreamers, a person who returns to the same dream every time she sleeps. In her dream world live her truest friends and her only source of inspiration for the books and stories that have won her acclaim in her waking life…’

Robert has two Autumnal fantasies by de Lint: ‘Charles de Lint is known as “the godfather of urban fantasy,” and indeed, it’s in that genre that he’s made his mark – he’s never been a writer of heroic fantasy: in a better than thirty year career, very few buckles get swashed, although the two short novels included in Jack of KinrowanJack the Giant Killer and Drink Down the Moon — come close, something of a romp a la Dumas pere — by way of Harold Lloyd, perhaps. Both concern the adventures of Jacky Rowan and Kate Hazel, best friends who find themselves enmeshed in the doings of the land of Faerie that coexists with modern-day Ottawa.’

He also looks at Moonheart, perhaps de Lint’s best loved novel: ‘Moonheart may very well be the first novel by Charles de Lint that I ever read. I can’t really say for sure — it’s been awhile. It certainly is one that I reread periodically, a fixture on my “reread often” list. It contains, in an early form, all the magic that keeps us coming back to de Lint. (And be reminded that Charles de Lint may very well be the creator of what we call “urban fantasy” — he was certainly one of the first to combine contemporary life and the stuff of myth.)’

Spritwalk  our reviewer says ‘is a loose sequel to Moonheart, a series of related tales, again centering around Tamson House and including many of the same characters. In fact, the House is even more important as a Place in this group of stories. It begins with a brief discussion of Tamson House from a book by Christy Riddell, whom we will meet again in The Onion Girl and Widdershins, followed by a delightful vignette, “Merlin Dreams in the Mondream Wood,” of Sarah Kendell, age seventeen, remembering her childhood “imaginary” playmate, a red-haired boy named Merlin who lived in the oak tree at the center of the garden. It’s a sweet, sad tale of the price of love.’

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In another vein entirely, Robert has some thoughts on Joe R. Lansdale’s Pigeons from Hell: ‘Pigeons from Hell is an adaptation by Joe R. Lansdale of a story by Robert E. Howard, with art by Nathan Fox and color by Dave Stewart. Lansdale is at pains to point out, in his “Notes from the Writer,” that it is really an “adaptation” — updated, exploring some new facets of Howard’s story, and not to be confused with the original, all of which leads me to treat it as its own creature.’ Just click on the link to see how this creature fared in Robert’s opinion.

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Speaking of cooler weather, Gary brings a review of a recording by the jazz quartet helmed by Norwegian saxophonist Karl Seglem. ‘Don’t fear that Nordic Balm is an album of smooth jazz destined to become aural wallpaper. Far from it. Even in those places where it’s obviously intended to sooth, it always maintains its integrity, and there’s always something quite interesting going on, if you’re paying attention.’

‘Portland’s Anna Tivel is that rare songwriter who can put together a song like an award-winning short story writer,’ Gary says. He finds plenty of that kind of song on Tivel’s new album Small Believer.

Gary says you should check out Turmoil & Tinfoil, the new album from Billy Strings, a hot young bluegrass player and singer. He says ‘the Michigan native is making a name for himself as one of the most incendiary bluegrass guitarists on the scene.’

Louisiana’s Lost Bayou Ramblers haven’t released a new record since 2012, but they have a new one due out any day now called Kalenda. Gary says they ‘still sound like nothing else you’ve ever heard. Those vocals by founding member Louis Michot could’ve been recorded in somebody’s backyard by Alan Lomax 50 years ago, but they’re backed by what sounds like an ensemble auditioning for a gig as house band in the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tattooine!’

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Gus, who many of you already know is our longstanding Estate Head Gardener, is one of our excellent storytellers. He has an Autumnal gardening tale for our What Not this time as we approach that season. He leads off his story in this manner: ‘Oh, hello. It’s you again. How is it that every time we meet up, I’m clomping around in muddy boots? Come out to get some fresh air, have you? Give me your name again? I’m Gus, if you remember, the gardener around these parts. Here, I need to head out to the kitchen gardens, come walk with me a bit. They’re behind that wall over there.’

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Autumn for me is when I start craving the sound of certain performers, one of which is Kathryn Tickell. She to me is one of the more interesting sounding of the Northumberland performers that risen up in the past thirty years in the years since Billy Pigg was active. So let’s listen in to her performing ‘The Magpie’, ‘Rothbury Road’ and ‘The Cold Shoulder’ which is from an outstanding soundboard recording of a performance at the Washington D.C. Irish Folk Fest from the 2nd of September, fifteen years ago.

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Fall (A Letter to Tessa)

A letter from the journal of Alexandra Margaret Quinn, Head Gardener here in the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India, to her friend who was in Constantinople as of this letter. Alex, as she was known, copied her personal correspondence into her Journal. She noted in her will that her letters were to be part of the Estate Library upon her death. Isabella would live to well over a hundred, even longer than Her Queen would!

Dear Tessa,

Though it’s hot and dusty where you are, Fall arrived here this week. Though it’s warm by mid morning, we’re now in the high thirties overnight and the days are now substantially shorter. No frost yet, but I won’t be surprised to see it early this year, as the past fortnight has seen clear nights with very low dew points and not a breath of wind.

I’ve had my staff doing last preps on the firewood with the best (oak, ash, spruce, and maple) being reserved for the Kitchen and the Library, as I swear no one else really appreciates how good it is. Head Cook put in a claim on whatever applewood is to be had, for he loves the smell. We also cleaned up the spruces of dead branches and old cones this week so they’ll be used to start fires as they’re high in pitch.

The orange tabby you named Gefjen has lived up to her name as she’s most definitely pregnant! Right now, she’s hiding in the rooms of Isabella, the new Librarian, when she’s not looking for warmed milk and bits of meat from the Kitchen Staff. Oh, I do wonder what the kittens will look like!

You sadly missed the dance we had in the Courtyard under the Oaks that are now changing their colours, which is early for them, suggesting another harsh Winter is coming. We had a guest caller up from London who introduced the Neverending Session to a tune book he had with him called Thomas Skillern’s Twenty Four Country Dances for the year 1780 which has many a lovely dance tune in it. The dance lasted ’till well after midnight and even the Kitchen staff slept in, so we all had a very late breakfast.

The blackberries we planted several years back are now in full force though I admit I hate them, for trimming their canes in a month will be a beastly exercise! Oh, but warm blackberry tarts with vanilla ice cream on top are oh so wonderful. There’s also a promise of blackberry wine as well.

One of the Several Annies, Ingrid, had a handfasting with one of my lads, Angus, this week. You’ll remember her as you taught her how to press summer flowers properly. The Steward granted them use of a crofter cottage provided they fix it up. Angus is keen to restore the Mill Pond dam so we can use it as a proper skating pond and a place for curling games. We now use the field that floods every Winter and freezes hard for those games.

I must be off now as there’s a butchering going on of the pigs as it’s time for smoking hams and such so I need to select the pigs to be killed.

Affectionally yours,


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What’s New for the 10th of September: It’s Definitely Late Summer!

Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always
been the two most beautiful words in the English language. –– Henry James

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The piper at gates of dawn has resumed his or her ritual after taking most of the summer off. Now from just before the first light hits the high meadow with its benediction of the new day ’til several minutes later  when it’s the slate roof of  Kinrowan Hall which the sunrise glistens on the moss covered slate roofing tiles up there, the piper plays on. Some say the instrument is Great Medievel Pipes but I doubt that as I’ve never seen them here; more likely is that they border pipes or uilleann pipes.

I’m now inside our Kitchen this morning as it’s bone numbing cold this morning. No not just chilling but rather a brutally cold damp with the promise of rain and strong winds later today. Autumn’s not even here but the weather’s giving us an early taste of November is usually like. Even the Estate felines and canines who like going outside are sticking close to the fireplaces and other warm spots inside Kinrowan Hall today.

In between lots of coffee and setting up my ‘office’ which is  myself, a large mug of Blue Mountain coffee and my iPad, in the sitting corner of the Kitchen, I’ve been editing this Edition which includes a Russian River Brewing Company release, Gerard Way’s GN series, modern Balkan music, an unusual A.A. Milne work and much, much more.

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The manor house and the woods that surround that A.A. Milne lived in as that inspired the tales of Pooh and friends is for sale for a staggering number of pounds, but for considerably less you can read  The Red House Mystery, a classic English manor house novel by him that gets a look-see by Lory: ‘The story is not really a “whodunit” — the “who” is pretty clear from the outset — the question is “how” and, even more, “why” he did it, and Milne keeps us guessing until the end. The plausibility of the solution is not one that would hold up to heavy scrutiny, but the pleasure lies not in the verisimilitude of the puzzle but in the ingenuity of its construction and unravelling, and the witty repartee among the characters.’

Denise has been holding on to her review of Crystal King’s Feast of Sorrow, but that’s just because she couldn’t resist going back to it over and over again.  If you’ve a taste for a story full of intrigue, Ancient Rome, and flamingo tongues, you need look no further.  And if you just want a page-turner, you’ve come to the right place as well.  ‘Sorrow is so thoroughly researched it feels as if her tale is exactly what happened, instead of what possibly could have. … Come for the fascinating premise, stay for the amazing characters and wonderful way King has with prose.’

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.

Robert has a book that should resonate with all those who are familiar with images such as the Green Man: Garth Dahl’s Masks from Around the World: ‘Masks occur in every human culture I’ve ever run across, and their purpose is always the same: disguise. In the theater of ancient Greece, the disguise served to submerge the actor in the persona of the god or hero he portrayed. Among the Cherokee and Iroquois of North America, the fearsome headgear served to frighten malignant spirits away. In Mycenae, masks were funerary effigies, a practice found throughout the ancient world and also found among the great pre-Columbian cultures of the Americas.’

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The history of beer is, if nothing else, tasty. And that’s why I’m offering you a review as done by Kelly of a Russian River Brewing Company release: ‘Wandering through my neighborhood grocery store on a Saturday afternoon, I came across a wine tasting. “What the heck!” I said to myself and sauntered up to the guy with the wine glasses. I was chatting pleasantly with a couple sipping next to me when the male part of the party stopped a young man in an apron walking by and asked if they had any Pliny the Elder in the back. The young man scowled, but said he would bring one. My fellow taster boldly asked for a second bottle for his wife and received another black look.’

It’s summer here which means lots of fresh hand churned ice cream with various fruits, principally the Border strawberries that start out blood red and turn as white as bleached bone as they ripen. So it’s apt that Richard has this book for us: ‘Ask anyone waving around a Drumstick cone or Klondike Bar where ice cream comes from, and you’re lucky if you get a smart-aleck response like “the freezer”. Ice cream may be near-universally loved (there’s an ice cream truck going down my block as we speak, and it’s not being shy about it), ice cream has an oddly shrouded history. Admittedly, most consumers of ice cream wouldn’t care if the first ice cream cone sprang, fully formed, from the forehead of Zeus, but for those who are actually curious about where their double-dip hot fudge sundaes originated – and who don’t want to read a tome the size of a cinderblock – there’s Ivan Day’s slender Ice Cream.’

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April has a look at the opening salvo in a not-run-of-the-mill graphic novel series, The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite: ‘Part steam punk, part superhero comic and all attitude, Umbrella Academy is the brainchild of rock front man Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance). The titular “academy” is actually a group of oddly powered kids, raised by an eccentric space alien masquerading as an entrepreneur known for his work with chimpanzees.’

Robert follows up with his take on the second volume, The Umbrella Academy: Dallas: ‘The story is rather fragmented, but does draw together into a coherent narrative focusing on the assassination of JFK — eventually. But first there’s a dog race (Number 5 loses heavily), a trip back to 1963, a short interlude in Heaven, and a stint in Vietnam before everyone winds up where they’re supposed to be.’

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American indie folk-rockers Deer Tick have returned from hiatus with a self-titled two-disc set, Deer Tick Vol. 1 & Deer Tick Vol. 2. The former is mostly acoustic folk-rock, the latter mostly electric rock of the punk or garage variety, but built around lyrics that largely wouldn’t be out of place in folk-rock. Gary says it ‘is an impressive release, one not to be missed by fans of thoughtful, independent-minded music, whether you call it folk or rock.’

English singer-songwriter Jack Cooper usually plays in a two-man band called Ultimate Painting. But he’s just released his first solo album. Gary says Cooper’s Sandgrown ‘is a song cycle of sorts painting a sonic picture of his hometown, the port city of Blackpool on the Lancashire coast in northwestern England.’

Gary also looks at the modern Balkan album Dvoijka by Sarajevan Damir Imamovič and his band Sevdah Takht. The music comes from a mix of tradition and innovation, he says: ‘Growing up in Sarajevo, he steeped himself not only in the roots of legends of sevdah like his father and grandfather, but also in the other Sarajevo, the city of rebels and bohemians.’

And not far from the Balkans, at least geographically, is Italy. Robert gives us his take on two CDs of Italian music, Italia 3: Atlante di Musica Tradizionale — Roots Music Atlas and Italian Café: ‘Hmmm’ says Robert.
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For our What Not this week, Robert gives us a look at one of his favorite places in Chicago, Lincoln Park Zoo’s South Pond Nature Boardwalk: ‘If you’re visiting Chicago and need a break from the museums, architecture tours, shopping, and theater, check out South Pond in Lincoln Park, just south of Lincoln Park Zoo, for a nice relaxing hour or two. It’s another restoration project in the Park, this one under the auspices of the Lincoln Park Zoological Society, and it’s come along quite nicely — I call it “the Lakefront, BC — Before Chicago”.’

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And as we linger on the last long summer afternoons, a song to to tuck away with our memories: ‘Summertime’ from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

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A Kinrowan Estate Tale: A Restless Queen

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It was late at night when the green-cloaked storyteller told her tale. ‘ “Turning and turning in the widening gyre,” ‘ she said softly, quoting Yeats, ‘ “The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; The center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

‘The Queen knew that all was lost — her kingdom, her people, even her gods were gone. Nothing had survived in a war that ended with the Queen and her opposite, the King, fighting each other on a battlefield of bones, of blood, of the smell of chaos itself.’

She went on, ‘Though they cut each other deep, oftimes to very bone, neither could die as their mutual hate kept them from dying. And the land itself died just a bit more with each blow that landed from their swords.’ She took a deep drink of our Autumn ale and continued, ‘Eventually the king dealt a blow from his broadsword that cleaved her left arm off. That didn’t kill her, but she cried for mercy and he granted it, so long as she left the Kingdom never to return. She did, and like a restless spirit, wanders the land looking for peace.’

She finished her drink and with her only arm fastened her cloak tightly about her before she left us wondering how history becomes legend and legend gives way to myth and eventually drifts through our lives like fog.

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What’s New for the 3rd of September

Not of father, nor of mother

Was my blood, was my body.

I was spellbound by Gwydion,

Prime enchanter of the Britons, 

When he formed me from nine blossoms.

From the Robert Graves translation of ‘Hanes Blodeuwedd’

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Who am I? Why I’m Ástríður, one of the Several Annies, the Estate Apprentices here, and I have the deep honour of writing up the edition this week as your usual hosts, Iain and Reynard, are both unavailable right now. Yes, I know Iain, the Librarian here, thinks we’re his Apprentices but most of what we learn is applicable to the entirety of this Scottish Estate.

Under the tutelage of Laith, our Archivist, I’ve been editing an article that Reynard wrote for The Sleeping Hedgehog, our in-house newsletter. It’s titled The Fate of Unmarried Women Who Have Sexual Intercourse with Soldiers in Certain Songs: A Comparison of  ‘Yankee Go Home,’ ‘Cold, Haily Wind’  and ‘The Gentleman Soldier’, ‘Alternatively Titled Why F’ucking a Soldier is Never a Good Idea.’ It most certainly should engender a lively discuss by the group studying British folk songs this coming Winter!

I’m off to finish this Edition but I’m looking forward more to the s’mores ‘contest’ on the patio this evening, as we’ll attempting to create the best tasting s’mores. I’ve got my kroner on the dark chocolate, homemade marshmallows and home baked grahams made with Kungsörnen Grahamsmjöl flour that Gus is using for his recipe. Väldigt gott!!

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Cat says about Rita Mae Brown’s Let Sleeping Dogs Lie ,that ‘This series  grows out of her passions for horses, hounds, and American fox hunting which show up frequently in her fiction and non-fiction works – she has for some time now been a member of a local fox hunt club. Please note that American hunt clubs do not kill the fox as part of their hunt but let it escape. Indeed they care for the foxes on their property by feeding them and making sure they get enough food in harsh winters.’

Mia says that ‘A Circle of Cats is intended to be the prequel to the de Lint/Vess collaboration Seven Wild Sisters. Since I’ve been thwarted in every attempt to procure a copy of Sisters, and haven’t had a chance to read the story sans Vess’ artwork in Tapping the Dream Tree collection, I have no idea how A Circle of Cats stands in relation to that rare release. In relation to de Lint’s body of work as a whole, and indeed to the field of modern fantasy and fairy tale overall, this piece is simply outstanding.’

Kate has an update on an classic tale: ‘Children’s author, Kathryn Lasky has finally asked and answered a question that was ignored since Hans Christian Andersen first presented the world with The Emperor’s Old Clothes: Where did his old clothes go? With the help of David Catrow, an award-winning illustrator, Lasky has directed this tale at the world of 3- to 7-year-old children.’

Robert brings us a new version of another classic tale, this one titled The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse: ‘You’ve undoubtedly heard this story, or at the very least heard of it, probably under some variation of “The Country Mouse and the City Mouse,” or the reverse. It’s a well-loved children’s story that has received innumerable treatments throughout the years. Author/illustrator Helen Ward has brought us the latest version.’

Zina finishes off our book reviews with an affectionate précis of What the Mouse Found and Other Stories: ‘Ah — two of my favorite things, paired in one slim volume. (Sorry, I’ve always wanted to use the phrase “slim volume” somewhere.) Fairy tales and Charles de Lint. The postman dropped the package through the door this afternoon. Just a bit later, here I am at my computer. I couldn’t not read it right away, could I?’

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A thunderstorm, gentle rain, and rhythmic chopping are among the sounds depicted on Guzuguzu, the latest release by the Norwegian jazz group Helge Lien Trio. Its odd title is a hint to what’s going on in the music, Gary says. When naming the tunes, the trio ‘turned to the Japanese language and its rich store of words that are onomatopoeic – words that sounds like what they depict.’

Jo found a lot to like in Shouting at Magpies: ‘It is really refreshing to see top-caliber pipers taking the bagpipe to new horizons. In the past, many great Highland bagpipers that have pursued the bagpipe beyond the strictly traditional have tended to be the pipers that didn’t have enough talent to cut it in the highly competitive, strictly traditional bagpipe world. Recent years have seen a new trend of interest in music outside of the Highland pipe’s traditional milieu. One such piper to break new ground is Ann Gray.’

Robert came up with more Scandinavian jazz, this time the Christian Jormin 3, a group from Sweden, and their album Sol Salutis: ‘The Christian Jormin 3 is a jazz trio based in Sweden, comprised of Christian Jormin, piano and percussion; Mattias Gröroos, bass; and Magnus Boqvist, drums. Sol Salutis is, indeed, jazz, and sometimes subject to that cold intellectualism that I often find off-putting. This particular collection, however, has many redeeming qualities.’

In a more traditional vein, Robert has a look at some down home fiddling, in A Henry Reed Reunion from Alan Jabbour, James Reed, and Bertram Levy: ‘[D]espite my reputation in some quarters as a highbrow with a taste for the esoteric, I am developing a distinct fondness for good old-fashioned fiddling. I can’t think of anything more likely to bring a twinkle to your eye and a bounce to your step, and A Henry Reed Reunion is no exception.’

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For today’s What Not, we have — well, it’s either a new take on cuisine, or a new take on literature. From our friends at Penguin/Random House, we have a video: ‘It’s a ‘mini-doc’ about a monthly event held at the restaurant Egg in Williamsburg called Tables of Contents, where Chef Evan Hanczor makes dishes based off of book passages, and authors give readings. Here’s the vid, which features authors Adam Gopnik (At the Strangers’ Gate, New Yorker writer), Victor LaValle (The Changeling), and Sarah Gerard (Sunshine State).’

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So let’s finish out this week with ‘The Two Sisters’ by Clannad, taken from a concert in Köln, Germany nearly forty years ago. This is one of the lesser known variants of the Child Ballad more commonly known as ‘The Cruel Sister.’ Pay attention to the lyrics at the end as they tell the gruesome end that the murderous sister deservedly comes to. It’s an ending worthy of the original Grimm Tales, and is noted in other folk ballads as well.

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Cernunnos

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I’ve rarely been scared deeply but I was upon encountering The Horned God while on a walk with two of the Estate Russian wolf hounds deep in the woods a few days ago.

As you know, this Estate is big. Really big. Part of that is a result of being on The Border with the realms of The Fey, but it’s also a very old Estate that never got broken up. You can walk, in the direction away from the village that’s twenty miles away and where Riverrun Farm borders us, for more hours than really bear thinking about. I had packed a lunch, some ale, my fiddle, and a desire to away from everyone for a full day, as I was getting grouchy for no good reason.

So I set out not long after dawn, walking in a direction that would take me past the Standing Stones and into the forested area we leave alone. It’s an old forest, old as anything in these Isles, which is a situation best not dwelled upon. Really old forests mean even older beings and so I was was not surprised when I encountered one here.

So why was I scared so deeply? Because old gods such as the one I encountered there are rarely of the compassionate sort. And standing there tall and wide of beam with skin more like bark than anything else with a set of antlers complete with deep green moss was what I took to be Cernunnos. What else could such a being be?

Despite being roughly human in shape, there was an inhumaness to him, something in his eyes and bearing that said he’d been living for longer than I was comfortable thinking about – and I’ve talked with Odin. Fortunately for me, it seemed that he had no interest in me, for he noticed me not as he moved onward toward wherever he’d been headed before I came upon him.

I decided that I’d skip playing music and eating lunch out there. Suddenly I was very desirous of getting back to that which I had been wanting to be away from! Oh, and the Estate Russian wolf hounds had already decided that returning home was a task to which they quite urgently needed to attend.

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What’s New for the 27th of August: Kage Baker on Peter Beagle, dark fantasy, Brahms-a-rama, other somewhat Autumnal matters

I did not want to think about people. I wanted the trees, the scents and colors, the shifting shadows of the wood, which spoke language I understood. I wished I could simply disappear in it, live like a bird or a fox through the winter, and leave the things I had glimpsed to resolve themselves without me.  ― Patricia A.  McKillip’s Winter Rose

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Impressive, isn’t it? When we built the new Library in the late eighteen century, we moved the Pub here to top floor of the cellar. And we made sure the Greensward facing side had as much glass as possible. So that means for you that every sunrise, barring inclement weather, is visible here and with all of them being spectacular indeed.

The chair you’re sitting in is commonly known as The Falstaff Chair as Estate lore has him telling tales in it one winter’s night. Yes I know he’s fictional but I’ll bet you’ve got characters and stories you believe strongly are real. So do be careful what you think of while here as nightmares as well dreams can come true …

I see you’re reading Solstice Wood by Patricia Mckillip. I assume you’ve read Winter Rose already? It’s sort of a prequel to the book you’re reading but not quite so. Both are excellent reads, though I prefer Solstice Wood to read again. Now let’s see what we found this time…

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Liz has a choice morsel of Tolkieniana for us: ‘In Tolkien: A Cultural Phenomenon Brian Rosebury presents a critical assessment of the entire body of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. He also attempts to locate Tolkien within Literature and the History of Ideas and to examine the “afterlife” of Tolkien’s works in today’s popular culture. He sees the book as both a complete introduction to Tolkien and his works for general readers, and as a critical analysis for fans and scholars. A shorter version of this book appeared in 1992. This new extended edition was written in the light of new scholarship and two new developments: the publication of Tolkien’s unpublished manuscripts by his son Christopher, and the release of Peter Jackson’s film version of The Lord of the Rings.’

Robert — no, not that Robert, a different Robert — brings us a look at James Morrow’s The Asylum of Dr. Caligari, which he rates as somewhat difficult: ‘I knew from the title that the story was at least related to the classic silent horror movie, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, with which I am only passingly familiar. That was not as great a handicap as I’d feared. . . . I did not, however, anticipate the amount of artistic theory and discussion that I would find within.’

And Robert — no, not the other Robert, the regular Robert — has a look at Anne Bishop’s Dark Jewels Trilogy: ‘I have to regard The Black Jewels as something of a landmark. I don’t think it will spawn a host of imitators — how could it? It is so individual as to defy imitation. Aside from my reservations about the portrayal of villains and madness, it is a marvelously rich tale inhabited by fascinating people who, in spite of their differences, are more human than we have any right to expect.’

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Robert takes us back to the nineteenth century and one of his favorite composers of the Romantic era, with a look at two recordings of works by Johannes Brahms: ‘Johannes Brahms was, to put it mildly, one of the more thoughtful composers in the history of Western music, as evidenced by the fact that, although he is known to have been working on a symphony in 1854 (never finished, although parts did find their way to the Concerto for Piano in D Minor and the Deutsches Requiem, his first, the C Minor, was not published until 1877, when he was forty-four.’

And more Brahms: Robert also takes a look (a listen?) to one of his favorite pieces of music, Brahm’s Quintet for Piano and Strings in F Minor, Op. 34: ‘We’ve run across the thematic material in the Piano Quintet before, in the two-piano treatment of the Sonata in F Minor, but here the character is somewhat different: that Brahmsian bigness that is somewhat muted in the Sonata is here given greater scope, and the feeling of a symphony orchestra lurking in the wings waiting to jump in is that much more prevalent.’

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Our What Not is about Peter S. Beagle, who is not only of one our best storytellers ever, but also without doubt one of the best loved as well. We decided to ask some of the many writers who’ve passed through our pub, errrr, offices what their favorite piece of fiction by him was, and why so. Their answers run from the obvious choices, i.e. The Last Unicorn, to some that greatly surprised us.

Kage  pondered her answer — ‘How to decide? The Last Unicorn probably had the greatest effect on me, reading it as I did at an impressionable age and learning there that fantasy could cut through the mannered, medievalist crap and speak sharply of real life. I See By My Outfit always delighted me and still does, as it must delight anyone who has ever been young, dumb, brave and On The Road. To take off across the country on motor scooters (of all things), sleeping in tents, trusting in fate, having adventures — yeah!! But my all-time favorite Beagle character I met in The Innkeeper’s Song: the little, little fox with soft fur…’

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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.

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Speaker for the Ravens

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Yes, a crow whisperer. Wipe that look of doubt off your face, as the story I’m about to tell concerns one such being and his tale of what a crow whisperer is. Well, the tale is true as far as I know. And who am I to say it’s not true even if I suspect it’s not?

You’ve heard the story of the Tower of London ravens and that if they ever leave the Tower, it will be the end of Albion? Well I cannot say if that’s true, but the person who wandered into our Pub late one Fall evening wanted to tell a story. He asked for a dram of single malt, no water. I poured him a Glenglassaugh and waited for him to begin…

First he noted that the commonly accepted tale among the ‘respectable’ press is that the Ravens have been in resident only since the Victorian Era but he said they’ve been there since the thirteen hundreds, maybe even a lot longer. He added that the press is told that Ravens stay there because their wing feathers were clipped, thus they couldn’t fly away.

Neither is true, he said. Rather there’s been a crow whisperer, or to use the much older name, Speaker for the Ravens. Running in an unbroken line for well over a thousand years, each such person was taught the secret language of the ravens by the previous Speaker. It is an ancient language, predating any human tongue by uncountable years.

Each Speaker for The Ravens is told the story of how the first ancient Albion kings discovered that the Ravens were holders of the magic that bound them to the land, to the people, and to the gods themselves, so long as the Ravens dwelt in what would someday be London and specifically where the Towers would be built. But the Ravens wouldn’t be content if someone couldn’t Speak for them, someone who knew their True Names.

So that the many centuries, these men, and quite a few women, and some who weren’t actually human, served their roles so well that the unbreakable bonds have never been weakened nor even really tested.

I noticed through the Pub windows that looked out towards the ancient oaks favoured by the Estate corvids that all of the crows therein were watching him intently as he walked away from the Pub. And then they winged about him, cawing loudly, and waiting for his response.

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What’s New for the 20th of August: Aaron Copland’s ‘A Fanfare for The Common Man’ as performed by the Rolling Stones, Tanya Huff’s Peacekeeper series, a Zelazny collection, UK folk trio The Young’uns and some other matters

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood. — Jane Yolen in her Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie & Folklore in the Literature of Childhood

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We’ve a long tradition here on the Kinrowan Estate of giving storytellers who make it here the same boon we grant musos of food, drink and a place to sleep. Nothing fancy mind you, but good enough that a few of the storytellers ended up staying here during the Winter for extended  periods. Mind you not as storytellers, but as staff working for the Groundskeeper, in the Kitchen  or, in centuries past, for the Gamekeeper or our Gillie.

We all tell tales, be the writer of a given work, the reader of that work and the reviewer of the same work. The tale we tell will always differ from person to person and none of us is wrong about what we think of a given work.  So don’t be offended if our review of a given work differs with your opinion of that work.

Now shall we see what’s up for this time? Of course we should! We’ve got a tasty collection of reviews and other things, so let’s get started…

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Richard  sets an appreciative eye on a Andrew Cartmel novel: ‘The second in the JACK NAPIER, The Run-Out Groove is as much shaggy dog story as it is detective novel. Yes, there’s death, attempted murder by burning alive, and all sorts of other dark and violent goings-on, but the book’s tone is so light and its voice so off-handedly charming that it doesn’t register as ferocious. Instead, it has the feel of a yarn spun by a friend over a couple of drinks, and the telling is too good for you to call bull on any of the more outlandish aspects.’

Richard also says a certain novel is a delightful mess: ‘There’s a thin sliver of overlap in the Venn diagram of books that are bad and books that are compulsively readable. It’s the territory Dan Brown occupies, and it’s now got a new resident: George Mann, whose novel Wychwood is a hopeless pile of hokum that nevertheless keeps the reader eagerly turning pages until the end.’

Robert has a look at the first two volumes of a new series by Tanya Huff, Peacekeeper: ‘Tanya Huff has started a new series, a spin-off of her Confederation novels, again featuring now former Gunnery Sergeant Torrin Kerr leading a group of her former Marine comrades. Kerr may be out of the Marines, but she hasn’t left fighting for the Confederation: she and her group are now free-lancing doing those jobs that need to be done but that no one wants to admit any involvement: call it “black ops,” with plausible deniability.’

While poking around in the back reaches of the Library, Robert ran across an old favorite, Roger Zelazny’s collection The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth and Other Stories: ‘Although he published his first story in the early 1950s, Roger Zelazny didn’t really impact the science fiction scene until 1963. That’s when I remember reading “A Rose for Eccelsiastes” in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (with their best cover ever illustrating Zelazny’s story). He followed it up the next year with the title story of this collection, which won him his first Nebula award. Zelazny and his contemporaries went on to become the American branch of science fiction’s New Wave, and pushed the envelope until it was altered beyond recognition.’

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Charles  Stross, the noted SF and fantasy writer who’s English by birth and resident in Scotland by choice, has a look at the Scottish fry-up here. And I found  recently an article in The Register called ‘The ultimate full English breakfast’  – which is subtitled ‘have your SAY Forget Brexit, lets use grease and dead things to heal a gaping political chasm.’ The article is thisaway and do read the comments on it as they’re worth their weight in greasy fry bread.

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Gary reviews the new release by American jazz pianist Vijay Iyer’s sextet. Far From Over is, he says, ‘an hour of jazz that roars and soars and sings with defiance and joy.’

English musician Jack Cooper’s first solo album is called Sandgrown. Gary says it’s ‘a song cycle of sorts painting a sonic picture of his hometown, the port city of Blackpool on the Lancashire coast in northwestern England. This is a quiet record, what might have been termed shoe-gaze in the ’90s, with lo-fi production and Cooper apparently playing all of the instruments and singing all of the vocals.’

Jo has a detailed look at Itzhak Perlman’s In the Fiddler’s House: ‘From the formal opening triumphant strains of “Brave Old World” to the highly-varied, improvisational closing “Di Gayster,” this recording explores the nooks and crannies of Klezmer music. The brain-child of Michael Alpert, violinist for the group Brave Old World, this recording explores four of the best-known contemporary Klezmer groups (the Klezmatics, the Andy Statmand Klezmer Orchestra, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, and Brave Old World) and, in the process, gives a brilliant overview of what Klezmer music is all about. The addition of Itzhak Perlman is the piece de resistance.’

Kim has a conversation with several members of Danú, an Irish group when they were early on in their career: ‘I spoke with Ciarán Ó Gealbháin (vocalist) and Donnchadh Gough (bodhrán and uilleann pipes) about the influences on Danú’s music, and the blending of new sounds with the old traditions. Their main stage set on Friday evening was one of the high points of the evening for me, they were enthusiastic, with both great instrumentals, and a vocalist with an actual great voice. Danú hail from Co. Waterford, although several musicians have come from other parts of Ireland, and the fiddle player, Jesse, is a U.S. expatriate.’

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Here at GMR, Dori Freeman is one of our favorite new Americana singers, Teddy Thompson is one of our favorite journeyman folk singers, and dad Richard Thompson is one of our favorite musicians ever. Dori has a new album coming in September, and just released the first single. Teddy produced the album and sings harmonies, and RT plays guitar on the single: here’s ‘If I Could Make You My Own.’

The up-and-coming UK folk trio The Young’uns have a new album called Strangers coming September 29.  The first single off Strangers is a stirring anthem based on a true story about courage and the personal quest for justice called “Be The Man,” and it features piano, violin and cello accompaniment. The signature harmonies are there in the third verse, though, so do check out “Be The Man.”

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Our coda is Aaron Copland’s ‘A Fanfare for The Common Man’ as performed by the Rolling Stones. Yes the Rolling Stones! A number of bands including Styx and ELP (Emerson Lake and Palmer) have adapted it for use. So here’s their decidedly offbeat version. And if you think that’s odd, come back next week for the story of a well-known metal band that performed in the Antarctic, making it the only band so far to perform on all seven continents.

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