Welcome to GMR

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

Everything that interests us as a diverse group of individuals will get attention here, be it Rock and RollIrish music, a  jazz or classical recording, tarot decks,   Folkmanis puppetsmanor house mysteries and science fiction novelsfiction inspired by folklore, sf 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 sort of 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 the New 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.

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Midsummer

ivy

This time of year, my heart is full. Everything that can bloom is blooming, or has bloomed and fruited already, like mayapple and shooting star and trillium and the flowering trees that line my street. All the plants are up. Every rain sees them shooting up another few inches. If you leave your lawn another week, aw, it’ll be fine, I can mow it Sunday, well, better bring a scythe. Out in the country they’ve already cut the first hay.

My allergies play up the most in this season, too, but I welcome them, crazy at as that sounds.

Today I’m thinking about two mysteries I inherited from my mother’s father.

I’m thinking about people, and how each one of us has a radiance of our own, detectible but not necessarily visible. Certain members of my family have … rather more of that radiance than most people. I’m not sure why. It follows a line through my mother’s father, a German whose forefathers came from Baden Baden, I’m told. Maybe that’s why we have this connection to nature as well. Those are the two mysteries that come to me from my maternal grandfather, then: this personal energy, which is so very powerful that some of us seem to walk around inside a weather balloon that extends far outside our bodies, and inconveniences people standing quite far away. The other mystery is what I’m going to call … our religion.

I shouldn’t call it that. Not only because it has no name and no rituals and no liturgy and no priesthood and no history, but because those of our bloodline have been careful never to call it that; we keep our worship secret, and our practice is disguised in a hundred little ways so that even we ourselves do not have to think, I could be burned at the stake for this. We just quietly and joyfully … do it.

The first time I ever heard it referred to as religion by a member of the family was at my father’s funeral, where I met my mother’s cousin for the first time. This cousin announced that she and her husband were evangelicals, and proudly told me of having visited my mother in her hospital bed after my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer, and tried to sell her religion. Catching her when her fear of death was strong, like a good saleswoman. ”But, you know, Carol and I have always been…” a hand gesture “…on different planes, spiritually. Her and her nature thing.”

And there it was. Wow. Someone actually came out and said it.

In my twenties, I found out that there was official, actual, named nature worship, when I met some pagans. ”Pagan” is a very random word. It covers everything from ”people not like us” to “hicks” to “nature worshippers” to practicers of syncretic homemade religion and Greek revival. And so much more. I rather liked the idea of a religious denomination that didn’t tell anyone a damn thing about your beliefs and practices. It fit in with my own nameless, traditionless, secret faith.

But I began to pay a little more attention to certain aspects of nature in my adult years. Befriended certain animals, took certain plants deeper into my heart, as it were, than others. Or maybe I just recognized that those plants and animals had always been there, deep in my heart, beloved and trusted. With the example of my mother and her parents alive inside me, I could skim right past the world’s efforts to screw a name and a law onto the things that sustain me the most.

They can’t burn me for taking a walk in the woods, I would think. Or for gardening. Or for feeding the birds. Or for planting a tree.

My father worked nights, and my mother was forbidden to work or to have friends, so we were alone with her a lot. Her parents would pick us up and we’d load the dogs and us kids and my mom into the station wagon, along with a giant cardboard banana box full of provisions, and drive maybe an hour or so to a forest preserve in the Chicago area. There are hundreds of such preserves. Some are prairies, some are decorous parks with shaved lawns and picnic benches and cast iron barbecue grills, some are wild woods whose paths were, in those days, just dirt … no asphalt, no graveled jogging paths, just dirt. Mud, if it rained. It was heaven on earth.

I suggest you think about that phrase very specifically. It’s the key to everything real in my world.

The car door would open, we would lug the provisions and crappy aluminum folding chairs to the chosen picnic bench, and then my mother and her mother would turn us loose. My brother and I and the dogs would go helling off into the woods, following every path that offered, looking for edible berries and fruits, wondering at the fungi, hoping to see a raccoon or a skunk or a woodpecker, throwing sticks for the dogs, clambering up hills and down ravines, soaking our feet and finding crawdads in the creeks, or just running, running in the woods.

Nowadays I walk. I see and hear more. I smell the woods better. The woods enter me through all my senses if I’m standing still.

So, of course, do the mosquitoes. There’s always something.

That, I think, was a big part of what made nature realer to me than any religion could have been: the mosquitoes and the mud and rain and poison ivy and the things you shouldn’t eat. Nature wasn’t manufactured. It didn’t have all the sharp edges milled off and painted. No chrome cross, no smooth pew, no carefully printed and illustrated list of official prayers and songs, no indoor plumbing.

Nature pretty much ignored us. We yodeled and ran about and picked berries and climbed trees and nature paid us no mind. We marveled at lady’s slipper or jack-in-the-pulpit or mayapple, and we knew not to eat that one big green berry, and we were careful not to pester hornets or damage the big stands of mushrooms where they erupted from the soil. Nature could kill us, break our ankles, make us vomit, or give us a nasty rash, and nature wouldn’t even notice.

Instead, we noticed. We found the fallen sparrow. We looked for the rainbow. We attended the wars of ants, but we didn’t have to intervene in order to feel validated or loved by our creatrix. Knowing it was happening was our reward, our validation.

At the end of the afternoon, my mother would whistle for us, and we’d come back to the picnic table on the lawn with “squaw wood” to cook our weenies and marshmallows.

With my mother’s family gone, I share all this with my husband. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a building and a day where we could come together with other people and confess our love for all of this, sing some songs, eat more weenies and marshmallows. But that would be littlifying the enormity of nature.

She might poison us, or drown us, or carry our houses away in the wind, or bury us in molten lava, but she will never leave us, or threaten to put us out of heaven. Whether we die unregarded in a crevasse while mountain-climbing, or in a hospital bed surrounded by a lot of very expensive attention, we are part of her, and she is part of us. We can’t lose her. We can’t be excommunicated from her. Our faith in her and our understanding of her don’t matter to her. She knows she owns us. She takes us for granted. In death as in life, we are part of her system, which is so big that we are not the center of it.

It seems to me that some people cannot be comforted by this knowledge. They have to construct a different system, one where they are the center and crowning achievement, the end of creation. It often seems to me that all of human endeavor is an attempt to claim a bigger place than the one we were born into, to demand more attention than our species warrants, to devour all, to “find a use”–a human use–for everything, everything. We remake our environment until it is immaculately unnatural. Or we try.

So far, that’s not working. Thank goodness.

I’d still like to plumb the first mystery my grandfather left me. Why am I different? What can I do with this difference, besides try not to annoy other people with it?

But those are questions I think every human being asks themselves, at some time or another. Maybe an ant here or an ant there pauses in the middle of a war and asks itself, What am I doing here?

I suspect it wouldn’t be good for our egos to know.

ivy

Copyright 2011 by Jennifer Stevenson who has granted Kinrowan LTD exclusive online rights (except for her use on her website). All print rights are retained by the author as is any other use such as ePub publication. Re-use by other parties in any form online is prohibited.

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What’s New for the 17th of June: family friendly rootsy music, a look at queer comics, offbeat Columbian music, Peanut butter cups, Folkmanis’ Narwhal puppet, ‘City Of New Orleans’ and other stories

If I told you the whole story, your head would burst. There is no one story, there are branches, rooms… corridors, dead ends. — John Hurt as The Storyteller in Jim Henson’s The Storyteller

ivy

All stories including our reviews are never the whole story as every story is made neat, made more understandable, or sometimes deliberately less,  in its telling. And everything has a story behind it including that novel you’re reading out on this stone paved patio at Kinrowan Hall on this nicely warm Summer afternoon enjoying our Special Reserve pear cider. Most times neither you nor I know the whole story of a story but if we’re lucky the author tells us in a preface about how the story came to be. And if she doesn’t, rest assumered that an academic will be glad to do so.

Our book reviews this outing have a few of the latter books including some academic looks at the works of Robert Holdstock and Diane Wynne Jones, and, well, you’ll just have to see. And I’m sure that the new reviews this Edition will be be interesting to you as well. If not, please do remember that everything’s just a story…

ivy

Kelly looks at a classic work of SF: ‘Poul Anderson, who died in 2001, was one of the grand old voices of science fiction right up until his death, winning the Hugo Award seven times, the Nebula Award three times, and being named in 1997 as a Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America. His was a long and prolific career. In the middle of that career, he created a character named Dominic Flandry, whose adventures had eluded me as a reader until my review copy of Ensign Flandry arrived on my desk. Now I’m wondering why.’

Farah Mendlesohn’s Diana Wynne Jones: The Fantastic Tradition and Children’s Literature gets a review by Kestrell: ‘Diana Wynne Jones (DWJ to her fans) is one of those writers who, despite the fact that she is frequently referred to as a “children’s author,” has a significant following of adult readers. Although there are an increasing number of literary critics addressing the subject of children’s and young adult fantasy, there is still a lack of literary criticism addressing why those books often shelved in the children’s sections of bookstores and libraries hold such a strong appeal for so many adult readers. Despite the title of this book (a title chosen by the publisher, not the author), its subject is a sophisticated exploration of Diana Wynne Jones’s complex approach to writing and storytelling.’

Richard looks at Donald E. Morese and Kalman Matolcsy’s The Mythic Fantasy of Robert Holdstock: Critical Essays on the Fiction: ‘The myth-infested landscape of Robert Holdstock’s Ryhope Wood would seem to be fertile ground, not only for walking legends and “mythagos”, but also for literary criticism. After all, in the sequence Holdstock tackles not the structures of mythic fiction – dark lords, questing heroes, magical macguffins and so forth – but rather the concept of myth itself, and how the same core stories have echoed down through the millennia, amplified and distorted and reflected by centuries of human experience.‘

Robert has a somewhat unusual book for us this week — a werewolf story, in verse: ‘I’ve had one previous experience with fantasy in verse (well, unless one counts the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the like), and it wasn’t a happy one. Nevertheless, when Toby Barlow’s Sharp Teeth crossed my desk, I screwed my courage to the sticking point, as they say, and I’m happy to report that my valor was justly rewarded.’

ivy

Robert brings us a film developed from a game. Don’t groan — it’s not bad. It’s not bad at all. It’s Battleship, and it takes place in Hawai’i: ‘There’s a lot in this film that’s thoroughly predictable, but it’s a lot of fun, the effects are effective, and the action sequences are real edge-of-the-seat sorts of things. It’s tight and focused and the pacing is excellent. Perfect if you want to spend a couple of hours cheering on the good guys.’

ivy

Denise does something she never thought she’d do; review a confection made with – GASP! – milk chocolate.  The dark-chocolate-or-bust member of GMR dug into Justin’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, and didn’t mind them in the least. ‘The combination of smooth milk chocolate and that gritty, chewy, substantial peanut butter makes me reconsider my ennui over milk chocolate in general.’ Read her review for more!

ivy

Robert has a look at a very special book of and about graphic literature, Justin Hall’s No Straight Lines: ‘It’s tempting to say that comics underwent a radical transformation in the 1960s and ’70s. They didn’t. What did happen was that comics as a medium, with the rise of underground comics through the agency of R. Crumb and his peers, underwent a radical expansion of style, genre, and subject matter as an addition to the “mainstream.” Part of that was the advent of what Justin Hall, in No Straight Lines, has termed “queer” comics.’

ivy

Cat R. tells us about a couple of rootsy albums that she calls ‘family friendly’. She says both Why Why Why and Old Barn qualify as ‘… music I can share with my godkids, ages 6 and 8, on roadtrips without anyone’s sanity or boredom being threatened.’

Epilogue, a tribute to mandolinist and singer John Duffey, got Gary’s toes tapping. ‘Duffey was a founding member of both The Country Gentlemen and The Seldom Scene, two of the most important groups in the history of modern bluegrass.’

He found something new in Bienaventuranza, the latest release by the Argentinian musician who goes by Chancha via Circuito. It’s called digital cumbia. ‘This musical style combines Colombia’s highly popular folkloric music, cumbia, one of the most popular in Latin America, with electronic beats and other modern touches.’

We finish off our music reviews with Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham’s Spring The Summer Long which solicits this lead-in by Jack: ‘Yawn, another bloody brilliant album from a duo, Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, who can do no wrong. So why should you get excited? Are you completely daft, man? This is Aly Bain on fiddles and Phil Cunningham on damn near everything else (accordion, whistles, cittern, piano, keyboards, mandolin) with more than capable assistance from Malcolm Stitton acoustic guitar, and bouzouki and Stuart Nisbet on acoustic guitar, dobro and pedal steel. How can you not like it? Do you ‘ave not a touch of magic in your soul?’

ivy

Puppetry is our What Not theme this time.  In his review of Figures of Speech Theatre’s Anerca, Chris writes of a puppet theater that owes as much to Japanese drama and American-Indian Mythology as it does to Jim Henson and Sherri Lewis. ‘Among the complex issues they set out to explore with Anerca are cross-cultural interactions, the misunderstandings of language, and direct emotional communication. Rather than putting Western words into another language, they focus on the emotional tone, physical world and spiritual quest of the characters.’

Speaking of puppets, Denise dives back into our stock to review Folkmanis’ Narwhal puppet. She was smitten with the sea creature, and took to him right away. ‘I soon had him tootlin’ around while I sang “Octopus’s Garden”.  He seemed to be the type that’d like that song.’ Read her review for more about this puppet!

ivy

All songs are stories and Arlo Guthrie’s ‘City of New Orleans’ is certainly one of the better told ones. Recorded at a Stanhope, NJ performance on the eighth of August, twenty nine years ago, it tells the melancholy story of a train as it’s headed to New Orleans one night. Arlo, son of Woody as you most likely know, is in particularly fine voice here.

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Memory Maps

ivy

What, you ask, are memory maps? Well, all of us use maps all our lives, printed or digital, be they for traveling, locating something, or just out of sheer curiosity. But memory maps are the other type of maps that we all use.

Say you’re in Glasgow and a cute girl asks you where your favourite pub is. Without thinking, you tell her to go up this street, cut down that kill (alley to you Yanks), and go past the news agent and you’ll find The Wolfshead Pub. She thanks you and heads off to the Pub for a pint or two.

But memory maps are beyond that, as they form deep structures in our minds. When you decide to walk from your flat to The Wolfshead Pub, you don’t consciously map out the route in you mind, as you already instinctively know where you’re going. So I’m betting you’re listening to music, thinking about the girl you directed there, or admiring that it’s not raining in Glasgow, a rare occurrence indeed.

Before you know it, you’re at the Pub, standing at bar and enjoying that Glenglassaugh single dram that you’ve been anticipating. All without actually thinking about the journey you made there.

Now imagine living on this immense Scottish Estate for a few decades. In that time, you’ll develop a memory map that’s so detailed that you’ll know everything you need to know about spaces, interior and exterior, that you’ve memorized over the years and the routes that get you from, say, the gardens on the south sloping hill to the Kitchen to the Main Building. You’ll also know just where everything is to prepare the carrots you dug from the MacGregor carrot patch.

So Mrs. Ware asks you to drop the carrots off and to see if you can get someone to forage for some mushrooms. You decide to do it yourself, grab a basket, and take a stroll to where you know where the best ones are in late March after a few mild days. All the while thinking about Chasing Dragonflies playing at the contradances tonight.

So what’s your favourite memory map? Or is it so deeply rooted that you aren’t even aware it exists?

ivy

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What’s New for the 10th of June: Weezer’s rendition of Toto’s ‘Africa’, two by Jane Lindskold, Anthony Bourdain, Alastair Reynolds’ The Prefect, an impressive TBR pile, WF organic dark chocolate, Skara Brae’s only album, Folkmanis’ American Kestrel puppet and other matters

Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying. ― Iain Banks’ Against a Dark Background which may or may not be a Culture novel. 

ivy

Ahh I see that you’re reading Iain Bank’s Raw Spirit: In Search of The Perfect Dram. Since you’re obviously a lover of truly great whiskies, may I pour you, neat of course, a dram of the Craigellachie 23 year old single malt? Good — there you are. I assume you know about his Culture series, which are sort of space opera but far better done than most such books are? If not, go read Gary’s review of The Hydrogen Sonata which will give you a good look at this series.

if you’re in the mood for some great fantasy instead, Robert has two books he thinks are worth your time, Cat has a space opera audiobook he really liked, the other Cat has a look at her recent readings;  and, among other things, Denise looks at Folkmanis’ American Kestrel puppet.

With great sadness, I must note that Anthony Bourdain committed suicide a few days ago. He was a personal favourite of many staffers here. Joseph looks at his No Reservations: Iceland episode: ‘Whoever chose to create and release this DVD is a genius. By showing the misery of his job (albeit with funny commentary and cutting remarks), Bourdain reveals his human side. He becomes one of us with good days and bad.‘

Now I’ll take your leave, as I see you’re eager to read this edition and I’m off to see if the installation of the two meter tall brass Ganesh in the library is complete. It’s rumoured that it was acquired from an antiquities dealer in Mumbai who said it might date back to Raj years.  Neat, eh?

ivy

Cat delves into an audiobook this edition, giving a listen to Alastair Reynolds’ The Prefect. ‘Reynolds is among the best writers of sf I’ve had the pleasure to encounter. … John Lee, who narrates, is perhaps my favorite male narrator.’ But does this combination make for an engaging listen?  Tune into Cat’s review and see!

Our West Coast Cat does away with a bit of her book pileup this edition, posting nutshell reviews of several books that have come her way in a single article. An editor has made it known that she’s extremely impressed with Cat’s brilliant idea, and may just ‘borrow’ it in future. But for right now, read all about what Cat thought about books featuring Wolves, Wives, Knives, Curses, A Hospital, and a Henchgirl. A few of these look worthy of making it to summer reading lists, so dive in to her reviews!

Robert brings us two novels by Jane Lindskold, who has proven to be a very versatile fantasist. The first is Changer: ‘Urban fanstasy is a subgenre with as many sets of criteria as there are practitioners. Ranging from the Celto-Amerindian universe of Charles de Lint’s urban Canada and Neil Gaiman’s eclectic universe of the Dreaming, with even hybrids such as Mark Anthony’s Last Rune paying tribute to fairies and hobgoblins, Lindskold has stepped neatly in and taken as her purview the myths and legends of all places, all peoples, and set them down in the contemporary American Southwest.’

He follows up with the sequel, Legends Walking: ‘Jane Lindskold has followed up Changer with Legends Walking, which opens a few weeks after Changer closes. The same characters appear, many in expanded roles, new athanor characters participate, and the story takes on added complexity as several plot lines develop.’

ivy

Robert has a look at a French film that almost defies description: ‘I hardly know where to start with Christophe Gans’ Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des Loups) – it’s sort of outside my normal range of subject matter, but the DVD case looked interesting enough, and the price was right, so I thought, “Why not? A historical-costume-mystery-revenge-monster flick – what could be better?”’

ivy

Robert has chocolate! (Big surprise.) This time it’s organic dark chocolate from Whole Foods Market: ‘As might be expected from a chain with Whole Foods’ reputation, all ingredients are organic, fair trade, and socially conscious. (Well, the ingredients themselves aren’t socially conscious, but you get my drift.)’

ivy

It’s no secret that we love Gaelic music around here.  For this issue, Cat takes a listen to Skara Brae’s Skara Brae, an album that is widely considered the most important album of Gaelic music ever produced. ‘Skara Brae was the first group that put harmonies to Gaelic songs…. For lovers of songs in Irish this album is a must.’

Gary explores Drift, the second release by Seattle-based trio Duende Libre. ‘Though based in American and Latin (especially Cuban) jazz, Duende Libre’s music makes some significant departures, even more so on Drift than on their debut.’

Gary also enjoyed Anima, the debut album from Uruguayan-born singer Valeria Matzner. ‘It wasn’t until after she moved to Canada as an adult that she studied jazz, and it was there that she also eventually reconnected to her roots – in South America and in her own family as well. I’m very glad she did.’

And then, Gary says, there’s Waterdrawn by the Chicago-based duo The Horse’s Ha. They’re influenced by the singers and songs of the 1960s British folk revival, but with a twist: ‘Folk songs that sound like lovely pastorals on the surface – the delicate acoustic instruments plucked and bowed and the singers’ oddly matched voices – but which hide dark undercurrents.’

Shining Down, an album from a member of the North Carolina based Red Clay Ramblers, gets high praise by Judith: ‘Craver’s piano playing is marvelous, and to add to the quirkiness his vocals are plain, as if he were singing on a kids album. As on Wagoner’s Lad he plays most of the backing music himself.’

Jack has an oddity for us in ‘a quaint remnant from an earlier, less driven-by-commercial-interest society where quality of production was higher than it is today. This artifact, The Road Goes Ever On — A Song Cycle, comes from an earlier age, the Sixties, when readers were madly obsessed with Tolkien and his work. Here in this book composer Swann gives Tolkien characters Bilbo, Treebeard, Samwise Gamgee, and Tom Bombadil tunes for their ballads of the road. Tolkien approved of this and added a tune of his own, along with a glossary of Elvish terms and lore.’

ivy

Denise has decided to give puppets a try this issue, with a review of Folkmanis’ American Kestrel puppet. And she came away impressed. ‘Holy cow this puppet is beautiful.’ But how does it actually…puppet?  Read her review to find out!

ivy

As warmer weather creeps in, thoughts turn memories of summers past, and to this year’s summer plans that will soon become cherished memories. Weezer ties together past and future nicely with their rendition of Toto’s ‘Africa’, a cover they dropped late last month.

Why cover such a classic favorite? Because a fan (@weezerafrica, to be precise) asked them to. Many, many times. And with Weezer being very responsive to social media requests, the decided to go for it. And I’m glad they did. Rivers Cuomo was made to cover this song, his smooth, beautiful voice doing the lyrics justice. Weezer performs this song in a slightly different key, but it works perfectly.

As the band has covered many performers, from Black Sabbath to Pink Floyd and even Toni Braxton, who knows what they’ll do next? Meanwhile, enjoy ’Africa’, and think of all the lovely summer memories you’ll get to make this year.

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A Kinrowan Estate story: 3 a.m., When The Veils Are Thinnest

ivy

Sometimes I believe that the door off the Courtyard into the Pub here is just a little too close to The Border with, oh, let’s just call it somewhere else and possible somewhen else. It would certainly explains some of the strange things and people that end up here, usually late at night.

Such was the case one late Fall evening when several strange beings wandered in here, one seeking refuge and the others seeking him. What happened is the story I tell here.

The first was a dead bluesman, or at least it was assumed he was dead given he was murdered long ago, who showed up with his guitar slung over his back. Clad in a sharp suit and elegant hat, he sat down in a corner table, back against the wall, and started playing the blues, really old tunes at that. Never said hardly a word, but ordered whisky which was paid for with silver dollars that were truly collectors items.

Several weeks after he appeared, two very dark-skinned impressively large individuals equally well-dressed as the bluesman showed up and attempted to remove him from the Pub. (You should realise that only those with The Sight such as myself could See that any of these individuals was unusual. All others thought they were just human.) He smiled at them, showing a lot of teeth and played a low chord that made them turned sharply around and leave.

Not so his luck with the red-haired, green-eyed, leather-clad woman who, for those with The Sight, had black wings, more like those of a crow than an angel. I thought She was The Angel of Death but the look on his face suggested something much more dire. She ordered one of the best whiskies we had and sipped it as she looked at the bluesman. It was a sad smile, a smile that suggested she had a job to do but wasn’t a job she wanted to do.

I’m old enough to know who she was, but was surprised she was here as I’d only seen her a few times down the centuries and I knew she was never the bearer of good news.

She finished drink, nodded to Reynard and walked towards the bluesman. She talked quietly with him for a while and then left without him, which surprised me as the stories about her always say she never leaves without her, errr, prey.

And the bluesman was now playing ‘Cross Road Blues’.

ivy

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What’s New for the 3rd of June: Some Things Turkish and Ottoman Empire Related

Legends should stay legends otherwise they just become history, when the natural course of things is the other way around, from history to legend. ― Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House

ivy

The Several Annies, Apprentices to me, the Estate Librarian, come from all over the world. And several years back one of them was from Istanbul. Sümeyye, now on our Grounds staff,  is responsible for the  incredible spread you see in the Kitchen this morning, a spread which includes breads, soft, creamy cheeses, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, a spicy Turkish sausage, and an amazing range of jams, marmalades, and honeys for your sweet tooth. Of course there’s menemen which are really yummy eggs, and lots of tea.

You’ll find some of our many reviews of things Turkish this time as we’ve done a number of such reviews down the decades. And there’s certainly some stories to tell as well such as Zina’s look at the the Turkish coffee she was served one evening at the Estate.

Shall we get started?

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Walter Jon Williams’ Deep State gets a review by Cat as he notes Dagmar Shaw is once again in trouble in this series: ‘So now she finds herself trying to keep Great Big Idea, the ARG running company, afloat. Not an uneasy task given she’s an über geek, not an über money person. All of which explains how she ends up in yet another unstable country, Turkey this time, running an ARG just as those Generals decide to throw out those democratically elected leaders, a situation that has played itself out before in that both young and very old state.’

That we Westerners find Turkey and the Ottoman Empire it came out of fascinating is not surprising to me. Indeed a certain Peter Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn, in his Best Of a decade back picked an Ottoman Empire mystery as one of his favored novels: ‘And there’s this English writer named Jason Goodwin, whose novels take place in the Istanbul of 1830 or so, and whose hero is a eunuch whose best friends are a transvestite dancer, and an ambassador from a Poland that literally doesn’t exist anymore, having been swallowed up by Russia, where it remained for 150 years. Gruber, Furst and Goodwin…’ So it’s not surprising that Donna loves it as she says in her review: ‘In spite of these minor quibbles, I thoroughly enjoyed The Janissary Tree and look forward to seeing more of ‘Inspector’ Yashim in the future!’

Donna also has a look at  Ottoman Tulips, Ottoman Coffee: Leisure  and Lifestyle in the Eighteenth Century, which has a nice article on the actual history of the so-called Tulip Period of the Ottoman Empire. Do beware that these papers are dry at times as they’re intended for other scholars.

Gary says the Istanbul of Ian McDonald’s near-future novel The Dervish House is rather like what our own world could be very soon: ‘…hotter, more crowded, with an even starker divide between rich and poor, and teeming with technology. … It’s also brimming with Anatolian spirits that sometimes seem indistinguishable from the effects of nano-technology.’

Robert notes that the Ottoman Empire included a dizzying array of peoples and traditions, which necessarily led to a less-than-monolithic culture, as outlined in Suraiya Faroqhi’s Subjects of the Sultan: ‘In many ways it is a dizzying survey: Faroqhi’s coverage is extensive, the very richness of the subject is somewhat daunting, and the fascinating sidebars she explores almost lead to severe input overload — but I didn’t care. (She even devotes a section to cooking and dinner parties, and how many “cultural histories” do that?)’

A more historic/political perspective is found in a pair of books, Suraiya Faroqhi’s The Ottoman Empire and the World Around It and Handan Nezir Akmeşe’s The Birth of Modern Turkey: The Ottoman Military and the March to World War I. Says Robert: ‘The Ottoman Empire and its successor, modern Turkey, have time and again played an important role in European politics, and yet there are vanishingly few sources in English to bring us the viewpoint of the Turks themselves, or, indeed, to focus on the Anatolian peninsula as other than an adjunct to the doings of European states. Addressing that lack is one of the aims of two recent histories.’

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Zina has a story for us about something quite wonderful: ‘For me, the inky little cups of Turkish coffee are exactly that — it’s not so much the coffee itself that’s so wonderful, but what tends to happen over the cups of it, even if I’m drinking it alone. I was in a tiny, tiny village in the pastoral English countryside visiting friends a bit ago, and after dinner we had Turkish coffee, some tunes, and a great deal of talking and laughing, in the lovely, warm, hospitable dining room of that unbelievably old house.’

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And then there’s Turkish music. Big Earl Sellar has quite an absorbing overview of some of the many traditions involved: ‘Turkey is one of the oldest continuously inhabited regions on this planet. With the Karain cave giving us evidence of Anatolian civilization beginning at least 10 000 years ago, the people of this corner of our planet have had a long time to develop a musical culture with the same complexity as India’s, a tradition to rival Celtic, and a beauty that is truly universal.’

He follows up with a look at several CD’s of Turkish classical music: ‘Although I’m familiar with Turkish popular and traditional music, the first three of these discs mark my introduction to Turkish classical music. This is a relatively recent musical invention, dating back 1000 years: composers, inspired by the tradition and the court music, creating a new vocabulary of written, organized works, and defined frameworks for instrumental improvisations.’

Gary has a look at an interesting four-volume set of Music of the Sultans, Sufis & Seraglio. First he looks at Volumes 1 and 2,Sultan Composers and Music of the Dancing Boys, followed by Volumes 3 and 4, Minority Composer and Ottoman Suite: ‘The Lalezar Ensemble is part of a current revival of classical Ottoman music under way in Turkey. The group — four instrumentalists and three vocalists — have created four CDs that give a sampling of some of the best and most representative of the five centuries of the Ottoman Empire’s art music.’

A bit of something different is next up: ‘My favorite musical discovery of 2017 was Turkish psychedelia’ Gary says. As an example, he explores an album called XX, which he explains is ‘a two-disc set celebrating the 20-year career of a band called Baba Zula.’

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Our What Not comes from The Armenian Weekly, Armenia once being part of the Ottoman Empire and is entitled What Was Left Behind: Music of the Ottoman Empire:  ‘Record collector Ian Nagoski has been buying up cheap 78 rpm discs for over a decade. The 36-year-old music junkie and record store owner always had one rule: “My policy was to buy anything in a language other than English,” he said in an interview with the Armenian Weekly. In June 2011, Nagoski, in collaboration with Tompkins Square Records, released the three-disc album set “To What Strange Place: The Music of the Ottoman-American Diaspora, 1916-1929,” which features polished tracks from Armenian, Greek, and Turkish records, etched mostly in New York.’

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For our Coda, Robert went searching and came across this performance by one of the many groups we discussed this week, Kardeş Türküler. It’s pretty catchy and more than a little interesting.

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A Kinrowan Estate Story: Our Cats

ivy

While our Kinrowan Hall is justly famous for the music that keeps the old place resonating nicely, we’re also home to a fair number of our feline friends. While some of the cats just come and go (not unlike the notoriously peripatetic musicians of The Neverending Session), there are a select few who’ve taken up permanent residence, albeit sometimes in the cellar while the music’s going on, especially if there’s whistles.

Collectively they’re generally known simply as ‘the cats’ (original, huh?), but we figured that it was time to introduce them to you; it’s usually polite — and politic — to greet a cat by name (using his or her sensible, everyday name, or at the very least using ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’), and one often comes across one of our feline inhabitants in one nook or other around the Building.

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the moggies . . .

First up is Ysbaddaden (‘King of all Giants’ from the story of Culhwch & Olwen), who’s sometimes affectionately known as ‘Bad Daddy’ by the human staff. He’s the alpha tom of the place, and you mainly find him guarding the gardens, or stalking the great hall. He’s probably tortoiseshell, but it’s difficult to be entirely sure given the amount of ‘markings’ that he’s picked up over his long life of battles. Fiercely loyal and protective towards the other cats, he still packs a hell of a wallop and a frightening turn of speed for an old ‘un!

Didjan is a smaller-than-average tabby female, probably the runt of her litter. Something of an outsider, ‘Didjie’ somehow manages to thrive on any food scraps left unattended for more than a second by the others — and occasionally the inattentive human as well. She can generally be found in the windows of the kitchen passageways. Both feline and human rumours of her forming an unholy alliance with Maggie Pye are probably completely accurate. . . . (A ‘didjan’ is a morsel of food — the bit of pasty crust that the dirty fingers hold, left by Cornish tin miners to appease the ‘buccas’ in the ‘bal’ (mine).

Phynnoderee is a very sleek, black Manx tom cat. ‘Finn’ is of the ‘rumpy’ (no tail) rather than the ‘stumpy’ variety of Manx, and seems rather proud of the fact. He’s hugely popular with the she-cats (which may explain the high percentage of oddly-tailed kittens mewling around underfoot.) He can often be spotted in the Reading Room, on some high spot overlooking his domain.

Wattie mysteriously arrived as a kitten in the Green Man cellars, shortly after a touring Scots band (friends of Our Jack) stored their flight cases down there . . . Growing up to be quite burly, his indescribably long and shaggy ginger fur means that he’s sometimes known as ‘that orange brute.’ Wattie has claws like claymores, and pursues his favourite sport of ‘moosing’ in the storerooms with an intensity that borders on the psychopathic.

Maddy and June (aka The Silly Sisters), are two tabby females, very alike, and usually seen together. June is the slightly larger of the two and is distinguishable by the white patch below her neck. Maddy is probably the wilder-natured cat (and has been known to bear a few ginger kittens). One stumbles across them gamboling together wherever their fancy takes them.

Blodeuwedd is the youngest of the females. Denise found her by the Green Man entrance, hiding among the flowers (in a hanging basket, strangely), and invited her in for a saucer of milk. While ‘Blod’ co-exists quite happily with the other cats, she frequently seeks the company of humans in the offices of the building, and has the unnerving ability to magically appear on desks like a very sudden Cheshire Cat.

Maeve is a splendid and stately black and white female of indeterminate age; she’s at least as old as Ysbaddaden, who she’s clearly known from kittenhood. Largely sedate and inactive these days, and usually to be found on the velvet cushions of the second floor landing window seat where proper homage may be paid to her when one goes past, when Maeve does go for a stroll, she does so as queen of all that she surveys. Though well past breeding age, Maeve will still (when no ‘prying eyes’ of the younger cats are about) invite Ysbaddaden to assist her with her grooming.

Cats, underfoot and in unexpected places, skulking in the cellars, haunting the hems of the drapes, purring to themselves on sunny windowsills, licking each other’s ears before the fires, and, while you’re reading this edition of the Review, probably draping themselves over your reading material. It’s in their nature.

ivy

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What’s New for the 27th of May: Oliver Brewing Company’s Cherry Blossom Cherry Wheat Ale, Canadian singer-songwriter Dana Sipos, Scottish singer Siobhan Miller, another treat from Folkmanis, the interconnectedness of our reviews, Oysterband’s ‘Red Barn Stomp’, ‘Places’ in fantasy novels, and other cool things

But you must stop playing among his ghosts — it’s stupid and dangerous and completely pointless. He’s trying to lay them to rest here, not stir them up, and you seem eager to drag out all the sad old bones of his history and make them dance again. It’s not nice, and it’s not fair. — Patricia McKillip’s Winter Rose

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So what was the best book you’ve read this year? Or the best recording you’ve had  a listen to? Do you have a favourite dark chocolate? Mine’s the Ritter dark chocolate with hazelnuts which is the perfect size for an afternoon snack while walking out and back to our Standing Stones.

Everything we like is unique to us as I noticed when Cat asked Deborah, author of the Haunted Ballad Series and the JP Kinkaid Chronicles, what her favourite Grateful Dead was and she replied, ‘I’m an old school Dead woman. Give me Aoxomoxoa, Anthem Of The Sun, Live Dead, Workingman’s Dead, and American Beauty. I helped Annette Flowers and Eileen Law stuff cartons of Europe ’72. After Pigpen died, they started losing me for good and never really got me back. But that was my period of Dead.’

 To me, one of the joys of this enterprise we are doing is reading what other staffers, both now and going back decades, has found that they really appreciate (and what they sometimes really, really don’t appreciate) as they’re often things I’d not a clue existed such as gremlins made physical from Roald Dahl’s The Gremlins: The Lost Walt Disney Production!

So let’s see what we found for you this time.

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Not all that uncommon is the tendency of one of our reviews to be linked to other reviews we’ve done down the decades. Such is the case this edition as everything Robert looks at is connected to other reviews by him…

Robert has a review of Winter Rose: ‘The story is told in McKillip’s characteristically elliptical style, kicked up an order of magnitude. Sometimes, in fact, it is almost too poetic, the narrative turning crystalline then shattering under the weight of visions, images, things left unsaid as Rois and Corbet are drawn into another world, or come and go, perhaps, at will or maybe at the behest of a mysterious woman of immense power who seems to have no fixed identity but who is, at the same time, all that is coldest and most pitiless of winter.’

He also looks at Solstice Wood, a sequel of sorts to Winter Rose: ‘McKillip has always been a writer whose books can themselves be called ‘magical,’ and it’s even more interesting to realize that she seldom uses magic as a thing of incantations and dire workings, or as anything special in itself. It just is, a context rather than an event, and perhaps that’s the way it should be.’

Robert also found something that Solstice Wood has in common with Jane Lindskold’s Child of a Rainless Year — although that one can certainly stand on its own: ‘Jane Lindskold is one of the more adventurous authors working in the mode of speculative fiction. From her transparent contributions to Roger Zelazny’s last two books through the contemporary urban fantasy of the athanor novels through the more-or-less “classic” fantasy world of Through Wolf’s Eyes, she has shown not only great ease in moving among subgenres, but a remarkable proficiency in pushing the envelope stylistically without becoming precious, an affliction suffered by many in the field.’

And would you believe that Orson Scott Card’s Magic Street shares a –what? An image? A metaphor? — with those two novels? ‘Mack is nobody’s and everybody’s — he wanders the neighborhood and, eventually, is welcome wherever he happens to be. And then one day, when in his early teens, he sees a house that isn’t there, and goes in.’ivy

While the warmer temps have us gearing up for Summer, Denise’s review of Oliver Brewing Company’s Cherry Blossom Cherry Wheat Ale has us dreaming of Spring. But don’t assume it’s just a Spring beer; this is one that jumps seasons nicely. ‘Grab ’em while you can, or you’ll have to wait ’til next year. And you won’t want to wait.’ See why she’s a fan in her review!

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Robert has a look at a rather unusual graphic novel, Alex Woolfson’s Artifice: ‘The basic premise here is a science-fiction trope that goes all the way back to Isaac Asimov’s Robot stories — how smart does an artificial intelligence have to be to be considered human?’

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Chuck looks at an offering from a well-known Nordic musician: ‘Mats Eden is a founder and the only original member of the Swedish contemporary folk group, Groupa. With Lackerbiten (which, I believe, translates to “Little Bits”), Eden goes solo and traditional, performing thirty — yes, thirty — tunes originating in the Varmland region, straddling the border of Sweden and Norway.’

Gary took a shine to a new recording from Canadian singer-songwriter Dana Sipos. ‘If like me you appreciate deeply rooted folk music that’s recorded with the sort of post-modern studio wizardry that enhances that music’s moods and meanings, then you owe it to yourself to check out Dana Sipos’ Trick of the Light.’

Lars was favorably impressed with Strata by the Scottish singer Siobhan Miller. ‘I have played Strata continuously for more than a week and it still grows on me with every new listening. A good selection of songs, very well sung and nice, varied arrangements; what more could you ask for?’

Michael looks at an album from Maddy Prior: ‘An icon of English folk rock, Prior knows how to set her impressive vocal talents among supportive instrumental accompaniment. I won’t repeat the history of her career with Steeleye Span and Carnival, because Lahri Bond has already done that in his retrospective review which gives a great summary of personnel changes and albums, while Naomi de Bruyn covered her decision to leave the band after 28 years in her review of Prior’s compilation album Memento. Known and loved for her sweet, clear voice, Prior continues the tradition of fine vocal delivery with Ravenchild.’

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Our What Not this week is another treat from Folkmanis. Says Robert: ‘I seem to have another Folkmanis puppet lurking around, this one the Rat In a Tin Can. The Folkmanis website describes him as being ready for a playful picnic (note the napkin in one paw). However, it seemed to me that he might just as easily be a waiter in an upscale rat restaurant: his black-and-white pattern might almost be taken for formal wear.’

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I think a bit of rather lively music in the form of ‘Red Barn Stomp’ to show us out this edition will do very nicely.  Recorded sometime in June of 1990 in Minneapolis by the Oysterband  with June Tabor joining them there as well. The lads were on tour in support of their Little Rock to Leipzig album where you can find another version of this tune.

Ian Tefler, a band member, tells us that the name of this piece was chosen to sound trad. It features John Tefler calling the tune and very neatly incorporates the actually trad tune, ‘The Cornish Six-Hand Reel’ in it as well.

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A Kinrowan Estate Story: Béla

ivy

I noticed that Béla was enjoying a meal of  goulash and dark beer, something that the Kitchen being fond of him cooks him frequently. (I’ve had that goulash — it’s as good as any I’ve had in Hungarian eateries!) Like many here at this Estate, I’ve pondered just who he is as no one here now is clear quite how he fetched up here.

He’s been here at least forty years and was a man of middle age when he got here according to what I remember from being told by the previous Steward. I’d guess that he’s in his eighties now but quite hale still.

He speaks German, Hungarian and French but not a bit of English after all the time he’s been here. It doesn’t seem to be a problem as there’s usually someone here who shares at least one language with him.

I though he was Hungarian but Iain, our Librarian, says what Béla claims is quite a bit stranger. Iain says that he claims to have been born in the Ottoman Empire long before it became Turkey. Now that it would make him well over a hundred! Not impossible give we’re situated on The Border, but still odd as that usually only effects those who spend time in what Yea called The Celtic Twilight.

His room is sparse with just his clothes, his books in the languages he knows, and his violin. That violin is a Strad. Yes, one of those rare instruments. I’ve been told by Max, the resident luthier here at the Estate, that it’s definitely the real thing. Béla won’t say where he acquired it, nor does he think it’s anything extraordinary that he has it.

I’ve never heard him play anything except various folk tunes, be they of European origin, or of the Celtic traditions. He’s very fond of learning new tunes and actually had Sara ap Morgan, a  cwrth  player who stayed with us for a summer that turned into several years, teach him Welsh fiddle tunes as she spoke French as well as English and Welsh. He even learned quite a bit of Welsh from her as well.

He always lends a hand, be it with Kitchen work or helping me with work outside. He’s as handy with a cross-cut saw at his age as workers fifty years his junior. Th local GP who does his annual physical says he’s in his late fifties or early sixties.

So the mystery remains…

ivy

 

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What’s New for the 20th of May: Some Terry Riley works for string quartet, Rocket Raccoon and Groot, a Charles de Lint novel and video fiction, a new Fairport album, Mast Sea Salt Chocolate and other matters

We’re all such beings because we tell every story from our oh so personal viewpoint with little or no regard for what most of you know. Nor do we often care what you know. — A patron to Reynard late one night in our Pub

ivyGutmansdottir, our resident botanist and now junior only to Gus in terms of tending the Estate gardens and grounds, has been cultivating orchids in the Conservatory on the quite logical grounds that everyone needs flowering plants nearby. That’s why you’ll see them here in Kinrowan Hall pretty much everywhere they can be.

Likewise books are to found everywhere in this ancient Hall as books are creature comforts as well.  Be it a well-used and beloved cookbook, a mystery that has entertained generations of readers or a novel from a favoured writer of fantasy,  you won’t go far here without seeing someone reading something or a book sitting somewhere carefully marked with a personal bookmark to note where the reader left off.

So let’s see what works tickled the fancy of our reviewers this time. And we’ve got other good things for you to consider as well, so let’s get started…

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Cat has a mystery for us: ‘Christopher Fowler’s Full Dark House is the best mystery set during the London Blitz of the early 1940s that I’ve ever read, bar none. It is also the best mystery set within the very peculiar world of the theater that I’ve read. It is every bit as good as Foyle’s War, the BBC series I watched, where the Second World War has just begun and England’s fate looks bleak indeed in the face of an inevitable German invasion, bur someone still has to fight crime on the home front. Who better than Christopher Foyle in that series, and who better in this mystery series than Arthur Bryant and John May of the newly formed Peculiar Crimes Unit?’

Craig has some prime horror for us: ‘Robert E. Howard wrote short stories during the heyday of the pulp era, mostly for Weird Tales, from 1924 until his death by suicide in 1936 at age 30. Howard wrote in various genres, but he is now best known for his stories popularizing the fantasy subgenre “sword and sorcery,” and especially the hero he created, Conan the Barbarian. His range of talent, however, is becoming better known as pulp-era fiction regains a modern readership. Del Rey Books is doing their part to keep his name in front of book-buyers with their affordable trade-paperback collections of his work, of which The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard is only the most recent.’

Richard says reading Elizabeth Bear’s New Amsterdam ‘for the mysteries is missing the point. As mysteries, they’re nothing special. There’s usually one suspect, who gets introduced late in the game, and their motivations are often given as exposition as opposed to revealed. If the mysteries themselves were the point, that would be aggravating.’ Need I note that it’s an alternative history with vampires and zeppelins?

Robert got to read Charles de Lint’s newest book, The Wind In His Heart, and was suitably impressed: ‘Let me put it this way: I’ve been reading de Lint’s fiction for about thirty years now, and a lot of it has been good enough to stand up under repeated readings. This one kicks the whole game up a notch.’

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OK I’m not sure this exists anymore and I’m reasonably certain it was only released on VHS but Michael says it’s worth seeking out: ‘Adapted from the Charles de Lint short story of the same name, Sacred Fire was produced as an episode of the anthology television series, The Hunger, and first showed in 1999. A horror/dark fantasy series initially hosted by Terence Stamp and then David Bowie, The Hunger takes dark, twisted looks at the world around us.‘ In an email, the author notes that one of his favourite things about it is ‘David Bowie dressed up as a mad scientist as he introduces it!’

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Denise decided to give Mast Sea Salt Chocolate a try, and liked what she tasted. ‘However you decide to indulge, you’ll be happy you did.’ If you’re a dark chocolate fan, you’ll want to read her review!

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Brian K. Vaughan’s The Escapists is a graphic novel that comes with a warning from April: ‘The Escapist is an original comic creation springing from Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. And though it’s not at all necessary to have read that marvelous novel to enjoy The Escapists, readers should, because this graphic novel takes both its heart and inspiration from Chabon’s work.’ Read her full review to see why she liked this.

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Gary says American guitarist Steve Tibbetts’ latest album Life Of draws on world, ambient, jazz and experimental musics, but ‘at its root, this music is a deeply Midwestern sound of wide-open space.’

Michael looks at What We Did On Our Saturdaythe latest from a venerable English band: ‘Saturday, August 12 2017 to be precise. The final evening of Fairport’s Cropredy festival in their 50th year. It was always going to be a special occasion, and the likelihood of a recording was strong, after releases of similar previous anniversaries. The pun of the title, referring back to the band’s 1969 ‘What We Did On Our Holidays’ album, is carried over to the design of this new set, echoing the blackboard drawing of a now different and older grouping of band and friends.’

Robin Laing’s Ebb and Flow gets an appreciative look see by Peter: ‘This is the 6th album from Robin Laing, consisting entirely of his original songs. Robin, who is also a fine traditional singer, has, over the past 10 years, also established himself as one of Scotland’s foremost contemporary singer-songwriters. He draws a lot of his influences from everyday life, tales and stories, and some encountered by life on the road.

Robert brings us a group of works by Terry Riley: ‘Cadenza on the Night Plain (the disc, not the work of that title) presents four of Terry Riley’s works for string quartet, works that, if your only acquaintance with Riley has been pieces on the order of In C or other larger-scaled works, are going to be something of a surprise — no matter how complex and abstract their conceptual underpinnings, they are possessed of a refreshing liveliness and clarity.’

Scott has a look at a recording from the founder of Malicorne: ‘Gabriel Yacoub began his career singing and playing guitar in Alan Stivell’s band, before going on to form the legendary French Renaissance rock band Malicorne. Malicorne’s compilation CD Légende: Deuxieme Epoque exceeds the quality of any of the similar compilations from their English contemporaries Steeleye Span, and is on a comparable level with the best output from Fairport Convention. Malicorne split up twenty years ago, and I hadn’t heard any of Yacoub’s subsequent solo material until I recently got the chance to listen to 2002’s The Simple Things We Said. This album combines new songs with reworked versions of some older songs, with the specific intent of cracking the American world music market.’

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Our What Not this week is a collectible from Guardians of the Galaxy, namely a figurine of Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Says Cat: ‘Accurate representations of Rocket Raccoon, best known from the two Guardians of the Galaxy films are difficult to find without spending a lot of cash on the accurate one-sixth scale models costing in the hundreds of dollars. I wanted one such figure largely because I thought that Rocket and Groot were the most interesting characters in those films.’

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Our Coda this time’s ‘Pierre De Grenoble’ by Malicorne, a band Scott noted in his review as being the French version of Steeleye Span for their blending of trad material and electric instruments. This was recorded at Hunter College, New York thirty-four years ago.

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