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.

Posted in Commentary | Comments Off on Welcome to GMR

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

 

Posted in Stories | Tagged , | Comments Off on A Kinrowan Estate Story: Béla

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…

ivy

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.’

ivy

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!’

ivy

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!

ivy

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.

ivy

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.’

ivy

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.’

ivy

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.

Posted in Books, Commentary, Film, Food and Drink, Graphic Literature, Music, Stories, What Nots | Comments Off on 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

A Kinrowan Estate story: Staging Shakespeare

ivy

Come in! Glad you got here in time for some theatre tonight. Let’s drop your kit off in the room you’re staying in for the next fortnight before heading out.

It shouldn’t surprise you at all that we do theatre in the long winters here at this isolated Scottish estate. And it further won’t surprise you that Shakespeare is a perennial favourite here century in and century out. So why is that playwright so popular?

Setting aside the literary genius of Shakespeare, he’s one of the easiest playwrights to stage, as the focus on the words allows for a minimalist staging to take place. Oh I’ve seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream staged at summer solstice deep in an English wood, Macbeth performed in the ruins of a Scottish castle, and even The Tempest against the backdrop of a sullen sea. But those admittedly spectacular performances are only one side of a ha’penny.

The other side of that ha’penny is staged readings, just actors reading the words on a bare stage. Now that’s where you can really see who understands in their heart and soul the magic of Shakespeare, as you can hear that belief in the way they do the lines. Now if they’re lacking in that belief, the words feel as if they’re being read by a politician using a teleprompter for the first time.

We fall somewhere just off being a staged reading by making use of strategic props and even a bit of fey magic where appropriate, such as Lady Macbeth washing her hands in a basin on stage and her hands coming away in red that drips upon the front of her white dress, or using a skull in the gravediggers scene in Hamlet combined with an ever so convenient service stairway as the grave itself.

And I find that my Several Annies, the Library apprentices from around the world, all grasp the joy and agony of Shakespeare. Indeed one of them, I’m proud to say, is now a research fellow concentrating on the interstices between Shakespeare as a writer of fiction using history and Shakespeare as a chronicler of history without interpreting that history.

Enough of my prattling on, as it’s now time we headed off to hear the performance of Much Ado About Nothing in our Theatre in The Round, which is the former livestock auction house. Rebekah, one of my former Several Annies is directing it, a honour for her indeed!

ivy

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Kinrowan Estate story: Staging Shakespeare

What’s New for the 13th of May: Nietzsche, Stephen King considered, chocolate of course and other matters

The advantage of a bad memory is that one can enjoy the same good things for the first time several times. — Friedrich Nietzsche

ivy

Yes, that’s lox and cream cheese on a toasted bagel I’m having along with Komodo Dragon coffee. The salmon are harvested from the river that runs through this Estate and smoked right here. The cream cheese is from Riverrun Farms, a neighbor of ours, and the bagels are created right here, all in all a quite delicious breakfast indeed.

That tasty music playing was recorded at the reunion concert of Skara Brae, an Irish trad music group from Kells, County Meath. The group consisted of three siblings, the late Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, and Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill, with Dáithí Sproule from Derry. It is two tunes,  ‘Ar A Dhul Chun’ and ‘Chuain’ off the soundboard recording.

There’s no theme this edition, so you’ll find a bit of everything from two chocolate reviews by Robert to reviews of music such as those from the Scottish trad and Americana genres. Our What Not is a bit different as our Publisher delved into several recent pop culture purchases he made.  And I’ve been told that the Coda music is of a Nietzschean nature. H’h.

ivy

Denise delves into love of Uncle Stevie for a look at Tony Magistrale’s Hollywood’s Stephen King. ‘Tony Magistrale’s comprehensive but not all-inclusive review of King’s filmography not only stirred my interest in the deeper meanings of these films, but sorted their various themes and connections. Hollywood’s Stephen King shows that there are films in the author’s oeuvre that are just as worthy of discussion and critical review, and in some cases the stories these films tell are just as important as the original works they were based on.’

Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales From The White Hart, says Gary, is ‘is a series of superficially linked stories told by the fictional patrons of a fictional pub somewhere in London. The narrator is a fictionalized version of Clarke (the other patrons rib him for being a teetotaler), and I’ve no doubt some of the other patrons mentioned are probably based on others in his scientific and writing circles. These patrons are all either scientists or writers, and they tell each other science-based shaggy dog stories. Most of the stories are told by one fellow in particular, a Harry Purvis, who seems to have led several mortal lifetimes.’

He also looks at Geoff Emerick’s  Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles which he says is by one of the unsung heroes behind that group: ‘Inveterate reader of liner notes that I am, I’ve been aware of his name for some time, but it tended to blend into the amorphous blob of names of other guys on the periphery of The Beatles story, like their roadies Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans. I wasn’t all that clear on what his role was. Eventually I figured out that George Martin was the producer and Emerick the engineer on most of The Beatles’ records – whatever that meant.’

And we have a book about writing, and history, and science fiction — Kate Wilhelm’s Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. Says Robert: ‘I was prepared to like this book just because of the publisher’s name — and, of course, the fact that it is by Kate Wilhelm, one of science fiction’s legends: aside from the quality of her stories, in the 1950s and 60s she was one of the two or three women of note in a field dominated by men.’

ivy

Cat has something a little out of the ordinary for our film selection this week — would you believe ‘Saturday morning cartoons’? Yep — a whole season of Justice League Action: ‘Justice League Action is the latest animated series to be set in the DC universe. Unlike earlier series that were roughly twenty two to twenty four minutes long and had seasons of no more that twenty or so episodes, this series has forty, yes forty, episodes running roughly twelve minutes each in what is called its first season.’

ivy

Robert seems to have had a ‘choco-rama’ week. First, he treats us to Lindt’s Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffle Eggs: ‘Lindt (more formally Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli AG) is a Swiss chocolatier founded in 1845 and known for, among other things, its chocolate truffles.’

And then he got to sample Ghirardelli’s White Chocolate Premium Baking Bar: ‘I have to confess that even in the days when I was an active cook, my baking was limited — I was much more a main dish sort of guy, and not really into sweets. Consequently, I didn’t essay any baking with this bar, but I will readily admit to having nibbled my way through it.’

ivy

Gary has a recording for us that he says is top-notch: ‘Beatrice Deer is a singer-songwriter from Nunavik, the icy region of Quebec north of the 55th parallel and home to Quebec’s Inuit people. My All to You is her fifth record since she left her tiny hometown of Quaqtaq for the big city of Montreal in 2007 to get serious about making music as well as for other personal reasons.’

He also writes about a new album by Kiran Ahluwalia, who was born in India, raised in Canada, and now lives in New York. On her seventh album 7 Billion, he says, ‘She embraces the desert blues of Mali, but she also incorporates Western idioms like the blues, rock, R & B and even a little jazz, into her own new hybrid artform.’

Ryley Walker says he wanted to change his approach on his new release Deafman Glance. Gary says, however, ‘Eschewing the “jammy acoustic” thing doesn’t mean that there’s not a lot of really tasty guitar playing on this record. To the contrary.’

Robert looks at a recording where narrative boundaries get challenged: ‘Robert Wilson, Philip Glass’ collaborator on Einstein on the Beach, noted that until that work hit the boards, theater was bound by literature. Thinking on it, he’s pretty much right: stage plays, opera, even film were constrained by a narrative line that relied on a chronological sequence, all based on language. Not so Einstein.’

Terry Riley’s The Cusp of Magic also gets reviewed by him: ‘That’s the key thing to remember about Riley’s music, I think — he’s taken all those traditions, all those influences, all those idioms, and truly synthesized them into a new vocabulary — it’s far beyond references or quotations — and yet it’s very comfortable.’

ivy

Cat has our What Not for this week — they’re not exactly action figures, but close enough: Quantum Mechanix’s Pinky & The Brain Q-Fig Toons Figures: ‘Pinky and The Brain are two laboratory mice that were enhanced to be smart but only one ended up being a genius and one ended up, well, not insane as the intro to the show puts it, but definitely odd and hyperkinetic to boot.’

ivy

Robert, after reading our opening quote, immediately came up with our Coda for this week: Friedrich Nietzsche, by way of Richard Strauss and Stanley Kubrick.

Posted in Books, Commentary, Film, Food and Drink, Music, Stories, Uncategorized, What Nots | Comments Off on What’s New for the 13th of May: Nietzsche, Stephen King considered, chocolate of course and other matters

A Kinrowan Estate story: Pub Ghoulies

ivy

From the archives of Sleeping Hedgehog, the in-house journal published here for centuries now.

Welcome, laddy-buck. Come in and find a seat here by the fire, and tell me your pleasure! Take a settle; they’re cushioned and wide enough for two, should fortune favour you. It’s quiet now, but there’s no end of entertainment due — we’ve a master storyteller, one Charles de Lint, come to regale us, and he’s a marvel and delight. And the lovely Mistress Elizabeth Bear, too, who they tell me is a bold lady, will be telling ghost stories for them as likes.

Well and so — ’tis the season of ghosts and witches soon, and we’re to smarten up the Pub for the celebrations. What’s to celebrate in ghosts and witches, I wonder? But, there — not my place to set our course, not here and now. I know a bit about ghosts and witches, though, that I do; being in the way of being both, you might say.

Oh, don’t shy so! We’re all ghosts from time to time in life, boyo. And can you claim I’m the first you’ve met in a bar? I’ve met ’em, more than once. Aye, that’s better, give us a smile — you’ve a good smile, and I’ve ever had a weakness for a lad with a sweet mouth. That was my undoing, when I sailed with Jack Rackham. Now, here’s your ale; shift over a mite, and let me sit with you for a moment…

Anne is my name, and I’ve been called bonney in my time. But that’s just my little joke, see. It’s my pleasure now to serve ale here in the Green Man, and Reynard is too canny a hand to think he’s my master. But this time of year, when the fogs are coming in black off the sea and salt and frost both flavour the air, it’s good to have a warm harbour here. Why, even the ravens and crows come in for a sup and a nap by the fire – so watch your coin, or our Hooded Maggie will have it away for a play-pretty in her nest under the library eaves.

Aye, she drives Liath the librarian to distraction, fey though Liath is — for Maggie’s always after the gilding on the old books, she is, sharp as any sailor after a coin. But she’s a darling despite it, pretty Maggie — with her beak like a black marlinspike and her gold-doubloon eyes. Oh, you can keep your gulls, says I; no true seaman looks twice at one o’ them! But the ravens and the crows, for all they’re landsman’s birds, they’re fine enough. Reavers and rogues at heart, on the account as much as any buccaneer and merry with it while they may be. And not afraid of the dead nor the dark, neither.

See how she comes to my hand, the sweeting? Some of it’s the sparkle of my rings, to be sure — watch how sly she is, trying her beak all gentle to see if a gem can be slipped off my finger! But more than that, she wants her neck scratched. There, see how she mantles her feathers, ruffles ’em out for a kind finger to stroke. A lass likes a petting now and then. Maggie and I are of a mind, there.

So come, put your arm around a body and we’ll watch the fire a bit. Nay, don’t peep at the mirror yonder. Your cap is straight, and the glass’ll show nothing you want to see.

A fire is such a lovely thing — not just the warmth, but the colours and the sound. When a fire is big enough, wild enough, it roars like the surf on a shingle shore. Have you ever heard it so? It roared like that above the roofs of the towns on the Spanish Main, so it did . . . and ain’t the scarlet and the gold brave, now! Nothing brighter as they twine up a wall or a mast, like roses, and climb a mainsail faster than the best topman goes up the ratlines. All women love what sparkles, like Maggie and her trove; and I never saw anything sparkle fairer than the way wild fire glitters on a dark horizon, or a sacked galleon, or a dead man’s open eyes . . .

Ah, now, lad — I told you not to look in the mirror! What’s a reflection, after all? To be sure, here’s my hand, and the glass I bring you — here’s my smile for you, and my eyes that see you clear enough. You’ll see yourself in my eyes, if you look; no need to gaze at that tricksie glass. What matter that you don’t show in the mirror? It’s nothing to me nor to anyone else here.

‘Tis your season, after all.

ivy

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Kinrowan Estate story: Pub Ghoulies

What’s New for the 6th of May: folk gone electric and it’s finally warm out!

Crop handle carved in bone,
sat high upon a throne of finest English leather.
The queen of all the pack;
this joker raised his hat and talked about the weather,
All should be warned about this high born Hunting Girl;
She took this simple man’s downfall in hand,
I raised the flag that she unfurled.

Jethro Tull’s ‘The Hunting Girl’

ivy

If you’re looking for the residents of Kinrowan Estate, most have found somewhat valid reasons to be outside today, from planting the annual herbs in the Beatrix Potter kitchen garden to helping out with the scrubbing down of the slate patios, as the weather’s warm, somewhat muggy and blessed with full sun. I’ll be headed out as soon as I finish this GMR edition; we’re doing a whole leg of lamb roast in the Courtyard, followed by a concert.

The visiting band’s Snow on the Mountain and they’re named after a plant that has green and white leaves that’s up as soon as the first Spring warmth arrives. They hailed from Big Foot County though I couldn’t find such a place in any gazetteer that we had, but that matters not. Voice, Appalachian dulcimer, fiddle and concertina are their instruments, which makes for a very sweet sound.

Their music is a happy merging of Celtic and bluegrass, something that might’ve been Appalachian Trad, and oh and more than a bit of upbeat Tex-Mex, so if you’ve heard  and enjoyed The Mollys or Celexico, you’ll definitely like them. We’ve got them here for several contradances and this performance as well. 

Now let’s see what we’ve got this edition…

ivy

I have a look at Mark Cunningham’s Horslips: Tall Tales, The Official Biography  which is of a band that clearly shows fusing trad music and rock sensibilities wasn’t just something British bands did: ‘Horslips were, and in many ways still are, the Irish equivalent of Steeleye Span and, to a lesser extent, Fairport Convention, as they blend English and Irish traditional material and a rock and roll sensibility into what was the first Irish folk rock group.’

Kate has a look-see at Jethro Tull: A History of the Band, 1968-2001: ‘Scott Allen Nollen has proven his devotion as a Tull fan in the countless miles travelled and the hours passed collecting details and interviewing band members and other associates. He has included nostalgic pictures of the band, some of which were borrowed from Ian Anderson, the often frenzied flautist who, despite some controversy, became the Fagin-like front man for the band. After ten long years of research, here is a comprehensive and entertaining story of the much misunderstood Jethro Tull. The authenticity is underlined by the thoughtful and honest foreword written by Ian Anderson himself.’

Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span are two of my fav British folk rock(ish) bands, so it’s apt that Lars has a review of Brian Hinton and Geoff Wall’s biography of Ashley Hutchings: The Guv’nor & the Rise of Folk Rock as he helped birth both of those groups: ‘To some of us the subject of this book is, if not God, at least the musical equivalent to the pope. Name a group you like and have followed over the years, and there is a fair chance that Mr. Hutchings was there to start it, or at least influence the starting of it. He is in one way or another responsible for a very large number of the records in my collection, and yes, we are certainly talking three figures, here.’

ivy

David looks at Festival Express which certainly was a long, strange trip: ‘It opens with a faded map of north Ontario, Kapuskasing dead centre. Then the camera pulls back and from the middle of the screen comes a train — an old Canadian National engine — and tracks, lots of tracks. This is a movie about that train and the people who rode on it, and the places it stopped, and what happened one week in 1970 when this train went from Toronto to Calgary . . . with a cargo of rock’n’rollers and all their paraphernalia. What a summer.’

Inigo Jones has a look at yet another band that fused trad music and a rockier music: ‘No tale of Shane McGowan and the Pogues would be complete without mention of the man’s teeth — just like the Rolling Stones’ tongue logo, the Pogues were exemplified by the rotting and misshapen tangle of teeth that exploded in every direction out of Shane McGowan’s mouth. From their first appearance on the cover of the Pogues’ debut EP, “Poguetry in Motion,” the fortunes of those teeth mirrored those of the man himself, and the decline and fall of both are amply documented in the Sundance Channel’s documentary, If I Should Fall from Grace – the Shane McGowan Story.’

Jethro Tull’s Live at Montreux 2003 gets reviewed by Kage and Kathleen: ‘This live concert was recorded in 2003, at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. The event’s founder and chief instigator, Claude Nobs, invited the group to participate in that year’s festival; Ian Anderson, having both fond memories of Montreux and a deep background in jazz, accepted. The result was a 2-hour DVD and a double CD, both released this year as part of Montreux’s program of making individual concerts widely available.‘

ivy

Brendan gives us a detailed look at Grateful Dead’s So Many Roads (1965-1995): ‘So often dismissed as a anachronistic hippie band that would somehow never die, the Grateful Dead actually formed a keystone of sorts between the traditional forms of American roots music and the rock music of the 60s. Looking past the psychedelic trappings and bizarre skeleton images, one can easily see that foundations of the Dead’s music consist mainly of the American Musical Triumvirate: jazz, blues, and country, with of course a healthy dose of rock and roll to keep things interesting’

Fairport Convention has had many a boxset in its over fifty-year existence and David looks at one of them, Fairport unCconventional: ‘Eleven lead singers, eleven lead guitarists, six fiddlers, seven drummers, five keyboard players, two bass players, four CDs, one 172 page book, a Family Tree from Pete Frame, a poster by Koen Hottentot, a history of Cropredy, some interesting loose papers and ads, a postcard for a 5th CD and a program from Martin Carthy’s birthday celebration! Whew! Does Free Reed know how to throw a party? Until further notice this box is the anthology of the year! Don’t miss it!’

He also has very nice things to say about The Animals’ Gratefully Dead 1964-1968: ‘Eric Burdon has been in the news recently. As of early July 2004, he has a new CD and a new book, neither of which we will discuss today. He is on tour, somewhere, playing a variation on the blues-based rock (dappled with psychedelia) for which he is famous. But the big news is that the antipodean re-issue label Raven Records has released a new collection of The Animals greatest non-hits! Entitled Gratefully Dead (after an obscure B-side) this new anthology should sit next to its sister disc, Absolute Animals, in any record collection that seeks to understand and appreciate British music of the late ’60s. This is great stuff!’

Donna looks at a box set from the Byrds: ‘So I was quite enthusiastic about reviewing the preview of There is a Season when it arrived in the Green Man offices several months ago (the boxed set was scheduled for release in September 2006, so we probably received this a few weeks before that). When I say preview, I mean that we received the CDs in a plain package with the accompanying liner notes printed on regular 8 1/2 by 11-inch photocopy paper. I can’t tell you a thing about the aesthetics of the final product, but I can actually read the liner notes, which would not be very likely once they were reduced to the booklet size that would be in the boxed set. They include some nice retrospective pieces by Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Gary Louris (of the Jayhawks) and Rolling Stone’s David Fricke.’

The Oysterband are certainly a folk rock band but Ed has a review of their very early years when they weren’t: ‘I stumbled onto the Oysterband several years back via a copy of Little Rock to Leipzig, received as a premium during a college radio station’s fund drive. This was blind good luck. The two CDs I had originally wanted were gone, so I picked this one based on its “folk-rock” label. I haven’t stopped listening to this band and now own ten of their CDs. As a devoted and possibly obsessed fan, when the chance came to review some of their earliest and long out-of-print albums, I jumped. I now feel blessed to have acquired this piece of their history. In short, these LPs prove that the Oysters were always good, but have nevertheless gotten much better.

Of course I’m including Steeleye Span here and Iain has a look at a great release: ‘Are you looking for that perfect  gift for your lover of English folk rock? Oh, do I have a gift that’s perfect! EMI has just served up A Parcel of Steeleye Span. This triple disc set contains the entirety of their first five albums for Chrysalis, from 1972’s Below The Salt to 1975’s All Around My Hat with Parcel of RoguesCommoners Crown, and Now We Are Six being the recordings in between. This completely remastered collection has 46 tracks in all, including a number of very tasty bonus tracks.’

Inigo rounds off our CD reviews with a look at Aqualung Live: ‘This new recording of Jethro Tull’s classic rock album Aqualung was produced for XM Radio’s “Then Again Live” programme. This is a show that aims to “re-create the most important albums of all time . . . offering total creative freedom for artists to re-visit their milestone recordings [in order not to] rival the original, but to re-experience it.” Well, I haven’t experienced Aqualung for many years, apart from a few songs heard on the radio; but the recent book by Allan Moore which provided a track by track analysis and this new recording have brought me back to the album with new ears.‘

ivy

Our What Not is about the Endless Jam: ‘Have you heard the Endless Jam? No, not the Neverending Session; we’re almost certain those guys are alive — they eat and drink and fall asleep under the tables in the Pub, and I’m pretty sure one of the pipers knocked up that little blonde sous-chef last winter. The Endless Jam is different. Very different.’

ivy

I personally have a keen liking for the Tull of the Sixties and early Seventies which is why you’re getting a cut off their 1976 album, Songs from The Wood. The cut I’ve selected is ‘The Hunting Girl’, a fine pagan story about boy meets girl riding horse and… Oh just go give it a listen!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What’s New for the 6th of May: folk gone electric and it’s finally warm out!

A Kinrowan Estate story: A Storyteller

ivy

Storytellers and those who read or listen to stories both expect stories to have a beginning, a narrative that tells the tale, and a more or less plausible ending. It’s too bad that that’s a fucking lie — stories are rarely that neat when they actually play out in real life.

There was a storyteller here a few months back that was telling her version of The Bloodied Kings, a story that is recorded in the Estate Annals from nearly a thousand years ago. The Annals doesn’t name either of the Kings but details their final battle against each other at the end of a battle that left nearly everyone dead save the skald that told the tale and (may) have written it down. So consider this — we don’t know who the Kings were, though we know roughly where they fought and died, and we might know where they might be buried though that is suspect as well. Messy, isn’t history?

Now our Storyteller took these threads, these small pieces of torn fabric, and wove a whole tapestry out of them. Nothing wrong with that but she went one step beyond that by adding in her conjectures about who they were (both Scots in her telling though it’s more likely one was Scandinavian), how they died (both from sword wounds though we know not what they were wielding for weapons), who buried them (though it’s more likely they left for the carrion birds to consume as the survivors likely were retreating fast to save their lives). Her Tale took those scant threads and brought them to life in the mind’s eye.

Was it a bad story? Not at all, but as our Librarian said stories always simplify what happen, be it based on something that actually happened or told from whole cloth, be it a story they created or borrowed from other sources.

ivy

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Kinrowan Estate story: A Storyteller

What’s New for the 29th of April: Yemeni coffee, Jack Vance: a tribute volume, A 40,000-year-old hedgehog, interlibrary loans, lakriti and other cool things

Interlibrary loans are a wonder of the world and a
glory of civilization. ― Jo Walton’s Among Others

ivy

What’s that? A Maypole going up in the courtyard in front of the Green Man Pub? There can be no surer sign that summer’s ‘acumin’in!’ It looks like the denizens of the pub’s Neverending Session may be lured outside, along with staff members tucked away in offices in the most unlikely places.

Yes, spring has burst out all over, and some of the folks around here seem to be feeling the effects of the impending May Day. Who was that slipping into Oberon’s Wood just now? Well, spring is as good an excuse as any, I suppose.

We’ve got spring greens in our salad, and some of the winter vegetables roasting on the grill, along with some tender lamb steaks, braised with mint and garlic. Are we starting early? I suppose, but this is the Green Man Staff, after all.

So pull up a chair, fill your plate, get Reynard to pour you a pint, and feast your eyes on this week’s set of reviews.

ivy

Gary may or may not have had an assist from caffeine when he zipped through Dave Eggers’ The Monk of Mokha. Either way, he says it is ‘a solid and entertaining book of reportage about the life so far of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, an American of Yemeni descent who has made it his mission to return Yemeni coffee to its former place of prominence in the world.’

Liz says Colin Harper and Trevor Hodgett’s  Irish Folk, Trad And Blues ‘ is a sprawling, overcrowded, rush-hour subway car of a book that piles on more eccentric musicians, frenetic booze-ups and unscrupulous music industry types than my brain could keep track of. It is a collection of essays and previously published reviews and interviews that covers roughly thirty years of Irish, English and American music-making (from 1962 to 1998). The book explores the history of the English and Irish Folk Music Revivals of the 1960s, Van Morrison and Them, the Blues boom in Northern Ireland, Irish Rock, Irish Folk Music in the 1970s, The Irish Trad Revival, and the Folk Music Revival of the 1990s.’

Remember Jack Vance? Robert’s been digging around in the Archives again and came up with something — well, it’s not by Jack Vance, it’s sort of about Jack Vance: a tribute volume, Songs of the Dying Earth, featuring a host of science fiction’s luminaries: ‘Anyone who doubts the pervasive and ongoing influence of Jack Vance need only look at the table of contents to this tribute volume. Many of the contributors are legends themselves (Glen Cook, Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, Robert Silverberg); others are some of the clearest and strongest voices of newer generations (Kage Baker, Jeff VanderMeer); and the influence seems to span the English-speaking world, from Britain (Matthew Hughes, Liz Williams) to Australia (Terry Dowling). And that’s not even half of them.”

Robert has some thoughts on a book about another legendary figure in science fiction, not a writer but an editor: Gary Westfahl’s Hugo Gernsback and the Century of Science Fiction: ‘Hugo Gernsback occupies a unique role in the history of science fiction, but exactly what that role is at present has generated a fair amount of controversy. He has been depicted as the visionary creator of a new genre of forward-looking fiction, and equally as a high-handed editor who thought nothing of rewriting his contributors’ stories to fit his ideas.”

Skip rounds out our book reviews with this audiobook: ‘In Return to Inverness Fulton has eschewed not only the Eastern mysticism of his first tale in favor of Wicca and neo-pagan lore but also the annoying habit of constantly thrusting these metaphysical ideas in the listeners’ ears.’ See what else his review has to say about this Meatball Fulton 30-year anniversary celebration of the first Jack Flanders audio adventure.

ivy

Cat R. reviews lakriti (Finnish fruit licorice) and finds it very sweet: ‘There is certainly both a determined sweetness and solidity to this Finnish candy (lakritsi in Finnish). The label tells me this is called “black gold” in Finland but a cursory scan of search engine results failed to corroborate this. It is an enigmatic candy that, despite the name, has no black licorice taste to it.’

ivy

April has a warm response to the first volume of what looks to be an intriguing comics series, Air: Letters from Lost Countries: ‘Blythe is not your typical airline attendant. Sure, she’s blonde, pretty and personable, playing into every conceivable stereotype there is. But Blythe is much more than that. For starters, she’s acrophobic, surviving each flight only through the wonders of modern pharmaceuticals. Then there’s the attractive, mysterious passenger she’s fallen in love with, who may or may not be a terrorist.’

ivy

 

‘We humans are wanderers,’ Gary says in his review of Albanian singer Elina Duni’s new solo recording. ‘Elina Duni with Partir continues the long tradition of assuaging, through song, the pain that comes with leaving, exile, and parting.’

Nik Bärtsch is back with a new recording with his ensemble Ronin, titled Awase. Gary says, ‘The Swiss composer and pianist makes what I think of as “iterative jazz” and which Bärtsch calls “ritual groove music.” ‘

Kim notes that  ‘This is the album that got the Hedningarna phenomenon going, a richly textured, darkly fascinating instrumental album by the “core” trio of Björn Tollin (frame drum, string drum, hurdy-gurdy, moraharpa), Anders Norudde (fiddle, hardanger fiddle, moraharpa, swedish bagpipe, bowed harp, jews harp, wooden and pvc bass flutes) and Hållbus Totte Mattsson (lute, baroque guitar, hurdy gurdy).

Maddy Prior’s Arthur The King draws this note from No’am: ‘This disk tries primarily to separate the fact from the fiction. “The historical Arthur is a highly controversial figure. Theories abound as to his region of activity and his ancestry.” are the first two sentences in the well written sleeve notes. Arthur also tries to provide in music a feeling of what it was like to have been alive in time of Arthur. ‘

Our  Belgian based Richard starts off his review of  Smoke and Strong Whisky this way: ‘Everyone knows Christy Moore, a central figure in the Irish folk revival of the 1960s and indirectly a significant contributor to the English folk revival that paralleled it. We know of his work with Moving Hearts and we are familiar with his earlier role in the highly influential Planxty, in both of which his path crossed with those of several other leading traditionally-inclined Irish musicians. The cross-fertilization of the Planxty years produced a series of solo and collective ventures by Moore that have built on and developed Irish folk and folk-derived music down to the present day.’  Now read his review to why this is not the Christy Moore you’d expect to be performing!

He also has a goodie for us: ‘Richard Thompson is often described as a cult figure, a description that Thompson himself defines as meaning that he does not have hit records and, as a result, does not make a fortune from his art. Even adepts of the cult who have all of his officially issued recordings will find things to rejoice at in Watching the Dark (hereinafter WtD.) It is also a marvelous introduction to Thompson’s career for anyone unfamiliar with his work.’

ivy

One of our favorite Twitter accounts to follow is that of one Jamie Woodward, professor of georgaphy at the University of Manchester. He tweets as The Ice Age (@Jamie_Woodward), and his missives range from the profound to the whimsical – and sometimes they’re both at once. A recent thread has concerned new evidence that the extinctions of large mammals during the last Ice Age was linked to human activity. And an ongoing series consists of photos of artworks created by humans during the Ice Age. Cave art, of course, but also small works in antler and mammoth ivory, including this delightful little 40,000-year-old hedgehog.

ivy

For our Coda this week we have a song that seems to be very popular among Nordic musicians. Some sources cite it as ‘traditional’ and imply that it was first written down by Gjermund Haugen, others say it it was composed by Haugen. Whatever. It’s an appealing tune, and we offer first a version by Annbjørg Lien (who recorded it on her first album, Felefeber) on hardanger fiddle, with Bjørn Ole Rasch on keyboards. And you can follow that up with a version by the Danish String Quartet, from their album Last Leaf.

Posted in Books, Commentary, Film, Food and Drink, Graphic Literature, Music, Stories, What Nots | Comments Off on What’s New for the 29th of April: Yemeni coffee, Jack Vance: a tribute volume, A 40,000-year-old hedgehog, interlibrary loans, lakriti and other cool things

A Kinrowan Estate story: Our very small art exhibition space

ivy

Well it is. Very small that is. And it’s been located here at the Estate for at least several centuries as the endowment that created it goes back that far. One piece of art, be it painting, sculpture or banzai tree — it didn’t matter just as long as it fit within the four foot high by three foot wide display case just outside the entry to the Library.

Some artists you’ll recognize — Arthur Rackham, Jilly Coppercorn to mention two that have widespread fame these days. Others that I could mention wouldn’t mean anything but to you such as one whose dissertations were on an artist so obscure that her career as a scholar employed at a Uni was over before it began, but she’s a stunning designer of jewelry using silver and amber.

My favourite pieces are either ceramic or fiber in nature. The artist who designed the ceramic troll under the bridge for us did a stunning model for us of the troll and the stone bridge; our luthier did a deconstructed hurdy gurdy with descriptions rendered in Middle French as the original drawing had; the stitching circle here decided to also recreate something, a Swedish tapestry from the Fourteen Hundreds using only tools from that time; and a Several Annie from Japan designed labels and fired prototype bottle models for Kinrowan Special Reserve Fruit Wines.

There’s a generous stipend that comes with is from our bank in Glasgow with visiting artists getting room and board while they stay here. Each piece is purchased by us and added to the collection here.

So let’s see what went up this morning. I knew nought about it as the artist, a ceramicist, has been very coy about her final design.

ivy

Posted in Stories | Comments Off on A Kinrowan Estate story: Our very small art exhibition space

What’s New for the 22nd of April: Disposable fountain pens, Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu, two chocolate goodies, Space Opera and other matters

I sipped my own coffee, heavy on the sugar and cream, trying to make up for the late work the night before. Caffeine and sugar, the two basic food groups. — Laurell K. Hamilton’s Cerulean Sins

ivy

Ahhh that heavenly aroma is coming from the Kitchen, which is making the coffee this fine late Spring morning with Komodo Dragon coffee beans that they roast themselves. It’s an Indonesia bean that Ingrid, my wife who kept her job of being the Estate Buying Agent when she become our Steward,  found several years back when we were in that country. It’s been a favourite around here ever since.

It’s  entirely possible that you’ve noted our fascination with all things consumable. Be it a British TV series such as Two Fat Ladies, an exploration of Scottish whisky distilleries, the perfect Scottish fry-up, a cracking good chocolate bar, preferably dark, or perhaps a look at bourbon, America’s whisky as it’s been called, we never pass up an opportunity to do a review wherever possible. So look for more such reviews here.

Lambing season is wrapping up here on the Kinrowan Estate, but I remember that Sleeping Hedgehog, our in-house newsletter, had an article on the care and feeding of the tenders of the ewes. Let me see if I can find it while you read this edition…

ivy

Cat looks at Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven’s The Mote in God’s Eye which he say of that ‘Until the likes of Iain M. Banks with The Culture series and Neal Asher with the Polity series came along, quite possibly the best Space Opera of all time was this forty year-old novel that took the Space Opera novels of the 1930s and 1940s and very, very nicely updated them.’

Gary reviews a book of literary criticism about Iain M. Banks Culture series. He says Simone Caroti’s The Culture Series ‘is valuable reading for anyone who wants to move into a deeper understanding of what that series is really about, where it stands in the history of SF and literature, and why it’s important.’

Gary also reviewed a recent SF anthology called The New Space Opera: ‘Of course, “space opera” is what all science fiction used to be, up until about the 1970s or so. Thrilling tales of adventure in outer space, usually featuring huge starships, weird aliens, strange planets and battles, either physical or of wits.’

Joel looks at Neal Asher’s Gridlinked, a space opera of sorts that’s a novel in The Polity series which has been running a lot longer than The Culture series did: ‘I’ve never been one for long series, and certainly the greater part of my reading time is spent on authors I’m encountering for the first time, rather than always going with the same old stand-bys, but what can I say? I get something new in the Polity universe and I know it will always be good. When it comes to escapist fiction, Neal Asher has become my most dependable travel guide. No surprise then I moved him to the top of my reading pile.’

Robert came up with a series that is quintessential space opera, with a twist: C. J. Cherryh’s The Chanur Saga, including Chanur’s Homecoming, and the sequel, Chanur’s Legacy: ‘C. J. Cherryh’s The Chanur Saga is an almost-omnibus edition of her tetralogy about Pyanfar Chanur and her ship, the interstellar trader The Pride of Chanur. Because of length, the “omnibus” volume contains the first three in the series . . . , and one would be well-advised to be sure that Chanur’s Homecoming, issued separately, is within easy reach, lest one be left hanging off a cliff.’

ivy

It’s not a film but this novel is what happens when a series, no matter how short-lived, becomes beloved by legions of viewers. Firefly was a one-season space opera created by Joss Whedon that was brilliant. Unfortunately the network didn’t think the ratings were good enough, so they killed it after a single season, though they wrapped it up in a movie called Serenity. Stephen Brust, a writer many of you will know, wrote My Own Kind of Freedom and Cat says it’s quite true to the series.

And Robert, having been a Star Trek fan in his younger days, has a look at one of the reboot films, Star Trek: Into Darkness: ‘I’ve sort of lost track of Star Trek, after being glued to the TV every week in my younger days, as Gene Rodenberry’s original series was airing. Strangely enough, the last Star Trek movie I saw was The Wrath of Khan. (If that’s a spoiler, well, life is like that.) Let me say right off the bat that Star Trek: Into Darkness is not that.’

ivy

Cat R. got the chance to sample a whole bunch of chocolate bars from Chuao Chocolatier: ‘Here in America we like our add-ins, ice cream and candy full of other candy, nuts, random sweets, and sometimes savories. Chuao (pronounced Chew-WOW) has a shelf-load of such, chocolate bars with all the goodies, created by Venezuelan chef Michael Antonorsi.’

Denise digs into a chocolate bar for this edition; someone’s got to do the dirty work, she explains. Her look at Godiva’s Dark Chocolate Almond bar may have you looking elsewhere though. ‘Good chocolate is good chocolate. Unfortunately for Godiva, this bar is only fair to middling.’

ivy

Warren Ellis & J. H. Williams III’s Desolation Jones has, says Richard, ‘The long shadow of John Constantine lingers over the figure of Desolation Jones. But whereas Constantine is a spiky-haired Brit occult operative who abuses his odd network of friends while intimidating people into giving him answers by sheer force of personality, Jones is a spiky-haired Brit ex-spook who abuses his odd network of friends while intimidating people into giving him answers by sheer force of personality.’

ivy

Gary reviews Absence by a jazz trio led by Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu. ‘The son of two classical pianists, born in Estonia but raised in Germany, [Randalu] grew up playing classical piano himself until he heard Chick Corea’s Inside Out when he was 13 years old.’

Gary had a lot of fun listening to the debut recording of The Turbans, a multi-cultural group whose music is a heady mix of European and Levantine styles and much more. ‘The Turbans bring a passionate spirit of adventure and an infectious liveliness to their music. Even if you can’t understand the lyrics – which are in up to a half-dozen languages – it’s impossible to not be captured by their joy.’

Ranarop — Call of the Sea Witch is a recording Iain really liked — ‘Gjallarhorn is a foursome from Ostrobothnia, the Swedish speaking area of Finland. They are tightly bound to both folk music traditions, and ancient mythology. Musically, the band is a mixture of fiddle, mandola, didgeridoo, and percussion, with vocals provided by Jenny Wilhelms. Ranarop is an amazing album, with a singular sound which makes the band appear to be larger than it is.’

Jayme looks at what I’d say is essential listening for Celtic music fans: ‘There’s no gloss and polish here like you’d find on, say, an Altan disc, no studio jiggery and double-tracked harmonies that are so commonplace on a Clannad release. Not that those are necessarily bad things, mind you, but every one of the 11 tracks on The Best of Silly Wizard sound like they were recorded in one take in the studio, with the entire band playing at once, rather than the more common practice of laying down each instrument separately and mixing later. Now, I don’t know if that’s actually the way Silly Wizard recorded the music here, but the end result is that the music has all the punch and immediacy of a live performance, with none of the drawbacks that the raw sound of live shows often suffer from.’

ivy

Our What Not this week is one that should be dear to the heart of anyone who writes — or at least, anyone who is not tied to a keyboard. Cat R. brings us a look at a line of disposable fountain pens. Yes, that’s right: fountain pens.

ivy

I’ll take your leave now with some music and  ‘A Tune For Mairéad And Anna’ is my choice for your listening pleasure as that was what Iain was playing in the Library when I psssed by earlier this afternoon. This was taken from a Altman performance listed as a Folkadelphia Session on the seventh of March just three years ago.

Posted in Books, Film, Food and Drink, Music, Uncategorized | Comments Off on What’s New for the 22nd of April: Disposable fountain pens, Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu, two chocolate goodies, Space Opera and other matters