If you see a faded sign by the side of the road that says
Fifteen miles to the Love Shack, Love Shack yeah
I’m headin’ down the Atlanta highway
Lookin’ for the love getaway
‘Love Shack’ by the B-52s
Summer’s fully upon us here on this Scottish estate. We generally get a summer much more pleasant than is commonplace in Scotland as we share a Border with what Yeats called the Celtic Twilight and the Fey really, really like warm summers. (And alas, cold winters as well, there being Summer and Winter Courts.) So I’m sitting under one of the Great Oaks planted a hundred and fifty-odd years ago by Lady Alexandra Margaret Quinn, Estate Head Gardener here for a very long time, who’s buried beneath them.
I’ve got a murder of crows overhead looking to see if they can steal anything from me as I’m eating lunch outside, but there’s naught that catches their interest, mercifully. Oh, eventually I’ll treat them to something from my repast but not right now.
I’ve got my iPad in hand, a most tasty Lady in The Wood IPA named in honour of that Estate Head Gardener to drink, and I just got a note texted to me that Chasing Fireflies are doing a contradance this evening with Gus, our Estate Gardener calling, so I need to get this done soon. Go ahead and get yourself one of those ales and I’ll have this Edition for you soon… Now where was I?
I’m picking books this time that I consider summertime reading, starting off with a Charles de Lint novel that Mia looks at: ‘Seven Wild Sisters advertises itself as a modern fairy tale. Including the seven sisters, it certainly has all the trappings: an old woman who may be a witch, an enchanted forest, a stolen princess. But Sisters is not just borrowing the clothes of fairy tale. It sings with the true voice of fairy tale: capricious, wild, and not entirely safe, but rich and enchanting.’
Michael looks at possibly the best fantasy novel set up to and on Summer Solstice, Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks: ‘How can I say so much, and not touch deeply upon the plot? Because this book is like that. It’s full of words. Beautiful, poetic words, that sing you a song, urge you into a dance, lull you into a sense of security, and weave a tale while you’re not looking. It’s easy to get lost in this book. Emma Bull is a musician in her own right, and she lovingly details the scenes revolving around music, songs, and the band with painstaking effort. She knows what she’s doing, and it shows. This book literally sings. Turn to any page, and I promise you, the text will be gorgeous, evocative, and occasionally as mysterious as the Phouka.’
Summer is tourist season, and Robert has a whole bunch of guidebooks for visitors to a tourist destination that may surprise some people: first is a pair of guides by Joan Greene, A Chicago Tradition: Hotels and Hospitality and A Chicago Tradition: Marshall Field’s Food and Fashion: ‘Many people don’t realize that Chicago is a major destination for tourists: in the summer, particularly, you are likely to run into people from almost anywhere strolling through the parks, shopping on Michigan Avenue, or investigating our museums and art galleries. One reason for this is that Chicago has a long tradition of fine hotels, catering not only to conventioneers but to others from all walks of life. Joan Green, in Hotels and Hospitality and Marshall Field’s Food and Fashion, two guidebooks published by Pomegranate, investigates some of that tradition.’
Next, he looks at John W. Stamper’s North Michigan Avenue and Jay Pridmore’s Soldier Field: ‘One of the things about living in Chicago — or anywhere, for that matter, I guess — is that unless you take the time to play tourist in your own city, there are things you miss. Particularly in Chicago, which aside from being hog butcher to the world is also one of the world’s greatest architectural wonders, even if you know it’s there, you tend to walk right past it.’
Michelle has a look at baseball as depicted on film: ‘In the big inning, God created baseball. Or perhaps it was Loki, patron of athletics and other tricks; the origins are shrouded in antiquity. There is also debate about which mortal first received the divine inspiration. Abner Doubleday often gets credit, though some historians claim the game was played in England in the 1700s. What is known is that, in 1845, a team called the New York Knickerbockers adopted the rules of the game we know as baseball. In New Jersey that summer, they played the first organized baseball game, and America acquired its own pantheon.’
A musician visiting here from America some years back told me of the Holy Trinity of summer for him: baseball, beer and brats. (He was from Milwaukee, which explained the latter.) So it’s apt that we’ve Kelly looking at a related book: ‘[E]ven with my recent development of my palate to include dark ales and porters and bitters and IPAs (but not quite stouts; I just can’t get into those), I never really knew the difference between a lager and an ale until I read Ken Wells’s book Travels with Barley: A Journey Through Beer Culture in America.‘
Mia says that ‘A Circle of Cats is intended to be the prequel to the de Lint/Vess collaboration Seven Wild Sisters. Since I’ve been thwarted in every attempt to procure a copy of Sisters, and haven’t had a chance to read the story sans Vess artwork in Tapping the Dream Tree collection, I have no idea how A Circle of Cats stands in relation to that rare release. In relation to de Lint’s body of work as a whole, and indeed to the field of modern fantasy and fairy tale overall, this piece is simply outstanding.’
Barb has a looks at a performance that was most unsual: ‘The most memorable concert of my life was one I had the pleasure to be involved with. Fortunately, my involvement was minimal so I had the opportunity to experience most of it from the audience’s point of view. In the mid seventies, the Paul Winter Consort and the Yale Theater Orchestra collaborated for a series of concerts celebrating the one-hundredth birthday of American composer Charles Ives.’
Cat looks at a recording from Andrea Hoag, Loretta Kelly and Charlie Pilzer’s Hambo in the Barn: ‘Back in the twentieth century, a lot of Scandinavians relocated from Sweden and the surrounding countries to the upper Midwest where they became farmers and shopkeepers for the most part. Naturally they brought both their instruments and their music with them. Not surprisingly, this music has persisted to this day which is why this lovely CD exists.’
England’s deluxe reissue label Earth has released two four CD or LP box sets featuring Bert Jansch’s albums from the 1990s and 2000s. This time, Gary reviews Living in the Shadows (Part 1), the ’90s set.
Reynard has a CD that reminds him of Summer: ‘Though Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the best bands of the Sixties, I’m more fond of the recordings of post-CCR carreer of vocalist John Fogerty. And his best recordings by far are the concert recordings, both the legit ones like this release, The Long Road Home: In Concert, and of course the many bootlegs done as soundboard recordings.’
Robert brings us a look at a version of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons that’s somewhat out of the ordinary: ‘Terje Tønnesen, soloist and conductor on this recording of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, includes a liner note to the effect that the performance “represents a form of time travel in which we attempt a ‘correct’ reading of history while at the same time interpreting it freely from our own perspective.” For those who routinely deal with the past and its artifacts — from archaeologists and historians to musicians, actors, and critics — this seems so self-evident that it hardly bears repeating, but it does give one pause for thought: we tend to assume that the past is just like the present, except that people wore funny clothes.’ It’s a little strange, but there’s a terrific summer storm.
For our What Not this week, something a little different. One of our favorite authors, Jo Walton, is featured in this week’s installment of one of our favorite podcasts, Imaginary Worlds. It’s about the ways in which SF writers of the past 100 years or more were both right and wrong about one of the most important features of this future of theirs that we know as today. So set aside forty minutes or so for this episode called ‘Imagining the Internet’.
So let’s take our leave of each other this time with some spritely music in the form of ‘Love Shack’ by the B-52s whose only official live recording got reviewed by Cat: ‘If you’re a fan of the band, you’ll definitely want Live! 8.24.1979, because official live recordings of this band are scarce. The liner notes are both informative and entertaining — kudos to Real Gone Music for these. Oh and ‘Rock Lobster’ is wonderful played live!’
Alas the Live! 8.24.1979 recording predates ‘Love Shack’ so you’ll need to enjoy it here instead! It’s a feel good summertime song that’s guaranteed to give you an earworm for days after you hear it. The ‘Love Shack’ I have for you to enjoy was recorded in Atlanta sometime in 2001.