31st of March 2002 
'Never own more than you can carry at a dead run, except for books. Books are worth taking risks for.'

Kage Baker, author of The Company series

 

We're back after a week off to clean up the Green Man office, a task that included giving away 600 CDs from Northside! Suffice it to say that several local schools and other worthy recipients such as the city library system made out very, very well. Now we're back with more reviews than anyone else will put up this week! (And Green Man only publishes writers who have the skill and knowledge to simultaneously instruct and entertain -- a rarer combination than one would hope.) Not surprisingly, a number of these reviews are of Nordic or Celtic material, so check out the recorded music section for those reviews. And thanks to Stephen, Kim, Liath, Asher, Mia, Richard C., Grey, Jack and both of the Garys for pitching in with the cleaning up of our shared office space. Extra kudos to Grey for baking the double Dutch chocolate birthday cake for Rebecca's surprise birthday party! I think Rebecca's recovered from all the Framboise lambic ale that she drank during the all-weekend feast in her honor...

A public service announcement for those of you interested in Nordic music: Northside has started a new program of special offers, posted each week on their web site. This week, there are three Northside titles for only $5 each, but the deal only lasts until the end of the week (when more titles will be posted for the following week). You can sign up to be notified each week by e-mail as well -- go here to subscribe. There's really cool music on the Northside label, much of which has been reviewed here, so do check out this offer!

You may have noticed that the graphics now change randomly on the GMR menu page. Thanks go to Lahri Bond for the artwork and to Asher Black for testing java scripts until he found the best one. And before you go to the reviews, check out our Letters of Comment page as we've added some new material there including a long letter from Bill Colsher, who was on both of the Cats Laughing releases!

 

Kate Brown reviews Rituals, by Ed Gorman, a novel about witches and witch hunters set in a small New England town. If you think the Salem witch hunts are over, think again!

Christine Doiron read 9 of the 14 novels in Cate Tiernan's Sweep series of young adult books about a teenage girl who discovers she is a witch. Christine says, 'If I had read these books about 15 years ago, Cate Tiernan's series is the kind of story that would have kept me away from my homework or up too late at night. I would have counted down the days to each new installment, and tried to be the first of my friends to buy and finish each one. In short, I would have obsessed.' Christine enjoyed the series, but she does have some warnings for parents. Christine wins an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.

Jack Merry turns in three reviews this week. The first is an omnibus review of Sharyn McCrumb's Ballad series of mysteries, set in the Appalachians with plots based on old ballads. Jack enjoyed this series, though he says it is a bit uneven. He looks at The Sandman Book of Dreams, an anthology of stories set in Neil Gaiman's Sandman universe, and enthuses, 'Nevertheless, they {the stories} are all quite good, with a few being simply brilliant!' Finally, he examines a new edition of Francis James Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads, edited and corrected by Mark and Laura Saxton Heiman. Jack says this edition is better than any other in every way possible.

Liz Milner had fun reading Jane Yolen's retelling of The Emperor's New Clothes, titled King Long Shanks. Jane uses frog characters to tell her story of 'the ultimate fashion victim.' Liz thought Victoria Chess's illustrations were outstanding, as well. Liz wins an Excellence in Writing Award.

Maria Nutick enjoyed reading Lives of the Musicians, by Kathleen Krull, another book for young people which gives short biographies of famous musicians such as Tchaikovsky, Satie, Scott Joplin, and Brahms. Maria appreciated the interesting facts included in the book, though she suggests parents read it first so they can discuss some aspects of it with their children.

Rebecca Wright, a new staff member at GMR, discusses a book by one of our favorite authors, Terri Windling, who collaborated with Ellen Steiber to write The Raven Queen, Volume Two in the Bassett series. Rebecca says that while this is a book for young people, adults will also enjoy the adventures of twins Gwen and Devin, who find themselves swept up in the usual conflict between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts.  

Live Performances

Irene Henry soaks up a performance by Richard Thompson at The Ark in Ann Arbor. Irene says, 'judging by the yelps and howls at The Ark, more than a few people achieved a climax during his passionate rendition of "Crawl Back Under My Stone." And this was an acoustic show with a staid crowd.'

Maria Nutick was mesmerized by Shaolin: Wheel of Life. Kung-fu, music, pantomime, and a fascinating story make for an enjoyable performance and a thorough review that wins Maria an Excellence In Writing Award.

Kim Bates wins an Excellence in Writing Award this edition for her wonderful look at five Bluegrass CDs: Blue Highway's Still Climbing Mountains, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver's Gospel Parade, IIIrd Tyme Out's Back to the Mac, a collection called Blue Trail of Sorrow, and yet another collection entitled High Atmosphere. She says 'I am to tell you about a variety of bluegrass artists put out by the fine folks at Rounder and Sugar Hill, two labels that have been soldiering away for years. Indeed, a trip through Rounder's Web site reveals many projects generated out of love, with little hope of serious revenues, and other artists with broad appeal.'

Jennifer Byrne finds Frankie Gavin's Fierce Traditional, his first solo Irish CD, outstanding! She says, 'I'm telling you now, stick your shoes to the floor or you might get carried away. You've been warned.' She also likes Tinariwen's The Radio Tisdas Sessions. Of this music she says, 'Formed by Ibrahim Ag Alhabibe, in the early 1990s, as a direct consequence of the exile of the Taureg from Mali, Tinariwen sought to fulfill the practical need to vocalise the plight of the Taureg and to communicate their plans and messages from one isolated area to another. As a result of the quest for independence, the music of Tinariwen was very much an underground phenomenon, absolutely banned both in Mali and Algeria.' Read her review to see why this is very cool music! She rounds out her reviewing this outing with a look at Steve Tilston's Live Hemistry: Live Recordings From the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. She says that 'Steve Tilston has been in the business of writing songs for decades. A Liverpudlian by birth, Tilston has had a chequered career, even flirting precariously with the lure of the pop scene at one point in the 80s. Thankfully, that failed to go very far, and Tilston adhered to doing what he does best - writing and performing great songs.'

Judith Gennett first looks at two releases from Celtic label, Maggie's Music -- Maggie Sansone's Celtic Meditations and a collection entitled Carolan's Gift. Read her review to see why both of these albums are to her liking. She also likes Irish born and bred Providence's CD, A Fig For A Kiss, observing that this band 'is a traditional Irish band playing in the straightforward style that came into vogue in the '70s, after the invention of the guitar. They play much as one would hear in a session today, in feel if not in arrangement, with a little bit of progression and contemporary chords depending on the selection.' Did you know that Judith likes heavy metal? Really. Truly. Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus' albums, Lopunajan Merkit and Itku Pitkasta Ilosta are metal and she likes them: 'Timo and his headshot trio, along with their soulmates Viikate (Scythe), perform Finnish language metal...cult ethno metal might be a good term to use.' Read her review to see if she's really a headbanger now! She also likes Curtis and Loretta's Sit Down Beside Me: 'As is common in music, there is nothing really new here, though Curtis and Loretta have their own particular style. Unlike many more pretentious albums, however, Sit Down Beside Me has a clear and important use. In lieu of being at a concert, a driver can imagine that Curtis and Loretta and their many instruments are sitting down beside her in the car singing and playing. "Sing along with us," they invite.' Judith rounds off her reviewing with a collection from Canada called Six Strings North Of the Border which she notes 'is an instrumental collection of tunes from Canadian guitarists. Often, record companies compile showcases of their own artists, but some of the guitarists here record via Borealis; a few don't. All the selections are good, and range from Celtic to World Fusion to Old Timey, plenty of variety: something for everyone.'

Stephen Hunt is quite found of Troka's debut CD. He notes it's 'becoming something of a cliche to say that "Finland is the New Ireland." While it's perhaps unlikely that the music of Kaustinen will ever capture the World's ear to the same extent as the music of Kilkenny, the Northside label are to be commended for their unwavering belief in the ability of this music to win converts far beyond it's Scandinavian home lands. Troka state that their ambition is to get you "grinning from ear to ear, bobbing your head and whistling Troka tunes in the bathtub." Budge up and pass the loofah....' This review wins Stephen an Excellence in Writing Award! Stephen also likes Mike O'Connor's The Soul of the Fiddle which he say is the product of 'a British folk club performer with a goodly number of (uh, oh) strings to his bow, being a fiddle and concertina player, singer, songwriter and storyteller. This CD showcases the first and last of that list of talents, being "a cycle of stories and tunes... at the same time one story and many stories." It's an excellent idea, and O'Connor's created something of a little gem in the realisation of it.'

Peter Massey is a bit less than fond of what he hears on Sean Keane's The Man That I Am album: 'I got the feeling this is not the best album Sean Keane has brought out, and he is capable of much better. Sean has a voice that lends itself to Irish traditional songs, a voice many singers would die for in this respect. But, on this album he is trying, amongst other genres, to be an American Country & Western singer. For me it did not work, he is too Irish! He lacks the 'high lonesome sound' that many American artists have. He should leave this sort of thing to the likes of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, or Waylon Jennings.' Peter did like Allan Taylor's Colour to the Moon: 'I remember seeing Allan at one of my local folk clubs in Chester thirty years ago. But, in those days his repertoire was made up of some traditional songs as well. These days, Allan only sings his own songs. He seems to have found the formula for writing good quality love songs, or songs about the demise of people he has known over the years as he traveled around as a folk singer.' Peter, no mean folk singer himself, rounds out his reviews with a look at Comes from the Heart, Unplugged At Alexander's Acoustic, 'a compilation album made up from various singers who perform at Alexander's bar, located in Chester, at the Tuesday nights acoustic unplugged session. It was organised by the resident band 'Root Chords'. Guest artist are: Spider Baby, Bill Malkin and Friends, Phil Gregory, Graham Bellinger, Tom Monahan, and a special track from The Phil Beer Band. With the exception of the Phil Beer Band all of the others sing regularly at the club.' It's hard to find, Peter says, but worth the effort! Peter also finds much to like in Green Roses by the Orthodox Celts, a group he notes is 'from Belgrade -- a far cry Ireland! Musically, the band is very tight. As a folk rock band, they sit midway between The Pogues and The Old Blind Dogs. Orthodox Celts was formed by fiddle player Ana Dokic some seven years ago. They all come from Belgrade in Serbia. Aleksandar Petrovic sings all the lead vocals. I have to say that at first I was not sure about his voice, but after listening a few times it grows on you, and there is hardly a hint of a Serbian accent. This album only goes to prove that good taste in traditional music is not just confined to the British Isles.'

Liz Milner is of mixed feeling about Karen Tweed & Timo Alakotila's May Monday: 'We've all heard the jokes about the accordion being the official instrument of Hell. With Karen Tweed's accordion playing, it would have to be Windham Hell, though. This CD combines technical brilliance with a terminally mellow, New Age approach to the music. It's as though Tweed and Alakotila took what was best of British Isles and Scandinavian folk music, popped it into their cultural cuisine art, and ground up all of the tasty bits into a smooth mixture that goes down very easily but lacks the spice of the original ingredients. There's a sameness of mood here, and that mood is meditative.' But, she also says that May Monday 'is the perfect CD for a snowy day, a mountain chalet and a mug of hot chocolate.'

Big Earl Sellar is very happy with yet another Alan Lomax CD, World Library of Folk and Primitive Music: India. Big Earl says 'This disc is another in the series of Rounder's amazingly extensive Alan Lomax Collection reissues. As part of a series dealing with collections compiled by Lomax from 1950s field recordings, these discs give us a view of World music long before it became a hip genre. In most of the examples I've heard from this series, the music is often further afield than many recordings one can normally find in stores now. India, in fact, is one of the best and certainly broadest collections of music from the myriad of traditions I've run across.'

Gary Whitehouse finds that Rob Ickes's What it Is is not to his liking: 'I truly wanted to like this album, but the more I listened, the more I was left cold or indifferent by most of it. I think there's a lot of potential for the Dobro in jazz, but What it Is seldom fulfills it.' But, he does find Little Pink's Cul-de-Sac Cowgirl to be an album that 'highlights {Mary} Battiata's literate and passionate song writing in a range of styles from folk to hard country rock. The best, like opening track "Rocking Horse," float her vocals atop a shimmery wall of jangly Byrdsian guitars put together by Karl Straub, another standout from the Americana Motel sessions.' He also says that Waltz of the Scarecrow King is well-worth your time: 'Gary Myrick, a Texan who has been living in Southern California for many years, has been making music for a long time. He was in his first band at the age of 18, and made his first album in 1980. Since then, he hasn't wanted for work, making a number of albums on his own and with various groups including the cult band Havana 3 AM, and recording and touring with the likes of Jackson Browne, Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, Todd Rundgren and the Eagles. On Waltz of the Scarecrow King, Myrick inserts his off-kilter pop sensibilities into the singer-songwriter genre, with highly entertaining results.'

Gary Wikfors is slightly disappointed in the CDs from the Full Moon Ensemble: the road to drumleman, song for a winter's night, and through lands and waters wide. Why so? Gary sums them up in this way: 'By one taxonomic scheme, there are two kinds of bands: the kind you hire for the ceremony, and the kind you hire for the reception. I think you probably follow my drift. The Full Moon Ensemble, a neo-Celtic quintet (currently) from Alabama, is the kind of band you would hire for the ceremony. Messages are sent in many ways; group photos of The Full Moon Ensemble are posed in the all-black outfits favored by young classical musicians as well as Johnny Cash. Cash is not in the loop here at all.' Gary is not disappointed by Loituma's In the Moonlight of which he says, 'I guess my main message is that Loituma strikes a perfect balance between tradition, their contemporary interests, and the audience's desire for personal expression on In the Moonlight. This CD has occupied my player for a couple of weeks, and it's still valkommen.'

 

April Gutierrez looks at Blue Seed, an anime TV series that 'draws heavily from Japanese legend for its central plot, specifically the tale of the Kushinada-hime.' For a girl to be the Kushinada means that her blood can kill demons and save mankind, but it also means contending with gods and their minions bent on wiping out the human race...

Maria Nutick probes the hysteria, nymphomania, and petulance of Gothic, a film about the sexual, narcotic, and occult escapades of Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Godwin. 'Gathered around a skull with purportedly magical powers, the drug crazed group invoke what they will later come to believe are their individual fears manifested as an evil spirit.' She also romps through the 'rock and roll, drugs, blood, gore' and takes on the 'impossibly large-breasted women' of Heavy Metal and Heavy Metal 2000. A porn star, eighties 'hard rock', and cast members from Stripes punctuate the films and her Excellence in Writing Award winning review. Mia likes Heavy Metal, but for her, the sequel is a bust.

 

So, you were saying that once upon a time there were these rabbits who were ... Ooops -- Sorry, wrong conversation...

Now I'm off to sort through the generous donation of CDs that Green Linnet, purveyors of fine Celtic music, just made to the local school district, so I'll ask your leave now. We'll be back next week with the usual mix of reviews, gossip, strange stories, and product give-aways that you've come to expect from the widest read review zine of its kind on the net. (Product give-aways? Oh, yes! But you'll have to come back to see what we're giving away!) Now Liath, what were we talking about? Ahhhh, of course... Those damned rabbits... Not the ones Grimjack had trouble with?

 

 24th of March 2002
'I am the wind on the sea. I am a wave of the ocean. I am the roar of the sea. I am a powerful ox. I am a hawk on a cliff. I am a dewdrop in sunshine. / I am the strength of art. I am a spear with spoils that wages battle. / Who clears the stony place of the mountain? / Who has sought peace (in death?) seven times seven without fear? / Who brings his cattle from the house of Tethra? / What man, what god forges weapons in a fort?...Who chants a petition, divides the Ogam letters...? / A wise chanter.' -- Amairgin, Chieftan of the Sons of Mil

Jack Merry here. What I'm doing in the Green Man office is lendin' a hand with the cleaning, and I've been discussing with Liath, our sidhe Librarian, how best to archive the performance audio-video collection that we've accumulated over the decades, i.e. how does one index a seely box recording of the Cats Laughing cover of 'Stomping at the Savoy'? Or the music of Gossamer Axe in all its glory? Or the final concert of the Nazgul on that fateful summer night in the desert? As she notes, 'Just because they don't exist in your world doesn't mean that they aren't real somewhere.' This led to a long ramble over a few pints of Guinness and lots of imported Irish oysters, and may explain the fiasco next morning.

It's good thing I got here early-ish, for I found Liath busy trying to convince Asher to rearrange the book reviews. She said that 'far too many of the things in the fiction and folk tale indexes are miscategorized, and ought to go under biography or history.' I got her to lift her glamour off of Asher by promising her a chance to have her say. So here goes...

 

 

I can explain. This whole misunderstanding began when I, in the course of surveying my new domain, found Jennifer Stevenson's tale, 'Solstice,' reviewed as fiction. (I have no quarrel with Grey Walker. She was simply misled by a publishing error.) I was at that party, however. I danced until dawn with the rest. Jennifer must have been there as well, to have described it so clearly. I did not see her, but I was rather enthralled with my companion....

At any rate, I began to suspect that other such misclassifications might be lurking in the archives of Green Man Review. Sadly, I was justified in my suspicions. Working (obviously) alphabetically, I immediately discovered Gael Baudino's Gossamer Axe; Orfide, I may tell you, is my third cousin twice removed on the distaff side, and this is certainly his harp. Not to mention that, as Jack has already said, we have recordings of Gossamer Axe in the archives waiting to be catalogued.

Peter S. Beagle's The Folk of the Air reveals that Peter has indeed met Sia, a powerful mystery. But he shrouds her cleverly in fiction, so I am not certain how this review should be re-classified. Hmm...'revisionist history,' perhaps? On the other hand, I have only two things to say about Emma Bull's War for the Oaks; half of the staff here shows up periodically wearing concert t-shirts from Eddi and the Fey's last tour. And there is a pooka living in the stream out back. I rest my case. Now, I was not aware that her Ethereal Grace the Queen had traveled so deep into the Midwest of the United States with her court, but she must have done, since Pamela Dean's Tam Lin bears the unmistakable ring of truth.

If Charles de Lint (see here for complete listings of his works) has chosen to call his city Newford instead of telling you its real name, I'll not spoil his fun, but I urge you to read his many enchanting accounts of its denizens. Robert Holdstock is another matter. No mortal should remain alive outside of Faerie with such a profound knowledge of the masks of power. I have sent a copy of Lavondyss to those who manage human 'disappearances,' and if I were Robert, I'd put my affairs in order. Diana Wynne Jones would be another such mortal, were it not that she has powerful protection. Her Fire and Hemlock is a scathing diatribe against her Ethereal Grace, and treads perilously close to libel. Protection or not, Diana should take care.

Unfortunately, I had only reached the letter 'L' when I was discovered and induced to remove my quite small and completely harmless glamour from Mr. Black. Perhaps in the future I will be able to complete the survey of our fiction reviews and give you, Beloved Readers, the truth of these things.

Er, thanks Liath, for your...interesting...views. And all of you out there, come see us again next week for more reviews of the best in listening, watching and reading.

 17th of March 2002

'Legend says that when a fey is exiled from fairie they whither and fade, die. That's both true and untrue. I have enough human blood in my background that being surrounded by metal and technology doesn't bother me. Some of the lesser fey would literally whither and die in a manmade city. But most fey can manage in a city, they may not be happy, but they can survive. But part of them does whither, that part that knows that not all the butterflies you see are actually butterflies, that part that has seen the night sky filled with a rushing of wings like a hurricane wind, wings of flesh and scale to make humans whisper of dragons and demons; that part that has seen the sidhe ride by on horses made of starlight and dreams. That part begins to die.' Merry Gentry in Laurell K. Hamilton's Caress of Twilight, the sequel to A Kiss of Shadows

So where was I? Ah, I was admiring the first volume of Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads which arrived in the mail yesterday. Yes, the very deservedly legendary Child Ballads are being re-published for the first time in over two generations. This is truly a publishing event, as the songs in Francis J. Child's five volume work are widely considered the roots of modern folk music. And this edition is not a reprint of the Dover and Princeton editions, but rather is the very first edition that takes into account the corrections that Child himself wanted. Do look for a review of this volume, expected soon! (Provided our Librarian doesn't claim it first, and she might well do so!)

 

 

Kate Brown gives us a look at three rollicking books by Craig Shaw Gardner: A Malady of Magicks, A Multitude of Monsters, and A Night in the Netherhells. Kate found these comic fantasies hilarious. Together, they tell the story of a wizard allergic to magic and his starry-eyed apprentice, who must try to save the world from a rhyming demon. (Michael Bolton, maybe?) Kate wins an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.

Irene Jackson Henry has got the urge for going these days. She's planning a visit to the UK this summer, so she was especially interested to read Lonely Planet's guides to Edinburgh, Ireland, Cycling in Britain, and Walking in Ireland. Read her review to see if these books were helpful in planning her trip. She also reviews the Rough Guide to Scandinavia, about which she has some criticism. She also discusses a book she picked up at Barnes and Noble the other day, called The Heartbeat of Irish Music, written by Peter Woods, with photos by Christy McNamara. This is a story about an Irish family in the 20th century and how music affected every aspect of their lives. Irene says, 'I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what it really feels like to be at home in Ireland at a seisiun or house party, or who just loves the music and wants to know more about the people who make it.'

Stephen Hunt takes a look at The Other Side of the Rainbow, the biography of Maire Brennan, lead singer of Clannad. Stephen observes, 'Over the years I've read a few biographies/testimonies, all of which tend to follow the same pattern: I loved music when I was a kid so I joined a band. After a few years of struggle we had some hits. I went temporarily insane and did loads of drugs and had loads of sex. When the hits dried up I realised that it was all pointless and accepted Jesus into my heart. Kids, if you're reading this, don't do any of the stuff that I did (except the struggle and Jesus bits).' Is Brennan's story like this? Read Stephen's surprising review to find out. Stephen wins an Excellence in Writing Award for his work this week.

Maria Nutick loves to read history, so she was pleased to get a chance to review The Isles: A History by Norman Davies. Maria has some complaints, though, including Davies' bias and some actual historical inaccuracies. Let Maria set you straight about British history in her review.

Rebecca Swain was fascinated by Simon Winchester's The Professor and the Madman, a look at the makers of the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. The true story is more sensational than you might think, involving, as it does, murder and lunacy.

Grey Walker enjoyed Gods and Heroes of the Celts , written by Marie-Louise Sjoestedt. Grey explains that Sjoestedt tries to present Celtic mythology as 'distinct from the "classical" mythology that forms an underpinning for much of Western literature. That Sjoestedt succeeds in this task at all is a tribute to her superb scholarship and her skill as a linguist. That she succeeds in a mere 130 pages, inclusive of notes and bibliography, is marvelous.'

 

 

John Benninghouse thinks that Rory Block's blues album, I'm Every Woman, was very, very uneven, but says, 'despite my feelings for this CD, I do plan on going back into Ms. Block's back catalog to see what gems I can unearth, because she obviously has talent and an ear for good songs.'

Judith Gennett found an interesting slice of Balkan music in Kultur Shock's Fucc the INS. This band, according to her, is 'an alternative Balkan Band with an unusual history. Though it is based in Seattle, Washington, the core members come from other countries, mostly the Balkans. Presently the band contains a couple of Bosnians, a couple Bulgarians, a bass player from Japan, and even a couple Americans in brass & reeds. KS fuses Balkan music with many other types of music including electronica, Latin, jazz, and "extreme music" as it is now politely called. In doing so, it uses many radical turns and juxtapositions and musical jokes. The beauty of the band and of their second album Fucc the INS, is their ability to play individually as well to fuse genres, with such skill... '

Tim Hoke finds much to like in Llangres' Maqueta sampler CD: 'I love the music of northern Spain. It sounds similar to the music of other Celtic regions, while having a distinctive bite all its own. Llangres is a quintet of young Asturianos who do not disappoint. Their compositions are mature and sophisticated. Yes, compositions; most of the cool, trad-sounding tunes on Maqueta are original.'

Stephen Hunt finds Nordic artist Annbjorg Lien and her CD, Baba Yaga, quite fascinating: 'Annbjorg Lien is a Norwegian composer, arranger, instrumentalist, and singer, who occupies an artistic space where clumsy attempts at easy definition are irrelevant. With this CD she's created a music in which traditional fiddle tunes are pop songs, string quartets are folk dancers, electronic rhythms are an element of symphonic composition and the sound of human breathing is both rhythm and melody.' Singer-Songwriter Natalia Zukerman's Mortal Child was a bit rough, but he says 'There's enough here to suggest that she's got the talent and belief to do all of this and more. Watch out for her. The "Mortal Child" could become an immortal woman yet.' Stephen garners an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.

David Kidney finds himself to be very fortunate as he gets to review seven CDs by Country Joe McDonald: A Reflection on Changing Times and The Rag Baby EP's. Yes, that Country Joe! He notes, 'it is a real encouragement to be able to recommend products like Country Joe McDonald's A Reflection on Changing Times and The Rag Baby EPs -- not simply for their historical significance, but also because there is a ton of great music contained in these beautiful packages.' David also recommends Extra Crispy by the Booglerizers. (This review gets David a well-deserved Excellence in Writing Award.) All you need to know of this Blues group is that their name 'derives from a Captain Beefheart song. Getting booglerized is one of those funky things that happens to people when they're not even looking.' David also reviews the newest of the Joyce Gang's CDs, No True Road. David notes 'The Joyce Gang is a trio, based in England, with perhaps the strangest lineup in contemporary music. Lead vocalist John Redmond plays bodhran, bones, didgeridoo and mouth harp; Paul Downes plays guitars, bass, banjo, and mandocello; and David McKeown plays saxes, whistle, pipes and percussion. They all write songs and sing.'

Liz Milner finds herself disappointed by the Quasimodal Chorus' tribute CD entitled So Bravely Dream: The Songs of Jan Harmon, Volume 1. Why is this so? It's because 'The recording has a schizophrenic feel. Harmon wrote in a wide range of styles, and this CD has cuts in every style from early music to boogie-woogie. Some of the pieces are fully realized works, and some sound more like writing exercises or warm-ups for the choir. There doesn't seem to be any attempt to link the songs by style or by theme. It's a musical smorgasbord, all right, but one where the fish and the dessert courses are side by side on the buffet table. Since the title of the CD says that this is "Volume 1", it's a shame that more care wasn't taken in organizing the selections into something more coherent.'

No'am Newman is disappointed by Mary Lou Lord's Live -- City Sounds. 'The sleeve to this CD makes an intriguing revelation: "This CD was recorded live in the subway in Boston; I recorded myself with a portable DAT." At first, I thought that this was a new way for buskers to make a living -- instead of relying on contributions thrown into an open guitar case, they sell a CD of their own busking performances.' Was she better than the average busker? No'am thinks not. Read his review to see why he says this!

Lars Nilsson reviews a wonderful recording by a seminal English group called Brass Monkey. Going & Staying is the latest CD and, according to him, 'When Martin Carthy left Steeleye Span for the first time, I remember him saying that the idea of playing traditional songs with a fuller instrumental backing was a nice one, but that he was not sure it had to be done with electric guitars. You could see Brass Monkey as a vehicle to prove his point.' He also reviewed fellow Swede Sofia Karlsson's tastefully named Folk Songs CD. Lars states simply, 'Although the plastic boxes that conceal CDs are called jewel cases, they are more like oysters. You open them in hope of finding a pearl within. And sometimes you really do...'

Big Earl Sellar wants the producers of Moussem of Morrocan artist Sidi Mustafa's two-CD, two cut (yes, just two cuts!) release to be more technically adept in producing CDs: 'I really loved A Dip In The Ocean. The music is truly breathtaking, but the presentation leaves everything to be desired. I hope that, in the future, Qasida Records would work on the notion of what a music disc is, and what it is capable of. Sometimes, one does wish the feast came with smaller plate.'

Rebecca Swain likes Lisa Loeb's Cake and Pie and Firecracker CDs: 'I recommend these CDs to people who like thoughtful lyrics and enjoy hearing from a woman who can write powerfully and honestly of women's feelings. It is because I see so much promise in Lisa's writing that I feel discontented sometimes with what she achieves, but that's not to say I don't enjoy her music just as it is.' She also looks at African American Spirituals: The Concert Tradition, Wade in the Water (Volume 1), about which she says 'I have no criticism of this collection; it is lovely. I will just say that I prefer to hear spirituals sung with more heart and raw emotion, more fidelity to their original sound. I consider spirituals to be a vitally important testimony to American history, and in my opinion the concert tradition takes them too far away from the original voices of the men and women making that testimony. But this is just my preference. Anyone who purchases this CD is in for a beautiful listening experience.' Rebecca wins an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.

Gary Whitehouse finds Darryl Purpose's A Crooked Line quite excellent, since he is 'the best kind of singer-songwriter: one who has lived a lot of life before he started writing songs about it. On A Crooked Line, his fourth CD, he sings his songs of America and Americans the way he's seen them.'

 

April Gutierrez explores the anime television series Fushigi Yuugi, which is available on DVD and subbed or dubbed VHS. Read about what happens when two young women are sucked into a book and find themselves in 'Ancient China, Land of Beautiful Men.'

Maria Nutick explains what the Abominable Snowman, Merlin the Magician, the blind seer Apollonius of Tyana, Medusa, Pan, and a giant serpent have in common. They're each one of The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, a film in which Maria says the stereotypes are actually archetypes.

 

Before we get leave this week, please note that we will not be publishing next week, as it's time for the annual cleaning of the Green Man office, including the many nooks and crannies of our library. The glorious clutter is now far too chaotic for our staff of hard working Brownies to keep up. Liath, our Librarian, can't even find the recordings she made of Gossamer Axe performing at our annual Midsummer's Eve party a few decades ago, nor has she found the Bloomsday guide I was looking for. That's a sure sign that we're overdue for cleaning and organizing the office before she gets rather testy. I, for one, never want to see her truly mad! So mark your calendars for our definite return in two weeks!

 10th of March 2002

'It was warm inside in spite of the fans, and busy, and noisy, and remarkably like a combination of farmhouse kitchen, private club, and arts salon. Anyone who makes trouble at the Hard Luck Cafe is considered an incurable misfit, even within the loose social contract of Bordertown, and is not welcome anywhere, to anything. Consequently, the Hard Luck's habitués include humans, elves, and halfies, people from Dragontown and slummers from up on the Tooth, painters and gang leaders. It's such a desireable place to simply be that it's almost too much to hope that the food is good. The food is good.' Orient in Emma Bull's Finder -- A Novel of Bordertown

 

Raise your hands everyone who's wanted to visit Bordertown. Yes, I see lots of hands! (If you don't know what we're talking about, go read Michael Jones' superb overview of the series here. After you read it, come back here! We'll keep your tea warm 'til you get back. Really. Truly. ) My point is that good fiction, better-than-simply-average music, a great film, or a superb live performance moves you beyond the merely mundane into that which is truly magical. Green Man exists to help you to find those things that make life so worthwhile, be it the latest new Solas album, The Edge of Silence with its superb cover of Jesse Colin Youngblood's 'Darkness, Darkness', or the first online review of the new Charles de Lint novel, Seven Wild Sisters, you'll get the information you need here to loosen your purse strings. And though we link to several online vendors including Musikfolk and Contracopia, not a penny comes back to us as we do this solely for your convenience! And we welcome your letters to us, a sampling of which can be found on our Letters of Comment page, so do write us to make suggestions on how Green Man can even better serve you. The most interesting letter in the next month as chosen by our crack editorial staff will receive a selection of CDs from Northside, purveyors of Nordic and World Music CDs.  

We start off this week with a review that doesn't fit into any category, but spans several:

Irene Jackson Henry offers an unusual review of Mustard's Retreat, containing an music omnibus review, a live performance review and an interview with the band. She wins an Excellence in Writing Award for an intricate but riveting review that seamlessly weaves together these three different kinds of material. Brava, Irene!

Books 

Jennifer Byrne reviews In Griot Time, written by Banning Eyre. This book describes Eyre's time in Mali with griots, and gives a warm, human insight into Mali culture and the part griots play in it. Jennifer wins an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.

April Gutierrez is still mad at me for sending her a book a few months ago that she absolutely hated! However, she has consented to review another book for us, this one called Blood to Blood: The Dracula Story Continues, by Elaine Bergstrom. This novel continues the story of Jonathan and Mina Harker, and introduces a new character, Joanna Tepes, Dracula's half-sister. According to April, 'At heart, Blood to Blood is not a horror story, vampires and murderers notwithstanding. It's a love story, a murder mystery and practically a treatise for early feminism, all rolled into one.' But April didn't like it very much. Read her review to find out why.

Michael Jones turns in a monster omnibus review of ten books in Steven Brust's Taltos series. Michael tells us, 'Vlad Taltos is a very dangerous man. He has to be, in his line of work. He's an assassin.' Now wouldn't you think the life of an assassin would be peaceful and uneventful? Not so, Michael assures us. Assassins have bad days just like the rest of us -- in Vlad's case, bad days on an epic scale. Michael finds this series exciting, inventive, and entertaining to read. He wins an Excellence in Writing Award for this monumental review.

Maria Nutick introduces us to two of her favorite books. The first is A Proud Taste For Scarlet And Miniver, by E. L. Konigsburg, a novel about the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Maria explains, 'Eleanor of Aquitaine sits in Heaven, impatiently drumming her fingers on a cloud. She's been waiting for centuries to be reunited with her husband, King Henry II, and today just may be the day that Henry is finally allowed Up.' Eleanor's life is described in flashbacks by old friends she meets in Heaven. Maria's other contribution this week is Ray Bradbury's lovely From The Dust Returned, a novel about a very unusual family. This novel is made up of previously published short stories, along with new material, and Maria finds Bradbury's writing lyrical and moving.

Rebecca Swain was intrigued by Lucrezia Borgia: A Biography, by Rachel Erlanger. This book debunks the idea that Lucrezia was an incestuous murderess, and presents her as a God-fearing woman used as a pawn by her ambitious father. The book gives an interesting view of Renaissance Italy, as well.

Gary Whitehouse enjoys reading the works of Christopher Moore, and he brings us a review of Moore's latest work, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Gary describes the book this way: 'When we first meet the Son of God, he's a young boy with a lizard in his mouth. He takes the lizard out, hands it to his younger brother, who plays with it for a while, then mashes its head with a rock and hands it back to Jesus, who puts it back in his mouth and repeats the cycle. This scene ... is vintage Christopher Moore. And Lamb is his best book yet.'

 

Live Performances

Irene Jackson Henry takes us to a Jez Lowe gig at the Ten Pound Fiddle coffeehouse, held at a Unitarian Church, and realizes that Jez plays left-handed. The performance goes 'unplugged' as the sound system goes fizz, with Lowe continuing for an acoustically enthused audience. Irene also saw Garnet Rogers at a Valentine's Day performance, considers the likelihood of kissing Garnet, and explains why the performance was 'romantic' and 'emotionally satisfying'.

 

Recorded Music

Judith Gennett found  Ian Melrose'sA Scottish Legacy to be 'a quiet, pretty album, made for listening; and Melrose is a very competent player.' Judith also reviews Rise's Uncertain Wonders, another Scottish Celtic CD: 'From the horse's mouth,"Rise plays contemporary Scottish Rock and Folk music." Uncertain Wonders is the debut album from this band from the Isle of Bute, about 30 miles west of Glasgow. Like the recordings of several other contemporary Scots bands, it is a collage of contemporary rock, folk rock, and traditional music, juxtaposing true hearts, Scottish history, and John Lennon's "Imagine." You can close your eyes while listening and imagine a higher theme of humanity.' Big Iron and Self-Titled are two CDs from 'Carol Noonan lives in Maine on a farm with her husband, who is a fisherman. During the nineties, she sang with a folk-rock band Knots and Crosses and recorded three albums for Rounder. More recently she has recorded and released two albums on her own. Noonan has a beautiful vibrato, an unusual concept of the rock/folk boundary, and a degree from the Loreena McKennitt School of Sound Production. Because the lush, crisp production is done in a creative way, it succeeds where others might create something superficial.' Rodney Brown's Into the Woods, an artist she notes 'lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Into the Woods is a contemporary folk album with contemporary arrangements, mostly electric, including "folk rock","country folk", "and a little reggae". In the twenty years since my last foray into Thunder Bay, he's been doing children's albums, so this is his first "adult album" since that time. Many of the songs on Into the Woods are about the land north of Superior's shore.' Canadian Penny Lang's Gather Honey CD 'best functions as an archive, a history, an additional recording for listeners who have first heard Lang's "earlier later albums.' Judith rounds out her reviewing this edition with Eileen McGann's Beyond the Storm. She says 'Eileen McGann's albums are always a joy to hear. This one, Beyond the Storm, presenting an all acoustic variety of original and traditional British material, is as always held together by McGann's beautiful, strong voice and equally strong melodies. As I write this, it has been nominated for the 2002 Juno award in Roots & Traditional Music.'

Tim Hoke looks at two CDs from a Celtic group called The Wild Oats: A Few Oats Shy Of A Haggis and "...Weed 'em And Reap. He says 'I suspect that in a live setting, The Wild Oats are highly entertaining.' On CD, he says it's a different matter. Read his review to see why this is so. Four CDs by Golden Griffon Stringtet ( A Fine Collection, Band Call, Christmas, and Propinquity ) Tim chuckles as he notes that 'I looked up "stringtet" in the dictionary, or rather I tried to look it up; there was no entry. I've inferred that, at least in the case of Golden Griffon, a stringtet is a duo or quartet who specialize in playing contra dance music. Duo or quartet? Well, yes, depending on which recording you listen to.' He found the CDs themselves to be promising of a band with great potential.

Stephen Hunt took a liking to Firebrand's Lost Lady Found. He notes 'This is Firebrand's third CD release and represents a major step forward for the band. The trio of Peter Miln (fiddle,) Daniel James (cittern,) and John Harris (Celtic harp,) have now expanded Firebrand into a five piece line-up with the recruitment of Miranda Sykes (lead vocals, double bass,) and Imogen O'Rourke (flute.)' A collection, Bagpipes of Britain & Ireland, caught the interest of Stephen even thought they are somewhat old recordings: 'So why bother with this CD of fifty - year old field recordings when there is so much great music being made right now? Let's look sideways at the Blues to find the answer. Without Robert Johnson there is no Eric Clapton. Similarly there's no Bothies, without the likes of the Dorans, no Batties, without the likes of Alex Stewart, and no Kathryn without the likes of Jack Armstrong.' Next up for this busy reviewer is Stephen Bruton's Spirit World. He comments that 'Stephen Bruton is definitely a musician to listen out for. He's a hugely talented guitarist, a warm and expressive vocalist and writes songs with strong melodies, plenty of hooks and some memorable lyrics. Stephen Hunt picks up an Excellence in Writing award for this review.'

Michael Jones loves it 'Faster, Louder, Harder'. And he found a great CD that fits that need! Clatterbone's With A Twisted Grin 'is Celtic on the edge, mixing rock and traditional in a wild, boisterous manner. They take the old, and give it a new spin, resulting in an album that I'm pleased to recommend. Check out With A Twisted Grin if you like whiskey in your coffee, or electric guitar with your bagpipes.'

David Kidney says 'The blues, is it just a bad dream? Is it the sound of a good girl done wrong? It's a simple formula; 12 bars, repeat and answer; absolutely basic. Some of it sounds the same. Some of it sounds completely different. When jazz players do a blues, or country singers, cabaret performers, or rock stars it all tells different stories, even though their in the same language. Here are, presented for your consideration, a collection of four very different blues albums, by very different performers all playing the blues in their own unique way.' Read his revew of these four CDs (Whiteley Brothers' Taking Our Time, Chuck E. Weiss' Old Souls & Wolf Tickets, The Blues White Album collection, and the Preachin' the Blues: the Music of Mississippi Fred McDowell collection) to get the whole story!

Chuck Lipsig never at loss for words when it comes to Celtic music looks at three Cds we got from a group called Stonecircle: Serendipity, AlchemyCeltic Seasons: Past Present and Future, and a collection called that they recorded with some other Celtic groups. Chuck notes rather interestingly 'Over the past several years, I've taken a dislike to the word, "nice." For various reason, I have come to associate it with connotations of falseness -- a word of praise used for politeness's sake, not for earned merit. I still reflexively use it, as a positive term, now and again, but I try to minimize it. So when John O'Regan writes in the liner notes to Alchemy, "There was and is much more to Stonecircle's take on Celtic forms and structures to push them beyond the borders of their music just being something "nice." I know what he's getting at.' Chuck wins an Excellence in Writing award for his omnibus review.

No'am Newman looks at three contradance CDs by David Surette and various other musicians: New Leaf, Sometimes In The Evening, and Trip To Kemper. No'am comments 'Long known as one of New England's finest acoustic guitarists, David Surette shows his versatility throughout these three discs, each one displaying a different style of music.'

Gary Whitehouse looked at two CDs in the Bluegrass vein: Hot Rize's So Long of a Journey and James King's Thirty Years of Farming. He say these are 'two discs from very different places on the spectrum of contemporary bluegrass music.' Read his review to see what he means! He also wallowed in Honky Tonk Confidential's Your Trailer or Mine, a CD he says of 'Honky Tonk Confidential is Washington, D.C.'s answer to the Austin Lounge Lizards. This five-piece combo draws on various forms of country music to make erudite, humorous musical commentary on modern American life, both inside and outside the Beltway.'

Tabatha Yeats found John Langstaff's John Langstaff Sings The Jackfish and More Songs for Singing Children to be 'cheerful, if flawed, with pleasant musical accompaniment and could be enjoyed by children age five and younger.' Read her review to see if you too think it's flawed.

Videos & Films

April Gutierrez looks at The Vision of Escaflowne, a fantasy/sci-fi anime with dragons, robots, romance, weird science... "something for everyone". Because the film is derived from two Japanese comic books, April suggests that it may appeal to boys and girls alike. This "whirlwind of high adventure and romance" certainly appealed to April.

Maria Nutick provides a superb Roald Dahl omnibus review of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. Explaining Dahl's peculiar vision of youth, Maria says 'Many children have a much simpler sense of justice than do adults. They want to see the villain punished, not converted to a kinder point of view, not given a time-out or a severe talking-to -- punished... in glorious, gory detail. Dahl understands this, and he gives these children what they want. ' Maria also invites us to applaud a 'classic in its genre', Ladyhawke, a film with Matthew Broderick, sad-eyed beauty Michelle Pfeiffer, a handsome Rutger Hauer, and the music of Alan Parsons Project. Read Mia's evocative defense of this fairytale-like story of two lovers 'Doomed to be "forever together, eternally apart'.

 

That's all for this edition. I'm still searching for that oversized tea cup I mentioned last edition, the one I need for the Mad Hatters Tea Party I'm organizing, but the Queen of Hats says she'll make the hats for that event and our Seussian Festival, so that matter is settled. In the meantime, I'm off to the Green Man archives in search of the Bloomsday guide I know is somewhere in our extensive Celtic section. Or was it filed in the Performance section... I'll have to ask our sidhe librarian, Liath ó Laighin, a most knowledgable member of the Summer Court, where she put it. The fey, for reasons I've never understood, have a real fondness for James Joyce and his novel Ulysses, so it's possible that it's in her office in the Fourth Tower. Or the Summer Court may be doing its own Bloomsday this year!

3rd of March 2002

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities.' -Dr. Seuss

 

I didn't yet find the oversized tea cup that I was looking for last week, but the rabbit with the watch was very helpful, so I should find one soon. (One person did say, 'Go ask Alice...' but I couldn't find her. Odd... ) In the meantime, our rather amazing staff has a number of great reviews for you, ranging from the choicest of Celtic music to a number of ever-so-tempting works of fiction, including a look at Robert Holdstock's Ryhope Wood series. So let's join that waist-coated rabbit and have some Earl Grey tea and crumpets while we look at this week's edition...

Books

Kate Brown reviews yet another book about Jethro Tull, one of her favorite bands. Alan Hodgson's The Phantoms of 3000 Years is a look at the history and customs mentioned in some of Jethro Tull's songs. Kate found the book a bit confusing, though informative.

Jennifer Byrne looks at A Traditional Music Journey 1600-2000: From Erris to Mullaghban, a sort of musical memoir by Maire Nic Domhnaill Gairbhi. This nonfiction work examines the traditional musical heritage of Connacht and South Ulster, and includes memories from the author's childhood. But Jennifer found the book frustrating and difficult to read. Check out her review to find out why.

Richard Dansky gives us a thoughtful and in-depth overview of Robert Holdstock's important Ryhope series, which includes the books Mythago Wood, Lavondyss, The Hollowing, and Gate of Ivory Gate of Horn. Richard bemoans the difficulty of describing such complex works, but his effort garners him an Excellence in Writing Award. Richard also turns in a review of Tom Holt's comic novel Snow White and the Seven Samurai. Richard explains, 'Tom Holt is not Terry Pratchett. Oh, it's easy for us benighted Americans to confuse the two. After all, they both write humorous fantasy, they both abuse beloved characters from folklore and fiction, and they both are fond of the sort of hyperextended metaphor that forces the reader to laugh in self-defense. In other words, they're both really funny. That, however, is where the similarity ends.' Read his review to find out what Tom Holt is really like.

Christine Doiron is a new staff member who submits two excellent reviews this week. She takes an approving look at Jack Cady's The Hauntings of Hood Canal, a disturbing novel about a canal that 'turns ugly' and snatches cars -- and the people inside them. She also reviews Papagayo the Mischief Maker, a picture book by renowned children's author Gerald McDermott. Christine thinks this book is recommended for the wrong age group. Read her review to see why. Christine wins an Excellence in Writing Award this week for these two reviews.

Judith Gennett is a musician herself, so she can knowledgeably judge music books such as Dave Webber's Summer Dusk on Country Lanes. (What a lovely title!) Judith has a mixed reaction to Webber's book of his own songs, finding the music a bit difficult to adapt, but ultimately rewarding. She receives an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.

Lars Nilsson also reviews a book having to do with music, this one called Across the Great Divide, by Steve Duggan. Lars explains, 'Fairport Convention have a core of almost fanatical fans, who to a great extent live and breathe the group. Steve Duggan is one of them. This is evident by the description he gives his book on the cover: 'A celebration of the greatest folk-rock band in the world.' But Duggan has gone one step further than most fans. He has actually promoted a concert with the group at the school he used to work in.' This book describes that promotional effort, but includes so much more besides. 

Maria Nutick enthusiastically recommends Appetite for Life by Noel Riley Fitch, a biography of Julia Child. This review is hotter than a ... but you read the review and find out for yourself how to finish that sentence. Maria selects just the right passages to make her review highly entertaining, winning her an Excellence in Writing Award.

Patrick O'Donnell reports on Norm Cohen's nonfiction work Long Steel Rail. This book has something for everyone. Patrick promises, 'For railroad fans, it's a chance to explore the music of the rails; for music-lovers and ethnomusicologists, it traverses the ties between rails and American folk music; for book lovers, well, it's just a nice, hefty, well-illustrated volume to grace your coffee table or bookshelf.' Patrick also tells you how to drive a music lover insane. You don't want to miss that!

Rebecca Swain reviews The Seeing Stone, a young adult novel by Kevin Crossley-Holland. The novel is about a young boy who sees visions of King Arthur's life in a piece of obsidian. Crossley-Holland's informative, entertaining writing style struck Rebecca most, however. Read her review to see what she liked.

Live Performances

Richard Dansky heard Maura O'Connell in concert last week, and remarks that she is 'refreshingly free from pretense despite her claims of being 'a working-class diva.' Richard's enthusiastic review will convince you to go hear O'Connell for yourself if she comes to your neck of the woods.

Recorded Music

I'm sorry to say that there are no music reviews this week, since Kim Bates is down with the flu. I'm sure we'll have a number of great recorded music reviews for you next outing!

 

Videos & Films

Asher Black has a 'violent love affair' with Luc Besson's The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. He warns, 'Art isn't always a safe bedfellow', and recommends 'a long walk or a good cry' after seeing this 'gruesome shock to the senses'. An Excellence in Writing Award goes to Asher for his comprehensive review.

Kate Brown provides a lovely and insightful review of Robin and Marian. She underscores the symbolism and some of the 'subtle emotional depth of the film' with a pertinent quotation and discussion of the 'poignant discomfort' in the love between an aging Robin and Abbess Marian. If the tale of Robin Hood seems a little too familiar, Kate's review will make it plain that there's more to the story. She was singularly unthrilled with Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, though. This one, she says, gives us not more but less than we should expect from the classic account, and Kevin Costner did not exactly make her heart pound with his portrayal of Robin.

April Gutierrez is enthralled with 'Jean Cocteau's sumptuous black and white retelling' of La Belle et la Bete (Beauty and the Beast), 'inarguably the finest version committed to celluloid'. April's review, full of enticing images, wins an Excellence in Writing Award. April also reviews a 'rollicking good yarn': The Adventures of Baron von Munchausen, a film 'blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, past and present.'

Liz Milner looks at 'a fun romp that should be taken about as seriously as an afternoon at RenFest' in A Knight's Tale. This is a film where jousting meets Geoffrey Chaucer, Queen, and a renaissance that 'Rockz!' with 'Pythonesque' humor'. Liz wins an Excellence in Writing Award for her baroque review!

Maria Nutick is normally suspicious of animated films, especially with the meager offerings of recent years. Her review of Shrek assures us that, for those equally cautious, this film is 'well worth the leap of faith'. Don't like Mike Meyers? Maria claims this film could be the exception: 'His warmth and humor bring Shrek to life in a way that, sadly, is rare in animated characters.' She would also like to know 'What the heck is up with all the crap floating in the air?' in Legend, a film which forced her to redecorate at an early age. Read these thorough reviews, touching everything from DVD features to animation, all in Maria's typically jovial style, to find out what on earth could do that!

 

We'll see you back here next week. And don't forget to celebrate the birthdate of Dr. Seuss which was this past Saturday -- have a plate of green ham and eggs in his memory!