'We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, it seems.'

-- Arthur O'Shaughnessy


31st of August, 2003

Welcome to another issue of Green Man Review. You'll want to step carefully...there are cats underfoot everywhere today. If you've had cats, you'll understand -- it's not up to them to get out of the way, it's up to you to watch out for them! If you want a faithful servant, get a dog. If you want to be a faithful servant, let a cat into your life. The Old Man will tell you more about our GMR felines in a bit.

Our theme for August has been storytelling, and of course that's part of what we do here each week as we invite you into our shared Green Man world. We could just upload a batch of reviews every week, and hire some hack to scribble a brief introduction, and if we were just a bunch of folks who wanted to see our names in bold print on a Web page somewhere that's probably what we'd do. But the staffers here are not only reviewers, they're artists in many different fields -- and GMR is not just a magazine, but a meeting of minds, and a blending of talents. Have you read the staff bios? David Kidney is a musician, a writer, and a publisher; April Gutierrez is a graphic designer; Liz Milner is a cartoonist; Scott Gianelli is a physicist -- and an accomplished musician. Writers, artists, musicians, and actors make up the staff; we live in such diverse locations as Maine, Seattle, Ireland, Cornwall, Australia, Sweden, Israel and Belgium. Our readers visit us from all over the world. We need a place for so many creative and interesting personalities to feel comfortable. And so we have the Green Man offices, a point of reference on a map that includes Narnia, Middle-earth, Xanth, Newford, Earthsea and Majipoor. There are indeed cats here, and dragons, and we're always discovering new rooms to explore. And whether you've arrived here on a broom, through a wardrobe, on a magic carpet, or through a modem, we're happy to invite you in for a drink and some good conversation. So pull up a chair, have a cup of Earl Grey, and enjoy another excellent issue brought to you by music makers and dreamers of dreams...who happen to be some damned fine reviewers to boot!

'Once upon a time, an Oxford professor, who also happens to be magnetic public speaker (and the two do not necessarily go together), has developed a comfortable life for himself teaching mostly attentive students, speaking to adoring audiences, and even writing a series of children's books whose many readers send him letters telling him how magical the stories are. 'Pain,' he trumpets with easy authority to assembly after earnest assembly, 'is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world.' His name is C.S. Lewis...'

So begins Grey Walker's heartwrenching review of a heartwrenching film about a portion of the life of one of the most beloved authors in literary history. Or, a film loosely based on a portion of his life. Is it always necessary to be absolutely accurate when approaching biographical material? Or is capturing the essence of the story worth the sacrifice of detail? You might ask a fan of Braveheart or A Beautiful Mind that question. Grey shares her views on the subject, and wins an Excellence in Writing Award for this beautiful review of Shadowlands.

Tim Hoke has an omnibus review covering ten books this week! The books in question are Volumes Three, Four, Five, Six, Nine, Ten, Thirteen, Fourteen, Sixteen, and, err, one extra in The Kitchen Musician's Tunebook Series. Tim says, 'These tunebooks are almost tunebooklets; they are very slim volumes, the thickest ones being twenty pages long. That doesn't leave room for a lot of tunes, as you might guess. What makes these so convenient is that each volume is compiled around a theme.' Read Tim's review for an overview of the theme of each volume, and an explanation as to why sometimes it's nicer to have a thin, thematic tunebook to work from, rather than 'the 246-page revised O'Neill's'.

Michael M. Jones reviews three books for us this week, the first two being 'middle books' in ongoing fantasy series. Wild Magic is the second title in Jude Fisher's Fool's Gold trilogy. Michael says, 'While one could argue that Wild Magic suffers from 'middle book syndrome', it certainly furthers the multiple storylines considerably, and leaves us dangling on some very painful cliffhangers, as the main characters plunge further into chaos and danger. At the same time, enough answers are dropped into the mix to satisfy some curiosity, and raise plenty of speculations.' The Dragon of Despair is the third novel in Jane Lindskold's series starring Firebringer, a young woman who was raised by wolves and is now a major player in the political affairs of three imaginary nations. 'Originally, I'd thought this to be the last in a trilogy,' says Michael. 'However, I'm pleased to be wrong on that matter.' Read his review to see why, and what you can look forward to in this 'continuing quintessential story of the feral child all grown up, with plenty of skulduggery, intrigue, and adventure all thrown in for good measure.'

Michael's third review is of a collection of retold fairy tales intended for fourth grade children, Rosemary Lake's Once Upon a Time When the Princess Rescued the Prince. Michael begins and ends his review by saying, 'On the one hand, I really, really, really wanted to like this. I am a sucker for retold fairy tales.... [But] ultimately, I'm going to recommend this, with reservations.' Read the rest of Michael's review to see what his reservations are, and where he thinks Rosemary Lake excels as a thorough researcher.

When Nick Mamatas asked Jason Erik Lundberg if he'd review Nick's new book, 3000 MPH in Every Direction at Once, for GMR, Jason initially told Nick that he's taking a break from reviewing to pursue graduate school. 'But I started reading the book two nights before classes started,' Jason says, 'and couldn't put it down.' Jason's review describes this irresistable book, which is a collection of short stories and essays, in a way that's convinced us that you might like to hear about it, too.

Maria Nutick here. I must admit, I so look forward to seeing reviews from Rachel Brown in my inbox that I sometimes just contact her and beg for something, anything...this is because Rachel, in addition to being a wonderful writer, so often sends in reviews of films I've honestly never heard of. And then I have to add another film to my 'must-see' list! This week she discusses a Korean movie called Volcano High. Rachel says 'Volcano High is a Korean action-comedy-special effects extravaganza set in a high school in which all the kids and teachers have psychic powers and spend more time dueling than studying. With a premise like that, Volcano High can’t help but be entertaining. And it is. Intermittently.' Go read her review to see if 'intermittently' is enough to make it worth watching.

Will Shetterly has been reviewing the DVD sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for us. This week we're up to my favorite season of the series, Season Three. In his superb review of a superb season, he tells us '[I]n many ways, season three is the perfect conclusion of the story of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It builds to Buffy's graduation, as a high school student and as a student of the Watchers. It even builds to an appropriate graduation from first love. If you want to stop watching Buffy at its artistic peak, stop here.' Brilliant man, that Will Shetterly. Read his Excellence in Writing Award winning review of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Complete Third Season to see if you agree with me.

The Old Man here. You did know that the Pub, like all of the Green Man building, is really ruled by the felines who live here? I don't know how many precisely are here, but it's a bonnie bunch. I think that Ysbaddaden, named after the King of all Giants from the story of Culhwch & Olwen and sometimes affectionately known as 'Bad Daddy' by the human staff, is the oldest of the ones here. He's probably all tortie but it's somewhat difficult to be entirely sure due to the amount of 'markings' that he's picked up over his very long life. Fiercely loyal and protective towards the other cats, he still packs a hell of a wallop and a frightening turn of speed for an old 'un, and I've got the scratches to prove it! But he can be quite mellow at times -- he's been known to spend hour upon hour curled up near the Neverending Session listening to them play. His purr's almost loud enough to drown out the music!

'Yawn... Where's my blanket?' asks Tim Hoke. Lynn Morrison's Cave Of Gold put him almost to sleep: 'This CD has several qualities that I would normally complain about. There are those keyboards playing out in the ozone, hypnotic note patterns and soft singing. Without fail, the arrangements are slow and sleepy; Cave Of Gold is a real snoozer. Ah, but that's the idea! This is a collection of lullabies.'

African artist Kasse Mady Diabate's Kassi Kasse gets a rave from David Kidney:' It begins with a kalimba, I think, although none is listed on the liner notes; a solid rhythm, a chant, 'Eh Ya Ye' and African singing. They are telling the story of a sorceror who had a gift for conjuring. There are some nice acoustic guitar fills. The rhythm is intense, overwhelming. Some choral singing, and a repetitive riff on a variety of African instruments. This is authentic music, from Mali in West Africa. It was recorded in the village of Kela...and the sound is wonderful. The playing is seemless, and the singing superb.'

Canadian label Borealis always produces fine work. Two CDs, Ken Whiteley's Acoustic Electric and Le Vent du Nord's Maudite Moisson!, that are reviewed this outing by David are no exception. Read David's review for all the details.

David rounds out his reviewing with an appreciative look at Lonesome, On'ry and Mean: a Tribute to Waylon Jennings: 'I hear there's going to be another Waylon Jennings tribute album. It'll probably feature some big names, and A-list songs, but it can't possibly be any deeper felt than this album produced by Chuck Mead, Dave Roe, Scott Robinson and Dan Herrington. So long Waylon, it's been good to know ya!'

Peter Massey found Canadian artist Shane Simpson and his CD, More Electric, to be a pleasant affair: 'I would file this album in the Country-Rock section of my library. My wife said it makes a pleasant change from just listening to folk music day-in and day-out, and I can also see it making its way to my son's music system as well. The lyrics are young, it's tasteful, and it's damn good. Lend it an ear -- see what I mean.'

If it's not Scottish, it's shite. Well, not quite, but North Sea Gas' Dark Island and John Wright's That's the Way Love Is get the once-over from Lars Nilsson: 'Two records without any self-penned songs; one folky, one contemporary; one group, one solo singer; one very Scottish, one more English, though including a lot of American songs.' Sounds good to me!

The CD, Jodee James's Little Birds and Quiet Places, that Lenora Rose reviews this week had far too much noise (literally) and not enough signal to make it a good listening experience for her: 'Well, the bad news is that I can't review the Jodee James CD at all decently. The hideous static crackle is, if anything, worse on the second copy, though there's some inconsistency in how the flaw manifests, especially if one experiments by trading copies, or grits one's teeth to find out just how bad it can get.' Now go read her review to see why she actually listened to whole $#@ album!

Ernie Hawkins' Mean Little Poodle and Ragtime Jack Radcliffe's Hottest Hands In Town are both Southern USA roots, blues and ragtime respectively. And, as notes Big Earl Sellar, 'It's important that older musical styles don't die out, and these two discs prove that these two genres are each in good hands. Both Hawkins and Radcliffe have wonderful takes on their respective traditions, and both are well worth seeking out.'

Mike Stiles gets baroque on us as he reviews two CDs, Dominig Bouchaud and Cyrille Colas' Water Sun and Sara and Maynard Johnson and The Rogues' Consort's Pass'd Times: he exclaims that these are a 'delightful pair of CDs giving us some period and regional tunes.'

Green Man does review Classical music as we did with the Aaron Copland sets that Sony sent us, so I wasn't all that surprised to hear that Mike was reviewing A Day in New York, a CD by Paula Morelenbaum and other musicians on the Sony label. But this isn't Classical music 'tall: 'This is a CD of piano bar smarm Jazz.' Ouch! How do you figure it fared in the hands of our reviewer?

Ysbaddaden and his brood are telling me that 'tis time for their eventide feeding, so I'll take your leave now. (Jack Merry's supposed to be feeding them, but the bugger is no where to be found. All I know is the revised and expanded release of Jethro Tull's Songs from the Wood was snatched up by him earlier this.week. No sign of him after that. Nor of our Tull reference materials. I wonder what he's up to? Now where did the kitchen staff put that leftover game cock from last night? Ahhh, there it is!

Thank you for visiting our offices once again. Come back often; you're more than welcome. Should you ever lose your way, we're just next door to 'once upon a time', half a block down from 'happily ever after' and around the corner from 'straight on til morning'. Just look for the cats...

 



24th of August, 2003

'Have another drink
and just listen to the music.'
-- Charles de Lint,
Forests of the Heart

Reynard here. I'm the publican in the Green Man pub, and I play concertina in a number of bands with Jack and Bela, two of the many fiddlers who seem to inhabit this place. May I pour you a pint? And put your jacket and boots over by the fireplace so they can dry out. Yes, I know it wasn't supposed to storm, never know what we're going to get for weather here this close to the border!

Maria Nutick said last week, 'Some say that the Neverending Session in the Pub will eventually play every tune and tell every story that there is to play and tell -- and then they'll just turn 'round and start right back at the beginning, of course.' Well... not exactly. They've never actually played the same tune twice, nor told the same tale more than once, as they -- and we as the greater culture that Green Man and the Neverending Session are an aspect of -- are always creating new tunes, telling new tales. Just take Bela, who says he was born in Central Europe, in a country which no longer exists, and whose last name would hold no meaning to those who heard it. Is this a true story? Maybe, maybe not. But as John Jones of the Oysterband sings in 'One Green Hill':

'My people are the poor ones
Their country made of stones
Their wealth is in persistence
In stories and in bones....'

So we'll keep telling you tales about what's going on here at Green Man and providing you with reviews as long as you care to visit us.

Oh, and if you see Cat Eldridge, our Editor-in-Chief, you might remind him that his vacation is over. When the editorial staff met earlier this week, he was conspicuously absent. Nor could they roust him out of the Robert Graves Reading Room (he's been in there for a few weeks reading Medicine Road, a forthcoming work from Charles de Lint, and all of the new Year's Best Fantasy and Horror). One of the brownies who was bringing him tea in the afternoons says he mumbled something about visiting the Library at Evenmere, and that was the last any of them saw of him.

(Cat here. My vacation's for the whole month of August. Now go away!)

Craig Clarke was on a roll this week. He's brought us four reviews, two of them omnibus reviews, for a total of six books reviewed! His first omnibus review is of two related mysteries by the illustrious Sharyn McCrumb, Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool. Both of these books have as their protagonist electrical engineer and science fiction author Jay Omega, and both mysteries revolve around the insular and often bizarre world of fandom. 'The Jay Omega books aren't about to change the world,' says Craig, 'but they are a lot of fun to read.' Another entertaining duo of books are The Drive-In novels by Joe R. Lansdale, which Craig covers in his second omnibus review. Entitled respectively The Drive-In: A B Movie with Blood and Popcorn, Made in Texas and The Drive-In 2: Not Just One of Them Sequels, these books are silly, over-the-top 'horror' stories full of 'sex, violence, very little plot, and a hell of a lot of fun.' So why was the first Drive-In novel nominated for both the Bram Stoker and World Fantasy Awards? Read Craig's review to find out.

Craig's third review, which garners him an Excellence in Writing Award, is also of a rather odd but entertaining bit of fiction, Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. Craig says, 'Choke is the story of Victor Mancini, who makes his living by pretending to choke in expensive restaurants, depending on the old Chinese tradition that whoever saves your life is responsible for your welfare forever.' Um, so what exactly is the link between this rather bizarre novel and GMR's book reviewing focus — which is folk lore, folk tales and fiction with some sort of folkloric theme or tie-in? Well, aside from the fact that protagonist Victor attends a sex addicts recovery group which is full of every urban legend regarding sex out there, the book was recommended to us by a GMR reader. Yes, you remember 'William', who wrote to us in June, recommending the writing of Chuck Palahniuk? Craig (who just so happens to be the Letters Editor), acted on William's recommendation. And he's glad he did. 'I'm not sure if it's a 'good' book,' he says, 'but I know that I was carried quickly from start to finish.' So there you have it. We do read our mail here at GMR, and we pay attention, too! Thanks, William.

But Craig isn't done yet. For his final review, he takes a look at a new graphic novel, Kolchak, The Night Stalker: The Devil in the Details, by Stefan Petrucha and Trevor Von Eeden. Craig has several criticisms to make of this book, which is based on a 1970s TV series, Kolchak, The Night Stalker. But we can't quite give Craig a Grinch Award for this review, because in the end he admits he rather likes the book. '[It's] a pleasant thriller that in some ways outdoes some episodes of the series,' he says. So we'll give Craig another Excellence in Writing Award instead, for a knowledgeable, detailed review.

Master Reviewer David Kidney has written a short story, entitled 'Me & the Devil Blues', inspired by blues legend Robert Johnson. So it's not surprising that he was eager to review Robert Johnson: Lost and Found, written by Barry Lee Pearson, a professor at the University of Maryland, and Bill McCulloch, a career journalist and one-time blues musician. 'Together they have set out to debunk the myths which have surrounded Johnson like a thick vine, to trim off the suckers, and to look directly at Johnson's accomplishments as a blues musician.' Do they succeed? Read David's review to find out.

Kelly Sedinger has two reviews for us this week, the first of The Royal Road to Romance, a book of memoirs written by famous travel writer Richard Halliburton. Kelly says, 'What's most valuable here are the way Halliburton continually finds wonder and beauty just about everywhere he looks, and his clear belief that the world is not a place to fear but rather a place in which to take joy.' Read the rest of Kelly's Excellence in Writing Award-winning review to see why this book should be a reference source for all fiction writers engaged in 'world-building.'

Kelly also takes an indepth look two books by Gene Wolfe, Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Arete, recently republished in one volume by Orb as Latro in the Mist. Kelly found Latro's story to be slow, difficult reading, but definitely worth the time and effort. We can't pull out one quotation from Kelly's superb review without giving away the whole thing, so let's just say you need to go read it! It will send you straight out to find Latro in the Mist for yourself. And, naturally, Kelly wins another Excellence in Writing Award for this one.

Wes Unruh is back with his ongoing overview of George R. R. Martin's fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. This week he reviews Book Three of the series, A Storm of Swords, which he says is just as fine a piece of writing as the first two titles. In fact, he says, 'George Martin crafts a reality as solid and as detailed as anything anyone else has written in any genre, ever.' High praise, indeed!

And Thomas Wiloch finishes up our book reviews with Under Cover of Night, a collection of short stories by Mary SanGiovanni. The underlying thread of all the stories in this collection is 'chilling horror', says Thomas. It won't take you long to read his review, but when you do you'll see why a review doesn't have to be long to be thorough and to give you a perfect sense of what to expect from the book being reviewed. We don't have a Hemingway Award here at GMR (if we did, Tim Hoke would have won it several times already), so we're giving Thomas an Excellence in Writing Award for an excellently succinct review.

Issue the Tenth of The Book of Tales is up this week. In this column, which we publish once or twice a month, we cover short fiction and folk lore found elsewhere than in the books we usually review, such as magazines, Web sites, and so on. For this issue, Matthew Scott Winslow makes a thorough exploration of a recent issue of Black Gate: Adventures in Fantasy Literature, a relatively new magazine devoted to short fantasy fiction. Matthew's review gives you as complete a sense for what this magazine is like as you could possibly have without actually holding it in your own hands, and his review wins an Excellence in Writing Award.


Maria Nutick here. So, what's a Film Editor to do? Here we have Craig Clarke, masterful Letters Editor, superb reviewer, and one of my very favorite people here at Green Man -- and he's written an absolutely scathing review of one of my all time favorite satirical films! Pouting won't help, and the Chief wouldn't be happy if I snuck into the Gallery of Souls (that's the room on the fourth floor where we display the exquisite miniatures of each staffer created for us by Liath's distant cousin, who is an accomplished sculptor) and stuck little pins into the Craig figurine. I guess I'll take the high road and simply hand Craig his Grinch Award and congratulate him for yet another well written review. Now go read his review of Lake Placid and see what you think, while I go sulk in the corner. Hmmmm, maybe just one pin...



Jack Merry here. The lads and lasses in the Neverending Session discovered a keen new reel this week. They said it was written by Paul Brandon, author of one of the finest novels of recent years, Swim the Moon, who has a new novel, The Wild Reel, coming out early next year. They're learning it in honour of Paul's new Brisbane Celtic band Rambling House, which will be playing here later this year. Let's listen in for a while as they play his 'The Rolling Home Reel' while we look at the reviews this outing...

Tywanna Jo Baskette's CD is something that Craig Clarke liked a lot: 'This level of truth has been replaced so much by artifice that it is refreshing to see it surface again. She will likely get lost in the shuffle of singer-songwriter albums and that is unfortunate because Fancy Blue is a record that hits all the right notes, just not the ones you expect.'

As Spike put it to me, 'What the &^%$# is National Lampoon's Lemmings doing being reviewed on Green Man?' Let's have Craig explain: 'National Lampoon's Lemmings is a parody of the Woodstock Festival. It takes the 'peace, love, and music' idea and adds 'mass suicide' to it. Half a million youth, gathered together on a farm in New York for the 'Woodchuck Festival of Peace, Love, and Death' to commit mass suicide...' Errr... Read his review please. And then you can tell me why we're reviewing it!

Two releases by Richard Thompson, 1000 Years of Popular Music and Ducknapped get a joint review from Master Reviewers David Kidney and Gary Whitehouse. Read their Excellence in Writing Award winning review to see what they thought of these CDs!

Laurie McClain's The Trumpet Vine; A Tribute To Kate Wolf found great favour with Peter Massey: 'this is one of the nicest collections of a songwriter's work I have had the pleasure to listen to. This really is a fine album produced by a singer that deserves wider acclaim. Laurie McClain sings with a 'down home' honesty in her voice, and her choice of material indicates experience learnt from the University of Life. I recommend you buy this album, you won't be disappointed.'

Up All Night is the latest from The Waifs. Not 'tall surprisingly, Lars Nilsson really, really likes 'em: 'The Waifs are a new discovery to me, but I like them very much. The album has been running quite a few times in various CD players in the house over the last days and it will certainly be played a lot even after this review is finished. If you like people like Bonnie Raitt you should really check it out. I assure you it will be worth your time, money and effort.'

Foot Stompin' sent us two CDs in which Emily Smith plays a role: her CD, A Day Like Today, and the Let Scotland Flourish collection. Consider this review by Lars as your introduction to the 'pick of the new generation of Scottish folk musicians.'

Whether this CD is perfect is not an issue for Lenora Rose as she likes the small 'flaws' in Ingrid Heldt's Love Matters: 'This is not modern folk music. It's a lovely album in the style of pre-rock pop, influenced by some modern singers, but just as often influenced by jazz. But for the electric nature of the background, most of the songs could have been recorded in the forties. Her vocal style, too, while high and beautiful, has an old feel, as if someone had magically stripped the scratches and crackle from an ancient record. It's not a polished gem of a voice, but a 'burrs in the sweater' voice, lovely in part because it has a mild creak.'

Grant Livingston's The One That Got Away and Let Me Off The Leash are best avoided in the opinion of Big Earl Sellar: Someone once said, 'Comedy is the most difficult of the arts.' Hoo yeah, brother! And it's an art that should best be avoided by some. Listening to these discs by Floridian Grant Livingston are a great case in point. More 'pleasant' diversions aren't what the music world needs.' Read Big Earl's review to see why he thinks the world doesn't need more musicians like this one.

'Mention Hungarian music in a sentence,' says Barb Truex 'and the word gypsy will inevitably follow. But as is the case with stereotypes, that doesn't give you the whole picture (a lot of it, but not all of it). The Rough Guide to Hungarian Music takes you all through this small country (as well as some surrounding areas) and gives you a peek at the diversity that lies within, from the many different traditional styles to the new music infused with influences from technology and other world music.' Interested? Go read her Excellence in Writing Award winner of a review to find out more about the diverse world of Hungarian music.

Comet and Jane are two CDs from Cordelia's Dad, a band which any Boiled in Lead fan will know of. Gary Whitehouse notes that ' Cordelia's Dad is one of a number of acts that started as a punkish rock band in the early Nineties and morphed into a roots band by the end of the decade. The Massachusetts-based combo went further into their roots than most, however, and ended up unearthing and performing traditional American music from the 18th Century on.' Read his review to see how they fare on these recordings!

Full Exposure did not fare as well with Gary: 'Cory Morrow is part of a new and apparently bottomless supply of Texas country-rockers riding on the coattails of several earlier generations of outlaws, from Willie Nelson to Robert Earl Keen. Full Exposure is an ambitious mostly live CD, paired with a DVD anchored by the same live performance (which will be reviewed elsewhere in GMR). I wish I could say that it's something more than your standard Texas frat-boy party-time country. But it's not.'

Ahhh, a lovely reel indeed!

Now let's head up to the The Edna St. Vincent Millay Reading Lounge to hear Grey read 'Cold Comfort', a story by Paul which he adapted from Swim the Moon.

Did I mention that things get a bit weird here at Green Man sometimes?

(Jack here -- things are always weird here -- it's just a matter of how weird they are!)

(Grey here -- And yes, we've mentioned it. Many times. Jack says it most often.)

(Only 'cause it's true. Sometimes.)

Ahem. Ignore them, and consider the matter of the man who truly believes in Babbage Machines... Yes, the ones that form the basis of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's The Difference Engine. I thought they were a mere whimsey of a mad engineer, but apparently not!

This fellow was in the Pub last week explaining to all who would listen that he was doing research on the history of these computing devices, which he said actually existed. I told him I have no doubt that the Green Man library has material on these machines. Apparently, they were the size of railroad cars, and they might have been shunted around an England that never was. (The library also has maps of such places as the Republic of Northumbria -- where I am a citizen -- and commentaries on music that was not written in this universe, let alone performed. Not to mention the writings of Mad Merlin himself, who supposedly visits us every few centuries.)

I don't believe everything I hear! But his tale was told so well that we could picture the clacking of the immense gears in the Machines, the hiss of their coal powered engines, and the multitudes of mathematicians running around them. Liath, our Archivist, was so impressed by his storytelling that she granted him access to all of the material in the library -- even the things she has not yet archived -- in hopes he might find something that would truly earn him accolades from his peers.



17th of August, 2003

If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a prayer, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

-- Shel Silverstein, Invitation

Maria and Ryan Nutick here. Our theme this month is storytelling...a bit redundant perhaps, because isn't that always our theme? Isn't storytelling, through prose and poetry, lyric and melody, acting and dance, really the whole point of it all? And we don't just mean Green Man and the authors and performers we review. In a scene from Empire Records, one of our favorite films, a character named Eddie claims 'You gotta understand something. This music is the glue of the world...it holds it all together. Without this, life would be meaningless.' Now, Eddie's referring to Poky Little Puppy and Pink Floyd, among others, but surely we can say the same of Fairport Convention, King Biscuit Boy, Apocalyptica, Boiled in Lead, Hedningarna, or the Flash Girls.

It's happened to all of us, hasn't it? We turn on the radio or pop in a new CD, and suddenly there's someone singing our own story back to us. Singing as if they had written the song specifically for us. Who sings your stories? For us, the Nuticks, Maria has Billy Joel and Cat Stevens, Gorky Park and Gaia Consort; Def Leppard and ABBA, the Chieftains and AfroCelt tell Ryan's tales. Some say that the Neverending Session in the Pub will eventually play every tune and tell every story that there is to play and tell -- and then they'll just turn 'round and start right back at the beginning, of course.

And it's not only music. We love authors best when they tell us our own tales...whether Holly Black, A.A. Milne or James Stoddard, we know when they've been spying on us, don't we? And don't art critics say 'It speaks to me...'?

We've a compact issue for you this week, as it's high summer and so many of our folk, including Chief Cat Eldridge himself, are on well deserved vacations. But never fear, unlike some backwater vanity magazines, we have a team of editors ready to step in and make sure that we've something tasty for you every week no matter what. So let's see who's telling our stories this week.

'Is newer a priori better? Of course not, but the challenge to be new and trend-setting is always there. Consider how many yet-unpublished authors strive to find that something different so that they can get a contract and become published. On the other hand, consider how within the fantasy genre, repetition is what sells books. Consider the fact that the bestsellers tend to be either part of a series or books by familiar authors that don't cover 'new ground'. If you're the editors of a series that purports to present the year's best short writing [in the fields of horror and fantasy], this dichotomy of the new vs. the old is one that must be considered. With sixteen years of creating such anthologies, Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow have once again proved that they can balance both.' Yes, you guessed it, Matthew Scott Winslow is talking about the new Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthology. Read the rest of Matthew's Excellence in Writing Award-winning review for a thorough examination of Volume Sixteen of this series, which has become the standard for superb writing and editing in its field.

Also, as Matthew mentions in his review -- and as you may have heard elsewhere -- this is Terri Windling's last volume as fantasy editor for YBFH. In the next few weeks, we'll publish an interview with Terri and Ellen Datlow about YBFH and what it's been like to edit it all these years.

Nathan Brazil picked up one of the Anita Blake, Vampire Executioner novels by Laurell K. Hamilton the other day -- and ended up reading the whole series. Noticing that we'd only reviewed a couple of them, including the first one, he offered to review the second and third books in the series, The Laughing Corpse and Circus of the Damned. Naturally, we said, 'Yes!' So here you go. More about Anita Blake, who Nathan says 'takes more hits than the head of a nail, [and] keeps on going.'

Rachel Manija Brown reviews the first two titles in the graphic novel series Lone Wolf and Cub, The Assassins' Road and The Gateless Barrier. 'Lone Wolf and Cub is an ultra-violent samurai manga series,' says Rachel. 'It's also a remarkable work of art... The elegant black and white illustrations sometimes portray the delicate beauty of the Japanese countryside, and sometimes the blurred and furious action of a sword moving faster than the eye can track. The characters are archetypal but realistic...' Read the rest of Rachel's review to learn more about this series by writer Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima.

Leona Wisoker looks at a novel about folk music and murder, Black Is the Colour of My True-love's Heart by Ellis Peters. Originally published in 1967, recently republished by Time Warner, 'this is a book of music, of silence, of words; it has love, hate, and all their analogues. Myths and fact combine to wrap the storyline in a heavy cloak of authenticity. This is a story of high passion and cool deliberation; it dances through the morals and minds of another age and gives the reader a wide window into the world of folk music and ballad-singers.' And, obviously, Leona thought it was wonderful.

In addition to his great work editing the Letters section, Craig Clarke always brings us interesting film reviews, and this week he positively boggles our minds with the juxtapostion of horror and...um...well, we'll get to that in a minute. First up is a trilogy of dark psychological horror films all directed by the same man: Joseph Ruben, who Craig calls 'a genre-spanning director of films like Dreamscape and True Believer that, while not classics, are examples of solid storytelling.' Certainly Ruben's films have been successful in warping classic family relationships into something much darker and far more twisted. See if Craig thinks he lives up to his own reputation with The Stepfather, Sleeping with the Enemy, and The Good Son.

On a possibly more frightening note, Craig's been babysitting for friends, and in the course of his duties has been required to submit himself to (shudder) what passes for children's entertainment these days. Even worse, the kiddie's choice of fare was a pair of Nutcrackers: Barbie in the Nutcracker and the Care Bears Nutcracker Suite. Are they as bad as they sound? Well, you'll have to read his Excellence in Writing Award winning review and see, but here's a taste: '...I'm all for children being introduced to classical entertainment on their level. After all, my first memories of classical music are from the Looney Tunes. Having said that, The Nutcracker and colored bears with weather symbols on their admittedly adorable bellies (sunshine, moon with star, stormclouds, rainbow, etc.) were simply never meant to go together.'

Oliver Wendell Holmes said that 'a pun is the lowest form of wit.' Of course, Oscar Levant said that 'a pun is the lowest form of humor -- when you don't think of it first.' Who was right? After you see this film, you'll have an idea. Film Editor Maria Nutick 'spent nearly [an] entire hour laughing' at Pun-Smoke, 'a documentary filmed at the 25th annual O. Henry Pun-Off World Championship in Austin Texas.' Read Maria's Excellence In Writing Award winning review to hear why she wasn't disa-pun-ted.

Webmaster Ryan Nutick steps up this week, with a review of an amazing film set in the near mythical world of rock and roll. A film 'loosely based on the real-life experiences of director Cameron Crowe,' Ryan says that Almost Famous 'is not a caricature of Cameron; this seems to be an honest glimpse into what it was like for him.' Go read this insightful review to find out what it's like to watch this film which garnered multiple Oscar nominations for cast and crew.

David Kidney brings us a review of the performance by Blackie & the Rodeo Kings at the annual Festival of Friends in Hamilton, Ontario. Their performance closed out the festival this year, and the band was in rare form. Tunes from their latest album, BARK, dominated the show. BARK includes 'some of the finest songs that they've' ever recorded and David lauds them as 'perhaps the most exciting band in Canada today'. Reading the review may not match up to being at one of their shows, but it should give you a reason to seek out a show or CD from them in the future...

Jack Merry here. Excuse me while I wipe the rotten tomatoes off meself. A record company executive who thought we had dissed his wife in a review we did organized a demonstration against us outside of the streetside entrance to our building. It's quite amazing how thin the skins are of some folks -- even the slightest criticism can cause great offence. It certainly was an interesting sight; masses of aggrieved musicians, producers, and poobahs from various records companies holding up signs that said things like 'Green Man is unfair to singer-songwriters' and 'We demand you link to favorable reviews now'. So who threw the rotten tomatoes at me, you ask? Spike says it was some aging country musician who thought I was another reviewer who has said unkind things about his vocal skills -- didn't realize I was just helping out with security. Spike says it's the rowdiest crowd he's seen here since the Greens objected to being excluded from the Devolving Europe meeting that we hosted a few months back. Hope they leave soon -- the Neverending Session musicians are getting annoyed at their noise!

Now that I've changed into a fresh Eddi and the Fey Tour t-shirt, let's see what we've got for reviews...

Three CDs by Randy Kohrs (A Crack in My Armour, Sing and Play Country Music, and Everything That Slides) caught the ear of David Kidney: 'Randy Kohrs first came to the attention of Green Man Review when he played Dobro on the third of Dolly Parton's bluegrass albums Halos & Horns. I said some nice things about his contributions there, and he sent me a selection of CDs wherein he is the leader. This music is in the clear bluegrass tradition of those albums, and while we don't have the benefit of Ms. Parton's wonderful voice, there is plenty here to keep the bluegrass fan happy.'

Spike and David have been discussing, in a rather heated manner in the Green Man Pub, what the ^%$#* the Blues are. No, they didn't come up with a nice, easy as ribs on a July afternoon definition, and as David notes over a bowl of Brunswick Stew with a side of corn bread: 'The blues. It's hard to define, even in its simplicity. But all over the map people are still responded to those three chords, those twelve bars.' You'll have to read his review of four Blues CDs (Tommy Castro, Jimmy Hall, and Lloyd James' Triple Trouble; Tony Furtado and the American Gypsies' Live Gypsy; Glamour Puss' wire & wood; and Doc Watson's Trouble In Mind: the Doc Watson Country Blues Collection 1964-1998) to see what &*^%$ he thinks the Blues are.

Rachael Davis's Minor League Deities was an interesting affair for Peter Massey: 'Rachael Davis is virtually an unknown on my side of the pond. However I have a feeling that situation will soon be rectified if this album is anything to go by. The first time I clapped eyes on the album cover -- a photo of a very pretty young lady looking like model -- I thought,'mmm very nice - but can she sing?' Well, yes she can! And what's more she sings like an angel. Rachael has a voice that makes love to you…puts me in mind of the first time I heard Eva Cassidy. There is an old saying in P.R 'sex sells' and with an inviting voice like this -- I suggest she's one to watch.'

Wicked Tinkers' Banger for Breakfast is the fourth disc by that Celtic group we've reviewed, and their first live CD. Is it as good as their previous outings? Maria Nutick says yes as she notes here: 'The recording is really well done for what must have been almost entirely outdoor, open air shows. Wayne Belger's didgeridoo on 'Those Marching O'Neill's' from Hammered rumbles through the speakers like doom...you'll want to turn up your base when you listen to the Tinkers as their music is an incredibly visceral experience.'

Gary Whitehouse found a good one in neo-swing violinist Andrew Bird and his CD, Weather Systems, but don't expect Swing here! As Gary notes, 'Languid, atmospheric music is the order of the day, with nary a swing in sight. This is beautiful music, somehow lush and sparse at the same time. Lush, in that the strings are layered and sometimes looped, the vocals are airy, light and echo-laden; sparse in its generally stripped-down instrumentation...' Hmmm... I think our resident Balkan violiinst, Bela, would approve!

Now I must see if Spike needs any assistance in keeping the crowd at bay... Spike, you may not use the fire hose on them!



There you have it, dear readers. Come back next week, as usual, for more quality fare. And this week, while you're going about your daily routine, you might think about this: who's telling your story -- and whose story are you telling?

10th of August, 2003

'Far away in a meadow
There is a small castle
Built of ivory and dewdrops and dreams.
And there is a fair maiden
Who lives in that castle
And she walks through the meadow and sings...'
 
-- lyrics by Nile Johnson


Welcome! I'm Grey Walker, Aigne, Book Review Editor, and your host for this issue of the Green Man Review.

Cat Eldridge, our Editor in Chief, is taking two weeks off. (Need I mention that this vacation conveniently coincides with the recent arrival of the new Year's Best Fantasy and Horror? I thought not.) 'I'll be in the Robert Graves Reading Room,' he said. 'Hopefully, no one will find me!' It's quite possible. There are places a person can step into and emerge in another time or place. Or never emerge at all. And if you go in after that person, you may find yourself in another place altogether, a place they, well, aren't. Ryhope Wood. Tir na Nog. The Wardrobe. Luthe's valley. Myst.

Now, I'm not saying for certain that our Reading Room in the library here at GMR is such a place. I really don't know. Liath does, I'm sure, but she never answers questions like that, and she has a way of looking at you when you ask them that makes you forget what you were asking until you're back out the door and halfway down the hall. What I do know is that the Reading Room has lots of high-backed, deep chairs in odd alcoves, and the shelves are arranged to obscure the organizational structure of the room rather than reveal it. This isn't always a bad thing. If you want to find something fast, the reference room is your bailiwick. But if you want to read for hours, undisturbed...

We've got an issue that looks like both the Reading Room and the reference room this week. If you want to find information about a book or album or film quickly, whizz through the highlighted links below. What you're looking for isn't there? Then scan our organized and weekly updated indices to see if it's been reviewed in previous weeks.

Or, if you'd like to just wander randomly and comfortably through a half dozen -- or so -- intriguing reviews, noting titles you think you might like and following links to author and artist sites, then keep reading. And here's a starting wander for you: Terri Windling's Endicott Studio has just put up a new issue, and it's a lovely collection of fresh treasures, including a poem by Jane Yolen. Take a look, and then wander back here for the rest of what our reviewers have laid out for your delectation...

Rachel Manija Brown brings us our featured review this week. Lucy, Neil Gaiman's young protagonist in the just-released The Wolves in the Walls, 'is sure there are wolves in the walls. She can hear them at night, prowling and carousing. So she tells her mother. 'I'm sure it's not wolves,' said her mother. 'For you know what they say... If the wolves come out of the walls, then it's all over.' 'What's all over?' asked Lucy. 'It,' said her mother. 'Everybody knows that.'' Rachel says that this collaboration between Gaiman and artist Dave McKean is just as good as you'd expect. It's 'a charmingly surreal trifle full of dream-logic twists and rhymes begging to be read aloud, featuring unexpected appearances by strange people and rowdy wolves.'

Rachel Manija Brown brings us another review this week in addition to the one featured above. This review is of A Coalition of Lions, the second novel in a series by Elizabeth Wein (we've also reviewed the first in the series, The Winter Prince). Rachel says of A Coalition of Lions, 'While the politics are murky, the relationships between the characters are clear and compelling. Wein's large cast of characters are distinct, memorable, and complicated the way that real people are complicated. There are no Dark Lords here, only men and women struggling to do the right thing under difficult circumstances.'

Author James Gurney has always loved anthropology, art and dinosaurs. What happened when he combined his three loves? Dinotopia was born! Faith J. Cormier reviews the first two ground-breaking Dinotopia books for us this week, Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time, and Dinotopia: The World Beneath. 'These are true graphic novels,' Faith says. 'The intricate illustrations do not just complement the text, they complete it, and some elements of the story are told only through the illustrations.' Read the rest of her review of these unique books, which have spawned take-off novels, a movie and a TV series.

Christine Doiron asked us to let her know if we thought her review of Castaways of the Flying Dutchman by Brian Jacques was too harsh. Not at all! But it is an honest assessment of a book that Christine found less than thrilling. 'Absorbed at the beginning,' she says, 'from page 51 on I felt like I was counting down the pages, trying in vain to hurry my way through a plodding scavenger hunt.' Compare this review with Faith J. Cormier's glowing Redwall review from last week, to see how Jacques may be an uneven writer.

Eric Eller recently got lost in Michael Cisco's novel, The Divinity Student. 'Serving up radical visions framed around a quest for strange knowledge, The Divinity Student is a mind-bending look at the bizarre... Cisco writes with a dark hyper-sensuality, like Tanith Lee on Ecstasy.' Sound intriguing? We thought so, too.

Michelle Erica Green, who recently read Dan Brown's bestseller, The Da Vinci Code, liked it so much that she went back and found Brown's earlier novels. This week, she reviews Angels and Demons, which has the same protagonist as The Da Vinci Code, Harvard professor Robert Langdon. Michelle says, 'As a thriller, Angels and Demons proves a bit of a disappointment, for the red herrings are predictable and the guilty party's motivations are difficult for most modern readers to relate to personal experiences. But until that point, the story is told so stylishly that it hardly matters.'

And last for books this week, Will Shetterly wins an Excellence in Writing Award for his friendly, informative review of Seven Seasons of Buffy: Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Discuss Their Favorite Show. Will begins his review by warning, 'If you're not a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this book isn't for you, and this review isn't, either.' He finishes the review with: 'This book's weakness may be its strength for its audience: most of the writers love the show too much to be truly critical. But then, I suppose I do, too. If you're tempted to read it, follow your instinct.' In between, he gives a basic overview of the essays collected here, with tempting bits to entice you, including a link to one of the essays, which is available on the Web.

Letter Editor Craig Clarke is an Albert Brooks fan. He says that Brooks '...always stars in his own films and he has a charming, sad sack quality that invariably elicits empathy. His movies -- which include Real Life, Modern Romance, Mother, and The Muse -- generally showcase his foibles and make him out to be a lovable loser; he is Woody Allen without the manic side.' This week the ever timely and perceptive Craig reminds us of a Brooks film that fits perfectly into this month's theme of storytelling: Defending Your Life.

'I don't fully understand it,' muses David Kidney, 'but for some reason the DVD format has been more effectively used by bluegrass and country musicians than by musicians in all other genres combined. Perhaps it is easier to translate the quiet viruosity of fiddle, dobro and flatpicked guitar; of gentle close harmonies; of downhome lyrics and good people than it is to display strutting, preening rock gods in their splendour. But, the fact remains, from Jerry Garcia and David Grisman's Grateful Dawg, and the star studded Down From the Mountain to Norman & Nancy Blake's quaint My Dear Old Southern Home this music comes across beautifully on the DVD format. The living room with stuffed couch and bowl of popcorn is a fine setting for good pickin' and grinnin'. And the bonuses...well shoot, they're a bonus!' I'm sure you realize, dear readers, that Mr. Kidney is reviewing a bluegrass DVD for us in this issue! Go read his review of Alison Krauss + Union Station LIVE to find out if this DVD lives up to David's high expectations!

Will Shetterly is the third staffer to attempt a review of our final film offering this week. In a staggering display of dedication, he claims that he actually made it through 'two-thirds of it in one sitting before I nodded off, and the next day, feeling obliged to check the end for the sake of this review, I only fastforwarded through about half of the rest...' That's at least a third more of the film than either of the previous two staffers could manage! We'd give Will a Grinch Award for this review, except that he kept reminding himself to be nice. Ah, well. Go on and read his sanitized thoughts on the Hallmark version of Alice in Wonderland.


Activity here in the mail room is definitely cyclical. We'll go for long stretches without a single letter, and then all of a sudden the dam breaks loose. The last three weeks averaged out to three a week, but I received over half of them in the space of about four days. Some of them may make more sense than others, but they're all worth a read.

Jeff Boyes sent in a poem regarding a particular What's New page that is now in our archives. The only thing is that no one on the staff can tell if it's a laud or a slam. The letter sounds one way, but the text of the poem seems to portray different feelings, making Mr. Boyes seem guilty of furry thinking.

Much clearer in their intent are our other letters. Steven Ehrenberg wrote to praise Gary Whitehouse's review of Calexico's Feast of Wires, saying it deepened his perception of the album. Meanwhile, Cat Eldridge's review of the Horse Flies' live recording of In the Dance Tent was to Mike Eckhardt as a dunked biscuit was to Marcel Proust--it brought all sorts of memories of that concert flooding back. Now I'm not saying that this is Mr. Eckhardt's In Search of Lost Time but it's full of genuine feeling nonetheless.

Cat also caused JD Billy to wax literate with his review of Like Water for Chocolate. JD finally saw the movie because Cat said...well, just read the letter and Cat's equally appreciative reply.

In a blast of serendipity that is becoming very common in the mail room, two folks wrote in from different parts of the world--on the same day--to agree with David Kidney (in his American Western Film Omnibus Essay) that Bonanza just wasn't the same after Adam Cartwright (played by actor Pernell Roberts) left the Ponderosa. The reminisences are by Melissa James (US) and Dale MacLeod (NZ).

Bob Jackson wrote in to defend Aidan Quinn's imperfect singing in Songcatcher, calling it 'moving' and 'soulful.' Read his letter and Liz Milner's response. Then Cornelis van Dam wanted to let Liz know he didn't appreciate her comments on the titular subject of Tapani Varis' Jews Harp album. You can read his thoughts and some of the other artists he recommends people hear to get a feel for this underappreciated instrument.

Jack Merry here. Grey Walker, who's in charge of Green Man as our Editor is on vacation right now, just reminded me that I hadn't written the music commentary yet, so I'm now in me office looking over the reviews this week. I'd rather be down in the Pub qauffing a pint of Brains Traditional Welsh Ale while listening to Mia and company tell tales of mad fiddlers, comely wenches, and pirates. So let's get this done...

Maggie Keane's Happy Day CD did not get a thumbs up from Richard Condon. No doubt some music journos like her as Richard notes in his lead-off: 'Dublin based singer-songwriter Maggie Keane was described in 1999, on the Web site of Cork music venue the Lobby Bar, as the 'hottest new international discovery.' The writer claimed that her 'unique style' had been likened to The Cranberries, Bjork, and Enya. I am surprised that he did not mention the Corrs as well, as I found this extended play CD, issued last April, much closer to the mixture of pop and ersatz folk music of that group than it is to either Bjork or Enya, although perhaps it is not a million light-years from the Cranberries. The resemblance to the Corrs is probably more than coincidental, since one of Keane's regular accompanying musicians is Conor Brady from that band. There is also more than a suggestion in her singing of Sinead O'Connor, to whom other critics have compared Keane.' Read his review to see why he thinks they are wrong!

John Langstaff, who has a long and llustrious career, has had two of his fifty year-old albums re-released as CDs: John Langstaff Sings At the Foot of Yonders Mountain and John Langstaff Sings The Water is Wide. Are they worth your time? Oh, yes as David Kidney comments that 'In the days before rock and roll; before the era of compact disc and mp3; before vinyl, 8 tracks, cassettes; even before 78rpm records, songs gained popularity because they were sung. Sung and played. The family gathered in the front room, around the piano, maybe someone played a fiddle or a guitar, and from the sheet music a tenor or a baritone, a soprano or an alto, would sing. The folk songs, the classics, even new songs which were rushed out in printed form to waiting music lovers. This tradition is all but forgotten in today's society of easy access to entertainment. Revels Records is bravely reissuing a series of CDs which seek to recapture the immediacy and intimacy of those days. Their motto is 'building tradition through music, dance and drama,' and these two discs by John Langstaff provide an interesting introduction.'

David found a CD that caused rampant nostalgia: Ray Materick's life and times. (Spike, who just wandered into me office, says that most everything makes David feel nostalgic these days -- even bad punk bands!) Think we're being unfair to David? Wrong! Just listen to David: ' When I was scuffling around, playing coffeehouses for busfare and coffee, back before I even drank coffee, there were some models for me to emulate, or not. One of them was Stan Rogers, and my experiences with Stan will be told some day; but another was Ray Materick. He had a book of poetry out, and a record, both with the same picture on the front, a bearded guy down the street with a guitar. Then Ray Materick signed to Asylum, and had a hit single. You could not escape hearing 'Linda Put the Coffee On' anywhere that season. Canadian radio played it almost hourly as I recall. The Asylum album had better songs, but the powers that be knew that 'Linda...' was the hit. And on disc two (entitled '70s Stuff) of this two disc set 'Linda Put the Coffee On' is the lead track, and the only song from that first Asylum album.'

October Project is a folk rock band that has seen its fortunes go up and down over the years as the band has shifted personnel and even split off into odd mutations such as the december girl. (I kid you not!) Their latest EP, different eyes, is a gift to all of us says David: 'Songwriting is first of all about melody, and the link between all my disparate musical tastes is just that...they are musical, they have melodies. As a fan I appreciate this generous gift from October Project. As a reviewer I appreciate the craftsmanship and technique that this second look, with different eyes has brought to these songs. And I recommend this small package to all who are searching for a break from the mundane, who are willing to use different ears to hear this ethereal and delicate offering. Thank you Marina, thank you Emil, thank you Julie. I look forward to the full album.'

David gets around: 'I was in a meeting last night with a group of musicians and Mose Scarlett was there. He stood up, unfolded his long legs and walked across the room to greet me. 'Dave Kidney...we finally meet!' his deep voice rumbled. Even in conversation his voice is resonant and melodious. I had reviewed several of his albums (with Ken Whiteley and Jackie Washington; and an album with a variety of guitarists and had received an e-mail thanking me for 'getting what they were doing.' I thought...how could someone not get what he's doing? Mose Scarlett is not a songwriter. He is one of those people who performs other peoples' songs. He takes the notes and the chords, and the words, and puts them all together, with his own distinctive stamp and creates something new under the sun, out of those raw materials.' Read his review of The Fundamental Things to see why Mose has turned out another brill album!

He finishes off his reviewing with a Blues collection worth seeking out: 'In 1972 the Rolling Stones released a double album called Exile on Main Street. It was a ragged and rocking collection of bluesy rock'n'roll, dirty and grubby, just like the Stones had first appeared when they cracked the American market in 1964. Do you remember that first time we saw them? Hollywood Palace? Dean Martin was the host, and he introduced them in that whiskey soaked voice...'I been rolled when I was stoned before...but I never saw nothin' like this.' After Mick and the boys played, Martin announced a commercial break, 'You're not gonna leave me here with those Rollin' Stones, are ya?' They were not clean and acceptable like the Beatles, and in 1972 Exile... underlined the fact that they were in a category by themselves. The people at Telarc introduced an interesting series of recordings a few years ago. Collections of songs by well known artists done by current blues performers. We've seen a Nick Lowe set, the Beatles Blues Album and a Dylan set, Blues on Blonde on Blonde. Now Telarc's stable of artists takes on the Stones' classic with Exile on Blues St.'

(Spike here. You forgot to note that everything David did this outing got an Excellence in Writing Award. Sometimes the %$#@& bugger is just too *&^$ good!)

One of the nice things about writing for Green Man is we all get to sample lots of different sorts of music, which is how Peter Massey was the reviewer for Doch's Chasing Grasshoppers: 'If you are into Romanian or Hungarian Traditional Gypsy music you will like this album, but if you don't you will more than likely hate it! There, I've said it. I played this album to several friends and, dare I say it, 'folk musicians' before I started to write this review, mainly because the album left me with mixed feelings. The consensus of opinions from my learned friends was 'how the hell can so many good musicians have such boring taste in music.' As I said you will either love or hate it, and if you are a dyed in the wool folkie, who likes Celtic music, this may not be the album for you. But, and it's a big but, I think it is good, in fact I think it is very good. It's not the sort of music I might want to hear 24 hours a day, however it is lively and, after the first track, somewhat refreshing.'

Now it is not true that we here at Green Man have thought 'bout a bounty on singer-songwriters. (Spike here -- well, we have.) it's just there's so many bad ones out there! Amy Speace's two CDs, Fable and The Grassy Hill Sessions, which are reviewed by Lenora Rose, weren't quite that bad, but she says 'I was pleased with what I heard. Well, most of it.' Read her review to see if those CDs deserved a bounty on their creator!

Now the Puentes Brothers and their CD, Morumba Cubana, gets nothing but high accolades from Mike Stiles: in his an Excellence in Writing Award winning review: 'Alexis and Adonis Puentes are purveyors of the Cuban Son musical tradition. As children they spent much time among artists the likes of which frequented the legendary Buena Vista Social Club. Morumba Cubana is the brothers' release that follows a tour of Canada and Europe, and believe you me it was a great thing they made it to the studio.'

Now let's off to the Pub. I understand that Stephen Hunt has an interesting tale of a Cornish mermaid and her desire to leave the sea forever...



I hope you've enjoyed your time with us this week. Come again soon. The library is always open, and so is the Pub!

3rd of August, 2003

In a circle of stones they placed the pot,
In a circle of stones, but barely nine
They heated it red and firey hot
'Till the burnished brass did glimmer and shine.

They rolled him up in a sheet of lead
A sheet of lead for a funeral pall.
They plunged him in the cauldron red,
Melted him, lead and bones and all.

At the Skelf Hill the cauldron still
The men of Liddesdale can show
And on the spot where they placed the pot
The grasses they will never grow.

Leyden's ballad of 'Lord Soulis' -- recounted in Albion: A Guide to Legendary Britain,
recorded by Boiled in Lead on their first album, Boiled in Lead, as 'The Man Who Was Boiled in Lead'.

Come in! Jack Merry at your service! May I get you something to drink? Some Avalon Applejack? Or perhaps Dragon's Breath XXX Stout? Or something less lethal? Yes, the heather-smoked salmon is quite tasty, as is the fresh soda bread. If you're feeling daring in your eating, there's grilled eel kabobs that must be tasted to be appreciated. Too strange for you? Too bad -- they are quite tasty! You should have been here Friday for our feast of Lughnasadh (Brón Trogain for those of us, like Liath, who have longer memories). We celebrated the breaking forth of harvest in the usual Green Man style, with eating and music from dusk 'til dawn. Merry Lammastide to you!

See that woman over in the group at the far table? The one with red hair down past her waist and the really cool clothes, the one with the loud laugh? That's Sharyn November, Editor of Firebird Books, and the woman whom no less than Jane Yolen calls the punk goddess of children's publishing. Sharyn's visiting us to learn all about Anglo-Celtic stories of a mythopoeic nature, as we're looking at all aspects of storytelling during this month. And yes, that's a diet Mountain Dew she's sipping -- we had to order in a case because the Green Man Pub doesn't normally stock it, but we honour all requests of our guests unless they are, errr, distasteful, as sometimes those of the Fey can be.

British and Celtic folk and fairy stories fascinate the Green Man staff, as can be demonstrated by the number of reviews in our archives covering this subject. I was telling Sharyn that one of the best books for sampling these tales is William Butler Yeats' Mythologies, which is a collection of stories first published as three separate collections, The Celtic Twilight, The Secret Rose and Stories of Red Hanrahan. Liath, who used to visit with Yeats on occasion, likes this collection as well. One of our staff opined that Marie Heaney's Over Nine Waves is a better choice; he thinks that Yeats can be a bit obtuse, whereas Heaney presents the stories in a sparse style, quite different from the more poetic renditions of Yeats and the like. One of me favourites, A Bag of Moonshine, is from Alan Garner, author of The Owl Service, and I think 'tis an essential part of any serious folklore collection. Me wife Brigid traded a baker's dozen of her mincemeat pies for a first edition! Children of all ages will appreciate these tales of boggarts, gowks (a spectacularly dumb idiot), hobgoblins, changeling salmon, babies driven to dance madly by fiddle music, ladies of the lake, and wee not-so-green men who badly mislead travellers late at night.

April Gutierrez says that a a favourite of hers is the Ella Young collection, Celtic Wonder Tales, of which she says 'it's title, Wonder Tales, is a good fit to the stories within. Although it's not stated in the book, you can infer that the poet (Young) definitely interpreted, if not translated, the tales herself.' Grey Walker, of course, put her oar in for the Mabinogion itself -- the Everyman edition that was translated by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones.

Maria chimed in that it isn't just books, no matter how good they be, that we can use to brush up on this subject. The Robin of Sherwood video series gives a unique look at this English myth with a uniquely Celtic spin on the story. And Sharyn noted that Firebird has republished Robin McKinley's excellent take on the Robin Hood myth, The Outlaws of Sherwood, which I reviewed enthusiatically.

Another video worth seeing is The Secret of Roan Inish, which deals very nicely with the Selkie story. The Old Man recommends Paul Brandon's Swim the Moon, a novel also based on this myth. Maria also recommends The Wicker Man, as she notes that the Celtic pagan rites shown in this film are well documented in many academic texts.

Two copies of Swarb! Forty-Five years of Folk's Finest Fiddler were sent to Green Man -- one's now in the posession of our Editor, the other went to Stephen Hunt who had the distinct honour of reviewing it. Did I even need to say that he got a well-deserved Excellence in Writing Award for this tastefullly written, insightful review of 4 CDs worth of the very best of Dave Swarb? Of course not! Just savour his coda: 'I could spend the rest of the week happily extolling the virtues of this wonderful set, but you'd just get bored and my editor would go into deadline-induced apoplexy. Did I mention anything about Swarb's reaction to reading his own (premature) obituary in The Daily Telegraph yet? Or recount the tale of the swimsuit photo-session involving Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick and a weight lifting Swedish glamour model? No? Oh well, surely, by now, you've already decided to buy this, haven't you?'

(Cat here. Deadline-induced apoplexy, no; more than a bit anxious, yes. After listening to the set here and finding it to be as good as the Carthy and Fairport sets from Free Reed, I was more than a bit anxious to hear Stephen's take on this set. I was not disappointed!)

It was a task worthy of Telemachus. I'm referring to Christopher Tolkien's editorial work on the twelve volume History of Middle-earth. Just this year, HarperCollins UK has released the History in a three volume set. Liz Milner was the obvious choice to review it. As she says, 'a review of all twelve volumes threatens to be almost as long as one of Tolkien‚s books,' so she's writing her review in three parts. We're publishing Part One this week, with the others soon to follow. When you read it, you'll agree that Liz more than deserves an Excellence in Writing Award! We'd also like to thank David Braun at Harper Collins UK for sending us the new set for review.

Faith J. Cormier is becoming known around here for her dab hand at series overviews. If you haven't already, check out her omnibus reviews of David Eddings' The Tamuli and The Elenium. This week, Faith takes a broad view of the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. We have reviews of individual Redwall books already, and we'll have more for you in the weeks to come, but what if you haven't read any Redwall yet, and are wondering what it's about overall, or if you'd like the writing style? Then you'll definitely want to read Faith's Excellence in Writing Award-winning review, in which she talks about the food, the names, the richness of the language, and other common threads that run through this popular series.

April Gutierrez is working her way through another series, Stephen King's The Dark Tower. She's already reviewed the first book in the series, The Gunslinger, and now she has for us a review of The Drawing of the Three: The Dark Tower II. 'Always a master of small details,' says April, 'King here turns that talent loose on his characters, unveiling new aspects of each player with each turn of the card.' Follow April as she reviews this entire series, finishing up with the newest story in the Dark Tower epic, to be released later this year by Viking.

Grey Walker looks at two books this week, the first a collection of essays on children's literature by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alison Lurie, Boys and Girls Forever: Children's Classics from Cinderella to Harry Potter. Grey says, 'Lurie writes like the best sort of anthropologist or sociologist.... She's fascinated by children's stories, by their authors, by children themselves, and her enthusiasm seems to have simply brimmed over in the form of these essays.' Grey also has high praise for the second book she reviews, Robin McKinley's new 'young adult' novel, Sunshine. 'A novel about vampires, set in a alternative-history modern 'North American' city, is a bit of a departure for [McKinley],' Grey says. 'Or is it? Right away, Sunshine is recognizable as a McKinley heroine. She's resourceful, she's practical, she's sturdy and plain, she reads a lot.' Grey asked us to let you know that Sunshine isn't due to be released in bookstores until October, but she says you'll definitely want to start saving your quarters (or shillings) to buy it as soon as you can!

Matthew Scott Winslow is the only reviewer this week who really disliked the book he reviews. Tad Williams' latest 700 page novel, The War of the Flowers, left Matthew cold. While this is certainly a negative review, it isn't quite a candidate for the Grinch Award. Nevertheless, Matthew has a couple of nicely Grinchy things to say. For example: 'By the time the monster from faery shows up, you want Theo [the main character] to cash it in because you are quite sick and tired of his whining life.' Read the rest of the review for a thorough (if not quite Williams-length) explanation of why this novel fails to deliver a satisfying story.

Tim Hoke got a real treat in the performance of medieval Spanish music by The Ivory Consort last week. The group presented a compelling mix of religious and secular music from the Christian, Sephardic Judaic, and Islamic traditions of medieval Spain. Featuring a mix of medieval instruments, the performance of 'Music in the Land of Three Faiths' provided Tim with an opportunity to explore the differences and similarities between the three faith traditions of Spain. Read Tim's review to find out why he left asking the question 'Who expected this to be so much fun?'.


Reynard here. The music editing staff decided, not surprisingly, to hold their weekly meeting here in the Pub where they could listen to the two Swedish fiddlers who are part of the Neverending Session right now. So I volunteered to write the commentary for this week as it appeared that neither Kim nor Jack would be in any condition to do so once Gary generously provided a case of Young's Double Chocolate Stout which those two found particularly pleasing! Not to mention that they seemed more interested in Cat's information on The Wild Reel, Paul Brandon's second novel which is due here in galley form very shortly. (Our review of his first novel, Swim the Moon, is featured on his Web site.) This novel is an urban fantasy set in Ireland (partly), but mostly in Brisbane, Paul's Australian adopted home city. It should be interesting to see how 'an entire Irish Faerie Court [which] is a little out of place in the sub-tropical streets of Brisbane...' copes!

Yet another of the many, many Rough Guides that we've reviewed gets a sort of thumbs up from John D. Benninghouse: The Rough Guide to the Music of the Balkans. Though not completely pleased with it, he says ' if you're not already an expert in Balkan folk music and are curious where bands like Reptile Palace Orchestra receive inspiration or are just keen on an aural adventure, then add this CD to your collection.'

The Best of Wild Asparagus is reviewed by Vonnie Carts-Powell: 'Wild Asparagus is one of the premier contradance bands in New England. But what works well at a contra dance doesn't always translate to an excellent CD. The very things that are necessary for dancers -- a steady beat and repetition in the tunes -- can limit a CD.' Read her review to see why!

Steve Ashley's Speedy Return was, according to Michael Hunter, out of print far too long: 'I bought this album in LP format when it came out (the US version, on Gull but distributed by Motown) and at the time, found it a bit tricky to get into and not as immediate as Stroll On. Now, nearly 30 years later, I must confess that it was not the music at fault but perhaps the fact that it requires a certain level of maturity to appreciate it properly. On fresh, digital listening, it is utterly charming and enjoyable and still contemporary sounding, despite the inevitable 1970s style production...'

Joe Karrman has more Balkan music for us this week, this time filtered through a modern form: jazz. Joe says that the Vasilic Nenad Balkan Band and their leader, Nenad, 'have taken a leaf from Bela Bartoks' book and collected a bunch of traditional tunes and folk songs from Serbia, Vojvodina, Kosovo and Bosnia, and transformed them using an improvised jazz template, which on paper may sound suspect, but it really does work' See what else he has to say about the Nenad Band's CD Folk Songs.

Peter Massey was a lucky bastard as he got to review Robin Bullock, Al Petteway and Amy White's A Midnight Clear, a Celtic Christmas album that he says of: 'At the time of writing this review there are only about 182 shopping days to go before Christmas, so what I have told you might be useful when planning your list of presents. This album would obviously make a nice Christmas present for anyone. Good background music at dinner party or in a supermarket -- certainly. In truth the music content can be enjoyed at any time of the year, as witnessed by your intrepid scribe sitting in his deck chair with his headphones on in the garden enjoying the sun, writing this review. Why wait until it is freezing cold to enjoy the music!'

Double Chocolate Stout wasn't the only thing that caught the attention of Jack Merry this week. Four Celtic CDs that had escaped reviewing also caught his fancy.

The first one was the newest from Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham: Spring The Summer Long: 'Yawn, another bloody brilliant album from a duo, Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, who can do no wrong. So why should you get excited? Are you completely daft, man? This is Aly Bain on fiddles and Phil Cunningham on damn near everything else (accordion, whistles, cittern, piano, keyboards, trump, mandolin) with more than capable assistance from Malcolm Stitton acoustic guitar, and bouzouki and Stuart Nisbet on acoustic guitar, dobro and pedal steel. How can you not like it? Do you 'ave not a touch of magic in your soul?'

The Mollys' Hat Trick was a mixed affair for him. Jack has raved about the early CDs here in the Pub many, many times, but this CD was 'feels a bit off, a bit sour tasting, when compared to many of the other albums that the Mollys have done. I thought I might be being a wee bit fussier than usual so I indulged meself by listening to their other albums. I wasn't being fussy was what I discovered -- it's not as good as this is my round, Tidings of Comfort and Joy, or Wankin' Out West but better than Moon over The Interstate and Only a Story. It seems to me that the troubles that would later tear the band apart and lead to Catherine either leaving or being kicked out of the Mollys, left the band less than entirely enthused about this project.'

Jack picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for his look at Nightnoise's The White Horse Sessions. Jack has a few pithy comments on the matter of Irish Traditional music: 'Their music is a fusion of jazz, traditional Irish, and impressionistic post-classical music, mostly written by the group's members, with the exception of 'Moondance' by Van 'the Man' Morrison In most pieces, the Celtic influences are somewhat subtle, with some traditional tunes standing out. The overall impression is of graceful, polished playing as the instruments here are fiddle, piano, flute, and whistle. Now I can hear grumbling from the more traditionally inclined musicians out there who think this sounds like New Age twee. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But I'll wager you a case of Dragon Breath XXXX Stout that you can't find anywhere a definition of what instruments and which tunes comprise proper Irish trad? Surely not Simon Jeffe's 'Music for a Found Harmonium'? Ahhh, what about 'The Philadelphia Reel'? It's trad, 'tisn't it? (No, it was written by Phillipe Varlet.) And accordions? Are they a traditional trad instrument? I think not. Me point is, more or less, that what Nightnoise is doing will someday be considered trad. And bleedin' fine trad at that!'

Last week Kim Bates took a look at a couple of re-released Kathryn Tickell CDs, and this week Jack picks up where Kim left off with a review of another Tickell offering. Would it be safe to say that Jack is a fan? Well, he does mention that for him, 'there's such thing as a less than perfect Kathryn Tickell CD'. Go read his review of The Gathering to see if this CD is true to form.

All of us are now headed over to the Robert Graves Reading Room in the Library, because Jane Yolen's up there reading from her Tam Lin to a group of children from the School of Imagination, while Adam Stemple, her son, plays Scottish tunes. Oh, you heard about the rather striking tartan they are wearing? That's the Douglas plaid which is for their clan.

Jane has even told us that she'll be singing! We are hoping that she'll also read a bit from her novel, The Wild Hunt, when she comes back in her role as the Winter Queen this coming Solstice. (We'll soon find out if the Robert Graves Reading Room is where it was this morning. It has been suggested that the Library is itself a living being which reshapes itself as it pleases, so no one knows for sure where anything is!)

Some final notes of a related nature. The chapbook of Jennifer Stevenson's short story, 'Solstice' (designed by Grey Walker), has been signed and numbered by Jennifer. For those who expressed interest in having one, please contact Cat Eldridge. Grey's now working on the next Green Man chapbook -- Emma Bull's 'A Bird that Whistles', the prequel to her legendary War for the Oaks .

I am very pleased to note that Emma Bull has graciously given us the first look anywhere at her forthcoming novel, Territory. She notes 'Territory is a historical fantasy set in Tombstone, Arizona Territory, in 1881-1882. Yes, it deals with what I've taken to calling the Matter of Tombstone: the events surrounding the gunfight behind the O.K. Corral, and the enmity between the Earp brothers and what came to be refered to as the Clanton Gang.' Go read the rest of her delightful note for all the details!

Characters of Sharyn November and Jane Yolen used with gracious permission of their counterparts this side of the Border!

Paul Brandon and his band The Rambling House appear by kind permission of the band. The Wild Reel will be published by Tor early next year. Check back here for more details!



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Updated 31 August 03, 09:00 GMT (MN)