Sunday, the 15th of January, 2006

'The heavy moldings around the door and windows, the shelves, the pedestal table, were oak; the chairs were high-backed and upholstered in a dark fabric full of birds and flowers. The shelves were anywhere the windows weren't, except for the floor and ceiling. The rug under the table and the smaller ones by the windows were deep red, figured with detailed geometric medallions in many other colors. There were lamps on brackets and on stands by the chairs, and a huge oil and candle chandelier over the pedestal table. Reading after dark, it seemed, was expected.' -- Emma Bull's Bone Dance

The next fortnightly issue will be published on Sunday, the 29th of January


Ah! There you are. Hello, and welcome to the Robert Graves Memorial Reading Room here in The Library of the Green Man. My name is Iain McKenzie, Head Librarian here, and I hope you'll love this room as much as I do. Come in further, please! Just watch that the leather curtain doesn't catch your sleeve, now...

We last refurbished the Reading Room about ten years ago (watch your step, this lovely old Persian rug tends to catch the feet on the edges; I'm always worried someone's going to break their neck on it as people so often have their noses in books), as every generation or so the paneling needs a thorough cleaning and polishing, the wallpaper needs freshening up, furniture needs loving care, and the fireplace gets heavy use all winter long. But most everything is as it's been since The Library was started; my predecessor believed that the Reading Room in its present form dates to about when the Mabinogion was first written down, but you know how time is in a library, and most especially in this Library, so who knows?

The Brother Rabbit border up there is from Mr. William Morris's lovely collections, as is the floral wallpaper underneath it, and according to his daughter and fellow craftsperson, May Morris, it was inspired by the Uncle Remus stories her father read to them at the family home in Hammersmith, Kelmscott House. The windows were designed for us by a young American architect by the name of Frank Lloyd Wright, perhaps you've heard of him? And these lace curtains were made for us by some young ladies who were students of Mr. Ruskin.

Over the fireplace are my favorite pieces of art in the extensive collection here in the Green Man building -- these are studies in pencil by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones for a tapestry. I'm not sure how they came to be here, but that's in the nature of an old library, don't you think?

To further the Arts & Crafts nature of the room, we of course chose Mr. Gustav Stickley's furniture -- do please sit down here by the fire. These oak and leather chairs are Stickley originals and are over a century old now. Elegant and comfortable, aren't they? You can easily see why Green Man staffers fight over them as the best spot for reading for hours on end.

In fact, you're welcome to turn on that light there next to your chair -- it gets dark so early during the winter, doesn't it? -- and browse through what we have to offer you this week in the Reading Room. Plenty here for you to look at. But let me know if you need any help in the shelves -- I shouldn't go too deep into the stacks without the help of a librarian; all too easy to get lost, you know! The Reading Room is bigger than it looks, and gets larger as you look further and deeper in.

An advance reading copy of a forthcoming Charles de Lint novel is always a favourite read around our offices. We were fortunate enough to get multiple copies of Widdershins -- out in late spring of this year -- so our Editor-in-Chief grabbed one and retreated to the Robert Graves Reading Room to read that copy while Robert M. Tilendis took another copy back to his office to read it so he could review it. He says, despite some reservations which you can read in his Excellence in Award winning review, that he does 'recommend Widdershins very highly. As I said, chalk it up to de Lint's masterful storytelling, because he is a storyteller of the highest order. The characters alone are worth the time -- not only Jilly, Geordie, Grey and Lizzie, but the crow girls (I would love to see this book as a film for them alone); Lucius Portsmouth, the Raven who pulled the world out of a pot; Rabedy Collins, the bogan who doesn't want to be one; Joe Crazy Dog, who has the gift of peace and holds deep inside him an ancient and frightening power; Christiana, Christy Riddell's shadow, with her own not inconsiderable potency; and all the others, without exception deftly drawn and subtly colored. And of course, there is that blend of the magical and the real that only de Lint seems to be able to pull off.'

Robert also gets the other featured review this week with his insightful look at de Lint's Moonheart and its sequel, Spiritwalk. Yes, we reviewed these novels quite some time ago, but sometimes we like to do a new review of a classic work by a reviewer who has a deep appreciation of a particular writer and the work he or she has done over the years. Just consider his introductory remarks to see what I mean: 'Moonheart may very well be the first novel by Charles de Lint that I ever read. I can't really say for sure -- it's been awhile. It certainly is one that I reread periodically, a fixture on my 'reread often' list. It contains, in an early form, all the magic that keeps us coming back to de Lint.' Read his review to see why this is so!

Jayme Lynn Blaschke was just a bit tardy in getting this review in, which caused our beloved Editor-in-Chief to grumble at him, but this review's our Editor says was worth the rather long wait for those deeply, madly interested in thsi genre as Jayme notes: 'For all of the interesting ideas and obscure historical references unearthed, there's still no getting around the fact that for the most part Histories of the Future is a slow, tedious read. Is it worth the effort? For most readers, probably not. Only the most devoted to pursuing the historical and literary underpinnings of the genre will want to add this to their collection. For anyone else with a curiosity in need of satisfying, interlibrary loan should suffice.' Read his review to see what the choice bits of Histories of the Future: Studies in Fact, Fantasy and Science Fiction were!

Rachel M. Brown notes that 'Tokyopop is best known as a publisher of manga in English translation, but it's also becoming well-known as a publisher of original English-language (OEL) manga. What separates OEL manga from American indie comics is a matter of some debate, but usually the art style, pacing, and storytelling of OEL manga are significantly influenced by that of Japanese manga. Both OEL manga reviewed here are the first volumes of projected trilogies, as Tokyopop commissions original manga in sets of three, and both are shoujo' Go read her review of The Dreaming and Dramacon to see what she thinks of these mangas.

In her next review, Rachel M. Brown exclaims: 'You'd be better off not reading this review. Or the book jacket, for that matter. Close the window, step away from your computer, buy the book -- you'll like it, I promise -- and open it to the first page, and begin. Make sure you have a couple hours free, because you're not going to put it down till you're done. It's not that Magic or Madness is full of jaw-dropping shockers, like George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones; it's a much quieter book than that. It's that you're never quite sure, through the entire book, what's going to happen next, or what the truth really is about any number of issues. Also, there's something that happens about a third of the way in that I am going to reveal, because the inside cover gives it away anyway, but it would be a wonderful surprise if you didn't know it was coming.' Now read her review of this Justine Larbalestier novel for why it's so bloody good!

Russell H. Fitzgibbon's The Agatha Christie Companion is, according to Faith J. Cormier, 'definitely a work of love. Over half the book consists of detailed appendices, starting with a nearly twenty page long bibliography of Christie's works. This is followed by an alphabetical list of the titles of Christie's books and short stories, two pages of alternate titles to her books and the short story finder, which is a chart indicating which book each of her short stories is in. Finally and most remarkably, Russell H. Fitzgibbon has compiled a list of virtually all of Agatha Christie's characters: name, identity, work in which he or she appeared.'

James Gunn's Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction also got Faiths' interest: My interest in this book was twofold. First, I think the first science fiction novel I ever read was Isaac Asimov's Fantastic Voyage. In the 35 or so years since, I've read quite a few of his other works -- science fiction, science non fiction, mysteries, autobiography -- though by no means all of them, and I've enjoyed most of what I've read. Second, Isaac Asimov was a Mensan, and so am I. This always made me feel that there was a tenuous sort of connection between us....' Read her review to see if this biography met her expectations.

Kim Wilson's Tea with Jane Austen gets a glowing review despite some initial reservations from Denise Dutton: 'I have to admit I wasn't holding out much hope for anything really engaging at first. Instead, I found a treasure trove of information disguised as a coffee (tea?) table book that kept my interest and left me happily surprised. Tea lovers, cultural historians and people with an interest in learning about how one of the most basic items in our kitchen became such a mainstay are sure to find a lot to like in this book, and will probably learn a thing or two. Jane herself would probably call it a most pleasant diversion indeed, and I'd have to agree.'

Cat Eldridge says 'This week, I started reading George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series which runs, to date, to just under three thousand pages. So far what I have read in The Company -- of which The Children of the Company is the latest published piece -- suggests Kage will reach that impressive number of pages rather soon. (If you could read the next novel in this series, as I have, it is already quite close to that number.) If A Song of Ice and Fire series is anywhere near as good as the The Company series has been to date as a reading experience, I am in for a lot of pleasurable reading! But this is not a review of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, but rather is a look at the latest published novel in Baker's series. Is The Children of the Company worth reading? Of course!'

Lory Hess has a look at a forthcoming novel from Tor that Jane Yolen praised on her website: 'Jo Walton has a knack for genre fiction with a twist. In the World Fantasy Award-winning Tooth and Claw she gave us a Victorian family saga complete with siblings squabbling over an inheritance, the woes of the unwed daughters of the house, and the very important question of What Hat to Wear -- with a cast of dragons, literally red in tooth and claw.' For more on that, check out Jessica Paige's GMR review here. 'Now, in the forthcoming Farthing, her material is the mid-century British country house murder mystery. The story is told in alternate chapters through the eyes of Lucy Kahn, a reluctant visitor to the family estate of Farthing; and over the shoulder of Inspector Carmichael, who has been sent from Scotland Yard to investigate the death of one of the other guests' Read her review for all the details on this very interesting novel!

M. Jerry Weiss and Helen S. Weiss are the editors of an young adult anthology, Dreams and Visions: Fourteen Flights of Fantasy, that Lory has these words 'bout: ' A short story collection is like a grab bag; there's the excitement each time you reach in, the hope that you'll get something extraordinary and unique. All too often, though, you wind up with just a plastic mood ring. However, the next grab always awaits, with limitless potential....' Mood rings? Go read her review to see what she means!

King Kong is a creature which David Kidney finds fascinating so it was fittin' that he's the reviewer for an anthology about that ape edited by David Brin: 'King Kong Is Back: 'The recent box office appearance of Peter Jackson's blockbuster King Kong has spurred interest in all things 'kongish.' The two earlier versions of the film have been issued on DVD (and reviewed in these pages), and a two-DVD set of Peter Jackson's Production Diaries is also available. With posters and souvenirs! The soundtrack album is out, and Kong has appeared on the covers of popular magazines everywhere. It's no surprise then, that the book world should be discovering his charms.'

The Acme Novelty Library #16, a new graphic novel from Chris Ware, which has David saying that 'Ware has been putting out these semi-regular volumes for quite some time. Each of the sixteen issues has arrived whenever he had one ready. This one introduces a new story -- or two. The main portion of the book is taken up with the tale of 'Rusty Brown,' a young redheaded boy who worships Supergirl, and thinks he has just been given the gift of super-hearing. His story unwinds in the top two-thirds of the page, and a parallel tale runs along the bottom. Before long the two stories blend together, as the characters meet at Rusty's school (where, coincidentally, his father Woody is a teacher.) The second storyline features Chalky and Alice White (two new kids at the school) and as their timeline coincides with Rusty's, characters and dialogue begin to appear in both strips. Each one utilizes the frame of reference of its main character... so Rusty's panels show the Brown perspective while Chalky/Alice's panels give you their side of the story. Are you with me?' If not, go read David's review to see what he's talking about!

Moira Russell says Diana Wynne Jones' The Time of the Ghost of that 'the novel is at the same time highly comic -- especially a scene where the sisters try to reenact a scene from the Odyssey to make the ghost speak -- and this blending of the comic and unsettling, the known and unknown -- and sometimes possibly unknowable -- makes this novel a fine example of the various tricks Jones plays with genre, perceptions and expectations at her very best.' Read her Excellence in Writing Award commentary for all the deatils on this most excellent novel!

Composer Hector Berlioz's ruminations on being a working composer, as translated by Jacques Barzun, gets high praise in an Excellence in Writing Award winning review by Kelly Sedinger: 'Evenings with the Orchestra gives not just a fine example of critical writing in nineteenth century Paris, nor even just a good illustration of the cultural life in that time and place. It does all that, to be sure, but most importantly it gives us a personal look at the inner world of one of Romanticism's greatest composers. It's a book that is full of humor, fire, and love of music. So it should be, having been written by Hector Berlioz.'

Robert M. Tilendis looks at the life and music of a musician named Béla. No, not our Béla, whom I'm sure has had an interesting life, but rather Hungarian composer Béla Bartók: 'Any genuine understanding of the role of Béla Bartók in twentieth century music is contingent on knowing about the cultural context in which he was formed -- or in which he formed himself, as seems likely to be the case. The understanding is two-pronged, as Judit Frigyesi, in Béla Bartók and Turn-of-the-Century Budapest and Peter Laki, in Bartók and His World make clear. Frigyesi focuses on the cultural, social and political context of Budapest before World War I, specifically the years before 1911; Laki's anthology also gives pride of place to this period, but contains forays into Bartók's later life and activities. The two are excellent complements for anyone wanting a solid take on Bartók and his genesis.' Read his review for a fascinating look at this composer.

Robert mildly whines that 'There are too many authors in the world. Too many, at least, for me to keep up with. So it is that I treasure being able to write reviews, because I have the chance to encounter those whom I might never have encountered otherwise. Alexander C. Irvine, for example. I have to confess that I put off reading this book. Hmm, I said, a golem factory in Detroit during World War II. Oh, brother. Then I started reading.' Now go read his review of Irvine's The Narrows to see why he really liked this novel. Robert will be providing us shortly with a review of The Life of Riley, an Irvine chapbook from Subterranean Press.

Robert says 'Wim Wenders is, of course, a noted filmmaker. His first book, Once, reveals that, just in the photographs themselves. They are, in many respects, akin to movie stills, but not necessarily the ones that a studio would choose to release. The images come with stories, and sometimes the stories come by themselves. After, well, 'reading' is not really the right word; perhaps just browsing, or tasting, or... you get my drift.' Just go read his review to see what he's talking about. It's worth your time to do so.

Though we do not review bootlegs here, a serious look at them was too tempting to pass up, so Gary Whitehouse was the lucky reviewer who got to dive into Garry Freeman's The Bootleg Guide. He says, not surprisingly, that 'it's a massive undertaking. The level of detail and quality of the information are impressive. Even more impressive is the dedication -- or is that obsession -- required to put such a project together. For the dedicated or curious collector, The Bootleg Guide is an indispensable reference. Quite an accomplishment!'

A review from SPike Winch is a rare treat indeed, so it was with pleasure that I reacted when I saw his review of Henrik Bech Poulsen's 77: The Year of Punk & New Wave get turned in to the Book Editor. He shouts out, 'It says right on the front, 'Very Limited Hardback Edition.' An' it wuz directed directly to yours @#$^in' truly! Thassright! Even though my band is not even mentioned in 'ere! It must be because our record didn't come out til '78. BUT it's got everybody else! An' I do mean everybody! It's a lovely book, well in keepin' wif the spirit of punk too. All lime green an' blue an' yellow in a hefty package, the typeface thru-out is like a typewriter. I'm not familiar enuff wif typewriters to recognize the particular model of typewriter... but you get the idea! Right?' Read his Excellence in Writing Award winning commentary for all the details on this essential book for punk music fans!

The House of Eliott is a British serial drama set primarily in London during the 1920s which revolves around a fashion house of that name. As Donna Bird notes in her review, 'The House of Eliott was the creative child of Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh, who also created Upstairs, Downstairs. Like its long-running and acclaimed predecessor, The House of Eliott portrays a particular period in British history with a lot of attention to relationships between people of different social classes. The action picks up a few years after the Armistice, so it follows quite nicely the timeline established by Upstairs, Downstairs. The screenwriters make very few explicit references to historical events, but regularly remind viewers of the nature of the times. In the first series, Cousin Arthur becomes embroiled in a business that exports liquor to the United States, where Prohibition is very much in effect. A number of the male characters refer to their experiences during the Great War. Jack's sister Penelope, a regular character in the first series, is an avid feminist who founds a homeless shelter and engages in the kind of service to low-income families that later distinguishes the social work profession.' It is, as she goes on to say in her review, for 'view

Cat Eldridge says: 'Ahhhh, an English locked room mystery set at Christmastime! What could be a better diversion on a cold winters night with snow falling outside? I had heard that Hercule Poirot's Christmas was a perfectly faithful adaptation of a beloved Agatha Christie novel so I asked Acorn Media to send along copy for review. It arrived along with a set of the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes DVDs which I slipped into Craig Clarke mailbox here at the Green Man offices, as he's reviewed that series including The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes which ran in the United Kingdom on Granada TV in 1994 and was released stateside by MPI a decade later.' Read his review to read why he liked this particular tale! ers interested in the lives of women living in urban Britain between the wars, you can't do much better than this!'

Michelle Erica Green has a few words to say about a boy who never grew up: 'Peter Pan: wonderful childhood fantasy about a land where the young-at-heart have adventures with pirates and fairies, or dysfunctional parable of the dark side of childhood in which every girl is expected to play mommy and every boy wants to avoid responsibility? It's been argued that J.M. Barrie's 1904 play -- and the novel, films and spin-offs that resulted from it -- may be both. What is inarguable is that Barrie created a character who has slipped into mythology, growing beyond the stories and play that launched him into an instantly recognizable figure of the imagination who now crosses the cultural and historical restraints in which he was created.' Now go read her Excellence in Writing Award review of Peter Pan (2003 version), An Awfully Big Adventure, and Finding Neverland for her look at these cool films!

David Kidney in an Excellence in Writing Award winning review of a new film that's a remake of a very old film enthuses about the new version: 'King Kong has long been one of my favorite films. Some might say, 'it's a movie, not a film.' But that's nitpicking. The original is a stunning work of animation, blended with live action to create an entirely believable world in which a giant ape could fall in love with a screaming girl. I even loved the remake -- especially for the wonderful performance of Jessica Lange as the naive wanna-be movie star Dwan. But neither of these films could prepare me for the cinematic experience that is Peter Jackson's King Kong. It's bigger, longer, louder, scarier, and it manages to maintain the same naivete that keeps the original version on everyone's top ten list!'

Robert here, with the latest batch of letters. (I realize it's been a while, but then, you haven't been writing us very much, now have you?) Jack Merry seems to be very popular lately -- Reader Deborah Cohen notified him that Rebecca Ore does indeed have a Web site (at least), and Eddie Murphy sends plaudits on Jack's review of Little Feat -- and some commiserations on the state of the art. Mary Smith writes in with another point of information, this time on Kage Baker's Company series. Cat Eldridge says, 'We knew that.' Yours truly received a heartwarming e-mail on a cold December day from author Steve Augarde, and if things work out as hoped, we'll be reviewing his new book soon. Alas, we did have one brickbat thrown our way from Reader Gregory Garrison, which Books Editor April Gutierrez handled with her usual grace (not to mention aplomb.) Go read all of it here.

Right-oh! 'Allo everybody! SPike 'ere! Jus' back from watchin' the bum-numbing epic The New World wif me chum Dave K. Apparently he quite enjoyed 'imself, although I think I fell asleep! Much too long, not enuff battle sequences, a bit too much nature photography fer my taste...ah well, we don't all like the same things, do we! You can bloody well see that in our Music Reviews today! What a cross @#$%in' section of styles and artists! An' there's a lot of them as well...

Vonnie Carts-Powell leads off wif Eivor Palsdottir Eivor CD , a singer who hails from the Faroe Islands (a sort of high rock in the North Atlantic). Vonnie says that Ms. Palsdottir has an 'astounding voice,' which she uses to great effect on this album, and '...while she doesn't indulge in many vocal gymnastics, when she reaches high on the register she hits the notes effortlessly...This is an amazing album.' We could all use a #$%in' amazing album, right!

One-time GMR Music Editor Brendan Foreman has returned to the fold!  He has a listen to The Essential Yo-Yo Ma. About this collection Brendan says 'The cello is easily one of the most versatile of all musical instruments. Its midrange tone allows the cellist to provide the musical and emotional anchor of a given piece, much like the bass guitar is utilized in rock and pop music, but it is also high enough to provide the melody as well. Some of the most graceful, beautiful melodies become even more so when played on the cello. Oftentimes, as in a string quartet, the cello lives comfortably in between these two musical roles.' And Yo-Yo Ma plays the cello @#$%in' great as you will gather from Brendan's review! 

Lory Hess looks at four CDs of folk songs by various artists. 'If you bought every album sampled on these four disks,' she says, 'you'd have a library of over 40. If you don't want to go that far, I'm willing to bet that you'll find at least a few voices you want to hear more of. I did.' To discover which voices she liked best (and which she didn't) read the whole review!

Jasmine Johnston is our resident postmodern romanticist (wotever!). I guess livin' in China will do that to ya! She wuz diggin' Fiddler's Bid new CD . 'Fiddler's Bid is now in their fourteenth year as a band, and I can see why: their album Naked & Bare is both exhilarating and accomplished...four fiddles, a viola, and a Scottish harp, as well as some piano, guitar and bass guitar. This ensemble...sweeps and sashays its way through a series of well-arranged tracks of the sort of music one might dance to all night.' You might be gettin' the idea that Jasmine liked it!

She also reviews a handful of Norse jazz albums '. WOT!!! Norse @#$%in' JAZZ!!! I don't believe it! But Jasmine insists it is so! 'Life is about interruption. It's about a lot of other things too, but at the tender age of twenty-six, I find myself moving from staid Victoria, BC, to sight unseen Dalian, China--an interruption of saga-scale-proportions. Just as an example of the logistics involved, Dalian is also know as Dalny, Dairen, Luda, Luta, Lushun and Port Arthur... Complicated. Fractured. Chaotic. That's my life right now. But accompanying me along this piebald journey are a few rather interesting Norse jazz albums I'd like to introduce you to.' She has lots to say about them in this Excellence in Writing Award winning article.

Hans Frederick Jacobsen's Vind is Jasmine's third review of the week! She declares, 'Being a fan of traditional and experimental Norse, Scandinavian and Celtic music, I had hoped for something dreamlike and edgy, or homespun and edgy. This album is neither. I suspect the only really appreciative listener might be some exceedingly out-of-touch individual composing New Age poems from the heart by red candlelight. As an only slightly New Age sentimentalist myself, I can't appreciate the synth-heavy tracks. They reference a jumble of inchoate yet tired tropes, and so, therefore, must I.' @#$% ME! 'Piebald journeys' and 'Inchoate tropes!' Where's me dictionary? We do employ an educated bunch, don't we?

Master Reviewer, and office-mate David Kidney wuz really lovin' these re-issues of classic soul an' rock music from Raven Records. @#$%in' hell! He played 'em for about a month an' a half before settlin' down to write the reviews. First up? A disc each from Solomon Burke and Eddie Hinton. 'Solomon Burke is enjoying a renaissance, with two highly acclaimed recent albums and a live DVD. Eddie Hinton (who passed away in 1995) is also being rediscovered; a new CD of unreleased material was just advertised in British rock magazines. But the albums under review today are both from the wonderful antipodean archival label Raven Records, which seeks to re-issue some of the great lost music of our time. They've done it again!' Read Dave's review to see exackly wot they've done!

Then Dave cranked up the volume even higher for Raven's Crazy Horse collection Gone Dead Train '. Thassright, Neil Young's back-up band! They also recorded wif Ian McNabb! Dave says, 'It's amazing that so many personnel changes, so much tragedy, could lead to so many great (but virtually unknown) songs. These guys deserve to be heard. The album flat out rocks!'

Next up is a review of Peter Massey of Woven Wheat Whispers. No, not a bloody CD but a web site! 'Woven Wheat Whispers, is a new website concentrating purely on folk music distribution. Complete albums are available and it's all done by download on to your computer...I found it of particular interest because many of the artists are from the folk club circuit...[whose] albums...can be a little more difficult to obtain, certainly in the big High Street are able to pick up some albums that you otherwise might not be able to add to your collection...prices are very reasonable as well.' Very interestin'!

Resident folk babe Sophie Parks uncovers the mysteries of local music (well, local for her!) wif a review of The Banburyshire Music Box, volume 7.   'Ah, the good music review: an impartial and knowledgeable piece to encourage or discourage the reader. Well, that's what I normally aim for. But when the usually impartial reviewer is sent to review a CD and CD ROM set that hails from her home town, a town of around 80,000 people and situated in between Oxford and Birmingham, and consists of artists who are her friends and who she has seen performing regularly at the local folk club, objectivity and neutrality might well go out the window.' Who needs neutrality? Didja like it Sophie? Tell us!

Lenora Rose continues on her quest to differentiate between sweetness and saccharine in music. (I guess sweetness is The Clash an' saccharine is Captainj Sensible!) Anyway...she applies her standards to Julienne Taylor's Music Garden After describing the difference between sweetness and saccharine in music in an earlier review. 'Sweetness is like a comforting touch from a loyal animal -- saccharine is a pastel painting of a big-eyed kitten.' Lenora Rose runs up against her own definition. 'This album...runs hard into the border between sweet and saccharine. There are some tracks that stand out as wonderful examples of sweet and simple, or cool and ethereal, but all too many of them can be dismissed as just nice. So nice, and so little else, that they blur together into the background.'

The soundtracks to a couple of Oriental films provides the subject of Kelly Sedinger's review today.

He looks at the Hero and House of Flying Daggers soundtracks.  Read his informed review, 'Asian film scores often feature a blend of Eastern and Western influences. Often this involves a mixture of ethnic elements, either in instrumentation and melodic material or both, and the lush sounds of the Western symphony orchestra. The result can, admittedly, sound like a hodge-podge of styles, but in the hands of the more thoughtful composers, what emerges is a unique soundscape that is all the more refreshing in an era when Western filmscores are seemingly more homogenous every year.' An' I jus' thought it wuz all about the fancy swordplay!

Artistic @#$%in' interlude! If this wuz a Terence Mallick film...there would've been long lovin' looks at runnin' streams and clouds floatin' in the blue sky. A bit of quietly whispered interior monologue, cut to black, fade in on . . .

Senior Writer (and Letters Editor) Robert Tilendis' first review of the week! Qntal, Tristan und Isolde. 'I long ago gave up apologizing for being a sloppy romantic. At my age, I figure I'm entitled. I also have a tendency, when the lists of CDs available come out from GMR, to get a little crazy and go for something about which I know nothing. Sometimes I get burned, but more often than not, I'm delightfully surprised, or at least have a chance to learn something...Qntal is one of the pleasant surprises. I knew nothing about the group when I saw the subtitle 'Tristan und Isolde' on the list, but I figured, being a confirmed Wagner freak, that it should be interesting. It's much better than that.' Read the whole review, an' you might learn sumthin' too!

I learned that before Tom Jones's rival...there wuz annuver fella named Englebert Humperdinck! Who knew that the world could support two of 'em? This bloke wrote music!    Bob says, 'This recording (Hansel und Gretel) was obviously done not only with quality in mind, but a great deal of affection -- it's the kind of work that almost demands that reaction, quite aside from the fact that there is some lovely music here. I don't know if I would place it on our list of 'must-haves' for the basic opera library, but it is a great break from the heavy-duty tragedy of Puccini or Wagner. Maybe you should take your kids to see it next time it's performed.' I'll consider it!

Then Bob writes about a new recording of Bela Bartok's Sonatas for Violin. 'I seem to be living with Béla Bartók lately, which is not a bad thing, nor in this case nearly so exhausting as more than five hours of his music for solo piano... this disc...provide[s] a good illustration of the composer's approach to composition at various times in his career through some of his chamber music, which to me is always one the best ways to find out what a composer is thinking.' An' then, just to show how much research Bob is willin' to undertake he listens to Dr.N.Ramani and Hariprasa Chaurasia's Together. About which he begins, 'When we think of Indian raga, most of us will think of the sitar, and perhaps the sarod, the most common instrument used in performing this classical Indian music. What we don't think of is flutes, in the case of this performance of the Raga Hindolam/Malkauns a flute duet (known as a jugulbandi) that sounds in places like 'Benny Goodman Goes Subcontinental.'' Hmmm.

Finally, where he always seems to be, Master Reviewer (an' president of the Roots an' Americana Listeners Guild) Gary Whitehouse' as a lovely EIWA winnin' look at a pair of seemingly disparate CDs. One by Arizona Amp & Alternator and the uvver by Marie Frank.  'What do the No. 1 desert troubadour of indie Americana and a folk-pop chart-topper from Denmark have in common? Stick around and find out.''s Howie Gelb! But read Gary's review to get all the details.

That's about it! The music is fadin'. The ship 'as sailed and the sun is sinkin' slowly on the horizon. This epic collection of music reviews is drawin' to a close...thanks for droppin' by!

Jack Merry here. This year, in early January after the holiday season was more or less over, the Green Man editorial staff got together in the Pub to talk about what they thought were the best books, music, and other cool stuff that we reviewed this year. A spread worth of the feast in Jennifer Stevenson's 'Solstice' tale was put on for them, and the drinks included kegs and crates of Kulmbacher Eisboch, Dragons Breath XXX Stout, Young's Double Chocolate Ale, and Ryhope Wood Hard Cider, all of which proved quite popular among the tipplers. The rest availed themselves of myriad sparkling juices and teas. Come back in a fortnight to see what their choices were!



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Archived LLS 12:48 PM PST 01/29/2006