'I decided to return to the library and see what I
could learn there. Besides, I like libraries. It
makes me feel comfortable and secure to have
walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around
me. I always feel better when I can see that
there is something to hold back the shadows.'

-- Corwin in Roger Zelazny's Nine Princes in Amber

25th of January, 2004

Ah, 'walls of words, beautiful and wise.' Maria Nutick here. We're all about words here at Green Man...words about music, words about film, words about words. We read them, we write them, we revel in them. I daresay that the collective personal library of past and current Green Man staffers would number in the hundreds of thousands. We relish the finely crafted and we revile the maladroit, and we sigh over the merely mediocre.

Dear reader, do you remember when you first discovered your favorite author? That first tingle of recognition as a beautiful turn of phrase reached up from the page and snatched at your heart? That odd ache of loss as you read the last page and realized that the first adventure was over? You may never have met them, but there are authors who you know, and who know you. And whether your first love was J. R.R. Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin, or Charles de Lint, don't you feel just as much excitement and wonder when a new author inspires that same tingle?

I know we here at GMR do. And that's one of the reasons why Green Man exists; to help you find new authors who can help you 'hold back the shadows,' and to help you avoid wasting your precious reading time on literary detritus.

That, and the sheer joy of reading and writing words.

Craig Clarke has the first of two ghost anthologies for us this week. According to Craig, 'The Two Sams is a welcome refresher from what has become a decreasingly represented subgenre -- the ghost story. In the book's introduction, British horror author Ramsey Campbell compares [Glen] Hirshberg's output to the seminal work of M.R. James, Fritz Leiber, and Thomas Ligotti, and is willing to 'stake [his] reputation that history will hail him as a crucial contributor to the field.' That's quite a goal for a collection of five short stories to have to achieve, but Hirshberg appears to be up to the test.'

In his second review, Craig briefly considers leaving us for a life of freedom and adventure. Thank goodness we know he's not serious...or is he? Well, this fascinating book gives 'the pros and cons of life on the rails' as it 'include[s] poems and songs and the life stories of fourteen hoboes, from two teenage girls who dropped out of school to ride the rails (youthful energy is a definite benefit), to septuagenarians who still ride part-time...' Craig gives us a taste of the longing for freedom in this review of One More Train to Ride, edited by 'part-time hobo and full-time philosophy professor' Cliff 'Oats' Williams.

Cat Eldridge underscores my point above when he says in his review of the new Kage Baker chapbook '[W]e're spoiled here at Green Man. Really. Truly. We get to read, hear, and watch really cool material that you most likely have never heard of. It's a tough job but we generally bear up well under the burden of doing this.' He goes on to say that '[I] really love chapbooks as they amount to little tales in a handy package that can generally be read in a hour or so.' So it's no wonder he loves this really cool material: The Angel in the Darkness, by Kage Baker.

The Web site for Cat's next offering claims that '[F]rom Freetown to Istanbul, Timbuktu to Ulan Bator, it has proven its worth under less than ideal conditions. When a doctor lost in the Congo rainforests with only a few antibiotics and feral pigmy elephants for company cannot diagnose his odd spinal condition, he reaches for his handy copy of the Guide. When a family practice doctor cannot understand why a patient of 30 years with no history of mental defect suddenly begins to mimic inanimate objects, she turns to the reliable Lambshead Pocket Guide.' What is this gem of the medical world, this catalog of such maladies as Black Orgasm and Twentieth Century Chronoshock? Why, it's The Thackery T Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases, currently edited by Jeff VanderMeer and Mark Roberts. Sounds like an invaluable resource to me!

As Eric Eller observes, '[A] historical mystery must finely balance the needs of the mystery with the needs of historical evocation. Too far in either direction can cripple the novel.' He goes on to explain how and why 'John MacLachlan Gray's The Fiend in Human struggles to stay perched on the edge of this balance,' and how, ultimately, the book fails to maintain the balance. He receives an Excellence in Writing Award for this astute and equitable review.

Queen Elizabeth I as a detective? Hmmm. This could work, or it could be a disaster. In this look at another historical mystery, Eric explains that '[a]ccepting Queen Elizabeth I as a murder-solving detective, complete with her own Scooby gang, was difficult. You've got to give the author a chance to state her case, something that I struggled with. Queen Elizabeth, P.I. just didn't sit right at first. Once I got past this hang up and let myself sink into the story, the issue almost entirely faded away.' You can find out why in his review of The Queene's Christmas, the latest in a series by Karen Harper.

One advantage to having such a diverse staff is that, no matter what the subject matter, someone here is probably knowledgeable about it. Such is the case with April Gutierrez and this review of an academic text. In Twice Upon a Time: Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale, Smith College professor Elizabeth Wanning Harries 'sets out to reintroduce 21st century readers to a 'lost' fairy tale tradition; the rich, complex stories written by 17th century French women, or conteuses (French for female story tellers).' Since April knows a thing or two about the conteuses, she found 'this glimpse into their translated work, and the contrast with the better known Perrault, to be fascinating.'

Another place where we find April's expertise handy is in the world of graphic novels. Oh, she's not the only staffer with a huge collection of those, but if you need a rundown on a title chances are she knows something about it. So it's hardly astounding that she picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for her analysis of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Volume II. Unfortunately, she's not offering them any prizes for this one: 'As a sequel, Volume II is sorely disappointing in both plot and characterization, and leaves little hope of a follow-up to set things straight. While light-years better than the unfortunate movie based on Volume I, it falls far behind the high standards of that volume.'

Are you familiar with Robert Olen Butler? I wasn't, but after reading Liz Milner's Excellence in Writing Award winning review of his work, I certainly intend to remedy that PDQ!! 'Imagine,' Liz says, 'what would happen if tabloids were written by really fine writers instead of hacks. Well imagine no more, for Robert Olen Butler has done it.' Tabloid Dreams is a collection of short stories with such intriguing tabloid style titles as 'Woman Uses Glass Eye to Spy on Philandering Husband,' 'Boy Born with Tattoo of Elvis,' and 'Woman Loses Cookie Bake-Off, Sets Self on Fire.' Mr. Spaceman is a novel length expansion of one of the stories from Tabloid Dreams. Thanks, Liz, for bringing both to our attention!

'If the ghosts of the dead haunt the living, who -- or what -- haunts the dead? While this question is never explicitly asked in the dark fantasy/horror anthology Haunting the Dead, you will probably have more than a few answers after finishing the book, along with a sense of unease at the prospect of death not necessarily representing finality and peace.' Now if that doesn't send shivers up your spine...ugh. Go ahead, go read the rest of Matej Novak's review of Haunting the Dead, an anthology of novellas from White Wolf, edited by Philip Boulle.

I certainly number Neil Gaiman among those authors who I first read with that delicious shiver. I came to his work late, as I had been under the sadly mistaken impression that he was 'just some comic book writer.' Thanks to my fellow Green Man reviewers I've been enlightened! The newest books on my wish list are the Sandman series and the Death spinoffs. Rebecca Scott picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for her thoughtful look at Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life, from Gaiman and artists Chris Bachalo, Mark Buckingham, Dave McKean, and Mark Pennington. According to Rebecca, '[I]f you haven't read The Sandman, and you're wondering if you'll like it, this makes a pretty good taste-test. If you have read Sandman, and haven't yet gotten around to the Death miniseries, trust me, they're just as good.'

We'll be introducing several new reviewers in the coming weeks. Say hello to Robert Tilendis, joining us from Chicago. We welcome Robert, and bring you his first review for Green Man. Robert says that 'Jim Grimsley's Kirith Kirin, a beautifully crafted and strikingly original fantasy novel,' is 'at once an absorbing adventure, a unique coming-of-age story, and a bittersweet romance, done with great economy and elegance.' Sounds lovely, and look -- it's another small press offering!

Grey Walker has an enticing review of a book about the 'near-mythical' libation known as absinthe. 'Absinthe,' she explains, 'has had a cloudy, romantic history, and now I know why. Wittels and Hermesch tell about its beginnings as a wormwood tonic created for health benefits. They recount its rise in popularity to its cult status among Victorian poets, artists and megalomaniacs, Aleister Crowley and Rimbaud among them. And finally they discuss its controversial downfall.' The book is Absinthe: Sip of Seduction, a Contemporary Guide, by Betina J. Wittels and Robert Hermesch. Yum.

Finally, Australian reviewer Daniel Wood has 'long had a fascination with the spiritual power of Aboriginal faith. More than 10,000 years ago, the Australian Aborigines gave rise to an animistic spiritual tradition in which they infused the earth and the land with stories of spiritual beings, stories they call 'dreamings.'' Daniel goes on to remark '[L]ike the Aboriginal spiritual traditions, many Native American traditions are largely ignored or misinterpreted, or glossed over and romanticized beyond recognition, and for this reason a book like Sacred Sites Of The West is most welcome. Editor Frank Joseph's collection of essays concerning the mystical centers and spiritualized land formations of Native Americans serves as a concise, informative, and gripping investigation into how our modern world has lost or abandoned the last tenets of these animistic traditions, as well as a practical guide to the ways in which we may embark on a journey to rediscover them.' Daniel adds another Excellence in Writing Award to his mantlepiece for this detailed look at Sacred Sites Of The West: A Guide To Mystical Centers.

We hope you enjoyed this all book issue of GMR. We'll be back next week with our usual quality assortment of musings on books, film, and music. In upcoming issues, Denise Dutton will be reviewing Eragon by Christopher Paolini, Cat Eldridge will take a look at George Alec Effinger's Budayeen Nights, Matt Winslow will give us his thoughts on Lord Dunsany's The Pleasures of a Futurescope, and Rebecca Scott will review Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw. I'll be handing our Film Editor, Tim Hoke, an assortment of reviews of independent, documentary, and obscure but newly available films, such as the B-horror classic Gargoyles. Kim, our Music Editor, tells me that there are too many delicious upcoming items to list here, but if it's Celtic, blues, bluegrass, worldbeat, or just plain eclectic you can bet you'll be seeing a review of it soon!

Now, I'm off to tackle Kate McCafferty's Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl. Though I should finish up Red Tails In Love, which I'm reading for my lunch time book club. And the Chief's expecting my review of Ian Christie's The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal forthwith...so much to read! What's a girl to do? Why enjoy herself thoroughly, of course!

18th of January, 2004

'Wild nights are my glory,' Mrs. Whatsit said,
'I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course.'
-- Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time

Caught in a down draft, eh? Well, warm yourself with a pint of cider, dear, and let's unwind those scarves. It's just good to see you back, Mrs. W!

Gentle Reader, you'd be surprised at the way some of our guests arrive here at GMR Headquarters. With the food and drink, it's no surprise, of course, but I have a feeling that some of our guests have seen some pretty exotic fare, even by our standards. And it never ceases to amaze me how many interesting folks I meet here -- it's given me some insights as to where some novelists get their material. Some rather limited types like to nod, with one of those sharp, 'knowing' looks and suggest that these folks appear because they've taken shape as pages are turned and young imaginations expand. But I rather think it's those who set pen to paper, quill to parchment, fingers to keyboards, or even voice to microphone that are making us see what is already there. They are the true dreamers, the ones who slip in here, off the subway and down the path, through the wardrobe and across the bridge. And sometimes they write. Well. Fame can be difficult even in these parts, and I do wonder at the relationships that develop between writers and their subjects. After all, you rarely see disclaimers by novelists that characters are not meant to resemble folks who slip between worlds at will. Take Mrs. W, for example -- folks are always pestering for help, and want to know the star's perspective. Sheesh. It's enough to get anyone to doctor their tea! But she takes it all in stride, sticks her feet back into those wet boots, and is charming to all.

But pity the poor tourist who asks for an autograph! We're a bit like New Yorkers here: we let folks be themselves and take pride in not gaping at the famous. And the fact is, our crowd is as varied and unusual as you might wish, fame or no. It's a bit like the Neverending Session -- guest players get some attention, but soon come to realise that the regulars have some amazing moves, and soon the pressure to be special is lost to the joy of playing with such talents as can be found here. So, hang your coat up here, dry your boots by the fire, line up for some cider and take that barstool over there. You're sure to find some great conversation here at the Green Man Pub, and you may be surprised where you meet up with these folks again!

This week we're featuring a pair of reviews from the irrepressible Jack Merry. Both reviews focus on career retrospectives of artists which you, dear readers, are undoubtedly familiar with. Of the first book, The Art of Maurice Sendak -- 1980 to the Present, Jack says '[A]s good as the Kushner text is, and it is among some of the finest non-fiction writing I've ever encountered, it's the illustrations that'll make you gasp with delight.' Of Susan Seddon Boulet -- A Retrospective, which Jack calls 'a loving look at a woman who helped create the look and feel of mythopoeic literature and art,' he says '[F]rom the quality of the printing job which is superb to the text by Babcock which is both well-written and intelligent, this is one of the best books of its kind that I've ever read.' Jack earns an Excellence in Writing Award for this fine set of reviews.

Christine Doiron explains that '[t]he goal of A Forest of Stories by Rina Singh and illustrator Helen Cann is to raise affection for and awareness of trees as living things and vital to our world.' Now that's a worthy purpose! Is this book of short stories from Barefoot Books successful? Read Christine's review to find out what she thinks!

Cat Eldridge says that he has been reading Roger Zelazny for 'twenty years or so,' so he's more than qualified to judge our next offering. 'Now keep in mind,' he says, 'that this never before published Zelazny novel was finished posthumously with the help of his coauthor and companion, Jane Lindskold. But unlike so many of this sort of collaboration, this one has Zelazny written all over it. This is important to emphasise as the online reviews that I looked at for it generally trashed it as not being true to the spirit of Zelazny!' Go read his review of Donnerjack for Cat's explanation.

Long time staffer Michael Jones has moved on, but he left us with a review of the new Simon R. Green novel, Agents of Light and Darkness. Take a moment to join us in wishing him well in his future endeavours, and then go find out why he says 'I can't recommend Green's work enough.'

Let's just start out by giving David Kidney his Excellence in Writing Award for his first review this week, shall we? If the book is half as interesting as David's review of it, this Book Editor will be rushing out to find it posthaste! David begins with his love affair with books: '[T]hey're magical things. I love the feel of a book. Just the touch of it is exciting. Really. The sensory impressions of fingertips on card, and the the easy, careful first crack of the spine. The smell of ink on paper. The slight impression left by the press as it indents the surface of the white sheet, and leaves its mark. What font? I like to look at the last page to see whose updated version of the classic font is being used in this volume. And then, after all this has been noted, I begin to read. It may seem a touch obsessive I admit...Hippolyte's Island is the kind of book that deserves this special treatment.'

David doesn't just love books -- he's got a rather passionate feeling for music and musical instruments as well! He's quite attached to the ukelele, in fact, which makes him the perfect reviewer for Jim Beloff's The Ukelele -- a Visual History. 'The little 'dancing flea' is in the middle of a major comeback,' David explains, 'and Jim Beloff has played a big part in it.'

Jack Merry has one more contribution to the book section this week, as he looks at a third non-fiction piece that came in for review. 'One has to love university presses,' Jack says, 'as they publish books that the more profit oriented presses can't afford to even consider. This work, Christina Rossetti and Illustration, amply demonstrates why this is so; this is very much a 'specialist' work that will have an appeal only to specific audiences. Oh, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth knowing about!'

Like most of us here at Green Man, Matthew Winslow is a big fan of small presses. There is a drawback, though, which, according to Matthew, 'is that a lot of writing that still needs to be worked on is getting published. Also unfortunate is that this unprofessional work seems at times to be drowning out the quality small press efforts.' You'll guess from this, of course, that Matthew is not pleased with our final book offering this week. He tried, he really did. He says 'I really wanted to enjoy this book. I wanted to be able to reveal another small press success.' Unfortunately, Woodbyrne: The Fallen Forest isn't it.

Hmm?  Oh? We have venue reviews?  It's been quite a while since we've seen any of those around these parts so let's see if I (your little heard from Venue Editor, Ryan Nutick) can remember how to present these reviews properly. 

This week brings us three venues that hold special places in each reviewers heart. Faith J. Cormier brings a look into a quaint venue in Nova Scotia, Canada, The Dockside Ceilidh. Check out her review to see what draws her there.

Next, we have a reviewer who would have us believe he was busy with his nose to the grindstone, attaining his brand new doctorate degree, but he seemed to have had some time to enjoy himself in New York City.  Scott Gianelli brings us a look at the recently opened Satalla club, whose owners are billing it as, 'The Temple of World Music'.  See why Scott feels they are living up to their billing with this Excellence in Writing Award winning review.

Finally, Master Reviewer Stephen Hunt yet again makes me want to leave Oregon for the British Isles with his review of the Hammersmith & Fulham Irish Centre in London.  According to Master Hunt, this venue is the 'coolest venue in London, offering a head-spinning programme of artistic and cultural events'. 

Ana Simeon may be new to the books about J.R.R. Tolkien written by Jane Chance, but she's familiar enough with the Tolkien mythos to want to make an amendment to Senior Writer Matthew Scott Winslow's review. However, Winslow himself comes armed with enough Tolkien knowledge to parry her attempt--with his signature tact and charm, of course.

Steve Willis came across our site and found himself engrossed in the writings of Master Reviewers David Kidney and Gary Whitehouse (but don't we all!). He offers experiences and reminiscences regarding myriad Green Man review subjects including Taj Mahal, Warren Zevon, John Hiatt, and the Rolling Stones.

Passionate letters from readers are often the most heartening ones--as well as the most fun to read. But it's when they disagree with our reviewers that the heat is turned up high. Adrian LeCesne wrote one such letter when he realized that Master Reviewer Grey Walker called his favorite song off Malcolm Dalglish's Pleasure CD 'the one weak song on the album.'

Read all these letters (along with reviewers' responses) on our Letters page and feel free to send in your own comments about anything regarding Green Man Review to your friendly Letters Editor. The most interesting ones will be posted on our Web site, whereupon you can 'google' yourself and brag about being a published writer!

Jack Merry here. Have you ever had a Hungarian apricot brandy called Barack pálinka? I hadn't either 'til Bela, our resident Balkan violinist, returned from a trip abroad. He says that he travelled on the Orient Express back to the country where he was born, a country he says no longer exists. The reason for his trip was that Huddled Masses Violin Ensemble held a reunion of all its surviving members. All I know for certain is there were apparently more violinists there than one can possibly imagine, all looking like well-dressed refugees from some long forgotten war that had no winners. But before he left to return here, his fellow musicians insisted on providing him with as many creature comforts as they could provide -- all of which got shipped by train to here. One of them was a wooden crate full of straw cushioning bottles of Barack pálinka. Bela provided the editorial staff with a few bottles... Bloody 'ell, it was good!

Ahhh, but so are the reviews this week, so grab a snifter of this brandy and settle back in a comfortable chair near the fireplace as I've got things to tell you...

Alistair Brown found Cross o'th Hands' Saint Monday recording to be quite good: ' This is the third recording from Derbyshire's Cross o'th Hands. Since this is their first Green Man review, a brief glossary is in order. The band takes its name from a tiny Derbyshire hamlet whose name is taken in turn from the bare knuckle fist fighting matches that took place there (illegally) in the nineteenth century. The band feel that 'the whole place has a feeling of Englishness and history about it,' and that the association of hands and the making of music fits nicely too.' An Excellence in Writing Award goes to the reviewer for this well-crafted review!

Columbia/Legacy sent us a passle of Blues recordings: the Feel Like Going Home collection, the The Soul of a Man collection, the Warming By the Devil's Fire collection, the Piano Blues collection,a Son House collection, and a Keb' Mo' collection. That's a #@$%! lot of blues, eh? David Kidney agrees in his Excellence in Writing Award winning review: 'And so the juggernaut that is Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues continues. First it appeared as a PBS television event; then a book; the television films were released on DVD; and now Green Man Review looks at a small part of the vast CD release that accompanied the series. Each episode was accompanied by its own soundtrack album, a dozen or so special artists were awarded new compilation albums which were footprinted with the Scorsese logo, and a five-disc boxed set was issued which has received reviews declaiming it 'the best blues album in the world... ever!' (Uncut, January 2004) Wow! Ever?!?! Unfortunately we don't have that one to review. What we do have is a cross section of the soundtrack albums and a couple of the individual artist sets. And, as you might imagine, they're a mixed bag.'

Tanglefoot's Captured Alive is viewed favourably by David: 'The group known as Tanglefoot began as a three-piece in the early 1980s. They played Canadian folk songs with.. . shall we say... vigour! The group grew and changed, but their enthusiasm continued, and they began to write their own material. This new recording, done live at the Flying Cloud Folk Club in Toronto over three nights in May 2003 is (except for one traditional tune) all original material. But it sounds completely authentic. The songs, the subject matter and the performances are strong and lusty.'

David has more blues for us: 'Booze and the blues. They fit together like a hand in a glove. There are certain connections that just don't ever change. Much of the blues is concerned with a man staying away from the Devil. Whether it's a literal Devil, or that old demon rum... spirits run rampant through the blues. Telarc's new compilation CD Bar Room Blues presents a dozen gin-soaked 12-bar tunes drawn from Telarc's ever-expanding catalogue of contemporary blues artists.'

Nathan Granner, Daniel Montenegro and Mauricio O'Reilly are The American Tenors, another fine release from Sony Classical. Oops, I'm sorry as it's not such a fine product after all. Notes Kelly Sedinger in his Excellence in Writing Award deserving commentary: 'what to say about the CD itself? Well, not much, really. I'm not sure what word they apply to this genre of recording these days -- 'classical crossover,' maybe. It's pretty much the same kind of thing we've already heard from the Three Tenors, the Three Irish Tenors, and whoever else: operatic standards and popular songs -- some from Broadway, some old American folk tunes -- arranged for, well, tenors and orchestra. You get 'O sole mio' and that old Italian chestnut, 'Funiculi, Funicula,' side-by-side with 'Shenandoah,' 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' and 'Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair.' The disc features a medley of tunes from West Side Story and closes with 'America the Beautiful.' Ouch.

Listen to Kelly as he tells us a tale of smoky blues: 'Julie Powell's official bio makes reference to 'playing guitar in smoky bars,' which is a perfect image for the music on Heart of a Woman. This is the kind of music that makes you think of drinking beer with a whiskey chaser in one of those bars where even the pool table goes quiet when the local talent takes the minuscule stage at the back, where the red and blue lights cast a tinge on the smoke that hangs in the air, and where somehow the blend of smoke and sweat and alcohol and a pair of loud amps adds up, in spite of itself, to an impressive musical experience.' Now go read his review of Powell's CD, Heart of a Woman.

Grey Walker reviews Rachael Sage's Public Record. The artist is, according to Grey, 'a founding member of New York City music collective Urban Muse, as well as Woman rock and Indiegrrl, and she's played at the Lilith Fair. It shows. On the cover of Public Record, she's wearing purple and yellow eye make-up, with yellow sequins lining her lower eyelids. It's not clownish, it's arty. Cool, even. And from the first word she sings, you can tell she's been influenced by Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan and Suzanne Vega.'

Bad Pennies is from The Have Nots which are, according to Gary Whitehouse, 'a young duo from England, who make a hybrid sort of folk-pop, with influences ranging from country to emo-core. Bad Pennies is their first full-length release, following a handful of EPs, demos and limited releases.' He goes on to say that 'ven though most of them aren't very interesting at this point in their careers. And they have lovely voices, though they could enunciate better. This duo bears watching.'

Tori Amos' new CD, Tales of a Librarian, has been mentioned by Neil Gaiman on his weblog more than a few times. Let's let Daniel James Wood explain what her latest is about: 'Atlantic Records is touting Tori Amos' latest CD, Tales Of A Librarian, as her 'greatest hits' collection. And sure, you could call it that, if only more than a couple of the tracks had actually been released as successful singles. You might instead call it her 'best of' album, were it not for the fact that some of her very best tracks are glaringly omitted. Really, Tales Of A Librarian is the Cliff-Notes version of Amos' decade-long career -- a career that, in addition to being broadly represented on the album, is also depicted bravely and unflinchingly, warts and all. Two new tracks, 'Snow Cherries from France' and 'Angels,' as well as two B-sides from previous single-track releases, 'Mary' and 'Sweet Dreams,' join sixteen tunes taken from Amos' first five albums, each of which has been reworked and remixed using the original raw recordings. Some have been significantly changed; others, not so much. Some are representative of Amos at her very best; others must be on here for gimmick value or for the benefit of completists, or just to demonstrate how far Amos can miss the mark. The result is a mixed bag of tunes that is, I suspect, intentionally erratic and uneven -- anything less, and it wouldn't be a Tori Amos record at all.' Daniel picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for this insightful review!

Speaking of folks, famous and not-so, we've got some staff to bring to your attention. First off, given our editor shifting the past few weeks, we thought we'd point up the group of folks currently handling the music end of things here at GMR. Kim Bates is the Music Review Editor in charge of finding and requesting CDs and assigning them for review; David Kidney is her assistant. Grey Walker, David Kidney and Gary Whitehouse are the Music Review Production Editors, sharing the task of editing the reviews as they come in and putting them up in our new issue every week. Jack Merry (with help from anyone he can find loitering here in the Pub) 'blurbs' the reviews in What's New each week.

Secondly, we've got a group of reviewers who have all been with Green Man now for at least a year, and in their time here have consistently written good reviews and generally been all-around good eggs. We're promoting them to their well-deserved new positions as Senior Writers. They are Donna Bird, Scott Gianelli, John O'Regan, Kelly Sedinger and Wes Unruh. Congratulations to all of you!

Warm and cosy now? Well have some cocoa before heading out into the weather. You'll find us back here again next time, with amazing fare and even better company.


11th of January, 2004

'One impression above all remained with him,
though he could not have explained why. Having
crossed the Place de la Bastille, he was passing a little
bistro on his way down Boulevard Henri IV. The door,
like the door of most cafes on this cold morning,
was shut for the first time for months. As he went past,
someone opened it, and Maigret's nostrils were assailed
by a gust of fragrance which was forever to remain with
him as the very quintessence of Paris at daybreak:
the fragrance of frothy coffee and hot croissants
spiced with a hint of rum.'
-- George Simenon's Maigret and the Spinster
( translated by Eileen Ellenbogen)

Come in! Just give me a few minutes to finish the House books for the last year (or three), and I'll be right with you. So, you've applied to work in the Kitchen, eh? Pleased to meet you. Let me tell you a little about what the job entails.

Like Maigret, the staff of Green Man are very much lovers of good food and fine drink. In all the decades that I've been on the House staff here, I can't remember a time when there wasn't some sort of celebration involving culinary treats and interesting drinkables. Certainly the accounts kept by my predecessors (going back centuries, I should add), show just how expensive their tastes could be. Importing caviar fit for the Winter Court of St. Petersburg could be considered excessive, but, in fact, rates as frugal compared to some of the gastronomic tales that abound here! The wedding feast of Jack and Brigid included wild boar on the menu, but getting the beast here from France involved a certain amount of, ahem, 'fiscal diplomacy' in our dealings with the customs men. I suppose that seeing as how the boar was, on arrival, very much alive, very large, very angry, very musky and very incontinent, they had a right to feel a little inconvenienced. Still, once the chef had roasted it slowly over a hickory fire it was simply delicious!

As you might have noticed, we also brew our own drink. Bjorn is the latest of a long line of brewmasters that have carried out their arcane craft here. One rather long-lived member of the Neverending Session claims he remembers a Scottish bloke by the name of Burns that dropped in to the Pub one cold day. (Was it Robbie Burns? The teller of the tale won't say.) The publican that day had a large cauldron of hot spiced Applejack going in the fireplace. This Burns drank some, then drank some more, and started telling tales. Almost caused the musicians of the Neverending Session to stop playing to listen to him. He only stopped (after many hours) to go for a much needed piss...

Another brew exclusive to us is Dragons Breath XXX Stout. Have you ever encountered a Brazilian brew called Xingu? If not, think Guinness on steroids. It's that thick. But compared to Dragons Breath XXX Stout, Guinness is as weak as one of those American beers that we won't mention here. One swallow of Dragons Breath will cause... oh, just drink it and you'll will know what I mean. Good, eh? Here's a health!

Denise Dutton declares 'I have been a Constant Reader of Stephen King's work since I got my hands on a paperback copy of Salem's Lot back in middle school. The Stand was the first hardback book I bought that didn't have a picture of a dinosaur on every page. And I've seen just about every movie and miniseries based on his work, including a few sequels that I hoped would live up to the promise the name Stephen King offered, but never seemed to.' Now, since joining the Green Man staff Denise has proven to be a superb film reviewer. So it's fitting that she makes her Excellence in Writing Award winning debut as a book reviewer with a look at a 'comprehensive but not all-inclusive review of King's filmography' entitled Hollywood's Stephen King.

Ah, that David Kidney ... what a busy, busy man! In addition to his Music Editing duties, he finds the time to submit a steady supply of fantastic reviews! He begins this week with discussion of a book that sounds uniquely fascinating; a comic book/graphic novel biography of an important figure in Canadian history. David says 'I'd like to see it used as a textbook in high school history classes.' David earns an Excellence in Writing Award for this review of Louis Riel: a Comic Strip Biography.

It's hard to decide whether David should receive another EiWA or just a big hug for his omnibus review of selected works from a man who David calls 'a gifted and sensitive author of books for young people who managed to write in a way that would entertain parents and kids alike' -- the late, great Shel Silverstein. With the re-release of Silverstein's books since the author's death in 1999, a new generation has the opportunity to bask in his wonderful talent. Here, David lovingly reviews Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back, A Giraffe and a Half, The Missing Piece, The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, and Falling Up.

Rebecca Scott is entirely correct when she declares 'I know I'm not the only one who wanted to play Pirates as a little girl. I also know I'm not the only one who was told some version of, 'You can't play! Girls can't be pirates!' by the boys.' This Book Editor certainly remembers such injustice! So I was delighted to read Rebecca's first review this week, as she revels in a volume with the impressive title of Pyrates in Petticoats: A Fanciful & Factual History of the Legends, Tales, and Exploits of the most notorious Female Pirates and also Some Lesser Known Women Who Plied the Seas and inland Waterways for Fortune, Adventure & Romance From Ireland, China, the Bahamas, and the Barbary Coast to the Americas. Rebecca comes away with booty in the form of a nicely gilded Excellence in Writing Award for this entertaining review!

Written by Tony Kushner and illustrated by the near legendary Maurice Sendak, Brundibar is 'a charming story about how the weak can overcome the strong by banding together.' Despite one slight flaw which bothered Rebecca, she says that Brundibar has 'earned a place on [her] bookshelf.' Find out more in her thoughtful review of Brundibar.

After publishing 24 volumes, 'for its twenty-fifth book, Golden Gryphon Press decided to celebrate by bringing together the authors from its first twenty-four books and have each submit a short story that capsulizes his or her work. The finished product, as can be expected, is quite variable in content, but unexpectedly consistent in quality.' This according to Assistant Book Editor Matthew Winslow, a man who knows his stuff when it comes to fantastical literature. Now go read his astute review of The Silver Gryphon , and we'll see you next week with more tasty books for you to devour.

Jack Merry here. I just dropped in from the skating pond for a few minutes to write up the notes for the CD reviews this week. The weather has been perfect for skating -- below freezing with no winds. Most of the staff and various invited guests have been skating late into the night after which we have a midnight meal for all followed by music and other merrymaking. After you read these reviews, do join us in the Great Hall as we'll be having a dance there!

Richard Condon looks at three tasty Latin jazz CDs: Paquito d'Rivera's Big Band Time, Elio Villafranca's Encantaciones/Incantations, and The Rough Guide To Latin Jazz. Richard notes correctly that 'Cuba's is not the only Latin tradition to have cross-fertilized with American jazz, and in 2004, a year after two of Cooder's veterans, Francisco Repilado (better known as Compay Segundo) and Ruben González, died after tasting a few brief years of renewed fame, these three CDs remind us of the scope and attraction of what is commonly called 'Latin jazz,' a term that covers not only Cuban-influenced music, important though it is, but also fusions of jazz with sounds from other parts of Latin America. The rumba, mambo, cha-cha, Brazilian samba and its 1960s new wave ('bossa nova'), all have played a part in the evolution of this multicultural music.'

Eric Eller in reviewing Jules Massenet's Manon CD from Sony Classical has a great explanation of why some folks don't like opera: 'For many people, opera is like broccoli. You either like it or you don't. This is unfortunate, because with an open mind you'll find opera surprisingly good. The drawbacks (highly stylized singing, the language barrier) can be overcome. The result is usually worth the effort. Providing subtitles has helped boost opera's appeal in recent years, but this can be as much of a distraction as a benefit during a performance. One doesn't have this aid when listening to an opera on CD, but detailed liner notes can fill in the gaps created by the language barrier. Combined with good singing and a good story, an opera on CD is well worth the time.'

Scott Gianelli looks at the long awaited, and I mean really long awaited, first album from Rock City, a Memphis, Tennessee band active at the same time that the Nazgul and the Doors were active: 'a number of aspiring young musicians in Memphis were more heavily influenced by bands like the Beatles, the Kinks, and the Byrds than by the local soul music, and many of these players hung around the Ardent Studios, aggregating into a number of short-lived bands. One such band that recorded nearly a full album's worth of material at Ardent in 1969 and 1970 was Rock City. Although fronted by bassist Thomas Dean Eubanks and featuring Ardent co-owner Terry Manning on keyboards, Rock City has become noteworthy because of its other two members, guitarist Chris Bell and drummer Jody Stephens. Bell and Stephens continued to work together after Rock City folded, and Bell's long-time friend Alex Chilton started frequenting Ardent Studios after quitting the Box Tops. Chilton, Bell, Stephens, and Ardent regular Andy Hummel (bass) would form the legendary early seventies rock band Big Star.'

David Kidney and Spike Winch review a revised Beatles album, Let It Be... Naked. Eh? The Beatles? In this zine? Or as Spike puts it ever so well: 'They're a bleedin' POP group Dave! They're DINOSAURS! They're not relevant!' Read their review to see how the Beatles and the world of folk music intertwine. Really. Truly.

All of the CDs in the next review ( Mickey Baker's Wildest Guitar, Don Covay & the Jefferson Lemon Blues Band's The House of Blue Lights, James Luther Dickinson's Dixie Fried, Josh White's Empty Bed Blues, and Tony Joe White's self-titled debut album) have a common link, according to David: 'This is a collection of albums which will serve to introduce one of the new breed of labels, Sepia Tone. A label which seeks to find obscure yet desirable recordings from the past and reissue them on CD for today's audience. A brief glance at the albums which they have done so far is like a walk through the history books. A listen to this superlative collection of 60s and 70s music is to breathe the rarified air of the past. This is some heavy stuff!'

Next up is a review of McDermott's 2 Hours v Levelers' Claws and Wings. Yes, Peter Massey noticed the name was queer: ' If you're thinking this a strange name for a band, you're not alone, because so did I. But it's the music that's important, not what they want to call themselves. In fact, the album appears to be a collaboration between members of two bands, McDermott's 2 Hours and The Levellers.' Was the music good? Oh. yes!

Five, count 'em five, albums (Solveig Kringelborn's To a Friend, the Ligo anthology, Anup's Embrace, Javier Ruibal's Sahara, and Al Jewer and Andy Mitran's Two Trees) are reviewed by the Master of Cool Mike Stiles: 'Here are some CDs that will help reduce your blood pressure without shutting down your frontal lobes. So here I appear in my incarnations of the Rajah of Relaxed, the Lord of Loose, the Monarch of Mellow, the Caliph of Calm, the Chieftain of Chill for your reviewing pleasure.'

Now I'm off to the Great Hall where the Neverending Session is playing some tunes while the staff eats.

Ah, it looks like the skaters have returned to a more somber meal than previously planned. The musicians have struck up an Olde English dirge, as they've just learned of the January 4th passing of beloved fantasy author Joan Aiken. A grand dame of the genre, her The Wolves of Willoughby Chase would likely have been found on the childhood bookshelves of many a past, present, and future Green Man staffer. She will be missed.

4th of January, 2004

When I sit down at my table, clasp my hands and bow my head,
Should I thank my heavenly landlord for my crust of daily bread?
When the hunter's in his stable, and the hound's in his pack, get the
pickings of the harvest on which I break my back?

There's a fence around the common land put there by the law,
it's called hunting if you're gentry but it's poaching if you're poor.
and the law forgives your trespass like the hounds forgive the fox.
You must number all your blessings with the hapence in your box.

And it feels like winter spit to eat and hell to pay.
It feels like Reynardine on Boxing Day!!

Robb Johnson's 'Boxing Day' off Band of Hope's Rhythm and Red album

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!
Jack Merry at your service. I've been playing David DiGiuseppe's 'The Midwinter Reel', a spritely tune that fits the weather we're experiencing right now. But the cold, snowy weather hasn't put a damper on the activities in the new year here at Green Man. Our new endeavour, the Arthur Rackham Art Gallery, with an exhibit by Kate Johnson, is now available for your viewing pleasure.

What I've been working on this week in the times that I'm not playing for various dances is a rewrite of the review of the Band of Hope's Rhythm and Red album that I wrote some years ago. Why a rewrite, you ask, of a review long in the Green Man archives? Because I didn't do it justice the first time, that's why. Here's the whole review: 'This is a truly great album with its Englishness written large upon its songs and tunes. Any band consisting of Roy Bailey, Martin Carthy, Steáfán Hannigan, John Kirkpatrick, and Dave Swarbrick has got to bloody fine! The band toured but twice and produced just this CD -- a pity as it would have been nice to have more from them. The album starts off a medley of 'Nonesuch - The Cheshire Rounds - The Lancashire Hornpipe - Boxing Day', which allows the lads to strut their stuff. And unlike far too many ad hoc bands, this feels like a true band. The first three cuts are tunes, but 'Boxing Day' is a bitter attack upon the role of class in modern Britain. The lyric '...just like Reynardine on bloody Boxing Day...' as a metaphor for the class struggle in modern Britain is sharp as a fox's tooth! 'If They Come in the Morning', 'Who Reaps The Profit? Who Pays The Price?', and 'Hard Times of Old England' also continue the theme of being oppressed by the overlords. But don't worry -- these are great songs full of piss and vinegar that will stick in your heads for weeks after you hear 'em!'

Sigh... I was bad. Blame it on too much single malt... or perhaps too much going on when I wrote it. Either way, I did a far less than sterling write-up. But it is an album that deserves a longer, more detailed look, so I'm carefully crafting a new review. We've done this before here, as it's not unusual for us to decide that we can do a better job than we did. We're not perfect, but we bleedin' well try at least to get it right!

Our Featured Review this week comes to us from Master Reviewer Stephen Hunt, who draws from his own knowledge on the subjects of whisky, folk music performance, and 'Middle-Aged Blokehood,' not to mention his inimitable humor and wisdom, to review a book which he explains is 'a narrative which is not merely about whisky (its history, manufacture, and properties) but encapsulates and articulates the joyous conversational experience of actually slinging it down your throat.' In the true tradition of the Excellence in Writing Award, this review is informative, thought-provoking, and extremely entertaining; it sounds as though this book by Iain Banks, Raw Spirit - In Search of the Perfect Dram, must be very nearly as good as Master Hunt's review of it is! At any rate, your friendly Book Editor is eager to track down a copy for herself!

Donna Bird starts us off with a classic this week. 'Bless Random House,' enthuses Donna, 'for re-releasing so many of the Modern Library editions of classic works of fiction and non-fiction in the last few years!!! Whenever I visit any bookstore, I look for these affordable, handsome paperbacks with their distinctive black and copper spines, readable font and high-quality paper and bindings! Not a few of them have found their way onto the shelves of our home library.' Her most recent acquisition is a volume from Honoré de Balzac. Well, it's Balzac so it must be a great work, right? Er, maybe not. Read her review to find out why Donna is less than thrilled with The Wrong Side of Paris.

'To set the record straight before I start,' announces Faith Cormier, 'I lived in the British Columbia rainforest from 1964 to 1967 and never saw or heard a Sasquatch. However, I didn't see or hear a lot of other things that I know were around, so that doesn't prove anything.' Why is she talking about Sasquatch? Why, because if nothing else, we here at Green Man like to keep our minds open to the possible, and so we were intrigued to receive review copies of a pair of nonfiction books taking a serious scientific look at the legendary creature that, if nothing else, is a truly fascinating piece of North American folklore. Go read Faith's review of Robert J. Alley's Rainforest Sasquatch and Thom Powell's The Locals: A Contemporary Investigation of the Bigfoot/Sasquatch Phenomenon to find out more about these scholarly works.

April Gutierrez reviews another interesting work of nonfiction by photographer Kelli Bickman. Among other subjects, Bickman chronicles the two week shoot of Neil Gaiman's BBC series Neverwhere. Read her review of What I Thought I Saw: New York - London to find out what April thought of a book of photographs, some of which she characterizes as 'the product of a mind slightly askew.'

Jack Merry updates a previous review of Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Why an update? Well, as Jack says, '[D]espair no more! Dover Publications, bless them, has reprinted the entire set with splendid new cover art...it's the contents that you'll be lusting after -- every word of the Houghton Mifflin of 1882 is here, apparently from the original plates!'

'Good Night Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) is a three-act play which is something of an honor to review.' Now with an opening like that, how can we fail to be eager to read Jessica Paige's review? Need more? She goes on to explain that Good Night Desdemona 'asks what if Othello found out about Iago's treachery before he murdered Desdemona? What if Tybalt had just been told that he couldn't kill Romeo because Romeo had just married Juliet?' Ah, now you have to go read her tantalizing review!

Finally, with Christmas over and the holiday season winding down, it's a great time for Leona Wisoker to take a look at an anthology about ... Santa Claus. Santa Claus? Yup. Now that the warm, fuzzy, cookies-and-milk season has passed, let's read about Santa in some very different incarnations. Leona introduces her Excellence in Writing Award winning notes on A Yuletide Universe with '[W]ho says Santa Claus has to be a jolly fat man? Who says he's universally welcomed and loved? What if.... Those two words, placed in the hands of authors ranging from Neil Gaiman to Harlan Ellison, have spun out into sixteen fantastic (the cover calls them 'fantastical', and that certainly applies too) stories. Not knowing what authors were involved when I asked for this book, I was, quite honestly, expecting to have to trudge through a sentimental, moralistic collection of kitsch. At my first sight of the intricately detailed cover, I dared to hope that I was in for a treat.'

Rachel Manija Brown thought The Last Samurai was encumbered by the casting of Tom Cruise in the lead role, and by the writing for that character. Read her review and see why she recommends leaving a few minutes early. Rachel earns an Excellence In Writing Award for her in-depth review.

Although she remarks that Big Fish is 'basically a chick flick for men', Maria Nutick goes on to say 'this is a film that will take on new nuances and give fresh insights with every viewing. I want to see it again and again, to catch what I missed the first time.This is a smart film, a wise film.' Maria picks up an Excellence In Writing Award for her comments on the Hero's Journey.

Jack speaking. It's fairly quiet here in the Pub this week with just the Neverending Session and a few of the staff sort of recovering from rather bad hangovers. If you're looking for most of the staff, they're down skating in Oberon's Wood as we've had enough cold weather to freeze the old mill pond quite nicely. Come, let's have bittersweet cocoa with brandy and discuss the music reviews this outing...

Most of the Putumayo World Music CDs sent en masse by that fine company to Green Man for review didn't fair terribly well among our group of exceptionally picky reviewers, but Eric Eller found one he liked a lot -- Italian Musical Odyssey: 'It's hard to incorporate the contemporary folk music scene of an entire country in a single CD. How do you do justice to the various musical traditions of a diverse population? Putumayo has a habit of attempting this, and Italian Musical Odyssey is a good faith effort to capture the multifaceted folk tradition of Italy on a single CD. With acts ranging from Palermo (Agricantus) to Tuscany (Ricardo Tesi) to Sardinia (Calic) to Naples (Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare), Italian Musical Odyssey provides a good introduction to traditional Italian music.' Eric earns an Excellence in Writing Award for this review!

Tim Hoke was not at all pleased with this CD: 'When I listened to Jake Armerding's self-titled release, I heard something a bit different than I was expecting. His Web site (which has since been updated) and the promotional flyer which was sent along with the CD both talked about his skills on fiddle, and about his background with the bluegrass band Northern Lights. I popped in the disc expecting to hear some blazing bluegrass fiddling. Instead, I heard a singer-songwriter; not at all what I was expecting. I grumbled and groused all the way through the album, pausing only for one track...'

Dave Arthur's Return Journey was more pleasing for Tim as he notes in his Excellence in Writing Award winning review: 'Wild Goose Studios is a label dedicated to English music 'both old and new, with a strong bias toward the traditional.' So why release a CD of mostly American old-time music? Dave Arthur explains it in detail in the insert, telling how many of the songs originated in Britain and survived in North America, albeit often with changes. Now, Arthur, living in Sussex, is playing some of the American variants, hence the return journey. On the return, Arthur has combined some of them with British melodies, partly to illustrate the kinship of the traditions, and no doubt partly because they sound good together.'

The folks at Pinecastle Records are releasing bluegrass recordings of the finest quality. Recently, we here at GMR received three such discs, all, as Tim notes, by powerhouses of the genre: The Osborne Brothers' Detroit To Wheeling, Eddie and Martha Adcock's Twograss, and WhiteHouse's Self-titled release. Tim says 'All three recordings are topnotch, in both musicianship and sound quality. They run on the short side, though. The Osborne Brothers release was a radio and media sampler, and as such would be expected to be short. Both of the other recordings ran under thirty-five minutes -- short for a CD. The music is good. Give us more.'

According to Kevin Lau, 'Armik's Amor de Guitarra is, as the title suggests, a love letter to the tradition of flamenco guitar music. Having little knowledge of this tradition myself, I was pleased to discover its appeal. For the most part, it is a feast for the ears, combining dazzling dance melodies and catchy rhythms with a solid variety of different song forms.' Kevin picks up a well deserved Excellence in Writing Award for this thoughtful review.

Franz Joseph Haydn's Piano Sonatas Numbers 29, 31, 34, 35 and 49 was one of dozens of Classical CDs that Sony recently sent along. Kelly Sedinger notes in his Excellence in Writing Award worthy commentary that 'The recording is pleasant, except for the loudest passages, when a certain shrillness creeps in; otherwise, the piano tone is warm and exacting. The liner notes are serviceable; I would have preferred a paragraph or two from Ax himself, presenting his thoughts on these works as he records his cycle. Still, this is an excellent recording of repertoire not nearly familiar enough.'

A recording of Mendelssohn and Bruch Violin Concertos are next up for Kelly who says these are fine recordings: 'The two works recorded here represent two of the greatest war-horses of the violinist's repertoire. The Mendelssohn Concerto in E-Minor for Violin and Orchestra, written in 1844, is by turns haunting, elegiac, magical and spritely; it has never been out of the standard repertoire and is often paired, as it is here, with the Concerto in G-minor for Violin and Orchestra by Max Bruch. Bruch's concerto, written in 1865, is by far that composer's most popular work -- in fact, it is almost the only work of Bruch's still performed regularly. It is a warm and lush work, reminiscent of Brahms and Mendelssohn in its conservative form.'

Dominig Bouchaud's L'ancre d'argent, Harpe en Bretagne was a tricky thing for Pat Simmonds to review as 'Recorded harp music can be a dodgy thing by any standard, particularly of music pertaining to 'The Celtic Traditions' because, although the image of the harp has endured through turbulent times, the music has not. In Ireland it was on it's last legs by the end of the 1700's but it's demise began with the collapse of the Gaelic order and the subsequent redundancies of the itinerant harpers. It lingered on in Wales in some fashion but had completely disappeared from Brittany after the Middle Ages. A more complex form of the instrument has taken over public popularity with the concert harp, ensuring a permanent place in the classical orchestras of Europe. The last 20-30 years has seen a huge resurgence in the harp music of ancient times, a movement kick started by Alan Stivell, but firmly put in place by younger players grounded in their traditions. A dubious by-product has been the rise of the 'Celtic Harp,' basically an excuse to get dressed up in fluffy gear and play any auld dross at Renaissance Fayres.' Now oddly 'nough, he liked this CD. Read his review to see why so!

Spælimenninir has three CDs out ( Spælimenninir í Hoydølum, Umaftur, and Malargrót) all of which get reviewed by Barb Truex , a woman who knows her Nordic music so well that she recently hosted a radio programme consisting of nothing but what she call 'reindeer music'! Of Spælimenninir she notes, 'Malargrót found its way into my hands earlier this fall, and I intended to review just this one CD. While I was in the early stages of listening, however, Mr. Editor-in-Chief (that would be Cat) let me borrow his two other earlier recordings so I could take a pass at all of them. The group has recorded a number of other albums over the years besides these three, as you can see on their Web site. This review will look at two from the early years of 1977 and 1978 (which probably originally appeared on vinyl) and their most recent one released in the fall of 2003.' She goes on to note 'Spælimenninir, 'the folk musicians', was formed in 1974 and went under the name Spælimenninir í Hoydølum, as they were based in Hoydølum in the Faroe Islands. But from the beginning the membership has included players from all over the northern Atlantic climes. Their repertoire is likewise representative of Scandinavia and all of the British Isles and includes a good amount of cross-fertilization among the various traditional styles. A true example of the ever-evolving world of folk music.'

Christopher White leads off his review Serah's Late Harvest his way: 'Serah does herself no favor by packaging her CD in a way that far too closely emulates Joni Mitchell. The portrait of the singer that accompanies the lyrics to the first song (painted by Soemi, the 'mio amore' to whom Serah dedicates the disk) comes perilously close to being a parody of Mitchell's self portrait on the cover of Taming the Tiger. Where Joni is as accomplished a painter as she is a musician, this painting is, at best, the work of a 'Sunday painter.' The reason I begin here is that, as I say, Serah does herself no favor setting herself up for immediate comparison to one of the premier artists of the last thirty years. Were I to offer advice, it would be that Serah might do far better to draw comparisons to someone like Johnny Clegg, next to whom her blend of activist sensibilities and Afro pop tinged arrangements might fare better. Better still, find a designer who will avoid setting up any such comparisons.' Ouch. Now he does go on to say it's a pleasant album, so go see why he says this is so.

Like David Kidney and Big Earl Sellar, Gary Whitehouse really knows the Blues. The bull sessions I've seen them have in the Pub as they discuss which artists are good and which artists are truly shitty are well-worth listening to if you're here when they're holding court. So what did he think of W. C. Handy's Beale Street: Where the Blues Began? Let's ask him what he thought of disc in which the most recent cut was 1931: 'Listening to all twenty-one of these tracks at once may be a bit much, unless you're a rabid fan of early jazz. Unless you're careful, they all start sounding alike after a while. But this is a fine recording, well played and enjoyable to listen to. The blues should always be so much fun.' Need I say that Gary adds an Excellence in Writing Award to the long list of ones he's already gotten?

Cat Eldridge, Editor-in-Chief here. If you're a regular reader of this publication, you'll have noticed that you don't see much of me. That's because in a properly managed publication, the position I hold and what I do in that position is virtually unnoticeable. Really. Truly. Go ahead -- tell me who the Editor-in-Chief of your local newspaper is, or who edits Time magazine. But I'll bet you've got your favorite writers that you know by name.

The other layer of management that should be invisible if a publication is being run well is those various editors, all of whom will be doing tasks that are needed, but again not generally noticed by you. Oh, it's easy to see when they're not there -- sloppy writing, misspellings, even plagiarism crop up all too frequently. Green Man has been blessed by having editors who are very, very good at what they do, and who care deeply that Green Man has a professional approach to what it's doing.

To keep themselves fresh, some of the editorial staff will be assuming new duties with the first issue of 2004.

Maria Nutick was Music Review Production Editor and Film Review Editor. She will now be Book Review Editor (and will remain as Copy Editor for the time being). Grey Walker, our best Book Review Editor to date, will be taking Maria's place as a Music Review Production Editor. She hopes to have more time to write in that position than she did as Book Review Editor! Meanwhile, Tim Hoke was Assistant Film Review Editor and will be stepping up as Film Review Editor, as he has now completed his apprenticeship and qualifies for Guild membership. He will continue to assist with Music Review Production as needed. In addition, Ryan Nutick, our Webmaster, has his hands more than full with that job, so Grey will taking over the ever-so-important task of indexing.

1st of January, 2004

'The job of the artist
is always to deepen the mystery.'
-- Francis Bacon

Welcome, and Happy New Year! We're celebrating the opening of the year by opening a new space here at Green Man Review. One of the floors in the tower of our building is now the home of the Arthur Rackham Gallery. All of the windows in the circular walls provide wonderful light for exhibiting art. There are pillars throughout the room in the shapes of trees, with works of art hanging from their branches. Sculpture sits here and there on plinths carved like tree stumps. We'll host two shows annually in this lovely space.

For our first show, this winter season of 2004, we are proud to be showing the work of Kate Johnson.

Cathy Johnson, sometimes known as Kate, has worked as a naturalist, writer, and freelance artist for the past thirty years, and was staff naturalist and contributing editor for Country Living magazine for eleven of those years. She is a contributing editor to the Artist's Magazine and Watercolor Magic, where she writes on a subject she feels passionately about -- the importance of creativity and magic in our lives. She is currently most enjoying combining her lifelong fascination with nature and mythos, exploring the Green Man image and the parallel world of Faerie.

Johnson has written many books on art and nature, including those for North Light Books and the Sierra Club. She has worked with a number of national magazines, and has been included in a variety of nature anthologies and art books, Her paintings and sculptures are included in private and corporate collections in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

She is a longtime member of the Author's Guild, and was chosen Conservation Communicator of the Year by the Burroughs Audubon Society. She won the Thorpe Menn Award for Creative Writing (AAUW) for The Naturalist's Cabin: Constructing the Dream (Viking Penguin) in 1992. A resident of Missouri all her life, she was born in Independence and has lived in the Excelsior Springs area since 1969. She has always seen magic just at the edge of our field of vision.

Her interests (more rightly considered obsessions) include travel, reading, natural history, Celtic myth and history, reenacting, pottery, jewelry design, and drawing and painting for the sheer enjoyment of it -- sort of a busman's holiday...

And among those things that are most important in her life are nature and solitude, creativity, music, magic, cats, family and friends, honesty, humor, and love. What else does one need?

Do come in and enjoy our opening! And help yourself to the cranberry punch -- we have it both spiked and unspiked...

And in case you missed it, be sure to take a look at what some of our favorite authors and musicians say were their favorite books for 2003.


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Entire Contents, except where otherwise noted,
2003, The Green Man Review.
All Rights Reserved.

Updated 25 January 04, 17:25 GMT (RN)