'You would hardly believe, friends,
what cries of satisfaction and delight filled the marketplace at
the resounding noise of that bagpipe and the return of the muleteer,
for every one thought him gone. The dancing had flagged and the
company were about to disperse when he made his appearance once
more on the piper's stone. Instantly such a hubbub arose! no longer
four to eight couples were dancing, but sixteen to thirty-two, joining
hands, skipping, shouting, laughing, so that the good God himself
couldn't have got a word in edgewise. And presently everyone in
the marketplace, old and young, children who couldn't yet use their
legs, grandfathers tottering on theirs, old women jigging in the
style of their youth, awkward folk who couldn't get the time or
the tune -- they all set to spinning; and, indeed, it is a wonder
the clock on the parish church didn't spin too.'-- George Sand,
28th of March, 2004
Hello. This is Donna Bird.
They've asked me to step in this week and take you on a visit to
one of our neighbors just down the street from our office building
-- the urban campus of the Charles L. Dodgson School of the Imagination,
named by admirers of the mathematician who authored Alice in
Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. The School
offers a variety of programs to people of all ages who are interested
in learning new ways of thinking and doing.
The Dodgson School is a private institution, handsomely endowed
by a group of highly successful scientists, writers, visual and
performing artists whose identities are known only to the very small
permanent staff of the school. Occasional rumors suggest that the
school's endowment derives from treasure carried west across the
Silk Route in the thirteenth century, but no one knows that
Most of the buildings on campus are named for people whose imagination
(and eccentricity) have inspired others. For example, we have the
Richard Feynmann Physics Laboratory and Observatory, the Bela Bartok
Conservatory of Music, the Edward Gorey Creative Writing House and
the Charles Babbage Hall of Mathematics and Computer Science. Some
of the world's greatest (not necessarily most famous) architects
designed the buildings to take advantage of native materials, landscape
features, and conservation practices. Well, they did allow
a sense of whimsy to permeate the designs, too -- for example, the
courtyard in front of the Gilbert and Sullivan Theatre features
a real merry-go-round, populated with mythical creatures like dragons
and pushmipullyus and cameleopards.
One of the biggest attractions on campus is the Theodore S. Geisel
Early Childhood Development Centre. It's built like an open wheel,
with a splendid playground at the hub and separate play/rest areas
for kids of different ages in the spokes. Because so many of the
people affiliated with the Dodgson School believe that the imagination
is at its peak in early childhood, many of the faculty and staff
compete to spend time in the Geisel Centre, observing and participating
in the games and storytelling.
In addition to the urban campus, the Dodgson School owns a large
farm on the other side of Oberon's Wood, accessible by a narrow
gravel road. With the participation of students and faculty from
the school, the farm staff maintains livestock (a small dairy herd,
some beef cattle, chickens, pigs and geese -- and of course horses
for riding) and grows flowers, trees, fruits and vegetables. The
farm also provides a facility for conducting field tests on new
crop varieties and new forms of integrated pest management. (Everything
is organic, of course -- none of those nasty synthetic nitrogen-based
fertilizers!) The fishpond is stocked with lake trout and used for
ice skating in winter. The gently rolling grain fields make a perfect
location for cross-country ski trails. (Snowmobiles are not
Most of the School's faculty members (from day care workers to
professors) receive appointments ranging in length from one to three
years. They are chosen by the Inner Circle of Supporters based on
reports from the field concerning their special teaching talents
and their active commitment to fostering their own and others' imaginations.
Students at the school get to express their preferences in an annual
meeting that is quite an event. The faculty members spend about
half of their work time at the School teaching and the rest engaged
in their own creative pursuits, whatever they might be. Many of
them have been to the School before, either as students or as participants
in or facilitators of summer workshops. Some of them live in cottages
on campus, while others prefer to take apartments in the nearby
neighborhoods of Samhain.
The Dodgson School of the Imagination is not Hogwarts or
Miss Cackles' Academy. People don't come here to learn how to fly
brooms or concoct potions or render themselves invisible. Depending
on the composition of the resident faculty at any given time, they
may study astronomy or biology or history or ancient languages and
literature. This being a non-traditional educational institution,
they are just as likely to study Sufi dancing, Macedonian cuisine,
furniture making, plain and fancy needlework, beekeeping and rose
gardening. The philosophy that guides the Dodgson experience says
that everyone has an imagination, that imagination flourishes when
exposed to a variety of learning experiences, and that imagination
is the aspect of intelligence best able to grasp the interconnectedness
among different aspects of learning.
There are no grades at the Dodgson School, in either the sense
of age-segregated classes or the sense of letters marking the quality
of people's achievement in a given area. Sure, some of the classes
are predominantly people of a certain age range, but if an eight-year-old
is already fluent in English and Japanese, she can participate in
Japanese literature classes with people old enough to be her grandparents.
Students are placed in classes based on demonstrated ability. For
more experiential learning situations, like building construction,
they are given roles based on other important factors, such as size
and strength and maturity. Classes are typically small enough so
that instructors can work collaboratively with students on forming
qualitative assessments of accomplishments at the end of a defined
'While Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling didn't write
the wonderful stories in the more than twenty anthologies they've
brought us over the years (for a list of all of their anthologies
we've reviewed at Green Man, look in our fiction index under either
of their last names), they still deserve our first praise and gratitude
-- without their expertise and unflagging search for new stories
being written in corners and playas all over the world, we'd never
get to read so much that is 'counter, original, spare, strange.
. . fickle, freckled (who knows how?) with swift, slow, sweet, sour,
And now we have another delightful anthology from
the revered pair, and another Excellence in Writing Award
for Grey Walker,
who takes a careful and wonderful look at The
Donna Bird begins with
a piece of historical fiction: '...most of the action of The
Floating Book takes place in Venice during the latter half of
the fifteenth century. The von Speyer brothers arrive in town with
a Gutenberg printing press, ready to set up shop and sell 'fast
books' to the literate and diversion-seeking Venetian aristocracy
and borghese (middle class). Both brothers marry local women and
hire local editors, typesetters and press operators. Beset with
supply and marketing challenges, the business struggles for a long
while, only becoming moderately successful after publishing a book
that includes the erotic works of the Roman poet Catullus.' Now
that sounds fascinating. Find out more in her Excellence in Writing
Award winning review of Michelle Lovric's 'complex and fascinating
story', The Floating
Now, we jump from historical fiction to futuristic fantasy. 'In
its simplest form, The Twist is about a death wish.' Oh?
Tell us more! 'The back cover blurb describes the book as The
Matrix meets A Fistful of Dollars....' Oh my, that does
sound interesting! 'The Twist may suit those who want to
try something unusual, and prefer escapist chaos over clarity.'
So says Nathan Brazil
-- now, don't you want to go read the rest of his review of Richard
Calder's The Twist?
I thought you would!
Next, Craig Clarke
turns us toward alternate history: ''It was forty years ago
today' -- many paraphrased the famous Sergeant Pepper
line -- when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show,
effectively introducing them to the United States and beginning
the avalanche that would result in the British Invasion and everything
that followed. But what if that hadn't happened? What if the four
lads never made it out of Liverpool? What if the Beatles -- with
their constantly clashing personalities -- had imploded before they
'exploded'? What if, I'm trying to say, we lived in a
world that exhibited no influence in any way by the Fab Four?' Craig
finds out in Larry Kirwan's Liverpool
'It is indeed worth noting that Manna from Heaven is the
first major collection of Zelazny's short fiction in 15 years. Though
some of the pieces here have been reprinted elsewhere, there is
a great deal of material here that has not been easily accessible
without paying inordinately large sums of money for obscure collections
and zines where they were originally printed. That Zelazny did some
of his finest writing in the short form cannot be disputed; that
he also could stretch out a thin premise beyond its breaking point
is also cannot be disputed.' Did Cat
Eldridge find this Zelazny collection worthwhile? Find out
in his thoughtful review.
David Kidney explains
'God Bless the Child is the classic song written by Billie
Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr. and if you don't know it, you should.
If you haven't heard Ms. Holiday sing, run out right now and pick
up one of the many 'best of' collections that reside in most CD
Bless the Child is also a children's book with the lyrics
of the song illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, and David says that Pinkney's
paintings 'lift the lyrics to new heights'.
'As a child,' reminisces Zina
Lee, 'I discovered that [Jane] Yolen is the sort of author
who can perform that alchemy that marks the best writers of fairy
tales and fantasy: when I'd raised my eyes from the book and went
about my business, I discovered that new possibilities existed behind
everything.' (It is for this very reason that Yolen tends
to be a favorite among Green Man staffers.) So Zina was more
than happy to review a new Yolen collection: 'Mightier
Than the Sword: World Folktales for Strong Boys (illustrated
by Raul Colón) is a pleasantly diverse collection of folk
tales, each teaching the value of strength and power without resorting
to force. Similar to her collection for girls (Not One Damsel
in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls), the retellings
of these fables are enjoyable, written and formatted to be easily
read out loud, and lovingly researched. They are moral fables for
modern tastes and cultural mores.' Kudos and an Excellence in
Writing Award go to Zina for this superb review.
Brian Jacques' Redwall books are modern classics.
takes us back to one of the earlier books in the series with this
review: 'As we know all too well from watching the news and reading
the paper, life is not always easy, especially for children. But
children possess an inner strength that, with the right encouragement,
can be tapped to bring out the best in them. That's what Mariel
of Redwall is all about.'
Wisoker takes us back to the early days of the fantasy genre,
with a loving look at a new volume of old stories from Night Shade
Books. 'Long, long ago, in a world far more uptight about hem lines
and shirt collars than we are today, [Karl] Wagner's Kane joined
the ranks of timeless heroes Conan and Fafhrd on the printed page.
Fans of Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber will find much to enjoy
in these stories, but Midnight
Sun bends on a path all its own, away from those 'other'
barbarians, reminding us of the origins of the fantasy genre along
Collingbourne continues his ruminations on the tarot with
the second part of his thoroughly researched series: 'If my potted
history of tarot and fortune telling has whetted your appetite (or,
alternatively, caused you to smoke at the nostrils and bay for my
blood) then you will no doubt be itching to learn more. Here I'll
whiz through some of the best books and tarot decks in my own collection.
Bearing in mind that there are thousands of decks and books available,
this can't hope to be a comprehensive review. But it should, at
least, point you in the direction of some of the most interesting,
beautiful and historically significant decks and some of the most
readable and informative books.' Find out more as he discusses Building
a Tarot Library.
Reynard here. I got drafted by Jack to write these notes this outing
as he and the other musicians in the building are celebrating a
new band that Bela, our resident Balkan violinist, formed this week.
Now I admit that the composition of the various bands and the names
of bands here can be confusing -- I'm seen, to name but three bands
that have called this place home down the centuries, the Painted
Ladies and Gentlemen, the New St. Georgians, and Little Beggar Girls
and Boys! What's interesting about this band, Shades of Grey, is
that Bela and the other musicians claim that one of the band members
is the poor street fiddler whose name might have been Jack that
ran afoul of the law around the time that John Gay was penning The
Beggar's Opera. Fatally afoul of the law, as the present Jack
sadly notes. Supposedly hung on the spot where the Neverending Session
plays in the Pub. Certainly the players say that there's a cold,
haunting presence there, but musicians have lively imaginations.
Bela claims he's a bleedin' good fiddler, so why not let him play?
I'd give Craig Clarke
a dram of our finest single malt on the house but it sounds he doesn't
need it as he details in his Excellence in Writing Award winning
review of two releases from the Saw Doctors: 'I've said it before
and it's still true: the music of the Saw Doctors is like a dose
of Prozac -- I listen to it and I get happy. All the benefits, none
of the side effects, and it's cheaper than a prescription' He goes
on to say, 'Live
in Galway -- in both its manifestations -- is a wonderful
Country musician Dana Robinson's Avenue
of the Saints (was spot on for new staffer Rick
Hayes: 'Not too often do I like a collection of songs right
away. This one I did! Dana Robinson has put together a group of
songs that are lyrical and thoughtful, yet also melodic. I have
become an instant fan!'
Ahhh, bluegrass, that bastard child of Celtic music and a bit more.
If you like it, David Kidney
has a CD for you: 'For lovers of history, bluegrass, and just good
offers an hour of pure mountain goodness.'
Just savour the identity of the band and who wrote the lyrics:
Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, I
Got Stoned and I Missed It: The Best from Shel Silverstein, 1971-1979.
Wonderfully weird, isn't it? As David notes, 'Shel Silverstein was
a true renaissance man, author, cartoonist, singer/songwriter and
man about town. Raven's collection of his songs as done by Dr. Hook
shines a new light into a dark corner of rock 'n' roll some people
might have ignored. Or, maybe you just got stoned and missed it.'
David finishes out with his Excellence in Writing Award winning
review of Tunesmith: 'Jimmy Webb was a millionaire by the
time he was twenty-one years old! Why? Because he was a Tunesmith,
a composer, a songwriter. He had written hits for Glen Campbell
('By the Time We Get to Phoenix'), Fifth Dimension ('Up, Up and
Away') and many, many more. Raven Records, that antipodean bastion
of remastered collections, has gathered these songs and dozens more
to create Tunesmith: The
Songs of Jimmy Webb, a double disc set which presents the
hits and the misses. It's engrossing listening.'
Peter Massey suspects
that A' The Bairns
'O' Adam (Hamish Henderson Tribute) will not be a CD most
folks looking at CDs in their local music stall will pick up: 'With
a tribute album, if you are not familiar with the artist as a person
or what he has done, then looking at the album cover in a record
store is about as much use to you as a one legged man in a bum kicking
contest. I fear this may be the case with this album for most people
who live outside Scotland and Edinburgh in particular.'
by Australian Audrey Auld met with approval from Gary
Whitehouse: '[She] offers contrast aplenty, but
it's not jarring. Everything fits together in a solid statement
of Auld's independence, integrity and grit, as a woman and a musician.
Audrey Auld is a welcome addition to the music scene on these shores.'
Never let it be said that Spike
Winch is a man who can't express himself! After serving
as our bouncer -- and giving a painful new meaning to that job title
-- he decided to ask if he could do reviews here just like, as he
noted, every ^%@$! else! (What he said in detail was, 'Finally,
they've let me review some music all by meself! This little red
package wif six scruffy lookin' rock 'n' roll types standin' around
lookin' suspicious reminds me of the good ol' days when I usedta
stand around lookin' suspicious. Now I just lie around lookin' scruffy.
. . it's nearly the same thing!) So he looks this week at Yusef
Lateef, Adam Rudolph and Go: Organic Orchestra's In
the Garden CD which he says of, 'Yusef Lateef describes
the music in the insert. He says it's 'thread bare lubricated alacrity,
celestial effervescent edge. . . leap into the eternal ellipsoidal
mix eternally, never to spiccato again.' I must say, that's exactly
wot I wuz thinkin' as I listened to this #$%^. Adam Rudolph calls
it all 'new musical concepts.' I fink that I will stick wif the
good ole musical concepts that I grew up wif. Thank you very #$%^in'
much!' He also reviews The Miniatures' coma
kid which was 'recorded in Hamilton, Ontario. . .
Dave [Kidney]'s home town! An' some of it is quite listenable,
some of it does get a bit edgy. But for the most part it seems too
#$%^in predictable. Maybe live they'd great. . . but too much of
this will put this old kid into a coma!'
So... after the description at the beginning of this week's issue,
you may be wondering, 'Who attends the Dodgson School of the Imagination?'
Well, the little ones at the Geisel Centre are primarily the offspring
of staff, faculty and students at the School, along with a few children
from town. The town and the school itself are also the primary sources
of the students in grades kindergarten through twelve. Many parents
settle or remain in Samhain so that they can send their children
to the Dodgson School. It's been around long enough so that three
or more generations of some families have attended. While there
are no dormitories for the younger students, a few from far away
live on campus, typically in residences with faculty or staff, while
their parents travel or work abroad. Adult students, who learn about
the School by word of mouth, come from all over the world.
As a very well-endowed private school, Dodgson can easily afford
to provide complete and partial scholarships to deserving students.
Admission is on the basis of portfolios submitted by applicants,
recommendations from people who know the applicants' work, and interviews
with members of the Inner Circle of Supporters. Imagination is an
elusive characteristic, and the people who are mostly likely to
be accepted are not always the ones who have the most impressive
21st of March, 2004
'The first day of spring was once
the time for taking the young virgins into the fields, there in
dalliance to set an example in fertility for nature to follow. Now
we just set the clocks an hour ahead and change the oil in the crankcase.'
-- E.B. White
Maria Nutick here. It's
Spring again, and the Green Man offices are abuzz with excitement.
That's meant quite literally, by the way. The bees we keep down
in Oberon's Wood to provide the kitchen with fresh honey tend to
swarm when the weather warms up, and one of the hives decided for
some reason to settle in Jack's office. Under the desk. Judging
by the yelping and swearing, Jack was unpleasantly surprised. (That's
is a bit of an understatement! Even Hamish, our resident hedgehog
who was sleeping under me desk, got stung by them! -- Jack) Currently
he's out in the shed, tracking down a bee veil and some gloves so
he can coax our little friends out to a more comfortable (both for
Jack and for the bees) location.
The Library is closed to browsers for the moment, as Liath is supervising
the annual spring cleaning. If you need anything, just shout through
the door and she'll send out a brownie with the item you're looking
for. Likewise the Pub; the Equinox celebration last night was as
wild as wild can be, and the Neverending Session players are gingerly
playing some soothing instrumentals as Reynard and his crew clean
up broken glass and spilled drink. Anyone needing a libation can
sit out on the patio, and one of the Pub wait staff will be with
you shortly. I wouldn't advise hanging about in the kitchen, either,
or you'll be put to work painting eggs. Yes, I said painting --
Easter's not far off, and we hand paint our eggs. This year we've
put two of our most artistic staffers, Zina
Lee and Rebecca
Scott, in charge of design. I believe Zina said something
about reproducing scenes from the Book of Kells on a series
of quail eggs?
I'll be heading out to the Meadow, myself, as that's where the
real fun is. We're having a birthday party: Master Stephen
Hunt turns a very Douglas Adams-ish 42 today! We've got
both a suckling pig and a lamb roasting on spits over an
open fire, as well as mounds of cold fried chicken and a whole chilled
smoked salmon. There's a cheese tray three feet across, with four
(!) kinds of aged extra-sharp cheddar, Danish havarti, baked brie,
a tub of Stilton, rosemary infused sheep's cheese, pecorino, thin
sliced romano, and Spanish manchego, with a dozen different types
of cracker besides. We're serving salads, of course: fresh garden
salad, spinach Caesar, sour cream potato, macaroni, and tomato mozzarella
salad dressed with balsamic vinegar. Fresh squeezed lemonade and
iced tea; chocolate milk for the kids; strong coffee for those of
us still recovering from last night's festivities. The children
are particularly excited about the nine... sorry, ten different
kinds of cookies and tarts. And his cake, which we had flown in
from the famed Helen Bernhard's Bakery in Portland, Oregon. Well
of course we've spared no expense; it's for Steve Hunt, after
Why don't you go read some reviews, while I run outside. I don't
want to miss Steve blowing out the candles on his white chocolate
and hazelnut cake.
here. Our Featured Review this week is from Free Reed, a CD company
that any fan of British folk music will know well! Previous superb
releases from them include the Martin Carthy Box Set, The
Carthy Chronicles, and
Fairport unConventional, not to mention Wake
the Vaulted Echoes: A Celebration of Peter Bellamy! The
newest offering from them is The
Transports: Silver Edition, an updating of The Transports:
A Ballad Opera by Peter Bellamy. The lucky bastard to review
this Stephen Hunt
is who admits in his Excellence in Writing Award winning
review that he was remiss years ago regarding the original release:
'1977 seemed like an important year to be a music obsessed teenager
in England's green and pleasant land. The front pages of the tabloids
were temporarily dominated by rock 'n' roll as (firstly) The Sex
Pistols injected some actual excitement into HM The Queen's Silver
Jubilee celebrations, and (secondly) Elvis permanently 'left the
building.' In the midst of all the spit and tears, the release of
The Transports: A Ballad Opera by Peter Bellamy didn't really
register on my youthful radar. It would be years before I realised
that I'd actually missed the year's most extraordinary record....'
Stephen makes up for being remiss oh so many years ago by giving
you, our readers, an in-depth look at this important release. As
he notes later in his review, 'I can't think of another label that
demonstrates the commitment to accurate information and comprehensive
detail that Free Reed consistently applies to their recordings.
With The Transports: Silver Edition, Free Reed has given
Peter Bellamy's brilliant Ballad Opera the format it deserves, and
presented it to a whole new audience. I hope that they sell a million!'
Having listened to other copy that Free Reed sent, I wholeheartedly
begins with a look at a children's book which she calls 'a lovely
book with a lovely aim'. She explains that in her youth '...Burleigh
Muten was fascinated and inspired by the legend of Artemis, the
Greek goddess of the hunt, moon, childbirth, and nature. She compiled
this encyclopedia of goddesses from around the world in an effort
to spark a similar interest in other children.' Read Christine's
review of Goddesses:
A World of Myth and Magic to find out if this effort works
Next up is the Chief, Cat
Eldridge, who spent some recent illness-induced downtime
catching up on his reading. Here he reviews an anthology of stories
by authors who tend to be favorites here at Green Man. Cat
says that what he wants out of an anthology is 'to find out what
authors, both known and unknown to me, have published that I somehow
missed. Just as I eagerly await the review copies of The Year's
Best Fantasy and Horror in summer so I can sit down and see
what the editors thought was good, an anthology like this, though
smaller than that massive work, often holds treasures that I didn't
know existed.' Read his review of editor Patrick Neilsen Hayden's
to see what gems he discovered this time.
'If a geography of human suffering is ever written, the tiny West
Indian island of Barbados will surely get a chapter all its own.
Though it's now described as an island paradise, in the 17th century
it was known as 'the white man's graveyard,' and likened to 'a dunghill'
with the planters at the top of the heap greedily pecking through
the shit.' So says Liz Milner,
who once lived in Barbados, and who reviews a book this week set
during those early, inhumane plantation years. Liz picks up an Excellence
in Writing Award for her thoroughly riveting analysis of Kate
of an Irish Slave Girl.
tells us '[I]n what I like to call 'The Geek Genres' of
science fiction, fantasy, and horror, a common method for genre
participants to wallow in 'geekiness' is the venerable
crossover. (And before I go any farther, I should indicate
that I hold geekiness, in all but the most extreme forms, to be
a virtue.)' He goes on to explain that 'sometimes a crossover comes
along that's so obvious that I can't believe no one ever thought
of it before. Such is the case with Shadows Over Baker Street.
This book is a collection of stories in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's
Sherlock Holmes and his erstwhile companion Dr. John Watson confront
the mysteries of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. As soon as I saw
the cover to this book, I thought, 'Of course! How did
no one ever think of doing this!'' Kelly enjoyed the book put
together by Michael Reaves and John Pelan, and we enjoyed Kelly's
review of Shadows
Over Baker Street.
Tracy Hickman of Dragonlance fame teams up with his wife
Laura with a new series called The Bronze Canticles. Of the
first book, Mystic
Warrior, reviewer Elizabeth
Vail says 'what kept me reading were the fantastic details
of the tale. Dialogue and style aside, the story is creative, colourful,
and completely original...the Hickmans never let the cat out of
the bag too soon. They dangled juicy titbits of knowledge in front
of me like a carrot in front of a plodding donkey the whole way,
urging me ever forward, tormenting my rampant curiosity.'
Finally, Gary Whitehouse
is in a Beatle mood this week, as he brings us both a book review
and a film review of materials involving the Fab Four. First up
is his book review, in which he advises us that 'Larry Kane indeed
got a ticket to ride. He was the only American journalist in the
Beatles official press group on their groundbreaking 1964 U.S. tour.
The tour changed the way rock 'n' roll concerts were played, it
changed a lot of people's minds about the Beatles, and it changed
Larry Kane's life. Nearly 40 years later, he's finally gotten around
to writing about it. With Ticket
To Ride, he joins the legions of writers whose tomes feed
the still insatiable appetite of Beatles fans.' Gary, in turn, adds
another Excellence in Writing Award to the legions already
lining his shelves.
Collingbourne has amassed quite a lot of knowledge about
tarot, not to mention quite a large library of tarot books and decks.
In this essay, the first of three parts, Huw explains a bit about
the history of tarot. As Huw says, '[H]undreds, maybe thousands,
of books have been written about the tarot. More still have been
written about divination or 'cartomancy' with ordinary playing cards
and fortune telling decks known as 'oracles'. In all probability,
you have neither the time nor the inclination to read all those
books. To save you that trouble, I have condensed the entire history
of fortune telling with cards into the few words which you see before
you. Now, maybe you think that such a terse account is likely to
be hopelessly incomplete, distorted, biased and downright unfair.
And maybe you have a point. Then again, level-headed objectivity
is not a quality which features largely in the history of tarot,
so let's just say that I consider myself in good company.' Go read
All in the Cards
to find out more!
In 1964, The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.
It was, as Gary Whitehouse
says, 'a seminal moment'. Gary's been watching a DVD:
Four Complete Historic Shows Featuring The Beatles. While
Gary was floored by The Fab Four's performances, he was less than
impressed with many of the other acts. He notes, 'Thankfully,
with DVDs, you can easily skip to the good parts.' Gary picks
up another Excellence In Writing Award for his
Jack Merry at your
service. Deborah Frost in the Village Voice, an American
alternative newspaper, once said that 'Analysing the Breeders may
be as useful as deconstructing a good fuck, or for those less carnally
inclined, a strawberry shortcake. When it works, you really don't
have to discuss it. If it doesn't, you just signal for mas cafe
por favor and slosh away.' Now there is s in me humble opinion
a major difference between deconstructing an album like Greil Marcus
and his ilk are fond of doing and reviewing it here, as our purpose,
or so I've heard more than once from the editors, is to both entertain
and inform you. So let's see if the reviews this week do that!
found The Rough Guide
to Chicago Blues to be both fun and informative but far
from perfect: 'It is always easy to gripe about compilations. Every
listener probably imagines that he could have made a better job
of selecting the artists and songs. Well, this reviewer will not
disappoint you. For a start, the track by the obscure falsetto singer
Nolan Struck should never have been included: the recording quality
is awful and its inclusion would be justified only if it was essential
to ensure that a really brilliant musician was included in the absence
of anything better. Then there are the omissions: why is there nothing
from Howlin' Wolf, from either of the two fine musicians who called
themselves Sonny Boy Williamson, from the wonderful Willie Dixon
or the sometimes sublime Jimmy Reed, men whose recordings haunted
my adolescence? When it comes to pianists, I miss the mighty Memphis
Slim (and although this is purportedly a Chicago collection, there
are several musicians included from other cities, including Memphis).
Pleased though I am to have discovered the talents of John Littlejohn
and Robert Nighthawk, I would gladly accept their omission if it
meant that better and more iconic Chicago blues musicians obtained
a place on the CD.' Richard receives a well-deserved Excellence
in Writing Award for this excellent review!
Peter Massey found
Michael William Harrison's First
Time 'Round to be very entertaining: 'If you have liking
for good honest folk music, recorded 'live' or in its natural form,
then this is an album for you. I define good honest folk music as
the sort of thing you are most likely to hear if you visit a folk
club. As most venues (clubs) are strapped for cash, they can't always
afford top line bands with four or more members. Even solo artists,
when recording an album, will import talented guest musicians to
finish of the overall sound. Nothing wrong with this, as it does
make folk music easy on the ear and more acceptable to non-folkies.
But it's not the same as what you'll hear at the club.'
No'am Newman, an Israeli
with a deep and affectionate interest in Celtic music, got a CD,
Ireland, which appeared perfect for him, but wasn't: 'As
the sleeve notes say, 'To combine traditional Irish music with klezmer
is a compelling, but little explored, idea.' To the outside eye,
one might imagine that there is a great deal of common ground between
these two traditions, but maybe there is a reason why that compelling
idea has not yet been explored. I admit that, before listening,
I was expecting either Irish tunes played in correspondence to a
klezmer scale, or klezmer tunes played on pipes and whistles. But
that's not what we have on this fourteen track (55 minutes) disc.
Generally speaking, the Irish-sourced tunes sound like Irish tunes,
and the klezmer tunes sound like klezmer, with very little cross-pollination
in action.' Read his entertaining review to see why this was so!
Marc Broussard's Momentary
Setback, Jens Hausmann's Back
on the Track, and Penny Nichols's I'll
Never Be That Old Again are, according to John
O'Regan, 'a diverse bag... ... two American singer songwriters
dealing in varied parts of the Roots arena, and an American born
guitarist/singer now based in Germany. The music is equally varied,
from big-sounding acoustic rock with mainstream potential to warm
intimate country/folk crossovers and cool continental jazz/blues/folk
combinations. Does that whet the inquisitive appetite? Well, if
so, drop in.'
Another omni from John finishes off this issue. As he says, 'In
this review, lesser known blues men and Southern Soul legends, in
posthumous collections of their many and varied wares, juggle for
attention with a recent release from an outfit alive and kicking.
One thing that this trio of releases has in common, as well as covering
the waters of soul and blues, is a refreshing honesty and musical
flair.' Go read his review Cooper Terry & The Nightlife's Take
a Ride with Cooper T, Johnnie Taylor's There's
No Good in Goodbye, Chris Daniels, and The Kings and Friends'
to see if you'll be singing the blues too!
Well, I hope you enjoyed this issue! Why don't you
go have a piece of cake, and don't forget to wish
Master Hunt a Happy Birthday. He'll be opening his gifts
in just a moment. I do hope he likes mine. Finding it wasn't too
hard, but figuring out how to wrap it was a real pain! It kept struggling...
14th of March, 2004
'Don't worry if what you know you
can't prove or haven't studied.'
-- Natalie Goldberg
In case any of you have missed the announcements, St. Patrick's
Day is almost here. I've (me being Grey
Walker) been wandering around the Web, looking for obscure
St. Patrick's Day traditions. There are going to be parades everywhere,
of course. Green beer. Sequinned shamrocks. In Alexandria, Virginia,
USA, I know a woman who has a bright orange suit that she only wears
once a year. On St. Patrick's Day.
Is it about being Irish? It can be. Is it about wishing you were
Irish? Sure. Is it about drinking too much green beer? For some
people (though Jack is scornful of such folks. If the beer's good,
don't add anything to it, that's his opinion!).
But I've also seen a lot of sites on the Web that claim to tell
you 'who the real St. Patrick was.' In a way, I care. But in a way,
That's what Green Man Review is about, really. Not just
who people really are or were, but how we've come to remember them.
The songs about them. Why they're important to us. And how our memories
and ways of celebrating them have changed over the generations.
Sure, we've got plenty of serious, detailed reviews about historical
and anthropological books here, in which we examine whether or not
the author's work is credible (for an example, see Lisa Spangenberg's
superb scholarly review of Taliesin:
The Last Celtic Shaman, by John Matthews). But we've also
got reviews of urban myths (Craig Clarke's eighth issue in The
Book of Tales column) and of how ballads have grown from
scant historical evidence (my review of Sandy Ives' The
Bonny Earl of Murray: The Man, the Murder, the Ballad --
including a fascinating look at 'mondegreens').
So celebrate St. Pat's with seriousness or silliness. Follow your
family's traditions, or drink green beer while singing 'When Irish
Eyes Are Smiling'. Wear a shamrock, or an orange suit. Or try something
new. Like this week's reviews, perhaps.
Reynard here. I heard the editors grumbling
loudly over a workingman's lunch -- well, they claimed they were
working -- that far too many 'zines on the net don't seem to bother
to edit their content 'tall. Not here! A good writer like Peter
Massey needs but a light touch when edited, but even he
has become a better writer from the process of give and take
with the editing staff. And that's how you get the featured music
review this outing: Peter's look at Michael Snow's Never
Say No to a Jar, the third album in Snow's 'Skelly' trilogy.
A 'Skelly' is (friendly) Liverpool slang for someone whose parents
came from Ireland. Peter says, 'You can take the lad out of
Liverpool, but you will never take the Liverpool out of the
lad. Indeed, why the hell would you want to, I ask myself. After
all, hasn't Liverpool just been voted European Capital of Culture
2008? These days Michael Snow is fortunate to live in Nashville,
Tennessee, but he was born and raised in Liverpool. He has been
in the music business, one way or another, nearly all his life.
Starting in the Mersey Beat era, he played in a band called
The Barons, but he now runs a music publishing and recording
company in Nashville. A composer of many songs, he is most noted
is 'Rossetta'. It was a big hit for Allan Price and Georgie
Fame in nine countries. Now, with Never Say
No to a Jar, Michael is returning to his roots, re-kindling
his embers as the son of Irish immigrants who settled in Liverpool.'
Peter receives an Excellence in Writing Award for this
here, stepping in to drop off the featured book review for this
week. Our Grey Walker
says that '[T]his is a story about twos. How two can be alike, or
diametrically opposite. How two can strive against each other, or
work together. Light and dark are two. Opposites. But then there's
the left hand and the right hand, working together. Or two eyes,
essential for depth perception. The combinations are endless. In
this story, just a few twos dance a pattern, and we as readers are
left tantalized and satisfied.' In this glorious Excellence in
Writing Award winning review, she is speaking of Medicine
Road, written and illustrated by perennial GMR favorites,
'the two Charleses' (de Lint and Vess.)
Several times a day deliveries come into our mailroom,
and found in these deliveries are some of the most interesting tidbits.
Consider 'a serious work of scholarship' which 'reads like a post-graduate
thesis' reviewed this week by Faith
Cormier. A translator by profession, Faith was fascinated
by King Artus:
A Hebrew Arthurian Romance of 1279. Faith says 'King
Artus is translated from what Leviant calls The Hebrew Romance.
This is a short manuscript, the only known copy of which is in the
Vatican library. The Hebrew Romance is itself a translation
into Hebrew of part of a lost Italian version of an Old French manuscript
of tales of King Arthur. The Hebrew Romance was produced
in 1279, a period when there were very few secular books in Hebrew.'
is up next, with a biography of a horse. Yes, a horse. As she says
in the beginning of her review, '[W]hat's so special about a horse
that lived nearly a century ago? Well, this horse was mentioned
more times in the newspaper than was Hitler, and this was during
World War II.' She's speaking of a horse recently immortalized in
a blockbuster film, and of the book upon which that film was based:
by Laura Hillenbrand.
'I was walking by the paperback display in Barnes
& Noble, disappointed that a novel I came for was not in stock...Tropic
of Night caught my eye. It could have been the colors on the
book purple and orange, a scene of sunrise or sunset
over Miami. It could have been something else, one of those
little coincidences that makes you pause, just for a minute. I backtracked
a few feet, picked up the book and read on the cover, 'Jane Doe
...' blah blah 'anthropologist ... shamanism ...' Hmm, it's starting
to sound interesting.... 'Cuban-American police detective ... ritualistic
murders ... Miami.' These are a few key words that clued me in to
what the book might be about. I opened randomly, sure enough, there's
Shango, fierce god of storms, and on another page further along
in the book I see Oshun, and Eshu. I like stories that invoke the
Orishas; they give another perspective on these powerful spirits.
This book seemed to have a good number of references to them; I
was intrigued.' So, are you as intrigued as Nellie
Levine was? Well then, go read her review of Tropic
of Night by Michael Gruber!
Many on the staff will greet Rebecca
Scott's review with a lump in the throat, as the 2001 death
of the subject of this biography is still incredibly difficult
for some of us to fathom. 'This is the funny, sometimes depressing
story,' explains Rebecca, 'of a funny, sometimes depressed man.
The original twenty-three chapters were written by a then-unknown
Englishman named Neil Gaiman. Hints can be found therein of Gaiman's
own style, but mostly he borrows from [Douglas] Adams'. This is
perfectly understandable, and is even very pleasant, since he does
it quite well. These chapters are full of anecdotes, interviews,
script excerpts, quotes that were cut from various sources, and
other gems.' Go read her review of this updated reprint of Don't
Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
takes us off into an examination of another scholarly work, this
one a music tutorial: 'Grey Larsen has condensed a lifetime of learning
into this work. For those who have themselves laboured at this art
form much of the material in this book will seem obvious or even
pointless, but from the beginner's point of view this book must
be seen as essential. As Irish Tradional Music becomes ever more
popular worldwide, tools such as this book are the only way that
people starting out can get even remotely close to a source or a
teacher.' Pat picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for
this look at The
Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle.
Unruh informs us that 'seventeen prose pieces carve slices
of urban decay from the mind of Conrad Williams, a terrifyingly
evocative writer who throws images at the reader with a kind of
underhandedness that, when it works, leaves behind a warning of
just how bad things could get.' Sounds like there's some good stuff
in Use Once, Then
Destroy! There's some good stuff in this review, too, which
is why Wes receives his own Excellence in Writing Award.
Come back next week for more superb book reviews.
I'm off to find out which of our reviewers wants to tackle this
pile of Francesca Lia Block books that came in this week...
Kim Bates went to a
performance by Heather Dale, a singer who is 'committed to the concept
of bringing Arthurian traditions into modern consciousness through
original songs and contemporary arrangements.' Kim was intrigued
by Heather Dale's interpretation of the Arthurian mythos. She was
especially struck by the fact that 'Heather has indeed tapped into
some of the emotional truths contained within these stories. 'Read
to see why. If the stories surrounding King Arthur strike as
strong a chord with you as they have with Kim, you'll want to jump
on the opportunity to learn more about Heather's approach.
took in a memorable show by Ronnie Drew, formerly of the legendary
Irish group the Dubliners. Ronnie, along with guest performer
Mike Hanrahan, delivered an outstanding evening of song and story.
Scott gets an Excellence in Writing Award for his review
-- read it to get a snapshot of Dublin history through the eyes
of a great performer. Take the opportunity to see how Ronnie and
Mike brought their memories of Dublin to life. You'll understand
why Ronnie Drew 'is not only a cultural icon in his own right, but
a great repository of the vast cultural wealth of his native Dublin.'
Jack Merry at your service. Did you notice the new player
in the Neverending Session this afternoon? That's Zina
Lee, one of our recent additions to the staff. She's an
Irish fiddler, writer, designer, and Irish step dancer and teacher
(not necessarily in that order). Her company, Aniar Design, specialises
in the design, embroidery, and building of Irish step dancing costumes.
Rather good, isn't she? The tune they're playing is a favourite
of hers, so let's grab a couple of the Bad Frog Beers that a musician
from the States brought with him to the Pub as payment for staying
here for a few days, and listen for a while!
Fiddler Bonnie Rideout's Celtic
Circles album fared very well in the mind's eye of musician
'Musically, I cannot fault this recording. The airs are satisfyingly
heartbreaking, the jigs are suitably perky, the rants stir the blood.
Tune sets work well together. The playing is exquisite. Rich textures
are created by the instrumental combinations. Taken as a whole,
the album paints a pleasing, if rather nostalgic picture, to be
enjoyed with a glass of expensive malt with a fancy label rather
than a pint of heavy.' Alistair picks up a well-deserved Excellence
in Writing Award!
says of this Celtic CD that 'The Clumsy Lovers call their music
'raging bluegrass Celtic rock.' Now, I don't know about 'raging,'
but there's an infectious energy that permeates every song on their
latest release, After
the Flood. Fast fiddling (from Andrea Lewis) and banjo picking
(courtesy Jason Homey) combine with clever wordplay and emotional
truths to make a truly satisfying album.' And a truly satisfying
review which is why Craig gets an Excellence in Writing Award.
Faith J. Cormier
says Lauren Sheehan's 'Some
Old Lonesome Day is a lovely mixture of American folk music,
old and new. Several of the songs are quite old, like 'House Carpenter'
and 'Careless Love,' while others, like 'The Werewolf,' are very
modern, but all have their roots in the same traditions.'
1964-1968 is a relief to David
Kidney as '[a] while back we looked at a
couple of live CDs by Eric Burdon. We were not too happy with what
we heard. The I-Band and even The New Animals were disappointing
at best, and Burdon's fundamental blues growl was a shadow of itself.
This new collection, of forty-year-old classics, offers Eric Burdon
at his prime, fronting a series of excellent bands, doing the hits
and displaying the grit and drive that made the Animals the best
British blues band ever.'
Verlon Thompson's everywhere...yet
CD caught David in a particularly mellow moment: 'This is mellow,
acoustic stuff, well crafted songs, beautifully and subtly played
and sung. It's almost as though Thompson was singing for you in
your living room. And, he is one fine guitar player!'
Stephen Stills' Turnin'
Back the Pages hit the right note for David: ''Stills's
perfectionism, his juxtaposition of rock with Latin beats, his rich
harmonies and his fiery guitar playing make me sit up and take notice.
There are some fine things happening on these tracks.' (If you don't
know who Stills is, you are definitely a wee poor bugger indeed!)
David is not a wee poor bugger -- he receives an Excellence
in Writing Award!
Cordero is a band that combines Latin music with alternative rock,
so what did the often jaded Big
Earl Sellar think of their Cordero
Live album in his Excellence in Writing Award winning
review: 'Y'all wanna know what the coolest thing about being a music
critic is? It's when you discover some great band doing something
that seems obvious, but you can't ever recall it being attempted
before. Cordero is exactly the kind of kick in the ears that makes
writing about music so addicting: another jolt to defer the jadeness
of tired ears.'
Overall, Pat Simmonds
was pleased with 5 Mile Chase's debut
album which reflects the rich Irish heritage of the
Northeastern USA, but he says 'I would imagine that the next CD
from this duo will be very good indeed, given that they will have
tucked in a few loose corners here and there and tightened up the
overall sound. This is the first traditional-oriented CD that I've
come across with a tune dedicated to ice hockey.'
Pat was less than pleased with the self-titled
debut effort from Halali which consists of
three fiddlers, Hanneke Cassel, Laura Cotese and Lissa Schneckenburger,
with Flynn Cohen providing guitar accompaniment. It wasn't that
it was a bad effort so much as 'While the music is a great reflection
of the New England scene, it lacks some of the grittiness or ethereal
qualities of its more traditional contemporaries. Jimmy Noonan's
recent release, for instance. There is a softness to this record
that is immediately recognisable as being modern American, and one
wonders what the outcome would be if the musicians decided to further
explore that aspect of their cultural heritage. There are nine pieces
in all, a little short perhaps? Not really. The record cruises past
the ears at a relaxed pace, and would be a good buy at the gig or
A truly great music review has a statement of why the reviewer
liked this music in it that makes you want to hear the music
now. Mike Stiles does
it for me with these words: 'Kalman Magyar is the Eileen Ivers of
Gypsy music. I know I don't usually lavish such gargantuan praise,
but I'd swear on a pile of my editors' skulls that I'm not wallowing
in hyperbole here!' Now go read his review of Kalman Magyar's Exposed
and Alexander Fedoriouk and Kalman Magyar's Crossing
Paths to see why this is so!
Grey Walker just came in from a walk and says she
saw Maggie, our resident corvid, outside. Grey says 'Maggie Pye
is alive and well. She would have apologised for her lack of conversation
recently, but she's been busy nest building! She'll certainly get
in touch in April, when she hopes to have between 4 and 7 lovely
green eggs, with lots of grey and brown speckles on them... She
says that she's very excited about being a mother, and plans to
spend more of her life outside, in the Green Man garden.'
Bloody hell... this means (inarguably) that Maggie has got herself....
gulp..... a mate! No, Grey didn't know his name as the mother-to-be
got rather coy at that point. Well there you go, 'one for sorrow,
two for mirth!'
Maggie says that she'll start flying into the office after the
young ones are old 'nough to join her, just to ensure that standards
are maintained! And she'll train the fledglings to crap on the head
of anyone who gives a Christy Moore or Phil Cunningham CD a bad
review -- ever.....
Remember, celebrate the Irish this week! That's something we at
Green Man (as our gigantic assortment of reviews of Irish
music can attest to) can all raise our glasses to... And Cat Eldridge,
our Editor in Chief, just wandered by my desk and, looking over
my shoulder, said, 'Don't forget to mention buggle cakes.' Apparently,
buggle cakes are part of Scotland's St. Pat's traditions. They're
bannocks, made from corn and clipped all around the edges to resemble
the sun. I wonder if they'll have them in the Pub this week...
7th of March, 2004
'Never own more than you can carry
at a dead run, except for books.
Books are worth taking risks for.'
-- Kage Baker
Cat Eldridge, the
Editor of Green Man, speaking.
Ahhh, books. One of the principal pleasures of this enterprise
for the staff who work here has been discovering books and writers
that we never knew existed. For me, it was the joy of discovering
Simon R. Green and his fantastic tales after reading our review
of Drinking Midnight
Wine -- a novel which I read in one sitting! (His new series,
set in the Nightside, the demon-infested side of London, is quite
excellent. I've been reading the ARCs as they come in to us. A review
of The Nightingale's Lament, the third novel in the series,
will be up shortly.) Another author that I discovered from reading
our reviews is Holly Black, author of Tithe,
which any fantasy fan should read. Holly also sent me a really macabre
holiday card this year.
Then there's Jasper Fforde and his Thursday
Next series, and Laurell K. Hamilton, whose Merry
Gentry series is witty, sexy, and quite entertaining. And
just as often I discover a new offer not by reading one of our reviews,
but by picking up an advance copy from the pile of new mail in our
Mailroom and seeing if it's any good. Paul Brandon, a fine musician
and a very talented writer, was unknown to me 'til I picked up the
ARC of Swim the Moon and
found myself fascinated by his take on Scottish music, seelies,
and other matters dear to me. (He too sent a wonderful holiday card
We receive much more fiction in the mail than we can review --
we don't review most science fiction, but we still get it from the
publishers. I highly recommend four such novels I read recently,
courtesy of their publishers, to those of you who like this genre:
Neal Asher's Gridlinked,
Chris Moriarty's Solid
State, Richard K. Morgan's Altered
Carbon and Charles Stross' Singularity
Another novel that I had no idea existed until the publisher sent
it for review was one I reviewed a few weeks ago: Philip Reeve's
the first of The Hungry City Chronicles. This lovely fantasy
I recommend to anyone who enjoys Prachett and the like.
At our weekly editorial meeting, where we discuss the upcoming
issue and, errr, drool over the particularly good stuff that's come
in, I asked the editorial group what's the favorite book, author
or series they'd discovered as a result of being here at Green
Man. (One fey staffer said that Dragons Breath XXXX Stout is
the best thing she's discovered here, but I'd say that she's got
a somewhat faulty memory, as any spirits that are handy are her
favorite drink. Even ones extremely toxic to mortals.)
After some thought and a sip of Dai-Ginjo Nambu Bijin Sake, April
Gutierrez said, 'Hmmmm, Probably Holly Black and her Spiderwick
Chronicles.' Maria Nutick concurred with April, as did I!
Grey Walker, one of our Book Review Editors down the years, said,
'Two come to mind, folks I'd never have run across without being
pointed to them by GMR. Meinrad
Craighead is an incredible artist. And Jacqueline
Carey -- she's not the sort of writer I'd pick up by browsing
at random, but now that I've read her, I'll read anything she writes.'
Stephen Hunt had no problem picking his favorite discovery: 'That's
easy -- Paul Brandon's Swim the Moon. The first that I'd
ever heard of him was your (Cat's) review. Neil Gaiman's Coraline
and Holly Black's Titheare two more books that I discovered
as a direct result of GMR (via natter in the break room,
and the generosity of colleagues!) Just to broaden the horizons
of the question, we've been listening to Bonnie Rideout's fabulous
this evening -- she's a musician I would have probably never heard
without GMR!' After a sip of an exceptionally fine single
malt, he added, 'Oh, and Emma Bull, of course! I'm probably one
of the very few people on Earth who watched the
movie trailer for War for the Oaks before buying
the novel. That was
followed by reading (and loving) Bone
Dance (again, due to the generosity of a fellow reviewer).
Tim Hoke agreed with Stephen on Emma's novel: 'War for the Oaks,
hands down. It was one that I didn't want to set down, and when
I was finished, I wanted to start it again.'
(If you haven't figured it out by now, we hold the editorial staff
meetings in the Green Man Pub -- fine drink, great music,
and far above average pub fare. It's no wonder that we have really
Ryan Nutick, our webmaster, said, 'For me it would be Holly Black
and Neil Gaiman. Hands down. I don't know how I never read Gaiman
before, but I love his writing. Thanks, GMR!' Ryan has a
promo poster of Coraline hanging in his office...
This week we feature a book review from Jessica
Paige, who picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for
her beautifully detailed review of Alice Hoffman's Green
Angel. Jessica says 'Green Angel is a gorgeous,
haunting post-apocalyptic fairytale. I could draw comparisons
between the story and various myths, but it would be an exercise
in futility. Green Angel is wholly its own story, with
mythic bones, yes, but also with the author's sure sense of poetry
for blood.' Sounds lovely, doesn't it?
Our featured music review this outing is of three CDs from Scottish
Gaelic singer Catherine-Ann MacPhee (Canan
Nan Gaidheal/The Language of the Gael, Chi
Mi'n Geamradh/I See Winter, and Catherine-Ann
MacPhee Sings Mairi Mhor) reviewed by Liz
Milner, who notes in her review that MacPhee has 'completed
a new recording, which should be released in March of 2004.' Liz
says that 'Catherine Ann MacPhee is a glorious anomaly. In a genre
that is dominated by women with high, often childlike voices, MacPhee
has a huge, sensual, smoky, gorgeous alto. Her voice and talent
could make her an international pop star. There's only one catch
-- she sings only in Scottish Gaelic.' Read the rest of the review
to read, among other things, the email conversation betwixt Liz
and Catherine-Ann! Did I mention that Liz picks up an Excellence
In Writing Award for this wonderful review?
Earlier this year we reviewed two books illustrated by Maurice
Sendak and written by Tony Kushner. Kushner may be best known, though,
not for his work with Sendak, but for his play Angels
in America, which was recently presented by HBO as a miniseries
starring Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson. This week Deborah
Brannon makes her Green Man debut with a review of
the play as written. Deborah says '[T]he play, broadly, is about
humanity: more specifically, about Americans ('in the melting pot
where nothing melted' as a Rabbi states in the first scene). The
lens through which humanity is examined is the homosexual community
and the AIDS outbreak during the Reagan years. So, what then makes
this mythical fiction? The angels: in all their glory, their grand
trumpeting, and pulsating sexuality.'
has a review of a book first published in 1986 by an author who
would go on to become famous for a trilogy entitled His Dark
Materials. Earlier in his career, Philip Pullman wrote a quartet
of novels starring Sally Lockhart, described by the author himself
as 'historical thrillers, old-fashioned Victorian blood-and-thunder.
Deliberately written with a genuine cliché of melodrama right
at the heart of it, on purpose.' Or, in Nathan's words, '[C]rime,
conspiracy, murder, politics, stage magic to rival that of Jasper
Maskelyne, Victorian fisticuffs, the Hopkinson Self-Regulator, and
a super-weapon in the hands of a Scandinavian madman!' Go read Nathan's
review to find out more about The
Shadow in the North.
Benjamin Franklin -- patriot, scientist, sage -- American hero,
yes? Yes? Well, yes, but he wasn't exactly the wise, kindly old
codger portrayed in American schoolbooks. At least not according
to Kate Danemark,
who says in her review of Fart Proudly, Writings of Benjamin
Franklin You Never Read in School 'I don't like this guy. He's
misogynistic, classist, and long-winded. He clearly finds himself
very amusing, and tends to explain at great length to the rest of
us just why that is so.' Editor Carl Japikse's collection of lesser
known Franklin essays definitely didn't find favor with Kate, as
you can tell. Read her review
to find out all of the reasons why not.
Kate has a much kinder opinion of a book which many of us Generation
X kids remember fondly as a childhood favorite. As Kate says, '[T]here
are certain books which whenever in life we read them become a part
of us, never forgotten and always savored.' In this case, she's
speaking of E.L. Konigsburg's From
the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
Now here's something we don't review very often in these pages
-- a book with no text. Reviewer Scott
Gianelli was visiting with his godson when he discovered
a gem. 'Normally,' Scott explains, 'I don't pay too much attention
to children's picture books, especially when there are no words
accompanying the pictures at all, but something about the quality
of the artwork in Sector 7 by David Wiesner compelled
me to pay close attention to every frame of the story, and then
to run home and write a review of it.' Scott goes on to say of Sector
7, '[I]n wordlessly depicting a small boy's encounter
with a group of personified clouds, Wiesner creates a timeless fairy
tale that is truly fantastic in both senses of the word.' Scott
picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for this serendipitous
April Gutierrez also
garners an Excellence in Writing Award for her look at two
books of Greek myths, retold by author Andrew Callimach from a new
-- or perhaps old -- perspective. April says of Lovers'
Legends: The Gay Greek Myths and Lovers'
Legends Unbound, 'Callimach's premise is that adaptations
over time have stripped many of these myths of most, if not all,
intimations of homosexuality or homoeroticism, which seems contrary
to the Greeks' espousal of man-youth relationships. Thus, he has
taken on the task of reclaiming these myths and casting them in
a different light, one more favorable to love between men. Not for
the sake of titillation, but to recapture an aesthetic long lost.'
Lory Hess claims
that 'the werewolf has a long and distinguished history as a subject
of literature.' Her claim is amply supported by one of the books
she reviews this week, entitled The
Literary Werewolf. Edited by Charlotte Otten, this Syracuse
University Press publication includes 'satirical sketches by Saki,
British-Indian adventure from Rudyard Kipling, erotic horror by
Stephen King, psychological introspection from Fritz Leiber, and
the classic detective fiction of Seabury Quinn. A few of the stories
even question the inherent evil of the werewolf. In Jane Yolen's
'Green Messiah' a woman involved in a genetic experiment relishes
her gradual transformation into wolf as a way to greater freedom
and dignity.' According to Lory, 'whatever your tastes, you'll probably
find something here to suit them.'
Lory also enjoyed Patrick Jennings' The
Wolving Time, a book for younger readers set in sixteenth
century France, and also involving werewolves -- 'a kindler, gentler
sort of werewolf,' Lory says.
'The Tale of Despereaux does not begin with 'Once upon
a time....' nor does it finish with 'and they lived happily
ever after.' But without those two phrases, so crucial to the
structure of every fairy tale, The Tale of Despereaux would
forever go untold. The introduction of 'Once upon a time....'
is what induces a young, undersized mouse named Despereaux to break
the cardinal rule of mice and fall in love with a Princess named
Pea. The Princess Pea is partially responsible for a broken-hearted
dungeon rat named Chiaroscuro who plots his revenge in the darkness.
Miggory Sow, a young servant girl gone nearly deaf from repeated
clouts to the ear, longs to become a beautiful princess herself.
All of these characters, mixed together with a hearty serving of
soup, a spool of red thread, and a large dose of imagination, create
one of the most warm-hearted and insightful childrens books
Ive read all year.' So says Elizabeth
Vail in this review of Kate DiCamillo's The
Tale of Despereaux -- a review for which Elizabeth takes
home an Excellence in Writing Award to add to her growing
Elizabeth wasn't quite so enamored of Mercedes Lackey's Joust,
a book about dragons in which '[t]he actual plot...does not even
come into play until half the book is already read.' It's not all
bad; Elizabeth raves about the intricate setting. But she goes on
to say 'Mercedes Lackey obviously spent a great deal of time creating
this elaborate, self-contained world, but the story suffers a little
because of it. It almost seems as though Ms. Lackey, after adding
the finishing flourish to her world, suddenly realised, 'Oh, I have
to put a story in, too.''
Come back next week for more book reviews. You must, you really
must. Because our own Grey Walker will be reviewing the new Charles
De Lint title, Medicine Road. Now you know you don't want
to miss that!
Letters editor Craig Clarke
here. It's always nice to be read, and I was heartened by a recent
letter from Steve Redwood who
was not only 'amazed' at the scope of reviews at GMR, but
also expressed his belief that the 'recent letters pages' were worthy
of note. (Oh, sure, he was talking about the content as opposed
to the formatting, but, hey, I'll take what I can get.)
The most mail in my editorial inbox comes, by far, from people
reading the reviews of Master Reviewer David
Kidney. This issue is no different, first featuring Canadian
ukulelist James Hill's thanks
for David's review of his second album, On
the Other Hand. Also, Michael
Buffalo Smith fired out some appreciation for David's review
of his newest release, Southern
Lights, and gave his experiential opinion regarding a question
recently discussed around the GMR offices.
Thirdly, David and author Elijah Wald
had a short interchange involving David's opinion of Wald's book,
Kathleen Schultz, manager
of the band Turkey Hollow, liked John
O'Regan's review of the band's recent disc, Live
Turkey, and also took the time to suggest a few minor corrections
and deliver some sad news.
Elsewhere, Adam Rockoff was
affirmed by my review of his book, Going
to Pieces, and Evan Reeves,
producer for Kreg Viesselman, wrote Christopher
White a letter of appreciation for his 'wonderful' and 'in
depth review' of Viesselman's self-titled
Barb Treux was
nearly overwhelmed by the quality and variety of performance delivered
by Childsplay in a Portland, Maine performance. Childsplay performs
every December in Portland, and it's a memorable experience. Barb's
review makes it clear why. 'The whole concert was like a great road
trip: sometimes we'd be zipping down the highway, then we'd get
off a random exit and find a quaint little town, then find ourselves
in an urban music club...It was smooth, but always with some unexpected
turns. It was the kind of concert that kept me smiling so much just
from the sheer joy of the music that my cheeks hurt by the end of
it!' I could go on quoting her, but you're better off reading Barb's
get the whole story.
Jack Merry here.
It's fairly quiet around here, as a number of staffers have come
down with really bad colds of late. Quite ironic, given that the
weather here is finally getting warmer! Even our dear Editor has
a head cold that has made him rather miserable, so he, like many
here, is in his warm office quietly reading, sipping tea with honey,
and listening to music. The cold viruses don't seem to find me 'tall
interesting, so I'm sitting in the Pub writing these notes for you
Green Man has reviewed more Oysterband CDs than anyone else,
period. And Kim Bates
has done her fair share of those reviews, including this one of
their latest EP, 25, whose name is in honour of 25 years
of the Oysterband playing. She mentioned in the Pub last week that
it took a few spins of this disc to get into it but, as she notes,
'25 will appeal
to most Oyster fans and whet their appetites until the next full
length album emerges. It finds the band in fine form, still out
there banging on the doors of the powerful, ready to reweave the
cultural fabric by pulling some threads, knotting others, and singing
their hearts out.'
Warning -- The following CD didn't please Craig
Clarke 'tall: 'I am usually a big fan of concept albums.
They feed that part of my brain that likes novels over short stories
and that has a longer attention span than the part that thrives
on top 40 radio and sound bites. Nevertheless, an album has to have
an engaging concept, and execute it well, to hold my attention.
Terry G. Reed's The
Film of Eternity at first seemed like a good risk but unfortunately
proved to be a disappointment, mostly because of a poor choice of
theme that is simply too vast to be encompassed in a single album.'
Faith J. Cormier,
on the other hand, found the latest CD from The Tannahill Weavers
to be comforting: 'There's nothing flashy or spectacular about Arnish
Light, and that's meant as a compliment. It's good, enjoyable
music, played and sung with skill and talent. It's comfort food
for the ear, something much more likely to be played over and over
than the flash and spectacle.'
found a great Nordic CD in a package from Kim Bates, our Music Editor.
'On til almuen,
Over Stok og Steen show themselves to be a very capable band that
successfully manages to add its own creativity into the musical
arrangements, while still honoring the history and traditions from
which these tunes were born,' Scott says. 'If I have any complaint
about the sound, it is that I would have liked to have heard the
guitar more strongly in the mix, although that could easily result
from my own personal bias with regards to that particular instrument.
Fans of traditional Scandinavian music looking to examine the folk
music of Norway more deeply will want to have this CD, as will players
of Norwegian and Swedish music looking to add to the tunes and styles
Life on a String
and Live at Town
Hall New York City September 19-29, 2001 find a fan in David
Kidney. 'Cue the tape loop. A gentle female voice, almost
human, sets up a rhythm, 'ah ah ah ah...' A violin, amplified, scratches.
Then a melody finds its way out of the midst. You can imagine a
blank canvas, in the dark... then a dim light illuminates a spot
in the middle of this canvas. A person steps out of the darkness,
into this pinpoint of light. Drums pick up the rhythm. What is that
sound (I almost said noise) that fills the space? The person, dressed
in a pant suit, is thin and beautiful in a fragile, pointy way.
She begins to speak, telling a story about a trip to Japan. Or two
brothers from West Virginia with the same name, did they fall into
a black hole? Her voice is fragile, soft, but pointy too. This could
be Laurie Anderson.'
360 Degrees: All Points
of the Compass is, David notes, from 'Tom Lewis...
a sailor, a submariner, who came ashore to play his own brand of
folk music a few years ago. As he sings in 'Port of Call', 'No sixty
year old sailor is wanted on the sea....' Indeed, I saw what happens
to a sailor without a hobby, when my father was forced to retire.
It's not a pretty sight. Fortunately the retirement date for folk
singers hasn't been set yet!' Read his review to see if Lewis is
-- how can I resist? -- all wet or not!
Finding Our Way
is 'a masterpiece' according to Peter
Massey, who also says, 'Have the [Americana acoustic
country folk] Mickeys won their spurs? Yes, you'd better believe
it! This album is blisteringly good; the spur marks are all down
my back to prove it.' Peter's review's also a masterpiece, which
is why he gets an Excellence in Writing Award!
Ahhhh, I love everything that Lúnasa's done, so it's not
surprising that I like their new CD. As I note in me review, 'Australian
author and Celtic musician Paul Brandon, who wrote of one of the
finest fantasy novels of recent years, Swim the Moon, has
a new novel, The Wild Reel, coming out this summer. He's
also a great fan of Lúnasa, who are capable of some really
wild reels! Now, I know that Paul hasn't heard this album yet, but
I'm certain that he'll find the very wild reels and jigs here to
be quite fine, as The
Kinnitty Sessions is the first live recording that this
group has released. Paul sent me a recording of a concert they did
in Brunswick, Melbourne, way back in 1991. Now, as good as that
live sound board recording is, this is far, far better. And if you
are a fan of Irish music, this is a must hear album.' (The music
editing staff tells me I got an Excellence in Writing Award
for this review. Thanks kindly!)
Somewhere in the Music Library files here at Green Man is
an autographed photo of June Tabor dressed in leather, boots and
all, holding a riding crop. A scary publicity photo indeed! Lars
Nilsson, in his review of her new CD, An
Echo of Hooves, echoes that mood: 'If anyone could pull
off a whole album full of dark dismal ballads it must be June Tabor.
And she certainly proves it on this album.'
Big Earl Sellar
had great hopes for the CD from Shujaat Huskain Khan, but they were
dashed upon hearing it. 'This is one of those discs that I go into
thinking, 'Oooh, this is going to be cool.' I hate it when I do
that: a premise is hardly the basis of fantastic music,' he says.
'On this disc, Indian sitarist/singer Khan recalls six songs from
his rural youth, folk melodies from days gone by, and interprets
them using only himself and two percussionists. Like I said, great
premise: a master of a classical idiom tackling the sparsest, simplest,
and most rudimentary of the musical forms, the true folk tradition.
But Hawa Hawa doesn't
quite live up to expectations, unfortunately.'
It's the newest CD by Van the Man -- or Van Morrison, one of the
greatest Irish musicians ever, if you've been hiding away
from popular culture for thirty-five years and have not a bleedin'
clue who I'm talking about. However, if you know Van the Man, all
you need to know about his new CD is summed up by Christopher
White this way: '... I've been a Van fan since he was one
of Them. What's Wrong
with This Picture? Not a damn thing!' Nor is there anything
wrong with this review, which is why Chris get Excellence in
is one of those truly great reviewers who can, in a single paragraph,
tell you all you need to know about an album. He does it here with
Jodie Holland's CD Catalpa:
'Jolie Holland makes new music that sounds -- some of it, anyway
-- very old. A true daughter of the American South, she was born
and raised in Texas, and cut her musical teeth on the gypsy-like
circuit of like-minded musicians, artists, carnies and the like
between Austin and New Orleans. The music on this bare-bones record
combines elements of Appalachian balladry, bluegrass, Texas hill-country,
and N'awlins jazz, sung in a voice that is at once young and carefree
and older and wiser than the hills.'
Gary was also enthusiastic about this next CD: 'The Lucky Tomblin
debut is a swingin' platter of honky-tonk straight out of
Texas. This band has a pedigree guaranteed to get it a blue ribbon
in any show; its members have about a zillion years of recording
and performing credits among them, and it shows.' Read the rest
of his review to get the entire story of this cool CD!
Also to the liking of Gary was Dulcie Taylor's new release. 'Dulcie
Taylor has a few surprises up her sleeve,' he says. 'Mirrors
and Windows, her second release on Black Iris, starts like
a fairly typical singer-songwriter album of contemporary folk music
-- albeit a very good one. 'Blackberry Winter', the opening track,
is one of those songs about a relationship going bad but for which
a small glimmer of hope remains. The jangly electric guitar and
very subtle pedal steel accents complement Taylor's lightly drawled
Finally for Gary is Wylie & The Wild West's Hooves
of the Horses. 'Wylie Gustafson is a real-life, actual cowboy,'
says Gary. 'He has a ranch in eastern Washington State, and he's
a world-class trainer and rider of cutting horses. Not only that,
but he's one of only a handful of artists around today still actively
creating music that puts the 'Western' back in what used to be known
as country and Western music. On his ninth album, Wylie & The
Wild West present a song-cycle of love songs to The Horse. With
only a handful of exceptions, the sixteen tracks on Hooves
are all about horses in one way or another.'
Gary receives Excellence in Writing Awards for his Jodie
Holland and Dulcie Taylor reviews!
A hefty package from Free Read was waiting for us this week --
advance copies of the Silver Edition of The
Transports: A Ballad Opera, by Peter Bellamy! Due to be
released later in the month, this so-called opera tells the story
of the First Fleet of convicts sent from England to Australia in
the late Eighteenth Century. It does so through a series of songs
performed by artists as varied as composer Bellamy with Dave Swarbrick,
Nic Jones, A. L. Lloyd, the Watersons (Norma and Mike), Martin Carthy
and others. It's an English folky's dream album, recorded in 1977
and finally remastered for this Silver Edition. But that's
not all! Free Read has included a newly recorded version called
The Transports: 2004, with participation from Cockersdale,
Jim Lawton, Simon Nicol, Chris Leslie, and many others, including
Fairport Convention! And, as is their wont, the people at
Free Read have provided a huge book with history, photos,
libretti and cast notes. Stephen Hunt will be reviewing this masterpiece
in an upcoming edition of GMR, but right now... I'm going
back to listen. It's lovely!
Getting back to our pub discussion from earlier, Craig Clarke,
our Letters Editor, had a longer answer: 'I'd never read any Charles
de Lint before working here. He's very uneven, but it's been interesting
to go from the really bad (Riddle of the
Wren) to the really great (Spirits
in the Wires), and all the interesting stuff in between
(such as the Samuel
Key books). And I'm not nearly through with my quest. Also,
I had never listened to any Celtic music and have been constantly
introduced to fabulous bands in my newly burgeoning interest in
the Celtic Rock vein. Especially the Saw Doctors, which are likely
my favorite 'discovery' overall. But what's most fascinating is
that each day brings new things to investigate.' Kim Bates concurred
with Craig on de Lint: 'Charles was a great find! Forests
of the Heart is my favorite.'
So you can see that even our well-read (and well-listened) staff
here at GMR are constantly making new discoveries. It's why
we make it one of our main missions here to foster a continuing
sense of delight and wonder, for our staff and readers alike. We're
glad you've joined us on the journey. And won't you please tell
us what The Green Man Review has helped you to discover?
Send your e-mail to Craig
Clarke, our Letters Editor.
GMR News is an e-mail list for readers
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Entire Contents Copyright
2004, The Green Man Review. All Rights Reserved.
Updated 28 March 2004, 04:00 GMT (MN)