'Good evening, Lord Corwin,' said the lean cadaverous figure who rested against a storage rack, smoking his pipe, grinning around it. 'Good evening, Roger. How are things in the nether world?' 'A rat, a bat, a spider. Nothing much else astir. Peaceful.' 'You enjoy this duty?' He nodded. 'I am writing a philosophical romance shot through with elements of horror and morbidity. I work on those parts down here.' 'Fitting, fitting,' I said. 'I'll be needing a lantern.'  He took one from the rack, brought it to flame from his candle. 'Will it have a happy ending?' I inquired. He shrugged. 'I'll be happy.'  'I mean, does good triumph and hero bed heroine? Or do you kill everybody off?' 'That's hardly fair,' he said. 'Never mind. Maybe I'll read it one day.' 'Maybe,' he said.

Roger Zelazny's The Hand of Oberon

 

29th of August, 2004

 

 

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Kim Bates, Music Editor, here bringing you some musings on the world that ties us together here at Green Man Review. I've always loved our motto of bringing you the best of the 'roots and branches' of folklore traditions, because the traditions harken to a kind of magic, to a secret world, that can be experienced but never really explained. Most of us like working here on the border, in our Green Man offices, slipping across into the otherworld -- and some days we might even want to live there. And we're lucky, because we can share the little bits and pieces we pick up with each other -- glimpses of the far shore that we retain in our waking minds, that we glean from the visions of the authors, film makers and musicians that we review. Of these things, the music often seems to provide the most elusive glimpses of that otherworld, and yet to me the most evocative ones. As an editor I see our writers' valiant endeavors to communicate the magic in the material we review. Because it's there in the beat of a drum, in the twang of a bow on a string, in the indrawn breath before a note -- oh it's there, all right. Without the otherworld, music might not even exist, for where would it transport us if there were no magic?

And that brings us back to the traditions -- those rhythms, ballads, melodies and conventions that encode the otherworld in melody, rhythm and story. In my more prosaic moments I almost believe that traditional pieces are those that have withstood the ultimate marketing focus group: generations of players and listeners who chose not to discard them, but rather to carry them forward. But then I shake my head and come back to reality, and remember the feeling that comes from listening to traditional music, of being carried away into another place that seems to overlap our own, of the joy I feel when a song writer hits the mark with an original work that seems destined to join a list of essential songs. Sure, we humans can implicitly recognize the rules that bound a traditional musical form -- that Cajun beat or the slippery melody that makes it a Celtic reel. But that's not why we listen -- we listen because of the feelings the music evokes, the little tremor that runs down our spine when a ballad hits home, when a voice brings something across -- with an new melody written within a tradition connects with something very old.

So, listen, read, get yourself out to a film or gig, and think about the world that's lurking just behind the artist's vision. It's there, waiting around the corner, between the notes, just after the final chapter. I can't really describe it here; but like the artists whose work Green Man reviews, I can point the way. You'll just have to go there on your own.

Maria Nutick leads off her Excellence in Writing Award winning review of Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Volume 17 by noting: 'Since its inception, the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror has been a Great Big Deal for readers of fantasy and horror. I remember checking out Volume 1 from my local library when I was in college, and being floored by the number of quality stories collected in one volume. Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow have become legends in the field of editing, well known for their superior choices for this series. In fact, getting into YBFH is a stated goal for every single writer of my acquaintance.' Now I have a confession -- I have a full set of these anthologies that so much for the fiction which both Maria and I believe is excellent but for the hundred or so pages of commentary on the year's best books, music, DVDs, and so forth. Our reviewer likes that aspect too: '#17 begins with the summation of worthy works from 2003; the number of books mentioned which we've reviewed here at Green Man is quite gratifying. The summation is always one of my favorite parts of the anthology...' Now go read the entire review to see how this year's anthology compared to the outings of the past!

Donna Bird brings us another fascinating volume this week, with her review of a book edited by Kevin Binfield and released by Johns Hopkins University Press: 'The word 'Luddite' was originally used to identify groups of early nineteenth century English textile workers who protested the mechanization of their crafts by smashing the offending machines. In recent decades, popular authors including Wendell Berry, Jerry Mander, Jeremy Rifkin and Kirkpatrick Sale have appropriated the word and its close variant 'Neo-Luddite,' to refer to just about anyone who rejects some form of technology. Depending on the author, the word may be used pejoratively or with admiration. Before I picked up this book, most of my understanding of the word came from the more recent sources. Kevin Binfield's Writings of the Luddites provides an intriguing view of the original 'machine breakers.' The title is an apt description of the book's contents. Writings of the Luddites offers a well organized and edited collection of letters, broadsides, and song lyrics.'

Green Man welcomes new staff writer J.J.S. Boyce, who starts his career here with a look at editor Mike Ashley's Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy and Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy Volume II. J. says '[H]ighlights of the first book (for me) include: 'The Distressing Damsel,' a rather humourous take on various princess myths; 'Looking-Glass Land,' an excerpt from Lewis Carroll's second Alice story; 'The Return of Max Kearny,' which follows one of the cases of a paranormal investigator; 'A Fortnight of Miracles,' a novella length adventure involving a cursed knight and the sharp-witted magician who tries to solve the mystery of his malady; 'The Return of Mad Santa,' which boasts a provocative title I defy you to resist; and 'Been a Long, Long Time,' which poses the question of just how long it would take for a monkey to randomly type out the works of Shakespeare. But this is only a small sampling, and in fact, each story in this collection has something to offer.' And that's just the first book!

Letters Editor Craig Clarke was a busy man this week, handing in three interesting reviews representing hours of reading and listening on his part. He picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for the first of these, a review of a radio series from Frank Macchia and Tracy London: 'Winner of the Publisher's Weekly Listen Up Award, the Little Evil Things series is the brainchild of Frank Macchia (writer, producer, composer, actor) and wife Tracy London (writer, editor, producer, actor) in their endeavor to bring all the fun of the suspense and horror programs from the Golden Age of Radio forward into the twenty-first century with dramatic interpretations and accompanying music suited to the actors' performances. Each CD contains four or more creepy tales designed to 'chill your bones and let your imagination run wild.' As a fan of those old radio shows -- like Escape, Inner Sanctum Mysteries, and Suspense -- I was particularly eager to hear the results and I'm glad to say that I was generally pleased with what I found. This series is filled with terrific parts that flow cohesively into an entertaining whole: in particular Frank Macchia's acting-attuned scores, the writing of Macchia and Tracy London (his solo writing is missing the same spark), and Jim McDonnell's energetic narration that made me ask, 'Where has this guy been?''

Michael Slade's Death's Door didn't work for Craig ('Always sensationalistic, Slade has somewhere along the way descended from being merely engagingly over-the-top into self-parody, with a selection of flaws making Death's Door a struggle to get through.') but he thoroughly enjoyed two Richard Matheson selections from Gauntlet Press' Edge Books imprint and edited by Stanley Wiater: Collected Stories, Volume 1 and The Twilight Zone Scripts, Volume 2. Craig says '[D]epending on how the reader approaches his Matheson appreciation, either of these books are an excellent representation of his style and the quality of his work. Fans of modern horror, science-fiction, or fantasy who never considered approaching a classic writer would do well to pick up his work, as it has aged well (apart from specific instances where a 'far into the future' year mentioned has already passed). Stephen King considers Matheson his greatest influence.'

Chief Cat Eldridge takes a look at a small selection of books from Georges Simenon, books centered on his legendary detective Inspector Maigret: 'This is not some dark, angst ridden detective who broods upon his lot. No, Maigret likes good food including raw oysters, great wine, conversation, and company of his wife. He is a peasant at heart, no more and no less than an archetypal French commoner.' Find out more in Cat's review of Madame Maigret's Own Case, Maigret and The Apparition, Maigret and The Burglar's Wife, Maigret and The Spinster, Maigret and the Wine Merchant, Maigret in Holland, and Maigret's Boyhood Friend.

Re-Situating Folklore: Folk Contexts and Twentieth-Century Literature and Art is quite an imposing title; Robert Tilendis was certainly up to the challenge of reviewing this scholarly work from Frank de Caro and Rosan Augusta Jordan. 'De Caro and Jordan stress early on,' Robert explains, 'that folklore is a medium of communication, and not only a cultural repository. There are several basic ways in which folklore makes its way back into artistic expression, such as imitation of form -- the authors cite the eighteenth- and nineteen-century 'literary ballads,' forms taken from folk songs and translated into a literary form to the extent that it is sometimes difficult to discern origins, particularly when the literary example has worked its way back into the popular repertoire.'

Robert has high praise for the works discussed in his next review: 'I am strongly tempted to begin this discussion by simply stating that there are very few works of fantasy of which one can say unreservedly, this is brilliant. Of the bare handful of contemporary contenders, it is perhaps of interest to note that one is Barry Hughart's undeniably astonishing and hysterically funny trio of the adventures of Li Kao and Number Ten Ox that begins with Bridge of Birds, set in a China that never was (but, according to some commentators, should have been). Another is Sean Russell's poetic tale of Brother Shuyun of the Botahist Order; the Lady Nishima Fanisan Shonto, descended of Emperors; and her adopted House of Shonto, one of the noblest and most powerful in the Empire of Wa, encompassed in The Initiate Brother and Gatherer of Clouds.' Robert takes a double Excellence in Writing Award for these two reviews.

Finally, Birthday Boy (for he's a Jolly Good Fellow!) Gary Whitehouse looks at a collection of reviews edited by Jim Irvin and Colin McLear: 'Trying to fill out your CD collection of reissued gems from the 1960s and 1970s? Wondering which Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley albums are classics? Spent the '90s listening to heavy metal and wonder what else you missed? Trying to find something from the '80s worth listening to? The Mojo Collection (Third Edition) might be a good place to start.'

Green Man's dynamic duo of Barb Truex and Chris White checked out the Bloomsday celebration at Maine Irish Heritage Center in Portland, Maine. The celebration featured the world premiere of Tony Reilly's Ulysses for Beginners, a theatrical adaptation of James Joyce's Ulysses. Despite problematic acoustics and a non-functional multimedia PowerPoint show, Truex and White found the production to be 'an absolute delight; the five actors reading, plus creator Tony Reilly as Narrator, managed to entertain and elucidate with a witty, comic, synopsis of Joyce's book. Furthermore, they did so with all due respect for the source; Ulysses for Beginners offered the audience a glimpse into Joyce's masterpiece that made one more inclined to tackle (or return to) the source.'

Annuver day, annuver dollar. SPike here again. Recovered from yet annuver brush wif death! I wuz ridin' Dave's son's motorcycle, an' it spun out after a horrible big bird came flappin' an' squawkin' from the hen house...unfortunately we couldn't save the bloody bird (although it did make quite a nice lunch) but I personally wuz rescued an' left shaken and disturbed to rest out the week listenin' to the late, great Joe Strummer singin' 'Coma Girl' an' 'Redemption Song.' Wot a way to go! Anyway...on to this weeks aural feast...

Tim Hoke (Senior Writer / Film Review Editor) begins the repast with a look at a new CD by Tim Eriksen, Every Sound Below. He describes it thusly...'The recording is low-tech in the extreme. Monophonic. Single microphone. No overdubs. Just Eriksen's voice and/or instrument (one at a time: either guitar, banjo or fiddle). Single microphone doesn't mean that the music sounds muddy, like an old Victrola record; actually it's very clean. The nuances are heard clearly...the songs are mostly old ones...' Sounds weirdly interestin' don't it. Read the review for all the details.

Next course is Moch Pryderi's Dancing in the Pigsty reviewed by Lenora Rose. She 'as a real handle on the music...but it's the title wot fascinates me! Lenora says 'Incidentally, all the references to pigs, pig-drives and Pryderi are directly related to one branch of the Mabinogion, the Welsh national epic, although certainly more tongue-in-cheek than reverent.' Hmmm. An Excellence in Writing Award for Lenora!

Primitive singer-songwriters, celtic pig songs...it's a @#$%in' heady mix, ain't it! But there's lots more!

Senior Writer and (huzzah!) new father Kelly Sedinger enjoyed Glimmer by Sturla Eide & Andreas Aase. 'There's always something captivating about a well-done album of traditional folk music,' he proclaims, '...especially in the area of traditional instrumental music. It's something that goes beyond the notes on the paper to the idea that the traditions of performance themselves have in some way been transmitted down to us.' Read 'is review to see where he goes wif this!

Robert Tilendis 'as opened a new vista of music 'ere at the ole Green Man. His review of Trio Mediaeval (Ivan Moody)'s Messe de Tournai / Words of the Angel is a perfect example of the variety his presence adds to the mix. 'This is very peaceful music, partaking of all the qualities mentioned above and leaving room for quiet contemplation, which I'm sure must have been its original intention. Beautifully done.' An' if you want to see what those qualities he mentioned above ARE...read 'is review!

Master Reviewer an' all 'round musical know-it-all Gary Whitehouse provides afters wif a couple of reviews. First he looks at Darol Anger and the American Fiddle Ensemble and their new CD Republic of Strings. Did he like it...whadda you think? 'American fiddler Darol Anger is just about guaranteed to stretch the boundaries of whatever style of music he takes on, and this project is no exception. He's gathered a cross-generation and cross-genre bunch of acoustic players to explore many varieties of string music from around the world.' Sounds like it ta me! Then Gary goes south of the border wif a listen to Heroes & Horses: Corridos from the Arizona-Sonora Borderlands. He notes that '...the corrido is just a vital and lively today as it was 100 years ago, and this collection is a good example of why that is. Folklore doesn't get much more immediate or passionate.' Sounds good to me!

Well, that's about it, for music this week. We'll be back next time wif more from around the world! Ta ta!

Cat Eldridge here. The possum story offered by Paul Brandon last week is quite true. Really. Truly. Charles de Lint swears that it actually happened. (He even adds a few details that I swore I would not repeat.) However a few of you have asked what this terribly vicious creature looks like, having obviously never encountered one. So we here at Green Man, as a public service for those of you concerned about these wild creatures, have added a photo courtesy of Paul, who gave it to us with a comment that this was 'the offending beastie'. Now you too know what an Aussie possum looks like, so you can defend your house against the likes of these creatures!

 

22nd of August, 2004

... possums really hate Lapsang Souchong tea ... especially if you shoot them up the date with a spray gun apparently ...' -- Paul Brandon

Paul Brandon was doing a reading from his new novel The Wild Reel in the Robert Graves Memorial Reading Room when he segued into an odd comment: ... possums hate Lapsang Souchong tea.' Liath ó Laighin almost choked on her hot chocolate before saying 'Now, now -- Do explain.' So he did ...

Okay, well, you may have noticed that Charles de Lint has been calling me 'Possum Brandon' in the odd acknowledgment page; well, this dates back to when I first arrived in Aus and had trouble identifying a particular creature that would sit, invisible, at night, and chuckle (actually, this whole sorry, sorry story made it into The Wild Reel as a vignette. Alas it's pretty much verbatim in there). The Tree Beast, we called it.

But when Jules and I moved a couple of years ago, we found our old house was lair to a family of the beasties, in the (possum-sized) crawl space between the verandah and the roof. They'd chewed their way in and were quite happy. Well, being a general nature loving fellow, I let them be, through mating, babies, territorial disputes, the lot.

Unfortunately the crawlspace is right next to our bedroom, and possums can get very ferocious and noisy (to each other) so there were times when we were getting little sleep. Being woken in the night by a sound like a pixies wearing hobnail boots and Riverdancing over one's head isn't particularly restful. Anyway, babies moved on, life went on etc, but we noticed that the two possums left were fighting more and more, to the stage where I expected to see blood dripping from the ceiling. There was one particular night, about a week ago where I was feeling very fractured from lack of sleep after a long week and a gig, when they woke me up and I just went into a wobbly. I grabbed the broom and was smacking away at the ceiling yelling out how I was going to stove their furry fecking heads in with a shovel etc.

Jules and I had to move into the spare room for a week as things got worse.

Now, I hear you ask, why didn't we just ring Mr. Possum and get them removed? Well, possum removers have a habit of trapping them and releasing them away from their territories where they are promptly killed by bigger, meaner possums. So I arranged to have a special possum box built and located in our huge big old tree at the back. The possum box builder told me that it's very rare for two males to share the same space, hence all the late night biffo. It's also illegal now to interfere with them as they're native animals, and have to be released within fifty metres.

So, the box went up -- I nearly fell out the tree but that's a whole other crap story....

Yesterday I cut back the chicken wire that covered the gap under the verandah eve between the roof and the space (put there to ... yep, you guessed it, stop the possums getting in -they chewed right through it.) I stuck my head up there, torch in had, in a scene not too dissimilar to that bit in Aliens where Hicks looks up through the trapdoor.... And there were two cat-sized brushtail possums, looking at me all cute and furry, but with a very belligerent tinge to their grey fur, as if to say 'whatthefuckdoyouwanthuman' or 'quick,youjumponhisheadI'lleatouthiseyes'

The general plan was to just let them out to feed at night, then seal up the hole.

Of course, one of them went out, but the other wouldn't budge. I sat here until four am waiting, moving at every skritch of claw on wood, but no, he would not go out. Little feckhead knew what was going on.

Now for where the tea comes into it....

My coffee roaster friend, Celestica, had a similar problem and she told me that possums really hate Lapsang Souchong tea (especially if you shoot them up the date with a spray gun apparently -- date is a charming Aussie term for bumhole). So I had a spray gun made up, and was on constant 'date patrol' as the other one kept trying to get back in. It seems to be true about the tea, but then if someone shot pure Scottish springwater up my date I'd probably run too.

Enough was enough, and I decided that I'd put the mesh up and some boards around the gutter to keep the other one out, then try again tomorrow, when the second would be a little hungrier.

I woke up this morning, and the mesh was all hanging down. Thinking I'd failed totally, I did the ol' 'head up the dark' place thing again, only to find them both gone.

What we think happened is the second one waited till the lights were out then came down, trod on my really crappy DIY mesh, which promptly collapsed under its weight like a trapdoor and fell into the bushes. I don't care what happened. They're gone, and there's something stirring in the box up the tree.

So we're moving back into the main bedroom tonight, and shall sleep soundly.

When you've stopped giggling over Paul's tale, you can move on to this week's reviews...

The book section is on hiatus this week, as Maria Nutick has been dealing with an infestation of sprites in her office. The brownies in charge of pest control have assured us that things will settle down in there enough for her to return to work by Tuesday morning. Last we saw her she was trying to scribble out reviews longhand while curled up on the couch in Tim Hoke's office.

Scott Gianelli notes that a well-made video of a performance can be almost as dynamic as the performance itself. In his review of Johnny Clegg (with Savuka and Juluka): Live! And More..., Scott remarks, 'Perhaps, somebody is putting this DVD on for a group of people with no idea what to expect, even as I write this. They won't be sitting down for long.' Scott's review picks up an Excellence In Writing Award.

Accompanied by his beat café ensemble, sixties 'Sunshine Superman,' Donovan brought a touch of warmth to a rather soggy night at Joe's Pub, New York City. To learn more about Donovan's tribute to the beat movement read David Kidney's review of 'a true New York City experience and a show I will not soon forget.'

Hardy Senior Writer Peter Massey, braved the English Folk Festival circuit and returned with a look at Fairport Convention's gig at Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival in Middlewich, Cheshire, England. Peter reports that age has not staled Fairport's infinite variety, and that 'after the sad loss of Sandy Denny, I remember thinking that they were probably finished and will have lost that 'magic'. How wrong I was! They as good today as they have ever been -- and how!' Click here to read Peter's review.

Good Sunday morning to one and all. David Kidney here. SPike is on well deserved bed-rest after a terrible accident involving his motorcycle and a rather unfortunate chicken who had escaped from the coop out back. You'll be pleased to know that SPike is not badly hurt, but the chicken...well, let's just say our chef makes marvelous dumplings. Now, on to this week's musical offerings.

The blues is one of my favorite genres, and this week I looked at a new collection from Lightnin' Hopkins. My absolute favorite photograph of any blues singer ever was of Lightnin' Hopkins (taken by Dick Waterman) and this new anthology seems to capture the same essence of the blues that Dick's photo did! I describe the album this way...'the kind of stuff you could hear in backwoods juke joints, and barbecues. There's nothing fancy about it, but Hopkins has an easy facility with the guitar, and provides his own rhythm section, even when playing quiet and slow blues. The music moves. It rolls, and at times it even rocks.' Read all about Hello Central: the Best of Lightnin' Hopkins.

Peter Massey writes about a new album by Last Nights Fun. 'Last Nights Fun is a band that is renowned for its speed and tightness. So if there is a theme behind the title Tempered, maybe its an acknowledgement to their fast virtuoso playing of jig and reels, and that they have the ability to slow down to take in more gentle tunes, to show the beauty of the music, thus making it more discernable.' To see what else he said...check out the whole review!

Managing Editor Maria Nutick also adds her two cents worth, with an attention-grabbing listen to 'Sooj' Tucker's Haphazard. Did she like it? Well, what do you think? Listen to this rave! 'Fans of [Tori] Amos, [Ani] DiFranco and their ilk should love Haphazard. I'm not a fan of either, so I'll say this: when I listen to Sooj Tucker, I don't hear Tori or Ani. I hear shades of Bessie, Aretha, Janis, Bette -- strong women with potent personalities and dynamic voices...' She sounds like Bessie, Aretha, Janis & Bette? Count me in, and turn it up!

John O'Regan was a busy lad this week, writing a review of Maddy Prior's Woman In The Wings as well as a hat trick of omnis! Three albums by Celtic ladies start things off. Susan McKeown's Sweet Liberty, Maria Dunn's For A Song and The Derry Aires', Cheek to Cheek (their pun not ours!) are introduced in this way: 'The female voice is a rounded and versatile instrument. It can be used to interpret emotions from sources traditional and contemporary. This selection features singer/ songwriters interpreting their own works and traditional material, and covers every hitching post from traditional Irish songs to Jazz standards and original material.' Interesting, and...they all have nice Derry Aires too!

Next John compares and contrasts three Celtic groups...well...see his definition, 'The cerebral aspect of Celtic music whether it's Irish or Scottish is a well-known and loved side of the repertoire. Here is an intriguing Celtic mix- from the USA, England, and Canada. While all these CDs aim for the cerebral end of Irish music, they don't always make the mark. This set of three Celtic Party Animals (for want of a better term) offer some degree of fun with one exception.' Read about these party animals; Sunday's Well, We Don't Care Where Your Parents Are From, Sham Rock, Sham Rock - The Album and The Crofters, Hold My Beer While I Kiss Your Girlfriend.

The third omni is male soloists Chris Stout with First O' The Darkenin', Freeland Barbour's The Black Water and James Thurgood with Handy Little Rig. Sounds good too, according to John 'What does emerge from these three diverse recordings is a wealth of good music all rooted in their own home places while also acknowledging the influence and existence of a wider world of sound and style beyond their native shores.'

Finally Mr. O'Regan reviews Maddy Prior's Woman in the Wings of which he says, 'Woman in the Wings marked the beginning of Maddy Prior's public career as a singer/songwriter. However, the seeds had been sown in Steeleye Span and in future they would permeate the Steeleye output with a greater magnitude. This is the first public sighting of that style, and though flawed, is still a worthwhile effort.'

Gary Whitehouse wraps things up this issue with a look at The Waifs, Up All Night. Don't know who the Waifs are? Well, read on. 'The Waifs have an interesting back-story, about months and years spent travelling the byways of their native Australia, playing in bars and on the streets, honing their skills -- instrumental, vocal and songwriting. That hard apprenticeship accounts for the strength of their debut album.'

That's about it for this week. I have to go now. SPike must have dropped his beer glass, I think I can hear it rolling around on the hardwood floor. See you next week.

If you're in our vicinity around the end of the Celtic Year, do drop by the Green Man Pub as Paul has promised us another tale when he becomes the Oak King this year. Following on Charles de Lint as the Oak King last year, it'll be interesting to see what his tale is.

Also, join us in wishing our esteemed Will Shetterly many happy returns, as he celebrates his birthday this very day! Happy Birthday Will!

 

15th of August, 2004

'Despite predictions that a technological future would be stark and sterile, the world we know has become a bright riot. FUBU-clad Latinos stand in line to see The Lord of the Rings; bonsai trees brighten cubicles; teenagers toss books on witchcraft into Indian-print backpacks with Hello Kitty buttons while making plans on their cell phones to meet at belly-dance class. Polyethnic fashions draw from every time and place imaginable, and magic stirs pop culture like some neon witch's brew. The influence of Faerie is everywhere if you know how to look for it. And even people who don't believe in that kind of stuff find themselves talking to computer gremlins when their laptops act up.' -- Phil Brucato, Deliria

So here we are putting up another issue of Green Man Review. I'm Maria Nutick, Managing Editor of this fine enterprise -- part objective review 'zine, part community of like-minded folks who love good music, books, and film, and part literary playground for the fertile minds of those of us who live with half of our consciousness in that Other Realm.

Two weeks ago, several of us from GMR attended the Faerieworlds Festival put on by the Frouds and held here in the beautiful state of Oregon. We met bards, storytellers, artists, musicians, healers, crafters, and tricksters by the score. From 60's style macrame dresses worn with feathery angel wings to diaphanous silk concoctions worn with stylized masks, from SCA garb to Renaissance Faire-wear to improvised barbarian outfits of leather and fur, we saw folk of every possible belief and tradition. Furries danced with hippies and witches held peaceful discussions with Hari Krishnas. Vegans ate side by side with folk making like Henry the Eighth with barbequed turkey legs.

I'm fairly certain that, if there are true Fey, if the Border truly does shift and shimmer, that we may have met some Otherworldly Beings at Faerieworlds. Certainly I noticed something while wandering amongst the thousand or so folk in attendance. On a sweltering day, in a dusty venue where the porta-johns, though plentiful, required a hike up a gravelled hill in the blazing sun, in an atmosphere where more than one temper may have been short if not infinitesimal -- in all of that time, I never heard one cross word spoken. Not one. I witnessed no arguments, no snappish tempers, no cranky words. Even the children were nearly angelic.

Good luck? Maybe? Magick? Maybe. No matter what led to this idyllic experience, one thing is certain: this is what we strive for here at Green Man. This is the situation we wish to present to you, our readers: an eclectic, slightly crazy, magickal place where folks of all types can come to learn about items of interest to us all and mingle with those of like mind.

We hope you enjoy this place beyond the Fields We Know. We're happy to have you here. Hopefully we can all learn something from each other.

Our first featured review comes from our experience at Faerieworlds, and that's the review of the event itself: 'What the heck's a Faerieworlds Festival, I asked myself when Ryan and Maria Nutick asked me to go along with them to review this year's festival. Rebecca Scott here, and to a certain extent, I'm still wondering. What was that? Fun, warm, and tiring might be a place to start, and I'm left with a jumble of impressions that creep into my dreams at night; when I wake I have trouble separating out the dreams from memories, even though I know that, while I was actually at the festival, my experience was pretty mundane.' See what Rebecca has to say about this year's Faerieworlds.

At Faerieworlds, we ran into Phil Brucato, formerly of White Wolf and one of the imaginations behind Vampire: The Gathering and Mage: The Ascension. He has a new RPG out. But this is far more than a game; it's a story and an enchantment as well. Rebecca Scott gives us an Excellence in Writing Award winning review of the first edition of what some of us old-timey Dungeon's and Dragons folk feel may be the best game ever. Period. If you don't get it for the gaming, you'll want to get it for the writing: Deliria.

After Rebecca, Ryan and I made the rounds of the festival itself, Gary Whitehouse attended a special Faerieworlds concert held in honor of the late great Johnny Cunningham: 'Phil Cunningham sat alone on the large stage, eyes closed, as he wrung a slow, sad air from his custom Borsini accordion in memory of his brother Johnny. The Faerieworlds Festival crowd of several hundred, which moments before had been boisterously dancing, clapping, singing and talking, fell silent. The fair-haired Scot said the tune, which he had never before played in public, was named simply 'Johnny.' It was the first tune of an encore by members of an all-star band that gathered to pay tribute to Johnny Cunningham, fiddler extraordinaire, who died in late 2003. The late musician was remembered by his surviving relatives, friends and fellow performers as a sweet human being, a stellar player and composer, and a candidate for 'king of the faeries.'

The night before the festival, Ryan and I attended a concert by one of our favorite bands, Gaia Consort. We were pleasantly surprised by their opening act, S. J. Tucker. As I say in my review of that show, 'Gaia Consort is one of my favorite bands, and this show was a wonderful treat to start what turned out to be a magickal weekend. Discovering Sooj Tucker was truly serendipitous, and we look forward to seeing all of these wonderful performers again and again. Any time you get the chance to see either Gaia Consort or S.J. Tucker, go. Wear your dancing shoes.' Next week I'll have reviews of S.J. Tucker's new CD Haphazard, and soon I'll have one of Gaia Consort's new CD Evolve. Yes, Faerieworlds had so many wonderful surprises...

Donna Bird looks at a work of historical fiction with a Native American focus: 'Gardens in the Dunes takes place in the first years of the 20th century, in settings including the American Southwest, Long Island, Brazil, England, Italy, and the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean. It follows the intersecting lives and travels of four main characters.' Sadly for a historical novel, Donna notes that 'the book is also beset with a number of inconsistencies and lacunae that an editor should have caught before the manuscript went to press. For example, Silko took some interesting liberties with history. It's a bit of a challenge to figure out exactly when the action in the story takes place, but hints like William McKinley's consideration of Teddy Roosevelt as a running mate and Utah's recent statehood suggest shortly after 1897. But if that is the case, she is off by a few years on the Ghost Dance movement, which peaked in the early 1890s. California citrus growers began cultivating citron in the 1880s, so Edward's scheme to bring cuttings back from Corsica would also be off by a few years. Although Silko never actually names the dam that is under construction, its location on the Colorado River near the Parker Reservation and her mention of the Chemehuevi, Mojave and Havasupai people living in the area suggest that it must be the Parker Dam, which wasn't built until the 1930s.'

'I've nursed a passionate interest in the Arthurian legends,' says Kelly Sedinger, 'the Matter of Britain, for years. It's a passion that has waxed hot and cold since its first kindling, when I found a worn copy of John Steinbeck's The Noble Acts of King Arthur and His Knights in a box in the basement. I've read versions of the legend that deal in wizardry and magic, and I have read versions that eschew magic entirely for gritty Dark Age realism. I've read versions of the story in prose, and I've read versions in verse...No, I don't find much surprising in Arthurian storytelling anymore, amongst those works purporting to retell the legend itself, with Arthur as the main character. Where I do find surprises in store is in the works by authors who choose to work along the Arthurian periphery, focusing their tales on characters who may or may not play a role in Camelot, characters who may come to greatness on their own or who may simply watch the rise and fall of Camelot's 'one shining moment' from afar. Debra A. Kemp tells -- or, more accurately, begins -- such a tale in The Firebrand, which is billed as The House of Pendragon, Book I.'

Green Man welcomes new reviewer Courtney Shinaberry, and as her audition review happened to be of a book that I've been meaning to write up for several years now, we're publishing the review that got her a position on our staff. Courtney reviews a brilliant book from Louise Lawrence: 'Sometimes -- perhaps oftentimes -- beautiful little books will come to you from almost out of nowhere. Such was the case with this somewhat obscure little gem from author Louise Lawrence, which I picked up for pennies purely by happenstance at a used bookstore, drawn to it by both the title and the cover art. But The Earth Witch is no quiet, unassuming little book; it is a gritty glimpse through the lens of a Welsh mythology that is as turgid and loamy and menacing as a deep wood on All Hallow's Eve.' And Courtney joins the cadre of GMR reviewers who've earned an Excellence in Writing Award on their maiden attempt. Congratulations and welcome!

'In the United States and many other countries, for a time in the mid- to late-1980s, you couldn't swing a polecat without hitting something that said Cajun on it. It started with Cajun cooking, particularly Chef Paul Prudhomme's blackened redfish, but pretty soon it was a bonafide fad, and you could buy Cajun everything but pet rocks. The fad ran its course, as all fads do, in this case leaving behind not much but the music and an occasional restaurant somewhere in the South Pacific or perhaps the far North Atlantic or even somewhere in China that still serves 'Cajun' food (which generally means the local food with a little bit of hot sauce). But what about the people whose identities were appropriated for the marketing gimmicks? Who are the Cajuns, and what are their lives really like?' Shane K. Bernard answers Gary Whitehouse's question in his book The Cajuns: Americanization of a People.

Sara Sutterfield Winn reviews the first in a fantasy series from horror author Clive Barker: 'Inspired by hundreds of original paintings which took Barker 6 years to create, Abarat veritably hums with rich, colorful imagery. Over 100 painting illustrate the first book alone, and the result is a gorgeously designed book that entertains the eye as well as the mind. Where Barker's artwork lacks in artistic sophistication, it makes up for in stunning, saturated color and sometimes quirky, sometimes creepy, always fascinating detail. Even the heft of the book is impressive, as every illustration is in full color. For love of book design alone, this is a series you will want to collect and preserve. Happily, the story is every bit as engaging as its cover promises. Barker has succeeded in creating a wholly original world here, complete with mythologies and complexities yet to be revealed in the next three books of the Abarat series.' Sara receives an Excellence in Writing Award for this fine review.

Leona Wisoker is one of those who share my love of Tove Jansson's Moomin books, so her enthusiastic review this time out is no surprise: 'For some years, I thought I had managed to net all of the Moominvalley books that had been translated into English. I was actually pleased when I discovered that I was missing one, and that Moominvalley in November was available in English. (Well, maybe 'pleased' isn't the right word . . . dancing around the house, jumping up and down, chanting 'moo-min! moo-min!' . . . does that qualify as 'happy' or as 'obsessed/berserk'? We all have our weaknesses . . . I make no apology. A previously unknown Moomin addition to my collection is cause, in my book, for wild celebration.)'

Self-proclaimed die-hard horror buff Denise Dutton watched The Village, despite having been told the 'the big secret' beforehand. In her Excellence In Writing Award-winning review, Denise explains why the story wasn't ruined for her. She says, 'Even before the 'big finish' presents itself, there are developments in the story that can take your breath away. The fact that this movie plays on several different levels kept my interest even when things seemed to slow down.'

Letters editor Craig Clarke here, hoping that you've recovered from your bout with Friday the 13th in time to peruse our latest collection of correspondence.

Jasper Fforde, author of the wildly successful Thursday Next series (one of which I am reading right now), offered up some more of his bright prose to our mailroom milk can in response to Cat Eldridge's review of the newest Next novel, Something Rotten. (Now I ask you, where else can you find the words 'fibreglass facsimile' used about a pig?) Elsewhere, Rebecca Scott's review of the recently released Kaphtu Trilogy from author/philosophist Richard Purtill elicited a fascinating letter from Gord Wilson, Dr. Purtill's former student and current Web intermediary.

Jane Karwoski came across Cat's review of The Maigret Collection during a search for the location where the series was filmed; she found the answer in the review. In a similar search, Dierdre Spencer was seeking a copy of the 1952 film adaptation of T.S. Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral and wrote to ask reviewer Jack Merry where she could get a copy. Two of our other reviewers offered helpful suggestions.

Jon Hall found something amiss in Deborah Brannon's review of the recent King Arthur film and wrote in to tell about it, but Katie de Koster appreciated Grey Walker's look at Readings on J.R.R. Tolkien. And Lee Blankenship (publicist of Maggie Brown) thanked David Kidney for his review of Brown's debut CD.

And finally, stop me if you've heard this one: a Canadian goes to Switzerland, where he meets an American musician, offers to review his CD, and subsequently gets a 'thank you' letter from the musician. Punchline? No, just a good story that happened to our own David Kidney and you can access the resulting letter, along with the epistolary archives, from the Letters page.

We appreciate all letters and encourage our readers to write in to us, whether they think we're morons or want to tell us what a great job we're doing. So, if you are affected by the work we do, we ask you to take a few moments to send an email to the reviewer or the Letters editor.

Kabuki is a traditional Japanese theater form that combines music, song, spoken dialog, and dance. Kabuki is rarely seen outside of Japan. April Gutierrez, Green Man's Senior Writer and Graphic Designer, seized a rare opportunity when the Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C. and the Japanese Embassy teamed up to sponsor a one-night-only performance by one of Japan's most popular troupes, the Nakamura-za. April's review of this seldom seen (outside of Japan) art form earns her an Excellence In Writing Award.

Greetings me buckos! SPike is IN the buildin'!! Anuvver week, anuvver pack of int'restin' CDs to listen to. I wuz 'angin' about in the mail room an' you jus' wouldn't believe the number of packages that come in every @#$%in' DAY! Each one offerin' music from this country or that nation, folksingers, blues singers, concertina players, ukulele virtuosos, new stuff, old stuff, poetry, you name it...we get it! It was so mind-bogglin' I stepped out to the pub for a pint of Boddingtons an' a packet of crisps! But our peerless team of reviewers worked through my snack break an' this is what they've come up with this week!

Senior Writer Scott Gianelli starts things off with some 'Nordic folk music!' That's right! Music from @#$%in' Finland! An' we got it right 'ere! Scott says about Frigg's CD '...the tunes are catchy, the harmonies are tight and precise, and the playing is flawless throughout. It will take more than one album for Frigg to make a serious claim to the title of standard-bearer of the pelimanni tradition, but the band has certainly made an encouraging step in that direction...'

Master Reviewer and all around blues guru David Kidney has been holed up in his office playin' some older Muddy Waters' records for a couple weeks now. He reviews Hard Again an' I'm Ready an' says '[in 1977], Johnny Winter, the albino blues guitarist from Texas, was peaking, and brought Muddy and his band to Columbia and Blue Sky records for a series of albums that would bring Muddy back where he belonged: the top of the heap. These albums have recently been rereleased on Sony's Legacy label, with bonus tracks and reconstituted packages...' He says lots of other fairly in'erestin' stuff too. Read it for y'self! David also looks at the reissued first album by that Texas blues guitarist Johnny Winter! 'It's taken me thirty-five years to fully appreciate this album, Johnny Winter's first. There was a major career to come. It's a public service for labels like Legacy to re-issue these classic albums and I for one commend them for their good work.' Well, I can only say, Dave's likin' it a lot better now, 'e's been playin' this thing a full volume for a week!

Peter Massey, anuvver Senior Writer (it means they have their own spot at the bar!) is a great fan of the English folk tradition. He writes about a CD by Crucible called Changeling. 'Coming from this part of England, where the 'angst' folk ballad rules supreme, it is easy to detect very strong influences from Kate Rusby, Eliza Carthy, The Watersons, and even the Waterson-Carthy and Steeleye Span camps. So if you are a fan of these, this album will settle well with you. All the songs and tunes are presented in a nice acoustic style.' Not SPike's cuppa but it might be right down your street. Have a look!

Master Reviewer and associate Music Production Editor/Acquisitions guy Gary Whitehouse chimes in wif a couple reviews. Oh, an' all those titles just mean that the other staff members 'ave to genuflect when they pass by 'im at the pub! First Gary looks at Kristin Mooney's self-titled CD. He wuz impressed by Ms. Mooney's songs. 'Although they deal with the usual singer-songwriter subjects -- relationships and character sketches predominate -- Mooney almost entirely avoids the usual pitfalls of navel-gazing, obsessive examinations of emotional states, and lyrical cliches,' an' he liked the way they sounded too. Gary, (should I say Mister Whitehouse?) also reviews The Men They Couldn't Hang's new one, The Cherry Red Jukebox: 'Since re-uniting in 1996 after a five-year hiatus, The Men They Couldn't Hang have proven that rock isn't just a young men's game or a freak-show Rolling Stones-style circus. Mature fellows with some real life experience have something to say, and they can still by god rawk when they say it.' If they can 'by god rawk...' then ole SPike wants to give'em a listen.

That's it for this week. Enjoy y'self! Back to listenin' to The Clash f'r me! Now, where'd I put that pint o' Boddingtons?

There you have it. A collection of reviews as eclectic and exciting as the Green Man staff or the amazing attendees of Faerieworlds.

Before we go, I have another promotion to announce. Wearing the mantle of Managing Editor, Book Editor, and Copy Editor is just a bit more than I need, considering I do like to eat and sleep occasionally. Rebecca Scott, Proofer and Web Minion, has therefore agreed to step into the Copy Editor position. She'll be in charge of the proofing team, and I'm sure she'll whip the Editors into shape when it comes to formatting reviews. I believe she refers to herself as the Grammar Nazi...Many thanks, Rebecca, for stepping up to help keep Green Man running smoothly. You are indeed a treasure.


8th of August, 2004

 'You don't understand the humiliation of it -- to be tricked out of the single assumption which makes our existence viable -- that somebody is watching... There we were -- demented children mincing about in clothes that no one ever wore, speaking as no man ever spoke, swearing love in wigs and rhymed couplets, killing each other with wooden swords, hollow protestations of faith hurled after empty promises of vengeance -- and every gesture, every pose, vanishing into the thin unpopulated air. We ransomed our dignity to the clouds, and the uncomprehending birds listened. Don't you see?! We're actors -- we're the opposite of people!' -- The Player in Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Matej Novak here. I'm imagining an I.Q. test or SAT question that reads, 'Actor is to person as reviewer is to...' and I'm having a hard time coming up with the answer. Still, in some ways, I think I know how The Player feels. He may define himself as an opposite, but it's hardly a definite state given the diversity of human nature. There's a feeling of limbo, one that the reviewer shares. While an actor interprets, filters the text of others for the entertainment and amusement of an audience, a reviewer performs his own act of distillation, taking a work of art, processing it and laying it out for all to read.

Perhaps these jobs -- actor and reviewer -- flow in different, even opposite directions, but they are both reliant on two things: source material (i.e. the creation of others) and a willing audience. Take just one away and their -- our -- very existence loses all meaning and purpose.

Now that's a pretty fatalistic way to look as things, I admit. If you're reading this, we clearly needn't worry about our audience. And I have little doubt that people will continue to create for as long as they are physically able (it's the quality of that creation I sometimes worry about, but that's another story).

Still, there are times when what stops an artist is not physical, but mental. We review a diverse array of... well, just about anything here at Green Man and, unfortunately, just about any creator, any artist is potentially vulnerable to some form of writer's block.

Now, as reviewers, we may fault an artist, feel slighted by him for not giving us that which we thrive on, no matter how we empathize with his frustration at not being able to produce. But think of all those characters just waiting to be written, all those stories begging to be told. How should they feel, existing instead in the world of Jasper Fforde's The Well of Lost Plots, in Lucien's library in The Sandman or perhaps in some dusty hexagon of Borges's Library of Babel? Deprived of entering the world, of being handled, viewed, experienced or read, they exist only in the background, as footnotes or subplots or images partially obscured. They are lost, but the greater loss is to us all.

Maria Nutick here. Our featured reviews this week fall under the heading of The Chief's Summer Reading List. Since all of these books would be worth featuring in separate issues, they're all being featured in this issue.

First up is a chapbook from Kage Baker, The Empress of Mars. Cat Eldridge says 'I adore Kage Baker and her literary work. Really. Truly. I've read damn near everything she's written...She is always brilliant, and never less than fully entertaining. I thought she could get no better until Nightshade Books sent Green Man a chapbook she did called The Empress of Mars. At a mere one hundred and three pages, this is one of the best Robert Heinlein works I've ever read. Oops, I meant Kage Baker works. Or did I? OK, let me reconcile the contradiction I just created (somewhat). The Empress of Mars reads like the best of Heinlein's short fiction from the golden period of the 1940s and 1950s. It is so good that I've no doubt John Campbell would've published it!'

Paul Brandon's new novel, The Wild Reel, meets with Cat's approval as well -- as though we expected otherwise, considering the brilliance to be found in his firs novel! Cat entwines his review around an interview with the author himself: 'So the end result is a comedy of manners with the very Irish Faerie Court quite a bit more than a little out of place in the sub-tropical streets of Brisbane, Australia...I liked this novel as much as the extended look at Brisbane as I did for the plot as it's rare in fantasy fiction that one gets a good look at a real place. What Paul does here in that regard is the equal of Charles in Medicine Road or Emma in War for the Oaks.

Speaking of Charles de Lint, his upcoming novel, The Blue Girl (which sits next to my computer waiting for my attention even as I write this) is according to Cat 'the finest Young Adult novel I've read to date.' Considering the enormous amount of books the Chief has read, I don't think we need to say anything further.

Finally, we have another sophomore effort from a writer we already admire. James Hetley wowed us with The Summer Country, and if you haven't read that one yet, do it. Cat says so! 'You'll want to read The Summer Country first before you dive into Winter Oak as this is that rarity of sequels, one that perfectly builds off the previous novel. James Hetley can be very proud of the story he has created -- it's that good!'

'In the past few years, it's been pretty much a given in the fantasy genre that 'The Good Old Days' refers to ancient polytheistic societies where a benevolent Goddess ruled supreme, women were revered because they created life and men were kept firmly in their place. All this ended when men figured out that they had a role in conception and invented monotheism and its stern Gods who kept women in their place. It's refreshing to find a book with a slightly different take on things.' Faith Cormier is speaking of Daughter of Ireland, by Juilene Osborne-McKnight.

She was also surprised by her second review book this week: 'Ian Pryor's Peter Jackson: From Prince of Splatter to Lord of the Rings: An Unauthorized Biography is that rarity, an unauthorized biography that doesn't trash its subject. While Ian Pryor was unable to get Peter Jackson's permission to write about him, despite efforts over a number of years, he doesn't seem to hold a grudge, and he still admires Jackson and his work.'

'In one of my favourite books as a youth (well, as a pre-teen, really), Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time, there is a chapter where the main character, Meg, attempts to describe the sense of sight to Aunt Beast, an alien creature born without it. Of course, as Aunt Beast's species has no concept of this sense, poor Meg fails miserably. Trying to explain the concept of seeing, of perceiving objects and colours and realities with the complex structures of our eyes to a being who has never experienced it in their life would be a difficult task for anyone. In his ambitious debut novel, Truesight, David Stahler Jr. attempts to do just that.' Elizabeth Vail doesn't believe that Stahler Jr. succeeds; find out why not in her well conceived review.

Leona Wisoker takes a look at a book of folktales edited by John Bierhorst. Again with the pleasant surprises: 'When I started writing for Green Man Review, I thought of myth and folklore as primarily Irish and Greek, Latin and German. I suspect that's fairly common in America, but that view misses several important and fascinating segments of the world. In Latin America Folktales, editor John Bierhorst has gathered together in print a wide variety of traditional oral Hispanic and Indian stories.'

David Kidney, Assistant Music Review Editor, Music Review Production Editor, CD Acquisitions and Master Reviewer, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, etc., braved the killer air conditioning system at Hamilton, Ontario's Casbah Club to hear one of Rock's great might-have-beens, Pete Best, 'the man who put the beat in the Beatles,' (and the man who was replaced by Ringo Starr). In his enthusiastic review, David says Pete Best and his band provide 'a solid ninety minutes of rock'n'roll fantasy, a bit of history, and a vocal workout.'

Barb Truex and Christopher White chart the course of a rising new star in their review of Argentinean singer Juana Molina. Molina, who appeared as the opening act for David Byrne, 'delivered a compelling set with great poise and good humor,' while Byrne presented a 'magical set' that was 'an unadulterated treat.' Read Barb and Christopher's review to learn more about how David Byrne 'discovered' Ms. Molina.

Master Reviewer Gary Whitehouse enjoyed 'a night of sublime 'desert noir'' courtesy of the Arizona-based band, Calexico, performers of 'desert-tinged rock music with shades of mariachi, folk, country and Afro-Cuban jazz.' Click here for his review. Ole!

Dave is busy at playin' the new guitar 'is wife bought 'im in New York City, so 'e asked me to do this for 'im t'day! SPike's the name, loud rock'n'roll the game. Do we 'ave any of that this week? Let's 'ave a browse...

Music editor Kim Bates leads off wif her look at a trio of discs which each feature, in some way, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys. Kim claims to be a 'big fan' of these blokes and says, 'one thing...ties these albums together. Bon Reve is the group's most recent release, and [Steve and the] Boys figure prominently on the two compliation discs reviewed here. The other thing the discs have in common is some great music that is an absolute pleasure.' One thing we're always up for at Green Man is some @#$%in' great music so don't miss Kim's omni-review of The Rough Guide to American Roots: original roots legends of the USA, Putumayo Presents Cajun an' of course Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys' Bon Reve.

Scott Gianelli joins the fray wif an Excellence in Writing Award winning review of some some Swedish music -- an anthology of Hedningarna's greatest hits. Scott says that 'Hedningarna 1989-2003 does serve the primary purpose of any compilation album, in that it reveals to the listener what Hedningarna is all about...the quality, uniqueness, and ferocity with which Hedningarna plays Scandinavian folk music simply cannot be denied...' and that's @#$%in' good enough for me!

My office mate David Kidney also looks at three discs today, but each one individually! First up, it's some country music called The Whole Enchilada 'bout which Dave says, 'We're a couple generations past the Band, the Burrito Brothers and the Amazing Rhythm Aces but their presence is felt in the earthy, American sound of Burrito Deluxe.' As always, he said a lot more, read about Burrito Deluxe for the...whole #$%&in' enchilada! Then Dave listens to a blast from the past...the hipster folksinger Donovan 'as a new one, that Dave picked up at Joe's Pub. He likes it so much it's been on the CD player ever since he got back! He recommends that you '...order a copy of beat cafe for yourself, slip into a black turtleneck, pull your beret down, and snap your fingers cats and kittens! The beat generation will never die! ' Wot a wacky guy that Dave is. He looks even further back in 'istory wif his third review. 'East Virginia Blues is but one disc from a multi-volume set with the series title When the Sun Goes Down: The Secret History of Rock & Roll. This collection of early country classics seeks to provide the discriminating listener with the original versions of songs that have been recorded by a variety of contemporary musicians. Dave really gets into this 'istorical stuff .

Peter Massey weighs in wif folk-singer Peter Coe's new CD Paper Houses. He says, 'This album has a wealth of very interesting material that is certainly well worth hearing. Pete has done some research and come up with several different versions of traditional songs that may not have been recorded before. I have no hesitation in recommending you get this album; it’s good -- very good.' Give it a read and see wot you think!

Me pubmate Jack B. Merry 'ad this to say about Shane McGowan's Popes new one Across the Broad Atlantic. 'Go buy this fuckin' album, get yourself several pints of Guinness, and sing along off-key as you listen to one of the best St. Patrick's Day concerts you'll ever hear.' Sounds like it's right down my street! Every'thin' sounds better after a pint of Guinness, or three!

More Celtic music is recommended by Kelly Sedinger in 'is Excellence in Writing Award winning review of three CDs by Hair of the Dog: Release the Hounds, At the Parting Glass, and Let It Flow. 'Music such as that performed by Hair of the Dog seems to be an undercelebrated part of the whole Celtic music vibe. These types of Irish bar bands may not produce the most authentic music, and they may not produce the most original music, but a lot of time, they're the ones producing the most fun music.' An' try it wif a Guinness!

Now, Robert M. Tilendis sits at the opposite end of the pub from me'n Jack. He seems friendly enough but 'e's always listening to slightly different music. Today he discusses the music of composer Morton Feldman. 'These are two remarkable works [Rothko Chapel & Why Patterns?] by one of America's most noteworthy composers. They are ethereal, energetic, thoughtful, and yet possessed of a kind of earthy reality. Their intellectual underpinnings, which are formidable, become invisible, and one is simply left with an event that is out of the ordinary. Hearing them is an engaging and enlightening experience...' Hmmm. Makes ya think, don't it!

Finally Gary Whitehouse looks at Stand by a group called The Kennedys. Gary opines, 'The Kennedys' music is similar in tone to that of the late great Dave Carter, except that it leans closer to the electric jangle of The Byrds than Carter's acoustic folk approach. But thematically, it covers much of the same ground as Carter did with his partner Tracy Grammer: small-town life, life-as-spiritual-quest, open-eyed love and respect between the duo, and a solid grounding in American musical traditions.' For more of this in depth coverage read Gary's review!

That's about it for this week in Music, now pass me anuvver Guinness, and turn up that Shane McGowan CD!

So, you see, in this great chain that begins with creation and ends with you, the reader, we all have a great responsibility. Just as the actor can also become a viewer or creator, many of us here at Green Man are also readers, viewers, listeners, overall appreciators, as well as writers, painters, musicians, artists. For us the feeling of responsibility looms around every corner and of its presence we are ever aware. For our lives are spent in a kind of limbo -- whether we take on one role or many -- but we wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.

1st of August, 2004

 'A bodyless voice said, 'Madam, may we offer you breakfast? We are proud of our Harvest Brunch: a lavish bowl of fresh fruits, a tray of cheeses; a basket of freshly baked hot breads, crisp breads, and soft breads with jams and jellies and syrups and Belgian butter. Basted baby barlops en brochette; drawn eggs Octavian, smoked savannah slinker; farkels in sweetsour; Bavarian strudel; your choice of still and sparkling wines, skullbuster Strine beer, Mocha, Kona, Turkish, and Proxima coffees, blended or straight;'

from Robert Heinlein's To Sail Beyond the Sunset

More Midnight Wine? A bit of smoked savannah slinker? Some snow-white strawberries from the other side of that Border? What tickles your fancy this fine morning?

I was eating a very late breakfast with a few other Green Man staffers after a late night of trading truths, half truths, and outright lies over a poker game which Jack Flanders -- who had dropped by on his way to yet 'nother adventure -- had started when he walked into the Pub, when a stranger walked in and took a seat nearby. There was nothing unusual about him until over his second cup of Sumatra he said that he was the last King of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire... Who were we to disagree? What profit was there in doing that?

Mind you, he was dressed all in black with a smart cut to his slightly old-fashioned clothes and a haughty demeanor of one to the Manor born, but that said little to who he was, and we've heard far stranger statements made here by much odder looking individuals. Now I know that most historians claim that Charles I succeeded to the Austro-Hungarian throne during The First World War, and that he abdicated from it a short time later in 1918 when the Armistice took effect and the war ended with the surrender of the Central powers to the Allies. Historians further say he died five years later -- a mortal lifetime ago. Our visitor, Karl by name, rejected that history with an angry shake of his head. Indeed Bela, our resident Balkan violinist, has also claimed for years that he was born in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire!

One of the poker players shrugged her shoulders -- I think it was Zina who was playing on her fiddle a spritely set of tunes, 'Never Wed a Hendrake Lass / Hangman's Reel / Midsummer's Night' -- and asked him to tell his story. So over the course of that morning, he told us tales of Empires lost and regained, of parties so lavish that vassal states were impoverished to keep the festivities going, of a lover who betrayed him for a handful of silver, of another lover who risked everything for him, of mad priests who couldn't be killed, and many more tales.

He drained his tankard of skullbuster Strine beer, picked up his walking cane, and said in his faintly accented English that it was time to catch a train back to His Imperial Capital. Bela bowed deeply to him as he turned toward the door, and that was the last we saw of him -- but he left behind 'nough stories for lifetimes...

Maria Nutick here. In my capacity as Book Editor, I get to edit a lot of fabulous work. In my new capacity as Managing Editor, I get to make some happy announcements. So before we get to our featured reviews, we have a promotion to announce.

We have, over the years, elevated a very select few reviewers to the status of Master Reviewer. In order to attain this status, a writer must have consistently provided us with outstanding work; insightful, sharp, brilliant writing that we're proud to publish. Our newest Master Reviewer is witty, erudite, and turns in work that is both technically sound and overwhelmingly entertaining. So we're very happy to elevate Rachel Manija Brown, and thank her for her invaluable contributions to Green Man Review.

Now, on to our features...

Nathan Brazil takes an Excellence in Writing Award for his look at James Lovegrove's 'tale of two people in a broken future version of England'. He says of Untied Kingdom: 'The depth of characterisation presented, in both the lead characters and all those they encounter, is top notch stuff. Lovegrove writes with a flowing, easy to read style, big on realistic dialogue, sharp descriptive, and believable situations.'

Reviewing our featured film, Deborah Brannon explains 'I love Arthurian legend to bits, though it's been a long time since I went through my last intense Arthurian phase. I've never minded all the many reinterpretations of Arthurian legend either. I've read some rather good books that completely changed the story around, but that I still felt had some merit for perpetuating Arthurian myth.' With this outlook, she went to see the recent release, King Arthur. She was disappointed, remarking 'this film makes four major mistakes: its name, its use of legend, its claim toward historical accuracy, and the story itself.' What does that leave? Deborah picks up both an Excellence In Writing Award and a Grinch Award for the grievances aired in her review.

Christopher White is raving in his Excellence in Writing Award winning commentary about a Belgian CD called BUBINGA. Well, in a nice sort of way, so let's listen in: 'Irresistible ... infectious ... inspired ... In an alternative universe, one where American radio isn't dominated by a tiny number of cautious corporate giants, one where music need not come from NYC, LA, or Nashville to be considered acceptable for airplay, in that universe you'd see teens and geezers alike from Portland to Peoria to the other Portland wearing (BUB) tee shirts. As it is, I can only turn to you, a music savvy GMR reader, and suggest that you surf on over to (BUB)'s web site or the site of their label, Wild Boar Music and order your own t-shirts, baseball caps or (better yet) CDs. You'll need a Belgian translator to help with (BUB)'s site, but it's worth it.'

Newly minted Master Reviewer Rachel Brown shows again why she's attained that status with her review of Melissa Wyatt's Raising the Griffin: 'Getting free books by my favorite authors isn't the only reason I enjoy writing reviews for Green Man, though it's hard to beat a hot-off-the-presses advance reading copy of Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman or China Mieville's latest work. But being a staff reviewer occasionally provides me with the pleasure of volunteering to review a random book by a new author or one I've never heard of before, on a subject which holds no inherent interest for me, dutifully beginning it, and becoming so caught up in the story that I forget that I'm reading it for any reason but my own enjoyment. That was the case with Raising the Griffin.'

Faith Cormier reviews an enticing book by Suza Scalora: 'The story of The Witches and Wizards of Oberin is more a vignette than a novel, but that doesn't really matter. The important part isn't the story, which is really confined to the first couple of pages and the last page of the book, but the pictures. The titular witches and wizards are the subjects of photographs in stunning colour -- the closest thing I've ever seen to literally living colour... It's hard to describe the photographs, or the persons in them. They aren't the sort where the longer you look the more details you see. It's more that the longer you look the more you realize there are no details, just swirling, spiraling colours sucking you down into an any-colour-but-black hole.'

Just returned from wedding and honeymoon (and congratulations again!) is Lory Hess, with the first U.S. printing of a Diana Wynne Jones novel published a decade and a half ago in England: 'The writing of Diana Wynne Jones normally seems to me without age limits. I've recommended the same title to eight-year-olds and fifty-eight-year-olds with complete confidence in their enjoyment. But with Wild Robert, Jones is clearly writing for a younger audience. Children who struggle a bit with reading on their own, and are not yet ready for Jones' more complex and subtle works, will be able to manage this relatively straightforward narrative.'

Rebecca Scott thoughtfully lead off with warnings to introduce her review this week: 'If you have not yet seen the movie based on this comic, and you think you might like to, I strongly suggest that you go and watch it before reading either this review or the book. Partially this is because, while the movie is entertaining on its own, it's a completely wretched adaptation of the book; but more importantly, the book takes a completely different approach to the story, and reveals in Chapter Three the name of the killer. A second warning about this book: It is extremely graphic, far more so than the movie, not only in the details of the killings, but sexually as well. Intercourse is repeatedly depicted in scenes which, if filmed, could not be found outside of adult movies. This is a book for adults, a graphic novel in more than one sense. It is not for those who have weak stomachs. Having issued my warnings, I now feel free to discuss From Hell in detail.' There, now for you faint of heart types, there'll be tea served in the dining room. Everyone else, go read her review of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's graphic novel From Hell.

James Lynch wasn't thrilled by a recent film. 'If all you need in a movie is Halle Berry in a tight, revealing leather outfit cracking a whip, stop reading this right now and go see Catwoman. If you care about anything else in a movie - like plot, acting, originality, or excitement - see anything else.' Ouch! James' review gains a Grinch Award.

Reynard at your service. I got drafted to write musical commentary this outing as David, Jack, and SPike have settled into the film room to watch the DVD version of the Woodstock film. SPike claims that there's a shot of him covered in mud giving the Aussie national salute somewhere towards the end of the film...

Now on to the reviews...

The Blues on Shave 'em Dry: The Best of Lucille Bogan found favour in the ear of Craig Clarke: 'Every track on Shave 'em Dry is a winner. Bogan's multi-faceted voice is entrancing and familiar. Combine that with Roland's rolling (if seemingly limited) piano style, and you have a collection of bawdy foot-tapping tunes. If there were justice in the music world, the name Lucille Bogan would be as famous as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey and this release is Legacy's way of adding another opportunity for that to happen.' Craig gets an Excellence in Writing Award for this Bluesy review!

Craig also looked at a upcoming singer-songwriter: 'An EP is often an ideal way to experiment with a new artist, offering an alternative to the full CD at a cheaper price. Halloween Leaves is a four-song offering of soothing folk from Seattle singer-songwriter Rachel Harrington. The CD cover is very evocative of the title, with a double exposure of a black-and-white Harrington with her guitar over a colorfully leaf-strewn autumn sidewalk.' He found her work to be a bit boring, but read his review to see why you can decide for yourself if this is so!

On the other hand, Einstein's Brain (!) is an EP that Craig liked: 'It's an example of a successful EP-as-marketing-tool. There is enough material to be representative of Nathan Caswell's musical output, but not so much that the listener tires of the alternating of funny and serious that seems to showcase the two varying sides of his personality. That makes it easy to decide whether to hit play again or to leave it for the moment. Personally, I don't hesitate.'

Richard Condon picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for his detailed look at People On The Highway - A Bert Jansch Encomium: 'If you are an admirer of Jansch and his music or if you are a fan of the scene onto which he erupted, the London of the 1960s, with clubs like the Troubadour and Les Cousins attracting not just a new generation of British folk and blues performers determined to make their own music but even exotic visitors such as Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, you will find much to please you on these two discs. They demonstrate the love and admiration that BJ inspired in his own generation and also the influence and affection that can still be discovered in later and more widely scattered musicians.'

Cliff Furnald at cdRoots was kind enough to send us a review copy of Triakel's new CD, Sånger från 63º N, which Cat Eldridge quickly claimed: 'Emma Hårdelin is a Goddess. Really. Truly. Go read our reviews of her vocal work with Garmarna and you'll see what I mean. Just consider what Kim Bates had to say in reviewing their last CD, Hildegard von Bingen: 'the fiddle lines are wonderful throughout this album, conveying what the beauty in these sophisticated melodies, grabbing the heart of the melodies and blending effortlessly with Hardelin's voice. The hurdy-gurdy provides the drone that almost certainly accompanied these melodies in Hildegard's time. But it must be said that a great deal is resting on Hardelin, and that she delivers magnificently.' I think that she is indeed one of a select group of female Nordic vocalists whom the ancient Nordic deities blessed with magic! (The other two are Lena Willemark of Frifot and Jenny Willhelms of Gjallarhorn.) Liking the music of Garmarna more than just a bit, I was a bit hesitant to hear what she sounded like in another group as I was afraid that it might not equal the work she did in that group. Happily, I was wrong, quite wrong.'

Time Tells Tales gets the thumbs up from Peter Massey: 'Sometimes referred to as Roots Rock or Power Folk a mixture of Blues and Country Rock, this album by Tony Denikos makes a compelling sound and holds your attention. Coming from the Baltimore - Washington area of the U.S.A., he was formally known as Tony De but has now decided to use his full name. No matter what he's called, it was a pleasure for me as this is the first time I have heard him sing.'

Jack Merry has nothing but good things to say about Loened Fall's Gouez - À l'état sauvage. How good is it? Let's him tell us: 'The very short answer to what I think of Gouez - À l'état sauvage is that it is the most energetic Breton CD I've heard. Really. Truly. Nothing I've heard to date comes even close! ' An Excellence in Writing Award goes to our fiddler for this review!

Steve Reel's Celtic Knights and The Unfortunate Rakes' Rakes Alive! fared well in the hands of Mike Stiles: 'These two CDs are benchmarks in the glorious growth of the guitar in Celtic music. I encourage those readers who haven't yet checked out the Celtic scene to do so by diving into these two recordings. For the rest of you, we'll be calling up some old friends to help put these artists in the limelight they deserve.' Mike gets a well-deserved Excellence in Writing Award!

According to Robert Tilendis, in his Excellence in Writing Award winning review, Rímur: A Collection From Steindór Andersen 'is not music I can recommend for your next party, but for students, scholars, and those fond of traditional musical and/or literary forms from around the world, it is an intriguing survey.' Read his review to see what this is about this ancient Nordic music that lead him to this conclusion!

Rick Shea and Patty Booker's Our Shangri-LA was a winner for Gary Whitehouse: 'If you thought nobody was making Bakersfield-style honky-tonk music any more, guess again. Rick Shea and Patty Booker and their superb backing band will take you back to the heydays of the '60s and '70s, when Buck and the Hag were kings and there was a true alternative to the Nashville sound. This one's as real and honest as the day is long.'

Cordelia's Dad is, according to Gary in Excellence in Writing Award winning review, 'an indie-rock band, punk if you will, whose members have an ongoing love affair with really old-time American music. Throughout the 1990s they produced a series of albums that swung from punk to acoustic old-time and unaccompanied shape-note songs. On a hiatus that has extended since around the turn of the millennium, their most recent release is What it is, a pastiche of tracks from three different sessions with two different producers, in 1997 and 1999.' Did it tickle his fancy? Oh, indeed it did. Go read his review to see why!

Gary found Norwegian Stian Carstensen's Backwards Into the Backwoods CD to be' like a series of private jokes or musical exercises; missing is much of the manic energy and playful inventiveness of Farmer's Market that invites the listener to join in the joke. Less zany, more cerebral, Backwards is less accessible than Carstensen's other work.'

Gary was a bit disappointed by Jim Lauderdale and Donna the Buffalo's Wait 'Til Spring. Despite the impressive talents of both parties, 'The team-up of Lauderdale and the Buffalos has some promise, but it goes largely unfulfilled on Wait 'Til Spring. Lauderdale's usual lyrical gifts seem to have fled, leaving him with a kind of hippie-dippy mush that's sadly all too common among jam bands. To be sure, there are a lot of nice touches on nearly every one of this album's 11 tracks, but overall, everything fuses into a sunny but formless glop after a while.'

Peggy Seeger's Heading For Home fared much better than Wait 'Til Spring in Gary's estimation: He says his words do not do 'does justice to the simple and elegant beauty of Peggy Seeger singing these timeless songs. This is an album that all lovers of traditional Anglo-American folk songs should own.'

 

Who won the poker game? Damned if I know. I'm not sure that anyone cared who won by the time the final hand was dealt. Certainly no one pretended that they were going to try to take home the strange silver coins that Jack Burton, weary from too many miles on the road and longing to see Gracie Law, had tossed on the table as his contribution to the pot. It certainly wouldn't be half as fun as it is if we did care who won! Even the Devil 'imself doesn't gamble with us with anything for stake -- just ask Old Scratch about the Neverending Session fiddler who won a pot of gold and immortality from him in a game of more or less honestly played poker. Well, that's what the fiddler claimed anyway...

 

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Updated 29 Aug 2004 07:30 GMT (MN)