Review: Reginald Hill: A Pinch of Snuff audiobook

imageIn the Dalziel & Pascoe television series which came to an end some years ago, the two lead coppers were played perfectly by Warren Clarke (Andy Dalziel) and Colin Buchanan (Peter Pascoe). Dalziel Looked and acted like a Devil bent on gluttony and as many of the other sins as he could get away with; Pascoe looked like an Angel slumming among lesser beings: blonde, dressed as smartly as could be and with a tone that suggested that he know everything before you did, especially when he didn’t.

But this is about an audiobook version of a Dalziel & Pascoe novel Hill wrote. So go read my review to see how I handled the contrasts in hearing Buchanan tell the story and voice all of the characters as opposed to serving and hearing them in the series.

Oh and there are several other continuing characters with Ellie, Pascoe’s wife who met him at University, being the most prominent one. Here were character is radically different from the one as depicted in the series, so watchers of the series will be surprised at here here.

Story: Our Coffeehouse

It might surprise you to learn that we’ve a rather unique coffeehouse complete with a fireplace, plenty of natural lighting and damn fine coffee. A coffeehouse that’s used by visitors and staff alike.

It’s a true coffeehouse—no tea, no fancy coffee drinks beyond lattes and espresso drinks, and most decidedly no food. There’s not even music unless unless a trad muso or two decides to play there.

if you’re interested in how this coffeehouse came to be, here’s the rest of the story.

Story: Theological Anthropologist

She said she was a theological anthropologist. And I asked why she was visiting our Estate. Out of curiosity as it appeared to her that we preceded the fall of the Kirk in Scotland by many centuries as visitors she’d talked to noted that no one here appeared to be a member of any Church for as longer than anyone knew. I said that wasn’t quite true as I was an ordained priest of the Church of Oak, Ash and Thorn but that only got me an odd look from her. A very odd look.

I told her that she was welcome to look at our Archives, talk with anyone she wanted to but not to believe anything that The Old Amanda tells her. Which got me another odd look. She could even look at the various Standing Stones and such but I doubted that’d help her learn anything useful. I added that I’d love to hear what she found.

She found the usual lapsed from the Kirk, a lot of pantheists, several Jews that sort of practiced their religion, one very former, rather bitter former Catholic and smatterings of other faiths. They only had in common that they believed in Something Divine save That former Catholic. So she moved unto the Archives — nothing at all in them she discovered even vaguely touched upon Kirk services after the early sixteen hundreds. There might have still been Kirk services, there might not’ve been. There was no indication that the Chapel had a Priest paid for by the Estate, nor that one came up from the village. That’s nearly four centuries with no record of Kirk related activity.

Oh and she did talk to The Old Man, the one who suspiciously looks like depictions of Odin. A half hour later, she left the Pub looking back at him as if afraid he’d do something to her. I’d like to tell you what she found out but I never saw her again, nor did she respond to my emails. Indeed we couldn’t even find that she had existed… Very strange…

Story: Gutmansdottir and The Wild Wood

image Gutmansdottir was her family name and the only name she went by. She said she was a botanist and was interested in studying our Wild Wood, the area of the Estate that’s apparently virtually unchanged for over a thousand-years, if not a lot longer. I was intrigued enough by the idea that I asked our Stewart, Jean-Pierre, if she could use one of the staff yurts and get her meals gratis for as long as she was here.

That was seven years ago. I don’t think either party realised how bloody big her endeavour was going to be. It’s gotten so long-term that she works for me part-time for what she needs for cash and spends much of the better weather when she wasn’t working for me out there, usually several days at a time. She said that it indeed looked like nothing had been touched there except for a few standing stones, possibly what could be barrow-mounds and one bloody big stone dragon which she’d like to know the story about.

She spent the first summer just cataloguing fungi and lichen, dozens that were thought gone in Scotland. That was followed by a winter of collecting scat as that she said told her a lot about the botany of an area as reflected in the diet of hares, owls and so forth. I assisted her in setting up precipitation meters which sent their data back to a central computer by radio. The Several Annies, Iain’s Library Apprentices, spent a winter skiing out there to map the terrain and look for any signs of habitation no matter how long ago. They didn’t find any.

So her work continues. We built a new, much bigger yurt with enough shelving and storage for her notes, books, tools and of course botanical samples. Not to mention her scat collection.

Will she ever be done? I doubt it. She’s having an intellectual orgasm all the time, I’ve got a great worker and the Estate has a superb community member.

Music for A Fine Spring Day

The joy of iPads, particularly the newer ones, is that I can compose these posts from outside the Estate Main Building which is how I came to be sitting with a cup of coffee, cream and no sugar, under the trees in the Courtyard while I write this up.

So let’s serve some music this morning, starting with writer Robert Hunter doing what will might the definitive live version of his Brown-Eyed Women As I think his voice is far better than Garcia’s ever was.

Let’s stay in the Americana vein by moving to Levon Helm on vocal as The Band does one of their best known songs, The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down.

Hmmmm… Lets stay with The Band as they do Up On Cripple Creek, one of my favourite songs by them.

Now what’s next? Bright Street Beachhouse Back In Business Blues is not precisely Americana, but Cats Laughing is definitely a roots band that draws on many influences. They just successfully online funded a new recording that will be of a concert this year.

Now lets finish off with Dr. John and The Bonnaroo Review doing a rousing version of Right Place Wrong Time.

Review: Jack Zipes (editor): The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood

I don’t know if I’ve pointed this out before in so many words, but one thing we tend to forget about regarding fairy tales, especially those from such nineteenth-century fabulists such as Hans Christian Andersen, is that they were meant to reinforce the social standards of the day. Thus, boys are brave, stalwart, more or less reckless, and in control, while girls are demure, biddable, and under control. Keep that in mind while reading Mia Nutick’s review of Jack Zipes’ The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood:

The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood comprises 38 variations on the Red Riding Hood theme. These stories, poems, and plays have been collected by professor and author Jack Zipes to illustrate his contention that the Little Red Riding Hood that we are familiar with as a society is actually a teaching tale used to reinforce our acceptance of the “rape culture” that we live in.

I don’t know that I’d state it that strongly, although I’m as much a feminist as the next guy, but then, I didn’t write the review. Read Mia’s review to see if you agree.

From the Letters Bag: You Can’t Make These Things Up

(Stick around for the punchline. — Ed.)

From: Mike Madigan
Subject: Home, Boys!
Date: October 30, 2003

Hello Green Man Review!

Great site you have here. I’ve enjoyed looking through many of the reviews.

Faith J. Cormier does a splendid task of reviewing our CD. That’s not to say she does it perfect justice, but I’m pleased she recognizes a very listenable CD. I remember when I first heard Tommy Sands’ The Heart’s a Wonder CD. Almost couldn’t understand a darn word he sang, but I let the music and then lyrics grow on me and now, as I drive through my many miles of easy listening here in Newfoundland, I’m always playing it. It’s a beautiful CD that has meant more to me than I wish to relate here. That song about “Back to School” is a real “upper” and there are still a few words I still don’t understand. Darn those accents….why can’t “dey all speaks like we, ‘ere in Newfoundland, eh by?” LOL!

So thanks for reviewing our Home, Boys! and I’m glad our clear lyrics and original tunes have been very well appreciated by your gifted reviewer. Drop into our Web site and say hello. I’m always there to give a special price to someone — even a special price on the special price!–and to anywhere in the world!

“Sure b’y, Newfoundland is closer to Dublin, Ireland, than our own capital of Ottawa, Canada”!!!

All the best, Mike Madigan, Sharecropper Trio.

P.S.: A lady from Bonavista, Newfoundland, honestly and sincerely asked me once, “How many be there in your trio?” I told her after showing her our 2nd CD cover with the three of us and a statue of John Cabot, “Ma’am, there are four in our trio.” She looked at me and said, “Oh I see. Thank you.” Then she bought the CD. It pays to be honest!

Review: Joseph Bristow (editor): Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture: The Making of a Legend

oscar wilde bioWe tend to forget that not all legends come down to us through the ages, and that at one time, they were real people who took on some mythical trappings — Ulysses, Siegfried, Elvis. (Yes, Elvis was real — I remember him.)

We also tend to forget how much these legends shape our time. Take, for example, Oscar Wilde:

His disgrace after his conviction for committing acts of “gross indecency” with another man was such that a notice published on his death declined to mention his name, difficult to credit in a world where the sexual peccadilloes of even the more conservative of public figures (or perhaps I mean “especially the more conservative”) are shrugged off or even rewarded with a standing ovation in the chambers of the U.S. Senate.

However, this is now, that was then, and the world has changed more than we realize. Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture traces the elements of Wilde’s rehabilitation and transformation from complete outcast to iconic figure — indeed, a veritable archetype — for not only the GLBT community, but the arts in general.

Editor Joseph Bristow’s anthology embraces biography, history, sociology — just about every discipline that can be called upon to help us understand Wilde’s influence. Read our review of Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture: The Making of a Legend to see how deep that influence has been.

And then think about Ulysses. Or Siegfried. Or Elvis.

Story: Gingerbread

imageI hope you’re enjoying the still hot from the oven gingerbread with a scoop of Madagascar vanilla ice cream on it. Bet you another piece that you don’t know the history of this culinary treat, do you? Thought so. So do take another piece and I’ll tell you all about it.

Our gingerbread is the Swedish version, which is actually Germanic in origin, as it came to that nation with German immigrants in the same way Christmas traditions such as greeting cards, Christmas trees, even wreaths came to Great Britain from German royalty that married into the English royal family. And it was thus that gingerbread as we bake it came to be a Swedish delicacy that we bake here. During the thirteenth century, gingerbread was brought to Sweden by German immigrants. By the fifteenth century in Germany, a gingerbread guild controlled who could bake it.

Gingerbread in German is Lebkuchen or Pfefferkuchen (pepper cake). Properly spiced gingerbread has a slightly peppery taste, not strong but definitely there.

Several sources note that, to quote one unknown writer, ‘In Germany gingerbread is made in two forms: a soft form called Lebkuchen and a harder form, particularly associated with carnivals and street markets such as the Christmas markets that occur in many German towns. The hard gingerbread is made in decorative shapes, which are then further decorated with sweets and icing. The tradition of cutting gingerbread into shapes takes many other forms, and exists in many countries, a well-known example being the gingerbread man.’

Swedes don’t bake the ginger bread as a cake all that often but do make hard gingerbread cookies for the Christmas season in great quantities. They are thin, very brittle biscuits or cookies as the Yanks called them.

Though our gingerbread is spiced like the Swedish version, ours is moist cake that tastes delicious warm with, as I noted above, vanilla ice cream. Oh, and we don’t put raisins, candied orange peel or other such things in our gingerbread.

So would you like yet a third piece?

Review: And Did Those Feet: Forgetting the Shadows of History

and did those feet
I may have mentioned this before, in passing at least, but have you noticed how many “catch-all” terms we employ? I mean words such as “psychology” and “photography,” which can denote one or several distinct things. (“Photography,” at least, has a common denominator: it’s about recording light on a more-or-less stable medium.)

One of those terms that I’ve run across in my forays into the various types of music is “New Age.” Now, that can mean a lot of different kinds of music, from jazz-derived explorations to mood-inducing electronica to appropriations of various traditions, both Western and non-Western. (Anyone want to talk about “Celtic” music (or what passes for it in the New Age canon)? I don’t. At least, not right now.)

Now, one of the interesting things about New Age music is the caliber of some of the practitioners. Take, for example, the members of And Did Those Feet, whose album, Forgetting the Shadows of History, we’re looking at today:

The group And Did Those Feet was founded in 1992 by composer/ performer Richard Ellin to showcase his own compositions. He was joined by vocalists Ina Williams, who has won many awards in singing contests in Wales and abroad, and Celia Jones, born in Canada but active on the music scene in Britain for over twenty years. Forgetting the Shadows of History is their third release.

We’ve got a lot of combined experience in this group, and it’s solid experience, if awards are any indicator. So how did the music turn out? Well, for that you’re going to have to read the review.