What’s New for 9th of January: All things Batman; Ritter bars and other wonderful things

Luxury always comes at someone else’s expense. One of the many advantages of civilization is that one doesn’t generally have to see that, if one doesn’t wish. You’re free to enjoy its benefits without troubling your conscience.  ― Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice

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That’s ‘Number 37’ which is  James Keelaghan’s homage to a female horse racer playing here in the Green Man Pub this lovely day. It’s off one of the myriad samplers that we get, Festive to Go: An All Canadian Sampler that came in quite some years ago. I’m looking for a live recording of it so I can share it but no luck so far.

I remember seeing him play this quite some years back at a concert somewhere in Canada where I was managing the door as a favour to a friend. He pulled a flask out of his jeans that held some of the finest Irish whisky that I’d ever had. Don’t recall who distilled it but fuck it was good! If you’re in the mood for some Irish this afternoon, I’ll recommend the Powers John’s Lane which we carry here along with several others. It’s pricy but worth it.

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Kelly has a tasty piece of pulpy SF for us: ‘Poul Anderson, who died in 2001, was one of the grand old voices of science fiction right up until his death, winning the Hugo Award seven times, the Nebula Award three times, and being named in 1997 as a Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America. His was a long and prolific career. In the middle of that career, he created a character named Dominic Flandry, whose adventures had eluded me as a reader until my review copy of Ensign Flandry arrived on my desk. Now I’m wondering why.’

Richard states: ‘Sometimes, the intentions are better than the end result. Such is the case with Multiverse: Exploring Poul Anderson’s Worlds, a tribute to the late Grand Master edited by Gardner Dozois and Anderson’s son-in-law Greg Bear. This is not to say that Anderson isn’t worthy of the honor. On the contrary, even a cursory look at his body of work suggests how highly he should be regarded.’

Robert says that  ‘Summon the Keeper is quite possibly the first of Tanya Huff’s books that I read – she’s another one of those writers who has a long history in my library. This one is a contemporary urban fantasy that is hilariously funny, original, and captivating.’

He also  has a review of Patricia McKillip’s Winter Rose: ‘The story is told in McKillip’s characteristically elliptical style, kicked up an order of magnitude. Sometimes, in fact, it is almost too poetic, the narrative turning crystalline then shattering under the weight of visions, images, things left unsaid as Rois and Corbet are drawn into another world, or come and go, perhaps, at will or maybe at the behest of a mysterious woman of immense power who seems to have no fixed identity but who is, at the same time, all that is coldest and most pitiless of winter.’

He also looks at Solstice Wood, a sequel of sorts to Winter Rose though you do not read that novel first: ‘McKillip has always been a writer whose books can themselves be called “magical,” and it’s even more interesting to realize that she seldom uses magic as a thing of incantations and dire workings, or as anything special in itself. It just is, a context rather than an event, and perhaps that’s the way it should be.’

Warner starts off with Charlotte Carter’s Rhode Island Red which he says ‘is a nice little mystery centering on the author’s recurring detective Nanette Hayes. Charlotte Carter has a number of quality novels under her belt at this point, yet on initial publication in 1997 this was the first to feature this detective. As one of the author’s earlier books, it is also a fascinating look back into older examples of her work.’

He says Sean Hogan’s England’s Screaming is ‘an interesting piece of literary studies as fiction. Specifically, it takes a number of icons and figures from British horror and attempts to build a coherent timeline of events assuming they are united world. This is a fascinating idea, harkening back to David Thompson’s Suspects (a fact which Hogan makes clear in his own preface) or Philip Jose Farmer’s World Newton ideas. although done with different style and organization.’

Short fiction is next for him: ‘Darren Speegle & Michael Bailey’s Prisms is an anthology centered almost entirely upon the strange matter of point of view. Whole stories exploring the question of change, and points of view. The pieces within this collection vary from obviously science fiction and fantasy to seemingly being a slice of life.’

He next has a review of a book that sounds very interesting: ‘Stephen Spotswood’s Fortune Favors the Dead is a wonderful bit of throwback fiction, featuring a pair of detectives solving mysteries while sharing a home. It is hardly a new formula, yet works so well that readers are willing to give their love to it. The case here deals with a psychic, a rich family, and a series of fairly distanced deaths. Still, like so many pairs, the detectives have to meet.’

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Denise digs into a childhood favorite; Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate with Marzipan. ‘As my Grossie would say, “Dem Germans know how to make marzipan.” I concur. Check out her review for a taste of her thoughts about this bar!

Richard states that ‘Sometimes, the intentions are better than the end result. Such is the case with Multiverse: Exploring Poul Anderson’s Worlds, a tribute to the late Grand Master edited by Gardner Dozois and Anderson’s son-in-law Greg Bear.’ Read his insightful review to see why this was so.

Robert has some really great chocolate for us: ‘As you will remember, Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG is a major German chocolatier and candy manufacturer. I happen to have recently received two of their Limited Edition candies for review, Raspberry Creme and Buttermilk Lemon, which means, sadly, that I wasn’t allowed to just snarf them down. These are part of a series of candies made with yogurt and flavorings and covered in chocolate.’

He also looked at three chocolate squares from Ritter, the German chocolate company. (Dark Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts; Rum, Trauben, Nuss (Rum, Raisins, Nuts); and Dark Chocolate with Marzipan). His answer to why he has less satisfied this outing than when he reviewed the first three Ritter squares is detailed by him.

oak_leaf_fallen_colored1Cat was very enthusiastic about the Beeb’s The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries on DVD: ‘Nothing is amiss here — and keep that in mind, as it becomes important in a minute — with the acting perfect, the scripts well-written, and the setting (which appears to be London just after the Second World War) wonderfully realized. All in all, it’s one of the better BBC mystery series I’m seen done, an equal of the Brother Cadfael series which starred Derek Jacobi.’

David and Spike checked out the Anthony Minghella film adaptation of Charles Frazier’s novel Cold Mountain. David was less than favorably impressed. ‘I suppose we shouldn’t expect realism in a film that is essentially fantasy. That two people should fall so hopelessly in love after a courtship that takes place at a distance and over only a few passing moments is a romantic notion that has provided the impetus for hundreds of novels. Somehow the idea works better on paper than on film. Especially when the director has gone to so much trouble to make the setting real.’ And Spike? I like the bit where they cut up the cow! That wuz really grisly!

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Our archives this time bring forth a plethora of reviews of all things Batman.

Cat has spent a lot of time watching Batman: The Animated Series on DVD, and was quite pleased with this book about it, Paul Dini and Chip Kidd’s Batman Animated. ‘Batman Animated is a lavishly illustrated commentary by Paul Dini, writer on the series, and Chip Kidd, the author of Batman Collected, which is possibly the most fanatical look at the various products — from soap dispensers to action figures — based on the Batman franchise.’

Richard takes a detailed look at Grant Morrison and Tony S. Daniel’s Batman R.I.P., and comes to a bit of a mixed conclusion: ‘As a reader, you either go with what Morrison’s doing, which is to use the worst excesses of Batman’s long and storied history to try to get at some core truths about what has made the character so enduring, or you don’t. If you do, the narrative is an intriguing, clever look at precisely how powerful the idea of The Batman is, as manifested by Bruce Wayne’s imitators, followers, and ultimate drive to seek the truth when even his core personality has been stripped away. If, however, you don’t, it’s a muddled mess that’s overly reliant on willfully obscure bits of continuity, loaded with ridiculous supporting characters, and too clever for its own good.’

April casts her eye (and pen) over Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert’s attempt to assist DC in laying to rest a bunch of old Batmans in preparation for a reboot, in Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader. ‘The scenario is a seemingly simple one: a rogue’s gallery of villains – and allies – have gathered in a torchlit room off a dark alley in Gotham City to pay tribute to an open casket. A casket containing Batman’s body. But there’s a twist, of course, for the proceedings have a pair of unseen voyeurs: Batman himself and a mysterious woman.’

April said it looked like DC was gearing up for a Batman reboot with Neil Gaiman’s book (see above), and here it is. Robert attempts to untangle the complex skein that is the beginning of a new Batman & Robin series. ‘Grant Morrison, in Batman Reborn, has brought us the next generation of — well, of Batman and Robin. In this case, Batman is Dick Grayson, the former Robin, the former Nightwing. Robin is Bruce Wayne’s son Damian, ten years old, raised by his mother and her league of assassins, returned home to undertake his part of his father’s legacy. It’s not an ideal mix, as far as personalities go.’

Robert found Matt Wagner’s Batman/Grendel to be a mixed bag. This book draws together two crossover series bringing those two characters together. Of the first, he says, ‘I have reservations about this one, starting with the story itself: it’s more than a little formulaic, even for comics, and Grendel’s methods, while certainly in keeping with his character, are almost trite. My deeper complaints have to do with the way the story is executed. … Most of those complaints disappear in the second mini-series, incorporating “Devil’s Bones” and “Devil’s Dance.” ‘

oak_leaf_fallen_colored1As is his wont every year about this time, Gary looks back at some of his favorite music of the past 12 months. Gary’s favorite jazz and world music of 2021 includes jazz duos, trios, quintets and larger groups, plus a lot of “Nordic noir” and some Uyghur folk songs.

Next, he reviews his favorite roots, rock, and Americana music of 2021. ‘There was plenty of good Americana and roots music in 2021, but I didn’t hear a lot of great music in those categories. Which is fine, and understandable. We’re all struggling to stay afloat.’

Doran is the sound of four young musicians engaged in the serious business of playing with sound,’ Gary says of this group’s self-titled debut. ‘These four, who hail variously from the Pacific Northwest, New York City, and rural Virginia, have made one of the most spine-tingling and yet comforting albums of American folk music in 2021.’

And he looks back at January 1966, when he was puzzling out the new album from The Beatles, Rubber Soul. The cover is different for one thing, and the music is different too: more acoustic than electric, and though still largely love songs, they’re more mature. In the end, he says, it’s ‘a solid, compact, enjoyable album. It may not have been apparent at the time, but it shows the Beatles beginning to pivot away from teenage love songs into more mature fare, which would become glaringly obvious on their next album Revolver.’

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What Not

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Coda

Reynard

I'm the Pub Manager for the Green Man Pub which is located at the KInrowan Estate. I'm married to Ingrid, our Steward who's also the Estate Buyer. If I'm off duty and in a mood for a drink, it'll be a single malt, either Irish or Scottish, no water or ice, or possibly an Estate ale or cider. I'm a concertina player, and unlike my wife who has a fine singing voice, I do not have anything of a singing voice anyone want to hear!

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About Reynard

I'm the Pub Manager for the Green Man Pub which is located at the KInrowan Estate. I'm married to Ingrid, our Steward who's also the Estate Buyer. If I'm off duty and in a mood for a drink, it'll be a single malt, either Irish or Scottish, no water or ice, or possibly an Estate ale or cider. I'm a concertina player, and unlike my wife who has a fine singing voice, I do not have anything of a singing voice anyone want to hear!
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