What’s New for the 17th of March: A grab bag of fantasy and folklore including American Gods; some fantastic graphic novels; a grab bag of CDs including Scottish Traveler stories & songs, and folk songs from all over;

In a circle of stones they placed the pot,

In a circle of stones, but barely nine
They heated it red and fiery hot
‘Till the burnished brass did glimmer and shine.

They rolled him up in a sheet of lead
A sheet of lead for a funeral pall.
They plunged him in the cauldron red,
Melted him, lead and bones and all.

At the Skelf Hill the cauldron still
The men of Liddesdale can show
And on the spot where they placed the pot
The grasses they will never grow.

Albion: A Guide to Legendary Britain.


The above bit of British history and folklore seems appropriate as we approach the Vernal Equinox. It’s a time when our thoughts turn to things old and weird — standing stones, bonfires, fertility rituals, and the like. For your enjoyment this outing we’ve a sampling of folk music old and new, intriguing fiction and non-fiction, and  bits and pieces of the usual entertainments and diversions.


Cat had the pleasure of reviewing a special offering, the Author’s Preferred Text and The Reader’s Copy of same, of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. ‘It features over 12,000 words, roughly 40 pages, of new material that did not appear in the trade edition of the book. It have heard that this material did appear in a very limited edition printing by Harper Collins, but nowhere else! Did this additional material add to my enjoyment of the story Gaiman is telling. Oh, yes. It’s a story with enough difference from the previous version to make sure that you too will pay close attention to the story once again.’

Christopher found Scott Mebus’s Gods of Manhattan to be a bit of a pastiche. ‘He begins by borrowing the underlying concept from Neil Gaiman’s excellent novel American Gods, namely that those individuals who are remembered and perhaps even revered by a sufficient number of people live on as gods. He then moves down the shelf to liberally grab elements from the Potter series: a reluctant boy hero, with a special gift he’d gladly relinquish for a normal life with a whole and normal family; a dark, mysterious villain seeking the boy’s destruction; a magical mentor; a parallel world unseen by all but the select few. Finally the author grafts on bits and pieces from a middle school textbook on the history of Manhattan.’

Gary says the City of London is one of the supporting characters in The System of the World, the third installment of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle. ‘The plot is as convoluted as a four-dimensional map of that city, but at its heart is Daniel Waterhouse’s mission to attempt to reconcile Newton and Leibniz, who have developed competing philosophies of Life, the Universe and Everything. Newton’s remains based on the ancient principles of alchemy while Leibniz’s is based on monadism, which is a bit closer to our own current molecular and atomic system, which was developed over the ensuing couple of centuries.’

Joseph was nervous about reading Amy M. Clarke’s lit-crit book Ursula K. Le Guin’s Journey to Post-Feminism. ‘I deeply love Le Guin’s writing. Reading The Left Hand of Darkness I learned how science fiction can plumb the depths of human experience. Her Earthsea series taught me more about character growth and development than any course ever could. And her strong female characters in a hyper-masculine genre gave me the courage to include the rarest of characters in SF, non-stereotypical gay males. I did not know what I would do if I learned that somebody whom I’ve placed on the most precarious of pedestals may actually be a flawed human.’

Lenora gave a thorough review of Susanna Clarke’s beloved novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. ‘The world Susanna Clarke creates is altogether as thoroughly detailed as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, if rather more prosaic and less full of wonder. The story we read is only a late part in a much longer history, set in a few small locales in a much broader universe. The sense of just how much world there is outside the story — in England, Europe and the rest of our world, in Faerie, and in even less known worlds — is one of its riches.’

Michael reviewed what is obviously one of the foundational texts of Green Man Review, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. ‘This is, without a doubt, his best work to date, certainly one of his most impressive. Freed from the constraints of the 32-page monthly pamphlet format, allowed to go where the story takes him all in one sitting, Gaiman’s given us a hallucinogenic, hypnotic, insightful guided tour into the workings of our own belief structure.’

Robert got a lot of pleasure out of reading Daithi ÓhÓgáin’s The Lore of Ireland: An Encyclopedia of Myth, Legend and Romance. ‘It’s a treasure house of names, places, stories and ideas — everything from a short biography of Ní Mháille (Grace O’Malley, a sixteenth-century pirate queen who once visited Queen Elizabeth) to St. Patrick, and from pigs to fairies (not as far apart as you might think.) I admit it — I spent hours wandering from cross-reference to cross-reference.’

Jennifer read an entire series of books about Folklore Made Simple by Dr. Jeana Jorgensen, all about folklore, sex, fairy tales, sex, and sex education. ‘All four books are a lightning read. The tools of folkloric study are laid out clearly, the anatomy of fairy tales lovingly laid bare, the history of sex education swiftly yet thoroughly plundered, and the back end of each book crammed with juicy references and resources.’


Jennifer tries Red Ass Rhubarb Wine with a little dark chocolate mousse. Why rhubarb? And really with chocolate? Check it out, and, bonus, a mousse recipe so easy it’s a crime.


Michelle had very mixed feelings about the Walt Disney version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. ‘On the level of children’s fantasy, I can’t imagine that anyone could be dissatisfied with this film of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe regardless of whether one has read and enjoyed Lewis previously. It’s a fairly faithful adaptation of the book, and if there are images or themes in the filmed version that seem familiar from Harry Potter or A Series of Unfortunate Events, I suspect it’s because Lewis has been so influential on contemporary children’s authors rather than because of any borrowing on the part of the filmmakers.’


April filled us in on what John Constantine: Hellblazer: Rare Cuts was all about. ‘As with most monthly comics, Hellblazer has seen reprint in graphic novel form; however, until recently, a number of the earlier issues did not receive this treatment. The reason’s unclear: it wouldn’t seem to be for content reasons . . . few storylines could be more controversial than Garth Ennis’ version of the Annunciation, which was collected. For whatever reason, when Rare Cuts was published in 2005, it was a first look at some key stories seen only by those who collected the individual issues.

Camille liked what she saw in Eddie Campbell’s The Black Diamond Detective Agency. ‘The palette Campbell uses is soft, almost faded around the edges, reminiscent of an old sepia photograph or the yellowed parchment of worn maps. The occasional clarity and sharpness of hard black and jarring red effectively illustrate violence, emotional and physical. The looseness of line and blurry edges help soften the sharp delineation of time and space: between childhood and adulthood, between love and hate, between good men and bad, between innocence and guilt.’

Michael was quite pleased with Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden’s Baltimore: or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire. ‘Golden and Mignola make a good team, as witnessed by their previous collaborations (Golden’s written a few Hellboy novels) and Baltimore is certainly a success for them both. It may have its flaws, but all in all, once I got into it, I couldn’t stop reading, eager to find out what manner of twisted horror would be thrown at the characters next, and whether they’d see a victory over the vampires terrorizing the world.’


In new music, Gary reviews releases from two Russian women’s ensembles, Slavyanochka Ensemble’s Molodoi Tud Wedding, and Vereya’s Soitua Maa. Of the former, he says, ‘As is typical of Russian and Ukrainian songs in my experience, the harmonies are less dissonant than you’ll find in Balkan offerings, but the performances here are fresh, energetic, and professionally performed and recorded.’ And of the latter, he explains, ‘The group was formed as an authentic folklore ensemble in 1995 in the city of Sortavala, in the Russian Karelian oblast that borders the Karelian region of Finland. This new release is the first attempt by founding director Margarita Berezhnaya to perform and record these songs in modern settings, and it succeeds quite well for the most part.’

From the archives, Gary reviewed Teddy Thompson’s second solo release Separate Ways. ‘No sophomore slump for Teddy Thompson. On the contrary, his second outing, Separate Ways, is altogether a more muscular and cohesive affair than his 2001 self-titled debut. He’s aided and abetted by dad Richard and mom Linda (on the hidden bonus track), in addition to a fairly hefty handful of other standouts, including Garth Hudson, Dave Mattacks, Smokey Hormel, Tony Trischka and the singing Wainwright sibs Martha and Rufus — oh, and another folksinging couple’s offspring, Jenni Muldaur.’

Naomi enjoyed The Lighthouse, a CD by Paul Cranford ‘and friends.’ ‘Should you like good Cape Breton fiddling and original compositions, then this is the disc for you. Paul Cranford is a talented fiddler with sensitive fingers and impassioned playing.’

And Naomi was thrilled at …and time goes on …, a CD of music and stories from Scottish Traveller Sheila Blair. ‘This CD contains a wide variety of tales and songs, from the dark and frightening to the magical and happily-ever-after. This CD will make you laugh, gasp, bite your lip in anticipation, and then sigh in relief. I really liked this delightful CD, and will listen to it many times in the coming years. Much to my surprise, my whole family actually sat and gave it a listen and enjoyed it — even the teenager who listens only to “metal.” ‘

Noam gave a mixed review to Kevin Burke’s In Concert. ‘This recording was made over the course of two evenings shortly before Christmas 1998 in Portland, Oregon, which is where the London-born Sligo-style fiddler Burke has lived for the past twenty years. Although Burke has recorded several albums with various line-ups, this is his first solo album since Open House, which was released in 1992. It contains twelve instrumental tracks, although there are actually something like twenty-five tunes contained within, since most of the tracks are medleys.’

Peter explored Polar Bear and Another World Away, a couple of early albums by multi-instrumentalist and singer songwriter Ben Walker. ‘Some of the subject matter and lyrics for his songs had me puzzled for a while, until I learned that Ben has worked as a psychiatric nurse and teaches a special-needs music class for adults with learning difficulties. Ben has drawn on his own life experiences and emotions, so then it all came into place.’


As our Coda, Gary offers up “Brobakken,” a new single by Norwegian folk rockers Gangar.


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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