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5 July 2008

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  • Tom Knapp
    Hello!! Here s what s new at Rambles.NET, your best source on the Internet for roots and traditional music, fiction, folklore and movie reviews! Go to
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4, 2008
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      Here's what's new at Rambles.NET, your best source on the Internet for
      roots and traditional music, fiction, folklore and movie reviews!

      Go to http://www.rambles.net to access the new edition and much, much
      more! (Our archives contain more than 11,000 reviews, interviews and
      other bits of excitement.) See you there!

      Anne Roos shines A Light in the Forest for who has wished "that
      Renaissance Faire musicians were a little less drunk and a little more
      classy," says Jennifer Mo. "As with Anne's earlier release Mermaids &
      Mariners, this CD boasts unusually thorough and beautiful liner notes
      with details about each of the songs and artists, plus plenty of
      illustrations and folklore about fairies and woods. ... Bottom line:
      like its subject matter, A Light in the Forest is pleasantly evocative
      and sprightly, if not entirely substantial."

      David Cortello swoops Through an Open Window with this one-man show
      that, according to Corinne Smith, doesn't pass muster. "It's
      surprisingly average on all counts. There is no discernable hook and
      nothing remarkable to attract repeated play," she says. "So if you're
      in the market for music that's deliberately non-intrusive and that can
      remain thoughtlessly and effortlessly in the background, this CD could
      serve your needs."

      Hunter Robertson offers Songs for the Masses. "Listening to Songs for
      the Masses (that title comprising the album's one and only flash of
      humor), I reflected on how rarely these days one hears traditional
      songs -- field recordings aside -- performed traditionally. Even less
      commonly encountered are records by raised-outside-the-tradition
      artists who choose to recreate a sound that seems to capture the
      feeling of homespun front-porch, dance-hall, street-corner music from
      the age before the advent of the recording industry," Jerome Clark
      opines. "Robertson, who now resides in Vermont but who has lived in
      the United Kingdom, Greece and France, has produced that kind of

      Natasha Borzilova makes a Cheap Escape into a solo career after ending
      a career with Bering Strait. "Cheap Escape is her first solo record.
      It shows where she's been and where she is going," says Michael Scott
      Cain. "The fabulous thing about the CD, though, is Natasha Borzilova's
      voice, which is deep and husky, with a nuanced intensity that causes
      you to pull your car over to the side of the road and just listen."

      Debi Smith makes her living as The Soprano. "The Soprano is a kitchen-
      sink album, a flat-out showcase for Debi Smith's voice -- which is, by
      any measurement, pretty spectacular," says Michael Scott Cain. "She
      has, as the album title indicates, a soprano that is as pure and clear
      as uncharted waters and, on this release, the inclination to show us
      exactly what she can do with it."

      David "Honeyboy" Edwards is Roamin' & Ramblin' with the blues.
      "Honeyboy Edwards is absolutely the best 93-year-old bluesman on the
      planet. Actually, he's one of the best at any age, way up there in the
      pantheon and well deserving of his status," says Michael Scott Cain.
      "His playing and singing are as soulful as a church congregation and
      as strong as a tank. His solos, never complicated and all based on
      riffs he must have learned 70 years ago, still sound as new and fresh
      as organic vegetables from the local market."

      Hope Nunnery is "not just another sweet-voiced singer-songwriter," as
      evidenced on Wilderness Lounge, Jerome Clark says. "Southern Gothic is
      almost a genre in itself. Hope Nunnery's music falls roughly within
      the same noirish rural landscape as the Earl Brothers, a San Francisco-
      based oldtime/bluegrass band that also operates on the sunless side of
      the mountain -- except that if the Earls are about sin, Nunnery adds
      'and salvation' to the equation. Her music, I need to stress, is not
      bluegrass even by the ignorant definition often applied to white
      Southern roots sounds, nor is this a gospel record in any ordinary
      understanding of the phrase. It's more in the vein of Hazel Dickens
      and Olabelle Reed, like them coating no sugar over emotional truth,
      speaking in a language that permits no lies."

      Buzz Matheson and Mac Martin offer Echoes of the Past for the
      bluegrass fan. "The songs are in close company with the bluegrass
      stylings of Bill Monroe and the vocal harmonies of the Louvins," Dirk
      Logemann says. "These recordings overstep slick commercial production
      and achieve a warm and simple ambience, in keeping with such a
      refreshing and timeless set of tunes, and are highly recommended to
      any lover of older country, gospel or bluegrass."

      Fous de la Mer provide the Stars & Fishes for a relaxing music
      experience. "The music on Stars & Fishes is well crafted and the
      vocals fit neatly into the instrumentation," Paul de Bruijn says. "So
      if you are looking for relaxing music that will wrap itself around
      you, then Fous de la Mer delivers."

      Van Morrison is not all he seems in Under Review 1964-1974. "Morrison
      and his people had absolutely nothing to do with this documentary,
      which means he and the people closest to him are not interviewed. It's
      all built on secondary sources," says Michael Scott Cain. "All of this
      is not to say the film has no value. Many of the interviews are
      interesting and, since the DVD covers a wonderfully creative time in
      Morrison's career, we learn stuff we hadn't known before. The only
      problem is that it doesn't live up to its promises."

      First in books, we have a mixed bag of fiction reviews for you today.

      Khaled Hosseini's debut novel, The Kite Runner, "is an incredible
      achievement in fiction writing," Eric Hughes says. "Set in Afghanistan
      against a backdrop -- the fall of the monarchy, the Soviet invasion,
      the exodus of refugees, the rise of the Taliban -- that hasn't been
      previously detailed in fiction, Hosseini's story is so riveting, so
      breathtaking that it is simply unforgettable. Its compelling story,
      coupled with its broader themes of friendship, betrayal and the price
      of loyalty, will certainly allow the piece to stand the test of time."

      Simon R. Green says there's Hell to Pay on the Nightside of life.
      "Welcome to the Nightside, an alternate London where it's always 3
      a.m. and the living isn't easy. You can get anything you want at
      Alice's Restaurant -- if you're willing to pay the price. Think about
      that -- in Nightside, ambulances are fueled by pain and suffering, and
      taxis run on virgin's blood," says Becky Kyle. "This seventh book of
      the Nightsidestories is one of the best so far."

      Carlton Mellick III raises eyebrows with The Menstruating Mall. "This
      is one of the most bizarre books I have read, and I am sure author
      Carlton Mellick III would take that as high praise," Chris McCallister
      warns. "While very strange, there is also a very, very interesting
      story here. I often found it revolting and disgusting, but it was also
      riveting. I had trouble stopping, despite wanting to seek out the
      nearest incinerator in which to deposit this book. ... I did not enjoy
      reading this book. I did not hate reading this book. I will never read
      it again. I will never forget it. I will try to, but I will fail. I
      could not stop reading it, either."

      Michael Dobbs details Churchill's Triumph in a historical novel set in
      1945, as world-altering events unfolded at the close of World War II.
      "Three men who had a dominant hand in shaping these events met in
      February 1945 in Yalta at the Black Sea Resort. For eight days, U.S.
      President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
      and Russian Dictator Joseph Stalin discussed, bargained and harangued
      over the fate of the world," Wil Owen says. "Dobbs presents a
      fictitious accounting of this event in his novel Churchill's Triumph.
      Instead of simply reading the documents they signed and getting an
      outsider's view of what happened after the fact, Dobb provides a look
      at what happened through the eyes of the participants on each of those
      eight days."

      Shizue Tomoda visits both Japan and the United States in Sachiko. "It
      is about a teenage Japanese girl, Sachiko, who fights against odds to
      travel to America and find herself. Her parents object to her leaving
      Japan, but Sachiko is determined to go," Liana Metal says. "The
      heroine is a courageous female who seeks love as well as her place in
      the world. Her journey in life is full of surprises, and the plot
      helps to reveal and discuss important issues such as women's
      independence, racism, politics and romance."

      And in graphic novels...

      Woe, and more woe, as the Bomb Queen returns as a Suicide Bomber. "I
      keep hoping Jimmie Robinson will learn from his mistakes and turn the
      Bomb Queen concept into something worth reading," Tom laments. "The
      premise -- a city cut off from the rest of the nation where crime runs
      rampant, all under the rule of an amoral supervillain -- has boatloads
      of potential good storytelling, but Robinson apparently prefers to
      draw naughty bits for giggles."

      The saga continues in War Games #2: Tides, as Batman faces a massive
      outbreak of gang violence in Gotham City. "The gang war begun in
      Outbreak spills over into Tides with bloody and devastating results,"
      Tom says. "By no means just a bridge between the first and third
      volumes of War Games, Tides is loaded with action and some truly
      horrific developments. While this is not a good stepping-on place for
      Batman novices -- simply because of the sheer number of Bat family and
      supporting characters involved -- this is an excellent crossover
      collection that packs a lot of punch."

      The big Civil War crossover does not pass without its share of War
      Crimes. "The problem with Civil War: War Crimes is that it has very
      little to do with the ongoing War Crimes saga that rocked the Marvel
      universe," Tom says.

      Ace Reid's Cowpokes: Cow Country Cartoons earns a chuckle from Mark
      Allen. "I'm no cowboy, but, I've known plenty over the years, living
      in Oklahoma, and I see some of them well-represented within Reid's
      single-panel cartoons," Mark says. "Besides the honest and realistic
      humor, Reid offers fans an art style like no other. His unique
      characters display a gaunt, yet rugged appearance. They look
      constantly hungry (as do the horses and cattle), haggard, worn out and
      played out. Yet, they're obviously not too spent to get into tons of

      Larry Gonick gets educational in The Cartoon History of the Modern
      World, Part 1. "When you consider the correlation between history and
      the political cartoon, and how, in some instances, cartoons actually
      shaped political history, it seems like a natural jump to frame
      history in cartoon format. The political cartoon is uniquely suited to
      relaying masses of information in a compressed format, which is the
      one of the best ways -- apart from extraordinarily tiny print -- to
      relay the history of the world from the time of the Portuguese
      conquest of South America, to the fateful decision by King George III
      of England in 1783 to rid Britain of its expensive, and increasingly
      upstart, pesky colonies," says Mary Harvey. "This book is perfect for
      anyone who wants a working knowledge of the basics of world history
      but who only has time to read one book. It's engaging, funny, accurate
      and easy to zip through for all its density."

      Raymond J. DeMallie and Douglas R. Parks delve into Sioux Indian
      Religion: Tradition & Innovation in this collection of 12 essays.
      "This book excites the mind and fulfills your desire for action and
      drama. As you read about these ceremonies and rituals, you will feel
      that you are in attendance," Karen Elkins reports. "The writing is
      beautiful. While the editors tried to produce a grammatically sound
      book, they wanted to retain the individual storytelling flair. So you
      get solid information that is a pleasure to read."

      Joanne Shenandoah and Douglas M. George come together for Skywoman:
      Legends of the Iroquois. "This hardcover, 109-page book contains nine
      stories that explain a great deal about the Iroquois beliefs of
      ancient times. Most of the stories, in typical indigenous fashion,
      relate lessons for life: to remember to pray and give thanks, to
      respect your elders, to share, to keep your promises and to live a
      good life," Karen says. "Skywoman: Legends of the Iroquois is one of
      the must-own books for any Native American or folklore collection.
      This is a top-notch book by a brilliant team."

      Todd Cobb reveals the Ghosts of Portland, Oregon in this new release
      from Schiffer Publishing. "I have friends in the Portland area and
      visited the city in the past," Wil Owen says. "But with this book and
      its 14 tales of hauntings around the town, I got to see a side of
      Portland I was unfamiliar with -- a side I might have to check out
      during my next visit."

      Elizabeth D. Samet reveals a Soldier's Heart based on her adventures
      teaching literature at West Point. "The tendency is to think of these
      young men and women as people trained to kill, to unquestioningly
      carry out the orders given them, regardless of the morality or
      immorality of those orders," says Michael Scott Cain. "Samet's job,
      though, was to teach them to think and feel, to recognize and respect
      their common humanity and to see that they share it with everyone on
      this Earth. ... The main thing her book accomplishes is to remind us
      that no stereotype tells the truth, and that even though they wear
      identical clothing and follow identical rules, customs and folkways,
      no two army officers are the same."

      We have just one movie review to share with you today, but Becky Kyle
      says it's one worthy of consideration for serious cinema buffs!

      Becky opens her door to The Visitor without hesitation. "Overall, the
      film is one that will leave you thinking: The Visitor is not a summer
      popcorn film. By the time you have walked out, you will want both to
      find the music in you and to learn more about U.S. policies towards
      immigration and whether they are as inhumane as they appear to be,"
      she says.

      She adds: "My husband and I left The Visitor wishing there were more,
      hoping there was a good outcome for all the characters. In the lobby,
      we met a man who had attended the Sundance Film Festival where The
      Visitor screened for the first time. He told us this was the only film
      that year to get a standing ovation. I understand why."

      Lots more is on the way!

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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