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5 December 2009

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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 , Dec 4, 2009
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      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 http://www.rambles.net to access the new edition and much, much
      more! (Our archives contain more than 12,000 reviews, interviews and
      other bits of excitement.) See you there!



      We are sad to announce the death of Liam Clancy, who at age 74 was the
      last of Ireland's beloved Clancy Brothers. We hope brothers Tom and
      Patrick, as well as longtime partner Tommy Makem, are waiting to greet
      him, and the afterlife will resound with their songs.

      Rambles.NET editor Tom Knapp fondly recalls an opportunity he had to
      interview Liam along with his nephew, Robbie O'Connell, in 1995. You
      can read the results of that chat here.

      On the lighter side of celebrity news ... what kind of man pays his
      wife ($60 million, no less) to stay married to him? Damn, we suspect
      he could find someone at a much better rate on any street corner in
      New York City.


      Enter the Haggis catches our reviewer's ear with Gutter Anthems.
      "Gutter Anthems is my kind of Celtic music, a blend of contemporary
      sounds with bagpipes and the traditional themes interwoven," Becky
      Kyle asserts.

      "Usually, there's one song I'll skip on a CD, but in this case, I can
      honestly say all 15 songs are well worth listening to. I've had the CD
      in my computer for a week now, and I will probably only replace it
      with Christmas music."

      Fiona J. Mackenzie packs A Good Suit of Clothes for sharing her Gaelic
      songs. "Mackenzie has a beautiful voice ideally suited to the songs on
      offer here," says Nicky Rossiter.

      "This is an excellent album of top-class if little-known songs sung by
      a fantastic singer with sensitive and never overpowering backing."

      Anne Price serves up some nostalgia with Very Early Anne. "Price
      discovered some tapes of her performances at folk gatherings at Hunter
      College in 1965 and '66, when she was a student there. Obviously, they
      constitute a piece of her development as an artist, but for us, the
      listening audience, they constitute a trip back in time, back to every
      night you ever spent in a coffee house, bar or house concert,
      listening to an earnest, not ready for prime time, guitar-playing
      soprano run through the standard folk repertoire," says Michael Scott
      Cain.

      "It was a time when singers didn't have to be singer-songwriters, when
      they built their sets out of traditional tunes, a touch of bluegrass
      and songs composed by the folk giants of the day."

      The New Budapest Orpheum Society has front-row seats to share for the
      Jewish Cabaret in Exile. "The title of this CD refers to the
      economically based movement of Jews from the country to cities such as
      Vienna, Budapest and Berlin in the late 19th century," Dave Howell
      explains.

      "The CD comes with an excellent 62-page booklet, which explains the
      history of this music. It is a unique, sounding like vaudeville played
      by classically trained musicians, sung in German and Yiddish, with the
      minor keys of Jewish music sneaking in here and there. It's a
      fascinating presentation."

      Bearfoot is throwing open the Doors & Windows. "Originally intended to
      be a bluegrass band, Bearfoot's young founders changed direction when
      they couldn't find a banjo player in Alaska. So, while remaining
      acoustic, banjoless and drumless (at least in live performance; banjo
      and drums are heard from time to time on Doors & Windows), the group
      became something else not immediately classifiable, at least in the
      context it has chosen -- for now -- to operate," Jerome Clark says.

      "Mostly original songs, the better part of Bearfoot is the Joni
      Mitchell/singer-songwriter sort of material, melodic, lyrically
      ambitious and well sung with engagingly ethereal harmonies. The less
      interesting part, too close to half of the album, suggests directions
      that may lead the band to Nashville to join the legions of
      forgettable, mainstream and ephemeral."

      Joe Bonomo gets down to the nitty gritty in Sweat: The Story of the
      Fleshtones, America's Garage Band. "It is rare to hear a rock band
      whose taste in music seems to come out of your own head, like they
      were reading your thoughts. To me, the Fleshtones are that band," Dave
      Sturm remarks.

      "It not only puzzles me, it angers me that such great talent has not
      been met with the reward it deserves. It is absolutely infernal that
      it has taken the French, who adore them, to keep their fortunes afloat."


      Cassandra Clare unearths a City of Ashes in the second volume ofThe
      Mortal Instruments. "The blend of magic and real-world New York makes
      this series, in some ways, the very definition of urban fantasy. Add
      to it the inclusion of vampires and werewolves, a sprinkling of
      fairies and a flamboyantly gay wizard, and it starts to seem like
      every stereotype on the fantasy shelf. And yet, oddly enough, it
      works. The vampires are different than most of the modern vampires:
      they're scary and not the least little bit sexy or sparkly. The
      werewolves have a social structure that is different from most in
      modern fiction, with a harder edge than one might expect in YA
      fiction. And you don't even want to tangle with the fairies, 'cause
      they ain't Tinkerbell," Belinda Christ says.

      "In other words, what Clare has done is go back to older myths for her
      source material. Everything has a harder, darker edge than some of the
      YA books coming out today. In some ways, it is like comparing the
      Disney versions of fairy tales to the Grimm tales. The older versions
      are earthier, darker and, ultimately, more frightening."

      William H. White takes on the First Barbary War, a little-known period
      of American naval history, with The Greater the Honor, a novel that
      sets fictional midshipman Oliver Baldwin in the heart of the action.
      "Baldwin isn't the hero here; rather, White sets him among numerous
      real, larger-than-life naval figures, such as Commodore Edward Preble,
      who commanded the blockade of Tripoli in 1803 from the deck of the
      mighty USS Constitution, plus Stephen Decatur, William Bainbridge,
      Isaac Hull, James Lawrence and more. Through Baldwin's eyes, we see
      the burning of the capture frigate,Philadelphia, as well as the
      bombardment of the walled city and attacks on various vessels in the
      Tripoli fleet," Tom Knapp says.

      "There are some weaknesses, however, that might put off some readers."

      Jessica Day George unveils the Princess of the Midnight Ball. "With
      one exception, all of the recent retellings of 'The Twelve Dancing
      Princesses' have been spectacularly mediocre. There's Dia Calhoun's
      overtly psychological The Phoenix Dance, Suzanne Weyn's overwrought
      The Night Dance and Juliet Marillier's forgettable Wildwood Dancing,"
      says Jennifer Mo.

      "Princess of the Midnight Ball blows them all out of the water.
      Seamless storytelling meets understated magic, sure-footed prose and
      surreptitious knitting in this satisfying retelling."

      The second volume of The Sword finds former paraplegic Dara Brighton
      seeking revenge against the man/god who murdered her sister. The
      journey takes her and two friends to the Bahamas ... and she even gets
      to fight pirates along the way," Tom Knapp says.

      "Much of Water is taken up with Dara's journey and search for Zakros.
      The rest is a fierce and thrilling duel of powers and will -- and
      readers will learn just what a creative mind can do with water."

      David Hadju examines a four-color controversy in The Ten Cent Plague:
      The Great Comic Book Scare & How It Changed America. "It is one of the
      book's greatest ironies that those in charge of images and
      storytelling in a highly commercial venue, with a vast reservoir of
      creative talent at its disposal, were unable to grasp how quickly
      public sentiment had turned against them. They lost control of the
      rhetoric early on and never got it back. This was due largely to the
      fact that they didn't treat the growing threat seriously enough until
      it was very late in the game," says comics reviewer Mary Harvey.

      "For a while, comic-book publishers tried to walk the line by forming
      the CMAA, their own version of an in-house censoring panel, but the
      reforms that were demanded literally left nothing to the imagination.
      The result was that hundreds of talented artists and writers were, by
      the end of 1955, working as security guards, post office clerks and
      secretaries. But it certainly wasn't the end."


      Dave Sturm's first viewing of Waltz with Bashir became an opportunity
      for discussion. "I am somewhat film-savvy and was well aware of what
      it was about and drove nearly an hour to see it," he recalled. "There
      were only three people in the audience, myself included. The other two
      were an elderly married couple. After it ended, the couple immediately
      came up to me. They were very disturbed and wanted to talk to someone,
      anyone, about what they had just seen.

      "Let there be no doubt -- this is film art of the highest order, and a
      landmark in film history."

      Tom Knapp offers up a big ol' hiss for Anaconda. "Let me say this
      about Anaconda: an opening scene with Jennifer Lopez in a sheer
      nightgown is just about the best special effect in the film," he says.

      "Otherwise, the effects are pretty terrible. When, for instance, the
      giant snake attacks the hungry panther, you will believe that a
      computer-animated serpent can kill a stuffed cat. And when that giant
      snake attacks members of the cast, you will believe the actors were
      between jobs and really just needed an income."

      You think we're done? Ha!! Come back for more next week.

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