Rambles.NET: 5 February 2011
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� � � MUSIC
Jeana Leslie and Siobhan Miller bring a taste of Scotland to the
proceedings withShadows Tall. "Here is another excellent exposition of
the best in Scottish music and song from a pair of accomplished
performers," Nicky Rossiter says.
"This is a beautiful set of songs and tunes expertly performed with
feeling and packaged to perfection by Greentrax. You just cannot go
The John Hartford Stringband shares Memories of John. "When he died of
cancer on June 4, 2001, he left many friends behind. Hartford was
loved as a man and admired as a musician. Memories of John movingly
recalls both," Jerome Clark says.
"If Memories amounts to a well-nigh perfect send-off, it only
underscores the dimension of the loss American music suffered when
John Hartford left us. If you don't know his music, here's a fine
place to start."
Dead Men's Hollow provides the Angels' Share in this new offering.
"For many years, a PBS station in Washington, D.C., ran a Sunday
morning program called Stained Glass Bluegrass, which consisted solely
of bluegrass gospel music. Evidently, the members of Dead Men's Hollow
were listening," Michael Scott Cain reports.
"How are the results? In a word, brilliant. The album features their
trademark three- and four-part harmony lead vocals and beautiful
playing, with Marci Cochran's fiddle almost another lead voice.
Although the songs are mostly band-composed originals, they sound like
traditional, old-time gospel."
Jenny Davis is getting Inside You with her sound. "Davis has a clear,
strong voice, and she uses jazz inflections to liven up these
standards," Dave Howell says.
"This light but musically hip CD should appeal to all fans of jazz
vocals." Congratulations, Dave, for review No. 200!
� � � FICTION
Emily Diamand sets sail with a Raiders' Ransom, a young-adult novel
set in the future, following a cataclysmic flood. "There are more
coincidences than I'd like in this story, but otherwise, it's a
pleasure to read. Diamand does a good job developing her two main
characters -- Lilly and Zeph alternate as narrator, so readers get
both points of view -- and she has begun building a world that is just
packed with potential," Tom Knapp says -- despite some niggling
"A sequel is in the works, and I hope Diamand takes a little more time
to explain the specifics of her fascinating (and damp) new world and
the societies within. She has the grist for an exceptional series of
young-adult novels ... and I'm already hooked."
Julien Longo begins The Goddess Chronicles with Hera. "Longo takes
members of the Greek pantheon and turns them into unrelated mortals
living in Atlantis," Whitney Mallenby says.
"Hera succeeds in offering a very thorough and provocative alternate
universe for these well-known characters. Longo's ideas read clearly
without going over-the-top. In fact, learning these concepts through
Hera's perspective lends itself to a light and easy reading pace. On
the other hand...."
H. Terrell Griffin shares a Bitter Legacy with his readers. "Raymond
Chandler once wrote that when things slow down in your novel, bring in
a man with a gun. For him, the man with a gun was metaphorical; what
he meant was find a way to ramp up the tension," says Michael Scott
"For H. Terrell Griffin, however, the gun is literal. So many people
pop up firing guns at each other in his novel,Bitter Legacy, that it
leads you to believe that the whole population of Longboat Key,
Florida, where the novel takes place, is armed and dangerous."
David Brin continues The Uplift Saga with Startide Rising. "I just
read Startide Rising for the second time, and again I was blown away
by how fantastic it really is. This book is full of the ideas that
make science fiction what it is: Interesting characters who have
actual personalities instead of cookie-cutter mannerisms, a premise
whose most intriguing elements are revealed slowly, pulling the reader
along (I hate books that read like a bad made-for-TV movie!) and oh,
about a hundred other things that make Startide a compulsively
readable joy, more than worthy of the awards it has won," Jay Whelan
"I have little doubt that in 50 years or so, Startide (as well as the
rest of the Uplift Saga) will be mentioned in the same breath as the
Foundation series, the Rama series and the Dune saga. It's that good
-- no, strike that. It's that great."
� � � GRAPHIC NOVELS
Mary Harvey picks up the tab for a night at the Moving Pictures.
"Individually and together, Kathryn and Stuart Immonen have created
comics for just about everyone, with Stuart's run on DC's League of
Superheroes and Kathryn's Hellcat series for Marvel being among the
most well-known of their many projects. Moving Pictures, first
serialized on their website in 2008, is like nothing they have done
before," she says.
"I could see Moving Pictures being staged as a play. The incredible
dialogue, the emotional complexity, the fact that most of the action
happens in closed rooms and tunnels, all lend itself to the vitality
of the stage. It's heavy but not heavy-handed. I predict that this
will be one of the most-awarded graphic novels of the year, a no-
brainer because it's certainly one of the best in many years. A fine,
moving and not-to-be-missed story, excellently told by two of the best
in the business."
Tom Knapp, meanwhile, is not impressed with Athena. "The story just
never gels. It's sort of like Dynamite's take on Marvel's Thor, only
Athena is hotter and wears fewer clothes. Oh, and Thor tries to tell a
story, while Athena just walks around with her butt on display while a
lame Trojan War remake goes on around her," he says.
"I can't see a reason to recommend this one unless you really like
� � � MUSIC BIOGRAPHY
Dave Thompson shares The Wit & Wisdom of Ozzie Osborne. "Well, here it
is: 174 pages of quotations from Ozzie Osborne, arranged sort of
chronologically so that it adds up to an oral history of Osborne's
career," says Michael Scott Cain.
"It's easy to laugh at Ozzie Osborne, easy to think of him as a rock
casualty and to dismiss him as a brain-dead freak. The fact is,
though, he comes across in these pages as a self-aware, intelligent
and very funny man who might have put himself through hell, but
learned from the experience, changed the way he was living and refuses
to either lie about or apologize for his past."
� � � MOVIES
Daniel Jolley passes the witching hour with Midnight's Child. "Being a
super-huge fan of The Wonder Years, I was eager to watch this film
once I learned that Olivia d'Abo (who played Karen Arnold on the show)
was the primary player in the drama. Had I known this was a Lifetime-
produced movie with Victoria Principal as executive producer, or that
d'Abo would be speaking in a questionable fake Swedish accent
throughout, I might have had second thoughts, but what I didn't know
didn't kill me," he says.
"As much vitriol as some pour out on Midnight's Child, I didn't think
it was all that bad of a movie. I'm not saying it's a new favorite of
mine because it most certainly isn't, but it is certainly watchable
(albeit ultimately disappointing)."
Dan also takes a look at another in the Nature Unleashed series,
Earthquake. "High on the list of things you don't want to bring
together are Russian nuclear plants and earthquakes -- unless you want
to make a disaster film. Just make sure your writer and director
understand that you want a disaster film rather than a film disaster,"
"OK, maybe film disaster is a little too strong of a phrase, but
Nature Unleashed: Earthquake is an average film at best. I don't know
about the earthquake itself, but the movie hits at least a 9.0 on the
Richter scale of film cliches."
You think we're done? Ha!! Come back for more next week.
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