ferine: (werewolf)
Saw the film Red Riding Hood Saturday, and tried to dampen my expectations–more like hopes, in actuality–even though its star, Amanda Seyfried, was brilliant in the comedy/horror/coming of age flick Jennifer’s Body. Since the movie’s website and merchandising is clearly aimed at the teen audience, if not specifically to the irritating Twilight niche, I fought to keep that from coloring my experience.

And, by gum, I was utterly, pleasantly surprised. The film was a surreal wildlife painting in motion. The sparing use of colors made certain hues reach out with life. The often strange flora, and flowers in winter, seemed a fond nod to the ’80’s film The Company Of Wolves.

The dialogue and acting were accessible and personable. The language was modern, yet not overbearingly so. References to dispatching werewolves and evidence of such were accurate historically, as were the Catholics tools of the trade. Gary Oldman played a wonderfully single-minded and cruel werewolf hunter and priest. The uneducated, unquestioning religious views, and planned marriages for money rather than love, and the default fear of the villagers to anything out of the ordinary, as portrayed in the movie, lined up with the years of werewolf lore, and by proxy the European peasants of the time, I’ve digested. If one is expecting a werewolf transformation scene, or a bipedal wolf-man, neither are featured in the movie. This didn’t disappoint me, as it would’ve distracted from the plot. The werewolf was like those described in the time period, not bipedal-style man-wolves but large "demonic", yet realistic appearing, wolves.

The reveal of the werewolf came as a surprise. I was tickled to be so, as often such genre films are formulaic. Also, to me the finale was a satisfying one, especially when most
werewolf movies end tragically or hopelessly.

To me the film was a pretty fantasy, a fable on the big screen. I’m very happy I went.
ferine: (books)
For Christmas, I picked up this chuckle-fest for my parents--Paul Is Undead by Alan Goldsher. The synopsis:
"Ladies and gentlemen, meet the zombie Beatles. In Goldsher's alternate universe, the British Invasion takes on new meaning as undead Paul, John, and George and ninja Ringo Starr take the U.S. by storm. Music journalist Goldsher begins the story by 'interviewing' Lennon's mother, Julia, who died in 1958 but was reanimated by John the following week. Zombie Lennon's fateful meeting with McCartney in 1957 is another bloody affair, in which the merging of their gray matter creates an unparalleled songwriting team. Shortly thereafter, with the zombification of George and the addition of Ringo, the band begins its assault on the States. Things start to go awry when Lennon begins dating Ninja Lord Yoko Ono and the Zombies (led by non-zombie Rod Argent) begin to hunt them down. The horror mash-up publishing craze is still spreading like a plague, and while some of its most popular products seem like easy ways to digest the classics, this clever take on the subgenre will bring music nerds into its fandom." (--Carlos Orellana, from Booklist.)

They finished it quickly and told me to read it. I did so readily, and was surprised how fast it, erm, took to digest.

The reviews at Amazon.com weren't very good, which is a shame because my parents and I quite enjoyed it. It's cartoon-like in it's violence, so over the top it's giggle-inducing, not realistic or morbid. In fact, as I read it I saw it animated, in a Yellow Submarine-ish style.

Then again, I'm what some might refer to as strange and unusual in my tastes, so... >;-)

My folks and I are huge fans of the Beatles and Beatle trivia and knowledge, so this was a delightfully absurd treat. Weird, silly, gross-yet-amusing, and fun as hell.

Then it was on to Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess by Charles Vess, my X-mas gift from Watchingwolf. The synopsis:
"One of contemporary comics' classiest acts, fantasy artist Vess is even more stunning as a book illustrator. It's altogether fitting, then, that book illustration looms large in this gorgeously produced retrospective album (the heavy, translucent section frontispieces are especially impressive). Vess provides his own very economical notes, which downplay technique in favor of autobiographical and art-appreciative remarks, the latter about his beloved influences, beginning with Arthur Rackham and Aubrey Beardsley, both of whose fluidly slender figures have their ilk in Vess' creations. He also lauds the premier Victorian painter of fairies, Richard Dadd, whose mastery of crowded compositions Vess thoroughly learned; comics artists Hal Foster and Russ Manning, renowned for the ornate and graceful vigor of their work on Tarzan and Prince Valiant; and all manner of literary fantasists, starting with the Scots and English ballad makers and the Shakespeare of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which Vess has rendered in both comics and an illustrated edition of the full text. No wonder he’s the preferred artist of premier modern literary fantasists Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint, and Susanna Clarke, the last of whom contributes an aptly breathless yet not giddy introduction. (--Ray Olson, from The Booklist.)

When I lived in Michigan with my comic artist friends, they all loved and looked to Charles Vess's work for inspiration. That was my initial introduction to his work, in the early '90's (Sandman! Swamp Thing! etc.) In the last ten years I've rediscovered him through his wonderful illustrations in several books by Charles de Lint.

The book was an amazing journey through time, and even his art as a youth was inspiring. Wow. An impressive tome by a favorite artist of mine.

From there on to a signed hard cover short story from one of my favorite authors of the weird, Joe R. Landsdale. The story, Dread Island, is also featured in what will be my next purchase, Classics Mutilated, which I'll detail in a moment.

Now, Dread Island... my god, where to begin? This read cartoonishly sent my pupils in opposite directions with each new absurd scene. Pure genius. Pure. Effing. Genius.
The synopsis:
"This "Monster Lit" mash-up novella from modern horror master Joe R. Lansdale, a highlight from the recent Classics Mutilated anthology, combines Lovecraft and Mark Twain in a way that can only be described as brilliant. Or, as Lansdale."

Erm, well, that synopsis doesn't cut it. It doesn't even mention Amelia Earhart's daring aerial rescue of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, and Jim from Cthulhu on Dread Island (which, at the time, was being sucked into another plane of existence.) And the most glaring omission was not to bother mentioning Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Bear, and the weasel gangsters residing on the island. Brer Fox and Brer Bear, crazed worshippers of Cthulu!

Genius, and how. Damn.

So, after I nab a copy, Classics Mutilated, here we come!
Synopsis: "Monster Lit meets Remix Culture in IDW's all-new, all-original story collection by top talents from horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy scenes. IDW's first foray into genre prose takes the formula of 'literary classic/historic figure + supernatural element' and drives a stake through its heart with fourteen brand-new stories, all written specifically for this collection, that transform the so-called Monster Lit movement in ways the mainstream could never imagine. Notable characters include Huck Finn, Capt. Ahab, Billy the Kid, Emily Dickensen, Jim Morrison, Edgar Alan Poe, and Albert Einstein, with contributions by John Shirley, Nancy Collins, Mike Resnick, Kristine Rusch, Thomas Tessier, Marc Laidlaw, and Rio Youers, while a masterful new novella by Joe Lansdale anchors the collection."

Awww yeah.
ferine: (yellow)
Being a werewolf enthusiast, when I spied The Complete Idiot's Guide to Werewolves by Nathan Robert Brown in the metaphysical books section, I had to pick it up. I knew it would be bad, given that the cover boasted a coyote yapping at a full moon when they undoubtedly intended it to portray a wolf howling at the moon. I hoped it would be a funny read at least, maybe something along the lines of the amazing dry wit of The Werewolf's Guide to Life: A Manual for the Newly Bitten by Ritch Duncan. Alas, no. The attempts at levity fall flat, particularly after having finished The Werewolf's Guide to Life: A Manual for the Newly Bitten prior to reading The Complete Idiot's Guide to Werewolves.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Werewolves is a clumsy mixture of Cliff'sNotes type versions of oft-cited historical facts and lore, urban legends, descriptions of a few werewolf-themed movies, books, comics, anime, and games, "Native American werewolves and shapeshifters", relatives of the werewolf, therianthropes of the East, clinical lycanthropy, physical illnesses that may have spurred the idea of werewolves, and two chapters tossed in the mix that are attempts at humor (and boast prominent warnings that they are, in fact, humor, and not intended to be enacted on) -- Chapter 15. Once Bitten... Then What? and Chapter 16. How To Kill a Werewolf. These chapters are jarring, as suddenly it's goofy fantasy sandwiched between non-fiction chapters. I implore anyone who wants the subject matter of those two chapters presented in a skillfully written, witty, and thorough manner, that never breaks character and broadcasts no warnings (because--duh!--it's a parody), please order the amusing and vastly superior The Werewolf's Guide to Life: A Manual for the Newly Bitten by Ritch Duncan.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Werewolves offers a few references, but not as many as most well done Complete Idiot's Guides do. Is this a book of personal conjecture? Is this a work of fiction? Is this a serious expose of werewolves in history and pop culture? The book vacillates awkwardly between all three. The back of the book states it provides:
  • A brief history of werewolves around the world.
  • Beyond-beastly explanations of werewolf phenomena.
  • A selection of savagely entertaining werewolf facts and stories.
  • A fascinating look at how humans transform into werewolves.

  • I suppose it does what it says, but without proper references it's difficult to cross-check. Much of it can easily be discovered on-line. This is why I was dismayed when certain "facts" were offered that can be easily disproved, or at least called into question, if one does a good web search. How hard is a thorough Google search for both pro and con sites for each factoid/myth/urban legend/etc.? I just did so for a few days while writing this.

    I could seriously spend weeks nitpicking each chapter and giving references to either discount the "facts" presented or to offer more widely accepted, different, or more thorough lore. Instead, I'll merely address a few things that made me scoff:
    Read more... )

    I don't think I'll be placing The Complete Idiot's Guide to Werewolves by Nathan Robert Brown on my shelves of werewolf/shape-shifter non-fiction or fiction. To me it deserves a place of rest among neither, nor will I be lending it out to anyone with an interest in the subject.
    ferine: (books)
    Between Queer Wolf and the Book of Santa Claus, I devoured Peter & Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham.

    Now, everyone knows (or should know by now) I'm both an addict and a pusher of the exquisite Vertigo-brand comic book series, Fables. When I realized Bill Willingham was penning a novel based on the comic, I pre-ordered it awhile back.

    I won't give a shred away. I will, however, make this statement: This was within my top five of the greatest books ever written. Well, the greatest books I've ever read, that is.

    From Publishers Weekly:
    Understanding Willingham's new novel (the first from comics house Vertigo) doesn't require knowledge of the comic it's based upon, but it certainly helps; Fables follows a population of fairy tale characters seeking shelter in our world after their enchanted lands were conquered. Familiar figures like Snow White, Rose Red, the Beast and Belle, the Big Bad Wolf (a human PI in the mundane world) and others fill out a cast led by Peter Piper and his brother, Max. Sibling rivalry, magical flutes and, yes, pickled peppers factor in the clever, adventurous plot that sees Peter pursuing Bo Peep. Fans will find all the charm and in-jokes of the Fables universe intact; like Neil Gaiman, another acclaimed comic book author, Willingham writes without the help of thought bubbles and keeps everything clear enough that readers new to the series won't be confused for long. Though it toys with notions of mythology and its origins, this work still keeps true to the spirit of the Brothers Grimm: dark, fast-paced, moving and entertaining, with a few surprises along the way. (Oct.)
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    ferine: (books)
    Curiously, I'd never read L. Frank Baum before. Most are familiar with the name as the author of The Wizard Of Oz, and after watching the movie growing up, I was so annoyed with the cowardly lion that I had no urge to read the book.

    In the last Jack Of Fables graphic novel, there was mention of the original, unrevised L. Frank Baum series that the film was based on. In the original tale, the lion was not cowardly; he was fierce and impulsive, looking for restraint. That, to me, is a much more important lesson to learn than the cowardly/courage bit.

    I digress. 'tis the season of my goofy, innocent, beloved old Rankin-Bass stop-motion animated Christmas specials. There's one they no longer air, no doubt because it exuded aspects of Paganism in a positive light.
    Naturally this was my favorite of the slew of specials. It featured the Great Ak, Master Woodsman Of the World, who wore his beard long and white and brandished a rack of antlers upon his brow. He resided over the forest of Burzee, where nymphs, fairies, gnomes, and other immortals dwelt. I won't give away anything else, save for one of my favorite points: The young Claus was nursed by the lioness Shiegra.

    I remembered the special was based on a novella by L. Frank Baum. A month ago I searched amazon.com for the book, and found it! I've since read it and recommend it highly: L. Frank Baum's Book of Santa Claus: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus & A Kidnapped Santa Claus. Baum's writing style is ultra-vivid, and I wish more authors wrote with such antiquated grace. No talking down to children here; the philosophy is to the point, deep, and moving.
    ferine: (books)
    Last night I stayed up until 12:30 AM finishing the thrilling new novel from John Farris, High Bloods.
    A little background first: since the age of twelve it's become a habit, whenever I'm in a book store, to scan the bindings for a title that could have something to do with werewolves. Usually I'm disappointed--it turns out to be one of the many vampire books hogging the shelves, or a trendy paranormal romance. I lucked out two Saturdays ago and discovered not one, but two new werewolf novels on the shelves at Borders. One, as you guessed, was High Bloods by John Farris. The title alone didn't strike me as potentially a werewolf book, but the clawed werewolf hand on the binding did.

    What a fun book. It's a hard-boiled detective novel written in Pulp-era style, yet set in the future. A fast-paced action-packed thrill ride with lycanthropy, classism, and mystery on the menu. It hearkened back to the attitudes and ideals of the 1940's, evident in the hero's views of women, machismo, and in the behavior of the female characters. There is a spark of nostalgia that ignites under futuristic lingo, frightful glimpse of future southern California, and werewolves (those afflicted with lycanthropy) outnumbering normal humans. Unaffected humans are known as the titular "high bloods", and are the elite upper class. Werewolves are known as "lycans" or referred to as "hairballs", and are the outcasts as well as the low caste (ironically, despite their status, the lycans are the majority of the famous actors and musicians--Hollywood stars and media darlings). Humans afflicted with lycanthropy that have biannual blood replacements to keep from transforming are known as "off-bloods", and their own class (not considered as lowly as lycans, but not equal to high bloods).

    The book ends at a jumping point for a sequel. Hopefully a follow-up is in the works. I'm itching for a broader view of the world, the history of the lycanthropy virus and its origin, more about the growing lycanthrope rights movement, and more of the exciting mayhem of High Bloods. >:-)
    ferine: (books)
    In the wake of Caitlin R. Kiernan's The Red Tree I was glum. Don't get me wrong--I devoured the book with a constancy bordering on obsession *chuckles*. I loved it, in a way. After devoting such time and focus to a book it's bittersweet to have it end. Then I started Sleeping Beauty, Indeed, edited by [livejournal.com profile] upstart_crow, last week. I wasn't able to read from it every day, and so it wasn't finished until yesterday.

    What a fun, oft touching, oft hilarious, erotic read. And the eroticism is tasteful yet realistic, so as not to turn off straight readers (or even gay guys *grins*). Yes, each story offers a lesbian twist to a famous fairytale of old (and two original fables), which impressed me and made me giddy--however, the skillful writing makes the book accessible to all. The anthology was available in an electronic edition in 2006 from Torquere Press, which I wasn't aware of. The copy I have is a 2009 softcover from Lethe Press. By the way, Lethe Press looks awesome! I've never heard of them prior to this book.

    I won't give away any of the jewels within, except for a few personal comments:
    The first story, Two Sisters by R. Holsen, didn't speak to me, and made me wonder if I'd care for the rest. I wouldn't say it was written badly; it simply didn't entice me.
    All of the others: the best description would be omg-SQUEE!-LOL-awww-NICE.

    Order Sleeping Beauty, Indeed. It will make you think, laugh and wonder.
    ferine: (You're all weirdos! >:-D)

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    The boys and I tested the fine film we're unleashing on the Gathering/CO Howl 2009.

    Any who, the movie. And what a gem it is.

    Here is a spoileriffic review, and it's accurate. Now, despite the spoilers, you should read the review. It's amusingly descriptive and fun. The best part is that the description will neither ruin the experience of watching the movie, nor will it adequately prepare you. >;-)
    ferine: (Default)
    I've been haunting myself. For awhile now. Succumbing to a sleep of spectral visions. Meeting ghosts of years past.

    It's been a trip, my life; my ghosts...

    In part, a nostalgic surge began while reading Caitlin R. Kiernan's collection of short stories titled, appropriately and ironically, Tales Of Pain And Wonder.

    The book's not to blame for my state. No. I am squarely to blame. Is this the fate of someone aging with a long-term degenerative disability -- to live in dreams and memories? The past and the now but never beyond?

    Strange days. Each night bombarded with memories of who I've been, where I've been, what I've done. But what have I accomplished, truly? Yes, I've done things. Yes, I've tried things. I've even been somebody.

    But who? Who, really? Is my existence my own invention? Are dreams the truth, and waking life an illusion created out of boredom? What is the past when we cease to be, when there's no one to keep the memories?

    A particular story from Tales Of Pain And Wonder, Superheroes (published in 1997), plunged me back to that year (and those surrounding it):

    Featured is a teen who feels older and wiser than his years, and rages that others see him for the immature and naïve kid he is. He becomes increasingly obsessed with the internet Usenet newsgroup alt.gothic, and determined to prove he's not a 'baby goth' (this being a term of derision for those who are new to the gothic scene yet think they know it all). He collects scraps of inside jokes and references used among the elder core of the newsgroup and pieces them together in what he feels is a deep and true mystery. The result, which could have easily been in his own mind, immediately brought the film The Company Of Wolves to mind: the scene with the old car in the mist, and the devil inside waiting.

    This story effected me. It reminded me of 1996, and of my self-righteous attempts to 'save' nice baby goths from being toyed with by the less kind folk on alt.gothic. Not that my experience at alt.gothic was a negative one, perhaps because when I began frequenting the group in 1995 I was familiar with the music and it's accoutrements already. In effect I had bypassed the lowly baby goth stage and went strait to, well, on-line acceptance.

    On-line acceptance is a funny thing. It's illusory, yet it inflates one's sense of self. It often holds deeper meaning than acceptance in the non-computer world, particularly to one who's world is words, who's imagination is strong.

    The acceptance fed my lonely hunger for a time. I saw it as my duty to buffer the hazing directed at so many youngsters. I'm not sure where my savior complex kicked in; it's always been there. I've always tried and desired to be the Comforter, the Noble Protector, the Catalyst of Inspiration, even to my own detriment. This persona, this core of my being, is as undeniable as it is a mystery. Why have I always felt this way? Why, even at six years old, did I know this?

    And so, after recalling my stint at alt.gothic, I touched briefly on memories of the IRC chat room I registered on Undernet, #goth. Not all was bad there, yet it's a time I'm embarrassed about--not solely for my naiveté, but for witnessing such inhumanity. Though a mere speck in the grand scheme of things, a microcosm of man's inhumanity to man, there proved too much for me to handle. Had it remained on-line, and not entered what we deem to be reality, maybe it wouldn't have wounded and scarred. I don't know. What's done is done.

    Then, bliss. A gothic club opened four blocks from my apartment. I had a local pack. We went every week, and my world changed. Regular workouts of dancing for hours on end left me toned and in great shape. I danced without care, danced my freedom, danced until my hands bled from gripping and spinning my wheels. It reminded me of when I was sixteen, and danced at Rock Island in downtown Denver on their all ages alternative nights. People were attracted to me, and I made a host of new friends. Cyberwolf and I would dance until close and then jog through darkened city streets to the foothills. We trailed deer, raccoons, foxes, and skulking housecats. We moon-gazed. We star-gazed. I drank the night mountain air. That was not to know magic, that was to be magic.

    And here I am in 2008. Life has changed dramatically. Depending on others for most every aspect of functioning allows the mind to roam into some very dark crevices. It's astounding that this is romanticized; it's not as if all hours are free of duty to read, write, and indulge in other tasks. No, there are interruptions, some unplanned, from aides and nurses several times a day. There is fatigue. There is an intense isolation, not only physically, but of the notion that you're unlike any other socially. There is the constant internal battle of negating the societal notion that you’re a burden and shouldn't be. It's exhausting.

    Is it, after all, true?

    Much to ponder.
    ferine: (Default)
    Took a gander at this picture by [livejournal.com profile] cehualli this morning.

    I have many artistic friends: poets, writers, musicians, sculptors, painters, photographers, those who draw, those who sew, and those who share stories; each unique, all stars in the constellation of life.

    At times each artist's work gives me pause; today it was Cehualli's piece. I love the mythic nature of it, the melding of branches, roots, and ocelot. At the core, simply Tree and Cat. Nature shape-shifted to something new, yet somehow primal.
    ferine: (Default)
    The Peridot Path: Trees Of Southeast Asia, by Joyce Chng, is a nifty little gem at 26 pages. The book provides insight into the Singaporean author's sense of her native trees. Her love for, and understanding of, the trees and their deep spiritual being, is apparent not only in her personal recollection and accounts of various trees, but also in her vibrant photography peppered throughout.

    Along with reflections of the author, there is also an esoteric element. A series of southeast Asian trees are given correspondences with north, west, south, and east. Subsequent information on each, and why each resonates with a particular direction, is given at length; as are proposed meditations.

    Previously, I was ignorant when it came to trees native to Singapore. It was lovely to experience them vicariously through the author's words, and through the lovely photos.

    On a personal note thanks for the nod, babe.
    ferine: (Default)
    Two recent wonders I've acquired:

    In Search of Herne the Hunter by Eric Fitch, Capall Bann Publishing (Sep 1994).
    This work commences with an introduction to Herne's story, the oak on which Herne hanged himself and its significance in history and mythology. It goes on to investigate antlers and their symbology in prehistoric religions, with a study of the horned god Cernunnos, the Wild Hunt and its associations with Woden, Herne and the Christian devil and a descriptive chapter on the tradition of dressing up as animals and the wearing and use of antlers in particular. Herne's suicide and its connection with Woden and prehistoric sacrifice is covered, together with the most complete collection of Herne's appearances, plus an investigation into the nature of his hauntings. Photographs, illustrations and diagrams enhance the text. The book also contains appendices covering the 19th century opera on the legend of Herne, Herne and his status in certain esoteric circles and Herne and Paganism/Wicca.

    The Green Man by Kathleen Basford, D.S.Brewer (paperback reprint May 2004).
    The Green Man, the image of the foliate head or the head of a man sprouting leaves, is probably the most common of all motifs in medieval sculpture. Nevertheless, the significance of the image lay largely unregarded until Kathleen Basford published this book - the first monograph of the Green Man in any language -and thereby earned the lasting gratitude of scholars in many fields, from art history and folklore to current environmental studies. This book has opened up new avenues of research, not only into medieval man's understanding of nature, and into conceptions of death, rebirth and resurrection in the middle ages, but also into our concern today with ecology and our relationship with the green world.

    As promised, a repost of a deservedly glowing review of the latest release from the lovely artists Mirabilis, Sub Rosa, from the website Gothic Paradise:

    "Ahhh... it's great to finally have the follow-up full-length album from these angelic muses. This album is everything that we could have hoped for from these two and more. The music is accompanied by a beautiful package of lyrics and info, photos and artwork. On the disc we get no less than 16 stunningly beautiful tracks hearkening back to old-world medieval and folk songs of ages past, though many are original pieces written by this duo and a couple of guests.

    "From beginning to end the music is haunting and captivating as they spin their web of subtle synths, old-world instruments and lush vocals. Starting with 'World Indifferent' the percussion is moving and the music is stunning on this piece as it immediately sets the stage and gives way to the haunting piece 'The Journey'. Mesmerizing vocals become the solid foundation for the album, especially on mostly accapella tracks like 'Nature Boy' and 'The Flowers Pressed Down' amongst others. Though this foundation remains true and an anchor on others when the percussion and instruments kick in.

    "The album has a nice range and depth to it as we drift through these pieces and musical styles. I think it's apparent they had fun on several songs like the accapella track 'il est bel et bon' which is a fun little play on the vocals, or 'odyle' which is more of an ancient treasure and then the piece 'angels eyes' sounds like an old record playing on an old phonograph player from the 40's. So it's not only a beautiful work, but fun and enjoyable in many ways.

    "As the album winds down we're featured with a cover of 'Because' from The Beatles which isn't exactly something you would expect to hear on an album of this style. With that we're left in much the same way we began the album with subtle percussion and synths accenting the lamenting vocals on the title track 'Sub Rosa'. This provides a nice finale in and of itself, but it's not over yet as we get a great dance-friendly remix of 'World Indifferent' to wrap up the album in style. I love medieval ethereal music like this duo does, but I have to admit that when you throw it together with some modern electronics and a dance-friendly beat, it's really hard to do better than a remix like this, or the previous remix from this band 'In The Dark'. I hope it's not ironic that my favorite tracks from this duo are their two remixed pieces. But when you start with something excellent and add a nice mix to it, it can really be something unforgettable.

    "With that we wrap up the album and the listener is left breathless from the stunning beauty on this album. I think this will go down as yet another classic from this group to be remembered for many years to come.

    "Rating: 5/5"

    To which I concur! It’s a great work. >:-D

    Bird books

    Nov. 12th, 2007 03:02 pm
    ferine: (books)
    I've read bits and pieces of these so far and looked at the photographs/illustrations, and they sure strike my fancy. The one I'm currently reading thoroughly is Graeme Gibson's The Bedside Book of Birds: An Avian Miscellany, which is amazing. Here's what Amazon.com's editorial reviews say of it, and I included one of the reader's reviews because it's so spot on:

    Read more... )

    Then, I finally broke down and picked up In the Company of Crows and Ravens by John M. Marzluff and Tony Angell. This looks wonderful. From Amazon.com editorial reviews:

    Read more... )

    And the last -- The Guide to Colorado Birds by Herbert Clarke (Author), Mary Taylor Gray (Photographer). The photography is kick-ass, as is the information given. Amazon.com sez:

    (5 stars) Bird Guides, April 3, 2007
    By Don Colberg "Bookguy" (Denver, CO USA)

    We bought this title about a year ago and we use it regularly. The illustrations are excellent and the text is lucid and helpful. We have lots of bird guides, but this is the one we carry in our backpack while hiking.
    ferine: (books)
    More I've read and recommend:

    Wings of the Forest, Affectionate Impressions and Observations of Bird Life by one of the most underrated and seemingly forgotten naturalists (plus a favorite of mine), William J. Long. Features small b&w illustrations by Ray Houlihan, which are a nice touch. I adore this man's literary style and his postulations about--and in-the-field observations of--the whole of nature. While hard-lined scientists of the day wrote him off as anthropomorphizing animal behavior too much and being too fanciful, I find him discerning and his observations ring true.

    I searched amazon.com and anywhere on the web for a review or synopsis of the book and came up empty. I'm not going to type out the inside flaps of the book because it's late and I'm feeling lazy; suffice it to say it's a delightful book about behavioral observations of a variety of birds in the wild, including blue jays, crows, and owls.

    Owls of the World: Their Lives, Behavior and Survival by James R. Duncan. Swiped the following off amazon.com:

    "From Booklist

    "Owls are among the most popular birds in the world, yet what do we really know about these nocturnal predators? Owl expert Duncan and numerous contributors marshal what has been learned about owls in an extremely accessible yet scientific work. General biology, including anatomy, behavior, nesting, and hunting, is well covered in an introductory chapter. Owls are popular figures in the mythologies of many cultures, examined in a chapter that ranges from Shakespeare through Hindu goddesses to the Owl Nebula. Another chapter is full of interesting anecdotes from the research. Sections on global threats to owl populations and their conservation lead to the final long chapter, a summary of the 205 owl species of the world. Each species is described and illustrated with a color photo, with its range indicated on a map, and a compendium of its natural history and conservation status. Many of the numerous color photographs are breathtakingly beautiful, and the extensive bibliography will lead to further research. This introduction to owl biology will be a welcome addition for all libraries. --Nancy Bent
    Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

    The photos are lovely, and the writing's interesting without being dry.
    ferine: (Ruminating)
    ... Was magnificent.

    In the lobby were props from Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe: a sword, two of the characters frozen in stone, a map under glass, and a gorgeous winter robe.

    The first half of the symphony was altered at the last moment possible, I'm guessing to cater more to the many surprisingly-well-behaved children in the audience. There was, thankfully, still some Danny Elfman. Also added were selections from the Harry Potter movies, and the oldie-but-goodie Sorcerer's Apprentice by Dukas (the Mickey Mouse segment from Disney's original Fantasia).

    Each were exquisite. I teared-up several times from the sheer emotion and energy of the performance.

    Following intermission, the world-premiere of the Suite from The Chronicles of Narnia began, accompanied by segments of the film on big screens, and a powerful choir. It was spellbinding!

    On the ride home, Saint Saens Danse Macabre came on the radio -- one of my favorite pieces. I looked out the dark window at a stunning sight: the yellowed fingernail of the moon, low to the western horizon, Venus like a brilliant beacon above it.
    ferine: (books)
    The 2 in 1 book that Watchingwolf sent me for Yule, Algernon Blackwood's The Lost Valley/The Wolves of God:

    (reviews copied from amazon.com and italicized)
    A tantalizingly mysterious collection, May 8, 2006
    Reviewer: Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)
    The Lost Valley / The Wolves of God reprints two hard-to-find anthologies of fantasy, horror, and occult short stories in a single volume. Written by Algernon Blackwood, who forsook his Catholic upbringing to explore Oriental religion and the occult, the stories were created during the end of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, and reflect the changing world of that tumultuous era. A tantalizingly mysterious collection, especially recommended for fans of gaslight horror and occult tales by more widely publicized authors such as H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard.

    Two rare and fantastic collections in one volume!, April 15, 2006
    Reviewer: A reader (Indiana)
    The tales in "The Lost Valley and Other Stories" (back in print for the first time in God knows how many years) are by turns mystifying, horrifying, intensely moving, funny, incredibly beautiful... and sometimes all of them at once! Algernon Blackwood is mostly remembered as a great writer of ghost stories, but he was SO much more than that - a writer of (mostly) supernatural tales with a truly unique vision. There's hardly a ghost to be found in "The Lost Valley and Other Stories", but it is chock full of other kinds of weird manifestations that are so original they are very hard to describe. Blackwood was one of a kind, and deserves to be much more widely read than he is.

    As a great bonus, "The Wolves of God and Other Fey Stories" is also included in this volume. This rare collection contains a number of excellent and memorable stories, although it is from Blackwood's later, post-World War I period, when his work had lost some of the wild visionary quality that makes his early work so special. But he was still a master story-teller, and no true fan of supernatural fiction will want to be without this. The collection also includes at least a couple of stories from Blackwood's "golden period" which never found their way into the earlier collections (such as "The Man Who Found Out" and "The Empty Sleeve").

    Contained in this volume:

    "The Lost Valley and Other Stories":
    The Lost Valley
    The Wendigo
    Old Clothes
    The Terror of the Twins
    The Man From the "Gods"
    The Man Who Played Upon the Leaf
    The Price of Wiggins' Orgy
    Carlton's Drive
    The Eccentricity of Simon Parnacute

    "The Wolves of God and Other Fey Stories":
    The Wolves of God
    Chinese Magic
    Running Wolf
    First Hate
    The Tarn of Sacrifice
    The Valley of the Beasts
    The Call
    Egyptian Sorcery
    The Decoy
    The Man Who Found Out
    The Empty Sleeve
    Wireless Confusion
    The Lane That Ran East and West
    "Vengeance is Mine"

    LOVELOVELOVE Algernon! A good collection of his stories are here.
    ferine: (Default)
    Florilegium, by the Porteguese band, Lupercalia:
    wow, very cool. They follow in the footsteps of another favorite assemblage of mine, Ataraxia, though, in all honesty, I find their sound more accessible than a majority of Ataraxia's work. Combining operatic female vocals, sporadic creepy voices, an array of ancient instruments (particularly strings and drumbeats), nature sounds, and modern synth. Invigorating, not dull, this CD weaves a spell and transports the willing to another time and place.

    Tales Along This Road, by the Finnish band, Korpiklaani:
    an unexpected gem, this! I think of Korpiklanni in the same way as the band Corvus Corax; both have that bawdy, fast, rowdy sound incoporating ancient instruments of their respective homelands.
    Upon first listen, I was skeptical of this CD -- but like Corvus Corax, I simply have to be in the right mood to appreciate them. After a further listens, I really enjoy this CD and the animist/pagan lyrics.
    Definitely not a soothing CD, but very lively and fun. I love these reviews and agree with them, cut & pasted from their website:
    "Once again, Korpiklaani have delivered an ale-swilling, sylph-moshing, forest-rock ho-down of ridiculously catchy proportions" – Metal Maniacs
    "Plain and simple, folks, this is music like you have never heard before, so full of life and meant to be played at gatherings where wine, women, and song are the name of the game…many fans of other genres besides metal will love this stuff" – SeaOfTranquility.org [4/5 rating]
    "Listening to Korpiklaani's impetuous incantations has been a real splendour and intuitive elevation... These paternal forthright forest dwellers echo the enchantments of their ancestral heritage with alluring alacrity and heartfelt passion" – MetalCovenant.com


    ferine: (Default)
    Sarah B. Chamberlain

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