30 May 1999 to 12 September 1999

12 September 1999

Ellen Rawson opens up the British traditions section with a review A Rare Collection 1972-1996 featuring Steeleye Span and Maddy Prior. The new release, Ellen says, is a must-have for the true Steeleye fan.

Amanda Fisher explores the latest release from Nova Scotia's The Rankins, Uprooted. Once a Celtic-Canadian traditional band, the Rankin family has shifted its focus into the American country milieu, and Amanda has good things to say about the blend of styles which results.

Stan Cocheo makes his second Rambles appearance with a review of Drive by The Nonchalants. Stan admires the diversity of this American folk rock band.

Jo Morrison taps into Native American mysticism with her review of Coyote Oldman's House Made of Dawn. Coyote Oldman isn't a person, Jo notes -- it's a band, a "sensuous duo of flute performers, combining the traditions of ancient and modern cultures."

Chris Simmons shares his experience at a Merle Haggard concert in July at the Coeur d'Alene Casino in Worley, Idaho, to end the music portion of this edition of Rambles.

Donna Scanlon casts a discerning eye over Jane Yolen's take on Amish Country in Raising Yoder's Barn. Knowing the great number of falsehoods perpetuated about Pennsylvania Dutch people and traditions, Donna says she is gratified when an author "pays attention and gets it right." And Bernie Fuchs' artwork, she adds, provides "a marvelous range of warmth and light."

Next, Donna returns to Terri Windling's Borderlands with this review of Will Shetterly's second Borderlands novel, Nevernever. The story, she says, is "solidly constructed with a tight plot," and readers who visit the semi-magical place may never want to leave.

Tom Knapp revisits the hilarious world of British humorist Tom Holt in the novel Paint Your Dragon. When St. George and the dragon return to modern-day Britain, it's hard to tell who's the good guy and who's the bad. Tom says the book is a "dandy ride," and Holt maintains "a wild, frenetic pace which makes it hard to put down."

Donna comes back to complete a triple-play for the day, this time with Randall Jarrell's The Animal Family. This classic of children's literature "is told in lucid, evocative language."

Jayme Lynn Blaschke, too long absent from these pages, send us this review of Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, a classic modern graphic fiction written and drawn by Mike Grell. The trilogy, later collected in one volume, "raised the bar and set the standard for every project that came after it," Jayme says.

Over in the Rambles cineplex, Jade Falcon tells you what she thinks of the new action film The 13th Warrior, based on a novel by Michael Crichton.

Miles O'Dometer takes a look at the movie Commandments, which reveals an unusual way of grabbing God's attention.

Melinda Lau closes the day with this exposition on wanderlust called Travelling in Circles, which you'll find in our newly renamed Ramblings section.

9 September 1999

We're making a few changes in appearance, mostly to accommodate the printing needs of some of our contributing music labels. We're changing to a slicker look on individual review pages (Here's a sample of the new look.) and, at the same time, we've started using a darker, richer green on the front page and some menu pages. Please let us know what you think of our appearance; we want Rambles to be friendly to the eye as well as the printer!

8 September 1999

Sorry for the slight delay, but there was this big holiday weekend and all ... I'm sure you know how it is. But never let it be said that we let Rambles go long without updates! Here's a tidy pile of new reviews for your perusing pleasure!

Donna Scanlon begins the day with her review of The Horns of Elfland, a short story collection edited by Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman and Donald G. Keller. The "overall quality," Donna says of the stories, "is consistently high."

Tom Knapp steps in next with his review of Morgan Llywelyn's The Wind from Hastings. The novel, set in England preceding the Norman invasion of 1066, is an "intensely personal account of small matters and great events of the day" which, Tom says, "brings that history to life in a vivid, breathing account which is, at times, heartbreaking."

Donna Scanlon is back, this time with a review of Graham Joyce's Requiem. Donna describes this novel as "a dark fantasy and a compelling psychological novel laced with eroticism." What are you waiting for?

Next, Charlie Gebetsberger gives us a taste of Parke Godwin's Waiting for the Galactic Bus. The book kept Charlie "riveted to my seat, laughing out loud, and left me thinking a little more about how I look at the world."

Shifting over to our collection of graphic novels, Rambles newcomer Paul de Bruijn introduces us to the Poison Elves series written and drawn by Drew Hayes. Here is Paul's look at the first series collection, Requiem for an Elf.

Watch the fiction section for changes, coming soon!

Over in music, we welcome another Rambles newcomer, Stan Cocheo, who turns in this review of folk-rocker Vivian Slade's self-titled debut album. The album, Stan says, "grabs your attention and drags you in, then lulls you for a bit and grabs for the throat again." Take a look!

Chet Williamson checks in next with this jazz/bluegrass crossover, Bend by the Tony Trischka Band. Chet lauds Tony Trischka's "energetic excursions with a solid yet adventurous band."

Tom Knapp offers up this review of Irish-American supergroup Cherish the Ladies and the band's 1997 live recording, aptly titled Live!. Watch this space for a review of a recent live performance of the band as well.

Ellen Rawson continues reporting on the big doings at the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest, this time focusing on the performance of David Massengill in this concert review.

The Rambles cineplex is stocked with silliness today. First, Timothy Keene offers up his impressions of the big summer sequel, Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

Miles O'Dometer wraps up the day with a look at that live action/animation sports fest, Space Jam.

4 September 1999

Tom Knapp begins today's update with another in Terry Pratchett's wonderful Discworld series, Mort. This, the fourth in the series, shines the spotlight on the ominous ... OK, not so ominous character of Death.

Peter David has written an excellent novel about the return of King Arthur and his campaign for public office in an unsympathetic Manhattan in Knight Life, also reviewed by Tom Knapp.

Audrey M. Clark turns her attention next to Michaela Roessner's The Stars Dispose, which Audrey lauds for its "magical approach to Italian history."

Next, Donna Scanlon gives an overview of The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones, a "interesting and giggle-inducing" tongue-in-cheek compendium for fantasy travelers.

Shifting to the spirituality section, Donna applauds Caitlin Matthews and her new release, The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year.

Turning to music, Jo Morrison reviews the new Best of collection from the Italian band Agricantus. Jo calls the album "an unbelievable mix of ancient and modern, European and African, folk and classical, traditional and electronic," which is "primal but new, evocative, and full of rich flavors."

Chet Williamson lures us to jazz with his review of Jam by the Darol Anger / Mike Marshall Band. The album, Chet says, is "an adventurous 11-track exploration into the far reaches of improvisation."

Amanda Fisher checks in next with Dave Tilton's folk-rockin' Eau, which she recommends particularly to Neil Young fans despite some quibbles with the album.

Ellen Rawson picks up the pace with Barrage and that aptly named band's debut album, Live in Europe. Ellen has high praise for the band's "infectious live energy."

Finally in music today, Michael Gasser steps in with this look at Tom Pacheco's The Lost American Songwriter. Michael says Pacheco is one of the "best kept secrets in the singer-songwriter scene," and hopes to bring new attention to a long-time performer.

Reviewer Timothy Keene returns to Rambles today with this submission for our local cineplex: Sphere, Timothy warns us, fails to live up to its interesting potential.

Miles O'Dometer closes out today's update with The Big One from befuddling movie director Michael Moore.

2 September 1999

This isn't an update, just a note about change. In the Folkways section, we have sections for interviews with writers, interviews with musicians and concert reviews. There is also a section called Essays, which has been open to just about anything our writers care to write about.

Well, the word "essays" conjures up too many negative images for some people, particularly anyone who took one too many college literature courses. Besides, it doesn't really capture the flavor of the section, which is freewheeling and open-ended and requires no composition bluebooks. And so, as of today, the section has been renamed Ramblings, in keeping with the theme of this magazine. Check it out, and enjoy!

1 September 1999

Starting again with books, let's begin with Tom Knapp's review Expecting Someone Taller by British humorist Tom Holt. Holt, Tom says, "remains one of the best and brightest of modern humorists, and his novels, steeped in wit on a legendary scale, are always a laugh-riot treat to read." And Expecting Someone Taller, unlike most of Holt's books, is available to U.S. readers!

Debbie Gayle Rose checks in today with Stephen King's Bag of Bones. Debbie touts the novel as "a rare and wonderful treat for fans of horror who want more than shallow hack-em-ups and cliched violence."

Audrey M. Clark is up next with Alan Warner's These Demented Lands, which Audrey describes as "a manic, eerie and sometimes hilarious foray into the postmodern literary landscape."

Donna Scanlon wraps up the fiction section today with two reviews. First, Graham Joyce's Dark Sister, a "fascinating" novel about "the disintegration and renewal of human relationships as much as it is about involvement with herblore and witchcraft." Next, Donna gives us Bellwether by Connie Willis, who writes "a lively blend of science fiction, humor and social satire."

Turning to music, Chet Williamson pops in with this enthusiastic review of Darol Anger's Diary of a Fiddler, a collection of fiddle duets and "a truly jaw-dropping array of music."

Tom Knapp switches our lens to Irish fiddling, and the nontraditional album debut of Mary Custy and The Mary Custy Band. Mary and her band, Tom says, "sound like they'd be every bit as comfortable at a funk-rock jam or jazz improv session as they would in an Irish pub, and the effect makes for an excellent, unique album."

Next, Robin Brenner shifts our attention to folk rock and gives us a personal angle on the self-titled debut of Mark Erelli. "Great strength," Robin says, "comes from his honest and deceptively simple lyrics."

Jan Marica is back for his sophomore review, this time focusing on two tasty albums by Fred Eaglesmith: Drive-in Movie and Lipstick, Lies & Gasoline. That's two for the price of one; who can beat that deal??

In the realm of live performance reviews, Ellen Rawson supplies yet another peek at the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest with this look at the John Magnie Trio, "a trio of soulful musicians who know how to perform music that makes the sun and your heart shine."

We wrap up today with another stop at the Rambles cineplex, now showing two features reviewed by our No. 1 film critic, Miles O'Dometer: Cry, the Beloved Country and Death and the Maiden.

Also, I can't let today's update pass without noting that Rambles is three months old! Granted, we haven't yet garnered the kind of attention I'm hoping to get (We're still very young, it's true, but please, if you like this site, spread the word!) but we have built up a polished, professional magazine with a massive database of music, book and movie reviews, plus essays and interviews (nearly 600 to date!) and a hard-working, dedicated staff of more than 40 writers. Thanks to all our readers and, again, please let people know we're here!

28 August 1999

Let's shuffle things up today and start off with book reviews, shall we?

First, Tom Knapp gives us a peek into Ellen Kushner's extraordinary reinterpretation of an old Scottish legend, Thomas the Rhymer. Tom says the novel is "a modern classic of storytelling prose" and it belongs on every bookshelf.

Donna Scanlon jumps in next with her review of Christopher Moore's Practical Demonkeeping, an early Moore novel which Donna says is "breathtaking right up until the incredibly credible conclusion."

Donna also serves up a review of Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones. It is, Donna says, "a terrific and original story" designed for younger readers.

Next, Audrey M. Clark pops up next with Marina Fitch's "gripping and eerily suspenseful" The Border.

Lastly today in the fiction department, Conor O'Connor supplies us with this look at Wil McCarthy's Bloom. Conor believes this novel to be a "superior work of science fiction."

Turning to non-fiction, Melinda Lau has provided this review of Tim Cahill's amusing travelogue, Jaguars Ripped My Flesh. The tale, Melinda says, is full of "bold-faced humour in light of death-defying adventure," but includes some serious commentary as well.

Now, over to music!

Jan Marica, a newcomer to Rambles, provides a careful examination of folksinger Lucinda Williams' self-titled 1993 release, which has just been reissued to the delight of her fans. Jan, I might add, runs Indie-Labels, an excellent online resource for independent musicians and labels. This review has been adapted from one of Jan's earlier writings there.

Tom Knapp comes back with his review of Behind the Green Bushes by HeartSounds, a well-polished Celtic duo.

Robin Brenner hops in next with a review of Erica Wheeler's Three Wishes, which Robin was inspired to buy after hearing Wheeler perform at Bryn Mawr College.

Michael Gasser has nothing but praise for Night in a Strange Town by Lynn Miles. Michael says the album is "a rare, rare find."

Shifting our attention to live music, Ellen Rawson shares her opinion of recent performances by Mollie O'Brien and Nena Gerber at the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest. Neither musician, Ellen believes, "is as well known as she should be." Read her review to find out why.

Still in Folkways, Daina Savage gives us the scoop on poet Thomas Lux in this interview.

Turning now to films....

Sometimes, we just don't want to know the facts. Sometimes, we'd rather see how things should have been and leave the way they really were in the history books. Such is the case with William Shakespeare, when the alternate reality presented to us is as dazzling and bright as that offered up in Shakespeare in Love. Read Miles O'Dometer's account of the movie and, if you haven't seen it, rent it now!

And finally, for sheer diversity, here's his review of Last of the Dog Men, a very different sort of film.

26 August 1999

We have a fairly large update today, so let's just jump right in without further ado!

Tom Knapp is pleased to provide reviews of two much-anticipated albums today. First, Clandestine -- the Texas band with Scottish attitude -- has released a new CD, To Anybody at All, and Tom has nothing but praise for the excellent instrumentals and gorgeous vocals that have become a Clandestine hallmark.

Also, Great Big Sea has released its fourth Canadian CD, Turn, which continues in the Newfoundland band's excellent tradition.

Next, Jo Morrison has accolades for the "lush, modern sound" of harper Thomas Loefke in his album Norland Wind, a harp album with a "distinctive Clannad sound."

New Rambles writer Michael Gasser provides coverage for Lucy Kaplansky's new folk rock album, Ten Year Night, which Gasser believes is evidence enough that Kaplansky now "stands tall among the other giants of folk and pop."

Ellen Rawson steps up to the plate with the first of three new concert reviews. Today's offering is Melissa Etheridge, who performed with Shannon Curfman last week at the Fox Theater in Boulder, Colorado.

Turning next to fiction, Tom Knapp reopens an early fantasy by Charles de Lint, Wolf Moon, which Tom would dearly love to see back in print. Although high fantasy is a departure for de Lint, Tom says Wolf Moon is a "prose ballad with lyrical grace."

Donna Scanlon delves into British humor with Tom Holt's "literary romp," My Hero.

Donna also explores the quirky classic by Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog!). The century-old novel, Donna says, is "part travelogue, part philosophical musing and part slapstick comedy."

Julie Bowerman next takes a look at Orson Scott Card's Seventh Son, the first book in his Tales of Alvin Maker series. Card, Julie says, "conjures a believable world of hexes, calming spells and magical abilities" in this book.

Audrey M. Clark closes out the fiction section today with Louise Erdrich's sixth novel, The Antelope Wife, a generational weaving which Audrey says is "brilliantly rendered" in vivid color.

Lastly today, Miles O'Dometer turns in his impressions of the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, which he contrasts to the 1961 original film.

23 August 1999

I'm back! OK, so I'm not all that enthusiastic to see my vacation come to an end, but far be it for me to keep you, our loyal readers, from the growing pile of unpublished reviews! Today's update, for reasons of time, will be fairly small; the bulk of our backlog will be posted in the next update, coming soon.

We start off today with the Whistlebinkies, a Scottish traditional septet, and the band's second album, Timber Timbre. Reviewer Tom Knapp says band members play "their native Scottish music with classical precision."

Next, Julie Bowerman dishes up the folk album Travelers' Code by Darryl Purpose. Julie says Purpose "revels in emotional nakedness, smoothly weaving images of love, fear, loneliness and regrets through its 11 tracks."

Moving our attention to fiction, Tom Knapp continues his study of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series with the third book, Equal Rites. (The fourth, Mort, is coming soon.)

Audrey M. Clark joins the Rambles staff with her review of Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima, which Audrey says "reads like exquisite poetry, richly rendered in fresh, lyrical details."

Donna Scanlon, who has been busily writing over recent weeks, checks in today with a review of the first novel-length story set in Terri Windling's Bordertown world. Will Shetterly's Elsewhere, Donna says, draws the reader "into the strange and wild place on the edge" that Windling created.

Elizabeth Badurina rounds out the fiction department by warning readers away from Christina Bartolomeo's Cupid and Diana, which she describes as "predictable and plodding."

Shifting to non-fiction, Conor O'Connor takes an in-depth look at Brooks Landon's Science Fiction After 1900: From the Steam Man to the Stars.

And in the spirituality section, Beth Derochea gives a hearty recommendation to Scott Cunningham's practical guidebook, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner.

The Rambles cineplex today features two movies reviewed by Miles O'Dometer: the disaster-less 2 Days in the Valley and the colorful, complicated Velvet Goldmine.

13 August 1999

It's our special Friday the 13th edition! It's also an extra-big update to atone for the fact that our fearless editor is leaving on this fateful day on holiday, so there will be no updates 'til later this month. (Rest assured, our brave band of Rambles writers will be busily writing in anticipation of a big update upon my return!

Laurie Thayer begins today's update with a look at Loreena McKennitt's The Mask and Mirror, which demonstrates a "new facet of McKennitt's artistry. It is one worth exploring."

Next, Tom Knapp posts a rip-roaring review of The Pyrates Royale, a vocal troupe from the Maryland Renaissance Faire, and their live album Lyve Behind Bars.

Jo Morrison gives an enthusiastic recommendation to Julia Lane's Song of the Sea, which combines the singer's brilliant voice with some great harping.

Tom Knapp rounds out the Celtic traditions reviews for today with his impressions of an album with a cause: The Rights of Man: The Concert for Joseph Doherty. "No matter what your politics might be," Tom says, "this is an excellent collection of 17 live tracks by some talented Irish-American performers."

Over in folk roots, Donna Scanlon delves into the "unique and graceful bluegrass-folk sound" that is Salamander Crossing's Bottleneck Dreams.

Julie Bowerman uses her son's enthusiastic response as a gauge for judging Trout Fishing in America's Family Music Party. The band succeeds, Julie says, in producing an album that children and adults can both enjoy.

Elizabeth Badurina admits to owning Hot Java Jazz, a compilation album of jazz put out by the Starbucks coffee people. The java may be hot, Elizabeth says, but the jazz is cool, filled with "fantasy and energy, enthusiasm and drive."

In the fiction section today, Tom Knapp leads off with Nancy Baker's A Terrible Beauty, a vampire novel he describes as "an elegant dance of sensual imagery and dark, colorful prose."

Beth Derochea examines the "spiritual and natural mystery" of Charles de Lint's The Wild Wood, which is sadly out of print.

Donna Scanlon chimes in with Freedom and Necessity by Steven Brust and Emma Bull. "With its rich, complicated plot and complex characters, this is a book to try to savor," Donna tells us, "but don't be surprised if you can't put it down."

Laurie Thayer revisits Emma Bull's landmark fantasy, War for the Oaks -- "urban fantasy at its best."

Tom Knapp rounds out the fiction offerings with the first two books in Terry Pratchett's amazingly funny and popular Discworld series, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. The ninth book in the series, Eric, has already been posted, and look for additional Pratchett reviews in future updates!

In the Rambles cineplex, Jade Falcon gives her not-entirely-favorable opinion of the new Wild Wild West movie, and Miles O'Dometer checks in with the compelling A Price Above Rubies and the clever, cartoonish Mouse Hunt.

We conclude the day with two additions to our essay section in Folkways: a tea party with Beth Derochea, and Tom Knapp's observation of what it takes to become a Renaissance Faire actor.

That's it for now ... watch for another big update in just over a week! (And if this isn't enough to keep you busy for a week, remember that there are nearly 550 review and story pages here at Rambles for your reading pleasure, so check out our archives and browse the menus!)

8 August 1999

If you've been paying attention, you may have noticed a new look on pretty much all of our menu pages. You like? We do! Next comes the intimidating task of devising a new look for the story pages ... and there's a lot more of them to recode!

Meanwhile, here are a few new ones for your pleasure.

First, Jamie O'Brien gives an enthusiastic thumbs-up to Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill, who combine forces for an album recorded Live In Seattle. Check it out in Celtic traditions!

Over in folk roots, Chet Williamson is pleasantly surprised by Les Daniels and Rick Lee's collaboration, aptly titled Dr. Daniels and Mr. Lee.

Coming up in music: Julia Lane, Song of the Sea; Salamander Crossing, Bottleneck Dreams; Mary Custy and The Mary Custy Band; Great Big Sea, Turn; and much more!

In the fiction department, Julie Bowerman describes Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera as "a novel of patience, devotion, promiscuity, love and death -- not necessarily in that order." Check it out!

Jo Morrison reviews Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds, which she calls "a crowning achievement in Chinese mythic literature." What are you waiting for?

Now on tap for future book reviews: Nancy Baker, A Terrible Beauty; Emma Bull, War for the Oaks; Steven Brust and Emma Bull, Freedom and Necessity; Christina Bartolomeo, Cupid and Diana; and bunches still to come!

Today in the Rambles cineplex, Miles O'Dometer lifts the curtain on The Horse Whisperer, which he says is "stocked with watchable stars, hypnotic horse-working sequences and the sexiest slow dance since prom bands stopped playing 'Harlem Nocturne,'" and A Merry War, which packs "more wit than you'll find in a whole season full of summer movies, but ultimately the wit becomes self-serving and unsatisfying." Read all about 'em!

Finally today, Tom Knapp talks trash on a sunny day in Pack out your trash, an essay for our folkways department.

5 August 1999

We're remodeling! We apologize that this has had some effect on update schedules this week, but we think you'll agree, the changes will be worth it. Look for improvements to the Rambles site design to start appearing first in the music section. (Special thanks to Elizabeth Badurina, who is lending invaluable assistance to Tom Knapp in the redesign process.) Meanwhile, read these:

Tom Knapp talks with Grey Eye Glances bassist Eric O'Dell about the band's efforts to buy back their songs from their music label. Music interviews are found under Folkways.

Also under Folkways, Tom writes about buying a small piece of history at the Fulton Opera House.

Turning to books, new Rambles writer Dan Ford makes his debut with George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones.

Elizabeth Badurina has submitted an interesting pair by Stephan Jaramillo, Going Postal and The Scoundrel.

Tom Knapp shifts our attentions to the audiobook section with Nelson Lauver's The American Story-Teller.

Sticking with recorded material, we move now into album reviews, starting with Chet Williamson's take on Blues Power: Songs of Eric Clapton as recorded by various blues artists.

Over in British traditions, Ellen Rawson spills the beans on Kate Rusby's Sleepless.

Two recent movies from Miles O'Dometer today: The House of Yes from 1997 and My Best Friend's Wedding from 1998.

That's it for today. Come back this weekend for more reviews and to check out the site improvements!!

3 August 1999

The heat wave here still isn't breaking, although today seems to bring some slight relief from the oppressive heat and humidity which blankets the region. Still, no rain in sight to undo the drought. But here at Rambles, life is beautiful! I hate to make our readers wait for more than a few days between updates, so this one is going up early. So, onward.

Robin Brenner leads off the day with an excellent review of The Book of Secrets, the most recent studio album from Canada's Loreena McKennitt.

Next, Jo Morrison shares her enjoyment of Iain Mac Harg's outstanding Rooted In Tradition, which features the solo artist on bagpipes, flutes and whistles.

Donna Scanlon gives readers a taste of the "deliciously harmonious broth" that is Cherish the Ladies, featured here in their new album At Home.

Our last Celtic music review for today comes from Charlie Gebetsberger, who introduces us to John Whelan and Friends in Flirting with the Edge.

Shifting our attentions from Celtic traditions to jazz, Chet Williamson expounds on the adventurous improvisations of Astral Project in VooDooBop.

Over in concert reviews, Ellen Rawson gives a thumbs-up to Susan Tedeschi's recent performance in New York City. And Tom Knapp gives a peek behind the scenes of the Lilith Fair tour in his essay/interview on the crew who puts it all together.

Tom Knapp also delivers the goods on the hilarious Terry Pratchett novel, Only You Can Save Mankind.

Also in fiction, Beth Derochea ponders the "lush prose and brilliant descriptions" which make Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter such a treat.

Miles O'Dometer leads off the movie page today with the lush fairy tale, Ever After. Also from Miles today is a review of the funny shoot-em-up, Montana.

Watch for our next update, which will include Jamie O'Brien's enthusiastic review of Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill's Live In Seattle, Ellen Rawson's take on Kate Rusby's Sleepless and Chet Williamson's view on Blues Power: Songs of Eric Clapton as performed by various blues artists, plus Julie Bowerman's review of Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera and Tom Knapp's interview with the band Grey Eye Glances.

31 July 1999

It's the end of July, just in time for another big weekend update!

First up today, we say hello to another new Rambles staff writer, Elizabeth Badurina, who offers up this pair of jazz reviews: Michel Camilo's One More Once and Best of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

Our second newcomer, Keith Abbot, follows with this review of Birds of My Neighborhood by The Innocence Mission. Also filed under folk-rock is Melinda Lau's second Rambles submission, Triptych's The Tea Party.

Tom Knapp, meanwhile, reviews the second album from Hadrian's Wall, Glengarry, in our popular Celtic traditions section.

Moving to the fiction section Robin Brenner reviews David Hunt's atmospheric The Magician's Tale.

Tom Knapp has perused another vampire novel for your pleasure, finding less satisfaction with Karen E. Taylor's Blood Secrets than he did with Christopher Moore's Bloodsucking Fiends or Nancy Baker's The Night Inside.

Our final fiction review today is from Conor O'Connor, who expounds on Tricia Sullivan's Someone To Watch Over Me.

Over in non-fiction, Kelly Taylor -- yes, another new writer! -- casts a critical eye over Peter Lamborn Wilson's exploration of Celtic drug use in Ploughing the Clouds: The Search for Irish Soma.

Ellen Rawson shares her recent experience of seeing Mary Black performing live in Boulder, Colorado.

Daina Savage chats with author Robert Olmstead, milking his memories for his source of literary inspiration in this interview.

Finally today, Tom Knapp relates a musical encounter with nature -- and the sad outcome -- in his essay Fiddles with Wolves.

That's a dozen new entries for the weekend, plus about 500 story pages in our archives to keep you busy. So, have a great weekend, and we'll see you in August!

29 July 1999

Today's update is going up a little early, 'cause I'm leaving momentarily for faraway Philadelphia to see Clandestine perform! (If that means nothing to you, check out this review of an earlier Clandestine concert in Washington, D.C.) Anyway, I hope you don't mind getting this early; I hope the nine new additions keep you busy!

We begin today's edition with a new collaboration between Ani DiFranco and Utah Phillips, the phenomenal Fellow Workers. Tom Knapp had the pleasure of writing up this album, which blends DiFranco's folk-pop stylings with Phillips' touching, powerful tales of America's blue-collar history.

Laurie Thayer kicks off a bit of a Christmas in July section today with Loreena McKennitt's seasonal triumph, To Drive the Cold Winter Away. Rambles newcomer Juliet Youngren continues the theme with the Johnny Cunningham and Thomas Moore collaboration, The Soul of Christmas: A Celtic Music Celebration with Thomas Moore.

In the fiction section, Tom Knapp takes a bite out of Christopher Moore's excellent vampire novel, Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story.

Donna Scanlon laments the out-of-print status of Nancy Springer's The Hex Witch of Seldom, but urges readers to seek it out anyway.

Tammy Dotts checks in (after far too long an absence!) with this look at Jonathan Carroll's Bones of the Moon.

Today's films from Miles O'Dometer are Gods and Monsters, director Bill Condon's take on monster filmmaker James Whale, and the 1998 remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, which Miles contrasts to the original.

Lastly today, Donna Scanlon contemplates A Log with a View.

27 July 1999

We're happy to welcome another new writer to our ranks today. Say hello to Robin Brenner and pay heed to her first stories for Rambles: Deep Heart's Core and The Time Between, both by Celtic-American singer/harper Kate Price.

Here's a pleasant surprise -- another Canadian band of rockin' Celts. Give your attention to Tom Knapp's review of Tanglefoot's Full Throated Abandon.

Over in the fiction department, Amanda Fisher casts a critical eye over Harry Turtledove's Into The Darkness.

Donna Scanlon adds Steven Brust's modern fairy tale adaptation, The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, to the list.

Conor O'Connor rounds out the book section with a review of Richard Powers' psychological cyberthriller, Galatea 2.2.

Miles O'Dometer returns today with two movie reviews. Check out The Butcher Boy and The Devil's Advocate, both filmed in 1997.

Have you heard of the new CD from Ani DiFranco and Utah Phillips called Fellow Workers? It's an amazing, startling tribute to the working class, and a review of this album will be coming to Rambles soon!

25 July 1999

Chet Williamson leads off another big weekend update with a pair of bluegrass offerings: You'll Never Be the Sun by Lynn Morris, who Chet says has one of the best voices in modern bluegrass, and a recent release from Dirk Powell, Tom O'Brien and John Herrmann, Songs from the Mountain, which Chet calls "one of the greatest old-time music records I've ever heard."

Tom Knapp gives us a gander at submariner-turned-shanty-songster Tom Lewis and his new album, Mixed Cargo, over in the popular Celtic Traditions section.

Donna Scanlon leads off the rack of new book reviews with Pat O'Shea's children's classic, The Hounds of the Morrigan.

Julie Bowerman gives us another taste of British humorist Tom Holt in his hilarious modern fantasy, Who's Afraid of Beowulf.

Another new writer joins us today (It seems to be a trend!), so please welcome Bethany Mathany. Her first review for Rambles is Robin Maxwell's historical novel The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn.

Charlie Gebetsberger takes us back to the Star Wars universe with this review of Steve Perry's Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire.

Here's a diverse group of movies to round out today's selection of new reviews: Flubber starring Robin Williams and reviewed by Miles O'Dometer; Still Crazy, a retro rock spoof reviewed by Chris Simmons; and, yes, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, the new animated not-for-kids hit reviewed by Jade Falcon.

And, finally for today, Tom Knapp takes a disconcerting look at U.S. literacy in his essay Reading, writing and foreign trade.

Come back soon for reviews of Richard Powers' Galatea 2.2, Steven Brust's The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, Nancy Springer's The Hex Witch of Seldom, Christopher Moore's Bloodsucking Fiends, Great Big Sea's Turn, Tanglefoot's Full Throated Abandon, The Indulger's In Like Flynn, Hadrian Wall's Glengarry, Kate Price's The Time Between, and much, much more!

23 July 1999

We're back, with an action-packed, extra-large update for your Friday reading pleasure!

First, we have several music selections for your consideration, beginning with Julie Bowerman's analysis of Ceili Rain's self-titled recording of Celtic-Christian rock.

Tom Knapp shares his impression of Soldiers & Dreams by Aoife Clancy, daughter of Bobby Clancy of the world-renowned Clancy Brothers and current lead singer of the Irish girl group, Cherish the Ladies.

Charlie Gebetsberger gives his views of the compilation album Celtic Voices, which draws together the talents of modern performers from Altan to Loreena McKennitt.

Switching over to jazz, writer Chet Williamson steps up with his views of the soundtrack release of I Want to Live, featuring the music of Johnny Mandel and Gerry Mulligan's Jazz Combo.

Next, under fiction, we begin with Tom Knapp's positive review of Nancy Springer's charming modern fairy tale, Fair Peril. Beth Derochea has high praise for Terri Windling's lush novel, The Wood Wife.

In our movie section today, MaryAlice Bitts takes a look at the new who-wrote-it romantic-comedy, The Love Letter. And we welcome another new writer to our ranks, Jenny Tait, who gives us the lowdown on The Blair Witch Project, which is creeping its way into the realm of urban legends.

Finally today, we greet our second newcomer of the day, Melinda Lau, who offers an essay on Goddess symbology: Re-emerging from the shadows.

Check back soon, we have lots more cool stuff waiting in the wings! (P.S. With today's additions, we now have more than 30 active staff members writing for Rambles and more than 450 individual review pages ... and we plan to keep growing!)

20 July 1999

Welcome to Music Tuesday!

Our first feature today is Jade Falcon's look at Heather Alexander's album Wanderlust. Alexander's solo career, ironically enough, rose from the ashes of the band Phoenyx.

We welcome a new reviewer today, so give a hello to Ellen Rawson. Her first day brings you reviews of Dar Williams' 1997 release, End of the Summer, and Pockets on Fire by Fairport Convention opener Anna Ryder.

Tom Knapp chimes in with reviews of two unusual albums: Keltik Elektrik's Edinburgh Hogmanay Party Mix, a party standard wannabe, and Gierran by Finnish yoik master Wimme.

Check back soon for more music reviews, including the new one from Great Big Sea, Turn, Hadrian's Wall second album, Glengarry, Aoife Clancy's Soldiers and Dreams, and the new release from Ceili Rain.

Another newcomer to the Rambles family is MaryAlice Bitts, a poet and, as of today, movie critic. Her first entry is the disturbing 1997 film In the Company of Men, directed by Neil LaBute. Check back for more from MaryAlice soon.

19 July 1999

It's Monday. There's not much more to say about it.

Donna Scanlon opens today's update with The Essential Bordertown, the latest installment in the popular anthology series edited by Terri Windling and Delia Sherman.

Tom Knapp, meanwhile, has discovered a clever anthology of fairy tales revised and rewritten from new perspectives and in new settings. Check out Twice Upon a Time, edited by Denise Little.

Also in fiction, Amanda Fisher takes a gander at mystery novel Blue by Abigail Padgett, while Adam Lipkin returns from among the missing and peruses Keith Hartman's The Gumshoe, the Witch, and the Virtual Corpse.

Tom also opens up a copy of DC masterpiece The Golden Age by James Robinson and Paul Smith.

Miles O'Dometer steps back into the ring today with two offerings in the film department: In the Mouth of Madness starring Sam Neill and the Victorian-era Mrs. Brown, starring Judi Dench.

Check back for our next update, which will shift the focus from books to music!

17 July 1999

Welcome to our big weekend update!!

Today we're pleased to add Daina Savage, an accomplished freelance writer and poet, to our list of Rambles writers. To begin her tenure here, Daina has submitted a trio of interviews with historical novelist Glenn Banner and poets Carolyn Forche and Maxine Kumin. All three can be found in Folkways.

We also welcome newcomer Charlie Gebetsberger, whose first submission to Rambles is a review of Celtic Trance by the band Dagda. Charlie also chimes in with his second review today, the collaborative work of country greats Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristopherson and Waylon Jennings, combined as The Highwaymen, in The Road Goes On Forever. Look for it under Folk Roots.

Over in the fiction department, Donna Scanlon has submitted two for today: Sionbhe Lally's A Hive for the Honeybee and Voyage of the Basset by James C. Christensen with Renwick St. James and Alan Dean Foster. Check back soon for Donna's review of The Essential Bordertown, edited by Terri Windling and Delia Sherman.

In the graphic novels section, Tom Knapp pages through the landmark collection Marvels, which dares to take a new perspective on comics.

We have just one movie review today, but it spotlights an intense action film from 1998, The Mask of Zorro.

And, last for today, Tom ponders the disappointments of seeing a treasured American icon in his essay A classic rock. Tune in again soon for reviews by returning writers Adam Lipkin and Jade Falcon, plus a few more new writers about to make their Rambles debut!

15 July 1999

We'll begin today's update with music, starting with a review of Hedningarna's lush album Karelia Visa, written by Amanda Fisher. This review is being filed in a new section (see below for explanation) -- European Roots.

Next, filed under Celtic Traditions, is the latest album from Seanachie, A Quarrel With Whisky. Tom Knapp does the honors for this one, as well as for the first, no-frills album from Hadrian's Wall, a rollicking release titled simply Hadrian's Wall.

Over in the fiction department, Donna Scanlon provides this peek at Kage Baker's novel Sky Coyote.

Miles O'Dometer has been fairly quiet lately; he makes up for it now with reviews of three very different movies: Malicious, A Life Less Ordinary and -- you're not going to believe this -- Spice World.

Coming soon ... movies The Mask of Zorro, Mrs. Brown and In the Mouth of Madness, books A Hive for the Honeybee by Sionbhe Lally, Blue by Abigail Padgett and Voyage of the Basset by James C. Christensen, Renwick St. James and Alan Dean Foster, graphic novels The Golden Age and Marvels, and a ton of music recently received! Keep checkin' in!

Hey! We've made a big change in the music section today ... the Scandinavian Roots section is no more! No, don't cry your eyes out over this one, folks ... this is actually an improvement! We've decided to broaden that section's focus a little bit and, in doing so, tighten the focus of material going in under worldbeat. So where Scandinavian Roots once stood, you'll find instead the brand spankin' new European Roots section. Everything once filed under Scandinavian is there, but so is stuff from the rest of mainland Europe. So far, that means Finnish singer Ingrid Karlins, Paul Winter's dabblings in Russian folk music, the Old World Folk Band's klezmer stylings, the French-Canadian band La Bottine Souriante and more. Check out the new section, and feel free to suggest items you think should be reviewed! (Celtic Traditions and British Traditions still have their own, separate sections.)

13 July 1999

We're back, with a wee bit more prep time today! So let's waste no time and get right to it, shall we?

First out of our bag of tricks today is a review from Chris Simmons of alternative-country singer Kelly Willis. Check out What I Deserve in our folk roots section!

Next, Tom Knapp examines the first album from the popular Irish band Solas. So take a look at Solas under Celtic traditions!

Tom also offers up a brief review of a live performance by Celtic-Canadian rockers Hadrian's Wall. Read the concert review, and check back over the next few updates for a pair of album reviews from the hoppin' band, too.

And, while on the subject of live performances, Tom has submitted a brief essay/interview with actor D.D. Delaney, who ponders the future of live theater in A passing stage?

Now turning our attention to books, we have Donna Scanlon's impressions of the third in Esther Friesner's fun-filled Chicks Series, Chicks 'n Chained Males.

Julie Bowerman gets back to her roots, British humor, with this look at Tom Holt's genie with the light brown hair, Djinn Rummy.

Lastly today, Amanda Fisher comes in with an excellent review of Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's annually anticipated anthology, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. Amanda has just completed the eleventh edition.

Isn't this a lot better than just one small update per week? The feedback we've been getting so far from musicians, authors, publishers and music companies has been extremely positive, and very gratifying! But we'd like to hear from more of you, our readers! So if you like Rambles, let us know! If you don't like us ... well, let us know that, too, but you might not get a cookie. Either way, tell us WHY you like or dislike the site, and we'll continue striving to make this magazine the best it can be!

12 July 1999

Today was a music-packed day ... which is good for me, but unfortunately left me little time for preparing new material. But, since I hate to turn readers away unsatisfied, I'm pulling together a few stories which are all ready to go.

I can always count on Miles O'Dometer for some movie reviews, so here are two for your consideration: Four Days in September and Search and Destroy.

Tom Knapp makes two additions to the graphic novel section: the disturbing Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham wannabe Spawn: Blood & Shadows.

Tom also checks in with an addition to the essay section, a recollection of the crowd dynamics at a memorable Paul McCartney concert.

Do check back for the next update. Upcoming reviews include What I Deserve by singer Kelly Willis, the self-titled release from Solas, and something (I'm not sure what, yet) by the Celtic-Canadian band, Hadrian's Wall. Also watch for the third installment in Esther Friesner's popular Chicks series and another wacky novel by British humorist Tom Holt. See you then!

Oh, by the way, a few days ago we passed another benchmark, posting our 400th review page on Rambles. (No, I don't know which it was; but I do know we're nearly to 420 already.) And we're still growing, with more staff writers joining up, more book and music companies signing on to send us review materials, and more authors and musicians writing to tell us they like the site! So spread the word, let people know we're here ... we're on a grand trip, and the more company, the better!

11 July 1999

We're back after a day off with a hefty weekend update for your reading pleasure!

We have two music reviews for your consideration today. First, Amanda Fisher takes a look at former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart's Mystery Box in the worldbeat section. Second, as promised Friday, Chet Williamson examines Brad Mehldau's Elegiac Cycle in the jazz section.

There are two movies on tap today from Miles O'Dometer: the Bruce Willis "back from the future" tale 12 Monkeys and the moving, atypical love story of Love and Death on Long Island.

We haven't done much to expand the essays section, under Folkways, in quite some time, so today we're serving up a double portion. First Donna Scanlon ruminates on being a reader in A reader's journey. Next, Tom Knapp ponders the downside of modern electronic conveniences in a short piece called Abraca-Oops!.

9 July 1999

First up today, music!

As promised in yesterday's update, Chet Williamson is back with a couple of bluegrass offerings: The Family by the Del McCoury Band, and Pickin' on Dylan, a 'grassy tribute album by various artists. Check back for Chet's review of jazz recording Elegiac Cycle by Brad Mehldau in the next update.

Paddy O'Furniture, meanwhile, has this jazz review for your consideration: Panthalassa: The Remixes, a unique tribute to the music of Miles Davis.

Donna Scanlon speaks for space moms everywhere with this review of Don't Forget Your Spacesuit, Dear, a science fiction anthology with a maternal flair, edited by Jody Lynn Nye.

Over in the realm of matters spiritual, Beth Derochea shares her comments on the late Scott Cunningham's Sacred Sleep: Dreams and the Divine.

Tom Knapp continues on in the graphic novel section with this turning point in the development of the Batman, the Joker and Commissioner and Barbara Gordon, Alan Moore's disturbing The Killing Joke, illustrated by Brian Bolland.

Just one movie review from Miles O'Dometer today: Burn Hollywood Burn (An Alan Smithee Film) -- a movie that's so bad it's, um, bad.

8 July 1999

Chet Williamson has promised a yummy quartet of new music reviews by the end of this week. But, while you're waiting, check out this review of one of Williamson's psychological thriller novels, Second Chance, as reviewed by Tom Knapp.

Also in the fiction section, Julie Bowerman has submitted an insightful review of the dark fairy tale Deerskin by Robin McKinley. Meanwhile, Donna Scanlon gives us a look at the second in Esther Friesner's series of apolitically correct short stories about warrior women, Did You Say Chicks?!. (In the next update, Donna will examine the effect of space travel on maternal instincts.)

Jade Falcon serves up today's musical offering, Heather Alexander's Life's Flame, which combines recordings from three live performances by this self-produced Celtic fusion artist.

Miles O'Dometer's daily contribution today brings us two movies featuring Jennifer Jason Leigh: Dolores Claiborne, based on a Stephen King story, and Georgia, a tale of sisters and Seattle rock.

And lastly today, Tom Knapp takes a look at Charles Vess's sojourn into mainstream superhero comicdom, merging Scottish mysticism with Marvel's Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Spirits of the Earth. Also, be sure to watch the graphic novels section for a few more offerings coming up in the very near future, including Spawn: Blood & Shadows, Batman books Arkham Asylum and The Killing Joke, and the last two volumes in Neil Gaiman's Sandman series.

7 July 1999

We haven't had much music lately, but the signs all point to that changing very soon. Meanwhile, here's a tasty little treat from Celtic folk-rockers Spirit of the West, who joined forces with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra to produce an atypical album, Open Heart Symphony, reviewed by Tom Knapp.

Another new writer joins us today, one Conor O'Connor, who gives us the lowdown on Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. It turns out the green-skinned villainess may have gotten some bad press following Dorothy's adventures.

By the way, with Conor's addition to the staff, Rambles can now boast a working core of 25 writers! Which brings me to another point ... you might have guessed that some of our writers are using pseudonyms, a widely used safety net on the Internet, but be assured, no one is writing under more than one name; all 25 Rambles staffers are unique -- and talented -- individuals!

Donna Scanlon chimes in with two reviews of books by Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife.

Miles O'Dometer today brings us a review of a scream-screen classic, Carnival of Souls, which some might recall is one of horror writer Chet Williamson's favorite horror movies. (Check out Tom Knapp's interview with Chet. Also, read some of Chet's reviews in the bluegrass and jazz sections!) Miles also serves up a review of an unusual 1991 comedy, Antonia and Jane.

5 July 1999

It's a holiday weekend, so we'll keep today's update brief.

Donna Scanlon continues her review marathon today with Lisa Goldstein's Walking the Labyrinth and Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring.

Tom Knapp keeps plugging away at Neil Gaiman's excellent Sandman series, here delving into the eighth volume in the series, Worlds' End.

Miles O'Dometer celebrated the Fourth by reviewing two more movies, Eve's Bayou and Don Juan de Marco.

Laurie Thayer wraps up the day with an additional film review, the campy classic Red Sonja.

Unlike some other arts review magazines, we don't offer you a small handful of stories a week. Rambles offers high-quality writing from a large and growing staff of writers almost every day! And, because several major music and book publishers have just added Rambles to their distribution lists for review materials, we'll soon have many more items to write up for your reading pleasure. (They're impressed with our rapid growth and overall quality; I hope you are, too! Feel free to write in and let us know what you think.)

Come back often and see what we have to offer!

4 July 1999

Happy Fourth of July! (Assuming you're reading this from the United States. If not, um ... I hope you have a lovely July 4.)

Donna Scanlon leads off this holiday edition with a trio of fiction reviews: Kage Baker's sci-fi debut In the Garden of Iden, Nancy Springer's Arthurian novel I am Mordred and Charles de Lint's omnibus Jack of Kinrowan, which combines earlier novels Jack the Giant-Killer and Drink Down the Moon in a single volume.

Tom Knapp adds one to the section on music-related books: The Complete Works of O'Carolan, providing the history and music of Ireland's national bard.

Movie offerings today today from Miles O'Dometer include Saving Private Ryan and The Gingerbread Man.

2 July 1999

The Rambles staff continues to grow! Today, welcome Dorothy Auyong, who sends in a banner review of those fiddlin' gangstas, the Celtic Fiddle Festival, in concert. And Amanda Fisher takes a close look at two books on druidry by Philip Carr-Gomm, Elements of the Druid Tradition and The Druid Way. Read both of Amanda's book reviews here.

We have a handful of new offerings in the fiction section today. First, Julie Bowerman steps away from her usual stack of British humor to read a dramatic novel, The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve. Meanwhile, Debbie Gayle Rose explores Sharyn McCrumb's She Walks These Hills.

Donna Scanlon continues churning through her to-read pile and today offers up Lisa Goldstein's Dark Cities Underground. And Jade Falcon returns to rate David Leviatan's novelization of the recent film, The Mummy.

Tom Knapp and Miles O'Dometer share movie reviewing duties today. Tom checks out Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, an excellent film for anyone fond of the wit of Dorothy Parker, while Miles gives the once over to Beloved, part of which was filmed in Tom's homeland, Lancaster County, Pa.

1 July 1999

We're a bit pooped from the yesterday's anniversary party, but we can't let a wee thing like that get in the way of a July 1 update! So here it is, leading off with an excellent bluegrass review by newcomer Chris Simmons. Chris gives the thumbs-up to The Mountain by Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band.

Debbie Gayle Rose revisits old Eire with Thomas E. Hachey's look at the Irish struggles in Britain and Irish Separatism: From the Fenians to the Free State.

Donna Scanlon offers up two reviews for the fiction section: the Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling anthology Silver Birch, Blood Moon and Norton Juster's classic tale for kids of all ages, The Phantom Tollbooth.

Of course, there's a trilogy of Miles O'Dometer movie reviews waiting for you, too. So take a gander at Jane Eyre, Madeline and Mighty Joe Young.

30 June 1999

Happy Birthday! No, not yours (unless it really IS your birthday, in which case, Happy Birthday!) ... OURS! Rambles is a whole month old today and, while we may not be the largest or best-read review magazine on the Internet (yet!), we are certainly growing faster than any other online magazine I've seen. As of today, we've got 110 pages devoted to book reviews, 129 for music, 69 for movies and 47 for essays, interviews and other stuff under the general head of Folkways. Unless my math is screwy, that's 355 story pages total!

Wow. Not bad for 30 days, eh? But enough about that ... you're here for more stories, right? Well, here they are! (And, since this is a day of celebration, be prepared for a larger update than usual!)

We start off in a section that has been largely ignored for a while ... Folkways! (And you thought we were just folk'n about, eh? Sorry....) First, Tom Knapp adds to the live performance reviews with his impressions of Motown favorites, The Miracles, who played an outdoor concert this past weekend. Next, Jennifer St. Clair returns with an essay on the merits of sometimes turning the computer off and getting reacquainted with paper and pen.

Jennifer also reviews an album by that riotous band of French-Canadian Celts, La Bottine Souriante ... check out Chic and Swell! And Tom takes a look at The Rankin Family, a self-titled album from early in the career of the talented Cape Breton clan.

Donna Scanlon checks in with The House Gobbaleen, written by Lloyd Alexander and illustrated by Diane Goode.

Jade Falcon comes back to us today with a pair of books on Egyptian spirituality: Jeremy Nadlyer's Temple of the Cosmos: The Ancient Egyptian Experience of the Sacred and Geraldine Pinch's Magic in Ancient Egypt.

And what would our one-month anniversary celebration be without a few movie reviews from Miles O'Dometer? Well, it would be shorter, for one thing! So here, they are: The English Patient, 54 and Good Will Hunting.

29 June 1999

Miles O'Dometer leads off the day with a trio of sci-fi thriller films: Independence Day, Mars Attacks and Men in Black.

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling continue their series of contemporary fairy tales in Black Swan, White Raven. Read Donna Scanlon's review! Then check out Beth Derochea's take on Marion Zimmer Bradley's controversial bestseller, The Mists of Avalon.

Debbie Gayle Rose takes another look at Ireland's turbulent history in Ulick O'Connor's Michael Collins and the Troubles: The Struggle for Irish Freedom 1912-1922. Skipping over to the graphic novels, Tom Knapp gives up volume seven in the powerful Sandman series, Brief Lives.

On the musical side of things, Tom takes a critical look at Green Crown's Celtic/pagan recording, Washed in Her Blood. And, while on the subject of music, I'd like to remind our readers that Jo Morrison is not only an excellent reviewer ... she's a fine traditional Celtic harper, too! Check out Tom's review of her first recording, The Three Musics -- and if you're wise, you'll pick up a copy!

28 June 1999

We have a nice assortment to welcome your Monday, so pay close attention! First, Jo Morrison explores the impact of electronic instrumentation on Native American music in Prophecy: A Hearts of Space Native American Collection.

Donna Scanlon adds Someplace to be Flying to our stockpile of Charles de Lint reviews. In the Non-Fiction section, Debbie Gayle Rose takes a moving look at Irish famine through The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845-1849 by Cecil Blanche Fitz Gerald Woodham Smith, Cecil Woodham-Smith, Charles Woodham.

Tom Knapp continues to expand on Neil Gaiman's Sandman mythology with a review of the sixth collection in the series, A Game of You. He also adds this look at Daithi O'Hogain's Irish Superstitions to the Folklore section.

Miles O'Dometer's movie selection today is decidedly eclectic: Mulholland Falls, Pecker and Unstrung Heroes, plus one of my own personal favorites, Rob Roy.

27 June 1999

Happy Sunday! We're back, the electricity seems stable, and you have some more stories to read!

Julie Bowerman returns to us again today (and we hope she keeps returning, even though she strays from time to time) with a review of the Douglas Adams gut-buster, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Also on the Fiction page, Donna Scanlon examines Charles de Lint's latest, Moonlight and Vines.

Over in the Jazz section, Paddy O'Furniture chimes in with a tasty review of Miles Davis, Pangaea. Elsewhere in music, Tom Knapp tosses Eric Schwartz's album of excellent folk originals, That's How It's Going to Be, onto the pile of Folk Roots reviews.

Finally today, films. Jade Falcon, who will soon be gracing the Spirituality section with a few books on the faith of ancient Egypt, checks out Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. Let me give you a hint: It's not Keanu's dialogue which won Jade's attention. And Miles O'Dometer turns in a pair of Disney animateds: Mulan and Hercules.

26 June 1999

What do you get when a man driving a wide moving van attempts to back into a narrow driveway? Well, in this case, we got two city blocks without electricity -- his blundering efforts managed to swipe a row of power boxes off the neighboring house, and with a loud crash the area went dark.

It was bad enough that a very good song was suddenly cut off mid-note. It was worse that the review I was working on at the time vanished in a puff of absent voltage. Alas, it also means no update today ... with the power finally restored at, what is it, 3:51 a.m. EDT, I find myself too tired to prepare the waiting batch of stories for uploading. Sigh. But never fear, barring more rocket scientists trying to move into my neighborhood, we'll be back tomorrow with all sorts of exciting things!

Meanwhile, you'd make me very happy if you'd click on the graphic box below. It obligates you to nothing, it merely casts a vote declaring Rambles a "Hot Site" for the nice folks at Starting Point. We're working very hard to let the world know we're here, so your support would be greatly appreciated. It's just a single click!

Click on the graphic to vote for this page as a Starting Point Hot Site.

25 June 1999

Words to live by: When a group of frazzled newspaper copy editors invite you out for a pint after work, you're going to be late getting back to your duties at home. But here I am, dutifully updating the page as promised!

Donna Scanlon leads off today with two novels by Peg Kerr, Emerald House Rising and The Wild Swans.

Over in the Spirituality section, Debbie Gayle Rose takes time from planning her upcoming nuptials and reviews Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality, edited by Judith Plaskow and Carol P. Christ.

Tom Knapp wasn't impressed by the story but wants to tell you about the art in Superman: The Last God of Krypton, a graphic novel beautifully painted by the Brothers Hildebrandt.

And finally, an odd triumvirate rears its head in the Film section today. Miles O'Dometer gives us the skinny on three movies from 1997: Contact, Fairy Tale: A True Story and Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.

24 June 1999

Sadly, I can't fill Rambles with quality updates every day, and so today is one of those long-awaited, seldom-witnessed days off! But come back Friday, I'll see you then with more!

However, I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to announce that two members of our loyal Rambles staff have just become engaged to be married. So, many congratulations to Beth Derochea and Debbie Gayle Rose!!

23 June 1999

It seems to be a reoccurring pattern, so you've probably guessed that today is a music and movies kind of day.

A new addition to our ranks is jazz connoisseur Paddy O'Furniture, a traditionalist who still plays much of his music on vinyl. Jed adds three classic jazz reviews to our small but growing Jazz section: Deodato, Prelude; Herbie Hancock, Man-Child; and Elvin Jones, Heavy Sounds.

Tom Knapp returns to Worldbeat for the second album from the Afro Celt Sound System, Volume 2: Release.

And bringing up the rear is another couple of period pieces from the files of Miles O'Dometer: Arthur Miller's timeless play about a Puritanical witch hunt, as remade in the 1996 film The Crucible, and Catherine McCormack living the life of a 16th century Italian courtesan in 1998's Dangerous Beauty.

22 June 1999

Today is a book and movie Tuesday! Read on....

New additions to our Fiction library are Laurie Thayer's review of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, novelized from George Lucas' screenplay by fantasy novelist Terry Brooks, and Donna Scanlon's reviews of two Kara Dalkey novels, Crystal Sage and Steel Rose.

Also today, Beth Derochea adds the Caitlin and John Matthews workbook, Ladies of the Lake, to the Spirituality section.

Tom Knapp continues exploring Neil Gaiman's Sandman mythology with volume five of the collected series, Fables & Reflections.

In our Rambles multiplex, Miles O'Dometer checks in with The Wings of the Dove and Portrait of a Lady.

They say any publicity is good publicity, so we at Rambles should probably take it as a compliment that the editor of another online magazine is spreading misinformation about this site and its staff in an effort to derail our growth. It's a shame, really, but unfortunately the Internet doesn't require mature behavior from those who play here. We wish him well, despite his ill-will towards us.

21 June 1999

Welcome to summer! For those unaware, today marks the summer solstice for this year, and I hope it brings a grand season for you all!

Today we have music and movies to whet your appetite. You'll also find a lovely "saunter" by J. Higgins-Rosebrook in the Essay division. And hurry back tomorrow for several excellent new book reviews, too!

First up is music. Tom Knapp reviews yet another Loreena McKennitt album, Parallel Dreams, for the Celtic Traditions section of Rambles. He also sizes up the Afro Celt Sound System's first release, Volume 1: Sound Magic, which collapses the boundaries between Celtic and African music, and adds Latvian-American singer Ingrid Karklins' debut album, A Darker Passion, to the Worldbeat page.

We have a few more writers jumping on the movie bandwagon today. Laurie Thayer gives us the Muppet classic, Dark Crystal while Beth Derochea explores the fantasy landmark, Excalibur. Not to be ignored, Miles O'Dometer reviews two more recent films, Salmonberries and Sling Blade.

Finally today, we have an excellent essay from J. Higgins-Rosebrook, who describes a recent journey from her lonely outpost in Washington. Jacque's mastery of description and emotion gives the piece a sense of immediacy, and it deserves your attention!

By the way, Rambles is growing so very quickly that this What's New page is rapidly getting too bulky! Don't worry, that will soon be remedied, when I create an archive page for older update announcements.

20 June 1999

Happy Father's Day!

This is supposed to be one of those fabled "days off" when I don't make an update. But hey, who am I to deprive you of stories when I have them to share? (I'll keep this one short.)

Today we add four movies named for the cities in which they are set: Buffalo '66, Kansas City, L.A. Confidential and Leaving Las Vegas. Go directly to the Film section here.

As of today, we have 123 pages devoted to album reviews, 90 book review pages and 45 movie reviews, plus 44 interviews, essays and concert reviews in the Folkways section -- that's more than 300 story pages total! D'ya think that'll keep you busy 'til Monday?

19 June 1999

Three to five updates per week? That's what I said, right? Well, it seems like there's just too much good material coming in lately to make good on that vow, so I guess you'll have to be content with six or seven updates per week! I hope you don't mind....

Books are up first today. Julie Bowerman makes her sophomore appearance with another Tom Holt novel, Wish You Were Here. Also in the Fiction section, Tom Knapp reviews the Jane Yolen retelling of Tam Lin.

Also today, Debbie Gayle Rose adds Robert E. Bell's Women of Classical Mythology: A Biographical Dictionary to the Folklore section.

It wouldn't be an update without a few movies from the collection of our favorite goatboy, Miles O'Dometer! We have an interesting mix for you today, from the killer comedy Grosse Pointe Blank to that big and ravenous iguana, Godzilla. Also in today's update, the crazy romantic comedy pairing Jack Nicholson with Helen Hunt, As Good As It Gets, and the tale of blue-collar British strippers, The Full Monty.

I'd also like to direct your attention back to our Essay section for A Humane League story. It's not new, but I think we can all stand to be reminded once in a while about the plight of animals in our society.

18 June 1999

I promised you music and movies today, and so it's music and movies you'll get! (And be sure to check back tomorrow for some nifty new book reviews I have ready!)

Chet Williamson makes a reappearance today with an addition to the Bluegrass section, the Bluegrass Mandolin Extravaganza. And Tom Knapp revisits the Tannahill Weavers, this time reviewing Dancing Feet.

Miles O'Dometer hasn't rested since he joined the Rambles staff, and I fear his massive goat herds may be wondering where he's been ... but lucky for us, we snagged another quartet of great movie reviews! New to the Film section today are the John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin ensemble reunion Fierce Creatures, a reflection on modern politics and newsmaking called Wag the Dog, the Sandra Bullock cyberthriller The Net and a very unusual film, Slacker.

The wonderful Jade Falcon (who writes far too seldom, if you ask me) had a bang-up idea for Rambles ... see it implemented on the Fiction and Film pages for easier navigating around this site. Thanks, Jade!

That's all for today, folks! Come back tomorrow for more!

17 June 1999

Today is a books and movies kind of day! So here are a few additions to those sections for your reading pleasure.

Jane Yolen seldom fails to please, be she writing for children or adults. Tom Knapp takes a look today at one of her illustrated adventures, The Ballad of the Pirate Queens. Laurie Thayer revisits the world of the Keltiad, the immensely popular "Celts in Space" series by Patricia Kennealy-Morrison, to review the novel Blackmantle.

From the pen of Miles O'Dometer comes a new batch of movie reviews. Since I have a nice bunch to choose from, I decided that since today, if it were March, would be St. Paddy's Day, I'll go with an Irish theme. (So sue me, I didn't say I'm brimming with logic!) First up, the gorgeous fable The Secret of Roan Inish, followed by the mystical tale of the Irish Travellers, Into the West. Miles checks in on an Irish family's life in the funny, touching The Snapper before heading up north to the land of Irish troubles in Cal.

Check this page tomorrow for more music! Meanwhile, you may have noticed the disappearance of the Art link from the Rambles home page. Fear not, it's not gone entirely! But it's a wee section compared to the rest, and since it dealt mostly with art books, it's been moved into the Book section instead.

Now for a public service announcement. This seems legit ... by going to this site and following one simple instruction, you help feed starving people in the world. The charity is paid for by the advertisers, who think getting you to see their ads is worth buying a cup of rice or corn for people in need. You can do this once each day, so with a daily commitment of about 5 seconds, you can ensure one small meal for someone in the world. Check it out and do a good deed for the day!

16 June 1999

More music! Tom Knapp takes a look at Loreena McKennitt's first album, Elemental, and a Tannahill Weavers favorite, Cullen Bay.

Jo Morrison (a harper in her own right!) lends a hand with Amy Krupski's harp album, Celtic Echoes.

Also today, Miles O'Dometer is back with a duo of crawly reviews for the Film section: Antz and A Bug's Life.

15 June 1999

We have been lax in updating the Music section! Here are two reviews from Tom Knapp for the Celtic Traditions section which I hope will be the beginning of a lot more activity in that area! (Hint, hint!) First, Tom examines the landmark album Sidewaulk from Scotland's Capercaillie, and then he tackles a new kind of Celtic rock, MacKeel's Plaid.

Donna Scanlon checks in from vacationland again with two anthology reviews: Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's fairytale series continues in Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears and Esther Friesner shocks a few sensibilities with Chicks in Chainmail. Check them out!

We have a new movie reviewer joining us today, reclusive goatcheese mogul Miles O'Dometer! Read his first three submissions: a slice of the English Renaissance in Elizabeth, the delightful Irish yarn Waking Ned Devine and a new angle on '50s sitcoms, Pleasantville. Watch for more from Miles in the Film section soon!

14 June 1999

Do you believe in dragons? If not, Peter Dickinson might shake the foundations of your skepticism in his extraordinary "textbook," The Flight of Dragons, in the Folklore section.

Now explore the boundaries of what the human body and a camera can accomplish in Lois Greenfield's Breaking Bounds. (You can find it filed under Art.)

Beth Derochea submits her sophomore review after exploring The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron.

And finally today, Tom Knapp offers his opinions on the cult classic film, The Wicker Man.

13 June 1999

Here's a big welcome back for Laurie Thayer, who rejoins us today with two movie reviews: Practical Magic, the 1998 hit starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, and that 1986 fantasy classic starring David Bowie and a young Jennifer Connelly, Labyrinth.

We also welcome two newcomers to the Rambles staff today. Joining Laurie in the Film section is movie buff Sionainn with the critically acclaimed Ninth Configuration. And, over in the Fiction section, say hello to Julie Bowerman. Julie's first review is of Open Sesame, a recent novel from British humorist Tom Holt.

12 June 1999

It's Saturday, and we have some music for you to check out! Give some consideration to Tom Knapp's reviews of pivotal Irish bands Altan (Harvest Storm) and the Bothy Band (Old Hag You Have Killed Me).

Tom also continues to expand the Graphic Novels section, today adding the fourth Sandman collection, Season of Mists and the groundbreaking Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.

This just in from MSNBC, dateline Los Angeles -- Actor DeForest Kelley, who as crusty Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy on Star Trek brought a country flavor to outer space, died Friday following an extended illness. He was 79.

10 June 1999

Tom Knapp continues on through Neil Gaiman's acclaimed Sandman series with the third collection, Dream Country.

Donna Scanlon reviews another Diana Wynne Jones novel, Dark Lord of Derkholm, while preparing to take a well-earned holiday from her daily labors.

We have another newcomer to Rambles! Please welcome Timothy Keene, who supplies us with a review of the recent film The Mummy. Watch for more movie reviews from Tim in the near future.

A new Rambles service will take you to CDNow to buy music. You can go directly from individual review pages (Be patient, it will take a long while to get all those links up!) or you can follow this link and search the catalogue at your own pace. Remember, buying books through Amazon.com and CDs through CDNow helps keep Rambles alive!


9 June 1999

I don't know what it's like where you are, but here it's bloody hot. So stay close to an air conditioner and read these additions to Rambles!

Donna Scanlon continues her analysis of the Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling series of adult fairy tales with this review of Black Thorn, White Rose. Tom Knapp contributes an entry on A Dictionary of Superstitions and adds another in the series of Sandman books, Neil Gaiman's The Doll's House.

There are also two new reviews by Tom in the Film section: The Tall Guy and The Truth About Cats and Dogs.

7 June 1999

Breathe deeply and try not to think that it's Monday. Meanwhile, read these: Tom Knapp tackles the first collection from Neil Gailman's The Sandman series, Preludes & Nocturnes, in the Graphic Novels section, and Donna Scanlon continues her study of J.K. Rowling with a review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Chet Williamson adds a fine pair to the Jazz section as well: John Coltrane's The Classic Quartet: Complete Impulse! Studio Recordings and a trio of Duke Ellington re-releases, Black, Brown & Beige, Ellington at Newport 1956 Complete and Such Sweet Thunder.

6 June 1999

Today, two new writers make their Rambles debut. Beth Derochea reviews the recent Neil Gaiman novel Stardust, and J. Higgins-Rosebrook contributes an essay on shamanism for Folkways. Also in the Essay section, Tom Knapp explores the life-altering impact of Edgar Allan Poe on an actor.

Jo Morrison chimes in with a review of two albums by the band D Squared in the Folk Roots section.

Finally for today, Tom deconstructs the trilogy of Highlander films: Highlander, Highlander II: The Quickening and Highlander III: The Sorcerer.

5 June 1999

Fear not, gentle readers! No more sales pitch today, just another pile of new stories for your reading pleasure!

Today we introduce yet another new addition to the staff, Jennifer St. Clair, who left us with two Fiction reviews before heading off to Florida for a family holiday. Read her opinions of Orson Scott Card's Heartfire and Charles de Lint's Dreams Underfoot.

Still in Fiction, Tom Knapp sums up R. Garcia y Robertson's The Spiral Dance and Donna Scanlon delves into J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Over in Non-Fiction, Donna explores Mirror Mirror on the Wall, a collection of essays on fairy tales edited by Kate Bernheimer, and Tom tells us about Sacred Symbols: The Celts.

4 June 1999

No new stories today. Instead, Rambles is initiating a new service. Working in association with Amazon.com, you can buy the books reviewed here with ease!

The service works in two ways: you can follow links like this one...


...to browse Amazon.com at your leisure. Also, links are already appearing on individual review pages which lead to the corresponding Amazon.com page where that book can be purchased. Either way, you get the book at Amazon.com's reduced rate, and by buying through Rambles you help to support this magazine and defray the costs of running it.

I'm sure some people will assume that this venture will corrupt the Rambles commitment to presenting fair and honest reviews. Nothing could be further from the truth! Our writers will not allow this to influence their stories at all. And is left to our readers to decide if they wish to buy the book and decide its merits for themselves. All we ask is that, if a book appeals to you, you buy it through us and help keep Rambles afloat! (Yes, it costs money to run a magazine online!)

Thanks for your support. Check back tomorrow for the next installment of reviews.

3 June 1999

We have two new writers joining us today. Jamie O'Brien, an Irish musician and promoter in his own right, has contributed three excellent reviews of new releases: Kevin Burke's In Concert, Kila's Tóg É Go Bog É and Wolfstone's Seven. Debbie Gayle Rose offers her first book review, Christopher Moore's Coyote Blue.

Also in the Fiction section, Donna Scanlon reviews Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's first fairy tale collection, Snow White, Blood Red, and Tom Knapp comments on O.R. Melling's book, The Hunter's Moon. Also, one more from the archives: a brief interview with fantasy writer Nancy Springer.

2 June 1999

Tom Knapp triples the inventory in the Graphic Novels section with four new reviews: Kevin Smith's new take on Daredevil, DC's first Elseworlds story, Gotham by Gaslight, the martial artistry of Shi: Senryaku, and the Classics Illustrated adaptation of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.

Donna Scanlon continues to pump up the Fiction section, this time adding reviews of Diana Wynne Jones' Deep Secret and Emma Donoghue's Kissing the Witch.

Tom also digs into his archives for interviews with musicians Chubby Checker and Caryn Lin.

1 June 1999

Happy June! Rambles enters its third day of existence with Tom Knapp's review of the Parcel o' Rogues self-titled album and Bonnie Rideout's Scottish fiddle set, Kindred Spirits. Tom has also pulled out an old review of Emma Bull's ill-fated trailer for her novel War for the Oaks. (I say "ill-fated" because the film Bull was promoting was never made.)

New in the Fiction section are Donna Scanlon's reviews of Orson Scott Card's Enchantment and Julia Blackburn's The Leper's Companions, and Tom's review of a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel, Eric

The magazine is still growing behind the scenes, with more than 225 reviews and stories now awaiting your browser. Enjoy!

31 May 1999

Our second official day of existence brings with it two additions to the Bluegrass section from the pen of Chet Williamson: Jerry Douglas and Peter Rowan's Yonder and the new Ricky Skaggs album, Ancient Tones.

Donna Scanlon submits the first entry for the Spirituality section, Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies, as well as the slightly less spiritual novel, Christopher Moore's The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove.

IIn the Film section, Tom Knapp expounds on the new thriller Entrapment. And, while we don't usually run more than one review of a single production, Tom had already written this review when Chet submitted this one, so be sure to read their point/counterpoint on Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Oh, and while on the subject of Star Wars, Tom took the opportunity last week to leaf through the short-story collection Star Wars: Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina.

30 May 1999

What's new? Everything's new! Welcome to Rambles, a new, broad-based cultural arts magazine rising from the ashes of Folk Tales. The magazine is being launched with nearly 200 reviews, interviews and other stories for your perusal.

Rambles is being launched today for no particular reason but that I didn't want to wait 'til June 1, the original start-up date, and because it's the day of the full moon. Reason enough for me!

Much of the material found on these pages may be familiar to you, but there are many new stories as well. For instance, you can read about Natalie MacMaster's latest album, My Roots Are Showing in the Celtic Traditions section, as well as Tom Knapp's review of a recent live performance by the Canadian fiddle wizard. Likewise from Canada, the Barra MacNeils rate two album reviews from Tom this week: Closer to Paradise and The Traditional Album.

Chet Williamson opens the new Bluegrass section with this insightful look at a treasured Bill Monroe recording. Also, there's a stockpile of nine new Paul Winter album reviews in the Worldbeat section, plus two interviews with Winter in Folkways.

One new section, Graphic Novels, has only a few entries to start, but I suspect this will fill up quite rapidly! Jade Falcon makes her Rambles debut with a review of Jane Lindskold's Changer in the Fiction section. And you'll find a few new interviews with several notable musicians here, a few new concert reviews here and some new Folkways essays here.

Slowly but surely, the various sections are coming together and coming online. So far, you'll find Folkways (and all four of its subsections) is up and running, as are the Art, Film and most of the Music sections. A few parts of the Book section are empty, but that won't be so for long. ... Already, the Fiction (where Donna Scanlon is tackling a shelf full of Salman Rushdie novels) is filling up, and entries are appearing under Non-Fiction and Music-Related, too! Poke around and see what you find, new stuff is coming online every day!

Of course, nothing would be possible without the stories themselves, and for this first installment of Rambles we have material from an even dozen writers. Some wrote a lot, some wrote a little, but I owe my thanks to each of them! Follow the links to find out what they've written: Jayme Lynn Blaschke, Tammy Dotts, Jade Falcon, April Gutierrez, Tom Knapp, Adam Lipkin, Jo Morrison, Rachael Rodgers, Donna Scanlon, Laurie Thayer, Ian Walden and Chet Williamson. Thanks, people!

Check back often for regular updates!