Revelations

Edward Bol­man: The records of Jim Copp. Ed: “Oh, Mr. Copp, are we in Flum­did­dle yet?” Jim: “Why, no. We’re in a for­est, East of Flum­did­dle.” Jim Copp was a tow­er­ing genius in the field of children’s records. For any­one wish­ing to become acquainted with Mr. Copp, I rec­om­mend vis­it­ing the Play­house Records Web Site. On Youtube, you can watch Jim per­form “Agnes Mouth­wash” live and mar­vel at the idea of Jim’s insan­ity warm­ing up the audi­ence for Bil­lie Holiday.

Matthew Cheney: It should come as lit­tle sur­prise to any­one read­ing this that I am fond of a blog called The Old, Weird Amer­ica. It is an in-depth explo­ration of Harry Smith’s Anthol­ogy of Amer­i­can Folk Music (about which Greil Mar­cus famously said, “the old, weird Amer­ica is what one finds here”) that also pro­vides copi­ous exam­ples of other record­ings and vari­a­tions of the songs on the Anthol­ogy, as well as infor­ma­tion on the musi­cians. It’s a time machine and a trea­sure map. I espe­cially rec­om­mend to our read­ers the post on “John the Rev­e­la­tor.”

Michaela D’Angelo: One day last July I was wan­der­ing through Mass MOCA, look­ing at a great deal of nom­i­nally clever, but ulti­mately unin­spired and unin­spir­ing “art”. I walked up a flight of stairs into an exhibit by the Ger­man expres­sion­ist, Anselm Kiefer. It absolutely took my breath away. Great slabs of paint on enor­mous can­vases that looked as if they had been unearthed, and though they were quite abstract, they seemed to say every­thing there was to say about war, loss, life and death, with a vivid­ness and impact that was uncanny. Months later, they con­tinue to haunt me. And one more thing, if you still believe in the salvific power of rock and roll, check out Matthew Ryan.

Robin DeRosa: Lentil bur­ri­tos and http://thebloggess.com/

Jef­frey Ford: I’ve known Steven Erik­son (author of the Malazan books) for a while now. I usu­ally see him once a year at the World Fan­tasy Con­ven­tion.  In addi­tion to being an incred­i­bly tal­ented writer, Steve has also been edu­cated and trained as both an anthro­pol­o­gist and archae­ol­o­gist. He remains active in these fields and always has inter­est­ing sto­ries to tell about his jour­neys and dis­cov­er­ies.  A cou­ple of years ago he told me about some crazy trip he took to a remote spot in Mon­go­lia where he very nearly died. This past year he told me about Saveock Water, an archae­o­log­i­cal dig under­way in Eng­land. The site being exca­vated for the past ten years by Jaqui Wood and her stu­dents is unlike any­thing ever dis­cov­ered in the U.K., or for that fact, the world. As of 2011, they’ve found 42 rit­ual pits of a very bizarre nature.  These pits, dug into the clay, are lined with dog fur or some­times swan feath­ers and also worked into the walls are the remains of cer­tain birds and other crea­tures and in one instance a goat. At a cer­tain com­pass direc­tion many of the pits have fist size chunks of crys­tal pressed into their walls and all are strewn with a spe­cial lilac col­ored sand got­ten from a very dis­tant beach. These find­ings are undoubt­edly the results of some very secre­tive, idio­syn­cratic prac­tice of witch­craft. The shocker is that the pits date back 400 years to the 1640’s and then for­ward in time to the most recent being dug some time post 1970. So this ultra-secret rite has been car­ried out over cen­turies all the way into mod­ern time.  There is spec­u­la­tion as to what the pur­pose was, but as Wood says at the site I’ve offered the link to, the more they exca­vate, the less and less clear it becomes as to what was actu­ally going on at Saveock. There’s so much more to this story than I’ve room for here.  Check it out.  Steve’s final com­ment on it to me was, “400 years of kids just havin’ fun.” If you’d like to know more about Erik­son and his work here’s the link to a Wikipedia page about him.

Nick Mamatas: Chen-style taiji quan. It’s just like the tai chi you might have seen older women doing in the park, but it’s painful and you can beat peo­ple up with it. I swear by Chen prac­tice, which has helped mit­i­gate my chronic bronchial infec­tions and keeps me per­fectly bal­anced while stand­ing up on the bus.

Luís Rodrigues: Pon­ty­pool, simul­ta­ne­ously adapted to the screen & the air­waves by Tony Burgess from his own novel Pon­ty­pool Changes Every­thing, is won­der­ful. It takes Bur­roughs’ ideas of lan­guage as a virus, mixes it up with Orson Welles’ broad­cast of The War of the Worlds with a dash of word­play & the zom­bie apoc­a­lypse, & then unleashes it upon a small town in Canada. The film/radio play is almost entirely set inside a radio sta­tion where a washed-up sar­donic announcer played by Stephen McHat­tie broad­casts his morn­ing show while the town around him spi­rals into mad­ness & can­ni­bal­ism. Most of the hor­ror (& some care­fully placed humour) is deliv­ered through audio reports from the sur­vivors out­side, until the crew real­izes — obvi­ously too late — that spo­ken Eng­lish is in fact the pri­mary vec­tor for the dis­ease. A sequel, Pon­ty­pool Changes, is in the works, but I doubt it’ll be as good as this.

Eric Schaller: The BBC radio broad­casts from 1998 – 2002 dee-jayed by Joe Strum­mer, for­merly of The Clash, and called not sur­pris­ingly “Lon­don Call­ing.” These are a great eclec­tic mix of every­thing from Elvis Pres­ley to world music. You can down­load them from either here or here.

Brian Fran­cis Slat­tery: Joseph Spence, The Com­plete Folk­ways Record­ings, 1958.