jazzy_dave: (Default)
Lois Martin "The History of Witchcraft" (Pocket Essentials)

Lois Martin's short book hits all the high points in the history of witchcraft as Westerners typically understand it. A well-researched and documented account, THE HISTORY OF WITCHCRAFT is a valuable resource for those looking for a quick read about the legalistic approach to heresy and witchcraft. Martin does not address any modern pagan movement, besides a brief mention of both Margaret Murray and Charles Leland, but rather sticks to the facts as history has shown them.

If the reader has any interest in witch trials, witch-hunting, or the so-called Witch Craze of a few hundred years ago, Martin's book is a great introductory place to start. Her chapter in which she lists her resources in some depth should appeal to the student or researcher. My only criticism is that she seems to address some trials twice, which can be confusing if one is reading straight through rather than picking individual chapters.

The book doesn't say anywhere that witchcraft is evil. Its purpose is not to pass judgement on the subject matter, but to educate and inform, and it succeeds brilliantly.

jazzy_dave: (Default)
Time for some music i think -

Tim Buckley - Once I Was

Tim Buckley - Song to the Siren

Tim Buckley - Phantasmagoria in Two

jazzy_dave: (bookish)
W.G Sebald "The Emigrants" (Harvill)

This is a book of 4 essays, each focusing on someone the author knew personally (a landlord, a teacher, a great uncle, an artist friend), all displaced emigrants, all fairly normal, but also very remarkable in ways that Sebald skillfully and subtly brings out. These are essays about history and fate and, often, the holocaust... which is wisely never mentioned directly.

He writes in a way you have to savour slowly, in a certain state of mind.I have a hard time putting my finger on what exactly I enjoyed so much about this book. Perhaps this is a compliment to the writer, in that nothing stands out as remarkable... it is stylistically and structurally pretty standard stuff, but it builds in a cumulative way. Something about the slow, personal way these essays develop. Something about the melancholy that isn't ever melodramatic. Enlightening without being simply (or ever) revelatory. In fact, there are no answers here, simply questions and pain and longing. It's complex and open ended and personal.

His essays, which are sometimes considered fiction, but really are a tightrope-walk between reality and our tenuous relationship with it, are interspersed with photos. Some of the photos obviously contribute to the pieces, but some--oddly--are very literal and do not seem to illuminate much. And oftentimes I want to see a photo of something that is frustratingly not shown. Perhaps this was deliberately withheld from the reader for a purpose.

This particular book satisfied a craving. A craving for something stirring and huge, but not sad in the traditional 'weeping over my pillow' way... but more restrained, more difficult, more like a very distinct stillness, like an enormous snow-covered mountain range.

Recommended reading i say.

jazzy_dave: (black jazz)
Another dank dreary day in which we had a combination of cold winds, rain and occasional sleet Bitterly cold infact.

So after the lie-in and a quick nip to the supermarket to get some food the rest of the day has been spent listening to music, the radio or reading.

Oh and i also received through the post yesterday a CD by Spring Heel Jack called Amassed featuring Han Bennink , Evan Parker, John Edwards and Matthew Shipp amonst others.

One of the tracks from the album.

Spring Heel Jack - Lit

jazzy_dave: (Default)
Lisa Randall " Warped Passages : Unravelling the Universe's Hidden Dimensions" (Penguin)

Lisa Randall is a theoretical physicist who specializes in the so-called Standard Model of particle physics. She explains the particles and forces depicted in that model, and where the model fails as a picture of the real subatomic world. For example, it does not explain gravity's weakness compared with electromagnetism and the weak and strong nuclear forces. Randall's proposed solutions to the deficiencies in the Standard Model, unlike some of the other propositions of string theory, can be experimentally tested.
Randall writes as clearly as possible, I think; but to follow the text is made much easier if one is already acquainted with some basic principles of theoretical physics.
One awaits eagerly the results of the tests at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at CERN, which will or will not support her theories. If she turns out to be right, we will know that there is at least a 5th dimension to our universe and that the 'branes' of String Theory are real.
jazzy_dave: (Default)
P.G. Wodehouse "Something Fresh" (Arrow)

This is the book in which Wodehouse introduces his readers to the idyllic world of Blandings Castle where for the first time we meet the Earl of Emsworth, the Efficient Baxter and Beach the Butler. It is something of a sketchy start to the series however; Lord Emsworth is eccentric in a mild way and absent- minded enough to walk off with the priceless scarab belonging to Mr Peters, father of his son's fiancee. However that noble beast, the Empress of Blandings has yet to appear and Lady Constance has not made an appearance, leaving Baxter with no- one to play off and Clarence no- one to hide from as Lady Ann, Blandings hostess, is usually in her room nursing a sick headache.

The plot centres on the scarab with Peters hiring pulp writer Ashe Marson to retrieve it, while Joan Valentine, a friend of Mr Peters daughter Aline is also after it. Ashe and Joan live in the same boarding house in London and poverty makes the reward for returning the scarab to Peters very attractive. They are a rather uninteresting pair of romantic leads and the chief interest in the novel lies in Baxter's attempts to foil what he assumes to be the theft of the scarab. There is a very funny scene in which various parties swirl around each other late at night at the foot of the great staircase, while one waits with bated breath for the inevitable collisions to occur.

The book is a bit under powered as a whole, but improves as it goes along. A good read but not enough to entice me to read more of this series or any other Wodehouse book.

Cibo Matto

Jan. 30th, 2017 11:48 pm
jazzy_dave: (Default)
My Cibo Matto CD "Viva!La Woman" arrived today so when i got home i had to play it. Apart from the tracks i have posted already, "Sugar Water" and "Theme", the whole album is based around food stuffs.The lyrics relate to food, including "Know Your Chicken", "Apple", and "Birthday Cake". The albumcame out in 1996 and you see the gals play Sugar Water in a Buffy episode.

Here is "Apple".

jazzy_dave: (Default)
Ben Aaronovitch "Rivers Of London" (Gollancz)

I started reading this last year and then for some reason forgot about it ,so i reread it again and finished it today.

While watching a crime scene, Probationary Constable Peter Grant, who dreams of being a detective in London's Metropolitan Police, has an encounter with a ghost who has witnessed the murder. What to do with that information - ghosts not really being considered proper witnesses. Together with his colleague Leslie he digs into the evidence to try and come up with a reasonable way of introducing his evidence. As he goes back to the scene to see whether the ghost is still hanging around, he crosses paths with Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. He soon finds himself attached to his small unit and pulled into a very different London that he never suspected was there. All this while still being on the force with the usual rivalries and procedures that fit rather badly with the weird nature of the case.

Wonderfully whimsical and very British in style.
jazzy_dave: (Default)
John Ruskin "On Art and Life" (Penguin)

John Ruskin (1819-1900), gave us impassioned critique of a society obsessed with getting and spending that struck a chord that has continued to reverberate with thoughtful individuals across the political spectrum. Ruskin was a seer in both senses of the word: an acutely perceptive observer of art, architecture, literature, and Nature, and an uncannily prescient Cassandra who warned of developing threats - moral, social, economic, cultural, and environmental - to human life and happiness.

Ruskin's politics were something of a paradox. A forceful critic of greed, the profit motive, the degradation of labour, and economic injustice, he was also a staunch believer in hierarchy and authority.

"John Ruskin, the nineteenth-century British writer with the most wide-ranging influence on contemporary thought, has gone unread for a long time. His ideas have lived through the words of other writers while his own works are ignored. Their style suited an age that found the forty mile-per-hour speed of the railway frightening, that never dreamed of multi-tasking, channel surfing, and sound bites. Reading was then a majestic activity in pace and status, total attention demanded by it and total attention given it. We have lost that patience and those skills, so Ruskin's prose seems difficult, and we avoid it. That is our loss". Phyllis Rose.

Some quotes from Ruskin:

"Of all inorganic substances, acting in their own proper nature, without assistance or combination, water is the most wonderful. If we think of it as the source of all the changeableness and beauty which we have seen in clouds; then as the instrument by which the earth we have contemplated was modelled into symmetry, and its crags chiselled into grace; then as, in the form of snow, it robes the mountains it has made with that transcendent light which we could not have conceived if we had not seen; then as it exists in the foam of the torrent, in the iris which spans it, in the morning mist which rises from it, in the deep crystalline pools which its hanging shore, in the broad lake and glancing river; finally, in that which is to all human minds the best emblem of unwearied unconquerable power, the wild, various, fantastic, timeless unity of the sea; what shall we compare to this mighty, this universal element, for glory and for beauty? or how shall we follow its eternal changefulness of feeling? It is like trying to paint a soul.!

I’m a big believer in reading primary texts. I get a little sick at the idea of studying a philosopher without reading the works of that philosopher, but I’m realistic enough to know that for the general reader, primary texts aren’t always a good option. They’re often too long or too involved for someone just looking for a passing familiarity, and so we end up relying on secondary sources. If this little book from the Penguin Great Ideas series is typical, this series is a great way of filling the need for primary texts for the general reader. Plus, with its lovely embossed cover, this book is a thing of beauty.

The 98-page book contains just two essays by Ruskin: “The Nature of Gothic” from The Stone of Venice and “The Work of Iron in Nature, Art, and Policy,” a lecture Ruskin delivered in 1858. My only complaint is that there’s no actual context or introduction provided. Just a few pages of basic biographical and historical information would have made this a perfect little introduction to Ruskin.

jazzy_dave: (Default)
Dave Goulson "A Buzz In The Meadow" (Vintage)

Dave Goulson is a fine natural history writer, and an important conservationist. His work centers around the less glorious taxa, the insects that underlie the world’s ecosystems yet receive less attention. He has a talent for expressing scientific results, when too often the findings are confined to a bubble where only people specializing in a certain field will read and understand the results. Books like “A Buzz in the Meadow” are needed if you feel you don’t know enough about large groups of life forms like plants and insects. However, if you don’t like thinking about insect parts and reproduction (or that of animals in general), know that this is not for everyone. Still, Goulson is a very good communicator, and this is an excellent book.

At the beginning of each chapter, he gives the date, amount of time he spent running, number of humans seen (usually none), number of dogs (usually more than one) and number of butterfly species and any interesting notes to accompany them. Often a literary quote follows, to precede the chapter. He saves footnotes for the end of the chapter, which I think makes for smoother reading. For North American readers, we have to keep in mind that Europe has different sets of species, diverged from the common ancestors of those over here, in similar ecological niches. Even a naturalist like Goulson was unable to pinpoint the “wack-wack” bird, one of two prominent unidentified creatures in the meadow.

Many stories come from previous research he conducted or supervised, relating to the species now seeing in the meadow. Campions are his example for male and female ratios (also humans have the same thing going on, more or less), and there is a cool study of handedness or its analogue in insects, as well as learned behavior – and the chlorophyll-less yellow rattle. He mentions the soot of the Industrial Revolution that caused a moth’s two color morphs to drift in favor of the dark one as opposed to the pale one that stood out. House flies in hen houses also serve as an example of evolution in action, reminiscent of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” – which is especially relevant in a later chapter on neonicotinoids, and the science and struggle to show their effects short- and long-term. Island biogeography and metapopulations again see bees (and butterflies) as examples, but this isn’t an information dump – each story helps demonstrate a process that can be observed scientifically. Reading this book also gives a good feel for the many sides of scientific publishing.

The last chapter is the least about the meadow but the most about conservation, to which Goulson is already dedicated. Not depressing or preachy, it stays informative.

I recommend it.
jazzy_dave: (bookish)
Ellis Peters "Monk's Hood " (Sphere)

This is the first novel i have read from this author. These books follow the investigative exploits of Brother Cadfael.

Monk's Hood, which is the third Brother Cadfael mystery, is set in the fall of 1138 when Shrewsbury is recovering from its participation in the civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud. Shrewsbury Abbey is experiencing some changes of its own: the gentle Abbot Heribert has been called to a Legatine Council that will likely strip him of his authority, and the ambitious Prior Robert eagerly takes his place pending the Council's ruling. Meanwhile, a wealthy landowner, Gervase Bonel, cedes his estate to the abbey in return for a comfortable place to live out his days... only, those days aren't very long. After eating a delicacy sent him by Prior Robert, Bonel dies in the agonies of poison.

In the course of his investigations, Cadfael comes into contact with a variety of people in Bonel's household — among them an old flame, Richildis, who is now Bonel's widow. This gives rise to various musings on what might have been and the life Cadfael has chosen instead. Peters skirts the edges of cynicism without quite brushing up against it: hard to do, to achieve that resignation that is actually quite content without casting aspersions on the reality of romantic attachment.

Like several other well-known literary sleuths, Cadfael uses his own discretion when it comes to unveiling and punishing the murderer. In this case he does not expose the murderer to public justice, choosing instead to set a lifelong penance that will, he hopes, do the world more good than would justice according to the letter of the law. Cadfael is already set apart from the other characters by his uncanny wisdom in getting to the bottom of murder, but does this give him the right to administer justice as he sees fit? I'm not sure how I feel about this; despite Cadfael's brilliance, he's still a fallible human being. Only one other character, Hugh Beringar, dimly guesses at how Cadfael has disposed of the case.

Peters' writing is so smoothly effortless that it would be easy to take it for granted. Most readers don't look for great literature in the murder mystery genre, but that doesn't mean that the technical brilliance of the plotting should outweigh the style of the prose. Peters writes characters who are believable in their historic setting and personal relationships, with an unfaltering narrative voice that is both lively and original. She is also noted for the historical faithfulness of her work.

Cadfael's a great character, the mysteries are well plotted, and the prose is excellent.

Good Night

Jan. 8th, 2017 11:38 pm
jazzy_dave: (Default)

Time for bed although i might listen to some CD's for awhile.
jazzy_dave: (bookish)
Philip Dodd "Reverend Guppy's Aquarium:How Jules Leotard, Adolphe Sax, Roy Jacuzzi and Co .." (Arrow Books)

I'm glad that someone has finally gotten around to highlighting those people who have, whether they knew it or not, become part of the lexicon. To be honest, I never gave much thought to whether there was a Mr or Ms Leotard the leotard was named after or whether "leotard" was a name dreamt up by a marketing department. The same for "guppy" (although I can't imagine why a marketing department would ever come up with the name "guppy") or "Mercedes". Dodd has seen the gap in the market and admirably filled it, with "The Reverend Guppy's Aquarium".

Although by a few chapters in one has picked up the general gist of "Dodd's talking about jacuzzis and I'm guessing, by the general thrust of the book, that there was a person called Jacuzzi the spa is named after", Dodd's writing never goes stale and you get caught up in the lives of Ernst Grafenberg (of G-Spot fame), Samuel Maverick, Laszlo Biro and, of course, the Reverend Robert Lechmere Guppy.
jazzy_dave: (Default)

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my friends and family.

This will be the last post tonight as i will pop over to Phil with a bottle of wine.to see The New Year in!

Back tomorrow. 

jazzy_dave: (Default)
Do not forget this new darker series -

Sherlock - Season 4 | official trailer (2017) Benedict Cumberbatch

jazzy_dave: (Default)
James Sharpe "Instruments Of Darkness" (University of Pennsylvania) 

James Sharpe is a well known historian on the topic of witchcraft in early modern England. The witchcraft trials in England were different from their continental counterparts and that becomes apparent in this book. Sharpe comes to some great conclusions and analyzew how tensions between church, state, and society were able to produce such widespread fear that led to the witchcraft accusations and trials.

I really enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about the subject.


Dec. 30th, 2016 09:13 pm
jazzy_dave: (pipe man)
I have decided to export my LJ blog entries to DW -just in case. A precaution if you will. I could also just post on DW and let it cross post automatically.
jazzy_dave: (charmed gals)
Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling, indoor

A studio pic from the episode in which the Charmed ones had to defeat the Titans.


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