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August 2008

Go gently

This song goes out for my cat Oliver, who died yesterday after sharing two decades of life with me.

Oliver as a kitten in BostonI first found him, a starving and flea-ridden kitten, on the back streets of Boston when I lived in that city, naming him after Oliver Twist because he was always hungry. He grew up into a big, strong, blustery fellow, affectionate and fearless -- even after our move to the Arizona desert, where he learned to give wary berth to coyotes and watch out for bobcats and snakes.

At the age of seven, he developed a cancerous growth in his ear. I was poor; friends said, "Look he's had a good life." But his was a life that I held in my hands, a sacred responsibility, so I emptied my bank account for an operation to give him a little more time. Reader, he lived to the age of twenty. Best money I ever spent.

He was tough, my dear boy. He loved his life, and his home, and me, and I loved him. I will miss him forever. Go gently, Oliver. Go gently, old friend.


A video for a rainy Saturday in Devon. . .

Here's an absolutely gorgeous version of the Moving on Song -- Ewan MacColl's now-classic ballad about the plight of the Gypsies in Great Britain, created for the BBC Radio Ballads series -- performed by the MacColl brothers, Chris Wood, and the fabulous singer/songwriter Karine Polwart. MacColl's work always reminds me of how art and activism can go hand in hand . . . and how important art can be in this role.

The BBC Radio Ballads were ground-breaking documentaries created by producer Charles Parker and musicians Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger in the late 1950s, weaving voices from various British communties (railroad men, fishermen, miners, boxers, Ewan_macollGypsies, people with polio, etc.) with songs written for and about them. Parker defined radio ballads as "a form of narrative documentary in which the story is told entirely in the words of the actual participants themselves as recorded in real life; in sound effects which are also recorded on the spot, and in songs which are based upon these recordings, and which utilize traditional or 'folk-song' modes of expression."


Thursday Morning News

A3_2 The list of finalists for the 2008 World Fantasy Awards (for works published in 2007) has just been announced.

The Coyote Road, a mythic fiction anthology for young adult readers which I edited with Ellen Datlow, is a finalist in the Best Anthology catagory; and Kij Johnson's brilliant story for the book, "The Evolution of  Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change," is up for Best Short Story. (You can read it on the web here.)

Also, in the "Special Award" catagory, Midori Snyder and I have been nominated for our work on the Endicott Studio/Journal of Mythic Arts website. We're delighted, of course.

I also wanted to mention that the Endicott Studio has a little news blog now. Much smaller (and thus less time-consuming) than the old Journal of Mythic Arts blog. You'll find it here.

Devon musician Seth Lakeman has a new CD out, "Poor Man's Heaven," and it's fabulous. The video above (shot at the Minack Theatre in Cornwall) is for "The Hurlers," a song based on a Cornish legend attached to three Bronze Age stone circles on Bodmin Moor. William Camden, a 17th century historian, wrote that "The neighbouring inhabitants terme them Hurlers, as being by devout and godly error perswaded that they had been men sometime transformed into stones, for profaning the Lord's Day with hurling the ball."  (You can see a picture of the Hurlers here.)