I love this version of the Bear Feast Polska by Rymäkkä. It captures the mythic heart of the song. ‘Karhunpeijaispolska’ is one of the first songs I learned to play on the kantele. I imagined cheery bears frolicking in the woods to the jaunty tune, which of course I figured out eventually had nothing to do with the lyrics.
The song is of course about the ritual of hunting and eating the bear. The song honours his sacred gift to the community. Bears are very important in the folklore and myths of Finland. Even today when you arrive at the airport in Helsinki, the signs outside are held in place by concrete bears.
I worked that into my noirish tale ‘Baltic Tango’ in Dream Book. It reunites two characters from À la Mort Subite who somewhat unexpectedly find themselves in Finland and have a hard time adjusting. They even hear the explanation of the Bear Feast over dinner one night. It’s important that the bear agrees to be sacrificed. To kill the bear when it’s unnecessary is a great crime again the living and all would suffer for it.
Besides, he has a good beer that’s perfect after a sauna.
Drop by Todd’s blog for more conventional TOA/V.
Today I’ve got an essay up at a new site, VexMosaic, along with folks like the esteemed Alasdair Stuart. What is VexMosaic, you ask?
Good Speculative Fiction transforms “what is” into “what could be”.
It vexes, disturbs, and inspires us, becoming a catalyst for new ways of thinking
that expand our awareness and subvert the status quo.
We want to amplify that discussion.
Read the brief here and take a look around. In short if you like spec fic narratives and discussions, you’ll like the Vex.
My first essay for the site has to do with how medieval films appropriate the era to talk about very modern anxieties about the roles of men. I’m not so much concerned about how accurate they are or aren’t, but how their choices illuminate the ways we see the past — and how we manipulate it for our own purposes.
Check it out and see what else you might enjoy: this is a promising new venture. Help get the word out!
Attempting to photograph the thin pink clouds in Edinburgh this morning and ended up with this impressionistic piece with the bus lights reflecting.
A magpie’s welcome
Trains are for the birds!
Fields of lush green
The silvery Tay!
It’s good to be back! :-) Of course I forgot to mention the waiting hours in Edinburgh Airport waiting for the first train this morning (>_<) I dozed and watched ongoing repairs (oh, the excitement!)
What are they building up there?
I should be on my way across the Atlantic at present, but I have to be sure to say a happy birthday to a couple of legends today: Tony Hancock and Paul D. Brazill. They both make me laugh like a crazy person, so if you don’t know them already, you shouldn’t waste any time in making their acquaintance.
Here’s a story of mine that pays homage to Hancock and Sid James (pictured above) and here’s a fave episode from Hancock’s Half Hour.
And you should drop by Mr B’s Facebook page or his website to wish him Happy Birthday — or just buy all his books so he can make you laugh, too. You won’t regret it.
Now, blow out your candle!
One of the important themes of Dream Book is the music of the kantele. Long time readers of this blog know well the Finnish lap harp. I have a couple of five string kanteles, a ten string made by Gerry Henkel that’s waiting for me in Dundee and a fifteen string one that I got back recently. I have improved my playing though I’ll never be a superstar, mostly thanks to the Maine Kantele Institute, where I even made a five string kantele.
It’s a wonderful instrument that’s great for meditative music. Unamplified it’s rather quiet so you won’t disturb anyone — though I am still longing to get a red electric fifteen string. One of the stories explores a little girl’s relationship to her kantele — and the imaginary friend she discovers with it (or is it just her imagination…?)
Here’s some samples:
Hey, kids in the capital region, I’ll be among the attendees at Albacon — which surprisingly has nothing to do with bacon at all but is the local SF/F/H/anime/manga/comics/costuming etc con. Plenty of fun people will be there: GoH is Mur Lafferty and Ghost of Honor is jan howard finder a.k.a. wombat. Doubtless I will be doing my best to flog Dream Book to all and sundry.
My schedule includes:
(possibly taking Debi Chowdhury’s place on the 9 and/or 10 am panels too)
Getting it Published
Laity, Hartwell, Chowdhury, Willis
Getting the Word Out
Laity, Chowdhury, Shvartzman
Kressel, Lafferty*, Laity, Shvartsman
Hammond*, Laity, Schneyer, Shvartsman, Rothman
Noir in SF Cinema (or, perhaps,SF in Film Noir!)
Doyle, Laity*, Barnett/Grant
Full program here. Sorry for the rush job: trying to finish grading!