Thursday, August 26, 2010


It didn't take long for the fog to come rolling back in, the old killjoy, terminating what was supposed to be a nice, long, summery hot spell. Ready to escape into an alternate reality? I suggest the outstanding two-volume series, Ink and Steel and Hell and Earth, a marvelous fantasia of Elizabethan scholarship and spellbinding magic from fantasy writer Elizabeth Bear. Known collectively as "The Stratford Man Duology," the story envisions an Elizabethan England teeming with more than the usual intrigue, as Elizabeth and her spymasters maintain an intricate bond with the parallel, underground kingdom of Faery to suppress the forces of Dark Magic that threaten them both.

The Stratford Man is, of course, clever, soulful, courageous Will Shakespeare, pressed into service to work protective magic into his verse as a reluctant, but brilliant replacement for verse-master Christopher Marlowe, recently deceased. But the most triumphant performance is by Kit Marly (Marlowe) himself, newly resurrected in Faery—poet, spy, sodomite, lover of several important fairies, Devil's personal plaything, and, ultimately, lapsed atheist. Bear's delicious series is a triumph of poetry, audacious eroticism, tenderness, and unfettered imagination.

Speaking of Shakespeare, only a few days remain to catch up with this year's dynamic Shakespeare Santa Cruz season. I highly recommend The Lion In Winter, a splendid theatrical entertainment presented con brio.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column, "Babes, Ditzes, and Moms," plagarised—oops, I mean inspired by—a Wallace Baine column collected in his new book of essays, Rhymes With Vain. His piece, "Jed Clampett, Molder of Men," discusses childhood role models on '60s TV shows.

Turns out that local songbird Jayme Kelly Curtis was inspired by the same column. You can listen to her wry, bluesy tune, "What Would Jed Do?" here.

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