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Back in 1994, I was busy finishing my doctoral dissertation and preparing for my dissertation Defense…and working full time. So I don’t remember anything about the 25th Anniversary of Woodstock. But, according to the liner notes to Woodstock 94 300,000 enthusiastic fans showed up for the event.

And, plenty of Big Names showed up, too. Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Metallica, Traffic, Joe Cocker, the cranberries, Melissa Etheridge, Aerosmith, Sheryl Crow, and Nine Inch Nails. But, there are also a bunch of lesser bands like Candlebox and Jackyl.

Do you remember the 25th Anniversary Woodstock concert? Are any of your favorite performers on these discs? GRADE: B


Disc One:

  1. Live – “Selling the Drama” – 4:33
  2. Blues Traveler – “But Anyway” – 4:18
  3. Melissa Etheridge – “I’m the Only One” – 5:33
  4. Joe Cocker – “Feelin’ Alright” – 4:57
  5. “Stage Announcement” – 1:22
  6. The Cranberries – “Dreams” – 4:25
  7. Blind Melon – “Soup” – 3:20
  8. Green Day – “When I Come Around” – 3:01
  9. Salt-n-Pepa – “Shoop” – 5:18
  10. Tom Arnold – “Stage Announcement” – 0:53
  11. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” – 5:21
  12. Porno for Pyros – “Porno for Pyros” – 3:05
  13. Primus – “Those Damned Blue Collar Tweekers” – 6:42
  14. Jackyl – “Headed for Destruction” – 5:33
  15. Aerosmith – “Draw the Line/F.I.N.E.*” – 9:45
  16. Calvert DeForest – “Stage Announcement” – 0:10
  17. Nine Inch Nails – “Happiness in Slavery” – 5:47

Disc Two:

  1. Metallica – “For Whom the Bell Tolls” – 7:23
  2. The Neville Brothers – “Come Together” – 3:53
  3. Youssou N’Dour – “Generation (Diamone)” – 5:47
  4. Zucchero Fornaciari – “Mama” – 7:23
  5. Sheryl Crow – “Run Baby Run” – 5:27
  6. Crosby, Stills & Nash – “Déjà Vu” – 7:18
  7. Violent Femmes – “Dance, Motherfucker, Dance!/Kiss Off” – 6:30
  8. Collective Soul – “Shine” – 5:58
  9. Candlebox – “Arrow” – 3:35
  10. Cypress Hill – “How I Could Just Kill a Man” – 3:22
  11. Rollins Band – “Right Here Too Much” – 5:18
  12. Bob Dylan – “Highway 61 Revisited” – 6:20
  13. Traffic – “Pearly Queen” – 5:08
  14. Peter Gabriel – “Biko” – 8:06

WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES #16: The Peculiar Exploits of Brigadier Ffellowes By Sterling Lanier

There is a genre loosely termed “Bar Tales.” Lord Dunsany wrote 150 short stories written between 1925 and 1957 of these types of stories in his Jorkens series. Arthur C. Clarke wrote a similar series of stories later published in his Tales From the White Hart collection.

Tales from Gavagan’s Bar is a celebrated collection of fantasy short stories by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt. Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon series by Spider Robinson is equally popular with readers of this genre.

I’m a fan of Sterling Lanier’s Ffellows tales. Take “Kings of the Sea” for example. Ffellows tells the listeners in the bar about an adventure he experienced in his youth that nearly cost him his life. The unusual events in “Soldier Key” produces another hair-raising adventure.

If you’re in the mood for some Tall Tales and incredible happenings, I highly recommend The Peculiar Exploits of Brigadier Ffellowes. GRADE: A


  • “Introduction” (Arthur C. Clarke) (English edition and later American edition only) — v
  • “His Only Safari” (1970) — 1
  • “The Kings of the Sea” (1968) –25
  • “His Coat So Gay” (1965) — 47
  • “The Leftovers” (1969) — 77
  • “A Feminine Jurisdiction” (1969) — 87
  • “Fraternity Brother” (1969) — 113
  • “Soldier Key” (1968) — 129

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold [Netflix] and Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion

I consider Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The White Album two of the best books of the 20th Century. Didion’s investigatory skills together with her unrelenting analysis makes her writing superb. I read Didion’s “new” collection, Let Me Tell You What I Mean, although the most recent piece in it, “,” is from 2000. All of the other pieces in this book are from 1968 to 1998.

But, truth be told, these short articles are not Didion’s best work. “” centers around Martha Stewart. “Last Words” deals with Didion’s assessments of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Norman Mailer.

The essay that struck me most vividly was “Some Women” where Didion talks about Robert Mapplethorpe, the unique photographer. Didion always tends to gravitate toward unconventional situations and people. Are you a Joan Didion fan? GRADE: B+

While I was reading Joan Didion’s new book, I figured I’d watch the Joan Didion documentary on Netflix, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold. Didion, her husband John Gregory Dunne, and her adopted daughter Quintana Roo live an unconventional life. Didion and Dunne are constantly writing. Quintana looks happy in a lot of the footage, but later we find out otherwise.

If you’re curious about Joan Didion’s life, this documentary is probably the closest you’re going to get to the truth. GRADE: A-


Foreword Hilton Als vii

Alicia and the Underground Press 3

Getting Serenity 10

A Trip to Xanadu 16

On Being Unchosen by the College of One’s Choice 23

Pretty Nancy 30

Fathers, Sons, Screaming Eagles 38

Why I Write 45

Telling Stories 58

Some Women 79

The Long-Distance Runner 89

Last Words 99 123


Blackthorn Winter is the sequel to Liz Williams’ delightful Comet Weather (you can read my review here). Both novels feature the Fallow sisters who grew up in Somerset and possess abilities which involved them in ghosts, demons, alternate dimensions, time travel, and star-sprites among other strange aspects.

Serena, a well-known fashion designer in London, finds her latest collection of clothes shredded by a demon. Stella, a DJ, meets an angel who gives her hints on where she might find her missing ex-boyfriend, Ben. Luna, pregnant with her first child, experiences visions of when England was part of the Roman Empire. Bee, the stable sister who lives in the family home of Mooncote, saves the life of a young, green-skinned girl from freezing. The girl, Aln, presents several mysteries that Bee and her Elizabethan ghost boyfriend to solve.

And then there’s the Fallow sisters’ mother, Alys, who disappears for years at a time and knows more than she’s willing to tell about those scary alternate dimensions. If you’re looking for an unconventional fantasy novel that will keep you guessing until the end, I highly recommend Blackthorn Winter. And I love the cover by Ian Whates, too! GRADE: A

The latest issue of LOCUS reports Liz Williams has sold the third and forth books in the Comet Weather series to NewCon Press. Embertide and Salt on the Midnight Fire should be published in the next year or so.


The Pandemic creates a time when Diane and I are watching TV programs that normally we wouldn’t bother with. Miss Scarlet and The Duke is one of those programs. Yes, I like Kate Phillips, who plays Miss Scarlett–she did well in Downton Abbey and Wolf Hall–who is constrained by society to a very limited role. Her reliance on The Duke, William Wellington (played by Stuart Martin), a Scotland Yard detective, is a limiting factor.

The setting for this series is Victorian London in 1882. Eliza Scarlet is left almost penniless when her father, Henry Scarlet, unexpectedly dies. In a time when marriage is the only option for a woman’s financial security, Eliza resolves to continue her father’s detective agency alone. But to operate in such a sexist world of crime-solving Eliza needs help to generate cases and to build her reputation despite being a woman.

Eliza frequently calls on her old friend William Wellington (aka, The Duke), a gruff womanising Detective Inspector of Scotland Yard, to help her acquire cases. William was mentored by Eliza’s late father through the police academy, and knew Eliza as teenagers where they once shared a chaste kiss. Henry saved William from the London streets as a child. William admired Henry and believes he owes Henry a debt of honor to protect Eliza. Though William is irritated by Eliza’s detective aspirations, he cares for her and gradually begins to show respect for her investigatory skills.

Set the bar low and you’ll enjoy Miss Scarlett and The Duke. Tonight is the Season One Finale. The earlier episodes are available ON DEMAND. GRADE: B- (for the entire series)


Fredric Brown is one of those unique writers who can write equally well in multiple genres. I grew up reading many of Fredric Brown’s mystery short stories. And, later, read many of Brown’s Science Fiction stories. With Rogue in Space (1957) you get the best of both worlds.

Rogue in Space is a fix-up novel. Brown expanded two earlier novelettes, “Gateway to Darkness”–published in Super Science Stories in 1949 and “Gateway to Glory” published in Amazing Stories in 1950–to form the novel.

A smuggler named Crag is arrested and awaits trial. A Judge offers Crag his freedom and a million dollars if he will agree to steal a McGuffin from a protected facility on Mars. So first there’s a prison escape, next a flight to Mars, then the heist, then the double-cross, and then the First Contact. Yes, Fredric Brown packs a lot into such a slim book! If you’re looking for that old fashioned Sense of Wonder, check out Rogue in Space. Are you a Fredric Brown fan? GRADE: B


Bee Gees fans will love Greenfields. Many causal listeners will find some of these renditions hard to listen to. Take “Words” with Barry Gibb and Dolly Parton for example. Both singers struggle as their aging voices strain to hit the higher notes.

All the songs have been slowed down and “country-fied.” Barry Gibb admits he’s loved country music all his life and apparently that affected the production strategy for this album.

Barry Gibb has plenty of help on these songs. He’s going to need even more help if there’s a Volume Two in the works. Are you a Bee Gees fan? GRADE: C


I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You [feat. Keith Urban3:14
2Words Of A Fool [feat. Jason Isbell]3:48
3Run To Me [feat. Brandi Carlile]3:22
4Too Much Heaven [feat. Alison Krauss]3:39
5Lonely Days [feat. Little Big Town]3:44
6Words [feat. Dolly Parton]3:11
7Jive Talkin’ [feat. Jay Buchanan & Miranda Lambert]3:57
8How Deep Is Your Love [feat. Little Big Town & Tommy Emmanuel]4:26
9How Can You Mend A Broken Heart [feat. Sheryl Crow]3:26
10To Love Somebody [feat. Jay Buchanan]3:35
11Rest Your Love On Me [feat. Olivia Newton-John]4:01
12Butterfly [feat. Gillian Welch & David Rawlings]


Despite a snow storm dumping a foot of the White Stuff on us, Diane and I drove to our local Rite Aid–just 5 minutes away–and received our second Moderna Covid-19 shot. So far, the only side-effects we’re experiencing are sore arms and fatigue. Sadly, several other vaccination sites shut down because of the snow. We lucked out!

Meanwhile, the coronavirus rates declined in Western NY. We have 3.7% positive testing. How are things where you live?


Radha Blank plays herself in (and directs) this autobiographical film. Blank is a playwright who was a hot commodity when she was 30 but now she’s approaching 40 and stuck teaching high school kids. Blank decides she needs to change things up and decides to become a rap singer. She finds a music producer named D (Oswin Benjamin), in an apartment in the Brooklyn, and starts rapping.

Meanwhile, Blank’s agent, Archie Choi (Peter Kim), manages to entice a wealthy white investor to produce Blank’s play about gentrification, HARLEM AVE. But problems occur when the promised Black director never eventuates and instead a white director (played by Welker White) changes Radha Blank’s play into “poverty porn.”

Blank shows how contemporary playwrights battle problems of having their creative vision “modified” by financial backers, actors, and social forces which the illustrates the dilemma of Black artists whose careers rely on white decision-makers. 

Yes, there’s humor in The 40-Year-Old-Version. But I was confused by the mix of messages. Does Radha Blank really hate teaching? Does she want to abandon her playwriting dreams to become a rapper? Why does Blank avoid her brother? Plenty of questions, not enough answers. GRADE: C+