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  • gilwilson 5:19 PM on January 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , chicanos, , folk healer, hispanic, mexican-americans, , witches   

    Bless Me, Ultima By: Rudolfo Anaya 

    Narrated by: Robert Ramirez
    Length: 11 hrs and 16 mins
    Release date: 09-17-07
    Publisher: Recorded Books

    Sometimes a book comes your way and just sits there waiting to be read, and then when the time is right you read it when you need it. That’s pretty much what happened here with “Bless Me, Ultima.” I had downloaded the audiobook from the SYNC YA summer reading program and just kept it on my computer for a while. Then while looking for what I thought would be some light fare I decided to listen to this Young Adult novel. I have to say it was interesting to read about someone else trying to determine what is good and what is evil and how to cope with what you know to be true.

    The book follows a young Antonio as he is about to begin school and be separated from his mother for the first time. While worrying about school, Ultima, a sort of folk healer, comes to live with his family. Antonio is expected to become a priest, by his mother. In a community of farmers this will be a difficult road to travel. While he is preparing for his first communion and learning about God and good and evil, his religious background is enhanced by the folktales and teachings of Ultima about his ancestors.

    As Antonio begins to question good and evil things happen in the village that lead Antonio to become concerned for the soul of his father. Ultima also shows him how to break a curse from the town’s witches and learns to save his Uncle. Antonio’s education becomes a pathway that shapes not only his future but his family’s future and his standing in it.

    This book not only tells the coming of age of Antonio, but also gives the reader/listener a look into the society of the vaqueros (farmers) and Mexican-Americans / Chicanos and the blending with European religion and attitudes.

    Robert Ramirez delivers the narration of the book with the perfect subtlety and accent to keep the book interesting throughout.

    Publisher’s Summary

    With hundreds of thousands of copies in print, Bless Me, Ultima has been called the most widely read Mexican-American novel in the English language. Richly evocative, it has earned its place among the classics of modern literature, even drawing favorable comparisons to Herman Melville’s legendary Moby Dick.

    ©1973, 1994 Rodolfo Anaya; (P)2004 Recorded Books LLC

  • gilwilson 10:52 PM on May 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , carol kane, , , , mccarthyism, , , , salem witch hunt, salem witches, , , , witches   

    “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller from the “Arthur Miller Collection” from L.A. Theatre Works 

    “The Crucible”
    by Arthur Miller
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
    Included in “The Arthur Miller Collection”
    Starring: Irene Aranga, Rene Auberjonois, Ed Begley Jr, Georgia Brown, Jack Coleman, Bud Cort, Richard Dreyfuss, Judyann Elder, Hector Elizondo, Fionnula Flanagan, Ann Hearne, Carol Kane, Stacy Keach, Anna Sophie Loewenberg, Marian Mercer, Franklyn Seales, Madolyn Smith, Joe Spano and Michael York
    118 minutes

    Continuing on in this collection of 10 plays from L.A. Theatre Works’ “The Arthur Miller Collection,” I’ve just finished with a very cool play that has a bit of a double meaning. “The Crucible” was Arthur Miller’s answer to the Communism accusations from McCarthyism and the blacklisting of accused communists. During the days when Senator McCarthy was finding Communists hiding behind every doorway, Arthur Miller was questioned by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American Activities in 1956 and convicted of “contempt of Congress” for refusing to identify others present at meetings he had attended. So what seemed like a witch hunt Arthur was spurred to write “The Crucible.” While “The Crucible” may not be entirely historically accurate it does represent the scare tactics and deplorable actions during the Salem Witch trials and the Committee on Un-American Activities.

    L. A. Theatre works has produced a great version of this play with some of the greatest actors ever. Each one brings to audio life this play that portrays a dark time in history and serves as an allegory for another dark time centuries later. The cast alone is enough to move the play along in this production, but there is one other “actor” that is not credited that really allowed me as a listener to feel the burdens of the convicted Satanists, that “actor” was the special effects, especially those of the chains used to hold the prisoners. The sound effects of the chains was so real and yet surreal in that their audio level was promoted to the point where I could feel the weight of the chains myself. This really made the experience more life-like.

    When a girl of the village of Salem, Massachusetts is found unconscious, and is suspected because of dabbling in witchcraft accusations begin to fly. What soon happens is that one of the local farmers’ wife is accused by a girl who once had an affair with the farmer and wants the wife out of the way. Soon many of the women and even some men are bound in chains and thrown in jail. With the threat of unChristian activities set to destroy the very fabric of the town and government, the accused are threatened to either confess their dealings with Satan or be hanged. Even if they have nothing to confess if they don’t confess they get hanged.

    In a play that presents the choice of lying to live and destroy your reputation or tell the truth and be killed and thus destroying the reputation of your family, the drama and suspense abounds. The language written in the play pulls from the sound of the language of the Bible and each actor makes the words sound so natural that it adds more depth to the play. Top it off with this excellent cast and production and this is one version of “The Crucible” you won’t want to miss.

  • gilwilson 9:41 PM on September 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: audible frontiers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , witches   

    “Strange Brew” Edited by P.N. Elrod 

    “Strange Brew”
    Edited by P.N. Elrod
    Multiple readers
    produced by Audible Frontiers (2009)
    approx 12 hours.

    In continuing my search for more Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” stories I find another collection of short stories that have a few of my other favorite supernatural authors and I may have found a few more.  This book features 9 stories all dealing with the supernatural, in particular witches, wizards and potions.  There is no Professor Snape to let this lot know if they are doing it right or wrong, but for the most part they all get it right.  The nice thing is that for most of the authors in this book, they have a running series and these short stories take place within the realm of that same series and for the die-hard fans, here’s one more source for some quick pleasure while waiting for that next book.

    Each story has their own reader thus giving this collection in audiobook form a better sound of being different stories from different authors.  Now let’s talk about each story one by one.

    “Seeing Eye” by Patricia Briggs:  Patricia Briggs returns to the world of Mercy Thompson, but follows an entirely new character – the witch (Wendy) Moira Keller. Tom Franklin, werewolf and second in the Emerald City pack, shows up on Moira’s doorstep asking for her help in finding his kidnapped brother Jon, Moira cannot refuse him, even though it could mean her death. For Moira is no ordinary witch, and she has a dark past connected to those who have taken Jon – the Samhain Coven, led by the cruel and power-hungry Kouros. Together, Moira and Tom set out on Jon’s trail, using her magic and Tom’s strength to discover Jon’s fate, and to face Samhain once and for all.

    “Last Call” by Jim Butcher:  Harry takes on the darkest of dark powers–the ones who dare to mess with his favorite beer. All Harry wants to do after a long hard day of wizarding and private investigating is have one of Mac’s famous home brews and possibly a steak sandwich, but when Harry, walks into Macanally’s, he finds the place in disarray, not the normal planned disarray but one which finds several tables turned over, customers and Mac,himself, unconscious.  Harry then finds that the home brew has been tampered with and a deeper darker mystery unveils in which an ancient being wishes to take over Chicago.  This story takes place between Small Favor and Turn Coat.

    “Death Warmed Over” by Rachel Caine: This story takes place in a world where witches moonlight in extremely specialized fields. Holly Caldwell is one such witch with a rare affinity for resurrecting the dead, working at her day job when she receives a last minute email from her other boss, Sam – a request for a “disposable,” or a long-term resurrection from the local police department. Holly has sworn off disposables ever since her first and last job – because of the pain her impossible relationship with the resurrected caused her. Now, Sam and the police want Holly to raise the same man from her past, a powerful witch named Andrew Toland who died in 1875 fighting an army of resurrected dead gone violent (or more commonly, zombies). Though it pains her to reopen a relationship that is in all ways impossible, Holly breathes life back into Andrew. Unfortunately for them both, only later do they learn that someone has been killing resurrection witches, and Holly is next on the list.  This turns out to be kind of a creepy love story of sorts that has a twist in the mystery unfolding.

    “Vegas Odds” by Karen Chance: The longest story in “Strange Brew” is Karen Chance’s “Vegas Odds.”  The story bursts with excitement from start.  Half-Were Lia and her boyfriend Were Cyrus destroy her house while under attack from a group of War Mages.  From there the listener is thrwon into a world full of magic and a strong instantly likeable heroine while never letting up on the non-stop action.

    “Hecate’s Golden Eye” by P.N. Elrod:  Yes even the editor gets into the action with a story from her Vampire Mysteries series featuring the Vampire Noir, Jack Fleming and his partner Escott from 1930’s Chicago.  Fleming and Escott are asked to recover a stolen heirloom–a rare yellow diamond with a curse. Any man who touches it DIES. Of course, since Jack’s already dead he should be immune, right? Maybe, maybe not.  Mix in some con artists and a homicidally violent mad Irishman and see what happens!  Just picture the old film noir detectives, but picture one as a vampire and you have this fun tale.

    “Bacon” by Charlaine Harris:  A beautiful vampire joins forces with a witch from an ancient line to find out who killed her beloved husband.  This story has the funniest ending and is worth the purchase of this book alone.  This story takes place in the world of Sookie Stackhouse (you know, from “True Blood” fame) featuring the vampire Dahlia.  There was a previous Dahlia story in the anthology “My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding,” and Dahlia does appear in “All Together Dead.”

    “Signatures of the Dead” by Faith Hunter:  The story is told from the perspective of Molly, a witch who is asked by the police to track down a group of killer vampires. The star of the story is actually Jane Yellowrock, skinwalker and vampire hunter, who has the job of actually finding and exterminating the vampires. This story is an introduction for the Jane Yellowrock character, who is going to be the protagonist of her own series of books.

    “Ginger: A Nocturne City” by Caitlin Kittredge:  This is the story of werewolf detective Luna Wilder’s witch cousin Sunny Swan. This thriller is a morality tale of sorts showing how doing the right thing can get you into more trouble then you can imagine, and that in everyone is the will to get done what needs doing. Who knew that the small task of supporting her cousin by visiting the trial she is testifying in will lead her into the dark depths of Nocturne’s City underworld?

    “Dark Sins By” Jenna Maclaine: Recently turned vampire, witch Cin Craven may be the strongest witch in existence if she knew how to use her magic. This small fact allows for the imprisonment of Cin and her companions The Righteous a group of vampires that act as judge, jury, and executioner of their own kind.

    So if witches are your cup of tea, check out “Strange Brew.”

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