The Sunday Magazine: Prisoner by Ryan Adams

There are musicians who find their inspiration in the low moments of life. Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams is one of those. His first solo album in 2000 called Heartbreaker clued us in to a man who would let his emotions guide his music. He has been one of my favorite musicians since then because of that genuine emotion within his songs.

It seemed like Mr. Adams had found some long-term happiness in his life when he married actress Mandy Moore in 2009. When it was announced in 2015 they were separating I must admit a selfish part of me thought there might be some good music from the experience to come. Which was why when the first release post-divorce was a complete re-interpretation of Taylor Swift’s “1989” it threw me. I thought it was his way of looking back from his 40’s as Ms. Swift looked forward from her 20’s. Maybe there was a message there. Which I thought meant there wasn’t going to be that assemblage of new music based on his divorce.

Then I found out he was releasing a new album in early 2017 called “Prisoner” which was going to be about his divorce. It came out in mid-February and is everything that I like about Mr. Adams’ music. I think it is a follow-up to that version of 1989 he released where the wistfulness of his version now transforms itself into honesty.

It starts with the first track, “Do You Still Love Me?” The loaded question any relationship that is beginning to fray doesn’t want answered. The bridge summarizes it all, “I didn’t want it to change/Is my heart blind and our love so strange?” The second track “Prisoner” more fully answers the question, “I know our love is wrong/ I am a criminal”. The difficulty in living in the house you shared when your partner is gone is explored in “Haunted House”. Every song on “Prisoner” examines a relationship which is disintegrating while you watch helplessly.

While the lyrics are much of the appeal of Mr. Adams there is also his throwback guitar licks which are also appealing. His style is a bit alt-country hearkening back to his early days in the band Whiskeytown prior to going solo. It also is a lot of that fuzzy crunchy guitar reminiscent of a lot of alt-rock bands in the 1990’s. Mr. Adams confidently splices those influences together into his own sound which fits his material as eloquently as his lyrics.

There is a part of me that feels churlish for liking this album as much as I do. It feels like I am asking the universe to not allow Mr. Adams to be happy in a relationship. I would like to think I am not putting that request out there; but maybe I am. If you are looking for music which unflinchingly looks at the emotional fallout of a divorce “Prisoner” is one you should give a listen to.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Wild Poodles of Poodlesville

I never had a dog when I was a kid. I can’t say I thought it was something I missed. Then Mrs. C and I adopted a brown standard poodle named Jojo. We got Jojo from Poodle Recue of New England. As it is with most all rescue dogs they have not had an ideal life. Jojo’s story was he was part of a puppy mill and when not being asked to mate he was kept outside in a cage. He was rescued when he was nine. He was a mess and the rescue organization cleaned him up. Jojo was a gentleman with an emphasis on the gentle. His previous existence had made him very reserved but occasionally I could get him to play with me. One morning he decided he had had enough of me and stood up and barked in my face. Then heartbreakingly he pulled his snout away to the side anticipating a smack. With tears in my eyes I hugged him and said “good boy”. Over time he learned that barking was okay. He would need it.

Georgie in the yard in Poodlesville

Two years after we got Jojo we realized we wanted to get him some younger company so we contacted Poodle Rescue. They had rescued a litter of four poodle puppies from a would-be breeder who was going to abandon them. Jojo was a favorite within the rescue group and they wanted his life to be easy so they asked us if we would take in one of the puppies who looked to have hip problems. We had no problem with that. Watching young Georgie not be able to go up the stairs in our house was awful. We were ready to figure out how to make it easier for him when a funny thing happened. Regular feeding of good food and the hip problems went away revealing a frolicking puppy underneath. One for whom Jojo would need his newly-found bark. Almost every night Georgie would wait until Jojo curled up on his bed and closed his eyes. At that moment, he would cross the room and pounce on him. Jojo would get up and let him know he was not amused. When I would come home from work I would always say I was greeted with the 21-bark salute.


When Jojo passed away we realized we needed a new companion for Georgie who was acting sad at being an only poodle. After a short adoption of Gunner who had a genetic disease we eventually received Rocco from the rescue organization. From the moment, we got him Rocco had already learned that charm got you attention. Whenever anyone came near he would sit and lift a paw. The list of admirers was legion. The many treats he received numerous. I called Rocco a Moochasaurus because almost nobody could resist giving him a treat. Rocco and Georgie were best friends who when we moved to Maryland and the size of the yard increased immensely were as happy as could be. The town we moved to is called Poolesville but we have renamed our part of it Poodlesville.

Henry (l.) and Jackson

When Georgie passed on Henry arrived. Henry had been struck so hard by his first owner that his right eye was ruptured and he lost vision in it. The next owner passed away from a stroke and they found Henry curled up next to her when they discovered her. Henry is the sweetest tempered poodle we have had, unless you’re a squirrel. When Rocco passed, we waited a year before adding our latest rescue, Jackson. Jackson came courtesy of negligent breeders again. He was not allowed to socialize with other dogs or people which made him very skittish. Over the three months we have had him in Poodlesville it has been interesting watching him realize Henry, Mrs. C and I are his pack. Every day the fear and nervousness get a little less.

Next to asking Mrs. C in to my life the Wild Poodles of Poodlesville have given me the most pleasure.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Poetry on Perfume by Lynne Haussler Oakes


My wife, Mrs. C, is an artist and serves on the board of a local arts association. One of her fellow members, painter Lynne Haussler Oakes, who started the Art League of Germantown 35 years ago; began corresponding with me. As is common among creative minds it generally isn’t confined to just one medium. She shared some poetry she had written on perfume. I really enjoyed what I read and asked her if she would allow me to post them on Colognoisseur. For this week, I am turning over The Sunday Magazine to artist-poet Lynne Oakes.

My Personal Perfume Story

By Lynne Haussler Oakes

Early in my life I learned where to place the scent so it did the most ‘damage’. Perfume was ammunition. For after all, didn’t we want guys to swoon over us? It was the invisible weapon. Put it on pulse points, at one’s neck, at the crook of your arm, even behind your knees! I started putting it on a cotton ball and tucking it between burgeoning breasts.  The guy had no chance at all.

As I became a young lady, I was given cologne or more precisely, eau de toilette. One would not spend what true perfume cost on a child. Even in the days of my youth, it was expensive stuff. I can’t say that I understood what it took, or even now what it takes to secure and create the elements of a perfume, but early in my life it was those lighter scents that got me hooked on smelling delicious and hugging the women in my family who wore the real thing.

Things of mine that I see or touch nearly every day seem to cause a line of poetry to appear and with it, the demand to write something about it. Sometimes the lines come to me at night, or when half-awake just before I get up. Recently it has been like that with my perfume bottles. Fragments of memories surface from the small assortment on my dresser.  I recall the round mirrored tray with gold filigree embracing my Mother’s collection. And my Grandmother’s art deco vanity, her tray staging the beautiful glass containers. These trays were part of the presentation and a practical matter as well. They protected one’s dresser from the damage of alcohol rings. The bottles themselves are a story of art and design. Remembering them on my mother’s dresser is clearer to me than remembering the scent within. Each woman had her favorite, a sort of extension of their personal essence. It was part of who they were, these ladies with perfume.




I remember a stylish European woman from a place where I worked years ago.

Can one say ‘I remember a fragrant woman’?

She was Belgian with that lovely French accent in the middle of New York City.

Walking into an empty room you knew she’d just been there.

Her perfume lingered and it always made me smile.

She told me it was “Femme” when I asked her.  

Fifty-some years ago and still I remember that, but not her name.

I wasted no time buying some for myself, even the scented powder.

I was so captivated by the magical effect it made.

Perfume, that perfume. 


Standing in line behind a man in a bank,

I became aware of the same body scent my boyfriend had.

This was after years away from being a teenager

who borrowed a jacket and slept with it because

it smelled like the one I loved then.


A college boyfriend gave me a very expensive

and famous one

and I did not like it.

I did wear it a few times, just to please him,

but it mostly stayed on a little shelf

over the sink. 


How can I say what it is that I like?

What my heart, nose and body respond to?

You just have to experience it,

inhale it at the perfume counter, try it on

and wear it home,

breathing it in over and over.


I’ve heard that upper classes and royalty used it

to mask the infrequency of bathing.

It had to be really powerful.


It is totally, seriously, dangerously, utterly powerful.


-Lynne Haussler Oakes



The bottles are themselves a work of art,

exquisite feminine sculptures of crystal and glass.

I’ve kept some especially lovely ones

of grandmother’s and mother’s 

which were theirs.


It is the contents that bring memories

Mother’s Shalimar

Dad’s Bay Rum and one he gave me

called ‘First’

which I was.


My dresser is the stage for a few of my own,

tucked in with empty ones I’ve saved.

A Chanel scent my son brought me from Paris,

another arriving in a box of goodies from a friend,

and one I found myself called ‘Dead Sexy’

and it is.


Spraying on the one I’ve chosen,

brings instant connection to someone I cherish.

The enchantment of perfume with its

sensual notes that carry love

and it does.


-Lynne Haussler Oakes


Dad’s Bay Rum

I have a bottle covered with woven grass

holding a remnant of my Dad’s aftershave.

Its disappearance is not by evaporation,

but from his use of it.

The bottles of scents he liked

were all lined up

on the back of the commode

in the master bath in the house where I grew up.


It is a sweet memory for me

hugging him, kissing his neck,

inhaling his day’s chosen fragrance.

Now I open the one bottle I have left,

breathing in what is so familiar

bringing him to me

once again.


-Lynne Haussler Oakes




With my oil paints

I fashioned

a small canvas of

the empty bottle.

Beautiful, alone,

empty now for years.

My Mother’s Shalimar.


-Lynne Haussler Oakes


For those interested in checking out Ms. Oakes' paintings here is the link to her website.

My thanks to Ms. Oakes for allowing me to post these on Colognoisseur.

The Sunday Magazine: Logan

I remember a time many years ago, when the idea of a superhero movie based on the comics was laughable. Whenever I would sit with my fellow geeks reading the week’s comics there was a bit of wistful hope that someday the comics would come to the cinema. It could be said the turning point came with the release of The X-Men in 2000. I remember sitting in the theatre at the end of it and saying softly, “Perfect”. This was what geeks had hoped for a director and writer who treated the source material respectfully. Bryan Singer did that and really laid down the formula for the best of the movies that have followed. When the creative team has been a fan of the comic it usually produces a good to great movie. When it becomes more cynical it usually produces something that kind of attitude should produce.

The X-Men have been one of the successes because the people who are in charge do love the material they are adapting. The latest release in the family is “Logan” and it sort of closes the circle begun with that first X-Men movie.

When it comes to the X-Men the most popular mutant is and has always been Wolverine. When Mr. Singer cast Hugh Jackman in the role I don’t know if he knew what an ideal choice he would be. Mr. Jackman has never treated the role as anything but serious. Even when interviewed about it he embraces playing this particular superhero. It is why with “Logan” I am sorry to see his time with the character come to an end but it does come to a beautiful conclusion.

Hugh Jackman as Logan

“Logan” is an adaptation of the Old Man Logan story from the comics. Directed by James Mangold with a script he co-wrote it tells a story of the future set in 2029. In that time mutants, have stopped being born while the ones which exist have been slowly lost. Logan lives as a limousine driver in El Paso when the movie opens. It is revealed that he lives with a tracker of mutants named Caliban and an aged Professor X who is suffering from a neurodegenerative disease. When the most powerful telepath has a seizure it is not a pretty sight and Logan is one of the few who can get close enough to help when Professor X has one. A mysterious little girl shows up at the same time as a cybernetically enhanced band of hunters called The Reavers do. The rest of the movie is our trio of Logan, Professor X, and the girl attempting to stay ahead of their pursuers until they get to a purported safe haven.

Once again it is Mr. Jackman who portrays the duality of savagery and sensitivity within Wolverine. He makes both sides of the personality believable. As the movie drew to a close I wonder about the next actor who has to follow this performance. It is difficult to think of anyone who can do a better job.  

One last thing I am pleased about is the studio was unafraid for this to be an R-rated movie allowing for the violence to be more visceral which it is. For the first time the damage a man with metal claws can do is shown. For that reason, if you have younger kids who are fans you might not want to take them to see Logan

If you have been a fan of The X-Men and Wolverine on the screen Logan is the fitting epilogue to seventeen years of movies. It is the kind of superhero movie I am surprised to see made and I had the same response to the final scene here as I did seventeen years ago, “Perfect”.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Hamilton Russell Winery

I really enjoy finding new wine regions to dive into. Last summer I discovered the South African Walker Bay region. At that time, it was through their chardonnays. As I’ve mentioned in the past I have issues with the way many American chardonnays go about tweaking their wines to accentuate the woodiness or the buttery and in the worst cases both. It is something which has become worse over the years. Which means I must look elsewhere to find balanced chardonnays in which the winemaker has the trust in the grape to let it be the balanced wine it can be. I complain about this so much that my local wine store invited me to a tasting of the new chardonnay releases from Walker Bay. I was bowled over as these hewed closer to French white burgundies than the American version. The Hamilton Russell Winery was the chardonnay I liked best. As I spoke to the store owner he mentioned that the pinot noir from Hamilton Russell was even better.

Anthony Hamilton Russell and Hannes Storm

Walker Bay is located on the south coast of South Africa. It is known primarily as one of the premiere whale watching sites in the world as Southern Right Whales gather there in the winter and spring. What it also does is provide a moderating warm sea breeze to the cooler air temperatures in the wine growing valley of Hemel-en-Aarde which is where Harrison Russell is located. The oversight of the vineyard has been kept in the family since its founding in 1979. Currently Anthony Hamilton Russell is the current owner-operator. He has been working exclusively with winemaker Hannes Storm since 2000. It is this partnership which has turned these wines into what they are.

The chardonnays carry a supernatural clarity and I recently found out the reason why. The oldest vines produce grapes which are most prone to picking up the woody aspects of being aged in barrels. Mr. Storm came up with a brilliant idea of aging those old vine grapes in clay amphorae made from the clay on the estate. It took some trial and error but the most recent three vintages have about 3% of the grapes used from these amphorae. It is this choice which adds the fresh quality to the chardonnays. It tones down the woody nature while they purposefully keep the malolactic fermentation down as well. It results in a chardonnay with crisp fruity openings. They all have this lovely apple and peach early phase before heading to a subtly creamy finish. The 2013, 2014, and 2015 vintages are all examples of this style of chardonnay.

When I was told the pinot noirs were better, based on the evidence on the recently released 2015, I have to agree. Just like the chardonnays the pinot noir is very like French Burgundy red wine. Mr. Storm chooses to rack the wine once which is the process of moving it using gravity from one barrel to the other. This technique is meant to open up a wine which the winemaker considers closed off from its aromatic potential. I can’t speak to what it was like prior to adding racking to the process because it began back in the 2010 vintage. What I can assess is the 2015 has reached the peak of its aromatic potential. What I also think it does is makes this wine very soft on the palate as the plummy red tea early taste deepens into a spicy toasted wood finale. This 2015 vintage is spectacular in its evolving complexity.

The Hamilton Russell wines are not best buys as they are generally available for about $30 for the chardonnay and $40 for the pino noir although I think they are great value for their price considering the cost of their Burgundian counterparts. If you’re looking for a nice bottle of wine for a special meal either of these are great choices.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Hidden Figures

Later today the Oscars will be handed out for movies released in 2016. Part of the fun of watching the ceremony is having rooting interests. I’ve already mentioned my ambivalence towards favorite “La La Land” as well as my enthusiasm for “Arrival”. As much as I’d like to see the latter win Best Picture and the former to get shut out completely there is one movie which I think has a shot at blocking “La La Land” from the Best Picture Award; “Hidden Figures”.

Hidden Figures is the story of three African-American women who worked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It takes place in 1961 as the United States were beginning the Space Race in competition with the USSR. Each country trying to outdo the other by being the first to do something in space. By 1961 the Russians had placed the first satellite, Sputnik, and the first human, Yuri Gargarin. At the Hampton, Virginia NASA facility was where the mathematicians and physicists were gathered to come up with the scientific foundation necessary to have the US catch-up. When it comes to efforts like this the prevailing prejudice of the day is tamped down in the desire for success. So, it was for the women at the heart of this movie.

(l. to r.) Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson, and Octavia Spencer

The women are part of the “computers” team who assist all over the facility as needed. They are segregated in to their tiny cramped office overseen by supervisor Dorothy Vaughn, played by Octavia Spencer. Ms. Vaughn is not given the title even though she does the same work as her boss Vivian Mitchell, played by Kirsten Dunst. Two of her staff are brilliant and are given assignments where those skills can be used. Kathryn Goble, played by Taraji P. Henson, is added to the group which is doing the calculations for the first manned flight. The challenges of being the first “colored” member of the team is what her story entails. The other story we follow is that of Mary Jackson, played by Janelle Monae, who is assigned to the capsule design team. Her white supervisor encourages her to fight for her right to attend an all-white school to take the course she needs to continue her education and become an engineer.

Director Theodore Melfi who also co-wrote the screenplay doesn’t take Hidden Figures any place you can’t see coming from a mile away. Which didn’t matter to me because the actresses embody their roles so seamlessly while each story provides a different angle on the state of race and gender relations in 1961 America. Even though I know the story will have a happy ending the journey to it is so entertainingly told it was a joy to spend a couple hours in the dark watching it.

Over the Holidays I try and see as many of the Oscar candidates as I can. I saw Hidden Figures on the same day I also saw “La La Land”, the movie which has resonated since that day is Hidden Figures which is why I am hoping when they open the envelope for Best Picture that’s the title on the card inside.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Marvel’s The Vision Vol. 2

While I eagerly await my latest issues of the typical superhero comics I can still be impressed by something completely different. Over the past twenty years the two big comic book imprints, Marvel and DC, have become less risk-averse to allowing their comics to take some unconventional turns. The burgeoning independent comics publishers thrived at offering readers something different. What much of this has resulted in is the mainstream comics taking on new writers from different backgrounds to see what they can do with existing characters.

One thing many of these creators choose to do is to not want to write stories for Captain America or Superman. They are more interested in the characters who are less-known. A lot of the time it is because they have an affection for the character. More importantly for storytelling purposes the ancillary characters carry less baggage in the term of known history. One of the most important new writers for Marvel and DC has taken this path.

Tom King

Tom King only recently joined the comic book writing world. Before that he wrote a novel, “A Once Crowded Sky” which asks the question if superheroes give up their powers to save the world only to have the attacks continue; what then? It was clear what Mr. King’s influences were and there are times when reading the book I almost felt like it should have been a comic series. The novel suffered from some rough patches in the resolution but it gave insight into many of the things Mr. King would take with him to the actual writing of comic books.

After starting at DC in 2014 with a series focused on Robin from the Batman mythology a year later he would write for Marvel. I heard through the grapevine he was coming to Marvel and was playing a guessing game in my mind what character he would be writing for. My surprise was complete when I heard his series was going to follow the synthetic humanoid The Vision from The Avengers. I was curious but my anticipation for The Vision Vol. 2 was not high. It should have been.

There are many stories of robots/androids who want to be human. To apply the cold logic of their circuitry to figuring out the human condition. The Vision Vol. 2 goes in an entirely different direction as The Vision creates himself a family of creatures like him; wife, son, and daughter. They go to live in a middle-class community in Virginia but they aren’t trying to be human. Their neighbors comment on their artificiality with no attempt by the family to change that. Over all the societal commentary from that set-up Mr. King overlays a tragedy in progress complete with an omniscient narrator who points out the moments that will have far-reaching consequences. This has the effect of adding a sense of dread because what the narrator’s future vision tells us of are some pretty grim events.

Mr. King never lets the readers off the hook as he tells a complete story over twelve issues full of shocking twists and pyrrhic victories. It is near the pinnacle of what comic books can achieve. It also confirms Mr. King as one of the new voices in comics to keep an eye on. Especially as he takes over Batman for 2017.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Riverdale

One of the fun things about geek culture is when someone re-imagines that which has been known for years into something entirely different and contemporary. When I was at 2013 New York Comic-Con I was standing in line for something on the show floor and next to where I was there was a booth for Archie Comics and prominently displayed was something called “Afterlife With Archie”. Behind the table was the man who wrote the comic, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. We chatted a bit and I bought a copy because Mr. Aguirre-Sacasa’s enthusiasm sold me. One of the things which drew me in was this was a writer who also was inspired by the old classic horror comics. We talked about our favorites which was what really made me buy a copy. Those influences are evident as Mr. Aguirre-Sacasa takes the cast of Archie Comics and drops them into a zombie apocalypse. Mr. Sacasa- Aguirre loves these characters and enjoys giving them a different set of challenges to deal with. Flesh-eating fiends versus plucky teens with dark pasts. It worked so very well. It worked so well that Mr. Aguirre-Sacasa was asked to move from the comic page to the video screen. After a few fits and starts what was once going to be a movie is now a new television series on The CW network called Riverdale.

Mr. Aguirre-Sacasa is not imagining the Archie gang as being chased by zombies for Riverdale. Instead he is doing a mash-up of Archie Comics plus Twin Peaks plus One Tree Hill. If you have any doubts about the middle influence confirmation comes when you see the “Welcome to Riverdale” sign at the beginning of the first episode. It is a replica of the “Welcome to Twin Peaks” sign. The overarching plot of Riverdale is also a parallel to Twin Peaks as the central question at least early on is “Who killed Jason Blossom?” Mr. Aguirre-Sacasa has once again deftly woven disparate inspirations into a story all its own.

Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Veronica (Camila Mendes)

While the mystery exposes a dark side to our well-known characters it also allows them to live up to their original design. As much as Archie is the name on the logo for Riverdale it is the dynamic between Betty and Veronica which has kept me most interested through the early episodes. Betty, portrayed by actress Lili Reinhart, is still perfect and still pining for Archie except there is also something less wholesome bubbling beneath the perfection. Ms. Reinhart does a nice job at showing that in the first episode when she is in the midst of being insulted and she clenches her fist so hard that she draws blood. I suspect her character has some unseen, less perfect, layers yet to be seen. Veronica, portrayed by actress Camila Mendes, is the rich girl brought low by something criminal her father has done causing her mother to return to Riverdale from NYC. Veronica is the mean girl looking for a fresh start as she joins the middle-class. Mr. Aguirre-Sacasa gives them a lot to do which is good because, so far, they are the primary reason to tune in.

Based on everything Mr. Aguirre-Sacasa has done with these characters in the past I expect the remaining episodes to be full of surprises. I am going to be there all the way.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Rumours by Fleetwood Mac

When I was in High School I listened to everything when it came to music. Even as I searched for the alternative I was still drawn to the mainstream. Which mimics the way I thought about fragrance in my early days. Forty years ago today, one of the albums which would be on my personal top 10 was released; Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.

I had “discovered” Fleetwood Mac a couple years earlier when they released an album titled “Fleetwood Mac” I thought this was their first album only to have a friend of mine show me the nine(!) previous albums they had released.  The name of the band comes from the names of the two founding members drummer Mick Fleetwood and bass guitarist John McVie. From 1968 until 1974 the band was a blues driven outfit which like all long-time bands had a fluctuation in their membership. In 1969 Christine McVie, wife of John, would be added. In 1974 the next line-up change would be the one which shot the band into the spotlight. Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and his girlfriend vocalist Stevie Nicks were added. They released the album I mentioned earlier “Fleetwood Mac” in 1975. This time the music was very different. The band had been evolving into a more guitar driven sound before Mr. Buckingham’s arrival but he took it up a few notches. The addition of Ms. Nicks’ ethereal vocals beside Ms. McVie’s soulful version gave different outlets for the song writing to take advantage of. That 1975 album put them on the map with three top 10 singles and their first album Number One. The band was on its way.

Except the cost of success was the relationships within the band. By the time they got together to record the follow-up album the McVie’s were splitting up and Mr. Buckingham and Ms. Nicks were also doing the same as Mr. Fleetwood’s marriage also disintegrated. Musicians are at their most insightful when they reflect their personal into the music. As they began to record, the songs that were being written were all about this emotional turmoil. Lots of bands would have pushed it to the background. This band chose to use the genuine emotion to make one of the greatest albums ever, Rumours.

Fleetwood Mac in 1976

The songs were direct shots right at the heart of the target; standing right next to them. Mr. Buckingham tells Ms. Nicks she can “Go Your Own Way”. Ms. Nicks looks to the future on “Dreams” which became the biggest single on the album. Ms. McVie sings about her new boyfriend in “You Make Loving Fun”. There are songs for love lost Ms. McVie’s plaintive “Songbird”. “Gold Dust Woman” refers to the cocaine use which was also fueling some of the band’s interpersonal problems. Despite all the songs which highlighted the things that were driving them apart my favorite song on the album is “The Chain” which is about what kept them together in the band.

The Chain is the only song which is credited to the entire band. It was assembled from different pieces of other songs. Because of that each member of the band shines. The basic structure is a piano verse section by Ms. McVie. The bass-laden bridging sections is Mr. McVie at his most inventive. Mr. Fleetwood, who I consider to be one of the greatest rock drummers, provides the heartbeat with a steady metronomic drum beat. It all leads to Mr. Buckingham’s guitar driving the final section. Over all of it are the lyrics and vocals of Ms. Nicks who “damn your love, damn your lies” knows “I can still hear you saying, you would never break the chain” as the song ends with the knowledge that the “Chain, keep us together/running in the shadows”.

The Chain encapsulates the experience of overcoming the personal to stay together for the music. Rumours is a great album because these five artists were able to do that brilliantly.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Little Deaths by Emma Flint

It seems like the mid 1960’s has become a fertile ground for storytellers recently. It was certainly a time of great social flux which makes for conflict to arise more readily. These stories have also become a way of looking back and assessing whether we have really advanced in the fifty-odd years. A debut novel by author Emma Flint, Little Deaths, provides one of the most recent examples of this.

Little Deaths is set in 1964 Queens during the summer. Single mother Ruth Malone puts her two children, five-year old Frankie Jr. and 4-year old Cindy, to bed only to wake up and find them missing. The first part of the book is the search for the children. The middle part is the mystery of whether Ruth was responsible. The final part is the culmination of tabloid reporter, Pete Wonicke’s investigation.

Little Deaths is not a spectacular mystery. It is quite obvious who committed the crime early on. The story is more about Ruth and how a single mother was viewed in 1964. Ms. Flint paints Ruth with a compassionate brush even though some of her life choices are reckless. It shows how there was no formula for a single mother to know what to do in those days. She was already under suspicion just for not having a father around.

Ms. Flint also really understands the New York City psychology of living in a borough that is not Manhattan but yet close enough to see the skyscrapers. I know Ms. Flint is British but I have to assume she spent some time in Queens to portray this so well on the page.

Pete Wonicke while not as vividly depicted as Ruth is present to provide the look at tabloid journalism fifty years ago. The same tactics of innuendo, morality, and sensationalism as part of a journalistic rush to judgement hasn’t really changed; just moved to cable TV. Pete is one who realizes there might still be a criminal out there when the sideshow which has decided the harlot was guilty has moved on.

I found Little Deaths to be a real page turner and I was through it very quickly. It shows a real skill at character building by this first-time author. If she is going to stay in the mystery genre I would advise she spends some time improving that aspect of her plotting. Come to read Little Deaths not for the mystery but for the sharply written characters. Ms. Flint may find it easier to get to Manhattan than Ruth if she gets better from here.

Mark Behnke