Kate Tempest is a British poet/rapper (and darling of NPR). She raps with a really heavy South London accent and raps about the “everyday.” But because she is a poet, her lyrics are really incisive. And, when she sings, she throws in some really catchy choruses as well. Her song “Lonely Daze” surprises when the big catchy chorus come in.
Although she doesn’t do that for this Tiny Desk.
Rather, she opens with an incredibly moving poem called “Ballad of a Hero.” It is an anti-war poem that takes an amazingly personal look at soldiers and the sons of soldiers. The NPR blurb says “Kate Tempest will connect you with your emotions and the cold, callous world around you. You may cry.” When I first started listening to her Tiny Desk, I wasn’t really paying attention to the words of this poem, but by the end, I was totally hooked, and yes, I did cry.
The final lines:
I don’t support the war my son.
I don’t believe it’s right,
but I do support the soldiers
that go off to war to fight.
Troops just like your daddy, son;
soldiers through and through.
Who wear their uniform with pride
and do what they’re told to do
When you’re grown my sweet, my love
Please don’t go fighting wars.
But fight the men that start them
or fight a cause that’s yours.
It seems so full of honour, yes,
So valiant, so bold,
But the men that send the armies in.
Send them in for gold.
Or they send them in for oil,
And they tell us it’s for Britain
but the men come home like Daddy
and spend their days just drinking.
Despite the intensity of the poem (and her other lyrics), it’s fun to watch her rap because she always seems to be smiling. And on the two songs she does “The Beigeness” and “Truth” she is so into it. Her hand gestures and emphasis really complete the song. And there’s also the matter of her accent–so noticeable and strangely musical.
I don’t know what the original music of these songs is like. I gather from the official titles (“The Beigeness (KwAkE BASS remix)” and “The Truth (KwAkE BASS remix)”) that they must sound different on the record. And KwAkE BASS plays around with her voice, adding echoes and interesting effects that add to the music).
I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve heard from Tempest, I’m just not entirely sure I would listen to a whole album of hers.
[READ: July 23, 2015] Reunion
When I saw this book by Girard in the library I immediately flashed back to reading his other book. I recognized his style (the self-portrait of the main character Pascal made him look much older and more frumpy than he actually was. But what I’d forgotten was just how much of a dick everyone in the book was.
And it’s even more so in the this book.
It’s clear that Girard has a style and that his humor comes from everyone in the book (including the protagonist) being jut awful. Last time I wasn’t sure if it was just the way Helge Dascher translated the book (and again, it may be her since she does this one too) but I now think that Girard may just have a very poor opinion of people.
This book culminates in a ten-year reunion. And all of Pascal’s actions leads up to it.
Pascal has a pretty bad day. He steps in a puddle and has a hole in his shoe, he has to go to the dentist and he has altercation with his upstairs neighbor (which he does not handle well at all). There has been a ton of banging and clomping upstairs so when the neighbor comes down he asks her if she could walk more quietly (and then proceeds to demonstrate how she could do it). Surprisingly of all the people who get pissed off at him, she seems the least offended, despite his condescending attitude.
Then he proceeds to offend everyone (not all intentionally). The dentist’s receptionist gets mad when he asks if he can have his toothbrush before the appt to clean his mouth out. And then when he tries to speak the hygienist (who graduated five months ago) she is very business like and has him hurry up.
When he gets home he sees the invitation to the reunion. He is nervous about going, but when he starts looking at his old yearbook he thinks of some pretty good times. And then he gets an email from Lucie who asks if he’ll be going to the reunion. She says her boyfriend won’t go, and that they should go together, ha ha. Pascal has a girlfriend, but wow, what could this invitation mean? He is excited until he thinks about how fat he is now.
He was fat in school but is much bigger now. So he decides he will go to the reunion with Lucie and he will jog every day to get in shape.
The jogging occupies most of his time, although he refuses to get decent sneakers and winds up getting cramps all the time. I am shocked he didn’t get hurt worse since he started too fast and didn’t ease into it.
Pascal quickly (too quickly in my opinion) loses weight and drops a size and he’s really proud of himself. He has also been eating virtually nothing. So when he goes to a party he insults the host by not eating the lamb that she slaved over all day (and also by wearing his dirty shoes in the house because his socks are so embarrassing–why won’t he buy new socks and sneakers?). he also insults a waitress when he asks if she is “just” a waitress.
Another thing is that Pascal has a wart. And everybody in the book is totally grossed out by it. Like super, stomach-turningly grossed out. It’s a strange overreaction that persists through the book.
He has daydreams and nightmares about the reunion and he doesn’t sleep well, so when people see him instead of being happy that he lost so much weight they all ask him if he’s okay and say that he looks tired. Which gets him angry at them.
More things go wrong on the way to the reunion (pink grapefruit beer and his grandmother’s truck) until he finally arrives and everyone, I mean, everyone is an asshole.
The details of the reunion make every reunion movie you’ve seen seem tame. Of course, he realizes he was not as cool as he thought he was, but also that he has no skill at talking to people at all. There’s a lot of very funny (embarrassing) moments and tons of hostility.
If you can handle everyone getting angry with little provocation, then Girard’s sense of humor is perfect for you.