A year ago I would have said I know nothing about music from Mali, but the shows at NPR have given me a greater appreciation of it. And, while I wouldn’t say I’d have been able to pick this out as music from Mali, I definitely recognized the style of the what I’m going to call fiddly guitar that seems to be prominent in Mali music.
You can really hear how good guitarist Drahmane Toure is with the way he keeps up the constant soloing and fiddly bits. It brings a cool distinctive sound to the otherwise steady rhythm from the bass and percussion (which looks like a beautifully carved salad bowl covered in duct tape).
The rest of the band includes an acoustic guitar, a bass backing singers and some other instrument that i can’t figure out.
Of course, this show is meant to celebrate singer Khaira Arby, the queen of desert rock. And she is fine. I don’t really have much to say about her. She sings perfectly for this music, and sounds almost more like a prayerful singer than a professional one.
[READ: December 27, 2013] Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School
Clark said that this book was the best Wimpy Kid yet (a claim he has made before, so this must be really great). My story about this book is that I knew the cover was black and I know basically what the back cover looks like, so when we saw Age of Ultron this summer, imagine my surprise to see that the boy was reading this book (which didn’t come out until last week). Movies are magic.
Anyhow, this book begins in September with some hilarious snark about “the good old days.” I love Greg’s reaction, “I think they’re just jealous because MY generation has all this fancy technology and stuff they didn’t have growing up.” And now Greg’s mom’s big kick is to get everyone to unplug. To unplug and reconnect with the community.
Indeed, Greg is skeptical of all of his mom’s love for how things aren’t. How “everyone in town knew everybody else” (with the image of people looking through the bathroom window whole Greg is in a bubble bath and that people used to spend is much more time together. Greg would just like to spend time by himself. Even Greg’s dad gets in on this. he starts talking about how when he was young they used to run around all day until they got called home for dinner at night. I love the story of him burying weapons around town to protect himself (and the reality behind that).
This is exacerbated when Greg’s grandpa comes to live with them (rent is too high where he lives). And it’s clear that grandpa disapproves of the way the boys are being raised. He even gives the boys The Essential Book for Young Lads (a great play on the real thing). When Greg’s dad sees his father react to the home life, Greg’s dad starts getting tougher with them. Clark loved (as did I) the way the joke about leaving the toothpaste cap off the toothpaste led to something so much bigger.
This eventually leads to Rodrick getting a job (hilarious). Later, Greg and Rowley try to make money by setting up a lemonade stand. And since Greg is kind of a jerk, he tries all sorts of (very funny) ways to scam money from it. Including selling an NRG drink.
A new character is added–Frew, a young boy whom Greg agrees to help with his homework. Well it turns out that Frew is a genius and does all of Greg’s homework and even extra stuff. Which is great for Greg until his teachers think he’s much smarter than he is.
There’s a really strange subplot about Greg loving baby wipes. Not sure what’s going on there, but hey everyone has a thing, right.
I also love that the pig from the last book is still with them. And that mom is teaching it some tricks (suspend disbelief: the pig walks on its hind legs and even wears pants “it’s like we’re living in the house with a Disney character). There’s also a really funny meta- joke where Greg says “I feel like I’ve been in middle school FOREVER.”
All of this leads up to the last half of the book which is taken up with his class trip to Hardscrabble Farms. Originally there’s no way Greg wants to go (he has heard horror stories about it), but some events at home make him decide it might be best to spend a week far from home.
Hardscrabble Farms is a back to nature camp where hard work is stressed. They can’t have snacks or electronics. They will be sleeping in bunks, and on the final night–erecting their own lean-to and sleeping outside! The hilarity involved there is tremendous. Like that Rowley’s dad is their cabin chaperone (Greg has to check him for ticks–ew). Or the story about Silas Scratch (whose origin proves to be awesome). And of course Greg doesn’t pack well enough so that makes thing even worse.
There’s some remarkably gross stuff in here. The toilet is pretty much off-limits from the first night. The shower makes me shudder. The poor fish! And stay away from the stew!!
And of course, the whole camp just seems to be designed to make them do pointless labor (I laughed out loud at the hay bales).
I really enjoyed the way the story wrapped up, with Greg’s dad coming to be the replacement chaperone, and hearing stories about the camp when he went there.
Although I laughed out loud more for the previous book, I really liked this one as well. I just can’t believe it’ll be a whole year until the next one!