Black Prarie is 3/5 of the Decemberists (that seems like a hint directed at Colin Meloy, ha ha). No actually they are a kind of folk-country band “started by Chris Funk and Nate Query, who wanted an outlet for some of their rootsy, mostly instrumental string-band wanderings.” Jenny Conlee from the band has also joined on accordion. That leaves Annalisa Tornfelt’s who sings “sweetly countrified vocals and [plays] violin.” I feel a little bad for the other guys in the band who are not mentioned, but I don’t know their names either.
They play three songs. “Dirty River Stomp” is a fun instrumental with prominent accordion in the beginning and then a banjo solo and then a violin solo. It is indeed a big stomping song. I love the way the song sounds like it has built to an ends but there is a small accordion coda tacked on.
For “Nowhere Massachusetts” there’s a switch from banjo to guitar. The opening section of the song sounds so much like Guster’s “Careful” that I was sure that’s what song this was. But indeed, it is not and it goes in a very different direction after that intro. Coincidentally, Guster also has a song that about Massachusetts (“Homecoming King”). But this sounds really nothing like Guster once the song starts—there’s accordion and slide guitar and fiddle and of course the vocal melody is very different.
Jenny introduces “Richard Manuel” with “We’re gonna rock this out. We’re gonna bring it.” It turns out to be a fairly slow, quiet song. But with some intense lyrics. And again there is some great accordion work on this track.
As the show fades out there is much excitement about tote bags, although I’m not sure who is getting what.
[READ: December 15, 2016] LastMan 1
This is the final series of older First Second books that I hadn’t read yet. I brought home this book 1, some time ago, but when I saw that there were six volumes and that they’d all be released relatively quickly, I figured I’d just wait until they were all out and read them closer together.
This book was originally written in French (and called Lastman there as well). These editions were translated by Alexis Siegel.
The art is black and white (and grayscale) and the characters are what I can only describe as very French looking. The faces are very minimal, with some of them looking almost bleached out but for eyes and a mouth. Some of the men are rather grotesque-looking while the one woman is a knockout. (The book is safe for younger teens, with just a cleavage and an underwear shot, although the whole book is about fighting).
So the story is a little confusing (at least in Book 1). The main plot is not at all confusing, but the context is never given, so we must try to piece it all together,
Set in an unamed village, the 184th annual Tournament of the Realm is coming up. We first meet young Adrian who is practicing for his first competition tomorrow. His teacher is Mr Janesen (with a full head of blond hair and a goatee) and while he is hard on them, he seems fair. He tries to get Adrian to really harness his powers for the battle.
Interestingly Adrian and his mom (there’s no dad that I can see) have a pet badger (I think it’s a badger) named Oni. Oni doesn’t do much, but is around from time to time.
Adrian is bummed because he has been paired with Vlad, who threw up before the competition last year. And indeed, when the time comes, Vlad is ill and begs off. This disqualifies Adrian from, because you must have a partner.
Adrian gets some sympathy from his fellow classmates. Gregorio (who is older than Adrian and who did beat him in practice, seems genuinely bummed for him. And Gregorios’s partner Elorna is genuinely supportive.
After this introduction we cut to a man sleeping. He is the first person with really dark hair and rather aggressive features. It is clear he is a foreigner. As he tries to communicate with the locals, they have no idea what he’s saying (I don’t know if the original made it clearer that he was speaking a different language–here they simply don’t react to what he says). The man makes it to the registration table but he is ten minutes late to register. He is a big tough guy and seems to convince the people that he is not late to register. But they tell him he still needs a partner.
Cue Adrian crying that he doesn’t have a partner. And, after some clever negotiations, the team is set: Richard Aldana and Adrian Velba. Adrain’s mother is extremely suspicious of the stranger and she warns him that she has her eye on him.
When Richard heads over to the registration table Mr Jansen asks what his style is for you must have mastered one of the ancestral styles. And then “your holiness” walks by. She (I think) appears to be a priestess in a robe who scores the event.
Richard acts like he knows what’s going on but he clearly doesn’t–he knows nothing of this tournament. And when he learns a bit more you hear him mutter “so I’ve ended up with magicians again.” For the fighters can do air attacks and pillars of fire. Adrian is impressed as the fighters summon a huge blast of energy.
Then we meet Richard and Adrian’s opponents–crazy looking characters with big lips and high cheekbones. They are cocky and assume they will trounce our pair. The first one takes on Adrian and defeats hm with blast of wind (or something). Then Richard steps up and while the other guy is summoning his energy, Richard punches him in the face and knocks him out. Everyone is shipwrecked and he gets a serious penalty. But he is able to make short work of the other guy with his brute strength. And Adrian is really impressed.
Richard and Adrian do some training together with Richard trying to teach him more physical fighting than summoning And slowly Adrian’s mom begins to like him as well. (We already know that Richard thinks that she is a bombshell). And then we see that Adrian’s mom had promised Mr Jansen a dinner that evening–that whole dinner scene is funny and a little demeaning (for Mr Jansen).
The final battle of the book comes up and in this one, Mr Jansen tells the student battling against Richard to stand back and use his powers–to never get too close to the man. And it works. And now it’s just Adrian fighting for their team.
I’m really looking forward to part 2, even if I don’t entirely understand what’s happening yet.