SOUNDTRACK: HEY MARSEILLES-Tiny Desk Concert #85 (October 17, 2010).
I knew Hey Marseilles from NPR’s coverage of the 2013 Newport Folk Festival. But I guess I forgot what they sounded like because I wasn’t expecting this at all.
“Rio” opens with almost flamenco clapping and then the full band–accordion, bowed cello, trumpet, violin and guitar come forth (this must have been chamber music month at the Tiny Desk). There’s a kind of shanty feel to the song. The middle section has more clapping (and loud Hey Hey!s) and a trumpet solo (played with a mute). It is super catchy.
“From a Terrace” starts out slowly, with strings. It has a bit of a Decembersists feel in the vocal melody. There’s a middle section with a wheezy accordion solo that transfers to a new section and then another rather jazzy muted trumpet solo.
“To Travels And Trunks” has a beautiful string melody to open. It is a story song and it flows wonderfully.
[READ: July 25, 2015] Nimona
Sarah brought this book home although she didn’t remember what inspired her to get it. I liked the look of it and was happy to read it before it had to go back.
The drawing style is quite compelling to me–quite unlike other comic books. I also loved that the title character was a young girl with crazy hair and a body type that is not, shall we say, sexy and superheroy. That was quite a nice change of pace.
The one thing I didn’t love about the book was the text. It was hand written and, dare I admit my age, felt like very small print to me. It was not an easy on the eyes read. But maybe that made me focus on it more, because I really got into it.
The story begins in a fairly simple way. Nimona, a young girl, goes to visit the villain Ballister Blackheart. She says she is a fan of his work and wants to work with him. He says no. Then she changes into a shark and he decides that she might be quite useful (I loved that chapter one was two pages). In Chapter 2 Nimona proves to be a far more ruthless individual than Blackheart–changing his minor evil plans into a plan where the whole village is burnt to the ground.
And then we get a flashback. In a joust we see Blackheart fighting against a pretty blond man named Ambrosious Goldenloin (the names are awesome). Blackheart won, but Goldenloin, upon losing, somehow exploded Blackheart’s arm, rendering him incapable of being a knight and thus forcing him into a life of villainy.
And then story proceeds apace with Blackheart being the kind of villain who follows the “rules.” “Killing solves nothing, Nimona. It’s vulgar it’s messy.” But Nimona wants no part of that. She immediately slays a couple of guards and everyone is shocked. Then she sets off the self destruct button and is apparently killed.
But of course she isn’t and her reveal is hilarious. Blackheart wants to know more about her and her incredible powers and she tells a story about rescuing a witch. Blackheart is dubious (“really, turn the six-year-old into a dragon, that was her idea?”). The later scene where she shape shifts into him and mocks him “SSCCIEEEENCE” is very funny too–Stevenson gets a comic tone perfectly.
Then we look into the world of Goldenloin and the Institution and it turns out that they are a pretty corrupt organization. They are working with jaderoot–a poisonous substance which they have banned. So Blackheart decides to try to use this to his advantage (which involves an apple saleslady named Tabitha).
I loved that although the story seems medieval with knights and dragons, it is set in a slighty futuristic times with phone screen and pagers and such. They even go to a science expo where a Dr Blitzmeyer has created a fascinating orb which glows of its own power (she is wonderfully clueless).
Since the Institution owns the media, Blackheart is in trouble for things that the Institution has done (the jaderoot). And soon also the Institution is done with Goldenloin–he is too good for them and his services are no longer needed. So he is de-knighted. When Blackheart and Goldenloin briefly meet they have a chance to revisit their joust.
But in the meantime, the Institution has captured Nimona and she is angry (and much more powerful than anyone realized).
I really enjoyed this book a lot. I loved that Blakcheart was actually a nice guy as a villain–that’s always an enjoyable premise. I enjoyed the way this story escalated from a simple shape-shifting concept into this apocalyptic setting. And I really enjoyed the underlying feelings between Blackheart and Goldenloin (whatever they may actually be). The ending was really rather sweet.
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