Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Tribe

The Tribe by Valerie Bloom tells the story of the Taino, one of the indigenous people of the Bahames and Antilles who were among the first people Columbus and his men encountered on their voyage. The focus is on the young girl Maruka, the daughter of the Cacique, the chieftain, of her tribe and the book takes a lot of time to explore her culture and way of life. By the time the Spaniards arrive, the reader feels at home among the Taino and the shock of how they are treated is even greater. They are a peaceful people and at first think the Spaniards spirits and do much to keep them happy. But they cannot do enough and in particular they cannot give them enough gold.

This is Valerie Bloom's second children's novel and I think it's very much worth reading. Maruka is easy to identidy with for both girls and boys. I'm not a great friend of the 'I'm not like other girls'-character, but even though Maruka strongly feels that way, she doesn't despise other women and girls who live like tradition demands it. It's just not her way. I can live with that because it doesn't create the impression that women are somehow better when they live like men.

The book uses a lot of words from the Taino language. There's a glossary at the end but I didn't really need it, the meaning of most words is evident from context. I got a vivid picture of Taino culture and traditions and I took the time to read some more about them online because I wanted to know what had become of them - the book leaves that open. The Taino are usually thought to be extinct, but there are quite a number of people who do consider themselves Taino, not necessarily by blood but by tradition and heritage.

If you want to learn about the encounter between the Spaniards and the native people, this is a good place to start and it takes a different point of view. Usually, we learn about this through the eyes of the conquerors. Bloom used the records of the priests who accompanied the expedition as a source for her book, there is no other written source. She did a lot of research for the book and it's noticeable, there is something very satisfying abut a historical novel that gets the details right.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Warsaw Uprising



This is a trailer for an upcoming movie about the Warsaw Uprising. But what you see are not actors and sets, these are actual scenes recorded by two members of the Polish Home Army. They have been coloured with great attention to detail and historical accuracy and have been given an audio track. The trailer alone is amazing to look at and with colour and sound, it becomes more real, more immediate than silent black and white can ever be. I really hope this movie will see wide distribution or will at least be available with English subs, it's a fascinating project.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Deadlands: Boot Hill

last time

Cast of Characters:
Alan Trehorn: Half-Apsalooke/Crow scout who might be taken for a greenhorn, but at your own risk.
Etienne DuMont: Texas Ranger. He used to be dead, but he got better.
Kenneth Lake: Professional poker player and reluctant participant in these events.
Dr. Frances Gray: Doctor and a strong believer in science and natural explanations.
Sister Elisabeth: A nun of maybe questionable past, but unquestionable faith.
Eliah Davis: Black cowboy who has seen some weird shit in his life. He spins this tale for you, somewhere at a camp fire on the prairie.

You probably think we called it a night after that. Well, we didn't - we decided to pay a visit to the graveyard to check on the grave of the man killed first. Alan called me mad when I told him, but the most dangerous thing around was walking right beside me and didn't seem too keen on killing me. Or rather walking in front of me because maybe I'm mad, but I'm not careless.

There was so much fog that we couldn't see more than a couple of steps ahead, even with the full moon and a lamp and the fog swallowed all sounds. We did see the light of another lamp up on Boothill and we saw to it that they didn't see us when we got closer. A man and a woman, searching for something on the ground. Etienne stepped out into the light and called out to them. The man drew his gun, mightily quick. Not someone to wear those guns for show, that one. They calmed down when Etienne told them who he was and since the folks were Southeners, I didn't count much.

The woman, Charlotte Graves, said that she had lost a family heirloom when she attended the burial of her valued business partner Kelly and that she couldn't stand the thought of not searching for it right away when she noticed. Sure. My guess, the only true thing is that she knew Kelly. Her partner, Justin Frakes, didn't say much, though I wouldn't be too quick to think that he's just the muscles of this outfit. They left, saying that daylight makes for a better search. We did our own search, but there was nothing except a few scratches next to an old grave, maybe from a coyote or wolf.

We waited a bit longer, it had just struck midnight and it takes a bit of time to get out of a coffin and grave, even when it's just a cheap pine box. Nothing happened. We were just turning back when I heard some rustling in the grass, something big. Wolf maybe or worse, a man. I told Etienne and he ran after it. Didn't catch it, so whatever it was it had been fast. I didn't even try to follow, but we tried and tracked it. Found huge tracks, either from something with hellish big feet or it looked that way because a man was running all out, barefoot. Couldn't tell for sure, we would have needed Alan for that.

The others had already come back to the saloon and we told each other the news. Seems the law hasn't much of a clue or even interest in solving this. Gaines though, the man we had just killed the second time, had been a spy for the Confederates. Elisabeth had found a notebook filled with random letters and numbers among his things and Etienne knew the code. No idea how that might work, but in the end we came up with a couple of names or good guesses at who was meant. The woman we had just met and her companion had been trying to catch a Union spy with the help of Gaines.

While the others were busy with their letters, Alan and me headed out to the town border where Alan called in a favor from his spirit guide. I only got a glimpse at the biggest owl I have ever seen and the beast took Alan's spirit along with it. I had nothing to do but wait and take care that no-one messes with his body - don't know if he'd wake up in time if something was wrong. He didn't see much more once he got the owl to take a look at the graves and even when we went back in the morning, there was nothing. I used the way back to tell Alan what I had seen of Etienne - there were a few things we'd kept to ourselves. Like the claws or how he's eating his meat raw now. I did because people weren't going to believe it anyway and Etienne - the less he has to talk about this, the happier he seems. Which is not all that happy. Alan did believe me and he's about as worried as I am.

Elisabeth almost caused a riot the next morning because she couldn't leave it alone that she's not allowed to vote here. Leaving alone has never changed anything and I know how she feels. There's nothing worse than people treating you like shit just for the way you are, saying you're not worth as much and can never be. Taking a swing at the nearest guy who does isn't going to change much, except maybe ending your life if it's the wrong guy. But sometimes you just have swallowed all you can and then you don't care. I know how that feels, too.

next time

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Next Town Over: The Book

After reading through the complete Next Town Over in a couple of days, I decided to buy the book. It contains the first four chapters of the webcomic. I got the hardcover edition and it's gorgeous:
IMG_20140318_154203
IMG_20140318_154221

The slipcase is thick and sturdy and both it and the book are bound in black flocked paper. The book has stitched binding and opens up well everywhere - there's nothing worth than a book or particularly a comic that doesn't open completely in the middle. The artwork looks fantastic on paper, even better than online. It's a limited and signed edition and it's a steal at 24,99$. There are still some left, so if you like the comic, go here and get one.

IMG_20140318_154413