Welcome to my Blog - Ruud Leeuw


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Welcome to my Blog!The lion roars!!!
I hope to share here my irrepressible thoughts on news, music, books, arts and such like. In general these will be items, events and issues which I feel have no place on my website (which focusses on aviation history and my travel photography).

The item immediately below this would be the latest posting.

Anybody, providing he knows how to be amusing, has the right to talk about himself. - Charles Baudelaire
Esse est percipi (To be is to be perceived) ¬Bishop George Berkeley

Not even I understand everything I am ¬Aurelius Augustinus of Hippo


In 2013 I started a series of photo albums on Blurb.com, named '36Exp' (a subject adressed in 36 exposures, a reference to the exposures on most common rolls of 35 mm film: 12, 24 & 36.).
The books can be ordered directly from the Blurb.com website or Amazon.
www.blurb.com/user/ruudleeuw

CURRENT BLOG

 

 
BOREALIS - LIVE IN THE WOODS | ENVIRONMENT PHOTOGRAPHY

Borealis - Live in the Woods | Exhibition

Borealis - Live in the Woods | Exhibition

Borealis - Live in the Woods | Exhibition

Borealis - Live in the Woods | Exhibition

"Because a forest is much more than a bunch of trees together."

The importance of forests to our planet is more apparent now than ever before.
It is trees that filter our carbon emissions out of the atmosphere, and are thus a key weapon in our fight against climate change.
Over the past four years photographer Jeroen Toirkens (b. 1971) and journalist and broadcaster Jelle Brandt Corstius (b.1978) visited forests in the boreal zone for their Borealis project, seeking out the stories of the forests and the people who live there.
With the impact of climate change being seen and felt increasingly clearly, it is important that these stories are heard.

Toirkens’ images bear witness to the ancient mythical appeal of forests, but they also show how the inhabitants of the boreal zone manage and protect their habitat.
The major exhibition Borealis – Life in the Woods feature all 8 parts of the project, from loggers in Norway, scientific research in Japan and newly planted forests in Scotland to the final chapter in Alaska, the personal highlight for Toirkens and Brandt Corstius.

www.fotomuseumdenhaag.nl/en/exhibitions/borealis-life-woods
More photos of this visit on Flickr.com
The book with this exhibition is further detailed on MyBlog 2021Q1


[11JUN2021]

 
BROKENWOOD MYSTERIES (S4) | TV-SERIES CRIME FICTION DRAMA

Brokenwood Mysteries, series 3

The Brokenwood Mysteries is a New Zealand detective, drama tv-series that premiered on Prime in 2014. The programme is set in the fictitious New Zealand town of Brokenwood and was filmed in the greater Auckland region. Tim Balme conceived the series and is lead writer with Philip Dalkin, James Griffin and Greg McGee.

The cast includes Neill Rea as Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Shepherd (also adressed as 'senior') and Fern Sutherland as Detective Kristin Sims.
Pana Hema Taylor plays Jared Morehu, Shepherd's Māori neighbour, Nic Sampson is Detective Constable Sam Breen and Cristina Ionda as Dr. Gina Kadinsky, medical examiner.
They all have a nice chemistry going. The series is pleasant, light entertainment.

This 3rd series I recently watched was as good as the 1st and 2nd series: a good plotline and fast & funny interchanges between the main characters.
There are 4 episodes in this 3rd series: A 'Lord of the Ringz'-tour comes across the wife of the tour guide, wrapped in fake cobwebs and poisoned with spider venom.
Then there is a funeral for the beloved local poet Declan O'Grady, an unexpected turn of events reveal that his coffin has been occupied by the corpse of an unidentified young woman.
Next is a thief's corpse being found at a local auto repair shop, followed by the murder of the people who worked there.
Christmas festivities close the 3rd series: The beloved mayor of Brokenwood is found brutally murdered in a Santa costume, and his girlfriend stuffed in the chimney... also in a Santa costume!
Quite bizar plotlines, but the delightful dialogues lighten the mood.

Great fun to watch. I noticed we have a few more series to go, looking forward to them!
And I love the music that's played in these series: country music Down Under style!

en.wikipedia.org:_The_Brokenwood_Mysteries
www.imdb.com/Brokenwood_mysteries
See also MyBlog-2020Q2 and MyBlog-2020Q4


[06JUN2021]

 
HAM TOREN | HERITAGE HISTORY

Ham Toren

Ham Toren

Ridderhofstad Den Ham - The Hamtoren (EN: Ham Tower) is the remains of Den Ham castle in Vleuten in Utrecht. The tower is located north of the Utrecht - Rotterdam railway line, on an old road to Harmelen.
The castle is mentioned for the first time in a charter from 1325 and was initially built as a residential tower. It is suspected that it was built around 1260, strategically opting for an inlet of the old Rhine course because it made it more defensible.
The tower allowed the owner to exert power over the surrounding area.

In 1481 it was partially destroyed, afterwards it was expanded to include a second tower. In 1536 the States of Utrecht recognized it as a city of knights, the residents were then admitted to the Knighthood.

In 1642 the gatehouse, which provides access to Den Ham, was rebuilt.
By marriage in 1711 the castle came into the possession of the Hacfort family where it would remain until 1811.
Around 1872 the castle was in disrepair and, apart from the tower, it was demolished.
About 100 years later, the tower was restored.

The tower, surrounded by a moat, has 1.5m thick brick walls, of about 27 meters high. Among other things, a walkway has been made on top and the total height is approximately 35 meters.
Inside it has 6 floors and a basement where medieval beams have been preserved.
Today, the tower is privately owned. Opportunities to visit it are rare.

en.wikipedia.org:_Hamtoren


[06JUN2021]

 
COUNTRY ESTATE GROENEVELD (LANDGOED GROENEVELD) | HERITAGE

Landgoed / Kasteel Groeneveld

Landgoed / Kasteel Groeneveld

Landgoed / Kasteel Groeneveld

Landgoed / Kasteel Groeneveld

Landgoed / Kasteel Groeneveld

Castle Groeneveld is an estate in the municipality of Baarn. It is used as a 'Country Estate for City and Country' of Staatsbosbeheer.
A long driveway from the Amsterdamsestraatweg forms the line of sight of the estate. This line of sight runs through the corridor on the bell floor to about 2 kilometers in the woods behind the castle. In the past, the view even extended to the Monnikenberg, towards Hilversum.
In the 17th and 18th centuries it was customary for wealthy Amsterdammers to purchase a country estate where they could be staying during the summer.

Often these country estates lie on the border of sandy and peat soil. The estates in 't Gooi ('s-Graveland), along the (river Vecht and on the inner dune edge (the Keukenhof) are examples of these.


nl.wikipedia.org:_Kasteel_Groeneveld_(Baarn) (NL)

[05JUN2021]

 
DE HAAR CASTLE | HISTORY HERITAGE

De Haar Castle | Kasteel De Haar
Photo by Ada Leeuw

De Haar Castle | Kasteel De Haar

De Haar Castle | Kasteel De Haar

De Haar Castle | Kasteel De Haar

De Haar Castle | Kasteel De Haar

De Haar Castle | Kasteel De Haar

De Haar Castle | Kasteel De Haar

De Haar Castle (nl: Kasteel de Haar) is located in Utrecht, Netherlands. Date of visit June 3rd.

The oldest historical record of a building at the location of the current castle dates to 1391. In that year, the De Haar family received the castle and the surrounding lands as a fiefdom from Hendrik van Woerden. The castle remained in the ownership of the De Haar family until 1440, when the last male heir died childless. The castle then passed to the Van Zuylen family. In 1482, the castle was burned down and the walls were destroyed, except for the parts that did not have a military function. These parts probably were incorporated into the castle when it was rebuilt during the early 16th century.

The castle is mentioned in an inventory of the possessions of Steven van Zuylen from 1506, and again in a list of fiefdoms in the province Utrecht from 1536. The oldest image of the castle dates to 1554 and shows that the castle had been largely rebuilt by then. After 1641, when Johan van Zuylen van de Haar died childless, the castle seems to have gradually fallen into ruins. The castle escaped total destruction by the French during the Rampjaar 1672.

In 1801 the last Catholic van Zuylen in the Netherlands, the bachelor Anton-Martinus van Zuylen van Nijevelt (1708–1801), bequeathed the property to his cousin Jean-Jacques van Zuylen van Nyevelt (1752–1846) of the Catholic branch in the Southern Netherlands.

en.wikipedia.org:_De_Haar_Castle

[05JUN2021]

 
BOVEN WATER - ARNADUR INDRIDASON | BOOKS CRIME FICTION

Arnaldur Indridason - 'The Girl by the Bridge'

Arnaldur Indriðason is an Icelandic writer of crime fiction; he estalished his name and fame as a thriller author with the main the protagonist Detective Erlendur. He then switched to the younger years of Erlendur.
He also wrote two books each revolving around Erlendur's collegues, Sigurdur Óli and Elinborg. These books referred to Erlendur as absent, gone to east of Iceland for undetermined period of time and for no given reason. I think Indriðason must have considered Erlendur had run his course.

This book 'The Girl by the Bridge' (NL: Boven Water -translated by Adriaan Faber-, original: Stúlkan hjá brúnni/2018) is the 2nd featuring the retired policeman Konráð.
The first featuring Konráð was Myrkrið veit (2017; NL: Smeltend ijs/2019 EN: The Darkness Knows). The pace is slow and pleasant, its narrative surprising and bare.

His first book, 'Sons of Dust' (Synir duftsins) came out in 1997, the first in the series with Detective Erlendur. I consider the books with Erlendur still his best work, containing much Icelandic folklore and properties; perhaps my preference is linked to the first enjoyment of Indriðason's writing.

Retired police officer Konráð gets a call from an elderly couple worried about their granddaughter. He doesn't know them to well, they knew his wife Erna.
They know Danni was on drugs and involved in a smuggling operation, and now she's gone.
At the same time, Konráð receives new information about the unsolved murder of his father.
As he delves into both cases, he discovers a 3rd mystery: long ago, the body of a twelve-year-old girl was found in the water of the Tjörn. The incident was dismissed as an accident but some things don't seem to be right. The original investigation closed the book expediently as an accidental death, the girl was from a poor background.
As more facts slowly emerges about the various issues, the clearer it becomes that some actions have far-reaching consequences.
Recommended reading, Indriðason is in the top three of my best liked crime writers and this book again confirms it.

en.wikipedia.org:_Arnaldur_Indriðason
wiki2.org/en/Arnaldur_Indriðason
www.mysterytribune.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-arnaldur-indridason-books-and-movies
www.islit.is/en/authors/


[05JUN2021]

 
SHADOWPLAY | TV-SERIES CRIME FICTION DRAMA

Shadowplay tv-series

Shadowplay tv-series

Shadowplay tv-series

Shadowplay tv-series

Shadowplay tv-series

Max McLaughlin is an American NYPD cop who has arrived in Berlin in the summer of 1946 to help create a police force in the chaotic aftermath of the war. The backdrop is immediately captivating, Berlin bombed to rubble and people often living among the ruïns.
Max's goal is to take down 'Englemacher', the Capone of post-war Berlin. At the same time, Max undertakes a secret crusade to find his missing brother Moritz, who is killing ex-Nazis in hiding due to a trauma after being among the first to witness the massacre in Dachau.
Unbeknownst to Max, he is being used as a pawn in what is the beginning of the cold war.

No institutions. No order. No laws. Post-war Berlin is a chaotic place where no-one can be trusted and nothing is sacred.
Elsie Garten is the Chief of Police where Max works; the unit, consiting almost entirely of women, is infiltrated by organised crime and the Russians. There is limited traffic between the British, Russian and American sectors.
A place where unpredictable characters and violent situations are the norm. A place where everybody is a criminal or a survivor or both. Many of the women are forced to resort to prostitution.
A place where everybody carries secrets, most of them dark.
Nazis use their stolen art to escape prosecution, travel an escape route to a safer continent.

While the Allies argue whether to let the Germans suffer in this purgatory or if they should be reformed, they are all certain of one thing – the Russians mustn’t claim the city. But the Russians have ways of turning people to snitches.
Berlin is the key to the new Europe: It’s the cradle of the two Superpowers: East and West.

Brilliant series; morally complex and compelling… A vivid portrait of a complex time and place.
Absolutely recommended!

www.imdb.com/Shadowplay/


[01JUN2021]

 
SAND SCULPTURES @ZANDVOORT | ART

Sand sculptures
Sand sculpting by Jeroen Advocaat

Sand sculptures
By Niall Magee

Sand sculptures
Sand sculpting bij Martijn Rijerse (winner 2021)

Sand sculptures
By Hanneke Supply

Sand sculptures
By Maxim Gazendam

The sand sculptures in this coastal beach resort have been linked to Zandvoort for several years now. This year the European Championship was held for the 10th time here. Alas, it has been announced that this will also be the last time the City Council sponsors the annual event.

The competition is organized by the World Sand Sculpting Academy WSSA, the leading organization that initiates and conducts sand sculpture activities worldwide. I love to visit them.
The theme for 2021 is 'Landscape through the Eye of the Master' and is linked to a national campaign that is being conducted internationally under the title 'Ode to the Dutch Landscape'.

The winner of the European Sand Sculptures Championships 2021 was announced on Sunday May 9th. The Rotterdam artist Martijn Rijerse has been named European Champion by the professional jury.
The title of his winning sculpture is 'The Stacked Landscape'.
According to the jury, his artwork attractively depicts the theme 'Landscape through the Eye of the Master'.
Due to the corona lockdown restrictions, only sand artists living in the Netherlands participated this year. They are all prominent artists who have all earned their spurs internationally.


[31MAY2021]

 
RIVIERA, SERIES 3 | CRIME FICTION TV-SERIES

Riviera, tv-series (3)

Riviera, tv-series (3)

Riviera is a crime fiction tv-series created by Neil Jordan. It premiered on Sky Atlantic on 15Jun17.
The series stars Julia Stiles as art curator Georgina Marjorie Clios (née Ryland).
It was Sky's most successful original series.
The 2nd season I missed. The 3rd series I watched during May 2021.
Rupert Graves as Gabriel Hirsh, an antiquities recovery expert, is a new ally in this 3rd series of the remaining protagonist Georgina.
Well, that is how it started.

While Georgina attempts to restore order to her life by reinventing herself as an art restitution lecturer, noted expert Gabriel Hirsch has other ideas. He convinces there is more fun and adventure tracing stolen art during WW2 by the Nazis and returning them to the rightful owners.

The first action takes them to an auction in Venice, for a stolen Picasso. Gabriel sees a trinket and steals it, unbeknown to Georgina.
This sets off a chain of events, Georgina is forced to shoot a man who is beating up Gabriel, trying to kill him. Next stop: Saint Tropez. France was a country Georgina tried to avoid, she no longer goes by her married name Clios anymore, but her maiden name Ryland. She became a young widow in the first series and has distanced herself from the Clios family.

We learn that Gabriel has a bit of a chequered, adventurous past but learn no specific details. He likes his drink. They move among jet set people, visit parties not for the hoi polloi and stay in luxurious hotel suites. Georgina frequently changes in designer dresses and always walks elegantly on stylish heels.

There's a shock in store for Georgina when she comes face to face with old friends and foes from series two: Daphne (friend) and Daphne's brother Nico (foe).
The rosary is being stolen from Georgina and Gabriel, try to retrieve it and the trail leads them to Alexandra 'Alex' Harewood, tec tycoon, and her enforcer Ellen Swann.  In the periphery circles a dangerous psychopath, Cesar, the playboy son of the mayor in Buenos Aires (involved in a reelection campaign).
What is relationship between Alex and mayor Victor Alsina-Suarez? And why is the rosary so important to them?
Gabriel urges Georgina to give on the rosary as the opponents are unscrupulous with obstacles. But Georgina is adament to right the injustices.

Georgina is kidnapped and wakes up in a remote psychiatric unit, owned by Alex. She is convinced she has been put there because she knows too much.
Gabriel asks Daphne to help him to report Georgina's disappearance, but though Daphne has found out where Georgina is, she has her reasons for steering Gabriel in the wrong direction.
Meanwhile Georgina gets some food for thought about her psychic during her enforced stay in the psychiatric institution.

Georgina escapes and rejoins with Gabriel, they flee. They know their enemies are now all too aware that they're getting closer to the truth. Georgina decides to meet their trouble face on and though Gabriel has his misgivings, they travel to Buenos Aires together.
Gabriel does not know about the new secret between Daphne and Georgina, concerning Nico.
They find out that in Argentina they are even more vulnerable to their enemies.
Georgina and Gabriel, for smart people and not inexperienced in dealing with criminals, they sometimes make silly choices but the narrative proceeds at a considerable pace and throughout stays entertaining in a glamorous sort of way.

In Buenos Aires, mayor Victor and his sons Dario and Cesar are busy with the campaign but also with the progress of Victor's degenerative disease.
Georgina and Gabriel manage to unravel the connection between Victor, Alex and the death of a junkie who had his death certificate falsified.
Daphne, who has struck up a relationship with Cesar, is confronted by Georgina. Their friendship is over.

The fallout from a drive-by shooting sends shockwaves through Buenos Aires.
Though Georgina and Gabriel are not in a relationship except their partnership, they do get closer together, though their coöperation wavered for their undisclosed secrets.

en.wikipedia.org:_Riviera_(TV_series)

www.imdb.com

[26MAY2021]

 
BERLIN NOIR by MIRON ZOWNIR | PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOBOOKS

Berlin Noir by Miron Zownir (photobook, 2017)

Berlin Noir by Miron Zownir (photobook, 2017)

Berlin Noir by Miron Zownir (photobook, 2017)

Berlin Noir by Miron Zownir (photobook, 2017)

Berlin Noir by Miron Zownir (photobook, 2017)

Berlin Noir by Miron Zownir (photobook, 2017)

Berlin Noir by Miron Zownir (photobook, 2017)

Berlin Noir by Miron Zownir (photobook, 2017)

I did not know of Miron Zownir's work, but the title 'Berlin Noir' flagged it for me as I enjoyed Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir Trilogy. So how would this title translate to photography? I ordered a (signed) copy at Bildband Berlin and was not disappointed, far from it!

Zownir took up photography in the late 1970s, during the hey-days of the punk-phenomenon in West- Berlin and London, delivering a tight portrayal of the movement and its peculiar attitude towards life in limbo between a utopian vision of anarchy and nihilistic self-destruction.

In 1980, Miron Zownir emigrated to the USA, where he lived for the next 15 years; first in New York, then in Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh.
In New York, back then arguably the world's most fascinating and permissive metropolis, Zownir's peculiar approach to cover the city's multiple-layered day-to-day lunacy.
Photos were shot in moody, expressionistic b/w.
Zownir's photographs of the 'Sex Piers' have become legendary documents by now. The shut-down and dilapidated port area located between the Westside Highway and the Hudson River, with its sunbathing section for nudists and the surrounding 'halls of the anonymous lust', was a popular meeting place among the gay- scene.

In the summer of 1995, Zownir traveled to Russia.
Focused on street photography he took pictures of homeless, dying and dead people. According to Zownir, he experienced Moscow as "the most aggressive and dangerous city I've ever been to."
Zownir's images from Russia are bitter and brutal.
He reports from abysmal landscapes of lost souls.

In BERLIN NOIR, Miron Zownir documents the timeless urban melancholy and the WILD life of Berlin...
At the same time it is a retrospective of Zownir's photographs, which were created between 1978 and 2016.
In 1978, Berlin was more than ever the mecca of nonconformists and artists. An urban oasis of the unsuitable, which promised unrestricted development.
Zownir's works from West Berlin hemmed in by the 'death strip', the inner german border, document the rebellious weltschmerz of punks, the social hopelessness of dropouts, drug addicts, casual labourers or the homeless. 
His recent works, however, show examples of the 'Anything goes' in the Berlin clubs, the celebrated body cult of the Love Parade or commercial sex events.

www.mironzownir.com


[25MAY2021]

 
THE BATTLE OF HÜRTGEN FOREST by ARMANDO JONGEJAN | PHOTOBOOK HISTORY

The Battle of Hürtgen Forest, by Armando Jongejan (photobook, 2021)
30cm x 30cm photobook, on 160 gram Biotop paper, printed Chris Russell Print, NL

The Battle of Hürtgen Forest, by Armando Jongejan (photobook, 2021)

The Battle of Hürtgen Forest, by Armando Jongejan (photobook, 2021)
The Battle of Hürtgen Forest, by Armando Jongejan (photobook, 2021; 28 photographs)

The Battle of Hürtgen Forest, by Armando Jongejan (photobook, 2021)


The Battle of Hürtgen Forest (German: Schlacht im Hürtgenwald) was a series of fierce battles fought during 19Sep44 - 16Dec44, between American and German forces on the Western Front during World War II, in the Hürtgen Forest (Hürtgenwald). It is a 140 km2 area about 5 km east of the Belgian–German border in 'the Eifel'; which is part of the Rhenish Massif and within its northern portions lies the Eifel National Park.
The Battle of Hürtgen Forest was the longest battle on German ground during World War II and is the longest single battle the U.S. Army has ever fought...
The Germans fiercely defended the area because it served as a staging area for the 1944 winter offensive Wacht am Rhein (known in English-speaking countries as the 'Battle of the Bulge'), and because the mountains commanded access to the Rur Dam at the head of the Rur Reservoir (Rurstausee).
The Allies failed to capture the area after several heavy setbacks, and the Germans successfully held the region until they launched their last-ditch offensive into the Ardennes.

Armando Jongejon documented the overgrown bunkers, which reminded me of some of the temples at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Various remnants from WW2 can still be seen here, such as bunker 131, 132, 135 and 139/140, which are located on 'Der Buhlert': a small mountain near the village of Simonskall.
The bunkers are overgrown with tree roots and slowly the merge into the forest.
A 'must visit some day'!

en.wikipedia.org:_Battle_of_Hürtgen_Forest      
www.museum-mm.org/the-battle-of-hurtgen-forest
warfarehistorynetwork.com

fotogroephoogeveen.nl/armando-jongejan/
www.contrastfotografie.nl
www.facebook.com/armando.jongejan
More on photographer Armando Jongejan further down this page.


[22MAY2021]

 
A MAN WITHOUT BREATH by PHILIP KERR | BOOKS FICTION

A Man Without Breath by Philip Kerr

Philip B. Kerr (b.22Feb1956 - d.23Mar2018) was a British author, best known for his Bernhard 'Bernie' Gunther series of historical detective thrillers. 'A Man Without Breath' is one of them (#9), set in 1943, mainly in Smolensk.
Just before he died of cancer (aged 62), he finished a 14th Bernie Gunther novel, Metropolis, which was published posthumously, in 2019.

Berlin, March 1943. A month has passed since Stalingrad and morale is low. Then Berlin learns of a Red massacre of Polish troops near Smolensk.
In a rare instance of agreement, both the Wehrmacht and Propaganda Minister Goebbels want irrefutable evidence of this Russian atrocity. And so Bernie Gunther is dispatched as an investigator for the Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau.
The Katyn massacre was a series of mass executions of nearly 22.000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia carried out by the Soviet Union, specifically the NKVD ('People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, the Soviet secret police) in April and May 1940.
Though the killings also occurred in the Kalinin and Kharkiv prisons and elsewhere, the massacre is named after the Katyn Forest, where some of the mass graves were first discovered.
In Smolensk, Prussian aristocrats look down at the wise-cracking Berlin detective ('bull'). But Bernie doesn't care about fitting in. He only wants to uncover the identity of a savage killer-before becoming a victim himself.

Kerr's way if weaving facts with fiction is remarkable, based on impeccable research. The 'backdrop'
here is the Katyn Wood Massacre and conspiracies to get rid of Hitler (some 10-15 conspiracies are said to have been designed or attempted).
Gunther reminds me of the Raymond Chandler privat eyes, tough guys with a heart of gold.
Truly excellent reading.

philipkerr.org/a-man-without-breath
en.wikipedia.org:_Philip_Kerr
en.wikipedia.org:_Katyn_massacre


[21MAY2021]

 
UNFORGOTTEN (SEASON 4) | CRIME FICTION DRAMA TV-SERIES

Unforgotten, season 4

'Unforgotten' is a British crime drama tv-series, which initially aired on ITV on 08Oct2015. It is written by creator Chris Lang and directed by Andy Wilson.
The programme follows a team of London detectives, led by DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker) and DI Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar), as they solve cold cases of disappearance and murder

The music each episode of this series starts off with is the most melancholy you'll find!
In this 4th series a headless and hand-less body is found in a North London scrapyard, hidden in a refrigerator. The team led by Sunny are called to investigate. At that time Cassie is trying to get an early retirement on medical grounds, but no such luck and she has to get back, very reluctantly, on the force for another 3 months - fighting a deep felt anger.

The refrigerator and corpse are traced back to where one Rob Fogerty lived. Fogerty had died and the house was cleared out. The team investigate Fogerty's remarkable driving offence, decades ago.
Fogerty had been driving a car and found to have been drinking. In the car at the time, the team finds, were four other occupants: all 4 (Ram, Liz, Fiona and Dean) were police officers in their probationary phase, having just completed their police training that day and had left the ceremony together.

Cassie and Sunny interview each of the four suspects, who all deny knowing the victim. They also say they haven't kept in touch afterwards. Dean and Fiona had left the police soon after.
The victim is identified by a tattoo on his arm and confirmed, after finding the head and hands in a lockup in the name of Fogerty. His name is Jerome Walsh.

Walsh was cautioned three weeks before his death, after a fight in a bar. The pub in Ifield was a regular watering hole for police trainees. Walsh had sexually assaulted Fiona and Ram intervened, only to suffer a good pasting by Walsh.

Cassie and Sunny discover Walsh was chased by all four suspects on the night in question. They stopped the car, Ram and Rob first got out chasing the running Walsh, then Dean followed in a slow pace and last the two women, obviously checking where the guys had gone to.
The investigation proceeds under the assumption they were all into it and the body had been in the boot of the car. The suspects persist in their denial.

The pathologist identifies Walsh was murdered, by a fountain pen stabbed into the head.
There is well developed drama surrounding all four surviving suspects. Slowly their secrets come to the surface.

Besides this ' whodunnit' narrative, there is the fact that it is known that this is the last season of Unforgotten...
There is suspense on how would it end? That does not become clear until very late.

Nicola Walker again delivers a masterpiece with her role as DCI Cassie 'Cas' Stuart.
Much against her will she is forced to go back to work, but the team's reception and the investigation increasingly provides focus and motivation for her.
There a pleasant interaction with DS Sunil 'Sunny' Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar), as always calm and collected. The team is a nice bunch of varied characters (love Murray!).
But Cassie Stuart is struggling with her depression, constantly feeling angry and on a short fuse, which esspecially hurts her relation with her father who is in the throws of alzheimer / dementia.

Main characters¬
Nicola Walker    ...             DCI Cassie Stuart
Sanjeev Bhaskar...             DS Sunil 'Sunny' Khan
Jordan Long       ...             DS Murray Boulting
Carolina Main    ...             DC Fran Lingley
Lewis Reeves    ...              DC Jake Collier
Peter Egan         ...              Martin Hughes

www.imdb.com
en.wikipedia.org:_Unforgotten
www.radiotimes.com/tv/drama/unforgotten-season-four


[20MAY2021]

 
LINE OF DUTY, SEASON 6 | CRIME FICTION DRAMA TV-SERIES

Line of Duty, season 6
LIES COST LIVES


The 6th series about AC-12, a controversial police anti-corruption unit.

Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) still heads AC-12, though since ending the previous series he is damaged goods for the higher police hierarchy. DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) considers a career change within the police force, but puts that on hold when he becomes Detective Inspector (DI).
AC-12 investigate DCI Jo Davidson's apparent mishandling of the murder of an investigative journalist.
Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) has transferred from AC-12 to the Murder Investigation Team (MIT) of police chief Buckells. Jo works in this team too.

AC-12 suspect a cover-up as an officer on DCI Davidson's team appears to have sabotaged the inquiry into journalist Gail Vella's murder. The leads to Organised Crime slowly become apparent.
Kate is loyal to her boss Davidson and refuses to work for AC-12. But as the investigation progresses Kate is torn between her loyalty to Jo and to AC-12.
Steve is addicted on pain killers, to endure the backpain caused by his recent injury which landed him in a wheelchair. He's up and about now, but fears he will be taken off active duty if his backpain becomes common knowledge.

DCI Jo Davidson faces increasing pressure from all sides as AC-12 make major breakthroughs in the investigation, but an attempt to interview a key witness goes horribly wrong.
As AC-12 struggle to deal with the repercussions of tragic events, Hastings makes one final bid to uncover institutionalized corruption before his time runs out. He's set for early retirement, as he does not have the support of higher up anymore.
With time running out, AC-12 attempt to unmask 'H', the fourth individual commanding the network of corrupt officers behind the murder of Gail Vella. There are a number of candidates.
But sinister and powerful forces appear intent on orchestrating a cover-up.

It was announced that Season 6 was the final season, but remarks by Hastings in the closing scene makes you wonder it that is true...

www.imdb.com
en.wikipedia.org:_Line_of_Duty_(series_6)

 

[19MAY2021]

 
HET IS OORLOG, MAAR NIEMAND DIE HET ZIET by HUIB MODDERKOLK

Het is Oorlog, maar niemand die het ziet - Huib Modderkolk


This book by the Dutch journalist Huib Modderkolk would see its title translate as 'It's war, but no one sees it'. It has a clear message: 'Beware of hacking, you can't escape it!'
Huib Modderkolk has done an incredibly good job of detailing the many technical issues of cybersecurity clear as a bell and jargon-free.
The book reads like a thriller, including cliffhangers.

Huib Modderkolk (b.1982) has been working at the Dutch daily newspaper de Volkskrant since 2015; before that he worked at NRC Handelsblad for many years.
He is best known as an investigative journalist, specializing in intelligence services, privacy and the digital world. He was also a regular guest on television talk shows.
In 2013, he and colleagues Steven Derix and Floor Boon published about Edward Snowden's NSA documents.

So in 2015 he and NRC colleague Tom Kreling switched to de Volkskrant. At the beginning of 2018, together with tv news program Nieuwsuur, he published a remarkable report about the work of the AIVD.
For years, the Dutch secret service had access to the internal computer network of the notorious Russian hacking group APT29 and was able to see how Russian hackers attacked various American institutions, such as the Democratic Party!
As a result, the AIVD provided crucial evidence of Russian meddling in the US presidential election.Together with Eelco Bosch van Rosenthal, Modderkolk won 'De Loep'-award for this unveiling.

His years of research into the digital world resulted in september 2019 in this book It is war', but no one sees it'. In the run-up to its publication, the AIVD filed a summary action against Modderkolk in July 2019 to prevent information about an intelligence operation from becoming public.

The book details the struggle for a journalist, at first not at all very knowledgable about IT hacking, to breach that walled-off world of hackers and those who fight it. A very slow progress, also into understanding the terminology, the scope and ramifications of hacking.
Twice he suspects his router hacked, at siginificant moments. The NSA is an obvious suspect here.

Hacking can effect individuals for their personal level (disruptive or for ransom software, but also as a way into the job environment) but has evolved to a much higher level, attacking countries for democratic elections, electricity- and nuclear powerstations (resp. Ukraine and Iran), disrupting economies (e.g. the 2021 Colonial pipeline shutdown in the US).

The book also shows the weaknesses, the lack of alertness of management and politicians, to this danger.
In Rotterdam the entire logistics in the harbour with APM Terminals came to a halt as their software did not have proper anti-virus update: nothing adequate was installed inspite of an alraming report for the management decided against it as it would involve a shut down of the logistics during the night for a few hours. This while their management was secured by high fences to keep the baddies out!

We've seen town councils and hospitals shut down by ransom software, using old browser lacking the proper updates. We see agencies internationally and nationally (e.g. AIVD versus MIVD) withholding coöperation because of rivalries.
This while the trolls get smarter and smarter, with software making its way into the core of IT systems of international institutions like banks, able to remain undetected for years. And spread deeper and wider.

The trolls want to hide their work for obvious reasons, but those in the defense plus the ones hurt and responsible for their mistakes want to hide their findings as well.
It makes Huib Modderkolk's work and book the more remarkable for it. And an urgent warning we should all heed on every level!

nl.wikipedia.org:_Huib_Modderkolk (NL)

[18MAY2021]

 
POLDERTUIN | FLOWERS BOTANICAL GARDEN TULIPS

De Poldertuin @Anna Paulowna, botanical garden

De Poldertuin @Anna Paulowna, botanical garden

De Poldertuin @Anna Paulowna, botanical garden

De Poldertuin @Anna Paulowna, botanical garden

De Poldertuin @Anna Paulowna, botanical garden

De Poldertuin @Anna Paulowna, botanical garden

De Poldertuin @Anna Paulowna, botanical garden

On May 12th we visited the 'Poldertuin' @Anna Paulowna (Noord-Holland).
In the autumn, volunteers plant thousands of bulbs in the ground, which blossom in the spring.
It is a garden with spring bloomers (hyacinths, daffodils, tulips, etc).
The flower bulbs are made available free of charge by flower bulb growers from the region. The signs indicate which species it is.
From mid-March to mid-May, the garden is in bloom and the garden is at its best. A blast of colour!
The garden is open all year round and admission is free.

www.bloemendagen.nl/en/poldertuin/
More on - flickr.com/photos/

[14MAY2021]

 
HET HOF ('T OUDE HOF) | COUNTRY ESTATE WALKABOUT

Het Oude Hof (Bergen, N-H)

Het Oude Hof (Bergen, N-H)

Planted: 1860-1870 | Circumference: 360 and 420 cm | Height: 4 m
The National Monument 't Oude Hof in Bergen dates from the 17th century.
It was the country house for Jonkheer Anthonis Studler van Surck.
After this it was inhabited by the well-known Bergen family Van Reenen.
During World War II, the Old Court was seized by the Germans, who instated an NSB mayor here.
On the courtyard there are 2 old knotted linden trees. A feast for the eyes, both are very hollow. They manage to survive to this day through 'emergency roots', making the trunk a true work of art!
Maybe in 100 years these trees will still be there..?
For this reason the immediate surroundings has ceased to be a carpark.
www.bomenstichting.nl/monumentale-bomen- - -in-noord-holland (NL)

Het Oude Hof (Bergen, N-H)

Het Oude Hof (Bergen, N-H)

The history of this place dates back to the Middle Ages, when a fortified mansion stood on (what is now)
't Oude Hof.
The first inhabitants were of the family Van Haemstede Montigny (1285-1438), followed by the families Van Borselen (1438-1507) and Van Brederode (1507-1568).
The mansion was destroyed in 1574, during the battle against the Spaniards, on the orders of the leader of the Dutch resistance ('Geuzen') Diederick van Sonoy.
In the mid-17th century, the Netherlands experienced the Golden Age, the estate came into the possession of the wealthy merchant Anthonis van Zurck (1607-1666).

Van Zurck was not of nobility, but aspired to achieve such a status.
With the help of his wealth and influential friends (including the philosopher René Descartes who stayed in Egmond aan de Hoef from 1643 to 1649), he managed to elevate himself to the nobility.
Earlier, in order to give his name more distinction, he had used a middle name 'Studler'.

So, the 'Oude Hof' was built in 1643 on behalf of Anthonis Studler van Zurck; he was a broker in shares
of the East India Company.
It consists of a square part with house and a rectangular part, which was once intended for hunting.
The eastern building house, which was included in studler van Zurck's new construction plans, still exists.

In the 19th century, the block-shaped, white-plastered building was converted into neoclassical style.
The new house he planned to build was never realized.
The asymmetrical location on the rectangular moat can be explained by the fact that the second building has disappeared.

onh.nl/verhaal/de-buitenplaats-het-oude-hof (NL)
www.franshalsmuseum.nl/nl/art/oude-hof-bergen

[14MAY2021]

 
DNA | TV-SERIES CRIME FICTION DRAMA

DNA- Danish crime thriller

DNA- Danish crime thriller

Now this is a thriller I enjoyed watching!

This superb series follows Rolf Larsen (Anders W. Berthelsen), a Copenhagen police detective whose life is torn asunder when his baby daughter goes missing.
Five years later, he gets a new lead in the case after discovering a serious flaw in the Danish police's DNA database.
While involved in a case of international child trafficking, contrary to his orders, he picks up clues to find his daughter. The official inquiry sees him working together with Claire Bobin (Charlotte Rampling), a seasoned French investigator.

There are 2 narratives, always a bit confusing, with a timelapse of circa 5 years.

Rolf Larsen is an investigator at Vestegnens Police (in the metropolitan area of Copenhagen), and married to Maria, a stewardess who is ending her maternity leave.
Just as Rolf is looking forward to a few days alone with his daughter, work demands his attention: a little girl, Minna, has been kidnapped.
Maria leaves for London and Rolf takes their daughter Andrea with him to work. There he is confronted with a lead in Poland. Rolf decides to follow up on it, and with a friend and forensic colleague Oliver they board the ferry.
A storm during the ferry crossing makes Rolf seasick and he goes outside for some fresh air, taking the pram and Andrea with him. He parks the pram on its brakes while he briefly visits the mensroom to vomit. Upon his return, to his despair, he finds the pram has rolled down some stairs and baby Andrea is gone, probably washed overboard.
It is concluded as an accident, but Rolf believes the baby was taken, probably by the Minna's kidnapper.

This timeline continues with a 19-year old girl in Poland who is pregnant and set to marry her boyfriend Tadek, a student in Warsaw.
Julita is coerced by Tadek's parents to undergo an abortion, considering them both to be too young to become parents. Tadek sets off on his motorbike to prevent this abortion from happening, but in his rush he is killed in traffic.
The abortion is abandoned for the funeral of Tadek.

The other timeline is five years later.
Rolf and Maria are divorced and Rolf has taken a job with the police in a small village. Maria is determined to continue her life, Rolf has trouble coping.
A simple case of a stolen car in Tornby introduces Rolf to the young police assistant Neel. He is ordered by their joint boss to test the car thief's DNA with his old colleagues in Copenhagen. The stolen car was owned by the police chief, who threatens Rolf to use his contacts or he gets fired.

Neel follows up the car theft and finds the thief was a recently released rapist and murderer. She manages to arrest him in an abandoned nearby farm, where he kept a young woman prisoner.
Upon which Rolf and Neel find serious errors in the Danish DNA register. The Minna case reopens but all relevant DNA material is gone except very few items supporting an unsatisfying outcome (in Rolf's mind). The forensic department is now led by Rolf's friend who was with him on the ferry that fateful night.

New DNA input, of some material on Minna's case Rolf had kept at home, in a database leads to an inquiry from the French police.
The DNA matches a murder inquiry of a young woman named Victoria. Rolf and his former boss, Astrid Oxlev, are to assist French police with investigator Claire Bobain in the lead.
But Rolf is warned not to get distracted into inquiries for personal reasons.

After clues point to Poland, Rolf and Claire visit the location to where Rolf and his friend Oliver were headed until Andrea's missing and that trip was abandoned.
Claire wonders why the witness in Poland was not interviewed; Rolf's colleague at the time followed the theory (other than Rolf) that closed the case expediently.
Rolf can't reveal the reason to Claire by his orders on this subject.
The inquiry into the disappearance of Minna was concluded with the theory of the father, seperated from his wife, having kidnapped Minna and then fled abroad. The link with Poland was never followed up on, case closed and Rolf taken off the case.

A video materializes and the kidnapper of Minna is identified. Another lead is a Danish couple, living on a farm with several adopted young adults who are identified as the foster parents of the girl Victoria travelling with the kidnapper of Minna.
Claire finds out about Rolf's daughter and is worried because Rolf seems often distracted with his daughter's case.
Rolf is repeatedly warned not to pursue any inquiries related to Andrea: she died that night, case closed.

Rolf and Claire, with aid from the Polish police, don't get much help from the nuns in two Polish monasteries of a Catholic order. But Rolf nevertheless gets hold of valuable material that reveals a connection to a fertility clinic in Paris.

In Paris, two gay men, Grégoire and Fabien, are found to have paid for an adopted baby boy in Denmark. A Danish agency named Bliss seemes to have been involved.

Meanwhile we see the narrative, five years earlier, of Julita taking dramatic turns. She goes into a convent for pregnant single mothers, but she finds that after having given births the babies are taken away from their mothers ' for a better future'. Julita cannot prevent her baby being taken away, but follows the kidnappers to Denmark.

In Lolland, Neel visits the foster parents of Melanie and her slain sister, Victoria. There is an overwhelming feeling that there's more than meets the eye at this isolated farm.
The people behind the network 'Bliss' are identified and found and so Minna can be reunited with her birth mother. But Rolf witnesses a painful seperation of Minna, after 5 years, from her adoptive parents to her real mother. Justice may have been done, but was it worth it?

Simply fantastic series!

www.imdb.com
nordicdrama.com/dna-season-1
www.youtube.com/watch_trailer

[11MAY2021]

 
KEEPING FAITH | CRIME FICTION DRAMA TV-SERIES

Keeping Faith, series 3

Keeping Faith (Welsh: Un Bore Mercher, 'One Wednesday Morning') is a thriller tv-series, filmed and set in Wales, and first broadcast in Welsh on S4C from 05Nov2017.
While I missed the 1st series, I did watch the 2nd series (2019).

Faith Howells (Welsh actress Eve Myles) is a small-town Welsh lawyer. Her husband and former business partner, Evan, is released from jail. Their divorce and custody battle goes from bad to worse. Faith continues in this 3rd season to struggle being both a (single) mother and a lawyer.
An unwanted visitor returns: her mother Rose, whom she hasn't seen since the age of 15. At that age she ran away from an abuse household, after stabbing Rose with a screwdriver during domestic violence.

A high profile medical case lands at the firm Faith and Cerys (Hannah Daniel) have set up, seperating themselves from the family firm Tom Howells, Evan's father, still runs. And where Evan has found a job too.
The medical case concerns a teenager named Osian (Keogh Kiernan), or 'Osh', who has a brain tumor deemed inoperable by the medical experts. Osian lost his mother by cancer a few years previous; Osian's father Mike has hired Faith and Cyres to get his son operated on, but meanwhile he is all over the place emotionally and has increasing doubts whether or not he has to give up on his son.

Unsettled by Rose's reappearance in her life, Faith struggles to keep everything together and focus on Osian's case.
Rose runs a debt collector's activity and has no scruples to go illegal in some of these activities.
Steve Baldini (Mark Lewis Jones), a former lover and down on his luck living in a shack in the woods with his daughter, is a (reluctant) debt collector for Rose. Upon a burglary to collect cash from a safe, something goes tits up.
The safe was in a gym, owned by Gael Reardon and with whom Evan is linked, ends up washed ashore after being murdered by a stab in the heart. Rose has photos incriminating Faith in an exchange with Gael Readon (previous season).

Evan decides to keep a closer eye on Faith's every move and he manages to activate a tracker on her phone. He continues to treat Faith as a possession. He lives with his mother, who is seperated from Evan's father Tom.

As Faith's mind is on helping Mike and Osian, while keeping Rose away from her family, she loses sight of the effect the divorce is having on her children.
Faith meets up with Breeze, a friend from the past, to get information on Rose. Evan is firmly in denial of the divorce Faith wants, the mediation is not working. Faith reestablishes her relationship with Steve, to Evan's anger. 

Rose, failing in getting closer to Faith, puts the second stage of her plan into action, putting Steve and Evan's futures in jeopardy. Evan is sacked by his father Tom, for making a mess of his work.
Time's running out for Osian, while in a last attempt to get him operated on in France he falls in a coma.

The histrionics by Faith were quite a bit overdone to my taste, I liked Cyres as a character much better and realistic. Much drama, interesting plot, crime blended in but hardly any display of violence, emotions sometimes overdone (Faith, Evan) and not sure if I could stomach a 4th series.
I think it has run its course (for me).

www.imdb.com
www.youtube.com/watch_trailer_S3
en.wikipedia.org


[11MAY2021]

 
DUIN EN KRUIDBERG | ESTATE PARK WALKABOUT

Landgoed Duin en Kruidberg (Velsen)

Landgoed Duin en Kruidberg (Velsen)

Landgoed Duin en Kruidberg (Velsen)

Landgoed Duin en Kruidberg (Velsen)

Landgoed Duin en Kruidberg is an estate in Velsen, North Holland.
The estate that stretches as a strip from Santpoort-Noord to the sea coast is part of The South Kennemerland National Park.
On the estate is the monumental country house 'Duin en Kruidberg which is used as a four-star hotel (a.o.).
The estate was created by merging 'Landgoed Duin en Berg' and 'Landgoed De Kruidberg'.
The estate turns north into the 'Landgoed Midden-Heerenduin' and south into the nature reserve 'Kennemerduinen'.

[08MAY2021]

 
MADE IN CHINA by ARMANDO JONGEJAN | PHOTOBOOK PHOTOGRAPHY

Made in China, by Armando Jongejan (2020)

Made in China, by Armando Jongejan (2020)

Made in China, by Armando Jongejan (2020)

Made in China, by Armando Jongejan (2020)

Made in China, by Armando Jongejan (2020)

In China I have a special interest, which was peaked when I saw mention of it pass on Facebook. It isn't my first book on China and it won't be my last. I have visited China a few times but never in the intensity to warrant a photobook of my work. Perhaps one day...
For now books such as these keep the dream alive.

Visiting China as a tourist, Armando used small camera bodies in a non-threatening way to capture the moments of everyday life which he encountered on his journeys.
He did not originally have a book in mind, but the very positive reaction to his images on Facebook made him think otherwise, and fortunately for all of us, the book began to take shape, and we now have to opportunity to see his work in print.

The photos show a quality which I lack: able to approach the people and get a smile on their face. The photos show people relaxing in the street, at work (often a particular craft), doing chores, preparing food, at the market, in conversation, children playing,playing cards or a boardgame, doing sports, in reverie, allowing close up portraits, et cetera.
Daily life in China on camera, so rich in diversity and people not adverse to having their photo taken like we see so often in the Western world.
Armando did a marvellous job, sharing so much of China and the Chinese; his photography is a joy to browse and a captivating window to another world.

The books contains 134 pages (30cm x 30cm), over 100 photographs printed on firm '160gsm Biotop paper'. There may still be copies available, contact him through Facebook.

Armando Jongejan (b.1960; Egmond aan Zee, the Netherlands).
He studied photography at the University of Applied Photography after which he took on work as a freelance photographer. This resulted in work published in various magazines and books.
In addition, he also works on personal projects, mainly purposely on a particular theme.

He's created landscape photography and social documentary reports in Turkey, Belgium, Scotland, England, Wales, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, the United States and in the Netherlands.
This often entailed numerous trips to the same countries: between 1990 - 1996 Czech Republic and Slovakia were visited 10 times.
Armando's work has been exhibited several times in (photo) galleries, cultural centers and museums at home and abroad.

In recent years, 7 photo books by Armando Jongejan have been published: Egmondse dorpsportretten (1996), Van binnenuit (2000), Licht uit, deur op slot (2001), Een zoektocht (2004), Thuiskomen (2011), Monnikenleven (2018) en MADE IN CHINA (2020).
Some of these reports were exhibited during the FotoFestival Naarden 2019, Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam (Foam) 2005, Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam - 2008, 2010 and in 2018. And in the Photography Museum of China, in Lishui.
Armando is also a member of 2 groups of the Dutch photography union: photojournalism and the BMK. In 2009 he was accepted as a fellow by the Royal Photographic Society (FRPS) from the UK.

www.facebook.com/armando.jongejan

[06MAY2021]

 
ZHENG HE by MAAT BUTTSWORTH | BOOKS HISTORY
Zheng He by Matt Buttsworth

Zheng He (b.1371 - d.1433 or 1435) was a court eunuch, explorer, diplomat, Chinese mariner and fleet admiral, during China's early Ming dynasty.
He was originally born as Ma He in a Muslim family and later adopted the surname Zheng, conferred by the Yongle Emperor.
Zheng commanded expeditionary treasure voyages to Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Western Asia, and East Africa from 1405 to 1433.
According to legend, his huge ships carried hundreds of sailors on four decks and were almost twice as long as any wooden ship ever recorded at the time.
As a favorite of the Yongle Emperor, whom Zheng assisted in the overthrow of the Jianwen Emperor, he rose to the top of the imperial hierarchy and served as commander of the southern capital Nanjing.

Zheng He was castrated as a boy at the palace court in Xian and castrated men were generally not very appreciated in China in the past, in spite of this he rose to a revered leadership as a general of an army as as an admiral of his fleet.

This book by Dr Matt Buttsworth details his youth (according to the book by then known as Ali Mustafa) in Kashgar ('The place where it all began')), how he lost his father when Chinese forces besieged the town he lived in. The book continues with his life among the eunuch at the royal court, his career in the army and at sea.

Zheng He was born Ma He (no mention in the book) to a Muslim family of Kunyang, Kunming, Yunnan, during the Ming dynasty of China, according to Wikipedia.
He had an older brother and four sisters. His sisters were married off to two lieutenants of the general, according to this book.
Ali Mustafa sees his name changed to Zheng He when he's taken prisoner and adopted by The General, he himself adopted as a young Jurchen nomad orphan by the commander of a Chinese cavalry column and (re)named Zheng Liu.
Zheng Liu teducats Zheng He in warfare on land.
I ended the book with the impression the author followed a simplified narrative of Zheng He's life and career.

A few notes from Wikipedia again-
In the autumn of 1381, a Ming army ('Chinese Imperial Army', numbering tens of thousands) invaded and conquered Yunnan, which was then ruled by the Mongol prince Basalawarmi, Prince of Liang.
In 1381, Ma Hajji, Zheng He's father (in the book named Mustaq), died in the fighting between the Ming armies and Mongol forces, his exact age (37 or 39) unknown as well as the exact circumstance, is unknown: the book describes a rather heroic but suicidal attack.

In his capacity as Admiral, Zheng He had an epitaph engraved in honour of his father, in the third year
in the Yongle era (01 June 1405).
There is no mention of such an event in the book, though there is mention that region of his birth is adressed for funding the fleet renewal.

When the old general Zheng Liu is summoned to the emperor's palace in Xian, the emperor Zheng Fang insists Zheng He stays behind at his court as a playmate to his son; he does not want the general to train further his adopted son and become a threat to the royal throne.
Wikipedia: Zheng He was castrated at some point between the age of 10 and 14 and was placed in the service of the Prince of Yan.
The book: Zheng He is obstinate, feels himself a prisoner at court and aggravates the prince Ju Chei, later the emperor.
He falls in love with Harvest Moon, but this ends in tragedy.

After the narrative of Zheng He rising to become a successful leader of the Ming army and developing economic skills for developing trade in Yunnan, he receives a new assignment ffrom the young emperor, which is designed to let Zheng He fail.
He is sent south to the headquarters to the Chinese fleet and ordered to search far and wide for the Lost Emperor.
Zheng He, only travelling with a personal regiment, cunningly avoids an ambush the emperor had set for him, but finds Longjiang devoid of any ships upon his arrival. China had no need to trade with other countries and the fleet was abandoned many years before his imperial orders.

While the emperor is distracted by army battles with the mongol Timur the Lame, Zheng He sets about his task to build a fleet. He allies with pirates, developing a shipyard in Guangdong and renewed trading along the coast.
Besides his ambition to travel the seas he still has that assignment to search for the Lost Emperor, as he cannot be found in China.
The book describes much animosity, started when they grew up together, between the ruling Emperor in Xian and Zheng He building his fleet.
Wikipedia describes the ruling at Xian's imperial court as a little more complex and Zheng He with different roles and representative titles for his sea voyages.

Viewed in terms of time, Zheng He's voyages to the Western Ocean was far ahead of European seafarers as Christopher Columbus (1451- 1506), Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) and Ferdinand Magellan (1480- 1521). Zheng He's first voyage was in 1405. This means that each 87, 92 from 114 years earlier than sailors such as Columbus (who arrived in America in 1492), Gama (who arrived in Calicut, India in 1497) and Magellan (which started around the earth since 1519).

The book describes two voyages in detail. Wikipedia has ' Zheng He travelling in 1424 to Palembang in Sumatra to confer an official seal and letter of appointment upon Shi Jisun, who was placed in the office of Pacification Commissioner.'
During one of these travels Zheng He sents his fleet back to Palembang, whil ehe sails with a few ships onward to visit Mecca and become a Haji.

Even before the voyages, according to this book, Zheng He falls in love with a slave girl and makes her pregnant: his castration had not been successful. To avoid the jealousy of the emperor, this relation is kept secret.

In terms of scale, Zheng He's fleet must have beenquite impressive.
Upon Zheng He's first voyage there are 62 large vessels and crews of more than 27.800 people.
On the 3rd voyage, there are 48 large ships with a crew more than 27.000 people.
On the 7th voyage, there are 61 large ships and its crew are 27.550 people.
Imagine the logistics of water and food for such a fleet to sail!

Brought home by Zheng He's fleet to China, among others were pearls, crystal, gem jewels, ivory, lion, giraffe, leopard, ingredients such as clove, frankincense, rhino horn, antelope horn, perfumes, spices, various types cloth and wood.
As a pious Muslim admiral Zheng He certainly take the initiative to spread the religion of Islam in countries he visited.
Zheng He's voyages were not intend to expand or conquer. In contrast to the voyage purpose of the famous European navigators. Visits by Zheng He and his crew always found a warm welcome in many countries, increasing trade for all parties concerned.

Back to the book.
The emperor is invited to witness the success of the fleet and accept the gift of an exotic animal (a giraffe), but in his jealousy forbids Zheng He to continue with his trading and sea voyages. Upon which Zheng He flees with part of his fleet and crew to Palembang and marries his wife there, who is again pregnant.
He then devices a plan to return to China alone and face the emperor.

While in fact, according to Wikipedia, on 07Sep1424, the Hongxi Emperor indeed terminated the undertaking of further treasure voyages but appointed Zheng He, in 1425, as the defender of Nanjing and ordered him to continue his command over the treasure fleet merely for the city's defense.
On 25Mar1428, the Xuande Emperor ordered Zheng He and others to take over the supervision for the rebuilding and repair of the Great Bao'en Temple at Nanjing, which He completed in 1431.

In 1430, the new Xuande Emperor appointed Zheng He the command over a 7th and final expedition into the 'Western Ocean' (Indian Ocean).
In 1431, Zheng He was bestowed with the title Sanbao Taijian, using his informal name Sanbao and the title of Grand Director.
Zheng's voyages were long neglected in official Chinese histories but have become well known in China and abroad since the publication of Liang Qichao's Biography of Our Homeland's Great Navigator, Zheng He in 1904.

Traditional and popular accounts of Zheng He's voyages have described a great fleet of gigantic ships far larger than any other wooden ships in history.
The most grandiose claims for Zheng He's 1405 fleet are entirely based on a calculation derived from an account written 3 centuries later and were accepted as fact by one modern writer but rejected by most naval experts.

One theory is that Admiral Zheng He died in 1433, during or shortly after the s7th voyage. Another is that Zheng He continued to serve as the defender of Nanjing, dying in 1435.
A tomb was built for Zheng He at the southern slope of Cattle Head Hill, Nanjing. The original tomb was a horseshoe-shaped grave. It is a cenotaph believed to contain his clothes and headgear. In 1985, the tomb was rebuilt following a Muslim style

While following a simplified narrative and written in amateur prose, as a first read on Zheng He I found it pleasant enough. The book by Edward L. Dryer, 'Zheng He : China and the Oceans in the Early Ming Dynasty, 1405-1433' could be the next step!

en.wikipedia.org:_Zheng_He

 

[04MAY2021]

 
THE BAY, season 2 | TV-SERIES CRIME FICTION DRAMA

The Bay - tv-series

After dealing with the repercussions of her actions (having had sex with a prime suspect and thus suspended from active duty, at the 1st series ending), DC Lisa Armstrong is given the opportunity to step up when asked to assist a murder investigation in Morecambe.
Determined to ignore her ex Andy's unexpected arrival the night before, Lisa throws herself into the case and discovers a significant lead from her only eyewitness.

As the team press on with the investigation, Lisa and Med dig deeper into the family and discover not all relationships with the victim were amicable.
Following a dramatic turn in the case, Lisa and the team struggle to keep their heads in the game as they're forced to accept help from a new unit.
Meanwhile Lisa's boss, Manning is in a personal crisis and has trouble to keep a clear head at work.

The Bay is an ITV crime drama series produced by Tall Story Pictures, first aired in March 2019.
Morven Christie plays a detective sergeant (DS) family liaison officer called in, in the first series, on an investigation into missing twins from a family living in Morecambe. The name of the series derives from Morecambe Bay, which is on the west coast of England in the county of Lancashire.
This 2nd series of 6 episodes was originally planned to be broadcast mid-2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was pushed back to early 2021.

A 3rd and final series will begin filming in summer 2021. Christie decided to leave the show following production on the 2nd series, sad not to see her returning..
On 15Feb2021, Marsha Thomason was cast as the new lead, DS Jenn Townsend.
I assume Lisa's kids and mom won't return as well, quite a bit of the drama narrative will see an upset. We'll wait and see.

www.imdb.com
en.wikipedia.org:_The_Bay_(TV_series)
www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/- - -/the-bay-season-2


[04MAY2021]

 
ZILVEREN CAMERA 2020 | PHOTOJOURNALISM AWARDS PHOTOGRAPHY

Zilveren Camera 2020

Zilveren Camera 2020
The winner: 'Piet Franssen overlijdt aan Corona' by Kees van de Veen

Zilveren Camera 2020

Zilveren Camera 2020

'The Zilveren Camera' is the most prestigious prize for photojournalism and documentary photography in the Netherlands.
Every year, professional photographers with Dutch nationality (residing in or outside the Netherlands) and photographers established in the Netherlands with a different nationality can submit their work.
Photographers who submit for the Silver Camera competition can indicate, when they submit, whether they also want to compete for various special prizes which are awarded.

Unfortunately there was no exhibition to visit this year, for the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. Hopefully we get a raincheck later this year.

I got the impression that things went a little out of control for the organizers of this award.
Their website has no English text, which I find strange for "photographers established in the Netherlands with a different nationality can submit.."
Also, anno April 30th 2021 one can still submit by link the vote for the public award 2020.
I tried contacting them through their website to purchase the brochure, but there was no reply.
And I tried to contact the PhotoQ Bookshop for the brochure, by email, again no reply.
It seems like they all went into hybernation during the lockdown..?

www.zilverencamera.nl
keesvandeveen.nl

[30APR212021]

 
TULIPS OF AMSTERDAM

Tulips Experience Amsterdam

Tulips Experience Amsterdam

Tulips Experience Amsterdam

Tulips Experience Amsterdam

Tulips Experience Amsterdam

Tulips Experience Amsterdam


Last monday, I visited the Tulip Experience Amsterdam, which is located at an active bulb company in the middle of the Flower Bulb Region of The Netherlands.
Due to pandemic restrictions (Covid-19) we could only visit the showgarden this april 26th.
The outdoor show garden has 1 million tulips (with over 500 different varieties from Damen's Flower Bulb/DFB own tulip farm!).
It was a pleasure to photograph them and take in the stunning colours: a magnificent imprint on the retina!

More photos on flickr.com

[28APR2021]

 
HIDDEN SEASON 2 | TV-SERIES CRIME FICTION DRAMA

Hidden, tv-series ('Craith'), season 2

Some three years have gone past since I saw Hidden, season 1.
In this series DCI Cadi John (Sian Reese-Williams) and her sisters mourn the death of their father, in the first series his care was a cause of disagreement between the three of them. Now the disagreement is about disposing their father's personal things.
And in the first series the wife of DS Owen Vaugh (Sion Alun Davies) was pregnant, now their relation is under strain because of the newly born baby; a murder inquiry plays havoc to the hours Owen works.

So, series two..
Blaenau Ffestiniog (a town in Gwynedd, Wales), now nine months later.
An anonymous phone call leads DCI Cadi John and DS Owen Vaughn to the corpse of an old man who has been decaying for weeks in his bath. Nobody seems to have missed the old man, not even his estranged daughter.

Cadi and Owen look into the dead man’s background and discover there are reasons behind his reclusiveness.
The narrative follows two schoolkids. Connor shares his guilty conscience with Mia, about Geraint Ellis, and she convinces him that the old man deserved what happened to him.
Lee is the 3rd party in this small band. He drives around in a Saab 90 of his brother who has a temporary driving ban. Mia is related to Lee, both are in a dysfunctional family.
Connor has moved into the small town a year ago and his mother is glad he's made some friends; she does not know they have a bad influence on him.
Connor was the one who made the anonymous call to the police that led to the discovery of the old man's decaying corpse.

The community gathers to mourn the passing of Geraint Ellis, but previously they all ignored him for unsubstantiated allegations that Mr Ellis, a teacher, had improper relations with a student (Karl Lewis, an older brother of Lee). Mr Ellis took early retirement, gradually fell in isolation while his family also avoided him.

Some night, Mia and her friends visit an old ruin with a dark history. Mia draws Connor closer to her because she feels Connor is about to confess to the police.
Karl Lewis admits, while questioned by Cadi, that the accusations he brought against Ellis were false. Cadi turns her attention to Mia, whose false testimony led to Karl being picked up for questioning.

Then Cadi is informed that another body has been found at a remote petrol station outside Blaenau Ffestiniog. Suspecting the worst, she issues a warrant for Mia's arrest, but all efforts to trace her fail.
Deep in the mountains, the search continues, before Cadi and Mia finally come face to face.
The sad truth about the murders begins to emerge, with two innocent people killed and three young lives destroyed.

'Hidden' (initially broadcasted in the Welsh language as 'Craith') is a Welsh television drama serial, first broadcast on the Welsh language channel S4C in January 2018.
This series should not be confused with the 2011 crime drama tv-series, also named 'Hidden', starring Philip Glenister and Thekla Reuten.
The Welsh spoken parts and sceneries reminded me of another series, 'Hinterland', also an excellent crime drama series.
This series stars Sian Reese-Williams as DI Cadi John, an experienced investigator and ex/ Army. She moved to the little town to participate in the care of her father (in the first series), a retired police officer with North Wales Police. She follows in his footsteps.

A very entertaining series, interesting narratives and filmed on fascinating locations.

en.wikipedia.org:_Hidden_(TV_series)
www.imdb.com
oldaintdead.com/review-hidden-season-2
Myblog 2018Q3

[28APR2021]

 
RED-COLOR NEWS SOLDIER by LI ZHENSHENG | PHOTOBOOK HISTORY

Red-Color News Soldier - Li Zhensheng

Red-Color News Soldier - Li Zhensheng

Red-Color News Soldier - Li Zhensheng
Li Zhensheng and his parents (top left). They lived at first in a brick-and-stone peasant house with a
dirt floor, one room - no electricity, only gaslamps. No running water, only a village well, 2 kms walking.

Red-Color News Soldier - Li Zhensheng

Red-Color News Soldier - Li Zhensheng
Li in his office holding his Rolleiflex - 17 July 1967

Red-Color News Soldier - Li Zhensheng

Red-Color News Soldier - Li Zhensheng

Red-Color News Soldier - Li Zhensheng
Photo right page: Li at Mao's birthplace

Red-Color News Soldier - Li Zhensheng

Red-Color News Soldier - Li Zhensheng

Red-Color News Soldier - Li Zhensheng
Execution


Li Zhensheng (Lǐ Zhènshèng; b.22Sep1940 – d.June 2020) was a Chinese photojournalist who captured some of the most telling images from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (a.k.a.the Chinese Cultural Revolution).

His employment at the Heilongjiang Daily, which followed the party line, and his decision to wear a red arm band indicating an alliance with Chairman Mao Zedong, allowed him access to scenes otherwise only described in written and verbal accounts.

His 2003 book Red-Color News Soldier exhibits both the revolutionary ideals and many of the atrocities that occurred during the Cultural Revolution.
The Heilongjiang Daily newspaper had a strict policy in accordance with a government dictate that only "positive" images could be published, which consisted mostly of smiling revolutionaries offering praise for Chairman Mao.
The "negative" images, which depicted the atrocities of the time, were hidden beneath a floorboard in his house before he brought them to light at a photo exhibition in 1988.

A private museum, dedicated to Li's life and work, was opened in 2017 in Sichuan Province as a part of the Jianchuan Museum Cluster.

The Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) was one of the most catastrophic political movements of the 20th century.
Photo-journalist Li Zhensheng managed to preserve over 20,000 stills, 400 of which are presented in this collection and which capture and explain the turbulent events of the period.

An excellent review (by John Gittings) of this book can be read on TheGuardian.com¬
'Red-Color News Soldier' - by Li Zhensheng (320pp, Phaidon, £24.95)

"No one has heard before of Wu Bingyuan, a Chinese worker executed with a bullet in the back of his head during Mao Zedong's cultural revolution, but this review of the book should really be dedicated to him.
We know something about the top Communist party officials who fell foul of Mao, were targeted by the Red Guards and were driven to suicide or left to die of illness. We know next to nothing about the ordinary victims, men and women who defended their ideals against the Maoist dogma or simply refused to conform to the hysteria.

Wu was one of those, a technician at the Harbin Electric Motor Factory who, with a colleague, wrote a pamphlet called Looking North.
It was interpreted by the authorities as criticism of Mao's hostile policy towards the Soviet Union - China's northern neighbour - and the punishment for this "counter-revolutionary" act was death.
On April 5 1968, the photographer Li Zhensheng took a set of official pictures of Wu's execution, along with that of his fellow technician and six 'ordinary' criminals.
The eight were sentenced to death at a public trial, placed on trucks with placards round their necks, driven to a cemetery, forced to kneel and shot before a large crowd.

Similar events happened all over China and (minus, in most cases, the public execution) still happen today...
But Wu made a small heroic gesture that Li's pictures have rescued from anonymity. When sentence was first pronounced, he looked at the sky and uttered one sentence: "This world is too dark." Then he closed his eyes and kept them defiantly shut till he had left the dark world.

This collection of photos, taken by Li in the north-eastern province of Heilongjiang, where he worked for the official Communist party newspaper, is unique for a simple reason. Although the post-Mao Chinese government has labelled the cultural revolution "10 years of chaos", it still tries to suppress any real inquiry into the countless human tragedies it caused. More...

en.wikipedia.org:_Li_Zhensheng_(photojournalist)


[26APR2021]

 
FENIKS by DEON MEYER | BOOKS THRILLER

Feniks by Deon Meyer

Deon Meyer - Feniks (EN: Dead before Dying). Mat Joubert #1.
This is Deon Meyer's first book, written in the late 1990s. It is a stand-alone of sorts, since there isn't a Joubert #2, but other characters such as Benny Griessel reappear in future books.

Someone in Cape Town has chosen a conspicuous murder weapon: a century-old German handgun, with ancient bullets that tear through flesh and bone creating large and cruel holes.
Three men who have nothing in common are found murdered. The string of vicious killings pushes the city toward panic, pressure from the media mounts.
Captain Mat Joubert is left scrambling for answers in a case that might be his last chance to prove that his life's slow spiral will not pull him under.
Joubert's team have a new boss, who introduces new rules on performance and health. Obesity and/or booze is a definite no-no.

Captain Mat Joubert is still grieving over the death of his wife, a colleague in the police force, almost
3 years ago. So when he is called to investigate the murder of a businessman, shot with a century-old gun, he's also forced to consult a therapist to deal with mental health issues.
She encourages him to diet, give up smoking and do sports. He takes up swimming.
While trying to crack the case, two more men end up dead, both with the same weapon as the first victim.
But a motive or even a faint connection between the three of the victims is seriously lacking.
It doesn't help that while tracking down the serial killer, there is also a bank robber on the loose that is hitting various banks across the Cape.
Are the killer and bank robber the same person?

Captain Mat Joubert is an interesting character, who has some redeeming qualities, but he is preoccupied with his crumbling self esteem and spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about sex, especially when there is a single female in his presence: his therapist, a serial killer consultant and a young woman only 18 year old, the daughter of his neighbor.
There is much more sex than what I came across in later books by Deon Meyer. It did not bother me much.

It was interesting to see him grapple with his life starting to fall apart and striving to regain some control over it. It was also interesting to see how, even though he is extremely flawed, he does look out for his friends, especially Benny Griesel who has a drinking problem.

Deon Meyer was born in the South African town of Paarl in the winelands of the Western Cape in 1958, and grew up in Klerksdorp, in the gold mining region of Northwest Province.
After military duty and studying at the Potchefstroom University, he joined Die Volksblad, a daily newspaper in Bloemfontein as a reporter. Since then, he has worked as press liaison, advertising copywriter, creative director, web manager, Internet strategist, and brand consultant.

Deon wrote his first book when he was 14 years old, and bribed and blackmailed his two brothers into reading it. They were not impressed. Heeding their advise, he did not write fiction again until he was in his early thirties, when he started publishing short stories in South African magazines.

In 1994, two years before this book was pulished, he published his first Afrikaans novel, which has not been translated.All later novels have been translated into several languages, including English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Russian, Finnish, Czech, Romanian, Slovakian and Bulgarian.

www.goodreads.com/....Feniks
en.wikipedia.org:_Deon_Meyer

[23APT2021]

 
KILLING EVE, SEASON 2 | CRIME FICTION DRAMA TV-SERIES

Killing Eve, series 2

Killing Eve - season 2


After a series of events, the lives of a MI.6 security operative and an assassin become inextricably linked.
Eve Polastri is reeling from her act of violence against Villanelle and doesn't know whether she left her dead or alive in her apartment. Eve is still very much the investigator and certainly not a field operative used to violence.
A paranoid and severely injured Villanelle manages to get herself to the hospital for treatment. She even manages, after a brief respite in a hospital, to make her way to England.
Carolyn approaches Eve with an opportunity. Eve doesn't dare to tell her she about her violent encounter with Villanelle in Paris.
Villanelle finds a Good Samaritan to take her in, but he isn't all that he seemed to be.

Carolyn introduces Eve to her new team, her old team was disbanded. The focus is no longer on Villanelle, but on a suspicious death of the CEO of a data tec giant.
After the discovery of another dead body, Eve and her new team make a break in their case, having discovered a link with a series of accidental deaths and disappearances; the son and daughter of the dead CEO are prime suspects.
The son has something (a weapon?) for sale to the highest bidder, it could mean a danger to national security. Coralyn frustrates Eve by a hidden agenda and finds Konstatin rissen from the dead!

The MI6 team makes a pact with the devil in order to get information from The Ghost, a competitor assassin of Villanelle, who has been discredited in criminal circles.
Villanelle uses her unrivaled infiltration skills to immerse herself in the world of a new target.
Eve may have worrying competition for Villanelle's affections. Villanelle stalks persons around Villanelle, including Niko, Eve's husband.

+++
Jodie Comer................Villanelle
Sandra Oh...................Eve Polastri
Fiona Shaw.................Carolyn Martens
Kim Bodnia.................Konstantin
Owen McDonnell ........Niko Polastri
Sean Delaney..............Kenny
Kirby Howell-Baptiste...Elena Felton
Harriet Walter............Dasha
Edward Bluemel......... Hugo
Danny Sapani..............Jamie
Gemma Whelan...........Geraldine
Henry Lloyd-Hughes...Aaron Peel
Nina Sosanya..............Jess
+++

www.imdb.com
en.wikipedia.org:_Killing_Eve


[23APR2021]

 
AVIATION SLIDES | BINNED FAREWELL

Aviation slides binned.


Made a bit if a step, not to say a leap, today: binned all my aviation slides labelled 'trade / exchange'.
Ceased trading at least 15 years ago, and haven't touched any of my slides in my collection for at least 10 years.
Can't be bothered to find the time to sort them (military jets versus propliners versus civil aviation, versus helicopters, et cetera) and so away they go.
It was a good time while it lasted, every male probably has it in his genes to collect something.

[20APR2021]

 
HEEMPARKEN AMSTELVEEN | BOTANICAL GARDEN

Heemparken Amstelveen, botanische tuin
Heemparken Amstelveen, botanische tuin

Heemparken Amstelveen, botanische tuin
#OnReading

Heemparken Amstelveen, botanische tuin
#Look

These parks are specially designed by C.P.Broerse. De know-how of Mr. K.Landwehr, who was then the manager of the 'heem farm', has proven to be of great value for the development of 2 colorful 'enchanting' parks.The Heemparken together have an area of about 12 hectares in the northwestern part of Amstelveen.They are located obscured on both sides of the Amsterdamseweg.
Broerse and Landwehr tried not to imitate nature in the parks, rather to perfect it.
With plants they painted a new landscape, a landscape in which the knowledge and beauty of existing Dutch landscapes is contained.
The oldest part, the Braak, was built in 1940, the youngest part, the last part of the Dr. Jac.P.Thijssepark, in 1972.

Heemparken Amstelveen, botanische tuin

Heemparken Amstelveen, botanische tuin
Swallowed whole..

Heemparken Amstelveen, botanische tuin
(Wilde) Kievitsbloemen (Fritillaria meleagris; EN: snake's head fritillary)
en.wikipedia.org:_Fritillaria_meleagris
nl.wikipedia.org:_Wilde_kievitsbloem

Heemparken Amstelveen, botanische tuin

Heemparken Amstelveen, botanische tuin


[19APR2021]

 
FARGO SEASON 4 | TV-SERIES CRIME FICTION DRAMA

Frago, season 4

Fargo, series 4

This is the 4th season of 'Fargo', an American black comedy-crime drama tv-series created by Noah Hawley which premiered in 2020. It consists of 11 episodes, a rather odd number.
The show is inspired by the 1996 Academy Award-winning film of the same name, which was written and directed by the Coen brothers, starring a.o. Francis McDormand, William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi.

As an anthology, each Fargo season possesses its own self-contained narrative, following a set of characters in various settings and eras, albeit in a connected shared universe.
The initial film Fargo was situated in Fargo, Minnesota. The tv-series stayed initially in Minnesota, North- and South Dakota. This 4th season is set in Kansas City, Missouri (in November 1950) and follows two crime syndicates as they vie for control.
The link with Fargo is made briefly, with another criminal outfit.

This 4th season has an excellent performance by Chris Rock, as a leader of a black crime group, fighting the Italians with mob connections.
As with the original film, each episode begins with the superimposed text:
"This is a true story. The events depicted took place in [location] in [year]. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred."
It is only one example of the unique 'Fargo-humor'... The characters in the cast are almost cartoon-like, and a mix of over-the-top violence and seriously black humor. As is quite common in US series, there is a lot of swearing.
The racism in society of those days is not to be laughed at, though..

en.wikipedia.org:_Fargo_(season_4)
en.wikipedia.org:_Fargo_(TV_series)
en.wikipedia.org:_Fargo_(1996_film)


[16APR2021]

 
BECK SEASON 8 | TV-SERIES CRIME FICTION DRAMA

Beck, season 8

Based on the crime novels and characters created by the Swedish writing couple Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö, the popular Beck series stars Peter Haber as the Stockholm-based, crime-fighter Police Inspector Martin Beck.
Initially his sidekick was Mikael Persbrand (as Gunvald Larsson), later followed by Steinar Hovland(a tole by xxxx) and in Season 8 we see Alex Beijer firmly leading the crime unit.
We see less and less of Peter Haber, in Season 8 he looks death in the eye for a tumor has been discoveren in his brain. We learn (a little) more about Alex, what happened to her in the Middle East.
In S8 we get a glimpse of Steinar, who has returned to Norway for his child, but he misses the police work in Stockholm. Will we see him return?

The conniving police boss Klas Fredén continues to play his intrigues, trying to oust Martin Beck, even tries to convince Alex Beijer to make him a scapegoat in a mired investigation.
Meanwhile, Alex has taken on a new detective in her team (to replace Steinar), but Josef is a bit of a loose canon.

Series 8 (2020-2021)
#1 "Undercover"
#2 "Beyond Reasonable Doubt"
#3 "Death in Samarra"
#4 "The Prodigal Son"

In Undercover, the murder of a boy leads Beck's team to a drug network.
Klas Fredén has been working on an undercover operation in this network for a long time.While he doesn't want to jeopardize his investigation, he gives team Beck (led by Alex Beijer) permission to continue their murder investigation.As a result, Beijer and Fredén constantly clash with each other.
Martin Beck hovers in the background, still in his supervisory capacity, but more and mor epreoccupied with serious health issues.

In The Fall Guy, a macabre discovery in the trunk of a car appears to lead to a cold-blooded killer.But is that really true?

In Death In Samarra, a Nobel Peace Prize candidate is brutally stabbed to death in central Stockholm.One of the witnesses worked with Alex when she was in the Middle East. This is the episode that we get to understand more about Alex, when we see the burn scars while she looks in the mirror.
"Why are you so cold, so distant?", asks Josef.

In The Prodigal Son, a jawbone is found in the middle of a forest. If the rest of the body is found, it turns out it belongs to Viktor Eklund, who has been missing for five years. Incest plays a role here.

Will we see Martin Beck return? The closing scene of the series shows Beck being wheeled into the operating theatre for a life threatening brain surgery...
I found surprisingly few reviews of Beck's season 8 in English, IMDb wasn't even up to date for this 8th series!

en.wikipedia.org:_Beck_(Swedish_TV_series)
www.scandinavischleven.nl/zweedse-serie-beck/ (NL)
www.imdb.com


[13APR2021]

 
A SONG FOR THE DARK TIMES by IAN RANKIN | BOOKS CRIME FICTION

A Sonf For The Dark Times

This is the 24th Rebus novel (or the 26th in the 'franchise' if one includes the two standalone novels featuring Malcolm Fox). I've read them all and am indeed a fan of Mr Rankin's writing, so forgive me when I am not entirely objective.

I am glad that after the two standalone Malcolm Fox novels, Rebus was reintroduced again as his 'rogue qualities' are so much more appealing than the rather civil servant characteristics of Malcolm Fox.
We also meet with Siobhan Clarke again, in a sort of stand off coöperation with Malcolm Fox, and 'Big Ger' Cafferty who conspires to compromise Fox.

'A Song For The Dark Times' is a very good novel, but the inevitable seems ever closer for John Rebus.
He has now moved into a ground floor flat because his lung problems (COPD) preclude climbing flights of stairs.There are still a lot of boxes to unpack, including the ones for the uncolved crimes. While this may hint on future Rebus novels, there are other signs of a generation coming to an end: Rebus’s loyal Saab begins to pack it in and Cafferty sees his 'Realm of Crime' under threat by ambitious others.

There are two crime stories here, one with Clarke and Fox in the main naarative and one with Rebus on a murder inquiry up north, where his daughter Samantha is the main suspect of the murder of her parner Keith.

Obviously, the question arises: are these cases in any way connected, and if so, how? Rankin sets multiple hares running, and the various suspects and causes zig-zag just like a hare on the hill.

I particularly like how Rankin details the relationships between all involved, the weary coöperation between Clarke and Fox, Rebus chasing the investigating DS Robin Creasey from Inverness, the difficult relationship Rebus versus his daughter Samantha, Rebus and the pub owner May Collins, et cetera.
A rusty pistol on display in the pub plays an import part, a link to the WW2 prison Camp 1033 near (also fictional, area round Tongue) Naver where Samantha and her daughter lives.
Keith was obsessed with research into the POW's there and the murder then for which the wrong person may have been convicted. His research was uncomfortable for those who lived through the camp's existence and continued to live in the area.

I did find the narrative of Rebus' investigation and the plot of those involved in the days of Camp 1033 (fictional, though such POW camps did exist in Scotland) rather blurry and unclear.
But Rebus acting in his usual mischievous and roguish ways was again a great joy, getting entries and answers by hinting at still being a policeman, thus rustling many feathers here and there.
We hope for more!

Btw, nice to see Canadian singer/songwriter R. Dean Taylor mentioned...

www.scotsman.com/arts-and-culture/b- - -song-dark-times
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Rankin


[08APR2021]

 

 

 
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Created: 08-APR-2021