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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 I feel have no place on my website.
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

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.

The item immediately below this would be the latest posting.




Sjöwall & Wahlöö - the Cop Killer

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, wife and husband, wrote a series of ten crime novels; about the exploits of Swedish police detectives from the special homicide commission of the national police. Martin Beck is the main protagonist in these books.
The success of these books have for a large part been attributed to the setting of the crime plot in a story brimming with social criticism.
Per Wahlöö described their goals for the series as to 'use the crime novel as a scalpel cutting open the belly of the ideologically pauperized and morally debatable so-called welfare state of the bourgeois type.' That would be my only complaint about this book: their criticism seems a bit too blunt in this book at times! But then again, these books were written mid-1960s to mid-1970s, and it is hard to project those days to the present time, almost 40 years late.

This book, which translates as Cop Killer (Polismördaren, published 1975), has been described as maybe the best in the series, and I quite agree.
This particular 'zwarte beertjes' edition has been published in 2012 (!) and is of such quality I am considering acquiring the entire collection again..
Liza Marklund, an excellent crime writer in her own right and discussed on my blog elsewhere, has written a foreword in this book and illustrates how current this book is by describing a police shooting in the book and a similar event in Sweden 25 years later, in 1999; and other events showing a repeat performance in as recent as 2004.
A wonderful read.





Reacqainted with 'orld frends' Police Chief Inspector Reg Wexford and his sidekick Detetctive Inspector Mike Burden; Rendell's crime contours conform to what Americans call the English Cosy and cosy is what this books feels like. This is not just because of the familiar characters, but rather Rendell's excellent style of writing: the plot slowly developing while we travel in and around familiar Kingsmarksham in Reg Wexford's train of thoughts.

Two teenagers disappear plus their 'teen-sitter', while areas in and around Kingsmarkham are under threat of flooding. Inspector Wexford's house is also threatened by the rising water level and at first he seems rather more concerned with his wife Dora and his house in these circumstances.
His daughter Sylvia has another man after having divorced Neil; but Wexford isn't impressed and considers this new partner a terrible bore.
The parents of the two teenagers are a bully of a father and a hysteric wife, they seem not deserving of any sympathy. The grandparents enter the scene; relations between the parents and grandparents are not straightforward either. Questions arise about the relation of the children with their parents.
The teensitter, Joanna Troy, is an interesting character. She had been a teacher but took her resignation in suspect circumstances. Did she have an affair with the father, Roger Dade?
Meanwhile the search for the children, Giles and Sophie, continue; a t-shirt possibly having been worn by Sophie on that fateful night is found in the ever expanding river. Did they drown?
If a crime was committed, what was the nature of the crime? Parents of Joanna are interviewed and her divorced husband (who has enterend into a new, but very jealous, relation).
Giles appears to have been involved in a strict and orthodox religious group.
Peter Buxton and his high maintenance wife Sharonne play an important part.
Quite a number of characters appear in the book, but never too much or confusing to follow the plot.

A cosy and entertaining read indeed,



Scandinavian Crime Drama - dvd box

This is the second Scandinavian Thriller Collection dvd box I acquired and again a good way to enjoy excellent crime drama (in most cases much better than the usual Hollywood crap we get on television).
And a good way to stay abreast of new series being produced in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
This box holds 2 dvd's, the first one has two episodes (Noll Tolerans = Zero Tolerance & Livvakterna = Executive Protection) of a new police series I had not seen before: Johan Falk.
Johan Falk is a Swedish film series about a fictional police officer named Johan Falk, played by Jakob Eklund; it consists of nine films that were released between 1999 and 2009. The last five were released directly on DVD.[Wikipedia]

The other dvd held two independent crime drama's: Sjön (The Lake), which I liked very much.
The second story on this dvd held less suspense for me.

I hope to see more of Johan Falk soon!



Junky Star by Ryan Bingham

My first album by Ryan Bingham, bought on a review I'd read somewhere and after listening to a few numbers on Spotify; haven't had the opportunity to see him play live yet.
This is great music, top of the bill for Americana music!

Bingham won both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for 'The Weary Kind', the theme song from the film Crazy Heart.
The song was produced by T-Bone Burnett, creating a partnership extended on this album, Junky Star.
Bingham has trimmed his songwriting to the bone, while learing to use metaphor and metonomy like a veteran. A former rodeo rider, he wears his influences proudly: Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Joe Ely, Steve Earle, Guy Clark, and Ray Wylie Hubbard.
You can't go wrong here!



Greg Trooper

Greg Trooper, singer/songwriter from New York City, played De Oude Veiling in Aalsmeer (NL) today, promoting his latest CD: Upside-Down Town.
Some people make the mistake to associate singer/wongwriter music with country music, but Greg's music is street-wise rather than from the ranch; what to think of a song decicated to a woman found floating in the river..
Greg told me he originates from New Jersey but has lived for years in Nashville. These days he lives in New York City and one of his closing songs today was of driving home over a steel bridge to Rockaway Island; that bridge always makes a horrific howling noise when the wheels rattle and roll down that bridge. Songs from the big city!
He played 2 sets of 50 minutes plus an encore for us; he connected nicely with the Dutch audience, a very nice and talented guy!
Greg Trooper

A few photos on my singer/songwriter gallery, on Flickr.com

I recorded 3 songs Greg played on acoustic guitar in De Oude Veiling; they were recorded with my plain Canon SX-20 photocamera and uploaded without editting, but I am quite pleased with what this camera produces!

Trooper died of pancreatic cancer on 15Jan17, two days after his 61st birthday.




Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen
The Keeper of Lost Causes (US), Mercy (UK) [= Department Q Vol. 1]

It has been a while since I've read such a good page-turner, really kept me spellbound!
A woman vanishes, presumed drowned, but is actually kept prisoner for years with the aim to see her die a horrific death.
The other story, both slowly converging, focusses on Copenhagen detective Carl Mørck (traumatized by recent events) being buried in the basement of Police Hq in charge of newly established Department Q (actually a funding trick of the commissioner).
The book has strong characterisation in other people involved in the story.
Very well-written and looking forward to my next Department Q thriller!

Carl Valdemar Jussi Henry Adler-Olsen (born 1950) is a Danish author. He is son of a famous Danish sexologist, has played lead guitar in several pop bands, and has worked in the publishing industry. At the university, he studied medicine, sociology and film making. He embarked on his literary career with two books about Groucho Marx in 1984.

His first novels in the crime-thriller series about Department Q, Kvinden i buret (The Woman in the Cage, UK title: Mercy, US title The Keeper of Lost Causes) and Fasandræberne (The Pheasant Killers) were published in 2007 and 2008. Both are set in Denmark where they enhanced his popularity, appearing at the top of bestseller lists.
Then followed Flaskepost fra P (Message in a Bottle) in 2009, and his latest Department Q book, Journal 64, was published in 2010.
Adler-Olsen's novels have been sold in 29 countries including China, Germany, The Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the US. The Alphabet House has also appeared as a movie.
[Wikipedia, more..]



City of Lies by R.J. Ellory

'City of Lies' is a book about organized crime, situated in New York. Ater reading 'A Quiet Belief in Angels' of the same author this book was a bit of a disappointment, perhaps unfairly as while Angels is superb, this one is only 'a good read'.
Ellory paints his books to the farthest, darkest corners of the room, 'wordy' some might call it, I found it repetitive and tedious at times.
The main character John Harper finds he has a farther, the bad news is he has been shot and is a crook. The aunt who raised him kept a few vital things about his mother (dead) and uncle (suicide) too.
John is from Miami and pictured as naive, caught in the scheming of NY crooks and murderers; a play for power is at hand. I found his character too unsteady to be interesting, the plot and ending is good.



Accidents on ice
We had about a week of good solid ice and 'everybody' went for it; it provided lots of pretty pictures.
But the emergency rooms in hospitals were oveflowing: some 13.000 people were treated for injuries like broken bones, 9 percent were kept in hospital; medical costs were estimated for 20 million euro and some 26 million euro worth for people on sickleave.



CD Albums - sales down
In Week 08 newspaper NRC published this stat showing DVD/CD/Games 2011 sales decreasing further in the Netherlands. Sale through online shows a small rise. But a 700 million euro was still spent on the traditional DVD/CD/Games in a box (about 70 million less than in 2010).
In most Dutch households are on average three instruments which have access to the internet (pc, laptop, iPad, iPhone or smartphone, etc.).
Video on Demand, streaming video on the telly, is rising in popularity too. HBO is expected to penetrate the Dutch market in 2012. The blue-ray DVD never really replaced the regular dvd and will further competition from developments like Video on Demand.




Every now and then one comes across someones photography that really, really throws you..
Such was the case with me when earlier this week I saw a documentary on tv about the photography of Ragnar 'RAX' Axelsson; how he delivered the most awesome and inspiring images, often under very difficult weather conditions.
I will not rest before I have a book with his images!


In 2019 I bought the book Gesichter des Nordens (Faces of the North), see my BLOG 2019 Q1



In The Next Galaxy, poetry by Ruth Stone

Ruth Stone was born on June 8, 1915, in Roanoke, Virginia.
Her books of poetry include What Love Comes To: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2008), a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize.
In the Dark (2004); In the Next Galaxy (2002) which received the 2010 National Book Award.
Ordinary Words (Paris Press, 1999), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Simplicity (1997); Who is the Widow's Muse (1991); Second Hand Coat (1987); Cheap (1975); Topography (1971); and In an Iridescent Time (1959).

In 1959, after her husband, professor Walter Stone, committed suicide, she raised 3 daughters alone. She wrote that her poems are "love poems, all written to a dead man" whose death caused her to "reside in limbo" with her daughters.
For 20 years she traveled the US, teaching creative writing at many universities, including the University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, University of California, Davis, Brandeis University, and finally settling at State University of New York Binghamton.
She died at her home in Ripton, Vermont, on 19Nov2011.
[Wikipedia, more..]

Poems by Ruth Stone on World Poetry Database

If you're looking for a heron on one leg
or a white egret in this water-logged parcel;
you may be blind to boarded-up gas pumps,
flashes of sleazy mock-up towns;
though finally, a rusted roof,
gaping shed or wizened trailer,
may appear like strange fowl;
as you snake on past dry bayous
where the old jalopies flake to crust,
splintering their jumping joy-juice;
battered bodies, the good old boys left behind.
-- From In The Next Galaxy



Pioneers of Russian Photography

Pioneers of Photography, subtitled Russian and Soviet Photography from Swiss Collections.
This book presents works by national artists-photographers retreived from Swiss collections. In Russia, understanding of a photograph as an artifact came comparatively late. For this reason many an experimental and reportage photograph was not acquired for any Soviet museum. The situation changed only a few years ago.
Dmitry Yermakov, Russian Photography Pioneer

The book opens with the works of the first Russian photographer Dmitry Yermakov.
The participant of many ethnographic and archeological expeditions and military campaigns, he took pictures that constitute a whole range of photography. A clear orientation on the ethnographic and the exotic is quite vivid in the Tiflis series presented at the exhibition.
A renowned master of Russian avant-garde, El Lissitzky, was on the edge of revolutionary breakthrough to understanding of possibilities and purposes of photography.
New perspectives and diagonal compositions can be observed in the works of Alexander Rodchenko, who began to photograph much later than working on photo collages.
From the point of view of the classic of Soviet propaganda typographic art Gustav Klucis Soviet political photomontage was media, directed on the manipulation of the spectator's consciousness.
The works of Lissitzky, Rodchenko and Klucis influenced dramatically the oeuvre of the artists of next generation, whose works are also represented in this book.
Nikolai Sedelnikov, Russian Photography Pioneer

Nikolai Denisovsky, Solomon Telingater, and Nikolai Sedelnikov have also entered the history of Russian art as highly talented polygraphists - "book designers"- who asserted the right of books to be a unique creation. The artists of that second generation have brought into the art of photo collage, which became a prevalent culture at that time, more prosaic motives.

Source: http://www.rusmuseum.ru/eng/exhib/lenta/exhibition2004/exhibition489/


Hutongs of Beijing / Hutongs van Peking
Hutongs, the small alleys in the Chinese cities which are rapidly disappearing, are nicely illustrated in this beautiful book by Ambroise Tézenas. I've walked two hutongs in Beijing myself and can appreciate the excellent photography in this books.
The book offers an insight in a way of life and community which probably will no longer exist in a few years from now. As such it is a historic document.
The english title of this book is 'Beijing, theatre of the people'; the Dutch translation was published by Mets & Schilt, Amsterdam and titled 'De Hutings van Peking'.



Neon Rain by James Lee Burke

First book I read by James Lee Burke: Neon Rain. The writer was mentioned in a yearly review of 'Detectives & Thrillers' (Vrij Nederland) and many titles of his came highly recommended.
So I picked up a few secondhand paperback and wasn't disappointed.

Neon Rain is the first of the Dave Robicheaux series, a New Orleans homicide detective. The setting is vividly described as a hot, blistering, often steamy, kind of place. Meet the Deep South.
In Neon Rain (a title which I cannot explain, nor want to bother with), the trouble starts when Robichaux insists on investigating the murder of a young prostitute... and the lone ranger takes off. Robicheaux is a veteran of the Vietnam War and has a few traumas to contend with, being a former alcoholic being just one. He is not in sync with both the underworld and the authorities, and he finds himself running way ahead of the pack, even on the run at some point, when he is being framed for killing an officer of the Treasury.
A well written book, with atmosphere, feelings and settings nicely narrated. But a bit too much of the Lone Ranger to my taste, esspecially when there is not sufficient evidence to suggest Dave Robicheaux is either stupid or set for self destruction. Perhaps the time of writing (Neon Rain was first published in 1987) has something to do with it. Times have changed, haven't they..?
But I won't hesitate to try another James Lee Burke novel, nor one that has Dave Robicheaux featuring in it.



Rob Wijnberg / Filosofie

Immensely enjoyed Rob Wijnberg's book (translates as 'at the table with Plato') in which he has a philosophical look again at current affairs in our (mainly Dutch) society.
Ten chapters, each chapter containig several essays, he discusses subjects such as Economic Crisis & Capitalism, Afghanistan & Terrorism, Wilders & Populism, Moslims & Multiculturalism, Government & Socialism to name but a few.
He writes in a very transparant, down to earth way and his insights create a much clearer landscape for me.
Excellent reading.

Rob Wijnberg on Wikipedia (Dutch)



By someone who is much better in praising this brilliant CD:
..."Waits's latest album is a primer of what a reality TV show host might call his best bits. It is the sort of disc you can hand to a Waits novice or sceptic with the confidence that this collection of brawlers, bawlers and bastards (as he characterised the three-way split in his work on his 2006 compilation) will do the job of conversion. All Waits is here, more or less: the barfly, the romantic, the curmudgeon, the method actor and the self-parodist." ...
From www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/oct/23/tom-waits-bad-as-review
by Kitty Empire, The Observer, Sunday 23Oct2011

Well known artists contributed on this album: Charlie Musselwhite plays harmonica and Keith Richards on guitar, so does David Hidalgo (Los Lobos) and Marc Ribot.

The song I liked best: Hell Broke Luce - http://t.co/j2BkTrOi





Scandinavian top crime drama!
Did not much care for The Left Wing Gang, but Night of the Wolf was a compelling hostage dram,a while the Maria Wern episode was top of the bill, multi-layered, drama: murder mystery, bird flu and brilliant character acting..
Hope to see more of the Maria Wern (Eva Röse) series!


A Visit from the Goon Squad
Rarely I will give up on a book, but this one I gave up on at page 209...
Critically acclaimed, by knowledgable people, praised internationally: 'best book of the year', but it did not do it for me.
Each chapter is written from the point of view of a different person, too short to get an in-depth impression of such a character or get a liking to. The characters described seemed superficial or focussed on a singular event. It breaks the flow of the book and seemed very gimmicky to me.
Though it certainly is a novel way of writing, and must have been hard work for the author, but that doesn't make it a pleasure to read.
Not for me.



BORGEN Scandinavian drama - film

My interest in Scandinavian crime drama started with the Swedish Police Inspector Wallander, Danish Police Inspector Beck and Norwegian Varg Veum series. Last year I was thoroughly thrilled watching The Killing and The Killing II, Danish productions and published in dvd boxes by Lumiere.be
Both The Killing series had political plots interwoven in the storyline. 'Borgen' has no murder mystery and the plot is dictated by (Danish) political shenanigans, deceit and play, interwoven with media interest.
The storyline is very lifelike, the drama portrayed could be a mirror image of many European party governments with coalition interests.

The main characters, whom we follow also in their privat life, are Birgitte Nyborg Christensen (Prime Minister, married with a husband and two young children), Kasper Juul (spindoctor) and Katrine Fønsmark (young, ambitious, naive tv presentice) - remarkable roles by Sidse Babett Knudsen, Johan Philip Asbæk, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen.

A political drama about a prime minister's rise to power, and how power changes a prime minister. The ten episodes of 60 minutes pass very quickly, well worth watching indeed!



Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton

'Religion for Atheists' by Alain de Botton, subtitled 'A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion'.

Rather than mocking religions, agnostics and atheists should instead steal from them - because they are packed with good ideas on how we might live and arrange our societies.
Blending deep respect with with total impiety, de Botton (a non-believer himself) proposes that we should look into religions for insights into, among other concerns, how to:
-build a sense of community
-make our relationships last
-overcome feelings of envy and inadequacy
-escape the 24/7 media world
-go travelling
-get more out of art, architecture and music
-create new business designed to adress our emotional needs

It was our 18th-century forebears who began to consider what human beings would miss out on once religion faded away.
During the 19th-century studies such as Philosophy, Art, Literature, History and Anthropology were established, to create building stones for the secular secular society, building stones already woven in the fabric of religions.

In the present secular society we see that modern universities teach these subjects for the facts but much less for the reasons they were intended for: to enhance a non-religious society. This book unravels religion to strands we can recognize as showing direction and meaning to life, then finding similar strands in a parallel universe, the secular society. And often find them missing or easily ignored.
Suggestions for alternatives are made, going as far as describing a secular religion.

The book is a strong advocate to embrace many ingredients offered in religion, taken for granted and too easily disgarded and ignored by those who have chosen the secular path.
Reading this book was an enriching experience for me.




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Created: 01-Jan-2012