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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 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

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.




Asa Larsson - Until Thy Wrath Be Past

After having read 'The Savage Altar' (a.k.a. 'Sun Storm', 2007) and 'The Blood Spilt' (2008) written by Asa Larsson, I felt enthusiastic about reading another 'Rebecka Martinsson' story. And I wasn't disappointed.
This 2011 translation by Laurie Thompson is again situated in the high north of Sweden, in and around Kiruna.
Besides Rebecka Martinsson it also features police inspector Anna-Maria Mella, whose point of perspective on the developing story is used to vary from Martinsson's perspective.
There is always a miasma of the supernatural surrounding Rebecka and the other characters and settings in these novels, without interferring with the logical sequence of event I hasten to add. But it is rather novel to start the story from the perspective of the victim and continue to use that perspective at times merely to illustrate how characters travel or behave.
The plot starts with the discovery of the body of a young student, apparently drowned beneath the ice of a frozen lake.
Anna-Marie Mella is the policewoman in charge of the investigation, and we learn of her emotions in her relationship but something has gone sour with her collegues as well. Rebecka as prosecutor decides to take over at some point.
A sinister family becomes the focus of the murder inquiry. Their family secret and the mystery of the fatal treasure hunt beneath the ice in the frozen lake is somehow related to World War Two, when the Swedes, officially neutral, helped the Germans with transport to the Baltic coast.
The factual background is explained in the Wikipedia entry on Kiruna.
The books remains compelling until the very last pages.

Read also Maxine Clarke's review on www.eurocrime.co.uk/reviews/


HEMA photo album

HEMA photoalbum

Again very pleased with how this large size (30x30cm, 120 pages) photo album worked out, 'in print' display of my Asia 2013 photography and personal comments. For personal use, not for sale.
This is no.19 in this shape and form, so I have become quite proficient at it.
The trip is also published on my website, see my TRAVEL index.


Johan Falk crime series

Johan Falk is a Swedish film series about a fictional police officer named Johan Falk, played by Jakob Eklund.
Sofar 12 films were released since 1999.
The last 8 were released directly on DVD.
Some time ago I came across this series when there were 2 episodes on a Scandinavian Crime DVD box, Zero Tolerance and Executive Protection.
And recently a series was broadcasted on the Belgian tv, which I enjoyed. These were probably the episodes released in 2009.
It is a bit hard to check which episodes I've actually seen, as descriptions in English of the episodes are scarce on the internet.
These 2009 episodes see Johan Falk working as the new man with a police outfit called GSI ('Gruppen för särskilda insatser'), where Johan gets to work; he finds himself working with an informer (an excellent role by Joel Kinnaman) which is actually based on a true character (Peter Rätz, an undercover agent) whose story was related by writer / journalist Dick Sundevall in two books and several articles.

Very entertaining series and looking forward to the 2nd season: 6 episodes released in 2012.

Wikipedia.org - Johan_Falk


Elmore Leonard passed away aged 87

Elmore John Leonard, Jr. (b.11Oct1925 – d.20Aug2013) was an American novelist and screenwriter.
His earliest novels, published in the 1950s, were Westerns, but Leonard went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into motion pictures.

Among his best-known works are Get Shorty (loved the film!), Out of Sight, Hombre, Mr. Majestyk, and Rum Punch (adapted for the movie Jackie Brown, again a film a enjoyed so much I watched it several times). Leonard's writings include short stories that became the films 3:10 to Yuma (great!) and The Tall T.

Elmore Leonard books

Of his books I've only read Tishomingo Blues (2002, said to be Leonard's favorite book of those he has written) and Road Dogs (2009), but I'll definitely will keep my eyes open for more titles.

Wikipedia.org - Elmore_Leonard



Photo on the right is by Koos Breukel

Portraiture 'Vereeuwigd'

I recently visited the 'Vereeuwigd' exhibition: portraiture in paintings, photography, video and sculptures.
This was at De Hallen, on the Grote Markt ('Big Marketsquare') in Haarlem, Netherlands.


The Anniversary Man by R J Ellory, crime fiction

'The Anniversary Man' is the 3rd book I've read written by R.J. Ellory, the Englishman who situates his crime novels in the US and indeed write likes an American or at least as someone who lived there all his life.
This book is situated in New York City. Not as good in my opinion as 'A Quiet Belief In Angels', but that one was exceptionally outstanding, but better than 'City of Lies'.

The story is about detective Ray Irving trying to capture a serial killer who murders his victims very much like other serial killers and on exactly the same date; much like an anniversary.
Ray Irving is being assisted by John Costello, who is a rare survivor of a serial killer (but who saw his girl friend murdered during the attack). Costello is a crime researcher at the New York City Herald and his assistence is controversial, both at the police department as well as with his boss, Karen Langley.
There is mutual effection between Irving and Langley, but Irving is still smarting from a previous relationship and puts the job very much first.
The dialogue between Irving and Langley is a bit too hysterical at times to my taste, but Ellory successfully steers clear of the obvious in this book. Despite the brief chapters, the book has pace and is written with a nice eloquence.
An excellent crime novel, heartily recommended.

Wikipedia.org - R._J._Ellory



Billy Collins, poetry

Billy Collins (born William James Collins 22Mar1941) is an American poet, appointed as 'Poet Laureate of the United States' from 2001 to 2003.
Collins was recognized as a 'Literary Lion of the New York Public Library' (1992) and selected as the 'New York State Poet' for 2004 through 2006.

When Bukowski is too raw for my state of mind and I am in need of kinder words, I read poetry by Billy Collins.

See also my blog 2017Q4



The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm

'The Journalist and the Murderer' is an examination of the professional choices that shape a work of non-fiction, as well as a consideration on the morality that underpins the journalistic enterprise.

The writer, Janet Malcolm (author and writer for The New Yorker magazine), took as her subject the author Joe McGinniss ('The Journalist') who wrote a book titled 'Fatal Vision' (1983). The subject of McGinnis' book is the former Special Forces Captain, Jeffrey MacDonald, who was convicted of murdering his wife and children.
MacDonald had taken McGinniss in his defense team, convinced he was an ally, if not a friend, and a book on him ("basically a nice guy, caught in a web of bad circumstance, trying to get his innocence explained") would help his case. McGinniss indeed went out of his way to confirm this profile with MacDonald, but portrays him in his book 'Fatal Vision' as a womanizer and a publicity-seeker, as well as a sociopath who, unbalanced by amphetamines, had murdered his family.
Malcolm suggests in the book the possibility McGinniss found MacDonald a bland personal ('spoke like an accountant') and as such wouldn't sell any books; instead a murdering sociopath was much more captivating as a personality.

MacDonald took McGinniss to trial in 1984 and McGinniss' publisher had its insurer settle the matter out of court, paying a settlement of usd 325.000,- after a civil trial had resulted in a hung jury.

The book is written in the 'I form' and the book was found controversial when it was serialized in The New Yorker magazine, as Malcolm was involved in legal procedures herself and the book was looked upon by some as a personal vindication.
The 'Masson case' is explained on the Wikipedia page dedicated to Janet Malcolm; see link below.

The edition I read (Granta Books, 2012) had a lengthy explanatory note by Janet Malcolm, added as a last chapter. Only then did I realize the book was non-fiction having no knowledge of the MacDonald vs McGinniss trial, nor having ever heard of Joe McGinniss.

The book 'The Journalist and the Murderer' has since become regarded as an undisputed classic by some, ranking 97th in The Modern Library's list of the 20th century's '100 Best Works of Nonfiction'.

Malcolm was born in Prague in 1934 and has resided in the USA since her family emigrated from Czechoslovakia in 1939.




Decade by Decade - Walker Evans

Recently I went to visit the 'Decade by Decade' exposition, photography by the outstanding and eminent Walker Evans.
it was my first visit to the recently renovated Huis Marseille - Museum for Photography in Amsterdam (NL).
Rewarding on both counts.

Walker Evans (1903-1975) is perhaps most famous for his 1930s US Depression photography, documenting the poverty among the American farmers.
But Walker Evans' portfolio reached far beyond that, as he continued to document dailu life: workmen going to work, travellers on public transport, roadsigns, wooden churches, grocery stores.
Decade by Decade
The 'Decade by Decade' exhibition was compiled by James Crump, from the collection of Clark and Joan Worswick, and shows photography from all phases of Evans' career.


JJ Cale - singer-songwriter

The news blew me over: JJ Cale dead at 74 on friday 26Jul13. 

John Weldon Cale (b.05Dec1938 – d.26Jul2013), known as JJ Cale or J.J. Cale, was a Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter and musician.

Cale was one of the originators of the Tulsa Sound, a loose genre drawing on blues, rockabilly, country, and jazz influences. Cale's personal style has often been described as "laid back".
His agent often couldn't reach him as he didn't have a phone: a call would only lead to more work.  

Songs written by Cale that have been covered by other musicians include 'After Midnight' and 'Cocaine' by Eric Clapton, 'Clyde' by Waylon Jennings and Dr. Hook, and 'Call Me the Breeze' by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

During the 2006 documentary film 'To Tulsa and Back', Cale recounts the story of being offered the opportunity to appear on Dick Clark's American Bandstand to promote the song, which would have moved it higher on the charts. Cale declined when told he could not bring his band to the taping and would be required to lip-sync the words.
He was a perfectionist on his music, nothing laidback there; he played his guitar in a unique fashion, fluid, in a relaxed groove. His singing has been described as 'laconic'. 





DONNA LEON - Duister Glas

Donna Leon’s 15th mystery became the first book by her to be read by me. While I prefer to read in English, a few Dutch copies came my way.
As I have a thing for Italy, I started reading and quite liked it, in a relaxing sort of way. Perhaps less drawn into the story as with some other writers, I was pleased to travel (walk, boat, public transport - he doesn't own a car) with Commissario Guido Brunetti through Venice, Italy.

The mystery is set on the island of Murano where Guido Brunetti investigates a murder at a glass furnace (fornace) there.
Prior to the murder, Brunetti started snooping around Murano because of suspicion that one of the factory owners may be out to do bodily harm to his son-in-law, an environmental activist and good friend of Brunetti’s sidekick, Vianello.

Through Brunetti’s eyes, we experience a wonderful springtime in Venice and superb descriptions of glassware and the age-old art of glass making. But I also love how easy it is for Italians to step outside for a cappuccino, go out for lunch and enjoy a warm meal at home prepared by the wife, staff found missing from their desk, etc.
I recognise the different way of life Italians have.

Besides the mystery the subject of the environment is adressed, poisining the laguna and possible health issues. Also, briefly, administrative corruption passes too.

In a less serious vain, we get to enjoy selections from Dante’s Inferno, the antics of Signorina Elletra, the stupidity of Vice-Questore Patta, and the usual immersion in Italian language, food, and culture.

A very enjoyful read.

Some of the wording and insight has been used from the following revies (recommended to read in full): http://italian-mysteries.com



Genesis - photography by Salgado

Sebastião Salgado took 8 years to produce this giant, this tome of a book: Genesis. A masterpiece.

Salgado takes us back to the beginning, to find a world that has not yet been ruined by mankind so that we may see the Eden that time forgot...
He wants us to know the animals, plants and indigenous tribes that represent what he calls, controversially, the most pristine parts of nature.
And all illustrated in the richest black and whites, printed on a generous size. Overwhelming.

Salgado explores the Brazilian rainforest, takes us to the icy light of Siberia, offers the dazzling dew of an Ecuadorian dawn with the spectral gloom of dusk in the Galápagos. Breathtaking.

A beautiful review written by Laura Cumming (The Observer - 14Apr2013) and from which most of the above has been borrowed, can be found here:



Grande Hotel, photography by Ferry Verheij

During my visit last month to the wonderful Photography Manifestation at Naarden-Vesting (Netherlands), I acquired this book; I was much impressed by the photography of Ferry Verheij.

In the 1950’s the Grande Hotel in Beira, Mozambique, was designed to be the most luxurious hotel in southern Africa.
Locals described it as palatial. It offered the finest restaurant, a vast swimming pool, and a foyer with two grand staircases to sweep guests up to four floors of opulent rooms. It was a showpiece for Portuguese colonialism, designed to welcome the rich, the famous, and the ruling elite.
But they never came. Eight years after opening, the Grande Hotel closed its doors.
Without the benevolence of wealthy foreign guests it became too expensive to maintain. Once closed the building quickly fell into a state of disrepair. Stripped of its status and its valuables, what remains is a concrete carcass.
But it is not deserted. Today over a thousand people live among the rooms, corridors and debris!

Photographer Ferry Verheij captures the metaphor of the Grande Hotel, a story of material decay and human resilience.
This book is a portrait of the stark reality of life in post-colonial Mozambique, set against the backdrop of a fading dream.

Images www.ferryverheij.nl/home/grande-hotel/
Background www.ferryverheij.nl/boek-grande-hotel/


Luther - BBC tv series

Greatly enjoyed a few days ago the final episode of Luther crime drama -series 3- on the BBC.

Luther is a British psychological crime drama television series starring Idris Elba as the title character Detective Chief Inspector John Luther.
A first series of 6 episodes was broadcast on BBC One from 04May2010 to 08Jun2010. The 2nd series of 4 episodes was shown on BBC One in summer 2011.

John Luther is a Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) working for the Serious Crime Unit in series one, and the new Serious and Serial Crime Unit in series 2 & 3.
A dedicated police officer, Luther is obsessive, possessed, and sometimes dangerous in the violence of his fixations. His dedication is a curse and a blessing, both for him and those close to him.

That intro on the 3rd series was also remarkable, quite the best intro of a tv series I've seen for a long time.

I hope it will get to a fourth series!

Luther tv series on IMDb



Paying Lawmakers
From: www.economist.com



William Least Heat-Moon, Roads to Quoz, travelwriting

William Least Heat-Moon, also named William Lewis Trogdon (b. 27Aug1939), is an American travel writer of English, Irish and Osage ancestry.
Since his best-selling book 'Blue Highways', published in the early-1980s, I have been a fan of his extensive roadtrips and other travel writings.
After 'Blue Highways' there was 'PrairyErth', a deep map account of the history and people of Chase County, Kansas. His observations from 'the long road' applied to a tiny section of the US map.
Waterways replaced roads in his book 'River-Horse', which saw him traversing the US from east coast to the west coast, retracing much of the Lewis and Clark's frontier exploration.

In this book, 'Roads to Quoz', WLHM offers treasured travel findings over a number of years and a series of expeditions in the US 'hinterland': subjects depicted from history, research in UFO reports, observations while driving or sailing, anecdotes, stories shared by others while travelling, a bike ride on railtracks, Jack Kerouac, etc. etc.
Quoz is explained as: “a noun, both singular and plural, referring to anything strange, incongruous or peculiar; at its heart is the unknown, the mysterious.” There is much of that!

There is also a recurring focus on the letter 'Q', but he is able to explain Quoz and Q-things much better himself; his wife and travel companion in most accounts -referred to as 'Q'-, has a thing for all things beginning with the letter Q.

The style of writing is more literary than the aforementioned trilogy; at times I thought it came across somewhat pedantic. His background may explain this: WLHM grew up in Missouri and attended the University of Missouri, where he earned bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. degrees in English. He certainly applied a dictionary to his writing here.
Sometimes I found he dwelled on certain subjects too extensively, braking the pace however slow going, but the subjects shared are diverse and there is much to be enjoyed.

One has to be able to offer the time to remain in sync with the writer and travel slow on these long roads, in which case Roads to Quoz may lead you to that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.



World Press Laureates from Russia & Soviet Union
When I visited the World Press Photo 13 in June, in Amsterdam (NL), I found myself in for a treat: it also included this 'Russ Press Photo' exhibition!
This was the first truly major show of Russian press photography outside Russia, fully demonstrating the achievements of Russian photographers. The exposition consisted of some 505 images.
It provided a wonderful insight into the history and archive of contemporary photojournalism in Russia.
The book (I simply could not resist!) I bought represents some 6 decades of achievements of Russian photo reporters in the international press photography arena. Wonderful!



The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
This Dutch title would translate as 'The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared'. The title is as off-standard as the content, but is best described as a sort of Forest Gump tale..
After a long career as a journalist, media consultant and television producer, Jonas Jonasson decided to start a new life. He wrote a manuscript, he sold all his possessions in Sweden and moved to a small town by Lake Lugano in Switzerland, only a few meters from the Italian border.
The manuscript became a novel. And the novel became a phenomenon in Sweden, and these days it has been published all over the world!

It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The Mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not…
Allan finds adventure on his path, which he accepts in his taciturn, stoic way. Throughout the book there are flashbacks, how he lived his life, involved in events that shaped the world. All events met head on in Allan's matter of fact attitude.
It is a funny story but the fun wears off at some point, at least it did for me. But then I never cared much for the Forest Gump movie either.



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Created: 01-Jan-2013