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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.




Oorlog en Kermis, door Olaf Koens

Olaf Koens is a young (b.1985) Dutch journalist who spent the past 10 years or so in Russia. In 2007 he became foreign correspondent in Russia for media in the Netherlands, Belgium and Russia.
'Oorlog en Kermis' (which would translate to something like 'War and Carnival') is his second book; he recently moved to Israel where he will continue his work as a correspondent.

The chapters (my translation, for the language is Dutch obviously) have a deceptive 'matter-of-fact' style: 1.The Beginning 2.War 3.Carnival 4.Peace 5.Crime 6.Punishment 7.The End

This book, dealing with his work as a journo and correspondent in Russia, is brimming with energy; Koens rushes from one remote corner of Russia to the other, adressing pollution, drug abuse, the Russian way of life.
The vastness of Russia is only equalled by the contradictions experienced in this country.
Quite illustrative, I think, is that the final chapter of this book describes Koens on a nightly trip through Moscow with a young Russian woman, having taken lsd! At times nothing is what it seems.
Don't expect indepth analyses of Kremlin politics, but rather a rollercoaster ride ('carnival') along bizar events & locations while Russians get a chance to speak, explain their view on things. Not much text lost on Moscow or Putin.
Koens climbed the barricades at Maidan Nezalezhnosti ('euromaidan') and visited both sides of the frontline at Donetsk and Loehansk, exploring hospitals, roadblocks, the frontline.

'Oorlog en Kermis' is a mad rush, showing Koens speeding to events (MH-17 crash site, the meteor in Tsjeljabinsk) or digging into a local story such as about 'sol' and 'spice' drugs in Angarsk, a town in Siberia. Or the pollution in Nikkel, so close to the Norwegian border but living here is like life on another planet. Gold in the Kolyma mountains. I could go on.

Russia remains a fascinating country, but it has a lot of rough edges.
The content of this book cannot leave you indifferent, though I doubt it will make you rush to a travel agent to book a flight.

www.villamedia.nl/over/Olaf+Koens (Dutch)



Arne Dahl series 3

Jan Arnald (b. 11Jan1963) is a Swedish novelist and literary critic, who uses the pen name Arne Dahl when writing crime fiction.

The Swedish production company Filmlance produced adaptations for tv, the first five in 2011 and the rest in 2015. Filmlance is also responsible for the series Bron (shown in the UK as 'The Bridge') and for the later Martin Beck detective programmes.
I had watched the previous Arne Dahl series too (see 2013Q1 & 2013Q3), liked them and equally enjoyed this series 3 on a dvd boxset. Each story has been dramatized in the form of a two-part miniseries, each with two one-hour episodes. Really good stuff.

Cast of this 'A-team':
Malin Arvidsson as Kerstin Holm (teamleader)
Natalie Minnevik as Ida Jankowicz
Shanti Roney as Paul Hjelm
Alexander Salzberger as Jorge Chavez
Magnus Samuelsson as Gunnar Nyberg
Vera Vitali as Sara Svenhagen
Niklas Åkerfelt as Aarto Söderstedt

Wikipedia: Jan Arnald / 'Arne Dahl'



The Economic Consequences of the Peace - John Maynard Keynes

Analysts going over the global economic crisis we've been enduring in the past 8 years often mentioned this English economist and I got curious for his work. When I stumbled on this book in a secondhand bookstore I bought it, even though I had no idea 'The Peace' in the referred to.
I have no education in economics, but the book is in fact more about political motivations of the peace agreement, established after WWI, and the economics as a result of that treaty is very well explained.

The fact that 'The Economic Consequences of the Peace' was written in 1919 came as a bit of a shock to me: how relevant could it be in this day and age? But I found it fascinating, even a bit dry to work my way through the book.
Keynes attended the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 as a delegate of the British Treasury and argued for a much more generous peace; the motivation is obvious (in hindsight) and clearly explained.

The chapters Europe Before the War, The Conference, The Draft, The Treaty, Reparation, Europe After the Treaty and Remedies take the reader step by step along a path defined by facts and logic, consequences clearly explained.
I had not realized that Europe had changed so much stepping into the 20th century. Economic growth by industries and trade going full throttle, population growing in most countries making Europe dependent on countries like the US for food supplies. Germany did very well and France looked at it with envy; how little has changed!

After the war the politicians (President Woodrow Wilson for the US, French Prime Minister Clemenceau and the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George) had promised to the hurting population repairs from Germany. Their promises complicated establishing the treaty, because Germany had no money to offer and its industry and infrastructure was destroyed.
Esspecially Clemenceau had a score to settle, trying to cripple the German economy and disable the country as an economic competitor for years to come (the Treaty defined a yearly supply of raw materials, e.g. coal, from Germany to France at a discount rate for a number of years).
Crippling Germany distinctly handicapped the growth of Europe, everybody needed Germany for production, transport and import/export to see their own economies grow. It also set bad blood with the Germans and history has wrote the follow up in blood and disaster a few decades later.

John Maynard Keynes resigned from his position as Deputy for the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Supreme Economic Council, withdrew entirely from the negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference, when he found his moderation and insights fell on deaf ears.

In the 1930s, Keynes spearheaded a revolution in economic thinking, challenging the ideas of neoclassical economics that held that free markets would, in the short to medium term, automatically provide full employment, as long as workers were flexible in their wage demands. He instead argued that aggregate demand determined the overall level of economic activity and that inadequate aggregate demand could lead to prolonged periods of high unemployment. According to Keynesian economics, state intervention was necessary to moderate 'boom and bust' cycles of economic activity.
Keynes's influence waned in the 1970s, partly as a result of problems with inflation that began to afflict the Anglo-American economies from the start of the decade and partly because of critiques from Milton Friedman and other economists who were pessimistic about the ability of governments to regulate the business cycle with fiscal policy.
However, the advent of the global financial crisis of 2007–08 caused a resurgence in Keynesian thought. Keynesian economics provided the theoretical underpinning for economic policies undertaken in response to the crisis by President Barack Obama of the United States.

In 1999, Time magazine included Keynes in their list of the 100 most important and influential people of the 20th century, commenting that: "His radical idea that governments should spend money they don't have may have saved capitalism.
Unfortunately, the Netherlands and others European countries followed the 'neoliberal' policies of austerity and cutbacks which resulted, as some have it, prolonging the economic crisis in Europe (while the economy of the US has shown signs of recovery for years now).
It seems Keynes was right yet again.

Wikipedia: John Maynard Keynes
Wikipedia: The Economic Consequences of the Peace
Wikipedia: Paris Peace Conference (1919)



Werklust door Theo Baart

Werklust door Theo Baart

There was a jump in my step when I returned home from the bookstore this weekend, having bought this large size photo documentary book by Theo Baart, titled Werklust (EN= Work Ethic).
For some time I have been interested in the changes in the surrounding environment and here we have someone who has been documenting it for decades!

In the compilation I took two pictures which seem little to do with the surrounding environment, but I want to illustrate that this book is also about the people in this changed landscape, people who had to move because their houses had to be demolished, for this living environment is secondary to the industry: the airport and all the logistics it entails.

'Werklust' documents the visible changes in an area that is enclosed by Amsterdam's seaport, the international airport Schiphol and the flower industry in Aalsmeer.
At one time this largely reclaimed land served an agricultural purpose (people who lived in Hoofddorp were farmers).
Then its purpose was changed by directives from the government: cities were too crowded and 'De Haarlemmermeer' was to become 'suburbia'. People who moved here sought a better environment for raising a family and commuted to their work. People either worked in Amsterdam, Haarlem or at Schiphol.
Gradually logistics moved in as well; people have become familiar with warehouses, huge office blocks and hotels serving the airport from their urban area. Only in recent times (e.g.) Hoofddorp was enriched with a proper theatre, a cultural center, a shopping mall and park; a place worth living in and generating jobs.
As yet there seems to be no end to the building of industrial parks and infrastructure, it remains a work in progress.
This large size ( 352 pages, 24 x 30,5 cm; essays are both in Dutch as well as English) document serves to illustrate changes, it may serve one's memory or show the price (e.g. work being done and allowances) we pay for changes in a global industry.




The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin

Just finished 'The Impossible Dead' by Ian Rankin. While Rankin is in my top 3 of preferred crime fiction writers, it took a while before I got to read this 2011 publication. Not because I am a disappointed Rebus-fan, I was quite taken by the Inspector Malcolm Fox in Rankin's 'The Complaints', but rather because of other subjects I read too.

Malcolm Fox is divorced, in his mid-40s, and works with Professional Ethics and Standards in Edinburgh (usually referred to as The Complaints or The Complaints & Conduct, an Internal Affairs unit); in his quiet ways he is as much a rebel as DI Rebus for getting to the bottom of the crime, leaving no stone unturned.
This investigation by The Complaints Unit (Fox and collegues Kaye and Naysmith) in the conduct of three coppers, to find if they protected a fellow detective who had been accused of sexual misconduct, seems hardly the material for a page-turning novel. But it was for me!
When Fox arrives in Fife with his team they meet the usual obstruction and animosity, but they set to work.
The detective investigated for sexual abuse has an uncle who is a retired policeman and he seems to have shopped his own nephew. The uncle is found dead in his ramshackle cottage, by suicide?
His nephew becomes a suspect in this murder inquiry and while Fox has no cause to investigate the death, he finds a loose end and keeps tugging inspite being told off by the murder squad, his boss and even his team mates.
The retired policeman was researching the death of another apparent suicide, during the mid-80s, of one Paul Vernal, lawyer and activist. When following that path of inquiry Fox finds more loose ends and several persons involved in activism (terrorism?) seem to have vanished without trace.
More than once Malcolm is told to back off.

In the previous 'Malcolm Fox novel', The Complaints, we've met Fox' sister Jude and his elderly father. The relationship with Jude, who is angry at the world and unable to turn her life around on a more constructive course, is a tense one; it continuous here with care and tenderness.

Malcom's assignment with the Complaints Unit is a temporary one and Malcolm finds himself doubting about his qaulifications for returning to regular police work; he is reminded time and again by fellow policemen, as well as his own father, that what he does is not real police work.
This is also a factor, to proof himself a proper detective, and he continues investigating the 1980s murder of Paul Vernal, the disappearance of certain key figures involved in political activists and also collaboration from within the police force with those activists who were supplied with guns which were supposed to have been destroyed.
For it all seems connected to the research (and death) of the retired policeman. It brings Fox more and more on a collision course with 'the powers that be'.

The Impossibe Dead is hugely satisfying and I am really looking forward to read the other two subsequent titles (Standing in Another man's Grave & saints of the Shadow Bible) I have waiting on the bookshelf!




John Cusack and Arundhati Roy meet Snowden in Moscow

Actor and political activist John Cusack and author / political activist Arundhati Roy meet up and decide to meet Edward Snowden in Moscow; and Dan Ellsberg joins in, he has a similar history to Snowden: in 1971 he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War, to The New York Times and other newspapers.
For good measure Cusack and Roy also visit Julian Assange in London.
Thruthdig.com has this published under the caption 'Things That Can and Cannot Be Said' and is a very interesting read!




Agent Hamilton, dvd, Swedish crime drama

Going though the Lumière leaflet a few months ago, I recognised Mikael Persbrandt, who plays the role of Agent Hamilton, I decided to order both dvd's as Persbrandt had made an impression in his role of sidekick to Inspector Beck.
Since then I found out this is a trilogy, but part 3 'On Her Majesty's Service' was not yet available.
That title 'On Her Majesty's Service' may ring a bell for the James '007' Bond films and indeed the character does have similarities, including the license to kill ("when in the interest of the nation").
But the story does offer more drama (next to plenty of action) than the Bond movies, esspecially #1 'In The Interest Of The Nation'.
#2 'But Not If It Concerns Your Daughter' dates fom 2012, so this series was produced fairly recent. Persbrandt plays an excellent action hero!

en.wikipedia.org: Agent_Hamilton:_But_Not_If_It_Concerns_Your_Daughter

Agent Hamilton - cast



M Train by Patti Smith

M Train by Patti Smith

Shortly before I left home for some travelling recently, I read about 'M Train' and while there is no subject that would connect with my most immediate interest, it did settle somewhere in the back of my brain. So when I came across it during my subsequent vacation, and when this this beautifully crafted little book (253 pages) was put in my hands, I melted and just had to buy it.
The content is charming, 'sweetly melancholic' is perhaps a better description for it. Photos (mainly) taken by her on her Polaroid camera (she has several) decorate the chapters.
And I love books that have a page dedicated to the font used.

Patricia Lee 'Patti' Smith (b. 30Dec1946) is an American singer-songwriter, poet and visual artist who became a highly influential component of the New York City punk rock movement with her 1975 debut album 'Horses'.
Her music did not find a way to my listening music over the years and 'M Train' is the first book by her I've read. I tended to avoid 'punk music', but listening to 'Horses' it reminded me of Debbie Harry (whose music I liked); punk music without the screaming edge.

'M Train' is a kaleidoscopic ballad, a.o. about the losses fate dealt her in the past. Ms Smith lost her husband, the guitarist Fred (Sonic) Smith, to heart failure in 1994 at the age of 45. And her brother, Todd, died a month later of a stroke. Plus she lost her early New York friend and roommate, Robert Mapplethorpe, to AIDS in 1989.
The book is about loss, but also about her fascination for writers she admires: Brecht, Plath, Rimbaud, Genet; she makes pilgrimages to their graves. The ghosts of such artists achingly haunt these pages, as do the spirits of her beloved husband and brother.
There is something definitely dreamlike about many of Ms. Smith’s adventures and 'ramblings', like she steps in and out of another dimension. Small wonder she keeps loosing things: her favorite coat, her favorite Murakami book was left in an airport bathroom and her favorite (polaroid) camera was left behind on a beach. The book has no obvious chronological order for the chapters and the chapters include flash backs or jumps forward, but the sweet tone of the storyteller makes you follow her wherever she goes: on a trip with Fred 'Sonic' Smith to French Guiana, to attend meetings of the Continental Drift Club (of which she is a member), to a hotelroom in London's Chelsea where she goes on a binge: watching ITV3's crime series, etc.

I loved how there is a connection with my interests, such as the Scandinavian- & British crime series, but also where she mentions Gordon Lightfoot's song 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald'.
A thoroughly sympathetic book, which gave me great joy reading and is a treasure on my bookshelf.




Kick Back by Val McDermid, review

Another crime novel I read this past vacation, is 'Kick Back' by Val McDermid; quite a different sort of crime writing than reviewed below!
Kate Brannigan is partner in an investigation bureau (based in Manchester), consisting of another investigator (specialising in computer securities, with a love for gadgets) and an office manager. Kate read law and specialises in fraud; no heroics, she appreciates a quiet night in, goes for take out food and is in a serious relation with Richard, a music journo, who lives next door (their houses are connected by a conservatory) - but who is not allowed to move in with her.
Kick Back is the second novel by McDermid featuring Kate Brannigan.

The book starts with a mystery concerning... conservatories! No threat to the world, M.I5 nor M.I.6 share the scene but fascinating all the same. Conservatories are installed and shortly thereafter they vanish without trace!
It lands on her desk when the builder, who does the installing, faces bankruptcy when the bank smells a rat concerning these disappearances. At that time Kate is also involved in regular stake outs at a firm that suspects one of its staff stealing from its stores; there is some stress when Kate fumbles the film depicting the thief (yes, film: the book dates from 1993). It goes to show how fallible our 'heroine' is!
And there is more: a close friend of Kate has made a UKL 5.000,- downpayment on a bit of ground, with a group of others with similar downpayments, and finds the person she did business with has disappeared! She asks Kate's help, but does a fair share of investigating herself, as Kate has too much on her plate (Kate gets in a scrape with a white van, is almost run off a bridge, but escapes with cuts and bruises).
Kate soon finds that the 'mystery of the conservatories' has links with the double dealings on the allotments, but she has trouble getting the case to stick as much is constructed in a way that there seem to be no (complaining) victims or grounds to sue.
She finds she is (almost) over her head into this investigation when she comes across a murder.

I must admit that I had difficulties in understanding the intricacies of the fraud: the remortgages and the role of sollicitors in reporting to the land registry. But I like the way the author has depicted the indifference and callousness of the bank here!
A very pleasant read!

en.wikipedia.org: Val_McDermid



Review, Tin Roof Blowdown

During a recent two weeks vacation in the US I read this novel by James Lee Burke. I am not a great fan of American writers, although I have learned to appreciate Mr Burke's novels, but while spending time in the US that negative label often seems to drop away.
As with films and tv-series I find the machismo in crime writing often too overwhelming, while (e.g.) British- and Scandinavian books and films have a larger share of 'common people' or play down the heroics by the main character.

What I appreciated in 'The Tin Roof Blowdown' was the graphic detail of the destruction by both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita which followed suit.
Hurricane Katrina was the eleventh named storm and fifth hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It was the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Hurricane Rita was the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the most intense tropical cyclone ever observed in the Gulf of Mexico.
The writer depicted the overwhelming forces of Mother Nature (she can be a real bitch!) very well; the hopelessnes of its victims, the varying opinions of people regarding the fate of people and the failings of (government) institutions, which were slow to react on the disaster, are documented here too; penned down with proper outrage, I might add.

This 16th book by Burke, featuring Cajun detective Dave Robicheaux, has the black & white characters familiar to many American fiction: the poorly educated end up in crime and criminals have weird apperances; and the righteous have their traumas but you don't have to look far for their scars: alcohol and/or war traumas (Vietnam).
Still, an entertaining book and I had no trouble finishing it until the end. No wonder really, for it has been deemed to be one of the best by this author.

en.wikipedia.org: James_Lee_Burke
en.wikipedia.org: Hurricane_Katrina
en.wikipedia.org: Hurricane_Rita



EXPOSURE, Bob Carlos Clarke (Photographer)

One of my all time heroes in photography: Bob Carlos Clarke.
I came across his work in English photography magazines, during the 198os & 1990s, and came to buy his book The Dark Summer and have to this day a limited edition, autographed poster hanging proudly in my study.
Then I lost track of him, but a little while back I came across this book, Exposure, about the life and untimely death of Bob Carlos Clarke. I finally came to read it these days and it filled me with great sadness.
Once again it appears that success and excellence, even brilliance, is no guarantee for happiness.

Bob Carlos Clarke (b.24Jun1950 in Cork, Ireland – died by taking his own life, 25Mar2006) was a prolific photographer, described as 'Britain’s answer to Helmut Newton'.
In his short life he had a strong impact upon and influenced the development of photography from the late 20th Century through to the present day.
After finishing secondary education he went to Dublin for a year, working in various low level positions at advertising agencies and newspapers as a trainee journalist. After a brief spell in Belfast in 1969, Carlos Clarke moved to England in the latter half of 1970 and enrolled in the Worthing College of Art. It was here that he met his first wife Sue Frame, knowing that she was a part-time model he "knew he had to become a photographer without delay" and persuaded her to pose for him on a chromed 650cc Triumph Bonneville.
He moved to London, where he enrolled in the London College of Printing. He later went on to complete an MA from the Royal College of Art in photography, graduating in 1975. He initially began photographing nudes as a means of making money, using his fellow students as models.
A neurotic and obsessive printer, Carlos Clarke would make the same image again and again, convinced that they could be improved. As a result, he has left behind a legacy of a great many prints of similar images with different effects of colouring.
He left his cramped flat and moved to Wimbledon Village and from there to a bright apartment overlooking Earl’s Court Square. His marriage to Sue had disintegrated and he was now dating Lindsey Rudland, a model at the time, they had met through a mutual friend. They lived together in Earls Court and ran a professional darkroom and studio in the space. Eventually they would marry in St. Vincent in 1997.
Carlos Clarke’s first encounter with photographing models in rubber and latex was an experience with a gentleman called ‘The Commander’, a publisher of a magazine for devotees of rubber wear who had contacted Carlos Clarke to shoot for his publication. The artist Allen Jones was a good friend of Bob Carlos Clarke. His work drew heavily on fetishism and he advised the younger photographer to lay off the fetish scene. Despite this Carlos Clarke devoted the following decade to shooting women in rubber & high heels. What he liked about rubber and vinyl "was the way it contained a body, concealing imperfections and defining contours beneath a gleaming synthetic skin".

As a professional photographer the cameras that Bob liked to use included the Pentax 645, Olympus OM4Ti and Pentax 6x7s and Fuji 6x9s. He detested the emergence of digital photography.
Carlos Clarke did not only shoot women, some of his best known photographs are of men; notably Keith Richards, Vinnie Jones and Marco Pierre White.
Carlos Clarke did not like using recognizable faces and known models. One of his most iconic mages ‘Masked Blonde’ (1996) is a photograph of the model Caprice, who was represented by Ghislain Pascal who later became the photographer’s agent. Yet he did not entitle the work with reference to her, he wanted the model to remain anonymous. Philippe Garner, in discussion on Bob’s photography, observed: "Partly what intrigued me about the pictures is whether he is photographing what he desires or photographing what he fears, and I suspect the answer is both."
Carlos Clarke moved to his first "grown up studio" at The Village in Battersea, London in 1996 – a disused Victorian school in South London, which became the centre of his world with its enormous studio, darkroom, office and apartment – rented to many other photographers as well.
His ‘Love Dolls Never Die’ exhibition in 2004 at Eyestorm Gallery was his debut into digital photography. The pictures were all shot on film, but they were enhanced digitally.

He produced six books during his career: The Illustrated Delta of Venus (W H Allen, 1980), Obsession (Quartet, 1981), The Dark Summer (Quartet, 1985), White Heat (Octopus, 1990), and Shooting Sex (self-published, 2002), ‘Love Dolls Never Die’ (self-published, 2004), and one DVD ‘Too Many Nights’ (Panoramica, 2006).
During his lifetime Carlos Clarke, due in part to his own insecurity, did not believe that his skills and remarkable talent as a photographer had been recognised. Yet, he was a big star at the annual national photo expos, with young photographers packing the lecture halls. Indeed, Philippe Garner, Head of Photography at Christies believes that Carlos Clarke deserves a significant place in the annals of British photography.
Bob Carlos Clarke committed suicide on 25 March 2006.

Bob Carlso Clarke, photographer 1950-2006

This book 'Exposure' by Simon Garfield (published in 2009) actually was intended to be a book about an agent (titled The Agent), Gislain Pascal; a book about celebrities in a variety of careers, but he stumbled upon the person Bob Carlos Clarke who seemed to represent art, photography, rock music, stardom, erotica, moneyed society all rolled into one.
The book has a worthy subtitle: 'The Unusual Life and Violent Death of Bob Carlos Clarke'.
By brief statements, placed in chronological order following Bob Carlos Clarke in his career and relationships, the reader sees the character of this brilliant photographer peeled like an onion. Statements by the persons mentioned above, by his daughter Scarlett, his brother Andrew, models and assistents who worked for him. And by Bob himself.
A book about someone with a complicated youth, much of it also by his own character, someone who had trouble with relationships, who despite great success remained insecure, at some point even paranoid (about copyrights for one) and finally succumbed to corrosive despair.
Enlightening, but also of great sadness.

Bob Carlos Clarke was buried at London's Brompton Cemetery (he loved to photograph there), which I visited recently in search of historic cemeteries in London; if only I had known. -
Kensal Green cemetery was another cemetery, where we crossed paths, so to speak),
The books ends with mentioning the opening of a small gallery in London, The Little Black Gallery, in Chelsea. If it is still there I have two reasons at least to revisit London in the near future. A third is the National Portrait Gallery, where some of his work is on display and apparently a photo of him made by his daughter.

en.wikipedia.org: Bob_Carlos_Clarke



Elections Turkey 2015



Fortitude crime dram yv-series

Now this is a crime drama series in an unusal setting: the arctic. And it wasn't the only thing unusual in a crime drama, for the usual plot on victim/murder/motiv has very weird twists here.
'Fortitude' is a British psychological thriller television series, created and written by Simon Donald, with 12 episodes.
The series was commissioned by Sky Atlantic in 2013, and started airing on 29Jan2015.
Fortitude is a fictional community located on Svalbard in Arctic Norway.
The cast is quite international: American actor Stanley Tucci appears in his first British television role as Detective Chief Inspector Morton from London's Metropolitan Police. Sofie Gråbøl is a Danish actress, starred in The Killing series, and plays the governor Hildur Odegard in her first UK television drama role.

Something about the story.
In the town of Fortitude, photographer Henry Tyson accidentally shoots a man being mauled by a polar bear. Sheriff Dan Anderssen (a role by Richard Dormer) convinces Henry to leave the scene and leave everything to him.
Detective Chief Inspector Morton is sent from London's Metropolitan Police to investigate. Sheriff Dan takes an instant dislike.
The governor is sensitive to the investigation for she is involved in a large hotel project, on the glacier, and any negative publicity may deter investors. The island sees its main source of income, mining, dry up and tourism may be a new lease on life for the population of the islotaed community.
A series of murders, very brutal, do further harm to this project. Esspecially since the murderers are easily found but their behaviour leading to the murders is very peculiar and cannot be explained.
Sheriff Dan has a crush on Elena, who runs a bar/restaurant/hotel and has a dark past.
The man being killed by a polar bear did ground research and spoke of a treasure, great wealth to be found on the island. This is only one of the plots running on sidelines, there are love interests and plenty of breathtaking camera shots of the arctic landscape.

Truly a unique series in the crime drama range of tv entertainment and one which I enjoyed tremendously. With great pleasure I read there may be a second series to follow it up.

en.wikipedia.org: Fortitude_(TV_series)
See also Season 3 on MyBlog 2021Q4



True Detectives II

The past week I had the opportunity to watch this series. The first series of True Detective made a difference in a sense that generally I am not keen on American films nor tv-series; so with some uncertainty I looked forward to the follow up, esspecially since the location had moved to California, thus moving away from the mystic Deep South which played such an important, occult even, role in True Detecives I.
But I needed not have worried.
My objections for American series were still found in place: much macho-depressed whiskey drinking, many 'fuck-fuck-fuck' exclamations, but with a fair restraint on car chases (only a short one) and explosions (a few nightclubs in the end, not for any great effect).
There is actually more depth to the characters in play and not limited to the four lead players. The plot has many layers and twists too; there is the unavoidable heroic death in a shoot out (I am not going to spoil it by saying who), but the ending has more drama and much less sticky sweetness I came to expect from American films and tv-series.
Very good entertainment and the lead players Rachel McAdams, Colin Farrell, Taylor Kitsch, Vince Vaughn and Kelly Reilly make an excellent replacement for Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey of the first series.

Wikipedia has a detailed description per episode, 8 in total:
en.wikipedia.org: True_Detective_(season_2)



From Bosch to Bruegel - Uncovering Everyday Life
It pays to study the explanatory text with the exhibits. Nice to see these parents explain
the paintings and their purpose to their child.

From Bosch to Bruegel - Uncovering Everyday Life
The devil is in the detail...

This autumn Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen uncovers everyday life in the 16th century: a world of brothels, skating parties, dancing peasant and quacks.
The 16th century society is depicted with irony and self-mockery in approximately 40 paintings and as many prints. Some works contain a moral, but most are simply humorous.
Nothing escaped the attention of these great artists!




Photography by Ruud Leeuw - 36 Exposures (Blurb)
My photobooks (mainly non-aviation) on Blurb for sale!



March Violets by Philip Kerr

Philip Kerr was on my watchlist for a good while, but I left it to luck and I stumbled on this book, March Violets, in Powell's Bookshop in Portland,OR in 2014. It landed in my backlog, but now the time had come to read it. The Nazi's make their presence known.
In the background the Olympics, the Nazi Olympics, see Jesse Owens win his medals.

I must admit that the setting of this book, Berlin in 1936, did not have me trampling with impatience. But I was wrong there.
This 'Berlin Noir' (main character Bernie Gunther, a private investigator) trilogy was republished 1993 by Penguin Books in one volume, but I read the Pinguin single edition.
The other books are 'The Pale Criminal', set in 1938 and 'A German Requiem', set in 1947–48.
The style, the macho narrative by Bernie Gunther, reminded me of Raymond Chandler, James Hadley Chase and Stanley West. It felt a bit dated at first, but I soon got used to it and became wrapped up in the story.

Gunther is a wisecracking world-weary policeman, navigating his way through the darkening streets of Berlin: dark political clouds gathering.
Socialists, Communists write slogans on the walls, but when caught get sent to work camps. I had no idea concentration camps existed as early in 1936, Dachau was in full production.
Gunther is hired by an important business man, Hermann Six, to find important documents that went missing. The search creates another search, into the circumstance that led to the death of Six' daughter and her husband. Bernie Gunther gets to meet Goering but also an important criminal, Red Dieter.
Six' secretary seems to play a role, but what is his interest?
Bernie Gunther gets mauled by political intrigue and more than once beaten up by both criminals as well as 'police'.
Gunther finds his man, but seems to loose his secretary along the way. A number of questions remain and I wonder, would I get the answers in volume two of this trilogy?

www.telegraph.co.uk: Philip Kerr, interview
en.wikipedia.org: Philip_Kerr



Ramblin' Roots 2015 @TivoliVredenburg

My first visit to the new TivoliVredenburg theatre, in the centre of Utrecht (NL). Reason of the visit was Ramblin' Roots 2015, a new music festival proclaiming a search for a mix of roots music, americana, alt.country, soul and blues... A tall order, but I think most people would have found acts of interest.
I managed to get 7 acts of the 15. Alas, I could not stay until the end so I missed acts by Pokey Lafarge, Joe Louis Walker and Gretchen Peters.
While the drive home was a reason to departs a tad early, I must say that moving between the five theatres had taken its toll and got me to a point of exhaustion. Cloud 9 was on floor nine and took a lot of stairs climbing; going between the big hall (Jimmy Lafave, Sonny Landreth) and Cloud 9 (Stephen Fearing, Steve Dawson, Sam Baker) did me in, sweat streaming from my face in the end.
But worth it.
I had Sonny Landreth on my list for a number of years and this was the first time a saw him play live. Stephen Fearing was new to me and this Canadian singersongwriter was a delightful new find for me ('Between Hurricanes' is his latest CD) and Sam Baker was promoting his latest: 'Say Grace'; I have seen him several times, he is a true poet and a wonderful singersongwriter.
I hope this Ramblin's Roots music festival will see many more repeats .

More photos of mine on my Flickr.com account
Sam Baker website
Stephen Fearing website
My channel on YouTube has recordings of Jimmy Lafave, Sonny Landreth, Steve Dawson & Sam Baker



HYPNOSE by Lars Kepler, crime fiction

Hypnose (I read the book in Dutch, the original title is Hypnotisören and was published in 2009; EN: 'The Hypnotist') is the first book I've read by Lars Kepler. It so happens this seems to be the first book published, so for once I have started in the right order.
'Lars Kepler' is the pen name for Swedish writers Alexander Ahndoril and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril; the identity was supposed to be kept a secret, but the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet revealed the identity. The name 'Lars Kepler' is derived from "Stieg Larsson' and 'Johannes Kepler'.
The detailed style of writing does indeed bear resemblance to Stieg Larsson's style.

This book is a hefty volume, but it never bored me. Maybe the part where Erik Maria Bark looks (or perhaps I should say 'relived') back on his short career as psychologist/hypnotist was a bit long-winded, but it is apparent that it is of great importance to the story, to the threat on the safety of his family.
There are really two 'cases' to be solved here by police inspector Joona Linna: one is of a family murdered, or slaughtered would be a better way of describing it. The other is a kidnapping.

'The Hypnotist' is a gripping crime novel and I expect to read more books by Lars Kepler.

en.wikipedia.org: Lars_Kepler



Thinking, fast and slow - Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman has been called the world's most influential living psychologist; it has been said that he pretty much created the field of behavioural economics and has revolutionised large parts of cognitive psychology and social psychology.

Throughout the book 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' (which I read in Dutch, titled 'Ons Feilbare Denken') the reader will find that human reasoning left to its own devices is apt to engage in a number of fallacies and systematic errors; so if we want to make better decisions in our personal lives and as a society, we ought to be aware of these biases and seek workarounds. That's an important discovery and useful in affairs of everyday.

Mr Kahneman presents the brain as a dual-process 'system'. He identifies 'system 1' as the part of the brain that stores experience and prepares them for split-second use, like the use of a template; it is fast, intuitive, associative, metaphorical, automatic, impressionistic... And never shuts down; this is the part of the brain that makes you think afterwards 'I should have kept my mouth shut'.
System 2 is the slow thinking part, it should ponder on what 'system 1' presents for use. It is slow, deliberate, effortful. This is the part that may need a cup of coffee in the morning.
Daniel Kahneman presents throughout the book a great many cases, on a wide variety of subjects, where we are fooled by our own brain.

Daniel Kahneman often refers in this book to research done with Amos Tversky, a cognitive psychologist who died in 1996. They had worked together on many projects and research since the early 1970s.
In those early days, he and Tversky did a series of ingenious experiments that revealed twenty or so 'cognitive biases': unconscious errors of reasoning that distort our judgment.
Kahneman demonstrates that us humans are not rational creatures, but first and foremost instinctive ones and any attempt to make us act rationally must take that inbuilt bias into account or fail.
Kahneman and Tversky showed that people making decisions under uncertain conditions do not behave in the way that economic models have traditionally assumed. Both from the point of behaviour (our own reactions & interactions, but also our trust in others), as well as economics the findings and conclusions are very interesting.

After the death of Tversky, Kahneman took on 'hedonic psychology': the science of happiness, its nature and its causes.
While Kahneman goes to great lengths to explain his theories, with examples and by test results, I found it a difficult book to fully comprehend its content and it took me almost a year to finish it. I am not used to reading such a comprehensive scientific document, but glad I did because what Mr Kahneman has researched, and explained, makes absolute sense and is useful for anyone concerned with people's interactions on situations or each other.
Almost daily I see or read about something that has bearing on 'Thinking, Fast or Slow'.
I am sure in due course I will find cause and opportunity to read it again, with pen and notebook close at hand.


'Daniel Kahneman (b.05Mar1934) is an Israeli-American psychologist, notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, as well as behavioral economics, for which he was awarded the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (shared with Vernon L. Smith).
His empirical findings challenge the assumption of human rationality prevailing in modern economic theory.
In 2011, he was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers. In the same year, his book 'Thinking, Fast and Slow', which summarizes much of his research, was published and became a best seller.
In 2015 'The Economist' listed him as the seventh most influential economist in the world.'



Lionheart, by Sharon Kay Penman

If you mention 'Lionheart' to someone, I thought people would probably know whom I was talking about: King Richard the First of England (though mostly known as 'Lionheart'); he was the epitomy of the Crusader and medieval knight. But I found many (e.g. colleagues at work, admittedly most younger than I am) returning a blank stare. Perhaps because they have't grown up with Ivanhoe on the telly.
Anyway, in 2013 and 2014 the Plantagenet family was made a subject for holidays in France. We visited a number of their castles and read up again on the Plantagenet family.

So for those unfamiliar with the Plantagenets, a little history to start with.
The Plantagenets were probably the most dysfunctional (royal) family of the twelfth century. King Henry II, Richard's father, is considered to have been an excellent king during his reign, but his parental skills were rather below any standard. His son's Hal and Geoff both died young, so Richard became king when Henry II died. Hal, Geoff and Richard had not seen eye to eye and in fact Henry had seen his kin revolting against him.
Richard became king of the Angevin Empire (wikipedia) and immediately started planning 'taking the cross' and attempt to free Jerusalem from the Saracen infidels. He was however aware of the vulnability of his own empire and was set to go only when Philippe Capet, King of France, left for 'Outremer' too. Philippe delayed and so Richard delayed. When they finally set out (on different routes) on, what was to be labelled 'The Third Crusade', Philippe and Richard eyed each other with great distrust the entire time.

The first quarter, or perhaps even a third of the book, reads like it is written from women's perception. The story develops from the perception of several women; some are left behind in the first few chapters, without returning.
Berengaria, Richard's wife-to-be, is one we follow the entire book; she travels over land to Sicily for a marriage en route. Richard's sister Joanna (Joan of England, Queen of Sicily) is another person described in detail. She is married to the King of Sicily, but he dies unexpectedly, so Richard arrives in a Kingdom in turmoil.
Eleanor of Aquitane, Richard and Joanna's's mother, is a another woman through whom's eyes we see the story.
Richard meets up with Berengaria and his mother at Messina, but the intended marriage is postponed. Eleanor (Wikipedia) is sent home by Richard to act as regent over the Angevin empire and is denied to witness the marriage between her son Richard and Berengaria.

Only at this point Richard really becomes the focus in the book, also seen from the perception of some of his knights. I was close to giving up on the book by then, but having reached this point I finally became fascinated.
But while I enjoyed Penham's Welsh Princes Trilogy ('Here Be Dragons', 'Falls the Shadow', 'The Reckoning') unreservedly, this book 'Lionheart' required several take offs before it landed for me.
So in the end I could conclude that I had enjoyed this novel a great deal, but I can also say this is not a light and easy read; if you are looking for an easy read with romanticized view of Richard this is probably not the book for you.

Penham has researched her subject in detail and by many sources. I never realized there were reports written by contempories from both sides: a scribe on the same crusade but also with the enemy, Saladin (wikipedia.org: Saladin).
It was a nice touch to include the Assassins (wikipedia.org: Assassins), a secret order of assassins, into the story.
And Penman's attention for detail on the hardship endured by the crusaders really did bring the book to a higher level for me: the heat, the flies, details on an army on the move, sickness, strategic considerations, etc.
The part detailing Richard's stay in Outremer (wikipedia.org: Outremer) was the part I liked best.

Philippe Capet, a.k.a. Philippe II of France, had an uncomfortable alliance with Richard. When Philippe became severely ill with dysentery, his zeal was greatly diminished. Philippe returned to France and the alliance between Richard's army and the French collapsed.
With his army greatly reduced and back in England King John conniving to steal Richard's crown, plus Philippe threatening the Angevin empire, Richard sensibly established a truce with Saladin and the Saracens.
Wikipedia has on its wiki for Philippe II of France [wikipedia.org: Philip_II_of_France] a very informative chapter on Philipe's conflict with Richard I.

The book ends with Richard's departure from the Holy Land; it is continued in Penman's 'A King's Ransom', which I hope to read in due course. Or perhaps I should acquire 'A Devil's Brood' first, as a prequel to 'Lionheart'.

en.wikipedia.org: Sharon_Kay_Penman



The Fall (Series II)

These past two months we've had excellent crime drama on the box and I enjoyed 'The Fall (Series 2)' as much as I did the first series.

'The Fall' is a British BBC and Irish (RTÉ) crime drama television series, filmed and set in Northern Ireland. It is created, written and, in its second series, directed by Allan Cubitt, produced by Artists Studio and shown on RTÉ One in the Republic of Ireland, and BBC Two in the UK.
The series see Gillian Anderson as Metropolitan Police Superintendent Stella Gibson and Jamie Dornan as Peter Paul Spector, the serial killer on the prowl. Series I ended with Spector escaping Stella Gibson, taunting her with a personal phone call. These second series pick up the plot where it left off.

Series I ended with Paul escaping, with his family, to Scotland. The marriage is more or less on the rocks and Paul's wife Sally Anne returns to Belfast, taking their daughter with her. Paul moves after them later on. Stella manages to find a former girlfriend of Paul and Rose Stagg reluctantly reveals more of Spectors psyche; the police team dig deeper into the background of Paul Spector.
Paul abducts Rose and the hunt is on, to find and possibly save Rose plus to apprehend Spector.
Meanwhile a thug from Belfast is also after Spector for he thinks Spector has slept with his wife. And Paul works to build a relationship with schoolgirl Katie, to unknown ends.
Series 2 has six episodes, the last one brings Stella and Paul face to face. Who is in control?

A nice bit of titbit info learned from Wikipedia: Stella Gibson (both Stella and Gibson are brands of guitar), Spector, Martin, Hagstrom, Eastwood, Stagg, Kay, Paul Reed Smith, Breedlove and Burns, Bacon & Day are all names of guitar manufacturers!

In March 2015, it was announced that a third series of 'The Fall' had been commissioned by the BBC; looking forward to that!

en.wikipedia.org: The_Fall_(TV_series)



Les Témoins - French crime drama series

Belgian tv broadcasted these series recently and since I watched The Spiral ('Engrenages') with great pleasure earlier this year and to a somewhat lesser extend Falco, I was confident I could like this French series as well. And indeed, I was right. Six episodes of compelling crime drama.

Les Témoins (in English: 'Witnesses') is set in the small coastal town of Le Tréport in northern France, where the bodies of murder victims are being unearthed and left for discovery in newly built model houses. The former chief-of-police, Paul Maisonneuve (Thierry Lhermitte), is implicated in the murders, for each house also has an insignificant clue referring to him.
Detectives Justin (Jan Hammenecker) and Sandra (Marie Dompnier) investigate the case. They find Paul reluctant to get involved in the case, at first denying he could have anything to do with this bizar mystery.
Than they find Kaz Gorbier, a serial killer, has managed to escape prison and as a master puppeteer he seems set on revenge and zooms in on Paul Maisonneuve.
Sandra has to work with Paul; Sandra remembers the days when she was belittled and bullied by Paul at the Police Academy, where she was an ambitious student and Paul gave lectures. Sandra cares deeply for her job and this creates problems in her marriage.

As the proverbial onion the mystery unravels, layer by layer new discoveries are made, until finally the murderous mastermind is apprehended.
Drama and suspense until the very last episode!




Safe House, crime drama, tv series

Enjoyed ITV's new drama 'Safe House', starring Christopher Eccleston as former police protection officer Robert. This thriller is full of guilt, redemption and suspense.
Robert is haunted by a past case and now trying to make a new start with his wife, Katy (Marsha Thomason). It seems they have the intention to start a B&B for people who seek contemplation in a most forbidding part of Cumbria. But we soon see the 'isolation' bit ideal to make it into a socalled 'safe house'. Robert is recovering from being shot while performing bodyguard duties and suffers from traumas as the woman he was protecting was shot and killed. Katy's brother is Robert's old boss, Mark (Paterson Joseph).
The safe house concept is offered by Mark to Robert as a new job, a new start closely resembling his former job for which he was well qualified.
The family being sent to Robert & Katy is a family who are being stalked and whose youngest son was almost kidnapped by an unknown man.
Robert sees his policeman instincts reawakened and finds that the father and mother of this family of five have mysteries of their own and these may form a clue on why the assailant is so determined to find this family; who exactly is he after? Son Sam, who has abandoned university and living rough, is found to have a history of manufacturing and dealing drugs with debts owed to the wrong people...
Multiple plotlines are thickening nicely!

www.theguardian.com: safe house (review)




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Created: 05-Oct-2015