Welcome to my Blog - Ruud Leeuw

2019 Q1
2018 Q4
2018 Q3
2018 Q2
2018 Q1
2017 Q4
2017 Q3
2017 Q2
2017 Q1
2016 Q4
2016 Q3
2016 Q2
2016 Q1
2015 Q4
2015 Q3
2015 Q2
2015 Q1
2014 Q4
2014 Q3
2014 Q2
2014 Q1
2013 Q4
2013 Q3
2013 Q2
2013 Q1
2012 Q4
2012 Q3
2012 Q2
2012 Q1
2011 Q4
2011 Q3
2011 Q2
2011 Q1
2010 Q4
2010 Q3
2010 Q2
2010 Q1
2009 Q4

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

The item immediately below this would be the latest posting.

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

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

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




Ons Soort Amerika

This is a very amusing book by Dutch author Anton Stolwijk, which would translate to Our Sort Americans. Anton spends a year with his wife and two very small children (18 months and 4 months old) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Anton's wife spends a year, as a researcher I believe, at a University and Anton is houseman, taking care of the children. They arrive in the winter and Anton has difficulty pushing the pram through the snow. The kids sit side by side and the pram is an obstacle to get through doorways at times.
While pushing the pram Anton makes his observations of streetlife and the houses. He obviously has more trouble connecting to people than his wife, but on occasion when he 'connects' he is stunned and overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of people and find some of their acts hard to follow. He is always kind in his considerations, never a cynic.
Cambridge is obviously a liberal society, anti-Trump, but the observations and Anton's reflections are more down to street level than the political climate.

While amusing it is also a very informative little the book and a pleasure to 'consume'!




Arctic Circle, tv-series crime drama

Ivalo, Finland
Ivalo is the main location of this crime fiction, north of Rovaniemi.

'Arctic Circle' (Finnish: Ivalo) is Finnish-German crime drama, which premiered on Finnish streaming service Elisa Viihde on Christmas 2018 and later on Yle. I watched it on NPO3.
The series stars Iina Kuustonen, Maximilian Brückner, Pihla Viitala, Clemens Schick and Susanna Haavisto. A fine cast that soon make you forget about a rather foreign sounding language.
Arctic Circle is the first co-production between Finland’s Yellow Film & TV and Germany’s Bavaria Film, picked up for world distribution by Paris-based Lagardère Studios.

Set in snow covered Finnish Lapland, police officer Nina Kautsalo (Iina Kuustonen) finds a nearly dead prostitute in a cabin in the wilderness. The case takes a surprise turn when a deadly virus is found in the prostitute's body. Nina and German virologist Thomas Lorenz (Maximilian Brückner) start investigating the case.  

Nina is a single mother with a small child who has Down syndrome. The father, Esko, is a truck driver and small criminal; he refuses to acknowledge Venla for he never wanted children from the relationship.
Nina's mother takes care of her grandchild, when Nina has to work all hours.
Thomas is married and has a teenage daughter; his wife is very jealous and she sets things in motion for a divorce with full custody of their daughter. Mother and daughter live in Germany, while Thomas is based in Helsinki.

While Thomas wants to set up a large scale bloodtest to analyse how widespread the virus (deadly for pregnant women) is in the remote Lapland area, he encounters opposition from the KRP (Keskusrikospoliisi, Nat'l Bureau of Investigation) for not seeing 'the bigger picture', from those who exploit Russian prostitutes (they travel on 'whore busses' through the North) as well as from religious sects.
The Russian maffia connection and a business man with an interest in exploiting an anti-virus comes late to development in the series, when things becomes more action packed.
We see the virus spreading, Lorenz saw a village in Yemen completely wiped out by this virus and fears the worst for Lapland and the world: HIV remained underestimated for many years and was allowed to spread all over the world. 

The scenery of Lapland in winter is breathtaking and various aspects such as the humor sets this series 'Arctic Circle' in a league of its own. The ending would make a 2nd series possible... I hope so!




In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin

Marie Colvin, war correspondent

In Extremis, The Life of Marie Colvin

Lindsey Hilsum, a friend and fellow war reporter, details Colvin's hard-drinking, hard-living decades and her impressive career covering one humanitarian disaster after another.

During the Lebanese civil war in 1987, Marie Colvin was the first journalist on the scene at a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut. The camp was under siege by Shia militia, backed by Syria's President Hafez al-Assad, which made it hazardous for journalists to enter the campound and for inmates to go out to buy food.
Colvin risked her life by entering. Once there, she watched as a group of women ran across the 'Path of Death' to buy provisions. One young woman was shot by a sniper in the head and abdomen.
Colvin's story on the front page of the Sunday Times had the headline War on Women: "She lay where she had fallen, face down on the dirt path leading out of Bourj al-Barajneh."
Three days later Syrian authorities ordered the militia to stop sniping. The 163-day siege was over.
This event was pivotal in Colvin's career: she was on the scene for close up reporting, witnessed a civilian falling victim to warfare, was able to contradict cover up stories by an agressor state and (perhaps) make a difference in the senselless violence (to civilians).
This was Colvin's breakthrough, aged 31.

It was also the validation for her tendency towards recklessness, emboldening her to go further into war zones than other reporters would. Her brazenness was there when she was a teenager, sailing into the rough seas, relishing a storm. She experimented with drugs, became a heavy drinker (manly?) and went through various partners.
Her bravery, commitment and recklessness eventually led to her death in Syria in 2012.
She never managed to settle down with a partner, a craving she cultivated but the challenges of upcoming assignments (and later on her insecurities towards the growing competition in reporting from war torn areas) always took precedence over personal relations (being either family, friends or lovers).

Colvin's friend and fellow war correspondent Lindsey Hilsum has written a compelling biography, taking Colvin from her suburban American childhood into her awe inspiring career as a reporter covering one humanitarian disaster after another in Iraq, Kosovo, East Timor, Chechnya, Sri Lanka and Libya.
Along the way there are love affairs (during assignments as well as off assignments), friendships and endless parties.
In her personal life she was erratic and frantic, forgetful (she also forgot or ignored her deadlines to supply material), had terrible moodswings, was taken to buying expensive clothes and gifts (also when she could ill afford it) but during her assignments she was more focussed and composed. Until she was diagnosed with PTSD.
Colvin's energy and passion are well portrayed and everyone who encountered was taken in by her, including Yasser Arafat and Muammar Gaddafi.

Her heroine and role model was Martha Gellhorn and the two women had a lot in common, from their backgrounds to their desire to change the world.
Gellhorn (b.08Nov1908 - d.15Feb1998) was an American novelist, travel writer, and journalist who is considered one of the great war correspondents of the 20th century. She was married to Ernest Hemingway from 1940 to 1945.
Colvin shared Gellhorn's distrust of "all that objectivity shit". After getting trapped in Kosovo, she declared that: "When you're physically uncovering graves in Kosovo, I don't think there are two sides to the story. To me there is a right and a wrong, a morality, and if I don't report that, I don't see the reason for being there."
She also shared Gellhorn's difficulties with sexual relationships. Both tended to flee the men who made them feel safe and to make themselves dangerously vulnerable with the men who didn't.
When relations became unsettling or complicated Colvin escaped to a war zone, fleeing the most recent chaos she had left behind at home...

War reporters are employed by the newspaper or broadcaster that has sent them, so the first necessity is to get the story. During Colvin's 27 years at the Sunday Times, its culture changed so that the correspondents were competing to bring back the best stories and to take the greatest risks. Colvin said in 2010: "We always have to ask ourselves whether the level of risk is worth the story. What is bravery, what is bravado?" She seems to have struggled to distinguish between them, partly because her editors encouraged her to pursue greater feats and partly because of a complicated personal combination of competitiveness, self-destructiveness and passionate sympathy with the underdog.

These factors came together painfully in the days leading to her death. She'd been injured before, losing sight in one eye in Sri Lanka in 2001. Since then, Colvin had been treated for PTSD and was often more anxious than she was prepared to admit.
Hilsum tells the story of her final week masterfully in a way that makes the end seem both inevitable and unnecessary.
She was hopeless with technology, lacking the interest and patience, and underestimated the agressor's ability to track her  traceable satellite phone. The press camp in the most dangerous part of Homs took a direct hit, killing Colvin and French photojournalist Rémi Ochlik, seriously wounding her companion, photographer Paul Conroy (who had tried convincing her it was too dangerous to stay) as well as others. The Syrian authorities celebrated the death of Marie Colvin, silencing her voice forever.

Superbly written and highly informative!




HuisKinesis - Huis voor Fotografie (Delft)

HuisKinesis - Huis voor Fotografie (Delft)

Huis Kinesis - fotografie

Today I visited 'Huis Kinesis', a new adress for me to enjoy photography on display.
I found a wine business sharing store space with work by photography enthusiasts.
This was a project about Social Documentary Photography (a person, an event, et cetera). Participants were Marian van Heuveln, Paul Korving, Petri Coomans, Tineke Moor, Wil Vrancken and Wil Groen.

I found most documentaries very interesting, e.g. four photos showing expats having breakfast: that is a pretty unique subject I thought. And I liked the elderly couple (91 + 89 years old, top, in photo above)
in their 55 year old bookstore; also the series about a train project running in delays again and again was a good theme too. Two documentaries had a single male person, Mr X and Kris, as a subject, very nicely done. There was a striking documentary about an American automobile event (bottom, photo above), done in very graphic colours.
Anyway, plenty to enjoy and an adress to remember for a future visit: Huis Kinesis in Delft.




Delft, The Netherlands

A nice day for an afternoon stroll through the historic center of Delft. Follow the link for a pictorial report on Flickr.com.

Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam, to the southeast, and The Hague, to the northwest. Together with them, it is part of both Rotterdam–The Hague metropolitan area and the Randstad.
Delft is a popular tourist attraction in the country.
It is home to Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), regarded as center of technological research and development in the Netherlands, Delft Blue pottery and the currently reigning House of Orange-Nassau.
Historically, Delft played a highly influential role in the Dutch Golden Age.




Flowerparade Haarlem e.o.

Flowerparade Haarlem e.o.

Flowerparade Haarlem e.o.

Flowerparade Haarlem e.o.

Flowerparade Haarlem e.o.

Visited the Bloemencorso in Haarlem last sunday, the floats of the parade the day prior were now parked for viewing on the Gedempte Oude Gracht. A nice colourful tradition mixing with the historic skyline of the center of Haarlem.
An annual event I love going to.

More photos (53) on Flickr.com



Dark Heart, British tv-series

Dark Heart is a British television crime drama series, based on the Will Wagstaffe novels by writer Adam Creed, that was first broadcasted on 09Nov2016.
The series stars Tom Riley as DI Will Wagstaffe, a police detective haunted by the unsolved double murder of his parents when he was just 16 years old.
After a single feature-length pilot, based on the novel Suffer the Children, its success prompted a series of six hour-long episodes was commissioned in December 2017, with filming taking place in Spring 2018. The series consists of 4 newly-written episodes alongside the pilot, which has been re-edited, with some scenes re-shot, to form the first two episodes of the series.
I recorded it from television, which had broadcasted it as 2 episodes. Maybe these were the 2 episodes mentioned above, it had 2 complete stories. Maybe this was the two-part (recut) pilot which had aired a couple of years ago (ITV Encore) and the six-episode series is yet to be broadcasted. I did not recognize the trailer videos on ImDb.

The dark side of DI 'Staffe' is an interesting one as well as his relation to the women surrounding him: his sister Juliette ('Jules', role by Charlotte Riley), his colleague Josie (Anjli Mohindra) and Sylvie with whom he has a noncommittal sort of relationship (played by Miranda Raison, whom I remember from the series Spooks).
I wouldn't mind to see more of this series.




Endeavour, series 6

Endeavour is a British television detective drama series. It is a prequel to the long-running Inspector Morse (starring John Thaw) and, like that series, is set primarily in Oxford.
Shaun Evans portrays the young Endeavour Morse beginning his career as a detective constable, and later as a detective sergeant, with the Oxford City Police CID.
This is the 6th season and it numbered 4 episodes.

The storyline starts in July 1969, with Morse sporting a moustache for the first time. We see the news dominated by the Apollo moonlanding.
Morse has been given a uniform post out in the sticks. He investigates a report of a missing horse and a report of someone sleeping rough, allegedly an addict. But the death of a schoolgirl brings Endeavour back in contact with the Oxford constabulary.

DS Jim Strange (Sean Rigby) pursues the murder of the young DC George Fancy (finale of series 5) on
his own. He tries to involve Morse in his own investigation but Morse is bitter and unwilling. Nevertheless, Strange uses his influence to get Morse back to the Oxford police and the young detective is assigned a desk in the basement (' the bunker') of Castle Gate Police Station.
While seperate murder investigations dominate each episode, there are continuous plotlines: the investigation into the murder of George Fancy and deaths of addicts out on the streets due to bad drugs, while Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) gets drawn into the influence of his superior DCI Ronnie Box meanwhile Fred's marriage is becoming bleaker and bleaker (his wife Winnifred blaims him for squandering their savings, however noble the cause, without consulting here).
Joan Thursday (Sara Vickers) makes her appearance in about each episode but the relation between Morse and Fed's daughter seems to have lost the required chemistry. Morse seems more introvert and morose than in previous series, growing to the character portrayed by John Thaw?

PCS Reginal Bright (Anton Lesser) is assigned to Traffic and features in a tv commercial for the police, featuring a pelican. At the staion he is the butt of many jokes but he finds himself popular and recognized in the streets. His wife is terminally ill which very much effects Bright's outlook on life and his career.

DCI Ronnie Box and his sidekick DS Alan Jago seem to run a racket on the sly.
Dr. Max DeBryn (James Bradshaw) recognizes a special confidentiality among the group of former Cowley police station (although Fred Thursday is kept out of the loop at times for a quantity of distrust) and shares his findings accordingly. DeBryn is made hostage in the last episode and the finale is a showdown much akin to that of the O.K. Corral!




CHIN.IND.SPEC.REST. door Mark van Wonderen
'Een verdwijnend Nederlands fenomeen' door Mark van Wonderen

CHIN.IND.SPEC.REST. door Mark van Wonderen

CHIN.IND.SPEC.REST. door Mark van Wonderen

CHIN.IND.SPEC.REST. door Mark van Wonderen

CHIN.IND.SPEC.REST. door Mark van Wonderen

CHIN.IND.SPEC.REST. door Mark van Wonderen

CHIN.IND.SPEC.REST. door Mark van Wonderen

As a reporter in Noord-Holland Mark van Wonderen travelled criss-cross through the province for many years. Walking through neighbourhoods he noticed that even the smallest village had a church, a local pub but also a Chinese-Indonesian Restaurant.
Also, such a restaurant was often found at some dismal location. As a lover of all things 'urban sadness and decline' Mark started to record these restaurants on camera.
Graphic designer Yolanda Huntelaar noticed these photos in 2016 and suggested to make a photobook of Mark's subjects, attracted to the nostalgia and feelings of recognition.
Things worked out perfectly, publishing company Zoetzuur produced in 2018 Mark's photobook Chin.Ind.Spec.Rest.
The young woman in my local bookshop, a girl really, spoke the title outloud phonetically: she obviously did not recognize the title, confirming her generation had left these restaurants far behind already.

The Chinese-Indonesian restaurant is a very Dutch cultural phenomenon, might even be considered a cultural heritage!
This odd combination of Chinese and Indonesian cuisine can only be found in Holland.
For generations these restaurants provided the only taste of exotic food and for many if not most families the first experience of dining out on occasion.

However times, they are a-changin'...
The original Chinese-Indonesian restaurants see their number fast in decline, being replaced by other type of restaurants (e.g. sushi- or wokrestaurants). But many, perhaps because of their awkward location, remain empty for years while others are torn down.
For many this is a crying shame.
Hence Mark's work to record and photograph all 1090 Chinese-Indonesian Specialty Restaurants in The Netherlands. Before it really is too late.

I am happy to say I found several restaurants in this book I dined in and am still a frequent visitor to my local Chin.Ind.Spec.Rest., either for a sit down dinner or collect my take-away food. But I will never look at these restaurant in the same way as before, now that I have read Mark's book!




Missing (Saknad), mini series

Police superintendent Maja Silver (Helena Bergström) goes back to her old hometown Bogesund, in the Swedish Bible belt, to see her daughter and enjoy a well deserved vacation. Nothing much happens in this small town, until...

Upon a visit to her mentor at the local police station, a call comes in about a terrible discovery.
While examining the body of a young woman found dead at the side of the road, her former colleague, mentor and friend (who is counting the days to his retirement), Ragnar, suffers a heart attack and dies. Maja is asked to take his place and out of respect for Ragnar she accepts; not all of her former colleagues look positive upon her return.
While the police struggles to identify the young woman, another young woman disappears.

Many of the close knit community are involved in the deeply religious conservative congregation and everybody eyes each other, gossip is widespread and plentiful. The congregation is led by a popular, enthralling young priest, Stein. 
And while Maja is struggling with her investigations and obstinate staff, her daughter from a failed marriage has shacked up with a young man and got herself pregnant..

Four episodes of drama and interesting twists in the plotlines.
I wouldn't mind a follow up on this 2017 mini-series!




Black-tailed godwit (Grutto)

Carrion crow
Carrion crow (Zwarte kraai)

Exploring the possibilities of 'birding', photography mainly. Not yet sure if this will work for me.
But these are the first truly acceptable photos since I started this about a year ago.
I am happiest snapping pictures and since aviation photography is on a steady decline for me, I have looked at other events and subjects. I like events and street photography, the latter also returning in my travel photography (as is at times the vintage aviation).
Bird photography came about during walks, like when I visited music concerts this developed in concert photography.
But birds are often tiny and at quite a distance.. I found my Sony RX10M3 (which I swapped for a RX10M4 laste week) not ideally suited: among branches I found the RX10 III difficult to focus (am hoping the RX10 IV will do better) in spite of its impressive 600mm.
The Canon SX70hs has an even grander zoom lens: 1356mm, but I found the quality on the maximum range disappointing (esspecially when cropping the image). Then again it is much lighter and smaller than the RX10 and so the SX70 is handier to take on travels as an extra, for an occasional need.
The black crow above was photographed with the RX10 IV on its maximum zoom range, cropping it to a vertival format.

The Black-tailed godwit (Grutto) was photographed using a Canon EOS 77D with a Tamron 150-600mm on its max range. Cropped about 50%.
The Tamron 150-600/5.0-6.3 Di VC USD is affordable and has good enough results for me, but I also acquired a secondhand Canon 400/f4 L lens in 2017 which also provides a good range on the EOS 77D with the 1.6x cropfactor. And the Canon 400mm is much lighter than the Tamron zoomlens, a consideration when travelling.
My trip to Japan last year had no need for long lenses (the RX10 sufficed), most of my USA trips over the years needed them only occasionally and my next trip to Great-Britain this year will definitely need long lenses.
It will require careful consideration which cameras and lenses to take with me on future travels, considering all my different tastes in photography.
My profile page has a lenghty report on which cameras I use and used: about me

Index on my travel pages
My birds and wildlife photos on Flickr.com



Judge Dee mysteries

Judge Dee mysteries
Illustration by Robert vna Gulik

Ever since China sparked my interest during the 1980s, I find occasion to read or explore something on the subject, in whatever form. The 'Rechter (=Judge or Magistrate) Tie Mysteries' by Robert van Gulik offer an easy insight in China in historic times.

Dutchman van Gulik wrote historic crime novels in English; the translations into Dutch (including the name of the magistrate change from Judge Dee to Rechter Tie) are mostly by others.

Judge Dee (also, Judge Di) is the eponymous protagonist of Robert van Gulik's series of detective novels. The series is set in Tang Dynasty China and deals with various criminal cases solved by the upright Judge Dee (judges often play the investigator role in ancient Chinese crime stories).
The Judge Dee character is based on the historical figure Di Renjie (c. 630–c. 700), magistrate and statesman of the Tang court. During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) in China, a 'folk novel' was written set in former times, but filled with anachronisms.
Van Gulik found in the 18th century Di Gong An an original tale dealing with three cases simultaneously, and, which was unusual among Chinese mystery tales, a plot that for the most part lacked an overbearing supernatural element which could alienate Western readers. He translated it into English and had it published under the title Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee.
This gave van Gulik the idea of writing his own novels, set with the similar Ming anachronisms, but using the historical character. Van Gulik was careful in writing the main novels to deal with cases where Dee was newly appointed to a city, thereby isolating him from the existing lifestyle and enabling him to maintain an objective role in the books.
Van Gulik's novels and stories made no direct reference to the original Chinese work and so 'Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee' is not considered to be part of the Judge Dee series.

Van Gulik also wrote series of newspaper comics about Judge Dee in 1964-1967, adding up to a total of 19 adventures. The first 4 were regular balloon strips, but the later 15 had the more typically Dutch textblock under the pictures.

Robert Hans van Gulik was born in 1910, in Zutphen,Netherlands and spent most of his youth in the Dutch East-Indies.
Later he studied several Asian languages, became a diplomat, indulged in scientific research and found himself a literary talent.
He passed away in 1967, in The Hague,Netherlands.

About this particular book, The Phantom of the Temple (Het Spook van de Tempel):
Judge Dee (Rechter Tie) buys a present for his 1st wife (he has three), a nice little box with some jade on the lid; but after closer examination he finds a piece of paper hidden in it with written on it, in blood, a plea to be saved by someone called Jade.
While Judge Dee decides to investigate this further (and buy an other present for his 1st wife), another investigation takes precedence: a dead body in an abandoned temple. Upon closer examination the body and head don't match, they are from different murdered victims.

These Dutch translations (the editions I read) have interesting introductions by Janwillem van de Wetering.

Other Judge Dee (Rechter Tie) mysteries were discussed by me on my blog-2011q3 ¬ blog-2014q2 ¬
blog-2016q1 ¬ blog-2016q2.

www.judge-dee.info/judge_dee/titles/ - English, Dutch, French & German




back to top...






Created: 01-APR-2019