Welcome to my Blog - Ruud Leeuw

2019 Q3
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Welcome to my Blog!The lion roars!!!
I hope to share here my irrepressible thoughts on news, music, books, arts and such like. In general these will be items, events and issues which I feel have no place on my website (which focusses on aviation history and my travel photography).

The item immediately below this would be the latest posting.

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

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

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




Peaky Blinders tv-series, 5th season

Peaky Blinders tv-series, 5th season

Peaky Blinders is a British crime drama tv-series created by Steven Knight, that premiered on BBC Two on 12Sep 2013. The series is primarily set in Birmingham, England, and follows the exploits of the Shelby crime family in the aftermath of World War I.
This 5th series begins on 29Oct1929 (Black Tuesday, the Wall street crash) and ends on 07Dec1929, the morning after a rally led by fascist-leader Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin).

The crash of the financial markets also has a devastating effect on the fortunes of the Shelby family. Previous series saw their influence on horse racing, the Shelby family expands to fixing football matches and regain cash through betting offices.
Thomas 'Tommy' Shelby (a role by Cillian Murphy), the leader of the Peaky Blinders, has himself well established as an MP. He is also a spy for the government, reporting on communists but he recognises a greater danger in the rising popularity of facism. Tommy tries to convince his government contact but fascist powers have penetrated high levels of government and loyalties seem divided; in return for this double-role, the Shelby family gets lucrative defense contracts.
Many members of the family are on booze and coke, Tommy seems addicted to laudanum and drinks whiskey like tea or coffee. Until the early 20th century, laudanum was sold without a prescription and was a constituent of many patent medicines.It is a tincture of opium, containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight (the equivalent of 1% morphine).
Tommy is approached by Chinese to transport raw opium to the USA. Michael sees an opportunity to take the place of Tommy as head of the family.
Meanwhile Tommy moves towards the inner circle of the fascists, but finds he now has to endure the Scottish 'Billy Boys' as the strong arm of Oswald Mosley.
Tommy is on a tightrope, waiting for a chance to strike all with a single decisive blow.

Spellbinding thriller with fantastic detail to location, clothing and accents. The ending seems to indicate a 6th series, which I'd welcome.




Panoramas of England

Panoramas of England

Panoramas of England

Panoramas of England

Panoramas of England

Panoramas of England

Panoramas of England

Small villages steeped in charm and majestic mansions surrounded by lush lawns. A trip through (mostly) rural England, wielding a panorama camera.
The moody, mysterious Yorkshire moors and Cornwall's coast, dotted with colorful flowers. From majestic Cornwall, delicate Devon, to ancient Stonehenge and ending with the London skyline.
These panoramic photographs capture more of England's natural and manmade beauty than the naked eye can see. The vast and varied views show diverse landscapes, including the sublime glacial valley of Wastwater in Cumbria and the grandly baroque Castle Howard in North Yorkshire.

Phoenix Illustrated, 1997 paperback (first published in 1992)
160 pages (all in color)



Grantchester, season 4

I was rather pleased that Sidney Chambers was written out of this series, I found his role (by James Norton) had become rather sentimental and sticky. A feeling that crept on me even during the 2nd series! Will Davenport (Tom Brittney) seems a much more interesting character and I like how the events in society play a role (e.g. the Teddy Boys), such as we also get to see in the Endeavour (Morse)  tv-series.

There is turmoil in the vicar's household, with Sidney being replaced by Will, housekeeper Mrs C. ("what the Dickens..") finds Leonard's (Al Weaver) gay relationship unacceptable and Leonard has great difficulty with all the changes.
There is also a significant role for Geordie's wife who has found a job out of the house and very much likes her own income and new friends but find it is not without challeges.
And there are of course murders to solve!

Earlier this year we stayed at a B&B in England where Robson Green was a known character in the
village and they did not like him much; seems to be a 'do-you-know-who-I-am' type of person. I find it effects my liking for this series.




Below The Surface, 2nd series (Danish tv crime series)

Below The Surface, 2nd series (Danish tv crime series)

Below the Surface (Danish: Gidseltagningen) is a Danish thriller drama tv-series.
The first 8-part series was discussed earlier on my BLOG-2019Q3 and I was very positive about this series, action-packed and excellent storyline. This 2nd series, also 8 episodes, lacks the character development Philip Nørgaard (Johannes Lassen), presently unemployed and in an early relation with the psychologist who treated him as a result of captivity trauma and subsequent affairs in the first series.
The second season premiered on 26 March 2019 in Denmark.

The Danish-national June al-Baqee went to Syria to fight ISIS and trained there as a sniper; on her phone she has a video showing her witnessing Russian Special Forces killing Danish soldiers. June intends to make this video public and for this she returns to Denmark. Publication of this video has huge international implications, esspecially for Russia and Denmark.
June is arrested upon arrival in Denmark. Russia has requested her extradition. Danish Military Intelligence try to surpress the video for 'political relations'.
Philip met June when he spoke to a college group and had subsequent meetings with her, trying to subdue her radicalisation. Philip describes her as "bit of a handful".
Shortly before her arrest June managed to give her phone to a fellow passenger, Herdis. For safekeeping.
Since the police can't find her phone, June is released. She visits Philip and asks if he has seen the video she has sent him through a link. But he hasn't. June is convinced her video is surpressed by Military Intelligence.
Philip does not believe her conspiracy theory, but the son of his new partner is witness to June's abduction outside their garden. Philip goes in pursuit and secretly joins June and the kidnappers onboard a ferry to Sweden.
When things go wrong for the kidnappers, the 'Brothers of Allah' declare a hostage situation.
The TTF Group is kept unawares of a secret agenda of the Military Intelligence. Both consider the possibility that June is part of the terrorist group; she certainly has an agenda of her own.

Yet again an excellent action-packed Danish crime thriller!




Razor Girl, by Carl Hiaasen (crime fiction novel)

It has been exactly 5 years since I last read a book by Carl Hiaasen: Bad Monkey (published in 2013).
Razor Girl (published 2016) also features Andrew Yancy, demoted from the police force to food & hygiene inspector in again a world full of wondrous and weird characters.

There is Buck Nance, star of a 'reality show', he and his family exploiting a chicken farm in the Deep South: The Beverly Hillbillies 1960s series all over again. Buck takes time out in the south of Florida and becomes hostage to an even more remarkable person, a fan in extremis, and this Benny (a.k.a. Blister, a.k.a. Spiro, a.k.a Deerbone) wants to become Buck's brother in the tv series..
Buck's agent Lane also becomes part of that hostage group but he seems able to pacify the gun-toting petty criminal Blister by endless promises of a significant part in Bayou Brethren plus money and benefits.
Martin Trebeaux is a scrupulous entrepeneur specializing in beach renovations. He gets involved in mob business, in particular with Dominick 'Big Noogie' Aeola.
Back to Andrew Yancy: he is looking at new neighbours, Brock and Deb, but is resentful of their building plans versus his fine view. Yancy wants in on kidnappings and murders t claim back his job and become a real policeman again.
And there is Merry ("like in Merry Christmas") Mansfield, though it is doubtful that is her real name. She particpates in kidnappings which include car accidents which she has mastered to perfection.
Oh, and big rats, Gambian pouchies, play a role too...

Like I said it was 5 years ago I last read a Hiaasen novel and I now found Hiaasen's characters and 'Americana' has lost much of its fun and attraction to me. Over the past decade or so US politics, shootings, discontent in society, polarisation in US media, domination of major tech companies, caused much irritation with me and the USA, as a result, has in many (if no tmost) aspects lost its glamour and attraction to me.
I've read all the Hiaasen novels from way back 1986 (Tourist Season) and 1987 (Double Whammy) to the present, but it looks like I am done now. I have not yet tried the 3 Hiaasen novels written after Razor Girl, in coöperation with William Montalbano, so I cannot comment on those.




The Capture, BBC crime fiction tv-series

The Capture, BBC crime fiction tv-series

The Capture is a 2019 British miniseries in 6 episodes, starring Holliday Grainger as DI Rachel Carey, Laura Haddock as barrister Hannah Roberts and Callum Turner as Lance Corporal Shaun Emery.

After being acquitted of a war crime in Helmand, Afghanistan, former United Kingdom Special Forces Lance Corporal Shaun Emery finds himself accused of the kidnapping and murder of his barrister Hannah Roberts, backed by damning CCTV evidence.
Whilst Emery blunders about in desperation to clear his name, fast-tracked Detective Inspector Rachel Carey of Homicide and Serious Crime Command begins to uncover a complex conspiracy surrounding Emery, calling into question the validity of the CCTV footage.
You may have heard of 'Rendition', but have you heard from ' Correction'? Both Shaun as well as Rachel are kicked around by secret service machinations, reality constantly changing as in a room full of mirrors.
You may not like the ending.




Bruno Engler, photography

Bruno Engler, photography

Bruno Engler, photography

Bruno Engler, photography

Bruno Engler, photography

I came across this photobook while browsing in the 'Book Lover's'  bookstore in North Vancouver.
While I love the photography in general, this book also contained of places and areas recent travel had brought me to, e.g. Bow Lake and Num-Ti-Jah Lodge built by Jimmy Simpson.

Bruno Engler was born on 04Dec1915 in Lugano, Switzerland.
He came to Canada from Switzerland in 1939 and spent 60 years in the Rockies as a photographer, mountain guide, ski instructor and cinematographer.
He is known for his work on Days of Heaven (1978), Lost and Found (1979) and Ghostkeeper (1981).
His stunning black and white photos capture the magnificence and grandeur of the Canadian alpine landscape from the smallest plant to the highest peak.

Bruno Engler is a recipient of the Alberta Achievement Award for Excellence, the Premier Cup for Photography and Mountaineering, the 1987 Rose Award and the 1986 Summit of Excellence Award, which is the highest honor that the mountain community can bestow upon its peers for contributions to mountain culture.
He died on 23Mar2001 in Canmore, Alberta, Canada.



Anne Holt, Offline (review)

It has been many years since I had read another book by Anne Holt, titled '1222'. The main protagonistwas Hanne Wilhelmsen I remember, though it must have been over 10 years ago since I read that book (published in 2007).
In 2015 and 2016 'Offline' and 'In Dust and Ashes' were published, #9 and #10 in the series featuring Hanne Wilhelmsen. I had not realized Holt had written so many books featuring the same police investigator. Perhaps that is why Wilhelmsen gets so little character development in 'Offline'.

Holt's 2015 novel 'Offline' is about a terrorist attack on an Islamic cultural center by a group of extreme Norwegian nationalists. And how investigations and media focus on Islamic terrorists.
Though Holt has been named one of the most successful crime novelists in Norway (had her books published in 25 countries according to Wikipedia), she is rarely rated among the international top crime writers in my country. None of the Hanne Wilhelmsen series anyway.

So, when bombs go off at the Islamic Cooperation Council’s headquarters in Oslo, detective Hanne Wilhelmsen is on the case. Well, in her wheelchair at home she has been reduced to investigating cold cases as an independent investigator outside the police organisation, she becomes focussed on actual events and ultimately sees a cold case involving a racial motivated missing person (murder?) connect with the present time.

Wilhelmesen is approached by her friend Billy T., who fears his own son may be linked to the bombings. Here I found details lacking , perhaps by not having read earlier books (there are no Wilhelmsen novels published between '1222' and 'Offline'). Billy T. is an empty character in this book.
Much more character development is given to Hanne's nerdy assistent, who (literally) does all the legwork and comes up with most of the revelations.
Modern policing methods are unable to find links of communication or profile for the alleged terririst group; the title offers a clue.

In spite of the many loose ends concerning the main characters, the book was an entertaining, easy to read crime novel.




Big Sky by Kate Atkinson, crime fiction novel

I was so pleased to come across this new Jackson Brodie book, as I so enjoyed Kate Atkinson's previous books about her protagonist in the novels 'Case Histories', 'One Good Turn', 'When Will There Be Good News' and 'Started Early, Took My Dog'. In fact I could not switch to her other novels (I did not even finish her 'Life After Life') and turned away from her books. But in 'Big Sky' I was again able to enjoy her wry prose, quite wonderful!

It’s nearly a decade since Kate Atkinson’s morose and melancholy private detective Jackson Brodie last appeared in print. I did so enjoy Jason Isaacs role in the BBC tv-series 'Case Histories', but a follow up novel was long overdue I think (Atkinson won awards with books written by her afterwards, on different subjects).
Atkinson adresses in 'Big Sky' a very contemporary theme: the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and children.
Ten years since we left Brodie, we meet again while he lives in his native Yorkshire. His solitary existence has been interrupted by the arrival of his 13-year-old son, Nathan, for the summer holidays. His mother, actress Sylvia, rather prefers other partners than renewing intimate relations with Jackson.

Brodie Investigations mainly does "dog-work for solicitors - debt tracing, surveillance and so on".
Jackson's age is left deliberately sketchy, but it is obvious he's getting on a bit, but rather content in a broody way with a quieter life. He used to go for long runs, these days he's opts more often just walking his aging dog.

'Big Sky' is not a straightforward crime novel, Atkinson's writing is bigger than just another whodunnit novel.
After several chapters and meeting the different characters in play, Brodie is hired by Crystal Holroyd, the surgically enhanced wife of a dodgy local businessman, who believes she is being followed.
Crystal has built walls around her past and recreated her new profile; she's quite capable of dealing with some hefty challenges herself and thinks Brodie is shit as a detective..
She has a son who is both young as well as old for his age. And she has a husband who has friends and all but one are involved in a shady deal, trafficking. Vince is a golf-friend, not a 'friend friend'; he is depressed for being layed off (lost the company car) and is also disgarded by his wife, loosing his house (and dog) in a divorce settlement and, last but not least, Vince's wife is killed, savagely murdered with a golfclub. Brodie saves him from a cliff when he was about to jump..

Old secrets and new lies intersect this wonderfully entertaining novel and I hope we've not seen the last of Jackson Brodie!





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Created: 15-OCT-2019