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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.




Hinterland, crime drama, tv series

These days I thoroughly enjoy the HINTERLAND tv series, crime drama set in Wales. I've been several times to Wales and one has only to look at the landscape and feel drama!

Y Gwyll (EN: The Dusk) or known in English by the name Hinterland, is a police detective series broadcast on S4C in Welsh and in English on BBC One Wales. When it was aired on the BBC in 2014, it was the first BBC television drama with dialogue in both English and Welsh.
The main character, DCI Tom Mathias, is played by Welsh actor Richard Harrington.
The programme was mainly filmed in Aberystwyth and the surrounding Ceredigion region on the west coast of Wales.
On 27Nov2013, a second series was announced by S4C, these will air on S4C in early 2015.


See also my blog in June 2017, also detailing Series 2 and Hinterland Series 3.



Camilla Lackberg krime drama (dvd)

Jean Edith Camilla Läckberg Eriksson (August 30, 1974) is a Swedish crime writer. Her work has been translated into 33 languages. I don't think I have read any of her books, but quite enjoyed these episodes in this dvd box: Olycksfågeln (EN: the Jinx, NL: Zusje), Predikanten (EN: the Preacher, NL: Predikant) and Stenhuggaren (EN: the Stonecutter, NL: Steenhouwer).
The dvd box, by 'JustBridge', has them in an incorrect order.
The Preacher dates from 2007, the others from 2009.

These murder mysteries have their location in Fjällbacka, which is a small community in the county of Tanum, in the province Västra Götalands län, in Sweden.
Writer Camilla Läckberg was born here.

Niklas Hjulström and Elisabet Carlsson play their roles in a very kind way: Patrik is a policeman but not the most superior in Tanum county; he is the trying small town policeman overcome by events, while his wife Erica starts a career as a writer and both are in a period of their life to start a family.
Very entertaining series, not without humor, so perhaps not as black as some of the other 'Scandi Noir' crime series.

New series were released by Lumiere on dvd, as Season 1 for some reason, with different actors. I have written on this in august 2014.



The Merchant of Prato, Francesco Datini

In 1870, 500 account books and 150 thousand papers relating to the life and business of Francesco di Marco Datini were discovered in a stairwell of the couple's mansion in Prato; he lived from ca.1335 until his death on 16Aug1410.
He was one of four children of Marco di Datino and Monna Vermigilia, who both died with two of their children as a result of the Black Death in 1348.
Francesco became an apprentice of a merchant in Florence and when he was 15, he joined a group of merchants who were going to Avignon. His first business was the arms trade (the Hundred years war raged in Europe) and eventually he became a supplier of luxury goods and art for the wealthy cardinals residing in Avignon.

In 1376, Datini entered an engagement with Margherita Bandini and they moved in 1383 to Prato,Italy, where his business continued to thrive. The marriage remainded childless but Margherita consented to rear Francesco's illegitimate daughter.

Over the next 27 years the couple frequently corresponded through letters, giving us an insight into their marriage, his personality and his business.
In the year 1400 Datini fled with his wife to Bologna to avoid the Plague (which was in fact quite a common occurrence). The most bizar prescriptions are mentioned to avoid contamination by The Black Death, including drinking.. wine.

Anyone with an interest in logistics will be fascinated by the descriptions of middle men and brokers involved, elapsed time between shipment and payment as well as the risks involved of goods not arriving in good order at the inteded party.
The clear picture on all this is thanks to the immaculate administration kept by Francesco Datini.

He is buried in the church of San Francesco in Prato. His tomb marble slab was designed by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini. As he had no legitimate or male heirs, he left the bulk of his fortune to a charitable foundation established in his name, the "Casa del Ceppo dei poveri di Francesco di Marco".

The book is a fascinating insight in medieval life and trade, a treasure in my bookcase.

Book details: first published by Jonathan Cape in 1957, published in Peregrine Books 1963 and in Penguin Books in 1992 ('Iris Origo, in association with Jonathan Cape').

Iris Origo (b.15Aug1902 — 28Jun1988): Marchesa of Val d'Orcia, DBE (15 August 1902 — 28 June 1988), née Cutting, was an Anglo-Irish biographer and writer. She lived in Italy, and devoted much of her life to the improvement of the Tuscan estate at La Foce, near Montepulciano, which she purchased with her husband in the 1920s.
Her 1957 book The Merchant of Prato is an invaluable source for students of Italian city and mercantile life, based on extensive research in the archives of merchant Francesco di Marco Datini (1335-1410). Wikipedia, more..



ABOUT FACE by Donna Leon

I read this book in Dutch, titled 'Gezichtsverlies'; rather a pleasant translation by An de Greef and Maya Denneman.
These books I like so much mainly for their setting (Venice, Italy) and the insight in 'modern' Italian society: the main character police commissario Brunetti, still goes home to have his dinner and is allowed to think these murder mysteries over outside the office, over a cappuccino at a local bar or restaurant.
This book was published in 2009 and the writer, Donna Leon, has been living and working in Venice for decades.
Another insight is the widespread corruption in the entire Italian society.

This murder mystery is about illegal waste transport and dumping. Brunetti is reluctantly being drawn into the investigation, while also a bit preoccupied with business dealings of his father-in-law and the fascinating signora Franca Marinello.




Amsterdam! - Ed van der Elsken

Dutch photographer, iconic streetphotographer I might add, Ed van der Elsken had been missing from my bookcase for far too long. So when Ed van der Elsken's legendary book Amsterdam! recently became available, in a strongly improved print quality even, I immediately grabbed my chance. I also have to add that it is for the first time also in English available.
The book is of a glorious proportion: 240 pages and its size is 290 x 300mm.
Subtitle of the book is 'Old photos - 1947- 1970'.
Simply marvellous.

Ed van der Elsken was born on March 10, 1925 in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
In 1937, pursuing a desire to become a sculptor, he learned stone cutting at Amsterdam's Van Tetterode Steenhouwerij. After completing preliminary studies at Instituut voor Kunstnijverheidsonderwijs, the predecessor of the Rietveld Academy (dir. Mart Stam), he enrolled (in 1944) in the professional sculpture program which he abandoned to escape Nazi forced labour. That year, after the Battle of Arnhem he was stationed in a mine-disposal unit where he was first shown Picture Post by British soldiers. Later, in 1947, he discovered American sensationalist photographer Weegee's Naked City. These encounters inspired his interest in photography.
At the suggestion of Dutch photographer Emmy Andriesse (1914–1953) he moved in 1950 to Paris. He was employed in the darkrooms of the Magnum photography agency, printing for Henri Cartier-Bresson (who was impressed with his street photography), Robert Capa and Ernst Haas.

He moved back to Amsterdam in 1955, he recorded members of the Dutch avant garde COBRA, including Karel Appel. But he also traveled extensively, to Bagara in 1957 (now in Central African Republic) and to Tokyo and Hong Kong in 1959 to 1960.
From 1971 he lived with his third wife near Edam, where their son was born. During this period he continued to travel and worked prodigiously between film and photography, producing a further 14 books and broadcasting more than 20 films.
He died on 28 December 1990 in Edam (the Netherlands).

His work was also discussed on my blog 2017Q1 and 2019Q2.
Wikipedia, more..



My Flickr.com

In 2006 I started an account on Flickr.com, to deal with photo work that wouldn't match the content of my website, vintage aviation and travel photography. Later it would also serve as an overflow on these subjects.
In the past eight years my account has accumulated almost 11.000 images on various subjects.




World Press Photo Awards 2014

On Thursday may 29th I visited the inspiring World Press Photo Awards 2014 exhibition in De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
I am always in awe of the often difficult conditions where photographers even risk their lives to capture the most striking images or travel for months in remote areas to show the world a situation that needs adressing; the commitment of these winners to their trade is more than evident.
The 2014 photo contest that brought forward these winners has incredible statistics: 5.754 photographers of 132 nationalities sent 98.671 images for the jury to choose from.
A magnificent exhibition, a record of events that mattered and should be adressed or at least not forgotten.

World Press Photo Awards 2014

More photos on my Flickr.com account




Two days ago I had the pleasure of visiting a wonderful photo exhibition at the Joods Historisch Museum (JHM) in Amsterdam (NL), brilliant work by Roman Vishniac, some of it never before on display as it had been recently rediscovered. Hence the title of the exhibition, Roman Vishniac (Re)discovered.

Roman Vishniac (b.09Aug1897 – d.22Jan1990) was a Russian-American photographer, best known for capturing on film the culture of Jews in Central and Eastern Europe before the Holocaust. A complete archive of his work now rests at the International Center of Photography.
Roman Vishniac won international acclaim for his photos of shtetlach and Jewish ghettos, celebrity portraits, and microscopic biology. His book 'A Vanished World', published in 1983, made him famous and is one of the most detailed pictorial documentations of Jewish culture in Eastern Europe in the 1930s.
An impression of this exhibition HERE..


Top of the Lake - crime drama

During recent days I watched this BBC crime drama from a dvd box, six episodes on 2 dvd's with a bonus dvd included in the set.
For many years I have been captivated by crime drama set in England or Scandinavian countries, so it was a nice change of scenery to see the backdrop changed to New Zealand. Indeed, the subtitle is: 'No ordinary place. No ordinary crime'.

Detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss), who returns home to care for her sick mother, finds herself caught up in the missing persons investigation of a young girl Tui Mitcham, aged 12. And 5 months pregnant, but by whom she refuses to tell.
In this remote mountain town, Lake Top, Robin quickly realizes that this case is far from simple and that she finds herself confronted with her own haunting past, along with evil forces as powerful as the land itself.

Robin isn't taken seriously by the local constabulary, she is seen by them as an outsider and suspected of modern, soft techniques. Her superior Al Parker supports her, but also keeps her at bay. He seems to have more than a casual relation with a local rough character, Matt Mitcham, who is suspected of illegal activities; and who is the father of the missing girl.
Johnno is one of three sons of Matt (and Tui's half-brother), but he has fled the household and lives rough. Robin has a (traumatic) history with him, they lost contact, Johnno ended up in a Thai jail. But they strike up a romantic relation again.

There are (suspected) threats everywhere: from Matt, who doesn't like the law interfering with his search for his daughter (because he is her father or because he wants to hide the fact he raped Tui and wants to destroy the child?); perhaps from Al who is vague about his relations with Matt and lives in prime real estate on the lake, owns an expensive boat); the new found relation between Robin and Johnno face crisis after crisis; Tui may not survive living rough in the mountains nor giving birth without proper medical attention; Robin may succumb to her traumas; and of course there is the the lake, menacing for its depth and icy cold water, where people could die and disappear.
A deeply dark stage is set for this crime drama.

While the episodes tumble from one dramatic event to another and the storm clouds keep looming, I have to admit that I found the character of Robin Griffin quite unbelievable, emotionally overdone so that nothing remains of her background as a police investigator.




Fantoom in Foe-Lai, door Robert van Gulik (een Rechter Tie mysterie)

Robert Hans van Gulik (b.09Aug1910 – d.24Sep1967) was an orientalist, diplomat, musician (of the guqin), and writer, best known for the Judge Dee (in Dutch: Rechter Tie) historical mysteries, the protagonist of which he borrowed from the 18th-century Chinese detective novel Dee Goong An.

The title shown above, which translates as 'A Phantom in Foe-Lai', was the first title on the 'Rechter Tie Mysteries' by Robert van Gulik, published by Elsevier in (a 3rd print) March 1980. Published in English its title was 'The Chinese Gold Murders'; the original Dutch translation was editted by the writer.

The cover shows a porcelain Buddha statue which was made available to the publisher by 'het Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde' and dates from the K'ang-sjie period (1662 - 1722) and represents the Chinese priest Poe-Tai; he lived at the end of the T'ang dynastie and is considered to be a reincarnation of Maitreya. These names play a role in this book.

Robert van Gulik was born in Zutphen, the son of a medical officer in the Dutch army of what was then called the Dutch East Indies (modern-day Indonesia). He was born in the Netherlands, but from the age of three till twelve he lived in Batavia (now Jakarta), where he was tutored in Mandarin and other languages.
He was in Tokyo when Japan declared war on the Netherlands in 1941, but he, along with the rest of the Allied diplomatic staff, was evacuated in 1942. He spent most of the rest of World War II as the secretary for the Dutch mission to Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government in Chongqing. While in Chongqing, he married a Chinese woman, Shui Shifang, the daughter of a Qing dynasty Imperial mandarin and they had four children together.
He returned to Japan in 1949 and stayed there for the next four years. While in Tokyo, he published his first two books, the translation 'Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee' and a privately published book of erotic colored prints from the Ming dynasty.
Later postings took him all over the world, from New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, and Beirut (during the 1958 Civil War) to The Hague. From 1965 until his early death from cancer at The Hague in 1967, he was the Dutch ambassador to Japan.



Simon Carmiggelt - Kleine avonturen aan de tap

'Kleine avonturen aan de tap' is a modest, but delightful, publication by Lucas Bols (1st print 1973, 47 pages, paperback), written by Simon Carmiggelt.
It translates as 'Small adventures at the bar', and I am not referring to anything having to do with legislation. These are, of course, bars and pubs in the Netherlands, specifically in Amsterdam.

Simon Carmiggelt was a Dutch writer (b.07oct1913 – d.30nov1987) and columnist, who became particularly famous for his newspaper columns ('Kronkel', in Het Parool) and his appearances on tv (he read some of his work, this was early days of television).
Carmiggelt considered himself a journalist, not a writer.
He reports from what we call these days 'the public domain'; as a fly on the wall he has a keen eye for observation and a pleasant wry sense of humour. This book illustrates his craftsmanship very well indeed
In my Q4 2012 blog I did a considerable write up on Simon Carmiggelt, see HERE..



Alice Munro - Dear Life

Alice Munro (b.1931) won the Nobel Price for Literature in 2013. 'Dear Life' is a 2012 collection of her short stories, reissued in celebration; it ends with autobiographical pieces of which she stated: "I believe they are the first and last – and the closest – things I have to say about my own life."

Her short stories have a subtle, unshowy, covert brilliance.
My favourite was 'Train', in which a drifter, an ex-soldier, shelters on a farm with a woman and stays on; the ending is unexpected but so casually brought that the melancholy hits you like, well, a train.
The masterly 'In Sight of the Lake' is about a woman afraid of losing her memory, so casual and realistic, but with an outcome it may haunt you in your sleep.
'Dear Life' probably should not be read by people suffering from depression, but the slight bitterness in Munro's stories may easily become an acquired taste for book lovers.

Many of Munro's stories are set in Huron County, Ontario. Her strong regional focus is one of the features of her fiction. Another is the omniscient narrator who serves to make sense of the world.
Many compare Munro's small-town settings to writers from the rural South of the United States. As in the works of William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor, her characters often confront deep-rooted customs and traditions, but the reaction of Munro's characters is generally less intense than their Southern counterparts.
wikipedia.org - Alice_Munro



Martin Bril - De Zon Schijnt

Vijf jaar geleden overleed Martin Bril aan het slopende werk van slokdarmkanker; hij was 49 jaar.
Hij was in zijn tijd waarschijnlijk de populairste stukjesschrijver van Nederland. Zijn werk wordt nog altijd goed verkocht.
Na zijn dood verschenen er tot dusver 18 compilaties van zijn stukken en met die boeken verbleef Bril vaker in de top-60 van bestsellers dan met het werk dat tijdens zijn leven verscheen.
Ook dit boek is weer een plezier om te lezen.
Bert Wagendorp heeft een leuk stuk over Martin Bril geschreven: Volkskrant 21Apr2014

See also MyBlog 2019 Q1
And opposite to summer's sunny days: Donkere Dagen ('Dark Days') on MyBlog-2020Q3.



Burning in water Drowning in flame by Charles Bukowski - poetry

Charles Bukowski is one of America's best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose, and many would claim its most influential and imitated poet.
He was born in Adernach, Germany to an American soldier father and a German mother in 1920, and brought to the States at the age of 3.
He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for 50 years.
Bukowski published his first story in 1944 when he was 24 and began writing poetry at the age of 35. He died in San Pedro,CA om 9Mar1994 at the age of 73 (shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp)
During his lifetime he published more than 45 books of poetry and prose.

'Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame' has the subtitle 'Selected Poems 1955 - 1973' in this ECCO (Library of Congress publication, 2003).

While I liked picking up this book, for a daily dose of 'Buk', I cannot choose a representative poem but it isn't all about drinking, whoring and gambling. Just to show:
I met a genius on the train
about 6 years old
he sat beside me
and as the train
ran down along the coast
we came to the ocean
and then he looked at me
and said,
it's not pretty.

it was the first time I'd
- The Genius
(From part III 'At Terror Street and Agony Way', poems 1965-1968)




Biggles books by W E Johns

"Biggles" – nickname of James Bigglesworth – a pilot and adventurer, is the title character and main hero of the Biggles series of youth-oriented adventure books written by W. E. Johns (1893–1968).
In my teenage years I read loads of these books. Little did I know then that aviation would play such an important role in my life.

Biggles first appeared in the story 'The White Fokker', published in the first issue of Popular Flying magazine, in 1932. The first collection of Biggles stories, 'The Camels are Coming', was published that same year. The series was continued until the author's death in 1968.
Biggles is accompanied in his adventures by his cousin Algernon ('Algy') Lacey and his mechanic Flight Sergeant Smyth, who are to accompany Biggles on his adventures after the war; added to the team in 1935 is the teenager Ginger Hebblethwaite.

The bulk of the Biggles books, however, are set post-World War I and after Johns' own flying career was over. Biggles has an unusually lengthy career, flying a number of aircraft representative of the history of British military aviation, from Sopwith Camels during World War I, Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires in World War II, right up to the Hawker Hunter jet fighter in a postwar adventure ('Biggles in the Terai').
The books were highly successful, and were eventually translated into Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Flemish, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.
I cannot say I read them all but certainly a great number of them.

William Earl John, who retired from the military with the rank of Flying Officer and declared himself a Captain, wrote 96 Biggles books; they were published between 1932 and 1970, with an additional 6 omnibus editions published within this period.
Plus two further books published in the late 1990's. So 104 books in all !

He certainly was a prolific writer, as he wrote other novels as well.
Of 'The Worrals Books' there were 11 books published between 1941 and 1950, with 3 other short stories published elswhere.
And 10 books in 'The Gimlet' series were published, between 1943 and 1954, with one short story published elsewhere.
And the Sci-Fi subject was adressed too: 10 books were published between 1954 and 1963.
There were also 'The Steeley' books (6), 'the Juvenile' books (8), the 'Adult books' (12), the 'Factual books' (8), as well as various other contributions and publications.
But I never read any of those, only the Biggles novels, and they made a lasting impression.



Dicte - Dansih crime drama

Dicte Svendsen (a role played by Iben Hjejle) was recently divorced, just over 40 and has decided to start a new life in her place of birth, Arhus. She and her teenage daughter Rose (a role by Emilie Kruse) find a place to live just out of town and she finds a job as crime reporter with a local newspaper.

She doesn't restrict herself to writing about crimes but her investigations run interference with the police. The local police inspector John Wagner is played by Lars Brygmann, of Unit One fame.
Dicte became pregnant as a teenager and her parents, from a religious background, took her child and gave it away for adoption. This trauma runs as a thread through the entire series.
Other threads are her two best friends, their relations, and her ex husband showing up in town.
The crime plots are those we see in present life. There is plenty of room for humor and romance too.

This dvd-box contained 4 dvd's, with five books by Elsebeth Egholm (of Those Who Kill fame) filmed in ten gripping episodes.
Wikipedia (NL)

Dicte scandi crime series


NEW AMSTERDAM, The Island at the Center of the World by RUSSELL SHORTO | BOOKS, HISTORY

New Amsterdam by Russell Shorto

New Amsterdam by Russell Shorto
<Click on the above thumbnail for a larger image>

New Amsterdam, subtitled 'The Island at the Center of the World'
This book is not merely another history book of the town that was to become New York. It provides facts and evidence on how important the Dutch settlement was for the development of America.

The Dutch colony pre-dated the 'original' 13 colonies. Its capital was cosmopolitan and multi-ethnic, and its citizens valued free trade, individual rights, and religious freedom.
Their champion was a progressive, young lawyer named Adriaen van der Donck, who emerges in these pages as a forgotten American patriot and whose political vision brought him into conflict with Peter Stuyvesant, the autocratic director of the Dutch colony.
The struggle between these two strong-willed men laid the foundation for New York City and helped shape American culture.
New Amsterdam was first and foremost a trading settlement, built for profit, and consisted of people with all sorts religious backgrounds and nationalities. This is where the American melting pot started; this is where America was born as a world dominating trading nation.

The Dutch in the 17th century were a world power; when the British wrested New Amsterdam from the Dutch in 1664, one saw the tables being turned and England took over global domination. But as we know that era ended too and the United States took over.

The truth about New Amsterdam's thriving, polyglot society began to disappear into myths about an island purchased for 24 dollars and a cartoonish peg-legged governor. The British did their best to rewrite history. To start with: it was taken at gunpoint; only later it was subject to bargaining (twice, actually).
But the story of the Dutch colony of New Netherland was merely lost, not destroyed: 12,000 pages of its records, recently declared a national treasure, are now being translated.
Drawing on this remarkable archive, Russell Shorto has created a gripping narrative, that transforms our understanding of early America.

The map on the inside cover of the book shows how Dutch names of places can still be recognised in the present: Breukelen became Brooklyn, Wal Straat became Wallstreet (which, btw, was a defense against the British, not against Indians), Jonas Brock's Plantation became the Bronx, New Haarlem became Harlem, Van Der Donck's Plantation became Yonkers, Lange Eylandt became Long Island, etc.
Just like Dutch words such as koekjes became cookies, koolsla became coleslaw, daelder became dollar, etc.
Oh, and what about the negative connotation 'Dutch' (e.g. 'Dutch courage'). Well, apparently this was British vindictiveness as its meanest. We'd been fighting a few wars and won some too.

Russell Shorto (b. 08Feb1959 -) is an American author, historian and journalist, best known for his book on the Dutch origins of New York City, The Island at the Center of the World.
Shorto's research for this book relied greatly on the work of the New Netherland Project (now known as the New Netherland Research Center) and the New Netherland Institute.
Born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on 08Feb1959, Shorto is a 1981 graduate of George Washington University. He is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and is the Director of The John Adams Institute in Amsterdam, where he has lived since November 2007.





A travel essay, in Dutch, written by Jelle Brandt Corstius, for the Week of Books 2014 ('Boekenweek') in the Netherlands.

Jelle BC is a journalist and a tv personality in the Netherlands; for a number of years he was a correspondent in Moscow and from this a series of documentaries, travelling in Russia, developed in a similar format for India and the Caucasus for Dutch television.
He has written several books on travel in very different cultures.

The notes he made in a diary during an Arctic cruise form the core of this book. There are a number of criticial notes on the sort of travel and people on these voyages, but mainly the attitude and expectations of people towards him.
He explains the personality he is on the tv documentaries is a different one than the person he is in real life: rather averse to mixing in crowds and he does not engage easily in chitchat with complete strangers.
The trouble is, the voyage of these cruise passengers had been advertised with him on board, doing some lectures. Trouble and strife of a media personality.

I quite enjoyed his dry wit and anxiety. I recognised some of his observations, comparing notes on my 2014 Hurtigruten cruise.
This book never got as bad as what David Foster Wallace wrote in an essay, published in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again (but that is another story).

http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jelle_Brandt_Corstius (NL)



DCI Banks tv series, crime drama

DCI Banks is a British crime drama series produced by Left Bank Pictures for the ITV network.
The series is based on Peter Robinson's Inspector Alan Banks novels and stars Stephen Tompkinson as Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks.
In 2013, the series won in the drama category at the regional Royal Television Society Yorkshire Programme Awards.

On 01Dec2012, author Peter Robinson announced on his website "that DCI Banks has been recommissioned for a 3rd series of 6 one-hour episodes (again, 3 two-parters)"; according to a revised statement, posted 17Jun2013, based on 3 books: 'Wednesday's Child', 'Piece of My Heart' and 'Bad Boy'.

Cast (2011): Stephen Tompkinson - DCI Alan Banks, Andrea Lowe - DS Annie Cabbot, Lorraine Burroughs - DS Winsome Jackman, Jack Deam - DC Ken Blackstone.

I've been watching this tv series for the past few weeks on Belgian telly, the Season 2 series. I noticed I had seen this series before (BBC?), but have season 3 and 4 to look forward to.





Maria Lang tv series

The Maria Lang Mysteries, a.k.a Crimes of Passion, is a Swedish drama television series that was first broadcast on TV4 on 08Mar2013. The 6-part series is based on the crime novels by author Dagmar Lange.
Set in Bergslagen in the 1950s, the series follows Puck Ekstedt (a role played by Tuva Novotny), her boyfriend and later husband Einar Bure (Linus Wahlgren), called Eje, and police superintendent Christer Wijk (Ola Rapace, whom I knew from the Wallander series).

Dagmar Lange (31 March 1914, Västerås - 9 October 1991) was a Swedish author of crime fiction under the pen name Maria Lang. She was one of the first detective novelists in the Swedish language, and her books helped make the genre popular in Sweden.
Her first novel, 'Mördaren ljuger inte ensam' (The Murderer is Not the Only Liar), was published in 1949 and caused some controversy because two of the main characters lived in a homosexual relationship.
Lange wrote more than 40 detective novels, as well as crime fiction for young adults.
Most of her books are set in the fictional Swedish town Skoga, which is based on Lange's home town Nora. She was one of the original 13 members of the Swedish Crime Writers' Academy when it was founded in 1971.
[Wikipedia, more..]



Foyle's War is a British detective drama television series, set during and shortly after World War II, created by screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz and commissioned by ITV after the long-running series Inspector Morse came to an end in 2000.
It has been broadcast on ITV since 2002.
It was cancelled in 2007 by the then director of programmes, Simon Shaps, but positive public demand and a number of complaints about the cancellation prompted ITV to revive the series after its 6th series proved to be a ratings success.

The series is set during and after the Second World War in Hastings, Sussex, England. This is where Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (a role played by Michael Kitchen) attempts to catch criminals who are taking advantage of the confusion the war has created.
He is assisted by his driver Samantha 'Sam' Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks) and Detective Sergeant Paul Milner (Anthony Howell).
In the series depicting the period after the war, Paul Milner has become a DI in Brighton and Sam Stewart is trying to make a living, in Hastings, outside the military.

The crime plot is set against a certain politial canvas, such as war profiteering, unemployment after the war, food rationing, war damage to properties, racial issue (e.g. a British woman having a baby from a coloured American).
This sets the series aside from the usual tv crime drama and is very entertaining, as well as informative, to watch.
[Wikipedia, more..]

///UPDATE sep.2015: the cancellation prompted ITV to revive the series, after its 6th series proved to be a ratings success! I have seen Season 7 and Season 8 has also been broadcasted. Foyle's 'War' continues with MI.5: The Cold War. Details on the Wikipedia links.///



Solitude, in the wake of Willem Barentsz

Jeroen Toirkens photography (my photo editting -webmaster)


Solitude, a book by Jeroen Toirkens (photography) and Petra Sjouwerman (writer), caught my attention because it crossed the path a little which I had travelled in the Arctic North recently.
In terms of subjects it also crossed what I had experienced as upon my visit to the Polar Museum in Tromsø I had (re)read the history of Willem Barentsz. Jeroen end Petra had travelled for this book 'The Barents Road'.

From Wikipedia:
The Barents Region is a name given, by political ambition to establish international cooperation after the fall of the Soviet Union, to the land along the coast of the Barents Sea, from Nordland in Norway to the Kola Peninsula in Russia and beyond all the way to the Ural Mountains and Novaya Zemlya, and south to the Gulf of Bothnia of the Baltic Sea and the great lakes Ladoga and Onega.
Among the projects is the Barents Road from Bodø in Norway, through Haparanda in Sweden and Finland to Murmansk in Russia.
One concrete sign of the increased communication within the region is the establishment in 2006 of an IKEA store in Haparanda, targeting customers 500 km away in Murmansk and northern Norway.
The region has six million inhabitants on 1.75 million km2, with three quarters of both belonging to Russia.

This book describes and illustrates very well the vastness and indeed, the Solitude, of this region.
It is not a large coffeetable book as it is only 18x22cm, but the illustrations have as much impact.

The third photo above shows the illustration in the book of a place called Vardø, a place where jeroen & petra went to, which I had visited (see insert and notice the radar installations) and which Willem Barentsz had visited. I regret not have had the knowledge there was a statue in honor of Willem Barentsz installed in recent years, as I would have tried to find it - though the stop by our Hurtigruten ship was probably too short to undertake this enterprise.

Willem Barentsz, anglicized as William Barents or Barentz (b.ca1550 – d.20June1597) was a Dutch navigator, cartographer, explorer, and a leader of early expeditions to the far north.
Wikipedia, more..
My traveloque 'Hurtigruten cruise 3-2014'



Shetland tv crime drama

'Shetland' is a BBC Scotland crime drama television series, starring Douglas Henshall as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez.
The pilot episode aired on BBC One in 2013 and was based on the novel Red Bones by Ann Cleeves.

On 3 April 2013 it was announced that Shetland had been given a full 6 part series, airing from 11 March 2014, with filming occurring during summer 2013.
The six episodes were split into three two-part stories based on Ann Cleeves' stories Raven Black, Dead Water and Blue Lightning.

I stumbled on these stories, not having recognised the title for a crime drama. Without subtitles it is hard for me sometimes to follow the plot, but it is worth it. Definitely worth it!



Beggars Banquest by Ian Rankin

Over the years, Ian Rankin has amassed an incredible portfolio of short stories. Published in crime magazines, composed for events, broadcast on radio, they all share the best qualities of his phenomenally popular Rebus novels. This was new to me and I was actualy surprised, when I picked up this book to read, that it was a collection of short stories.
Rankin's work is probably best knows for the Detective Inspector John Rebus stories, their popularity helped by the tv series 'Rebus'. But Rankin's work is sold short if he is appreciated only for those stories.
Beggars Banquet provides ample evidence of the fact that Rankin's writing does not need the Rebus character to be compelling and sinister.

Ranging from the macabre ('The Hanged Man') to the unfortunate ('The Only True Comedian') and right back to the sinister ('Someone Got To Eddie'): they all bear the hallmark of great crime writing.
But the Rebus fans (of which I am one, I have to admit!) can rest assured as beggars banquet does include 7 Inspector Rebus stories.

Like his primary protagonist, Detective Inspector John Rebus, Rankin was born in Fife. He studied at Edinburgh University where he obtained an M.A. in English Literature. Later, he won a Chandler-Fullbright Award, which enabled him to study in the U.S. He has also won a collection of awards including the CWA Short Story Dagger and an Anthony award.
In his very entertaining introduction Rankin explains that he writes his short stories between Rebus books largely to take a break from his best known character and sharpen his skills to write a concise crime story.

PS 'Beggars Banquet' is also the title of one of the very best Stones records ever! Rankin has Rebus often digging into his album collection at some point in the book, reciting bands and records of great fame, so the tite of the book is no coincidence.

Useful links:
A review : http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/review.html?id=2156




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Created: 01-Apr-2014