Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Never Happened

a film by Mark Slutsky

Swap the first two lines of Bohemian Rhapsody. Those must have been the two questions that quite naturally came to my mind after watching this short. And then there came other ones but I’ll say no more.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Blue Breeze

by Livin’ Blues

For me, Blue Breeze, released 40 years ago (I can’t find an exact date, does it really matter?), was a revelation, if not the revelation. I heard blues before, but this was my first encounter with the band so dedicated to blues. And, of all blues bands out there, neither American nor British but Dutch. How cool is that? Very cool, I say. Very underrated too, and not that well known, even in The Hague.

Here’s the story: A childhood friend of mine asked me and my brother to look after a stack of her (or, rather, her “crazy” mum’s) vinyls throughout the summer of 1977. Those included records by ABBA, Puhdys, assorted rock’n’roll compilations and two strange albums pressed in Poland, viz. Live ’75 and Blue Breeze. All of the summer passed without us ever taking those latter two out of their sleeves. And then, a day or two before returning them, we finally decided to give them a go. What a discovery! Unfortunately, we had only one spare reel of magnetic tape in the house, and there was no way to acquire another one in the remaining hours. So. Blue Breeze, it was decided, in a hope to catch up with Live ’75 some other time which, naturally, never came. Amazingly, that reel, still playable, stayed with me until early ’90s.

A few years later, I got hold of most of Livin’ Blues back catalogue reissued on CDs. Still, Blue Breeze is my favourite record of the band as well as one of my favourite blues-rock (or, indeed, any) records of all time. If you’ve never heard it, find it and listen to it.

Blue Breeze

Side A

  1. Shylina (J. Fredriksz, T. Oberg)
      A blues-rock-waltz that never fails to give me goosebumps.
  2. Back Stage (J. Fredriksz, R. Meyes)
    • They really knew how to craft a rock ballad.
  3. Midnight Blues (J. Fredriksz, T. Oberg)
      Humourous country(ish) style blues.
  4. Pisces (T. Oberg)
      An instrumental of almost unbearable beauty.
  5. Bus 29 (J. Fredriksz, T. Oberg)
      Since I first heard this song, I wanted to ride the bus #29 for no (other) reason.

Side B

  1. Blue Breeze (J. Fredriksz, T. Oberg)
      Vinyls have two sides for a reason. You see, one can’t simply stick a blues of epic proportions like this one in the middle of a record. It just has to be a (or, in this case, b) side opener.
  2. Pick Up On My Mojo (Johnny Winter)
      Trust me, the only track not composed by the band members is every bit as good as the original. Or better.
  3. That Night (A. Reijnen, J. v. Heiningen, J. Fredriksz, T. Oberg)
      Featuring one of the finest rock bass solos I ever heard, this song, together with the title track’s bass line, is probably responsible for me ever trying my hand at electric bass.
  4. Black Jack Dilly (J. Fredriksz, T. Oberg)
      A rocker of a song with rather silly lyrics.

  5. John Fredriksz: vocals and backing vocals
    André Reijnen: bass guitar
    Jacob v. Heiningen: drums
    Ted Oberg: electric and acoustic guitars, dobro, banjo and electric sitar
    Margriet Eshuys and Maggie Mc Neal: backing vocals on Bus 29
    Martin Agterberg: additional keyboards

Saturday, 24 September 2016

...and the winner is...

The ten winning images of Wiki Loves Earth Biosphere Reserves photography competition 2016 have been announced. There is only one Spanish entry, and (in case there were any doubts as to who is the best photographer in Spain) that is Tamara’s fantastic Barranco de los Enamorados taken in 2013. Congratulations!

More photos of Fuerteventura @ Shutterstock.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

A Special Scar: The Experiences of People Bereaved by Suicide

by Alison Wertheimer; foreword by Colin Murray Parkes

I hesitate to call this book a “must read”. And no, not all experiences in this life are necessary. You wouldn’t wish this one on your worst enemy.

The book is based on interviews of 50 suicide survivors conducted by the author, a suicide survivor herself. It’s not your typical “self-help” book. Nor is it an easy reading but, ultimately, a very gratifying one. You’ve got to get used to Ms Wertheimer’s dry, almost academic writing style. As Colin Murray Parkes points out,

she is very self-effacing and she avoids pontificating, theorising, and offering simple answers to complex problems. In much of the book she allows the survivors to speak for themselves, elsewhere she quotes the opinions of others, but they are always opinions offered for our consideration rather than holy writ. And because she shows us bereavement through the eyes of the bereaved, what we see is often direct and painful, but not without hope.

A hope — for those who tries to make sense of what happened, who is looking for clues which cannot change anything, who feels guilty, who feels alone, orphaned and abandoned, who feels angry and betrayed, who feels robbed of their past, present and future, who feels diminished, cut in half, who wants to talk and cannot talk, who strives both to forget it all and remember everything, who listens to the door opening with a familiar sound (could it be? ... but no), who wakes up in the middle of the night and thinks, thinks, thinks, who asks oneself, for the nth time, all these “why him?” or “why her?” or “why me?” or “what if?”, who wants to move away, to never wake up, to disappear, who needs to carry on as before — a hope is not a small thing.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The Search for Happy-Land

by Timur Kulikov

Timur had been working on this picture for quite a few weeks (all these Celtic swirly things!) and finished it when we were in Finland this August. This is what he wrote about it:

I thought of a web-comic a while ago. The main character lives on a barren wasteland and searches for a mythical “Happy-Land” because he hates his current life. He travels through a deceptively dark journey with a particularly stupid dog.

I am looking forward to the first installment of the comic.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Croqueta y Empanadilla

by Ana Oncina

Everybody — at least in Spain — knows that croquetas are from Mars and empanadillas are from another planet. What could possibly go wrong when they decide to move in together? (For the last time: empanadilla is not a Cornish pastry.)

Croqueta y Empanadilla are creations of Valencian artist Ana Oncina, who does not look like an empanadilla at all. Yet she says that the comics are based on her and her partner’s true adventures. In any case, they are charming. My favourite story is about CyE’s trip to Germany, featuring Greek Yogurt as a dorm-mate from hell.

Friday, 19 August 2016

The Last Bastion

a film by Blizzard Entertainment

I know nothing about the video games. That includes Overwatch. This did not prevent me from enjoying this animated short, once again, suggested by Timur (who said he is not interested in the game as such). Bastion reminded me of Laputan robot from Castle in the Sky. A surprisingly heart-warming story for something that is intended to be a promotional short for a first-person shooter video game.