First Lines: The Straits of Galahesh & The Flames of Shadam Khoreh

There’s a (now slightly outdated) joke asking why George R.R. Martin doesn’t use Twitter.

Because he killed all 140 characters.

While I’m two seasons behind on my Game of Thrones-watching, I get the point. While Bradley P. Beaulieu’s The Staits of Galahesh and The Flames of Shadam Khoreh/cite>, the second and concluding volumes of The Lays of Anuskaya trilogy, doesn’t (brutally) kill off main characters at quite the same rate, the supporting cast isn’t quite that lucky.

They fall to bloody pulps from their airships. Their airships get blown up. They get ritually disemboweled and sacrificed in a pagan ceremony trying to unravel the threads of the things yet to be. They get decapitated. Executed. Their hearts get eaten. They willingly sacrifice themselves to save the world. Or they just end up as another casualty of war.

And then there’s the intrigue, plotting, planning, scheming, betrayal, and double crossing. Plus the elemental magic and general mysticism.

My main observation after reading the first volume was that its plot was too convoluted. I can’t quite say that that has changed. The plot of the final books are just as dense. But it seemed to me that the cast got slimmed down, which made these two volumes a lot easier to digest. A fine wrapping up of the series. I’ll probably dive into something else before delving into Beaulieu’s short story collection.

Bradley P. Beaulieu — The Straits of Galahesh (Book Two of the The Lays of Anuskaya)
In the southern gallery of the capital’s sprawling kasir, Hakan ül Ayeçe, the Kamarisi of Yrstanla, stood at a marble balcony.
Bradley P. Beaulieu — The Flames of Shadam Khoreh (The Concluding Volume of the The Lays of Anuskaya)
At first light, deep within the massive Palotza Radiskoye, Styophan Andrashayev sat in a chair near the largest bed he’d ever slept in while his wife busied herself around the room, preparing them both for the coronation.

So Much for Peace and Tranquillity

Last week I had two relocations.

First, I moved from Leeuwarden, where I’d been living for the past nine months or so, back to Amersfoort, where I’d been living for the thirteen years before that. Don’t worry, my Most Awesome Missus, the Kid and the cats came along as well.

Secondly, I started working on a new project at work, which necessitated my fourth workplace-reshuffling (or so) of the year. It also meant that I had to leave my team behind. To ease some of their pain—as well as to get an idea out of my head that had been percolating there for well over a year—I created a nifty soundboard * so they needn’t miss my presence that much.

It’s on Github and extendable, for which I’m taking requests.

* It works best in a modern browser. It’s known to be buggy in the stock Android browser (the one that says “Internet”). I’m working on that. Eventually.


15 december 2009: Geert Wilders is bij de gemeenteraadsverkiezingen lijstduwer voor de PVV, maar hij is niet van plan plaats te nemen in de gemeenteraad: Ik sta helemaal onderaan. Ik ben hier de nummer 20. En als ik u één ding mag vragen: stem niet op mij, maar stem op onze kanjer, nummer 1, Sietse Fritsma!

8 maart 2010: Geert Wilders zal toch plaatsnemen in Haagse gemeenteraad. Want 13.000 voorkeursstemmen, ja, daar kan je geen nee tegen zeggen. Respects voor de kiezer, en al dat.

23 juni 2010: Geert Wilders stapt uit Haagse gemeenteraad. Het viel toch niet te combineren. En ja, ach, je had toch niet op hem moeten stemmen, dat zei hij toch?

30 april 2014: Geert Wilders is bij de verkiezingen voor het Europees parlement lijstduwer voor de PVV en belooft: ik ga niet in Europees Parlement zitten.

30 mei 2014: Zo’n 300.000 voorkeursstemmen later wil Geert Wilders toch naar Brussel: ik wil het dubbelmandaat vervullen. Niet voor niets hebben bijna 300.000 mensen op mij gestemd. Dat heet democratie… Dat het combineren van twee politieke functies eerder ook al geen succes was, en hij in 2005 (als VVD-parlementariër) nog tegen het dubbelmandaat was: details. Hij gaat naar de Europese rechter, die moet het maar regelen.

23 juni 2014: Het lukt Geert Wilders niet een (anti-)Europeese fractie te vormen, met gelijkgezinde partijen. Samenwerken met Polen die het kiesrecht voor vrouwen af willen schaffen was toch net een brug te ver.

24 juni 2014: Geert Wilders gaat toch maar niet naar Brussel. Hij ziet geen reden meer voor een dubbelmandaat. Democratie en bijna dertigduizend kiezers? Mwogh. Hij had ze toch gewaarschuwd?

Wat ik wil zeggen: dat Geert Wilders een inconsequente aandachtsgeile lamlul is die als een dolgedraaid windvaantje meedraait op iedere opportune scheet die langswaait, dat is natuurlijk allang geen verrassing meer. Maar kunnen we nu eindelijk ook eens ophouden ‘m serieus te nemen? Voor de zoveelste keer blijkt ‘ie weer compleet lak aan alles wat ‘ie eerder gezegd heeft te hebben, en weer doen we allemaal of het nieuws is. Hou op, schei daarmee uit, ga weg en doe niet.

First Lines: De donkere kamer van Damokles

W.F. Hermans’s De donkere kamer van Damokles is a bona-fide Ductch literary classic. As I somehow managed to avoid it in highschool, I put it on my list of 40 books to read before my 40th birthday. With this one, it’s twenty-six down, fourteen to go, with roughly five years left.

It’s World War II, and Osewoudt isn’t much of a hero. He’s a scrawny little man, who runs a tobacconist’s shop with his wife (he married his ugly, seven year older older cousin), takes care of his mother (who killed his father when he was twelve), and, well, nothing important ever happens to him. He’s completely unremarkable, until he meets Dorbeck, an officer in the Dutch army, who gets him involved in the Dutch resistance. From thereon it gets wonky.

The main wonk happens when Osewoudt is taken prisoner at the end of the war, on account of suspicion of treason and being in cahoots with the Gestapo. You see, he may claim he was ordered around by Dorbeck, but given that he cannot be found … it gets wonky.

Even though I’m not all that into WWII and thrillers with lots of twists and turns, but as a whole, I liked De donkere kamer van Damokles. Probably on account of Hermans’s language. He has a way with words. Take for example Osewoudt’s wife comparing him to Dorbeck: Jij lijkt op hem zoals een mislukte pudding lijkt op een … weet ik veel … op een pudding die wel gelukt is. You look as much like a pudding that hasn’t set properly looks like … a pudding that has set properly. I mean, ouch.

Book read
Willem Frederik Hermans — De donkere kamer van Damokles
First line
…Dagenlang zwierf hij rond op zijn vlot, zonder drinken.

Seen live: De passie

Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Jesus Christ Superstar are both topical Easter classics, which made a mash-up inevitable. Last week, I saw just such a thing in Amersfoort.

While I’ve seen the movie-version JCS several times, I wouldn’t know all songs by heart. Bach’s Matthäus Passion, I heard of. It’s pretty ubiquitous—for example, one of my favorite Skik songs refrences it: Kommt ihr Töchter helft mir klagen/Ruischt de eeuwigheid/Hier is iemand door een einde/Van alle last bevrijd—but I still believe that I prefer my classical music without a lot of singing, and the Passion has about two and a half hours of that. It’s daunting. Still, when I saw this combination, it tickled my fancies, and I got myself a ticket.

The show was pretty rad. There was a band, an orchestra and a choir, as well as several soloists. Solid performances all around, but if I had to name a favorite, it would probably Rob Hogenboom, whose Cayafas and Herod were nicely beefed up and over the top (and I just love the line Prove to me that you’re no fool; walk across my swimming pool…). I thought that the second half flowed a bit better than the first one, but that’s probably just me. Having a terrific performance of “Gethsemane” also helps.

I’m not sure I really need to see a full version of either JCS or the Matthäus Passion, but I’d be up for another round of this. That could very well be next year, as I’m led to believe they’ll reprise De passie then.

Seen live
De passie: Een versmelting van de Matthäus Passion van J.S. Bach en Jesus Christ Superstar van Andrew Lloyd Webber en Tim Rice
Lundi Bleu Orchestra, Miles Band/Orchestra, Vocaal Ensemble Vivavoce
Jeannette van Schaik (soprano), Carlijn Kooijmans (alto), Linard Vrielink (tenor), Robert Brower (bass), Kobus Groen (Judas), Erik van Houten (Jesus), Bastiaan Sparnaay (Pilate/disciple), Rob Hogenboom (Cayafas/Herod/disciple), Norman Kapoyos (Annas/disciple), Abke Bruins (Maria Magdalene), Joost Steltenpool (Peter/High Priest), Lonneke Scholten (disciple)
Approximate set list
Kommt ihr Töchter helft mir klagen / Overture / Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen / Heaven on Their Minds / What’s the Buzz/Strange Thing Mystifying / Du lieber Heiland du / Buß und Reu / This Jesus Must Die / Ja nicht auf das fest / Pilate’s Dream / O Schmerz! Hier zittert das gequälte Herz / Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachten / The Last Supper / Gebt mir meinem Jesu wieder / Damned For All Time / Blood Money // Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben / Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say) / Gerne will ich mich bequemen / So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen / Peter’s Denial / Erbarme dich / Pilate and Christ / King Herod’s Song (Try it and See) / Lass ihn kreuzigen / Trial Before Pilate / Sein Blut komme uber uns end unsre Kinder / The Thirty-Nine Lashes / Superstar / O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden / Du edles Angesichte / John Nineteen: Forty-One