First Lines: Zilvertand / Weerwolvenbos

Last year, I read two of Paul van Loon’s Dolfje Weerwolfje books. As the others have since returned from a loan, I read those as well. Not to sound too much like an old man, but I guess I was too old for them.

The first two were loads of fun, as I never read them, but these, well, if I had read these two first, they’d be loads of fun too. It’s just that I figured out the formula, and that made them more repetitive than fun. Dolfje is a werewolf, Timmie is his best friend, Dad is weird, they get in trouble (Zilvertand wants to capture werewolves to sell them / some business persons want to cut down Wolvenbos), and cousin Leo, Grandpa Werewolf and Dolfje’s girlfriend Noura come to the rescue.

Then there were also two even shorter stories for children just starting to read, and there even less happened.

So: fun, but not keeping me interested beyond the time it took to read them.

Book read
Paul van Loon — Zilvertand
First line
‘Wrow!’
Book read
Paul van Loon — Weerwolvenbos
First line
Doodstil was het in het Wolvenbos.
Book read
Paul van Loon — Het nachtmerrieneefje
First line
‘Hé, Dolf, weerwolven!’
Book read
Paul van Loon — Niet bijten, Dolfje!
First line
Rennen, rennen!

30 Day Song Challenge #30

Day 30: a song that reminds you of yourself.

Acda en De Munnik — Als je me morgen ziet

The main reason I like Acda en De Munnik so damn much is the words. Thomas Acda has diminutively said that he just puts them it the right order, but in truth, both he and Paul de Munnik are really, really good at that. On every album there are a couple of songs where the lyrics are borderline genius. A turn of phrase here, a simile there, a song that is so meta that it is all about what type of song it is … for someone who is into words and the order they’re in, I can not recommend them enough. Especially if you’re a hopeless romantic who rather keeps dreaming of what could be, instead of finding out what would really happen (cf. day 27), like me.

This post would be so much easier in Dutch, ‘cause then I’d just post a bunch of lyrics, and you’d get the drift.

Songs like “Als je me morgen ziet”, “Geen Liedje”, “Jaren ver van hier”, “Eva” and “Halve zinnen” are exactly about that: being hopelessly in love, and not being able to do something with that. It’s almost un-doable to pick a favorite from those, so I went for the one with the most watchable video. From a purely textual point of view, “Jaren ver van hier” would be so spot on that it’d be the “Love Theme” on the soundtrack of the first movie they’ll make about me. (For those who want to know: Love Theme, Part II)

Of course, I can’t end this post without a proper quote, so just to illustrate how well they could capture the lovestruck idiot I was, from “Halve zinnen”:

Je was het mooist dat ik ooit zag
‘t Was in de zomer van de eeuw
Ik wilde sterven in je armen
Ik was zestien—wist ik veel

Ik heb al wat klassiek is wel gedaan
‘k Heb onder aan je raam gestaan
Schreef je gedichten … ach, een paar
Vijfhonderd zes-en-dertig maar

And with that, the 30 day song challenge concludes.

First Lines: The View from the Cheap Seats

The View from the Cheap Seats (ToC) is a collection of the selected non-fiction of Neil Gaiman. It’s a hodge-podge of essays, interviews, book introductions, speeches, and the like. Some of them I had read before, either online or as part of the Neil Gaiman Humble Bundle.

What makes this collection work, I guess, is that despite some of the pieces being deeply personal, they are never private. Even when I knew nothing about the subject/person being talked about, Gaiman manages to make a connection. So that you can relate. After reading some of the included book reviews, there were quite a few titles I might want to look into eventually. But the pieces about making art and the process of making things up were the most fun for me.

Throughout the book there are little nuggets of quotable wisdom, like “I don’t get only supporting the freedom of the kind of speech you like. If speech needs defending, it’s probably because it’s upsetting someone.” and “Things can mean more than they literally mean. And that’s the dividing line between art and everything that isn’t art. Or one of the lines, anyway.”

Two pieces are among my all-time top 5 favorite things Neil Gaiman put on paper. The first is a Credo:

I believe that you have the absolute right to think things that I find offensive, stupid, preposterous or dangerous, and that you have the right to speak, write, or distribute these things, and that I do not have the right to kill you, maim you, hurt you, or take away your liberty or property because I find your ideas threatening or insulting or downright disgusting. You probably think some of my ideas are pretty vile, too.

I believe that in the battle between guns and ideas, ideas will, eventually, win.

Because the ideas are invisible, and they linger, and, sometimes, they are even true.

Eppur si muove: and yet it moves.

(full text, full text illustrated by Chris Riddell)

And then there is perhaps my favorite thing Gaiman ever did, the incredibly uplifting The ‘Make Good Art’ Speech (transcript):

So be wise, because the world needs more wisdom, and if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise, and then just behave like they would.

And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.

Book read
Neil Gaiman — The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non-Fiction
First line
I fled, or at least, backed awkwardly away from journalism because I wanted the freedom to make things up. (from “Introduction”)

30 Day Song Challenge #29

Day 29: a song you remember from your childhood.

Will To Power — Baby I Love Your Way / Freebird Medley (Free Baby)

As I said earlier, I wasn’t all that into music as a kid. Apart from the kiddie stuff, I can’t recall much music beyond what my parents forced upon me (and lets not go there). I do remember getting a CD-player (and my mother winning some CDs with a game on the radio before that), and one of the first kinda cool CDs we had, was a promotional sampler from our local super market. Looking over that track list, it’s a trip down memory lane.

(Fun fact, it wasn’t until much later I found out that that vastly inferior version of “I Still Haven’t Found What I Was Looking For” was the original.)

30 Day Song Challenge #28

Day 28: a song by an artist whose voice you love.

Lana Lane — Symphony of Angels (live in Japan)

This live version of “Symphony of Angels” was the last of three bonus tracks tacked onto Queen of the Ocean, the first Lana Lane album I bought, but I was sold long before I reached it. I first heard her on Ayreon’s Universal Migrator albums, and that was reason enough to seek out her own work. A sticker on that album made her out to be “the Queen of Symphonic Rock”, and I could go for that.

Her next album, Secrets of Astrology is my favorite of hers, especially the monumental title track. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, there was little she could do wrong for me.