First Lines: Good Omens

The upcoming television series of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens caused a lot of excitement on Twitter, which in turn caused me to re-read the book.

The plot is about a demon having misplaced the Antichrist, who is now needed on account of Armageddon being scheduled for next Saturday, just after tea. The catch being that the demon has grown rather fond of life on earth, and doesn’t really want it to end. So he pals up with an old pal, an angel who’s not too sure this end of all things is quite necessary. And then there are witches, witch-finders, hell-hounds and what have you. It’s right up my alley.

Despite Good Omens being a very funny, truly excellent book, even-though it has oodles of Good Bits (I was particularly fond of

“It’s like the man said in the history books. A plaque on both your houses.”
This met with silence.
“One of those blue ones,” said Brian, eventually, “Saying ‘Adam Young Lived Here’ or somethin’?”

myself), I didn’t quite catch the same level of excitement as I saw on Twitter. Oh, well.

Book read
Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman — Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
First line
It was a nice day.

First Lines: The Great John Green Re-Read Project 2018, Part 2

As I noted in part one of this series, in the last couple of years a lot of things have changed for me. And with that, the way I looked at John Green’s first three novels changed as well. Which makes sense, as they’re all boy-meets-girl-and-dealing-with-all-that-while-dealing-with-life-as-well-is-complicated stories, and I was not in that place anymore.

Now, that does not mean that Green’s last three novels are not of the boy-meets-girl, dealing-with-life and it-is-all-kinda-complicated type. They all are. But they are about so much more as well.

With the Magical Powers of Hindsight, it seemed to me that Will Grayson, Will Grayson (written with David Levithan) is the bridge between Green’s first three novels, and what came after. Maybe that’s because it was the first time it really covered minority issues. Katherines has a character who is muslim, but that didn’t bring up any issues. In WGWG, titular straight nerdy Will Grayson’s gay best friend Tiny Cooper falls in love with other titular gloomy closeted-gay Will Grayson. Which, in this day and age, makes it kinda complicated. Other than that, sure, it still a pretty straight-forward story. But a good and smart one.

The Fault in Our Stars is something else entirely, with the bit where all the cancer makes it all just a bit more complicated. When I first read it back in 2012, it hit me like a hammer. And then all my medical stuff happened, so all the existentialism and the worries and the medical stuff, well, you can imagine why TFiOS hit just a bit harder this time. If you want to check out something by John Green, this is a great place to start.

And finally, probably my favorite, Turtles All the Way Down. I first read it less than a year ago, so while it didn’t really open itself in new ways, it struck me again how great it is at being a fairly typical John Green novel, while being completely its own thing. Our hero Aza struggles with OCD and anxiety, and to her that sometimes feels like being sucked in a tightening spiral that just does not end, and not having control over any of it. It’s turtles all the way down. Now, I can not entirely relate, but to be honest, I know that feeling. And “whether it hurts is kind of irrelevant” is still a pretty good life motto.

Book read
John Green & David Levithan — Will Grayson, Will Grayson
First line
When I was little, my dad used to tell me, Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friends nose.
Book read
John Green — The Fault in Our Stars
First line
Late in the winter of my 17th year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time thinking about death.
Book read
John Green — Turtles All the Way Down
First Line
At the time I first realized I might be fictional, my weekdays were spent at a publicly funded institution on the north side of Indianapolis called White River High School, where I was required to eat lunch at a particular time — between 12:37 P.M. and 1:14 P.M. — by forces so much larger than myself that I couldn’t even begin to identify them.

Citaat van de dag

Vijf empathische, christelijke mensen met een afgeronde universitaire opleiding krijgen het in een opiniestuk in het RefDag voor elkaar het idee dat “ieder mens ieder ander mens, hoe geaard ook, als gewoon een andere, gelijkwaardige mogelijkheid erkent” als een ongelofelijk verwerpelijke verdorvenheid weg te zetten:

Activisten uit de lhbt-gemeenschap zullen niet rusten voordat de christelijke, afwijzende houding tegenover homoseksualiteit en genderneutraliteit zal zijn overwonnen en ieder mens ieder ander mens, hoe geaard ook, als gewoon een andere, gelijkwaardige mogelijkheid erkent.

Dr. Steef de Bruijn, mr. Diederik van Dijk, dr. Bart Jan Spruyt, dr. Piet de Vries en dr. Wim de Vries, Eenheid gewenst in lhbt-debat, RD.nl, 14 november 2018

Niet om het een of ander, maar staat er in het grote boek niet iets over naasten liefhebben gelijk uzelf?

We’ll Never Be as Young as We Are Right Now (XV)

Hear the screams of the newborn dominions
Hear the screams of your proud outlaw sons
Hear the screams of the old kingdom dying
Hear the screams of the new kingdom come

God speed
God speed
God speed us home

Hear the screams of the street-fighting angels
Hear the scream of a land being torn
Hear the scream of the magic of chaos
Hear the screams of a dream being born

God speed
God speed
God speed us home

Jim Steinman, “Song of the Dream Engine (Hear the Screams)”, 1969

Happy birthday, Jim.

Seen Live: a balladeer @ Fluor

Between the first time I saw a balladeer and the 25th time, last sunday, twelve years, four months and ten days have passed. That first time, they were a band, opening for Stevie Ann in the now-defunct De Kelder in Amersfoort, just after “Swim With Sam” was all over the radio. Now, it is just Marinus de Goederen, with two guitars and a keyboard in the cafe of De Kelder’s successor.

While band-version-a balladeer remains my favorite a balladeer, solo-a balladeer (previously known as mr. a balladeer) is very, very good a balladeer as well.

Marinus played for an hour and a bit, and—oh joy of joys—the audience was all quiet and appreciative. I had been under the impression that this fall tour was an excuse to try out new tracks he has been writing this year, but I must have been mistaken: there was only one new, as yet untitled song. Did it matter? Of course not. With songs like “Wishes, Horses” (played un-amplified in the middle of the room), “Trust Fall”, “Poster Child”, “Noah”, “Robin II” and “Mob Wife” (along with war horses as “A Little Rain…”, “Superman Can’t Move His Legs” and of course “Swim With Sam”) we got a slightly down-beat, but excellent set list.* It’s always a joy to see him play, and I don’t know how he does it, but he seems to get better every time.

Seen live
a balladeer, Fluor, Amersfoort on September 30th, 2018
Set list
Wishes, Horses / A Wolf at the Door / A Little Rain Has Never Hurt No One / Beechnuts / Oh, California / Superman Can’t Move His Legs / Trust Fall / Untitled new song / Poster Child / Swim With Sam / Noah / Plan B // Robin II / Winterschläfer / They’ve Shut Down Marks & Spencer / Mob Wife / Incompatible

* Okay, so he did not play my favorite track “Jesus Doesn’t Love Me on account of not having rehearsed it … but then again, in the words of the great philosopher Mick Jagger, “You can’t always get what you want …”