First Lines: The City of Mirrors

Before diving into the last part of Justin Cronin’s The Passage trilogy, I reread the first two novels. First time round, I thought they were pulpy fun, a good read, but not, you know, particularly great or anything. But upon revisiting them, I can’t recall why I thought that. Perfectly good fun, and pretty great as well.

I’m not gonna recap The Passage and The Twelve. Imagine a world where an military experiment goes horribly wrong, and that a vampire infestation wipes out almost all of humanity in North America. Of course, there are some survivors, who upon the arrival of Amy, a byproduct of the same experiment, set out to see what’s there to salvage. Sort of.

The City of Mirrors starts twenty-something years after the events of The Twelve. After the defeat of all but one of the Ur-Vampires, some sort of normalcy has returned, and life went on. Now, it seems that the end play, is at hand: the one remaining vampire, he who is called Zero, who is the Source, will go and try to finalize the vampire domination of the world. Meanwhile, some others have a dream of an island sanctuary …

Its seems to me that The City of Mirrors is the perfect conclusion to the trilogy. It hits all the spots. There’s a chapter where you get the back story of Zero, and dammit, it just about redeems the fucker. And the ending? Well, it’s probably the only right one. So I have no complaints. And yet, the same uneasy feeling I had with the first two parts gnaws at me. So maybe I’ll just need to revisit it in a while to see what’s up.

Book read
Justin Cronin — The City of Mirrors
First line
The ground yielded easily under her blade, unlocking a black smell of earth.

2016: A Review in Lists

The whole intention of 2016 was for it to go down better than 2015. For a number of reasons, some of which we don’t have to go in to, and some of which are two hospitalizations (First one was nearly a week for peeing blood on account of all the blood thinning medicine I had to take, and the second for my aorta dissecting. That last one will definitely color my perception of 2016, despite that apart from my right leg still not quite working as it used to, I got out of that pretty well. To make a 2016 Celebrity Death reference: Alan Thicke caught the wrong end of the same stick.) and my stepmother-in-law passing quite unexpectedly, it didn’t quite manage to do that.

So, here are some lists that sum up some things I kept track of.

The List of Books I’ve Read This Year

  1. Justin Cronin — The Passage Trilogy
    1. The City of Mirrors (2016-11-08—2016-11-18)
    2. The Twelve (2016-10-26—2016-11-08)
    3. The Passage (2016-10-05—2016-10-26)
  2. John Boyne — The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2016-09-22—2016-10-10)
  3. Unidentified Funny Objects 4 (edited by Alex Shvartsman) (2016-09-21—2016-10-05)
  4. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Based on a New Story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. A New Play by Jack Thorne.) (2016-09-20—2016-09-22)
  5. Guus Kuijer — Drie verschrikkelijke dagen (2016-09-08—2016-09-21)
  6. Paul van Loon — Volle maan (2016-09-04—2016-09-07)
  7. Joe Hill — The Fireman (2016-09-03—2016-09-20)
  8. Stephen King — End of Watch (2016-08-27—2016-09-03)
  9. Paul van Loon — Dolfje Weerwolfje (2016-08-25—2016-09-03)
  10. Cory Doctorow — Little Brother (2016-08-22—2016-08-27)
  11. Hope Mirrlees — Lud-in-the-Mist (2016-08-12—2016-08-22)
  12. Peter Zantingh — De eerste maandag van de maand (2016-08-07—2016-08-12)
  13. Stephen King and Stewart O’Nan — A Face in the Crowd (2016-08-07)
  14. Stephen King and Joe Hill — In the Tall Grass (2016-08-05)
  15. Philipp Vandenberg — Het Sixtijnse geheim (2016-06-21—2016-08-24)
  16. Miguel de Cervantes — Don Quixote (2016-06-13—2016-07-29)
  17. Adriaan Jaeggi — Held van beroep (2016-06-08—2016-06-11)
  18. Alexandre Dumas — The Count of Monte Cristo (2016-05-04—2016-06-07)
  19. Dan Brown — Inferno (2016-04-27—2016-06-19)
  20. Neil Gaiman — American Gods (2016-04-18—2016-05-03)
  21. Graham Gardner — Inventing Elliot (2016-04-09—2016-04-27)
  22. Mikhail Bulgakov — The Master and Margarita (2016-03-18—2016-04-15)
  23. This Is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death (edited by Matthew Bennardo, David Malki and Ryan North) (2016-03-17—2016-03-30)
  24. Unidentified Funny Objects 3 (edited by Alex Shvartsman) (2016-03-11—2016-03-17)
  25. Pickings from the Neil Gaiman Humble Bundle
    • A Fall of Stardust (2016-04-07)
    • Adventures in the Dream Trade (2016-03-30—2016-04-07)
    • Angels and Visitations: A Miscellany (2016-03-08—2016-03-11)
    • Day of the Dead (An Annotated Babylon 5 Script) (2016-03-07—2016-03-08)
    • Ghastly Beyond Belief: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of Quotations (edited with Kim Newman) (2016-02-27—2016-03-07)
    • A Little Gold Book of Ghastly Stuff (2016-02-26—2016-02-27)
    • Manuscript Found in a Milkbottle (2016-02-26)
  26. Aiden Chambers — The Toll Bridge (2016-02-19—2016-02-25)
  27. Stephen King — The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2016-02-17—2016-03-17)
  28. Ira Levin — The Stepford Wives (2016-02-12—2016-02-17)
  29. Yann Martel — Life of Pi (2016-02-07—2016-02-18)
  30. Nathaniel Hawthorne — The Scarlet Letter (2016-01-28—2016-02-10)
  31. Terry Pratchett — Shaking Hands with Death (2016-01-28)
  32. Joseph Heller — Catch-22 (2016-01-02—2016-01-27)
  33. Maarten ‘t Hart — De Schrift betwist (2015-12-06–2016-02-06)

This year, I finished 36 books, which is a good number. I particularly enjoyed The Count of Monte Cristo, The Fireman, De eerste maandag van de maand, both Dolfje Weerwolfje books, and The City of Mirrors (which I still have to write up). Don Quixote was a slog, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was everything I hope it wouldn’t be.

Still reading: Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and Faithful by Steward O’Nan and Stephen King.

The List of Performances I’ve Seen This Year

  1. Jesus Christ Superstar starring Ted Neeley, World Forum Theater, Den Haag
  2. Elton John, Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam
  3. a balladeer + Mevrouw Tamara, Tivoli de Helling, Utrecht
  4. a balladeer (solo), Terras De Vereeniging, Amersfoort
  5. Circle II Circle + Lord Volture + Desert, FLUOR, Amersfoort
  6. Daniël Lohues, “Aosem”, Deventer Schouwburg, Deventer

Last year, I saw just one show. This year: six. And they were all special, in their own way. Jesus Christ Superstar (featuring Ted Neeley, who played the title role in the movie as well) probably made the biggest impression, which has everything to do with timing.

The List of Movies I’ve Seen in Cinemas

  1. — Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Pathé Amersfoort, 3D)
  2. — Doctor Strange (Pathé Amersfoort)
  3. — Inferno (VUE Amersfoort)
  4. — Now You See Me 2 (Pathé Amersfoort)

Fantastic Beasts was everything Harry Potter and the Cursed Child should have been.

What I’ve Done from My List of 100 Things

  1. #67: Read books from my list of 40 books to read before my 40th birthday before my 40th birthday:
    1. Joseph Heller — Catch-22
    2. Mikhail Bulgakov — The Master and Margarita
    3. Alexandre Dumas — The Count of Monte Cristo
    4. Miguel de Cervantes — Don Quixote

Kinda disappointed here. I should really revise the list next year.

The List of Places Where I’ve Spent the Night This Year

This year I didn’t sleep in Noorden, where I grew up. That ended a 36 year streak. Nijmegen wasn’t planned, but the Radboud hospital was the first one that would admit me in the middle of the night. * mark multiple non-consecutive stays.

The List of Museums and Other Attractions I’ve Visited This Year

  1. — Dierenpark Amersfoort (multiple times)
  2. — Persmuseum, Amsterdam (Zwarte Piet in de Media)
  3. — Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht (Van Floris tot Rubens: Meestertekeningen uit de Renaissance)
  4. — Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
  5. — Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam
  6. — Nationaal Militair Museum, Soest
  7. — Kunsthal Kade, Amersfoort (De Loop der Dingen, over oorzaak & gevolg)

We got a season pass to our local zoo, and visited it quite a few times. The Red Panda and the tigers are awesome.

Yeah, so maybe, medical issues aside, 2016 wasn’t all that bad, but a bit uneventful. For next year, we have some good things lined up, and it shuld 2015 and 16’s butt.

Seen Live: Elton John

Tuesday November 22nd was going to be a pretty swell evening, with Elton John playing in the Ziggo Dome, and The Missus and me having tickets. On the way to the (Nordic) restaurant for dinner, The Missus got a call that she landed the job she was after, so it got even better.

We made it to our seats while the intro tape for “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” started to roll. That’s probably my favorite Elton John song ever, so we were off to a good start. Mr. John played a lot of hits, two tracks from his latest album Wonderful Crazy Night, and some deep cuts. Good times. The only downside was that they might have turned the volume down a bit, but otherwise, it was a wonderful night.

Elton John — Your Song (live at Ziggo Dome 2016)
Seen live
Elton John, Wonderful Crazy Night Tour at Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam on November 22nd, 2016
The Band
Elton John – Piano, Vocals / Davey Johnstone – Guitar, Vocals / Nigel Olsson: Drums, Vocals / Matt Bissonette: Bass, Vocals / Kim Bullard: Keyboards / John Mahon – Percussion, Vocals
Set list
Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding / The Bitch Is Back / Bennie and the Jets / I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues / Daniel / Someone Saved My Life Tonight / Looking Up / A Good Heart / Philadelphia Freedom / Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time) / Tiny Dancer / Levon / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road / Have Mercy on the Criminal / Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word / Your Song / Burn Down the Mission / Sad Songs (Say So Much) / Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me / All the Girls Love Alice / Band Jam / I’m Still Standing / Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n Roll) / Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting // Candle in the Wind / Crocodile Rock

About This Thing That Happened

It’s half past seven, Wednesday evening, November 23rd, and I’m sitting way up in the attic working on some stuff before I have to do a bar shift at my volleyball club. As I stand up to go take a pill I forgot and a toilet break, pain rips between my shoulder blades. By the time I’m down two flights of stairs the pain has spread and I want my mommy on the phone. She isn’t in. My father suggests I make it to the hospital. So I yell for the Kid Wonder to find me the number (should have called 112, but hey). Given my history, they’ll be sending an ambulance to check me out. As The Missus isn’t home, I have Kid Wonder google the place she’s at, yell at someone to get him get her on the phone with The Kid, and then the ambulance shows up and while I’m trying to hold my shit together, they do some checks and decide to take to the hospital.

At the hospital, I’m quickly carted off for a CT scan, and once I’m back from that thank god there’s The Missus and the Kid. And bythepowerofgreyskull won’t you believe this fucking pain I’m in. Luckily, they got very nice drugs to take some of the edge off, so I hang on until the word comes: it looks like there’s a microscopic rupture in the interior aorta-wall. Fuck. So, about a year and a half after having surgery to prevent shit like this from happening, it looks like it’s happening anyway. Monkeyballs. I don’t want this shit. Not again. Not yet. Not now. I’m not ready for this. But I have to dance the dance anyway. They’re busy calling my regular hospital for this stuff, to see if they can take me, like, asap. They can’t. So some more calling ensues. We decide to call in my parents, because clearly, we need to get The Kid out of this. After rejected calls to hospitals in Utrecht, Amsterdam, Zwolle and Cthulhu knows where else they’ve got a place for me at Radboud UMC in Nijmegen. Well, it beats Groningen and Maastricht, but who cares. Another ambulance ride, and it’s time for more questions and off to the ICU I go. It’s 3 A.M.

Next morning, I don’t know how I feel, only that my right leg’s asleep. Which, apparently isn’t a good sign, because off to another very uncomfortable CT scan we go. Overnight, the rupture has turned into a full-blown type B dissection (down from where the aorta branches off to the left arm, or so I’m told), and the blood flow to my right leg is blocked. Several people waiting for surgery are sent home, and to the front of the queue I go.

Now, I only have this on hearsay, but I’ve been told that the part of the operation where they placed a stent (TL;DR: they put a tube in it) took the normal amount of time, but that getting all the blood-clots from my leg (and what a mighty fine leg it is, I say) took an additional three hours. They tried to wake me up, but with my blood-pressure exploding through the roof, they had to keep me under.

I recall waking up 4 A.M. the next morning. I seem to be doing fine, everything considered. Later that day, I’m moved from the ICU to the Medium Care ward. During the weekend, I made enough progress to warrant a move to a regular ward. On Thursday, I’m sent home.

That was two weeks ago, and it is getting better. Slowly. My back isn’t in its happy place, sleep could be better, I’ve lost 7 kilos, my head is all over the place, and my emotional stability is blown to pieces. The main things is that, crapdammit, I was just getting to the point where I thought that I was pretty much over last year’s operation, and then exactly the sodding thing that operation was meant to prevent happens a few centimeters further down. Without notice or anything, I’m right back at the starting point again.

I’ll just have to take it slow for a while, again. Take the time and get better. Again. And I know, I did everything right and the everybody was on it and acted quickly when necessary, and I am very grateful for everything everybody’s done. And believe me, I know it could have turned out much much worse, but still… it would have been nice if this cup would have passed me by. But it didn’t. So I have to deal with it. Again. And I will. Again.