Category Archives: Books

The Fat One…

61d310702a9727274565332a21b4fa36You know we Dutch are a bit strange. With the “Fat One” I mean the book: Van Dale’s Great Dictionary of the Dutch Language. Also know as, in the Netherlands and Flemish Belgium, as “De Dikke van Dale”. (Fat van Dale)

It was first published in 1874 and celebrates this weekend its 150 year anniversary.

The dictionary is usually updated every 7–8 years, and the 14th edition was published in 2005, with 4500 pages. Today there are compilations, pocket editions, electronic editions on CD-ROM and an online edition on the Van Dale website. The latter includes a free version for more common words and a subscription-based* professional version which gives access to the full 90,000 word dictionary, which makes *that one the largest dictionary in the world. The written version is 36 volumes thick.

Like English and German, Dutch is a Germanic language. It is spoken by 23 million people and is one of the 23 official languages of the European Union.

Within Europe, Dutch is an official language in the Netherlands and Belgium. In South America it is an official language in Surinam, as well as on the Caribbean Islands of Aruba, Curaçao and St Martin.

A Night in Old Amsterdam

CIMG5308It was the third try-out of Luna Lunettes Soiree Frivolette, as far as one can say it’s a try-out. Each evening the setting is the same but the guests are different.

Last night we had an author, an entertainer, a storyteller and a make-up specialist. And in between tear-jerkers played and sung by multi-artist Tilly Trekhaak [aka Geert]. The author was Eric Kollen, who after working from Monday morning till Sunday evening as a writer for theater plays needed a change in his life. He moved to the country side of Hungary. Spring is the best time of the year, in summer you have to stop working around noon because of the heath, autumn is a good time too until winter starts and you can’t work because of the sub-zero temperatures.

L to R: “Fluffer” Hans Verhoeven, photographer Pieter Dammen, Luna Lunettes, Tilly Trekhaak and to the side Vincent van der Kaap.

During those times of doing nothing he had fantasies, which he wrote down eventually and last April his first self published book hit the shelves. The title is “Jongenssprookjes”, which translates in Fairytales of Boys. Former Secretary of Culture in the Netherlands, Ms Hedy d’Ancona wrote: ‘Real fairytales and super erotic’.

Eric told about his first book, which sold in the print version over 2,000 times until now, and is on its third printing, but also the sequel which came out a fortnight ago flies of the shelves. One of the stories in the last book is about Maarten who moves to an area in town with many immigrant workers. Here he falls in love with Moroccan Mustapha, without the latter knowing… Eric created after writing that story also a fragrance in which the notes of real Arab seed is cached. And no it’s not the horse!

In the mean time someone is translating the book in German and an English translation is also somewhere in the pipeline.

Meanwhile friend Caroline, in her role of Luna Lunettes got some make-up tips which were also shared with the public. During the first evening I learned about eye-brows, the second how to use blush and now it was lipstick. I wonder are they trying to make me into a lipstick lesbian?

Diana van Laar, owner of Bet van Beeren’s Café ’t Mandje, read a story out of the book over this establishment. She’s a cousin of Bet who started this café in 1927, which makes it the oldest gay and lesbian bar in Amsterdam. [Even when at the time homosexuality was a sin in the eyes of the law]

CIMG5319Next we got a performance by Irene Hemelaar, I knew she had a broad range of activities but didn’t know she could sing. Everyone said if this was The Voice she would go through to performing life on stage immediately. She sang a song by Friso Wiegersma, partner of Wim Sonneveld, a gay artist who passed away in 1974. He wrote it after Wim’s death. The love and hurt are felt in this song.

As a gift she got for her song a bunch of carrots, not only because she’s trying to lose weight, but also for that other person in her life… her rabbit.

Before I knew it the Soiree was over and I talked to several of the guests. Next week is a new ‘try-out’ with new guests. On my way home I saw another friend on Zeedijk and we talked a little before I went on to catch the ferry home.

Another night in Old Amsterdam, while at home a slice of bread with Old Amsterdam cheese tasted great before I fell asleep.

TMI – Summer Reading List

reading-under-tree1. What are you reading this summer?
I’ve finished ‘Inferno’ by Dan Brown, I’ve started with ‘The Persona Protocol’ by Andy McDermott, and have several Clive Cussler and Steve Berry novels waiting to be read, together with some 200+ other Kindle books.

2. Is your summer reading material different during the summer than from the rest of the year?
No, I read what’s available

3. What are your favorite genres?
Action, adventure, traveling the world [in your own seat], M/M stories

4. Do you have a favorite author?
At the moment: Andy McDermott the English author, there’s also one with the same name in Australia. English Andy writes his stories as if you’re in a movie, start with ‘The Hunt For Atlantis’ and get hooked.

5. Do you have a favorite book?
‘Murder At Willow Slough or: The Caregiver’ by Josh Thomas, the sequel went over the top, too religious for my taste. [Sorry Josh!] Yes, I’ve met the author and spend two vacations with him, our first was going to the places mentioned in the book, a few years later seeing sights in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina.

6. Where is your favorite place to read?
In bed before I go to sleep and in the shade on a summer’s day somewhere in the countryside or a park.

7. Do you like to reread books? Which one(s)?
I re-read ‘The Frontrunner’ and ‘Harlan’s Race’ both by Patricia Nell Warren, but also the 4 part series by Jan de Hartog, in the US known as ‘The Peaceable Kingdom’, I read the Dutch [original] version.

8. Can you read while in motion?
No problem, I can sleep too!

9. The debate continues: paper vs electronic.
BOTH! Paper for books with photos or as a reference, electronic for the rest. Even when I skip the last ones from my Kindle I still have a copy on my computer, in .mobi, .prc and/or pdf.

Do you get off on trashy novels? Recommendations?

When I was still young, eons ago, I loved Gordon Merrick books, later in life, Carol Lynne with ‘Campus Cravings’ and the ‘Cattle Valley’ series, But also books by John Simpson, Andrew Grey, Eric Arvin and Scotty Cade, just to name a few.

Submerged in Inferno

Inferno-cover-dan-brownIt has been a bit quiet on this blog the last few days. I was reading Inferno by Dan Brown, not the Dutch version, which was published on the same day, but the English one on my e-reader.

Next to reading I like to check facts, or see an image of what the writer is talking about. I’ve never been to Florence, Italy, but knew of several places to get around town. That’s what you get when you travel in books, like Everyman Travel Guides. [When your doctors tell you walking is not going to happen soon, and you still want to travel, doing it in a book is the next big thing. In the mean time I walk short distances, but still like to travel in books, in the comfort of my own chair/home]

Inferno is another masterpiece by Dan Brown, and a subject you really have to think about and form your own opinion. Of course Professor Robert Langdon is one of the main characters, just as in Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol.

The master says it like this: In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.

Next book on the list to read: Andy McDermott‘s The Persona Protocol, this one is a printed version.

Books, Glorious Books…

Reading enthusiasts in Spijkenisse, [near Rotterdam] the Netherlands can climb spiraling towers of terraced bookcases beneath a shimmering glass pyramid to find new printed treasures. Architecture firm MVRDV has completed ‘Book Mountain’, a public library that floats the conventional wisdom of keeping books in the dark. This library was opened this afternoon by HRH Princess Laurentine of Orange-Nassau.

Believing that the exposure to sunlight is offset by library books’ four-year life span due to wear and tear, MVRDV placed row after row of books in a stacked configuration protected by a glass envelope that lets sunlight come streaming in.
In a nod to the town’s agricultural past, the exterior of the structure was designed to mimic the look of traditional Dutch farmhouses, down to the false chimney poking out of the roof. MVRDV also designed the adjacent Library Quarter, which contains housing units, parking and public space.

Says MVRDV, “The library is designed as an advert for reading, its visible presence and invitation holding great significance for a community with 10 percent illiteracy. From underneath the glass dome the library is visible from all sides, especially from the adjacent market square where the library appears as one big book mountain.”

“Following the maximum permitted volume the Book Mountain is covered by a barn shaped glass envelope with wooden trusses resulting in a transparent almost open air library. Underneath the glass is a public space without air conditioning. In summer natural ventilation and sun screens result in a comfortable indoor climate, in winter under-floor heating and double glazing maintain a stable interior environment.”