Niks aan de hand…

“Die gevaarlijke gek, dat krankzinnige brein, daarginds in Berlijn.”

Reverberating echoes of the run-up to WW II from Foxtrot, the musical. I saw it as a teenager and was highly impressed by all that darkness, and slightly intimidated. “Ridi, rada, ridi, rada!” It sounded like the alarm calls of the sirens of emergency services and calamity warnings.

“That dangerous fool, that insane brain, in yonder Berlin.”

The year before, in my 4th year in high school (which had a total of 6), we were all offered the possibility to subscribe to a theatre series in my high-school class. The series weren’t free, but there may have been a discount. I didn’t go. My dad hadn’t thrown out those invitations, which he had done with the invitation to ballroom dance classes as I later found out, but I was simply unable to find a class mate who was interested in the same series.

“If this continues in this way, I’ll never get to go anywhere,” I decided. So the year after, I signed up for the series I wanted – the cocktail series, as I wasn’t familiar with the theatre – and started going on my own. Thus, a tradition was born. I’ve never had any regrets about that!

To the contrary. There have been later years when I was living in Amsterdam, around the corner from several theatres, during which I had several series – up to six, I think – at once, sometimes leading to three or four performances in a week (but that was rare). I immersed myself in a lot of music and a lot of modern dance. Loved it!

The Ultimate Brainchild

Earlier this year, I translated and adapted Richard Bintanja’s second novel. (The original is in Dutch.) The title of the translation is The Ultimate Brainchild. In his daily life, Richard is currently a professor of climate change.

I know Richard in real life because his wife and I became members of a professional network for women in science and technology a long time ago. I even spent some time at their home after my unplanned re-emigration from the United States to my native the Netherlands.

I have also edited some of Richard’s scientific publications because I’ve always had excellent writing and language skills, and as you probably guessed by now, I too have an extensive science background. (And, as you likely know if you’ve been to my web site before, I’ve been self-employed for a long time.) One of his papers is still the greatest I have been lucky enough to be able to work on. It literally made me sit up. It was for Nature, and I knew right away that it would be accepted.

Translating one of Richard’s non-scientific works was a very interesting experience for me and I want to share with you why.

Apart from the fact that I rarely read books in Dutch, this is not the kind of book that I would have selected for myself, to read. I normally look at a few pages, and I may read a few pages, but if it does not pull me in straight away or the pace is too slow, I tend to give up. I often go for fast-paced American thrillers and crime novels.

But this, and I only discovered this because I translated the book, is a book that has to be read in full before you can judge it. That is very interesting. Does this mean that I too have become part of the people who want “instant gratification”? I am still chewing on this…

The book is very well crafted (featuring brain scientist George Walder) and, of course, you don’t  fully appreciate that until you arrive at the end, when everything has come together. I can imagine it as a film. There is enough action in it to make it work, enough suspense and enough that sparks curiosity. A good script writer could easily add a few scenes here and there or adapt a few scenes here and there to give it what it would need to be turned into a film. (No, I am not kidding. I believe that this book has many elements – including some nudity, by the way – and a storyline that would work very well in a film.)

The book contains a division into persons who have a certain ability and people who don’t. There is even a parallel universe in it, which really threw me at first because I didn’t know what it was about until much later. (The book increasingly produces a sense of delight as you progress through it.) So it is also a book that could potentially yield new insights about equality and inequality for some people.

Now, ask me anything you want! About this book or the context of the above.

Can you identify this performance of Ravel’s Pavane?

This file contains a recording of Maurice Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte played by an eastern European orchestra. I love this rendition. I had it on an LP that I bought in the Netherlands decades ago and then lost after one of my emigrations. I would very much like help with identifying it as I can no longer remember which orchestra this is and who the conductor was.

During the recording, something fell on the floor, which is audible on the LP (but not in this video). It may help someone identify this wonderful performance.

As you can see, my little poltergeist was active when I created the slides for the video file. (Pavel’s Ravane? Ha ha. One of my poltergeist’s nicknames is “Paul”.)

The YouTube file plays the digitized version of a recording I made with a cassette tape voice recorder when I played the LP in my home in Florida, my two quaker parrots enjoying it too as you can hear. (They’d have hollered if they hadn’t. They liked this music.)