There’s lots going on in town this weekend, as it’s the 400th years since painter Rembrandt van Rijn was born in Leiden. Nice idea to focus on this, but I’m a bit sad by all the shameless commercial exploitation that’s going on at the moment. The Rembrandt musical may very well be the worst of it all. But it’s funny to see all kinds of people walking through town in 17th century costumes though. Try Flickr for some pictures or try this article on Rembrandt in Leiden on the Financial Times website. I do regret not having been to the Rembrandt – Caravaggio exhibit in Amsterdam, found out only just now, that it’s already ended.


Reading an old National Geographic Magazine, which featured an article on the origins of humankind, which mentioned the The Genographic Project [Wikipedia].

For US$100 someone anywhere in the world can order a self-testing kit. They send a mouth scraping (saliva swab) to National Geographic. It will be analyzed and their DNA information will be placed on an Internet accessible database. [..] Instead genetic markers on Mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosomes will be used to trace distant ancestry, and each participant is provided with their genetic history.

I’d love to order a participation Kit, bit I’m not sure I’d be willing to spend this money while already knowing pretty much what to expect. The mitochondrial DNA probably won’t show anything that exotic. Might be more interesting for my brother to give it a whirl, since we have a distanct ancestor from Sulawesi in our father’s bloodline.

Civ I

Fired up the original Civilization for a spot of retrogaming earlier today. Though I’ve played most later versions of the game, this one still remains my favourite, despite it’s now clunky interface. To quote why it was chosen the #1 of the 150 Best Games of All Time in 1996:

While some games might be equally addictive, none have sustained quite the level of rich, satisfying gameplay quite like Sid Meier’s magnum opus. The blend of exploration, economics, conquest and diplomacy is augmented by the quintessential research and development model. [..] Just when you think the game might bog down, you discover a new land, a new technology, another tough foe – and you tell yourself, “just one more game,” even as the first rays of the new sun creep into your room…the most acute case of game-lock we’ve ever felt.


shot from the movie

Went to see the movie ‘Munich’ last night, in the Trianon theatre.

Steven Spielberg directs an international cast in Munich, a gripping suspense thriller set in the aftermath of the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munch Olympics. This dramatic exploration inspired by true events follows a secret Israeli squad assigned to track down and kill the 11 Palestinians suspected to have planned the Munich attack — and the personal toll this mission of revenge takes on the team and the man who led it.

To find out more on the actual events, try Wikipedia on the Munich massacre. For reviews of the movie, try Metacritic. Also quite interesting, the article ‘Photographing “Munich”‘ by the movies unit photographer Karen Ballard.


I just noticed in my Palm that it’s exactly ten years ago today that my maternal grandfather, Hendrikus Theodorus Schoonhoven, died. That’s a picture of us on the right here. I’m the one with the funky socks. He was born prematurely in 1911 and, because his father feared hospitals, taken home instead of placed in an incubator. Covered in vaseline and wrapped in sheepskin he did survive. He married my grandmother Everdina Petronella de Waal in 1938, served in the Navy in Den Helder during WWII. Had 3 children, one of which my mum. He died aged 84.

Virgin Queen

I’m currently enjoying watching The Virgin Queen on the BBC on sunday evenings. Starring Anne-Marie Duff, who previously starred in Channels 4’s wonderful show ‘Shameless

Here’s some more information on the series and ofcourse Elizabeth I of England herself, both from Wikipedia.

I also wanted to mention the wonderfully fitting soundtrack, which was made in collaboration with the Mediaeval Baebes. One of the recurring songs is based on the Dies Irae hymn.

Update: you can get both the DVD and the soundtrack from


I’m about halfway through a reread of James Clavell’s classic novel, Shogun. The book takes place around 1600 and is rougly based on the life of William Adams. It depicts the end of the exclusive trade between the Japanese and Portuguese/Spanish due to the arrival of other nations, like the Dutch and English. As the wikipedia states:

The Dutch also engaged in piracy and naval combat to weaken Portuguese and Spanish shipping in the Pacific, and ultimately became the only westerners to be allowed access to Japan from the small enclave of Dejima after 1638 and for the next two centuries.

The book was made into a mini-series in 1980. Once I finish, I might see if I can get my hands on the DVD, just to compare.


Julius Caesar and the thirteenth legion

I’m quite taken with BBC/HBO collaboration, Rome (IMDb / HBO), which I’m currently watching on Belgian channel Canvas. It’s basically the story of Julius Caesar vs Pompey and the rise of Caesar Augustus, the first emperor of Rome.

There’s a rather positive review on Slant

And if you’re looking for more -lots more!- background info, check out the wikipedia entry for the show. This article mentions that the BBC edited the first few episodes. I wonder which version I’m presented with on the aforementioned Canvas.