East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Death and Ghosts in Czarist Russia: Detective Anna

Did you know you can watch Russian TV shows, subtitled in English, on Youtube? I did not, but yesterday a contact suggested to me a Russian series from 2016, called Detective Anna (or, alternatively, Anna the detective) , and by googling I found it all on Youtube, subtitled, for free.
So I watched the first two episodes, and it was quite fun.

As usual during periods of intensive writing I like to watch a TV series or a movie in the evenings (you may have noticed a lot of posts about serials, recently, on Karavansara), and it looks like Anna Mironova will keep me company in the next few years.

So, what are we talking about…

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Everybody Knows This is Nowhere

Yes, like in the Neil Young song.
And this is one of those “funny” posts about living as a writer that should make me look human to potential readers and would-be Patrons.
Sure, just look at me…
So the big news this morning is we got a call from our internet service provider – they just updated the radio/sat grid we use for connecting to the web, and so we are now able to do stuff our old PCs can’t really do. But we are now in the 21st century as far as web connection is concerned: we’ve got the same transfer rates you get in, I don’t know, Seoul or Tokyo.
Which is good news, and only costs us an extra 5 bucks per bimester.

And once again I had to feel grateful for my friends, that two years ago gave me the radio/sat connection as a birthday gift – because when you are lost in Astigianistan, without the web you’re dead.

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The French Swordmistress: Julie d’Aubigny

I am about two thousand words into a story that starts with a swordfight between a woman in a green silk dress and a nun, in the smoke-chocked corridor of a burning convent.
This will be my entry – should the editor deem it worthy – in the new collection of Italian sword & sorcery published by Acheron Books.
And the woman in green is, obviously, inspired by mademoiselle de Maupin. And really, I was sure I had posted about her in the past but I did not, so here we go.

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Procrastination: a five-weeks plan

I’m trying new things this summer. Nothing particularly momentous, but I am convinced we need to keep our brain working: I saw the effects of ennui and apathy and they fill me with dread.
So in the last two years I’ve been keeping an eye out: learn new things, explore new ideas, and what else. Keep the neurons firing.
After all, one of the first explorations of new topics I undertook was a course called Aging Gracefully, and they made it very clear that to age gracefully you need to keep the brainbox clicking (and live long enough, of course).

So this summer I’m taking on three new – or not so new – projects:

  • I’m trying to refresh my Japanese (target: be able to understand a movie or a song)
  • I’m planning my first microadventure (next week!)
  • I’m taking a five-weeks plan about time management and procrastination

I already talked about the other two projects, let’s talk about the third.

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One evening with Epifania Ognisanti di Parerga

Sometimes we need to get away from it all. From the writing and from genre fiction and everything else.
The fans, the other writers, the social networks.
Just get away from it all.
Maybe it’s the heat and the humidity, or the tiredness of too many months spent working full tilt, or the fact that I always get melancholic on the weekend.
Anyway, yesterday I went looking for something different, and found (again) Epifania Ognisanti di Perega, the main character in The Millionairess, a comedy written in 1936 by George Bernard Shaw that was, at the time 80 years old.

The plot in a nutshell, courtesy of the usual IMDB:

Epifania is the richest woman in England. She’s also strong-willed, highly intelligent, fiercely determined and an expert at Judo, which makes her hard to live with. She’s also married, but her husband is now in love with another woman. She’s also seeing another man socially, but he seems to be more interested in his food than her. Will or can this poor little rich girl ever find true happiness? A chance meeting with an Egyptian doctor may prove interesting…

So yes, it is basically a romantic comedy, featuring a formidable central character. The story was not new to me. There is an adaptation, filmed in 1960, starring Sophia Loren in the title role and Peter Sellers as the Egyptian Doctor.

I saw it many years ago, as part of a cycle of movies starring Sellers, and found it insufferable. I found it sad and downbeat, and particularly hated the main character portrayed by Loren.

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Blood & Treasure or, I am too old for this

Seven minutes into the pilot of Blood & Treasure, the new TV series by CBS, I stopped laughing and decided that life’s too short to waste time with such irritatingly cliched writing.
And it’s a pity, really, because there’s obviously money backing the series, that was shot on location in a number of places, including my hometown of Turin, but the writing is so abysmal, I really couldn’t make it.
I wanted to, because at one point I thought it might be fun to do a post on Karavansara. I went back and restarted it.
I stopped watching 11 minutes in.

Let’s see what we are talking about…

An antiquities expert teams up with an art thief to catch a terrorist who funds his attacks using stolen artifacts.

Oh, yes, fair warning: here be SPOILERS.
True, I’m gonna spoil only the first ten minutes of the pilot, and a lot of the things you already saw in the trailer, but…

S P O I L E R S!!

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Small fries & Odd Jobs

I will devote part of this weekend to a few small writing projects. Now that the bulk of a big project’s behind me, I find my will to write back in full force. Closing a project is always soul-draining, for a number of reasons, but if nothing else, it looks like I’ve learned to bounce back quick enough.
So, what will I be doing?

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