East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Waiting for the Haunting

coverEverybody’s talking about The Haunting of Hill House, the new series on Netflix. I’ve been told it’s quite good, by people I trust, and sooner or later I plan to catch it.
I will let some time go by.
I find a little unnerving the onslaught of those that spent the weekend binging on it, and now are rampaging on the socials.
Wait until you see episode six!
It’s none like the novel!
The finale is great!
He is very good, but she is also very good!
I’m watching episode three a second time!

It’s not a matter of spoilers.
I read the novel, I watched both movies, I have a general idea of what to expect.
But it feels like sitting at dinner in a fine restaurant, and having the guy in front of you telling you how much you’ll enjoy the second course while you are still going through the appetizers. “Be sure to order the salad…”
Please cut me some slack.

And while I wait for the noise to quiet down and for the bingers to go binge and enthuse on something else, I might as well read the original Shirley Jackson novel again.
And in case you are interested, you can get a copy for free, legally, from this link, because the copyright on The Haunting of Hill House expired in Canada.

This is probably the best ghost story ever written, and it’s quite suited for the season.
Check it out.

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Sunday afternoon on the Nile

Having taken the afternoon off to read something, I was pleased to discover that not only the cars in the race are quite noisy, but all the neighborhood dogs feel compelled to bark their hearts out at each passing vehicle.
I therefore changed my plans, took out my headphones, and watched the first episode of Joanna Lumley’s Nile, a 2010 series of documentaries in which the British actress followed the Nile to its source.

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Now British TV has this thing about celebrities traveling the world – and I enjoyed in the past the Michael Palin globetrotting adventures. Of course I’ve been a fan of Lumley ever since she was Purdey in The New Avengers – adolescent crush and all that.
And this trip along the Nile looked just like my sort of thing. Continue reading

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Taking the afternoon off

What a week.
I’ve been bedridden with a fever, I was attacked in the night by a backstabbing Persian carpet, a client vanished with a job and a fistful of bucks that would have been good for my finances, and right now I’m stuck in my house because a car race is passing through my village, and I am going through one of my usual bouts of insomnia.
I wrote less than I planned, but I have racked up an arm-long list of calls I will try and cover in the next days.
But right now, 7000 words into a 10.000 words story, I think I’ll call it a day, and retreat for a while with a good book. After all, it’s Sunday all over the world.
Have a nice day, ladies and gentlemen.

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Buy a book by Chuck Wendig

51Agi4xoTiL._SY346_I just dropped one buck in the Amazon coin box and got myself a digital copy of Chuck Wendig’s Irregular Creatures.
There’s a number of reasons why I did.

The first is that I have completed a story, and I had promised myself a little treat.
The second is, I like Chuck Wendig’s books, I loved his writing handbooks and I still have a small number of his novels here for when I feel blue.
And of course, third, Irregular Creatures has a winged cat on the cover. That’s my sort of cover.

But the foremost reason why I spent some money on a Chuck Wendig book is, Chuck Wendig’s just been fired by Marvel.
You know Marvel, the guys that publish those superhero comics. The guys that make those superhero movies. The guys that fired James Gunn. Those guys. Continue reading


The new Magnum

So I went and watched the first episode of the new Magnum PI TV series. The reboot of the old one, the one with Tom Selleck. And I thought I’d write a review.
But first, two observations.

Observation the first: I was 14 when the original series was broadcast for the first time in my country. A lot was made of the location and the Ferrari, so much so that I actually skipped the first few episodes. I was a Rockford Files fan, and I did not care for a billionaire detective. And we had Hart to Hart covering that angle, right? Only later I found out about the car and the villa being on loan, and considering the enthusiastic reaction of my friends, I gave it a look, and liked it a lot.


Observation the second: I can’t stand those people that whine ceaselessly when a remake or a reboot is made about some old series they liked. The recent hubbub about the new She-Ra cartoons was embarrassing. Get a life, and give the new stuff a chance before you start tearing your hair off, that’s what I say. It’s OK not to like a remake or a reboot, but first look at it. Not at the trailers, not at the production stills. Judge the product based on the frigging product.

So I went and I checked out the new Magnum PI.
And I did not like it.
I’ll try to discuss why, now. Continue reading

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Fine tuning

I think I mentioned in the past that when I am writing I like to fine-tune my words by reading fine writers and trying to soak up their class.
Because hey, dreaming is free, and no writing handbook is better than a classic.

31mtjAjh+nL._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_Right now I am going through three small booklets one of my followers sent me.
These are the small Penguin Modern Classics pamphlets – 60-pages booklets that collect three short stories of a number of modern authors.
The ones I received are Shirley Jackson, Dorothy Parker and Clarice Lispector.
Three great short-story writers, and three great small collections (the postman folded the package in two, so that all three volumes are creased in the middle, but that’s the delivery guys for you).

1218403I think I’ll look up the series and check out more of these small, inexpensive books.
It’s not the first time Penguin does this sort of format. Back when I was in university they had done a series of miniature books to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Penguin. Sixty small books going for 60 p.
It featured authors like Maugham and Dahl and Elizabeth David and Penelope Lively.
It was great.

And yes, writing a gangster story/noir take on an old faery tale while reading Dorothy Parker does have some weird side effects.
Weird, but positive.


Alligators ripped my flesh

201010061935As of last night I have a long gash on the inside of my thigh. The sort of scar I’ll show off proudly and attribute to a session of alligator wrestling, or something equally exotic and pulpy.
Like, that time I fought-off a horde of rabid mandrills, or something.
To further my author platform, you know…

In fact I was walking in my extra-cluttered bedroom, last night, on my way from the bathroom, when I was attacked by a wild Persian carpet, that was waiting in the dark to carry out its homicidal designs.
I stumbled on the carpet corner and fell, and crashed in a low IKEA table. The gash is the result of the IKEA table corner biting into my leg.

I was lucky. My room is so crowded with piles of books everywhere, that I landed on a nice thick padding of paperbacks. A few curses and some peroxide later, I spent part of the night picking up and piling up the books again.
I am happy to report that no humans nor books (nor alligators nor mandrills) were damaged permanently in the accident.