East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

A day off


And so yesterday I took the day off. It was, after all, my birthday, and so I spent the day reading a book, listening to some music, and watching a few episodes of a TV series (god bless streaming services and my high-speed satellite connection). I also had a nice serving of tiramisù (a simple dessert that apparently is very popular outside of Italy).

And because this is that kind of blog, here’s the recipe, taken from Wikibooks – and also a controversial, egg-less alternative, courtesy of the BBC. My goodness, to reach the tender age of 52 and find out that tiramisù can be “controversial”…!

As for my other birthday activities…

I spent some time with a book called Yours to Tell: Dialogues on the Art & Practice of Writing, by Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem, an interesting and rather sui-generis book about the practice of writing. I originally picked it up because this is a book based on a series of writing workshops, and I’d love to develop a writing workshop one of these days, and I need to learn the technique.
I’ll do a proper review as soon as I finish it, but for the time being I’ll say I like very much the dialogue-like structure of the chapters, and the down-to-earth and practical approach of the authors.
A fine addition to my growing collection of books about writing.

I listened to Zenchizennō, the first record by a Japanese band called Polkadot Stingray. I am told that admitting to listening to Japanese pop and rock music is considered in poor taste and an obvious sign of low cultural level by the oi polloi, but in the immortal words of Clark Gable, I don’t give a damn.
The music of Polkadot Stingray is uptempo and less than banal, I like what the singer does with her voice and her guitar, and in general I tell myself that kids this young shouldn’t be so good.
A curious side effect of spending a lot of time listening to Japanese music and watching Japanese movies and cartoons as I did in the last three months is, I’m now in that unnerving condition in which one actually understands one word out of three.
I’ll have to do something about it.

Finally, I spent the after-dinner hours catching up on Doom Patrol, a TV series set in the DC Universe and based on the old weird superhero series I’ve been a fan of for a while. I was impressed by the way in which the show was able to catch the offbeat, surreal, and often downright bonkers style of the comic book, and how the writers adapted some of the stranger narrative solutions in the original stories. The first season features broken and alienated “superheroes” facing a villain called Mr. Nobody (a colossal performance by Alan Tudyk), that lives in the white space between the comic-book frames and is, de facto, the godlike narrator of the story.
My tastes in terms of superheroes are limited, but Doom Patrol always had a special place in my heart (wherever it happens to be) and the adaptation is a perfect fanboy treat, that offers great writing and direction, an excellent cast, plus the opportunity of seeing ElastiGirl and Crazy Jane together — the two characters never appeared together in the comic book.

The trailer makes the story look a lot bleaker and much more tragic than it actually is, because, apparently, they like it bleak and tragic at DC. This is actually a very funny (as any story featuring an interdimensional donkey, a zealot cockroach and a vengeful rat needs to be) and satisfying show, and highly recommended. There’s a second season in the works, and that makes me really happy.

So, all in all, a great birthday.
Now we resume our standard writing and complaining about the weather.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

8 thoughts on “A day off

  1. Happy Birthday Davide!


  2. Happy birthday – 52… you’re still a young ‘un! Or maybe that’s because I work in a retirement village and anyone under 90 is a young ‘un 😉

    Glad to hear you took the day off – if there’s one day of the year you should be able to devote to coffee flavoured desserts and DC spin offs, it’s your birthday.


    • It’s not the years, babe, it’s the mileage (Indiana Jones).
      These days I don’t feel so young, at least physically.
      On the other hand, in my mind I’m still in my thirties. But maybe that’s just Alzheimer’s disease (I joke about it because it scares me as hell).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, no, if you had Alzheimer’s you wouldn’t be writing the way you are and getting published everywhere! Plus, I’m only 38 and already the body betrays me at every turn (rotator cuff this week, ocular migraines last week). 😓


        • I’ve seen some stuff published that was probably the product of some mental disorder… but let’s not bad mouth our colleagues.
          And you are young, but be careful – writing looks like an easy, soft practice, but it can cause no end of physical damage (circulation problems, back pains, muscular aches, migraine…)
          It’s a proper battlefield, so take care of yourself.

          Liked by 1 person

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