Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Summer solstice microadventure challenge

Today I had three revelations of sorts, three proper alarm signals ringing at the same time.
First, I realized that the deadline I had been dreading these last three days is actually still one month away.
Second, I realized the chapter 9 of the book I was to deliver “by Sunday morning, before lunch”, worked a lot better as chapter 5, but this meant doing some extensive rewrite.
Third, I realized it was actually Sunday, and not Saturday as I firmly believed. And yes, I realized it after lunch.

I spent the afternoon rewriting and am now quite satisfied with the end result. I’ll give the manuscript one last check and fine tuning (no more chapter juggling!) after dinner, and then I’ll send it along.
Meanwhile, I also decided that I need to take my mind off writing for a few hours or days, or I’ll have to face a definitive meltdown of what’s left of my mental faculties.

And in a snap, an opportunity presented itself for a brief vacation, and a proper adventure to boot!

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Tired of Tanaka-san: adventures in Japanese learning

My story with Japanese is long and involved. I first got me a copy of Teach Yourself Japanese when I was in high school. I was fascinated by the East, I had a knack for languages, the book was cheap… oh, come on, do I really have to make excuses?
The Teach Yourself book was good but as a high-schooler I had too much to do already. I had much more success with the Teach Yourself French book. We’ll get back to that.

My brother did take Japanese and Chinese in University, and then worked with Japanese artists as a music promoter. Back when he was doing it, his Japanese was good. Today he says he’s out of exercise, but that’s just his perfectionism speaking. He’s good.
Some of it brushed off on me. At the turn of the century I could manage a basic survival exchange, and if my counterpart was not talking too fast, I could understand what they were saying. I could read about sixty kanji. Basically like a Japanese pre-schooler.
I took a formal course, paid with the income from my very first job.

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Nine TV shows that made me

My friend Jessica, over at her blog, is doing a series of posts about media that made her the writer she is. Books, movies, TV shows… I dunno, probably also videogames, LPs or whatever. After all we are the product of our experiences, and when it comes to stories, the stories we enjoyed reflect on the stories we write.
All of which simply means, I’m pilfering her idea, and I’ll do a few posts featuring stuff that had an influence on my writing.

Now Jessica’s done a post about her top five TV shows, and that got me thinking.
I grew up with more shows on the TV than films in the movie theater, and really my early years were spent between the telly and books with a few odd comics thrown in. As a consequence, I think like most from my generation I picked up some bits and pieces from the TV when I was putting together my writing language: ideas, characters, the way to handle dialog…

So I jotted down a list, that includes a lot more than five shows, and then distilled it to a handful of special shows, and I was surprised when I found out that, while unsurprisingly most shows date from between the ’60 and the ’80s, fantasy shows (including SF and horror) do not take the top positions. Curious, what?
In the end I reduced my list to nine titles. The rule of thumb for the selection: I must be able to trace at least some elements of my writing to the series, I must have watched it before I started seriously to write my stories, I can quote snippets of dialog from it at the slightest provocation.
Also, the list does not include animation and anime series.
Let’s see…

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Tarzan & Mike Hammer

Today is the birthday of both Johnny Weissmuller and Stacy Keach.
And now I want a Tarzan & Mike Hammer crossover adventure.
Called Kings of the Concrete Jungle.
Classical odd couple/buddy movie, playing on the fact that Tarzan is also Lord Greystoke, and Hammer is a veteran with two years of service in the jungles of South-Eastern Asia. These guys can move from one’s environment to the other’s with a minimum of fuss.
Might even be the start of a series…


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Money, or courage (maybe recklessness, imagination for sure)

Looks like I might need 15.000 euro, at least according to yesterday’s local newspaper, that did a short piece about a railway travel company that’s offering an Around the World by Rail package, covering 20 cities in 14 countries over a period of 56 days.
And really, to travel around the world by train?
That would be a great way to spend my final days (because really, putting together that kind of money by saving on books and movie tickets might require a few decades).

The trip as presented touches London, Geneva, Rome, Venice, Vienna, Prague, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Moscow, Ulaanbaatar, Beijing, Xian, Hong Kong, Perth, Sydney, Los Angeles, Grand Canyon, Grand Junction, Zion National Park, Chicago and New York City. It is not clear if once in New York you’re on your own, or if they’ll pack you back to London, this being hypothetically a round trip.

The 15 grands ticket is the most basic – if you want all the perks, the Museum passes and the guided tours, a private room and various whistles and bells you’ve got to double that figure.

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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…

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Morocco (1930)

Today is Joseph von Sternberg’s birthday, so it feels right that I spent one hour and a half last night rewatching his Morocco, an exotic melodrama featuring Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper and Adolphe Menjou.
The film was shot in 1930 and caused quite a stir, for a number of reasons.
While not my favorite Dietrich/von Sternberg collaboration, it’s still worth a look.
And despite the desert location, this is probably not a Tits & Sand movie, but… who knows?

The plot: cynical but maybe not so cynical cabaret entertainer falls in love with cheeky American legionnaire and refuses the advances of a more settled, wealthy gentleman. Passions flare, tragedy ensues.

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