East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Belated birthday post

With all the things going on these last few days, yesterday I missed Edgar Rice Burroughs’ birthday, so I am posting this belated piece to make up somehow.


Edgar Rice Burroughs was a master storyteller and one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. Live with that – his impact on popular culture was second to none, and he was probably the first true transmediatic author.

And he was (most of the times) quite good.
Don’t believe the naysayers – if you never read Burroughs (really?!), and if you think Tarzan is just Johnny Weissmuller, check out one of ERB’s books (I’d suggest either The Land that Time Forgot or At The Erath’s Core or The Master-mind of Mars) and have some fun.

Incidentally, you can download these books for free from the Gutenberg Project of Australia.

ERB was a writer and a storyteller – let’s celebrate him by reading one of his stories.
There’s no better way to make writers happy.



“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.”
– Alan Watts


Hot properties

This is a game some other writers have been doing on facebook, and I thought … why not on my blog, too?
So, the idea is to provide a list of a few properties – TV series, movies, comics, novels – that I’d love to write, given the chance.
Novels, scripts, spin-offs and tie-ins…

So, here’s my list – properties I’d love to write for.

Leave a comment


Turns out yesterday was Myrna Loy’s birthday.
She’d be 112 years old.
Loy was one of the many black-and-white beauties that completely fascinated me as a kid.
Her role as Nora Charles in The Thin Man and its sequels is the first thing in which I remember seeing her, in a late cycle dedicated by the Italian TV to the Powell/Loy mystery comedies.

51eVjQLu-+L._AC_US218_And as I am, I might as well plug Reid & Wickliffe’s Thoughts on The Thin Man: Essays on the Delightful Detective Work of Nick and Nora Charles, that is a delightful book indeed.

But my veneration for Myrna Loy’s beauty and skill is based essentially on three pre-Code movies that are certainly very much on topic here on Karavansara. Continue reading


Martin Landau, 1928-2017

To Italian kids of my generation, he will forever be Commander John Koenig of Moonbase Alpha, in the underrated Space 1999 tv series, but Martin Landau had also been one of the stalwarts of Mission: Impossible.
A fine character actor straight out of the actor’s studio, he had been offered the role of Spock in Star Trek, but turned down the role because he considered himself an emotional performer.
His striking looks and his beautifully controlled voice have graced many fine movies, such as Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, Tucker: The Man and His Dream and the role of Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood, which brought him an Oscar and a Golden Globe.
He will be sorely missed.



Sir Roger Moore, 1927-2017

My favorite James Bond is dead.
I have just got the news about the death, at the age of 89, of Sir Roger Moore.
To me, it feels like losing a favorite uncle.
I grew up with Roger Moore on television.
The highly apocryphal but fun adaptation of Scott’s Ivanhoe.
The Saint, of course.
And then The Persuaders, that really was a cornerstone of my generation’s culture and attitude. So sue me, there were worse models.
And then the movies – a lot of adventure and war movies.
He even was Inspecteur Clouseau in a (alas, pretty lame) Pink Panther movie – and in that lame movie, his was certainly the best bit. Continue reading


Robert M. Pirsing: zen and motorbikes

pic0904-pirsig002About two hours ago I wrote “and now I’ll write a post for tomorrow”.
In those two hours, I received the news of the death of Robert M. Pirsing, the bestselling author of Zen and the art or motorcycle maintenance, originally published in 1974 after 121 publishers had rejected it.

And as I was writing a few lines about him on my Italian blog, I realized that Zen, that I read in the mid-80s when I started taking an interest in zen philosophy, is a book that touched me deeply, certainly one of the ten, or fifteen, or fifty books that are essential in my library, that made me what I am.
And also, it is a book about which I never think, a book I never remember when those lists of essential books get posted online. Probably because it got in deep, when I read it. It struck a deep chord. Continue reading