Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Two-Guns Bob at 114: on the need to start reading Robert Howard again

The first thing I ever read by Robert E. Howard was People of the Black Circle, the opener in Conan the Adventurer and still my favorite Conan story today. I bought the Italian edition in the early ’80s, the sturdy hardback with that gorgeous Karel Thole cover that gave me a lot of problems both at home and in school.

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Cultural illiteracy

Werner Herzog, not exactly the latest newcomer, used to joke that kids coming out of film school had wasted three years and a lot of money, and thought the history of cinema started with Star Wars, they had no idea of who Elia Kazan was, or who D. W. Griffith was.

And about half an hour ago I was talking with a friend, and she was aghast: in a TV quiz show, the participant was asked to give the name of “the Sergio who directed Once Upon a Time in America“, and the participant drew a blank – this person had no idea of who Sergio Leone was.

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Michael Moorcock at 80

Today is the 80th birthday of British writer Michael Moorcock, and it seems right to write a post about him and his books and the pleasure, insight and fun, and inspiration they have provided me these last 40 years.
This will not be a critical assessment or whatever, but just a personal patchwork of strange memories. I’ll also list a few of my favorite books of his, but no more than a dozen.

Let’s begin.

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Halloween in an old village

It’s the 31st of October, early afternoon. I’ve just put the chicken and potatoes in the slow cooker, and acknowledged the fact that a story I had submitted in June was rejected. It’s OK. This month I submitted 13 stories, more than reaching my quota.
The sky is battle-cruiser grey, and there is a faint mist that will probably get thicker as the day progresses.

I am taking a couple of days off. There’s a story I should finish but I’ll never make it in time for the deadline. Pity.
The last few weeks have been complicated, and now that the worst part is over, I can slow down a bit and have some fun.

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Werner Herzog’s Rules

By a film-maker for film-makers, but also valid for writers and thegeneral public at large

  1. Always take the initiative.
  2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
  3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.
  4. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.
  5. Learn to live with your mistakes.
  6. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.
  7. That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it.
  8. There is never an excuse not to finish a film.
  9. Carry bolt cutters everywhere.
  10. Thwart institutional cowardice.
  11. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
  12. Take your fate into your own hands.
  13. Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape.
  14. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory.
  15. Walk straight ahead, never detour.
  16. Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver.
  17. Don’t be fearful of rejection.
  18. Develop your own voice.
  19. Day one is the point of no return.
  20. A badge of honor is to fail a film theory class.
  21. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema.
  22. Guerrilla tactics are best.
  23. Take revenge if need be.
  24. Get used to the bear behind you.

(source, OpenCulture)


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Seven Lives

I mentioned at the end of august how I was trying to do something in support of a cathouse in Lanzarote – because I like cats and because as a long-time Harry Flashman fan, I love the idea of telling people that I pay to help the ladies working in a cathouse.
Yes, I know, it’s juvenile, so sue me.

Cats with no name, by Robert McGinnis

Anyway, in the intervening weeks I realized that with my finances in shambles there is very little I can do for the cats and the ladies.
What to do?
The only thing I can do, in fact, is write.
And so I started writing.

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