East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Kim Newman on Drachenfels

Curiously enough in the last two nights I suffered from a ferocious attack of insomnia, and so I grabbed the first book on my bedside table and started reading. The book is The Vampire Genevieve omnibus, by Kim Newman writing as Jack Yeovil, to me still the best RPG tie-in book aver, and a great example of horror/sword & sorcery crossover.
The first novel in the omnibus is, of course, Drachenfels.

And here is a lengthy interview with Kim Newman about the novel, and what he was intending to do when he wrote it – the influences, the twists and everything else.
Quite interesting.

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The most cynical of anti-romantics

The title is a definition I read somewhere of James Branch Cabell. I have been a fan of J.B. Cabell for over thirty-five years now, thanks to Fritz Leiber. And Cabell is yet another one of those authors that make me say “it would be great to write like he did, but I’d never make it.”

And I have just read a nice piece about Cabell on the DMRBooks Blog and I thought I’d link it here. Deuce Richardson is right when he notes that the younger generations have forgotten Cabell, and what a loss is theirs!

“There were how many dynasties of Pharaohs, each one of whom was absolute lord of the known world, and is to-day forgotten? Among the countless popes who one by one were adored as the regent of Heaven upon earth, how many persons can to-day distinguish? And does not time breed emperors and czars and presidents as plentiful as blackberries, and as little thought of when their season is out? For there is no perpetuity in human endeavor: we strut upon a quicksand: and all that any man may do for good or ill is presently forgotten, because it does not matter.”

James Branch Cabell

And in case you are curious, on The Faded Page you can find free ebooks of four of Cabell’s works, including my own favorite, The High Place, Robert E. Howard’s favorite, Something About Eve, and everybody’s favorite, The Cream of the Jest.

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Artist Explorer

Edwin Lord Weeks (1849-1903) was an American painter, the son of a well-to-do spice merchant. He studied art in Paris and in his life he traveled extensively in Asia and the Middle East, and produced a large number of paintings in what is known as the Orientalist style.
I originally found out about him when I was looking for paintings as documentation for my Hope & Glory game, and was impressed by the incredibly precise portraits and by the vibrant colors of his works.

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To me, Toshiro Mifune will always be half of the cast of John Boorman’s Hell in the Pacific – the first film I ever saw featuring the Japanese actor. Later came Rashomon, Yojimbo and Seven Samurai, the latter long after Magnificent Seven had become one of my favorite westerns.

Toshiro Mifune’s power as an actor was perfectly showcased in Hell in the Pacific, a movie in which he had very little dialog, but projected such overwhelming physicality that words were unnecessary.

And so I went and watched Mifune, the Last Samurai, a few nights back.

The bad thing about Steven Okazaki’s Mifune is, it is too short.
The documentary covers the birth of the chanbara – with a great selection of silent movie excerpts – and then charts Toshiro Mifune’s rise as the quintessential samurai actor through his early years and his collaboration with Akira Kurosawa. And then stops.
And leaves us wanting more.

But apart from that, there’s a lot of good in the documentary – the already mentioned relics from the silent era, the interviews with actors and technicians that worked with Mifune and Kurosawa, Shiro Mifune’s (Toshiro’s son) recollections. Lots of photos, lots of movie clips.
It’s a small tribute to a man that was larger than life, and that cannot fit the frame of a simple documentary.
But a great show, and well worth watching.



yesterday I pitched a story featuring a sort of revived (yet again) and slightly improved Valerie Trelawney – and should the pitch bounce back, I might try and write something anyway, because going back to my old character has been like meeting an old friend.
Or an old girlfriend.
Who knows what will come out of all this?

Myself, on Karavansara, February the 8th, 2019

Well, the pitch did not bounce back, and it was indeed accepted.
Hooray! So now I’ll have to re-acquaintance myself with Valerie, and then write the story.
And it’s going to be fun.
Just like meeting an old girlfriend.
I will tell you more in detail.
For the moment, here’s a good song…