East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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One evening with Epifania Ognisanti di Parerga

Sometimes we need to get away from it all. From the writing and from genre fiction and everything else.
The fans, the other writers, the social networks.
Just get away from it all.
Maybe it’s the heat and the humidity, or the tiredness of too many months spent working full tilt, or the fact that I always get melancholic on the weekend.
Anyway, yesterday I went looking for something different, and found (again) Epifania Ognisanti di Perega, the main character in The Millionairess, a comedy written in 1936 by George Bernard Shaw that was, at the time 80 years old.

The plot in a nutshell, courtesy of the usual IMDB:

Epifania is the richest woman in England. She’s also strong-willed, highly intelligent, fiercely determined and an expert at Judo, which makes her hard to live with. She’s also married, but her husband is now in love with another woman. She’s also seeing another man socially, but he seems to be more interested in his food than her. Will or can this poor little rich girl ever find true happiness? A chance meeting with an Egyptian doctor may prove interesting…

So yes, it is basically a romantic comedy, featuring a formidable central character. The story was not new to me. There is an adaptation, filmed in 1960, starring Sophia Loren in the title role and Peter Sellers as the Egyptian Doctor.

I saw it many years ago, as part of a cycle of movies starring Sellers, and found it insufferable. I found it sad and downbeat, and particularly hated the main character portrayed by Loren.

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My birthday fundraiser was a success!

My birthday fundraiser closed last night. This means I am now officially old. My fifty-second birthday was seven days ago, but by placing the fundraiser astride the birthday date, I gave myself the illusion of having one week more.
But if I am, indeed, old, I am also quite impressed, and grateful, by the response of my followers – that in the end collected 299$ for The Ocean Cleanup.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
You are the best.

And 299 bucks’ 50% more than planned, and I really hope this small contribution helps pulling a bit of plastic out of our waters.
It’s been fun, and quite satisfactory, and I think I’ll do it again next year.
I’ll be older then, and I’ll try to collect more money for another worthy cause.

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A drop in the ocean

This is a good moment for me. I’ve got work to do, lots of it – 12 hours per day until September if I’m lucky, to cover all the contracts I signed.
My stories are selling reasonably well.
I even got an invitation to participate in an SF anthology with a number of other Italian writers, all of them much more popular than I am. I’m thinking about it.
My Patreon is growing, slowly but steadily (thank you guys!)
And there’s money in the bank.
Not a fortune, but enough to give me some breathing space, say two months without panic attacks and bill anxieties.

And in exactly one week I’ll be 52.
Well beyond the halfway point, sailing uncharted waters, but reasonably happy.

For this reason when the Facebook pop-up … well, popped up and suggested I do a fundraiser for my birthday, I thought, why not?
I can’t donate much, but I have a lot of contacts and friends and followers.
I can’t ask for money to any one of them – they already buy my books, support me on Patreon…
I can’t ask.

But there’s nothing wrong with dropping a rock in the pond, and see if the ripples cause some interesting effect.

My charity of choice is The Ocean Cleanup, a non profit organization developing new technologies to clean the oceans from the plastic waste we dropped in.

I chose this one because I am a failed oceanographer, I love sea stories and undersea mysteries, and I wrote a few stories in the past that deal with the sea.
And because the pollution of our oceans is a global concern that touches a global audience – and I have friends and contacts everywhere.

So, in the next two weeks I’ll try and raise 200 euros for The Ocean Cleanup.
A pretty small sum, you may say, and I agree.
A drop in the ocean.
But as that guy said, the ocean is made of drops, isn’t it?

I’ll keep you posted about the results.
Meanwhile, if you feel like, spread the word.


Going wild

While with my brother we were on the hunt for the field mice that have taken residence in the darker corners of our house, and while we were trying to ascertain if it is a hedgehog or something larger that has been raiding our trash bin, the local news informed us that the number of sheep and fallow deer attacked by wolves in our area is increasing.

The countryside is going wild.

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Sometimes being short of money brings some interesting developments.
Case in point: last week I broke my headphones.
This is a minor tragedy because my 6 euro headphones with mic were indispensable for videoconferencing, and for everything else: I share the home library with my brother, and we have our PCs five feet from one another. It’s impossible to listen to some music while writing, or enjoy a movie after hours, without a pair of headphones.

Just like a good keyboard or a good screen, a good pair of headphones helps making long hours of work more comfortable.
I mentioned already that I often work with a soundtrack for my stories.
Add to that my online courses and the videos I use for research, and the fact that my next work-for-hire involves listening to a few hours of lecturing… breaking my headphones was a minor disaster, that delayed my schedule for the whole weekend.

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