East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


A brief rant

Now something weird happened, and I think I will vent my frustration and my preoccupation here.
Sorry to use you guys as a lightning rod, but sometimes blogs are also useful as safety valves.

The thing goes like this.
I am told that many of the ills of our current culture depend on the fact that we grew up with the Classics, that are basically books written by misogynistic, racist white heterosexual males, and therefore we all turned out—well, bad.
11848986Having enjoyed the works of, say, Charles Dickens, I am obviously a misogynist with little or no respect for other cultures1.
The thing, in all honesty, reminded me of the old George Orwell warning, that any kid growing up with Tarzan would turn into an animal-killing big game enthusiast.

Is it possible?
Indeed it is.
Is it a given? Thank goodness no. Continue reading


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WordPress informs me that somebody tried, twice in the last two hours, to hack into my account.
I always feel somewhat flattered when stuff like this happens. I imagine some kind of steampunk guy sitting in a dark room with green strings of code scrolling on screens…
Yes, I know, I read too much science fiction when I was a kid.


Now, friends more grounded in reality tell me it is not so – people that do this sort of things are boring types looking for a sneaky way to leverage squalid scams, using other people accounts as a smokescreen.
The same friends suggest I change my passwords.
And while I will do just that, I still prefer my mental image of the hackers. It brings a little romance into something as everyday as blogging.



linesI’m taking (slowly) a drawing course online, through Udemy. It’s a good way to reset my brain after a whole day spent writing at the PC.
Now one thing I noticed is, if you keep doodling, you slowly but steadily improve. You’ll never be a great artist, but you’ll be able to draw an apple that looks like an apple and not like a flat tire. Doodling one trains his hand to hold the pencil and follow instructions.

And it occurred to me that with writing it’s the same thing. Keep writing b its and pieces, and you’ll improve. No great quantum leaps, possibly, but a steady, if slow improvement is impossible to avoid.

And by doodling, and writing throwaway stuff, one stimulates idea generation, and that’s great, because ideas and plots and characters and stuff are always useful.

And it could happen like it’s happening now, that I started jotting down silly ideas, and now I have 2000 words of a story I don’t know what to do with.
But the night is still young.
Now a cup of tea, and then let’s see where this verbal doodling leads us.

In the meanwhile, you might be interested in this doodling tutorial… or maybe this doodling video…

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180px-Jb_modern_frost_2_eBut yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For heaven and the future’s sakes.

— Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time, st. 9


Juggling dynamite

kolosimoAs I think I mentioned in the past, I was (and still am) a fan of Peter Kolosimo, the Italian answer to Von Daniken of Chariots of the Gods? fame. Kolosimo’s books, like Timeless Earth, were a gateway to wonders and mysteries for a generation of kids in the 70s.
I particularly love his Cittadini delle Tenebre (Citizens of Darkness, but alas never translated in English), a survey of the paranormal and the ghostly published in 1971, and that I read somewhere in 1976 or ‘77.
Apart for the nostalgia factor, Kolosimo’s books are a great resource for writing weird fantasy and adventure stories: ancient astronauts, archaeological mysteries, stone age flying saucers, you name it.
For the same reason I have in the past read far and wide on a number of subjects, always feeling wonder at the concepts, always making notes about what I could recycle in my writing, always remembering that it is a game. Continue reading

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Back from the con

I’m back from Cartoomics, the Milan comic and fantasy fair, and it was a hoot.
Great opportunity to meet some old and some new friends, and get lost in the crowd and the noise for a day.


And talking about the noise – you guys have no idea of what Hell is like if you’ve not been treated to a non-stop loop of  Renaissance1 music and Playstation-grade psaeudo-Wagnerian bombast blasted through a pair of cheap garage-band style amps with the dial up to 11. While the MC shouts stuff like “Here comes the Duke of Draconia!” or “Everybody into the Dungeon!” through a cheap mic, the whole in a huge convention hall that echoes like a Himalayan valley.
That was not fun.
When they started doing an impromptu rendition of Frozen – the Musical, things only got worse – and thanks goodness they cut the singing reindeer’s part.

But apart from that, what a great day!
I hope to get my hearing back one of these days.

  1. Renaissance the time period, not the band