East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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39 Questions

Here’s something just for fun.
I’ve stolen the list (but not the answers!) from Derrick Ferguson, who is a a fine pulp writer and you really should read his stuff.

39 odd things about me…

  1. Do you put ketchup on hot dogs? No.
  2. Choice of soda? Pepsy Twist or Sprite.
  3. Do you put salt on watermelon? I don’t eat watermelon.
  4. Can you swim? Like a rock.
  5. Hot dogs or burgers? Burgers.
  6. Do you believe in ghosts? I believe people see things. About their nature, I am waiting for more data.
  7. What do you drink in the morning? Tea, and/or orange juice.
  8. Can you do 100 push ups? In my mind.
  9. Favorite season: Autumn.
  10. Your favorite animal? Cats large and small. Foxes too (they are honorary cats, right?)
  11. Tattoos? None.
  12. Do you wear glasses? Yes.
  13. Do you have a phobia? I suffer from mild claustrophobia.
  14. Do you have a nickname? Some people call me “Doc”.
  15. Ever been arrested? No.
  16. Do you remember your first kiss? Yes.
  17. Rain or Snow? Rain.
  18. Can you change a tire? Yes.
  19. Favorite flower? Cherry blossoms, I think.
  20. Can you drive a stick? In theory, but it’s been ages.
  21. Ever gone sky diving? No.
  22. Kids? No kids.
  23. Favorite color? No favorite. Probably green should I pick one in a hurry.
  24. Favorite actor? Bogart.
  25. Can you whistle? Yes.
  26. Where were you born? Turin, Italy. You know, where they built the FIAT 500 cars…
  27. Surgeries? Nothing major.
  28. Favorite smell? The smell of thunderstorms.
  29. Shower or bath? Bath, and yes, bring on the bubbles.
  30. Last Song You Heard? Ute Lemper’s “Ruby”.
  31. Broken bones? None, but seriously damaged a wrist falling from a bicycle.
  32. How many TV’s in your home? None.
  33. Worst pain? Toothache.
  34. Do you like to sing? I WOULD like to sing, but… no, I can’t.
  35. Are your parents still alive? No.
  36. Do you like camping? No, but all my experiences were probably spoiled by the company. I might have fun doing it alone.
  37. What do you binge watch? I don’t like binge watching, but I have been known to watch two or three episodes of certain TV series in a single sitting. The Expanse, for instance.
  38. Pumpkin or pecan pie? We don’t do those over here.
  39. A photo of yourself.

Here it is, with my brother…


No opportunity for boredom

The big news tonight was that the local parson has been quarantined, and his assistant hospitalized, being positive to COVID-19.
And, being an atheist, and having been for forty years and then some, the thing should not worry me – apart from the human compassion for people having a hard time.

Seven days ago my brother met the vice-parson. They kept at a safe distance and were both wearing face masks, so this is not a “proper contact” according to the emergency number we called as soon as we got the news.
No symptoms have surfaced so far – but my brother’s been nursing a bad cold this last ten days.

Bottom line – we are sitting tight, isolating at home, and counting the days.
We are also making plans to creatively ration our provisions – I was supposed to go on a supply run tomorrow. So we’ll have to manage with the little that’s left in our pantry, and the supply drop a friend will provide tomorrow.
So yes, fear, quarantine, and rationing.

Looks like 2020 is getting ready to close with a bang for the Mana Brothers.
I’ll keep you posted.

Also, I’ll need to have a word with God when this thing is over.


Career advice

For a lark, after dinner, I took the British Government test for assessing my skills and for career orientation.
Turns out I should be an actor or an editor.
Now this is a surprise…

Surely 20/40K pounds a year would be great.
Pity I live in the middle of nowhere, in a place in which you either make wine or you make bottles, corks or labels.


Diana Rigg, 1938-2020

I have just learned about the death of Dame Diana Rigg, that was Emma Peel in The Avengers, without a doubt the actress and the character that have had the strongest and longest lasting influence on me, under every respect.

Today she’s mostly remembered for her role in Game of Thrones (my goodness!) but she had a long and respected career in the Royal Shakespeare Company, and was the star in the proto-steampunk Assassination Bureau, Ltd. and in a very funny horror movie featuring Vincent Price (Theater of Blood).
She also was, of course, Mrs James Bond.

http://www.kobal-collection.com Title: ASSASSINATION BUREAU, THE ¥ Pers: RIGG, DIANA / DOBTCHEFF, VERNON ¥ Year: 1968 ¥ Dir: DEARDEN, BASIL ¥ Ref: ASS002AE ¥ Credit: [ PARAMOUNT / THE KOBAL COLLECTION ] ASSASSINATION BUREAU, THE (1968) , January 1, 1968 Photo by Kobal/PARAMOUNT/The Kobal Collection/WireImage.com To license this image (10517504), contact The Kobal Collection/WireImage.com

I feel like I lost a much loved relation.

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Not exactly real

My mother was born in 1938, so she was a teenager in the late ’40s and early ’50s, when teenagers were not yet a thing, but anyway… she was an adolescent when the big thing were movies, and she was absolutely in love with movies. In my mother’s family the rule was that even if money was short, there should be books and films. So my mother went and saw all the classics, Captain Blood and The Sacrlett Pimpernel, and all those.
She had to leave the room during The Four Feathers, because the humiliations the character was going through broke her heart.
Her favorite actor was Tyrone Power.

She would buy magazines, such as gossip/celebrity rag “Confidenze”, cut the actor’s and actresses photos, and stick them in albums. We found a stack of those, when we cleared my grandmother’s attic, forty years ago. Hundreds of pictures of classic Hollywood actors and actresses, and the occasional singer (Sinatra was a big hit with mom).
I don’t know what happened to those albums – maybe my uncle got them.

My mother would often say that for a girl in the early ’50s, movies stars were something unreal, the line between character and actor very thin.

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I’m a winner, I’m a sinner, do you want my autograph?

And yes, that’s a quote from Supertramp’s Breakfast in America – but I’m not going to talk about that (great record, incidentally, part of my growing up etc.).
It’s lunchtime, not breakfast time, and as I’m skipping lunch, I’ve caught a small bit of silly fluff on the socials that made me feel like writing a letter to the director.
As we old people do.

A local influencer posted on Facebook the reason he dislikes ebooks

how do I get an autograph from the author? Do I ask the guy to scrawl his name with a sharpie on my e-reader?

Now that’s a problem, ain’t it?

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Color change

And then you wake up and find your blog color palette has been changed.
Not that I had anything to do about it – apparently during the night WordPress changed its “website identity” settings, and changed my dark brown accents to pale blue, as you probably can see.

I find it ugly and, also, irritating.
An off-handed reminder that by hosting Karavansara on their free servers I am not, after all, the owner of this place, nor do I really have any control of this blog.

Now I’ll have to throw away some time trying to work out a way to bring back the look of “my” blog.
I have checked out the new tools and options – now WordPress comes with a series of pre-set color palettes that are, in general, uniformly ugly.
And I mean eye-bleeding ugly.
But hey, now you can set your look-and-feel with a single click, like a good chimp.

I am quite obviously turning into an old man, rambling about the good old days, when we could set our own blog colors and fonts…