East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


“Normally” racist

It’s late on a Saturday night, I’m going through one of my usual bouts of insomnia, I’m nursing a hell of a headache, and I’m browsing the blogs that I follow to see what’s up and read a few posts to distract myself.
And I stumble on the post of a guy that has just found out our civilization is fascistic, because just look at the new Oscar award standards, that require a wider representation and diversity – who sets these standards?, the poor soul cries to the skies. Why are they imposing this on us?!
I think I’ve already written about this, but it’s quite surprising finding out the muddy bottom of the internet reaches into your blogroll, and the bottom feeders are actually making noises in my backyard.

And there, in one of the comments, someone gives us the baseline racist statement of the week

That’s the way things have become… just check any movie or TV series from 2000 on: there will be a person of color, and then an Asian, and then on to all the minorities… transgender too, nowadays…

I’m sleepless, I have a headache and a bug just committed suicide by diving in my tea. And now this. Even my renowned zen-like patience has a limit…

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Artistic freedom at Rick’s Café Americain

The muddy bottom half of the internet has got its knickers in a nasty twist over the announced decision rules for diversity and inclusivity will be implemented in the selection of the Oscar-worthy Best Movies entries, starting 2025.
In a nutshell, the new rules will require productions to include members of a number of categories, including BIPOC and LGBT+ individuals, and to cover certain features in their plots and screenplays.

This is clearly Hollywood trying to make a show of being in tune with the times, but goodness have the bottom feeders on the socials gone wild on this!
Apparently requiring a more inclusive workplace from movies that hope to get the Best Film award is fascism, is thought policing worthy of George Orwell, it’s hypocritical and fake.
And mind you, I may be with them on the hypocritical and fake thing, but I still believe that a good thing can come out of what’s done for the wrong reason. I’m an optimist.
But …

Where are the defenders of artistic freedom?

… someone asked in a loud voice two days ago in the murky depths of the internet.
Well, chum, here I am – try and follow me.

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Writer’s enough

My friend Alex, that is locked up her in the same wing of the blogsphere where I am, made a video this morning about the fact that “What do you write?” is quite often a loaded question, and one whose answer must be carefully weighed. In terms of marketing – or just plain old pulling girls – the wrong answer can spell disaster.

In response to Alex’ video, another friend, Flavio, confirmed the suspicion – say you write horror, and they’ll think you’re some kind of psycho that loves blood and mangled corpses, say you write science fiction…

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The reader’s block

Yesterday I wrote 12.000 words – yes, OK, I cheated, because I recycled 5000 words from an unfinished work I had here sleeping on my hard disc, but anyway, 7000 words in one day, during which I also managed to read a few chapters of a book, cook dinner and prepare a special dessert this being the 15th of August… well, it perfectly shows how a lack of stress can benefit us all.
Because yesterday I wrote 12.000 words (OK, OK, 7000) because the day before yesterday I delivered the final chunk of my Ghostwriting Job from Hell, and I was told to take two days off “before the next rewrite”.

Having other things on our mind is a source of stress, and it can make it difficult, almost impossible sometimes, to do what we actually like a lot.
And we’ve all had a lot of things on our minds, these last few months.

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No inbetween

I was standing on my soapbox… ok, on my Italian blog… and I was talking about those guys that play the Amazon algorithms to increase their sales in ways against the company’s rules. A friend of mine is doing a series of videos on the subject, and if you are trying to make a living by writing, the presence of people that game the system is a problem – a livelihood-impacting problem.

And I was taken to task by a reader because, you see, I often write about adventurers, thieves, people living outside the law, rule-breakers and other shady characters – and are not these individuals that abuse the system to make money in the same class?

It’s easy to write about adventurers and other shady characters in smoky, exotic taverns, when you are not a victim of their activities.

Based on the same reasoning, of course, Lawrence Block, author of the books about thief and bon vivant Bernie Rhodenbarr should not complain – or, probably, call the cops – should his house be robbed, and Max Allan Collins, chronicler of the exploits of hired killer Quarry, should not speak against shootouts. And by the way, I highly recommend anything by Block or Collins, and the Rhodenbarr and Quarry books in particular.
And, further extending that line of thought, horror writers should not have any right to speak up should their house turn out to be haunted, or should a demon eat the cats in the neighborhood.

In other words, it’s silly.

But this led me to ask myself a new question: does my writing in any way glorify the evil-doers and bring down the victims?
I do not think so, at least after a cursory review of my stuff.
Also, does writing humorously about real-life knaves from the ages past amount to condoning knavery in our everyday life?
Should I refrain from trying to stop, say, a pickpocket on the bus, because I once wrote

“pickpockets are skilled professional, it takes no skill whatsoever to rob you by pointing a gun”

Or maybe – only maybe – there’s people out there that knows no inbetween?


My theme is stronger than yours

The market is shifting at a heady speed hereabouts – and if not the market in itself, the way in which the authors marketed themselves. This morning I caught a colleague (an excellent writer, indeed) explaining that his fantasies always tackle strong themes under a thin patina of fantasy adventure. A thin patina that includes “hard knocks”, “big boobs” and “100% fanservice”, probably, considering that up to two days ago the same author was signalling those as the selling points of his fantasies.

This makes me feel infinitely tired, because I am really tired of this constant, desperate, aggressive hustling – writers trying to sell themselves as the answer to this week’s taste: this week is social awareness and “strong themes”, next week might be ultra-violence and mindless mayhem.
If it sells, it’s what I’m doing.
The quality of the story, and the quality of the writing, are becoming meaningless, when instead they might be sufficient to hook the reader.

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Why don’t you kill it?

It started when the plastic cap of the oil bottle disappeared.
“What the heck…?”
We took a look around, and found the cap under a chair, partially eaten.
Oh, shucks!
Autumn is here, the first showers have hit us, and as usual we have an uninvited guest in our house. Field mice have learned that in the lairs of the Sapiens there’s food, warmth and no rain.

So we armed our spring-operated cage, put a piece of cheese crust in it and waited.

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