East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Old comics and DIY censorship

In the past week, what with being forced to stay at home in isolation and all that, I decided to put some order in the growing pile of books, magazines and other papers that are slowly but steadily taking possession of my house.
We have been on a permanent state of warfare with a rat, in the last few weeks, and piled-up paper is not a good thing.

And in this way, while digging on a long-forgotten shelf, I found a few re-issues of old volumes of L’Eternauta, an Italian magazine that in the 1980s published color and black and white comics by Argentine and other Spanish-language artists and the occasional American or French story. It was built along the same lines of Metal Hurlant/Heavy Metal, and it was the gateway for many long-standing passions of mine – first of all for artists such as Carlos Trillo or Juan Jimenez, or Vicente Segrelles.

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Back from Lovecraft Country

So last night I saw the last episode of Lovecraft Country, the HBO series based on Matt Ruff’s book. And while I found some episodes to be below par, all in all I must say it was a nicely satisfactory adventure.

Granted, I believe “Lovecraft purists” (whatever that means) will find the series objectionable because it is not “properly Lovecraftian” (whatever that means), the same criticism that is usually leveraged at the scenarios for The Call of Cthulhu, the roleplaying game. And it’s a fair criticism, and a few episodes of the series do feel like write-ups of someone’s Call of Cthulhu games. But hey, they certainly were good games I’d have loved to sit through.

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Horror and adventure

There is a very attractive call for stories that cross horror with adventure, and when I saw it I thought “Ah, that’s a job for me!” … but in two days I doodles a lot, and came up with nothing.
Which is disheartening, because… well, because writing is my job and my idea of fun, and I have always loved adventure.

So I started going through all the resources I had about adventures.
And here is what I found that got me writing.
I thought I’d share.

Now that the adventure angle is covered, I’ll just need to add horror.
And I’ve found an idea in that direction, too, inside this video.
I’ll keep you posted.

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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…

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A lazy afternoon raiding Rome

I decided to take the day off. I slept late, I took note of two stories that were rejected (damn), I had a quick bite for lunch, I prepared a chocolate dessert for the evening (because we need all the antidepressants we can find), and settled down with a good book.

In this case, I went for Matthew Kneale’s Rome: A History in Seven Sackings, a fine historical essay about Rome – a city I never liked very much, truth to be told – and the periodic visitors that decided to take home more than a few souvenirs. From the Goths to Napoleon to the Nazis, the book uses stolen artwork and occasional wars to explore the development of a city, a community and a nation, through the ups and downs of three thousand years.

So far, I like the tone of the book, the unusual approach and the wit.
Will this provide new story ideas? Possibly.
But today I’m not thinking about that.
Work starts again tomorrow, and for the time being I just want to have fun – so let’s go and sack Rome. Again.

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A short story

Last night I wrote a short story.
Big deal, you say.
Well, yes, I do write (also) short stories for a living, so writing a story is no big deal. But this was somewhat different.

First, because this was to be a 300-words flash fiction, with a very clear theme. And I’m not so hot about flash fictions.
Also, it’s an entry in a contest – and I do not do contests as a personal policy. You do, fine. I don’t.
Third… well, I wrote it in thirty minutes, after dinner, while I was waiting to start a hangout with my friends. It was just good fun – and I needed it.

And while we wait for the powers that be to decide on the contest winner, you can read the entries for free on the contest promoter’s website – just go to the Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores website. The link should bring you to the right place. Scroll down. My short is called Legacy.
And follow the guys, because they are doing a great job.