East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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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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Hamlet, James Bond and Rick Blaine

A new book in my ever-growing collection of volumes about writing, Hamlet’s Hit Points is somewhat different, because it is a book at least nominally aimed at game masters willing to improve the structure of their roleplaying scenarios, upping their game. But in laying down the foundations of a system to structurally map stories, Robin D. Laws manages to create a tool that works for games, for fiction and for movies/screenplays.

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Silk Road Memories – Trieste

This is an unexpected post.
Yesterday my blog was involved in the promotional tour for the first volume in a new historical fiction trilogy, called L’Ombra dell’Impero, written by Italian noir thriller stalwart Al Custerlina, and set in Trieste.
Now, I visited Trieste only once, but I love that city dearly, and some of thepeople that live there.
So I wrote a sort of rambling piece about Trieste and the East, and adventure, and mystery.
Here it is.

Trieste is to me, who grew up on the other side of Italy, a city that has the flavor of the Mysterious East.
I visited it once, in a particularly important moment of my life – I was there to hold for the first time uncorso university .
At night, I explored the city – including local furnished almost steampunk 19th century style, breweries , and an amazing restaurant with Chinese dragons rolled up around red pillars at the entrance.
In Trieste land and sea lanes cross.
Everything passed through Trieste, merchandise, ideas, men and women – merchants , crusaders , refugees, smugglers.
For centuries, Tireste was the door to the Orient – first as a stage stop on the most western branch of the Silk Road, then as a Mediterranean port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a sort of northern Istanbul , and finally as a door to that Orient that was beyond an iron curtain .
From here, going east , the traveler left the nineteenth century Europe built on orderly timetables and letters of credit, and entered that confused and exotic Oriental universe, which perhaps he already had had a taste of in Italy.
Beyond Trieste, the roads were dusty, trains and stagecoaches became increasingly erratic, men were unreliable, women mysterious and sensual .
As Constantinople, as Samarkand, as Alexandria or Casablanca, Trieste deserves a place in the imagination as a crossroads of mystery and adventure, as a place where ideas, valuables, genetic material and events mingled freely.
It is high time the centrality of Trieste in our history, and in our imagination, is reclaimed.
Not as a vague spectrum, but as a place that casts its long shadow on what we are, on what we think.