East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Finding a good bad guy

Ungern-sternberg_rThe gentleman you see portrayed here on th eright is Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg.
And the word “gentleman” is probably not the right one.

Also known as “the Mad Baron”, Ungern-Sternberg is one of the blatant proofs that history can best pulp fiction any day of the week, and without trying.
There is no Bond villain, no dime novel Yellow Peril, no fictional bad guy that can go head-to-head with the Baron in terms of madness and cruelty, and hope to win.

And all this is just fine because, you see, I’m doing the final draft of my novel, and I need to make my bad guy… worse.
The eating-babies-alive sort of worse. Continue reading


The Pope, MacGyver and me

eisenerI was strangely touched, a few hours back, when I found out, by chance, that early this week Carl Elsener, head of the Victorinox company, passed away at the age of 90.

I have to admit that for me, Herr Elsener is not the first character that comes to mind when I think about my Swiss Army knife.
I was a kid in the 80s – I was a MacGyver fan.

And yet, the photograph of the smiling, white-haired Swiss businessman sort of made me feel a pang of nostalgia.
We shared something.
I was a happy customer of his.
opplanet-victorinox-tinker-knife-53133I have a Victorinox Tinker in my jeans pocket, hanging by a small carabiner from a belt loop.
It’s been there for ages.
Before that, there was a heavier, wood-handled Hiker model, hanging there.
The one with the saw and the corkscrew.
I lost it somewhere in the ’90s.
The Tinker is leaner, more essential, almost minimalist.
And dirt cheap.

Together with a USB key, a D20 and some spare change, the small red knife is one of the things that I always have in my pocket.
And sure, there’s always some friend that makes some lame joke about MacGyver – but pity the guy, he probably watched some lame sitcom in the 80s.
Sad loser.

macgyver11icNow, I never defused an atom bomb or built a raft using it, but my Swiss Army Knife’s been useful all these years.
But I repaired my PC with it.
With it I cut freshly-baked bread purchased in small villages long the road, to make sandwiches.

It helps me feel adventurous.
And pull caps from bottles.
And a lot of other stuff.
And it’s sort of a lucky charm, really.

And it was fun, doing some research for this very short, pointless post, discovering that both the current Pope and the Dalai Lama carry the same kind of knife I carry.
I wonder if they are fans of MacGyver, too.