Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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“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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Insomnia movies: A night with Dr Anton Phibes, part 1

I first saw The Abominable Dr Phibes, the 1971 Robert Fuest movie, back in the ’80s, on a late-nite horror retrospective hosted by RAI 3, the “intellectual” and “left wing” channel in Italy’s state TV. I am pretty sure I saw it in black and white, which of course is a crime, because part of the wonder of this old horror movie is the colors and the looks.
So I re-watched it last night, back to back with its sequel, as I was going through a bout of insomnia.

The Abominable Dr Phibes is classified as a horror-comedy (or vice-versa), and still it is pretty gruesome and it does have a melancholic streak, and a certain tragic greatness.

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Night thougths and story ideas

Last night I was going through a bout of insomnia, so I wrapped myself in a stack of blankets and I watched me something. I chose a Japanese animated series, one I liked a lot when I was a kid. A spin off of the original, 12 20-minutes episodes that came out in the mid-’90s and that I had missed at the time.

I watched and enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. I liked the storytelling, the characters and their dynamics, and OK, there was a certain amount of fluff and adolescent angst but what the heck, it was a Japanese anime, it’s supposed to have those.

And while I was between episodes, a strange sensation hit me…

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Stories in the works

Fairy tales again, but not in a noir/hardboiled style – this time it is science fiction: I’ve just got a call for a collection of SF takes on classic fairy tales, and here I am trying to figure out a viable plot. The pay is good, the limit is 15.000 words but I’m aiming for 5000.

The deadline is damn close – the 15th of December – but I have good hopes: I can write a story in two evenings.

So here I am juggling options – Sleeping Beauty is sort of obvious, you just change stasis fields for sleep spells, and it’s done. But it’s so obvious that it’s not such an original idea. And yes, originality is overrated, but sometimes it’s a good thing.

Otherwise, what?
A robotic version of Nutcracker?
Transhuman Three Little Pigs?
Jack and the Beanstalk set on top of a space elevator?

Back when I was in high school I wrote a story about a team-up of Odysseus, Loki and Sun Wukong, that looked like De Camp style fantasy, but was in fact science fiction.
The story was not very good (hey, I was 15!), and it’s been lost now for almost 35 years, but it might provide me with some neat ideas.

In the meantime, I have two further stories done halfway through, and in need of a serious shakedown – a straight fantasy with a sort of Dumas-esque setting, called Goblins by Candlelight (basically, a fantasy take on the home invasion genre), and an occult detective piece set – hypothetically – in Paris during the Belle Epoque. I want to have one of the two finished in the next 36 hours.
Insomnia rules.


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Insomnia – Five Books

If you can’t beat them, join them.
Isn’t that what they say?
My insomnia rages on. I sleep (badly) by day and I am wide awake through the night.
I work, I write, I watch old movies, I read books, and wonder what will become of me. Who knows, maybe that last bit is the reason why I am suffering from insomnia, who knows.
But anyway, I thought about doing something about it, and I decided to write about it. Big surprise, uh?melatonin on the rocks

I’ll start with blog posts, and then see where that takes me. I could setup a minimalist blog on some ultralight platform. Or do a podcast. A small, minimalist podcast.
I’d call it Melatonin On the Rocks.
A podcast that goes on air only when I can’t sleep.
Or I could set-up a live hangout every time I can’t sleep.
Or something.
This post is sort of a prototype.
A test run. Continue reading


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Rogue Male (1976)

My insomnia persists (hooray!) which means I’m up all night, and then during the day I feel like a wreck. As I usually do, I am using the non-required waking hours to do a little work, and then to catch up on watching movies.
So last night I tried to take a look at Tomb Invader, then after ten minutes I decided there are better ways to waste my life, and so I dug out two oldies: Orca, the Killer Whale and Rogue Male.
I also thought I’d do posts on both.
Let’s start with the latter. Continue reading


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76 pages in 12 hours

But in the end I did not make it.
I went through a ferocious bout of insomnia, and when I finally could not stay in bed any longer listening to the wind outside, I got up, fired the PC up, and wrote a book.

Screenshot from 2018-05-01 17-39-09

Not a big book. A short handbook for writers.
Ten thousand words – 76 pages in paperback.
I uploaded it on Kindle about two hours ago, and then as I was at it, I also prepared a paperback copy. It will be on sale in two or three days – in Italian.

Well, OK, I cheated – I had the notes for my courses and workshops here on my hard disk already, so I only had to pick the bits and pieces that I needed, and fit them together, and then add a few examples, and create a cover.
And now I have my own writing handbook – very short on theory, but with lot of exercises, and a quirky approach to prompts, character creation and worldbuilding.
Nothing too original, admittedly – but original enough to be unique on the Italian market, as far as I know.
And hopefully it will serve as a good advertisement for my forthcoming workshops.

And really, back in the days when I created my folk-horror series, I was used to write a story, create a cover and publish the ebook over a weekend.
In the last three weeks I’ve published three ebooks.
Looks like I’m on my way back to the old standards.