Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Through the eyes of others

So apparently a Russian TV station celebrated the end of 2020 by broadcasting a fake Italian TV show, full of trashy songs and ridiculous guests, including the actresses that starred on the (equally fake) movie “Le quattro putane” (basically “the four hos”).
What a fun, classy joke, uh?
Happy New Year, you filthy animals.

It is a well known fact that trashy 1980s Italian shows have been a premium export commodity in the last thirty years, gaining a disturbing popularity in parts east, but it’s not so funny when you find out you are the butt of a trans-national joke.

And possibly even more disquieting is the general reaction of the Italian public, that cheered at this ugly thing.
Sure, it’s important to be able to laugh at ourselves, but on the other hand, should we really be proud of being considered a nation of dorks, lechers and whores?
Asking for a friend…

The shows that the Russians “parodied” were not a high point in our national culture, but certainly left a scar on the psyche of the nation. So much so that many consider such trash an important part of their personal background.
I’m probably showing my age, but I do not find it particularly pleasant.

In the end, there is only one thing I can do at this point to balance things off…


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Other People Pulps – Not a Country for Pulps

pulp_coverAs I probably mentioned already, I’ve been a roleplayer for the last 25+ years – having started to play seriously with Call of Cthulhu in the mid-80s.
It will come as no surprise that I like very much pulp-themed RPGs – home-brew stuff run on Savage Worlds, mostly, but also games such as Adventure!, or Hollow Earth Expeditions.
I like the genre, and I can slip quite easily into pulp-adventure-mode.
It’s fun.
My players often have a lot less fun.
Fact is – being Italian, they lack the pulp background.
They are pulp-illiterate.
And lacking the pulp culture, they have a hard time coping with the stories I pitch at them – with the characters, the situations, the mood.
The problem is similar to what would happen should I pitch one of my stories to most Italian publishers.
This is not a country for pulps. Continue reading


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Other People’s Pulps: Italian Speculative Classics

Genre fiction is often considered as a second-class form of literature, if literature at all.
This stigma was particularly strong in Italy, where a cultural tradition dating from the late 19th century – and probably influenced by catholic culture – considered science and technology, as well as imaginative fiction, as unworthy of serious consideration.
In this realist desert, few authors and publishers flourished.

Here’s a collection of classic covers and illustrations from that heroic age, courtesy of the Acheron Books Pinterest boards.

Enjoy!


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Budgeting the Pharaohs

Just as an experiment, I’m trying to budget my trip to the Museo Egizio di Torino using various Internet resources.
As I am doing it I thought – why not write everything down and do a post on the subject.

Let’s see… I’m planning my outing for the end of this month or early the next, on a weekday to avoid the hordes of tourists. I’ll be traveling light – me, my camera, my cell-phone, a notebook and a bottle of water for the trip.

convention_torino_panorama_2

In this period Turin is also hosting the Holy Shroud exhibition, and the place will be crawling with people, while bars and eateries will touch up their prices to make more money1.

I hope for good weather – I’ll move early to spend the hottest hours of the day in the air conditioned rooms of the museum.
The idea is to travel light and spend as little as possible. Continue reading


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Being alive

You wanna hear a horror story?
Fine, here goes: yesterday my mother came back from the dead.
It went like this…

dracula-ad-1972-peter-cushing1

The bank asked my father for a certificate – they asked him to provide legal proof that he’s alive.
It happens.
This being August, and administration offices still being in a state of summer torpor, my father downloaded a standard self-certification form from the web, filled in the blanks, and delivered it by had at the bank.
“Here’s my statement of being alive!” Continue reading


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Other People’s Pulp – Dime Novel Italia

dime novel italiaSo far, Italy has missed out on the pulp renaissance and the New Pulp movement.
There are authors that are writing pulp fiction – not in the “over the top Tarantino extravaganza” sense, but as in classic, popular, character-driven literature.
What’s missing is a community and, if you will, a generic label for the writers and readers to adopt.

But something’s moving – and I’m happy to point out the birth of Dime Novel Italia, a G+ group that might become the seed for something larger to develop.
For starters, authors, readers and fans have a place in which to discuss their genre.
More, hopefully, will follow.

The community is aimed at Italian speakers and covers the Italian market of new pulp and assorted “cheap” fiction – but feel free to drop by and say hallo!


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Ferragosto

Fifteenth of August.
Mid-august day.
Ferragosto.
My country locks up completely.
Nothing moves except in crowded beaches and assorted barbecue venues.
Everything’s silent, even the social networks.

Paesaggio del Comune di  Castagnole Monferrato (AT)

I’ll take the day off.
No stress, no nothing.
I’ve planned lunch and dinner -something light, cheap, good.
I’ve got a good book to read.
I’ve got some nice CDs should I need any background music.

Today I’m on vacation.