Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Historical smoking and other unhealthy writing sins

I don’t smoke. I never did.
I consider it a foul habit and a waste of money. My parents did not smoke neither, my grandfathers both did (and it shortened their lives). As a kid, just walking by someone smoking usually caused me to break into a fit of cough. This was somewhat awkward during my teens and twenties, because it looked like everybody smoked then.
My girlfriend in high school smoked. Marlboros. Talk about awkward: it’s hard to be in love with someone and you start coughing like you’re about to spit a lung every time you get close to her.
But anyway…

I watched a lot of old movies, as I grew up.
I liked – and I still like today – old noirs.
Humphrey Bogart. High Sierra is one of my all-time favorites ever. The Big Sleep, too. But everything he did, really. He was a sort of role model, because like that guy said “We’re all Bogart at least once in our lives”. And Bogey always had his cigarette. The nails in my coffin, he called them.
And what about Robert Mitchum? What about all the other Marlowes of TV and Cinema?
Then there was Mike Hammer. Damn, the guy got routinely punched, stabbed and shot at, then he got home, took a shower, drank a shot of whiskey, lit a cigarette, and he was as fresh as a rose.
And don’t even get me started on James Bond.

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Sir Roger Moore, 1927-2017

My favorite James Bond is dead.
I have just got the news about the death, at the age of 89, of Sir Roger Moore.
To me, it feels like losing a favorite uncle.
I grew up with Roger Moore on television.
The highly apocryphal but fun adaptation of Scott’s Ivanhoe.
The Saint, of course.
And then The Persuaders, that really was a cornerstone of my generation’s culture and attitude. So sue me, there were worse models.
And then the movies – a lot of adventure and war movies.
He even was Inspecteur Clouseau in a (alas, pretty lame) Pink Panther movie – and in that lame movie, his was certainly the best bit. Continue reading


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Just a girl having fun

9723984I’ve been spending some time reading, and enjoying quite a bit, the Phryne Fisher mysteries, by Australian author Kerry Greenwood, and I’m keeping both the novels and  the TV series based on the novels handy as a defense against the ubiquitous Soccer World Cup in the next few days.

And I was reflecting on the way the characters in the series are delightfully portrayed, and how they are allowed to grow and develop in the series.
The chemistry between the characters and the actors portraying them – Essie Davies and Nathan Page, certainly, but all the cast of the show, really – is something I’ve been observing closely, what with my habit of writing stories about couples and all that. Continue reading