East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Nine TV shows that made me

My friend Jessica, over at her blog, is doing a series of posts about media that made her the writer she is. Books, movies, TV shows… I dunno, probably also videogames, LPs or whatever. After all we are the product of our experiences, and when it comes to stories, the stories we enjoyed reflect on the stories we write.
All of which simply means, I’m pilfering her idea, and I’ll do a few posts featuring stuff that had an influence on my writing.

Now Jessica’s done a post about her top five TV shows, and that got me thinking.
I grew up with more shows on the TV than films in the movie theater, and really my early years were spent between the telly and books with a few odd comics thrown in. As a consequence, I think like most from my generation I picked up some bits and pieces from the TV when I was putting together my writing language: ideas, characters, the way to handle dialog…

So I jotted down a list, that includes a lot more than five shows, and then distilled it to a handful of special shows, and I was surprised when I found out that, while unsurprisingly most shows date from between the ’60 and the ’80s, fantasy shows (including SF and horror) do not take the top positions. Curious, what?
In the end I reduced my list to nine titles. The rule of thumb for the selection: I must be able to trace at least some elements of my writing to the series, I must have watched it before I started seriously to write my stories, I can quote snippets of dialog from it at the slightest provocation.
Also, the list does not include animation and anime series.
Let’s see…

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Other people’s pulps – Con Games (and a Top Five)

The mother of one of my pals from university was an incredible woman. When I met her she was in her seventies, tall, extremely elegant, terribly witty.
Her husband was a judge, one day we got to talk about crime1.
While she was tough on crime, she admitted she admired very much pick-pockets (“They need nerves of steel to do what they do on a crowded bus!”) and big time con-men.
Not the kind that swindle old ladies out of their pension, mind you. Big time con-men, the sort that can drain up a company accounts and vanish into tin air.482124
“It takes a lot of intelligence to do that,” she said.
I have to agree.
And as a lover of crime novels, I like grifter and heist stories much more than straight murder mysteries.

Mind you, I like a homicide investigation like the next guy, but a good, large scale, complicated swindle is my fave sort of thing.
It’s a noirish thing, really. I think the first book of this sort I ever read was Len Deighton‘s Only when I larf, and then Jim Thompson’s The Grifters came following suit. Continue reading