Cheeseburger Gothic

The knife

Posted Friday into Writing by John Birmingham

I'm in the final trenches of the space opera I've been writing. (Although the characters seem to spend more time fighting in trenches than space).
As most of you know, I've been a plotter since Weapons of Choice, which taught me a few hard lessons about not working with a plot outline. For THE CRUEL STARS I have a comprehensive scene-by-scene blueprint in Scrivener. I do let the characters walk their own path if they insist, but we always come back to the main narrative arc.
I can see from the outline and the words I currently have in the manuscript bank that this book would run about 30-40% over its contracted word length (90K) if I let it.
I'd like to, but can't. The audiobook people, for one, would freak.
So this morning is all about taking a knife to that outline.

9 Responses to ‘The knife’

jl ducks in to say...

Posted Friday
Sometimes you just have to prune. Audiobook? Awesome. I'm a die-hard reader but nothing beats a good audiobook on a long car ride. Looking forward to Cruel Stars in my Chevy.

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insomniac asserts...

Posted Friday
That's an awful lot of pruning. It will be interesting to see the results.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
The pruning is to the outline, not the finished chapters. Hopefully it won't be noticed.

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Friday
Understood, but it feels like you're trimming the bit of the tree your wife can see from the living room window while leaving the rest as is, like when I used to mop the stairs and she thought I'd cleaned the whole house.

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Bondiboy66 mumbles...

Posted Friday
I imagine this could be challenging....you don't want to be chopping out good bits or essential elements for the sake of shrinking the document - I could imagine agonizing over the 'do I or don't I' questions.

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Oldy has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
Any chance of seeing the outline one of these days, JB?

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted Friday
Not before it's published mate. But afterwards, sure.

Oldy is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
Nice :)

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Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted Friday
Compress and consolidate. You've done it before.

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Deadline vs dead writer

Posted Wednesday into Writing by John Birmingham

I've reached the point in this deadline where I can wrote or I can exercise but I cant do both. So I might be going backswards on my fitness over the next week.

Must stay away from the bakery.

6 Responses to ‘Deadline vs dead writer’

Brother PorkChop reckons...

Posted Wednesday
No Portuguese custard tarts fo you my friend......
Tell me which bakery it is, aside from the tarts, your poison and I'll take one for the team.

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Thalesian has opinions thus...

Posted Wednesday
My FIL has one of these you could borrow if you want...

http://img.medicalexpo.com/images_me/photo-g/74702-9100535.jpg

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jason puts forth...

Posted Wednesday
Multi task. Apparently men can do it if they try hard. https://treadmilldeskaustralia.com.au/

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John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted Wednesday
Those typos are so me right now

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Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted Wednesday
One word.

Croissants.

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jl mumbles...

Posted Friday
Totally stay away from the creamsticks.

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Weigh In

Posted November 27 by John Birmingham

Dropped 2.3 kgs in six days.

Still drank some beer and ate a lot of barbecue.

Body feels like I've been beaten with extension cords.

17 Responses to ‘Weigh In’

insomniac reckons...

Posted November 27
Getting regular beatings from disgruntled Harvey Norman employees appears to be a rather extreme way to lose weight. On the other hand it does appear to work.

Dave W asserts...

Posted November 28
I think you'll find that Harvey Norman has sales drones, not employees.

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Dirk has opinions thus...

Posted November 27
Drinking water helps (1.5-2 litres a day), as does swimming. And a trip to the sauna to tie it all up.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted November 28
My local gym has a lap pool which I normally dive into after a work out. I used to live in an apartment with a sauna. It was awesome. But that's a thousand miles and thirty years away now.

Rob mutters...

Posted November 29
when I lived in Northern suburbs of Brisbane, some of the car parks outside supermarkets felt like a sauna in January . These were simpler times.

Dirk mutters...

Posted November 30
ah the pleasures of youth :)

But if you have some room to spare between the 20-car garage, the helipad and the hovercraft harbour ... http://www.ukkosaunas.com.au/c2014.html

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Bondiboy66 asserts...

Posted November 28
Beer and bbq - proper nutrition and hydration is important!

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jl mumbles...

Posted November 28
Nothing like a post-beating hangover. Good times.

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Leftarc reckons...

Posted November 29
2nd week in a row played a full game of oztag without subbing off. Because we had no subs.
Have progressed from crawling to shuffling on a Wednesday.

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Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted November 29
I swam a thousand yards today, which is double what I normally swim. Building towards one mile and beyond.

No weight loss yet, drank anyway.

jl mutters...

Posted November 29
Hey Murph. Swimming is the best. Shame I live rural, the nearest pool is some half hour away. Been running instead for the past couple of months. At first I used my old shoes from overseas, they still had moon dust in the crevices. Finally threw them away and bought new pair. Slight weight loss, definite build-up of endurance.

Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 2
Never been much of a runner. The foot doctor this past week found a bone spur on one of my heels and told me I had high arches. He said that explained the chronic shin splints I had in the Army.

So if I want land based cardio it generally means breaking out the bicycle.

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Thalesian puts forth...

Posted November 29
Feeling inspired now.
I like the idea of increased exercise and decreased caloric intake...
Let's see how it goes.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted November 29
Haha. Yeah. A friend asked me how I was doing it. I said, "Eating less than I want, and exercising more than I feel like."

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Thalesian would have you know...

Posted December 1
I've started taking the dog for a walk/run in the morning with a pack with 5kg in it... I'll build the weight and distance up over the next few weeks.

My dog used to be really keen to go for a walk with me, as I'd usually let him off the leash for a while. Now I'm running and making him stay with me, he is less thrilled.

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jason has opinions thus...

Posted December 1
You guys are making me feel very bad about my sedentary lifestyle. I plan top put the Gin bottle further away in future and crush all limes by hand. That should do it.

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Brother PorkChop asserts...

Posted December 4
My fitness regime, pisspoor as it was, has now gone completely out the window. Shingles. What a bastard of a virus!! But it didn't stop me eating so its a lose-lose scenario. So much for getting shirts off on Fraser in January, and the doctor is not happy as his instructions were to lose 10, not put on 2.

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Burger Lite. Weapons Work

Posted November 26 by John Birmingham

Part of my plan to drop about ten or twelve kilos while the ladies are away is to get more time in at the dojo. Traditional jujitsu is not the calorie furnace you get in the Brazilian offshoot, but it’ll do me. As I get older and the knees get creakier I find the ground-fighting harder.

By happy coincidence, however, I’m working through the second bar of my brown belt grading at the moment. Plenty of opportunity for burning off flab there.

This morning, Saturday, we had the two hour class and I had some weapon defences to demo, responding to attacks with knife, chain, broken bottle, axe and staff or Jō. The staff is a traditional weapon, but the techniques to defend against it also work for pool cues, star pickets and broom handles. The axe has a wooden head, but it'll cave your skull in or break a bone if it connects.

It was a hard morning and I’m now a bit shaky and covered in fresh bruises and scrapes, but MyFitnessPal tells me I burned at least a thousand calories.

The attacks start simple. A straight stab with a knife, a big swinging axe coming to take off your head. Yeah, it’s weird, but that's simpler to deal with than lots of random, short stabby arcs with a broken bottle. As the grading proceeds the attacks escalate.

In the end there’s an exercise where you stand with your back to the attackers—Thanks Chris! Thanks Sensei Gordon!—and at a nod from the examiner they rush you with their choice of weapon and attack. Could be a concealed knife ripping upwards to gut you. Could be a chain swinging in a series of figure eights.

It’s surreal.

You try to empty your mind, and not to anticipate the clap which releases you to turn around and receive your attacker, but it’s like being on the blocks at a swim meet, waiting, waiting, waiting for the starter’s gun. The longer it went on, the harder it was to zone out and simply respond. My legs were shaking. Not with exhaustion or anxiety, but with my having to stop myself turning too early. I really wanted to see that attack coming in as early as I could.

When I did spin around, usually stepping forward and a little to one side or the other to give myself an extra half second, and to force the uke to slightly alter the line of their attack, I mostly perceived them as a blur. If they wielded a smaller, one-handed weapon, it was often impossible to discern what it was before they were on me.

A lot of the time I couldn’t even tell who was attacking, and now a couple of hours later, I couldn’t tell you who picked which weapon. Except for the axe. That was Sensei Gordon.

This part of the grading lasted only ten minutes at most but it felt like at least half my calorie burn was compressed in there. It also gave me the barest insight into what a real attack might feel like. A rushed chaotic blur where there’s no time to think, you are going to get hurt even if you ‘win’ the encounter, and afterwards you’ll struggle to recall the details in any sort of coherent form.

7 Responses to ‘Burger Lite. Weapons Work’

Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted November 26
It is the weirdest of sensations, when training is so complete that when you face the situation everything slips into automatic. I never did much martial arts training, but the Army did pound basic rifle marksmanship into me. I wasn't the best student by any means yet on Qualification Day it all snapped into place as one target fell after the next yielding the Expert Badge.
<b/>
The same thing happens when I lifeguard at the Wave Pool, I'm in the air on the way to the guest in distress long before I am fully aware of what or why.
<b/>
And for better or worse, the same can be said when someone tries to hit me, or part of me thinks that is happening.
<b/>
Anyway, for my part, I've been trying to get back to the weights and swimming. The downside of the off season here in Missouri is that I am not walking all over a sixty acre amusement park which means I'm packing on the winter fat. Bulleitt's Ten Year selection isn't helping matters.

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insomniac would have you know...

Posted November 26
I think I'll just stick to the greatest automatic response of all to stop things going nuclear at any moment ... "Yes dear".

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Rob puts forth...

Posted November 26
https://youtu.be/h_vvI26NnwE go go go

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Oldy puts forth...

Posted November 27
"you are going to get hurt even if you ‘win’ the encounter"

Yeah. This is probably the biggest difference between real life and Hollywood. Or as Alan Baxter says, 'when two tigers fight one limps away, sorely wounded. The other is dead'

Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted November 27
Gotta get them to tap out before it comes to that.

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satrewin ducks in to say...

Posted November 27
Yes, nothing like scenario/reflex activities to test skills and at same time improve them. Daunting at first, very satisfying afterwards. Video of them and all the participants is useful for teaching points and often a laugh ! Especially for scenarios....

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Brother PorkChop has opinions thus...

Posted December 4
Hurts me just thinking about it. I believe I'll stick to a .308 at more than 200 metres, make it 400 to be sure.

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Bachelor Month

Posted November 23 by John Birmingham

Thomas and I had the ribtacular combo at Roddy's in West End last night. Also, the fiery chicken wings in lava sauce for starters.

We could do this because for the next three and a bit weeks we are Men Without Women. Jane and Anna are touring Italy in lieu of Schoolies Week.

I'm planning to finish The Cruel Stars and get moving for real on WW 3.1 and Girl in Time 2.

I also have to complete my second bar brown belt grading for jujitsu and get rid of all the blubber I put on comfort eating my way through the dark months after Dad passed away. Luckily I have a puppy who wakes me at 4AM every monring, without fail. That cold wet snout in my face tells me it's time to get some value out of my 24HR gym pass.

Currenlty a disgraceful 98.5 kgs.

Aiming to run a calorie deficit of at least 1000 per day. Last night I was protein-only. No carbs.

We'll see where that gets me by the time the ladies come home.

8 Responses to ‘Bachelor Month’

Rob mutters...

Posted November 23
Dude, I'd kill to be 98.5 kgs. I may still yet.

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jason ducks in to say...

Posted November 23
I am concentrating on getting taller. It seems a lot more realistic.

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insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted November 23
98.5 is more like where I need to end up. Starting at 119 I'm down to 107.something. Had to something as I was way too gouty.

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jl would have you know...

Posted November 23
Those lava wings sound delicious, chased with beer.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted November 24
There may have been beer.

Dave W has opinions thus...

Posted November 24
Lava wings and beer. This 'Roddy's' sounds intriguing, do they have a Canberra outlet?

I promise to do the hill sprints as an exchange program.

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Bondiboy66 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 24
Just as well you didn't go to Italy - by comparison I put on about 5kg on a three week trip to France this year! I'd be worse in Italy I reckon.

Don't mind 'bloking it up' with the lad(s) when I can! Sounds just the thing this fiery chook and beer combo.

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Oldy puts forth...

Posted November 27
98.5... you can see my pic, right? 98.5 sounds like a dream to this former Offensive Lineman.

I've recently begun, not so much 'Bachelor Month', but 'Bachelor For The Foreseeable Future'.

I expect to get down somewhere near 98.5, but my knees won't do martial arts anymore. Weights and diet it is. Luckily I respond well to both.

Good luck with your goals. History suggests you'll succeed.

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Angus Young. For whom Hells Bells toll

Posted November 22 by John Birmingham

Nice piece in The New Yorker about the quiter, smarter half of the siblings at the heart of ACDC.

Up front and hard to miss is Angus Young, the diminutive dynamo of a lead guitarist, wearing the sweat-soaked remains of a velvet schoolboy uniform, duck-walking and thrashing his head like the lightning-strike victim on the cover of “Powerage.” Nearby, prancing bare-chested, is the lewd and mischievous lead singer, Bon Scott. (He’ll be dead by the end of the decade.) But, if you can take your eyes off these two showmen for a moment, you might find your gaze drifting to the left of the drum riser, where a pugnacious long-haired kid (he looks like he’s still in high school), wearing jeans and a white T-shirt, is strumming his Gretsch guitar and shaking his leg in time to the driving beat. His name is Malcolm Young, and you could be forgiven for seeing him as just another part of the backing band, but he is in fact the mastermind of the whole operation, at once its visionary and its taskmaster. He is the soul of the band, its leader on and off the stage.

8 Responses to ‘Angus Young. For whom Hells Bells toll’

jason swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 23
AC - DC was the soundtrack to a lot of my early childhood, before I was seduced by English New Wave. Their songs still carry the same impact four decades on.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted November 23
Yeah. I was wondering about this just yesterday, when I was explaining to my son about the dark ages of buying music on tape. It was expensive. And you played the same album over and over again. It cut tracks through your neural pathways. I do wonder if kids will have the same experience in a streaming media world where everything is available all the time.

jason mumbles...

Posted November 23
Both my daughters have grown up in a streaming world and have discovered musicians and genres that talk to them. They tend to make playlists that are the modern equivalent of the mixed tape and play them continually. The great thing is we both increase each others musical boundaries.

Bondiboy66 is gonna tell you...

Posted November 24
My lads tend to be the same - listening to whole albums etc.. My youngest plays drums, and he pleased me when early in the learning curve he was playing 'Highway To Hell'!

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Rob mumbles...

Posted November 23
I have a love hate relationship with accadacca. On one hand I love playing hells bells on my guitar, competently. On the other I hate that growing up it was their asshole bogan fans who stopped their cars calling you a faggot for wearing a Mohawk and beating you 5 to 1, no way you could fight back or defend your self. Obviously those little kiwi boys had never seen that video of Bon Scott in a girls school uniform on Countdown at the time.

jason is gonna tell you...

Posted November 23
I don't think it was an AC/DC thing. Those Bogans did the same thing in my area to a number of different soundtracks over a few generations. They're just assholes.

Rob has opinions thus...

Posted November 23
This is true, but it really put me off ACDC, and Iron Maiden still give me the heebee geebees. Although I did end up defending my genre of music with terminal intensity , try telling that to your Spotify playlist loving teen keen nowadays. Nope , they won't believe you.

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jason puts forth...

Posted November 27
How far will you go for a book cross promotion Birmo. Too cryptic?

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