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Solo

Posted July 10 into Movies by John Birmingham

I know it's late but I finally got to the movies to watch Solo last night. I've missed all of the big releases in the fist half of the year. Haven't caught a single Marvel episode. So it was nice to finally find the time to get out.

I really enjoyed it. Solo is not a perfect film, but it's not deserving of the shit it's had heaped on it either. (Just this morning I saw somebody on the twitterz running it down as bland and pointless — but they were more concerned about the easy ride Alden Ehrenreich got compared to Kelly Marie Tran).

I like space opera. I like westerns. I like noir. And Solo was a mash up of all three. It was action-driven, but it's a space adventure, not a 12 hour character drama on Hulu or Netflix. I dont think Ehrenreich did nearly as good a job of capturing young Solo as, say, Chris Pine did with his varsity Jim Kirk.

But the rest of cast picked up the slack. Woody Harrelson was brilliant. Jane didn't dig on Emilia Cark's Qi'ra, but my problem with her was my own. I kept waiting for the Mother of Dragons to ride in on a wave of fire. It was only in the last part of the film when I relaised the sort of archetypal noir character she was playing that I began to understand Clarke's performance.

Only real quibble I had was the odd choice to wash out the colour palate. You can have a western with vibrant colours but this one seemed to be permanently soaked in sepia tones. It was distracting.

Still, I enjoyed the film and I'm glad I caught it on the big screen.

8 Responses to ‘Solo’

she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 10
I enjoyed it much more than the pasting it got led me to expect I would. I did have a moment of doubt as the movie started, in which I wondered if I really needed to know Han Solo's back story (I'm looking at you prequel trilogy), but in the end I thought it was pretty good. All of the supporting roles absolutely smashed it out of the park, which I think contributed to Ehrenreich not quite achieving the Solo swagger, but overall it answered some questions I didn't know I had, and tied in nicely to a few things in the original trilogy that had me going "Ah! I see what you did there!" I thought Lando's suffragette droid co pilot was an absolute standout too.


I still feel Rogue One is the absolute benchmark on Star Wars spin offs, but Solo was a really enjoyable way to waste a couple of hours.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted July 10
Yeah. The droid was great.
Interesting thing about the Solo swagger; it's mostly on display in A New Hope. He's an old school Saturday matinee rogue there. In the later eps of the first trilogy, Han is a much more conventional hero. Ehrenreich's portrayal is faithful to the later Han.

she_jedi mutters...

Posted July 10
That's a really good point! I always put the disappearance of Han the rogue in Empire and Jedi down to the growth of his character once he teamed up with Luke and Leia et al.


Maybe the swagger develops after the end credits of Solo, when he's got the Falcon and Chewie and is off to try his luck with the gangster on Tatooine? If it had been a huge hit I can see them shoe-horning in a sequel for some exposition that would lead directly into a New Hope.

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Bernie mumbles...

Posted July 10
I really enjoyed Solo, apart from the stupid space kraken, and my mate snoring right in the middle ( he claimed it was because his new GF had been shagging him silly, I recon it was just old man-itis), did I mention how stupid I thought the space kraken was?
It was pretty stupid.

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Bernie ducks in to say...

Posted July 10
Post Script,
Did anyone else think that Qi'ra may be well on the path to the dark side - I'd love to see her in a sequel as a sith lord.

Nocturnalist reckons...

Posted July 11
Yep. For most of the last act I thought she was just on her way to stepping into the now-empty crime boss' shoes, but then you get that closeup where the red sabre is reflected in her eyes - reckon that was in there very much on purpose.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon has opinions thus...

Posted July 11
i keep forgetting to go see it. I might have to wait for a streaming service for this one. I also saw that tweet from what i usually consider a reasonably reliable source. Might have hit them on a bad day.

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Vovchara ducks in to say...

Posted July 20
I guess it all depends on how you like prequels. I don't. I have something around 2k books on my kindle in addition to innumerable kindle unlimited books I've read in the last 7 years. And around 20 of them are prequels. And I didn't like a single one of them. They all lack suspense, most of them break the continuity, and even if they don't like for example "Manticore Ascendant" by David Weber, they still present a world where we know how it all ends.
And Star Wars universe is the worse when it comes to continuity or making sense in general. There is just too much stuff created in all those movies and books with no one taking continuity or world building serious.
There is only one exception - and sadly it's a fanfic - which creates a cohesive narrative, pays attention to lore and worldbuilding and subverts expectations in a meaningful way.
For those who haven't read it, I can only recommend to try it out. http://unitysaga.com/ by Charles Sonnenburg. Chuck uses canon and lore from both Star Trek and Star Wars in the way we all wish the original authors did. It's a true saga, with 6 books where everything we've ever seen from Star Wars and Star Trek used to it's best.
At least for me, after I've read it I couldn't watch atrocities Hollywood creates in those Universes anymore.

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Real time editing

Posted July 4 by John Birmingham

It's not very productive (quite the fucking opposite actually) but I do love the beta edit part of a book. It's like watching a manuscript become sentient as it appears to edit itself in real time.

On the other hand, getting your nose rubbed in your mistakes is no fun.

On the other other hand, it's better than having that experience in public.

9 Responses to ‘Real time editing’

she_jedi mumbles...

Posted July 4
I hope if I've rubbed your nose in a mistake I've done so respectfully :P
Any criticisms have come from a true fangirl place of loving these characters and the world you've created.

I really loved the Longmire mention. From the first book my head canon has Smith as a younger Robert Taylor, and I felt vindicated.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted July 4
I can't even remember the Longmire mention. I'll have to search it up. My fave from GM is an Outlander reference towards the end.

she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted July 4
It was a throwaway comment when they were arguing about all the stuff Cady was insisting on packing, but it was so perfect for Smith!

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 4
Ah yes, now I remember.

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jl asserts...

Posted July 5
It has been an honor to participate. This book is amazing. Loved the vivid place settings and characters, as well as the all-too-human protagonists. Engrossing, really. Like the beta process so much I used it on "Immolation," and it made for a better end product.

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Bondiboy66 would have you know...

Posted July 5
Loving some of the little references e.g. the Unforgiven reference to being 'cured of wickedness!'

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted July 5
Ha. Yeah, every time Smith says 'my good lady wife', I recall Eastwood.

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thetick would have you know...

Posted July 5
When you reeeeeaaaallly want to read it, but you're not sure you can give quality feedback.

Like, just publish it already. :)

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insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted July 5
I'm just offended no one liked my Jewish avocado joke

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The Golden Minute beta is up

Posted July 2 by John Birmingham

For those who want to get in early. If you haven't received an ivite and would like one, let me know.

16 Responses to ‘The Golden Minute beta is up’

Ted Chadd reckons...

Posted July 3
Officer Chadderton reporting for beta duty! (just started a short pseudo vacay - would love to give it a read...)

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted July 3
Email addy?

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pedrogb is gonna tell you...

Posted July 3
Yes please

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon has opinions thus...

Posted July 3
I did put my hand up - but personal life has fallen to shit since then so have to respectfully withdraw. Looking forward to the finished product.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted July 3
Sorry to hear this, mate. Hope things go well for you soon.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted July 6
Thanks. It's more issues for the better half but being in a support/bodyguard role (long story . . . families, they'll fuck you up) is taking my time away. Jealous i can't get involved this time.

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Robertkocsis asserts...

Posted July 3
Would love to read this on my flight to UK :)

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted July 3
It's not a great format for plane reading Robert. It's broken up across three Dropbox papers that need constant internet connection. When are you going?

Robertkocsis is gonna tell you...

Posted July 10
Went the next day. Thanks for the reply. Will catch it on the flip side. Reading the comments increases my anticipation. In the midst of UK World Cup fever atm

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she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted July 3
Would love to help out :)

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted July 3
Still at the iinet email?

she_jedi puts forth...

Posted July 3
Yep, got it, thanks!

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Brother PorkChop mutters...

Posted July 5
Am I off the list JB? I have the time ATM.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted July 5
I thought you were on the invite. What's your email?

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted July 8
Sent

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted July 6
Bueno. Moy bueno

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So close

Posted June 28 into Writing by John Birmingham

I am so fucking close to finishing the first draft of THE GOLDEN MINUTE that it's taking all my focus to stay on the mission. This close, with the end in sight, the devil on your shoulder is screaming, "Take a break, it won't hurt. Just a little break. A drinky poo, perhaps. And a movie. Maybe some XBox. What does it matter, JB? You're close. This close. Go on. Give yourself a break."

This was my break.

And now I go back to the grindstone.

6 Responses to ‘So close’

Bondiboy66 is gonna tell you...

Posted June 28
One part of me would like to crack the whip! Sensible me says 'take your time, pace yourself, do your best!'. Just don't go all George R.R. Martin on us, ok?

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Rob ducks in to say...

Posted June 28
Looking forward to it. My wife keeps saying things like, maybe you should put down the Gulag Archipelago and read something cheery like the Dave? Golden Compass will do. One thing about the Golden Compass that I like is that it reminds me of Alan Moore's time twister stories in the 2000ad comic. The twists on alternate earths and trying to reconcile it with reality. Plus it could be the New Buffy, 'you hear that Netflix, I said the new Buffy'

Rob asserts...

Posted June 28
Minute not compass. But then the golden compass is a film too.

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Leftarc is gonna tell you...

Posted June 29
Type Monkey boy, Type!


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jason is gonna tell you...

Posted June 29
Get typing JB. Struggling to find something to hold my attention at the moment and I need content. Clearly my need to read trumps your need for mental health, sleep, happiness, family etc. etc.

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Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted July 2
As a lazy man I recommend you take those breaks. As a reader I say get back to fkn work.

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The free kilo

Posted June 25 by John Birmingham

JB at walking desk.

Stepped on the scales this morning. I really wasn't looking forward to that. I'm afraid I ate my way through about six months of depression last year, and a chronic back problem (two discs at the base of my spine fusing together) really restricted the amount of exercise I could do.

I was kind of expecting to be up around the 103 or 104 kg mark.


However... HUZZAH!


I'd actually dropped a kilo, probably from walking the dog a lot recently and cutting back on bakery treats to get me through the book deadline. I think that as soon as I get The Golden Minute done, I might take myself off to the gym for a decent session, and then devote a fortnight or two to preferencing my fitness and health. I'll keep working because I have other deadlines, but the first thing I attend to each day will be repairing the physical damage of the last year.

3 Responses to ‘The free kilo’

jl has opinions thus...

Posted June 25
I hear ya about weight loss. Recently had a bout of good ol’ manual labor, and now getting some decent hikes in here in the mountains. Should be at 95kg, hanging out at 105 instead. Ugh. I’ll face the scale when I get home.

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Rob would have you know...

Posted June 28
Down to 109 now, so far I've lost 10 Kilos from my worst at 119. (just less of me to love baby) Next I need to give up the smoking (again) and get active. But you got to lose the weight to get moving, When you're fat everything hurts, all the time, ankles, knees, lungs, legs. The weight I've lost , just walking up my stairs is so much easier. Now If the involuntary groaning of being over 40 will just cease, all will be good in the world.

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she_jedi mumbles...

Posted July 3
The stomach curdling anxiety of hopping on the scales when you know the answer is not going to be good, and then the sense of weightless joy when you realise that against all odds and laws of physics that not only are you not as fat as you were expecting, you've lost weight.... huzzah!
I feel you JB *fist bump*

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A year

Posted June 22 into House keeping by John Birmingham

It was the first anniversay of my dad dying, earlier this week. I took some time off to think about a few things. I called my mother, who'd gone down to Sydney to stay with my brother for a fortnight. And I worked.

I feel like I've had a pretty poor time of it the last twelve months. The poor state of my bank balance would attest to that. For a long time last year I wasn't able to do much beyond drag myself through the week, stare at the screen a lot, and grind out the weekly columns. I rarely blogged. It felt like I got nowhere with any book writing.

It still feels that way. But I was talking with a friend last night and I realised I had actually written two manuscripts in the last year. The first drafts of THE CRUEL STARS and THE GOLDEN MINUTE. I'm still chipping the last couple of chapters out of the rock face of the latter, but I am close enough to imagine typing 'The End' in the next few days. (After which I'll put it out to my beta crew).

I'm also thinking of taking the Burger back to it's origins as a simple diary of each day's work, at least for a little while. It helps to track what you're doing and it'd take the pressure off feeling the need to (ugh) generate content.

Anyway, as I said, for those up for it, the new Smith and Cady will be available in beta next week. It's looking pretty good, but it always helps to have fresh pair of eyes look over it.

15 Responses to ‘A year’

jl reckons...

Posted June 22
Looking forward to it!

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insomniac reckons...

Posted June 23
I think time accelerates as we age. We're still doing lots of stuff but it's all a blur. Doing one or two big projects like a book leaves very few milestones of achievement to note. A diary would provide a whole bunch of interim milestones.

Always happy to help with the beta-ing.

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Bernie asserts...

Posted June 24
It took me about a year to get over the loss of my father, then my step father up and shuffled off about 18 months later, now I have a step mom in Florida and a mum in Sydney both without the men who had been part of their lives for about a quarter of a century, I'm starting to rack up some frequent flyer miles...

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Leftarc mumbles...

Posted June 25
Taking the Burger back to a public diary is a good idea. Keeps you engaged, and can be used as a timeline of sorts, to track how you are going.
For what's its worth, bringing back Spartacast would be awesome. I recently had a long weekend of driving by myself (1500 kms), and listening to old episodes was like having some mates in the car to break up the monotony of the drive.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted June 25
I'd love to do that, but I can't justify the time. Those things used to chew up a day and half. Mostly from editing.

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Bondiboy66 would have you know...

Posted June 25
I very nearly experienced the same loss as you JB this last week - my own father has been very crook with heart and kidney issues, including a few days in ICU...its scary, cast a pall over me. I can only imagine (though I don't want to) losing him.

Very much looking forward to Smith and Cady! I too would be honoured to beta test if required.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted June 25
I'll send the invite in a couple days.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted June 25
Sorry to hear about your old man. Look after him, and yourself.

Bondiboy66 mumbles...

Posted June 26
Thanks mate - you too

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Brother PorkChop swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 26
Tough times JB. It is difficult to lose what you later realise was a really good mate. 11 years on and it's still painful but it is now a different kind of pain and in some way I do welcome it. Mainly because it makes me think of him and all the good things he added to my story. Sadly we are going through it with Mum now, with her hearing almost gone and certainly some memory lapses and I am faintly terrified about losing her. Anyways..
Happy to beta the new one as usual - something I do enjoy doing very much.

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AuntyLou asserts...

Posted June 26
I have been missing in action for quite a long time. Apologies. My only excuse is that I am now full time carer for my Dad. I really felt your loss last year and have been trying to treat this time with Dad as a gift. It has... moments.
I don't know if I am still on your beta list. I would love to give it another go as it is hugely enjoyable but, as usual, I am juggling fibromyalgia, depression, Dad, & a long-suffering husband who is getting short shrift in all this. If you have concluded that I am unreliable/ unproductive I won't take offense to being cut.
As always, keep up the good work.

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pitpat puts forth...

Posted June 27
Hey John,

I was reading some time back a click-bait/ serious article on successful people of the world. The only factoid I remember is that of the all the 'successful' traits these people had the one they had in common was that they kept on turning up. Not always at their most productive but like a bad smell in between the floorboards they were persistent. That's been my motto over the last year or so -grinding it out. Not always my best work but good enough.

But on the evidence of your last couple of alien side boobs - which I have recently subscribed to- you are producing some masterful work and I hope you continue to do so into the Aus federal election cycle. It deserves to be syndicated.

Finally thanks for a quick bit of advice you gave me on parenting about 10+ years ago via one of the comments when I was feeling very inadequate as a parent. I don't remember exactly what it was but it was enough at the right time.

Anywho got to fly. Am the boys taxi today . 10 pin bowling followed by jui jitsu training. Anyone got anautonomous car?

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Rob puts forth...

Posted June 28
I upset my son last week before I went into hospital as I got my will printed out and left it on the kitchen bench. (unsigned...but still valid) My wife thought I was being fatalistic, but I didn't want them spending money on lawyers and going through the Intestacy Act if the worst happens. Its weird being the Dad story from the other end, I could have easily become a footnote in someone else's' story.

Anyways, I'm officially not dead and decided to stop moping about things that can't or won't happen and gone back to University to study design, animation and video, since my other 2 degrees are out of date (who would have thought that Universities' would declare their only product redundant after 10 years?)

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon mumbles...

Posted June 28
Enjoyed the experience last time. Was really interesting seeing the process. Happy to put my hand up again if needed (also fine to bump me from the list if you need to cull!)

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she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted July 3
I was deeply startled to read it’s been a whole year since your dad passed, that’s a difficult anniversary by any measure. But congratulations on completing the Cruel Stars and the Golden Minute, those are two big achievements on top of persisting with the Boob and your columns for Fairfax, you have much to be proud of, even if it’s not hugely apparent just at the moment xx

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