Solo Spoiler Free Review

If “Rogue One” is the “Magnificent Seven” in Star Wars canon, then “Solo” is the “Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid” of the franchise. And they have chosen the perfect actors to carry on this legacy.

To begin with, any Star Wars movie is meant to be watched in a place that loves movies. I’m not convinced the big chains love movies as much as they love profits. So, like the past three previous, most recent releases, of Star Wars, I went to go see it at The Gem Theatre and I watched it with my family. Reid got so excited, he chatted away like he and I were in the living room, telling me that everything was so cool and about the little things that only a tried and true Star Wars fan could. I loved it, it made me proud, and it shamed me to shush him, but there were other people in the theatre and we had to respect them. When we got home, though, it didn’t stop him from breaking out his Han Solo water blaster the moment he got home.

After the first ten minutes, to be honest, it brought to mind of Oliver Twist if it was set in a science fictional London in a galaxy far, far away. I half expected the cast to break out into song. Not long after, it redeems itself with battle scenes reminiscent of movies set in World War One, then there’s a train robbery, then a bank heist and there aren’t many good guys to be found – which is what you would expect in a movie about a scoundrel. Put simply, Solo is a bildungsroman set in a science fiction western.

Seeing Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo was a little jarring. He looks and acts more like Leonardo DiCaprio than a young Harrison Ford, but I quickly got over it. I had read there were problems with his acting when it was first filmed, but I think he was a wonderful choice of someone who can grow into the role. There was a brief mention of his relationship with his father – which I hope is explored in the trilogy of planned films and I dearly hope the father is played by Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis or maybe even Leonardo DiCaprio. And the origin of the name Han Solo is a such a wonderful job of retconning that I want to believe it was actually written that way somewhere in George Lucas’s drafts. It is what makes me believe that Oliver Twist was the basis of the movie.

Seeing Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian is simply glorious. He did everything right to bring the character to life, to make it his own and to make it part of the Star Wars canon. I can’t say enough about him except that he takes over the screen in every scene he is in.

Watching Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca made me proud to be a Finn. This guy added a power and a depth to Chewbacca that seemed to give him whole new dimensions. I don’t know how much of a role Peter Mayhew played in the development, but I want to believe that he coached Joonas and told him ‘this is the way I always wanted to play Chewbacca so when you go out there, I want you to make up for lost time’.

Seeing the Millennium Falcon when it rolled off the assembly line was glorious. I did a fist pump when it showed up. She is an undeniable character in the movie. When Chewie and Han sat at the controls for the first time, that’s when my wife piped up.

“That’s the way it’s SUPPOSED to be,” she shouted and she was exactly right.

The complex story was well executed without being overwhelming. The pacing left a little to be desired – not as much action as you would expect and then when the action did show up, it was well scripted and very intense. As an example, the first thirty minutes or so, the tension is ratcheted up in a methodical, wonderful way.  I think anyone who studies story for a living could use this as a study of how to put your protagonist in impossible situations and see what they do could learn alot from this. The writers did an especially good job of showing how Chewbacca and Han met. I thought it a very touching moment in an otherwise fast paced movie.

And, in closing, without any spoilers, the climax of the the movie will be very satisfying. It will make you stand up in the theatre, do a double fist pump, and shout “fuck, YEAH” the the whole theatre. Because, uh, some guy I know did exactly that – and only a few minutes after he previous shushed his son for whispering too loudly.

There will be rambling

I have no idea what to write about and I have only a few hours to my deadline.

The deadline is arbitrary. I set the goal of blogging at least 500 words a day for a month by 11:00AM of each day. Usually, I write it the day before, mull it over and edit it before it posts. That did not happen yesterday.

I like to plan my days as much as possible. It reduces stress. I’ve had arguments with people that seem to believe that when you schedule things so rigidly that you don’t adapt to change. Those same people reject my counter argument that schedules help you adapt. Knowing what rules you are breaking lets you be aware of the risks you are taking. Life is all about risk. Stress comes with your ability to manage that risk and knowing what to take on and what not to take on. If you aren’t energized when you are overwhelmed (and some people are – I have fun in ‘firefighting mode’), then you need to know when to step back. Making schedules does that.

And, in this case, my schedule got the better of me.

schedule

This is how my schedule looks for the week – how much time I spend doing what. As you can see, I spend almost as much time with my car (‘commuting’) as I do with my family (‘family time’). And the slice for ‘prepare’ means all of the things that I do to get ready to do the things that I do.

What I try to do is reduce some of the areas to make room for the others. So, the idea in mind is to prepare as much in advance as possible so that I can have time for other things like family and maybe sleep (which you can see that I spend more time at work than I do asleep).

The other sliver of the pie is for writing, wedged between showering and time spent cleaning up around the house (no one will ever mistake me for a good housekeeper). So, for one the one thing I love to do more than anything else is in the bottom third (actually, more like the bottom sixth) of what I do in a week. How messed up is that?

To make the most out of writing is to schedule when I write, that way my muse knows when and where to show up for work. If I am all over the place, how can they know where to meet me and help with my ideas or give me motivation? I make the time to write and I have templates I work with every day that help me when it comes to writing. I always have a notebook on me – or a computer – so I can capture the ideas out other the ether and trap them in a template. And then, when it is time to write, I show them to the muse and see what they can make of them. Sometimes we get a hit, sometimes we get a miss, but at least we get some writing done.

That didn’t happen this week. Work got the better of me and I just wasn’t feeling a hundred percent – you can’t schedule a headache and I had one that lasted five days (cluster headache for those of you that are curious). The result is that I am clamouring to smash out five hundred words of SOMETHING before my first meeting starts at 7:00AM (I’ve been on the go since 4:00AM this morning – which is pretty much the start of my every morning).

None of this made sense, I imagine. But thanks for reading. 🙂

(for the record, I clicked ‘SCHEDULE’ at about 6:58AM – giving me a couple minutes to maybe grab a coffee before my meeting)

What The Need For A Good WindowsPhone Streaming App Has Done to Me

Warning! Lots of hyperlinks ahead!

Now, new music is important to my sanity. Familiar music, your favourite songs, are important links to your past. But new music, vibrant music, this makes whole new connections in your brain. The right new music changes your mood and gives you new ideas and powerful insights. I use music as a gateway to concentration. It gets me into a zone when I need to get down to work. I need music to keep my brain from… well… to keep it from driving me crazy and I don’t mind paying an annual or monthly fee to get access to the music I want.

But I want to be able to stream music seamlessly. Microsoft killed Groove  so my choices were to find an app that works with my windowsphone or get a whole new phone.

Not having a decent streaming app on my Lumia 950XL infuriates me. The phone has dual SIM capability (which means not carrying 2 phones around), 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal memory plus it’s expandable. Sure, the Microsoft Store isn’t brimming with apps, but what of it? Do I want my phone bogged down and draining battery because I can’t play the latest and greatest game? So long as it plays Minecraft and Halo: Spartan Strike, my son is in the clear. I play slly games like Dune and Dream Machine (the latter of which my wife plays like a rockstar).

For a new phone, I’d already decided to move to Android if I do, and it would be a toss up between the Honor 10 and the OnePlus 6 (It had been the OnePlus 5T, but that’s no longer available). Both phones have dual SIM, which is what I want so I can avoid carrying around two phones. But I wasn’t ready to give up on Windowsphone just yet.

Which means I need to find a good streaming app for my Windowsphone.

Spotify does nothing to support their Windowsphone app. While I don’t blame them, I don’t laud them for it either. In typical insanity cub style, I wrote a scathing review of their app in the Microsoft Store. Yes, Windowsphone is technically dead, but there are about seven million users out there (using a 2017 estimate), so some people would use it, and a fraction might even purchase a subscription. You’d think it would be worth it to risk an investment, if only to break even. It shows commitment to the market. Mind you, I am happy with the desktop version – they have FINALLY connected it to Cortana.

So, yes. I deleted it from my phone along with Spoticast – which is a decent alternative and they work really hard to make it usable, but in the end, it’s crashes and unreliable and I don’t blame them – I blame Spotify for not buying them as a startup and getting them to make it for them.

I had a Google Play Music account for a time, and it was good, but when you don’t have a Google Digital Ecosystem, it’s not much good to you.

With that all said, I’ve landed with Deezer as my streaming platform.

$0.99 CAD a month for the first three month and $9.99 a month afterwards. All the same premium services that Spotify offers with all the same music – well, all of my music, which works for me. Additionally, it has Flow, which chooses music for me based on my music habits. I have come to like it in a very short time. I’ve since installed it on my ancient Surface RT 64GB and it works like a charm. I haven’t tested it out on any of my other laptops yet but if it does integrate seamlessly with Cortana, then I guess Spotify won’t be getting my money anymore.

Although, I may have to just downgrade my account because I think my daughter really, really likes Spotify (because it’s what all the other cool kids have).

Who Wants To Be A Hectonaire?

After I clicked “SEND” on my submission to “The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction” I came up with the word ‘hectonaire’.

My chain of thought went like this:

  1. MF&SF pays upwards for 6 cents USD a word – which means my story would net me around $190 when they published it.
  2. It wouldn’t be millions, but I sure could take my family out to celebrate and buy a good friend of mine a nice bottle of booze.
  3. If a millionaire is someone who has million dollars or more, what do you call someone who has a hundred dollars or more?

Google didn’t help in that regard, but Wikipedia tells me ‘100 is the square of 10 (in scientific notation it is written as 102). The standard SI prefix for a hundred is “hecto-“.

This instantly gave me a word for my imagined, new found fortune. A hectonaire. Feel free to use it at your leisure. I know I will use it somewhere in a story sometime soon.

But, it turns out, that MF&SF wasn’t interested in my story. Which is great news. Because I got two things out of it that I didn’t have before I sent it.

  • Practically instantaneous feedback!

The editor got back to me in less than a week. That feels incredible to me. Someone other than me and my friend Corrie was reading something that I wrote.

  • A personal response from the editor!

Either that, or a really well worded form letter. But I am working with the belief that he took the time to craft this for my benefit. My heart swells every time I read it (which is about a dozen times so far in the last few hours). Here it is:

Dear Robert,

Thank you for giving me a chance to read “Beowulf Presley – Ninja Hunter.” Unfortunately, this story didn’t quite grab me and I’m going to pass on it for Fantasy & Science Fiction. I wish you best of luck finding the right market for it and hope that you’ll keep us in mind in the future. 

Best regards,

Charlie

C.C. Finlay, Editor
Fantasy & Science Fiction
fandsf.com | @fandsf

Who cares about being a hectonaire when I got stuff like this going on?

I think I will stay in submission mode for the rest of the month – going back over stories that I have in draft, polishing them up, and then sending them out.

Today is a good day, folks.

Finding Passion

I love a good diagram. It keeps a meeting flowing. Especially when everyone gets what they are seeing.

These four, simple circles are really the meaning of life – Work hard at what you love and become good at it – the world will find a need for you and provide the means for you to earn an income.

Because:

  • You have no choice in what you love. It is who you are.
  • You can choose what you are good at. That comes from hard work and dedication.
  • You cannot force the world to tell you what it needs. You need to be mindful and let it tell you in good time.
  • If you are good at what you do, the world will find a need for it, but you do not need to love it, which means you find comfort, but you are empty.
  • If what you love is what you are good at, but the world has no need for it, then you will not be paid for it, which means you are satisfied but do not feel accomplished.
  • If you love what you do, you are good at it, and the world needs it, then you are doing it for good reasons, but it cannot sustain you.
  • If you are meeting the world’s needs and you are doing what you love and getting paid for it, yet you are not very good at, you will live a life of uncertainty

This diagram is the essence of Ikagi and it is a part of Japanese culture and believed to be the source of long life.

The Japanese do not have a word for retirement. So long as they live according to those precepts above, they will always be busy, and they will always be honoured, because they will set the example for the generations that come after them.

That’s my plan, too. Love what I do, work hard at it, and trust the world will find a use for me and I will be able to earn a living. I will set an example for my children so that they will teach it to theirs.

Fan Boy Stuff

Just a list of points in the order they occurred to me:

  1. I have not seen “Black Panther” yet, but I do own it, so it’s just a matter of time
  2. I have not seen “Infinity War” yet and I thank the internet for not spoiling it for me, but I realize that can only last for so long
  3. I want “Solo” to explore the history of the Star Wars Universe outside of the Skywalkers and I want to relevancy to be satisfying, not shoehorned in
  4. I don’t know much about Han Solo outside of the movies because I didn’t read many of the novels or expanded universe or any of the video games – I am a fan, I just don’t have that much time
  5. From “Solo”, I want to know:
    1. What was the reason – other than testing a normal human’s resilience to pain when being subjected to the carbon freezing process to make sure that Luke wouldn’t be killed by it – for Vader to torture Han. Was there a larger thing at play here?
    2. Does the fact he was carbon frozen have anything to do with a threat that Jabba made to him in the past?
    3. Do we get to see Jabba again? Is he the main antagonist or someone new? Mind you, I haven’t dissected nor read any of the dissections of the trailer that has come out.
    4. Will there be a way for R2D2 and C3P0 to make it into the movie? How would that even be possible? Unless he manages to meet Leia as a child, in a parallel of how Anakin and Padme met. Because it would have to be as a child, because R2 and Threepio were given to Leia’s father after Anakin turned.
  6. I like “The Last Jedi” because:
    1. It could not have ended any other way. Luke died the same way Ben did – saving the last bits of the rebellion to give a “New Hope”
    2. He’s the Last Jedi in the same sense that the Supreme Leader was the last Supreme Leader
      1. They cleverly used the line from history relating to the death of a king and the rise of the new one. “The King is dead. Long live The New King”.
    3. It was smart, dramatic, and engaging. It had layers to it that allows it to be enjoyed over and over and over again. It has a “Wizard Of Oz” quality to it that lets it be seen differently based on how you feel about it
  7. I will have to wait to see “Deadpool 2” when it comes out for sale
    1. No way I can see that with anyone in my family. They simply won’t like it. But my son is a big fan of the comics. I haven’t let him see the original movie yet.
    2. My secret plan is to be in good enough physical shape to be able to wear a Deadpool costume for Halloween. I have one picked out on cosplaysky.com that I want to buy
  8. I want the “The Fantastic Four” to be done right (third time is a charm):
    1. I think that somehow “Ant Man” and maybe “Doctor Strange” will give us a portal into the “Fantastic Four” universe, and that will be Phase 2 of the Marvel Universe. It will have to do more about money than anything, which makes me sad but I understand
    2. I want the movie arc to have to do with Doctor Doom being someone who has used the mystical powers like Doctor Strange to enchant a suit of armor like Iron Man’s and try to take over the world
  9. I want “Alpha Flight” to be made into a movie
    1. The first 16 issues of the original series is enough material to make a GREAT trilogy of movies. And it would give a chance to reboot Wolverine.
  10. This is the Golden Age of Geeks and Nerds
    1. All of the comics and things I enjoyed and had to keep to myself that no one else seemed to grasp (least of all my parents and most of the people I called friends) are now on the lips and in the hearts of most of the world and that makes me so happy I could just burst.

 

Beowulf Presley – Ninja Hunter

He is the adopted child of Audrey and Gabe Harris, a pair of circus performers who work at one of the last, classical carnivals in North America, called The Avalon Irregulars.

For twenty years, Gabe sent money every week to his childhood friend Sebbie to maintain a place in his hometown so that after he married Audrey and applied for adoption, the agency would find that the couple were well established in the community. Within hours of coming home from the hospital, Bey was on the road and stayed that way most of his life, earning his way across two countries with his parents.

By the time he was twenty one, his parents now owned the carnival and he managed it full tine. He could corral lions like the bravest animal tamer, could hurl knives blindfolded and avoid injuring darling damsels with laser accuracy, was able to throw his voice with the ablest of ventriloquists, could guess the ages of anyone with a year – their weight within a few pounds – and could convince the soundest skeptics he could see the future.

Being adopted never mattered to him. Working as part of a carnival where his mother was the bearded lady and she was married to “Shortest Man In the World”, being discriminated against for being a visual minority was hardly among his concerns. However, on his twenty first birthday, when he received a package wrapped in brown paper and bound with old twine, he couldn’t help be intrigued by the gilt framed picture it contained. The glossy headshot of Elvis Presley had two words written on it in thick, black Sharpie ink.

“Your Father”

The adventures to follow the receipt of that picture – not the least of which having to slay his two childhood friends, the lions, Romulus and Remus – were to exceed the hero for which he was named but it all started with the ninjas who burned down The Carnival Of The Avalon Irregulars.

  • I submitted a short story to “The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction” about a guy who framed his wife so he could sit and read this book (“Beowulf Presley – Ninja Hunter”) in peace and quiet. Bey doesn’t play a huge role in the story, but I think it would make a wicked short film. Maybe I should write the screenplay?