There’s a line that goes something to the effect of “it’s not a good book, but there’s a good book in there”.

It’s a good line. The most recent high-profile example of this sort of thing is probably Harper Lee’s “Go Set A Watchman”. The editors read that, said the line, then that got turned into To Kill A Mockingbird. (Of course, now, there’s reason to argue that the better book is the first one… or that Go Set A Watchman isn’t a good book, but there’s an entirely different good book in there.)

It’s true for movies as well. I remember watching, for example, Iron Man 2 and thinking that the movie with Robert Downey in it wasn’t that good, but I *REALLY* wanted to see the Whiplash movie. Or The Road Warrior or Mad Max. You can kinda see what George Miller is going for.

Luckily, in the case of George Miller, he *FINALLY* got to make the movie he wanted to make when Fury Road got greenlit. (Personally, I think that Beyond Thunderdome is a masterpiece, but I understand that I don’t have a whole lot of people who agree with me on that one.) You’ve got the guy who is/feels responsible for the deaths of his loved ones. He’s wandering in the world and just trying to get to someplace where he can maybe be less haunted and, on his way to this imagined utopia, he finds himself responsible for people again. He doesn’t want to be! He actively fights against it. But the call will not be refused and he’s responsible for them… and, of course, some of them die. He fails again. At least he’s pretty good at revenge. After all of the right people are killed and he gets the survivors to the promised land… he moves on. He can see it, but not enter it. And then it happens again. Forever. And it took George Miller four attempts to finally figure out the story he wanted to tell.

What brought this on was me watching some Clint Eastwood clips on the youtube and stumbling across the axe handle scene from Pale Rider. (Content warning: violence, machismo)


It wasn’t a good movie, really. But, dang, there was a good movie in there. It turned into Unforgiven, I think.

After he figured out the story he wanted to tell.

So… what are you reading and/or watching?

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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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28 thoughts on “Sunday!

  1. Maybe it’s something where stories are only considered good when they’re of their time.

    Like, if we mined into Go Set A Watchman today, we’d write a completely different 2018 book than the one that they mined out in 1960.

    And the 2060 book that they might mine out of that would be a completely different book again.

    And in the same way that we look at Pale Rider and see that there’s a good movie in there, at the time, it came out to *HUGE* acclaim. Like, in its moment, it was the story that Eastwood finally figured out that he wanted to tell. Mining it today would give us a different film than Unforgiven.

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  2. “Content warning…machismo” :-) :-)

    Pale Rider was a good Western despite being derivative of Shane, but that’s probably unfair to Pale Rider since the whole “lone mysterious stranger rides into town, defeats the bad guys, and rides away” is a trope all unto it’s own. And anyway, every other Western is playing for second place behind The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

    I can’t get on board with Thunderdome being a masterpiece, but if you asked me to name the reasons why Road Warrior was better, I don’t know that I could, other than pointing out that Max had his V8 Interceptor in one but not the other…?

    Over the past two-ish years, I’ve been working my way through Terry Brooks’ Shannarah books. I read the original Shannarah series back in junior high and I confess to not remembering much about them. A short time ago MTV (?) produced The Shannarah Chronicles which started out well enough, but by the end I was watching just to see how bad it could get (pretty bad, as it turns out). Anyway, that regrettable MTV series got me curious about the books, and that’s when I discovered that Brooks had written somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-ish more Shannarah books! The series are all independent-of-but-related-to each other and begin way back in our time as the world is beginning to fall into darkness, and they’re surprisingly good. I’m looking forward to rereading the original Shannarah triology to uncover what my junior high-self missed in the first reading.

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      • Lord Humungus’ speech is an appeal to the Outback that is gone–a civilization wherein those holding the refinery might actually have been able to walk away with their lives. Humungus knows that leaving them to the Wasteland is a death sentence, and it’s likely that his reavers are going to hunt them all down later anyway, regardless. What Humungus is saying is, “Look, you can either die quickly right now or die slowly later. Either way, we’re taking that refinery, so why don’t you just make this easier on all of us?”

        Dr. Dealgood’s (I had to look that up) speech acknowledges the toothiness and clawiness of post-apocalypse Outback society and recognizes that these instincts need an outlet or their tenuous civilization will eat itself. Dealgood is saying, “Look, because of this dispute, somebody is going to end up dead, so we might as well use this conflict as an opportunity to burnish the thin veneer of civilization we’ve got here and enjoy a show while we’re at it.” Dr. Dealgood and Don King, I think, would have a lot to talk about.

        Between the two, I find Humungus’ Neutral Evil more appealing than Dealgood’s Lawful Evil.

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  3. John Varley just published the long-awaited third “metal” book:

    Steel Beach (1992)
    The Golden Globe (1998)
    Irontown Blues (2018)

    so, rereading the first two. He’s a brilliant short-story writer and an OK novelist, but it’s fun to revisit the Eight Worlds.

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  4. Towards the end of my anime watching days, I tended to think that many of the series would improve if they could cut down on the anime tropes and fan service. There would be this decent plot and scene that would get ruined by the need to put in fan service or some light anime trope comedy. I kept wanting the creators not to pander to the audience with these things so the final show would be more solid.

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    • My bet is that in a lot of cases there’s good material in the manga. It’s kind of the flipside of what Jaybird’s talking about. There used to be something great, but they cut the best parts out. Hey, let’s take this 10-year, 1000-page masterpiece and get rid of everything but the cute school uniforms!

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  5. The only reason we don’t think that Pale Rider is a great movie any more is that Clint made Unforgiven after it. Unforgiven has the line, “It’s a hell of a thing to kill a man, you not only take everything he has, but everything he’s ever gonna have”.

    Unforgiven categorically rejects the machismo that Pale Rider both embraces and questions.

    Here’s an essay question: Unforgiven is Pale Rider plus feminism. True or false. Discuss.

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  6. I haven’t seen Pale Rider come since it came out, but it has GOT to be better than Unforgiven. OK, maybe it doesn’t have to be better, but Unforgiven is not a good movie. Why, it fails its premise of non-heroes by having Munny walk into the saloon at the end and getting complete ownage of Little Bill and his men, just because… something.

    I think I am the only one who feels this way sometimes. But it is what it is.

    Still wading through 1Q84, but as it is broken up into three books (not too surprising at 900 odd pages) I have been reading British mysteries from the ’30’s. I do recommend 1Q84 though, it is deceptively good.

    Watching the BBC series Edwardian Farm and its various secondary series, Victorian Farm, War Farm, Tudor Farm and finally Full Steam Ahead. It is a pair of archeologists and a food historian spending a year living and working in that milieu. The Full Steam Ahead is about the rise of the british steam railways, at how it changed every part of British society. I had learned most of the farming bits in Dorothea Hartly’s books Lost Engish Country Life and Food in England, but it is nice to see much of it implemented.

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  7. I’m not sure I can even talk about Unforgiven because I love it so much that I almost can’t be rational about it; it’s in my desert island five, without question. I’ve seen it probably around a hundred times and I honestly like it more and more every time. The fact that there are people who dislike it is something I can’t even wrap my brain around. In fact, just writing these words makes me want to go watch it again right now.

    As for what I’m reading: I recently acquired an absolutely gorgeous copy of Tom Holland’s Rubicon from the Folio Society, so I’m re-reading that for the first time in many years. If you’re a Roman history fan, you’re doing yourself a real disservice if you haven’t read this yet.

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  8. Hi, I’m late to the game and I’m not even sure if Jaybird takes note of when I leave comments here or when I leave voicemails. My insecurity makes me think I’m still a moped.

    Right now I’m reading five blog posts. For the Love of Science Fiction and People Like You More Than You Know, both at Scientific American. An article about an over-luminous brown dwarf at Astrobites. NPR’s coverage of the re-opening of the solar observatory in Sunspot, NM and an editorial upon that situation from the Albuquerque Journal.

    I should be reading my friend’s book Time Loops (by Eric Wargo, from Anomalist Books) about the peer-reviewed science supporting phenomena like retrocausation and precognition.

    Also I’m going through Changeling: The Lost again because I’m part of a nascent NWoD game that’s going to go from being mortals into playing changelings.

    For what it’s worth, Changeling is the freshest thing put out by White Wolf in ages. Yes, it came out in 2007 and I bought a copy in 2011. Vampires are cliche kaj tro gejeco, Werewolf is just about combat monsters, Mage draws upon adolescent power fantasies, Promethian could have promise but it’s so dark and hopeless requiring a special kind of storyteller and a special group of players. It’d be a discussion, or a single post, to describe why Changeling and Promethean’s core goal of regaining one’s humanity is so poignant.

    Next to me I have Eudora Welty’s “One Writer’s Beginnings” and oughta read that book.

    On the other hand, I need to be writing a short story I’ve been cooking in the old noggin for a few months.

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