T-30

 

Posted: 26 March 2014.

One of the most iconic posters... EVER
One of the most iconic posters… EVER

“The Terminator is a blazing, cinematic comic book, full of virtuoso moviemaking…” – Variety (Dec 31, 1983).

It’s hard to believe, but that sci-fi classic: The Terminator is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year! In October 1984, this low-budget action thriller became an instant cult fave, secured the star-status of Arnold Schwarzenegger and launched the career of James Cameron.

Its plot is well-known universally, so there really is no need for Bradscribe to mull over it for the umpteenth time, but as a keen scriptwriter, it would be interesting to find out how this inherently absurd premise got pitched in the first place!

Let’s be honest, the plot is so blatantly absurd, but the energy and enthusiasm with which this package is delivered is instantly compelling, no matter how many times you watch.

The script offers such a ripe collection of great, memorable dialogue; it really has been a struggle to refrain from citing the numerous lines that could have been quoted here!

"It absolutely will not stop...!"
“It absolutely will not stop…!”

“As for Schwarzenegger… with his choppy hair, cryptic shades and state-of-the-’80s leather ensemble, he looks like the Incredible Hulk gone punk” – Richard Corliss.

What more can be said about this classic movie, 30 years later? For one thing, it’s still relevant. It’s influence can be seen in dozens of copycat, albeit inferior, vehicles. Looking at it retrospectively, the plot is rather ingenious in its sheer simplicity.

The three principal characters were memorably portrayed by the respective actors, so it is alarming to learn that none of them were first choice. Is it possible to imagine Lance Henriksen (who would play ill-fated Detective Vukovich), Mel Gibson or (heaven forbid!) OJ Simpson as the killer cyborg? Regarding the latter, as Cameron observed at the time, it would be just wrong to have: “such a nice guy playing the part of a ruthless killer.” Arnie made it his own, so anyone else as this distinctive figure would be unthinkable.

Linda Hamilton made Sarah Connor a career-defining role, but the list of would-be contenders for the part during its preliminary stages reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood in the early ’80s!

Considering what a a cold and merciless machine this cyborg really is, it was a nice ironic touch that on the stolen police car driven so recklessly, the door is adorned with the motto:“to care and to protect” By the time the car had crashed, this writer was surprised to notice that all of a sudden the door read: “Dedicated to serve.”

"God, you can go crazy thinking about all this..."
“God, you can go crazy thinking about all this…”

“I’m not stupid, you know. They cannot make things like that yet” – Sarah Connor.

The Terminator has had three sequels, but none could come close to recreating its raw and original power. Now, it is difficult to imagine the James Cameron being responsible for a low-budget movie, but everyone has to start somewhere. It is astounding to think that when Sarah Connor gets jilted via answering machine, it is Mr Cameron himself providing the voice we hear. 

TechNoir – the nightclub in which Kyle Reese finds Sarah Connor and confronts the T-800 – has its own story to tell. This site on Pico Boulevard had recently become vacant, so the set designers moved in. Apparently, during filming, people were convinced that it was a real club and had to be turned away. Amazing how a venue playing such dull pop music could be so heaving.

It should be said that the animated scenes of the T-800 exoskeleton were well done for its time, despite the limitations of budget and technology available then. Perhaps it is this aspect which has causedsome people out there to believe that the time is right for it to be remade… sheesh! As those of you few intrepid souls who have been following this Blog will know, Bradscribe despises remakes with every fibre of his being.

To conclude, this film’s reputation will not waver. It remains a bravura piece of movie-making, deservedly polling high in Best Film polls. For once, the trailer got it right: “An adventure unlike anything you’ve seen before!”  

So unique, so distinctive, it is hard to envisage seeing its like again…

 

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The Cosmic Latte: How The Night Sky Inspires And Boggles

Posted: 21 March 2014

Wherever you are in the world, the night sky always amazes
Wherever you are in the world, the night sky always amazes

“…Every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.  

Many moons ago, when standing in front of big brilliant bonfires on chilly Autumn nights, Bradscribe would crane his beady little eyes to scour the wondrous aerial canopy of stars. Through college, university, a mundane office job and now freelance writing and multifarious online shenanigans, the stars have never failed to bewitch me.

At this stage of my life, settled in the humid climate of Southeast Asia, the comfortingly cool nocturnal breeze offers a welcome respite. Working into the night (and usually right through until dawn) there is alway the chance of stepping out into the quiet night and gazing skywards to the myriad of shiny dots sprawled across the dark blanket of night.   

Everyone should stop to savour the sheer silence, serenity and solitude of the night sky.

Starlight – in technical terms – is electromagnetic radiation. Interestingly enough, while researching my piles files of astronomical literature, someone somewhere has determined that the average colour of starlight resembles “a shade of yellowish white,” amusingly branded as: “Cosmic Latte” (…!)

Admittedly, on one or two occasions, characters in my fiction have sought solace in the night sky as they try to unravel the problems in their lives… which this writer afflicted on them, of course! By gad, what a bounder this lil bunny is! 

The night time is the right time
The night time is the right time

“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly coloured than the day” – Vincent Van Gogh.

During the good or bad times, productive or slow sessions, or just lying on the beach pondering where the next stage of my life should lead, the night sky – modern light pollution permitting – has always made for a marvellous spectacle. So it comes as absolutely no surprise that people from ancient cultures around the world held the night sky in high esteem; it influenced their knowledge of agricultural, astronomical and astrological matters.

Let’s not forget the aid of celestial navigation to ancient seafarers, with 58 stars selected and named in antiquity by the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Babylonians and Arabs. The most notable of these is Polaris, the “North Star,” due to its proximity to the north celestial pole.

Despite the persistence of stargazing since time immemorial, this year sees only the 200th anniversary of the establishment of study into starlight spectroscopy: the examination of the stellar spectra.

Some gaze skywards to catch the arrival of an extraterrestrial kind; but then again, this bunny’s lived long enough to realise that – considering all the despicable and negative commonalities unfortunately prevalent throughout human nature – if aliens are intelligent and able to travel here, they would be imbued with the good sense to stay away from the likes of us!

The constellation of Orion in the southwest sky
The constellation of Orion in the southwest sky

“Humans are natural-born scientists. When we’re born, we want to know why the stars shine…” – Michio Kaku.  

The most beguiling feature of the night sky has to be the constellation of Orion. It is certainly the most recognisable, and one of the most awe-inspiring celestial wonders. Named after the hunter of Greek mythology, it is visible predominantly during winter in the southwest sky.

The Orion Nebula is a star formation 1,500 light years from Earth. The three stars of Alnilam, Mintaka and Alnitak, constitute the feature known as Orion’s Belt; the Ancient Egyptians deemed it necessary to align the three pyramids at Giza with Orion’s Belt. The Great Pyramid even has air shafts pointing to Orion. Trying to explain the need to recreate this on Earth has fuelled many theories and discussions, but the real answer still eludes us. 

In the scheme of things, the chance to spot a shooting star is always nice; astoundingly, around 15,000 tonnes of these meteoroids enter Earth’s atmosphere each year.

For thousands of years, people have gazed skywards; it’s gratifying to realise that one is a participant in such an exalted pastime. It is hoped that long after this lil bunny has shuffled off this mortal plane, countless more curious souls will eagerly revel in the wonders of the night sky.

 

The Sensational Inspirational Blog

Posted: 15 March 2014

Concentrate the mind on the task at hand
Concentrate the mind on the task at hand

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve, regardless of  how many times you may have failed in the past” – Napoleon Hill.

By far, the best machine we possess is our own mind. Fortunately, Bradscribe was blessed with awesome English skills. Ever since one can remember, writing – whether it be fiction or non-fiction – has always played a prominent role in my life.

However, in the last 48 hours, a fearsome fever: skin burning up; nerve endings exceptionally sensitive; splitting headache; dizzy spells; you-name-it-this-bunny’s-had-it, has struck me down. Big. Time.

In short, my body feels like it’s been hit by a car.

Obviously, this has put a serious dent in my writing/blogging schedule. It’s amazing to think that prior to this unsavoury onset, my mind was positively brimming with good ideas; but when this crept up on me unbeknownst, all that promising stuff evaporated. Too often in my tender youth, illnesses would beset my system; thus, too often my active imagination wondered how these despicable intrusions could be willed out of my system…

Consider, dear friends, the marvel and sheer complexity of the human brain; it puts into perspective how poor this annoying so-called cutting-edge technology we are compelled to buy with money we don’t have, really is…

Don't give up! Savour the good things in life
Don’t give up! Savour the good things in life

“Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Don’t sell out” – Christopher Reeve.

How on Earth does the essence of an idea ever mterialise in the first place?

Apparently what drives the creative processes remains inexplicable, but what we do know: when ideas are generated (especially by this undervalued noddle), rather than emanating from either the left or right sides of the brain, actually both hemispheres work in unison to create that special spark. But what produces the motivation? That need to carry on when all hope is lost?

Yes folks, Kismet has blown sand in Bradscribe’s face more times than he cares to remember.

Once upon a time, a veritable stream of rejections swirled my way. Then it was reduced to a mere trickle. Now, not only have they dried up, but due to those copious never-ending technical difficulties, my Inbox has become inaccessible.

How – in the face of such sheer adversity – does this lil bunny manage to keep going?

"By living life for itself, don't you see?Deriving pleasure from the gift of pure being"
“By living life for itself, don’t you see?Deriving pleasure from the gift of pure being”

“If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him” – Buddha.

No matter what technical, physical or financial problems lay siege to my battered mind – living in a country where Buddhism takes precedence – the gift of Meditation proved to be such a benefit. It came in particularly handy during my Southeast Asian office job, where the unfriendly inhouse atmosphere and stress combined with the noise and chaos of city life.

Even now, when my carefully constructed plans have not gone as well as hoped, the time and opportunity to sit back and meditate does come in pretty handy. Considering all that has been lost over the last few years – money, work, data disks, contacts, friends, trust, motivation – somehow this humble blogging bunny, (still a small name in a big Blogosphere) has come through so much (a little ruffled), yet persevered and retained his hop, skip and jump.

Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, but make the most of what we have today, that’s for sure. Perhaps this is the main reason why most of my creative processes are reserved for reconstructing history. This discipline offers reassuring escapism as well as the comfort of nostalgia.

In an otherwise disappointing television adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles (1980), a speech of such insightful and inspirational depth concerning the Secret of Life was given by a Martian – a figment of the past; his words have resonated with me since that first viewing many moons ago. They have invigorated my own writing sometimes, and perhaps lie at the core of why Bradscribe just refuses to give up.  

It is hoped this quote will have a profound effect on you, dear reader. Goodnight. 

“Secret! There is no secret. Anyone with eyes can see the way to live.

“By watching life, observing nature, cooperating with it. Making common cause with the process of existence…

“…Life is it’s own answer, accept it and enjoy it day by day. Live as well as possible, expect no more. Destroy nothing, humble nothing, look for fault in nothing, leave unsullied and untouched all that is beautiful. Hold that which lives in all reverence, for life is given by the sovereign of our universe, given to be savoured, to be luxuriated in, to be… respected.

“But that’s no secret, you’re intelligent! You know as well as I what has to be done.”

 

The Appliance of Science

Posted: 9 March 2014

Putting the science into science fiction
Putting the science into science fiction

“Fiction stimulates science as it points to a future we should strive for” – Siddhartha Srinivasa. 

How much science is there in science fiction these days?

When working on sci-fi stories many moons ago, the attention would usually stay on the drama, before worrying about the scientific subtleties later. Yet watching some prominent movies in the genre, it looks like nobody else bothered to research the basic laws of frizbees physics either!

As these words are being meticulously crafted, the reboot of Cosmos is about to be aired. The original, with Carl Sagan, is fondly remembered as such a masterly blend of enlightening education and engaging entertainment. Its knowledgable and charming host has sadly departed, so it would be difficult to find a personality strong and smart enough to take his place. Hopefully, a new generation of scientists can be inspired by this venture to advance our knowledge further.

Thre are various movies praised by scientists for their effectiveness at presenting science in a good light, such as: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The Andromeda Strain (1971) and Blade Runner (1982).

Nevertheless, there are those celluloid offerings which can only be the work of dreamers, bereft of any cosmological concerns or, for that matter, devoid of any essential logic. 

Some more gravity in sci-fi movies would be nice
Some more gravity in sci-fi movies would be nice

“Some cause must have created all this, but what caused that cause?” – Dr Hans Reinhardt.  

The very first movie that Bradscribe watched at the cinema was The Black Hole, Disney’s first jump onto the Star Wars bandwagon. At such a young and impressionable age, it seemed like a mesmerising romp with a big spaceship, a coterie of droids large and small, and that gargantuan terror itself: a perpetually swirling masterpiece of late-’70s visual effects.

Unfortunately, the benefit of hindsight and acquired cosmological knowledge has put this old fave under scrutiny. Everyone can walk, run and fire blasters, even when the integrity of the USS Cygnus is breached, even blasted open! Let’s face it, grown accustomed to stock footage of real astronauts free-floating inside the orbiting ISS, how can people in any space movie still stick to the floor when their spacecraft is literally breaking up? Considering this year’s Best Picture is entitled: Gravity, let’s have some more of it!

And how is everyone all able to breathe? Honestly!

What about that Black HoleV.I.N.CENT and his human buddies get sucked in, swirled around a tad, then spat out, apparently unscathed – a likely story!

The Core (2003) is often included in Most Implausible Sci-Fi Movies lists, but then, it is defeated at the outset by the absurd Earth-stopped-rotating premise. Loved Stanley Tucci’s performance, although that doesn’t defend its multitude of mistakes. For instance, when a colossal diamond breaches the hull of their amazing tunnelling machine, the crew complain how hot it’s getting. Ha! Most likely, magma would flood in and melt them all within seconds. The End. 

Probably the most cringe-inducing of these accursed misfires is Armageddon (1998) in which the implausibilities are too numerous and imbecilic to dissect individually here, so we’ll just move on…

Dark and cramped: Alien helped give a more realistic sci-fi view
Dark and cramped: Alien helped give a more realistic sci-fi view

“… A future where space has become part of the industrial fabric. It will be a commonplace working environment, sometimes boring, sometimes dangerous, like an offshore oil-rig – not an exotic lab” – Tom Jones (the astronaut).

One of the top sci-fi films highly regarded amongst the scientific community is Alien (1979).

Most significantly, the commercial towing spaceship Nostromo is slow, dark, cramped and prone to tech glitches, most unlike the zippy lightspeed spacecraft of more fanciful interstellar fare.

And it’s gratifying to see the three members of the landing-party trudge around in bulky, cumbersome spacesuits, rather than be “beamed” down in nothing more than an ill-fitting pair of pyjamas and combat boots to a planet with a miraculously breathable atmosphere…

But the Alien itself, albeit seen for the most part in fleeting glimpses, is not only a wonder of conceptual design, brought brilliantly to realisation by Swiss surrealist: H. R. Giger, but, as any bioengineering researcher will tell you, its xenomorph life-cycle is apparently derived from parasitic wasps on Earth.

Here and there, someone deems creative licence necessary to enhance the science in science fiction movies.

Somehow, methinks Carl Sagan would definitely not have approved.

 

Determined to Declutter (or: The Stuff That Matters)

Posted: 4 March 2014

Sooty likes my stuff, as long as it's comfortable.
Sooty likes my stuff, as long as it’s comfortable.

“Stuff is everything” – Malcolm Lee Bradford.  

It wasn’t until we moved house last year that Bradscribe realised how much stuff had amassed after a whole decade living and working in Southeast Asia. The wife groaned, not hesitating to admit that it would bring great pleasure to set it all alight.

Years to build – seconds to burn…  

Even the removal men complained about the sheer weight of my stuff. Typical, lesser mortals such as these do not comprehend or appreciate the value of our stuff. Stuff is powerful; stuff is relentless. It can gather and multiply unexpectedly, like an expanding and amorphous malevolent thing from a sci-fi/horror B-movie.

Naturally, those of you writers like me who revel in research will understand that when we collect our sources in various forms, it causes a seemingly insurmountable amount of stuff to just build up at an alarming rate.

No need to fret about your stuff on your own, my friend.

Determined to conquer the curse of my clutter, it was tackled systematically, so gradually the volume of stuff has been significantly reduced. Too good to be true? Not at all; if my stuff can be controlled, so can yours! Read on…

My former office; not my stuff. My stuff is more attractively laid out.
My former office; not my stuff. My stuff is more attractively laid out.

“Every time I have moved house, those first few days  – when the space is empty… are intoxicating. But… the clutter returns with all the vigour of a virulent strain of mould” – Emma Beddington.   

Of all the most incredible remarks this blogger has ever heard is: “Why do you have so much stuff?”

Yes, my jaw hit the floor when that preposterous statement was uttered. Honestly, how can anyone begin to explain this question, let alone answer it?

Everyone has stuff: such is the rich tapestry of life, different people have different types of stuff. After all, the only reason we buy/rent houses is so that we can have somewhere safe and spacious to store our stuff. When we go out, we usually end up buying more stuff. When we visit friends’ storage areas homes, we judge their stuff; and the only reason we go on vacation is, invariably, to accumulate more stuff… isn’t it? This seems to be quite obvious.

However, there comes a time when we all have to step back (if there is room amongst all that stuff) and assess how to reduce some of it. For starters, there is never enough time to read everything we have; realistically, if you have not looked at a certain item in the last four years, then you probably never will. In other words, it wasn’t that inportant; discard it pronto.

This stock photo reassures me no end; my office will NEVER look like this. Honest.
This stock photo reassures me no end; my office will NEVER look like this. Honest.

“You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?” – Steven Wright.  

Looking for answers on how to manage your stuff? This blogger can help.

The moment when Bradscribe noticed the sheer stuff overload came when he was annoyed to find… that nothing could be found. The most satisfying strategy to take was to halve the number of book projects in progress. Wherever possible, notes and papers no longer relevant could be discarded; some data had taken ages and lots of time and energy to acquire, so it was agonising to let go… but let go you must. Be strict.        

Don’t abandon your work for a day endeavouring to attack all those piles and pillars, mountains and mounds of stuff. Believe me: you will get nowhere; after hours of sorting, sifting and scrutinizing stuff, nothing will look like it’s been sorted out! Most importantly, the office will certainly end up in a messier state than when you started!  

But do not fret, Dear Reader (and Fellow Writer/Researcher), here is a handy tip on how you can declutter effectively:

Just take one hour a day (two if need be) to deal with a little bit of stuff at a time. Select a pile: deliberately sift through the tatty yellowed morsels at the bottom of it; chances are you will find items you thought were lost/forgotten forever. Stay sane. Enjoy the clear-out in gradual stages…

Every little helps.