Shove Piggy Shove!: 2 Cakes Too Many

A Rebellion Built On Cake…

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“The Son Of Fartlighter Must Not Become A Glutton…” – Emperor Zan Doka. 

Planet- Killer!

Zamora – one of the last Federated Planets in the Hugivzatos System to hold out against the Zandokan Imperial Onslaught – has incurred the wrath of Zegreatme, Dark Lord of Zan Doka.

He has set the brand new flagship: the Imperial Ztodgeztonker, armed with the Ztellar Converter, a superweapon capable of destroying an entire planet, on a course towards Zamora…

Pledged to defend the planet at any cost is cake-scoffing bum hero: Brad Fartlighter. Him and ‘is indomitable band of outlaws: Brad Company are already back on Zamora after another daring raid across one of the Imperial provinces, but not all is well…

Poor little Carrie sat at the kitchen table of her mother’s home sobbing uncontrollably.

The Zandokans had just skedaddled, after wrecking the garden furniture, scaring off her friends and callously destroying her prezzies. 

Uff, the scaly-skinned bounders had even confiscated her birthday cake… 

“They completely RUINED her party!” wailed Tanya, her shocked mother, who sat in the kitchen watching Nacho and Harris try and clear the debris. Lexi sat beside her, trying to console her.

“Gottverdamnt…” muttered Brad Fartlighter. “If only the Calista had come outta hyperspace a tad sooner… I coulda-“

“No, Brad, even you couldn’t ‘ave done anythin’. They would have captured you, and your cake would now be in the hands of the Empire… “

She was a longtime pal, but even those words cut him to the core stronger than steel. 

“Yeah, but… As a Galactic Hero, I’m supposed ta be in the right place at the right time, an’ all… So sorry Carrie… “Me an’ the Co. are gonna do everythin’ we can to make yer birfday as snazzy as can be again…” Brad muttered, but the girl did not look up.

Tanya held her daughter ever so tightly: “Oh, those Imperial thugs! My kids…! How could they do such a- a-“ and with that, she broke down in Lexi’s arms…

“Don’t fret, lov,” Brad reassured. “Me an’ the Company are goin’ ta deal with ’em right away – an’ ya needn’t worry aboutcha bairns! Isn’t that right, fellas?”

Brad Company each offered their commiserations as they filed out. Except for Lexi; she paused at the door, looking solemn.

“You fellas run along; I’m gonna stay behind an’ look after these guys.”

“Good on yer, Lex!” Brad replied. “We’ll keep ya posted.”

“Fart! Mr. Fart! Hey, wait up!”

Carrie’s brother, Timmy, came running out to Brad.

“Are ya gonna get those Zandokans? Put one between the eyes for me, will ya?!”

“Whoa, Trooper! Strong words for such a pint-sized Rebel. You gotta-“

Only then did Brad notice the tears brimming in the boy’s eyes; he knelt and gave Timmy a big hug.

“…I can promise ya that Brad’s gonna get ’em… Wipe those tears away, kid. Ya gotta be strong fer yer Muvva an’ Carrie now, y’hear?” 

Brad handed out one of his lollipops – wishing he could give so much more – and strode, heavy-hearted, back to the Calista. 

“Is he housebroken, or is he going to leave batteries all over the floor?” – Miles Monroe.

The Calista Blockhead veered through the Hugivzatos System en route to intercept the Zandokan Imperial Fleet.

“Hey, ‘Arris,” Helmsman Gaz Murphy wondered.On our last raid, didn’tcha capture an Imperial Service Droid? And reprogram it?”

“Yeah man!” Harris Wrench, the Calista’s Engineer, beamed with pride. “Got ‘im right ‘ere!”

A tall, powerful, yet long-suffering bipedal droid plodded forward.

“Ay em B2-BEN-D, Zerveez Droid, Zema Zeriez. Ya vont Zerveez – Ay giv you Zerveez-“

“Whoa, excellente, amigo!” Gaz gasped in amazement. “Hey, BEN, ya ready ta work wonders fer us?” 

The droid looked irritable. “…Not really, Urfmairn. Thet wuz zuch en eencunveenienz tekkin’ me away from my Eempereeal blizz…” 

“Well, you’re gonna-“

“Huh… mek me, Urfmairn…”

“Huh, hoighty toighty…!” 

The droid stepped menacingly closer: “En’ enuthair theenk: zeez eedeeot failed to give me an oil barf…”

“Did ‘e now…? Well, Iron Nerk, we can’t afford such luxuries aboard the Calista, y’know-“

“Jeez, vot kinduva Meeky Mouze show air you lot runneenk heere?!”

“Look, I’m famished, BEN – go fry some chips-“

“Huh, go fry your head, Urfmairn…”

“Hey, ‘Arris…” Gaz whispered. “D’ya think ya reprog-job… y’know, was extensive enough?”

At that moment, Brad trudged onto the Bridge, bedecked in the biochemech armoured suit of a Zandokan Shokk Trooper. 

“Ay caramba! Here’s your helmet, Commandante,” Nacho chipped in. “Where you want it?”

“ON ME ‘EAD, SON! Where else, Nach?! Fer goodness sake! Flamin’ Nora…”

“Madre de dios, I don’t know… I have a bad feelin’ about th-”

“Stow it, Nach. I got this plan, an’ it’s as hot as me pants!”

Harris took one butcher’s and wrinkled his nose: “Uff, too hunky for a Shokk Trooper?”

“Aww, leave it out, ‘Arris! I’m takin’ an awful risk, amigo. This ‘ad bet’er work…”

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Luke Skywalker: “Why didn’t you say so before?”

Han Solo: “I did say so before!”

Meanwhile, aboard the Ztodgeztonker: 

“Zir!” piped one of the console operators on the Bridge.

“Yez? Vot know?!” yelled Zegreatme.

“Ay hef detected a deezturbenz urn Level 1138.”

“Level 1138? Zat eez ze Control Centair fer ze Ztellar Convertair! Put ze ZZTV urn ze main zcreen, eemmeediatly!”

“Eet eez Troopair FU421, Yer Exzellenzy.”

The shot of a blatant act of sabotage relayed on the main screen.

“Votzevukk eez he doeenk…?!”

Zegreatme bolted outta his seat as if an electric charge had shot up ‘is high-an’-mighty arse. 

“BLAZEZ! Zat eez ze tallezt Troopair Ay evair did zee! Ehr… FU421, vhy airen’t yo at yer purzt?”

FU421 turned round to face the camera.

“Who, me? Oh, er… vitel repairz-“

Troopair… vot eez your urpairateenk numbair…?”

“Numbair 2-5… zeex… wurn, wurn-“

“HA! GOTCHAIR, ya zaboteur-zwine, yo! Zat eez NUR urpairateenk numbair! 

“Oh, Blimey Charley, zat’z-!”

“WETT…!” Zegreatme’s bionic fist shot into the air. “Wett a meenit… NURBUDDY elze een ze galaxy toks laik ZAT. GUARDZ! Remurv zat troopair ent breeng heem to ME!”

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“We’re gonna do this!” – Poe Dameron. 

FU421 was led by heavily armed escort onto the Bridge; Zegreatme strode forth to confront him:

“Troopair: yo vill remurv yer helmet and tell me yer nam…”

FU421 did as he was told, and all the Zandokans on the Bridge gasped as the galactic hero revealed himself.

“Me name is ‘Arrison Ford, Battleforce Commander of the Galactic Defence Militia, Sworn Defender of the Federated Planet of Zamora. Owner of a dodgy bike an’ some mouldy pretzels. An’ I WILL HAVE ME CAKE! In this Prison Barge. Or the next.”

“WHOA, heh heh! ZWIVEL ME ZYDWEZ! Vot a zpeech! …But pointlezz. Prepair to meet thy DOME, Fertlittair… but, er, veally – too hurnky fer a Shokk Troopair?”

“Aow, bloomin’ ‘eck, Zeg, don’t you start!”

“Gentlemen, Ay tell yo, zeez Urfdawg hez bin a cunztent pen – laike a boil urn ze burm fer too lonk! Zo… Bred, vot breengz yo crawleenk oat frum undair yer wretched ztern zeez tem, eh?”

“Ah, put a cork in it, Zeg! Do wit’ me whatever yer foul bonce can muster, but let Zamora go! I won’t stand aroun’ an’ watch while ya-”

“HA! Do may lugholez hear raight?! Ze gret hero eez lewzeenk ee’z tempair weev Zegreatme!”

Brad lunged forward and started knocking all over the Dark Lord’s armour. A shrill clanging sound reverberated all around the Bridge; the officers present gasped even louder.

“‘Ere, ‘ow come yer suit’s thicker than mine-?”

“GERROFF, ya crazy Urfdawg-!”

“Any’ow, jus’ thought I’d let ya know that I’ve already swiped back all the supplies – an’ the cake, of course! – that you lot swiped from Zamora…”

“Ha! Yo tray to fool Zegreatme?!”

One of the operators glared closer in disbelief at his console: “Eet’z true, may LordContainment Vezzel No. 237 eez know combpletely EMPTY! ULL 403 conzignmentz urv kek are gone az vell!”

“Er, 405 actually – I swiped a couple a’ beauties from anuvva-“

“Nur! Zat eez two kekz too many, end- ENNUV! Eet eez urv leetle conzequenz,”  Zegreatme remained unmoved. “Shurtly, ve VEELL enairgize ze Ztellar Convertair end you ken watch yer patheteec paltry planet BLURN eento urbleeveeurn, heh heh heh! “Yo hef LOZT, Fertlittair! Urn yer dodgy baike, Urfmairn! GUARDZ! Eef yo pleaze…”

“‘Old yer ‘orses, Zeg,” Brad exclaimed nonchalantly, licking some renegade cream off his upper lip. The hero brandished a a small device from his jacket’s inside pocket. The Zandokan guards’ trigger fingers twitched.

“Vot air you feedleenk wiv know, Urfmairn?”

“Ya know what this is?”

“Vot’s vot?”

“No, Who’s Who, but ya were close. In ‘ere is a record of people who ‘ave been left dischuffed an’ downtrodden by you Zandokan nerks fer too long… But there’s one name in particular I wanna draw your attention to, an’ – if I scroll dahn… dum-ti-dum-ti-d-AHA! ‘Ere she is! A little girl – she means nothin’ ta you Imperial nitwits, but yer Shokk Troopers, Zeg, still ‘ad ta go an’ ruin her big day, anyway! I wan’ ya ta know…” Brad seethed, fidgeting desperately with his device.

“This… is for Carrie…”

And with that, he flicked a switch, and sparks leapt out of the main console; in the confusion, he darted one hand up to a hidden earpiece:

“Okey dokey, ‘Arris, get me outta ‘ere, NOW!”

Brad Company teleported their Commander off the Ztodgeztonker. 

The Dark Lord waved his arms in the air. “VOT?! Ecteevate ze Tractair Bimm! Ay vont Bred back!”

“Bimm… May Lord?”

“Yayyez, BIMM! BIMM HEEM BECK KNOW!!”

“…But ve ken’t, Yer Ekzellenzy! Ze Urfmairn hez deacteevated ze Tractair Beem!”

Another controller cried out: “Nut urnly zat, may Lord! He hez rerouted ze Men Pah! Ve air completely eenurpreble! Aieee, ze Ztodgeztonker eez KAPUT!!” 

“Aah, fer ze lurve urv… KURZEZ!”

Brad exhaled a huge sigh of relief as he reappeared back aboard the Calista. 

“No time to ‘ang arahn’, lads – we gotta get back ta Tan’s gaff, pronto! PUNCH IT, GAZ!”

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“As you get older, the pickings get slimmer, but the people don’t” – Carrie Fisher.

The doorbell rang.

Tanya came to answer it – she couldn’t believe her eyes! There stood Brad Company, holding prezzies – Gaz and Nacho carried huge cakes. And all Carrie’s birthday guests came running back in!

“An’ anuva thing…” Brad brandished a small gold-foil-wrapped prezzy. All the kids gawped; Carrie took it and shook it curiously.

“I swiped somethin’ else from Zeg…” Brad whispered to Harris, winking cheekily.

The Engineer’s eyes lit up: “Me beauty! Ya crafty beggar, ‘Ligh’er…”

Eagerly, Birthday Girl tore it open…

She opened her mouth in a silent scream, and then let out:

“COOL! A Samsung smartphone! Me very own Samsung smartphone!!”

She ran off to show it to all her friends.

“Don’t forget to say th-!” Tanya yelled, but her daughter had already disappeared into the next room. “She is very grateful…” the exasperated Mum exclaimed apologetically.

“No worries, lov! We can see thatTold ya I would make it up to ya- oh! Hey, Timmy, come here a sec, kid.”

Timmy, feelin’ kinda left out, slouched over very slowly.

“Hey, Nach, bring over that big package…”

In curiosity, the boy gradually unwrapped it – a humongous grin flashed across his grubby face as he brought out the second cake.

“Whoa, cheers, Mr. Fart!! This is swell!”

“Oh Brad,” Tanya beamed. “Do you ever get tired of being such a groovy Galactic ‘Ero?”

“Is this a trick question…?”

Outside, B2-BEN-D complained endlessly as he was ordered to tidy up the wreckage in the garden…

“Nur rewad eez worth THEEZ…”

Back indoors, a rare moment of jubilation erupted in this otherwise deprived sector of the Empire as the party went into full swing. The kids revelled in playing games: Pin The Tail On The Zandokan Ass; 1-Potato 2-Potato and – oh yes! – Shove Piggy Shove.

Tanya wiped away more tears, this time, of joy: “Bless you, Brad!” she whimpered gratefully.

“Bless you…”

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Somewhere… 

In the cold depths of space…

The largest and most expensive starship in the Imperial Zandokan Fleet just hung there – derelict and pathetic – as dark and powerless as its seriously dischuffed Commanding Officer.

“GAH! VUKKITY-VUKK!! DEMN zat Bred!” Zegreatme growled furiously. “Ay veel chaze zat eccurzed Urfmairn to ze endz uv ze cozmoz end beck eef need be…!

“Uff… Ay’m FED URP weev zeez… Ay veel call ze repairmairn mayzelf…”

He frantically fondled himself.

“VUKK! VHERE EEZ MAY VUKKIN’ ZAMZUNG!! Gah, demn yo, Bred! DEMN YO!!”

All to no avail…

Didn’t you know, Zeg…? 

In space, no one can hear you berate the one and only Brad Burrito Fartlighter…

end

 

 

 

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Drowned In Moonlight: Carrie Fisher 1956-2016

Carrie Fisher 21 October 1956- 27 December 2016

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“no words #Devastated” – Mark Hamill.

The news had just broke when Brad stepped through the front door yesterday evening. Mum just about made it into my arms before breaking down – she knew how much Star Wars meant to me, so had no idea how to tell me.

Carrie Fisher, who has died aged 60…

Sorry, but typing those words just feels so unreal. 

Still feel numb – can’t think properly (as has been my wont this year anyway) and my fingers are trembling far too much. Have had to endure too much pain and torment this year already, so am emotionally spent.

Very rarely does an actress get to be indelibly linked with such a defining role. At the outset, George Lucas did not want a stereotypical damsel in distress. In the original Star Wars, Princess Leia was tough enough to blast her way out of the detention level, but not prepared to be obstructed by a walking carpet.

Look how she fearlessly she stood against Grand Moff Tarkin; even when confronted by Darth Vader himself, it’s amazing how defiant she could be!

Who but Carrie Fisher, in the 1970s, could have made Princess Leia such a resilient inspirational and enduring character?

As Mark Hamill so eloquently stated in his latest heartfelt tribute, she was Our Princess. She moved and inspired so many girls as well as boys. 

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“I thought I had got what I wanted under the tree. I didn’t… I am very, very sad” – Anthony Daniels.

Fortunately for us, there was so much more to Carrie Fisher than the Princess. She excelled as a smart and funny writer.

Postcards From The Edge was a semi-autobiographical novel of the relationship with he mother, and the subsequent screenplay for the film of the same name. Her first memoir in 2008: Wishful Drinking concentrated on her mental health.

Her newly-published second memoir: The Princess Diarist is a collection of her teenage diaries, telling how she got involved in a “cool, off-the-radar movie directed by a bearded guy from Modesto.” 

Its most sensational confession: a three-month affair with co-star Harrison Ford: “I had feelings for him (at least five, but sometimes as many as seven).”

Although sometimes rambling and repetitive, she includes chatty observations and self-deprecating one-liners. Besides having showbiz parents, she states how unprepared she was for fame:

“What is it? Do I deserve it? What does this make me…? A thing like Star Wars wasn’t going to make people want to play with a doll of you, was it?” 

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“Carrie was one-of-a-kind… brilliant, original. Funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life bravely…” – Harrison Ford.

A talented, smart and very funny woman has been taken from us far too soon. 

Apparently, Carrie had completed her reprisal of General Leia for Star Wars VIII (due next December) but whatever form that takes, it will undoubtedly make such bittersweet viewing. 

For me, the only time tears flowed at the cinema during 2015 was seeing Carrie Fisher back in the galaxy far far away after so long apart. Watching any instalment of our favourite saga from now on is going to be very difficult…

Had intended to upload some more fiction today, but the time does not feel right. Still going to produce more feelgood stuff; Carrie Fisher got through her troubles by writing; Brad will honour her memory by doing the same.

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“Remember the white dress I wore all the way through that film? 

George came up to me the first day of filming took one look at the dress and said:

‘You can’t wear a bra under that dress’ 

‘OK, I’ll bite,’ I said. ‘Why?’ 

And he said: ‘Because… there’s no underwear in space.’

He said it with such conviction. 

He explained: ‘You go into space and you become weightless. Then your body expands and your bra doesn’t, so you get strangled by your own underwear.’

I think that this would make a fantastic Obituary…

No matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra” – Carrie Fisher.

Xmas Wishes: Peace, Love And Starlight

‘Tis The Season Of Good Will To All Men.

Except Brad, It Seems…

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“I send you, my sailors and soldiers, hearty good wishes for Christmas and the New Year. My grateful thoughts are ever with you for victories gained, for hardships endured…

“We are still at war, but the Empire, confident in you, remains determined to win. May God bless you and protect you” – King George V. Christmas Message To His Troops, 1916. 

In the constellation of Cygnus, in the outer reaches of a star, a photon is born. Created in the star’s photosphere, it surges into the depths of space. Its wish is to travel far; lo, this one is destined to hurtle towards Earth…

*

So here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun.

Nah, not really…

Supposedly, this is the season of peace and goodwill, but News of armed police officers standing guard next to Nativity scenes at Christmas markets across Europe and the UK indicate that we continue to be far from achieving a basic sense of peace and goodwill.

When it matters most…

On a more local front, seasonal cheer is late getting to Brad Manor, if at all – Blimey, only put the tree up two nights ago…

Don’t get me wrong: this was always an exciting part of my childhood – great prezzies and happy times – but these days, when way more people have far less money, and thousands of families – yes, THOUSANDS of FAMILIES – will be spending the season without a home to call their own, it is difficult for me to get in the mood for mulled wine and hilarious chunky-knit jumpers.

Peace? Can’t even get piece of mind… 

Don’t even hear a dickie bird from my “friends,” even at this time of year, so no parties then.

Fine, that just leaves more time to carry on with me blogging/writing, and rest with a gingerbread latte watching others chasing last-minute gifts, grub an’ grog.

However, at this site, there is ALWAYS peace unto you, dear Follower! Instead of playing an over-familiar novelty pop song, here is a recently-discovered delightful little gem, to make you merry:

I love carols. I love their crashing chords when performed with bombast on church organs, and their thick layer of schmaltz when sung by Bing Crosby or Elvis. Oh, Come!” – Esther Addley.

The only time my Mother’s family got together for Christmas coincided with a Golden Anniversary jamboree back in 1990. 

The crowning moment came shortly after one particularly humongous dinner. In the lounge, surrounded by most of the bairns, was my Dad – they had all gathered to catch the UK TV PREMIERE of Return of the Jedi!

Sweet!

Naturally, since he became One With The Force nearly eight years ago, this time of year will never seem the same again…

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“Mary Bradley waits at home
In the nuclear fall-out zone
Wish I could be dancing now
In the arms of the girl I love
Wish I was at home for Christmas” – Jona Lewie. 

The photon’s wavefunction, spreads out through all space, but is at its densest on the trajectory between Deneb’s Core and Earth – the journey will take about 1,500-3,000 years. But, from a quantum point of view, no time at all.

*

In my case, not Mary Bradley, but the lovely Mrs. Bradford. Sadly, every year its the same, spend yuletide with her on the tropical side of the world, or with Mum on the cold side.

If Brad were to take the first option, Mum would have to spend Christmas Day ON HER OWN. 

Agonisingly, due to unforeseen circumstances (isn’t that always the cotton-pickin’ way?!) the two most precious people in my life have been denied the opp to meet.

It has been a particularly gruelling year – Mr. and Mrs. B have both endured a very tough year.

Despite being a Buddhist and Christmas holding little meaning for her – and with countless couples spending the season apart for one reason or another anyway – our thoughts are already jumping ahead to the New Year, and our fantastic reunion.

“Half a dinare for me bloody life story?”

“There’s no pleasing some people.”

“That’s just what Jesus said, sir.”

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“Well, what are you doing creeping around a cow shed at two o’clock in the morning? That doesn’t sound very wise to me” – Mother of Brian.

The voyage of Starlight ends at the back of your eye when you look up at the night sky. The photon hits a blue-sensitive cell in your retina. Its last act is to trigger a nerve that helps you see a bright blue-white point in the constellation of Cygnus – and then it’s gone.

*

The most famous photon of all “arrived” above Bethlehem at what most experts agree was at some point during September in the year 6 BCE.

Three “kings” were its most famous – but least understood – observers. That is the one aspect of the Nativity story that has always fascinated me. What niggled me – even at school age – is why these mysterious (royal?) Three Amigos “Of Orient Are” should be “summoned” to an unremarkable stable in the back of beyond?

“Their robes were of crimson silk with rows, 

Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows. 

Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees.”

It’s true, this Boy Wonder – huzzah!was selected to “play” one of these travellers, but further – and fruitless! – enquiries into everything, from their origins to my motivation, just got me banished to the anonymous throng of the Choir, thus denying me the chance to lug a tissue box bedecked in technicolour foil across the school hall stage in front of a gaggle of proud, camera-clicking parents.

In popular tradition, they are called Melchior, Balthazar and Gaspar, “kings” respectively of Arabia and Nubia, Godolia and Tarsus. Modern Christmas cards portray them plodding through alien territory, unescorted and unprotected. Never, in World History, has any king travelled anywhere without an extensive retinue of servants, slaves and what-have-you! Preposterous!

Matthewthe only Gospel source – more accurately referred to them as magoi, signifying “wise men.” Most likely, they were Persian Magi – scholars of the Zoroastrian faith. Moreover, they were said to represent all three ages of man: 20, 40 and 60 respectively. 

But what mixed-up Mickey Mouse “wisdom” recommends gold, frankincense… and myrrh(?!) as ideal gifts for a newborn?

True, the first item is ideal for the mother to arrange daycare, etc. but what the blazes is she to do with the other two?! As one modern source so eloquently “quoted” Mary: 

“Three wise men, and no one brought chocolate?!”

Speaking of chocolate, my stocking WILL contain the Star Wars Chocolate Selection: The Force Awakens and Rogue One are simply scrumptious; looking forward to gorging again and again on Empire Strikes Back; but Attack Of The Clones disagrees with me. That’s one great disturbance my digestive season could well do without this weekend…

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While everybody lounges indoors keeping warm in front of their new box sets, your ex-magoi is wishing that the clouds won’t block my view of the constellations. The street lights cut out around midnight, and the Night Sky from our neighbourhood truly is a sight to behold.

Whatever, there are plenty of mince pies waiting in the larder, and there are plenty of Marvel movies lying on the DVD Player, so some seasonal cheer might – just might -pervade this household after all!

Sincerely hoping YOU get what you want this Christmas: 

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Wishing you all a Very Merry Gingerbread Latte and a Happy New Cranberry Muffin

Cheers!

x

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: A Bradscribe Review

State Your Elation For The Record:

This Rogue Is The One To Rave About!

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“The first thing that you have to do is get over the fact that you’re doing a scene with Darth Vader. That took me a little while, because I’m a first-generation fanboy” – Ben Mendelsohn.

One of the many disappointments with Star wars Episode III is that it denied our chance to see how the Rebel spies stole the Death Star plans.

For TOO LONG has yours truly revelled in the intrigue induced by the legendary scrawl:

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…and wondered how that premise would… (eventually?) make such a great movie…

And here it is! It only took three and a half decades for delivery.

Like the seemingly impossible mission for which this ragtag band a’ rebels volunteer, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story defies the odds to present such a welcome addition to the galaxy’s greatest saga.

Well! Where do we begin?!

A big fist-pump to this band of lovable rogues. They represent a superior Suicide Squad: more thrilling and thankfully less puerile. We do end up caring about their fate, which seemed to be the ultimate challenge here.

Quite frankly, Felicity Jones is a revelation as Jyn, galactic tearaway and daughter of Galen Erso, the reluctant creator of the Empire’s new superweapon. Admittedly, Jones looks an unlikely action star, but she pulls it off with aplomb. 

By far the best of the main bunch are Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yenstill can’t believe he fits so well in this galaxy!) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) – the fighters from Jedha. 

Love the relationship between Cassian and Kaytoo, although this charming lil plot device was crying out for further attention and development. Considering what an obvious win the reprogrammed Imperial droid turned out to be, he deserved greater opportunities to scene-steal. (If they couldn’t grant him more lines, at least give him that blaster!). 

Still reckon that Diego Luna makes a way cooler Star Wars name than Cassian Andor…

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“That’s right, I’m playing the male lead! I didn’t really think that would be such a big deal…” – Felicity Jones.

The main problem with SF these days is that sfx have reached such stupendous levels, other elements such as plot and character development sometimes tend to fail in comparison. But Rogue One overrides that problem – all elements fuse reasonably well to produce something that is undeniably enjoyable. 

Here, the effects are suitably grandiose and awe-inspiring, from the graceful flights of the supersleek spacecraft(s) to the simply stunning vistas of Jedha and Mauritiuis – (sorry!) Scarif.

What about the aliens? 

Sorely underused – a personal gripe. For my Rough Guidequite tactfully, details relating to Pao and Bishan were dropped. Naturally assuming that they might not receive too much screen-time, they didn’t even get a word in – not even an indecipherable one! Between them!

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“I’d have loved to have taken a Stormtrooper outfit but we weren’t meant to take anything. I got away with a couple of small things but I can’t tell you what” – Mads Mikkelsen. 

Of the Imperial personnel, Ben Mendelsohn is particularly impressive as Director Orson Krennic. 

It was wonderful to see that well-known (well-despised?) officer from A New Hope make a dramatic reappearance. Was expecting to burst into tears upon catching sight of this beloved actor, but, just when you think how sophisticated CGI has become – let’s face it – he doesn’t look natural! No real presence = no credible menace. Moreover, they did not get the voice right!

But what about Vader?!

Surely, this film could never have worked without everyone’s fave Sith Lord. The build-up to his long-waited “return” is tense; his first scene (shared with Krennic) presents him in typically moody and magnificent mode.

His second scene?

Deep breath: WHOA! He REALLY gets busy – showing a Dark Side darker than anyone had ever expected! This is REVENGE of the Sith right here! 

Aren’t we so grateful that James Earl Jones could lend his esteemed vocal talents to Star Wars once more!

Sadly, however, the rest of the Imperial Officers are just anonymous. 

Is it possible to have a Star wars movie without a John Williams score? Some fans may argue that Rogue One does not feel right, precisely because of that vital exclusion. The music here is rousing enough, especially the mystic twang played when the proceedings reach Jedha.

As these rogues are rougher, the action more gritty, the dogfights more spectacular, for me, Rogue One is bigger and better than The Force Awakens.

There have been a few five-star reviews appearing in the last two days. Obviously, those critics have enjoyed the exhilarating ride that uberfan Gareth Edwards (the force is strong with him!) has concocted here, but, to be fair, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story falls short of the brilliant standard of The Empire Strikes Back – a veritable 5* package if ever there was one. 

The power of what we are dealing with here may be immeasurable to some, but this first-generation fanboy is pleased (relieved!) to bestow upon it a solid:

4-out-of-5

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“For my 30th birthday, we visited the Skywalker home in Tunisia. I stood at the same spot where Luke watched the sunset. My girlfriend said: “For your 40th birthday, you won’t be able to top this!” For my 40th birthday, I was directing Rogue One…” – Gareth Edwards. 

The Zandokan Supremacy And The Rebellion Of Rajendra

The Mighty Galactic Federation Has Finally Fallen To The Rotten Zandokan Hordes – Who Will Save Our Cake Now?!

A Standalone Bradventure. Which Means That Brad Ain’t In This One…

“What the-?! If not, why not, eh?! Uff, typical… NEVER invited ta anyfink. Especially at this time a’ year… Can’t even wrangle me way into me own blog?! Jeez, the ‘ole galaxy’s gone NUTS…”

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“Well I could call out when the going gets tough.
The things that we’ve learnt are no longer enough” – Ian Curtis.  

“The cosmos is in chaos…” Ajaan Rajendra uttered in grim realization. “That much is certain. We could see, helplessly, how wracked with turmoil the Federation had become, but to learn that it has indeed crumbled under Zandokan might is… unbelievable…”

The warrior-monk-turned-Rebel Leader sat cross-legged, having meditated in twilight on a rocky promontory overlooking the Amethyst Sea. 

His most trusted officer: Commander Alda Vareldt kept an impatient watch, a few yards opposite. With him, a few other bedraggled Rebels waited anxiously.

Behind them, the towers of Dhoby Ghaut Spaceport – its bars and canteens once brimming with noise and good cheer – stood eerily silent that evening.

“We came to collect you, Ajaan,” Alda spat agitatedly. “It’s only a matter of time before the Zandokan fighters arrive. Sorry, sir, but we’ve got ta pull out, pronto.”

They piled into their Stalwart Land Ranger and it passed swiftly through the wastelands of Gundagan…

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“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders” – Lao Tzu.

“BEHOLT! ZE POWAIR COZMEEC!” Zan Doka cried manicly as he cradled the stupendous intensity of galactic brilliance between his bionic hands.

Recollections of that regrettable last encounter flooded back to Ajaan as the monotony of the drive set in.

“Duzn’t eet thrill you, Ajaan? Zuch powair eez now rightfully mine! At ze vanguard of our all-out azzault, may army veell be eenveencible! Finally! Ze rotten Federation veell fall unto ME! …Durn’t tell me you’re not imprezzed, Ajaan…”

“Very well. I shall spare you that little victory. But there is something from you I need to know: all that talk of enriching the well-being of the galaxy, why suddenly blight such worth with despicable endeavours and this deplorable empire-buildingWhat makes you think you can succeed?!”

“Mark may wudz, Ajaan of Hygge! Nurbuddy praizez ze goot soul-“

“I would – I would be there to encourage you to do so much more good-“

“Nur! Crush ze Federation and squeeze all eetz corrupt gnats within may totalitarian rule! Then, all those lezzer beingz who zought to mock me would cowair end grovel! THEES eez whut Ay aim to create! Wunce may Empah eez complete, Ay veel veezeet you urn Hygge, end show you how ze grandezt zchemes KEN be accurmpleeshed!

“Mark them… end mark them well. Ay shell be zeeing you egen zooner then you theenk, heh heh…”

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“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe” – Marcus Aurelius.

On the verge of the ancient Bodhi Temple, their transport came to an abrupt halt. Their cruiser stood in the compound at the rear. While Raj’s group squatted on its age-old steps, Kelly tried to open a comlink with the Calista Blockhead.

“We need Brad Company right here! Right now!”

A hologram materialized, but in place of the fabled cake-scoffer, his right-hand man: ‘Arris Wrench appeared in his stead.

“Blazes, ‘Arris! Where’s Brad?!”

“…Er, not ‘ere. ‘E’s ‘ad ta skedaddle back to his homeworld for a ritual that most of his planet’s population must observe this month every year for the foreseeable future.”

Wha-? I thought that idiot Brad was too cool for hokey religions…”

“Look, we’re all stretched at the mo. The Zandokans launched offensives on FIVE fronts, all at once. Me an’ th Co. barely scraped through that skirmish at Dork’s Drift!”

“Okay, we need immediate evac! Can you-“

The Calista Engineer’s deflated sigh said it all:

“Soz, Kells, but there is NO WAY we can get there in time! Ya’ll just have ta-” 

At that moment, the signal crackled out.

“They’ve cut us off!” Deke Dolmec cried in dismay.

“Blazes…” Kelly frowned. “Observe? What could he be watching?!”

“Gah! He’s the original loose cannon. NEVER there when ya need ‘im,” Alda growled disconsolately.

 “Yeah…” Kelly smiled wryly. “Bit of a rogue one, isn’e…?!” 

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“The Empires of the future are the Empires of the mind” – Winston Churchill. 

“That’s it,” huffed Alda dejectedly. “We’re gonna havta get past the Imperial Lightning Field… on our own-“

“Ah no!” Kelly cried. “We’re gonna ‘ave company anyway! Sensors detect THREE Zerpent Kruizers are closin’ in on this sector!”

“LANDO’S TEETH! That’s not all!” Deke blurted as his quadcorder flashed ominously. “It’s the ‘Ead ‘Ombre ‘imself! The Imperial Zentinel is comin’!”

“As I anticipated – ’tis Zan Doka – none of you are a match for him; I must face him… alone. You must go now, my friends; proceed to Kazjgar. Do as I command and rally our disparate rebel factions. Co-ord the counteroffensive-“

“But what about you, Master?!” Yala, one of his brightest students, was not ready to let go.  “We will not leave you at the hands of this… this merciless-!”

As he gave her a reassuring hug, the great Ajaan Rajendra addressed his Followers: 

“Fret not, Zan Doka comes to gloat… only,” Rajendra blinked his bulbous eyes. “I sense that he will not kill me… at least, not on this visit…”

They all looked dejected. 

“My friends – remember: do not let your hearts… and minds… be troubled. Be aware; be mindful through space. And time. Do not dwell for too long on the sufferings of the Federated Planets. You are… all blessed with great resilience! Now, you must leave. There can be no delay!”

They filed out, some smiling nervously at the Rebel Leader, afraid to accept that this could be the last time they saw this beloved ol’ Yanduri alive. 

Ajaan started to move into the temple; Alda lunged forward, whispering: 

“Why don’t you come with us, Ajaan… now?! I am lost without y-“

The Leader smiled sweetly, and clasped his hands on Alda’s shoulders.

“I know you, Alda… it is most unlike you to despair. For all your talk of great leaders…”

Ajaan’s grip tightened. 

“Be one!!”

“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles” – Sun Tzu.

The infamous buzz of the Zentinel’s ion engines shattered the dusty air above the Bhoja Temple. 

Rajendra knelt beside the fountain in the courtyard… waiting.

Draped in his priestly hooded cloak, he observed the vessel’s descent and a battalion of Shokk troopers disperse. Down the ramp, borne on a wave of suffocating arrogance, the new Ruler of the Universe marched forth. A malevolent grin emerged from beneath elaborate Imperial headgear as the Zandokan Emperor recognised the Ajaan of Hygge. 

Rajendra rose to his feet and shifted back his hood; Zan Doka strode in, rubbing his bionic hands together in glee.

“Hail thee, AjRaj – Defendair of Ze Lozt Cauze! Ha ha, how ya doin’?”

“I was having a good day…” the Yanduri moaned and beckoned the Emperor to follow him back into the temple.

“Ya, uv courz! Yo really hef to sharpen yer inzults eef yo weesh ta eemprezz yer Nemezzeez!” 

Ajaan abruptly halted; Zan Doka stopped to gleer at his archenemy.

“By the Silver Shards of Callifrax, Zan, what have you done? You and your accursed empire – the galaxy is tearing itself apart,”

“Urn ze contrairy, fool, unlike uther would-be zupairveellainz who could only brag about what they would do with great power, Ay hef achieved whut Ay zet out to do!”

“Nay, the Power Cosmic has driven you mad… Why come back? You detest this planet – you said so, many times. What, getting cramp lounging on your misbegotten throne for too long?” 

Zan Doka halted, staring up at the bewitching ceiling of the Inner Sanctum. 

“Cunning old toad! Ay come beck to tell you WUN theeng: Ay tuld yo zo! Yo ken muztair a thouzand zquadronz, conzolidet dozairns uv mavereek worldz AGENZT ME – warp ze Powair Cozmeec – heh! Eef you ken…! But from the perilous heightz of the Moggadorr Mountainz to the zcintillating shores of the Crystal Zea of Izmeer, mah Empah shall ENDURE EETERNAL! Heh… I tuld yo zo….”

“Uff, spare me your insufferable monologuing, dotard,” Rajendra bowed his head in shame. 

“Ah…! Ay zenze… yer beetternezz – end… mebbe a pen that gnaws et ze vairy core uv yer being… What eez eet, Ay vonder? What ailz thee…?”

Rajendra slowly looked up, his eyes ablaze with mystic fury:

“I cannot believe we had the same mother…”

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May the Sovereign Of Our Universe save us all… 

Quantum of Solitude: Do Aliens Know That They Are Not Alone?

How Much Longer Must We Hunt For ETs?

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“Science fiction offers various dystopian visions of isolation in which the everyday turns out to be an illusion, and we are “really” …distracting ourselves as we scrape out a living in a burning, post-apocalyptic wasteland” – Hari Kunzru.

“In fear every day, every evening
He calls her aloud from above
Carefully watched for a reason
Painstaking devotion and love”

Arthur C. Clarke once chillingly spoke of just two possibilities: 
“that we are alone in the universe, or we aren’t, and both are terrifying.”
These days, Brad is alone, not lonely – there is a telling difference. 

As both family and “friends,” are out of touch with me, there is no need to fret. In actual fact, it’s a turn of events actually quite relished; it’s not terrifying in the slightest. 

Apart from my wife (long-distance calls @ the mo) and the barrista, with whom my occasional indulgence for mocha is made, the Larynx of Brad never gets used.  

“Alone with my thoughts” is a prospect to savour – working on lots of ideas for fiction and blog-posts is what keeps me going through these dark times. 

Ant yet – for the time being, anyway – in a universe teeming with about 100 billion galaxies, each with roughly 100 billion stars, humans are the only species with which to converse. Bah!

Where are our cosmic neighbours? 

The proliferation of alien beings in all shapes and sizes throughout SF has always shown an optimistic, speculative vision of what might be. It fuels this unending fascination for the possibility of extraterrestrial life. 

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“If I were an alien society just 100 years more advanced than us, my astronomy text books would surely contain huge tables of habitable worlds. Earth would be among them” – Seth Shostak.

On the overcrowded train, it would be all too easy to feel lonely. In a miasma of laughably-called social media, nobody talks to anybody any more. 

Most commuters now immerse themselves in the wonders of their smartphones – escaping into their own worlds. They are all, potentially, friends yours truly are “yet to meet,” but they are never going to look up from their Snapchit and Pokemons to be social…

This is where the ethics of reality augmentation will begin to kick in.

There is the theory of the “filter bubble”: our tendency to create an echo chamber around ourselves, reinforcing ideas and perceptions we appreciate, and blotting out the hate and bigotry that is all the rage right now…

Social media has “allowed people to make hashtag bunkers for themselves.”

The dude was cool, the dame was hot; if only they’d put away their blasted devices and just talk to each other – they looked like such a perfect couple. 

They are what you would call inseparable, but just don’t know it…

“A blindness that touches perfection
But hurts just like anything else”

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“…With the celebrity that has come with my books, and the isolation imposed by my illness, I feel as though my ivory tower is getting taller. So the recent apparent rejection of the elites in both America and Britain is surely aimed at me as much as anyone” – Stephen Hawking.  

“But if you could just see the beauty
These things I could never describe

Lots of people – seemingly aimless and irritable – are shambling their way through the barest of existences…

It’s as if the ability to feel, to laugh, TO LIVE has NOT been passed down.

Everybody Wants More.

Would interaction with a being from another world help fill that social void?!

The James Webb Space Telescope (to be launched in 2018) will explore the atmospheres of exoplanets for chemical signatures of life. Radio astronomers have long been searching for traces of transmissions from an extraterrestrial source – when do they expect to receive any positive results?

Can they he announced at, say, some time in our lifetime?

Perhaps aliens stay their distance because they are embroiled in their own tech gadgets… 

No, but seriously. 

If their technology is superior, as is a common assumption, they are probably aware of the global downturn in the socio-economic and political climate.

And are intelligent enough to stay away…

Finally, to those naysayers not prepared to believe/accept that we are not alone, then surely, there must be a greater determination to eradicate the countless ills that have besieged our world far too long?

Do we really want to be the only inhabited world in the cosmos? That makes war on our own species…?

“There ARE infinite worlds both like and unlike this world of ours…

“We MUST believe that in all worlds there are living creatures and plants and other things we see in this world” – Epicurus (c. 300 BCE)