Lekebusch Longboarding! Manic Music Monday Goes Downhill

The Need For Speed. And Swedish Techno… 

“We all live amid surfaces, and the true art is to skate well on them” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

 

While writing fiction – short stories or novel chapters – it is imperative that music accompanies my prolonged creative sessions. (Hopefully, a Post featuring something more substantial to read should appear on Bradscribe before this month is through! 😉 )

Techno can really drive the pace of a scene, and heighten action sequences. Listening on YouTube is fine – most vids are uploaded with only photos of the record label, but there are various channels that make an effort to provide cool visuals to enrich a particular track. These are great to watch during a hot choccie break. 

One fine and dandy example is Obscurus Sanctus by Cari Lekebusch – these (smartly-dressed) daredevil downhill longboarders received a few plays on my laptop when it first appeared almost eight years ago.

Almost forgot about this vid when it came to compiling these Manic Music Monday posts; had no idea if it still existed online, so am happy to share it with you today – enjoy!

The beat is suitably groovy; is the vid Manic enough for you? 

 

“I’m not short, I’m just more down to earth than most people” – Joe Cool.  

 

Remember When: The Bradscribe Retro Party!

We’re Having The Time Of Our Lives! The Only Question Is – What Time Is It?!

“Be excellent to each other. And… PARTY ON, DUDES!” – Abraham Lincoln.

Here it is! 

You can step (click?) out of the 21st century a mo and sample some of the delights of yesteryear!

As you’d expect, the drinks are fizzy and the music is stellar in this sector of the blogosphere! There are bowls of Twiglets and Cheesy Wotsits as far as the eye can see, and a whole stash of Curly Wurlys, Banjos, Jammy Dodgers and Wagon Wheels to enjoy.

Amidst snazzy streamers and popping balloons, let’s get this groovy get-together off and flying!

The mystery. The suspense. The adventure. The call… that started it all.

Elliott: “He’s a man from outer space and we’re taking him to his spaceship.”

Greg: “Well, can’t he just beam up?”

Elliott: “This is reality, Greg.”

Remember when:

Brad said he would NOT go to watch E.T. back in ’82?

Even when yours truly was only that high, he felt too old to indulge in such mushy, sentimental falderdash! Wanted my aliens to be cool, menacing, even hostile if it guaranteed great action sequences. All the kids in my class knew that this quiet, spindly lil blond moppet sitting at the back of the classroom forever reading comics, was the one most likely to dig sci-fi movies, and yet none of them could understand why he was the only one not to go watch E.T. Quite clearly, Dyzan moves in mysterious ways… 

Yeah, watched this Spielberg classic upon receiving its belated UK TV premiere, and loved it. 

Was absolutely delighted to hear this personal fav pop song played in Spider-Man: Homecoming. 

Captures perfectly that John Hughes vibe:

All he wanted to do was dance... 😉

Ren: “You like Men at Work?”

Willard: “Which man?”

Ren: “Men at Work.”

Willard: “Well where do they work?”

Ren: “No, they don’t, they’re a music group.”

Willard: “Well what do they call themselves?”

Ren: “Oh no! What about The Police?”

Willard: “What about ’em?”

Ren: “You ever heard them?”

Willard: “No, but I seen them.”

Ren: “Where, in concert?”

Willard: “No, behind you.”

Remember when:

No matter what creative pursuits occupied this particular tiny mind, in his Command centre (i.e. his bedroom), or wherever he was on his Grifter bike, Brad just had to be in front of the telly every Thursday evening at around 7pm to catch the latest edition of Top Of The Pops, in which groups performed their latest singles.

With YouTube, it’s great to re-watch some of the best performances to appear on the show, many of which one really believed would never be seen again.

Bought a few singles myself, (mostly EPs on cassette) but not anywhere near as many as one would have liked…

If you enjoyed the 80s vibes and nostalgia of The Midnight – Explorers you’ll love this too:

SPOILER!: They’re heading for the medical frigate…

Admiral Ackbar: “All craft, prepare to retreat.”

Lando Calrissian: “We won’t get another chance at this, Admiral!”

Admiral Ackbar: “We have no choice, General Calrissian! Our cruisers can’t repel firepower of that magnitude!”

Lando Calrissian: “Han will have that shield down. We’ve got to give him more time!”

Remember when:

there were only two Star Wars movies?

Come 1983, almost eweyone at school anxiously wondered if Revenge Of the Jedi had any chance of equalling its illustrious predecessors. Then the deflating story swept through the classrooms: George Lucas had changed the title (to the more dull Return Of The Jedi, upon realising that vengeance is not exactly a trait associated with “that old religion”). Obviously, we concurred: the production was doomed, and thus we feared the worst. 

No worries!

This Richard Marquand-directed presentation blew us all away with its spectacular story and spills. Naturally, we ended up gawping all the way through it, just as much as we’d done all the way through Star Wars 2 three years earlier. 

Can’t remember any of the Trigonometry lessons from around that time, but will never forget that acquiring the latest range of Star Wars action figures and filling up our Official Return Of The Jedi Sticker Albums became essential endeavours. 😉

Greetings, Retrowaver. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against smartphones and mainstream “music” 🙂

Alex smiles + Grig smiles = Everybody smiles!

“Am I to understand that you’re actually declining the honour of becoming a Starfighter? Extraordinary…! This is all highly irregular!” – Grig.  

Remember when:

The “experts” insisted that the revolutionary “new” computerised special visual effects technology utilised in The Last Starfighter (1984) would transform the ways in which SF movies were produced?

Unfortunately, such is the rapacious rate at which computer technology has advanced in just the last three decades, so the sfx of this little sci-fi action/adventure outing have dated rather poorly. Anyway, the film neatly tapped into the video-game-craze that was massive back then, and carries a charm, sensitivity and sense of wonder that is badly-needed in the CGI-driven dross we are lumbered with nowadays.

The central performances provide its other strong points: Lance Guest as the top video-gamer: Alex Rogan who wins a trip to a galactic war, is always entertaining, certainly more memorable than some wooden leading players we could mention, but Dan O’Herlihy made Star Navigator 1st Class Grig awesome enough to become one of my all-time fave cinematic aliens, 

Easily the most enjoyable aspect of compiling these music posts is that moment when (you think) you’ve got all the platters that matter and are set to launch, when –at the last minute! – something captures your senses. This next number is the latest instance of this astonishing trend, discovered only this past weekend!

The assortment of freaky aliens hare – designed by Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop! – appeared in the video to Billy Ocean’s 1985 hit single: “Loverboy”(!)

These grooves are so cosmic they can’t be from this Earth! This has become my new favourite track: 

Beware of geeks bearing gifs 😉

“If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour… you’re gonna see some serious shit” – Dr. Emmett Brown. 

Aow!

It’s one of those parties where you just don’t want the merriment to end, right? 

For those who want to enjoy more Retrowave jollities, you’re welcome to zip along to my last volume of Electric Dreams (and follow the Links back to the other instalments!)

There will be LOTS MORE parties, reviews and fiction to come on Bradscribe

IF 

we can all pull ourselves away from this dreamy gif: 

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it” – Ferris Bueller. 

Cheers!

 

Aquamaniac!: Why Are Atlantis Movies SO Barmy?!

Fish And Quips With Jason Momomoaa!

“Arthur Curry. Also known as Protector of the Oceans. The Aquaman. I hear you can talk to fish…” – Bruce Wayne.

“My mother was a lighthouse keeper. My father was a queen…”

YAY!

At long last, the Aquaman movie has dived into our popcorn parlours!

Once more, Brad, that nautical nerd, can flex his flippers and reactivate his fervour for all things Atlantean by enjoying a CGIfest of florescent undersea vistas! Mermen speaking underwater in American accents! Scaly warriors mounted on seahorses! 

Or can he…? 

Reinventing one of the most lameass characters in DC Comics – a derisory figure traditionally clad in an orange spandex vest and green tights (>_<) – as a hulking, tattooed badass turned out to be not only a wise move, but a necessary one. Out of the abysmal Justice League movie, Aquaman turned out to be the only character to root for.

Months ago, especially when the promising trailer for this standalone movie splashed across the ‘net, it seemed like Jason (“My Man!”) Momomoaa could single-handedly revive the hapless fortunes of the DC Cinematic Universe, and – despite having never read any of the Aquaman comics (well really, has anybody?!) – even yours truly pondered: yeah, why not? Let’s give them one last chance….

But…

December has arrived all-too-quickly and my current mood towards blockbuster movies in general is – shall we say – not as effervescent as the bubbly visuals supposedly on offer in this latest addition to the ever-bulging mass of comic book movies.

Is this soggy saga seaworthy enough to make ol’ barnacle-ridden Brad part with his hard-scrounged pieces of eight…?  

Cynical wisecracks AHOY! 

Charles Aitken: “Seven cities to Atlantis? You know, the Greeks always claimed there were nine.”

Atmir: “Plato was not always right.”

Charles Aitken: “You know about our history?”

Atmir: “Far more than you realize…”

It may not stand up so well these days, but upon first viewing at the age of 6, Warlords of Atlantis (1978) instantly won me over with its action, adventure, striking visuals, and mutated leviathans and instilled in me an overwhelming urge to gather any scrap of info concerning Atlantis and other ancient mysteries of the deep. Back then, you see, anything starring Doug McClure automatically became my favourite movie. 

That creepy moment when the faceless Guardians emerge from under the sea remains one of my all-time groovy moments in SF/fantasy movie history!

Although it is difficult to deduce now, this film looks like the main contender for inspiring me to write (at the age of 6) my very first short story: “City Beneath Th Sea.”

For a long time, yours truly thought Warlords of Atlantis had the best movie title of all time; mention those three precious words – or play that theme music – and this ’70s cult classic still gives me goose pimples after all these decades!

Some of the models, particularly that prehistoric plesiosaur – “It got my pencil!” – not to mention the all-too-obviously-rubber tentacles of the giant octopus are undeniably smirkworthy, but one never tires of those startling matte paintings, sets, costume design and some atmospheric sound effects. And the one and only Doug McClure, of course!

“From our dying planet, we journeyed across space… A comet wrecked our charted course. Thrown into the gravitational field of your planet, Earth, we fell into the life-preserving waters of the ocean now above us…” -Atsil. 

 

“I am Captain Nemo. I have been asleep for 100 years aboard my submarine, Nautilus. I would probably still be left encapsulated had it not been for two intrepid agents of American Naval Intelligence…who quite by chance came upon my ship trapped by seismic underwater quakes…” – Captain Nemo.

Wow!

In the depths of my infant mind lie murky recollections of a truly bizarre TV mini-series that had me enthralled across three consecutive Friday evenings during April 1981. The Amazing Captain Nemo produced by Irwin Allen, was a shoddy attempt to replicate his TV success with Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea. 

The premise: Captain Nemo emerges from a hundred-year-cryogenic-sleep to be recruited by the US government to thwart the world domination plans of evil genius: Professor Cunningham (played by Burgess Meredith!) is daft enough, but this was made in 1978, when ALL the studios clamoured for sci-fi in the wake of that phenomenal catch known as Star Wars. So, to make it even more ridiculous, add an army of blaster-wielding golden androids, laser battles between divers on the sea bed, plus a lumbering bionic henchman in a snazzy silver suit (Tor! Thought he was so cool! Wished that he had his own action figure…) 

And never forgotten that diminutive fella wearing the golden mask, responsible for firing the deadly Delta ray. 

The longshots of the ruined temples of Atlantis are just murky enough to conceal any hint of being tacky models. King Tibor of Atlantis is played by that member of The Magnificent Seven who nobody can name; and Lynda Day George shows up simply because the producers realised that the cast included no women. 

Watched it again, this week, after all these years – well aware that its poor reputation could spoil my fond childhood memories.

However, ship mates!

Having already sat through the truly abysmal likes of BS: Dawn Of Just Ass, Assassins’ Creed and Star Wars: Can’t Even Remember The Bally Name One Year On, An’ Ah Ain’t Gonna Google It At This Time O’ Night, Ma’am!, in comparison, this Captain Nemo turned out just Amazing enough to be harmlessly entertaining in its own, albeit cheap and dodgy, way!

Not sure if Jules Verne would have approved though…

 

That Nerk Wearing The Crystal Skull: “We have come back to the world that has always been ours! You have no place in it. You cannot defend yourselves!”

Mike: “One hell of a welcoming committee!” 

Mohammed: “Yeah, but what do we have to welcome them with? We only got three rounds…” 

Ahaaaar!

We arrive, inevitably, at that notorious Italian bilge-ridden oddity from 1983: Raiders of Atlantis, aka Atlantis Inferno or, as my gang knew it, when we rented it on video: The Atlantis Interceptors.

After being disturbed by modern scientific deep sea experiments, the fabled island of Atlantis rises again, and its denizens – who just happen to be a demented punk bunch of Mad Max rejects! – wreak havoc on land and kill all landlubbers who cross the path of their dune-buggies and motorcycles…

This is the sort of exercise where any type of script is not required – any vestige of sanity is wiped out halfway through in a relentless 30-minute volley of non-stop violence. Bearing in mind we were only 12 at that time, this is the sort of mindless mess for which we craved. Yeah, we thought it outrageous and completely nonsensical, but that only increased our enjoyment! 

The credits state this is “directed”(?! HA!!) by “Roger Franklin.” Uff, 80s kids like me can sniff the “work”(??) of Ruggero Deodato fathoms away.

Knowing that The Atlantis Interceptors is freely available on YouTube, a re-watch proved simply irresistible. Now, viewing it alone, and with what some would call a “mature” perspective, the whole point of it all just seems so baffling. Considering what “fun” it gave us thirty years ago, this is NOT the worse movie ever made; the most bonkers movie ever made? Oh, almost certainly! 

Could this video rental really be so atrocious when it boasts a theme song as groovy as THIS?!:

Arthur Curry: “Of course it’s not working. It’s been sitting here gathering dust since before the Sahara was a desert!”

Mera: “Before the Sahara was a desert… You do your best thinking when you’re not thinking at all. Hold still… We need water. You’re the closest source.”

Speaking of crap movies, back to Aquaman. 

Director James Wan impressed me with The Conjuring (2013), and he appears to have made a concerted effort to brighten the mood/look of Warner/DC movies, before the whole lousy DC Cinematic Universe sinks without trace… 

Plus, the always-reliable presence of Willem Defoe – and Black Manta, who looks cool in the trailer – are the strongest factors pulling me in. Sure, it offers “stunning visuals,” but considering how the state of special effects now has become so sophisticated, no sense of magic or charm can be attained; moreover, some of the poorest-received movies of recent times were weakly defended with claims of “stunning visuals”

Blimey, not even that legendary thesp: Dolph Lundgren – as the King of The Lost Continent – can get me out on a stormy night like this. Besides, Arthur Curry’s descent into Atlantis (seen in the trailer) reminds me too much of that cringe-inducing moment in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace when Obi-Wan Kenobi and Liam Neeson visited that undersea kingdom… 

And, judging from the awful quote above, the script sounds ready to make me seasick. 

Ugh, permission to throw myself overboard…

Have a pretty good idea that Aquaman could never inspire the 6-year-old Brad, and my mates would definitely have slung in a few mocking jibes if they’d caught this in my VCR back in the day…

Can the Aquaman movie really be as clever as this trailer?

Methinks not: 

“A war is coming to the surface. And I am bringing my rubber ducky with me!” – Orm. 

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

 

Tales Of Sprained Deltoids: Throwback Thorsday!

By Order Of Odin – FIVE Ishs Of The Mighty Thor – What Sayest Thou?! 

They are brave, Vizier… braver than any gods before them, or any who will come after, I think. Would that I could sail with them… but Asgard holds me… ‘Twas not so long ago my son and I were enemies sworn. I hope that I have not sent him to such a terror… with enmity still burning in his breast. ‘Twould be too great an irony for this elder god’s mind to bear” – Odin. 

Heimdall’s Eyes! 

Why, Brad wouldst hath flown atwixt the fiery jaws of Fafnir the Dragon isself if ‘twould ensure the completion of another blogpost!!

But nay. 

For the last three months now, trying to describe the joys of Bronze Age comics (commonly referring to those ishs published between 1970-1985) has proved to be an unnecessarily difficult chore. Amass some suitably groovy ishs and discuss their merits: how could such an innocent task be so… troublesome? 

Only the God of Thunder – one of my all-time favourite Marvel characters – could lure me out of this annoying phase of inactivity. Gladly, a copy of The Mighty Thor was snapped up back in the day, and one of the objectives of my recent Bronze Age expeditions involved searching for as many back ishs of this title, as possible!

Enjoying the God of Thunder’s scene-stealing turn in Avengers: Age Of Ultron the other week, and my copy of Thor: Ragnarok (for the umpteenth time!) this past week reminded me how, not so long ago, the idea of a study based solely on those exceptional ishs of The Mighty Thor – all dating from the ’70s (of course!) – would be fun to compile. Besides, such great ishs doth lie in easy reach, for they can be – and yea! Verily, are – read and reread, and never become tiresome.  

So, from whence do we begin?!

Rereading #218, with its bold and suitably heroic splash page (see above!) provides tne ideal point with which to commence this scintillating journey through Asgardian awesomeness.

 

Tana Nile: “Silas, beware! We’ve fallen afoul of the mutant class – the underground dwellers of Rigel, creatures deformed both in body… and mind!” 

Silas Grant: “I can see that, lass… Tell me now what I’m to do about it! They’re all around us!”

The Mighty Thor #218 (December 1973) turned out to be SO EPIC that it’s very title: “Where Pass The Black Stars There Also Passes… Death!” did not appear until a special double (explosive) spread across pages 16-17. 

By The Golden Gates Of The Eternal Realm! 

The five Black Stars are among the deadliest threats to be witnessed in the Marvel Universe. Ever.

Gerry Conway is on top form here.

‘Pon Odin’s orders, doughty vessel: Starjammer carries Odinson and his faithful companions: Balder, Sif, a Rigellian woman named  Tana Nile, and curiously, a Midgardian sea captain by the name of Silas Grant, to the planet Rigel, only to find it abandoned. The Colonizers – billions of them crammed into a gargantuan fleet, hurtling across the stars – are fleeing the threat of the  Black Stars, which ultimately consume their planet in full graphic – and irresistible – John-Buscema-detail! 

For those itchin’ to seek out Classic Thor, this ish – with that striking cover produced by Rich Buckler – provides an excellent point at which to jump in. Why, page 18 on its own is absolutely frameworthy: 

“Even as we speak, the menace of the Black Stars grows more ominous... their terror greater with each passing second… Look… and tremble at a sight few gods have lived to describe… a vision which staggers the very imagination! The Black Stars… each three times the size of Jupiter…” – The Grand Commissioner. 

 

Grombar: “I say thee, young warrior… make the best of matters here! Verily, to dwell in dark Valhalla be not as tragic as thou dost think! After a time, thou shalt come to accept things for what they are. Mayhap thou shalt come to enjoy them!” 

ThorAccept this madness, old one? Enjoy it? Thor doth say thee- – Nay! I say thee- – nay! NAY!! A thousand times do I say thee- – 

NAY!!”

You know Brad: once he starts droning on (and on) about Odinson, Hela: the Goddess of Death won’t be far behind.

#251 To Hela And Back! (September 1976) did not reach my grubby paws until shortly after publishing this Post about her:

Despite not making a dramatic entrance until page 26(!) there is still plenty of thrills to savour amid these grim proceedings. Part of the “If Asgard Should Perish” storyline, Thor confronts the Vizier concerning the missing Odin’s whereabouts. Vizier tells him that he has scanned everywhere, except the Dimension of Death, because he cannot see into it. Thor decides to ride there to look for his father.

Once there, Thor is confronted by the legions of Einherjar. The God of Thunder sees a shadowy figure that looks like Odin. He fights his way to him, only to find it is Grombar, not Odin. 

Hela lets Thor leave her realm untouched. 

The late Len Wein took over script-duty from #242 (December 1973), thus establishing one of the classic tenures of the Bronze Age. 

“Aye, Harokin… he is free to continue his quest for his missing father! When the Goddess of Death doth come at last to claim the mighty Thor, ’twill be on her terms… and in her own good time!” – Hela. 

 

“If ’tis action thou dost seek, friend Thor, methinks thou hast found all thou couldst desire! A great alien vessel hath swooped silently up behind us… discharging a heavily-armed band of angry-visaged beings!” – Hogun. 

Strangely enough, the Avengers #191 not only introduced me to the Grey Gargoyle – who swiftly, and surprisingly, trounced Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! – but briefly referred back to The Mighty Thor #258 If The Stars Be Made Of Stone! (April 1977). Most grateful for the tip, ‘cos this tale – part of the “Quest For Odin” story arc – is such a swashbucklin’ cosmic caper of the highest order!

Riding the spaceways aboard the incomparable Starjammer, our heroes are set upon by a pirate vessel, its animal-headed crew led by the Grey Gargoyle. 

Captured aind shackled, our heroes are banished to “work” in th furnace room, but there is such a delicious twist in this ere tale! Again, created by those indomitable co-auteurs of awesomeness: Len Wein and John Buscema, you can find this very ish invariably atop the nearest comics pile @ my gaff. 

When setting out to accumulate the Bradscribe Collection just over two years ago, this was exactly the sort of cosmic classic yours truly set out to find.

The continuation of this particular adventure in #259 is – no surprise -equally splendid!

Fee-Lon: “Considering the way he is decimating our forces, only your invincible touch of stone can hope to defeat him! Or… are you perhaps afraid of this Thor?”

The Grey Gargoyle: “I advise you to hold your rebellious tongue, Fee-Lon… unless, of course, you wish to feel my touch yourself!”

 

Thor“Stand ye DOWN, base villain! Stand ye down from this throne… whilst thou still canst WALK!”  

Loki: “Tsk tsk. I see thy temper hath not yet mellowed, my brother. And I had so hoped thou wouldst take my good fortune well.”

Know ye this:

by the time we reach The Mighty Thor #264, Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me! (October 1977) the sprawling quest (story arc) for the long-missing Odin All-Father at last is over!

Bone-weary but unbowed, the Thunder-God and his stalwart companions return to Asgard only to find that Loki: God of Mischief, Lord of Tricksters – and (by the Norn!) Thor’s own half-brother! – hath usurped the Golden Throne!  

Come ON! 

If we’re going to have Hela in this Post, then we’ve always got space for her malevolent Dad.

Big John Buscema had already departed this title, but the ever-reliable Walt Simonson took up the pencils. His style is very impressive; here, his rendering of Loki is devilishly distinctive. Fortunately for us, Len stayed to handle some supercool scripts; ultimately, this ish provides rollicking good fun. 

All the while Thor and his companions had endured cosmic capers aboard the Starjammer, the Enchantress and Executioner plotted wicked deeds in Asgard. This ish proves no exception – they steal the sleeping form of Odin. While a couple of unruly Storm Giants take up Thor’s thunderous time, the Warriors Three: dashing Fandral, grim Hogun and the voluminous Volstagg, must rescue the All-Father from the evil duo.

Thor bursts into the Throne Room to confront Loki, but the mischievous one vanishes: “leaving only the bitter stench of brimstone behind, as befits him!” 

In a dramatic final one-page panel, who else but The Destroyer comes crashing through the wall!

Below, it reads: Next Issue: When Falls The God Of Thunder…!

And don’t forget the small print: “Thou shalt be here, right?”

Volstagg: “…When we find them, thou shalt see why Volstagg’s mere presence makes women swoon and brave men quake with fear…! Pfah! Thine enchantments are no match for mine own fabled battle prowess!” 

Enchantress: “Away thou over-stuffed mutton-sack! Thine awesome girth doth threaten to squeeze the very breath from me!” 

 

Iron Man: “…That leaves us only… Project 13!”

The Beast: “My sweet stars and garters! The Doomsday Device?! Isn’t that a little extreme, Shellhead?”

Nick Fury: “I’m with ya, Fuzzy! The way I heard it, that gizmo can waste this whole blamed planet if anythin’ goes wrong!” 

You know when people say that Cap America: Civil War is a more superior Avengers movie than Age Of Ultron? 

Well, one thing is for sure: 

The Mighty Thor #271 Like A Diamond In The Sky (May 1978) is a whole lot better than some Avengers ishs produced around this time. What an irresistible cover, featuring The Vision, Scarlet Witch, The Beast and Thor and Iron Man fighting side-by-awesome-side.

AND special guest star: Nick Fury!

The Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. is another of my all-time fave characters, and to see him ponse about displaying his trademark badassery amidst the hallowed pages of Bronze Age Thor provides my own morsel of comic book heaven. 

Fantastic scenario, this:

The Thunder-God and Shellhead transport inside FAUST th super-machine but are repelled by its multiple defences. It warns our dynamic duo that it has absorbed the contents and properties of the chest that was stolen by Stilt-Man – aha! Been wondering when that particular bounder would put his treacherous, albeit extended, foot in it! – and, if they attack, it will fire a laser designed to obliterate New York. Against Thor’s protestations, Iron Man attacks anyway. The laser blast disperses harmlessly in the sky and FAUST begins to self-destruct. Easy-peasy, Shellhead explains. Thor’s lightning changed the properties of the chest, so that when FAUST absorbed it, it unwittingly altered its own structure into a fragile state. 

This ish is notable for being Len Wein’s last ish as a writer of this series. In the closing panel, as Thor soars into the sky above NY City, a billboard can clearly be seen in the background with the text:

“So long, Len – good luck!”

Thor: “Praise be to Odin! IRON MAN DOTH LIVE!” 

Iron Man: “You’d better believe it, Asgardian… if you can call this living! Hang on a second, while I discharge the excess energy your little transfusion fed into my armor… and then the two of us can start taking this place apart!!” 

Praise be to the late, great Len Wein.

These ishs offer a deliciously deft masterclass in how to craft top swashbuckling SF mixed with Norse goodness. And lo! He even cleft the chaff in twain! It has been an absolute pleasure over these last few months getting to know – at lasthis wondrous way with words. 

When Thor: Ragnarok director: Taika Waititi remarked how his main aim entailed capturing the the spirit of Thor’s “cosmic adventures from the ’70s,” these are probably among the very ishs from which he drew inspiration.

Yea, that, dear reader, wrappeth up this intriguing screed for the nonce. Verily, methinks Brad hath got thy mojo back!

And Fafnir can wait!

FOR ASGARD!!

 

“The gates of Hel are filled with the screams of his victims! 

“But not the screams of the dead, of course. No, no… wounded screams… mainly whimpering, a great deal of complaining and tales of sprained deltoids and… gout” – Thor.

 

The Daze Of High Adventure: Getting Back Into The Fantasy Genre After All These Years

I Think I’m Quite Ready For Another Adventure…

‘1st Rough In Tavern’: “The hunchback will have something to say about this!” 

And to think this blog supposedly concentrates mainly on science fiction…!

Well, firstly, some classic science-fantasy (tales of far-future lands where no/minimal technology exists) novels have come my way and, somehow, my reading preferences have veered – harmlessly enough – towards full-blown fantasy.  

Notepads at the ready – here they come:  

David Farland – The Runelords 1: The Sum Of All Men 

Robert E. Howard – Conan The Indomitable

Michael Moorcock – Elric: The Sleeping Sorceress

James Silke – Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer 1: Prisoner of the Horned Helmet (below)

“They came out of the sunblasted desert. Tiny dark specks wagging a tail of billowing dust at the yellow sky. Occasionally they glittered metallically… It was a mounted detachment. Nine riders with crossbows in their saddle holsters and sheathed swords, quivers and daggers riding their belts… The Kitzakk Horde…”

It’s amazing when you consider the quite impressive number of SF authors who dabbled in fantasy themes and managed to create some distinguished masterworks in the genre. Awaiting my attention is: Roger Zelazny – The Hand Of Oberon And a classic so monumental (not disclosing the author/title ‘cos it’s going to be a surprise!) will feature here in its own Post very soon! 😉

By Crom!

Carrying out spring-cleaning (while icy blizzards still surge past outside!) this doughty adventurer has uncovered notes and scraps of rough drafts pertaining to my stab (parry? thrust?) at a fantasy epic. 

Initially concocted in 1986, at the height of my immersion in Fighting Fantasy, Scabrous Face – still reckon that sounds awesome! – tells:

The saga of Malcolan, demonic Overlord of the Coarselands. 

Having led his Doragar Horde on a merciless and unstoppable sweep through the Western Lands, he decides to acquire what he has lacked throughout his reign of terror: a queen. 

He conquers one particular kingdom just to seize the king’s daughter – the most beautiful maiden throughout all the realms. But, before being slain, the Grand Mage: Gaspar places a curse on the Overlord. His son is weak and sickly; branded “Scabrous Face” by the crestfallen demon, he banishes the child to the wastelands… 

Malcolan is gradually subdued by unknown afflictions; as his health deteriorates, so the power of his dominion crumbles. 

Eighteen years later, a mysterious hero emerges. With his bold band of bahadurs (“fighters”), he marches straight towards the Overlord’s fortress to restore peace and order to their world… 

The original names do not appear here as they have been changed countless times over the years. After three decades, reading that very first draft again, it is not only… interesting, but forsooth! It’s a tad embarrassing…

Consisting only of the Overlord’s invasion of that kingdom (then known by a completely different name), these frantic scribblings form nothing but turgid – and repetitive – gory hack-an’-slashfest! Turns out that teenage Brad happened to be a far more bloodthirsty lil dweeb than anyone had ever expected… 

My epic consisted of  endless battles because it was completely male-orientated – obviously, an attraction to girls had yet to materialise.

Concurrently, plenty of influential material (both writing and art) cowld be acquired monthly: Warlock served as the official Fighting Fantasy magazine, while White Dwarf concentrated on role-playing games. This cover (in particular (below) had a profound effect – the hero of my fantasy epic is based on that ferocious wolf-pelt-clad fella. 

The music with which to accompany this Post comes from one of my fantasy favs: CONAN! (Not that recent poor remake starring The Sub-Mariner, but the original 1982 classic with Arnie). Basil Poledouris must have been a wizard… 

Never mind the dodgy title of the second track – it is one of the most mesmerising pieces of movie music.

And as for this theme tune: Anvil Of Crom, Brad refuses to gallop into the local village without it: 

 

Treasures are not won by care and forethought but by swift slaying and reckless attack” – Michael Moorcock.

In 1979, while The Black Hole bewitched me with its laser battles, The Black Knight taught me how to wield a broadsword.

No conflict between sci-fi and fantasy. Not in my mind. Both genres played a substantial part in – how shall we say – my formative years…

During the mid-’80s, Fighting Fantasy became my obsession. Unable to find anyone willing to delve into role-playing games with me, Fighting Fantasy proved to be the perfect outlet for lone adventurers. Each book, written by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, contained a total of 400 numbered sections. YOU had to pick up clues; solve riddles; outwit traps; fight orcs, trolls, et al; navigate mazes and dungeons, etc. by choosing which section to Turn To.

“All you need is a dice and a pencil.”

Even devised some of my own Figjting Fantasy adventures…

Might write about them at some point, but there’s a LOT of stuff in that cabinet to sift through before they are uncovered…

Subotai: “We’re thieves! Ha! Like yourself. Come to climb the tower.

Valeria: “You don’t even have a rope! Ha! Two fools who laugh at death. Do you know what horrors lie beyond that wall?”

Conan: “No.”

Valeria: “Then you go first…” 

“I will allow you to live as long as you serve me. Betray me, and I will joyfully send you back to rot in hell” – Titus Cromwell.

At University, by far my most intriguing area of research concentrated on the art, numismatics and history of the Parthians and the Saka (the Indo-Persian name for the Scythian nomad warriors of the Eurasian steppes.) They not only directly inspired Tolkien’s Horselords of Rohan, but sparked a new and refreshing etymological and anthropological framework with which to reinvigorate my fiction.

Instantly fell in love with the mellifluous Old Persian language, and decided to rename my characters with some of these more evocative words. For instance, the name of Kulbahar (Old Persian, meaning: “like a rose in spring”) was bestowed upon the kingdom, while the ill-fated princess has come to be known as Ziba-Eszta (OP: “beautiful star”). 

But just as renewed enthusiasm filtered into my writing, that spark almost vanished. 

What could have cleft my fervour for fantasy in twain forever had to be this annoying repetition of the same old standard tropes: the indestructible (always white male) hero…

And those ever-so-noble elves… 

We have sat waiting like this many times before. Sometimes I tire… of the fighting and killing. At night, I can hear the call of my race. They wait for me. When I join them, we will be forgotten” – Crow.

During the ’80s, countless fantasy movies were rented – some were cheap and cheerful cheezy classics; a great deal more twerned out to be agonisingly atrocious…  

Hawk The Slayer (1981) is let down by an embarrassingly miniscule budget, but it holds personal importance as it provided my very first taste of a sword and sorcery film at the cinema. In particular, the elf: Crow (see above) captivated my imagination and set me on a lifelong fascination with all-things-elvish. 

Naturally, my fantasy novel just HAD TO HAVE its fair share of elfkind, but avoiding the overdone stereotypical connotations of this race proved quite a challenge. Notably, my most prominent Silver Forest archer: Delanian has evolved to become quite unlike any other elf you have ever seen… 

Itching to tell you more about this nonchalant supporting player, but, you know: spoilers! 😉

And those other tropes? The mischievous Goblins; the grumpy Dwarfs; the malevolent Orcs…

It occurred to me that a radical rethink of these other races is required by all fantasy writers to keep the genre fresh and original. In fact, from the very beginning, Orcs would play no part at all in my work. Instead, my massive unputdownable compendium of Fighting Fantasy Monsters: Out Of The Pit (1986) offered me an exciting alternative in the form of the Doragar. 

Described as a sorcerous interbreed between Orcs and Trolls, these berserkers fight tougher on the battlefield and work faster in the ore mines than their Orc cousins. Equipped with spiked armour and huge serrated weapons, the task is unto me to “bring them to life.”

“I don’t hate ALL men, Grandmaster…” – Red Sonja.  

“Over a year ago I was first introduced to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D) but the more I have played it the more concerned I have become about the presentation of women with it,”  wrote a disgruntled (Miss) S.A. Carbery in a letter published in WD#70 (October 1985).

“The whole fabric of the pseudo-mediaeval games appears male-orientated. The female fantasy characters encountered (the few that show up) seem more likely to be serving wenches or prostitutes. 

I nearly brained my Dungeon Master when he told me the rules of choosing to play a female character and the restraint of not being able to attain the maximum strength of 18 – unless I was a Half-Orc. Not exactly a fair rule…

“Illustrations within WD involving over the top females verge upon soft porn. I will NOT  be fobbed off with excuses of historic nostalgia that women have been portrayed like this in pulp fantasy since 1920. RPGs could be very educational and highly entertaining. I think it is a great shame considering… that so few women seem to be involved and playing them. 

“Surely now it is time for change?”

From that moment on, such changes were implemented in my fiction – female characters would play more decisive roles. More specifically, the seemingly-endless Game Of Thongs trend of subservient female representation in the fantasy genre (alluded to by Miss Carbery) seemed at odds with the intelligent, headstrong and assertive young women who were rejecting me on an almost-weekly basis…

So when this fantasy novel received a belated revision during the Summer of 1990, the first – and most significant – alterations came in the addition of a number of female characters.

Over a decade ago, to try and quell the sheer monotony of my job in Southeast Asia, during one of my regular Yuletide return trips to the UKthe dust was wiped off my fantasy fiction file and various vital notes taken back with me to the tropics…

After finishing my job, greater concentration could be afforded to my writing and – oh yes –  this project in particular. TWO dramatic changes were made: the addition of an extra female character who – you’ll be pleased to learn – has been promoted to main protagonist; while the other major revision proved equally pivotal: a new and improved title. 

The enchanting Old Persian term: Vindahfarnah translates as “Righteous Ruler” – this encapsulates perfectly the core theme of the story!  

Alas, Malcolan’s fate came to another abrupt halt in 2013 due to – strangely enough! – the instigation of this blog. 

On this site, you may yet be treated/subjected to an excerpt from this sprawling epic 🙂

But now…

Once more, Brad must ride with his bahadurs to defend what was, and the dream of what could be…

Evil Witch: “Where is Deathstalker?!” 

Deathstalker: “Somebody lookin’ fer me?” 

Princess: “You came back?!”

Deathstalker: “By popular demand!”

Princess:Dayethstalker…? Is that your first name or your last name…?” 

Deathstalker:Grrr…

 

Fantastic Beats And Where To Find Them: Vol: 3

Back By Popular Demand!  

(Not really – just always wanted to type that!) 😉 

“The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud… I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think” – Maya Angelou. 

We are going to have to wait AGES for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but here – in the groovy sector of the blogosphere – you don’t have to hold out too long for Vol. 3 of those Fantastic Beats.

Love the way this blogging platform allows me to insert music into my fiction – to evoke mood, or enhance the wow factor. Sometimes, however, an irresistible, uproarious tune will pop up, but its deliriously distracting vid prevents it from inclusion – here, all the best examples have been presented. 

Besides, it seems like an eternity since the frivolous and frenetic dancathon that was Fantastic Beats Vol. 2

Hey, DJ Brad, you ask, where do we begin? 

What better place than @ the beginning?!

Detroit, to be exact. During the ’80s, when house music appeared, the much rougher sound of techno music also emerged; one of its pioneers was Jeff Mills. After all this time, he is still experimenting with various kinds of infectious beats. Recently – to my sheer delight – he has incorporated strong sci-fi-vibes into a more ambient direction of his work.

Just the other day we stumbled across this zany vid to a fave old skool classic – what a swell buncha’ fellas! 

No disruption. No damages. Just dancing. Delightful.

But why the masks for dancing in the street, amigos? 

If you’re worried about getting nabbed for “social disorder” then, blazes, Brad should’ve been put behind bars long ago, by Jove! 😉

“In these science fiction stories – even against enormous odds – people still feel the urge to go on, to discover… I understood it wouldn’t be easy to materialise some of these ideas slightly beyond the dance floor in electronic music. Actually there’s quite a lot of resistance against changing or using music in other things” – Jeff Mills. 

As you may have noticed, Paul Birken has become synonymous with my Fartlighter Bradventures. 

This following track can be found on Mr. Birken’s own YouTube channel, which is – as the neighbours can attest – visited every day. 

As far as we know, he even compiled the vid himself! 

Actually, the original Drvg Cvltvre track is kinda meh, but add a Paul Birken Remix and – WAHEY! – it is transformed into a stupendous stomper: 

“The only thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can” – Neil Gaiman.

For the next tem, it was a case of looking for a cool vid, and decent sound quality. One fine example initially slated for this next spot has been taken down.

No worries: regularly listened to this stylish stand-by whilst writing fiction @ our Southeast Asian retreat a few years back.

Sandwell District was the sensational – albeit short-lived – collaboration between DJs Function and Regis (who is one of my faves).

The video is the short film: Tunnel of Love (1977) featuring Tamara Beckwith and Edward Tudor Pole.

Mesmerising…

 

“Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance” – Confucius. 

“Variety is the spice of Bradscribe,” as they say.

It’s not all about bompity-bompitybomp records one after another here.

Fantastic beats can be found across many diverse musical genres. Besides, you never know what you’re going to get on this site, but it’s best to prepare yourself for gorgeous grungy gems such as this next item.

Many thanks to the Transexual Swiss Rebels – yes! Them again – for reminding me of the rich cultural heritage that is African-American music:

“Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy – your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself” – Annie Leibovitz.  

It would be interesting to learn what inspired Steve Hillage – legendary frontman of 70s psychedelic rock band: Gong – to make the transition to techno music by the 90s. He has adapted to it rather well, for how about this for fusion: never seen/heard anyone else playing electric guitar over electronic dance music.

If one could attend one more music festival, then it must have System 7 on the bill. Mr. and Mrs. Hillage have gained a reputation for being one of the best live acts in the land.

As you can see here, this vid was shot in the living room @ Brad Manor (hence the belly dancers):

Get on the good foot, Loki! 😉

“Towards the end of the 80s, when Acid House exploded, we felt, you know, we had found our new musical home… and we just thought: we’ve seen the future! This is gonna be fucking massive, man! Electronic! Dance. Music. Eureka!” – Steve Hillage.

Twenty years ago, coinciding with my giddy times @ university, the Tresor label (based in Berlin) brought out some of the most snazzy techno tunes, a lot of which helped me plough through some particularly difficult – or just unbelievably dull – essays.

Discovering YouTube eight years ago helped me to delve into the scintillating back catalogue of one of that label’s most innovative lights: an excitable – and highly enjoyable – bunny known only as Brixton.  

Reckon a DJ just stands there, fiddling with a Roland TB-303, a Roland TR-909, or whatnot? 

Trust Brixton to put the LIVE into live set!

And remember: if at first you don’t succeed… just dance!

Cheers!

 

“What just happened? Please tell me nobody kissed me…” – Tony Stark.