“The Purfuit Of Happineff”: Happy 4th Of July To All My American Friends!

Hip Hip Hooray! Let’s Hear It For The US Of A!

“You can’t do this to me, I’m an American!” – Marion Ravenwood. 

Howdy!

For this Post, considering how the majority of you live Stateside, thought it best to write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.

As far as one can remember, America always had something bigger and better to offer. British television: yes, all three channels, just two if you include the broadcasters’ strike (one of many in various sectors to cripple the UK during the late-’70s) languished in the doldrums. Even Doctor Who – that longest-running bastion of SF TV, its already-miniscule fx budget hindered even further by a technicians’ strike at the BBC!  – could not compete against the flashier, more expensive likes of Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, or The Muppet Show, The Incredible Hulk, Starsky & Hutch, Kojak(!) (et al, etc. etc.) for that matter. Who (else) did we have? Metal frickin’ Mickey, that’s who – who?? Exactly!! 

Compared to the subsequent decade, The British Film Industry offered larger, more expensive than usual, but ultimately unattractive movies, but nothing like those two gargantuan smashes of 1977 and 1980 respectively (you know what they were!) that sent cinema queues trailing down the street. And then around the corner. 

So finger-lickin’ good: American comics, American toys – heck, even American words – dominated our school playground. Yay, our precious post-punk platters led the way in the pop parade, but let’s face it, our own Claire Grogan was cute, but Debbie Harry was gorgeous.

Still, my father actually spent some time in the US during the ’60s, and was that close to getting a really great job in aviation – so, for that brief time (28 years ago) Brad found himself the centre of attention for once! Until one of the other kids announced that his Dad actually was American, and the throng gravitated to his side of the bike shed, eager to catch a glimpse of the bigger and better delights he could reveal from his Starsky & Hutch satchel. 

Gah!

Anyway, one of the various quality products that my father brought back with him – and enriched my childhood – included a classic Stan Freberg long-player (in Stereo!) 

It’s in, it’s very in! 😉

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn” – Benjamin Franklin.

Now, onto American music.

Generally, my music tastes gravitate towards the Blues, Soul and Jazz – all the phenomenal African-American essentials. 

Which is my favorite American band, you ask?

Gee, that’s a toughie. 

The Doors immediately excite the senses, but what gets me every time has to be Creedence Clearwater Revival. Ever since Bad Moon Rising caught my attention in An American Werewolf In London, they have held a very special place in my heart. And my record collection!

During the Vietnam War, thousands of American servicemen were stationed @ U Tapao, Nong Kok and other bases in Thailand. Countless bars – playing music of that era, including Creedence, sprang up all over the place. Most of these guys left long ago, but, most of the bars – still playing music of that era, including Creedence – remain. 

This was always my go-to tune on Karaoke Night:

“My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on Earth enjoy!” – Thomas Jefferson.

Just thought it would he groovy to fill this gap to ask:

How will you be celebrating today? Where will you go? What will you eat? How many fireworks are required? 

Is it the same every year? 

Will be thrilled to read your Comments! 🙂

Chon Wang: “The English are not very friendly.”

Roy O’Bannon: “They’re just sore losers.”

Chon Wang: “What did they lose?”

Roy O’Bannon: “A little thing called the American Revolution, Chon… They came over with about a million men. We had a bunch of farmers with pitchforks and beat ’em like a drum.”

Politics! Hoo-boy…

The political systems in both the US & UK these days are as mad as a bicycle. And then some. 

Today, your fest may not have the right zest, or your grub may lack the necessary relish, whilst grudgingly knowing that such a deplorable doofus is running your country (into the ground), but your Brit correspondent here would like to assure you that my thoughts are with you during these very trying times. 

You will NOT see Brad meddling in politics – by Jove, no!

Why, the very word itself is detestable: consisting of “poli” which means “more than one” – yours truly is an old-fashioned type o’ fella: can only handle one lousy inconvenience at a time. While “tics” are bloodsucking parasites. 

You see? Not my scene.

At all…

Couldn’t proceed without this BBC comedy gem from 1980, the year in which current affairs analysts on both sides of The Pond could not envisage a ’50s B-movie star in the White House. 

Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat! How times have changed…

“When I was a kid, my Mum said: ‘Work hard, you can become President!’ because I grew up in a Disney film. That was back when we believed that Presidents were righteous and honorable… Here’s the kicker: according to the odds, there is 40% chance that, as President, somebody is going to try to assassinate you, but there is a 100% chance of character-assassination…” – Rich Hall. 

Fact: Brad did not travel overseas until his early-20s. 

As my inaugural trip outta Blighty, guess the only one desirable destination that sprung to mind.

Yep! That’s right: during May 1996 – one of the highlights of this boy’s life – Brad spent a fortnight on YOUR side of The Pond. Manhattan, to be exact – sight-seeing (searching for those crucial movie locations, mainly). There was no need to fret over how to wrangle a cab to get me to the IYH (International Youth Hostel) – sitting next to me on the flight was a British businessman who kindly offered to give me a lift Uptown. And, as a regular visitor, he gave a few tips on how to get by.

Can vividly recollect waking up on my first morning in another country.

The temperature was scorching; the city noise every bit as cacophonous as my craziest dreams had imagined; and as my feet hit the NY street for that very first giddily-exciting time, which song on my Sony Walkman marked my wild-eyed an’ gawping-gob entrance into Pretzel Central?

Well, goldarn it! It had to be this: 

“See me walkin’ down Fifth Avenue, walkin’ cane here at my side. Take it everywhere I walk, I’m an Englishman in New York” – Sting.

As a member of The British Museum Society, the Manhattan Metropolitan Museum of Art was top-of-my-list and – gee whiz! – it did not disappoint! A whole afternoon was spent mooching around its impressive galleries. Then emerged into the relentless sun to get a hot dog an’ a bag o’ donuts from the multitude of street stalls crowding the pavement – sorry! – sidewalk. 

After visiting the Statue of Liberty, made my groovy way up Downtown to Uncle Huckle-Buckle’s Chuckle Hutch (try sayin’ that after a few Buds!) to sit down and listen to the stand-ups; can’t forget my ears popping in the express elevator to the top of the Empire State Building; and other wondrous sights and sensations too numerous to drone on about here(!)

Out and about in NYC, chances are that you will see some very famous people. One day, taking a route recommended by my Tourist Map, a classy African-American lady marched straight past me – yes! None other than Diana Ross!! Ruminating over which was her best: either Baby Love or Chain Reaction, walked around a corner and almost collided into John Lennon’s widow!! (Don’t forget: you heard it here first). A few months earlier, we had recorded Jackie Mason Live In London – a programme that my father always requested to watch and never failed to reduce him to tears of laughter. So, imagine papa’s envy when listening to my incredible story of hanging around in the doorway of the Waldorf Astoria, standing next to the comedian himself, listening to the joke that reduced two NYPD officers to tears of laughter. 

And upon returning to the hostel every evening, a special, extra-large, local delicacy awaited all tourists on the front desk. Absolutely scrumptious! What on Earth was it?!

Somebody replied:

“We call it ‘pizza’…”

After ten days of intense adventures, no wonder there was no energy left; nevertheless, my last four days turned out to be equally life-changing; just around the corner(!) two important discoveries were made in that “New World”: the Barnes & Noble Superstore (ended up buying two books for myself and two books for Dad); and even more crucially:

TACO BELL!!

Thus, thenceforth, Brad‘s undying love for Mexican food flourished.

Obviously, if and when another Stateside visit occurs, special detours will have to be taken so that, finally, WE CAN MEET and you can regale me with tales of YOUR bigger and better way of life!

Who better to round this Post off than with The Boss himself?!

What better way to sign off than by saying:

Have A Nice Day! 🙂

“Day of glory! Welcome day!
Freedom’s banners greet thy ray;
See! how cheerfully they play
      With thy morning breeze,
On the rocks where pilgrims kneel’d,
On the heights where squadrons wheel’d,
When a tyrant’s thunder peal’d,
      O’er the trembling seas…
O let freemen be our sons;
And let future Washingtons
Rise, to lead their valiant ones,
      Till there’s war no more.”
~John Pierpont (1785–1866), “Independence”

 

 

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So Low: Is Brad Done With Star Wars?!

Star Wars: The Last Straw…?

Yes, You Were Right, Luke, This Did NOT Go The Way Brad Thinks…

“What do you know about the Force?” – Luke Skywalker.

On the day in which Solo: A Star Wars Story began at our local popcorn parlour last week, there it stood on the library shelf: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Available to rent for one week. A whole week?! The prospect of watching it for SECOND, or –Dyzan forbid – a third(!) time (>_<) filled me with such dread and nausea that yours deliriously had to sit down… before he fell down… 

Yes, folks, even five months later, DON’T try bribing me with egg custard tarts, there is no way you could make me wade through THAT… “experience” again…

Is it a coincidence that it had been placed right next to fellow turkey: Geostorm…? Somehow, this most recent instalment in the galaxy’s biggest franchise makes Gethard Buttwad’s most recent flop look like a veritable masterpiece of modern cinema.

No matter how you look at it, it’s undeniable – The Last Jedi IS a complete mess.

Pondered going to watch the much-troubled Solo: A Star Wars Movie, but, considering The Last Jedi’s shortcomings, plus the uneasy prospect of watching a Corellian smuggler movie without Harrison Ford, Brad eventually decided to give it a miss, hence no Bradscribe Review. It’s maybe just as well: initial reviews citing disappointment; reports of the most annoying character (a droid?!) since the prequels; and a plethora of dimly-lit scenes (the problem blighting modern movies, and TV series’ that infuriates me the most!) all make for unpleasant reading.

Perhaps improbable now, but Brad actually became one of the few heartened by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, encouraged by the introduction of such intriguing new characters: Rey, Poe and Finn. Of course, as we were all crestfallen to discover, The Last Jedi failed to embellish these characters with ANY meaningful, or consequential, developments whatsoever. 

Cue scene of this blogger standing forlornly on a cliff edge, chucking his copy of the now-pointless Force Awakens over his shoulder…

When Rey states: “I need someone to show me my place in all of this,” weh-heh-hell! DON’T look at Rian Johnson – he’s The Last Nerk to ask for directions… …

“I was shocked. I said to Rian, Luke is the most optimistic, hopeful character and now he’s this miserable, despondent hermit… I had a real problem, because I don’t believe a Jedi would ever give up…” – Mark Hamill. 

“It says right in the script: ‘forget the past! Kill it if you have to!'” wailed Mark Hamill during a Q&A session at one fan function, before turning to his director, lounging inappropriately gleeful on the couch beside him. “You’re doing a pretty good job!” 

And everyone in the room accepted that. As a joke

Speaking of unbearable puns, notice how Rian Johnson is listed as “Writer” as well as Director…?

In his somewhat twisted mind, Brad envisaged a creepy Majestic-12-like committee, lurking deep within the fiery Mustafar-like pit that is Disneyland – its sole purpose: to concoct the insane plot-threads to be spun for this current trilogy.

No, dear friends, the truth is far more sinister than that! 

There is NO such committee; thus, no such plot(s) or plans have been laid out. Astonishingly, Johnson came in and singlehandedly put together Episode VIII, apparently with little to no collaboration from Lucasfilm/Disney. 

How much did he actually write? 

Judging from the ineptitude and incoherence displayed onscreen, you get the impression that the crew were just making (breaking…?) it up as they went along…

“Never mind, eh? All the “little niggles” will be sorted out with Episode IX!”

So certain are you…?!

Can’t see how any of this tosh could be rectifiedTotally bereft of a logical, or progressive plot structure, with all the original characters written out, there is no sensible direction for this embarrassing charade to take.

Having wondered extensively as to the background story of Supreme Leader Snoke, only to squirm at his premature – and ridiculously swift! – demise, the bewildering realisation that there is absolutely NO rationale – or justification for the existence of the Worst – sorry, First – Order becomes immediately (and eye-rollingly) apparent! The First Order persists, simply because the trilogy demands a considerable antagonistic element (no matter how one-dimensional!)  

Such a ludicrous set-up only enforces my suspicions: NO planning went into this guff! NONE at all! 

And let’s not bang on about this – for plenty of disgruntled fans have already done so – but that miserable, old blue-milk-supping git arsing about in The Land Of The Porgs is definitely NOT the Luke Skywalker we grew up with. You know it’s a calamity when even Mark Hamill himself has to speak out against the wrong direction of one of SF’s most beloved characters…

If anything, the ONLY enchanting moment of the whole movie involved the reappearance of Yoda. And his original puppet at that, voiced as always, and reassuringly, by the irreplaceable Frank Oz. Alternatively, Brad would have been fine and dandy paying to watch a crazy, cosmic comedy, featuring just this crotchety Odd Couple:

“Your turn to fetch the blue milk, Short Round!” Lukewarm chirps, to which Master Yoda replies: “My turn?! My dimpled ass! Your turn, it is…” 

Star Wars: The Last Rian Johnson Film? 

‘Fraid not… 

We can expect not just one more movie from him, but The Clusterfuck Trilogy! Coming To Theaters Near YOU! 

Ah, not me, baby! Gonna grab my blue milk an’ split the scene, man… 

“There are no Jedi here anymore; only dreamers like this fool” – Baze Malbus. 

So, all is lost?

Not so, my young padawan.  

It is reassuring to remember that we still have Rogue One – the movie Brad waited only 36 years for (and to that end, dreaded it more than anything) but was pleasantly surprised nevertheless. However, that jubilant – and relieved! – reaction (albeit only eighteen months ago) now seems like a far, far away, almost vague, recollection…

This reminds me of just one of the many reasons why Revenge Of The Sith sucks: the main point of watching that was to witness the finale that finally graced the Final Act of Rogue One.

Unlike The Last Jedi, Rogue One is blessed with an engrossing script, coherent action (and editing), great participants; some may argue that their characters were not properly developed, but then again, why worry about that? We knew, alas, that they were all doomed anyway. It’s easily the best Star Wars movie since Return of the Jedi. Let’s face it: it’s the ONLY decent Star Wars movie since Return of the Jedi! (Search your feelings: you KNOW it be true! 😉 )

For the time being, yours truly will stick with the OT and Rogue OneBut please, let me stipulate that it must be the original Original Trilogy – not those so-called “Special” Editions that ruined the franchise’s 20th Anniversary. The tampering with Mos Eisley was unforgivable – you will never find a more wretched hive of CGI and pointlessly inserted trash. 

Return of the Jedi suffered the worst: shockingly, inexplicably, my fave song performed by Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band was replaced with a “new” derisory number. And what’s with the line-up of Force-ghosts? How could anyone replace the distinguished  Sebastian Shaw with that lameass dipwit from the prequels?! 

There is nothing on the horizon that might assuage my gnawing doubts. 

A solo Boba Fett movie, perhaps? 

No! Absolutely NOT!

Part of what makes this badass Mandalorian so great is his mystique – it’s cool that we know barely anything comcerning his origins or devious history. Let’s keep it that way (but nobody listens to Brad these days…) If any characters deserve their own big screen outing, it has to be those other bounty hunters glimpsed in The Empire Strikes Back for the most fleeting seconds: Bossk, IG-88, Dendar, 4-Lom and Zuckuss of course. (Brad was only the 7th kid in his class to acquire that latter action figure – one of the finest achievements from my scholastic period!)   

Naturally, those days when excitement and giddy anticipation seemed inextricably linked with all-things-Star-Wars are long gone.  

Regrettably, we are lumbered now with the crass commercialism and mediocre machinations of a corporation that fails to understand what generated mass appeal for Star Wars in the first place.

Business is business. Except it’s none of Brad’s business… 

For me, the Wars are over, but there will be no cheer. No celebrations. Not even manic Stormtrooper-helmets-as-drumkits levels of revelry can shatter the uneasy tranquillity that now pervades the musty (dark-but-not-as-ineptly-dark-as-Solo-A-Star-Wars-Story-dark) halls of Brad Manor…

For those of you who still believe this franchise remains the one true, unfaltering bastion of awesomeness in modern sci-fi cinema – or reckon a morose old moofmilker like meself should just “snap out of it”! – you are more than welcome to bamboozle Brad with logic, concise arguments and/or wisecracks in the Comments section graciously provided.

May The Force Be With YOU! (Alas, it snuck out of my life. A long time ago… …) 

 

“Stockpile of Last Jedi DVDs in range, General!” 

“Target! Maximum firepower!” 

Hey, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Found this vid which, unlike Disney’s interpretation of Star Wars, is actually quite clever and entertaining. 

At least, Ryan Reynolds voicing our fave Sith Lord is preferable to trying to endure Laura frickin’ Dern as Admiral Hairdye.

Admiral?! HA! 

Out of all the ill-advised, cringe-inducing “humour” foisted upon The Last Jedi, this ill-advised concept, instead, is what really amused Brad.

Be warned: there’s some coarse language herein, but this is nothing compared to the multitude of expletive-laden rants overheard on that fateful evening last December. Staggering out of the screening of you-know-what…

Knock ’em dead, Poolboy:

 

“In Reflection Of How It All Came To Be”: The Saga Of J’Son, Meredith And Peter

They Talked, And Came To Know Each Other,

They Touched, And Came To Love Each Other…

“After all, he is Star-Lord… my finest creation… my one true moment of glory… how it has all led up to this moment…?” – The Master Of The Sun. 

“Our destinies, mine and Star-Lord’s, were first glimpsed when a craft alien to the planet Earth crashed in the Colorado mountains…

“Meredith Quill was the sole witness…”

Quite unlike anything heretofore seen in Marvel Comics, this “saga” is narrated by a benign and bearded humanoid known simply as The Master Of The Sun.

Ever since the Guardians Of The Galaxy movie enriched our lives in 2014, this has been The Essential Star-Lord comic to acquire! Unfortunately, it has become such an obscure ish; moreover, it has taken AEONS just to discover the title and the date of said rarity. And establishing the identities of its co-auteurs of awesomeness was something else… Curse your shorts, boy! Why, oh why, couldn’t you have remembered these details?! Better still, just KEPT the comic… 

Three years ago, most critics believed that Marvel Studios had produced their first turkey – taking such a huge risk, introducing characters that NOBODY had ever heard of before. Ha! Yet again, you see, they had underestimated Brad. To me, there seemed to be something very familiar about that name: “Star-Lord”…

Confusingly, in 1978, a (short-lived) weekly science fiction comic called Star-Lord was published in the UK, but it had absolutely no connection to Peter Quill. No, not that – pretty certain that the cosmic hero to grab my attention was indeed Peter the halfbreed. After an epic marathon of deduction, the ish in question just happens to be Marvel Spotlight #6 (May 1980). With a script by Doug Moench, and art by Tom Sutton: “The Saga Of Star-Lord falls well within my initial comic collecting spree.

In this yearlong BA quest, this proved to be one of my most elusive targets…

Instead, Future Tense – another science fiction weekly from Marvel UK – had to suffice; the Saga had been reprinted through the first four ishs (all appearing during November 1980). Incidentally, the front cover of the much-coveted debut ish features that now-classic portrait of Nick Fury In Space (by Jim Steranko) – but named here as Star-Lord! It has taken until just last month(!) to finally track down this particular monumental mag. (The original cover for Marvel Spotlight #6 was reproduced as the cover of Future Tense #4).

Here, on the classic page 3, savour the romance of how an Earthwoman named Meredith Quill found – and fell in love with – a man from beyond the stars. 

Ah, bless the Bronze Age!

Surely, there is nothing in today’s Marvel Comics that can compare with that achingly beautiful fourth panel…? 

“Whoever this is, wherever he’s from, I can’t just stand aside and let him die!” – Meredith Quill.

“Nine months later, a male child was born to her. She named him Peter Jason Quill and one night soon after his birth, for a reason she could not explain… 

“She took him outside and held him up to the stars.”

‘Tis unfortunate how J’son has “disappeared without trace,” relegated to further obscurity in the annals of Marvel history – and has now suffered the ignominy of exclusion from the movies. The impact of this misstep is lessened somewhat when you take into account that he appears in only five panelstwo of which he is unconscious! Following in the tradition of Marvel’s innovative series: What If?: supposing he had fought that space war victoriously, would J’son have returned to Earth…?  

Disgruntled at the realisation that he doesn’t have a father like the other schoolkids – a bitterness alluded to briefly onscreen during Vol. 2, at least – not surprisingly, Peter becomes a loner, refusing to play shortstop with the other kids; there he is, reading a Weird Science comic all by his lonesome…

Going for “long solitary walks”anticipating, perhaps, the return of his father – one day, amid dense woodland, the boy is: “…visited by a celestial light… by a miracle from the beyond.” Surely, unmistakably, this spaceship can only belong to ONE very special person… 

“At once terrified and ecstatic,” he runs home to tell Mom…

 

And take a look at that dynamic page 26 (the pen-penultimate page of this ish, below).

That first panel showing an irate trio of Ariguans looks oddly familiar; a feint memory of this scene may very well have lodged in my frenetic infant mind – “zheor,” indeed!

Also, get that middle panel: that should have been etched onto my brain long ago – such an ultracool pose by the adult Peter in his full Star-Lord clobber (but note how he is strangely without his trademark helmet throughout this ish).

Aha, and that killa line!

“I don’t think anything, “Ship.” I know what it is and who’s inside it. Don’t ask me how, but I know. The occupant of that craft is in danger. He’s also the closest thing to a father I’ve ever known…” – Star-Lord.  

“I have done both good and wrong. One has led to the other. I was entrusted with the ultimate secrets of science… A science so advanced it approaches sorcery. 

“I chose my path and I do not regret the way, though I do repent it.”

And so, The Master Of The Sun must prepare to relinquish his human form, having failed to fulfil the higher purpose expected of him. Yet he could take comfort in his sole achievement: turning a halfbreed Earthboy into the Star-Lord. 

As is the case with most classic comics: some really jaw-dropping details hit you on the last page. This one startled me:

“Know that you were to be only the first of an entire legion of Star-Lords…

to ensure peace and seek justice throughout the vast cosmos.”

Thus, the story concludes with Peter honouring the memory of the being who was The Master Of The Sun: by obeying his will “to accomplish good works.” “Ship” blasts off into space, sending the Star-Lord to seek his destiny among the stars…  

Ironically, this used to be the sort of awesome ish that made me speculate what it would be like if made into a movie… Now, my wishes go… in the opposite direction. For all the intricate complexities that modern sfx can offer nowadays, the best “blockbusters” play in our minds…

Perhaps we were all mesmerised by a CG-regenerated Kurt Russell but, ultimately, it is still a tad unsettling to consider how this… this non-J’son individual steals the show. No matter how enjoyable he made both Guardians movies – yes! What we really needed was a space opera starring a groovy fella wielding a Walkman!how…?

How can James Gunn justify fiddling around with a back-story like this?

How can a completely different Marvel character be presented in J’son’s stead?!

Are such revisionary tactics acceptable…?! 

Approaching halfway through this year and does Mr. Gunn respond to ANY of my e-mails?!

Does he fairy cakes…

Theoretically, one would be… quite flattered if another writer attempted to create their own Fartlighter Bradventure. 

Yeah-es, buh-ut…

Kill off any member of Brad Company via something as wretched as a brain tumour… uff, that’d be REALLY PUSHIN’ it, fella… 

Honestly, on some occasions, my viewing of the first film has begun by skipping to the point where distraught Peter is whisked off the hospital grounds in Yondu’s ship…

Not only is the opening scene JUST WRONG, but tonally too bleak to connect concisely with the otherwise frivolous nature of what follows…

And 10CC’s I’m Not In Love is my FAVE track on Awesome Mixtape Vol 1 – goldarn it!!

So… (catch yer breath ya ol’Brit loon, fercake’ssake…) after two Guardians movies, it seems an injustice that Miss Quill’s extraordinary story has not been sufficiently told on the big screen… 

Still, thanks to the wonders of Bronze Age comics – it’s out there (if you can find it). 

She enriched her life trying to save J’son; 

she sacrificed her life trying to save Peter… 

This is for Meredith…

“I just don’t like the character [J’son] very much. I also thought it was too much like a Star Wars thing because of the royalty and all of that…” – James Gunn.

 

“Over The Hill With The Swords Of A Thousand Men!”: Song A Day Challenge – Day #1

Manic Music Monday: Welcome To The Song a Day Challenge

Thank You To Danica For Nominating Me!

Here are the rules:

  • Post a song a day for five consecutive days (I’m posting consecutive Mondays!)
  • Post the name of the song and video
  • Post what the lyrics mean to you (optional)
  • Nominate two (or one) different blogger each day of the challenge

My Song of the Day:

Tenpole Tudor – “Swords Of A Thousand Men” (1981)

What the lyrics mean to me:

Well, ‘oorah, ‘oorah, ‘oorah, yea!

This is stirring stuff and no mistake; back in the day – the ’80s of course! – so much FAB pop music could be lapped up.

Like so many of the classics of this long-gone and much-missed era, this punk classic exudes FUN, a more agreeable f-word that seems to have been eradicated from a “music” industry now as dull and miserable as the poxy weather in this video!

Look ye here: nothing could be more English than a bunch a’ mates arsin’ about in an English field; rockabillies in chainmail; drummers on tables and flag-wavin’ and ale-swillin’ a-plenty, by Jove! 

Hear their shouts, hear their roar
They’ve probably all had a barrel or much, much more, indeed!
HUZZAH!

*

My Nominee:

boxofficebuzz

 

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

How Much Longer Must We Hunt For ETs?

busbok

“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)

Arrival: The Bradscribe Review

What Is The Purpose Of This Movie?

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“The premise is that aliens are landing in places that make no sense, and nothing is happening. The world is freaking out… I love that” – Denis Villeneuve.

“I was in love with the exaggeration of reality or exploration of the world from a different point of view, which is science fiction” explains Denis Villeneuve.

When the French-Canadian director admits that “it’s tough to find good science fiction material,” at least he has tried – and succeeded – to rectify this matter in the intriguing form of Arrival, the sort of thought-provoking SF that rarely gets the big-screen treatment.

Based on Ted Chiang’s novella: “Story of Your Life” – a “highly scientific, not inherently cinematic” work – twelve massive, shell-shaped spacecraft appear in the most unlikeliest locations around the world. And the race is on to find out What They Want.

On a university campus, comparative linguistics professor Dr. Louise Banks, (played by Amy Adams)realises that constant low-flying jets and a collision in the car park signify that this is turning out to be no ordinary day.  

After learning about the Breaking News of the Century – strangely enough on an HD TV, not via smartphone – the Prof is soon whisked away by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) to Montana where the USA’s very own extraterrestrial representative has chosen to hang around. 

There is no explanation as to why a section of the craft opens up every eighteen hours, or how this arrangement was initially achieved but, nevertheless, a palpable sense of wonder ensues. 

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“…At the end of the day, it’s a story about a woman and her child, and the choices she makes. That’s really interesting to play in a sci-fi movie about communication and global war” – Amy Adams.

Why are they here, indeed.

For the central role, Adams puts in an engaging performance, one of intimacy and empathy, managing to elevate this material from the depths of absurdity to which it could so easily have sunk.

And despite its disturbing nature, the gradual unravelling of international tensions actually makes for compelling viewing.

Perhaps the most enthralling scene is the intrepid hazmat squad’s literally breath-taking ascent into the spacecraft, and their conversion to a vertical gravity. One discrepancy and all the guests would hurtle back/down to terra firma!

The visitors referred to here as  “heptapods” appear and dissolve in mist behind a transparent screen. They reminded me of the tentacled martians as depicted in The War Of The Worlds; the whale-like sounds they emit are particularly haunting. 

“Abbott and Costello” – how charming! Why do we see just two of them? …And we didn’t get to find out why they each have seven legs, either.

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I didn’t think it would look as big and expansive as it is. We’re in a black box. With a white screen and a hazmat suit… It emotionally wrecked me” – Jeremy Renner.

What a relief that Arrival spares us the eerie and stereotypical dramatic scenes of the alien armada ominously approaching Earth. Quite unlike more standard alien invasion flicks –gadzooks! They’re here already! An unsettling touch if ever there was one. And it is nothallelujah! – an invasion anyway!

Such a welcome cavalcade of subtle ideas: scientific, cultural and – oh yes! – linguistic. Part of the fascination for this movie centred on wondering how Villeneuve et al would bring it to a satisfactory denouement. Had expected a twist, but on a non-linear level? Heavy, baby.

Ultimately, its stark themes convince us that this film is not about the aliens, but about us: the complicated bipeds. In attempts at First Contact, these proceedings instead invoke that inherent inability to effectively communicate among our own species. Not only does communication (and co-operation) break down, in this hi-tech age, it gets switched off! 

As one news reporter rightly remarked at one point, whatever benevolent need our visitors require, why do they come in twelve ships, when only one would have sufficed?

It is startling to realise that in that cramped and bustling army camp in Montana, Dr. Banks is the only major female presence. Really?!

It is almost miraculous how she and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) crack the intricacies of the alien non-linear orthography in unbelievably short time and in such stressful geopolitical circumstances.

Thankfully, this film is more engaging than Interstellar, and undoubtedly light years more worthwhile than Independence Day: Resurgence. 

Perhaps Arrival’s greatest asset is that, in a world increasingly tearing itself apart through social unrest and breakdowns in diplomacy, it could not have been released at a more apt time…

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BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

4-out-of-5

Lingua Extraterrestria: What Would First Contact Entail?

When We DO make Alien Contact, What Will We Have To Say? And How…? 

And By What Means Can We Begin To Comprehend What THEY Want?

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“What the hell are we supposed to use, man, harsh language?” – Private Frost. 

“Thousands have taken to the streets amid growing unrest at the perceived “alien invasion,” reads the Breaking News banner.

“Governments across the globe have declared a state of emergency urging residents to remain in their homes until meaningful contact can be made.”

What do they mean by “meaningful contact”?

The exciting, yet cautious, notion of first contact with (intelligent) extraterrestrial life has often popped up in movies, books and essays, but they all – frustratingly – fall short of supposing how such a landmark event could be achieved.

The most prominent SF extravaganza to tackle this premise (refraining from military antagonism) and emphasize attempts at establishing connections with alien visitors happened to be Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977), in which initial connection transpired through exchanges of musical motes. 

Groovy – fortunately, variable tones possess the same harmonics elsewhere in our galaxy!

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“I really misunderstood that linguistics was closer to being a translator… When you’re approaching language, you look at structure, anthropological, sociological… how it exists inside of that. It’s got very complicated” – Amy Adams.  

Just opened in cinemas this week is Arrival, a most-welcome package that dares to offer something more cerebral rather than just aiming to be visually spectacular. 

After twelve ovular smooth and shell-like spacecraft appear in skies at various locations around the world, answers – rather that action – is called for. The military (led by Forest Whitakerenlist the services of leading academic linguist Dr. Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams) to try and work out why they are here, and what do they want. 

Curiously, every eighteen hours, a section of the craft suspended above the plains of Montana opens up, allowing Banks and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to try and facilitate a basic exchange of communication.

The new Arrivals are revealed as seven-pronged starfish-like creatures dubbed “heptapods.” Intriguingly, these visitors do participate in contact, but only by emitting a highly sophisticated form of non-linear orthography – rings of swirling black “ink.”

How can Dr. Banks hope to suss out something like this?:

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“Some supporters of linguistic relativity think that the cognitive benefits of language helped spur its evolution. This is relevant to the movie, as the fate of humanity depends on us understanding their language” – newscientist.com

Among the earliest systems of writing, wedge-shaped cuneiform tablets were produced by the Sumerians in the Ancient Near East five thousand years ago. 

Having had the privilege of studying this bewildering civilization at university, one could not help but observe that they seemed so incongruous to World History – the notion of extraterrestrial origins should not sound so fantastical.

Incidentally, their religious texts quite categorically describe “the Ancient Gods who descended from the Heavens…”

Since the Phoenicians developed the first alphabet, scripts for Indo-European languages – of which English is just one member of that family – generally run horizontally from left to right, but with the observation that Arabic runs from right to left, should the heptapod circular “language” be read clockwise or anti-clockwise? 

Moreover, at what point on each billowing ring should Dr. Banks begin to decipher these messages? So many syntactic and semantic aspects to consider in such a fascinating and – considering what is at stake – frightening voyage of discovery!

As Dr. Banks wonders:

“They use non-linear orthography. Do they think like that too?” 

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“Are you dreaming in their language?” – Ian Donnelly.

Having already notched up five-star reviews and an encouraging string of superlatives from a wide range of film magazines and websites, Arrival looks set to be the phenomenal, thought-provoking classic that gives SF a good name.

Ultimately, this movie sets out to be more about human understanding, memory, love and fortitude than just delivering yet another tiresome alien invasion CGIfest far beyond the sensationalist reach of such dumb, inconsequential fare as Independence Day: Resurgence (which we were so kindly subjected to earlier in the year).

To find out how “distinctly original” and “truly exceptional” Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival really is, Brad will be checking it out this weekend. Therefore, a Review is sure to follow!

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Keep watching the skies…