By The Great Nebula!: My Bronze Age Comics Collection Has Outgrown Its Own Containment Vessel!!

Stop! Zap-Hammer Time! 

“You scoff, man of the Kree. What would you say if I told you that an Earthling had knowledge of the Omni-Wave?! A weapon capable of obliterating entire solar systems. And that woman knows how to build one!” – Ronan The Accuser. 

“And as the giant ship leaves the Earth’s atmosphere, the port through which she entered seals with a crackle of alien energy. 

“While deep within the awesome vessel: 

“Well, Johnny, I’ve always wanted to be on your show, but where are Doc And The Band?”

Yes!

We return, True Believers, to the bulging batch of bloomin’ bountiful Bronze beauties that constitute my ever-expanding Bronze Age comics collection!

And lo!

‘Tis a day upon which to rejoice! It is a year ago to the day since this collection began! So many excellent ishs have graced the substantial box recruited to stock them, but, in truth, some now lie scattered around the Drawing Room, straight through my Inner Sanctum (not surprisingly), and here, sprawled across my desk within my Control Centre as these words were frantically typed.    

Please don’t worry about that loud scraping you can hear in the background – have set me minions to work rearranging these gargantuan piles of Bronze Age awesomeness! 

So, where to begin?!

Ah, what the hey, this survey’s too good t’miss!

“I want an education. A chance to be all I could be – huh?!? Air force-? Well, why the heck not?!” – Carol Danvers. 

“The Millennia Bloom flares to life within the Crystal Cell, its gentle coruscating light painting Ms Marvel in rainbow colours…”

Welcome to the Bronze Age, man!

As previously mentioned on these Posts, Ms Marvel has proved too much of a hit-and-miss title for me. Fortunately, however, upon learning that the art for #19 (Aug 1978) was done by Carmine Infantino, before you can say: “Love me, love my zap-hammer,” it had taken a coveted place in the Bradscribe Prestige Collection i.e. top of the pile.  

The cover teases a cameo by Captain Marvel, but a dramatic intervention by Ronan (“You called me boy!”) the Accuser ups the thrill-power quite considerably. When wicked villain: Supremor subjects our heroine to a mind-probe, we are treated to a sensational biography of Carol Danvers: from her father letting only her brother go to college; her rebellion by joining the USAF; becoming NASA’s Chief of Security where she meets Captain Marvel; and being genetically reconstructed inside the Psyche-Magnitron by accident (in that inimitable Marvel way?).

And – oh yesstay one step ahead of Ronan’s zap-hammer… 

The Vision: “Even I, since Wanda, my wife, departed on extended leave, have felt an uncharacteristic emptiness, a gnawing. Almost… almost as though I were a bridge without a shore.” 

Jocasta: “Why, Vision, that’s lovely! It’s almost poetic!”

The Vision: “What? No! It’s not! Poetry is a human folly! And I… AM NOT…

…HUMAN!”

Well, bless my zap-hammer!

One of the indisputable joys of Bronze Age comics just has to be The Avengers. 

Constant changes of artists may have condemned Ms Marvel to a premature cancellation, but the ploy actually benefitted Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

Ish #194 (April 1980) offers a superb script by David Michelnie and ace art by George (Man-Wolf!) Perez, the condition of my ish is immaculate – surely, no other mitts have touched its pages these past 37 years! (Wake up – smell the mint). 

As a big fan of The Vision, his extraordinary character is developed very well here. And truly, one of the inestimable delights of this era is catching up with that forever-entertaining double act of Wonder Man and The Beast:

“These refreshments should be sufficient for the Avengers’ Conference. Though I do hope Master Beast will let some of the others try the banana cake this time” – Jarvis.

Drone R-II: “Is Galactus not awe-inspiring? Wil it not be an honor for you to serve him, even as I serve him?” 

Dazzler: “No! It will not be an honor! The only honor I want is a gold record – but then, that‘s not cosmic enough for you to understand.”

Ships computers have homed in on the being you seek, Master. Subject is located on the third planet of the Sol system: Earth. She is called Alison Blaire. Also… the Dazzler.”

Having dismissed the Dazzler – and she was a sensibly-dressed lass too! – ’twas not long before she made a triumphant return to the shopping list of Brad The Merciful. 

You only have to slip in the name of GALACTUS and yours truly will be guaranteed to snap it up!

In Dazzler #10 (December 1981) the genetic mutate who can convert sound energy into light is commanded by that colossal Devourer Of Worlds to venture inside a black hole and return his estranged treacherous herald: Terrax The Tamer to face the wrath of Galactus!

It impressed me so much that we are now on the lookout for Dazzler #11!

“And now, I know ye all would know how ’tis that a mere mortal became a new, more powerful incarnation of Thor himself!” – Loki. 

Since being overawed by that Thor: Ragnarok trailer a couple of months back, Hera – the Goddess of Death from Niffleheim – has been on my mind.

As the incomparable John Buscema’s penultimate ish as awesome artist, The Mighty Thor #277 (November 1978). “Time of the Trolls” sees the God of Thunder bereft of Mjolnir – nay! naught e’en a zap-hammer doth he hath!! – as he confronts the hordes of Hela.

In addition to some ultracool scenes with Hela, there is a suitably sinister turn by that ne’er-do-well God of Mischief: Loki. 

It won’t startle you to learn that Thor #278 has also swiftly swung into my possession! 

“Not bad, folks. I’ve seen some heavy stompin’ in my time… but this takes the cake. Hey, One-Eye, we got what we came for, right? That princess chick? How ’bout we head on home while we got the chance?” – Wolverine. 

Can’t complete this Post without including my fave team: the X-Men.

The now-legendary Claremont/Byrne run can go for up to TWENTY POUNDS EACH; the Classic X-Men series commenced in 1986 to reprint the earliest stories also featuring sterling artwork by Dave Cockrum – but even those ishs are now difficult to find. 

#14 (October 1987, but reproducing work first published in 1978): “Where No X-Man Has Gone Before!” sees our beloved mutants cast through an alien stargate to the other side of the galaxy where they must combat Gladiator and his gang of praetorian guards (i.e. more “costumed creeps”). Cyclops et al are aided in their struggle to free Princess Lilandra by – oh yes!the Starjammers. 

This series excelled because, in addition, each ish included a bonus story pencilled by John Bolton. The extra tale presented here: “What Stuff Our Dreams Are Made Of…” is one of the best, with a lone Lilandra making a perilous spaceflight to reach Xavier…

Professor Xavier’s students have long held a special place in my heart (as well as my archives!) It has been an absolute blast catching up with this particular series – one of the main reasons why this belated Bronze Age quest set out in the first place.

And lo, they did NOT NEED zap-hammers to become legends… 

Phantastisch! Eat your heart out, George Lucas. This is a real Star Wars!” – Nightcrawler.

“Incredible! The body of one is so powerful, so dense that even the rays of the Analyzer cannot penetrate it, and the other one pulses with strange power… a force that is somehow concentrated in the brand on his chest” – ROM. 

Still actively seeking back ishs of Power Man and Iron Fist! 

Incidentally, the (mis)adventures of Marvel’s most boisterous boys were handled brilliantly by one of the few women writing comics at that time: Mary Jo Duffy.

Aha! When you can get three Marvel legends for the price of two – especially in the amazing classic that is #73 (September 1981) – you don’t hang around! “Wraith, Colour And Creed” begins with ROM: Galador’s Greatest Spaceknight rampaging through the terrified throng of Times Square, zapping (with his Neutralizer, NOT a hammer!) a select few, while sparing others. Just doing his noble duty, banishing DIRE Wraiths to limbo, of course, but as far as Luke and Danny are concerned, this is a “murderin’ tin man” and they’ve “gotta score t’settle.” The way in which Rom ultimately convinces them that he is indeed one of the good guys is superb.  

The guest pencils by Greg La Rocque are fab, while – as usual – Mary Jo crafts a splendid yarn. 

Ah, some great times were had back in the Bronze Age – still the BEST era for comics imo. 

Tell me: in the glossy Marvel mags of today, do Steve “Hydra” Rogers, Kamala Khan – or even the female Thor for that matter – wield a mighty zap-hammer?

Nah, thought not. Brad rests his case… 

“Birds… They turned into flippin’ birds an’ flew away. I saw it. If what Rom’s sellin’ us is straight, anyone I know could be one’a them things… anyone… Birds. Jeez…” – Luke Cage. 

 

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Kraken Mare: The Largest Lake of Titan

Posted: 20 June 2014

 

An artist's impression of Kraken Mare on Titan.
An artist’s impression of Kraken Mare on Titan.

“Below the thunders of the upper deep, Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea, His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep, The Kraken sleepeth”  – Tennyson.

Below the piercing orange sky, the massive alien sea gleams. Kraken Mare – named after the fabled monster of Norse legend – is the first stable body of surface liquid discovered off-Earth, and one of the most distinctive awe-inspiring me geographical features of Saturn’s largest moon: Titan.

Having concentrated on science fiction for my previous Posts, here is an irresistible opportunity to cover this distant geological phenomenon. Kraken Mare, Ligeia Mare, (named after one of the Sirens of Greek mythology), and Punga Mare, (named after the Maori ancestor of sharks and lizards) all cluster around Titan’s North Pole.

Aeons ago, a Stars and Planets book (then) reliably informed me that TEN moons orbited Saturn; now, with the amazing advances in astro-exploration and observation, the total, as of this month – stands at a staggering SIXTY TWO! As one of the most amazing wonders of the universe, two other subjects were dropped in order to accommodate this as the main topic of my latest Post.

 

A diagram showing the layout of lakes at Titan's North Pole.
A diagram showing the layout of lakes at Titan’s North Pole.

“…An exotic chemistry that could illuminate the origins of life. Titan could hardly be a more alluring destination. Surely we should be launching a boat to explore its distant shores?” – New Scientist 24 May 2014.

This intriguing episode of interstellar exploration began in March 1997, when the Huygens probe – named after Christiaan Huygens, the 17th century Dutch astronomer who discovered Saturn’s largest moon – was launched on a seven-year voyage to Titan. When Cassini reached Titan in 2004, hopes of finding reflected sunlight from the surfaces of suspected hydrocarbon lakes faded fast. Actually, at the south polar region, a dark expansive feature, which came to be known as Ontario Lacus, was the first lake of Titan to be recognised as such.

The Huygens probe landed near Titan’s equator on 14 January 2005. Although it detected no areas of liquid, a report said it “strongly indicated the presence of liquids in the recent past.” Following analysis of the moon’s surface by a penetrometer, it can be described as a “sand made of ice grains.”

On 22 July 2006, passing over the northern hemisphere, Cassini discovered a collection of large smooth areas covering the surface near the North Pole. The definitive evidence for methane-filled lakes on Titan was announced in January 2007. On 8 July 2009, the Visual & Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) picked up a dramatic specular reflection of what has been identified as Kraken Mare’s southern shoreline. 

In a photo taken in July 2009, sunlight glints off the surface of Kraken Mare
In a photo taken in July 2009, sunlight glints off the surface of Kraken Mare

“Don’t make your surfing vacation reservations for Titan just yet” – Dr Jason Barnes.

Another awesome geographical feature of saturn’s larget moon is known as the “Throat of Kraken”; it forms a narrow strait, similar in scale to the Strait of Gibraltar. With gravity much lower compared to our Earth, and the liquid less dense, the tidal current could cause whirlpools. This is apt, considering the feared Kraken’s reputation for creating whirlpools and devouring whole ships. Yet radar results reveal that Ligeia Mare is “smooth as silk” suggesting that the real Seas of Tranquility are to be found in this sector of the solar system.   

There are plans for a submersible craft to explore the geology, and the chemistry of these lakes; it would be designed to search for organic molecules and measure the isotopic mix of its chemical composition to compile data on how Titan formed and evolved.

In a more poignant twist to this astronomical tale, scientists announced on 13 February 2008, that these polar lakes contains hundreds of times more natural gas and other liquid hydrocarbons than all the oil and natural gas reserves on Earth put together. In addition, they could hold 300 times the volume of Earth’s known oil reserves. This instantly brings to mind a wild SF scenario of mega-companies racing to extract their share of the riches of Titan!

On a final note, we have to wonder how long – or how soonboundless time, money and resources will be swiftly made available to make this science fiction become science fact!

 

The Rough Guide to Dystopia

Posted: 7 June 2014

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“We shall shortly be landing in Dystopia. Please fasten your seatbelts and put your seats back in the upright position, thank you”  

One of the most enduring subgenres of modern SF is Dystopia. The definition refers to a bleak future while the name itself is derived from a classical past, i.e. Ancient Greece. “Topos” is place, while “dis” is bad – thus, we are alluding to a “bad place” (as opposed to a “utopia” which is a good place).  One of the solutions to avoid an impending dystopia – as divulged in countless SF tales – is an evacuation from Earth to colonise a planet compatible with ours.

Among the leading proponents of this view include: The Space Merchants (1953) by Frederik Pohl and Foundation (1951) and End of Eternity (1955), both by Isaac Asimov. On the big screen, this idea was last used in Oblivion.

The main problem with dystopian movies now concerns not only their monotonous rate of production, but their contents have lost their shock value; with mass unemployment, debt, climate change and a whole host of other assorted crises, Dystopia is a fast encroaching reality.

The Dystopia is already upon us
The Dystopia is already upon us

“Few writers can take much satisfaction in unrelenting pessimism, and only the most embittered have been content to paint the future utterly black… but many people have tried to map escape-routes from Dystopia” – Brian Stableford.  

One cannot help but be reminded of the scene in Blade Runner (1982) where skyships blurt out: “the chance to start again” with “opportunity and adventure.” That sounds even more tempting now; stop the world, this bunny wants to escape to those “Off-World Colonies”Eerily enough, we’re only five years shy of the date in which Syd Mead’s rain-soaked neon-lit futurescape is brilliantly realised; and we can see with the utmost dread that this Dystopia (once as far-off as it was doom-laden) looks too darned accurate.

Another way to avoid a dystopian outcome would be to forsake modern technology and all the addictive urges which it creates. You’re telling me! Having to deal with superslow and unreliable software has undoubtedly been the bane of my work, as of late, and the reason why this particular Post was not published last Friday. Grrrr…   

Yet during the post-war regeneration, the acceleration of technology was greeted by social analysts as one of the factors in attaining a better life. This might be the case for the majority of the now-gen who seemingly cannot exist without a smartphone, but for this older hack, the urge to lob this laptop outta the window appeals… 

Donald Sutherland: "I have huge admiration for President Snow" Do you embrace the dystopian vision as well, Mr S?
Donald Sutherland: “I have huge admiration for President Snow” Do you embrace the dystopian vision as well, Mr S?

“… If you take from it what I hope you will take from it, it will make you think a little more pungently about the political environment you live in and not be complacent” – Donald Sutherland (on The Hunger Games).  

A Post on this particular subject would not be complete without mentioning the phenomenal success of The Hunger Games. As Followers of this Blog will know, (part of) this movie was viewed only during a long-distance flight and it did not make for pleasant viewing. Once past the utterly absurd and pessimistic premise, the turgid script and the lame lead actors detracted my attention; left glum and disenchanted, the Off button has rarely felt so good. All circus, and no bread.

At first glance, it seems perplexing as to how and why so many teens embrace this stuff. Actually, the concept of brutal factionalised worlds governed by authoritarian entities is basically high school, opined one critic. The mash of Dystopia and oppressed younglings has been a literary combination, long before it became a twinkle in Suzanne Collins’ eye.

Donald Sutherland, the veteran star who played President Coriolanus Snow, described in one article as “a tyrant’s tyrant, with basilisk malevolence,”  viewed The Hunger Games as essentially politically allegorical, offering a “coded commentary” on inequality, power and hope.

In conclusion, despite the fast and frenetic rate of technological development, instead of creating a greater, more fulfilling, society, we suddenly find ourselves nestled in the glum dystopia of our own misguided making.   

That’s enough depressing futures for now – a preferable alternative would be to spend the rest of the evening on Youtube watching cute bunnies falling over.

Goodnight, sleep tight.

For now, "but they'll be back and in greater numbers..."
For now, “but they’ll be back and in greater numbers…”

The Cineplex at 40,000 Feet

Posted: 2 May 2014

Come fly the friendly skies; long flights are my only means of catching up with new/recent movie releases
Come fly the friendly skies; long flights are my only means of catching up with new/recent movie releases

“Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss” – Douglas Adams

It is that time of year again when Bradscribe has to leave behind the humid climes, sandy beaches and delish spicy seafood in order to see what bewildering shenanigans the land of my birth has got up to lately (and catch up with family and friends).

The long-distance flights one has to undertake at least twice a year are usually – and obviously the following statement will surprise a number of you –  the only opportunity this writer has to watch the latest movie releases.

“Blimey Charley!”  you may say, “how can this be?!” 

Living on the Gulf of Thailand, in a town which only opened its first mall ten years ago, the inhouse cinema has the annoying tendency of screening just about all its Big Movies in Thai-dubbed versions only, even though the number of western tourists in the town is steadily increasing.  Even Captain America was offered only two screenings in its Original Soundtrack.

(Apologies to those expecting my dissertation on Noah, it would have been interesting to have watched this dubbed into Thai).

Although missing Gravity @ the IMAX, did get to experience it with added turbulence. Come on, you can't beat that!
Although missing Gravity @ the IMAX, Brad did get to experience it with added turbulence. Come on, you can’t beat that!

“Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness” – George Bernard Shaw.

On this flight, however, this writer was grateful to finally get the chance to catch up with the critically-acclaimed Gravity. It certainly was a spectacular spectacle; perhaps the thrill-factor was reduced by watching it on a such a small screen (the movie ratio is invariably modified to fit these back-of-seat screens).

Yet there was one aspect about this particular viewing experience which you would never have got at the IMAX; when the meteor shower began (brilliant scene) kicked in, we just happened to enter an area of turbulence as we came in over the east coast of India. Now, this was a really cool “added feature”!

These flights usually provide an excuse to watch those movies one would tend to decline paying good money to go and sit through at the cinema. Started to view Inglorious Barstewards, Valkyrie (tend to avoid Tom Cruise like the plague) and The Hunger Games (what on Earth is Donald Sutherland doing messing around with this tosh?) which were all forsaken after twenty minutes (at the most), usually due to the overpowering desire for a decent sleep.

… And it must have been curiosity or sheer boredom that drove me to activate Wrath of the Titans. Don’t remember how awful it was because, quite thankfully, a long and satisfying nap ensued.

The Thing

Flying may not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price” – Amelia Earhart.

Long ago, on a flight to Australia at the end of 2000, there were only six movies available; you had to wait ages for the cabin crew to crank up the system and, always when tuning in, you would find you had missed the opening ten minutes anyway!

The original X-Men movie holds a special place in my heart, not only because The Uncanny X-Men was one of my most beloved comicbooks, but it was the first movie Bradscribe experienced high amidst the clouds.

With an extensive back catalogue now available in the back of each seat, some of my fave movies have been viewed at high altitude, usually as the jumbo cruises over the vanilla mousse terrain of the Iranian plateau or the nightlights of Central Europe. It has been a thrill to catch up with North By Northwest (1959), The Great Escape (1962) and The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (1967).

“Come fly the friendly skies!” Will gladly continue to do so if this class of variety is made available! With nobody rushing in late or anyone nattering behind me, this is the cinema that Bradscribe prefers to frequent.

end

NOTE: Not having access to my usual laptop – plus the transition from one country to another – has disrupted my routine. Bradscribe will ensure that these technical niggles will be dealt with, and can guarantee that more blistering blogs will be delivered in the coming weeks!

T-30

 

Posted: 26 March 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Cosmic Latte: How The Night Sky Inspires And Boggles

Posted: 21 March 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Sensational Inspirational Blog

Posted: 15 March 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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