Fantastic Beats And Where To Find Them: Vol: 3

Back By Popular Demand!  

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

“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 Рto 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 Рhere, 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!¬†ūüėČ

“In these science fiction stories – even against enormous odds – people still feel the urge to go on, to discover… I understood it wouldn‚Äôt be easy to materialise some of these ideas slightly beyond the dance floor in electronic music. Actually there‚Äôs 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 РWAHEY! Рit 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 Рalbeit short-lived Рcollaboration 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!¬†ūüėČ

“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 Рor just unbelievably dull Рessays.

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.¬†

 

 

 

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Bradscribe Review

Your Spoilers – They’ll Have To Wait Outside! We Don’t Want Their Kind Here!

“Ryan Johnson’s movie has a sense of humour about itself and a sense of joy, but its emotional generosity, even in the midst of all the extravagant green-screen work, is its best special effect” – TIME Magazine.¬†

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror…

“I fear something terrible has happened.”¬†

You betcha!

Only the terror manifested more in the unwelcome form of spite and bitterness Рthere has been a Starkiller-sized amount of hate for VIII over this past weekend alone.

Truly, we waited on tenterhooks for two years for... THIS?! 

Okay, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is NOT terrible, but, alas, it is not great either.

You will be relieved to know that – unlike the barrage of bile foisted upon IMDb¬†over the last few days –¬†this review will refrain from descending into an expletive-laden rant.¬†

Unlike other episodes on the big screen, nobody cheered, nobody applauded,¬†as the goosebump-inducing score broke out, or the legendary title scrawl began trundling upscreen…¬†

Hello, methinks, quite a different Star Wars movie is unfolding here…¬†

“And, as for Luke, Hamill comes into his own here with a very intelligent and sympathetic portrayal of his great character. Luke is now part Prospero, part Achilles… potentially the great magician or teacher on this island, ready to induct Rey into the Zen priesthood of the Force” – The Guardian.¬†

The biggest gasp in the auditorium did not go to the – admittedly awesome – praetorian guard fight, nor¬†towards¬†the surprise appearance of a dear old friend on Ahch-to (arguably Last Jedi’s most charming scene).¬†No, as the opening space battle gets underway, the very first First Order officer we see on the bridge is played by none other than¬†Ade Edmondson!!¬†

My non-British blogging friends might like to know that this cult fave star appeared in a few classic BBC TV comedy shows during the 80s. To see him here was extraordinary, but, immediately, alarm bells started ringing.

Uh-oh, they’re gonna play this for laughsunfortunately, this proved to be precisely the misguided and cringe-inducing case¬†as a thoroughly underwhelming first act ensued.¬†There are certain lines that should never be uttered in the¬†Star Wars galaxy – “Let me put you on hold” (?!) should NOT be one of them, by Jove!

Amidst all the much-maligned New Hopisms of The Force Awakens, the trio of new characters: Rey, Finn and Poe were most welcome, and refreshing additions. Here, none of them, frustratingly, were allowed to develop any further.

The only thing to strike me about Holdo is that she looked all dressed and coiffured ready for Canto Bight, not saving the Resistance.

Laura Dern?! As an Admiral?! 

Come OFF IT… That absurd premise turned out to be more hilarious than anything “General” Gleeson managed to spout…

And “Captain” Phasma…? Soz, but that was the moment Brad blinked…

With¬†the Asian cinema market larger than ever, it was just a matter of when, not if, a character like¬†Rose (Kelly Marie Tran)¬†would appear in this franchise.¬†Personally, she gabbled too fast, so none of her scenes could be followed.¬†No matter,¬† by the time she had become miraculously embroiled in the shoddily “written” derring-do,¬†my attention had well and truly drifted.¬†

Speaking of cringe-inducing: by far the weakest Рcertainly most useless Рsequence takes place on Canto Bight.

A cosmic Monte Carlo might be more suitable for crap like¬†Valerian.¬†But not¬†Star Wars, for cake’s sake!

“We seem to be made to suffer. It’s our lot in life… …”

On a positive note, however,¬†it was fabulous to see the¬†lovely – and still feisty – Princess (sorry) GENERAL Leia again –¬†thankfully, watching Carrie for the very-last-time proved not to be the emotional slog one had expected.¬†However,¬†one particular scene glided past ūüėČ that elicited a few sniggers in the darkness around me.

My time and patience was also saved by Adam Driver, who managed to bring some much-needed gravitas as perpetually-petulant-teen-with-ridiculous-mask: Kylo Ren.

And Chewie!

But then again, despite his instant-classic “Roast Porg” scene, this weary Wookie had – as feared – too little to do.

More sketches with those delightful, albeit dotty, “Caretakers” on Ahch-to¬†would have cheered me up.

Most of all, though, it was great to catch¬†a powerful and moving performance by¬†Mark Hamill¬† as Ireland’s living legend: Stragglybeard, Lord Of The Grumpy Teatsqueezers.

The Last Jedi ranks with the very best Star Wars epics by pointing ahead to a next generation of Skywalkers – and, thrillingly, to a new hope” – Rolling Stone.¬†

Mercifully,¬†this instalment is not as atrocious as the universally-reviled prequel trilogy, but¬†still lags several parsecs behind last year’s Merry Sithmas Special:¬†Rogue One.¬†

Disney – obviously –¬†were too preoccupied with designing those cute critters: porgs, crystal foxes and whatnot – and all that blasted associated merchandise! –¬†to¬†worry about the inconsequential stuff. Such as story structure and a cohesive narrative, etc. etc.

And what is so Supreme about this Leader?

Deeply disappointed.

After being so intrigued¬†by such a potentially-menacing figure, and wanting to know more about his origins/history,¬†here (in his snazzy golden dressing gown) his “character” is – shamefully, almost embarrassingly – barely onscreen long enough to frighten us, let alone fascinate us further.

Snoke is a joke! (And like this film’s other “light-hearted” moments: simply not funny. And doesn’t deserve to be.)

Similarly, our fascination surrounding Rey¬†remains almost-painfully unresolved.¬†Amounting to nuthin’, this simply splutters out as the most annoying non-event ever.¬†

And Brad¬†grows tired of asking this so it will be the last time:¬†how did Maz find Luke’s lightsaber?!

Oh, never mind…

Not only do these unsettling anti-climaxes remain unsettled, but the way we all got psyched up and brainstormed out for NOTHING¬†(partly inciting the extreme antipathy that has clogged up the internet these past few days) has brought me to the brink of indifference.¬†And a complete, crushing state of apathy towards Episode IX, or – Sith forbid! – a whole new trilogy by Rian Johnson.¬†It’s as if he didn’t BOTHER to watch The Force Awakens. Or, at least, consult JJ Abrams’ notes…

Whilst pondering whether to discuss Spoilers in this Review, let me conclude by stating that this whole bally venture felt like it spoilt just about everything that makes the Star Wars phenomenon so stupendous and awe-inspiring.

 

The most memorable moment of this particular viewing experience happened to be the severe cramp. 

After two and a half hours, all feeling in my right leg had gone.¬†As the last dude stuck in his (plush, velvet, Edwardian) seat after this evening’s performance of¬†The Last Jedi,¬†a young attendant –¬†black eyeliner, black lipstick, rings and studs protruding from the most unlikely places –¬†came to check on me.

After explaining my predicament, whilst rising awkwardly to my feet, she chortled:

“Yer jus’ gonna ‘avta FORCE yerself, darlin’, he he!”¬†

Honestly!

What IS it with Brad and cheeky Goth girls?! 

She noticed me grimace at the endless end credits.

“I know!” she complained.¬†“Absolute blooody roobbish, innit?! I ‘avta put up wiv this three times a day fer the rest o’ the week!”¬†

Ah yeah, your job really sucks…

“Anyways, enough abaht¬†me – what did YOU think of it… …?”

 

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

“That’s NOT how the Force works!”

 

 

 

Good! Let The VIII Flow Through You!: First Impressions Of The Last Jedi

Breathe. Just Breathe. Now Reach Out.

What Do You See?

Green Greedo: “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”

Han Solo: “Yes, I bet you have...”

“When I read VIII, I told Rian, ‘I fundamentally disagree with virtually everything you’ve decided¬†about¬†my character’,”¬†Mark Hamill¬†said before embarking on filming¬†Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Although Mark swiftly changed his mind and had a blast resurrecting the character with which he will always be associated with, immediately, this statement turned out to be the most worrisome aspect of this latest instalment.¬†If it was “shocking” for Mark to read what Rian had written, then how is it going to make us feel?!

Personal reservations about new characters and contentious plot developments for established characters Рnot to mention unease concerning where the last two episodes will lead Рhave somewhat lessened the eager anticipation which so many fans have revelled in and blogged about these past few months.

Nevertheless, it is thrilling to have NEW Star Wars magic within our grasp once more and, obviously, both of you are itching to read what this first generation fanboy has to say about it, so, away we go…

“It was incredible! The perception of these films is¬†that they’re all planned out on a secret sheet of paper in advance, but that’s just not the case. I wasn’t given an outline of where it goes or even a list of things to hit. It really was just, ‘Okay, what’s next?'” –¬†Rian Johnson.

“Who is Luke Skywalker now?”¬†asked Rian Johnson as he set out to fulfil a dream and write the script for¬†Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

“I grew up with an idea of who Luke was, so¬†the real question was why is Luke on that island? Luke’s no coward… so there must be some reason he’s there that makes sense to him. That was the first nut to crack. The seed for the whole story was inside that shell. I just had to get to it.”

Caught up with Looper (2012)¬†earlier this year, to get acquainted with Johnson’s directorial style. Fortunately, it is an intelligent and fantastic time travel SF thriller,¬†and assured us that Star Wars VIII¬†looked to be in more-than-capable hands. ¬†

From a certain point of view,¬†The Force Awakens¬†was great fun, even though, yes, we didn’t need the rehashed New Hope tropes of another Death Star¬†and “vital information” placed in a droid-unit etc. etc.¬†Unfortunately, the film’s main hindrance lay in JJ Abrams direction.¬†Solo’s demise seemed inevitable, but the whole confrontation between Han and Ben¬†sorely lacked the dramatic heft it deserved.

And although John William’s score was suitably moving as Rey clambered up Skellig Michael to find¬†Luke, this pivotal sequence still looked too bland.¬†This former Archaeology student realised the problem – he instantly recognised the location.¬†Add an extra planet in a sky that maybe should have been tinted a wildly different colour.¬†Maintain the impression that we are indeed in a galaxy far, far away and not just off the coast of Ireland, please…¬†

 

Also, savour again this classic, endearing moment from The Empire Strikes Back:

“Where’s my boyfriend? I like that Wookie” – Maz Kanata.

Let’s face it, Chewie would have stampeded up those Skellig steps faster and more enthusiastically than¬†Rey –¬†not mope around outside the Falcon! Half-expected him to do so, as well!¬†How long is it since he last saw Luke?!¬†Besides, he had just lost his scruffy-lookin’ best buddy, but Abrams NEVER allowed him the screen-time to grieve!¬†

Would not be surprised to discover that our fave Wookie will be similarly underused in The Last Jedi. 

Come ON – let the Wookie scene-steal!

*

Thankfully Рjudging from early reviews, this movie seems to be a positive upgrade, but just poses so many questions: 

Will Rey turn to the Dark Side?

Will Kylo learn the difference between right and Ren? 

Will General Hux really get the most laughs?!

Will this episode answer ANY of these questions (and plenty more too innumerable to type)..?! 

Hello… …?

“Episode eightgosh…¬†The first film didn’t even have a number…” – Anthony Daniels.¬†

 

“It’s the first time I’ve been on set not yet knowing what the character’s gonna look like. I mean, talk about secrecy!” – Andy Serkis. ¬†

For me, it has reached the point where speculation surrounding¬†“Supreme Leader” Snoke¬†supersedes everything else, including that other Starkiller-sized mystery of the galaxy: Rey’s parentage. There is an overwhelming urge to suss out who this creep is – and where he came from.¬†

Presumably, he is very ancient, very powerful. One thing is certain: the name is bogus. Has to be. 

In The Force Awakens, listening to characters as diverse as Leia and Nux saying¬†“Snoke”¬†with a straight face was something else.¬†

However, does the REAL villain of this Episode lurk elsewhere..?

It is telling that Rian Johnson has mentioned how Snoke is the (ahem) snokescreen for where the true drama – and shocks – lie…¬†

The above poster is included here to emphasise the following point.¬†Notice here how Luke is bathed in red: traditionally associated with the Empire. With evil.¬†Also, see how large he looms, as Vader used to do on the OT posters…

Dark Side or not,¬†what intrigues me the most about this episode is learning additional details about the background story of Luke’s quest for the first Jedi temple, and how he lost his padawan – his nephew – to Snoke, thus compelling our hero to retreat in shame(?) to a remote sector of the galaxy.

Tell me, OLD Luke, what brings you out this far… …?¬†

“Oh baby, would I love to play my own evil twin…!¬†We could watch this guy undermining the good guys secretly, maybe even killing a supporting character… And then, of course, the good Luke shows up” –¬† Mark Hamill.¬†

“Are they puffin-like?¬†Are they pug-like…? One, in particular, befriends Chewie. I won’t spoil it, but if you think the ones you’ve seen in the trailer are cute, you have not seen anything yet” – Neal Scanlan.¬†

Difficult to see, the plot is. 

When you consider how¬†Star Wars¬†is now Disney property,¬†it’s all too easy to fear the worst.¬†Your correspondent, regrettably, can see it now:¬†Jedi Master Luke¬†and his plucky porg posse¬†break into Snoke’s Throne Room.¬†

Epic lightsaber duel ensues.

(Hopefully it will NOT be as inspid and seven hours too frickin’ long as that soulless saber-swingfest from Episode III).

Just when the Leader looks to be too Supreme for his own good(bad?) Luke extends his robot hand and Force-propels Snoke back; at the last minute, the villain trips over a wall of porgs, and Рlike Maul and Sidious Рhurtles to his doom down one of those expensive, albeit superfluous, CG-chasms.

Later, as the hangar explodes and disintegrates all around them, and they must go their separate ways,¬†Porg Chief Berni Two-Socks¬†(voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, of course)¬†looks up with those ubercute oversized black eyes, tears a-swellin’, and chirps:

“Gee, Mr. Luke, not bad fer a Longshanks! The boys are gonna miss ya, an’… aww shucks, Ah’m-a gonna miss ya too…”

Trust me, there will NOT be a dry eye in the (full) house…

Uff, typical Disney fluff! 

On second thoughts, methinks mayhap this grizzled ol’ nerfherder should DELAY his trip to the local popcorn parlour this week.¬†And wait to be seriously disappointed in the comfort of his own¬†Sanctum Sanctorum¬†when XIII starts “streamin’ on Nitflex” (or whatever the younglings call that dashfangled gogglebox-contraption)…

“The Last Jedi felt more visceral. The first film felt like a dream” – Daisy Ridley.¬†

Before hitting Publish, it would be fitting to finish with a nice little anecdote from Рoh yes Рa long time ago when ONLY TWO Star Wars movies existed, but for me and my gang of mates, we were just DAYS away from the release of Return Of The Jedi. 

At the time, a British magazine called Voyager – concentrating on movies, model kits and space/astronomy news(!) – published an invaluable article discussing The Genesis Of¬†“The Star Wars.” Reckoned it would be a great service to proclaim that instead of three movies we could – one day – enjoy all NINE episodes¬†of¬†The Journal Of The Whills.

They all looked at me as if Admiral Motti had just dissed The Force. 

Bumfluff growled and hissed bitterly: “Jeez, Brad, you’re so full o’ Bantha doo-doo it’s unreal!”

True story…

It would also be lovely to round off this post by stating that as we all prepare to watch¬†The Last Jedi,¬†it’s nice to know that Brad will be having the last laugh.

But will it – can it – really make for a joyous cinema experience?¬†Yet again, yours truly¬†just can’t¬†bring himself to describe how difficult ’twill be to sit through the¬†late, great Carrie Fisher’s¬†last-ever screen performance.

Definitely, there are grim tidings ahead.¬†Having lost Han Solo in VII, we must prepare for Leia’s fate in this episode, but also – although one does not like to dwell on such disconcerting matters too much – Luke will probably not see the end of IX…

 

WAIT a moisture-farmin’ minute here…¬†

What if Luke gets killed off in VIII?!?! 

What ELSE can account for Mark’s misgivings and¬†the “considerable risks” rumoured to have been taken by Rian with this far, far away material?

Who else has a bad feeling about this?

We must be cautious…

Breathe. Just Breathe… …

 

“What a piece of junk!” – Luke Skywalker.¬†

How fitting that¬†Episode VIII¬†should be released in the year of¬†Star Wars’ 40th Anniversary.¬†

Is it really FORTY YEARS since the world we thought we knew changed forever…?

“…A script arrived on my dressing table. When I opened it and found that it was science fiction I thought: oh crumbs, this is simply not for me…

“The dialogue was pretty ropey, but I had to go on turning the page… That is an essential in any script…” – Alec Guinness.

 

Qwerty Dancing: The Curse Of NaNoWriMo

Are You Prepared To Stand Up And Fight The Battle Between Write And Wrong? 

The first sentence of every novel should be: ‘Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint,¬†very human'” – Michael Ondaatje.¬†

Since the last ‘Scribe Post, Brad has committed murder.

What, again?! 

Well, yes.

No matter how you look at it, that particular devious miscreant had it coming. 

Does the fact that he was NOT human lessen the shock…?¬†

Truly, as writers, we are Lords Of Our Own Creation(s). 

We have conjured fantastic worlds before dinner, despatched heroes on fabulous quests before teatime, even created and Рoh yes Рkilled off the most groovy Рor garish Рcharacter(s) during the midnight hour.

Forgive me for the prolooooonged absence, but¬†this hapless cake-scoffing fool¬†though it would be a blastha! –¬†to shut himself away within his¬†Sanctum Sanctorum,¬†participate in¬†the whole¬†NaNoWriMo¬†thing,¬†and, mayhap,¬†attempt to¬†rectify the minimal progress made on MY OWN NOVEL recently.

By Jove, what a discombobulation!

Unbeknownst to me, the whole horrendous cavalcade dwindled into something more infuriating than the lousiest Transformers movie,¬†AND got tougher than any holiday camp…

Barely got out of November with life – and sanity – intact.

As that other writer named Brad said: “we should be continually jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”¬†

Aha!

That would explain why my snidely-regarded intuitive brain seems smashed to pieces and my legendary ripped bod feels absolutely shattered. 

So,¬†released this Post (still took too many days to get back to this Bradform!) to reassure you that¬†Brad¬†is STILL HERE, but – by Aquaman’s quindent! –¬†only just…

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are” – W. Somerset Maugham.¬†

Just two Summers ago, the itch to write a novel struck me. But which one? 

TWO choices lay before me.

Should it be that futuristic noir thriller concerning bounty hunters? Or should it be that historical mystery tour inspired by the local medieval studies recently preoccupying my working hours?

In an ingenious twist Рas deft as some of the greatest plotlines in SF history Рan easy solution presented itself = combine BOTH into one unprecedented framework. Thus, The Monastikon Chronicles emerged. Brother Brad hunts the unearthly wraiths, who infiltrated 12th century English society in human guise. To read how this concept came to be, see here; to follow how chapters of my novel are developing, see here:

The first week of NaNoWriMo began encouragingly enough – filling in some narrative gaps;¬†fleshing out some peripheral characters promoted to more vital roles;¬†as well as finally dealing with one mischievous monk (not the first, but will he be the last…?) who turned out to be¬†something completely different…¬†

So far, so groovy.

The third week, however, was spent wondering where in blazes did the second week whizz off to at such an incredible rate. Bah…

And the last week of November?

My main concern¬†focussed on trying not to pass out at my desk…

Actually,¬†by this stage it had got to the point where not a single coherent sentence could be formed, let alone any powerful passages of pulsating prose be produced –¬†so what bare modicum of creative faculties remained were plied instead into sketching until December mercifully rolled into view…

But nevertheless, to experiment with language. 

Twist and turn the imagination. Then slip and slide it in other directions. 

Conjure the most bizarre characters and let them perform the most unexpected actions.

Traverse the plot in totally, radically, unforeseen directions. 

Let the material run RAMPANT. It is, after all, MY novel!

To plunge headlong into all the above opportunities? 

How could one NOT resist? 

Such strenuous¬†mental endeavours exercised (exorcised…?) at a daily rate? For one month?

Yikes, not the piece of cake one thought it would be.

Anyway, same time, next year, then?!

“I should flamin’ coco!” as Billy Shakespeare ‘isself was wont to say…¬†

“Practice any art, no matter how well or badly, not to get money or fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow” – Kurt Vonnegut. ¬†

Yay, another completed (and legible)¬†Bradscribe Post – after too many weeks, it doesn’t seem possible, does it?¬†

Hark!

We can just¬†about¬†hear someone clapping nervously in Row Z…¬†

WHO CARES if this blog is doomed NEVER to receive more than 200 Followers? 

NEVER MIND, Brad knew from the startFOUR YEARS ago(!) – that he was never going to be No.1, or considered among the “best,”¬†or most popular¬†bloggers out there, but even so…

The novel has stalled in the same way that the blog posts have slowed:¬†will ANY readers show up to read my stuff…?

Having made no progress with several rudimentary Posts this past fortnight – could not even compile that Post¬†entitled:¬†No Justice For Brad!¬†(discussing why the Justice League movie would not even get a cinema visit, let alone a Bradscribe Review!) –¬†plus, the immutable low and discouraging state of my Stats,¬†it got to the point: should Bradscribe¬†be discontinued?

No need to make this “crisis” into a drama – these low spirits should be attributed to low energy, nothing more.¬†

Ultimately, in what has proved to be a¬†physically and mentally trying eighteen months for yours truly,¬†these past few weeks turned out to be a most welcome break –¬†a chance to recharge.

Now is the time to rebound!

Brad may not make a difference, but he’ll certainly make a scene. Or three.¬†

Just keep on pressing Publish, and if HARDLY ANYBODY wants to read, then¬†so be it…¬†

But surely, writing an unread piece of work is far preferable than never to have toiled and troubled to produce one at all…right?

WRITE!

 

For all of you who may have struggled with¬†NaNoWriMo last month –¬†or those of you who have wrestled with writer’s block –¬†this, my friends, is our Anthem:¬†

“You want the reader to remember. You want her to be changed. Or better still, to want to change…

“Never forget that a story begins long before you start it and ends long after you end it.¬†Allow your reader to walk out from your last line and into her own imagination.¬†Find some last-line grace. This is the true gift of writing…

“Your last line is the first line for everybody else” – Colum McCann.¬†

 

The Journey Of Bradskald: My Reimmersion In Norse Mythology

 The Realm Eternal: Asgard РThe Beacon Of Hope, Shining Out Across The Stars

And A Source Of Limitless Possibilities For My Fiction…

“Once, mankind accepted a simple truth: that they were not alone in this universe. Some worlds Man believed home to their Gods. Others they knew to fear…” –¬†Odin All-Father.¬†

There was a great noise of shouting and fury in the Palace of Jotunheim where the great Norse Giants lived.

“What have you done, Rungnir?”¬†some of the Giants were shouting at one of their number.¬†“You have agreed to fight the great god¬†Thor!¬†You are mad, quite mad!”

“Thor is our greatest enemy,¬†Rungnir,” other Giants cried in alarm.¬†“…You have brought disaster upon us! Not even a Giant can resist¬†Thor¬†with his mighty thunder and his deadly¬†hammer Mjolnir!”

Aye!

And no one can resist the God of Thunder as his latest adventure: Thor: Ragnarok has conquered the box office (and deservedly so) on Midgard (Earth) this past fortnight. Having thrilled me with its wholesome cosmic fun, Thor: Ragnarok slings me back along the Bifrost of nostalgia to a time when all-things-Norse were craved. The more scintillating aspects of that mythology seeped Рwholeheartedly or inadvertently Рinto my own otherworldly works.

So,¬†away from the hassle, tech difficulties and trolls of the 21st century,¬†and let’s return to¬†the¬†great beards, moody Giants (and Trolls)¬†of the Nine Realms.

Pre-Christian Vikings¬†shared a common view of the universe.¬†The one insurmountable truth held that the Norse pantheon of gods, known as¬†the¬†√Üsir,¬†made their home at¬†Asgard.¬†This is a compound name, whose first part As- refers to¬†the¬†√Üsir, while the second part gard means an ‘enclosure.’¬†Hence Asgard is ‘the enclosed region where¬†the¬†√Üsir¬†live.’

In order to understand the rudiments of¬†Norse mythology, one must refer to The Prose Edda –¬†the most renowned of all works of Scandinavian literature and our most extensive source for Norse mythology –¬†written by the 13th century Icelandic chieftain:¬†Snorri Sturluson (1178-1241).¬†Mayhap ’twas the un-Viking way in which he met his own violent end against the King of Norway’s assassins¬†– cowering in his own cellar – helps explain why his name is not¬†hailed among other historical literary giants.

However, through his seminal work, numerous¬†Old Norse¬†words crept into the English language; for one, it is from¬†Sturluson¬†that we get the word: ‘saga.’

“The Prose Edda… summarizes the pagan Germanic myths and reviews the rules of skaldic rhetoric.¬†The mythology documented in these texts reveals an earlier, peasant stratum (associated with the thunderer, Thor)…” – Joseph Campbell.¬†

“I came up with Thor. I know all about Thor, and Mjolnir, the hammer. Nobody ever bothered with that stuff except me.¬†It was the thing that kept my mind off the general poverty in the area. When I went to school that‚Äôs what kept me in school. It wasn‚Äôt mathematics and it wasn‚Äôt geography – it was history…” – Jack Kirby.

“…Thor is the foremost among them. Called Thor of the √Üsir¬†[Asa-Thor] and Thor the Charioteer [Oku-Thor], he is the strongest of all gods and men.¬†He rules at the place called Thrudvangar [Plains of Strength], and his hall is called Bilskirnir…” –

Gylfaginning 21.

Before the Viking Age, in a time known as the Migration Period (from the fifth to the seventh centuries CE), when various tribes laid siege to the last remnants of the Roman Empire, numerous heroic stories originated, formulating a tremendous Scandinavian oral tradition.

The¬†most substantial section of¬†The Prose¬†Edda, is known¬†as¬†Gylfaginning,¬†in which the characters we have become accustomed to via¬†Marvel’s¬†comics and movies – the¬†√Üsir, namely Thor, Odin, Loki, Heimdall, et al. –¬†were originally introduced.

Of equal intrigue in the Eddas is the portion called¬†Skaldskaparmal.¬†Skald is the Old Norse word for ‘poet,’ or ‘scribe’;¬†skapr means ‘creation’ or ‘craft’;¬†mal is ‘language’ or ‘diction’ – thus¬†Skaldskaparmal¬†means the ‘language of poetry.’¬†This section in particular – a combination of dialogue and third-person storytelling –¬†collects those oral traditions that arose from this¬†Migration Period.¬†

The most celebrated hero of¬†Skaldskaparmal¬†is Sigurd the dragon-slayer.¬†He and his treasure: the Rhine Gold,¬†not only formed the basis for¬†the¬†Saga of the Volsungs¬†and Thidrek’s Saga,¬†but¬†the epic poem of South Germany:¬†the Nibelungenlied,¬†wherein¬†Sigurd is known as¬†Siegfried.¬†Classical composer Richard Wagner¬†made¬†Siegfried¬†the hero of his epic Ring Cycle opera:¬†Der Ring des Nibelungen.¬†

Thus, the epic prose of Norse mythology converted into epic music.

As you may have gathered, music has always¬†played a decisive, inspirational role in my¬†creative writing.¬†Whenever epic storytelling had to be undertaken, nothing like¬†Wagner could set the right mood, tone and atmosphere¬†for conjuring the right words.¬†Admittedly, my jaw-dropping introduction to the wonders of¬†Wagner‘s music¬†came through watching¬†Excalibur,¬†John Boorman’s lavish 1981 depiction of the Celtic legend of King Arthur and his Grail knights.¬†

Interestingly,¬†incorporated into¬†Skaldskaparmal¬†is the story of the ancient Danish warrior King Hrolf Kraki, who – much like King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table –¬†was accompanied on his multifarious exploits by a dozen champions. ¬†

“The universe hasn’t seen this marvel since before my watch began. Few can sense it, even fewer can see it. But while its effects can be dangerous, it is truly beautiful” – Heimdall. ¬†

If a Ragnarok would burn all the slums and gas-works… I’d go back to trees…” – J.R.R. Tolkien.¬†

“The gods seated themselves on their thrones and held counsel, and remembered how dwarfs had quickened in the earth…

By the decree of the gods they acquired human understanding and the appearance of men, although they lived in the earth…”¬†

There is clear evidence that¬†John Ronald Reuel Tolkien –¬†Oxford Professor of Old English/Anglo-Saxon and Middle English language and literature –¬†used the Edda as inspiration for his literature.¬†Many of the names he used in his most celebrated works:¬†The Hobbit¬†and¬†The Lord of the Rings¬†were taken from this source material.¬†

Like the One Ring of Sauron, an all-powerful ring: Andvarinaut, forms the basis of Der Ring des Nibelungen. 

“Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases,”¬†Tolkien insisted,¬†keen to assuage his critics.¬†Nevertheless, the figure of Gandalf – named after one of the dwarves mentioned¬†in The Edda –¬†was particularly influenced by Odin in his incarnation as¬†“The Wanderer”:¬†an old man with one eye, a long white beard, a wide brimmed hat, and a staff.

Tolkien’s depiction of Giants, Elves and Dwarves are very much drawn from the¬†Old Norse originals.¬†And – oh yes – an extra slice of cake for those of you who spotted that the¬†Balrog of Moria¬†and the collapse of the Bridge of Khazad-d√Ľm¬†was an exact rendering of fire-giant Surt[ur]’s destruction of Asgard’s Bifrost [the Rainbow Bridge]!

And so, you enquire – cleaving this rambling prose in twain like the fabled blade of And√ļril¬†isself! –¬†how did¬†Norse mythology¬†inspire me?

Ah yes – just like King Kirby – bored senseless by Geography homework, my impatient, cartographic mind escaped, instead, into creating my own fantasy world, fuelled by¬†Fighting Fantasy gamebooks – “where YOU are the hero!” –¬†which became all the rage for much of¬†the 80s.¬†

Aeons ago – almost lost in the mists of time – at the dawn of the Teen Age ūüėČ Bradskald created Atlansia.¬†

In the accompanying “Atlansian Manual,”¬†maps of both West and East¬†Atlansia – plus the islands of Thalios and Kalonth –¬†were meticulously drafted.¬†As for the fantasy epic that threatened to come to fruition, in true Tolkien style, long ago (of course), along the northeast coast¬†of¬†Atlansia,¬†Sentinels from the Ion Hills constructed the Great Wall of Mithris,¬†to deter the advancing evil-most-foul hordes of Doragar (a sorcerous crossbreed of Orcs and Trolls).

Scouring my yellowed and crumpled pages again after all these years,¬†the Norse inspiration still shines through:¬†Frost Giants¬†reigned in the Icypeak Mountains to the far north;¬†Dwarfs kept themselves to themselves high in the rocky citadels of the Moonstone Hills;¬†while down to the southeast, Elves dwelt deep within the¬†Silver Forest…¬†

Amazing to think how this exotic – yet extraordinary – Bradworld¬†has lain dormant and unexplored for over three decades…¬†

Ha, if those brazen berserkers Рthe Doragar Рshould decide, once more, to raid and plunder the hamlets to the east, then doughty Bradskald will sally forth Рtrusty broadsword: Fopslayer slung across his back Рto smite the unholy threat. 

Or maybe he will just remain atop the ancient Book Tower in ye olde village of Crickhaven and simply write off said hordes with a (hopefully deft) flick of his mighty quill

 

“Bradskald…?! I thought he was a myth…” ūüėČ

“This book is called Edda. Snorri Sturluson compiled it in the way that it is arranged here. First it tells about the¬†√Üsir [the gods] and Ymir [the primordial giant], then comes the poetic diction section with the poetic names of many things…” – Codex Upsaliensis.¬†

 

“From Ymir’s flesh¬†
was the earth created,
from the bloody sweat, the sea,
cliffs from bones,
trees frow hair,
and from the head, the heavuns;

And from his eyelashes 
the gentle gods made
Midgard for the sons of men;
and from his brains
all the oppressive
clouds were formed” – The Lay of Grimnir 40-41.¬†

 

Me√į krafti Bradskald! Bor√įu√įu k√∂ku og vertu gla√įur!

By The Power Of¬†Bradskald!¬† ūüôā

 

Here’s To Hela: The Girl With The Awesome Antlers

A Dance With The Goddess Of The Underworld 

“I thought you’d be glad to see me!” – Hela. ¬†

In this unpredictable universe,¬†Norse mythology¬†first came to my attention in the most unlikeliest form… a comic book.¬†Out of all the ishs that could have introduced¬†me¬†to the God of Thunder,¬†so glad ’twas¬†The Mighty Thor #314 (December 1981).¬†As explained in¬†this Post:¬†the bonus feature:¬†Tales Of Asgard:¬†Judgment… And Lament¬†just blew me away.

Who in the Hel¬†could that tall, elegant, yet deadly, lady, clad in a green and black one-piece, be?¬†Wielding such an elaborate headdress, she had single-handedly slain ALL NINE of¬†Odin’s Valkyries,¬†and recast Valhalla in the same grim and mist-beset manner as her own dread-realm of Niffleheim.

Our eyes met across a crowded comic book…

So accustomed to the dreary Western European concept of Death as a hooded skeleton wielding a scythe, Hela turned out to be quite a life-changing revelation. 

What was the significance of the green colour system? Moreover, what was it with those bizarre, yet impressive, horns?! To me, my tomes of esoteric knowledge!

“You look like a smart boy…”¬†

My quest to find out more concerning this dark enchantress¬†began with the most reliable option:¬†The Prose Edda –¬†the renowned of all works of Scandinavian literature –¬†written by the 13th century Icelandic chieftain:¬†Snorri Sturluson.

Daughter of Loki (in both the original mythological tales and¬†The Mighty¬†Thor¬†comic) and¬†Angrboda [Sorrow Bringer] – an ogress who lived in Jotunheim (Giant Land) –¬†Hel¬†is the¬†sister of Fenris (aka Fenrir)¬†the giant wolf and Jormungand the Midgard serpent –¬†NOT Thor and Loki as depicted in the latest movie!

In The Prose Edda, the passage known as Gylfaginning 34 states:

“When the gods discovered that these three siblings¬†were being brought up in¬†Giant Land –¬†they learned through prophecies that misfortune and evil were to be expected from these children…

“Hel Odin threw down into Niflheim and made her ruler over nine worlds…”

“Her hall is called¬†Eljudnir,¬†[Sprayed With Snowstorms]¬†her dish is Hunger, her knife is Famine, her slave is Lazy…

“The threshold over which people enter is a pitfall called¬†Fallandaforad [Falling To Peril], her bed is named Kor [Sick Bed],¬†and her bed curtains are named Blikjandabol [Gleaming Disaster].¬†She is half black and half a lighter flesh colour and is easily recognised.¬†Mostly she is gloomy and cruel.”¬†

It is important to note that half her body (and half her face) is corpse-like, although this point was never accentuated in the comic books. 

Hela’s¬†billowing green cloak somehow ensures that her¬†metabolism is kept stable – take her cloak away and she would, theoretically, wither away into nothingness¬†but then,¬†she is far too strong and powerful to allow anyone near her…

Thor: “Mine enchanted hammer shall lead thee far from Earth… as only Mjolnir can. Then when I have lost her… Thor shall strike once more. But Hela shall not know the where or when…”

Hela: “Flight is useless. To¬†Hela all of time and space are one.¬†There is no time –¬†there is no place – where death does not hold sway.”¬†¬†

Hela made her debut in the Marvel Comics Universe in Journey Into Mystery #102 Death Comes to Thor (1964) adapted from Norse mythology by the masters themselves: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. 

Hela possesses attributes common to Asgardian gods: superhuman strength, speed, stamina, agility and durability – and vast mystical powers which she can use for various effects like limitless astral projection while retaining many of her powers and abilities, firing deadly bolts of energy from her hands, levitation and the creation of illusions. Her most powerful ability is her Hand of Glory, a technique that uses mystical energy to enhance the strength of her punch to kill even an Asgardian.

Intriguingly, during her very first Marvel appearance, the Goddess Of Death is instrumental in Thor gaining Mjolnir. How ironic then, that Thor: Ragnarok contains that now-iconic scene in which she shatters that very same hammer!

That‚Äôs Hela for you – as unpredictable as death isself…

Stand thee back, Asgardians! Hela must now gather all of the awesome enchanted power at her command! Gaze in unheralded wonder as she doth conjure a monumental spell which shall seal yonder pit into its own accursed dimension forevermore!” ¬†

Only last month did the¬†sensational #190 (July 1971)¬†come into my disbelieving grasp.¬†Paid twice as much as usual for this. But no matter –¬†…And So To Die!¬†is an EPIC – and one of THE most moving – stories of the Bronze Age.¬†Odin¬†is prepared to eliminate Hera once and for all, but how can Order be maintained if ’tis bereft of Death?

And so Thor agrees to forfeit his life.¬†But his beloved¬†Lady Sif –¬†shocked to learn of this ploy – pleads with¬†Hela¬†to save the God of Thunder’s life:

Sif: “Hela! Though thou be the Queen of Death, thou art a woman, too – surely, love hath touched thine heart?”

Hela: “Why speakest thou to me of love?”

Feelings wert awakened within me… feelings of compassion… desire…¬†and love. At long last, Hela knew what it meant to be a woman, but I be Goddess of Death, as well… and can ne’er consummate these longings… for all I touch turns to dust, a tragedy ne’er to be resolved…”

If my Top 10 Fave Comics In The Bradscribe Collection were compiled now, expect to find this ish riding high in that chart. 

Loki: “Hela, time and again have I striven to become Ruler of Asgard only to be blocked at every turn by Odin and Thor… ‘Tis my wish to cause the fall of the realm – aye,¬†no less than Ragnarok – the Twilight of the Gods!”¬†

Hela:¬†“Long hath Hela waited to hear thee say those words, God of Evil! Thou hast come to one who can help thee… one who profits greatly by the deaths of gods or mortals…” ¬†

In #278 Time of the Trolls (November 1978),¬†Hela¬†plotted with Loki to bring about Ragnar√∂k by slaying the god Balder then attacking Asgard. She summoned Volla’s spirit before this to tell her and Loki about Ragnarok, after which she prepared an army of monsters to attack Asgard. However, Odin used his powers to prevent Balder dying.

Although her role in this story is too brief for my liking, the panels she does get to own are suitably formidable. 

‘Twas a time when¬†Roy Thomas and John Buscema were at the peak of their respective powers…¬†

Hva√į varstu gu√įin aftur?”¬†

And a portrait of Hela by the great Charles Vess Рthis just gets better and better! 

“Now… tell us more than thou didst tell Odin! Draw aside the veil – further than ’twas drawn before!”¬†

Well, it never seemed possible¬†that a character as remarkable¬†as¬†Hela¬†could ever reach the big screen.¬†After disappointing interpretations of certain members of the X-Men –¬†and Drax The Destroyer –¬†there were nothing but misgivings¬†regarding her cinematic debut in¬†Thor: Ragnarok.

Fortunately, with some memorable badass lines and a phenomenal performance by Cate Blanchett, her onscreen presence is a triumph, even if it barely scratches the surface of this tantalising Рyet tragic Рcharacter.

Recently in the comics, Hela has, apparently, begun hanging out with the death-worshipping Thanos. Can we, therefore, expect to see this formidable couple together in Avengers: Infinity War?!

The case continues…¬†

 

More Thorsomeness Next Thorsday!

“Cate Blanchett is just brilliant as Hela. She is one of the greatest actors… I was so excited to see what she was going to do with Hela… I was completely blindsided by the outcome. She just has this insane off-kilter attitude or look or kind of movement to her character” –¬†Chris Hemsworth.¬†

 

“Asgardians… farewell.

When next I come,

not all thy tears…¬†

not all thy pleas…¬†

shall stay me…

Till then, rejoice!

Ye have each other

while¬†Hela endures… alone…”¬†

 

“Don’t Delay, Book Today!”: The Entertainer Is Back in Town!

2ooth Post!!

The Entertainer Blogger Award comes to me from the talented and entertaining

Danica @ Living A Beautiful Life Thank You, Danica!

“You mean old books?”

“Stories written before space travel but about space travel.”

“How could there have been stories about space travel before-“

“The writers,” Pris said, “made it up…‚ÄĚ – Philip K. Dick.

Having succumbed to a particularly debilitating bout of¬†Scribe’s Fever¬†a few months ago,¬†it was truly a delightnay, a blessing – to be presented with this particular Award.¬†

The Entertainer Blogger¬†Award recognizes bloggers who are funny, inspiring and most of all, entertaining.¬†This special Post – also marking my 4th Blogiversary! –¬†happens to appear in the same week that this blog hit the 30,000 views mark.¬†

Yes, yes, this is a BIG brouhaha for me Рit makes me want to dance on the beach; shout in the local library. Feel so high, wanna touch the sky etc. etc. 

One of the questions asked as part of this Award intrigued me:

What is your favourite book?

Thus, these last few evenings have been spent, deep within the cosy and cushty confines of¬†the Sanctum Sanctorum @¬†Brad Manor,¬†perchance to pour over the VAST array of books that one has accumulated across four decades¬†and determineonce and for all – which of them proved to be The Life-Changers…¬†

“A room without books is like a body without a soul” – Marcus Tullius Cicero.

The most amazing SF novels to inspire me will – no doubt – feature here @ some point. Probably in two parts. Or even three…¬†

For this Post, we will Рwhole-heartedly Рconcentrate on the NON-fiction cabinet of my book collection. Selecting just FIVE titles proved to be quite a perplexing beard-scratcher in itself.

Without further ado, welcome to¬†Brad’s Books¬†

Hmm, sounds like a vintage secondhand tome emporium, lost down some leafy English lane. No doubt such an establishment would look very much like the inside of his head: small, cramped, and full of dust and good reads. 

Aah, can see it now: a  rather surly-looking fat Persian cat sits in the window, nestled on a comfy, leather-bound edition of How To Spot A Creep From A Distance.

A sign on the door reads: Come In, We Are Awesome!

“I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re sceptical” – Arthur C. Clarke.¬†

The first book that springs to mind is the tome that helped get me mixed up in SF in the first place Рthe joy of The Space Warriors has already been praised elsewhere, but then, it IS fiction, so instead, let me draw your attention to that other hefty tome snapped up around 1979/80: Alien Creatures, by Richard Siegel and J-C Suares. 

It¬†is one of those books that could appeal at once to a moppet like me and an intellectual like my father. Its in-depth history of SF cinema¬†came with such an incredibly stuffy, hi-brow text for such a small boy to ingest,¬†(read it and appreciated it only fairly recently, in fact) –¬†my immediate attention was especially drawn to the rare stills from the¬†Flash Gordon RKO serials (repeated every morning during the school holidays back then)¬†and¬†Ray Harryhausen filmography¬†then my main obsession.

In addition, it contained conceptual art by¬†Ralph McQuarrie¬†and “exclusive stills”¬†of a space opera – from the director of American Grafitti –¬†that had only appeared in cinemas that past Summer…

While that unexpected smash went on to transform big-budget moviemaking – and the whole course of¬†science fiction¬†(for the better?),¬†Alien Creatures¬†set the standard for what my bookshelves – back then: clean, sturdy and reputable keepers of knowledge –¬†should come to expect…¬†

“Enticing, imaginative, readable, iridescent” – New York Times.

What’s that?

Want to read a book telling the story of how fifteen billion years of cosmic evolution transformed matter and life into consciousness?

Ha! Got just the thing –¬†Cosmos by Carl Sagan¬†admittedly,¬†we were hooked by the ground-breaking¬†TV series in¬†1980.¬†In such a rare moment, the medium of television actually fulfilled its remit of offering an educational and entertaining programme.

In this bold project,¬†here was someone – Dr. Carl Sagan – prepared to discuss the mysteries of the universe in¬†a captivating and uncomplicated way. Not only did his book instil in me a wonder of science and a zest for all-things-cosmic, it taught me the value of questioning anything and everything (much to my teachers’ annoyance)…

And there are half a dozen groovy quotes accompanying each chapter, so when my blog came to fruition, one automatically assumed that quotes were obligatory Рha!

“The Cosmos is all¬†that is or ever was or ever will be” – Carl Sagan. ¬†¬†

“Sh! We hear a rustling in the greenery and a soft sound of running feet. This is Procompsognathus, an early meat-eating dinosaur. But how small it is!” ¬†

Every boy should have a book on dinosaurs,¬†so¬†Dinosaurs¬†And Other Prehistoric Reptiles¬†by Jane Werner Watson¬†became my go-to – published in 1978, and it shows.¬†The sauropods had to “stay in swamps to keep their massive bulk upright.”¬†Moreover,¬†the advances and discoveries made in palaeontology since this book’s publication are quite considerable.¬†

However, what sets this tome apart from all the rest is the INCREDIBLE artwork by Rudolph F. Zallinger. 

The wonder of this book lies in its staggering timeline.¬†Along the bottom of each page, a yellow, numbered box represents a million yrs; a tiny illo shows which major type of dinosaur roamed Pangaea at that time.¬†While each chapter describes the (pre)history of these palaeontological marvels –¬†from the emergence of fish onto land to the final members of the Cretaceous Period –¬†that timeline works in reverse.¬†

To put this gargantuan chronology into perspective, we homo sapiens barely make it halfway across the first page, while the dinosaurs hold sway throughout the majority of the book’s fifty pages…

Interestingly, the last (first?) beast to be featured is the fish-like¬†Eusthenopteron¬†that swam around 290 million years ago.¬†The otherwise empty timeline terminates at¬†293 million years BC…¬†

“Down along the sunny shore, Tyrant Lizard finds the hunting better. He can walk fairly fast on his two legs on dry land. But he does not like to get too close to the water…”

“Science Fiction: still for some of us the most marvellous subject – or at least the second most marvellous subject. ‘The glory, jest and riddle of the world’ – at once abominable and abysmal in so many of its manifestations, and yet, in its best, the voice nearest to our inner voice” – Brian W. Aldiss (1925 – 2017).¬†

Now, where would this blog be without The Science Fiction Source Book?! 

Acquired during a Withdrawn Stock sale @ the local library,¬†this veritable encyclopaedia of¬†science fiction, first published in 1984 – edited by David Wingrove, with a¬†Foreword by Brian W. Aldiss –¬†represents, arguably, the best thirty-five pence ever spent.¬†

Following an introductory decade by decade Brief History of SF,¬†there are sections discussing the sub-genres of SF;¬†various small features describing the Art of Writing contributed by a whole host of leading writers;¬†and a considerable A-Z Consumers’ Guide: listing authors from¬†Edwin A. Abbott to Roger Zelazny. ¬†

It has flown with me between three countries, in my travel bag, nestled next to both my writing journals, a copy of either Scientific Enquirer or The Economist, and whatever novel piqued my interest at that time. 

Even now, as this Post is prepared on my Dashboard, the¬†Source Book¬†lies in easy reach…

“The strength of Maisel’s approach to his grand theme lies precisely in its breadth… it is generously illustrated with diagrams, maps and graphs… both scholarly and accessible to non-specialists; indeed it is a tour de force” – David R. Harris, Director, Institute of Archaeology, London.¬†

Twenty years ago this quarter, mu Ancient History abd Archaeology degree @ The University Of Manchester began.

When the Unconditional Offer¬†arrived through the post, my parents were so delighted. And relieved.¬†My freelance journalism career had come to an abrupt, unforeseen halt the year before¬†so my life needed a dramatic upturn.¬†The next letter to come from¬†Manchester¬†felt like a dream –¬†it contained a READING LIST!!¬†

Deep joy. 

Thus ensued a (mostly) satisfying book-hunt. At the Top Of The List Рand deservedly so when recalling it in hindsight Рwas: The Emergence Of Civilization by Charles Keith Maisels.

Integrating Archaeology, Ecology and Textual History to produce a new Anthropological perspective, it charts the rise from hunter/gathering Рthrough farming and advances in social complexity Рto the rise of city-states in the ancient Near East.

Now, you’d think that a textbook with such chapters as:

“The relationship of demography and technology to social structure,”

“Is agriculture the outcome of technological discoveries?”¬†

and –¬†whisper it –¬†“The ecology of the Zagrosian Arc,”

would make for trying and tiresome studying, but no!

Far from it!

It proved to be endlessly fascinating, responsible for helping me to produce some of my most successful essays.¬†My interest was, however, not all it managed to absorb…

One day, somebody accidentally sat on my backpack (don’t ask), thereby squashing my daily banana¬†onto this academic behemoth.¬†All three page edges remain cursed by dark, frightful – but fruity – stains. But for months the sweet essence of banana lingered.

Lo, every book tells its own story…¬†

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life” – Mark Twain.¬†

THANK YOU SO MUCH to each, and everyone of you, who have Liked and Commented on my various movies, comics, books, science and fiction gubbins.

Brad is a humble wordsmith, but is nothing without YOUR appreciation.

CHEERS!!

There is a lot more cool stuff yet to come. Promise!

And who does Brad Nominate for this Award?

Well, automatically, YOU who are reading this! (If you want to do an Entertainer Blogger post let me know and you will receive the full set of questions!)

By the way, this Post could not finish without a special shout-out to the Best Book Blogger In The Blogosphere,¬†who can read a novel AND post its review faster than Brad can eat a burritothat’s some considerable talent right there…

Think she might be absolutely thrilled to see this: ūüôā

“A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements and clumsy hands. So the librarian protects the books not only against mankind but also against nature and devotes his/her life to this war with the forces of oblivion” – Umberto Eco.

As soon as this Post goes out, no doubt another half-dozen life-changing titles will spring to mind.

Ah well…

For the moment, this insightful, perhaps interesting dare one say it – entertaining –¬†Post looks groovy enough.

Doesn’t it?

As for the Book With The Greatest Title Of All Time – it didn’t take long at all to work that one out: ūüėČ

“Books are a uniquely portable magic” – Stephen King.

keep-calm-and-read-a-book

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them” – Ray Bradbury.