“Mind Your Head, Sleepy Chicken”: Mishaps With Creativity In The Age Of Outrage

The Daze In The “Life” Of A Flustered Writer 

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The Ancient One – “Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all. ”

Dr. Stephen Strange – “Which is?”

The Ancient One – “It’s not about you.”

“We don’t care. We don’t really care,” retorted the script editor (whose name shall remain undisclosed to protect MY innocence). “The amount of money we’re going to make globally, I mean, 70 percent of our audience is not going to be seeing this in English. And it doesn’t really matter.”

This – one of umpteen rejections foisted upon me over the years – just confirms what has been niggling my noddle lately. Such a rebuke – stern but to be expected – is, essentially, cancelling out my worth as a wordsmith. On a major motion picture. 

The prospect of movies limping along with next to no script does not exactly come as a great shock to me. My intentions of making it in the movie industry appear to be growing thinner by the day. Sure, it’s a classic case of not what you know, but who you know. Believe me, rejections here, ignorance there, and my resilience well and truly wrung – Brad would prefer not to mingle with such types…

Anyway…

Apologies for not publishing a Post sooner. But you would not believe the ridiculous setbacks encountered on my travails! While my concentration gets lost amidst the daily hustle and bustle of 21st century strife, too many people around me are losing their tempers all too easily – upon offering to help, their only rebuke comes in the disagreeable form of “Get lost.” Or (coarse) words to that effect…

Why, oh why, so much unrestrained hostility? Don’t tell me: this is the Age Of Outrage. 

My problems are probably ten times worst than theirs, but you don’t see me blowing my stack. However, considering what your correspondent Has Had To Go Through This Past Two Weeks it’s a mystery he hasn’t blown it several times already! Thankfully – between you and me – years in a Southeast Asian temple Being At One with my Inner Cha-Cha, closely supervised by a half-human half-pangolin guru have mentally prepared me for my nonchalant return to what they laughably call Western “Civilization.”

Apart from the obligatory technical glitches, trying to carry out research in the Public Library: someone has lost/misplaced a required book; then, someone else broke wind in the Self-Help Section forcing the whole bally building to be evacuated… 

At my former Alma Mater, my luck fares no better; due to the heightened security around the City, my status as Alumnus does nothing to persuade the bouncers @ Reception. Handsome? By jove, always! But “suspicious”? Do me a favour…  

In other news: my novel has stalled, primarily after studying the latest book survey revealing that two-thirds of novel readers are women. Set in a 12th century abbey, the most horrifying aspect of this medieval sci-fi adventure is the head-scratching realization that it has NO female characters! This needs to be readdressed, of course, but after a disconcerting fall in the Stats from this site, this makes me seriously ponder: will anyone want my novel…? Perhaps the answer lies in converting it into a graphic novel – but then again, my artwork (normally quite therapeutic) has not gone as snazzy as hoped…

The case continues…

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“For, in their savage ignorance, they feel only hatred for any among them who may seem… different! They long for peace, yet gird for war! They search for love, yet harbour hate!” – The Silver Surfer. 

“By living life for itself, don’t you see? Deriving pleasure from the gift of pure being,” remarked the nameless Martian, last custodian of his long-vanished civilization. 

Following the sickening terrorism act a few months ago in Manchester (where my degree was gained!), and again as the appalling news from Virginia broke over this past weekend, this beautiful sequence of dialogue (from The Martian Chronicles 1979 TV adaptation, written by Richard Matheson) returned to my fevered mind.

All too easily, these sage Martian words are simply ignored. Hate, regrettably, has become far too common and rampant. Rather than wallow in the throes of despair, these atrocities invigorate me to produce a unique brand of positive, entertaining and thoroughly wholesome fare at a more exponential rate.

Out of the multifarious dark and evil acts committed around this Pale Blue Dot, projects of ever-increasing worth and vitality have prevailed. Consider this impressive history: disillusioned by the collapse of the short-lived New Republic in 17th century England, James Milton wrote Paradise Lost; disturbed by the horrors he experienced at the Western Front, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien fought off the nightmares by “escaping” to Middle-Earth and creating an epic fantasy saga called The Lord Of The Rings. 

In turn, yours truly has had to stem an incessant surge in personal, social and economic problems by summoning the last vestiges of his resilience to produce evermore entertaining reams of writing (that you will enjoy here shortly!). 

With nine out of ten of my applications, enquiries and job pitches “lost” or ignored, this blogging platform remains the only means by which anyone and everyone Can See What Brad Can Do…

Keep Calm and Carry On Writing…

“The Destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide. If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of separate trees” – T.H. White.  

“You don’t want [readers] to read your story, you want them to feel your story.”

This writers’ tip has held particular resonance these past few months. Having vowed to pay more attention to my levels of description, injecting all the right feels into my fiction no longer pose any problems. Considering what we have had to endure over the past eighteen difficult months, my work can now exude a heavier, more personal, more loaded edge. 

Whenever a piece of my fiction fails, (and too many pieces have floundered by the wayside recently) one quote from Confucius instantly comes to mind: Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

To me, if my “path of creation” is hindered, an alternative route is taken… but my physical and mental batteries are now so depleted that finding the energy and enthusiasm to concoct something as ridiculously easy-peasy as a comics review devolved into an unnecessary struggle. But do not fret, my friends! 

It’s official: Brad is on the rebound!

HUZZAH!!

And: TOP tip for this month?!: “Write rubbish!”

Bingo, fella, whaddya think this writer has been doin’?! ‘Tis the only skill @ th mo at which he excels… bah!

Seriously though: the key is to settle into the right room as well as the right frame of mind. You’ll be delighted to learn that a number of intriguing new projects have emerged on my Dashboard! Granted, the first few drafts looked messy and confused – understandable, bearing in mind what woes and worries hung heavy on my mind – but, as all exterior tensions faded (meditation, plus mocha and blueberry muffins, usually help) and my senses gradually immersed into blissful concentration, my compositions evolved into something more groovy and coherent. 

And as this ramblin’ ram-packed Post comes to a merciful close – don’t want to rant, but let me say just this: 

Cultures shape values, and those values shape history; therefore, our values shape our future. However, repugnant values have brought on these antipathetic and violent times; they have been allowed to fester by the very same factions of ignorance directly responsible for denying me my vocational and socio-economic progress.  

Politicians talk loud, but never say anything positive or progressive to help me. 

Instead, the rise of negative hypernationalist movements (regrettably a global outbreak) MUST be counteracted by RATIONAL thinkers and campaigners willing to offer a progressive values-based world vision – a different path based on UNITY across racial, gender, ethnic, and religious lines… 

Now you know: this past fortnight, Brad has been too busy freedom-fighting to blog…

Quite frankly, this evening, my head feels like an ex-Communications Director is locked inside it, yelling expletives…

Still, this migraine is worth the effort. 

In this life, it is ALWAYS PREFERABLE to create than hate…

“…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…” – The Martian.

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart” – Confucius. 

 

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming: The Bradscribe Review

Watch Out! The Amazing Spoiler-Man Can Do Whatever A Spoiler Can!

Let’s Face It: Brad Is The Last In The Universe To See (And Review) This Blockbuster –

Let’s Discuss This (OK, Geek-Out) Like Sensible MCU Fans… WOO-HOO! LET’S DO THIS!

“One of the reasons it’s called Homecoming is because it feels right that Spider-Man can finally inhabit the full Marvel world from which he came” – Kevin Feige. 

“Can’t you just be a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man?” Tony Stark remarks to our boy blunder: Peter Parker during Spider-Man: Homecoming – the latest entry in the phenomenal MCU franchise. By the time that underwhelming Spider-Man 3 appeared ten years ago, the franchise had become less-than-friendly, and that significantly less-than-Amazing Andrew Garfield double-ill was certainly not welcome in my neighbourhood…

Although Tom Holland (the British stage actor who excelled on London’s West End in the Billy Elliott musical) proved to be a brilliant – albeit brief – success in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, when news broke of yet another Spidey-flick it regrettably triggered my Reboot Allergy. So, not surprisingly, my reaction to Homecoming was not exactly welcoming…

However(!), the first Reviews turned out to be overwhelmingly positive; moreover, the premise of “Ferris Bueller with added webbing” clinched it for me. Besides, Marvel Studio’s uncanny knack of blowing our socks off in the wildest, most unexpected ways looks unstoppable right now.

Glad to see a Spidey movie not bogged down by any of that “with-great-power-comes-great-pretzels” malarkey from the Raimi/McGuire era. It is with tremendous joy – and relief! – that Director Jon Watts and his crew have succeeded at putting together a FUN and marvel(KABOOM!)ous time at your local popcorn parlour.

Quite simply, THIS is how a really Amazing Spider-Man movie should look like!

“You need to stop carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders” – May Parker.

“You got to get better at this part of the job…”

One factor that will be unanimously agreed is the casting of Tom Holland. Having hoofed it on the West End, he brings the required agility to do all (well, most) of his Spider-stunts. Yep, he operates in that “little grey area” pretty well!

Also, Tom Holland is – quite easily – the best big screen Peter Parker, portraying the awkward, mixed-up teen slouching along the corridors of Diversity High so well, but fairly early on, it becomes apparent that he gabbles too fast. When he gets together with best buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon), their exchanges, consisting of frantic whispering at some points, almost become unintelligible. Really liked his Extreme Interrogation voice – part of me wanted that through all the suited-up scenes! Seriously though, Holland has such a distinctive voice – surely anyone who comes into contact with Spider-Man would suss that it’s that doofus Peter Parker…? 

Apparently, it has been a long-touted aim of Head Honcho Kevin Feige to one day cross a MCU movie with a John Hughes comedy. And here it is! See Michelle (Zendaya)? That’s Ally Sheedy right there! A team of SIX writers is enough to doom any movie, but they managed to produce an entertaining package. However, the 80s vibe is not as fully realised as it could be; extra high school scenes should have been developed, especially with Michelle: an instantly endearing quirky gal who deserved additional funny lines; the script is not as sophisticated as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or The Breakfast Club. 

Peter Parker: “But I’m nothing without this suit.”
Tony Stark: “If you’re nothing without this suit, then you shouldn’t have it.”

The rich, the powerful, like Stark, they don’t care about us! The world’s changed boys – time we changed too!” – Adrian Toomes. 

There is another awesome reason that helped push me into watching this, and that is the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton. “Fuck! They put him in a cape too?!” 😉

Rightfully enjoying a renaissance in his onscreen career, it’s a wonder that Keaton agreed to be in this at all: his third stint as a winged comic book character. Immediately, he instils a sense of menace that has otherwise been lacking from MCU villainy recently. The most extraordinary aspect regarding Adrian Toomes is how ordinary he is – an everyday guy just as frustrated and put-upon like the best of us; not only does Keaton convince, Toomes is so relatable. When Peter comes to pick up his date, you could feel a huge shudder of shock from fellow moviegoers as her father answered the door…

In his short and tender life, Brad has endured some very trying struggles, but… please, NEVER leave me alone in a car with Michael Keaton. EVER…

Not only has the “world changed,” but one quintessential element is curiously absent. Although we are mercifully spared the (exhausted) origins story, there are NO spider-senses(!) on display neither. Admittedly, this True Believer was never a big fan of that red and blue Spider-suit (it chafes me nipples), and my access to Spidey’s original comic books proved somewhat limited, but ask me to offer just one of the webhead’s defining traits and it would have to be those spider-senses.

Did the writers discard this trait intentionally?! With great reboots come great alterations? Not convinced. And certainly not chuffed that we were denied even a single tingle…

Watching Peter failing to come to terms with his new suit (voiced by Jennifer Connelly?!) is fairly amusing, and may be appreciated by this hi-tech generation (who probably ordered/paid for their popcorn via smartphone) but just shows how contentious the wilful tampering with a well-established character can be – it just doesn’t make (spider) sense. Honestly, Homecoming could have ended up with only 3 stars because of this…

Anyway, to emphasise what a shared Universe this is, having Tony Stark as the coolest – and richest – mentor an enhanced juve could have added such a groovy touch. Undeniably, the scenes that Holland and Downey Jr – ha ha, yes! – share together are among this film’s highlights.

And, oh yes, “Garry” 😉 is a blast as ever!

There is something else that would make required viewing: As prep for the role – to get a feel for American high school life – Tom (who is now 21!) posed as a student for three days – the teachers and fellow students had NO IDEA. Would love to see their faces as they watch this in the cinema and realise that that kid (soon to be a mega-star – and deservedly so!) had mingled amongst them that week…!

There were a number of LOL scenesperhaps not as many as this reviewer would have preferred; Ned, obviously, got a few chuckles (is there any other reason for his part in this?), but Aunt Hottie got the biggest roar in the auditorium during that instant-classic closing shot. In a single frame, Tom Holland’s startled expression here encapsulates the sheer entertainment value of this latest MCU triumph – it’s priceless.

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: How many more of these? 😉

Tom Holland: “That’s amazing! I thought he would take a huge amount of persuading… but Rob [Downey Jr.] said yes. He loved being here – he was like a happy little kid on set.”

Tony Stark: “I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that…” 

 

Do The Wampa Stomp!: Dancing To Another Liebster Award

Was Ist Das? Ein Weiterer Liebster?! Ausgezeichnet!

“The world is never the same once a good blog has been added to it” – Dylan Thomas.  

A BIG THANK YOU to Danica @ Living A Beautiful Life for nominating me for another Liebster Award!

This honour is particularly special to me as Danica is truly one of the blogosphere’s exceptional treasures; her collection of “Short Stories, Flights of Fancy and Everyday Anecdotes” are a delight. 

What is the Liebster Award?

The word “liebster” (originating in German) has several definitions — dearest, sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued. 

This award recognizes bloggers who offer amazing content and can connect with their readers in ways that are truly awesome. For me, it is an opportunity to show my appreciation for the finest blogs to illuminate my Reader (and let you know that my visits would be far more frequent if poss!)

Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award.
Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you.
Give 11 random facts about yourself.
Nominate 11 blogs.
Notify those blogs of the nomination.
Give them 11 questions to answer.

 

11 QUESTIONS Answered

Coffee or tea or mocha/hot chocolate?

Tea all day every day while writing. Mocha whenever in town.

Why do you blog?

To show editors/employers what Brad can do; without anything published (yet) my blogs are the only proof that BRAD LIVES. And has created. 

How would you describe your sense of humor?

Good to flimsy!

What would you do in your ideal day?

Anything with Mrs. B!

Summer or winter?

Summer boy, definitely! English Winters always got the better of me…

Beach or mountains?

Love both! Nothing like walking along a beach. Or biking in the mountains.

Could you live without your smartphone? 

Interesting question!

A more pertinent query would be to ask most people why they feel the need to live WITH one! It has become such a monotonous, time-wasting addiction. Nobody calls/texts me; my laptop offers any data/news updates anyway – would much rather prefer a sardine sandwich than a smartphone, thanks. 

Do you like sardines?

Aha! Now you’re talkin’…

How do you like your eggs?

Preferably on me table, not in me face, cheers!

Does the weather affect the way you see the day?

The best time to write is when a storm is howling outside – gratifying to know you’re not stuck out there in it! 

Can you dance well?

Blimey Charley, CAN Brad dance! Woo-hoo!! Gets on the good foot whenever he can… 

“The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words” – William H. Gass.

 

11 Random Facts About Brad:

1 THERE’S BEEN NO BLOGGING this past weekend, because my artwork is taking up all my creative time/effort @ th mo! It is another therapeutic way for me to unwind.

2 NEVER EATEN in McDonalds – as an “active” member of the Friends Of The Earth group at college, we voted to boycott all branches (then suffering from a reputation of unhygienic practices) – a principle this freedom fighter has faithfully adhered to ever since…

3 CAN’T STOP playing this:

4 NEVER MET any of my current group of friends. Seeing as you are all bloggers – based predominantly Stateside, (presumably reading this right NOW!) – have wondered how great it would be to have a mocha and a chat with you!

5 MOST OF THE BEST IDEAS for my fiction come to me when out walking.  

6 THE ONLY STAR WARS ACTOR that Brad met was Dave Prowse.

The Green Cross Code was a national campaign during the 1970s to educate UK children road safety issues. Dave Prowse magically appeared in a number of TV commercials as the Green Cross Code Man to instruct kids to: Stop! Look! Listen!  before they dared to venture out into the road. Went to a local funfair to meet him; he took one look @ pint-size Brad and slapped a Green Cross Code badge on me. Will never forget it – was like being punched in the chest! Top bloke.  

7 BELIEVE that Lawrence of Arabia (1962) is the GREATEST Movie Ever Made. It excels in every department: direction, cinematography, the acting, etc. It has the best entrance of any character in cinema history; that score by Maurice Jarre! And the screenplay by Robert Bolt remains truly inspirational and unmatched. There are enough fantastic quotes to fill at least THREE of my Posts! Choosing just ONE clip for this Post is gruelling enough, but Anthony Quinn’s first scene is both dynamic and amusing.

(see Question #7)

Auda Abu Tayi: “Who told you that?”

T.E. Lawrence: “I have long ears.”

Auda Abu Tayi: “And a long tongue between them…”

8 THE NAME of my record shop would have been “Al Gore Rythms.” (Would he have approved? Probably not – can’t spell rythms).

9 STILL TYPE ‘s’ instead of ‘a’, and ‘r’ instead of ‘e’!

10 HAD COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN that Bradscribe has its own Facebook page! (Doesn’t matter – NOBODY looks @ it anyway – ha!) 

11 THIS IS THE ONLY BLOG to have LOST Followers in the last six months!  

 

So, now we come to the exciting part!:

My 11 Nominees:

boxofficebuzz

byhookorbybook

cinemaparrotdisco

mycomicrelief

mysideofthelaundryroom

onthescreenreviews

recoverytowellness

sci-fijubilee

stephenliddell

thetelltalemind

wordsforeverything

 

My Questions:

1 What is the best aspect about blogging? 

2 Thor: Ragnarok or Justice League?  

3 Who is your favourite fictional character?  

4 What music have you enjoyed listening to this week?

5 What was the last line of movie dialogue that made you ROFL?

6 Should one writer be allowed to change the background story or ethnicity of another writer’s character?

7 What do YOU consider to be the GREATEST Movie Ever Made?

8 Can you dance well?

9 What should be done to improve Bradscribe?

10 Could you live without chocolate? 

11 We’ve analyzed their attack and there is a danger. Should I have your ship standing by?

 

And finally, here – by popular demand – is the key to how the Official Bradscribe Ratings System works:

 

DJANGO MEETS SARTANA!

DJANGO FANDANGO

DJANGO BELLS

JINGO DJANGO BANJO

STOP! OR DJANGO’S MOM WILL SHOOT 

 

Of course, all my Nominees – hey! and Danica, of course! – excel in a Django Meets Sartana stylee!

Please Don’t Change A Thing…

 

“We gotta go. Come on, move with me. We got a plan, and we’re going to stick to it” – Tony Stark.

 

The White Lion And The Dessert Rats

Up The Creek, Down In The Desert… 

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“The Sand People are easily startled, but they’ll be back, and in greater numbers…” – Obi Wan Kenobi.

 

Missing In Awesomeness!

Following an unexpected Imperial entanglement, the Calista Blockhead was forced to make an emergency landing on Bitumen IV in the Itaintalfotmum System. Although Brad Company managed to escape from a Zandokan ambush, Mitch Quintana was mortally wounded, and Brad Fartlighter was captured.

In the meantime, a dangerous new band of Tahntah rebel fighters has emerged in the Djinn Wastelands, led by the notorious chieftain:

Darb Dak’ar Dinari – known to his Followers as

The White Lion.

Their raids on Zandokan stations are increasing in deadly frequency, complicating any chances of rescuing your hero!

Yet from amidst the mysterious sandscape, an encouraging distress signal has been picked up. The Calista is now speeding over the Dune Sea into hostile tribal territory, and the Company are on their perilous way to bring back their Brad

 

“Okey dokey, fellas! We’re comin’ up on the Tahntah camp!” Chief Engineer Harris Wrench announced enthusiastically.

“Settin’ her down… now!” cried Helmsman Gaz Murphy. 

“Watchit, you lot! Ya bedder be on yer guard,” the Chief yelled, lowering the hatch and bounding out onto the velvety golden sand before he had properly activated his respirator.

“‘Ey, ‘Arris?!” Second Officer Lexi Waldorf yelled, racing out after him, the rest of the Company tagging cautiously behind.

“Don’t get sooo excited! Wait up, willya?!”  

“These Tahntahs are mean beggars; top desert figh’ers – tough as crud! They’re renahned fer takin’ nah pris’ners. They all go arahn’ swathed in yajhmakhs: tribal gear coverin’ ’em from head ta foot. These savages are crackshots wiv their looong tahndiggi rifles. An’ they all speak some’t indecipherable called Bit’i – not a frickin’ word a’ English, which is-“

“A real frickin’ drag, is it not, Earthman?” the Tahntah scout growled as it abruptly sprang out of the sand right in front of the startled Chief.

“Uff, frickin’ tourist… Shoutin’ yer lousy head off loud enough to betray our position to the Zandokans. Wanna know how “crack” I can be with this, sunshine?!”

All Harris could do was freeze… and stare with dread down the looong barrel of a tahndiggi rifle. 

In an instant, its buddies had emerged from the ground all around the terrified Company to gesture impudently at them.

“Hey, loudmouth Earthman! We take you all back to our camp; Darb Dak’ar Dinari is… expecting you! And then we show you ignorant lot how frickin’ “savage” we can really get, heh heh heh…”

“Truly, for some men nothing is written unless they write it…” – Sherif Ali.

Deep within the Tahntah base, in a subterranean tribal assembly room, a mob of Tahntah warriors had gathered to gloat at the hapless outsiders. The fearsome fighter: Tahntah Khasabah stepped onto a raised platform and proudly announced the arrival of Darb Dak’ar Dinari.

In an instant, the tension – and noise – dissipated; the crowd parted and a tall and imposing figure, bedecked in a dark, hooded cloak swathed around his sandswept yajhmakh, strode menacingly forth. Darb Dak’ar Dinari stopped to flick back his hood, and he gleered at Bad Company with sinister eyes as black as night.

“Ay caramba!” Nacho gulped.

“Keep back, Lex!” Gaz whispered. “I gotta feelin’ this moofmilker’s gonna chew all the scenery…”

Raising his right gloved hand to salute his guests, the mighty Darb spoke in a terrifying guttural drawl:

“Tahn diggi! Tihn diggi diggi tah bishkah!”

“An’ a-diggi diggi to ya too, fella,” Harris sighed despondently.  “Soz, but we dahn’t un’erstand yer lingo…”

“Nuh fret!” Darb announced heartily. “Aycan speaky yer lingy…”

“Cor, blimey – tha’s a swell piece a’ luck… Er, yer ‘oldin’ our Commander. We came ta geddim back, like; any chance we could see ‘im, umm… Mister Dinari, sir… please?”

“Ha ha, no hold…! He free man! Heere on Bi-tu-mee-een…!”

“Well, where is ‘e, like?!”

The great tribal leader switched off a Voice Modulator under his chin. From thenceforth, his speech lilted… in a more familiar dahn-ta-Earth tone:

“Ha ha ha! ‘Oo loves ya, baby?!”

Lexi stepped forward, gawping in disbelief. “Aow, fer cryin’ out loud!” she beamed.

The others just turned to stare at her.

“I just KNEW it…! Hey, guys: WHAT’S DARB SPELT BACKWARDS…?!”

Undisciplined… unpunctual… untidy. Several languages. Knowledge of music… knowledge of literature… knowledge of… knowledge of… You’re an interesting man, there’s no doubt about it!” – General Allenby. 

“Good on ya, Lex! Groovy. Thought ya might suss me aht before these nerks, ha ha!” Brad cried as he revealed his ridiculously good looks.

Nacho ran towards his Commander, giving him a big hug.

“Oh, tu madre loco!” he blubbed.

“Ha! Yeah, guess yer right, Nach… Good ta see ya ‘gain too, fella!”

Barb Degoya watched with a big dopey grin across his Rontavahrian chops.

“You never cease to amaze me, my Commander…!”

“Cheers, Barby!”

Gaz shook his awestruck head.

“Trust you, Brad, to act out your Loz o’ frickin’ Araby fantasies…! You’re one helluva crazy Brit, but I’ll always folla ya!”

“Heh, cheers, Gaz. Didn’ wanna disappointcha!”

“How have you survived here, all this time?”

“Easy peasy, fella. These Tahntah bunnies are such swell, ‘ospitable peeps; their kebabs are among the finest in the galaxy; they make the most scrumptious dessert: tahndiggibaklava – aww, ya jus’ gotta try it! – an’ luckily enough, I ‘ad the Desert Eagle e.p. in me Zune ta pump me oop for all those raids, but… ah, me Comp’ny – I missed y’all, so I nabbed an Imperial Com’unica’or for ya to come an’ get me!”

Lexi chipped in: “An’ you topped up yer tan as well, I see…”

“Ooh, it’s lovely, in’it? I got- ‘EY! Cheeky gal…”

Brad glanced at his Chief Engineer. “Ain’tcha gonna join in wiv da wisecracks, fella…?”

“Bleedin’ ‘ell…!” Harris muttered. “The ‘White Lion’…?”

“Ah, oho! Well, y’see… they love me porcelain complexion round ‘ere, y’know! An’ dahn’ ferget me lustrous blond mane! Ha ha, blimey Charley! Jus’ listen to ya: ‘Ooh, Mister Dinari, sir’, heh heh heh – shoulda seen da look on yer mug!”

“Aow, leave it aht, Brad… Uff, shoulda known…”

 “Yeah, fella… ya shoulda!”

At that mo, Harris’ blood curdled; that scout wandered over… and extended his hand. 

“Accept, please, my apologies for the…”act” … ‘Arris, is it not? Brad neglect to tell me how… sensitive you is…”

“Ha ha ha! Are ya?!” The Commander wrapped a reassuring arm around his Chief’s shoulder. “Nah worries – meet me new mucka: Tahntah Bosskhah.  ‘E may look as fright’nin’ as fudge, but ‘e’s really a mild-mannered  gent, like meself! ‘Ey, dahn’t be so easily startled, fella!”

“Yes, ‘Arris, chill out… man. Have some tahndiggibaklava…”

“Ah yeah! Ha ha! Amen, bruvva!”

“Give thanks to God that when he made you a fool, he gave you a fool’s face” – Auda Abu Tayi. 

Suddenly, a teenage Tahntah fighter leapt into the chamber, squawking something in Bitti. At once, the older tribesmen grabbed their tahndiggi rifles and began to disperse; Brad Company looked at each other uncomfortably.

“What the fudge is goin’ down now, Commander?” Gaz frowned.

“Sounds like we gotta Zandokan contingent ‘eadin’ our way…” Brad moaned, loading his rifle. “Confound it! Looks like the baklava’ll ‘ave ta wait…”

“Brad?! You’re not thinking…” 

“It’ll be okay, Lex – just one more time-“

“WHOA! Reverse thrust, Mister! We risked EVERYTHING ta get you back! We’ve been through too much to… aah, fegeddit. C’mon, ‘Arris, leave the lunk’ead ta linger here with his cosplay and tahn-frickin’-‘klava! GAH!”

And with that, Lexi stormed out, with the Chief sauntering sheepishly behind.

Tahntah Bosskhah had stood behind them, watching all the while, arms folded and head shaking.

“Oof! Doth my eyes deceive me? Can this be true? Looks like the Lion… just got tamed…”

“Aow, shush you…” Brad blushed.

The desert warrior wrapped a reassuring arm around the Commander’s shoulder.

“Do not be so easily startled, fella…! Wonderful girl… I… do not know. What you think? You think a Furie and a fella like me-“

“No! Oh me giddy aunt, no! She’ll make mincemeat outta ya… fella…”

“So be… never argue with the White Lion…! In that case… I long, instead, to see a real lion – you portray them as such fine, noble creatures…” 

“No such luck, amigo…” Brad sniffed. “They’ve been hunted ta the brink o’ extinction…”

Tahntah Bosskhah shifted uneasily.

“Tahntahtheos, no…! I know now why you were so eager to flee Earth. Truly, therein lie the real savages…”

“Do you think I’m just anybody do you? …The best of them won’t come for money – they’ll come for me!” – T.E. Lawrence

Tahntah Bosskhah surveyed the uncompromising Kazvini Plain with his “acquired”  Imperial ocular device.

“Has been an honour to fight by your side, Inglish… So, are we to ride and raid – one last time, or does the need to avenge your fallen comrade take precedence? I think we both know that Kismet will sweep you away along the latter path…”

“We both know that I dahn’ wish ta leave, but it’s uncanny – after ages thwarting the Empire countless times, the most onerous challenge I must confront involves… executing a coward…”

Tahntahtheos be with you in what perils lie ahead…”

“Cheers… Need all the strength: physical – and mental – that I can muster…”

“…You, my friend, the White Lion – what a privilege to state even that – have made… such a strong impression in such a short time! A redoubtable warrior; a formidable philosopher; a mighty eater; surely no other Earthling could cross the Anvil Of The Twin Suns unscathed? Tell me, is there anything you cannot do, Inglish?!”

“I can NEVER give up hope that, one day, the Empire will fall…”

Sherif Ali: “Have you no fear, English?”

T.E. Lawrence: “My fear is my concern.” 

Harris had taken Lexi out onto an alcove cut high into the Tahntah‘s great mountain fortress to let her simmer down. Tahntah guard wandered out to watch over them; but they all ended up watching the brigade – to an accompaniment of darbuka drums beating furiously – gallop away across the Djinn Wastes…

The Dak’ar Dinari actually stopped to turn and wave to them. Lexi reluctantly waved back. 

“Yeah, ‘bye ‘bye, lunk’ead; if you’re not back by midnight, we’re takin’ orf withoutcha… Do you think he will make it back…? In time…? ‘Arris…!!”

He flashed a wide, dopey grin stretching from one side of the galaxy to the other. 

“Well, fe fi fo frickin’ fum, fella!” he chortled. “I smell the blood o’ me Commander!” and turned to the guard, who lowered his rifle and stared back in shock.

“Jeez, Chief! How’dya know it wuz me?!”

“Ha, I ain’ gonna fall fer the same trick twice! Y’shoulda known that!”

“Yeah, fella… I shoulda!” Brad retorted, unwrapping his yajhmakh. 

“Huh, I shoulda guessed…” Lexi added, with a grin – albeit a wry one – finally returning to her lips. “Actually, I shoulda looked closer no other bunny in this tribe has so many tahndiggibaklava crumbs on ‘is yajhmakh. Lookachu! Messy pup… Okay, so who was the guy wavin’ at me?”

“Tahntah Bosskhah – I reckon you are ‘is Desert Rose-“

“Weh-heh-hell, nuts ta THAT! When? Can. We leave?!”

“As soon as yer ready!” Brad laughed. “Oh well, the new Dak’ar Dinari doesn’ get the girl, but ‘e should manage – gave ‘im me Zune! ‘E loves that Desert Eagle e.p.‘Onestly, ya jus’ couldn’ ride into battle wivaht it. Lookee ‘ere – the only bunny on this rock wiv a music player – if that doesn’t consolidate ‘is leadership, nothin’ will. Okey dokey, notify the others – we’re ‘eadin’ back to the Block’ead.” 

They were just about to move out, when Brad drew them into his arms.

“I know who the traitor is,” he whispered softly. “I’ve been ‘ere long enough ta work it aht.”

“Excellente!” Lexi snarled. “Poor Mitch. I’ve been itchin’ fer payback… ever since he…”

“I know ya have, lov, but this is some’t I ‘ave ta do… considerin’ who it… is…” 

She prepared to argue her case for a bigger role in this Bradventure, until she noticed REAL TEARS welling up in the hero’s eyes; she gave him a big hug before they all turned to leave.

Tahntah Khasabah appeared in the doorway.

“I’ll meetcha aboard in ‘alf a tick, guys – there are some farewell wishes I must pass on…”

“‘Tis true, then? You must leave now?” Tahntah Khasabah spoke (in Bitti). Alas, your glorious chapter in our story comes to a bittersweet end; we should have held a banquet in your honour.”

“We can have that…” Brad replied (in faultless Bitti). “…’Pon my return!”

“Ah! Then you are coming back?!”

“Of course! I could not stay away from all those savoury and sweet delights for too long…” 

“Ha! Praise Tahntahtheos for delivering thee – the ravenous White Lion – unto us!”  

“A thousand thanks for bestowing upon me the honour of leading your warriors into battle…”

“You are most welcome, Inglish. Besides, I needed to repay you for helping me defeat that band of Gondobek brigands, back in the day…”

“You already did when you rescued me from that Zandokan division. It was… Gondobek…? Ha, I had forgotten about them!”

“Glory! I thank Tahntahtheos that the White Lion is on our side…! Now the mantle of my tribe falls to Tahntah Bosskhah – he becomes the rightful Dak’ar Dinari… Once upon a time, I would have ached to join the brigade riding off this evening, but now… I just ache… I grow weary of battle.”

“What will you do now…?”

“I wish to retire, far below, and meditate beside our subterranean glacial pools. I yearn to write poetry, but the Zandokans deem me “savage” and decree that I cannot…”

“No! ‘Tis your life; your love… Do anything YOU want to do…”

“Absolutely! We both know that I will, Inglish. From now on, I will fight only to uphold every right, and strive to ensure that my people survive…”

“I very much look forward to reading your poetry… Follow your heart and smite the trolls.”

“Perhaps… Perhaps I should compose The Saga Of The White Lion; celebrate for evermore how our lives were blessed by such a remarkable man from beyond the stars… Who bewitched us all with his striking blue eyes…”

“Bless your heart, Tahntah Khasabah. You are a remarkable woman…”

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“I think you are another of these desert-loving English…” – Prince Feisal.

Damnation and blast, Brad!” cried Major Spoiler, more than dismayed to see the Battleforce Commander-turned-desert fighter appear before him on the vid-conf screen.

“How are you still alive?!”

“Yay, the bees-knees ta see ya too, Major Crotchstain,” Brad drawled, now ensconced back on the Calista as it zoomed up and away from the Tahntah camp. 

“And what the blazes is it with all that ridiculous tribal get-up?! Amateur theatricals?!”

“Yeah, some’t like that…”

“A nest of savages cannot protect you forever… fool. I will finish what Baumer was unable to do!”

“Sooo… ya wan’ ta terminate me? …With extreme prejudice, am I right?”

“Right!”

“WRONG! I may be as stoopid as I look, Major, but dahn’t think fer one frickin’ minute that I’m gonna fall fer yer dodgy schemin’…!”

Suddenly, Brad leered right into the screen, hollering through gnashed teeth.

“JEEZ! I KNEW IT WUZ YOU!! The set-up…? The ambush? YOU arranged it all, didn’tcha, fella…? DIDN’TCHA?! I’ll track ya dahn, trai’or!”

He held a clenched fist up against the monitor.

“Then I’m gonna download THIS into yer cake’ole, ya treach’rous moofmilkAH!

And with that, transmission abruptly fizzled out.

The Militia officer swivelled round to view the Zandokan delegation seated behind him. A familiar Dark Lord sat at the top of the table…

And did not look at all chuffed.

“Vell done, Mehjair. Yo rilly hed heem urn ze rurpz zhaire…”

“Patience, my Lord. I can assure you that my men shall… take care of Fartlighter-“

“WHAA-?! Yo try to fool Zegreatme?! Ay hef ZEEN yer men! GAH! Vukk me zydwaz… Ze murzt YUZELEZZ burnch urv vukkweetz Ay evair did zee!! Nurt a zeengle brenzell betweeen zem!” 

“But, my Lord-!”

“Uff, zpare me yer vukkin’ covfefe, Urfmairn! Nur mattair! Ay deed nurt come ull zeez way juzt to keek zand een zee Bettleferce Commandair’s fazz…! Yer worriez aire ovair, MehjairBay Ze Pah Eenvezted Een Mee Bay Ze Empah, Ay hef dezpetched ze grettezt bounteee hurntairz een ze gelexy to deeel weev heem!

“Ze Kekchairmair vill peez uz erf… NUR MURR! Heh heh heh…”

 

CONCLUDES HERE

“Me, your Highness? On the whole, I wish I’d stayed in Tunbridge Wells…” – Mr. Dryden. 

 

Shove Piggy Shove!: 2 Cakes Too Many

A Rebellion Built On Cake…

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

Planet- Killer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fart! Mr. Fart! Hey, wait up!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hey, ‘Arris, on our last raid, didn’tcha capture an Imperial Service Droid? And reprogram it?”

“Yes sir!” the Calista Engineer beamed with pride. “Got ‘im right ‘ere!”

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

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

“Whoa, excellente, amigo!” Gaz gasped in amazement.

“Hey, BEN, ya ready ta work wonders fer us?” 

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

“Well, you’re gonna-“

“Huh… mek me, Urfmairn…”

“Uff, hoighty toighty!” Gaz whispered.

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

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

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

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

“Huh, go fry your head, Urfmairn…”

“Blimey, ‘Arris. “D’ya think ya reprog-job was extensive enough?”

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

“‘Ere’s yer ‘elmet, Commander,” Nacho chipped in. “Where ya wan’ it?”

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

“I dunno… I gotta bad feelin’ about th-”

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

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

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

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

Han Solo: “I did say so before!”

Meanwhile, aboard the Stodgestonker: “Zir!” piped one of the console operators on tne Bridge.

“Yez? Vot now?!” yelled Zegreatme.

“Ay hef detected a deezturbenz urn Level 1138.”

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

“Eet eez Troopair FU421, Yer Exzellenzy.”

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

“Votzevukk eez he doeenk?!”

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

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

FU421 turned round to face the camera.

“Who, me? Oh, er… vitel repairz-“

Troopair… vot eez your urpairateenk numbair…?”

“Numbair 2-5… zeex… wurn, wurn-“

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

“Oh, Blimey Charley, zat’z-!”

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

lightspeed

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

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

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

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

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

“Whoa, heh heh! Zwivel me zidewez! Vot a zpeech! …But pointlezz. Prepair to meet thy durm, Fertlittair… but, er, really – too hurnky fer a Shokk Troopair?”

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

“Gentlemen, Ay tell you, zeez Urfdawg hez bin a cunztent pen – laike a boil urn ze burm fer too lonk! Zo… Bred, what breengz you crawleenk out frum undair your wretched ztern zeez taim, eh?”

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

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

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

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

“GERROFF, ya crazy Urfdawg-!”

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

One of the operators glared closer in disbelief at his console.

“Eet’z trueContainment Vezzel No. 237 eez know compleetly empty! All 403 conzignmentz urv kek are gone as well!”

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

“Nur! Zat eez two kekz too many, end- ENNUV! Eet eez urv leetle conzequenz,”  Zegreatme remained unmoved.

“Shurtly, ve VEELL enairgize ze Ztellar Convertair end you ken watch your patheteec paltry planet blurn eento urbleeveeurn, heh heh heh! “You hef LOZT, Fertlittair! Urn yer dodgy baike, Urfmairn! GUARDZ! Eef you pleaze…”

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

“Vot air you feedleenk wiv now, Urfmairn?”

“Ya know what this is?”

“Vot’s vot?”

“No, Who’s Who, but ya were close. In ‘ere is a record of people who ‘ave been left dischuffed an’ downtrodden by you Zandokan nerks fer too long. 

But there’s one name in particular I wanna draw your attention to, an’ – if I scroll down… dum-ti-dum-ti-d-AHA! ‘Ere she is! A little girl – she means nothin’ ta you Imperial nitwits, but your Zkorpion Troopers, Zeg, still ‘ad ta go an’ ruin her big day, anyway! I wan’ ya ta know…”

Brad seethed, fidgeving furiously with his device.

“This… is for Carrie…”

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

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

Brad Company teleported their Commander off the Stodgestonker. 

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

“Bimm… May Lord?”

“Yayyez, BIMM! BIMM HEEM BECK KNOW!!”

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

“Aah, fer ze lurve urv… KURZEZ!”

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

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

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

The doorbell rang.

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

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

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

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

Eagerly, Birthday Girl tore it open…

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

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

She ran off to show it off to her friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is this a trick question…?”

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

“Nur rewad eez worth THEEZ…”

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

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

“Bless you…”

_pbnir

end

 

Xmas Wishes: Peace, Love And Starlight

‘Tis The Season Of Good Will To All Men.

Except Brad, It Seems…

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

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

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

*

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

Nah, not really…

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

When it matters most…

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

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

Peace? Can’t even get piece of mind… 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweet!

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

“Half a dinare for me bloody life story?”

“There’s no pleasing some people.”

“That’s just what Jesus said, sir.”

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

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

*

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

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

“Their robes were of crimson silk with rows, 

Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows. 

Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely hoping YOU get what you want this Christmas: 

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

Cheers!

x

The Zandokan Supremacy And The Rebellion Of Rajendra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Blazes, ‘Arris! Where’s Brad?!”

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

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

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

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

The Calista Engineer’s deflated sigh said it all:

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

At that moment, the signal crackled out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They all looked dejected. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ajaan’s grip tightened. 

“Be one!!”

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

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

Rajendra knelt beside the fountain in the courtyard… waiting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I cannot believe we had the same mother…”

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May the Sovereign Of Our Universe save us all…