The Good, The Brad And The Spoiler

Brad Day @ Black Rock – How To Deal With The One Who Gave It All Away…

continued from: The White Lion And The Dessert Rats

“Every gun makes its own tune” – Blondie.

Spoiler, ALERT!” cried Touche Turtleneck as the security breach signal rang out.

Damnation and blast!” raged Major Spoiler“He’s here!”

The disgraced Galactic Defence Militia officer stared intensely out of his office window on the 14th floor of Black Rock Block. Here, in one of the more seedy districts of Duggan’s Run Spaceport on Beta Lugosi, torrential rain lashed down relentlessly.

Touche and his gang of hoodlums – who had been hanging around in the office most of the day, just for this moment – drew their blasters and rushed to the door.

JarJar Kushner, the Major’s twisted right-hand man, sitting languidly at the desk, his heavy, ultrawornout boots perched impudently on the blotter, snapped at them:

“Watch it, idiots! This is no ordinary cake-scoffin’ bum we’re dealing with here! He’s good… even by my standards… And for pity’s sake, watch yer backs, he could be anywhere!”

They nodded and piled out, marching off down the hallway.

The two remaining villains listened to the monotonous clatter outside until Spoiler spluttered:

“Do you think he will catch me…?”

“Oh yes, most definitely…”

“How can you be so sure?”

“I am… ‘cos I already ‘ave…”

“Wha-?!”

With one deft flick, the henchman tugged off his black ponytail to reveal a beautifulbut rapidly thinning – mess of blond hair; a device behind one ear was deactivated, and a holographic mask removed to reveal far more agreeable cheekbones. 

“Stone the bloody crows…! YOU!” the Major barked.

Yeah, me…” the Commander growled. “Told ya ‘e could be… ANY… where…”

“You smell like a pig already. Let’s try not to make things any worse” – Corporal Wallace.

“Spoiler… sheesh, you gave away too many Militia plans to the Empire, and now ya- ‘EY! Move away from that cabinet, Major… Disaster… Ah ah! ‘Ands where I can see ’em, fella…

Brad sprang to his feet and glared at the disgraced officer.

“Patheticlong ago, you had potential… Now, Brad, you’re nothingJust a dumbass with a blaster…”

“Quite a dumbass thin’ ta spout, seein’ as the blaster is trained right on ya…”

“Doesn’t matter. C’mon, Fartlighter, you’re kidding nobody – you’re too much of a wholesome hero to just blast me away… like that. No, it doesn’t matter what prison barge you send me to, I can enjoy the last laugh, watching… what unfolds… What does it feel like to be the Most Wanted Man In The Galaxy?”

“Fine an’ dandy, baby. Comes with the territory… o’ bein’ a galactic ‘ero. ‘Ad ta split Bitumen ‘cos the belly dancers couldn’t queue up in an orderly manner…” 

“No. Not that. Do you realise that the Empire has slapped a bounty on your “really ridiculously good looking” head? They were offering 20,000 creds-“

“Why, that’s despicable! A measly 20,000 creds?! Me pecs alone are worth a lot more than that-“

“Shut it. I said they were. Obviously, you’ve been too busy “saving the galaxy” to check your Notifications – they’ve shanked the bounty up to 50,000 creds-“

“Goody gumdrops! Sounds abaht right…”

Brad wiped the smirk off his face; his abrupt ashen-face seemed to take the officer aback.

“How much did it cost ya?” the Commander snarled, “…To direct those Zandokan cruisers ta intercept us?!”

“Oh, that was… free of charge! It was a futile move, anyway! You’re the “good guys”despite impossible odds, you always, insufferably, inconceivably, get through unharmed-“

“MITCH DIDN’T! He wuz wounded during the surprise attack. Me Company managed ta get ‘im to a med-unit on Epsilon, but he-”

“Hmm? I don’t recall- Which one is Mitch?” the Major frowned.

“Mitch Quintana, our newest… and youngest member-“

“Ha, yet another cocky young whelp, no doubt! Never heard of him – how young?”  

“Jeez! As sensitive as an earthquake, ain’tcha, fella?! Damn you… he was only 19-“

“Ah…! Same age as you when I took you under my wing twenty years ago-“

“No… NO! Don’t go there…” 

“…And made you into the leading man you are today. No worries! The boy will pull through – it’s in the script, right?! He will, most likely, turn out to be just as annoying and indestructible as you – ha!”

“Nah… we just got back in time… to watch ‘im pass away…”

“Aww! Where did he die…?”

The Commander held up his arms, and croaked dejectedly:

“In these…”

“Hey, amigo! You know you got a face beautiful enough to be worth $2000?” – Mexican Bounty Hunter.  

“Heh, are you the golden-haired angel sent to watch over me?” Major Spoiler remarked in disbelief.

“Nah… no such luck. There ain’t no songs o’ praise reserved fer… moofmilkuz like you…”

“Ha, cute… What did u do with Kushner?”

“‘Oo…? Oh, that useless scrote. Flung ‘im in the basement, din’I? Funnily enough, I don’t think ‘e belongs anywhere else. Blimey, ‘e’s a waste o’ space even dahn there…”

“Uff, hilarious… You know, in a strange way, I’m actually proud of the way you assembled that pathetic bunch of losers…”

“Me Company, ya mean…? Twen’y years ago, ya used to be a good mansomeone ta look oop ta – jeez, what the blazes ‘appened?!”

“I got wise! Listen to me for once, Brad! You, your Company; the Militia; Rajendra’s Free Fighters – you’re ALL finished. The last remaining Federation Planets WILL fall to Zan Doka and the Empire will prevail – the one true light in a moribund galaxy! Let me take you to the Emperor; he will grant you anything, and you can savour the fruits of the Zandokan Empire, as well as I! At last, your miserable existence will have a sense of purpose…! Just think of the immeasurable power we shall wield… Come with me. It is the only way!”

“Uff, spare me… I’ve just about ‘ad enough of yer insuff’rable monologin’…”

Spoiler spat sarcastically: “Aww, I hate to see you suffer… so much, Commander!”

“Fine,” Brad snapped back, levelling his blaster between the startled officer’s eyes. “Then lemme put ya outta yer misery…”

“No, wait! It’s-!”

“Waitin’s over. Adios, pret’y boy…”

.

When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk” – Tuco.  

KERR-RAAAAASH!!

The shards of the shattered plexi-screen mingled with the shower as the ex-Militia officer’s body hurtled to the street below. The Zandokan sentries stood aside and simply averted their gaze away from the sickening impact. Upon reaching the foyer, Brad had just readjusted the wig and realigned the mask. He stumbled out of the elevator, desperate to erase from his fevered mind that hard day in the office…

Spoiler’s gang congregated by the revolving doors, adding the mess on the street to their Instagram accounts.

Touche came running up, all-flustered.

“Mr. Kushner! The Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger is still in the building?!”

“Aye affirmative, that ‘e is, dipwit! If ya ‘urry, ya might jus’ catch ‘im!”

The hoodlums dashed back up the stairs.

Two of the Zandokan guards marched towards Brad, but, in character, he managed to keep composed.

“Secure the area!” he barked, putting on his nastiest authoritative voice. “Make sure the Earthling does NOT leave the building!”

The guards nodded in their usual, slavishly obedient way.

And – just like thatthe Earthling left the building…

“I think his idea was that I kill you. But you know the pity is when I’m paid, I always follow my job through. You know that” – Angel Eyes.

Around the corner, Brad tore off his accessories for the last time and chucked them furiously into a bin.

Over the deafening din of the monsoon, he opened his earpiece and hailed the Calista.

“‘Ey, whassup, mate?!” the Chief chirped.

“Uff, stow it, ‘Arris – I’m not in the mood.”

“Did ya do it…?”

“Yeah, wha’s done is done-“

“‘Eyyy, attaboy, Commander! The ‘ero strikes again, eh?!”

“Nah, far from, Chief… this ain’t NUTHIN’ to celebrate. This… this wuz bang out’a order…”

“Ne’er mind, eh? Got gateau fer ya an’-”

“NAH… dahn’ wan’ any cake…”

“WHA-?! Is that Brad?! ‘Ere, Kushner ya div! Givvuz our Commander back NAHW, ha ha ha!”

“…This ain’t no laffin’ mat’er, Chief… I’ve gone ta this vile dive ta terminate me ol’ superior officer…! Not only that… he wuz a fellow Englishman… This ‘ole thing… ugh… Jeez, it stinks to ‘igh bleedin’ ‘Eaven… This is NOT wha’ savin’ the galaxy wuz supposed ta be abahtTough ‘ero?! It’s really tough tryin’ ta be one… Gawd, this is pants…”

“…’Ey, Brad, ‘e ‘ad ta go, mate… ‘E doublecrossed uz all… nah one coulda done wha’ you jus’ done…  Kudos to ya, fella… Some good hasta come from this – it’s jus’ gotta… I-I know whatcha goin’ through right nahw-“

“Tha’s jus’ it, fella, ya dahn’t. ‘Ope ya nevah havta, an’ all…  Gotta bit’er taste in me mahf that ain’t gonna shift, an’ a lump in me soul that ain’t NEVAH gonna lift… …

“‘E wuz… dammit – ‘e wuz the one who made me Battleforce Commander in the first place…! Rot ‘im… … …”

 

“Sooo… … … ya wanna come back nahw?”

“Nah… thinkin’ o’ openin’ a resort dahn ‘ere…”

“Wha-?! Really?”

“O’ course, bleedin’ ‘o course I wanna come back!! An’ I’m gonna be one ‘elluva soggy moggy if I stay aht ‘ere much longer! Beam me oop now, ya donut…”

BRAD FARTLIGHTER WILL RETURN

 

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Electrospective: An Exploration Of Synthesized SF Sounds

Sounds Like We Are Going Into 2017 On A Synthwave

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“I’ll bet any quantum mechanic in the service would give the rest of his life to fool around with this gadget” – Chief Engineer Quinn. 

A New Year = A New Hope?

Brad may be an idiot, but he’s not foolish to believe that the travails of one rotten year are all going to magically dissipate as soon as a fresh one begins, but behold!

Aah, the healing power of music, especially the electronic kind. Having sought to prepare this Post for some time and – considering how hits of yesteryear usually slip back into my post-Christmas playlist every year – here it is!

We have come a long way since the days of Robby the Robot…

The first electronic movie score was used for Forbidden Planet (1956). To create a totally radical Space Age OST, Louis and Bebe Barron invented their own cybernetic instruments to produce: “Electronic Tonalities.”

For TV’s longest-running SF series: Doctor Who, Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop transcended tech limitations by tape-splicing the sounds of tone generators.

In 1972, mechanical experiments in sound texturing were afoot in Germany. Combining backwards guitar overdubs with chiming synthwaves, Neu! launched the subgenre that would become known as Kosmische Musik (dubbed somewhat disrespectfully as Krautrock by a disapproving UK press).

The early 1970s also saw the emergence of the ultimate electro-pioneers and shapers of the future: Kraftwerk. Their man-machine trope and their innovative creation of synthesized instruments for their “robotklang” were as far removed from the mainstream as you could get, but provided the template for electronic musical progression for many years to come.

Other experimental acts in this wonderful Kosmische canon include Popol Vuh and Can, providing their own unique spaced-out sounds.

In 1974, Tangerine Dream practically invented the (definitive?) “sound of “tomorrow” in the phenomenal shape of their fifth studio LP: Phaedra. Brimming with scintillating Moog and glacial mellotronica, the origins of modern techno can be discerned amid the glorious title track (which, remarkably – after 150+ Posts – is the first time its been uploaded here(!); looks like this Spaceman is slippin’ up in his middle-age…):

Could Have Played: Anything by Tangerine Dream, Neu!, Kraftwerk, Cluster or Can et al.

“We are doing intellectual research on electronics… We really like to show how modern, sophisticated equipment can be used today in order to create a futuristic sound” – Edgar Froese.

Could Have Played: David Bowie – V2 Schneider, Neukoln or Moss Green.

“I’m not an original thinker. I am best at synthesizing things… I’d like to think what I did changed the fabric of music” – David Bowie.

Being on Earth, but not being of it resonated with the late, much-missed Starman: David Bowie.

Space travel and aliens (more specifically alienation) rolled recurrently throughout his lifetime (of) achievement. In The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976) he appeared cold, emotionless and detached, because that’s exactly how he felt at that point.

Burned out in the US – both physically and spiritually – Bowie fled to seemingly the most incongruous hideout in Europe: the Turkish sector of Cold War Berlin. The Artist Formerly Known As Ziggy Stardust became very fond of the anonymity it granted him; the music he created during this phase became “some of the most rewarding of my life.”

In collaboration with ambient wizard: Brian Eno, he felt compelled to dabble in soundscapes, encouraged by the possibilities that different sonic textures could achieve.

“I was a big fan of Kraftwerk… and I thought the first Neu! album, in particular, was just gigantically wonderful…” Bowie remarked, reminiscing about this special time in his life.

“I had absolutely no doubts where the future of music was going, and for me it was coming out of Germany.”

Electronic music certainly revolutionizing his approach to music-making. Low and Heroes – both released in 1977 – form distinctive high points in what appears today as such a sumptuous discography.

Bowie’s instrumentals contained the breath-taking results of his Kosmische-inspired aspirations to make “expressionist mood pieces.” The track: V-2 Schneider was an ambiguous homage to Kraftwerk; Edgar Froese’s Epsilon In Malaysian Pale directly inspired Moss Green; while there is a hefty nod to Neu! in Neukoln; and how much of Neu!’s Hero can you hear in Bowie’s landmark single: Heroes? 

Even as late as 2013, nostalgic reflections of his time in Berlin graced the incredibly moving single: Where Are We Now?

Could Have Played: Honestly, we would be here ALL NIGHT going through my eclectic 1977-1984 playlist! Believe me – by Jiminy – the list is endless! (And there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!)

“To me a career is just like a machine. All the pieces have to fit together perfectly or else the machine will tear itself apart” – Gary Numan. 

With the rise of electronic music during the 70s, SF sounds soared into a whole new system. One of the pioneers of electro: Giorgio Moroder revitalized the career of disco queen: Donna Summer. I Feel Love became the first fully-synthesized (playing no trad instruments) No.1 pop single in 1977.

That same year, Gary Numan also conquered the charts with two classic electronic singles, embracing the SF with his distinctive brand of synthpop and android looks. Are Friends Electric (listen above) – with its roboticized chugging beat – is one of his most enduring classics. To complement the sci-fi vibe, his fans are endearingly known as “Numanoids.”

Up to the end of the 70s, and well into the early 80s, numerous acts such as Ultravox, the Human League, OMD and many others continued the man-machine SF theme and never failed to dominate the charts.

Meanwhile, in the film world, John Carpenter contributed his own distinctive mark on the history of electronica by composing scores for his own films: most notably Halloween, Escape From New York and The Thing. 

Numerous electronic film scores emerged during this period, but probably the greatest masterpiece in this field would have to be the soundtrack for Blade Runner by Vangelis.

Could Have Played: AFX – PWSteal.Ldpinch.D; Orbital – Science Friction; Eternal Basement – Parkhouse; Plastikman – Menak; Mike Ink – Thesis; Jeff Mills – Step To Enchantment; LSG – Hearts;

“Everyone Needs A 303” – Fatboy Slim.  

With the onset of the 90s, electronic music branched off into experimental subdivisions such as house – and of course techno (a mighty subgenre in itself, shortly to get its own post here!).

The whole scene was transformed by one unlikely piece of equipment: the Roland TB-303: a bass synthesizer (with built-in sequencer). DJs and electro musicians in Chicago experimented with this device and created acid techno (which thrived in the UK and Europe as well).

1994-1998 was a particularly innovative time with several artists becoming big names (especially in the Brad household!) with the likes of Jeff Mills, James Ruskin, Sven Dedek, Eternal Basement and Plastikman, aka Richie Hawtin – whose father was a robotics engineer and Kraftwerk fan (ideal background then for the son to make his own mark in electronics!)

Look again to Germany and the Tresor record label offered a quite considerable coterie of the next stage in intriguing artists such as Regis, Surgeon and Pacou. One of the most remarkable producers on the current German scene is Wolfgang Voigt, aka Mike Ink, aka Studio 1. aka Gas etc etc!

In the early 21st century, advances in digital tech allow for more complex soundstructures of diverse techno. Perhaps it is fitting that we arrive at a recently formulated subgenre referred to mainly as retrosynth (or synthwave) which marvellously recreates that analogue 80s style. Of the numerous artists working now, none is more impressive – and best prepared to reach for the stars – than Lazerhawk.

Before departing on my own jump to lightspeed, enjoy this delightful composition which, fortunately, is accompanied by a suitably cosmic vid:

Could Have Played: Burger/Voigt – The Jealous Guy From Memphis; Daft Punk – Moroder;

IN MEMORIAM:

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David Bowie: 8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016

“Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried”

Drowned In Moonlight: Carrie Fisher 1956-2016

Carrie Fisher 21 October 1956- 27 December 2016

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“no words #Devastated” – Mark Hamill.

The news had just broke when Brad stepped through the front door yesterday evening. Mum just about made it into my arms before breaking down – she knew how much Star Wars meant to me, so had no idea how to tell me.

Carrie Fisher, who has died aged 60…

Sorry, but typing those words just feels so unreal. 

Still feel numb – can’t think properly (as has been my wont this year anyway) and my fingers are trembling far too much. Have had to endure too much pain and torment this year already, so am emotionally spent.

Very rarely does an actress get to be indelibly linked with such a defining role. At the outset, George Lucas did not want a stereotypical damsel in distress. In the original Star Wars, Princess Leia was tough enough to blast her way out of the detention level, but not prepared to be obstructed by a walking carpet.

Look how she fearlessly she stood against Grand Moff Tarkin; even when confronted by Darth Vader himself, it’s amazing how defiant she could be!

Who but Carrie Fisher, in the 1970s, could have made Princess Leia such a resilient inspirational and enduring character?

As Mark Hamill so eloquently stated in his latest heartfelt tribute, she was Our Princess. She moved and inspired so many girls as well as boys. 

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“I thought I had got what I wanted under the tree. I didn’t… I am very, very sad” – Anthony Daniels.

Fortunately for us, there was so much more to Carrie Fisher than the Princess. She excelled as a smart and funny writer.

Postcards From The Edge was a semi-autobiographical novel of the relationship with he mother, and the subsequent screenplay for the film of the same name. Her first memoir in 2008: Wishful Drinking concentrated on her mental health.

Her newly-published second memoir: The Princess Diarist is a collection of her teenage diaries, telling how she got involved in a “cool, off-the-radar movie directed by a bearded guy from Modesto.” 

Its most sensational confession: a three-month affair with co-star Harrison Ford: “I had feelings for him (at least five, but sometimes as many as seven).”

Although sometimes rambling and repetitive, she includes chatty observations and self-deprecating one-liners. Besides having showbiz parents, she states how unprepared she was for fame:

“What is it? Do I deserve it? What does this make me…? A thing like Star Wars wasn’t going to make people want to play with a doll of you, was it?” 

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“Carrie was one-of-a-kind… brilliant, original. Funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life bravely…” – Harrison Ford.

A talented, smart and very funny woman has been taken from us far too soon. 

Apparently, Carrie had completed her reprisal of General Leia for Star Wars VIII (due next December) but whatever form that takes, it will undoubtedly make such bittersweet viewing. 

For me, the only time tears flowed at the cinema during 2015 was seeing Carrie Fisher back in the galaxy far far away after so long apart. Watching any instalment of our favourite saga from now on is going to be very difficult…

Had intended to upload some more fiction today, but the time does not feel right. Still going to produce more feelgood stuff; Carrie Fisher got through her troubles by writing; Brad will honour her memory by doing the same.

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“Remember the white dress I wore all the way through that film? 

George came up to me the first day of filming took one look at the dress and said:

‘You can’t wear a bra under that dress’ 

‘OK, I’ll bite,’ I said. ‘Why?’ 

And he said: ‘Because… there’s no underwear in space.’

He said it with such conviction. 

He explained: ‘You go into space and you become weightless. Then your body expands and your bra doesn’t, so you get strangled by your own underwear.’

I think that this would make a fantastic Obituary…

No matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra” – Carrie Fisher.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: A Bradscribe Review

State Your Elation For The Record:

This Rogue Is The One To Rave About!

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“The first thing that you have to do is get over the fact that you’re doing a scene with Darth Vader. That took me a little while, because I’m a first-generation fanboy” – Ben Mendelsohn.

One of the many disappointments with Star wars Episode III is that it denied our chance to see how the Rebel spies stole the Death Star plans.

For TOO LONG has yours truly revelled in the intrigue induced by the legendary scrawl:

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…and wondered how that premise would… (eventually?) make such a great movie…

And here it is! It only took three and a half decades for delivery.

Like the seemingly impossible mission for which this ragtag band a’ rebels volunteer, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story defies the odds to present such a welcome addition to the galaxy’s greatest saga.

Well! Where do we begin?!

A big fist-pump to this band of lovable rogues. They represent a superior Suicide Squad: more thrilling and thankfully less puerile. We do end up caring about their fate, which seemed to be the ultimate challenge here.

Quite frankly, Felicity Jones is a revelation as Jyn, galactic tearaway and daughter of Galen Erso, the reluctant creator of the Empire’s new superweapon. Admittedly, Jones looks an unlikely action star, but she pulls it off with aplomb. 

By far the best of the main bunch are Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yenstill can’t believe he fits so well in this galaxy!) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) – the fighters from Jedha. 

Love the relationship between Cassian and Kaytoo, although this charming lil plot device was crying out for further attention and development. Considering what an obvious win the reprogrammed Imperial droid turned out to be, he deserved greater opportunities to scene-steal. (If they couldn’t grant him more lines, at least give him that blaster!). 

Still reckon that Diego Luna makes a way cooler Star Wars name than Cassian Andor…

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“That’s right, I’m playing the male lead! I didn’t really think that would be such a big deal…” – Felicity Jones.

The main problem with SF these days is that sfx have reached such stupendous levels, other elements such as plot and character development sometimes tend to fail in comparison. But Rogue One overrides that problem – all elements fuse reasonably well to produce something that is undeniably enjoyable. 

Here, the effects are suitably grandiose and awe-inspiring, from the graceful flights of the supersleek spacecraft(s) to the simply stunning vistas of Jedha and Mauritiuis – (sorry!) Scarif.

What about the aliens? 

Sorely underused – a personal gripe. For my Rough Guidequite tactfully, details relating to Pao and Bishan were dropped. Naturally assuming that they might not receive too much screen-time, they didn’t even get a word in – not even an indecipherable one! Between them!

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“I’d have loved to have taken a Stormtrooper outfit but we weren’t meant to take anything. I got away with a couple of small things but I can’t tell you what” – Mads Mikkelsen. 

Of the Imperial personnel, Ben Mendelsohn is particularly impressive as Director Orson Krennic. 

It was wonderful to see that well-known (well-despised?) officer from A New Hope make a dramatic reappearance. Was expecting to burst into tears upon catching sight of this beloved actor, but, just when you think how sophisticated CGI has become – let’s face it – he doesn’t look natural! No real presence = no credible menace. Moreover, they did not get the voice right!

But what about Vader?!

Surely, this film could never have worked without everyone’s fave Sith Lord. The build-up to his long-waited “return” is tense; his first scene (shared with Krennic) presents him in typically moody and magnificent mode.

His second scene?

Deep breath: WHOA! He REALLY gets busy – showing a Dark Side darker than anyone had ever expected! This is REVENGE of the Sith right here! 

Aren’t we so grateful that James Earl Jones could lend his esteemed vocal talents to Star Wars once more!

Sadly, however, the rest of the Imperial Officers are just anonymous. 

Is it possible to have a Star wars movie without a John Williams score? Some fans may argue that Rogue One does not feel right, precisely because of that vital exclusion. The music here is rousing enough, especially the mystic twang played when the proceedings reach Jedha.

As these rogues are rougher, the action more gritty, the dogfights more spectacular, for me, Rogue One is bigger and better than The Force Awakens.

There have been a few five-star reviews appearing in the last two days. Obviously, those critics have enjoyed the exhilarating ride that uberfan Gareth Edwards (the force is strong with him!) has concocted here, but, to be fair, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story falls short of the brilliant standard of The Empire Strikes Back – a veritable 5* package if ever there was one. 

The power of what we are dealing with here may be immeasurable to some, but this first-generation fanboy is pleased (relieved!) to bestow upon it a solid:

4-out-of-5

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“For my 30th birthday, we visited the Skywalker home in Tunisia. I stood at the same spot where Luke watched the sunset. My girlfriend said: “For your 40th birthday, you won’t be able to top this!” For my 40th birthday, I was directing Rogue One…” – Gareth Edwards. 

Attack Of The Jones: The Rough Guide To Rogue One

NOT On Any Mercy Mission This Time…

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“Where are those transmissions you intercepted? What have you done with those plans? …If this is a consular ship, where is the Ambassador?” – Darth Vader. 

Just like you, this blogger can’t wait any longer.

Ever since that very first scrawl from 1977 which read:

“…rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet” 

yours truly often wondered how that premise would make such a tense and dramatic movie.

Now, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – directed by Star Wars superfan Gareth Edwards – finally brings that mission to the big screen. With the release just two days ago of the official Trailer #2, this is a good time to shunt this Preview Prequel Post – having languished on my Dashboard for about goodness knows how many months to the forefront. 

Here are a few selected items to look out for when all is revealed in two months time: 

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“My character… he’s a scientist. [Galen Erso] at one point invented something so beautiful, so fantastic, that it might change the universe” – Mads Mikkelsen.   

As the (original) Death Star provides the pivotal element to the plot, so the key character is Galen Erso – played by the ever-multi-talented Mads Mikkelsen. 

Galen’s energy-focused research has attracted the interest of Orson Krennic who, many years before, had saved the scientist and his family from Separatist kidnappers.

Deep in Krennic’s debt, Galen works on a new project for him, unaware that he is embroiled in the ultra top secret Death Star program. 

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“She’s unique. She’s different from particularly Rey in that we already know who Jyn is… It’s finding out more what her purpose and her drive is” – Felicity Jones.

Galen’s daughter: Jyn Erso must lead the seemingly-impossible mission. 

It’s a pleasantly surprising piece of casting. Fresh from her Oscar-nominated role in The Theory of Everything, Felicity Jones looks a most unlikely action/heist movie star. This is a good time to catch as her career deservedly makes the jump to lightspeed. 

Here, the rebel must become a Rebel

…with an awesome cause.

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“A major weapons test is imminent” – Mon Mothma.

Leader of the Rebel Alliance: Mon Mothma dispatches Jyn and her ragtag bunch. 

Accompanying her will be Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) described as an Imperial pilot “cos it pays well”; Diego Luna appears as Rebel captain Cassian Andor – let’s face it: this actor’s name sounds even more Star Warsthan his character’s name!; and Saw Gerrara (Forest Whitaker), first introduced in the Clone Wars animated series.

“I fear nothing. All is as the Force wills it” – Chirrut Imwe.

George Lucas (hallowed be thy name) always said that the two peasants in Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress (1958) inspired the saga’s beloved droids: C3Po and R2-D2. So Rogue One comes full circle and introduces two characters played by Asian actors.

The blind monk: Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen, seated) is “a staunch believer in the Force and a fierce warrior.” He and “former assassin turned Rebel operative”: Baze Malbus (Jiang wen, standing) look like they could provide some of the movie’s coolest action sequences.

Both hail from the planet of Jedha:

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“You, my friend, are all that’s left of their religion” – Grand Moff Tarkin. 

This planet is highly significant as the spiritual home of the Jedi Order. More importantly, it contains the largest quantity of Kyber crystals in the galaxy – the most vital component in the making of lightsaberes…

But is also the key element in powering the lethal superlaser of the Death Star. 

How Jedha becomes the forefront of the action in this story should make for an enthralling spectacle.

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Yeah! AT-ATs on the beach!

This tantalizing clip from the first trailer (on the planet Scarif) gave me the first assurance that this Star Wars story will turn out to be really gobsmackingly good. 

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Where would this galaxy be without its aliens?

Star Wars would not be the same without its coterie of weird and wonderful xenos, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story faithfully honours this tradition.

Can’t wait to see this fella (above).

Bishan is a tail-gunner on a Rebel U-Wing Fighter – my hunch is that we’re not going to see as much of him here as we’d like.

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“Kaytoo can say insulting things very casually if he thinks they’re true” – Alan Tudyk.

And where there are aliens, the droids are never far behind. 

For this mission, the Rebels have captured a seven foot Imperial security droid: K-2SO – “an enforcer and guard, hence the size and demeanor,” now reprogrammed to act as a sidekick to Rebel captain Cassian Andor.

This surly ‘bot is voiced and motion-captured by Alan Tudyk. He and Cassian: “have been together for a while, a couple years,” he continued. “He loves Cassian, because he freed him. It’s also more paternal in that [Cassian] took away the bonds of his programming.”

Well, that’s just swell!

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“[Director Krennic] is a different kind of Imperial villain. He is an Australian kind. We do villainy very well… He’s perhaps a little sexier than some of them…” – Ben Mendelsohn. 

Ben Mendelsohn plays Orson Krennic – the Head of Death Star security – the most visible Imperial representative we have seen thus far.

He looks set to become “a fearsome and intriguing addition to the considerable roster of Imperial bad guys.”

In addition, he’s likely to be in charge of these guys: the Imperial Deathtroopers:

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So, Krennic is Head of Security + the Rebel mission succeeds in stealing the Death Star plans = that’s at least one Sith choke-hold to expect (look forward to?!)

And there’s only ONE Sith Lord we wanna see do that…

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“Darth Vader! Only you could be so bold” – Princess Leia. 

And fortunately only James Earl Jones just had to commit to this movie.

What bemused me the most about the online gossip circulating this past year was the question as to whether everyone’s favourite SF villain would feature at all! Surely, there was NEVER ANY DOUBT that Vader is integral to this story?!

Here, apparently, he will be BADDER THAN EVER. Actually, it had been reported that one scene – in which Vader attacked the Rebels – turned out to be so intense, Disney ordered it to be toned down…(!)

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“I watched A New Hope every day growing up, until my Betamax tape was completely worn out, and if you’d told me that one day I’d get to direct this film, I would never have believed you” – Gareth Edwards. 

Personally, am particularly looking forward to catching the above scene.

Having waited on that platform numerous times, this correspondent can reliably inform you that it is Canary Wharf station on the London Underground. Hey City Sightseers! It’s on the Jubilee Line (the grey one).

One night last year, as soon as the last train had gone at Midnight, the crew had to get in pretty sharpish, and, as Edwards explained: “We had to set-dress the whole thing… we shot all the scenes and then had to be out by 4am. They opened the doors and all these guys in suits came in.”

Naturally, having to resist the urge to yell: “We just shot Star Wars!” proved quite considerable.

One time, standing on that platform (not long ago), it occurred to me that the station’s recent refurbishment resembled the interior of a space station…

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It’s vital to remember that this movie: “takes place just before A New Hope and leads up to the 10 minutes before that classic film begins.”

All in all, this is shaping up to be the Star Wars Prequel we’ve been looking for. 

“Anything less than extraordinary won’t do.”

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens (at last!) on December 16

“Pure Imagination”: A Lament For The Music Makers And The Dreamers

There is no life to compare with Pure Imagination. Living there, you’ll be free if you truly wish to be…

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“We are the music makers. And we are the dreamers of dreams” – Willy Wonka.

Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to 3.

My breath could not be held.

It has been taken far too many times already this year by the heartbreaking and unbelievable number of top talent we have lost. Who does not wish that we could have held on to them a little while longer?

Sadly, they are too many to count…

When the news of Gene Wilder broke on Monday evening, it did not immediately affect me. Can’t let it: it’s become an almost-disturbing commonality this year. However, work on a completely different Post was suspended yesterday in order to make way for these thoughts.

Naturally, yesterday, a number of you uploaded “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (1971).

Actually, the first track that came to my mind was this dreamy slice of ambience from Aphex Twin – it contains a suitably magic sample from Wilder as Wonka: 

The year began with a shock that crushed just about all of us.

The top legend – the ultimate pop singer: David Bowie departed, just ten days into 2016 – and only two days after his 69th birthday, and after the release of his swansong album: Blackstar. 

The outpouring of grief they say was “unprecedented.” No, such a mass turnout was to be expected in London, Berlin and New York for the beloved boy from Bromley. 

They say the music will endure – Bowie was sufficiently talented to ensure that, but when you know there will be no more from that unique stock… 

And to think Wilder passed away on Monday listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow. 

To weep, perchance to dream…

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“There is no Star Wars without R2-D2 – and Kenny Baker defined who R2-D2 was and is” – Kathleen Kennedy.

A fortnight ago, the news concerning the passing of Kenny Baker came so abruptly. But the real shock came from not seeing enough Obituaries dedicated to him. 

This is a shame.

Just because he was of diminutive size – 3ft 8in to be exact – does not mean he has less entitlement to a celebration of his achievements.

Originally, Baker appeared in a variety troupe known as the Mini Tones. In 1976, his fellow diminutive co-performer: Jack Purvis convinced him to go and audition for a fantasy film. In the original record-shattering phenomenon that turned out to be Star Wars, Purvis “played Chief Jawa,” but Baker landed the way better more enduring – role of R2-D2, the endearing droid who came to the rescue in every episode. He sat inside the metal shell, even in the middle of the Tunisian desert, just to make the dream of a seemingly-impossible space opera come alive.

And what of Baker’s “audition”? Talk about a dream come true!

He showed up on set. George Lucas pointed at him and said: “You’ll do.”

(…!)

He and his wife – who was also of diminutive stature – played Ewoks in Return Of The Jedi. The actor went on to appear in other genre faves such as Flash Gordon and The Elephant Man (both 1980) but his fave role was as Fidgit in Time Bandits (1981). He did not have to be concealed in an “upturned bucket” or under several coats of alien make-up to work some very special magic. 

Arguably Terry Gilliam’s best film, it followed the adventures of a band of dwarves who exploit holes in the fabric of space and time with the aid of a stolen map and set out to become “stinking rich.” 

It endures as one of the most ingenious and delightful fantasy films you are ever likely to see. 

Quite simply, it is a classic of pure imagination. 

He died on August 13, aged 81.

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“I re-invented my image so many times that I’m in denial that I was originally an overweight Korean woman” – David Bowie.

With each sad, significant loss mentioned in the Obituary columns this year, the grief is accompanied by a gnawing and reluctant realization that there is barely anyone – in either the music or movie industry – worthy enough to take their place.  

“The stars look very different today…”

Is it a telling lack of talent?

Or a moribund cultural landscape where ingenuity and originality are not allowed to thrive?

Or both?

Contemplating the former calamity: tried to think of half a dozen current stars of the big screen.

Nuts…

Honestly cannot remember the names of four of ’em. And the two names that are seared into my memory have done so only cos their output is notoriously dire and unwatchable… 

On this Summer’s day, as warm as the memories that Wilder’s – or Baker’s – or Bowie’s most magic moments rekindle, writing this lament has gone on long enough for one to see l-o-n-g shadows stretching across the ground outside.

Uh-oh – allegorical mode. 

Coming to the end of a productive – and reflective – day, it is all too easy to consider that, with the passing of each true great, we indeed reach a regrettable “end of an era.” 

Nearly all the classic music makers and dreamers of dreams have left us. This is, ultimately, an unnerving, as well as a sorrowful, thought. For they leave a stunning legacy in which: only music that is (at leastthirty years old can be heard through my earphones, and only SF/fantasy films filled with genuine wonder and charm (and NOT artificial CGI!) make my gleeful grade.

They really don’t make ’em like they used to… 

If only all the guff that passes for popular “entertainment” these days was just a figment of our imagination.

But then again, we could dream up far more entertaining packages… 

Couldn’t we…? 

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The Hunt For The Man-Beast: The Bradscribe Expedition To Find Lost Comics!

In The Mighty Jungle, A Fearless Bunny Will Not Rest Until The Awe Of Yore Has Been Found… 

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“Permit me to sneer, Warlock! — Has one who has purity like unto a god — Yes, and innocence, too — Has he found a lasting good upon this planet? Speak truth now! Have you?” – Man-Beast. 

The galactic hero patrolled an alien world in a landspeeder. An evil, slit-eyed droid pursued him.

His hair was definitely black; his outfit? Maybe black. His adventures certainly did not appear in colour, but unmistakably graced a UK comic. Probably Marvel UK?

Who the blazes was he?!

Despite providing a thrilling read, over 35 years ago(!) his name, and – more crucially – the name of the comic in which he starred have – to my complete dismay – completely escaped me.

This Summer, reminiscing about the earliest comics to bring me inestimable pleasure so many moons ago has motivated me more than ever to track some of ’em down.

It’s now or never.

Shut out all 21st century distractions. Cast my mind back to the “Golden Age” of 1979-82 and try and work out the identity of that, and other, lost classics.

Marvel UK produced so much fantastic stuff during that period. Most notably, the bulk of their material happened to be b/w reprints of good ol’ American colour originals. Yay, ’tis through this cheap yet cheerful, and undeniably invaluable modest medium that much of my exploration of the Marvel Comics Universe gained momentum.

Perhaps the most entrancing (re)discovery from my trawl through the comics of yesteryear was Star Wars Weekly – a title reprinting the ongoing adventures of Luke Skywalker, superbly illustrated by comics legend: Carmine Infantino – enjoyed so much back in’79. However – inexplicably, and despicably! – not a single ish survived the cull that swept through the Bradhouse one fateful Winter’s day long ago. 

Now, in 2016, a dozen ishs were laid out high along one shelf of one specialist shop in London. You had to ask the ass(istant) just to TOUCH them.

One cover in particular leapt out at me – it looked SO familiar! The cover blurb stated that it also featured: Starlord, Guardians Of The Galaxy and Tales Of The Watcher. When the Guardians Of The Galaxy movie came out two Summers ago, this team didn’t ring any bells, and yet! They had been a part of my infancy… and yours truly hadn’t even realised! 

Back then, you see, those Guardians did not consist of a gun-toting raccoon, nor a talking tree. Peter Quill spacefared all by his lonesome, in his own strip, not as the leader of the Guardians. Heck, he wasn’t even associated with them neither!

As for Tales Of The Watcher, well…! Get all choked up whenever catching that title – this character had such a captivating effect on me, cos when producing my own first comic book (at the tender age of 6, no less!) it was named: “The Watcher.”

Was this the ish in my possession 37 years ago?! Was that galactic hero set to reintroduce himself to me there and then? Was it, perhaps, Starlord himself?!

Just had to open the polythene bag and find out.

Took a deep breath.

Turning over the front cover, a tingling burst of happy memories might flood my senses…

But no… 

This Starlord looked completely different. And that mysterious cosmic figure was nowhere to be seen…

Curses…!

My quest must resume… elsewhere. 

Never fear, thrill-seekers! A most unlikely target HAS been acquired!

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“The reptilian speaks more truly than you, Man-Beast! My eyes see not the humble robes of my guide, who called himself The Prophet — but the gaudy royal cloth of one who would subjugate this Second Earth!” – Adam Warlock.

Future Tense (a sci-fi Weekly launched in November 1980never – strangely enough – found its way into the Bradhouse.

…Until now.

At long last, a whole crate of original editions were located at my local comics emporium! Bought two editions: opened up the one dated: January 28 1980, and turned to the final story: And Men Shall Call Him Warlock.

The golden-skinned protagonist known as Adam Warlock is another of those numerous warmly-received, yet dimly-remembered comic characters to have danced giddily across my retinas over three decades ago.  

And what – in a gloriously dramatic splash page – is gloating imposingly on the steps of his subterranean stronghold on Counter Earth (“Like our planet, but exists on the other side of the Sun!”) with a captured Adam at his mercy?

Why, ’tis Man-Beast isself!

This humanoid creature with the head of a wolf may have been one of the more obscure oddities to emerge from the mighty Marvel Comics Universe, but – blimey Charley! – made a HUGE impression on me way back when, even though he has lain dormant in the dark recesses of the Brad mind for far too long.

If he regularly appeared in Warlock, then here – lol and behold – is where he first came to my gobsmacked attention.

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Garth The Hunter: “Nurse your wounds, stout one — and leave the fighting to me. Perhaps that bite’s taught you the error of your brash and vociferous ways! — Though I doubt it –”

Gorjoon: “Suck an egg, blondie!” 

Funny how something you had never even considered looking for turns up out of the blue when you are busy browsin’ for something else…

A more concentrated scope around my local comics emporium again last week brought to light some very interesting titles, including one title that almost made me jump!

Good Grud! Could not Adam-an’Eve that it was just lying there in wait for me!

As Man-Beast played a profound role in the first of my comic-collecting, so, apparently, did Man-Wolf, aka John Jameson (the son of Peter Parker’s Editor: J. Jonah Jameson).

And so ’twas: Man-Wolf #36.

The cover: a shirt-ripped lycanthrope-hero trapped in space set my arm hairs on end – a startling image not seen for 35 years! 

THIS is a major blast from my past, rediscovered: 

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“I’ll folla ya in the Sky Sled — It wuz the first thing we secured in the attack! Once we git there, though — yer on yer own” – Nick Fury.

And yes – deep joy!

This particular ish just happens to feature Nick Fury, Director and Top Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., albeit in a minor supporting role. The writing by David Kraft is top-notch, and the art – supplied by George Perez and Frank McLaughlin – is so small and meticulous that up to ten panels per page is per usual. 

John Jameson’s curse materialised in the form of the Moonstone. 

“It affixed itself to my throat,” the soldier-turned-astronaut recalled bitterly. And, since then, whenever a full moon appears, it transforms him into “a nocturnal grotesquerie, a lurking brute unleashed by lunar radiation.”

It may not cause a colossal ripple across the the fabric of spacetime, but within the perpetually awesome and award-winning Bradmosphere, this find is positively stupendous!

Huzzah!

This stage of the expedition, my fellow thrill-seekers, has revealed not one, but two, faves once trapped on the distant shores of hazy recollection. Ah, so glad… 

But what of that dark-haired cosmic hero mentioned at the beginning of this Post?

Alas, nobody can tell… yet.

Perhaps he has resurfaced on another side of the Marvel Comics Universe – rebooted and rebranded – in a completely unidentified guise. Such is the trend in comics these days, he is now likely to be a woman…

No doubt The Watcher has noticed – to considerable bemusement – my plight. Nothing gets past him…

Nevertheless, undaunted and undeterred, this bunny ventures even further into the macrocosm that is this jumbled and overloaded mind.

To unleash other long-forgotten thrills from yesteryear.

To delight you, dear reader.

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Keep It Awesome! 😉