Plaid – Ralome: Mellow Music Monday

Abandon Stress, Angst And Caps Lock All Ye Who Enter Here

“You really have got a lid on it, haven’t you? What’s your secret? Mellow jazz? Bongo drums? Huge bag of weed?” – Tony Stark.

 

“Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak.”

Love, light and peace. 🙂

 

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the Earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind…

“To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over about the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives” – His Holiness The Gyalwang Drukpa. 

 

“Dear fellas,

I can’t believe how fast things move on the outside. I saw an automobile once when I was a kid, but now they’re everywhere. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry…”

Brooks Hatlen.

 

The Queen Of Madeira: The Spy Who Loved Me Cake

A dot.com Rom Com About A Hip Hop Chip Shop

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“It’s all so boring here, Margo – there’s nothing but playboys and tennis pros. If only I could find a real man” – Playgirl.

 

Topsy-Turvy Lvey-Dvey

Rumours are rife around the Rebellion that 

Queen Cherisasara of Madeira, in the Whoopeedoo System, is an Imperial spy.

Having just narrowly escaped the Ruckus in Star-Field Zigma 12,

Brad Burrito Fartlighter, the Rebellion’s most fecklessfearless man-of-action, 

has opted to investigate the matter, especially as

that pleasure planet is renowned throughout the galaxy for its

delectable sweet fancies.

So whilst waiting for the ravishing ruler to show up,

your hero is entertaining the pretty Princess Gamelan at the Royal Court…

 

“Y’see, lov. it wuz like this,” Brad gesticulated. “I just manoeuvred straight down this trench and skimmed the surface to this point. The target area was only two meters wide. It was a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port… but enough of this technical gubbins! ‘Ow ya bin doin’, Gammy?”

“Awesome as always, Mr. B, but enough about me – I take it the shaft was ray-shielded, so you had to use proton torpedoes?”

“You’re tellin’ me! It- say! You’re wasted at this royal court, lov. Ya could-“

At that moment, the heavy gilded double-doors of the Throne Room flung open, and in marched an official magisterial entourage.

“BEHOLT!” cried a whining and insubordinate voice. “Mek ware fer Hair Illuztriouz Majezty: Queen Cherizazara!”

The princess bolted straight to her feet; Brad stayed sprawled across his glitzy beanbag.

An elegant and deliriously beautiful verdant-skinned young woman swayed majestically across the gleaming marble floor. A trio of Diluvian dwarf-girls carried the extensive chiffon train of her elaborate silk costume.

“Remove the harlot from my sight, immediately!” she snapped, but with such a rich and mellifluous voice. “Leave us, Chamberlain!”

“Vhot?! Year Majezty! Leaf yo ELLURN wiv ze alien?!”

The Queen of Madeira shot one disdainful glance at your hero and snarled: “This… Earthling… should not give me any… trouble… Now, Chamberlain, be GONE!”

But Year Majezty, Ay muzt protezt-!”

“I’m the QUEEN! TRY ME!”

“But yo muzt moof-!”

“I DON’T MOVE when you want me to move! And I don’t groove when you tell me to groove! ‘Cos I’m the QUEEN! And I always will be! Now… pathetic. Little… man. Get OUT, before I throw you out…!”

The Queen gnashed her teeth, observing venomously as her officials, the princess and servant-girls all scurried out; the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger watched in fascination.

“Impressive. Most impressive…” he muttered, clambering to his feet.

The emerald enchantress rotated impatiently on her formidable stilettos and marched menacingly towards your calm and collected hero; her lustrous, but intimidatng, hazel eyes seared into his cute blues. 

“SO…!” the Queen of Madeira snarled. “What’s your story? It had better be good or I’ll-I’ll… …!”

Unexpectedly, she fell silent, looking around anxiously to check if her minions had all gone.

“Oh, what the heck, they have all gone, haven’t they…? Good. Come here, baby…

In that instant, all her rage dissipated, and she hurled her lithe figure into the Earthman’s arms.

“Hiya, Hotshot! How you doing?!”

“Sound as a pound, lov.”

“Ha ha, HA, that’s my Brad!”

She stepped back, taking in a thorough butcher’s at him, then shook his hunky torso playfully.

“Whoo, lookachu!!”

“Uh-huh, look at me…”

“Gawd, yer even MORE ridiculously good-lookin’ than ever! How do ya do it, baby?!”

“‘Ow much time ya got, Yer Maj…?”

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“Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise that I dance like I’ve got diamonds at the meeting of my thighs?” – Maya Angelou.

The Queen of Madeira led Brad to her Royal Lounge, a sumptuous chamber strewn with even larger glitzy beanbags; intricate mosaics decorated the floor while sumptuous murals adorned the ceiling; an open, ornate balcony overlooked the main foyer. She guided him over to a large, opulent couch-for-two; she reclined, slowly and sensuously, enticing him to repose beside her. 

“Tell me, Brad, what… …” she exclaimed softly, then tugged at his jacket to catch his attention. “Hello, handsome… are you receiving me, over… …?!” 

He could not speak (yet), otherwise entranced by the winsome smile radiating from her glistening fuchsia lips, the billowing violet, candy floss “hair” and the divine caress of her intoxicating vanilla perfume. 

“Ah, Cherry, I’ve missed you…” he eventually sighed, savouring the velvety mattress beneath him.

“As always, I am transfixed by the exquisite lustre in yer eyes, 

A glow that shines like the sunrise. 

When first we met, me heart flew high, 

On gleaming wings through a cloudless sky.  

You ta me are ev’rythin’, 

The sweetest song that I can sing…” 

“Whoo, really…? Say, Hotshot, all that cake has certainly given you a sweet mouth, hasn’t it…?!” she sniggered bashfully.

“Okay… There is a very special man, 

Who came from far, far away. 

He visits me but only once in a crimson moon, 

But not a day later can he stay. 

Our song of love is pure and fair 

All hurt the music can repair. 

How cute and extraordinary this dude from “Earth,”

All those fleeting moments when he excites my heart, I love a lifetime’s worth.”

“Nice… but then again, ya can’t beat a good slice o’ Madeira Cake. Or three…”

“Thank you! So tell me, Brad, were you and… that lil cupcakeexchanging equally heartfelt lines when I came in? You know she’s bad news in cheap make-up…”

“What, Gammy? Aww, she’s a good girl, causin’ no-“

“No trouble? Uff, she’s a constant pain – always poking her snooty lil nose in my affairs. She’s untrustworthy – she’ll betray us both one day…” 

“By Holdo’s Beard! Tha’s nah way ta talk abaht yer own sister! Look, she only requested some cake recipes, an’ I obliged, like…”

A lengthy disbelieving pause, until the Queen of Madeira slapped her mouth to stifle shrieks of laughter. 

“Oh, YOU! That’s the lamest fib I’ve ever heard. Ha! For once, your wicked way with words FAILS you, Brad. That’s the most-” 

“‘Onest statement. She fancied some’t other than Madeira Cake fer a change…” 

Cherry leant forward, placing the flexed fingers of her right, bejewelled hand to the side of his head, then darted back in astonishment. 

“By the crystal foxes of Crait…” she gasped. “You’re… telling the truth…?!” 

“I got no reason ta lie ta you, Cherry… an’ you KNOW that, too… Speaking of truth…” 

“Yes, yes, I picked it up in the mind-meld as well – it dominates your thoughts. Rajendra and your rebel-buddies all believe that I’m an Imperial spy… Those… rumours have gotten out of control… They’re sooo… ridiculous…!” She skimmed his luscious lips with one of her extended, extensively-painted fingernails. “…An’ you KNOW that!”

“Yyyyyeah, I guess so…”

“You KNOW so! Look, every time you’re here, Brad, it’s such a thrill… Just how long have you been fighting with the Rebellion? Are you closer now to defeating the Empire than you were… Dyzan knows how many years ago…?! Walk away from it all, baby…”

“Come again, lov…?!” 

“Leave the war behindStay here, in my palace, and we can enjoy the myriad delights of Madeira together…

Can you stay…?

Can you be mine…?

Can you… be… my love forever more… …?”

“Yes, I can be… but part o’ me is always gonna be itchin’ ta get aht an’ thwart the Empire as much as poss… Aww, ‘eck... I’ll STAY! Oh yes, Cherry. A thousand times, yes, I’ll be YOURS. Throughaht the galaxy there’s NAHbody:

as beautiful,

as dazzlin’,

as intelligent,

as charmin’-“

“As groovy…?!”

“Not ‘arf, lov! Yeah, there’s nahbody as groovy as you… Fer you, Yer Maj, I can be anythin’ you wan’ me to be… Anythin’, lov… … as long as it’s not an Admiral wiv pink ‘air… …” 

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“It’s my secret pleasure moon. I have a little palace there built just for two” – Princess Aura. 

“There’s something I’ve simply got to tell you, baby…” the Queen announced.

“Mmm, okey-dokey, lov – I’m all ears-“

A sensor on her bracelet bleeped manically. “Oh, fudge!” she cursed.

“Oh, I’ve ‘eard that many times before…”

“What? No, not that. Please excuse me, Brad, I’ve got to take this call… Um, I’ll see that my royal chefs prepare you the finest spicy meal – the way you like it!” 

“Ooh, goody gumdrops! Bless yer heart, Cherry…”

“Ha ha! Thought you’d dig that! Won’t be a minute, baby…” 

She swanned over to her office chamber and activated her vid-conf system; a familiar Dark Lord appeared onscreen, beaming devilishly.

“Hello, preetty! ‘Tiz done?”

“Yes, yes, Zeg, the Earthling is here with me…”

“Goot! Ay shell dizpetch may fainezt deeveejun uv Shokk Troopairz to appreehent heem! Heh heh… Yo hef done well, Yair Majezty!”

“No, not at all… Now you listen here, Lord Tosspot: I only agreed to this rotten plan to prevent you from foisting one of your blasted garrisons on my territory! But to betray this hero? Nuh-uh, I’m not going to comply any more-“

“A footile murve. HA, yo kennot deny eet: Madeira belurngz to Zan Doka! End ze Urfzcurm eez main! Main, Ay tell yo, main main MAIN!”

“NEVER… We will never see that-“

“Urv course… Ay ken mek eet eeziair fer yo – jurrrrroin weev me! End togezzair ve shell rule ze galaxy ez huzzbend end WAIFE!”

“I’ll never join you! Demented little Zandokan cu-“

“ZYLENZ! Knur yer plazz, woman!”

“Uff, I know it all too well, Crotchstain. Always – ALWAYS! – parsecs ahead of the likes of you. Doing EVERYTHING in my POWER to deny you and your despicable Imperial hordes whatever you crave! For the pride of my people. And then some…”

“Heh, yo try ta fool Zegreatme?! Yo VEEL be main, darleenk! Dyzan decreez eet! Ve vill BREEEED weev yo, end our Empeerial prurgeny-“

Ugh, hush up, NO! By the crimson moon, a thousand times no!! I’d rather kiss a skunk-“

“Hmm, zpeakeenk urv zkurnkz… vot do yo zee in zat Urfmairn?! Hee’z recklezz! Pennilezz! Hopelezz! AY em Zegreatme, Dark Lord uv Zan Doka! Ve ken leef een ENNY WUN urv may DOZAIN palazzez! VOT do yo ZEE een a BURM like ZAT?!”

“That’s something a chauvinist like you will NEVER understand…”  

“Grrr, but vhy HEEM? Vhy, vhy?! Tell me VHY!”

“Can you keep a secret?”

YEZ!”

“Good boy. Over and out.”

Princess Leia: “You make it so difficult sometimes.”

Han Solo: “I do, I really do. You could be a little nicer, though. Come on, admit it. Sometimes you think I’m alright.”

Princess Leia: “Occasionally, maybe… when you aren’t acting like a scoundrel.”

Han Solo: “Scoundrel? Scoundrel? I like the sound of that…”

“Confound it,” the Queen growled as she returned to her special guest. “CONFOUND it!” 

“Whassup? Run ahtta salad?”

“What? Oh… no, it’s- Like I said, I’ve really got something to tell you, baby…”

“‘Ey, wotcha frettin’ abaht…? Y’know, Yer Maj, I’ve never seen ya lose yer cool-

“Yeah, yeah, baby, but please listen-“

Suddenly, the double-doors downstairs swung violently open.

“I got THAT awright!” 

“No! It’s- aow, HELL – it’s too late… …”

Brad peered over the balcony and yelped as a division of Shokk Troopers burst in: “‘ULK IN AN ‘OT TUB! Zandokans!! ‘Ow the blazes did THEY get in ‘ere?!” 

“THAT is what I’ve… been trying to tell you… Forgive me, Brad, I-I… granted them permission to come here… to capture you…”

“Cherry, no… Say it ain’t so…” his lip quivered as he drew his blaster.

The Queen of Madeira could not bear to gaze into his crestfallen face. “Please, Commander, try to understand – with the Empire vying to wrest my sovereignty away from me on one side, and my beleaguered council trying to retain social order on the other, I had to… play along…”

“Aow… maybe yer… playin’ along wiv me now…” Brad sulked, desperately trying to quash a wodge of mistrust swelling in his heart. “This ‘ole charade wuz a TRAP… an’ – jeez – fer once I fell fer it..?! Not me, not now! No way, no ‘ow!”

“Oh no, my sweet! I would NEVER- You must NOT think like tha- WATCH OUT!” 

The Troopers hurtled into view, and the queen grabbed your hero, and away they fled down the marble-floored corridor. They could hear these one-dimensional extras clanking right after them in hot pursuit.

Along the way, Cherry activated an emergency panel in the wall and, brandishing a phase-plasma rifle, fired warning shots at the approaching Imperial troopers, who – upon running into range – immediately ducked for cover:

“Do you think you can trust me, now, handsome…?!”

“‘Whoo, outta sight. Long Live The Queen ‘Ere, ‘ang on…” Brad protested, gawping in amazement. “Tha’s not in the script…! “I’m the ‘ero! ‘Ow come yer gun’s bigger than mine?!”

“That’s life, honeybunch…”

“Ha! Funny girl- ‘Ey, this auto-door! In ‘ere, quick!” 

“No, Brad, that’s my-!” 

He burst into a small, but refined room, where dozens of ornate, shimmering garments bedecked glittering racks along both walls.

“Dear Barbara… Gedda loada’ the fancy clobber in ‘ere…”

“-My walk-in-wardrobe, sir.”

“Groovy. We can disguise ourselves as a coupla’ Jawas an’ split while the Shokkers are still scopin’…”

“Bra-ha-had, no-ho-ho! Funny boy!” the queen cried hysterically, trying to stifle a fit of royal giggles. She frantically closed and locked the auto-door behind them, hoping that any Zandokans hadn’t heard her outburst.

They gazed at each other amorously in the half-light, listening to their biochemech pursuers lurking stealthily just outside… 

“We ought to be “in danger”…” she whispered ever so demurely. “But- but why oh why do I… feel so… absolutely safe with you…?”

“‘Cos I’m the ‘ero?” he muttered ever so charmingly. “‘Cos I’m the one ‘oo – despite gettin’ constantly shot at – nevah gets ‘it…? Stay outta sight, lov…”

He gently prised the rifle from the Queen’s clutches and reached for the auto-door, intending to charge out blasting. “Bring ’em on, I’d prefer a straight fight ta all this sn-“

Suddenly, behind him, Cherry pressed against his back, wrapping her arms around his abs, holding him against her pounding chest.

“No, hotshot…” she insisted, almost breathlessly. “I’m NOT going to let you go… a-again. So many… MANY times I’ve let you fly off and do your… “hero-thing” all over the galaxy, but not… not this time, baby. Come on, let’s escape… together, far beyond these Troopers… the Empire… And everything…”

“Aww, Cherry, where could we go? Where CAN we go…? I’m a Wanted man in 12 systems, me!”

“Uh-huh, but nobody wants you more than the Queen of Madeira…” 

She began to fondle Brad’s hand.

“Stop that,” he requested.

Stop what?” she replied.

Stop that. Me mitts are dir’y.”

My hands are dirty too. What are you afraid of… …?”

Maude Lebowski: “Lord. You can imagine where it goes from here.”

The Dude: “He fixes the cable?”

Maude Lebowski: “Don’t be fatuous, Jeffrey.”

“In ‘ere… wiv you…” Brad exclaimed softly, “There’s no uvva place in the galaxy I’d rather be right now…” 

“Nice. How long have we been locked in this hug, baby…?”

“Dunno, lov. But definitely not as long as I’d like…”

“Aww, bless your heart, Brad. I thought we could get out of here now, but I can still hear them creeping around outside.”

“Nah, tha’s me stomach…” 

“Oh no! You still haven’t had that meal I promised you! So sorry, babe-” 

“No worries, Cherry. We’ve… ‘ad a busy day… It‘s been… dramatic-” 

“It’s been… unforgettable… I think we… especially youyou dashing thing, have waited long enough…” the Queen of Madeira panted tenderly in his ear, stepping back to unfasten her dress…

“…Strippin’ yer togs orf at a time like this?! Can ya do that?!”

“Try me, baby. I can do anything – ‘cos I’m the Queen!”

“An’ always will be…”

At that very moment, Brad squinted, and flung his hand up over his face as a piercing white light engulfed him. All Cherry could do was stand there, and watch, aghast and agitated, as all Brad could do was abruptly vanish amidst a portal of pulsating particles… …

 

“B-Baby… … …?”

 

 

When his sight had readjusted, your hero found himself standing on the teleporter of his own crate: the Calista Blockhead. His Second Officer: Lexi Wahldorf stood at the console, arms folded in a highly agitated manner…

“An’ jus’ what the blazes am I doin’ back ‘ere so soon?!” the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger growled incredulously.

“I- WE, had to get you away from the spy, pronto!” Lexi roared.

“Look, fer the umpteenth time, The Queen of Madeira AIN’T a spy!” 

“No, not the queen – the princess…” 

“Oh, come orf it! Gammy’s not in league wiv da Zandokans…”

“Course not, she’s OUR spy. General Rajendra himself requested that she report any shady shenanigans at the Madeiran Royal Court; several Imperial agents have infiltrated the queen’s staff already-“

“Blimey! Now that explains ‘er exceptionally avid interest in me adventures in Star-Field Zigma 12-“

“GAWD, you-! You make it SO difficult sometimes.”

“I do, I really- eh?! ‘Oo me? Nevah!” 

“Shoosh, Commander! YOU “great hero,” uff! – were interfering with her mission! You couldn’t stop pestering her-”

“I Wuzn’t!”

“Wuz so! You w-“

“Wuz. NOT. “Interferin’.” Lex. She only requested some cake recipes, an’ I obliged, like…” 

Lexi shook her head in appalled disbelief. “That’s the lamest fib I’ve ever heard… Ha! That’s the most-” 

“Look, Lex, ‘Er Majesty can verify that! She even put ‘er ‘and on my-“

“BRA-AD, be extra careful what you spout in front of your Second Officer, Commander!”

Hmm… an’ you be extra careful wotcha doin’ wiv yer Commander, Officer! You send me back right this instant, an’-“

“And just WHY did you pay a visit to Her Majesty, the Queen of Madeira…?”

“I’ll ‘ave ya know that I wuz… operatin’ as close advisor to ‘Er Maj-“

“Oho, TOO close, Commander. Your smug chops are splattered with HER blamed lipstick!!” 

“Ooh, Blimey Charley, are they really…?! Anyways, why did ya ‘ave ta get me aht then, jus’ as I wuz abaht ta-“

“I KNOW what you were about to do, Commander! That’s why I got you out then…”

“Yeah, but why, Lex? Why? Tell me WHY?!”

She stared intensely at him until her lips trembled:

“Do you not know… …?”

 

Prince Vultan: “That must be one hell of a planet you men come from!”

Flash Gordon: “Not too bad…”

 

“Oh Globbits!”: It’s The Bradscribe Video Show!

“Where The Blazes Has That Brad Got To?!”

“He’s Stuck In An 80s Vortex!”

“What, AGAIN?!”

“Eighties – I’m living in the Eighties
Eighties – I have to push, I have to struggle
Eighties – get out of my way, I’m not for sale no murr!” – Killing Joke.

Yes, again!

Welcome to my very own neon sanctuary, which – not that surprising to all those who know an’ love Bradscribe oozes with positive 80s vibes.

A cavalcade of classic 80s pop can get me out of any daggy, uncreative mood. After a few weeks stuck in a rut – unable to make ANY of my writing dance, or fly, in my usual inimitable groovy style – various vids were activated and bingo! – it has worked! My reviews, articles – even my fiction! – are now back on track.

Instead of banging out that intense piece about dystopian SF – besides, it’s a wet and dreary Bank Holiday Monday out there – thought it best to spread this feelgood factor. In this Age of Outrage, we could certainly do with MORE FUN and nostalgia!

This is not the first time this site has delved into Neon Nostalgia and it won’t be the last!

Not only could you listen to the best pop music – on your own Sony Walkman of course! – the 80s also offered the best videos, the best movies, the best telly shows, the best candy etc. etc.

For those of you too young to remember the Golden Age of the music video (or never around then) no worries! Let this selection of some of my faves – with my blessings – be your gateway. 

No need to get your deely-bobbers in a twist! Help yourself to a Curly-Wurly!

Just pull your jacket sleeves up, stick your ghetto-blaster in the air and away we go!

“You’re too shy shy hush hush eye to eye
Too shy shy hush hush eye to eye
Too shy shy hush hush eye to eye
Too shy shy hush hush hush” – Kajagoogoo. 

One of the most distinctive synthpop groups of the 80s was Ultravox – always been fascinated by that snazzy sci-fi name!

They had several classic vids, but this was the best ‘cos it was the most exciting.

Great camaraderie among the group in this highly adventurous vid; plus, the director has even wrangled a way to include Midge Ure’s addiction to hang-gliding as well – huzzah!

You do realise that between 0:30-0:39 you will witness the Greatest Moment in Pop Video History:

“Say, we can act if we want to
If we don’t, nobody will
And you can act real rude and totally removed
And I can act like an imbecile” – Men Without Hats.

And they say that back in the day this fella was a heartthrob? Wild Boys? Too wild fer me, man…

Still, a darn sight better than the talentless cretins the “music industry” foist upon us nowadays, but hey! Promised there would be NO argy-bargy on this Post.

The only mildly offensive material you may encounter here is a very dodgy shoulder pad or two.

You really couldn’t get anyone less offensive than Kate Bush.

Despite being perceived as a tad uncool back in the day, this video has always affected me in a good way. Part of the charm here is a wonderful cameo from Donald Sutherland, and guess what!

Managed to accompany this vid with a gif from cult classic teen vamp shocker:The Lost Boys, which features Donald’s son Kiefer.

Ha, Brad amazes even himself sometimes!

“You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby
Right round, round, round” – Dead Or Alive.

Look at this!

With spiky blond hair and bum fluff, THIS is EXACTLY how Brad looked in 1987!

Seriously!

Even at college, the most common thing people in the street asked me happened to be: “Could I have your autograph, Kiefer?”

In 1985, the Sisters of Mercy were a standard dark Goth band, but with the breakthrough Floodland LP in 1987, they became a bigger and better phenomenon. With a steady stream of hit singles, each came with its own elaborate video.

Here, with Dominion, we see what 80s videos excelled at: amazing photography, exotic location shots and iconic moments. This is the most unlikely place to find a saxophone! But then again, anything and everything could work during the 80s.

Here, Andrew Eldritch never looked cooler.

And Patricia Morrison never looked hotter. 

“Karma Karma Karma Karma, Karma Chameleon
You come and go, you come and go
Loving would be easy if your colours were like my dream
Red gold and green, red gold and green” – Culture Club.

Dominating BBC TV schedules every Thursday night used to be Top Of The Pops.

If a pop group wanted to boost sales they could do no better than be featured on this show. Sure, all appearances were mimed, the presenters would sometimes bombard audiences with the most appalling puns, and the audience invariably consisted of morons who believed that hogging the cameras was the ONE aim in life, but it became – undeniably – a National Treasure.

Loved the exotic Eastern sounds of Blancmange’s Living On The Ceiling. Fondly remenber this as one of my all-tive fave TV moments, and feeling aggrieved that (being, at that time, without a VCR) there would never be another chance to watch this ever again…

“Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six foot four and full of muscles
I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”
He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich” – Men At Work.

Now, something to enrich your viewing pleasure!

My American friends will be unaware of this lil gem – the main reason why Brad hardly did any of his school homework! Or his chores! (Whatever they were…)

“Cthulhu for kids” as one bright spark remarked. The narrator: Willie Rushton was a talented writer/satirist and his distinctive voice worked perfectly.

Who needs CGI  when you can do wonders with plasticine?!

With the revelation that Drut spelt backwards is turd, the hilarity lasted for WEEKS – aah, happy times…

“I feel peculiar…”

“Hold a chicken in the air
Stick a deckchair up your nose
Buy a jumbo jet
And then bury all your clothes
Paint your left knee green
Then extract your wisdom teeth
Form a string quartet
And pretend your name is Keith” – Spitting Image.

With film reviews, comic round-ups, fiction, and now 80s Club Nights (WAHEY!!) you can’t deny that Brad is one groovy gaff at which to hang out!

Whatever lousy mood you may find yourself in, trust me, put on this next vid by the Thompson Twins (hey, there’s three of ’em, ha!) and a big, contented grin will always be guaranteed.

“Dance, boy; dance, boy!”

“Wake me up before you go-go
Don’t leave me hanging on like a yo-yo
Wake me up before you go-go
‘Cause I’m not plannin’ on going solo” – Wham.

 

And how could we end this Post without including Bill Murray?!

Honestly, it was either him or Molly Ringwald… 

“I ain’t afraid of no gif”

 

Well, what vids did you/do you enjoy the most from the 80s?

 

Universal Pictures: An Exploration Of Cosmic Comics!

Because You Demanded It! Brad Goes Cosmic!

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“I spent some time in your system monitoring your television transmissions. I learned all about Earth’s culture from watching sitcoms” – Sphinxor.

“You have teleported me here to talk,” the being known as the High Evolutionary protested. “To discuss why my planet has been stolen. I await your answer.”

“My Ring-Shippers and I were contracted to move your planet by a race of beings called the Beyonders,” replied Sphinxor, Captain of the Ringship 1, Command Vessel of the Prime Movers of Tarkus. 

“They became aware of your experimental world while you were collecting the extra-dimensional mass to build it… This Warlock fellow looked to be a problem…” 

Yes! That’s Adam Warlock, the golden-skinned cosmic hero, and the primary reason for picking up what has turned out to be a quite scintillating ish of Marvel 2-In-1 (#63, May 1980). The Thing, Moon-Dragon and Starhawk team up to help save Counter-Earth. 

Mark Gruenwald (writer), Jerry Bingham (artist) and Gene day (inker) “join forces to concoct the wildest cosmic adventure ever!”

In this Summer’s voracious surge for Bronze Age delights, the overwhelming theme has been: cosmic. So what is it about cosmic comics that make them so enthralling?

Apart from tapping into that lifelong fascination with outer space (with which most of you would concur, right?), the joys of galactic adventures, bedecked with multitudes of weird and wonderful extraterrestrials, with supercool blasters and gleaming star cruisers is veritably the fuel on which traditional SF runs.

There are numerous reasons for why cosmic comics will forever be the best in my book (or blog).

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^ Page 10 of Marvel 2-In-1 #63 shows plenty of stellar action to satisfy anybody’s cosmic cravings.

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“From what we’ve been told, the Beyonders may be more powerful than any beings yet encountered by man – greater than Galactus, the Watcher, Thanos… any of them. As a scientist, I am curious” –  The High Evolutionary. 

The cosmic brand of story-line holds greater appeal,  primarily as the imagination is allowed the freedom to run a tad wilder. Moreover, this scintillating subgenre features some of the coolest and most powerful characters in the known Marvel Universe.

Not to mention the biggest – take (on) Galactus (if you dare!).

Asked who the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe could be, Stan Lee did not hesitate to answer: “Galactus, without a doubt.”

Undoubtedly, the cream of the cosmos has to be “The Coming of Galactus” which appeared in Fantastic Four # 48-50. 

But what are the chances of acquiring this series and NOT breaking the bank…?

Our old friend John Byrne contributed exceptionally to the cause of cosmic awesomeness by creating “The Trial of Galactus” which sprawls across Fantastic Four # 242-44; 252-55; and 257-62. Have already set my sights on them, regardless of my indifference to Reed Richards…

As a huge fan of Rom The Spaceknight – keen to pick up some of his classic cosmic escapades – Galactus actually appears in ish no. 26(!)

By Jove, the Bradmonitor lit up spectacularly when that news filtered through!

Minions! To the Bradmobile!

You’ll be pleased to know that they have already been dispatched forthwith across the quadrant to track THAT ONE down.

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“Fascinating. I’m in outer space, yet my costume automatically creates an energy field that not only protects me from the deadly cold and radiation… but provides me with a breatheable atmosphere as well” – Ms. Marvel. 

One of the classic cosmic stories – essential to anyone’s collection – would have to be The Magus Saga.

Featured in Strange Tales #s 178-81 and Warlock – yes! him again – # 9-11, it’s the reason why Adam Warlock is one of Marvel’s most intriguing protagonists. (If you don’t believe me, check the heaving prices of individual ishs charged by some of yer leading local Awemongers…)

Have already picked up some back ishs of Future Tense, a weekly comic produced by Marvel UK back in 1980; they include some reprints of early Adam Warlock stories. Fabulous stuff, but they only make me crave more of the Warlock

My mission to find more Ms. Marvel continues apace, and has turned up some surprisingly cosmic results.

#3: “The Lady’s Not For Killing” featured the Kree-powered superwoman flying into space on an intercept vector to prevent a missile from diving into the Kennedy Space Center. Upon finding an access hatch, what should spring out but the Doomsday Man!

Bingo – the same robot supposedly destroyed by the Silver Surfer way back when. Cue a bout of feisty female fisticuffs (in orbit). 

Written faultlessly as always by Chris Claremont, and amazingly imagineered by the invincible John Buscema it’s another great addition to the collection.

Groovy.

And there’s been no opp here to squeal about the Mighty Thor’s cosmic scrapes. Particularly that epic in which Galactus must call for Thor’s help in tackling a galactic foe which even he cannot smite…(!)

More mouthwatering delights yet to materialise here on Bradscribe!

Stay tuned: same Brad time! Same Brad channel!  

Meanwhile, back on that orbiting planetoid… 

“…We simply set up our stasis-rings and took off with Counter-Earth in tow…” Sphinxor droned on bureaucratically. “We kindly refer you to the Beyonders for any questions pertaining to what they intend to do with your world, okay?” 

“Then…” frowned the High Evolutionary. “You do not even know why they want my world?”

“That’s not my job, man.”

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“It just gives me the willies, bein’ taken apart atom by atom and bein’ put back together somewhere else” – The Thing. 

From All-Star To Dawnstar: Recent Vintage Acquisitions Read And Reviewed

The Quest For Classic Comics Continues…

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“Silence, please, everyone! I’ve been a little worried about how to tell you this … but, in my identity as Carter Hall, I’m going to enlist in the US Army!” – Hawkman.

And with this bombshell, so begins “Never Step On A Feathered Serpent!” the fifth issue of All-Star Squadron, a title whose debut ish (in September 1981) – with its mix of of superheroes and World War II history developed into an unputdownable phenomenon in the Bradhouse. 

My only regret is that (apart from #10, ten years later), no further ishs could be found.

Staying in the UK on extended leave, belaboured over the bonce by the Mace of Nostalgia, yours truly set aside this Summer to finally track down those comic classics from the so-called “Bronze Age” that eluded me all those moons ago, as well as checking out previously unseen titles. 

Three months ago, perusing the back ish departments of some handy awemongers’ emporiums in London, the ball started rolling with the purchases of All-Star Squadron, #s 5 & 7.

Was it a good start?

  • Squadron scrambled, or brain scrambled?

Amazingly imagineered by the invincible creative team of Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler, its reserved status in my collection is well-assured! But equally astounded at how this ish could have slipped past my Radar of Ninth Metal back in the day…

#7 is equally compelling, with the introduction of the Nazi costumed super-villain: Baron Blitzkrieg! 

Already looking forward to snapping up further ishs of this great title!

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“I’ll have to hit-and-run – use my speed and Kree-training to counter his brute strength – and try to wear him down!” –  Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel #15 (March 1978)

“Carol Danvers a woman who had it made – until the day radiation from an exploding alien machine gave her the skills and powers of a Kree Warrior, plus an uncanny Seventh Sense – transforming a human woman into… a heroine!”

With a proposed Ms. Marvel movie in the works, now would be a good time to catch up and get to know her – if anything, isn’t everyone curious to find out what radiation from an exploding alien machine does to you? Moreover, this Seventh Sense – it sounds groovy! – could we have some?

The woman with the Kree powers must battle Tiger Shark. This villain looks supercool on that dynamic cover (see above) and makes for a mighty antagonist inside.

The script is provided by Chris Claremont – always a big plus in my book! 

But when you consider the premise: woman in leotard is punched and has cars hurled at her by lunatic dressed as a shark… 

  • Marvelous, or Ms. Fire? 

Despite this dodgy premise, this ish is fab; the art by Mooney & DeZuniga is great, and there is a craving for more of this title.

Please note: his captive (who turns out to be the cousin of Namor – y’know: The Sub-Mariner!) is actually fully-clothed during the few panels in which she appears, so no fish-scale bikinis or strategically-placed hubcaps herein…

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“The thing is: that’s my Mom up there! What’s come over her since she won the Earth election?” – Colossal Boy. 

Legion of Super-Heroes was a title hugely enjoyed as a nipper. Now, an irresistible curiosity to find out what other ishs looked like spurred me on. #273 was the ish selected. 

Such characters as Wildfire and Tyroc were as cool as fudge, while others such as Bouncing Boy and Matter-Eater Lad(!) made the title unintentionally hilarious. 

One member of the Legion of Super-Heroes stood apart from the others: a graceful figure with a stunning pair of wings, her name was Dawnstar – or as her co-Legionnaire: the blond, green-skinned Brainiac 5 called her “Dawny.”

Hey, just be thankful this Post was not entitled Finding Dawny jeez, that sounds as corny as heck…!

  • So, Legend, or just leggo…?

What a swiz – she’s not in it! 

Undoubtedly, this is a compelling epic, bristling with drama!; intrigue!; the craziest super-cozzies you will ever see! And the story-line involving a revered Legionnaire framed for murder, wasn’t bad, but considering the immensity of the issue, and a high turn-out, where was the yellow, tassled one?

By the Black Nebula! It feels like your correspondent has been stood up…  

That other strong fave, Wildfire, barely got a look-in either.

Its been great to look at art not seen for 35 years – one or two other ishs will certainly be tracked down…

Even if it is just to see her again…

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“I am Gaius Tiberius Augustus Agrippa! I am power! – What kind of beings are you? Is all the world now the domain of monsters?” – 

During online research for comic art a few years back, my trail led to pages for an ish of Fantastic Four. Although not a fan of this so-called “World’s Greatest Comic,” both pen an’ pencilling duties for #241 (April 1982) belonged to the legendary John Byrne.

In “Render Unto Caesar,” S.H.I.E.L.D. has detected a mysterious power source emanating from the interior of Africa. With the aid of the Black Panther, the Fantastic Four go to investigate and discover – “Jupiter!” – a being, once a soldier in a distant outpost of Emperor Caligula. Almost two millennia ago, he stumbled upon alien technology to create a fabulous city, more splendid than the Roman Empire at its height.

He even neutralises the Fantastic Four’s superpowers. Irate at being selected to be his “Empress,” Sue Storm removes his golden helmet, only to find that- ha! Well, don’t let me spoil it for you! 

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  • Really Fantastic, or just a 4-letter word?

When this Summer of nostalgic comic-collecting set forth, a mental note was taken to look out especially for this one.

That priority was well-rewarded. 

Yes! Fantastic by name – undeniably fantastic by nature. With terrific guest-star appearances by Nick Fury and the Black Panther – two characters high on my Wanted list, this story: “Render Unto Caesar” is an absolute classic.  

Particularly enjoyed the amusing nod to Raiders (above), a light moment that presents its creator perfectly at the height of his enchanting powers.  

Feel the Byrne!

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“The X-Men would have trained me to use my mutant abilities more efficiently… If only I had joined them when I had the chance!” –  Dazzler.

Dr. Doom happened to be one of those characters sought after 30+ years ego, but never got him – could not find the relevant ish of the Fantastic Four that featured him.

Dazzler was a cult figure – “gifted” with the ability to convert sound into dazzling light – who got her own solo series.

The Monarch of Latveria guest-stars in #s 3 & 4. Ended up picking up the latter (it has a slightly more thrilling cover).

  • So, truly dazzling, or just dazzled off? 

Nah, this is not one of my better purchases.

The art by Frank Springer is good enough, but the prospect of a cutie mutie (…on frickin’ roller skates, fer cryin’ aht lowd!) never excited me even way back when yours truly was cute an’ supple enough to arse about with frickin’ roller skates. 

White flares are no match for a yellow, tassled cozzie. Any day… 

Good Grud, this is precisely the sort of infantile mag a chap of my age should not be bothering with – so will sell this on asap!

Hang on… 

If a character as lame as this could get her own series… and a popular fave such as Dr. Doom – or Dawnstar, for that matter! -couldn’t, well… 

Undeterred, my quest – delving further into the dense jungle of back issues – continues… 

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“This is one time… all the words in the Universe aren’t enough…” – Dazzler.

The War Of The Words: Why Does No One Talk Much In SF Films Any More?

Direlogue!

The Quality and Quantity Of Good Movie Dialogue Is Declining! We Need To Talk About It… 

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“…Do I talk first or you talk first? I talk first…?” – Poe Dameron.  

Wouldn’t it be cool to watch SF movies where you can just listen and enjoy good lines instead of being bombarded by noisy, meaningless CGI buffoonery?

As a writer who has dabbled in the art of good chatter – even trying (struggling!) to compile suitable quotes for my Star Trek review last week – it cannot have escaped your attention that there is decidedly less dialogue to get excited over these days.

Any writer of quality fiction/scripts/plays will tell you: there is nothing like good dialogue to drive any scene.

However, it should be pointed out that in  Mad Max: Fury Road – undoubtedly the Best Film of 2015 – the titular Road Warrior himself managed to grunt only 52 lines of dialogue; back in March, this year, Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice seemed to phone in his scenes with a measly 43 lines.

Where can we listen to cool and catchy prattle beyond the stars these days? 

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“George, you can type this shit, but you sure as hell can’t say it” – Harrison Ford.  

On our Third Stone From the Sun, today, about 7000 languages are spoken (Goodness knows how many other thousands of languages have died out in the last few centuries!).

Imagine that!

7000 ways to say: “Hello!” and 7000 ways to ask: “Got any cake?”

And yet…!

An intriguing paradox is lodged at the core of human communication: if language evolved to allow us to exchange information, how come most people cannot understand what most other people are saying?

No matter how globalized the 21st century would appear, there are numerous far-out, obscure – dare one say it: alien – places in this world where a dash of basic local lingo is essential in order to just get by.  

In the realms of science fiction, a dazzling coterie of pseudo-technical jargon has gradually arisen to aid in the hopefully-convincing creation of alien worlds and “futuristic” technologies.

This leads us to the now-legendary quote (above). George Lucas had immersed himself into this far far away sci-fi set-up to such an extent, that an outsider like Harrison Ford was easily stumped by having to spout it.

There is a very telling reason why less dialogue in modern movies is becoming the norm. 

The Chinese sector has taken over the American market as the largest box office territory in the world. Not only does less dialogue mean less subtitles/dubbing for them, but – alarm bells among screenwriters everywhere – Chinese cinema-goers are attracted primarily to the spectacle. 

Apparently, the (Western) world is not enough. 

We have reached the stage (regrettably) where the movie industry is geared towards doing good business, rather than making fine art.

For movies to make a profit (as substantial as poss, of course) they need to do well in Asian cinemas, not just in American. This should go towards explaining why major blockbusters are released in places like Thailand and Singapore (my former stomping grounds) well before the “official” dates in the US and UK…

Dialogue seems to have lost its power to influence – how and where can memorable lines fit into a world where people spend more time sending texts of abbreviated jargon, and emojis and Instagram encourage more image-based communication?

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“Can you speak? Are you programmed to speak?” – Harry Booth.  

How aliens communicate is a source of constant fascination in SF films. Star Trek is synonymous with species which are nearly all carbon-based bipeds. As a result, they invariably speak as humans – for the sake of not bamboozling TV audiences with distracting subtitles! – in perfectly-rendered English (preferably with American accents).

For the movies, the Klingons had their own language – specially created (Trekkies can even get their own Klingon phrasebook for pity’s sake!)

Of increasing concern is the prevalent problem of character under-development. How many times have we complained about that? Dialogue provides an important key to our understanding of a particular protagonist or, for that matter, antagonist. 

With the notable reduction of spoken lines in blockbusters, we are almost forbidden to learn their intentions or directions. Presumably, our attention must(!) be focussed on the digitally-enhanced action and explosions; if we want to learn what they’re thinking, we’ve gotta go and buy the novel/comic book that this spectacle is based on.

Let the cynicism flow through you… 

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“No, no, no, no. You gotta listen to the way people talk. You don’t say “affirmative,” or some shit like that. You say ‘no problemo.’ And if someone comes on to you with an attitude you say ‘eat me.’ And if you want to shine them on it’s ‘hasta la vista, baby’” – John Connor. 

Luke who’s talking…

In Star Wars: the Force Awakens, some fans were disappointed that the pivotal character remained mute in such a climactic, yet brief, screen time. Having been in that incredibly annoying situation myself where the right, poignant words for a crucial character just won’t come together, this is grudgingly possible to understand. 

Honestly, no matter how many alternate approaches or drafts are churned out, saying nothing at all can be the best, (safest) and most effective outcome.

Harrison Ford’s enervated Sam Spadesque narration for the original version of Blade Runner is partly what drew me into that “flawed classic.” After those “explanatory notes” were totally eradicated from the “Final Cut” the film is now regarded as a masterpiece.

My plans of breaking into screenwriting seem to be dwindling to the same extent as the very requirement for fine lines itself!

Judging from the upsurge in quality TV drama serials, good dialogue is allowed to flourish on the small screen, where the action and spectacle of the big screen is diminished, and more hours to fill provides opportunities for developing characters.

There, good scripts still matter.

The power of the spoken word, when crafted well, determines whether the captivated viewer comes back for the next episode(s).

So, rather than look for Brad on the big screen, you’ll be more likely to find my niftiest nuggets on Netflix.  

“To make anything work, you gotta find the right words.”

Now ya talkin’!

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“Come on guys, can we talk this over? …Good talk” – Iron Man. 

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Fear The Walking Brad!: Another Monday Morning…

When There’s No More Inspiration Left In The Tank, The Brad Will Walk The Line. 

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“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.  

My name is Brad. 

My world is strife and rejection. 

Once I was an office-worker, a struggling go-getter searching for a righteous income. 

As the economy fell, each of us in our own way was made redundant.

It was hard to know who had the more cake: me…

Or everyone else…

Walk the Line: to maintain a fragile balance between one extreme and another. i.e.: good and evil, sanity and insanity, decency and decadence, etc.

Grief.

In this instance, it is the fine line between constant awesome copy and a heaving pile of uninspired bunk… and yours truly has stepped right into the latter. 

After juggling with numerous possible topics for this weekend’s latest Post – it soon became apparent that… none of these drafts made any sense(!), had relevance… or at least exhibited the brand of Brad-brilliance you have come to know and love!

Besides, with yet another boring and bothersome Monday around the corner for us, everyone – particularly the 9-to-5ers (and this freelancer included) – finds the thought of Monday mornings both tedious and abhorrent. As this infamous day dawns, that’s it: Brad’s heading off to the mall, uttering some lameass excuse that the nachoes have run out (…as if!)

Some kind of instinct, they reckon. Memory of what he used to do. This was an important place in his life… 

Admittedly, on this particular Monday, there is ZERO inspiration left in my tank. Nada. Zilch. Rien. Nichts. But that’s much ado about nothing; it’s best to go for a stroll. Going out now with (hopefully) joyful springs in me stride:

“You can tell by the way I use my walk I’m a woman’s man. 

No time to talk…” 

WRITE TO SURVIVE!: Blow procrastination and writer's block to Hell!
WRITE TO SURVIVE!: Blow procrastination and writer’s block to Hell!

“Rejection slips, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul – if not quite inventions of the devil – but there is no way around them” – Isaac Asimov.  

Never give up!

That’s what my mind keeps yelling at me most mornings, as the will to rise and search for new markets to infiltrate becomes steadily less appealing. Oh yeah, as if doing that blog on spare auto parts for a measly fistful of satang is worth the bother! Sure, that rent has got to be paid, but… Come! ON!  

For me, the most annoying aspect of getting rejected – both fiction and non-fiction projects – is realising that they got my name wrong. This invariably causes mild spasms of madness, especially after having been so careful to get the current Editor’s name correct. 

No matter how soul-destroying rejections are when they do pop into your inbox, you can take comfort in the fact that they happen to the best of us. 

Did you see that JK Rowling put rejection slips she’d received from publishers on her Twitter feed last week?

To “encourage aspiring authors not to give up after receiving rejections,” these rejections were for: The Cuckoo’s Calling, recently written under the pseudonym: Robert Galbraith; the publishers were unaware that it was Rowling’s work! One of the letters went so far as to advise her to take up a writing course…  

Amazing how blunt some rejections can be. Renowned British SF author: JG Ballard was told by one publisher: “The author of this book is beyond psychiatric help.” 

Another fellow Brit was informed by the San Francisco Examiner: “You just don’t know how to use the English language.”

His name? Rudyard Kipling…(!)

Even rejections get rejected! The most amusing response came from Winston Churchill: 

“Dear Sir, 

I am in the smallest room in the house. I have your letter before me.

Soon it will be behind me…” 

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“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing” – Benjamin Franklin.  

We budding SF authors could do with some respect. 

And watch your step.

We can destroy whole planets before breakfast, and have fomented rebellion in the Outer Rim territories before you’ve ordered your mid-morning coffee. 

At least the resurgence in my fiction-writing has alleviated the listlessness caused by the current lack of editorial responses from potential markets. Again, my meticulously-crafted fiction goes unnoticed while some bloggers upload a trailer that anyone could put up and scores 30 Likes: jeez… 

But what about that fiendish archnemesis: Writer’s Block?

Fortunately for me, ideas and promising passages perpetually sway around my seemingly energetic noddle – formulated, ironically, during my daily strolls (although, these days, one wishes most of those ideas weren’t so crap).

Making time and energy to write is imperative. Finding the right location from which to energise that mad swirl of ideas also helps. Regularly changing your base of operations is advisable – keeps the standard of writing fresh. Luckily, we have a spare bedroom already converted into my office. From this spacious base, the counterattack against the advancing army of bills is planned and launched most days. 

“Fool!” said my muse to me.

“Look in thy heart, and write.”

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“Lonely inside our separate skins, we cannot know each other’s pain, and must bear our own in solitude. For my part, I have found that walking soothes it” – Alan Moore. 

Get out! 

Every now and then, more like. That’s the general consensus of advice columns in writing magazines/newsletters when it comes to the mental as well as physical health of your average scribe. Quite frankly, right now, this scribe feels decidedly below average. Smarting after the lacklustre response to a few recent Posts, a Review is in order.

It doesn’t do too good to be stuck constantly at your desk.

Get up!

Move around. Well, here in the office only -can’t go out. It’s the height of the hot season, and the searing heat right now is lulling me into a stupefying daze.

It’s hard to believe, but- hey, hey, HEY! What’s this?! FINALLY! A new e-mail in my Inbox!

Get in!

Open it up…!

“Dear Mr. Radley, We regret to inform you that…” 

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 “For God’s sake, how do you stop it?!” – Ash. 

COMING SOON: The Light At The End Of The Fridge (and not a moment too soon).

Komikaze!: The Cutting Edge Of Comic Book Culture

Is It Still Possible To Create Original Comics In The Age Of The Comic Book Movie Blockbuster?

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“Where once comics were summarily dismissed as light entertainment for adolescent boys, there are now comics for everyone by everyone. In many ways, there has never been a better time to read comics” – Eric Stephenson.

Konnichiwa, my comic-guzzling friends! 

This past week saw both the 80th Anniversary of The Phantom, the archetype for the costumed comic book superhero (created by Lee Falk), and the record gross for Deadpool, the latest Marvel character to get a solo outing on the big screen. So, a comics-related Post here seemed sorta inevitable.

It’s unbelievable now, but during the 1990s, comics looked to be on the way out.

No, really!

Video games were surging in popularity; an upcoming medium called “the internet” was predicted to transform our leisure time; indie comic stores were struggling to stay in operation: how would/could comic books survive?  

Fast forward to the here and very much geeky now.

More comic book titles than ever before are in regular production. Encouragingly, more original titles than reboots are appearing on the shelves. Movie producers eagerly scan the most popular titles to see what will make the most successful strip-to-screen conversion. 

Fortunately, my first phase of comic book-collecting (198o-1983) occurred at what most people considered the “right age” to immerse oneself in such products. With the emergence of “mature” titles during the 80s, the age range significantly increased. Nowadays, comic books are no longer the province of youths; guys in their 40s – even 50s – scour comic books. And no one bats an eyelid. 

When “analysts” state that it’s a “new kind of culture” they invariably tag on such annoying terms as “more free time” and “disposable income.” They overlook the inescapable truth that if modern twenty-(and thirty!)somethings do have an income, it is too darned miniscule to be disposable! Somehow, though, they are the demographic most likely to have made Deadpool the new record-breaker at the cinema.

“Merc With A Mouth,” eh? 

Well, Brad is a Bunny With A Bushido – ha, TOP THAT, juves!

What The Fiddle-Faddle?!

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“When I was at Marvel and our newsstand comics were on spinner racks that touted them as wholesome entertainment for kids, I wouldn’t allow profanity” – Jim Shooter.

Thankfully, this week saw the most-welcome return of childhood Marvel faves: Power Man and Iron Fist. Especially chortlesome is the ingenious way in which this series gets round the age-old swearing bug, as you can see above!

Perhaps the most heartening trend in this recent comic book popularity resurgence is the remarkable increase of female readers. As such characters as Gwenpool and Squirrel Girl – not to mention Jessica Jones – have clearly demonstrated, yes, it is quite possible to have popular – and original – female-orientated titles. 

Of course, there should be more to comic book creativity than just rad and contentious race/gender switching. As Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson mentioned at ComicsPRO’s AGM last week, the comic book industry is doomed to repeat the same old mistakes that brought Marvel Comics to the brink of bankruptcy twenty years ago:

“We’ve gone back to gimmicks, to variant covers and relaunches and reboots and more of the same old stunts disguised as events, when really all our readers want are good stories.”

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“Mortimer Hill is a veteran officer who has busted his fair share of criminals, but when mechanical monsters start causing trouble he’ll need to use all his wits (and brawn!) to get to the heart of the mystery” – all-comic.com 

Ah, the wonders of Steampunk! 

It’s amazing how this site has not done an appreciation piece about this unique genre much sooner. Trouble was, you could never tell the best place to start.

No worries: The Precinct – published by Dynamite – seems like quite an intriguing prospect worth pursuing. Through one major comics blog, its striking covers have regularly appeared on my Reader these past few weeks. In the sprawling, steampunk metropolis, only the officers of The Precinct can maintain law and order!

With so many new unknown names in the script and art depts these days, it is admittedly difficult to keep tabs on all of them. Some legendary names from yesteryear would be nice…

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“I find most superhero stories completely meaningless… So long as the industry is geared towards… the same brightly coloured characters doing the same thing forever – you’re never going to see any real growth” – Garth Ennis.

‘Allo, what’s this?!

These two names leap out at me – or anyone who savours comic book talent of the highest order. Garth Ennis is an award-winning writer, responsible for DC Vertigo’s The Preacher, and the best issues of Hellblazer (John Constantine’s solo series) during the ’90s; the name of Carlos Ezquerra, meanwhile, will always be synonymous with Strontium Dog, one of the best stories to appear in legendary, ongoing British comic: 2000AD. 

Published by Image Comics, Bloody Mary – “set in a world only slightly worse than our own” –  looks like those far-out comics me and me mates used to dig during school lunchtime. It’s due to hit the stands next week.

Come on! 

Mary Malone, a gun-totin’ nun: surely not your run-of-the-mill fiddle-faddle?!  

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“Home. It feels so good to be back… I left a monarch. Yet I return naked, alone… Hungry. Weakened, I clutch a passing dream…” – The Sandman. 

If anything, my second phase of comic book-collecting (1989-1994) was motivated primarily by the release of Neil Gaiman’s classic, game-changing title: The Sandman: Master of Dreams. Alternating between enchanting and unsettling, but always inspirational, this title – along with Swamp Thing and Hellblazer – helped establish a darker, more mature, more sophisticated side to the medium.

To celebrate its 25th Anniversary, Gaiman agreed to return to his outstanding realm of dreams. That classic premier issue (dated January 1989) told how, in 1916, a British magician: Roderick Burgess intended to entrap Death, but instead caught Dream, her little brother. Sandman: Overture is a Prequel, chronicling the events that led to this complicated member of the Endless getting into that predicament. 

Originally released in 2013 as a six-part miniseries, with particularly sumptuous artwork by J. H. Williams III, it was published as a complete graphic novel just in time for this Christmas just gone.

It would take a real sourpuss knick-knack-paddy-whack not to be impressed by this!

Couldn’t let you go without slipping in just one page of awesomeness: 

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As you can see from the striking image above, it is imperative that this mesmerising book gets – by hook or by crook – into my collection. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman really is the pinnacle of graphic magic.

Any Collector would want it to grace their shelves, because – quite simply – it is:

beautiful

Power-Reading: Essential Works For Any SF Fan To Watch Out For!

Starting The New Year With Old Science Fiction Classics!

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

In order to improve your science fiction writing, various how-to books and articles recommend that you do a stint of power-reading: study how some of the master wordsmiths of the SF genre crafted their classics. Having struggled through NaNoWriMo this year, producing far too many drab and uninspiring drafts, some encouragement of some kind was called for.

So, just what is “power-reading”? 

It’s enhanced, focused, critical reading – in this case, of science fiction in the hope of learning how certain authors attained popular – or cult – success with their individual otherworldly visions.

Winter always seemed like my designated period for reading novels; too cold to go out, so would make a tea/hot chocolate; grab some cake/biscuits, snuggle under a duvet and immerse myself somewhere across the galaxy, on an alien world preferably hot and bug-free.

 With the recent revival of my interest in SF, that tradition has made a glorious return. To invigorate my writing, a quite considerable armada of classics was selected to help inspire me to achieve greater literary heights. 

Hopefully, the more we read, so they say, the more we will want to write. 

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“But the peak came with… the first installment of Galactic Patrol by E.E. Smith. If I had to pick the moment in my life when my reading experience hit its peak… that was the moment” – Isaac Asimov. 

Well, What Is It?

While researching other Posts, the name: E. E. ‘Doc” Smith would usually prop up, usually listed as a defining influence on later SF authors. It got to the point where research had to turn in his favour – and it was startling what a distinctly awesome contribution this writer offered to the genre.

In order to understand the rudiments of the “space opera,” his Lensman Series stands out. It doesn’t get more pulpy than this; published during the 1930s, although not scaling the same legendary heights as Flash Gordon et al, they nevertheless defined the template for the archetypal space opera, and inspired later works, including a certain space saga currently breaking all box office records yet again…  

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Well, Did U Get It?

For the time being, my pulp-hunger has had to make do with Skylark of Valeron, the third part of Skylark: another SF series produced by Smith around the same time. Quite simply, it is: “essential reading for all who appreciate science fiction in the grand manner.” 

And the cover art was provided by the always-reliable Chris Foss, which helped ensure its purchase. 

Speaking of Asimov… 

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“One of the most staggering achievements in modern SF” – The Times. 

Well, What Is It?

As Doc Smith’s Lensman Series provided one of the main inspirations for Isaac Asimov, this brings us neatly to his classic Foundation series, begun in 1951. Often cited as the most revered SF saga ever published, it is certainly essential reading for anyone who wants to study sci-fi as it should be written. 

As the Galactic Empire crumbles, Hari Seldon and his band of psychohistorians must: “create the Foundation – dedicated to art, science and technology – the nucleus of a new empire.” 

Well, Did U Get It?

My most fortunate acquisitions.

As early as last April, a copy of Foundation’s Edge came into my possession, while the acquisition of Foundation and Empire was made in the following month.

A few weeks ago, however, the original Foundation was found, and now rests on top of the pile, awaiting my eager inspection. 

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“I have learned more than I can say as a writer from his wise, twisty stories…” – Neil Gaiman. 

Well, What Is It?

The Shadow Of The Torturer (1980) by Gene Wolfe is a science-fantasy novel that has become an obsession of mine ever since first casting startled eyes at its truly mesmerising cover by Bruce Pennington.

This first volume in the tetralogy that has become known as The Book Of The New Sun, is set in a distant future, but looks very medieval in its striking imagery; its protag: Severian – an apprentice in the Guild of Torturers – is banished from the city, and – among other incidents – acquires an awesome sword called Terminus Est, and is dispatched to Thrax: the city of windowless rooms. 

Rightfully regarded as “one of the greatest SF writers of all time,” there is much to to be learned from studying the writing style of Gene Wolfe.

Well, Did U Get It?

No!

Surprisingly, despite his reputation as “one of SF’s greats,” Shadow was the most elusive of all the titles mentioned in this Post. None of the secondhand stores, nor any libraries, have it.

Instead, the nearest compensation to be found came this week in the form of: Shadows of The New Sun: Stories In Honor Of Gene Wolfe (2013), which includes pieces by a formidable assortment of acclaimed authors, such as: Neil Gaiman, Timothy Zahn and David Brin… including a couple of exclusive short stories by Wolfe himself. 

“Hours of reading pleasure” are, apparently, assured. Looking forward to it…

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“The High Crusade was a lively, sharp-witted reversal of science fiction stereotypes, as well as a magnificent adventure… His full-bore mastery of science fiction elements meshes perfectly with the historical details” – Greg Bear. 

Well, What Is It?

Intent on producing my own SF opus about aliens on Earth – in Medieval England, rather than the boring and overused present-day Manhattan – which you are most welcome to peruse here, one of my first areas of preparation involved checking who had used this theme in their work.

A quick search turned up The High Crusade, one of Poul Anderson’s most beloved works. It speculates what would happen if an alien spaceship landed in 14th century England…

Well, Did U Get It?

Yes!

Another surprise. Half-expecting to not find any of his works – his name doesn’t appear to have passed into the lexicon of SF greats – even tracking down just a yellowed, tattered version of this anywhere seemed remote.

However, in 2010, its 50th Anniversary was honoured with a deluxe reprint featuring a set of congratulatory introductions from such esteemed admirers as Greg Bear and Robert Silverberg, so have acquired a copy from the local library. 

Made a start, and already it’s turning out to be fantastic stuff. “huge cylinder, easily two thousand feet long; save for the whistle of wind, it moved noiseless” lands. It dispenses demons: “from the lowest pits of hell, about five feet tall, clad in a tunic of silvery sheen, deep blue skin, [with] a short thick tail.” Naturally, Sir Roger de Tourneville and his merrie marauders slaughter the whole extraterrestrial crew. 

“Not knowing Englishmen, they had not expected trouble.” 

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“Dune seems to me unique among SF novels in the depth of its characterisation and the extraordinary detail of the world it creates. I know nothing comparable to it except The Lord Of The Rings” – Arthur C. Clarke. 

You may remember in this Post, how Frank Herbert’s Dune: “huge in scope, towering in concept,” was beckoning me to be read. Well, it took until Christmas Eve to finally find a copy – this version (see above) is the same New English Library (Gollancz) design as Children Of Dune (Part 3 of the trilogy) which has been gathering dust on my shelves for countless aeons.

Of course, the original Dune – because it is “the most widely acclaimed SF novel of the 20th century” – had to be started first thing on getting home (the wrapping of far lesser fare could wait).

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LATE NEWS!

Before putting the final touches to this Post, earlier today the second part of the trilogy: Dune Messiah was found!

Have always been impressed with Messiah’s cover art (again produced by Bruce Pennington – methinks a special profile article on this fabulous artist is in order?)and it’s fantastic to welcome this sequel – at last – onto my shelves. To have probably the greatest SF trilogy ever purchased now stacked on the desk beside me invokes a satisfying – yet rare – sense of accomplishment.

Having accumulated all these books, it’s time to log off, disappear into the duvet and escape into those alien worlds!

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“Hopefully, other historians will learn something from this revelation” – Bronso of Ix. 

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Xmas Post: ‘Tis The Season To Blog!

Never Mind The Baubles…

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“On Christmas morning we stuck up a board with ‘A Merry Christmas’ on it. The enemy had stuck up a similar one… Two of our men then threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads. Two of the Germans done the same… our two men [went] to meet them. They shook hands and then we all got out of the trench” – Frank Richards: ‘Old Soldiers Never Die’ (1933).

I remember one Christmas morning
A winter’s light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell and that Christmas tree smell
And their eyes full of tinsel and fire.

Blazes, last year’s Yuletide only seems like yesterday – you can’t tell me that one whole year has gone since the last one! Hardly done any shopping, only put the tree up on Tuesdaysorry, Bing, it’s not beginning to look a lot like Christmas. It’s okay, you will get no bah or humbug from me – it just feels as if we’re still in September. 

Christmas was always a fab time in the Brad household: Mum creating the most fantastic dinner in a white hot kitchen; balloons bursting in Dad’s face as he tried to, erm, blow them up; and Hannibal – our constantly petrified brown tabby – attacking the Christmas tree (then scarpering from the living room when it keeled over on top of him). Aah, happy times…

It was the best time of year to swell my collection of Star Wars action figures, and Annuals of my fave comics; consume lots of chocolate and mince pies, and catch some HUGE movies on the telly. But that wait for the Big Day to arrive was always long and arduous. 

Now, of course, the zest for this festive season has long since gone, just like my childhood; Christmas just comes and goes in a flash, and before you know where you are, it’s the (Happy?) New Year already…

Ah, but the dinners are still fantastic. 

…As are the mince pies.

So please, bliss out by the fire, and help yourself to some… 

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“Hey, Mr. Churchill comes over here
To say we’re doing splendidly
But it’s very cold out here in the snow
Marching to win from the enemy
Oh, I say it’s tough, I have had enough
Can you stop the Cavalry?”
– Jona Lewie.

They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a Silent Night
And they told me a fairy story
Till I believed in the Israelite.

Being chosen to play one of the Three Wise Men in that school year’s Nativity production would be – you’d think – a highlight of my acting career. Let’s just say there were artistic differences between the director and my rather confused self.

Honestly, what were those idiots doing, hanging around a manger in the early hours of the morning?! They had brought NO toys (and no mince pies!) Pretty sure Dad would have told ’em to naff off…  

Seem to recall making a deliberately impudent remark concerning the Nativity Play and managed to get meself banished to the “choir” instead. Since then, though, the Star of Bethlehem has attracted my scientific curiosity later in life. What is particularly intriguing is that, rather than a comet, the Star was, most likely, a double eclipse of Jupiter in 6 BC, the year now widely accepted as the birth of Christ. Roman astrologers said that it “signified the birth of a divine king.”  

But hey, rather than carry on down this high-brow tangent, let’s just take it easy.

Put your feet up (against the fire).

And have another mince pie. 

Anyway – as this is indeed the time for giving – here is a little treat to help you, dear reader, through the perishing cold and unwanted socks. Without further ado, here is one of the greatest – not to mention one of the most hilarious – moments from SF cinema history:  

“You don’t have to follow me! You don’t have to follow anybody! You are all individuals” – Brian Of Nazareth. 

“Yes! We are all individuals!”

“I’m not…”

And I believed in Father Christmas
And I looked at the sky with excited eyes
Till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise.

It always bewildered me how one elderly, bewhiskered lunatic in bright red snazzy jim-jams could deliver pressies to all children around the world… in one night. 

Having been told all year round by our parents NOT TO TALK TO “STRANGERS,” come the most wonderful (bat-shit bonkers) time of the year, and we were actively encouraged to sit on the lap of a stranger – with a ridiculously false beard no less – and tell him what we wanted…

And the less said about his frickin’ flying reindeer the better…

Even to my delightfully innocent infant mind, none of this madness added up. Then again, if they handed over some Star Wars gubbins, yours truly wouldn’t make a scene. Honest. 

Supposedly this is the point in which the obligatory Christmas Carol is uploaded. Well, nuts to that… 

This is my blog, baby, and something more entertaining is called for; been waiting for the opportunity to upload this for ages. Granted, it’s not “seasonal,” but wow, it’s enough to get any party goin’; and it has a very sci-fi feel to it. Yes, Jon is using a theremin – that bizarre instrument used on soundtracks for classic B-movies of the ’50s. You know what they say: “We’d better let him in – he’s got a theremin.”

Really, you don’t get bands this cool, frenetic, anarchic and downright talented these days; why not…? 

Have a very Merry Christmas! And be sure to enjoy as much good grub an’ grog as you possibly can!

Cheers!

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I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave New Year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear.