The MediEvil: [Part i] An Unearthly Daemon In Our Midst!

My Testimony To Those Wondrous And Terrible Events of 1115 AD Begins.  alien-3-arceon1

O vis aeternitatis (Power of Eternity) – you who ordered all things in your heart, through your Word all things are created just as you willed, and your very Word calls forth flesh in the shape which was drawn from Adam” – Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179).

PROLOGO:

The storm was one of the worst of that wretched winter. The ferocious elements summoned by the Almighty must have cleft the wraith’s craft from the sky, for several folk from the village reported a great fiery star descending rapidly above the countryside.

I do not blame them for believing this malevolent portent – roaring through the night sky with an unspeakable cacophony – to have been naught but a dragon.  On several occasions during some of those coldest, loneliest winters, I had heard stories about the “ships of the sky” – magnificent shimmering vessels that traversed the clouds, supposedly transporting travellers from beyond the heavens.

Yet never – ever – in my lifetime did I expect to have to deal with any of their devilish occupants myself. 

‘Twas Brother Malachi – poor, unsuspecting Brother Malachi – who rushed to the aid of the injured being, which limped pathetically to our main gates on that tempestuous night. Although taking the precaution of locking it in a cell, by some devious sorcery – I dare not contemplate – the thing absorbed Malachi’s form, and now dictates its despicable demands to us in the monk’s crazed mish-mash of Latin and Olde English.  31-01-01/22

“Have you ever known a place where God would have felt at home?” – William of Baskerville.

ACT I: INTER MUNDOS

“Idiota, Brother Brad! 

“Dost thou know what has become of Brother Malachi?”

Father Severinus and his entourage had rode all night – let it be known, at some haste – to protest at my alleged gross mishandling of this whole monstrous incident. Brother William – my assistanthad just returned from tidying the storehouse of medicines, and couldn’t resist listening to our ensuing argument.

“There is no cause for alarm, Father Severinus, I assure thee. The brethren cleared the wreckage to the best of their abilities. I supervised the recovery of fragments from the “ship” myself; its main core was of stupendous proportions. Brother Malachi is locked in a cell, guarded by Brother Berengar. We are quite safe… Isn’t it ironic, though, how something so heaven-sent could be more malevolent than anything Hades could spawn?”

“Blasphemy! I will have nothing to do with this- this black magik, Brother Brad!” Father Severinus blared.

“…Oh, Father?” I instantly realised how inappropriate his title was. “Forgive me, but I was under the impression that “pater” denoted compassion and understanding-“

“Gah!” he grunted, and stormed out of the chamber.

“So be it… dotard,” I seethed under my breath. “Make thy leave…”

I watched hopelessly as the rotund ignoramus Severinus and his entourage rode out of our grounds. We were left to deal with this… dilemma on our own. Again, I would have to finish it myself.

As silence returned to our monastery once more, William wondered: “Brother Brad, why did yon peril have to fall out of the sky?” 

“Well, it-” 

At that moment! An abrupt and terrible ear-piercing shriek! The clatter of bowls and other implements crashing to the floor down the hallway! Frantic running up to our door! 

William and I watched in horror as Brother Berengar stumbled in, babbling hysterically and tearing at his hair as the most abominable seizure took hold.

“‘Tis Brother Malachi! Oh, heavens, Brother Malachi-!” 

I surged forward, my astonishment compelling me to try and shake him back to his senses. “What ails thee, Berengar?!”

“‘Tis Brother Malachi! Oh, blessed saints preserve us! He overpowered me and fled into the forest!”

Christ’s blood – ’twas the last thing we needed!

“Thank the Lord that fool Severinus did not get to see this…” I muttered gratefully.

“Forgive!” Berengar wailed, his grubby mitts locked in shaking prayer. “Paenitet! Sorry! Prithee forgive this dullard, Brother Brad!”

I placed a reassuring hand upon his shoulder. “Peace, Berengar. There be naught ye could hath done…”

In a flash, I pounded up the North Tower; William called frantically after me. In the blustery turret, I squinted at the dank and murky countryside yonder. Just as the boy emerged beside me, I caught sight of Malachi’s dark robe moments before he disappeared into the forest.

So be it. Our former “guest” had headed northeast – predictably back to the site of his downed vessel. “That way, William,” I cried. “We go northeast!” 

“Master, what does this all mean?” 

“Danger, boy… we must give chase – the daemon is loose!” seventh-seal-111

Brother Brad at work in his chamber... until the skyfallen ones set his life on a new perilous course...
Brother Brad at work in his chamber… until the skyfallen ones set his life on a new perilous course…

Prepare for the intrepid quest! To continue to the next instalment, click here:

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Dabbling In The Dark Side: The Bane of Brother BradFail

There is a fascinating world inside your head waiting to be discovered, but don’t stray from the path…

kylo ren

“Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for” – Ray Bradbury. 

By all that’s sacred! How is this possible?!

For those of you wondering how my Posts get to be so awesome, spare a thought then – by gad! let the shocking truth shine forth here – my fiction (scripts, novels and short stories) has really stalled these past few weeks, despite sporadic sessions of fruitless keyboard pummeling.My cognitive faculties have worked wonders with my blogs, but the other stuff? Just one resounding meh…

Concentrating on any writing project during this time – other than these blogs – has proved to be such a chore. Fortuitously, you will be spared the personal gripes of a forlorn Freelancer – thankfully, this is not that kind of blog, but at least my overworked and under-appreciated noddle has been spared the full brunt of despair… for now.

Yet there must be an easy way out – and still have your limbs, bank balance and sanity intact, but by what desperate-bordering-on-devilish means can this be achieved…

…without succumbing to your own Dark Side? 

images

People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls” – Carl Gustav Jung.

Of course, the most prevalent view of a “dark side” is synonymous with the Force, that “moral, philosophical, metaphorical and psychic concept” from the Star Wars Universe. 

Carl Jung analysed this “part of us we like to keep hidden from public view,” only back then (c. 1907) he referred to it as “the shadow self” – that deep and dormant part of our personality wherein lie all our negative and destructive emotions. So, does my shadow self produce better fiction?

While languishing in the shadows of the blogosphere, let me assure you that there will be NO resort to evil ways to achieve greater success. Some comfort can be gleaned from the fact that now – more than ever – there is nothing like science fiction to confront and help ease the pressures of modern life.

Our favourite genre has sought to conquer our fears, and dared to tackle those terribly vexing existential questions that have stumped humankind for aeons such as: why are we here? Are we alone in the universe? Are we humans or replicants? What would our alternate self be doing in a parallel dimension? If you unscrew your navel will your bum fall off?  

Id-monster

“My evil self is at that door, and I have no power to stop it!” – Dr. Edward Morbius.

Within the elementary basis of the subconscious mind resides the “Id” – a concept first explored by Sigmund Freud in: “The Ego and the Id,” originally published in 1927. He described it as “the unevolved instinctive part of our brain, responsible for the urges and desires we try to repress.” 

In Forbidden Planet (1956), this theme was explored to (then) spectacular Technicolor glory. On Altair IV, Dr Edward Morbius was terrorised by a frightening yet imperceptible entity, which (spoiler ahoy!) just happened to be the manifestation of anxieties from his own subconscious.

Fortunately, my frightful inner daemons have been ably suppressed… until now, at least. Get thee gone, Darth Plagiarism!

At the moment, spending my days wandering and meditating in a hooded habit, when not blogging – writing is a lone (not lonely) profession/pursuit. Quitting has never been an option – ha! don’t even know the meaning of the word – and, rest assured, Brad ain’t gonna start now! Bravado, Resilience, Aptitude, Determination – hell, that’s what Brad stands for!

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Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts” – Winston Churchill. 

Aah… what a marvelous sunrise! Sit back. Relax! Deep breaths… It is this kind of serene vista (photo taken yards from my home sweet home) – which helps soothe the soul, but gazing longingly at it won’t get my work done! Over the course of the next few Posts, you might get to see some of my attempts at fiction, but there will be insights into crafting cool dialogue, and character development – watch this space!

Cinematic SF generally may seem to be locked in a downward spiral, beset with turgid maze-running and snow-piercing, and addled with drab Divergent-this and Insurgent-that. Having toiled and tussled in trying to develop difficult scripts, it’s easy to see how a lot of modern scripts just don’t work, but it is still annoying to think that my writing/editing services are NEVER called upon.

For the moment, this writer will carry on to the best of his abilities… within legal parameters of course. Whilst endeavouring to resist the temptation to traipse down the dark path, an article in one writing magazine recently discussed how evil is a matter of perspective, and it would bode well for any writer to embrace their dark side (once in a while). 

Who knows? Maybe it’s a wonderland teeming with free nachos and choc-chip cookies…

Perhaps my bland brown habit should be ditched in favour of a dynamic black robe…

“Evil is intriguing,” the article exclaimed. “Evil is good.”

Hmmm…

BradFail

darkside

Cheers!

The Expandables: The Age Of The Franchise

Intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action and some mild language

attack of th sequels

“Sequels are like safety nets for studios and investors; they consistently deliver the most potent box-office punch” – Jeff Bock.

In a galaxy too close for comfort, it seems like too many people are getting overexcited about the looming threat of Star Wars Episode VII. Apart from subjecting impressionable younglings to the bamboozlement of Roman numerals, how will popular culture cope? Moreover, what good will it do for the already franchise-infested movie industry?

Yes, place the emphasis on industry – it really has got to the stage where movie-making has become a bustling business where umpteen gazillions of dollars are pumped into the objective of making bigger and better sequels – using the same characters (and actors), fights/car chases/Stan Lee cameos (tick appropriate box), effects, gimmicks and humour to avoid taking any creative risks. As evidenced by this year’s crop of X-Men, Twansfoamers (no, altering the spelling doesn’t ease the pain) and Planet of the Apps (ha!) sequels of sequels assuredly retain the financial stability of the modern movie-making madhouse.

Traditionally, cinema-goers have been perturbed by what came to be labelled: “sequelitis,” and movie critics habitually scoffed at them, decrying them as mere substitutes for creativity and originality. Look out: the new brand of sequels are the harbingers of that commodity of ingenuity; instead of railing against them, we should embrace them.

Here’s how – and why…

winter soldier

“We are not really talking about sequels any more. We are talking about films that are conceived of as longer plays than one film” – David Hancock, Screen Digest.  

Essentially, movies are now concocted within a certain franchise template, specifically designed to outperform its predecessors. Plus, a particular narrative is dispersed throughout numerous instalments, and having familiar faces and safe-bet material saves a fortune in carving out new publicity strategies. Accept it: gone are the days when sequels seemed tagged on primarily to snap up some more dosh, and lacked the surprise and originality of their predecessor. Now continuity is the key – production of the official follow-up can start even before the original has been released!

Just take Captain America as a prime example. Captain America: The First Avenger was a really good film; yet earlier this year: Captain America: The Winter Soldier accumulated a mighty $715 million dollars because it set out (rather skilfully, thankfully) to expand and vastly improve its material. Naturally enough, no prizes for guessing that Cap 3 is sure to be with us shortly…

Just as Guardians of the Galaxy can be rightly celebrated as the crowning triumph of the summer, offering a simple fun formula of material not used heretofore, but then, before you can nab an Infinity Stone, the rush of fizzy refreshing originality is swiped aside momentarily by the slightly unnerving inevitability of the sequel. You saw the message at the end: they will return. This came as no surprise to me. It was preordained, betcha.

Yet there was also the probability of the movie turning out to be the next (ahem) Howard The Duck… and that’s the point.

Nobody (generally) likes to take risks in Hollywood.

Business is business…

The original can be really cool!
The original can be really cool!

eddie joneseddie joneseddie jones

^ but make it again… and again… without changing key elements, it becomes boring and nobody will want to watch any more…

 

“Sigourney and I have a long creative history, dating back to 1985 when we made Aliens. We’re good friends who’ve always worked well together, so it just feels right that she’s coming back for the Avatar sequels” – James Cameron.  

No one ever dies in science fiction – this should not take anyone aback. Despite the departure of Grace Augustine from that $2.7 billion behemoth of 2009, fan-fave Sigourney Weaver confirms that she will feature in ALL THREE sequels(!) Her other great character: Ripley, was cloned.

Even Spock – who sacrificed himself at the end of the best Star Trek movie – was, by some absolutely ludicrous plot-device, brought back to ruin the next “grand” episode of the saga. And… hey! As a perennial favourite, it was only a matter of time before the reboot came along… swiftly  followed by the (some may say) superior sequel…

This system is not unique to the science fiction/fantasy genre but can be applied just as easily to action thrillers and feature-length animated movies too. It would be a futile gesture to call for a boycott against such trash as Transformers, for it has already been decreed that this wretched franchise will lumber on, regardless of what serious cinema-goers want to see.

Bradscribe understands the art of writing a good follow-up, and like all the best-loved franchises, this Post will have…

to be continued...

Who knows, it’ll probably be bigger and better than this one!

Cheers!

 

Archaic Scope of Future Thrills: How SF Used To Be

Posted: 28 July 2014

 

A bold and dynamic feminine image (which, alas, was all-too-rare during the pulp era)
A bold and dynamic feminine image (which, alas, was all-too-rare during the pulp era)

“There were often strong elements of adventure and romance in… very early SF works… many of which are now considered classics of fiction” – Alex Davis.

Many moons ago, beyond the realms of credible science, and at the far reaches of the publishing world, the phenomenon of science fiction pulp magazines emerged. Briefly curtailed by World War II and the crippling paper shortages that came with it, a new wave of pulp SF titles hit newsstands during the late 1940s, and flourished throughout the 1950s.

While engrossed in the short stories of the 80s and space art of the 70s, my formative SF years were enriched by these magazines of the 50s. Initially captivated by their fabulous cover art, there was something quite charming about the colourful depictions of these space adventurers (both guys and gals) in what looked like goldfish bowls over their heads!

The first, most notable, American writer to contribute to SF magazines was Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose outlandish adventures of John Carter of Mars, became the first to introduce the concept of aliens as characters in their own right, although its legacy has been somewhat diminished lately in modern reviews which complain that “his powers of invention desert him when it comes to plots, which are of a roughneck variety.” 

One of the first vintage SF covers in my collection
One of the first vintage SF covers in my collection

“Magazine SF provided intense pleasure for those who were insensitive to its literary shortcomings. It was hastily written for the most part… it was the emphasis on plot at the expense of character and scene” – Brian W. Aldiss.

For all its detractors, who insisted that pulp science fiction seemed too hackneyed, poorly plotted and devoid of characterisation (did the iconic cover artwork serve to detract from these supposed inadequacies?), there is a strong argument to suggest that the pulp era helped launch the careers of some of the most revered names synonymous with Classic SF. To give just brief examples, 1952 saw the first publications of work by Philip K. Dick and Frank Herbert, Kurt Vonnegut in 1953, and Brian Aldiss and Roger Zelazny in 1954.

One typical edition of these crudely manufactured magazines could contain one or two novelettes,  and (at least) half a dozen short stories, and it was up to the overworked and underpaid cover artist to devise a single irresistible image to sell the whole package. They were produced at minimal production and distribution rates and printed on the cheapest medium available: pulp-wood paper – hence the term: “Pulp Fiction.”

The garish style of those scintillating spaceships and bug-eyed beasties were very much of their time, matched in certain instances by the archaic scope of weird and wonderful writing spawled across its flimsy pages.

Galaxy-February-1951-large1953-golden_apples_of_the_sun

^ A couple of pulp magazines featuring the work of Ray Bradbury.

 

“When I was seven or eight years old, I began to read the science-fiction magazines… Hugo Gernsback was publishing ‘Amazing Stories,’ with vivid, appallingly imaginative cover paintings that fed my hungry imagination” – Ray Bradbury.

Fortunately for the benefit of 1950s SF, the late, great Ray Bradbury had been heavily influenced – not surprisingly – by obtaining copies of pulp magazines from guests who stayed at his grandparents’ boarding house in Illinois. One of my cultural pursuits involved trying to track down copies of these magazines, but the poor quality which bedevilled this charming sub-genre meant that most issues have long since perished.

When one of the market leaders: Astounding Magazine changed its name to Analog in October 1960, it seemed like one classic period gave way to another – a fitting point at which to end this Post.

It seems a bitter irony that in order to preserve the memory of these ancient mags, we have to resort to uploading them onto the internet, the vanguard of ubiquitous modern technology. Emerging from my “virtual cocoon” (enjoying endless reams of long-forgotten works of SF art online,) it is disheartening to see that the wretched likes of Transformers are still playing to unbelievably packed multiplexes.

The way in which SF is enjoyed has dramatically shifted from books and magazines to movies and video games. While some may say that a more sophisticated, character-driven breed of fiction has emerged, others would argue that the traditional and cerebral literary form of the genre has been replaced by less imaginative visual representations produced with banal digital animation.

What do you think?

 

 

The Rough Guide to Dystopia

Posted: 7 June 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodnight, sleep tight.

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

A Wretched Hive: Those Dire and Despicable Trends of Modern Sci-Fi

Posted: 2 June 2014

 

No, Mr Cruise, that cap-n-boots combo does NOT work...
No, Mr Cruise, that cap-n-boots combo does NOT work…

“Now you see eighty people listed doing the same things I was doing by myself” – Ray Harryhausen.

Having already produced a reasonably light and mildly frothy Post about personal sci-fi faves, many of you have been wondering what annoys Bradscribe the most about the modern manifestation of the genre. Only too happy to oblige, friends!

Time to let rip and rant against those spurious and slovenly aspects that have stained and shamed SF’s good name in recent years. So, what is deterring this bunny from hopping down to his local picture-house?

Well, the first problem that springs to mind (actually it strikes me like a well-aimed Katniss arrow to the head), is Tom Cruise. No seriously, how can this inanely-grinning couch-hopping imp be allowed to inflict so many BIG yet bland movies upon us poor working people?   

For every Days of Future Past it seems we have to be inflicted with an Edge of Tomorrow… or two of them. Looking at stills from the latter, a strange sense of deja vu took hold. It seemed like this particular brand of tedium had been unleashed upon us just months before. It had, only then it masqueraded as the unfortunately-monickered Oblivion, a “solemn” & “lugubrious” late -21st century dystopian dirge. Bombarded by the double-whammy of Mr. Top Gun and a slew of unfavourable reviews, this blogger chose not to sit through it. 

A quich glance (or in this case: wince) at current & forthcoming titles suggests that the sci-fi movie outlook seems just as sparse, harsh and uninviting as the glum terrain depicted in Oblivion.  

 

Barsoom Blues: Nice aliens, shame about the humans...
Barsoom Blues: Nice aliens, shame about the humans…

“We’ve got too many internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now” – Ray Bradbury.

There can be no more secrets in the world of movie project development; with the proliferation of the worldwide web, and all the news.com and entertainment.com sites we can eat, it is impossible, alas, to get excited by a Forthcoming Attraction anymore.

One factor which illustrates the paucity of quality in present sci-fi is the lack of decent movie stars with the charisma to pull off ambitious popcorn-fodder. A particularly damning reason why the recent John Carter fared so underwhelmingly lay in the lame non-entity chosen to play the titular protagonist; for the moment his name escapes me – not surprisingly, this bunny ain’t gonna hopalong to Google and look it up…

It does seem slightly disturbing that weak sci-fi produced around 30 years ago looks more technically adroit – certainly more entertaining – than some of the bilge churned out nowadays with notably less flair but a heckuvalot-more dollars.

There was always something more appealing about the stop-motion animation, models and visual effects of that period. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) held the SFX monopoly, offering the thrill-factor, oodles of awe and that irresistible “how-did-they-do-that?!” quality. None of the CGI currently (over)used can offer any of that appeal ‘cos we know it’s all computer-generated.

There is nothing special about these effects…

 

Don't get caught behind...
Don’t get caught behind…

“…Ever since the movies began, film makers have not been left alone by the corporations who provide the cash to make them. Film making is an art and craft – leave it to the artists and craftsmen” – Phil Edwards (1982).

Last, and by all means least, it now comes down to… this.

To make movies from comicbooks is one thing (luckily you can count me as a fan), but to derive a blockbuster franchise from… a range of toys?! Come on! That’s just nuts…

Transformers – and all its wretched sequels – must stand as the most blatant and nauseating representation of the all-important teenage boy demographic, with its copious dollops of hi-def SFX, dizzying action, and Shiz Le Beef (or whatever he’s called) – great, sci-fi’s been lumbered with yet another charmless nerk…

Hang on: Issur Danielovitch had to change his name to Kirk Douglas to get ahead, but Shia doesn’t need to? What gives? State of the movie industry today, eh? Sheesh…

In the end, of course, we are left with this cynical fact: chuck quality out the window – it’s all about putting bums on seats by offering larger & louder (flaccid & forgettable?) extravaganzas. More bang fer yer buck as it were; business is business.

…and that’s it.

What chance will my cerebral and engaging scripts get to reach the big screen? Maybe that uncomfortable compromise has to be made: better get crackin’ on that draft for Transformers VI…*

end

* No worries: Brad ain’t gonna sell out that easily, bud!

 

The Cosmic Latte: How The Night Sky Inspires And Boggles

Posted: 21 March 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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