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Monday, 30 November 2009

A Fistful of Excitement


Head on over to THE CULBIN TRAIL for the most exciting news since Wyatt Earp showed Doc his pistol.

THE ARCHIVE SAYS: WHOOOOPIEEE!

Real Life James Bond

A CIA secret weapon used for assassination shoots a small poison dart to cause a heart attack, as explained in Congressional testimony in the short video below.
The dart from this secret CIA weapon can penetrate clothing and leave nothing but a tiny red dot on the skin. On penetration of the deadly dart, the individual targeted for assassination may feel as if bitten by a mosquito, or they may not feel anything at all. The poisonous dart completely disintegrates upon entering the target. FULL STORY AND VIDEO HERE

BARNES AND NOBLE OVERWHELMED BY ORDERS FOR READERS

Barnes & Noble has been nearly overwhelmed by pre-orders for its upcoming Nook e-book reader, to the point where it has decided to not bring this device to its stores this week.

Barnes & Noble NookThe Nook went on sale last month through B&N's website, and the company had planned to bring it to stores on Nov. 30. However, the company revealed today that this won't happen for another week. And there will only be a few units available in each store.

B&N is going to put most of its efforts into being sure that those who have already pre-ordered this electronic book reader get it in time for the holidays. At this point, shipments are expected to start arriving on Dec. 11.

No Nook for You!
Demand for the Nook has been so strong that Barnes & Noble has had to announce that only products ordered before Nov. 20 will arrive this year.

The Nook webpage has a note warning customers that items ordered now won't ship until early January.

Those who really want to get an e-book reader for someone on their gift list should note that there is no shortage of the Nook's rival, the Amazon.com Kindle 2.

An Overview of the Barnes & Noble Nook
B&N's e-book reader will have much in common with Amazon's offering. It will differentiate itself by allowing users to lend books and connect to Wi-Fi networks.

Barnes & Noble NookThis device will have 6-inch, grayscale E-Ink screen for displaying the contents of books, newspapers, and magazines, and below that will be a smaller color touchscreen that will be used as a keyboard and to perform other actions.

Users will be able to purchase and download e-books directly on the Nook, either over a Wi-Fi connection or over AT&T's 3G network. Those who want to access hotspots in B&N stores will be able to do so for free.

E-books will be in eReader, the open ePub standard, or Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format, and users will be able to move files onto this reader -- they don't have to come from B&N.

This device will have 2 GB of internal storage -- that's room for about 1,500 books -- plus it will have a microSD card slot for additional capacity.

The most unusual feature of the Nook will be the ability to "lend" books; users will be able to loan a text to one of their friends for up to 14 days for no charge. The receiver must have either a Nook or a compatible device -- iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm, PC, etc. -- with the free B&N eReader software installed.

Physically, the Nook is going to be 7.7 inches by 4.9 inches by 0.5 inches (196 mm by 126 mm by 13 mm). It will weigh 11.2 ounces (317 g).


BLACK HORSE WESTERNS NOVEMBER TITLES


Blurbs and covers available over at Black Horse Express

DR WHO - END OF AN ERA

This Christmas sees David Tennant handing over the keys to the TARDIS to newcomer, Matt Smith. Matt's got a tough act to follow and The Archive wishes him well. Tennant will always be a favourite with me - I like his manic interpretation of the Time Lord and of course I will always have fond memories of his tenure because I was in five episodes during Tennant's run as the Doctor.

I can't remember the exact titles of all the episodes I was in - I was a blink and miss me in the Cybermen one - the episode set on the alternative Earth, same in last years Christmas Special and I was also in the Dalek/Cyberman war one. My biggest part was in the Daleks of Manhattan two parter in which I played a prisoner of the Daleks.

It was a great show to work on - really good because I was a fan of the show as a kid, Jon Pertwee was my man, and my kids love the show today.

I've also stood on the TARDIS bridge.That was an awesome experience - OK it's just a set but you get a feeling of history when at the controls. And although my parts were only small - just the one line across all the episodes - I was proud to have been a part, no matter how small of Television history. Doctor Who can be naff and often was but when at it's best, it deserves the accolade of the best SF show ever.

Whatever the future holds for the series, one thing is certain the Doctor will never be far from our screens. The Archive wishes both Tennant and Matt Smith all the best.


stats

Weekly Stats Report: 23 Nov - 29 Nov 2009
Project: THE TAINTED ARCHIVE
URL: http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com/

MonTuesWedThurFriSatSunTotalAvg
Pageloads2863292232221961902161,662237
Unique Visitors1911961641461501521431,142163
First Time Visitors159160142124127125116953136
Returning Visitors3236222223272718927

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Star Trek 2009 - DVD

I originally saw this STAR TREK re-boot in the cinema and my review is HERE and now that it's out on DVD was looking forward to re-watching it. Now that they hype has died down the film can be watched and enjoyed on its own merits.

The pacing of the film is fearsome and no sooner are our eyes adjusted from one spectacle than we are blown away with another. Though it's not all whizz bang and the characters, the classic crew, are built up well even if the bulk of the time is given to the trinity of Kirk, Spock and McCoy.

Now I'm no Trekkie but I do enjoy the original series as well as all its spin offs so I can't really comment on the original continuity that the film has trodden upon and ignored. But I was watching an episode of the original series, Shore leave and there's a character Finnegan and Kirk mentions that he was his rival at the academy but the new film ignore this. Though I'm not sure if the alternative universe thread in the movie explains this or not - my head hurts when I try to think about it.

As a reinvention of the original series the movie works well and the characters really felt like Kirk and crew - McCoy especially, I thought, was spot on. The DVD comes as a two disc package and there are some great deleted scenes amongst the extras. Among the don’t-miss extras are several deleted scenes: the birth of Spock, an expanded passage concerning Kirk’s dalliance with a green girl (he’s only using her to sabotage the computer against which he is pitted in a training exercise) and a long sequence in which the villain Nero (Eric Bana) and his crew are captured by the Klingons and sent to a hellish prison planet from which they eventually escape.

Willam Shatner was choked at not being able to make a cameo in the film, though there's no logical explanation given the alternative timeline that would make it impossible for him to do so. But it was nice too see Nimoy here - perhaps next time the Shat will pop up.

A great space adventure.

SHARMAN AND OTHER FILTH


Sharman and Other Filth
Mark Timlin
First published 1996

Before Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor the only UK based private eye that managed to convince was Mark Timlin's Nick Sharman. The character was brought to the screen in the excellent though short lived, Sharman TV series with Clive Owen in the title role. There were five of these TV movies made in total and all are worth seeking out.

This collection contains eight short stories and the novella, Filth and all are full of the usual grit and downbeat realism that admirers of Timlin's work have come to expect. The driving narrative, usually first person and told with a street tongue powers along as the author takes us into London's seedier side. The fact that Sharman, disgraced ex-policeman and now private eye very much belongs among the seething criminal under class makes the Sharman stories all the more real. They belong to the hard-boiled school and the author presents a credible and often nasty depiction of life on the wrong side of the law.

The stories contained here are:
Ai No Corrida
Too Late Blues
Night Moves
Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Christmas
Victoria
Don't Fear the Reaper
By Hendon Central Station I sat down and wept
Filth


Each story is a classic slice of Brit grit - Sweetheart of the Rodeo was short-listed for a Golden Dagger and Too Late Blues was originally written as an outline for an episode of the TV series, The Bill. Unfortunately the book is currently out of print but any of Timlin's stuff is well worth seeking out

Saturday, 28 November 2009

BHE BOOKS NEWS


Chap O'keefe sends details of the second BHE paperback - Liberty and a Law Badge - "The book is written (as you know) and plans are well advanced for publication. The book is in PDF proof form, has an ISBN, and artist Michael Thomas is currently preparing its tailor-made cover illustration. The intention is that the cover should carry over the much-applauded "series look" of Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope. I'll send the Archive an image as soon as it is completed."


I am currently reading the story so expect a review here soon.

A cowboy Christmas


Tom Van Dyke thinks he has the perfect Christmas present for the Old West lover - A Cowboy Christmas



"It involves a young boy who immigrates from the old country to the new country - to a New World - on a trail of adventure and fortune. He crosses the Mississippi, leaving civilization as he knew it, and experiences the Wild West. WB appears to always be positive, always charging the day, and he falls in love. Suddenly, he and his newfound love are separated by an ambush, and he is left wandering, wondering where she is. He moves forward in his life, always in search of Ginny. He goes to work in the gold mines and experiences hard times and the drama of life, like we all do as young teenagers. He grows and finds out that mining is not for him. He comes back again looking for his lost love and experiences the Indians in the Wickenburg area. He comes back and experiences cowboying. He grows up, learns and matures."

FULL INTERVIEW HERE

GUNMEN OF THE OLD WEST

videoArkansas Smith - Old West enigma.
To be published 30th March 2010
Preorder now

DR WHO: DREAMLAND


The new animated Doctor Who adventure is currently showing on the BBC iPlayer HERE

Sherlock's Britain

This Christmas, see Sherlock Holmes as you’ve never seen him before! In a dynamic new portrayal of

0sherlockholmesmoviejpg

Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous characters, “Sherlock Holmes” sends Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his stalwart partner Watson (Jude Law) on their latest challenge.

Revealing fighting skills as lethal as his legendary intellect, Holmes will battle as never before to bring down a new nemesis and unravel a deadly plot that could destroy the country. Once you’ve seen the movie, why not explore Sherlock’s Britain for yourself?

VisitBritain has created a new website that gives loads of great itinerary ideas for the independent traveller and super Sherlock fan. The movie also stars Canadian talent, Rachel McAdams.

We're back

I've got four days off from filming so it's time for the Archive to get down to some serious nonsense - unfortunately we've got bad news for book lovers everywhere. The Archive has been predicting this for some time but now it looks as if Borders decline is terminal.

From the BBC news:
Borders has stopped taking orders for new books on its website while the retailer "is in discussion with potential buyers".

The firm said that existing customer orders are also being delayed but will be fulfilled.

The Borders Entertainment part of the site - which sells DVDs, CDs and electrical items - continues to operate as normal.

Some publishers are also reported to have severed links with the retailer.

When customers try to order a book on the website they receive a message saying: "Sorry, title cannot be purchased."

Potential buyers

Reports have suggested that Borders, which has 45 stores in the UK, does not have enough cash to last until Christmas. It is thought it could go into administration if no buyer is found.

Talks with WH Smith reportedly collapsed last week. There is also speculation that HMV, the owner of Waterstones, is in talks to buy some of the stores. HMV refused to comment.

Borders, which also owns Books Etc, has suffered from increased competition from online retailers, such as Amazon, as well as supermarkets.

The Borders chain was originally owned by the US book giant of the same name but was sold in June 2007 to Risk Capital Partners.

Risk Capital then sold it on to the private equity firm Valco earlier this year.

THE ARCHIVE SAYS: Although it is a harsh market place with times being hard, particularly for the book trade which is in a period of change, some blame must be with Borders themselves - the stores here in the UK just don't feel like bookshops and from personal experience the majority of staff don't know much about books at all. The service has been shoddy for a long time now. Still I do hope a miracle happens and that Borders survive - only a few years ago they were my favourite shop in the entire world.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

You've got to laugh

The Archive's been quiet this week - I've been filming long days for the forthcoming third series of Lark Rise to Candleford. However I am currently guest blogging over at Paul D. Brazil's place - check it out HERE

Jonah Hex


The new poster artwork is remarkable

Just another day

Another long day on set ahead - 10.30am - 11.00pm - we're very close to a wrap now so maybe I'll write something about the shoot this weekend. In the meantime please browse the wealth of material on The Archive.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

On set

A quite few days ahead for the Archive - am away, filming

eBook reader - new free magazineonline

Keep up with the latest trends by reading the eBook Reader - it's a new online magazine and all for free. HERE

something to think about if buying an eBook


It’s a fact of life that any piece of technology you buy will soon be obsolete – be it a mobile phone, computer or just the humble TV in the corner of your room, while you’re unboxing it some guy in marketing is putting the finishing touches to an ad campaign heralding the arrival of its replacement.

And I hate to break it to you but the, greyscale, single-screen eBook reader you’ve been eyeing up in your local department store isn’t going to be any different. FULL STORY

STAR TREK - BALANCE OF TERROR


BALANCE OF TERROR
SEASON 1 EPISODE 14
2009 remastered version

This is one of the more famous episodes - it introduces the Romulans and the concept of the Neutral Zone which would both become part of Trek-lore. I'm not that much of a Trekkie so I'm not qualified to say how many tweaks there have been to this remastered episode but it looks and sound awesome.

The story opens with Kirk performing a wedding on board the Enterprise which is called short when an Earth outpost situated on the borders of the Neutral Zone is destroyed by an unknown enemy. Soon other outposts are attacked and then the Enterprise comes upon the Romulan warship. What follows is a tense battle of wills between the two ship captains which will only end when one destroys the other.

Watching these shows now we are reminded what a ground breaking series Star Trek was - the episode deals with diplomacy, bigotry and ethics which were hardly concerns of most SF shows of the period. Star Trek changed the entire genre and from episodes like this it's easy to see why.

How Green was my Valley

MY HOMETOWN OF Gilfach Goch was fictionalised for Richard Llewellyn's bestselling How Green was my Valley. This was filmed by John Ford and the script was also adapted for the Lux Radio Theatre. The entire production is embedded below starring the original cast. Man, I love those American/Welsh accents.








Note the player actually contains 24 Lux movie adaptions and How Green was my Valley is no 13. Press play and then skip forward until you reach How Green was my Valley.

Sit back and enjoy,boyo.


Thanksgiving in the Old West

In December 1900, The Denver Times ran an account of the celebrations in what would later become Colorado. The army, civilians and several Indians were at the open air feast, which culminated in a night of dancing and merrymaking. Apparently a good time was had by all ...well, with the possible exception of the half dozen turkeys that were consumed.

According to the WIKI the first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days providing enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Indians. The traditional Thanksgiving menu often features turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. Americans may eat these foods on modern day Thanksgiving, but the first feast did not consist of these items. On the first feast turkey was any type of fowl that the pilgrims hunted. Pumpkin pie wasn't on the menu because there were no ovens for baking, but they did have boiled pumpkin. Cranberries weren't introduced at this time. Due to the diminishing supply of flour there was no bread of any kind. The foods included in the first feast included duck, geese, venison, fish, lobster, clams, swan, berries, dried fruit, pumpkin, squash, and many more vegetables.

In the more remote corners of the Old West people wanting to celebrate Thanksgiving would have to improvise and hams, beef and chicken were often used in place of the traditional turkey. Some of these celebrations have been lost to history but thanks to diaries and letters we have written records of a few of these celebrations. In 1860 a Kansas housewife wrote to her sister in New York, informing her that they had a grand feast some unnamed critters instead of turkey but never was a tastier meal served.

Below is President Lincoln's Thanksgiving proclamation:

A Proclamation.

The Year that is drawing to a close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke the aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversion of wealth and strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.

Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascription's justly due to Him for such singular deliverance's and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Monday, 23 November 2009

THE SWEENEY - The Placer

The Sweeney
The Placer
written by Trevor Preston
Available on The Sweeney season 1 box set

The Sweeney is in many people's opinion, mine included, the best television cop series ever made anywhere. Eat your heart out The Shield - no matter how good you are you just don't compare to The Sweeney.

The show, made by Thames, was first aired on the independent networks in the UK in 1975. it was shot entirely on film, rare in TV in those days, and was an immediate ratings winner.

John Thaw, these days better remembered for his cerebral portrayal of Inspector Morse, is Inspector Jack Regan and Dennis (Minder) Waterman plays his sergeant George Carter. This episode finds Jack undercover as a lorry driver while he tries to get to the top man in a lorry hijacking operation. It's all gritty 1970' s realism - the fashions look bizarre but the characters are as real as people on the street and the climax is genuinely exciting.

This is quality television and still holds the viewer in a vice like grip today -the DVD box set is superb and stuffed with extras. The series is sometimes shown on television but these are heavily edited cuts to confirm with our politically correct times but the episodes on these discs are complete and as originally broadcast.

Will regular books survive?

New media generally don’t replace old media, as Marshall McLuhan pointed out. After TV we still have radio. After telephones we had telegrams for a good long while. So what about books? After we have networked digital books, we’ll still have and produce physical books. But will physical books be as ubiquitous and culturally important as radio? Or will they be as cherished but infrequently attended as live theater? FULL STORY

Them old westerns

Check out Danny Hogan's guest blog over at Paul D. Brazill's - everyone's hanging out there.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

WEEKLY STATS

Weekly Stats Report: 16 Nov - 22 Nov 2009
Project: THE TAINTED ARCHIVE
URL: http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com/

MonTuesWedThurFriSatSunTotalAvg
Pageloads2753163142682992612802,013288
Unique Visitors1882162061951921661901,353193
First Time Visitors1491761701631601381571,113159
Returning Visitors3940363232283324034

THE STORY WITH NO NAME

The ongoing Story with No Name will be drawing to a close shortly. There should be around another ten parts with the writers of the previous instalments, myself included, will pen another 500 words as we work towards a satisfying conclusion. Anyone wanting to catch up can thank Ian Parnham who has collected together all the previous parts in one place - HERE

Stephen King's Undone the Dome


There's an interesting review of the certain blockbuster HERE

HOW TO EMULATE SHERLOCK HOLMES ON A LIMITED BUDGET


Held over from the Sherlock Holmes weekend, The Archive shows you how to emulate Sherlock Holmes on a limited budget.

A person can be whatever they want to be - that's the philosophy of the Tainted Archive. Reinvention of yourself is easy if you follow a few simple steps. From time to time The Archive will show you how to become someone else, or at least appear to do so. And so in this, the second of an irregular series, The Tainted Archive goes all self help and shows you how to become a man like Sherlock Holmes at the minimum cost.

The first step towards Sherlockdom is the presentation - it goes without saying that you will need the pipe and although a deerstalker is preferable a derby or flat cap will suffice. A cape is an optional extra and can easily be adapted from a table cloth.

Always prefix your close male friends names with "my dear" but not in a gay way; rather in an intellectually male way. And wives and girlfriends should be referred to as, "The Woman". Though to become a true Sherlock you must spurn all female company and embrace celibacy. You and your male companion can be affectionate but never go beyond the point of Victorian decency. Unless of course you are aiming for a post modern Holmes as Robert Downey then you are permitted to flirt and wrestle with your male companion. Indeed if the latter activities appeal then look out soon for our how to emulate Oscar Wilde lesson.

You must also develop a specific speech pattern - pepper every statement with exclamations, as if it has suddenly occurred to you in a flash of genius. Pace your room a lot, hands clasped behind your back while trails of smoke bellow out from your pipe. Every now and then you will have to feign being in a drug induced stupor - this can be achieved by watching videos of Sarah Palin for two hours daily which will eventually allow you total disinterest in your surroundings. For the truly authentic Holmes you can purchase cocaine from one of those Emo's or as they like to be called emotional children. These Emo kids are easy to recognise - Hitler haircuts, drainpipe trousers and lacerated arms. Remember to mix your cocaine in a seven per cent solution.

How novels work

How Novels Work
John Mullen
Oxford University press
£7.99


Why does Ian McEwan give away in advance what will happen in Atonement? What does Donna Tartt's The Secret History have in common with Daniel Daeoe's Moll Flanders? Why is Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time printed in sans serif format?

Blowed if I know ...Though you will after reading this guide by Mark Mullan, author of The Guardian's Elements of Fiction weekly column. And whilst most of the books studied here are of the literary bent the lessons learnt apply to fiction in general. And there are a number of pop-fiction books included for analysis-Ripley Under Ground and From Russia with Love to name but two.

It makes for an interesting read - After all a novel is a collection of words arranged in a narrative that creates a world detached from reality and yet, when done well, this world holds us in a ultra reality, the characters become cherished friends, flesh and blood people of the id. We readers knows the story is fiction, an imaginative fabrication as we read and yet somehow we get sucked into the story and an emphatic bond is formed.A good work of fiction can enrich us and leave us more developed people than we were when we started the fiction.

The book, unlike the weekly Guardian column which concentrated on specific books, split the chapters into subjects such as beginnings, the voice, the climax and looks at these aspects of several titles. It's not surprisingly a heavy read and I did think I had learned some interesting points from the book. The section on plot devices is especially illuminating. “I try to ask some of the essential questions about the art of fiction."the author writes. " Is realism real? How do we define a successful metaphor? What is a character? When do we recognise a brilliant use of detail in fiction?”. The problem with general discussions about fiction is that it is hard enough to write about the details of one novel, let alone to comprehend an entire mode. But Mullen does so and does so with gusto.

The book has, I believe, only been published in the UK but can of course be got from Amazon and shipped around the world.

Apple aps go eBooks crazy

FROM THE TIMES ONLINE:

One in five new apps in the Apple app store last month was an electronic book. There are now 10,000 ebooks for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, most of them free and many available for download as entire libraries.

For example, Classics (£1.79) is a collection of 23 — you guessed it — classics, including Dracula and Pride and Prejudice. Browse a book from the shelf and the beautifully animated page-turns and crinkly paper sound effects are enough to win over even a diehard dead-tree bibliophile. Even so, as all its titles are out of copyright and therefore, in effect, free, it’s a bit of a cheek to charge so much.

With the Great Books Mega Collection (£1.19) you get 200 for your money, with the option of setting it to roll an entire chapter past your eyes — good autocue practice for newsreaders. Free Books (an oxymoronic £1.19) includes those same 200 books plus a further 23,269. The volumes are not actually included in the app; instead it’s a searchable index on which you tap to download. This means you’ll need to be in a wi-fi zone or have a 3G signal to install a book.

Why pay a thing? With the free Shakespeare app you get the Bard’s 37 plays, 154 sonnets and five poems along with a search function capable of picking out a phrase in seconds. Wattpad is another free app for Apple and Nokia devices, but classics are hard to find among thousands of self-published works — mostly misspelt and attempting to titillate. Less like browsing in a library; more like marking year 10’s English homework.

To get hold of any new bestseller, you’ll need to shell out real cash. Most usable of the bookstore apps is the B&N eReader (free for Apples and BlackBerrys). You’ll need to open an online account (in US dollars) with the Barnes & Noble chain (prices are a little lower than in UK bookshops); the app then saves each download on the smartphone and puts a copy on your computer.

After which, all that remains is to stoke the fire and throw on another hardback.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

ALAN LADD IN IN CASABLANCA


Alan Ladd as Ric in Casablanca - yep, you read that correctly. The Lux Radio theatre started out producing hour long radio versions of popular Broadway hits, but when it started to produce it's own version of current hit movies it doubled its audience overnight.

It strove to use the original stars for their audio recreations of the movies but many of the stars were reluctant to take the then arduous journey from Hollywood to New York or a one off radio show. The result of this was that the Lux Radio show moved to Hollywood and many big stars worked with them - John Wayne, James Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney and Gary Cooper to name only a few. When the original stars were not available the studio used equally big names which was how Alan Ladd took the Bogart role in the radio adaptation of Casablanca.




Over the years I've picked up a few of these shows on CD but these days most of them can be heard online at the Internet archive.

Here you will find versions of old movies including westerns (She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is especially good), crime thrillers (Angels with Dirt Faces is again excellent), melodrama, comedy and even historical epics. Most feature the original stars and once you start listening you simply can't stop. Several of the shows are embedded above but visit the site and you may even find an alternative version of your favourite movie.

Below is a WIKI list of the actors who recreated their original roles for the Lux Theatre

Many of leading names in stage and film appeared in the series, most in the roles they made famous on the screen, including Abbott and Costello, Jean Arthur, Lauren Bacall, Lucille Ball, Ethel Barrymore, John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Charles Boyer, James Cagney, Claudette Colbert, Ronald Colman, Gary Cooper, Joseph Cotten, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, Bette Davis, Dan Duryea, Frances Farmer, Errol Flynn, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Greer Garson, Cary Grant, Lillian Gish, Charlton Heston, Bob Hope, Vivien Leigh, Fredric March,Agnes Moorehead, Paul Muni, Vincent Price, Donna Reed, Ginger Rogers, Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra, Ann Sothern, Barbara Stanwyck, James Stewart, Shirley Temple, Gene Tierney, Spencer Tracy, Lana Turner, John Wayne, Jane Wyman, Orson Welles, Loretta Young and Robert Young.

The eBook: THE STATE OF PLAY

I keep updating the Archive with the latest news concerning the eBook revolution - that's what the Archive is for and not only do I plan to cover genre fiction, films, but all elements of pop culture. And as a writer and reader the book industry is something that involves me. Digital books are the single most important thing happening in publishing at the moment and so I will continue to go one and on about the subject until something else of equal importance comes along. Don't hold your breath though - the last development of such paramount importance was the development of the printing press.


The eBook world is seeing new developments by the second but the biggest concern at the moment is the format wars currently being fought. This can be confusing and leaves people understandably dubious about buying a reader that will be obsolete in a few short months. Thankfully a format seems to be starting to dominate and it's not the Kindle code. ePub seems a likely bet and I think I'm correct in saying all readers, including the Kindle, will be able to display PDF versions. My own reader, The Elonex, is far from the best reader on the market and it is basic in comparison to the Sony and Kindle but I download a lot of public domain books and then convert them to PDF files and I'm in my oils. Any book that ends up on Google Books will likely be able to be downloaded in a PDF format and if not the file can easily be converted. The Elonex can also handle the popular ePub format.

However early adoption of the eReaders can be expensive and industry experts are predicting a big price drop in the near future. So maybe holding out that little bit longer but believe me if you are a book lover you'll eventually want an eReader.




Will they ever do away with real books?

That will never happen and eBooks should be able to compliment regular books rather than largely finish them off the way MP3's have with CD's. Books are a different matter and people have a genuine love for all that paper glued between two pieces of board. I'm proud of my library and will always keep adding to it. But I'm more and more inclined to buy the latest big sellers as eBooks these days. I'm eager to see my own books made available as eBooks and am waiting for the day when all books are available as eBooks and priced fairly; after all it's a lot cheaper to produce an electronic book.

The natural progression of this will see people becoming bedroom publishers and putting their own work on the web, often free of charge. Indeed this is already happening and a great many of these will be crudely written and will vanish but the next megaseller could come about in this way. The rock band, Artic Monkeys hit the top spot without a record deal and built up a fan base on the web and it is not too far a leap to think a massive writer could be birthed in this way.

These are interesting times indeed.....

Ebooks now helping with the swine flu epidemic

No longer can it be denied that eBooks are the way the industry is going to go - Little, Brown has just released an eBook-only update of "The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child"--an instantaneous publishing response to public concerns about H1N1 flu (or Swine Flu) vaccines.


This instant publishing - the book is on the market instantly the book is ready to go. Topical books will become all the more topical.


However I would like to make it clear that despite photographic evidence I myself have nothing to do with the initial outbreak of swine flue.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Arkansas Smith

Arkansas Smith is an enigma, a mystery man of the West. There are some that say he is an outlaw, a vicious killers but others who claim his hand is guided by good. Not much is known of his early life but we do know from letters left by his adopted mother, that he was born in the midst of an Indian attack. Indeed this newborn child was the only survivor of the massacre.



He may have been a Texas Ranger at one point and there is some evidence to support these claims but the only thing we know for sure he is that he lives a nomadic lifestyle and that trouble follows closely behind him.



March 30 2010 sees the publication of Arkansas Smith by Jack Martin, the first in the chronicles of the legend known as Arkansas Smith. The size of the print run is largely dictated by pre-orders and my previous novel, The Tarnished Star sold out several times. So why not pre-order now - no monies will be deducted from your bank until the book is ready to ship and you will be guaranteed your copy nice and early.

To pre-order CLICK HERE or simply click on the image in the sidebar of this blog.

YOU CAN FIND AN ADVANCE REVIEW FOR THE BOOK HERE

Edge Savage Dawn


Edge: Savage Dawn
George G. Gilman
Originally published 1978
This edition 1978 paperback original
original price 70p

This is the 26th title in the long running series centered around the ultimate antihero Edge. It sees our man in a Mexican town where he plans on a little peace and quiet and maybe even the chance to marry Isabella Montez if she'd have him. Yep, the old killing machine seems to be mellowing. However it is obvious that where Edge hangs out, trouble usually follows and it certainly does in this book. This is another great adult western where the action escalates towards the inevitable terrible violence at the climax.

Now you are unlikely to find a bad Edge review on the Archive - I make no secret of my admiration for the books. Well apart from the Edge/Steele team ups which I don't think worked as well as the characters respective series. But to my mind the Edge series, written as entertainments and nothing more, have that magic storytelling dust sprinkled over every word that keeps the reader turning the pages and afterwards looking for more.

The pacing of the story is set at the usual breathless pace and the humour is as tight as ever and compliments rather than waters down the suspense and thrills. This book also features one of the corniest last lines in the entire series but it brings a slight half smile to the lips as you close the book.

Edge won't be to everyone's tastes, there are some who think them too violent, but if you liked the spaghetti westerns of old, with all their blood,guts and black humour, then the Edge books will be for you. But if not-well, you don't know what you're missing.

GOOGLE WINS PRELIMINARY HEARING

GOOGLE INC owner of the most popular Internet search engine, and a group of authors and publishers won preliminary approval of a revised settlement over the company’s plans to make millions of books available online.

A U.S. District Judge, in a ruling filed yesterday in New York, granted preliminary approval of the settlement agreement and scheduled a hearing for final approval on Feb. 18. The authors and publishers revised an earlier settlement to limit the Internet company to books published in the U.S., the U.K., Australia and Canada. Several nations including France and Germany objected to the reach of the earlier deal, which would have covered millions of out-of-print books published around the world.

Under the $125 million agreement, Google will set up a Book Rights Registry with publishers and authors to compensate copyright holders whose works are scanned. It also would seek to identify and compensate the rights holders of so-called orphan works whose owners aren’t currently known.

Blackadder the first

Anyone who only knows that later, more successful seasons of the BBC's sitcom, would be puzzled viewing the first season for the first time. At this point the characters had not really been established and the biggest difference to the later seasons is that the roles of Edmund Blackadder and Baldrick are reversed - Edmund is the simpleton while Baldrick is the devious schemer.

"I have a cunning plan, my lord."

The
first series is set during the Dark Ages and like all the other series it follows the misadventures of Edmund Blackadder. It is implied in each series that the Blackadder character is a distant descendant of the previous one and this time Edmund is the despised son of King Richard the fourth, yep you read that correctly,and each episode represent sublime and intelligent comedy set in a different historical period.

T
he first episode, The Foretelling, opens with preparations for the battle of Bosworth fields - Edmund sleeps late for the battle and accidentally kills Richard III (Peter Cook) , who proceeds to haunt him for the rest of the episode. The second episode, Born to be King finds Edmund, believing his father to be dead, sees a chance to seize power by revealing that his brother is actually illegitimate and that he, in fact, should be the heir to the throne. The third episode, The Archbishop sees Edmund becoming the new Archbishop and realising his life is in danger.The Fourth episode, The Queen of Spain's Beard sees Edmund having to marry a Spanish Princess in order to cement a treaty between England and Spain. However he is horrified to find his bride resembles, in his own words, a dog. This is arguably the strongest episode in the first series with some great lines. The fifth episode find the infamous Witchsmeller accusing Edmund of being a Witch and the first season concludes with Edmund gathering together the seven most evil men in the country to help overthrow his father.



The series dealt comically with a number of medieval issues in Britain and it was originally written by Rowen Atkinson and Richard Curtis but it was not until the second season when Ben Elton joined the writing team that the series really took off. Initially a second season was not commissioned; Blackadder being shot on film was expensive by sitcom standard and the BBC had tucked it away on BBC2 where it attracted a minority audience. Over time though it has become to be regarded as a comic masterpiece, which it truly is. It plays around with historical fact and features top knotch performances from everyone concerned.

I re -watched all six episodes of this first season in order to write this review and it is as good as ever - if anything the first season is improved with familiarity of the entire canon. It's interesting to see how the characters developed over time and to witness the seeds from which the comedy masterpiece, arguably the best British sitcom ever, sprung. The comic seeds were sown on incredibly fertile ground which would gain numerous awards and a fan base that remains loyal to this day.

If you've never seen this series then you really need to remedy this.

DVD AVAILABILITY:

The best option is The Complete Blackadder boxset which contains all four series plus the various specials made over the years. Each series is also available as a single BBC DVD.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The price of books

Whilst browsing in W.H. Smith I overheard two women talking about the new Martina Cole book. One of the women had the tome in her hand and was about to go to the till, when her friend pointed out that she could get it for only £9.99 in Tesco. This resulted in the women returning the book to the shelves - Smith's lost a sale and Tesco, no doubt, gained one.

I wonder which business needed the sale more?

I myself am guilty of buying bargain books from Tescos and ASDA - the entire James Bond canon in a handsome box for £15, this years Beano annual for £7. And that's not to mention the box set of three Agatha Christie paperbacks for £5 and similar box sets of Bernard Cornwell, Alister Maclean and Jack Higgins. I use the word "guilty" because whilst it makes perfect financial sense to buy these bargain sets, it could be damaging the long term viability of the book industry.

In the US Walmart are in a bitter price war with Borders and Amazon. It's all great for the book loving consumer but the rewards may be simply short term. The humble old book if facing an uncertain future as it is without it being devalued so. The latest news from the US is that the Justice Department are going to look into the book price war.

"Turmoil over the book price war took a new turn today when the Justice Department was asked to investigate what a booksellers group called “illegal predatory pricing.”

The American Booksellers Association sent a letter dated Oct. 22 in which it says, “We believe that Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, and Target are using these predatory pricing practices to attempt to win control of the market for hardcover bestsellers.”


Meanwhile here in the UK the bargains continue to tempt and not just online but in all the major supermarkets. Now cheap box sets of backlist books, that is titles where the publisher and author have already made their money, are fine and represent a better deal to the consumer. After all why should we be expected to pay top price for a paperback of a book first published decades ago? But the pricing of brand new books by big name authors to entice customers, some supermarkets even treat books as loss leaders, is damaging to the industry as a whole.

It's already difficult enough for a new author to break through and the current trend could make it impossible.


After all why take a chance on a new author when you can buy the latest Stephen King, Stephanie Meyer or John Grisham for a meagre sum?

So what do we do? Boycott these cheap books? That's not going to happen and it would be a rare book lover who would happily pay top price for a book in order to safeguard the industry. It's perplexing sure enough -I'm all for bargains and I believe that anything of such an age, no matter how popular, should be much cheaper than the original price. But not if it means that in a few short years nothing other than the biggest names will be published.

Alas what is the answer? Do we need the return of something like the NET book agreement? Or should the free market be allowed to run its course?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Ebook industry a step towards a universal standard

Barnes & Noble embraces social digital rights management (DRM) and snubs Amazons proprietary AZW format.

In the latest s

alvo in the escalating eBook wars, Barnes & Noble recently announced it was standardizing on the open ePub and PDF formats, embedded with “social” digital rights management (DRM) content protection.

Nook


With this move, B&N is embracing the cross-platform Adobe solution accepted by nearly 100 providers, including Sony (announced in August it plans to convert its eBooks to the ePub format by the end of 2009).

However, that group does not include market-leader Amazon, which debuted its popular Kindle 2 in early 2009. Kindle 2 eBooks are available in Amazon’s proprietary AZW format, as well as support for PDF, HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.

This running battle between Amazon and everyone else is driving down prices, fueling better retail distribution and drawing massive media attention-all factors cited when Forrester Research revised its 2009 sales projections last month on eReaders by a stunning 50 percent.

Forrester now expects that three million eReaders will be sold in 2009 (the previous projection was two million), with 30 percent alone bouncing off the shelves during the holiday season. What’s more, for 2010, Forrester projects even more dramatic growth of eReader sales, of up to 10 million units.

The ePub move makes sense for B&N to grab market share from powerhouse Amazon. Producing books under one standard already adopted by other eReader device manufacturers is attractive to consumers. For one, consumers can transfer eBook collections across various devices, important for preserving their purchases should their manufacturer discontinue support. And, by adding password-based content protection for ePub, Adobe addresses piracy concerns, but delivers a less onerous DRM option.

To Hell in a handcart

Richard Littlejohn
Harper Collins £5.99

I must say I enjoyed this satirical novel that takes a sly dig at life in modern Britain - a country full of righteous do-gooders, self serving politicians and politically correct morons. Mr Littlejohn envisions a defeated and beaten Britain. Insightful of him given that in the eight years since the book was published this has largely come about. No matter how outrageous the politicians in this book nothing in this fiction compares with the real life expenses scandal which continues to play out even today.

Ex-cop, Mickey French is an ordinary bloke but when he is attacked in his own home and forced to defend himself he find himself arrested for murder. It all seems to be loosely based on the celebrated Tony Martin case and it hits home its point with vigour. Sure you'll laugh at the insanity of it all but you'll also feel despair and anger at what Nu-Labour have done to the UK. Don't read this book if you are a Guardian reading, Nu-Labour supporter as it is likely to offend you but anyone else is in for a good time at the expense of the politically correct brigade and the establishment itself.


The book is no longer in print and Littlejohn - the author has had charges of bigotry aimed at him over some of the passages in this book but I think that misses the point. If there is a message the book is trying to convey then it's, live and let live and that tolerance is a two way street. But each day the newspapers are filled with ever more ridiculous stories about the PC brigade...At the end of the day Political Correctness is just another term for censorship but let's lighten up and enjoy the book for what it is - a satirical swipe at bland Britain.

ARCHIVE'S BOOK BIZ NEWS -Dungaree wearing brigade attack Twilight

Stephanie Meyer's mega-selling Twilight series is attacked by feminists


Gina Barreca, an author and English professor at the University of Connecticut, is a vehement critic: "The big thing that really makes 'Twilight' a really bad book is that fear should never be an aphrodisiac. The idea that you fear your lover should not make him sexier and that is a big part of these books. ... It distresses me to see that in any form, whether or not it's supernatural.

"It's a damaging fantasy. ... It's the idea that she feels as if she is in a dangerous relationship and she doesn't know how to get out of it and that finally, however much in danger you feel, love has to conquer. ... No, when you feel yourself in danger, you have to go away, put yourself in another novel."


Suzanna Narducci, a co-founder of TweenParent.com, a website for parents of 9- to 13-year-olds, said she wouldn't forbid kids from reading the books or seeing movies, though she admits that when Bella gives up Dartmouth, "that killed me," and the relationship between Sam and Emily "reeked of domestic violence."



"It's a matter of using it as a teachable moment," said Narducci. "Romance means something so different for them. ... It's important for parents to use it as an opportunity to have an open dialogue about what romance is like" and about the difference between fantasy and reality.

The story with no name

Continues over on Broken Trails

Eastwood V Hudson

CLINT EASTWOOD's NELSON MANDELA movie is facing some serious competition - JENNIFER HUDSON has signed on to a rival project about the former South African president's wife.
The veteran actor-turned-director recently wrapped filming on Invictus, which will see Morgan Freeman tackle the role of the legendary politician, alongside Matt Damon.
But the movie is facing a challenge from Oscar-winner Hudson, who has signed on to play Mandela's wife Winnie in a new movie but this time with the emphasis on Mrs. Mandela.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Wild West Web Wednesday

This week we have our usual trawl of the Wild West Web as well as a question/answer session with newcomer to the Black Horse Range, Lee Walker AKA Ed Furguson. That's him over there on the left.

But first our regular look around the web for western content - well it seems neat to start with Lee Walker's Westerns which is Ed's own blog. And of course the first stop in any western web trawl is the excellent Western Fiction Review, the site is updated several times a week and the current post is an interview with Keith Hetherington, a writer with years of experience in the western genre. In the mood for a some western fiction, well head over to Short Barrel Fiction, where there are stories for all tastes. Davy Crockett's Almanack is featuring some varied subjects of late but there's always something western going on. Meridian Bridge goes from strength to strength and has lately posted an interview with Mr. Bill Crider. I especially liked that one. And finally Nik Morton informs us on his blog of the latest news on the eagerly awaited anthology, A Fistful of Legends - it's getting exciting now. And this gives us another neat link into our Q+A session as Lee Walker also has a story in the forthcoming collection.



LEE WALKER Q+A

Lee Walker's debut western, Gun Law is due from Robert Hale this December


How does it feel to be joining the Black Horse range?

It’s great! I’m definitely the new kid on the range but I’ve found everyone involved with Black Horse Westerns to be very supportive and encouraging. I’m amazed at their level of enthusiasm for the genre and have found that everyone wants others to succeed. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that.

What does the Western mean to you?

As a kid, I remember curling up on the sofa on a wet Sunday afternoon watching old black and white cowboy movies with my grandfather so I guess I’ve always had a soft spot for them.

From a historical point of view, the more I read, the more I am amazed at the sheer bravery and determination of the men and women who pioneered the West, settled it and finally tamed it.

I admire the breadth, quality and sheer creativeness of western writers and get annoyed when people get a little ‘snooty’ about the genre.

Where do you see the western's future?

I think it’s healthy and as long the genre adapts to other means of distribution like Kindle, E-Books, POD etc I don’t see any reason why the stories will not continue to sell. When I speak to people about western books, they tell me you can’t get your hands on second hand books because they sell so well and people collect them. In libraries, borrowing frequency is still high (check out how many times the books are borrowed) so there is still a very healthy interest in them and I don’t see that going away.

It is frustrating though, to go into large bookshops like Borders and Waterstones and not see a dedicated Western section!

What should readers expect from your books?

Hopefully, characters they can believe in and a good action-packed yarn. Gun Law was my first book and although I’m proud of it, already I can see ways I could have improved on it. I hope in subsequent books to keep growing and improving as a writer.

Future projects?

I’ve got a few things in the pipeline.

Gun Law comes out at the end of December so I’ll be busy working on the publicity for that.

I was delighted to have a short story called Dead Man Walking accepted for the second anthology of short stories from Express Westerns – A Fistful of Legends – and I have been working on a couple of short stories (The Angels and Demons, The Kid) for future anthologies

I recently sent John Hale the first three chapters and synopsis of Gold Fever, my second BHW and he responded favorably and has asked me to send him the completed manuscript, so I’m busy putting the finishing touches to that.

I signed up for this years National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which started on 1st November and I’m busy blitzing through a 50,000 word first draft of a novel with the working title, ‘The Man Who Wouldn’t Die’, which if I finish, will hopefully become my 3rd BHW.

I reckon those projects will keep me busy until the end of the year!

I’m already setting New Year goals for 2010 and have got outlines for another four books – nothing like setting your sights high, I say!

Writers that influence you?

Believe it or not, I’ve just discovered Louis L’Amour! (I told you I was new to westerns.) Thoroughly enjoying getting through his books and I’m a big fan of Matt Braun and Annie Proulx – and of course I try to get through as many BHW’s too!

Your writing practices?

I do try and write every day but don’t always achieve it. (I own a property business, have a full time job, a six year old and a large Airedale Terrier that needs long walks everyday!)

I like to come up with a title first and then I write out the plot using index cards breaking the story down into separate scenes the way a scriptwriter might. Once I’m happy with the arc of the story, I can then start to develop the characters and do any research I need. Of course, these parts all work together, so sometimes the character changes the plot, or another idea comes out of the research that changes the direction but I try to have it all worked out before I knuckle down to the writing.

Advice for aspiring writers?

Never give up. Enjoy the journey. Don’t do it for the money. Seeing your name on a book makes it all worth it!

Desert Island Western - both book and movie

I would take the complete collection of Time Life Western books which I am working my way through at the moment. Great photographs, very informative and great research for BHW’s – although they are so enjoyable to read, it doesn’t feel like work.

A movie? I’d take Dances With Wolves.

For fun - Eastwood V Wayne. Who wins?

Has to be Eastwood but a big Wayne fan too.