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Thursday, 31 January 2013

Taster

"A nice easy read for lazy Sunday afternoons curled up on the sofa in front of a roaring fire with a nice glass or two of wine and chocolates, brilliant ." Amazon Review

"Humorous look at generational differences and solving a murder run hand in hand through this tale. Between laughing at the characters and becoming more absorbed in the investigation makes a good read." Amazon Review

"Granny Smith -- a pipe-smoking senior citizen who listens to heavy metal and can't keep her nose out of other peoples' affairs. I fell in love with this character within the first couple of pages. The story never drags and the secondary characters, such as Granny's quirky son and submissive husband, are just as lovable as Granny herself. " Amazon Review

" I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Granny is a wonderful character, refreshingly different and politically incorrect. I loved that she still smokes in a time when it is frowned upon; that she is an unrepentant hippie and even that she is blind to her son's faults. She is astute and not scared to speak her mind. She is also very human and that is a large part of her charm. I think most of us can identify with her." Amazon Review

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Sweeney (2012)

Sweeney MK II - Almost but not quite
To catch a criminal, you must act like a criminal...

I'm a big fan of the original TV series which I rate as the best UK cop show ever produced, so I was eager to see the 2012 movie version. However one too many bad reviews and a limited big screen showing in my area resulted in me not seeing the film at the cinema and not getting around to catching up with the adventures of the flying squad until the DVD hit the stores.

The original Sweeney starred John Thaw and Dennis Waterman as flying squad officers Regan and Carter and taking the roles for this big screen remake we have Ray Winstone as Regan and Ben Drew as Carter. Both actors had incredibly big shoes to fill and although Winstone gives us a great Regan, Ben Drew often seems uninterested as Carter.

THE REAL THING
In fact the casting of Ray Winstone is the best thing about this film, which often feels and looks like a TV movie, only with added spice. The film with its plot of violent bank robbers against even more violent cops is entertaining enough but it feels nothing like the classic TV series it claims to be based on. The only elements carried over from the original are the main character names and the odd catchphrase. And perhaps that is why it is so disappointing - I can't help feeling it would have been far better as a period piece set during the grimy 1970's, but then all those opportunities for product placement would have been lost. The Apple logo, for instance,seems to pop up on every computer seen in this movie where much of the action takes place around the hi-tech world of modern banking.

Ahh well, just as well I waited for the DVD. For me this movie represents a missed opportunity.



The Lost Beatle Albums

The Beatles Sessions album came very close to being released in 1984, but was scrapped at the eleventh hour because of objections by two of the surviving Beatles. McCartney was livid about plans for the album especially as the release would clash with his own, Give My Regards to Broad Street.

 The story of the album started in 1982 when a technician at Abbey Road was given the job of listening to all of the Beatles recordings in the archive with a view to releasing an all new Beatle album later that year. The anniversary came and went though and the project didn't resurface until 1984.

This time things looked certain and a single was also promised which would feature the unheard (out of bootlegs of course) Leave my Kitten Alone which came from the Beatles For Sale sessions on the A- side backed with a previously unused version of Ob La Di Ob La Da.

Leave my Kitten alone was even played on US radio which sent Beatle fans into a frenzy for the new album.

Alas - the Beatles themselves made their objections known, but all of the tracks have since been released as part of the Anthology Project, but fans can see how The Sessions Album would have sounded by making their own playlist.

The tracklisting of the Sessions album was set before the project was scrapped and the album would have looked like this.

All tracks by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, except where noted.
  1. "Come and Get It" (McCartney)
  2. "Leave My Kitten Alone" (John/Turner/McDougal) – An outtake from the Beatles for Sale sessions.
  3. "Not Guilty" (Harrison) – An outtake from The Beatles ("The White Album"), heavily edited.
  4. "I'm Looking Through You" – Alternative version, with hand claps
  5. "What's the New Mary Jane" – An outtake from The Beatles ("The White Album"), heavily remixed.
  6. "How Do You Do It?" (Murray)
  7. "Besame Mucho" (Velázquez/Skylar) – From the Beatles' first EMI session.
  8. "One After 909" – Earlier version recorded 5 March 1963
  9. "If You've Got Trouble" – A Help! outtake, with verses edited into a different order than they were originally recorded.
  10. "That Means a Lot" – A Help! outtake.
  11. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (Harrison) – Take 1, with an artificially looped ending.
  12. "Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues" (Roberts/Katz/Clayton) – An outtake from the "Get Back"/"Let It Be" sessions, heavily edited.
  13. "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)" (Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starr) – Edited from the 1967 fan club Christmas 
Another Beatle album - not really a lost album - has kept fans busy for years and this is the album the Beatles may have released in 1970 if the split hadn't have happened. The album is made up of tracks from the first solo albums by the Fabs and there are many ideas for track listings floating around. However only this week the Telegraph Newspaper joined in the game and came up with the following track listing.

 

SIDE ONE
Instant Karma
(John Lennon, single, 1970)
  • Technically Lennon was still in the Beatles when he recorded this exuberant, sloppy rocker. With Harrison on guitar and Lennon providing a rip-roaring vocal over a witty, polemical, philosophical lyric, it would make for an ear-catching, agenda-setting opening track.
Band on the Run
(Paul McCartney, title track of Wings’ 3rd album, 1973)
  • An elegant guitar and keyboard figure leads us gently into this shape- and time-shifting, multi-layered mini-epic. There are echoes of the structural daring of McCartney’s Abbey Road medley in a vignette celebrating both the unity and pressure of life in a band.
What Is Life
(George Harrison, 'All Things Must Pass’, 1970)
  • One of Harrison’s most Beatles-esque songs, a melodic, surging rocker with a driving guitar figure, the chorus swollen by an uplifting horn session. The message is simple and universal: “What is my life without your love?” It’s a song with a smile on its face.
Love
(John Lennon, 'Plastic Ono Band’, 1970)
  • Lennon gets down to the essence of the conundrum with one of his most beautiful ballads, singing with aching yearning over a delicate, elegant piano figure.
The Back Seat of My Car
(Paul McCartney, from 'Ram’, 1971)
  • The understated guitar ballad intro picks up quite nicely from Lennon’s introspection, leading us into a song that typically marries the throwaway and the sublime, a rich melody building to a monumental singalong (“Oh, we believe that we can’t be wrong”) and a rocking playout.
Back Off Boogaloo
(Ringo Starr, single from 'Stop and Smell the Roses’, 1972)
  • This is actually my favourite Ringo song, and certainly better than anything he wrote and recorded in the Beatles. A great, shaggy, joyful groove. Produced by Harrison and featuring his distinctive guitar playing.
Mind Games
(John Lennon, title track from his 4th solo album, 1973)
  • To close side one, Lennon on soulful, philosophical form with a big, anthemic classic given an uncharacteristically (for his solo career) lush, Beatley production. “Love is the answer,” he sings. And in this parallel universe, maybe we can still believe it.


SIDE TWO
Gimme Some Truth
(John Lennon, from 'Imagine’, 1971)
  • One of Lennon’s greatest heavy rock mantras, this is driven by a simple climbing and descending guitar figure and overlaid with Lennon on coruscating lyrical form, railing against hypocrisy. Harrison takes the lead.
Let Me Roll It
(Paul McCartney, from 'Band on the Run’, 1973)
  • McCartney sweetly answers Lennon’s paranoia with this fantastic, slow-grooving rocker, which features a very Lennon-style brittle guitar figure. Indeed, Lennon always thought this song was about him, a gentle rebuke for his public antagonism towards his old friend.
Jealous Guy
(John Lennon, from 'Imagine’, 1971)
  • Which brings us neatly to this devastating admission of his own hypocrisies set to a gorgeous melody, which surely ranks among Lennon’s greatest ballads. It actually started life as a Beatles song, demoed for the White Album as Child of Nature.
Maybe I’m Amazed
(Paul McCartney, from 'McCartney’, 1970)
  • Not to be outdone, McCartney comes back with this heartfelt, soulful ballad, a blood brother to Let It Be and The Long and Winding Road, with piano, organ, lilting lead solo and Macca letting rip on a raw-throated, tender vocal.
#9 Dream
(John Lennon, from 'Walls and Bridges’, 1974)
  • Lush and dreamy, Lennon embraces psychedelia on an evocative journey “on a river of sound?/ Thru the mirror go round?/ I thought I could feel?/ Music touching my soul”. Epic, gorgeous and touching.
All Things Must Pass
(George Harrison, title track from his triple album, 1970)
  • Stately paced hymn to the temporariness of everything, love, pain, life. With horns, strings, yearning melody, think of it as an elegiac farewell from the greatest group that walked the earth.
Junk
(Paul McCartney, from 'McCartney’, 1970)
  • Let’s give the last word to McCartney, who most wanted to keep the band together. He plays us out with this lovely acoustic sketch. It’s a poignant trawl through the debris of life, “something old and new, memories for you and me.”

RIP MICHAEL WINNER

Winner directed over forty movies and although his films have never been popular with critics, he was the most successful British director since Hitchcock.

There are some classics among his movies - the western, Lawman for one and the tacky though exciting, Death Wish. He also made the first two Death Wish sequels.

Always a controversial figure and never afraid to laugh at himself.

Winner was ill for some time and an interview with The Times newspaper, Winner said liver specialists had told him in summer 2012 that he had between 18 months and two years to live. He said he had researched assisted suicide offered at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland, but found the bureaucracy of the process off-putting Winner subsequently died at his home in Kensington on 21 January 2013, aged 77.

Winner was once voted the 38th most annoying person in Britain famously complained that he should have been higher up the list - he was a colourful man and will be missed.

Monday, 21 January 2013

The dirty Dozen

Lee Marvin's drinking was at its worse, Charles Brosnan didn't even want to be there and director Robert Aldritch was shooting so much footage that the film was running way over schedule and its budget was escalating. The shooting of the 1967 classic was anything but a smooth ride and at one point one of the main actors, Trini Lopez,  deserted the production because he feared he was spending too much time away from his singing career. He did this on the advice of Frank Sinatra who told him that the public was fickle and that he may not have an audience to go back to when the film, which was already running late, was finally completed. Lopez reluctantly told director, Robert Aldrich that he had to quit but quickly realized that this was a mistake. It was too late to return to the movie though since Aldrich  killed Trini's character off with a simple line of dialogue.


The arduous shoot is well covered on the documentary, Armed and Deadly which is on the two disc DVD edition. The DVD represents great value and also contains the 1985 TV movie, The Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission as a special feature. It's nice to have the TV movie there but it's not much of a movie. Far more interesting are the documentaries and the feature with surviving members of the cast and crew fondly recalling the troubled though often enjoyable shoot. There's a great vintage featurette, made to trail the film in cinemas that contains great footage of the cast walking around 1960's London on their days off. Apparently they shot in a small village outside London for six days out of every seven, and on their days off many of the cast including Lee Marvin would hit the clubs of swinging London.

The two disc special edition makes full use of the medium, offering several hours of material for the movie fan. The Dirty Dozen is, after all, an iconic movie with a remarkable cast made of up of true Hollywood legends.


Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Brosnan, George Kennedy and Robert Ryan to name but a few. The studio wanted John Wayne for the lee Marvin role, but the director fought for Marvin and won. This was probably a good thing since as good as Wayne was, The Dirty Dozen would have been a very different movie with Wayne in the lead...over the years it's been reported that Aldrich didn't want Wayne because of his politics but this is refuted on the commentary for the movie, with the reason given that Aldrich was set on Lee Marvin because he was the only actor he could possibly see in the role of the tough as nails major who leads the convict team on a suicide mission behind enemy lines.


The film is played out in three acts - forming the team, training the team and then the mission. This structure is familiar from many other war films, but it was a fresh concept when this movie was made.  In fact so influential was this movie that most war films made since owe it a little debt. There are some great character scenes for nearly of all the actors and because of the anti-authority theme of the movie it still feels as fresh as ever, and the explosive climax remains as exciting and disturbing as the first time it played.

Excellent.


Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 14 Jan - 20 Jan 2013
Project: THE TAINTED ARCHIVE
URL: http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com/

Summary


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Pageloads7346266156016606696484,553650
Unique Visits4704764874855305505013,499500
First Time Visits4544494624755195284733,360480
Returning Visits1627251011222813920

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Django Unchained - AWESOME!!!

I braved the snow and ice and managed to get to my local Odean last night to see Django Unchained on the big screen, and my opinion hasn't changed since I saw that screener that was doing the rounds - if anything Django is an even better film on the big screen.

 I had high hopes for this movie which Tarantino's been talking up in one way or another ever since he burst onto the scene with Res Dogs and Pulp Fiction. In fact his idea for a spaghetti western type movie was originally supposed to go into production after Jackie Brown, but what with one thing and another we had to wait until now for Tarantino's spin on both the Euro and American westerns traditions.


Was the wait worth it?

I'd say it was and Django Unchained is, no doubt at all, one of the best westerns in decades - it is a far better movie that the Coen's take on True Grit, superior even to the excellent Blackthorn and you know I'm undecided if this actually tops the Eastwood Oscar winner, The Unforgiven. It's unfair to compare the two movies really since Eastwood's movie is much more serious in tone and even although Django Unchained contains some deeply serious elements, slavery for one thing, it is much more stylistic and often borders on comedy in places. The scene where the Klu Klux Klan argue about their hoods not allowing them to see depicts them as inbred idiots,and the audience are applauding when Schultz blows them to pieces and Django takes down their leader with a long range rifle.

I really do feel that Django Unchained may be the best western since The Outlaw Josey Wales - you've got to go that far back to find something comparable in the genre.

The film's provoked some outrage for daring to use slavery as a plot point and over its liberal use of the word, "Nigger". Spike Lee claims the film should be boycotted but Lee, as always, is missing the point. Slavery is shown to be the abhorrent practice it was, and surely is is the duty of anyone tackling the subject is to depict the way the blacks were actually treated. Sugarcoating all this would be an insult to history and I applaud Tarantino for this movie.


"We all intellectually 'know' the brutality and inhumanity of slavery. But after you do the research it's no longer intellectual any more, no longer just historical record – you feel it in your bones. It makes you angry, and want to do something … I'm here to tell you, that however bad things get in the movie, a lot worse shit actually happened." Quentin Tarantino

In the Oscar nominations the movie's been nominated for best picture, original screenplay and best supporting actor for Christoph Waltz.And although I feel the movie may be too controversial a choice to walk away with Best Picture it certainly deserves to win the award - it's the best film I've seen this year, far superior to Lincoln which is the favorite to win the Best Picture Award. And if you want to put Django among the blockbusters, where Tarantino often belongs, then its pisses all over Skyfall, Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers.

Right from the start the movie is typical Tarantino when we get the message flashed up on screen - made with the friendly participation of Franco Nero (the original Django turns up for a knowing cameo which may make little sense to anyone who hasn't seen the original movie) and then we find we are in 1858, Somewhere in Texas. We are introdued to Django, a slave, who is being led on a chain with several other slaves. Enter King Schultz, a kind of quick draw German dentist turned bounty hunter. Right away we are into a shoot out that could have come from a classic western but tinged with some Tarantinoesque blood spraying across the screen. The scenes ends with Django now owned by Schultz but Schultz hates slavery and promises Django his freedom if he will help him track down the men he is looking for.

Schultz is a magnificent character, as is Django and just about every other main character in the movie. Leonardo DeCaprio is magnificent as the evil slaver, Max Candie and Samuel L. Jackson is outstanding as the self-loathing slave Stephen who betrays his race and seems to have sold his soul for a life of privilege within the Candie household.

The film ticks all the western boxes and we have a great winter section where the American landscapes are used to evoke classic scenes from westerns long past. And of course all the Tarantino elements are present and correct and I, for my own choice, would say this is Tarnatino's best film, better even than the excellent Pulp Fiction.

The soundtrack is also quite superb with not only the original Django theme used but also the music from the first of the Trinity westerns. One scene where Django,looking impossibly cool, takes on all comers in a shoot out while Tupac plays out over the soundtrack is a perfect example of how Tarantino merges the visuals with the music to create dazzling slices of cinema.


The film owes little to the original Django movie although it does use the slavery elements from Django II which was the only official sequel to the Django series. The spaghetti western Unchained owes the most to is to my mind, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - the movie is of a similar length and is structured in a similar way. Mind you I'm glad Tarantino didn't go in for all those lingering Leone style shots, which would have quickly become tiring and instead he's concentrated on everything that makes the western genre so good.

The film is violent, tragic, exciting, incredibly stylish and even funny in places but above all it is a proper movie from a proper movie-maker.

March 2013 -

Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs




























Granny's first adventure, Granny Smith Investigates is still available - get in on this all new crime series now.

“It’s Miss Marple on steroids.”

A brutal murder in a small Welsh village and the police are stuck without a clue. With no motive and no real suspect the investigation soon grinds to a halt. Enter Mary Alice Smith, otherwise known as Granny Smith, the rock music loving, pipe smoking, chaos causing amateur sleuth with a difference.

Granny has a talent for mayhem and soon those talents are put to good use as our intrepid pensioner starts the unravel the case, which finds her provoking Chief Inspector Miskin as she comes up against a full scale police investigation, proving that you’re never too old to make a nuisance of yourself and that sixty three is actually the new twenty three.

Murder's never been so much fun.

" I liked the story, entertaining, easy to read."


"laugh out loud funny and Granny Smith is a wonderful invention"

"Granny Smith complete with pipe , what a vision... proves where there is a way she will take try it...enjoyed this book easy reading ." 



And keep checking this site for news on the forthcoming Granny Smith and The Deadly Frogs.

Friday, 18 January 2013

The Beatles in Middle Earth

It's been awhile since I've seen Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, and even longer since I last saw the animated version that was directed by Ralph Bakshi way back in the mid to late 1970's.

When I saw the new Blu-Ray edition of Bakshi's Lord of the Rings in the local supermarket I decided that perhaps now is the time to revisit the movie. Especially after Jackson's Hobbit part one recently bored me rigid in the cinema but left me hungry for a return to Middle Earth.

The Fab Four
Director and animator Ralph  Bakshi was in the right place at the right time when he managed to get the rights to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, a project that had previously stymied filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick and John Boorman . He set about to create a new look for Middle-earth by using the rotoscope technique, to shoot large portions of the film as live-action and then provide the footage to his animators to essentially trace. It was an ambitious project and although it was originally intended to cover the entire trilogy, it was decided that there would be two movies covering one and a half books each. In initially the film was to have been released under the title, Lord of the Rings Part One but the studio, fearing people wouldn't pay to see half a movie dropped Part One from the title, which caused confusion with movie fans and angered the director.

"I told them they can't drop the Part One, because people are going to come in thinking they'll see the whole film, and it's not there. We had a huge fight, and they released it as Lord of the Rings. So when it came to the end, people were stunned in the theater, even worse than I ever realized they would be, because they were expecting to see the whole film. People keep telling me I never finished the film. And I keep saying, 'That's right!'" Ralph Bakshi.

The film was however a commercial success and it seemed certain that the follow up would be made to complete the story but, for reasons that are unclear this never happened. There was an unoffical follow up of sorts with 1980's The Return of the King from Rankin Bass animation but this was made for television, was a musical and was tonally different to Bakshi's.

There were many attempts to bring the Lord of the Rings to the screen before the animated version. Perhaps the most outlandish was a version that was to be directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring The Beatles. This almost came about - the books were favorites of John Lennon who pushed the possibility of the Beatles doing an animated version with Apple Films.

Apple Films had seen The Beatles dominate the box office  in  Yellow Submarine, so the prospect of the band involved in the adaptation of a bestselling book was obviously tantalizing. The central driving force was John Lennon, an huge fan of the books.

Lennon had set his sights on the role of Gollum, whilst Paul McCartney would be assigned Frodo, Ringo Starr would take on Sam, and George Harrison would beard up for Gandalf. Apple went so far as to approach a pre-2001 A Space Odyssey Stanley Kubrick. However the project fell apart as the Beatles themselves started to fall apart.

I don't need a magic ring, my friend
Cos magic rings won't buy me love.

Alas, it never happened and so Tolkein fans had to wait for this version from Ralph Bakshi to see Middle Earth brought to life on the big screen.







Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The white post

The debate about the Beatles White Album has raged ever since the album was released way back in 1968 - should it have been a single album? Or is it fine the way it was? I'm not really sure where I stand on that though there is a lot of filler on the White Album - I've always felt it would be a better album without that awful Revolution No 9 and dirge like Long, Long, Long. But there are times when I think the album is just perfect the way it is.

I listened to the album again today and started to wonder what it would be like as a single album. I Googled the question, hoping to find some suggestions posted by Beatle fans.And there were many but I can across this cool site HERE which had a little program that allowed you to compile your own single White Album using album tracks and others that were recorded around the same time. The running time of each side must be between 15 and 25 minutes, and the program works this out for you.

This was my attempt at an Alternative White Album
Side 1
1. Back in the USSR (2:43)
2. Glass Onion (2:17)
3. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (4:45)
4. Happiness Is a Warm Gun (2:43)
5. Honey Pie (2:41)
6. Martha My Dear (2:28)
7. I'm So Tired (2:03)
8. Julia (2:54)
9. I Will (1:46)
Side 2
1. Yer Blues (4:01)
2. Mother Nature's Son (2:48)
3. Revolution 1 (4:15)
4. Piggies (2:04)
5. Everybody's Got Something to Hide... (2:24)
6. Cry Baby Cry (3:10)
7. What's the New Mary Jane (6:12)
 
It's great fun trying this out so why not turn Beatles producer and go and compile your
own White Album. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Drokk to the box office

Bad movies fail at the box office all the time and so they should, but often good films also fail to find their audiences, and on times great movies fall flat - Such is the case with Dredd, which is more than simply a good film. In fact Dredd may be as close to perfect as any comic book adaptation will ever get.

When an early cut of the movie was shown at last year's Comic-con both fans and critics were in agreement - Dredd was a great movie, more than that it was something special. It was a comic book movie that was faithful to the source material and dared to aim for an adult audience.

So confident were the makers that there was talk of a sequel, even a whole series of movies that would feature much loved characters and themes from the Dredd comic book - The Angel Gang, the Robo-Wars, Judge Call and the epic Cursed Earth storyline.

Dredd it seemed was a sure box office winner, but when the film,marketed as Dredd 3D opened it was a huge shock as the film bombed titanically. During it's opening weekend the movie went belly up -  Dredd was produced with a 50 million dollar budget. It brought in 6.2 million dollars in North American box office returns, putting it in sixth place behind the likes of End of Watch, House at the End of the Street, and Trouble With the Curve.  And the movie never did pick up and remains a costly failure in terms of box office. Though critics and fans maintain that Dredd is an excellent movie - it holds a 77% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, higher than The Amazing Spider-Man.

So why did Dredd tank?

Was it the 3D? Personally it was the 3D aspect that kept me from catching the movie in the cinema. I couldn't find a 2D showing and I can't stand 3D which gives me a headache. A lot of people feel the same way and there are whole chunks of people who will not go to see a 3D movie. It didn't help that the film was pushed as Dredd 3D - this sounds too gimmicky and made the film sound like either a big Hollywood blockbuster or a children's movie when it is neither.


Was it the ghost of the Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd movie? Stallone's Dredd was a crap waste of celluloid, but it's been a long time and thankfully the film is not that well know. So I don't think Stallone was responsible for the failure of Dredd.


Maybe the (18) rating didn't help. Maybe there should have also been a less violent 12A version of the movie. Dredd is wrongly perceived by many as a superhero and maybe the adult rating put it out of the reach of a large section of its potential audience. I certainly think this was a factor and whilst the adult nature of the movie kept it faithful to the wonderful comic strip, I do believe that to not take some liberties in order to get a 12 certificate was a dangerous gamble which ultimately cost big bucks for the franchise.

 It is easy given the failure of Dredd to become cynical about the future of movies - if a movie is not family friendly then it has no chance of success in our shallow times where spectacle is more important than the integrity of a project. I actually think there's a lot of truth in that and that the majority of the movies made today can't hold a torch to the classics of decades gone by.

Will we see a sequel? Unless the just released DVD is a mega seller then it doesn't seem likely, which will be a great pity since Dredd is a bloody good movie. And as someone who read the Dredd strip from day one and still pick up the title from time to time, I found it to be a great version of the comic book.


Next time, and I do hope there's a next time,then please leave the 3D behind.

Dredd is available now on DVD/Bluray and if you missed it at the cinema then now is the chance to catch up on this movie that will one day be recognized for the masterpiece that it is. It's an arthouse action flick for the punk generation.






RIP: The Dough Boy


The Shape of Things to Come

Later this year San Antonio will make history when it becomes the first place in the world to have a completely bookless public libarary - The 4,989 square-foot space will look like a modern library, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who was inspired to pursue the project after reading Walter Issacson's Steve Jobs biography, told ABC News. (A glance at the photo shows that its inspired by Apple in more ways than one.) Instead of aisles and aisles of books there will be aisles and aisles of computers and gadgets. At the start, it will have 100 e-readers available for circulation and to take out, and then 50 e-readers for children, 50 computer stations, 25 laptops and 25 tablets on site.

It's incredible how quickly eBooks have come to dominate and only a few years ago experts were saying that eBooks would  lose their popularity, that that printed books would make a comeback. And yet today, at the start of 2013, only a fool would make such claims.

Library goers will be able to take out books on any of the devices in the library, take out one of the 50 e-readers for a period of time or bring their own e-readers to the library and load books onto their own devices. The library will also be partnering with e-book providers or distributors to provide access to over 10,000 titles. The hope is to add to that collection annually. The county is still figuring out who will provide the equipment and has requests for proposals out for the e-readers and other equipment. 

HMV RIP

Wollworths, Comet, Borders, Our Price, Virgin, Jessups and now HMV can be added to the list of once dominant chain stores who have vanished from British High Streets.

It's a changing landscape out there with online giants such as Amazon and downloading taking the blame for the decline in stores such as HMV which was, at one time, the UK's biggest seller of CD's, DVD's and computer games.

Though only a few years ago stores like HMV were seen as he predators while independent record shops found themselves unable to compete with the cheap prices at stores such as HMV. And now there's an even bigger predator in town and HMV are finding themselves unable to compete with neither the prices nor the shopping experience provided by Amazon and other such online stores.

Ahh well - goodbye HMV



Monday, 14 January 2013

Forget the terrible toads... prepare for the Deadly Frogs

Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs is now with an editor and will return to me for a final polish, before hitting the virtual shelves this March.

When Granny becomes involved with Green issues it's not too long before blood runs red. It's Miss Marple on steroids as old Mrs "bust-yer-balls" is back sleuthing in another fast paced adventure.


Granny Smith Book 1 still available.

It’s Miss Marple on steroids.”

A brutal murder in a small Welsh village and the police are stuck without a clue. With no motive and no real suspect the investigation soon grinds to a halt. Enter Mary Alice Smith, otherwise known as Granny Smith, the rock music loving, pipe smoking, chaos causing amateur sleuth with a difference.

Granny has a talent for mayhem and soon those talents are put to good use as our intrepid pensioner starts the unravel the case, which finds her provoking Chief Inspector Miskin as she comes up against a full scale police investigation, proving that you’re never too old to make a nuisance of yourself and that sixty three is actually the new twenty three.

Murder's never been so much fun.

" I liked the story, entertaining, easy to read."


"laugh out loud funny and Granny Smith is a wonderful invention"

"Granny Smith complete with pipe , what a vision... proves where there is a way she will take try it...enjoyed this book easy reading ."

Bestselling Black Horse Westerns

Charts from Black Horse Express

Bestselling hardbacks - amazon.co.uk - 14 January

1.Nine Dead Men (Black Horse Western) by Walter L Bryant (30 Dec 2012)

Hardcover  £9.57

2.Devine (Black Horse Western) by I J Parnham (30 Dec 2012)

Hardcover £9.58

3.Codys Fight (Black Horse Western) by Caleb Rand (30 Dec 2012)

Hardcover  £9.58

4.Teal's Gold (Black Horse Western) by Abe Dancer (30 Nov 2012)

Hardcover £9.28

5.Old Guns (Black Horse Western) by Morton Ross (30 Apr 2012)

Hardcover £8.47

6.The Ballad of Delta Rose (Black Horse Western) by Jack Martin (29 Jul 2011)

Hardcover  £9.05

7.Arkansas Smith (Black Horse Western) by Jack Martin (31 Mar 2010)

Hardcover  £1.93

8.Drive to Redemption (Black Horse Western) by Mike Deane (31 May 2011)

Hardcover  £9.13

9.The Killing Time (Black Horse Western) by Logan Winters (30 Sep 2011)

Hardcover  £4.95

10.Trail of the Burned Man (Black Horse Western) by Thomas McNulty (30 Nov 2009)

Hardcover £6.55

Hell in the Pacific (1968)

From the title you'd think it was an all action war epic, and when I slipped the DVD into the player that's just what I was expecting. It had Lee Marvin in it, it was a war film and I was expecting something along the lines of the Dirty Dozen.

 I had a vague memory of this film...or at least I thought I had but it turned out that I'd never seen it before and was confusing it with something else.

I didn't get my explosions and brilliant battle scenes, but instead something I really wasn't expecting. I don't think I've ever seen a war film quite like this - though perhaps in the accepted sense it isn't a war movie at all, but rather a film set during World War II that explores two very different men, from totally different cultures,  and the relationship they are forced to assume.

The film opens with an American pilot and a marooned Japanese navy captain deserted on a small uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean, and in order to survive and maybe escape  they must cease their hostility and  work together. Toshiro Mifune's dialogue is spoken in his native Japanease and we are not given subtitles, having to gather the gist of what he his saying from his actions. This is a neat touch and puts us in the same position as Lee Marvin's character as he tries to figure out what is going on with the other man. Initially the two men are at odds and each time one or the other finds something or creates something useful, the other tries to steal it. They fight at times but neither of them seems quite ready to kill the other. Eventually they see their animosity as useless and combine forces to build a raft and escape the island upon which they are marooned.


At different points in the film each man is captured and bound by the other, but they both realize that they will have a better chance of survival if they work together.That the characters don't speak the same language means that the storytelling is carried forward visually and the two actors, the only two in the entire movie, provide powerhouse performances.

At the end though this is not a story of survival but rather about overcoming prejudice towards  a sworn enemy in a time of war.


I liked everything about this film and although it only had the two characters and the one location it didn't drag at all and I found my eyes glued to the screen. I enjoyed this film very much and liked the sudden ending, which whilst a little predictable stayed true to the feel of the movie.





Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 7 Jan - 13 Jan 2013
Project: THE TAINTED ARCHIVE
URL: http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com/

Summary


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Pageloads6376166736215065175294,099586
Unique Visits4524764564673994064213,077440
First Time Visits4244464454423813803932,911416
Returning Visits2830112518262816624

Sunday, 13 January 2013

RIP John Wilkinson:

 John Wilkinson was more than just a band member backing up legend Elvis Presley and the two men became firm friends

John Wilkinson became a guitarist in The King's TCB band. He passed away on Friday at the age of 67 after a long battle with Cancer.

At the age of 10, John famously snuck into Elvis Presley's dressing room before a show at the Shrine Mosque in Springfield, telling Elvis, 'you can't play guitar worth a damn'. Elvis was amused and impressed with this kid and predicted they would meet again.They did and years later John played with Elvis in the concert documentaries That's The Way It Is (1970) and Elvis On Tour (1972). He also appeared in the Aloha From Hawaii television event - which celebrates its 40th anniversary on Monday. However, Wilkinson is most prominently featured in the television special Elvis In Concert (1977) while playing the guitar solo on 'Early Morning Rain'. In addition to his live work with Elvis, Wilkinson played for him in 1972 and 1975 sessions at RCA’s Hollywood Studio as well as in 1976 sessions at Graceland.

'We offered our deepest sympathy to his family. John and the beautiful music he made with Elvis will live forever in our hearts'. Priscilla Presley and Lisa Marie Presley

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Dead Medium for nowt

My good friend and fellow western writer, Ray Foster pointed out this eBook to me - Dead Medium by Peter John.

May Elizabeth Trump disliked the company of others and death did little to warm her spirit. With a dead cat her only companion, she roamed the living world trying to come to terms with her new condition. Her path crossed with that of another of the newly departed. Penny Saunders needed May's help and May was in a unique position to offer it. For she was a dead medium, a ghost with the power to speak with the living and her services were to become in great demand. Spirits with long awaiting messages were not the only ones to take an interest in May's activities. Something dark was lurking in the shadows, stalking her. Even the dead are not left to rest in peace. Highly addictive and readable with moments of deadpan humour. £6.99 paperback or Kindle version @ £3.20 via Amazon 

The book is free tomorrow (Sunday) on Amazon  and it sounds a blast - so I thought I'd point Archive readers towards the book. You get it - as a freebie you've got nothing to lose and you never know you may find a new author to follow.

eBooks: Sex, sock puppets and Rock and Roll

 2012 saw traditional publishers suffering from more and more eBook blues, while the new media, the eBooks themselves, continued to rock, roll and shake up the established publishing industry.

I saw an article in The Independent Newspaper this week which I found interesting - the article, written by Samuel Muston, warned of the ultimate effects of eBooks being sold so cheaply - "Those familiar with the 1990s cult teen film Clueless, will know of the phenomenon called "buyer's remorse": when the purchaser of an expensive, unnecessary, but highly prized item is wrought with anxiety after handing over the credit card. I got this feeling in reverse on Christmas Day. Downloading Safe House by Chris Ewan (Faber) for my mother (the first book on her new Kindle), I noticed its price: 20p. A 448-page, well-reviewed work only a few months old was being touted for less than the price of a banana in our office canteen"

The book in question has sold thousand of copies in hardcover at the price of £10, and now that the eBook market is so big books are being devalued to the point of being worthless in financial terms. But, and rare for the UK press at the moment, the writer wasn't blaming Amazon. In fact, Amazon were only price matching. The 20p eBook story actually starts with Sony, whose UK ebookstore began the practice of offering 10 top-flight books at massive reductions in the summer. Back then it was Alan Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child making ripples.

A major book – so why offer it for only a few pence?, the writer asked which is also something I'd like to know - surely, no one, not the author, not the publisher can make any money at such a low price!

The eBook market increasingly runs on a wholesale model. Here's how it works: the publisher produces a book and sets an RRP of, say, £10. The retailer then says: we need this book from you at, say, 55 per cent discount. So the publisher gets £4.50 per book and the retailer then sells it for whatever it wants. The 20p ebooks represent a huge percentage loss for the retailer. So why do it? 

"Because it allows them to consolidate their market share.Then in future  they may increase the price" Kate Poole, deputy chief executive of the Society of Authors, "

There was also an interesting piece on Radio Four earlier this week and this bemoaned all the self published books out there, claiming that traditional publishers are the arbiters of good taste and then if we lose them the quality of books will suffer. The program went onto talk about the success of Fifty Shades of Grey which would have never found a publisher before the Internet. But then it was traditional publishing who, driven by the success of Fifty Shades, snapped every erotic novel they could find and rushed them into stores. Was this driven by good taste or an attempt to cash in on a market they had missed?

Sex, sex and more sex dominated the eBook market for most of summer 2012 and by the autumn things hadn't cooled off with the announcement of a Fifty Shades movie and dozens and dozens of self published erotica novels hogging the eBook charts.

Lot of one handed reading done this year

The eBook world is rocking and rolling.- There have also been reports that there is a general decline in dedicated eReader sales, with Tablet devices becoming more popular. Some are calling this the beginning of the end for eBooks. That, of course is bullshit and this false conjecture has given authors and publishers hope that the printed book will return to the economic dominance it enjoyed before the the eReader device.

The eBook revolution continues. As I wrote above eBooks are Rocking and Rolling, and to continue this analogy if eBooks were Rock and Roll music then we would be in the year 1959, we've seen an explosion of the new pushing away the old and the market's cooled off, but the 1960's are just around the corner and beyond that we have some surely rocking decades to come.

  The real reason that eReader sales have dipped is that so many people now own devices and an eReader is not something you need to buy every other month- eBook sales have not dipped rememeber.

 I recently bought a Kindle Paperwhite but prior to this upgrade I'd used my Kindle 3 happily for several years. I gifted my old Kindle to my daughter and she loves it, so now there are two of us buying eBooks. Tablets are great all round devices but they will never replace dedicated eReaders. Tablets offer too many distractions, for the serious book reader, in the form of countless apps, notifications, videos, emails, angry birds and advertisements.There's also the fact that dedicated eReaders use eInk and this is fast becoming visually identical to real ink and paper.

Make no mistake about it eBooks are are to stay and like all good rock and roll stories there has been some bad behavior -

2012 was the year of the Sock Puppet. No this is not literature's answer to bobby socks, but rather authors creating false online identities to build buzz around their books. It all started when bestseller R. J. Ellory was exposed for leaving glowing reviews online of his own books, and also rubbishing the work of rival authors. When this story broke the fallout was intense with the worldwide media picking up on the story. And then bestseller Stephen Leather, one of the UK's most successful fiction writers, was also found to be using many pseudonyms to praise his books. Among Leather's numerous books are "False Friends," "Hard Landing: The First Spider Shepherd Thriller," "Inspector Zhang Gets His Wish," and "Short Fuses."

"You build this whole network of characters who talk about your books and sometimes have conversations with yourself … I have friends who are sockpuppets … One person on their own, difficult to create a buzz. If you’ve got ten friends, and they’ve got friends, and you can get them all as one creating a buzz, then hopefully you’ll be all right."everyone does it."  Stephen Leather, the  Telelgraph. Newspaper.


The entire sock puppet saga can not be covered in this brief roundup so readers may want to check out the Wiki article HERE 

All in all 2012 was the rockiest of years for eBooks and 2013 is set to continue in the same fashion.

Rock on.







 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Django Unchained: The best western in a long long time.....

Let's talk Django Unchained - I had high hopes for this movie which Tarantino's been talking up in one way or another ever since he burst onto the scene with Res Dogs and Pulp Fiction. In fact his idea for a spaghetti western type movie was originally supposed to go into production after Jackie Brown, but what with one thing and another we had to wait until now for Tarantino's spin on both the Euro and American westerns traditions.


Was the wait worth it?

I'd say it was and Django Unchained is, no doubt at all, one of the best westerns in decades - it is a far better movie that the Coen's take on True Grit, superior even to the excellent Blackthorn and you know I'm undecided if this actually tops the Eastwood Oscar winner, The Unforgiven. It's unfair to compare the two movies really since Eastwood's movie is much more serious in tone and even although Django Unchained contains some deeply serious elements, slavery for one thing, it is much more stylistic and often borders on comedy in places. The scene where the Klu Klux Klan argue about their hoods not allowing them to see depicts them as inbred idiots,and the audience are applauding when Schultz blows them to pieces and Django takes down their leader with a long range rifle.

I really do feel that Django Unchained may be the best western since The Outlaw Josey Wales - you've got to go that far back to find something comparable in the genre.

The film's provoked some outrage for daring to use slavery as a plot point and over its liberal use of the word, "Nigger". Spike Lee claims the film should be boycotted but Lee, as always, is missing the point. Slavery is shown to be the abhorrent practice it was, and surely is is the duty of anyone tackling the subject is to depict the way the blacks were actually treated. Sugarcoating all this would be an insult to history and I applaud Tarantino for this movie.

"We all intellectually 'know' the brutality and inhumanity of slavery. But after you do the research it's no longer intellectual any more, no longer just historical record – you feel it in your bones. It makes you angry, and want to do something … I'm here to tell you, that however bad things get in the movie, a lot worse shit actually happened." Quentin Tarantino

In the Oscar nominations the movie's been nominated for best picture, original screenplay and best supporting actor for Christoph Waltz.And although I feel the movie may be too controversial a choice to walk away with Best Picture it certainly deserves to win the award - it's the best film I've seen this year, far superior to Lincoln which is the favorite to win the Best Picture Award. And if you want to put Django among the blockbusters, where Tarantino often belongs, then its pisses all over Skyfall, Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers.

Right from the start the movie is typical Tarantino when we get the message flashed up on screen - made with the friendly participation of Franco Nero (the original Django turns up for a knowing cameo which may make little sense to anyone who hasn't seen the original movie) and then we find we are in 1858, Somewhere in Texas. We are introdued to Django, a slave, who is being led on a chain with several other slaves. Enter King Schultz, a kind of quick draw German dentist turned bounty hunter. Right away we are into a shoot out that could have come from a classic western but tinged with some Tarantinoesque blood spraying across the screen. The scenes ends with Django now owned by Schultz but Schultz hates slavery and promises Django his freedom if he will help him track down the men he is looking for.

Schultz is a magnificent character, as is Django and just about every other main character in the movie. Leonardo DeCaprio is magnificent as the evil slaver, Max Candie and Samuel L. Jackson is outstanding as the self-loathing slave Stephen who betrays his race and seems to have sold his soul for a life of privilege within the Candie household.

The film ticks all the western boxes and we have a great winter section where the American landscapes are used to evoke classic scenes from westerns long past. And of course all the Tarantino elements are present and correct and I, for my own choice, would say this is Tarnatino's best film, better even than the excellent Pulp Fiction.

The soundtrack is also quite superb with not only the original Django theme used but also the music from the first of the Trinity westerns. One scene where Django,looking impossibly cool, takes on all comers in a shoot out while Tupac plays out over the soundtrack is a perfect example of how Tarantino merges the visuals with the music to create dazzling slices of cinema.


The film owes little to the original Django movie although it does use the slavery elements from Django II which was the only official sequel to the Django series. The spaghetti western Unchained owes the most to is to my mind, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - the movie is of a similar length and is structured in a similar way. Mind you I'm glad Tarantino didn't go in for all those lingering Leone style shots, which would have quickly become tiring and instead he's concentrated on everything that makes the western genre so good.

The film is violent, tragic, exciting, incredibly stylish and even funny in places but above all it is a proper movie from a proper movie-maker.


Django Unchained - an exceptional western that opens in the UK 18th Jan 2013 and is already on general release in the US.

Don't miss this one.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

2013 and the Sock Puppets are back

There have been more developments in the sock puppets saga with author, RJ Ellory finding himself banned from Wikipedia after posting several fake entries around his own entry.

Recently Ellory, one of Britain's leading authors who has won a variety of awards including Crime Novel of the Year 2010, was compelled to apologize after Jeremy Duns, a British spy author now based in Sweden, aired the accusations on Twitter.

And now The Telegraph Newspaper reports that Ellory has been banned from Wikipedia  after he was found to be deleting stories from his biography.

Here follows the article from The Daily Telegraph


The Daily Telegraph can disclose that the 47 year-old was “permanently blocked” after attempting on more than a dozen occasions to remove negative stories on his posting on the internet using pseudonyms.

Volunteers from the online encyclopedia, which has more than 450 million users worldwide, became suspicious about his activity amid accusations it compromised the integrity of the profile.
Officials made the decision after finding he had tried to delete stories, including from The Daily Telegraph, from the profile and had breached its “self promotion” rules by being one of its main authors.
But the author, whose real name is Roger Jon Ellory, argued the coverage of his actions was “a significant matter of misrepresentation” and that stories had “blown [it] out of all proportion”.
The row came after Ellory, based in Birmingham, West Mids, was exposed over the so-called “sock puppeting” practice, in which people write fake online reviews.

The bestselling novelist was exposed for using pseudonyms to pen fake glowing reviews about his “magnificent genius” while simultaneously criticising his rivals.

The author of A Quiet Belief in Angels and a Simple Act of Violence apologised for his "lapse of judgment" and vowed he would not “avoid responsibility”.

He admitted he had used fake identities to write about his own work on the Amazon book site, giving himself five star ratings.

The father-of-one also admitted writing at least a dozen posts on the internet using pseudonyms and repeatedly apologised to fans and rivals for his actions on websites.
A group of leading authors later warned the practice was rife on the internet and readers should be aware of the "fraudulent" practices of some writers.

In the weeks after the scandal erupted in September, Ellory took to this Wikipedia page to amend the wording of a “controversy paragraph” and the newspaper links which gave “completely the wrong bias on this issue”.

After he was challenged by his actions, he admitted he had written his biography and had posted information about his novels for “a number of years”.

He said he was confused about the policy and questioned why he was not able to delete “potentially libellous statements” about his work, which he labelled “grossly unfair, unjust and biased”.
“My intent was never to antagonise you or challenge your system,” he told the moderators.

“My intent was merely to see that the information on my page - which is, after all, a representation of me and my life to the wider world - was not biased, inappropriate, incorrect and false.
“As far as this dispute is concerned, there is a significant matter of misrepresentation in the press regarding the extent to which I had manufactured 'reviews' on amazon [sic].”
He added: “Simply put, this entire issue was blown out of all proportion, and I have been treated most unjustly.”

Wikipedia sources described the attempts to delete information, which occurred on at least 13 occasions, as akin to “vandalism” while the site did not take information that was “unsourced”.
“Plainly and simply, we are very tired of people using Wikipedia in order to promote their own personal and commercial interest,” said one source.

“It makes no sense for him to admit in front of the entire world to writing the… reviews and to apologise for them, while, at the same time, attempting to scrub the evidence from Wikipedia.”
Last night a spokesman for Wikipedia, whose editorial work is completed by a team of thousands of volunteers across the globe, confirmed the author had been banned from the site but declined to comment further.

Neither Ellory nor his agent responded to repeated requests for comment.

The reluctant pirate

Personally I've got mixed feelings about piracy. If you use piracy to obtain movies,music, books for free, thus depriving the artists, studios etc of vital revenue then that's plainly wrong, both legally and morally. On the other hand I also feel that the music industry took the battering it deserved when music downloading and file sharing took off in a big way - for too long they had been ripping off music fans with their high prices, only a small percentage of which ended up with the creative artists who created the work in the first place. The music industry got a bloody nose and they had it coming.

But what about pirating material that is not available to buy? Is that wrong? There are hordes of old TV shows and movies available on illegal file sharing sites that are not available to buy, many of these have such a minority interest that they will never be available commercially so whilst this is technically piracy I see nothing wrong with this. If fact the industry can often benefit from this and have done - the BBC are one prime example because they have had many shows returned to their archives that they had originally lost - certain episodes of Doctor Who are only available for future generations because some fan recorded (pirated) the episodes when they were originally shown. In fact the BBC have reached out to pirates on more than one occasions asking for help in finding copies of missing programs.

So it's not all clear cut - piracy can often be good for both industry and fans alike.

What about downloading big screen movies though? Now this is wrong, totally and can not be justified....or can it? These days we have a worldwide web  and this means that in theory anyone can put anything online and it can travel around the world in moments. And yet the film industry still stagger film release dates. This makes no sense in the modern world - Take the recent release of Bond movie, Skyfall. It was out in the UK weeks before the US, so American Bond fans would read the reviews coming from across the pond and be frustrated because there was no way these could see the movie. Only they could - I wonder how many people downloaded Skyfall simply because they wanted to see it at the same time as most other countries? Many did, no doubt. A similar situation exists with Tarantino's Django Unchained - it's out there Stateside but we Brits don't get it until the 18th Jan. They did the same thing a couple of years back with the Coen's retelling of True Grit. I love westerns and although I was there to see True Grit on opening day I'd already seen it via a screener doing the rounds on the web. And it's the same situation with Django Unchained - I'll be in the cinema for this movie but I've already seen it via a high quality screener sent out to critics was leaked to the web - AND IT'S FUCKING EXCELLENT! 

Screeners have leaked since Napster popularized illegal file sharing. Illegal copies of “This is 40,” “Lincoln,” and even more recent releases like “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Django Unchained” have become available  in recent days. And these are not dodgy copies done by some arse hiding in the back of the cinema with a camcorder but high quality studio copies - the Hollywood studios send out screeners to critics, hoping to gin up critical conversation before the movies are made available on DVD or Blu-Ray. Each copy has an encryption or is watermarked in some way so if it does leak to the Internet the studios are able to determine just how it got there, and whom to strike from the screener mailing list next year.


Now I won't buy a pirated movie - not only because the quality is often bad but because I don't think it is right to do so, but if I can see a movie like Django Unchained immediately rather than wait weeks for it to his UK screens that I will do, and have done. Do I feel guilty? No not at all - I'll be there in the Cinema and I'll buy the DVD when it comes out, but having to read all the glowing American reviews and then be expected to wait weeks for the movie is bullshit. So maybe the studios need to wake up to reality and release their movies simultaneously around the world.

It's crazy in a world with the world wide web, to stagger film releases. Just as it's crazy for studios to spend a fortune taking fans to court which whilst resulting in convictions only create bad public relations with customers.The basic fact the movie studios need to realize is that there's something cool about an outlaw, but nothing good about big business litigating against movie fans.

Ahh well it's a tricky one but all I will say is - "That Django's a bloody good film, ah indeed Jim Lad and I'm certainly going to hand over my pieces of eight when UK screens finally get to show this movie, which could be the best western in decades.









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Monday, 7 January 2013

Spending like it's 1978

I've been spending like it's 1978.

I've spent an enjoyable morning in Cardiff - I've been working non stop since the New Year  and have produced 12,000 words this past week so figured I deserved a morning off, and I certainly needed to get away from the screen and into the fresh air.

This morning was one of those all too rare mild January days, seeming like an early spring. I had no rain or wind to contend with and instead the sun even put in a couple of appearances. The reason for my visit was the Bear Shop, the oldest and one of the few remaining specialist tobacconists in South Wales.

The Bear Shop was founded in 1870 by William Arthur Lewis. After his death in 1928 control passed to his daughter Winifred and her husband Harold Darbey. The Shop stayed in the Darbey family until 2000 when it was bought by A.E.Lloyd & Sons Ltd and subsequently acquired by Paul Gilmour of Shave & Coster, Reading in 2007.  The Big Bear known as Bruno was bought by W.A. Lewis and stood in the shop at 84, St. Mary Street from about 1900 until he moved in 1990 to the Wyndham Arcade where he resides today. He is reputed to be 200 years old.

Anyway I needed to stock up on pipe tobacco and so with 50grms of Peterson's Nutty Cut, 50gms of the store's own Extravagenza mix,  50gms of Three Nuns and a new reamer I am stocked up for a month or so of sucking of the briar.

 I love visiting this shop - the staff are old school and as soon as you step through the doors it is like the smoking ban never happened, and you are immediately transported back decades and hit with the rich aromas of the varied pipe tobacco mixes and the row upon rows of luxury cigars - and for my American readers we can even get Cuban made monsters here. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it we may still be waiting for Django Unchained but we can pass the time by sucking on a nice fat Cuban! I'm not really much of a cigar smoker but I did pick up a single Boliver.  Hey, fuck you Cuba but I must be honest they do make a fine cigar! Likely the finest in the world.

The Big Bear known as Bruno was bought by W.A. Lewis and stood in the shop at 84, St. Mary Street from about 1900 until he moved in 1990 to the Wyndham Arcade where he resides today. He is reputed to be 200 years old.

That done I then visited my favorite shop in the world - Troutmark Books in the Castle Arcade - Troutmark is a book lovers paradise, three floors of nothing but secondhand books, comics and oddities.

I came away with a great bunch of westerns - two near mint George G. Gilman's, these being Edge 33 The Hated and Adam Steele 45 The Outcasts. It's not that difficult to find copies of Gilman's westerns but these are in amazingly good condition. I also picked up a paperback of Larry McMurtry's Dead Man's Walk which whilst far from mint in condition is damn fine and makes a nice addition to my western collection. The final couple of books I picked up were Herne The Hunter 5 : Apache Squaw by John L McLaglen which is indeed difficult to find especially in condition like this. And finally Sudden: Dead or Alive by Fredrick H. Christian who is actually Archive friend, Fred Nolan.

Not a bad day but ahh well, it's now back to the grindstone.