Monday, 20 September 2021

Movie Review: Cry Macho - The Good, the Bad and the Poultry

 I've seen one or two nasty reviews of the new Clint Eastwood movie, Cry Macho around the web - mostly, these reviews can't get around the fact that the lead man is in his Nineties but there's a good movie here and once you get over the fact that the star often looks frail (well, he would at his age) it pays off. Hell, Eastwood still looks damn fine in a cowboy hat.

Eastwood, plays Mike Milo ,a  former rodeo rider, horse trainer and all round animal lover. He sketches out the character in his usual laid-back style but this perfectly complements the adventurous artist he is behind the camera. Milo is hired to travel to Mexico and bring back a thirteen year old boy so that he can be reunited with his father in Texas and on the way Mike meets up with all manner of dangerous hombres and corrupt police officers.

The movie starts off as a thriller but as soon as Eastwood meets up with the young boy, Rafo and his remarkable rooster named Macho the movie slows right down, becomes much more pastoral. There's  some great character moments and a lot of Eastwood's dry humour. And the slow pace of the movie perfectly compliments the character Eastwood is playing - a run down man whose best years are far behind him but whilst there may be snow on the roof there is very much a fire in the cellar.

Overall I think Cry Macho is on the same level as Eastwood's last starring role, The Mule - the characters he play in both are fairly similar but Mike Milo is much more of a compelling character than Earl Stone - Both are road movies and both show an aging man coming to terms with a life maybe not well lived but certainly with many highlights along the way.

Ignore the critics who have slammed the film - critics are bottom feeders in any case and don't create anything worthwhile but exist to tear down the work of others

I enjoyed Cry Macho - it's a great, heart-warming picture. There's a great shot of Eastwood, the boy and the chicken walking down a road that is kind of magical and as with all of Eastwood's directed movies the scenery photography is nothing short of stunning.

If you go into the cinema expecting Dirty Harry 23 or The Good, the Bad and the Poultry then you'll be disappointed but if you sit back and allow the story to waft over you then a good experience is pretty much guaranteed. The movie will - make your day, punk.

Long live Clint.

Free eBooks

 eBooks are a great way to read  - sure, they can be consumed on phones, tablets, PC screens but it is with a dedicated eInk device that they really come to life - to my mind, eReaders are the only way to read eBooks and I'd never part with my beloved Kindle Oasis.

 Once you've got the hardware it's time to stock it up with loads of shiny new eBooks. You can get an entire library in your pocket and free eBooks are a great way to quickly build up a collection.

However downloading free eBooks from the web is not without risky - malware,trogans and all manner of virus can be lurking so here is a common sense way to get oddles of free eBooks without the risk.

Project Gutenberg is a great resource with stacks of eBooks you can download for free - more than 50,000 in fact. The entire Sherlock Holmes series can be found there - thanks to the work of volunteers who scan old out of copyright classics and convert them into workable files the website has a vast collection for all eReader owners to enjoy. And there's no malware at all.

Joining Amazon Prime is another way to get loads of free eBooks for your device -  Remember, you don't need an actual Kindle device but can download the free Kindle App to your phone or tablet and take advantage of the vast library that way. This is a great place to stock up on free audiobooks, which are a great way to pass the time while commuting. If you are on Amazon Prime then subscribing to Kindle Unlimited is a no-brainer - Kindle Unlimited is kind of the Netflix for books.

Friday, 17 September 2021

The Rise of the Self Publisher


Looking back through the archives of this blog, the reader will discover that I've always supported digital publishing. Right at the beginning, when the Kindle was just one of the eReaders fighting for our hearts, minds and money - 

back in 2011 in fact, in an article entitled, The Times they are a'changing, I wrote, 'It's a new phenomenon and many in the publishing industry believe that the lunatics have finally taken over the asylum - only recently there was a stigma against self publishing, which seemed to be lumped under that dreaded term, Vanity Publishing. These days however things are changing - and rapidly. With the advent of eBooks and the ease in which anyone can publish to a platform like Amazon's Kindle, we are seeing newcomers outselling long established names.'

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

And now in 2021 the eBook market has, if not mutured, then at least entered it's troubled teenage years. The Kindle device now dominates the market, although there are other eReaders that have pretty solid user bases. Kobo eReaders for one have a strong following, as does the Nook but for the writer it is the Kindle which is the gold standard. Amazon have the best eBook store out there and for author's hoping to gain an audience it is the Kindle that  offers the best opportunities. Though that is not to say you should ignore the other platforms and it is a good idea when producing your eBook file to create an ePub version alongside the mobi for uploading to marketplaces other than Amazon.

I got into self publishing, though I prefer the term Indie Publishing, back in 2012 when I made the first of the Granny Smith series available to the Kindle and Kobo devices. I'm what you would call a hybrid author - I publish traditionally with Crowood Press and Pen and Sword Books, but I also publish my cozy crime novels under my own own digital publishing house, Red Valley Books.  Sales of the Granny Smith series have been strong with both Granny Smith Investigates and Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs going top five several times in the Cosy
Crime charts. The first book, Granny Smith Investigates went as high as No 2.


Recently I saw the  the publication of the fourth Granny Smith title, Mudrer Plot and in the build up to publication the previous three titles are on offer for the knock down price of 0.99c or equivalent. So now may be a good time for new readers to check out the books.

Now after several years of self publshing - no scrub that and start again - Now after several years of INDIE PUBLISHING I have learned one or two things, and I intend to share these hard learned lessons with readers of the Tainted Archive through a series of articles that goes under the collective  title, Indie Publishing. This article here is an introduction to the series, and I apologise upfront if I mention my Granny Smith series several times in each article...hey, the importance of  self publicity is one of the things you'll learn during this series of articles.

ALSO AVAILABLE The Reluctant Terrorist - Armageddon has never been so much fun

Another newspaper goes digital only

 No doubt this is the shape of things to come but recent news got the digital publishing world in a spin when it was announced that the Chattanooga Times is moving to digital publishing only and will give its subscribers free iPads.

The plan will cease delivery of the print edition of the newspaper by mid-2022.

The newspaper's publisher, Walter E. Hussman Jr., has purchased thousands of Apple iPads to give to subscribers.

The newspaper said starting Monday it will begin converting daily print subscribers to an online version of the daily newspaper available on the tablet. The replica edition looks like the print paper but has some additional features and functionality, the newspaper reported.

“If we didn’t do this, we wouldn’t be able to continue to publish the kind of paper we publish in Chattanooga,” Hussman said. “For us to do this, we can keep our newsroom basically intact. It’s the way for us to maintain good, quality journalism and fulfil our function.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

A proper movie...can't wait


Classic Comics - Action

 Action ramains one of the most controversial British comics - It was actually, banned, withdrawn from sale after complaints in the media resulted in questions being asked in Parliament.

The comic was devised in 1976 by Pat Mills, a man who enjoys the status of legend these days. It was intended to reflect the social changes and issues in the UK in the late 1970's and it didn't flinch in it's depiction of violence. Several titles were bandied about for the comic Boots, Dr Martins and Action 76 were all considered until the title Action was decided upon.

Many of the stories in Action were what Mills called "dead cribs", essentially rip-offs of popular films, books, and comic heroes. Rather than being a straight copy, the "cribs" in Action had their own slant on the idea. Hook Jaw, for example, combined the graphic gore and shark anti-hero of Steven Spielberg's 1975 Jaws, whilst Hellman of Hammer Force was a Warlord/Battle-style adventure told from the point of view of a German Panzer commander and very much taking its influence from the hugely popular paperbacks of Sven Hassel.

The first issue was published on 7 February 1976,  The comic was instantly popular, particularly for its gritty tone and graphic gore. Within weeks the media had picked up on the title's violent content. The London Evening Standard  and The Sun  ran major articles on the comic, with the latter  by dubbing Action "the sevenpenny nightmare" (the cover price was 7p). Over the next few months Action was the centre of a campaign led by Mary Whitehouse to censor or ban the comic. IPC eventually started to moderate strips in order to forestall possible boycotts by newsagent chains such as John Menzies and W H Smiths.

In September 1976 John Sanders appeared on the television programme Nationwide , where he tried to defend the comic from a vigorous attack by interviewer. Although Action remained popular, its days were numbered. Pressure within IPC's higher management, and alleged worries that the two major newsagent chains would refuse to stock not just Action, but all of IPC's line, led to the 23 October issue being pulped.

The title returned on 27 November (cover date 4 December), but the violence was toned down, replaced by a safer, blander feel. Stories like Hook Jaw were no longer drenched in blood and gore, but instead were full of safer and more reliable heroes, and traditional villains. Sales dropped drastically, and the last issue before merging with Battle was published on 5 November 1977 - dated 11 November. Battle became Battle Action until 1982, at which point the Action name was dropped entirely.

The use of vivid-red blood shocked moral guardians

The war strips had a gritty feel.

Even the letters page had a subversive edge. Readers were encouraged to insult the editor.

Lefty replaced Hook Jaw for the colour centre pages

Classic Comics

the revamped Dan Dare as he first appeared in the pages of 2000AD - double page spread taken from the first issue of 2000AD.