Tuesday 31 May 2011

Risen a knockout on DVD

Risen out today on DVD - thanks to Amazon my copy dropped through the door this morning.

Here's the review I did after seeing the film at The Newport Film Festival - it won that festival and star Stuart Brennan has just won the Welsh Bafta. Director Neil Jones will bring my novel, The Tarnished Star to the screen under the title, LawMaster.

The Risen, in which I take a small part, is a truly remarkable film telling the story of a remarkable man.

The remarkable story of Welsh boxing legend, Howard Winston is served up in this award winning movie from Burn Hand Films. The story follows Howard from the time he lost three fingers in an industrial accident to him being crowned Featherweight champion of the world after beating Mitsunori Seki in the 1968 fight at the Royal Albert Hall. It truly is a life affirming story of grit and determination as the man who couldn't even make a fist with his right hand went onto rule the boxing world.

The part of Howard Winstone is taken by Stuart Brannan who also co-wrote the screenplay with director, Neil Jones and between them they have produced a grim, gritty but ultimately joyous film that fails to fall into the sentimental trap which is always a danger with sporting based movies. The film pulls no punches in telling it as it was and the grim surroundings of 1960's industrial Wales are brought to vivid life. There are some great character sketches and being a Welshman myself and a Valley boy too, it was pleasing to see characters that rang true on the screen. Boyd Clack, as Howard Winstone Snr gave a great turn as a man suffering from black lung disease, the curse of the coal miner, whose only desire is to help his son overcome all odds in his quest for greatness.

"A Valley's boy. The champion of the world. It's tremendous."

Howard Winstone is portrayed honestly, warts and all, and we see that his highly focused determination is both the making of him as well as the ruin of his marriage. Grainne Joughin plays Mrs Winstone and the actress has some powerful material to get her teeth into. She starts out positively joyous, almost girlish but hardens as her marriage becomes a soulless shell.

"What about what I want?", she pleads to her mother-in-law only to receive a stony look and words spat back with venom.

Though the bottom line is that  this is a boxing movie and it is in the fight scenes that it will ultimately be judged - Neil Jones obviously recognised the fact and he presents Winstone's various fights in several styles -from painfully slow to blurringly fast. The second fight against Vicente Saldivar is particularly effective - played out in grinding slow motion and set to Moonlight Sonata, it becomes a hypnotic ballet as the camera pulls back time after time to the rhythm of the boxer's feet. This is then contrasted by the third and final fight against the Mexican champion flashing across the screen with the speed of strobe lighting.

More Raging Bull than Rocky Balboa, Risen is a gritty story, the mood often as black as the coal fields but it is also a testament to the determination and sheer guts of one man who rises about adversity and handicap to punch his way to the top.

Go get it, folks.

Monday 30 May 2011

There'll never be another quite like him - Mickey Spillane

Archive Heroes - Jim Thompson

The entire documentary as included on The Grifters DVD

Introducing Vincent Stark

Vincent Stark is a reclusive writer, who shuns all contact with the outside world. He has not been seen in public since 1979. Although, from time to time, there have been rumours of sightings of the author lurking in the shadows of the cemetery behind his dilapidated mansion house deep in the Rhondda Valley countryside.
It is said that he is suffering from a skin condition which is aggravated by sunlight and is thus forced into his twilight existence. There is much debate over his well known skill with, the Stylophone and his penchant for playing jazz phrases on his own podcast, Scary Motherfucker. Indeed Stark seems to have picked up this skill overnight and there is one urban legend of him visiting the crossroads one evening and selling his soul to the devil in exchange for his ability on the stylophone.

The devil has all the best tunes
This year will see the publication of a new novel, The Dead Walked and the author, showing the first signs of clawing his way back into the public consciousness now has a Facebook page – please support the ageing author by clicking like on his page, HERE

However for now Vincent Stark remains hidden away, his groceries delivered by a string of crucifix wearing delivery men and his bills paid by automatic withdrawal from the blood bank.

Add caption
The Dead Walked by Vincent Stark

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 23 May - 29 May 2011
URL: http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com/

Unique Visitors8588306756567006877025,108730
First Time Visitors8217976356326606536694,867695
Returning Visitors3733402440343324134

Sunday 29 May 2011

Know the feeling...

The Archive's Sunday Comics - Any Ol' Iron!

This week's Sunday Comics comes from one of the most iconic British comics ever, or at least the 1967 annual of the said publication.

This particular Iron Man story was written by Keith Chapman, whom Archive readers will know best as western writer, Chap O'Keefe.


The Iron Man who appeared in British comics 
in the 1960s bore little relation to Marvel’s Iron Man. 
For a start, he looked human and only Tim Branton,
 the nephew of his creator, the late Professor 
Wentworth Farrad, knew he was a robot stronger than 
a hundred men and with a wonderful brain that 
could take in and process complex information. 
He was nothing like Lion comic’s long-running Robot Archie
 either,who was charmingly clunky in a 1950s 
The Iron Man made his debut in the short-lived Boys’ World 
weekly in 1963. When that comic was incorporated with its
 more famous stablemate, Eagle, in 1964, the Iron Man became a
 fixture there till Eagle itself was absorbed into Lion in the IPC  
rationalizations of 1969.
 The stories in Boys’ World and Eagle were of the British serial
 pattern typical of the times—an episode every week 
culminating in a cliffhanger.
 But for complete stories we can look to the annuals, where we
 find this four-page item from Eagle Annual 1967, drawn by
 the Iron Man’s usual artist, Martin Salvador, 
and published in late 1966. 
 Salvador’s early work had been for Chicos, a famous comic in 
his home country, Spain. 
His best-known achievement in that publication
was a western, Mendoza Colt. In 1956,
when barely
out of his teens,
 he began drawing for British comics, working through 
SI Artists, a Barcelona-headquartered agency. 
His work appeared in Amalgamated Press
(Fleetway) comics like Sun Comic,
Cowboy Picture Library (Buck Jones), and
 Thriller Picture Library (Robin Hood and Dick Daring).
After his stint on the Iron Man, Salvador’s work
popped up in the United States, in the 
Warren black-and-white horror comics, Creepy
(standalones) and Eerie (Curse of the Werewolf).
Later, he drew for European Saint and
James Bond comic-books published

in Sweden by Semic Press.
His style is recognized internationally
 by comics collectors whether the story 
is in the western, historical, war,
 horror, or techno-thriller genres.

Saturday 28 May 2011

Nice work if you can get it.

This is for real.

Now here's a dream job. An advertisement has appeared on the UK version of Craigslist looking for female web coders who are prepared to work in the nude.

Chris Taylor of Nude House says he's a naturist himself, and that the office is warm and private - and great fun. Customers never meet the staff, he promises, and won't know they're in their birthday suits.
On the company website, he says it's the "ultimate experience for nudist self-expressions" and  suggests that "The company may also operate the other nude activities - if the staff desire."
His requirements are simple. "There is nothing hard with this other than understanding the web and being able to design web pages," reads the ad. "You can work part-time or full-time - it is up to you."
But there is just one more thing that applicants apparently need for the job - breasts.
Taylor is remarkably unabashed about the stipulation, which he seems to think is perfectly normal. "It's because they'll be working for me in my house, and I want females," he told TG Daily. "I don't want to look at men."

Friday 27 May 2011

Amazon new publishing imprint

Amazon are to launch another new publishing imprint, the fifth imprint from Amazon Publishing, focused on mysteries and thrillers. The imprint called Thomas and Mercher and already they are making publishing news after author, Barry Eisler's decision this week, a month after rejecting a $500,000 offer from St. Martin's in favor of self-publishing his work, signed to bring out his new RAIN novel through Amazon's new imprint. 

Thriller writer Barry Eisler, who turned his back on a two-book deal for half a million dollars from St Martin’s Press, has decided to accept six figures from Amazon and become one of its first frontlist authors.

Indie authors are up in arms claiming that Eisler's done a U-turn on everything he's preached about self publishing, some are even calling him a hypocrite  - check out this story on A Writer's Life

Will eBooks ever be included free with traditional books?

There's an interesting arguement for this on the Good eReader Blog -

"When you look at the movie industry you always get the digital version for free when you buy the hard copy. When you buy a Blu-ray Disk it normally comes with a free digital edition for your computer, ditto with DVD Disks. Considering that eBooks are so popular, why is it that the leather bound tomes we have come to love are not accompanied by the digital version?"   FULL ARTICLE

eBooks - where next?

Everyone  knows someone who said they would never get a mobile phone or couldn’t give up film photography for digital or hated the quality of music on MP3 and stuck stubbornly with their old vinyl.
However the chances are those people now have a mobile phone that they use for making calls, taking photos and listening to music. Those who have stuck to their original position are in an ever decreasing minority.

The digitisation of modern media is inevitable.

Only this month  Amazon announced that sales of Kindle ebooks had overtaken hardback sales in the UK. The online bookseller reached that milestone after just nine months. It took two and a half years for Kindle ebook sales in the US to reach the same milestone - a measure of how far ebooks have come. In the US, Amazon now sells 105 ebooks for every 100 printed books. 

The world famous Hay festival is now underway and as the location is only a few miles from me, I visited Hay yesterday to see what was going on. And you know this town that seems to have a bookshop every few feet, is gearing up for a festival in which the main emphasis will be on eBooks. And the key words seems to be - APPS. There are several talks planned looking at the role APPS will take in the future of publishing. Rest assured the Archive will be attending many of these events and reporting back so keep reading the Archive for piccies and wordies from Hay.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Kindle and the ePub factor

Recently we reported on the big news, as broken by the Good Ereader Blog, that Amazon is to finally allow the ePub format onto its bestselling Kindle device, and although Amazon have yet to confirm this we have heard from several major publishers that they have been told by Amazon that this is the case. Now it is still unclear what sort of DRM Amazon will use on their ePub books but if it turns out to be, as expected, geared around Adobe Digital Editions then this will open up the Kindle to library book lending as well as other book stores.

ePub compatibility will come via a firmware update but it is unclear if this will work on the earliest Kindle models. The latest generation models have some different coding to first generation Kindles, which could make for some tricky problems with any updates.

The Archive has long criticised the Kindle for not supporting ePub, and although I consider the Kindle to offer the best reading experience of any eReader on the market, the lack of ePub means that other comparable eReaders, ie, those that use eInk displays, have had an advantage on Amazon's device in terms of near universal compatability. However this new update, when available, will truly make the Kindle the market leader and benefit the eBook industry as a whole. It will also bring the Kindle into line with the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF).

The Archive has written to Amazon asking for confirmation of this story but thus far we have had no reply - however it seems that this is now a certain thing...and it's about time too.

This July - The Ballad begins

THE COMPLETE LITERARY 007 - Carte Blanche (preview)

Ahh how times have changed - at one time I would have been standing outside my local bookshop on release day, probably shivering in the early summer rain. And if the book was highly sought after obtaining a first edition would have been a mission worthy of Mr Bonds himself. However by pre-ordering from Amazon the book arrived through my post box this morning. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but it's certainly an indication of the demise of the brick and mortar bookstore.

This has jumped to the top of my TBR pile so expect a review here soon as part of our complete literary James Bond series - we can backtrack on the remaining books later.

I'm excited to start this. The review in the London Evening Standard ended - Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sebastian Faulks are among those who have tried to bring Bond back to life. Deaver, though, is in a class of his own: nobody's done it better. Though how well informed the reviewer was is anyone's guess, since he seems to have overlooked the popular Bond author, Raymond Benson. And before anyone comments about Charley Higson, author of the young Bond books being included then note, they are fine if you want them but I refuse to accept them as 007 canon. I've got nothing against Mr Higson, indeed I've never read any of the Young Bond books and never will, as I tend to agree with John Gardner, a mean Bond author himself, when he said of the Young Bond books - ""It's just the last desperate attempt to draw in a new audience. The films have little to do with the Bond we used to know, and now the books are going the same way."

Let's hope that Carte Blanche takes us back to the true Bond universe.

According to the Guardian newspaper - The Bond of Carte Blanche is in his 30s, a former navy officer who saw frontline action in Afghanistan and was then recruited – not to MI6, but to a black-ops outfit called the "Overseas Development Group". Bond is still run by M and furnished with gadgets by "Q Branch". (Bond's mobile phone, in an excitingly modern way, has lots of espionage "apps".)

Bond is healthier, too: a "former smoker" (no more Balkan Sobranies, alas) who still likes the odd cocktail but also spends "at least an hour a day exercising and running.

Is Deaver's Bond worthy of Flemings Bond? The Archive will give its opinion soon.

The Young Guns

It's been years since I've watched this film, but in the mood for some stylised western mayhem, and a smidgen of Charlie Sheen, I slipped the disc into my DVD player.

You know this is the film where Charlie Sheen is the level headed one and his younger bro is Billy the Kid. These days the tables have been turned, and it is Charlie who is the hellraiser - mind you, I love this guy. As he points out in his Twitter status - born small, now huge...winning.

But, I've gone off on a tangent, so back to the movie - this is the western for those weaned on the big action movies of the 80's and 90's. It's Die Hard with a Stetson, Lethal Weapon on the range, it's set in a west sound-tracked by synthesiser but above all it's bloody good fun, and that final shoot out, can't have a western without a final shoot out, is up there with those classic westerns. Of course most of us already know that the western has always been cool, but coolness oozes out of each and every frame of this movie. It really isn't a bad film - despite what some reviews would have you believe.

Billy the Kid, the dreamscape deperado, rides again.

Firstly the film is not historically accurate but then if we ignored every western that took liberties with historical fact, we'd have only a fistful of movies to watch.

Young Guns was what we used to call, a high concept movie - cast the then popular group of actors known as The Brat Pack in a western and sit back and watch the big bucks roll in. And roll in they did- $44 million on its original cinema release and many times that since. In fact during its opening weekend it was the highest grossing movie and all from a limited budget of $13 million.

The picture belongs to Emlio Estevez with his psychotic reading of Billy the Kid, but Kiefer Sutherland and Lou Diamond Phillips are also excellent. The parts given to the rest of the brat pack are mostly supporting and Charlie Sheen does his best with his straight laced character but the character doesn't stand out in comparison to the more interesting roles given out to the other actors.

Old hands Terence Stamp and Jack Palance are on hand to give the film a touch of class, and Palance is especially effective as the sinister Lawrance Murphy. There scenes he shares with Keiffer Sutherland as the lovesick Doc are especially effective with Palance coming across as an almost vampiric figure.

The final scene is a voice over of Doc explaining what happened after the picture, a voice over that was contradicted in Young Guns II. In Doc's explanation, he includes that Alex's widow caused a congressional investigation into the Lincoln County War. Chavez took work at a farm in California; Doc moved east to New York and married Yen Sun, whom he had saved from Murphy; and Billy continued to ride until he was found and shot dead by Pat Garrett, who in this film is shown as barely knowing Billy. Billy was buried next to Charlie Bowdre at Fort Sumner. A stranger went to the grave of Billy the Kid late at night and made a carving into the headstone. The epitaph read only one word: "PALS".

It's got action, laughs and thrills - what more could one want?

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Wild West News

There's a new western story over at Meridian Bridge - Eli's Cannon by Richard Prosch. Go check it out.

Daughter of Texas by Celia Hayes (full review later this week) is available now and highly recommended by the Archive. The book is the start of a prelude to the author's popular, Adelsverein Trilogy. Billed as the story of a woman's life in Texas before the cattle drives, before the Alamo, before the legends were born, the book is a change in tack from my usual brand of cordite fuelled westerns and I found it a rewarding read - I was dragged up and swept up by the saga. Celia is now working on a sequel which will see print later this year. Check out Celia's books HERE

The countdown has begun to the publication of my third Jack Martin western, The Ballad of Delta Rose. Yep, this July the book will see publication from Black Horse Westerns and I can't wait to see what my readers will make of this one. Also Jack Martin related - this month saw the trade paperback edition of Arkansas Smith released by The Linford Western Library. Why not head over to your local library and request the book as an appetiser for Delta Rose..go on, pretty please.

Clint Eastwood is rumoured to be considering in a western project. It is highly unlikely that the actor/director will appear in the movie, but here at the Archive we are foaming at the mouth at the prospect of a Eastwood directed oater hitting the big screen.

The next Wild West eMonday is taking shape and a date has been set - the last weekend in August will see the big event taking place here on the Archive. The previous Wild West Monday initiatives have all been hugely popular and, I like to think, have gone some way to put the genre back in the public eye. This time we'll be running a western short story competition (details soon) with the winning story appearing on the Archive and the writer getting a fistful of western goodies.

Once again the emphasis will be on the E in Wild West eMonday - although many of us still don't use eBooks, preferring to stick with dead tree books, there is little doubt that eBooks are the future for mass market fiction, so it would be counter-productive not to celebrate the western's place in these technology driven times. But for the record the medium the western is delivered on isn't important - it's supporting the genre that matters, and as always we'll be celebrating both the rich heritage and the fabulous future of the genre.

True Grit 2010 will make it onto DVD next month, with Amazon already taking pre-orders for the two disc special edition. The second disc will contain some great behind the scenes footage as well as an extensive making of documentary. Now ain't that something to look forward to.

This news item has been previously reported here but it's worth running again and is certain to have all true West buffs foaming at the mouth - The one-and-only authenticated photograph of Billy the Kid - the famous Upham tintype - will be offered to the public for the first time ever at Brian Lebel’s Old West Auction this June. This rare tintype of Billy the Kid (large image below) is believed to be the only survivor of four that were created when he posed for the picture in a Fort Sumner, New Mexico, gambling hall in late 1879 or early 1880. This shot often accompanies stories about Billy the Kid and is believed to be one of the only authenticated images of the young outlaw. It will be auctioned on June 25 at Brian Lebel’s Old West Show and Auction at the Denver Merchandise Mart where it could bring between $300,000 and $400,000. The tintype passed through the family of one of Billy’s rustler partners, Dan Dedrick and is sometimes called the Upham tintype after the Dedrick’s grand-nephew, Frank Upham and his descendants.

Tintype: is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a sheet of iron metal that is blackened by painting

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises - new details emerge

Brett Cullen and Chris Ellis join The Dark Knight RisesChristopher Nolan has added veteran character actors Brett Cullen and Chris Ellis to round out the ensemble cast of The Dark Knight Rises for Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures.

Brett Cullen will play a judge, while Chris Ellis will play a priest.
The duo joins Matthew Modine, Tom Conti, Joey King, Daniel Sunjata, Diego Klattenhoff and Burn Gorman as newcomers to the superhero franchise.

HarperCollins former CEO sets sight on an eFuture

Former HarperCollins CEO, Jane Friedman just announced an $8 millon in Series B equity financing for her eBook business Open Road Media.

Open Road was launched in 2009 and republishes well-known older titles in ebook format and aggressively markets their product using social media and video.

The timing of the funding could likely not be better: Just last week Amazon announced that it was currently selling more Kindle books than print.

Friedman, who left HarperCollins in 2008, has long been at the forefront of publishing; she is credited with creating the author publicity tour and founded the first audio books division during her time at Random House.

Azure Capital Leads Round Which Also Includes Golden Seeds
and Current Investor Kohlberg Ventures
(New York, NY May 23rd 2011) Open Road Integrated Media Inc. (www.Open Roadmedia.com), a digital publisher and multimedia content company, announced today that it has secured $8 million in Series B equity financing. The round was led by Azure Capital and also includes Golden Seeds and current investor Kohlberg Ventures. Open Road will use the financing to expand its growing digital publishing and marketing program. The announcement was made by Jane Friedman, Cofounder and CEO of Open Road.
Mike Kwatinetz, a general partner at Azure Capital, said: “We are very excited about Open Road’s combination of great leadership, business model advantage, momentum with strong authors, agents and distributors and speed in which they launch and market their ebooks. This combination has given the company a step up in what should prove to be a very large market.”
Kathryn Swintek, a Managing Director of Golden Seeds, said: "Open Road's strong performance in the short time since opening its doors caught the attention of a wide swath of Golden Seeds members who seek out high growth, disruptive businesses. Golden Seeds is very pleased to support Jane Friedman and her management team as they continue to build one of the leading digital media companies serving U.S. consumers."
Jim Kohlberg, Founder, Kohlberg Ventures, said: “Kohlberg Ventures has been impressed with Open Road’s continued growth and success and is excited to once again increase our investment. It is wonderful that Open Road has progressed so quickly in becoming a force in the rapidly expanding ebook market. We look forward to having Azure Capital and Golden Seeds as our new partners.”
Friedman said: “Open Road is a digital publishing company built from the ground-up to take advantage of the ebook revolution. While our industry has undergone tremendous changes since we launched a year and a half ago, the best is yet to come. This investment positions us perfectly to continue to connect authors with readers as ebooks become more and more popular. We are excited to welcome Azure Capital and Golden Seeds to the Open Road and remain proud of Jim Kohlberg’s confidence in our vision and performance.”
The Series B equity financing builds upon Open Road’s success digitally publishing and marketing ebooks from legendary authors including James Jones, William Styron and Pat Conroy, leading writers of mysteries, thrillers and crime fiction like Carl Hiaasen and Jack Higgins, non-fiction writers like James Gleick and Rachel Carson, literary authors like Josephine Hart and Scott Spencer and children’s authors like Virginia Hamilton.
Open Road has launched E-stars like Mary Glickman, formed partnerships with independent publishers like Kensington and Thomas Nelson and is developing several book-to-film adaptations, including William Styron’s Lie Down in Darkness and Mary Glickman’s Home in the Morning

Monday 23 May 2011

Guess we'll believe anything

Back in the day, when the world was black and white, when we were all a little less sophisticated, Orson Welles caused a mass panic by broadcasting a dramatisation of H G Wells War of the Worlds, as actual newsreels. Apparently people thought the Martians really had landed. - couldn't happen these days....right?


The offending blog post
A blog post by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that mentions a “zombie apocalypse” as a lighthearted way to get Americans to read about preparing for hurricanes drove so much traffic that it crashed the website, the agency said on Thursday.
The Zombie Apocalypse campaign is a social media effort by the CDC’s Public Health and Preparedness center to spread the word about the June 1 start of hurricane season.
The CDC is a U.S. federal government health agency based in Atlanta.
“There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for,” the blog post begins. “Take a zombie apocalypse for example. … You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.”
The blog appeared just days before May 21, when an evangelical broadcaster in California has predicted “Judgment Day” will mark the end of the world.
“If you prepare for the zombie apocalypse, you’ll be prepared for all hazards,” CDC spokesman Dave Daigle told Reuters on Thursday.
The Zombie Apocalypse
Coming late Summer 2011
The Dead Walked
by Vincent Stark
A zombie thriller like no other – it’s the best of the dead.

THE COMPLETE LITERARY 007 - The Man from Barbarosa by John Gardner

Before we look at John Gardner's eleventh Bond novel here's a little good news -To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Licence Renewed, Ian Fleming Publications will re-release John Gardner's first five James Bond novels in hardback using their original artwork. Subsequently, all fourteen of 007 novels will be released in paperback by Orion starting in 2012. In the USA, all fourteen novels will be re-released by Pegasus starting in Fall 2011.It has also been confirmed that John Gardner's two movie novelizations, Licence To Kill and GoldenEye will also be included in the UK paperback re-release schedule. It's about time that Gardner's Bond novels came back into print and with the recent omnibus reissues of Raymond Benson's Bond novels, it now means that the full series will once again be in print.

The Man from Barbarossa was the novel that the late John Gardner called his favourite of all his Bond books.Unlike his other Bonds it used real life events in its plot, namely the Persian Gulf War. The novel also suggested a coup inside the Russian leadership which would result in the fall of the then communist Russia and that this would end the Cold War. Events that came to pass later that year.

Many fans of the series look upon this book as experimental and often lump it in with Fleming's, The Spy Who Loved Me as not really belonging in the Bond universe, but this does a great book a disservice. It amuses me that often Gardener was accused of writing to a strict formula, but when he tried to deviate from this he was lambasted. Damned if you do, Damned if you don't - indeed.

It it true that the novel is more of a drama than a straightforward spy thriller, but that's only a good thing as the characters are fleshed out and live and breath on the page, even Bond has become something of a real man in this one. Readers and critics complained that the book was unlike the Bond they had become used to. But were they really saying that this book was too realistic, too well written and too good for a Bond thriller?

In short don't read this book if you're expecting a standard action-packed James Bond adventure, with little or no character development. If that's what you want you will be disappointed and you'd be better off starting with Gardner's Licence Renewed or For Special Services. However, if you want a complex Cold War thriller along the lines of Craig Thomas, then you're sure to enjoy this. Like Gardner's Icebreaker, No Deals Mr Bond and Death is Forever this book experiments with the standard formula and it's a better book for it.

Quite excellent.

BAFTA blow for Doctor Who

It was expected to be a battle between TV heavyweights Dr Who and Sherlock, it seemed a sure thing that one of these two would scoop the coveted Best Actor award,  but in a total shock both shows walked away from the BAFTAS without the big awards - Sherlock did, however scoop two awards at last night's Bafta

The BBC production took the prize for best drama series, and Martin Freeman was awarded best supporting actor for his role as Watson, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch's Holmes. Doctor Who, which many feel is floundering since David Tennant's departure went empty handed.

The big surprise came when Daniel Rigby scooped the Best Actor award,for his portrayal of legendary comic Eric Morecambe in BBC2's Eric and Ernie.

Accepting the award he said: "Flippin' heck, I'm absolutely gobsmacked."
He later joked of the award: "I'm going to put it on the pillow next to me and talk to it like it's my partner!"

And, referring to Matt and Benedict, he added: "They are brilliant and they are really famous, which is more than can be said for me - but they do amazing jobs in really high-profile things."

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 16 May - 22 May 2011
URL: http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com/

Unique Visitors7748367557257596397495,237748
First Time Visitors7438027296967256207205,035719
Returning Visitors3134262934192920229

Sunday 22 May 2011

The Walking Dead Season Two preview

Simultaneously released in over 30 countries, The Walking Dead was a considerable hit for The AMC network. It also showed that the television screen needn’t come second to the cinema in terms of spectacle. It is also ironic that it is because it was made for the small screen rather than the big screen, it had more scope, more to breath and it is doubtful a movie, a couple of hours when all is said and done, would have been capable of the character development that makes this zombie drama so refreshing. Yes it’s horror but it’s the kind of horror those who dislike the genre can enjoy. The bottom line is, I guess, that it’s a human drama at its very core.
“It very quickly dawned on me that this was not the sort of television I was used to. We were making a movie. It was terribly exciting.” Andrew Lincoln
Andrew Lincoln recently talking to SCI-FI Now Magazine dropped some tantalising hints as to where the second season is going – the storyline is going to open out more, allowing for much more development of the secondary characters.  The character of Carl Grimes is going to be put through the mill in the coming season and Lincoln said he was impressed at the performance the young star put in. The love triangle between Lincoln’s character, his wife Lori and best buddy, Shane is also going to be a major element of interest to the viewer. The character is Shane was killed off in issue 7 of the original comic so can we expect the same for the series. It seems unlikely since the Shane character has been a mainstay of the series thus far. There’s a certain dynamic that would be lost if Shane was written out. However the death of a major character would not be that great a surprise given what has gone thus far.
The first season contained some impressive character driven stories in which the zombie threat was relegated to the background, and much more this can be expected in the coming season.
“I think they were the most successful episodes. We are looking towards Hershel’s farm this season so there are a lot of opportunities for quieter character episodes.” Andrew Lincoln
The second season will air in the US this fall and everywhere else shortly afterwards.
The first season was recently released in the UK on DVD and blu-ray and, as well as all six episodes, features a nice selection of bonus material. There’s a detailed making of documentary, a set visit with Andrew Lincoln and Robert Kirkman, video diaries and more.

Jack the Ripper files remain confidential

Solve the mystery - A Policeman's Lot
Scotland Yard are currently fighting a bizarre court case in order to keep a selection of 123 year old files, relating to Jack the Ripper case a secret. Experts believe could finally provide the identity of Jack the Ripper.

Four thick ledgers compiled by Special Branch officers have been kept under lock and key since the Whitechapel murders in 1888.

Trevor Marriott, a Ripper investigator and former murder squad detective, has spent three years attempting to obtain uncensored versions of the documents.The ledgers provide details of the police’s dealings with thousands of informants from 1888 to 1912, including some who provided information during the original Ripper investigation.

A sample of about 40 pages from the Scotland Yard ledgers was released to last week’s tribunal, but with the names of informants and other key details blacked out.

According to Mr Marriott, the files contain the names of at least four new suspects, as well as other pieces of evidence.He said: “I believe this to be the very last chance that we may have to solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper.

“To have any possibility of getting near the truth about those horrific crimes we must see what these ledgers contain.“It may be that within them we find the final piece of the jigsaw that would unlock this mystery and lead to the identity of the killer, or killers, albeit 123 years too late.”

Jack the Ripper slaughtered at least five women between August and November 1888 in the slums of Whitechapel, east London, but various experts have claimed other murders may have been committed by the killer on earlier and later dates.

The police made several mistakes in the inquiry and detection techniques of the time were basic – with no fingerprinting and science unable even to distinguish between animal and human blood.
As a result, there is no conclusive evidence to point to the true identity of Jack the Ripper and the case remains one of the world’s great unsolved mysteries. Among a long list of possible suspects are Queen Victoria’s grandson the Duke of Clarence, who died in an asylum in 1892, and the painter Walter Sickert.

Mr Marriott, who joined Bedfordshire Police in 1970 and worked as a detective constable until the mid-1980s, began researching the Jack the Ripper case in 2003. He has previously published one book on the subject which put forward the name of Carl Feigenbaum, a German merchant executed for the murder of a woman in New York, as a new suspect.

On uncovering references to the ledgers in 2008, Mr Marriott applied to see the documents under the Freedom of Information Act. The Met refused and he appealed to the Information Commissioner who also decided the books should not be revealed.Now Mr Marriott has undergone the final appeal stage to the Information Tribunal, in which the case is heard by a panel of three judges.

The three-day hearing involved a detective inspector, identified only as ‘D’, speaking to the court from behind a screen because of his sensitive role running the force’s intelligence-gathering operation from informants.Detective Inspector ‘D’ told the tribunal that unveiling the files could deter informants from coming forward in future, and could even put off members of the public from phoning Crimestoppers or the antiterrorist hotline.

“The interpretation on the street will be that the police have revealed the identity of informants,” said ‘D’.“Confidence in the system is maintaining the safety of informants, regardless of age.”
Det Insp ‘D’ said the passage of time did not make publication of informants’ identities less sensitive because their descendants could be targeted by criminals with a grudge.

“Look at one of the world’s best-known informants, Judas Iscariot. If someone could draw a bloodline from Judas Iscariot to a present day person then that person would face a risk, although I know that seems an extreme example,” the officer said.Another senior officer, Detective Superintendent Julian McKinney, told the tribunal that releasing names would make police officers less capable of preventing terrorist attacks and organised crime, and make informants vulnerable to attack.
Det Supt McKinney said: “Regardless of the time, regardless of whether they are dead, they should never be disclosed.

“They come to us only when they have the confidence in our system that their identity will not be disclosed.”

But Mr Marriott said a number of historical files have previously been released which contained details of informants.He argued there was no evidence to show descendants of informants who have been named had come to harm.

The tribunal decision is expected later this year.

Shopping Hell

Jaws made you fear the water, Dracula made you fear the night and now The Mall will make you afraid of visiting Tescos.

S. L. Grey, according the author bio is  “a mysterious, genderless figure”, but is actually the South African writers, Louis Greenberg and Sarah Lotz.

And for this excellent horror novel they each take on the duties of one character each, Dan and Rhoda, and tell the story  in alternating chapters from Dan’s and Rhoda’s perspectives.
Dan is a bored white man. He whiles away his shifts in a bookstore sneaking cigarettes and fantasising about a co-worker.Rhoda is a feisty black drug user who, babysitting a child for a couple of hours, heads out to the mall to score. However Rhoda loses her young charge,  and she and Dan’s very different worlds collide. Cue one of the cleverest, creepiest and most memorable horror novels for ages.
The pair’s journey takes them at first through the service corridors behind the plazas and then far deeper than they know makes sense, into the bowels of the glitzy, starkly-lit shopping centre.The authors ratchet up the dread with a series of set pieces that are at turns unsettling, tense and even gross. This is skilfully crafted horror, with not a vampire, werewolf or zombie in sight.

But it’s when Dan and Rhoda, urged on by a series of nerve-jangling text messages, emerge into what they think is the mall they left that Grey’s novel really comes into its own.This parallel universe is filled with stores stripped of their marketing sheen – a clothes outlet called Sweat Shop, a pharmacy named Medi-Sin and, most gruesomely, McColons – where staff are chained to their counters and shoppers rush around in fear of failing to consume satisfactorily.

My advice is to buy The Mall  immediately.  As many  others have already said, you’ll never look at a shop mannequin in the same way again. More importantly, though, after reading this book you’ll be counting the days until the next SL Grey novel.

Absolutely awesome – an original and genuinely scary horror thrill

Saturday 21 May 2011

The Archive's Sunday Comics - Dashing deeds and square jawed heroes

This week's offering is very much of the 1960s --
a quaint and quirky, maybe naive, look behind the
scenes at crime and adventure series like Danger Man
and the Saint that were conspicuous on television at
the time, and a source of fascination for young readers.
The story reads as though it could have become the pilot
for a series, but Dave Dawson had only this one adventure,
appearing in Boys' World Annual 1968. The artwork captures
the laconic spirit of the piece: drawn not quite as a "funny"
but with the comic, you could say outrageously incredible,
activities of the narrator and protagonist portrayed to perfection.
We were unable to find a record of the artist's name, so we turned
to bibliographer and historian Steve Holland, whose Bear Alley blog
[link to http://bearalley.blogspot.com] is a must-visit site for
British comics fans. Steve told us, "The strip was the work of F.
Solano Lopez's
(pictured below)studio based in Argentina. Lopez was responsible for
a huge number of strips in the UK, his first work appearing in 1960.
Around 1967 he set up a studio to cope with the workload and this strip is
probably one of the earliest jobs the studio did.
"Lopez's big strip in Argentina was El Eternauta. In the UK his strips
included Kelly's Eye, Raven on the Wing, Galaxus, Nipper, Adam Eterno,
Janus Stark, and dozens of others. The studio closed in 1974 when IPC
cancelled Lion and Scorcher, but Lopez was still working in the UK
until the early 1990s. He has also drawn series like Ana and The Young
Witches which are hits in South America and Europe." Wiki says, "In the
'90s, Solano Lopez produced work in the erotic comics genre, achieving
hits with El Prostíbulo del Terror, from a story by Barreiro, and Silly
Symphony, made for the magazine Kiss Comix."
 Remember - click on any image
for a larger version.

Let the Right One in (2008)

Let the Right One In (2008)  is the original film adaptation of the novel, Låt den rätte komma by  John Ajvide Lindqvisit. The movie is in its native Swedish language. The film was also made by Hammer Films in association with the Exclusive Media Group as Let Me In (2010). Thomas Afredson who directed the original Swedish version was asked to direct Hammer’s remake but he relented, saying he didn’t want to make the same film twice. And looking at this original version, it is no surprise that Hammer wanted to retain the director , as it turned out Matt Reeves did a great job with the English language version but we’ll talk about that movie in a later post.
For no we shall concentrate on the original Swedish movie, Let the Right One in.
“Are you really old?’ Oskar
I’m twelve but I’ve been twelve for a long time.” Eli
It’s a remarkable film adaptation from a truly original vampire novel. At it’s core it is a romance involving vampires, but all thoughts of Twlight should be put out of minds. Nothing so tedious and predictable here and the vampires in this movie, or vampire rather, is a brutal creature, though by need rather than choice. The film focuses on the darker side of humanity, dealing with issues such as existential anxiety, bullying, pedophilia and murder.

The greatest success of this film is in the casting of the two young leads. There is a maturity in their performance and their relationship on screen comes across as both natural and believable. Of course that it doesn’t turn silly when Oskar discovers his girlfriend is a vampire is another indication of the quality of the film on offer here.
“Are you a vampire?” Oskar
“I live on blood.” Eli
I recently read the original novel and found there were many aspects, if not removed from the script, then watered down. The paedophiliac relationship between Eli and her guardian is not as clearly defined as in the novel, but then this was likely a wise decision on the part of the film-makers. At first the viewer is unclear of the relationship between guardian and the young vamp, maybe even a paternal one is suggested, but as the films goes on we come to realise that the man may have been with the young vamp since he himself was a young boy. Is this the eventual fate for Oskar? Will the young boy himself grow into an old man while his beloved, Eli remains eternally twelve? Another difference is that the novel depicts Eli as an androgynous boy who was castrated centuries past by a fellow vampire, but the film presents the character as female. Though there is a scene where Oskar asks Eli to be his girlfriend and is answered, “I am not a girl.” Nevertheless if there is some suggestion here then it is very subtle and when I first saw this film, I had yet to read the novel, and did not pick on on this aspect of the story.
The DVD release from  Momentum contains an entertaining commentary between director Tomas Alfredson and author, John Vjvide Lindqvist which reveals the thinking behind each and every scene. There are also several deleted scenes and the original theatrical trailer.
A must see movie – an intelligent adult movie with will haunt the viewer – stunning.

Friday 20 May 2011

Yet more Beatle remastering

Paul McCartney is reissuing his famous 'McCartney' and 'McCartney II' albums in a very personal box set. The two-disc special edition of 'McCartney' will include seven bonus tracks including unreleased gems 'Suicide' and 'Don't Cry Baby,' while 'McCartney II' will come with three discs and a 128-page hard-bound book featuring previously unpublished photos by Linda McCartney.

On top of those extras, a real treat for any diehard fans is the audio, which was remastered by the same team at Abbey Road that reworked the Beatles' catalog.

The two albums included were recorded ten years apart and a very different, but if they do have something in common it is that they are very experimental. Good Macca as opposed to tedious Macca.

Planet of the 3D Apes

Vintage Books, an offshoot of publisher Random House, has just released a new imprint of classic sci-fi and horror novels that have anaglyphic 3D covers that leap out at the reader when viewed using traditional red-and-blue glasses (which are included with each book).

The five titles in the series are Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne, The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle and The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Tales by HP Lovecraft. Each features a 3D artwork created by a different illustrator, plus 3D typography.

“The 3D cover is an idea I thought of a long while ago and had been holding onto until the right book came along,” says Suzanne Dean, creative director. “This sci-fi project, with all its B-movie connotations, was the perfect match.”

The Planet of the Apes illustration was by Mick Brownfield, The Lost World was by Sara Ogilvie, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Tales was by Vladimir Zimakov. Both Jules Verne book artworks were created by Jim Tierney.
Find Vintage Books HERE

Thursday 19 May 2011

Kindle has just got better

Now this is great news and will finally make the Kindle device the world beater it's truly capable becoming.

Yesterday The Good eReader website broke this news - "We have some rather breaking news with online giant Amazon and their highly successful line of Kindle e-readers. It seems many publishers have been told by the company that in the near-future, they should be submitting their books to Amazon in EPUB format and not exclusively MOBI. They also went on to let us know that Amazon was indeed planning something BIG and that soon the Kindle ereader will have the full capability to read ePub books. This news has been confirmed by at least 4 publishing companies we have spoken with during the last few day."

The Amazon Kindle, for the last six years and more, has exclusively sold books on its Amazon Bookstore in the Mobi format. They also devised applications for major platforms such as Android, iOS, PC, Blackberry, and Windows Phone 7 for reading their books. This insured that if you had purchased a Amazon Kindle e-reader or ebooks from their store,  you were locked into the Amazon ecosystem.

Four publishers in the last week have confirmed that Amazon has indeed told them they now have an option to submit eBooks to be listed in the Amazon store in ePub format.

It would make sense that  Amazon will continue to distribute books still in MOBI format since they developed the technology and so much of its online infrastructure is based around it. MOBI/AZW is known to have similarities with the ePub data structure and has most of the code embedded into its format. The ePub format is more or less the industry standard for ebook formats and almost every other online ebook store aside from Amazon sells their books in that format. With Amazon embracing ePub technology it further substantiates that ePub is by far the most popular format to read ebooks.


MGM and Sony Pictures Entertainment are partnering on several projects, from James Bond 23 (November 9, 2012) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to 21 Jump Street. MGM Co-Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum and Sony Pictures Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton and Co-Chairman Amy Pascal, had announced that they would partner on several projects over five years.

With 21 Jump Street and Dragon Tattoo—the first film adapted by Steve Zaillian in the three-picture film version of Stieg Larsson’s worldwide bestseller The Millennium Trilogy, directed by David Fincher and starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara—Sony will handle marketing and distribution, while MGM will handle select international television licensing.
In recent years, the two studios have collaborated on numerous films, including Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, 21, Yours, Mine and Ours, The Pink Panther, and the summer tent pole Kevin James comedy Zookeeper, which opens nationwide on July 8, 2011.

21 Jump Street is based on the television series, which focused on young cops with youthful appearances who work undercover in high schools and colleges. The TV series made the young Johnny Depp a star.  The film is being directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, from a screenplay by Michael Bacall based on a treatment from Hill and Bacall. Neal H. Moritz will produce the film with Stephen J. Cannell, who will receive posthumous credit.  The film is set to be released on March 16, 2012.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

TV's Doctor Watson Edward Harwicke dies

If Jeremy Brett was the perfect Sherlock Holmes then Edward Hardwicke offered a similarly spot on Watson - Hardwicke replaced original Watson, David Burke and appeared as Watson in 11 hour long episodes in Granada's "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" from 1986-88; in two-hour versions of "The Sign of Four" (1987) and "The Hound of The Baskervilles" (1988); and then in seasons broadcast as "The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes" (1991) and "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" (1994). He also handled the role on the West End stage with Brett in 1989's "The Secret of Sherlock Holmes."The Granada adventures were exceeding faithful to the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories, so Hardwicke played Watson not as a bumbler of the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce era but as a dashing, stately former military doctor.

The son of actors Cedric Hardwicke and Helena Pickard, the London native appeared in his first movie at age 10, "A Guy Named Joe" (1943), which starred Spencer Tracy. Other film credits include "The Day of the Jackal" (1973), "Shadowlands" (1993), "Richard III" (1995), "The Scarlet Letter" (1995), "Elizabeth" (1998) and "Love Actually" (2003).

Hardwicke was a member of Laurence Olivier's National Theater in the 1960s and had regular roles in the British TV series "Colditz" (playing a character based on real-life war hero Pat Reid); "My Old Man;" "Tycoon;" and "Strangers and Brothers."

He is survived by daughters Kate and Emma.


 Last night I watched the new cleaned up version of the Beatles Let it Be documovie - it was great to finally see it cleaned up, thanks to P...