Friday 30 November 2012

Satan is here on Earth and he is Simon Cowell!!!

The Fortean Chronicle is this month reporting that TV's Simon Cowell is actually Satan in disguise, and that the annoying git who destroyed the music industry, is about to make plans to bring the world to its knees.

Sounds like the typical kind of nonsense found every month in the Fortean magazine, but after listening to One Direction I think there may actually be something in these bizarre claims about Simon Cowell.

And some of what the magazine says makes a weird kind of sense - for instance since Cowell rose to prominence we have seen unprecedented levels of terrorism, environmental disasters and even worse recent years have seen both Jedward and Noel Edmonds returning to TV.

When you think of giant faceless corporations destroying the world, you might think of Nike forcing young Asian children to make flip-flops with just a needle and thread or McDonalds destroying lots of trees in Brazil, but then there's Simon Cowell who does take evil to an entire new level. Not only has he taken all surprise from the Christmas music charts, but now some of his sins are refusing to fade away into oblivion once the show is over. One Direction are everywhere and not so long back Leona Lewis had a number 1 song about, we think, periods! Bleeding Love was a terrible song.

Cowell also has no taste and I myself once  auditioned for Britain's Got Talent when it visited Cardiff. But, shockingly, I was turned down. That's right, my signature 'balancing a Mars Bar on my head for ten minutes' failed to impress Simon Cowell.

.Cowell called my act unoriginal, saying,  "Sorry, but Osama Bin Laden's had a Bounty on his head for  years."

Death of a Dandy

The penultimate edition of the Dandy is in stores now - yep, next week's issue, numbered 3610 will see the Dandy stop publishing after 75 years. It's a sad moment indeed and although I stopped reading the comic more than thirty years ago I am painfully aware this icon of UK pop culture is coming to an end - yeah the comic will continue online but no matter how you look at it this is an end of sorts.

During the 1950's the comic sold more than 2 million copies a week but gradual changes in the reading habits of children saw the comic drop to its current circulation of just 8,000 each week. It seems to people of my generation that The Dandy and its sister title, The Beano has been around forever and indeed in comic book terms 75 years is akin to forever.

I picked up a copy this morning of issue 3609 and this is perhaps the first time I've picked the comic up in more than three decades. I still buy both The Dandy and Beano annuals at Christmas every year as it's become a tradition - I've got an unbroken set since 1969 but I don't think I've picked the weekly up since I was maybe ten or eleven years old - shit, that's like thirty something years ago now.

Flicking through the comic I am aware of how much it's changed since I was a regular reader - for one thing it's on glossy paper - the only characters I remember from my youth in the comic are Winker Watson, Beryl (though I remember her as Beryl the Peril and I'm sure she was in the Topper Comic when I was a wee lad) and Desperate Dan - it seems that most of  my one time faves have gone - Bully Beef and Chips are nowhere to be seen, same goes for Black Bob, Smasher and Korky only appears in the cover image which comes from one of the Dandy annuals.

I'll be picking up next week's final issue for a keepsake but the comic is no longer the title that I used to read each and every week as a kid. Still times change and things move on, but I, like many other people, will no doubt shed tear when the Dandy fades away into print oblivion.

Thursday 29 November 2012

Star Trek II: Into Darkness plot finally revealed

Paramount have finally released a synopsis from Star Trek II - “When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew."

Many have speculated which of the franchise's villains Benedict Cumberbatch might be playing. Although some speculate the actor may portray the iconic Khan, it seems that fellow actor Karl Urban let the secret slip. "[Cumberbatch is] awesome, he's a great addition, and I think his Gary Mitchell is going to be exemplary," Urban told SFX magazine while promoting "Dredd."

And although Urban later denied that Cumberbatch was playing Mitchell the official synopsis does suggest that the villain is indeed Gary Mitchell - the line from their own organization would suggest so since Gary Mitchell was a character who only appeared in the original "Star Trek" series episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before." He and Captain Kirk attended Starfleet Academy together, and were good friends. Later, Mitchell became a powerful telekinetic and telepathic abilities and thought himself a God. After increasingly villainous acts, Kirk is forced to kill him. The coloured eyes in the teaser pic also points at Mitchell who appeared with his eyes glowing in the original Star Trek episode.

From fandom with love

Obsessive fans are nothing new but one woman has taken her love of James Bond to a whole new level - 28-year-old  Emma-Louise Hodges, has legally changed her name to pay tribute to more than a dozen Bond Girls: Pussy Galore Honey Rider Solitaire Plenty O'Toole May Day Xenia Onatopp Holly Goodhead Tiffany Case Kissy Suzuki Mary Goodnight Jinx Johnson Octopussy Domino Moneypenny.

"I've always thought how great it would be to be a Bond girl—and now I am," Miss Moneypenny, as she will be known for short, told the Sun newspaper.

The chances of this Album being better than the original are a million to one...

Jeff Wayne's musical version of War of the Worlds was a big album during my youth and one that I still listen to from time to time, so I was intrigued to discover that a new version of the album subtitled: The New Generation was coming out. The album is released this week in the wake of the successful stage show which features an holographic Liam Neeson in the role of the narrator which was originally played by Richard Burton.

I had mixed feelings over buying the album since I heard that Gary Barlow, the cock-eyed git from boy band Stuff That and the X-Factor, would be performing the beautiful Forever Autumn which was of course handled by Justin Haywood on the original album, but I need not have worried since Barlow simply impersonates Haywood's delivery and gives us a version that is 99% identical to the original ballad.

In fact the new version of the album is basically the old album with some added dialogue and sound effects and may not be worth buying if you own the original. The biggest improvement is in the packaging since this new CD pack comes in a wonderfully illustrated retro looking book with the CD slipping into unobtrusive sleeves - it looks wonderful on the shelf.

I can't help thinking that it would have been better to remaster the original album, adding the extra sound effects, guitar riffs and drum breaks you find on the new version. The original is 35 years old and is still being talked about, hence the stage show and this new album version. Still it's a good album and essential if you don't have the original but I'd bet that in another 35 years it will only be the original you are able to buy.

If it ain't broken then don't fix it and I must be honest I think this album is rather pointless...

Wednesday 28 November 2012

The Hobbit approaches

Saying goodbye to the Bat and Judge Dredd goes gay (maybe)

"It was like ending a relationship or something. Somewhere in the back of my head I can hear myself saying, Dude, it’s not you, it’s me. I just can’t hang out any more. Good luck with that whole fighting crime thing." writes Greg Hatcher in this entertaining post HERE on the end of his love affair with Batman.

And in other comic book related news the 2000AD fan community have gone into a spin of speculation after the comic posted a pic of Judge Dredd in a passionate embrace with a perp on its website. The pic ran with the following teaser - Has someone finally melted Judge Dredd’s stony heart? Find out in January 2013…

The teaser is doing its job since speculation is at fever pitch - some fans are OK with a gay Dredd while others are getting insanely angry - Judge Dredd doesn't do gay, one fan wrote on the 2000AD message board but then added - apart from the codpiece in the Stallone/Dredd movie.

Still the 2000AD powers that be are keeping tight lipped about the forthcoming storyline - though making Dredd gay would be absurd and perhaps a politically correct step too far.

Are 2000 AD  following in the wake of Marvel and DC’s activities ? Already we've seen Marvel’s Northstar getting hitched to his long term boyfriend, and DC’s  Alan Scott came out as gay in the 52 reshuffle. Even Archie Comics had its first gay character, Kevin Keller, marry the love of his life, Clay Walker several months ago.

One thread on the 2000AD message board suggested that it will be Dredd's evil clone, Rico who turns out to be gay, but this would a problematic if 2000AD had this storyline in mind. If the gay Judge was indeed the evil Rico then the subtext of the story could be misunderstood - what for instance would it be saying about homosexuality?

Does it matter if Dredd does come out as gay?It is after all just a comic book but go tell that to the fans. One wrote -  "It would make sense if Dredd was a violent, repressed homosexual who vented his frustrations with his fists. Having said that....a gay Dredd still goes against that whole celibate "I'm only married to the LAW"-thing that all of the Judges have. I'm calling BULLSH!T on this one."

Another added - "..Spikes Harvey Rotten! Come back! All is forgiven!!!

A very gay Dredd

And sticking with Dredd it looks as if the movie franchise is dead after the failure of the latest Judge Dredd movie which although receiving rave reviews didn't find an audience - The film took a total of $6.3 million in its opening weekend, below the $9 to $10 million the studio estimated.

I kept help thinking that maybe this was something to do with the fact that the film was only out in a 3D cut, which is the reason I haven't yet seen the movie and will wait for the DVD. I don't really like 3D and find it gives me a headache and from what I've heard I'm not alone is this. Also and again this is personal preference but whenever I see a movie with 3D tagged onto the title, it feels gimmicky and turns me off.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Nadine the Ostrich ass eater

The UK's answer to Sarah Palin, Nadine Dorries met her match earlier today in a radio interview that simply must be heard. And not content with that blunder she attacked an MP for having time off to recover from heart surgery - HERE

Star Wars: Revenge of the Jediatrics

The Disney corporation who now own the entire world apart from a small carpark in Penrhys, have announced that Laurance Kasden and Michael Arndt will write the first in the new batch of Star Wars movies. It is also reported that the new movie will be an all original story and not draw from the wealth of books, comics and games in the extensive Star Wars universe.

The latest rumors are the the next Star Wars will be subtitled: Revenge of the Jediatrics with old timers Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher reprising their famous original roles.

Chewbacca is also interested in reprising his role after recent years have seen him sink into a wookie hell of drugs, booze and cheap porn movies. The famous wookie claimed that he found it hard to find work after Star Wars and that performing in porn movies was the only way to pay the rent. But earlier this week Chewie was seen together with his old friend, Harrison Ford cruising towards the one time offices of Lucusfilm on Chewie's vintage motorbike and sidecar. This sighting is sparking speculation that the two will be reunited in the eagerly awaited Star Wars Episode 7.

Alec Guiness, who played Obi Wan Kinobi in the original Star Wars was unavailable to comment as he was otherwise engaged being dead, as was Yoda.

Sherlock Holmes and the flogging a dead horse adventure

It was Conan Doyle himself who left the doors open for so many other hands to take a stab at his iconic creation, Sherlock Holmes. It was in the story, Thor Bridge in which Watson states -

"Somewhere in the vaults of bank of Cox and Com., at Charing Cross, there is a travel worn and battered tin dispatch box with my name painted upon the lid. It is crammed with papers, nearly all of which are records of cases to illustrate the curious problems which Mr Sherlock Holmes had at various times to examine."

This confirmed that there was a long list of unpublished Sherlock Holmes stories in the vaults and it is to this well that writers other than Doyle have ventured from time to time. But it was actually long before Doyle wrote Thor Bridge that other writers started to use his creation, or at least variations of such - Sexton Blake for instance lived in Baker Street and so similar to Holmes was he that Blake's often been called the poor man's Sherlock Holmes. It seems Doyle in a sense created modern detective fiction and the Golden Age was filled with variations on Holmes who were either fat, tall, Belgian or even blind, but no matter how successful many of these creations became they could never escape the long shadow of Sherlock Holmes.

Later we had the phenomenon of Sherlock Holmes by hands other than Doyle with the author's own son, Adrian Conan Doyle  even getting in on the act - in a joint effort with John Dickson Carr  he  wrote twelve Sherlock Holmes short stories, that were published under the title The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes in 1954. But Doyle Jnr. is only one name on a list of authors that include the likes of Colin Dexter, Paul Cornell,. Neil Gaimen, Stephen King and Dorothy L. Sayers. The list goes on and on and there is  a comprehensive list of Holmes by other hands at the Wiki page HERE.

Holmes is very much in the public domain and the character is fair game for any writer who wants to venture into Doyle's rich world, and it is with this knowledge that I have been writing a Holmes story. I wanted to write something of the length Doyle would have produced for the Strand Magazine and I'm kinda' pleased with my effort. What am I going to do with my story? Well, it was written for fun and I've decided to publish it here on The Archive over the Christmas period.

Good or bad I'll let you lot decide when I post The Curious Flogging a Dead Horse Adventure...

Monday 26 November 2012

Bestselling Black Horse Amazon charts

Hardback Chart

1 Wild Bill Williams by Jack Martin

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

Product Details

Range of Terror (Black Horse Western) by Billy Hall (30 Mar 2012)


Product Details

Dollar a Day (Black Horse Western) by Chuck Tyrell (30 Mar 2012)


Product Details

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

Product Details

The Hired Ace (Black Horse Western) by Clay Starmer (31 Oct 2011)

Product Details

Gunhawk (Black Horse Western) by John Long (31 Aug 2009)

Product Details

A Far Country (Black Horse Western) by G.T. Dunn (30 Nov 2001)

Product Details

9 Death in the Canyon (Black Horse Western) by Jim A. Nelson (Apr 1997)

10 McKinney's Law (Black Horse Western) by Mike Stotter (Jan 1993)



eBook charts:


1.Longhorn Country (Black Horse Western) by Tyler Hatch (31 Jul 2012)

Available for download now £3.43

2.Gunhawk (Black Horse Western) by John Long (31 Oct 2011)

Available for download now £3.43

3.The Black Horse Westerns by Abe Dancer, Dean Edwards, Tyler Hatch and Scott Connor (1 Jan 2011)

Available for download now £6.71

4.Dead Man's Range (A Black Horse Western) by Paul Durst (31 Oct 2011)

Available for download now £3.43

5.Colorado Kid (Black Horse Western) by Dale Mike Rogers (29 Feb 2012)

Available for download now £3.35

6.Trail of the Hanged Man (Black Horse Western) by Steve Hayes (30 Sep 2012)

Available for download now £2.74

7.A Coffin for Santa Rosa (Black Horse Western) by Steve Hayes (30 Sep 2012)

Available for download now £2.74

8.Arkansas Smith (Black Horse Western) by Jack Martin (30 Apr 2012)

Available for download now £3.35

9.Savage's Quest (Black Horse Western) by Sydney J Bounds (30 Sep 2012)

Available for download now £2.74

10.The Goose Moon (Black Horse Western) by Caleb Rand (31 Jul 2012)

Available for download now £3.43 



Tory Party rocked by MP performing Oral on a cow

The Conservative Party is being rocked to its core after the latest sex scandal hits the government -  MP Nadine Dorries is at the centre of the latest thorn in David (don't I look like an auton) Cameron's side after it was revealed that Nadine Dorries spent a week in a jungle while she indulged in all manner of depraved activities such as eating a camel's toe, an ostrich's anus and some cattle genitals.

Conjoined twins Ant and Dec who witnessed the entire shameful excesses of the MP with a taste for bestiality spoke to the Archive from their gay club in Byker Grove and commented that - "It takes all sorts to make a world."

However one elderly lady with a shopping trolley spoke to us from the streets of Mid Bedfordshire where  the disgraced MP served - "I voted for her and I couldn't believe it when I saw her sucking on a cow's testicle. It's a disgrace my pensions been cut and I can't even afford bread and dripping but Ms high and mighty can go jetting off around the world and sucking on any tropical doo-dah she fancies."

Both the Conservative party and Nadine herself failed to respond to the Archive's emails for a comment, nor did they answer the abuse we left on the message boards.

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 19 Nov - 25 Nov 2012


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits4133923973523604123712,697385
First Time Visits3823723743323483963532,557365
Returning Visits3120232012161814020

Saturday 24 November 2012

J R Ewing RIP

Larry Hagman, forever known as J R Ewing, died this Friday after a battle with cancer.

Obituary from the BBC

During 13 years as the most scheming oil tycoon in Dallas, his face was one of the most easily recognised on television.
Born in Texas himself, Larry Hagman later moved to Los Angeles where he was cared for mainly by his grandmother.
His father had left the family home when Larry was only five, and his mother, actress Mary Martin, was often away touring.
After a brief period spent working in the fields, Hagman followed his mother into showbusiness and even toured with her. When Martin brought South Pacific to London's West End, Hagman was in the chorus.
Southfork scheming But it was on television that he really made his mark, as astronaut Tony Nelson in the 1960s television comedy I Dream of Jeannie.
He landed the role that would define his career in 1978, when he first performed as JR Ewing in a new series designed to showcase the talents of actress Victoria Principal.
She initially welcomed Hagman on to set with the words: "Welcome to my show."
But it was Hagman, as the city's chief mischief-maker, that would make the bigger impact.
Mary Martin at piano with son Larry Hagman in 1951 Rehearsing for South Pacific with mum
Dallas came to define 1980s excess, and viewers could not get enough of it.
Millions watched as JR schemed to rule the roost at Southfork, get rid of "that idiot Barnes", ruin his brother Bobby's life and send his troublesome wife Sue Ellen packing to a lunatic asylum.
The show originally ran for 356 episodes, at its peak drawing in more than 300 million viewers in 57 countries. Hagman was the highest-paid star of the show, and JR in his Stetson became one of the most distinctive silhouettes on television screens across the world.
Record-breaking cliff-hanger The actor himself owned more than 2,000 such cowboy hats, and obligingly wore one each time he appeared on chat shows or public outings.
In November 1980, more than 350 million viewers worldwide tuned in to discover the answer to one of the decade's biggest questions: Who Shot JR?
In Turkey, the parliament even adjourned early so that members could get home to their television sets.
The cast of Dallas Dallas ran for 356 episodes from 1978 to 1991
In an unprecedented display of media hype, the crew shot several alternative scenes to start the new series, and even cast members were surprised when the assailant turned out to be Kristin, JR's sister-in-law and one of his spurned lovers.
When Dallas finished in 1991, Hagman found his choice of acting offers limited to villains, a frustrating time for the actor who, softer than his television persona, eschewed physical violence. Nonetheless, he went on to appear in hit films Nixon and Primary Colors.
Off-screen excess His forthright biography, Hello Darlin', detailed his youthful drug-taking exploits and revealed the extent of his 50-year battle with alcoholism.
Even on the hardworking set of Dallas, he consumed five bottles of champagne a day for years and was finally diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in 1992.
Three years later he had a liver transplant and kept a photo of the organ donor above his mirror.
"I say a prayer for him every morning," he said.
Despite this, Hagman continued to drink secretly until a further life-saving operation in 2003 forced him to stop.
Larry Hagman wearing a stetson He remained unfazed by stardom
A new version of Dallas returned to the screens earlier this year, with an average of 6.8 million viewers tuning in for its debut episode in the US in June, before it was aired in the UK in September.
The series saw JR, Bobby and Sue Ellen reunited and Hagman said they would not have participated if any one of the others was not on board.
"We're the three musketeers," he said. "I wouldn't have done it if they had said no."
The series opened with JR convalescing in a nursing home, but it was not long before he was back to his scheming ways, attempting to wrest control of Southfork from Bobby and his new wife.
His on-screen persona was matched by a big personality off it, and he was renowned for his eccentric behaviour.
This included roaring around on his Harley Davidson, sometimes dressed in a chicken suit, and staying absolutely silent every Sunday, believing it to be therapeutic.
It seemed that Larry Hagman was never overwhelmed by his status as one of television's most memorable stars.
"My happiness comes from being a husband, father and grandfather of five, not from stardom, which is a fluke," he said.

Friday 23 November 2012

eBooks make inroads into UK libraries

From the BBC

The UK government is to look at ways to transform libraries and make the borrowing of ebooks more commonplace.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has asked publisher William Sieghart to lead a review of e-lending with a panel of experts.
While some libraries in the UK already lend books electronically, many do not.
There is little agreement about the best way to make ebooks available and also how to remunerate authors and publishers.
"E-lending is currently in its infancy but growing fast. Just as e-readers are transforming the way people access books, e-lending could help transform the way people use libraries," said Mr Vaizey.
"By acting now we we can help influence the growth of e-lending to ensure libraries, authors, publishers and the public all benefit from this potentially valuable new service."
Printed books Mr Sieghart and the panel will consider a range of issues including: the benefits of e-lending; the current level of e-lending and future demand; the impact on libraries; and the effect on those who cannot keep up with changes in technology.
One of the panellists is Janene Cox, president of the Society of Chief Librarians.
She said that offering ebooks in libraries would help to generate new audiences.
"We need to ensure that our service reflects the changing way that people want to read and also engage with local services."
But she added, "I don't believe that they [ebooks] will replace printed books or other information sources totally but they will complement and enhance them."
The panel is due to report back in the new year.

Thursday 22 November 2012


The climax of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES has provoked a great deal of controversy and debate - since Batman had to have died at the end of the movie fans are asking if  Christopher  Nolan cheated them.

Batman must have died -  After all, even if Bruce Wayne had leapt from The Bat the atomic blast would have killed him.

And yet we saw two odd seemingly tacked on endings after the explosion - one saying that the auto pilot was working and secondly we saw Bruce Wayne sitting in a cafe enjoying a drink with Catwoman. Now the auto pilot plot line is shit since we saw Batman in the cockpit only seconds before the explosion so that can be discounted - the autopilot couldn't have saved Batman. And the cafe scene in which Alfred spots Bruce could have been a dream since Alfred makes reference to such a recurring dream early in the movie.

Whatever happened it seems strange that a filmmaker like Nolan, whose scripts are thoughtful and wound tightly, would leave such a huge issue of plausibility lingering over his epic Batman trilogy. Well now there is a theory doing the rounds that at first seems ridiculous but is gaining enough credibility to make the national press. It is no secret that Christopher Nolan had a lot of input in the forthcoming Man of Steel movie and is in fact producing the movie - fans are speculating that during the new Supes movie it will be revealed that Superman actually saved Batman at the end of The Dark Knight Rises, and that this will lead onto a Justice League movie.

If that does turn out to be the case then it makes perfect sense of one of the more troubling aspects of The Dark Knight Rises - it would also pave the way for the Justice League movie that DC are so keen to see on the big screens, and if this does turn out to be the case then it is a stroke of genius. And it would also be a typical twist for Nolan to have thrown into the mix.

Superman saved Batman? - The more I consider it the more likely it becomes.

007 on the town: 101 whiskeys, 19 vodka martinis and a few dozen glasses of sake

A big fuss was made over the fact that Daniel Craig in the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall would be seen sipping Heineken beer after the producers signed a lucrative product placement deal with the beer company. Everyone know that Bond's favourite tipple is a vodka martini - or is it?

A study of the Fleming books reveals that on average Bond takes a drink every seven pages and throughout the entire series drinks exactly 317 drinks.

Now of these 317 drinks his preferred poison was whiskey of which he drinks 101 in total, among them fifty seven bourbons and thirty nine scotches. 007 also likes champagne and drinks 30 glasses throughout the series. He also likes sake which he tries in the book, You Only Live Twice and ends up drinking thirty five of them. And out of all the drinks Bond consumes in the entire Fleming canon he only sips the iconic vodka martini 19 times, while he opts for gin martinis 16 times.

The famous "shaken not stirred" line was first used in the novel, Diamonds are Forever, but the line was uttered by Sean Connery in the movie Goldfinger and countless times since, with Roger Moore's Bond insisting on his drinks shaken and not stirred more than any of the other Bonds- why shaken and not stirred?  Well  shaking a vodka martini actually makes the drink colder and sharper.

“A dry martini,” he said. “One. In a deep champagne goblet.”
“Oui, monsieur.”
‘Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?’
‘Certainly monsieur.’ The barman seemed pleased with the idea.
‘Gosh, that’s certainly a drink,’ said Leiter.

Ian Fleming's biography reveals that Fleming preferred his own martinis mixed with gin, but in later life he switched to bourbon on his doctor's orders.

It seems that Bond, like Fleming, was a man who knew what he liked.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Magical Mystery Tour goes Blu-ray

The first time I saw this movie I thought it was a load of shit - I'd gotten heavily into the Beatles sometime in the early 80's and when I managed to get hold of a pirated VHS of this film I wasn't aware of the entire Beatles body of work.I think I'd listened to most of the albums but as far as movies went I'd only ever seen A Hard Day's Night and Help. Magical Mystery Tour in comparison to those two mop-top comedies  made no sense at all. Of course all these years later I know the Beatles work inside out and have come to appreciate Magical Mystery Tour for what it is - an indulgent mess of a movie true enough but nevertheless a fascinating snapshot of the times.

'We knew it was indulgent but it was a zany representation of vivid minds of the time." Paul McCartney.

The blu-ray/DVD release of the movie features a perfect digital remaster of the iconic film, but by far the chief selling point is a director's commentary from Macca himself and a selection of extras which offer inisghts into the making of the movie and the supporting case - the Ivor Cutler selection was particularly entertaining. The info on the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band was also great, as are the clips on The Beatles on Top of the Pops. I'd also never seen the Magical Mystery promo that is included here. It may have been specially produced for this release since it seems to vintage footage edited into a modern surrealist video of people coming and going in  a snowy landscape.

Also of interest is the short film Nat's Dream which was directed by John Lennon and features Ivor Cutler going through a Chaplinesque routine - least it would be Chaplinesque if old Charlie had ever been off his face on acid. It's an inventive piece and you can imagine Lennon grinning behind the camera. We also get the footage of the band Traffic performing Here we go Around the Mulburry Bush which was shot for inclusion in Magical Mystery Tour but never used.

All in all it's a great disc that belongs in the collection of any Beatle fan - and Macca's commentary is absolutely excellent. It's like sitting next to  a particularly chatty McCartney while you watch the movie.

'We made it up as we went along.' Paul McCartney.

The bus was pointed towards Cornwall, McCartney reveals chiefly because he and John had fond memories of the UK holiday resort. He also points out that - "we didn't do proper things like proper filmmakers do"- which became a nightmare in the editing room, but Macca claims allowed for a certain looseness with the finished film. Many of the scenes were made up on the spot with suggestions coming from the band themselves as well as the actors and extras.

McCartney claims that it took many years for the film to find an audience who could appreciate it and was surprised when Steven Speilberg told him the film was used when he had been at film school as an example of how alternative movies could be made.

Addictions: Homeland

I'm totally addicted to the Showtime drama, which over here in the UK is shown on Channel 4, and if you've not seen the series yet then I warn you that there will be several spoilers in this post. The show is so well written and constructed that I would hate to give away any of the incredibly tense storyline and I warn you now - DO NOT READ ON IF YOU WANT TO STAY SPOILER FREE.

I missed the entire first season on the initial run and didn't get into the show until I picked up the season 1 box set on the recommendation of a friend and since then I've been following the second season which is currently playing - I think we're only a week behind the US with the seventh episode due this weekend.

Homeland is a drama/thriller series developed for American television by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, and based on the Israeli series Hatufim (Prisoners of War) created by Gideon Raff. Claire Danes (she get's my vote for TV's hottest bird) plays Carrie, a CIA operative who initially suspects Damien Lewis' character Brody of being a terrorist. That was all covered in the first season and it did indeed turn out that Brody had been turned during his time as  a prisoner of war in Baghdad and now intends to wear a suicide vest and blow up the vice president of the United States. Brody, you see is considered a war hero by the nation and is now a congressman giving him access to sensitive areas and powerful people. Of course the Brody being turned storyline has been resolved and Brody is now working for the CIA without the knowledge of his Al Quada collegues.

That's a pretty slim summing up of the much layered storyline, but it gives the general idea of what is going on. Both leads, Danes and Lewis, have an incredible chemistry which allows for the unlikely love story between them to develop naturally as the story builds twist upon twist and each week I am left eager for the next part. The second season is every bit as tight as the first and I never miss the show, which, in my opinion, is likely the best TV series in many years.

All of the supporting cast are excellent, but if there is one character who really makes the show work then it is Carrie - Claire Danes here may be playing the most dynamic female character ever seen in a primetime TV series. She disproves the idea that female characters have to be either an icy domineering career woman or an emotionally unstable wreck - Carrie Mathis is both of these things which makes her perhaps the only person focused enough, at the cost of her sanity, to stop a planned terrorist attack on US soil.

The cheif bad guy, Abu Nazir is also excellent portrayed and  comes across as part Osama Bin Laden and part James Bond villain.

Man it's a clever show and just when you think you've got it all worked out, they throw you a loop and the show goes off in a direction you never even contemplated. So far the second season's been as compelling as the first and I do hope we find out what the big terrorist plan is all about, by the end of the season. Though no doubt we'll get another cliffhanger ending because the show's been greenlit for a third season.

Nuff said - I love this show and my only fear is that it'll go on too long and before a mere intimidation of the brilliance in these first two seasons. For now though, it remains compulsive viewing.

Bestelling Black Horse titles: Amazon charts 21 Nov 2012

It's good to see my latest novel holding the top spot for the fourth week running - Wild Bill Williams is available now and offers a new kind of western hero. He's the fastest stitch in the West and although useful with a gun he's certainly quicker on the jaw - old Bill never stops talking, and he's yapping up a storm in Wild Bill Williams.

The charts are:

1 -Wild Bill Williams (Black Horse Western) by Jack Martin (31 Oct 2012

Product Details

2-Old Guns (Black Horse Western) by Morton Ross (30 Apr 2012)

Product Details

3-Dollar a Day (Black Horse Western) by Chuck Tyrell (30 Mar 2012)

Product Details

4-Range of Terror (Black Horse Western) by Billy Hall (30 Mar 2012)

Product Details

5 -The Hired Ace (Black Horse Western) by Clay Starmer (31 Oct 2011)

Product Details

6-Gunhawk (Black Horse Western) by John Long (31 Aug 2009)

7- Viva Reaper! (Black Horse Western) by B. J. Holmes (29 Mar 1996)

Product Details

8 - A Far Country (Black Horse Western) by G.T. Dunn (30 Nov 2001)

Product Details

9 -Death in the Canyon (Black Horse Western) by Jim A. Nelson (Apr 1997)

10- Death of a Gunfighter (Black Horse Western) by Lewis B. Patten (30 Jun 1995)

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Not so gay Bond

Skyfall screenwriter John Logan spoke to The Hollywood Reporter and explained why he had incorporated the gay subtext into the showdown between Bond and Silva towards the end of the movie -

“Some people claim it’s because I’m, in fact, gay but not true at all. Sam (Sam Mendes - Skyfall director)  and I were discussing, there were so many scenes where Bond goes mano-a-mano with the villain, whether it’s Dr. No or Goldfinger or whatever, and there’s been so many ways to do a cat-and-mouse and intimidate Bond, and we thought, what would truly make the audience uncomfortable is sexual intimidation; playing the sort of homoerotic card that is sort of always there subtextually with characters like Scaramanga in Man With the Golden Gun or Dr. No. So we just decided that we should play the card and enjoy it.” John Logan

The homoerotic scene may have been a masterstroke because  it provides a lot of free publicity by bringing up an issue still considered as controversial by many into a film and a character who epitomises heterosexuality. By putting womaniser Bond in a homoerotic situation, the producers of the film guarantee tons of press coverage focused on the character's supposed bisexuality.

This is not the first time that James Bond's sparked off a gay controversy -  Back in 1999 gay actor Rupert Everett created a firestorm of headlines when he announced that he was writing and planning to star in a movie about a gay James Bond. The project never got off the ground, although Everett denied the project was ever in the planning stages and stated that the fact that he was openly gay meant that he would never land the part of 007 despite many feeling he would be superb in the role - “I'd like to play James Bond, but straight. It won't happen because Bond fans would burn down MGM if the studios got a gay actor to play James Bond. There was never going to be an alternative gay Bond either. That never happened.” Rupert Everett


 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...