Monday 31 December 2012

2013 - Granny will be hopping back to take on the case of the deadly frogs

Check out the adventures of the geriatric crimefighter in  Granny Smith Investigates. The eBook, currently available through Amazon is DRM free and can be downloaded with just one click. A free sample is also available on Amazon.

Help out this little old lady and join the Granny Smith network.

Get the eBook HERE

Join the Facebook page HERE

Visit the website HERE

“It’s Miss Marple on steroids.”

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

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

Murder's never been so much fun.

On the origins of the Granny Smith
 Extract from Granny Smith Investigates
  • Publisher: Red Valley Books; 1st Kindle edition edition (24 Jun 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008EKH9QG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
Of course Granny Smith’s real name wasn’t Granny but everyone called her Granny. It wasn’t because she was a grandmother, though she was three times over, but rather because as a child she had loved apples, would take one to school for her lunch each and every day. It seemed that wherever she went an apple went with her and so associated with the fruit had she become that eventually some bright spark had nicknamed her Granny Smith after that popular Australian variety of apple. 
Granny may have reached the age where her Wild Oats have turned into All-Bran, but there are plenty of tunes that can be played on an old fiddle.
Get the eBook now- Granny Smith Investigates and read the first book in this all new series, but don't forget to take a little nap before Granny returns in a few short months in Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs. 
Coming spring 2013
Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs
Extract - Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs (C) G. M. Dobbs and Red Valley Books 2013
Granny sighed.
This wasn’t getting them anywhere and they had skirted so far away from the central issue that they were in danger of losing sight of it all together.
‘Capitalism by its very nature exploits the working man,’ Mark brought a fist down on the table to illustrate his point.
‘And the working woman,’ Sue chimed in. ‘It’s not all about men you know.’
‘Right on, sister,’ Mansall punched the air and had to adjust his headband which fell forward over his eyes.
‘I think we should get back to the frogs,’ Granny said and then used the pun she had been itching to use for the last ten minutes: ‘We seem to have hopped away from the point of this meeting.’
Maud liked that and nudged Granny gently in the side as a token of her appreciation.
‘Yes,’ Mark stood and leaned forward, his knuckles on the edge of the table. ‘I used the word man as in mankind. And that includes women too.’

The last post

Here we are with a new year only hours away.

And so this post will be the last of 2012 but the Archive will be back again tomorrow NEXT YEAR) to face whatever 2013's gonna throw my way. let's hope it's a up on 2012 because the last year's been a right old shitter. Still can't complain, won't complain, because it's time to brush yourself down and run flat out at 2013 and whatever it brings.

2012 saw the publication of three of my books Wild Bill Williams, The Dead Walked Part 2 and Granny Smith Investigates. Both Granny Smith and The Dead Walked did well and Wild Bill Williams, intended primarily for the library market, was the bestselling Black Horse title for several weeks.

And 2013 looks set to follow the same pattern - firstly we have Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs this spring and this will be followed by the final book in the Dead Walked trilogy while later in the year we will see my next Black Horse hardcover, The Afterlife of Slim McCord.

Whilst The Dead Walked story ends this year, Granny Smith will move forward and I'm really enjoying writing about this quirky old lady and I have hopes that she will prove successful enough for a long running series. So if you haven't sampled Granny yet or are looking for something to put on that new Kindle you had for Christmas take a trip up the Amazon and pick up Granny's debut in Granny Smith Investigates. The second book is only a few months away so get in on the story now.

There will be some big changes to the Archive over the coming months as 2013 sees me finally becoming a full time writer - no more day job for me, ... I must be mad!

I did consider the idea of ending the Tainted Archive and starting a blog or website solely devoted to my own professional writing - in other words the books I want you folk to buy - but I decided against that. And so the Archive will remain but change, though perhaps develop would be a better word. Hey the Archive's five years old now so it's time to move onwards and upwards.

Wish me luck...better still buy one of my books HERE and Here and Here

Sunday 30 December 2012

Archive's Xmas Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 24 Dec - 30 Dec 2012


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits2912813363874003563882,439348
First Time Visits2732663163773783413732,324332
Returning Visits1815201022151511516

Crow James W Marvin -Western Classic Book Review

This eBook is part of a massive publishing venture from relatively new house, Piccadilly Publishing - Issuing New and Classic Fiction from Yesterday and Today!

Crow would be a part of the classic fiction section - there was a time, not that long ago, when  bookshops and newsagents, supermarkets and garages  would have a spinning rack full to bursting with slim mass market genre paperbacks - horror, crime,war, western and even erotica were all published in this way.

Crow by James W. Marvin was first published by Transworld in 1979, I think the book would have likely been out on the Corgi imprint. I know Corgi did a number of western series, the Sudden books (also back out from Piccadilly Publishing) were their best known series but then there was the popular Herne the Hunter series and yes, these books are also being reissued by the guys at PP.

But you can check out PP HERE, so let's get back to Crow.

Crow is very much influenced by the success of George G. Gilman's brutal but brilliant Edge series, and like those particular books is very violent. Perhaps Crow is a little too violent and several scenes come across as sadistic, notably in Crow's treatment of the captain who brought about his court martial, but then the Brit westerns of the period owed much to the spaghetti westerns and were not meant to be taken too seriously. The plot here is episodic in nature and leads us towards a climax that takes place around the famed Battle of the Little Big Horn. I thought this was a nice touch and added a little authenticity to the otherwise surreal West of the main narrative.

There's violence galore then and a couple of sex scenes that would put Fifty Shades of Grey to shame, but if you are looking for an all action western that doesn't take itself too seriously then you'll enjoy this book.

James  W Marvin was actually a pen name of noted science fiction author, Laurence James who died in 2002 and it's great that Piccadilly Publishing are bringing this and the rest of the Crow series into digital print.

Saturday 29 December 2012

Harry Carey Jr - A big big celluloid footprint

He is and will forever remain a true western legend - Harry Carey Jr. died on December 27th.

He passed peacefully of natural causes on Thursday morning in the seaside town of Santa Barbara, California, surrounded by family members, said his daughter, Melinda Carey.

His contribution to the western movie can not be overestimated - not only did he appear in nine movies directed by John Ford but he also made movies with Howard Hawks, and many of the westerns Harry Carey Jr. appeared in are renowned classics of the genre. He acted alongside John Wayne, Richard Widmark, James Stewart, Randolph Scott, Clint Eastwood and just about every actor who ever donned a stetson. And if that wasn't enough there was also the television shows that were boosted by Carey's involvement as well as many other movies in widely differing genres.

Harry Carey Jr was the type of character actor they don't really make anymore. Seldom the star but always giving strong supporting performances and quite often stealing scenes from far bigger names.

 Wow is all I can say looking at Carey's filmography - of course he's always been a familiar face to me - he's in The Searchers, arguably the best western ever made, for one thing and I've watched scores of westerns which means that I've seen some great acting from Harry Carey Jr.

Gone but never truly gone because the legacy left behind will live for as long as people are watching movies. There are people yet to be born who will one day become fans of this great man - isn't that a lovely thought! He may have gone but like his very good friend, The Duke, he is immortalized on celluloid.

God bless you, sir.

Friday 28 December 2012

He leaves a massive footprint: RIP Gerry Anderson

"This guy did so much that no one will need to pull any strings to get him into Heaven."

Rest in peace, Gerry Anderson.

Gerry died this Boxing Day at the age of 83. It is reported that he passed peacefully in his sleep.

Anderson had a varied life and although best known for his puppet based shows such as Thunderbirds, he also worked on feature films and live action television, with UFO, Space 1999 and The Protectors  being perhaps his best known live action shows.

Gerry Anderson cast a legendary shadow over the development of adventure TV.


  • The Adventures of Twizzle (1957–59)
  • Torchy the Battery Boy (first series only) (1960)
  • Four Feather Falls (1960)
  • Supercar (1961–62) – first Supermarionation production
  • Fireball XL5 (1962–63)
  • Stingray (1964–65)
  • Thunderbirds (1965–66)
  • Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967–68)
  • Joe 90 (1968–69)
  • The Secret Service (1969)
  • UFO (1970–71)
  • The Protectors (1972–74)
  • Space: 1999 (1975–77)
  • Terrahawks (1983–84, 1986)
  • Dick Spanner, P.I. (1987)
  • Space Precinct (1994–95)
  • Lavender Castle (1999–2000)
  • Firestorm (2003)
  • Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet (2005)
It is also widely known that much of the James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved me came from an aborted Moonraker script which Anderson had written for the Bond franchise many years earlier. In fact Anderson took legal action against the Bond team after The Spy Who Loved me but backed down because of the legal might the Bond team threw against him. In the end he  relinquished the rights to his treatment, and received £3,000 in compensation.

Thursday 27 December 2012

Hands on the new Kindle Paperwhite

The UK finally got the latest addition to the Kindle family this last month and I've had mine since Christmas day so I've had a chance to fully test the device. I was eager to get the Paperwhite and although I already own a third generation Kindle and a Kindle Fire, it was the Paperwhite I'd been waiting for. Firstly unlike the Kindle Fire which is a tablet device the Paperwhite is a dedicated eInk eReader. And while I love my Kindle Fire I use it for watching movies and reading graphic novels rather than standard novels - eInk is so much easier on the eyes for reading and actually does replicate the reading on paper experience.

The biggest addition to the Paperwhite is of course the front-lit screen but Amazon have also increased the contrast and display itself so that this is the best Kindle eInk screen yet. The touch screen is also more responsive than previous Kindles and the cleaned up interface, there is only one button the the device, is a massive improvement - you can swipe through pages or simply tap the screen. The device also allows the brightness of the light to be customized - a nice touch this and surprisingly having the brightness on full in daylight improves the display no end, whilst dim works best in a dark environment. The device gets closer to the ideal of black ink on white paper than ever before. A good thing since the Paperwhite is designed to have the light on all the time. Amazon says: "a single charge lasts up to eight weeks, based on half an hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light setting at 10. Only time will tell I suppose but I charged my Paperwhite on Christmas Day and have read more than three hours each day since and the power bar of the battery is still close to a full charge.

The original Kindle revolutionised how we read books – rather than bulky paperbacks in every commuter’s bag, or a suitcase full of easy reads for a beach holiday, now we can all carry whatever we want, wherever we want on an affordable gadget. For many people, it’s rendered physical books redundant, and the Paperwhite is once again a game changer.

A nice new touch is that the Paperwhite can  measure your "reading time". The Paperwhite notes how often you turn pages and gives you an estimated time left in book. With physical books, you can see if you are close to the end, and the Paperwhite provides a substitute by counting down the hours and minutes to go.

If you are still holding out on an eReader and think that nothing can ever replace paper books then the Paperwhite may be the device that finally changes your mind.

Wednesday 26 December 2012


I've just seen the Dredd movie via a DVD screener, and was surprised at how good it is. It's a pity the movie flopped at the box office and that a series is unlikely to be developed. So why did a film this good fail to find the expected audience? Personally I skipped it in the cinema because my local multiplex only had the movie in 3D and I just don't like 3D - the standard 2D is immersive enough if the movie is done well and it doesn't give a large percentage of movie-goers an headache.

Dredd really is done well.

We get a really nice early sequence in Mega City One, post apocalyptic America, before the movie wisely confines the bulk of the action to one of the massive mega blocks - blocks are towering high-rises that contain thousands of residents and each are like mini cities within the larger city.

The movie totally makes up for the 1995 Stallone turkey and here on the screen we have a Dredd that in terms in bringing the comic book character to life is nigh on perfect. The plot also is spot on though it is unfortunate that it so closely resembles the Raid, which managed to get the the big screen  before Dredd. Still the similarity in plots was unintentional and there are some great moments in Dredd. Some of the cleverly blocked out sequences even resemble panels from the comic book strips that first brought Dredd to existence.

Dredd's certainly a tough sell - on the surface  he may seem like a superhero, tailor-made for the Batman and Avengers audience, but that is not the case. The Stallone movie made the mistake of depicting Dredd as a square jawed hero, but this time the movie Dredd is very much the fascist tool of the state that the comic book invented all those years ago, and Mega City comes across as grimy as the 1970's UK that first inspired the initial creation of the character.

Let's hope Dredd does well enough on  DVD to inspire a sequel. The film certainly deserves one but next time forget the 3D.


Monday 24 December 2012

Old West Christmas

By the mid 1800s the American Christmas tradition included much of the customs and festivities it does today, including tree decorating, gift-giving, Santa Claus, greeting cards, stockings by the fire, church activities and family-oriented days of feasting and fun.

For those out West, far away from civilisation - pioneers, cowboys, explorers, and mountain men, usually celebrated Christmas more meagerly.Those on the prairies, they were often barraged with terrible blizzards and savage December winds. For mountain men, forced away from their mining activities long before Christmas, in fear of the blinding winter storms and freezing cold, the holidays were often meager. But, to these strong pioneers, Christmas would not be forgotten. Even in the Wild West one had to keep up standard, you know.

On Christmas Day 1863, Mark Twain received a gift from a Miss Chase - "The box contained nothing but a ghastly, naked, porcelain doll," Twain wrote in The Virginia City Enterprise. In fact Virginia City has a long Christmas tradition and even today the city hold an annual Christmas on the Comstock celebration in which original oil lamps from the 1880's are lit alongside the regular Christmas lights. But even in the 1880's Christmas was not a new thing on the frontier - the tradition of lighting small bonfires to guide Catholics to midnight mass on Christmas Eve was started by the Franciscan monks in the 16th century.

 Merryweather Lewis and William Clark celebrated Christmas in 1804 at Fort Manden in what would become North Dakota. They apparently celebrated by shooting off guns and drinking a lot of brandy. The mining camp of Denver City had only been established a little over a month when in 1858 Christmas was celebrated in high style. Richen Lacy Wotton arrived in camp on the day with a barrel of Taos Lightening and gave the entire town a Christmas drink or two or three. All the potent moonshine led to singing and the Christmas service planned by Rev. George Fisher had to be cancelled because of drunkenness.

Newspaper man, William Lawrance wrote a Christmas poem in 1890 that has become famous:

'Way out in Western Texas, where the Clear Fork's waters flow, Where the cattle are "a-browzin'," an' the Spanish ponies grow; Where the Northers "come a-whistlin'" from beyond the Neutral Strip; And the prairie dogs are sneezin', as if they had "The Grip"; Where the cayotes come a-howlin' 'round the ranches after dark, And the mocking-birds are singin' to the lovely "medder lark"; Where the 'possum and the badger, and rattlesnakes abound, And the monstrous stars are winkin' o'er a wilderness profound; Where lonesome, tawny prairies melt into airy streams, While the Double Mountains slumber, in heavenly kinds of dreams; Where the antelope is grazin' and the lonely plovers call— It was there that I attended "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball." The town was Anson City, old Jones's county seat, Where they raised Polled Angus cattle, and waving whiskered wheat; Where the air is soft and "bammy," an' dry an' full of health, And the prairies is explodin' with agricultural wealth; Where they print the Texas Western, that Hec. McCann supplies With news and yarns and stories, uv most amazin' size; Where Frank Smith "pulls the badger," on knowin' tenderfeet, And Democracy's triumphant, and might hard to beat; Where lives that good old hunter, John Milsap, from Lamar, Who "used to be the Sheriff, back East, in Paris sah!" 'T was there, I say, at Anson with the lovely "widder Wall," That I went to that reception, "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball." The boys had left the ranches and come to town in piles; The ladies—"kinder scatterin'"—had gathered in for miles. And yet the place was crowded, as I remember well, 'T was got for the occasion, at "The Morning Star Hotel." The music was a fiddle an' a lively tambourine, And a "viol came imported," by the stage from Abilene. The room was togged out gorgeous-with mistletoe and shawls, And candles flickered frescoes, around the airy walls. The "wimmin folks" looked lovely-the boys looked kinder treed, Till their leader commenced yellin': "Whoa! fellers, let's stampede," And the music started sighin', an' awailin' through the hall As a kind of introduction to "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball." The leader was a feller that came from Swenson's ranch, They called him "Windy Billy," from "little Deadman's Branch." His rig was "kinder keerless," big spurs and high-heeled boots; He had the reputation that comes when "fellers shoots." His voice was like a bugle upon the mountain's height; His feet were animated an' a mighty, movin' sight, When he commenced to holler, "Neow, fellers stake your pen! "Lock horns ter all them heifers, an' russle 'em like men. "Saloot yer lovely critters; neow swing an' let 'em go, "Climb the grape vine 'round 'em—all hands do-ce-do! "You Mavericks, jine the round-up- Jest skip her waterfall," Huh! hit wuz gettin' happy, "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball!" The boys were tolerable skittish, the ladies powerful neat, That old bass viol's music just got there with both feet! That wailin', frisky fiddle, I never shall forget; And Windy kept a-singin'—I think I hear him yet— "Oh Xes, chase yer squirrels, an' cut 'em to one side; "Spur Treadwell to the centre, with Cross P Charley's bride; "Doc. Hollis down the middle, an' twine the ladies' chain; "Varn Andrews pen the fillies in big T Diamond's train. "All pull yer freight together, neow swallow fork an' change; "'Big Boston,' lead the trail herd, through little Pitchfork's range. "Purr 'round yer gentle pussies, neow rope 'em! Balance all!" Huh! hit wuz gettin' active—"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball!" The dust riz fast an' furious; we all jes' galloped 'round, Till the scenery got so giddy that T Bar Dick was downed. We buckled to our partners, an' told 'em to hold on, Then shook our hoofs like lightning, until the early dawn. Don't tell me 'bout cotillions, or germans. No sire 'ee! That whirl at Anson City just takes the cake with me. I'm sick of lazy shufflin's, of them I've had my fill, Give me a frontier break-down, backed up by Windy Bill. McAllister ain't nowhar: when Windy leads the show, I've seen 'em both in harness, and so I sorter know— Oh, Bill, I sha'n't forget yer, and I'll oftentimes recall, That lively gaited sworray—"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball." So this Christmas why not give a western and continue the long tradition of the Cowboy Christmas.

Christmas out West

Christmas at the Ponderosa

Pipe Smoking - a gentle hobby


Smoking is these days frowned upon and I gave up cigarettes some time ago but I do think that a person should be allowed to smoke if that's their choice. I still enjoy the odd cigar but one thing I will never give up is my beloved pipe. I started pipe smoking about a year and a bit ago, after snuffing out the fags, and consider it more of a hobby than a habit.

It's also better for you than cigarettes, since most of the time the smoker does not inhale. And there's few pleasures as good as a glass of full bodied red wine, a good book and a pipe.

(Pictured - Tolkien enjoying his pipe)

There is a definate art to pipe smoking and nothing helps me concentrate more when I'm writing than having a pipe hanging from my lips. I always used to be self conscious when puffing since it always seemed only the really old smoked pipes but these days the hobby, perhaps as a result of the draconian smoking laws is seeing something of a comeback.

There is an interesting pipe smoking podcast here THE OLD TOBY

So please don't demonise us pipe smokers - after all we are in good company.

Abbott, John (Actor)
Adams, John (President of U.S., Statesman)
Anderson, Sparky (sports figure)
Armstrong, Neil (Astronaut)
Atkins, Chet (Entertainer)
Aykroyd, Dan (Entertainer)
Bach, Johann S. (Composer)
Bacon, Sir Francis (Intellectual, Scholar)
Baldwin, Stanley (English Prime Minister, Statesman)
Barrie, Sir James M. (Writer)
Barth, Karl (Theologian)
Baudelaire, Charles (Poet)
Bell, Alexander Graham (Inventer)
Bellamy, Ralph (Actor)
Benchley, Robert (Humorist, Writer)
Benn, Tony (English Political Leader)
Benhard, Prince of the Netherlands
Bildt, Carl (Swedish Prime Minister)
Bismarck, Prince Otto Eduard Leoplold von (German statesman)
Blucher, Gen. Gebhard von (Prussian military leader)
Bohr, Neils (Physicist)
Braxton, Anthony (Composer, Musician)
Brera, Gianni (Italian sports journalist)
Brett, Jeremy (Actor)
Bruce, Nigel (Actor)
Brynner, Yul (Actor)
Burns, Arthur (Economist, Chair of U.S. Fed. Reserve)
Byrd, Richard E. (Explorer)
Byron (George Gordon, Lord Byron; Poet)
Cannell, Stephen J. (Writer; television creator, producer, and host)
Carlson, Chet (inventor of Xerography)
Carter, Ron (Musician)
Casals, Pablo (cellist, conductor)
Cerf, Bennett (Humorist)
Chancellor, John (U.S. news broadcaster)
Chandler, Raymond (Writer)
Chapman, Graham (English entertainer, member of Monty Python)
Cheever, John (Writer)
Chenault, Claire (founder of Flying Tigers, WWII General)
Chomsky, Noam (Linguist, Political Activist)
Clemens, Samuel (Mark Twain; writer)
Conrad, Paul (Cartoonist)
Conrad, William (Actor)
Corbiere, Tristan (Poet)
Cosby, William "Bill", Jr. (Entertainer)
Crane, Stephen (Writer)
Crocket, Davy (U.S. Congressman, frontiersman)
Cronkite, Walter (TV Journalist)
Cronyn, Hume (Actor)
Crosby, Bing (Singer, Actor)
Cushing, Peter (Actor)
Dannay, Frederic (one-half of Ellery Queen; Writer)
Darwin, Charles (Biologist)
Davis, Angela (Political activist, academic)
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan (Writer)
Duchamp, Marcel (Artist)
Dulles, Allen (Diplomat, Head of CIA)
Dunn, Donald "Duck" (Musician)
Dupine, A.A.L. (George Sand; writer)
Earp, Wyatt (U.S. Frontier figure)
Eckstine, Billy (Singer)
Edward VII, King of England (Prince Albert of Wales)Einstein, Albert (Physicist, Mathematician)
Eisenhower, Dwight (Military leader, President of U.S.)
Ellison, Harlan (Writer)
Emerson, Ralph Waldo (Poet)
Euler, Leonard (Mathematician)
Farber, Myron (Writer, Journalist)
Faulkner, William (Writer)
Feiffer, Jules (Cartoonist, Humorist)
Fenwick, Millicent (US Congress Member, Stateswoman)
Fitzgerald, Barry (Actor)
Fitzgerald, Ray (Sports writer)
Foote, Shelby (Writer)
Ford, Gerald (U.S. President, Statesman)
Ford, John (Film director)
Fox, Richard (Actor)
Franks, Dr. Robert, Lord (English Diplomat)
Frederick I, King of Prussia
Frederick, King of Denmark
Frederick-Wilhelm I, King of Prussia
Freud, Sigmund (Psychaitrist)
Fugard, Athol (Playwright)
Gable, Clark (Actor)
Galway, James (Flutist)
Garbo, Greta (Actress)
Gardner, John (Writer)
Geisel, Theodor Seuss ("Dr. Seuss"; Writer, Cartoonist, Animator)
Gershwin, Ira (Lyricist)
Godfrey, Arthur (Broadcaster)
Gould, Morton (Composer)
Graham, Kenneth (Writer)
Granger, Stewart (Actor)
Grant, Cary (Actor)
Grant, Ulysses S. (U.S. President, Military Leader)
Gross, Michael (Actor)
Hackett, Buddy (Entertainer)
Hackett, Joan (Actress)
Hanke, Steven (Economist, writer)
Harriot, James (Writer, Vet)
Harrison, William H. (U.S. President)
Hefner, Hugh (Publisher)
Heinsohn, Tommy (Sports Figure)
Hemingway, Ernest (Writer)
Hockney, David (Artist)
Hoffer, Eric (Writer)
Holtz, Lou (U.S. Football Coach)
Hoover, Herbert (President of U.S., Statesman, Academic)
Hubble, Edwin P. (Astronomer)
Huxley, Thomas Henry (Scientist, Writer)
Jackson, Andrew (President of U.S., Statesman)
Jackson, Mrs Andrew (First Lady of U.S.)
Jammes, Francis (Poet)
Jerome, Jerome K. (Writer)
Joyce, James (Writer)
Jung, Carl Gustav (Psychologist)
Karloff, Boris (Actor)
Kaye, Danny (Entertainer)
Kern, Jerome (Composer)
Kinnock, Neil (English Political Leader)
Kipling, Rudyard (Writer)
Klavan, Gene (Critic)
Kleber, Jean Baptiste (French military leader)
Kohl, Helmut (Chancellor of W. Germany)
Korda, Michael (Writer)
Kramer, Hilton (Writer)
Kruger, S.J. Paulus ("Oom Paul"; President of South Africa)LaGuardia, Fiorella (Mayor of New York, Statesman)
LaSalle (Military leader)
Leakey, Richard (Anthropologist)
Lederman, Leon (physicist)
Lemmon, Jack (Actor)
Letterman, David (Entertainer)
Lewis, C.S. (Writer)
Lewis, Jerry Lee (Singer, Musician)
Lewis, Sinclair (Writer)
MacArthur, Gen. Douglas (Military leader)
MacKenzie, Sir Compton (Writer)
MacMurray, Fred (Actor)
Malle, Louis (Film Director)
Mancini, Henry (Composer)
Mandel, Marvin (Gov. of Maryland)
Manet, Edouard (artist)
Mankiewicz, Joseph (Film Director)
Marney, Carlyle (Baptist Minister, Scholar)
Martin, Billy (Sports figure)
Martin Jack (Western writer and actor)
Marx, Julius Arthur "Groucho" (comedian)
Masterson, William B. "Bat" (Frontier lawman, journalist)
Maugham, Somerset (Writer)
McBride, James (Film Director)
McDowell, Malcolm (Actor)
McRaney, Gerald (Actor)
Melville, Herman (Writer)
Mencken, H.L. (Journalist, Writer, Humorist)
Miller, Arthur (playwright)
Milne, A.A. (Writer)
Mingus, Charles (Musician, Composer)
Moliere, Jean Baptiste (Playwright)
Mondrian, Piet (Artist)
Morley, Christopher (Writer)
Murat (Military leader)
Naipaul,V.S. (novelist)
Newton, Sir Isaac (Physicist, Mathematician)
O'Brien, Pat (Actor)
O'Brien, Pat (TV sportscaster)
Oppenheimer, Robert (Physicist)
Oudinot (Military leader)
Pampadour, Marquise de (French Aristocrat)
Papandreou, Andreas (Greek Statesman)
Parker, Jameson (Actor)
Parks, Gordon (Photographer, Film Director, Writer)
Patton, Gen. George S., Jr. (Military leader)
Pershing, Gen. John "Blackjack" (Military leader)
Pertini, Sandro (Italian President)
Piaget, Jean (Behaviorist, Scientist)
Poindexter, Adm. John F. (Military leader, Iran-Contra figure)
Porsche, Ferdinand (Automobile designer)Powell, William (Actor)
Priestley, J.B (Writer)
Pritchett, V.S. (Writer)
Quayle, Anthony (Actor)
Rathbone, Basil (Actor)
Reagan, Ronald (U.S. President, Statesman, Actor)
Reston, James (Journalist)
Richardson, Sir Ralph (Actor)
Robinson, Edward G. (Actor)
Rockwell, Norman (Artist)
Roosevelt, Franklin (U.S. President, Statesman)
Rose, David (Composer)
Rosten, Leo (Writer)
Russell, Bertrand (Philosopher)
Ruth, George Herman "Babe" (Sports figure)
Ryan, Buddy (Sports figure)
Sabin, Albert (Scientist)
Sadat, Anwar (Egyptian President, Statesman)
Salk, Jonas (Scientist)
Sand, George (see Dupine, AAL)
Sandburg, Carl (Poet, writer)
Sarowiwa, Ken (Nigerian author)
Sartre, Jean-Paul (Philosopher)
Scalia, Antonin (U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Scholar)
Schaefer, Jack (Writer)
Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. (Historian)
Schlesinger, James (U.S. Defense Secretary)
Schnellenberger , Howard (U.S. Football Coach)
Schwarzenegger, Arnold (Actor)
Schweitzer, Albert (Missionary, Doctor)
Scott, Randell Falcon (English South Pole Explorer)
Seuss, Dr. (See Geisel, Theodor)
Sequoia (developed Cherokee alphabet)
Shackelford, Ted (Actor)
Shaw, Irwin (Writer)
Shirer, William (Writer, journalist)
Sikking, James (Actor)
Simenon, Georges (Writer)
Simon, Norton (Philanthropist, businessman)
Simon, William (Writer, politician)
Spelling, Aaron (Television Producer)
Stalin, Joseph (Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili; Dictator, Mass Murderer)
Stallone, Sylvester (Actor)
Stein, Gertrude (Intellectual)
Stevens, George (Film Director)
Stevenson, Coke (Gov. of Texas)
Tati, Jacques (Actor)
Taurog, Norman (Film Director)
Taylor, Mrs. Zachary (First Lady of U.S.)
Tennyson (Alfred, Lord Tennyson; Poet)
Thurber, James (Cartoonist, humorist)
Tolkien, J.R.R. (Writer)
Tracy, Spencer (Actor)
Trudeau, Pierre (Canadian Prime Minister, Statesman)
Twain, Mark (see Clemens, Samuel)
Van Buren, Martin (U.S. President)
Van Gogh, Vincent (Artist)
Victoria, Queen of England
Villa, Bob (Television "how-to" personality)
Walesa, Lech (Polish Statesman)
Wallace, Irving (Writer)
Waters, Frank (Writer)
Waugh, Evelyn (Writer)
Welles, Orson (Film Director, Actor)
Weston, Edward (photographer)
Whitmore, James (Actor)
Wilson, Harold, Lord (English Prime Minister, Statesman)
Wodehouse, P.G. (Writer)
Yermakov, Nicholas (Writer)
Young, John (Astronaut)
Young, Robert (Actor)

Sunday 23 December 2012

Tainted Festive Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 17 Dec - 23 Dec 2012


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits3403123663683393193412,385341
First Time Visits3162853443413202953072,208315
Returning Visits2427222719243417725

The Western is dead - well, that's fighting talk.

One of the most eagerly awaited movies of the holiday period is, Django Unchained - a western and recent years have seen several excellent westerns coming from Hollywood - True Grit and Blackthorn to name but two. On the fiction front genre writers such as Larry McMurtry and Cormac MacCarthy have entered the mainstream and brought the genre many new fans and the eBook revolution is seeing a lot of classic western material coming back into print - Check out Piccadilly Publishing - an outfit that are fast becoming my favorite publisher, well apart from Robert Hale but then I'm biased there since it is Hale's Black Horse imprint who publish my own novels. And of course many of the excellent George G. Gilman westerns are now available as eBooks which is reason enough to check out the genre.

That's a lot of activity for a so called dead genre.

 At the grass roots, where the fans hang out, there are scores of western blogs and web sites with new ones springing up all the time. There are some excellent western blogs - Western Fiction Review, Rope and Wire and Black Horse Express are just three of a list that could go on forever. Check out the recommended reads in the sidebar of this blog for some great western websites.

That's a lot of activity for a so called dead is the western entering a revival phase?

To my mind the western has never really gone away nor has it rolled over, turned a sickly green and been in need of reviving. Even during the Eighties when the genre seemed to vanish from bookshops there were still loyal fans.

So why now this surge of interest?

What surge? There is no surge? The only difference these days is that we've got the Internet and booksellers are able to get their books, whatever the genre, to a wider demographic than ever before. It was only the book sellers that claimed the western was dead in the first place but now that fans are able to come together via the Internet or as we call it here, The Wild West Web they can dictate what it is they want. Type in BOOK BLOGS into Google and it soon becomes obvious that genre fiction is still popular and not only westerns but horror, SF, crime, hardboiled. And yet go into any bookshop (if you can find one) and you'd swear only a handful of big name authors were ever read, but westerns are well supported in the electronic book store with new and classic books now available as eBooks.

Genre fiction is formulaic they say. And to some extent it is but then so are the blockbusters that line the bookshop shelves. These blockbusters are of a uniform building brick size and if that's not writing to a formula then I don't know what is. Over the last few years  I've gotten to know a lot of western writers and to a man (or woman, of course) they are all trying to push the envelope of what is acceptable in a western. If you want an example of diversity in the western genre then check out the  anthology A Fistful of Legends from Express Western. The book contains 21 western stories including one from myself.

My own westerns (self promotion warning) Tarnished Star, Arkansas Smith, The Ballad of Delta Rose and Wild Bill Williams  may stick closely to the classic style of western storytelling but I have tried to work in subtexts.

Tarnished Star in many ways questions what it is to be a man and the responsibilities we all share. And whilst Arkansas Smith travels a far darker trail there is, I hope, a story being told on more than one level. The Ballad of Delta Rose is a story of redemption  and Wild Bill Williams is something of a culture shock western. My next Black Horse western,  The Afterlife of Slim McCord pushes the boundaries to breaking point - at least, I hope it does..

That's why I love the western, both as a writer and a reader - the possibilities are endless and far from being straitjacketed into an endless routine of Cowboys and Indians or white hats and black, the genre can go anywhere it wants, can explore both the good and bad sides of human nature.

I can never stray too far from the deserts and plains, the mountains and the rivers - it's the landscape of adventure and great courage. For the past few months I've been working on another cozy crime novel set in my native South Wales - A world away from the Wild West and yet there are still western elements in everything I write; look hard enough and they are there.

Me as a cover star!
The point is that no matter what I do, where and when I set my stories, there will always be something of the western about them.

And recently I was thrilled to find that my image was used as the inspiration for the new cover art for the Ben Bridges western, Hangman's Noose - how cool is that to be immortalized as a character in a western! I do hope the book sells squillions because not only is Ben Bridges a fine western writer but that's such a good looking lead character.

So go on give a western a'll be glad you did.

Amazon and the great reviewer purge

Stephen Leather and one of his reviewers
The New York Times have this weekend run an article by  David Streitfeld that looks at Amazon's recent purge of what the faceless corporation see as fake reviews. The article states that - "Giving raves to family members is no longer acceptable. Neither is writers’ reviewing other writers. But showering five stars on a book you admittedly have not read is fine."

The article goes on to state that "Several mystery writers, including R. J. Ellory, Stephen Leather and John Locke, have recently confessed to various forms of manipulation under the general category of “sock puppets,” or online identities used to deceive. That resulted in a widely circulated petition by a loose coalition of writers under the banner, “No Sock Puppets Here Please,” asking people to “vote for book reviews you can trust.” 

It seems that Amazon have angered some writers by removing thousands of reviews be they fake or not - no doubt some of this was necessary but the ruling about writers reviewing other writers books is stupid. This has gone on for years with print books - indeed I would never have discovered Clive Barker had not Stephen King wrote, 'I have seen the future of horror and it is Clive Barker.'

Ahh well this is Amazon and you can't argue with them.

The article makes for interesting reading and the full text can be found HERE

The Brown Bread List 2012

Celebrities who died this year include:
Peter Breck RIP
Clive Dunn
Ravi Shanker
Mitch Lucker
Natina Reed
Russel Means
Gary Collins
Sammi Kane Kraft
Antoine Ashley
Michael O'Hare
Herbert Lom
Jonathan Kendrick Lewis
Andy Williams
John Ingle
Joe South
Mark Abrahamian
Michael Clarke Duncan
Neil Armstrong
Jerry Nelson,
Tony Scott
Larry Hagman
Jon Lord
Sage Stallone
Ernest Borgnine
Eric Sykes
Susan Tyrrel
Cheetah dies aged 80
Ann Rutherford
Ray Bradbury
Robin Gibb
Donna Summer
Davy Jones
Whitney Houston
Peter Breck
James Farentino
James Otis
Etta James
Harry Morgan
Dolores Hope
Jack Duckworth

And if we missed any celebrities who joined the brown bread list in 2012, we apologize and promise to catch you next time around. Hari Krishna!

Random Images of Cool

Declared cool by the Tainted Archive

Archive's Christmas Sunday Comics


 Christmas comes a couple of days early on the Archive

 And so from myself and Keith Chapman, the man largely responsible for most of the Sunday Comics posts we wish you all a great Christmas and a cool new year. May 2013 bring you health, wealth, happiness and a little less Simon Cowell on the TV.

The last balloon in our Sunday comic this week reads, "Wow! This must be the most exciting, merriest Christmas we've ever had!"

Archive readers have confirmed here before that some of the merry-ness of Christmas holidays during their twentieth-century childhoods was created by the sumptuous annuals produced largely by publishers of the juvenile weekly comics. The annuals must also have been a godsend to aunts, uncles and grandparents at a loss to know what to buy for little Johnny's or Jenny's Christmas stocking. The easy solution was check out which comics the children favoured, then call in at the local newsagents or booksellers. They were sure to be stocking the corresponding annuals from around September onwards.

The comic publishers produced annuals specifically for the Christmas trade and advertised and promoted them at no cost in their own weekly papers. They were undeniable moneyspinners.

This week's complete strip, written by Keith Chapman, is an excerpt from Girls' World Annual 1968, published in 1967. We've discussed the topic of UK girls' comics here very recently.  So all that's left to note is that, just as male Archive followers have disclosed they often enjoyed their sisters' comics, many of the boys at Christmas time also sneaked secret peeks into the girls' annuals ... especially when they could find neat little spy thrillers like Christmas Casualty!     

The Creation of a Detective - Agatha Christie

1916 was a watershed year for Agatha Christie - she had been married to her husband Archie for just over a year, but because of the war she saw little of him. He was serving in the Royal Field Artillery which meant that Agatha had a lot of time to herself.

Agatha found herself working in the dispensary of Torquay hospital and as part of her training the young, soon to be bestselling author made careful notes of the appearance and effects of all the different substances she would have to dispense. She knew how different poisons acted, their aroma and how their use could be disguised - useful knowledge for a woman who would become the queen of crime fiction.

During the period Agatha was working on what would become her first novel and with her knowledge it was natural that she should use poisoning for her storyline.

'I was steeped in Sherlock Holmes, so I carefully considered the kind of detective I would create. I knew I could never emulate Holmes and must create one of my own. I started to carefully examine the detectives I found in books." Agatha Christie.

After toying with the idea of both a schoolboy detective and a scientists, Agatha' attention turned to the Belgian refugees who were living in the nearby parish of Tor. She decided to make her detective Belgian, a refugee police officer and from that idea the character of Hercule Poirot began to form in Agatha's imagination.

The novel that would introduce the world to the new detective was The Mysterious Affair at Styles and it was rejected by Hodder and Stoughton, the first publisher Agatha sent it to.However the young writer stuck with it and it was first published in the US by John Lane in 1920 and then in the UK by Bodley Head the following year.

"The only fault this story has is that it is almost too ingenious." It went on to describe the basic set-up of the plot and concluded: "It is said to be the author's first book, and the result of a bet about the possibility of writing a detective story in which the reader would not be able to spot the criminal. Every reader must admit that the bet was won." The Times Literary Supplement

"Though this may be the first published book of Miss Agatha Christie, she betrays the cunning of an old hand … You must wait for the last-but-one chapter in the book for the last link in the chain of evidence that enabled Mr. Poirot to unravel the whole complicated plot and lay the guilt where it really belonged. And you may safely make a wager with yourself that until you have heard M. Poirot's final word on the mysterious affair at Styles, you will be kept guessing at its solution and will most certainly never lay down this most entertaining book." The New York Times Book Review

Saturday 22 December 2012

The worse movies of all time...

To Hollywood they are embarrassments, works cast aside and best forgotten but they keep turning up and these days with the wide availability of DVD's and the use of the Internet watching a shit movie is easier than ever. But why would anyone want to watch a bad movie? Well some of these movie are so brain numbingly crap that they become almost good by default. There's a certain kudos with being bad - For instance Plan 9 From Outer Space has only attained its massive cult status because it was crap.

Bad movies have been about since there were movies -  Harry Medved's The Fifty Worse Movies of all Time spends a great deal of time talking about early turkey, 1930's Abraham Lincoln.

My own choice for the worse movie ever would be Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - It was obviously going to stink when someone decided to cast the worse pop group of all time as the best pop group of all time.  Ha great idea guys let's improve on The Beatles by replacing them with Billy Frampton and the Bee Gees! Yeah, like that will work.

Flops films can ruin careers - Michael Cimono suffered for Heaven's Gate but sometimes bad films can make careers - Ed Wood, director of the previously mentioned Plan 9  film is these days a cult with film festivals dedicated to him and his status as the worse film director of all time. But don't foget that quite often films can flop and then become classics later - The Wizard of Oz and Citizen Kane are two examples of this, but these films, although initially flops, are not bad movies.

Now Battlefield Earth - that's a bad movie. And Terror at Tiny Town, Sky Captain and Howard the Duck. Mind you George Lucus bounced back from Howard the Duck to make even more bad movies - The Star Wars prequels. And what about Batman and Robin and of course Superman IV The Quest for Peace or even Spiderman 3?  Maybe they should have cast the Bee Gees as Lex Luthor.

Below is a list of the 100 worse movies as voted for by the readers of Digital Dreamer. Note Plan 9 From Outer Space is not included on this list but the the editor of the list made it clear these are all films that intended to be good, while Plan 9 was a Z-movie and is in a class of its own.

Total Shit
  1. Battlefield Earth - (2000) (John Travolta)
  2. Showgirls - (1995) (Elizabeth Berkley)
  3. Howard The Duck - (1986) (Lea Thompson)
  4. Glitter - (2001) (Mariah Carey)
  5. Baby Geniuses - (1999) (Kathleen Turner, Christopher Lloyd)
  6. Maximum Overdrive - (1986) (Emilio Estevez)
  7. Swept Away - (2002) (Madonna)
  8. Spice World - (1997) (Spice Girls)
  9. Valley Of The Dolls - (1967) (Patty Duke)
10. Ishtar - (1987) (Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman)
11. Hudson Hawk - (1991) (Bruce Willis)
12. Leonard Part 6 - (1987) (Bill Cosby)
13. Even Cowgirls Get The Blues - (1993) (Uma Thurman)
14. Wild Wild West - (1999) (Will Smith, Kevin Kline)
15. Gigli - (2003) (Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez)
16. North - (1994) (Elijah Wood)

A monster sized turd
17. Heavens Gate - (1980) (Kris Kristofferson)
18. Shanghai Surprise - (1986) (Madonna)
19. Cool As Ice - (1991) (Vanilla Ice)
20. Burn Hollywood Burn-An Allan Smithie Film - (1997) (Ryan O'Neal)
21. Grease 2 - (1982) (Maxwell Caulfield, Michelle Pfeiffer)
22. From Justin To Kelly - (2003) (Kelly Clarkson)
23. The Cat In The Hat - (2003) (Mike Myers)
24. The Adventures Of Pluto Nash - (2002) (Eddie Murphy)
25. Striptease - (1996) (Demi Moore)
26. Freddy Got Fingered - (2001) (Tom Green)
27. The Island Of Dr Moreau - (1996) (Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer)
28. Batman & Robin - (1997) (George Clooney)
29. Look Whos Talking Too - (1990) (John Travolta, Kirstie Alley)
30. Harlem Nights - (1989) (Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor)
31. The Conqueror - (1956) (John Wayne, Susan Hayward)
32. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band - (1978) (Peter Frampton, Bee Gees)
33. Balistic: Ecks Vs Sever - (2002) (Antonio Banderas, Lucy Liu)
34. Adrenalin, Fear The Rush - (1996) (Christopher Lambert)
35. Jason X - (2002) (Kane Hodder, Lisa Ryder)
36. Judge Dread - (1995) (Sylvester Stallone)
37. It's Pat, The Movie - (1994) (Julia Sweeney)
38. Bonfire Of The Vanities - (1990) (Tom Hanks)
39. Pokemon, The First Movie - (1999, Animation)
40. The Forbidden Dance - (1990) (Laura Harring)
41. Popeye - (1980) (Robin Williams)
42. Indecent Proposal - (1993) (Robert Redford, Demi Moore)
43. Red Sonja - (1985) (Brigitte Nielsen)
44. Nothing But Trouble - (1991) (Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd)
45. Godzilla - (1998) (Matthew Broderick)
46. The Scarlet Letter - (1995) (Demi Moore, Gary Oldman)
47. Kangaroo Jack - (2003) (Christopher Walken)
48. Best Of The Best - (1989) (Eric Roberts)
49. Weekend At Bernies 2 - (1993) (Andrew McCarthy)
50. Anaconda - (1997) (Jon Voight, Ice Cube, Jennifer Lopez)
51. Mr Magoo - (1997) (Leslie Nielsen)
52. Over The Top - (1987) (Sylvester Stallone)
53. Theodore Rex - (1995) (Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Roundtree)
54. Armegeddon - (1998) (Bruce Willis)
55. Bio-Dome - (1996) (Pauly Shore)
56. Shining Through - (1992) (Michael Douglas)
57. Fatal Beauty - (1987) (Whoopi Goldberg)
58. Inchon - (1981) (Laurence Olivier, Toshiro Mifune)
59. Jury Duty - (1995) (Pauly Shore)
60. Mary Reilly - (1996) (Julia Roberts)
61. The Postman - (1997) (Kevin Costner)
62. Dungeons & Dragons - (2000) (Jeremy Irons)
63. 8 Million Ways To Die - (1986) (Jeff Bridges)
64. Pearl Harbor - (2001) (Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett)
65. Caddyshack 2 - (1988) (Jackie Mason, Dyan Cannon)
66. Fair Game - (1995) (Cindy Crawford, William Baldwin)
67. Perfect - (1985) (Jamie Lee Curtis, John Travolta)
68. SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2 - (2004) (Jon Voight, Scott Baio)
69. Cool World - (1992) (Kim Basinger, Brad Pitt)
70. Barb Wire - (1996) (Pamela Anderson)
71. Problem Child - (1990) (John Ritter)
72. Pet Sematary 2 - (1992) (Anthony Edwards)
73. 1941 - (1979) (John Belushi, Tim Matheson)
74. Xanadu - (1980) (Olivia Newton-John)
75. Son Of The Pink Panther - (1993) (Roberto Benigni)
76. Son Of The Mask - (2005) (Jamie Kennedy, Alan Cumming)
77. Cop And A Half - (1993) (Burt Reynolds)
78. Bad Boys 2 - (2003) (Will Smith, Martin Lawrence)
79. Mannequin - (1987) (Kim Cattrall, Andrew McCarthy)
80. Blood Sucking Freaks - (1976) (Seamus O'Brien, Viju Krem)
81. Haunted Honeymoon - (1986) (Gene Wilder, Gilda Radner)
82. Surf Ninjas - (1993) (Ernie Reyes Jr., Nicolas Cowan)
83. Dirty Love - (2005) (Jenny McCarthy, Carmen Electra)
84. On Deadly Ground - (1994) (Steven Seagal)
85. Catwoman - (2004) (Halle Berry)
86. The Garbage Pail Kids Movie - (1987) (Mackenzie Astin, Anthony Newley)
87. Drop Dead Fred - (1991) (Phoebe Cates, Rik Mayall)
88. Mac And Me - (1988) (Jonathan Ward)
89. Burglar - (1987) (Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Goldthwait)
90. The Omega Code - (1999) (Casper Van Dien, Michael York)
91. House Of The Dead - (2003) (Jurgen Prochnow)
92. The Other Sister - (1999) (Juliette Lewis, Diane Keaton)
93. Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector - (2006) (Larry The Cable Guy)
94. King Kong Lives - (1986) (Linda Hamilton)
95. Sheena - (1984) (Tanya Roberts, Ted Wass)
96. Speed 2, Cruise Control - (1997) (Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric)
97. Four Rooms - (1995) (Madonna)
98. Cyborg - (1989) (Jean-Claude Van Damme)
99. Scooby Doo - (2002) (Sarah Michelle Gellar)
100. Ernest Scared Stupid - (1991) (Jim Varney)


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