Monday 13 October 2014

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 6 Oct - 12 Oct 2014


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits126133129117125130137897128
First Time Visits118118114111121118132832119
Returning Visits8151564125659

Wednesday 8 October 2014

DON'T PANIC, DON'T may actually be OK

The Old and the New
My first thought was, Oh My God, this can't be true...

 I mean come on this is almost as bad as casting Tom Cruise as a tall, muscular ex - military policeman who gets into all kinds of scrapes, but you never know it could turn out OK.

Not you though Tom, you'll never be OK  and you've really Reachered too far. I'd rather watch paint dry. Shit, I'd even sit through a Bon Jovi concert before watching you mutilate Lee Childs.

Jones now and the original
 I'm talking about the fact that there is to be a big screen movie version of the iconic British sit-com, Dad's Army  - and now the movie's received a boost with the news that it will be distributed by Universal. The film starts shooting this month and there is excitement at the seemingly superb casting. Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier were flawless as Captain Mainwaring and Sergeant Wilson and the actors chosen to reprise the iconic roles are enticing - Toby Jones as Mainwaring and Bill Nighy as Wilson. Both are excellent actors and have both the look and mannerisms of the originals. Tom Courtney as Corporal Jones also seems like perfect casting. All in all this film is looking more and more like it may something worth watching.

Perfect casting aside the new film has a lot to live up to.

Dad's Army ran on the BBC from 1968 to 1977 is widely considered to a classic of British TV. For many people, myself included, it is the NO 1 all time sit-com. For me it even beats Falty Towers in the LPM stakes - that's laughs per minute.Telling the story of a team of home guard volunteers, the show ran for nine seasons and also produced a spin off big screen movie, as well as a radio series and several stage plays.

 So popular was the series that in June 2010, a statue (pictured) of Captain George Mainwaring was erected in the Norfolk town of Thetford where most of the TV series  was filmed. The statue features Captain Mainwaring sitting to attention on a simple bench in Home Guard uniform, with his swagger stick across his knees. The statue is mounted at the end of winding brick pathway with a Union Flag patterned arrow head to reflect the opening credits of the TV series, and the sculpture has been designed so that members of the public can sit alongside Captain Mainwaring for the purpose of having their photo taken.

Originally intended to be called The Fighting Tigers, Dad’s Army was based partly on co-writer and creator Jimmy Perry’s real-life experiences in the  Home Guard. Perry had been 17 years old when he joined the 10th Hertfordshire Battalion and with a mother who did not like him being out at night and fearing he might catch cold. Thus, he bore more than a passing resemblance to Whisky Galore!, and the work of comedians such as Will Hay whose film Oh, Mr Porter! featured a pompous ass, an old man and a young man which gave him Mainwaring, Godfrey and Pike.
the character of Frank Pike. An elderly lance corporal in the outfit often referred to fighting under Kitchener against the "Fuzzy Wuzzies"  and proved to be a perfect model for Jones as played by the wonderful Clive Dunn. Other influences were the film Whisky Galore!, and the work of comedians such as Will Hay whose film Oh, Mr Porter! featured a pompous ass, an old man and a young man which gave him Mainwaring, Godfrey and Pike.

The new film comes from a script by Hamish McColl and will be directed by Oliver Parker who recently scored hits with the new St. Trinian's movies.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this one, and I'm starting to feel that this one could be a hit. After all as a franchise Dad's Army is perfectly suited to the big screen. Back in the day a lot of Brit Sit-coms had spin off movies made and the Dad's Army movie was one of the better big screen outings for small screen sitcoms.

Ahh well, only time will tell.

Below, courtesy of You Tube, are some of Dad's Army's best moments

Tuesday 7 October 2014

RIP Baron Samedi

Sad to hear of the passing of Geoffrey Holder best known for his role as Baron Samedi in the Bond movie, Live and Let Die which was Roger Moore's first outing in the role.

According to a family spokesman, Holder died on Sunday in New York from complications caused by pneumonia, He is survived by his wife, Carmen de Lavallade, and their son Leo.

Monday 6 October 2014

Those Voices of the West

I've gone and found myself a new favourite podcast that I think readers of the Archive would be interested in - Voices of the West -  Voices of the West is a long-running radio program that examines the Old West and its many characters–both good and bad. The show is hosted by Emil Franzi, recipient of the 2014 Western Writers of America Lariat Award.

He draws on his stable of guests like authors Johnny Boggs and Cotton Smith to talk about the cowboys. Author Jerry Egan chimes in frequently to talk about hiking Apacheria. And, Green Valley News writer Scott Dyke joins Emil on a regular basis to talk about anything and everything concerning the Old West. And past guests have included Peter Ford, the son of the late Glenn Ford and Pam Marvin, the widow of Lee Marvin. Voices of the West has also talked with Old Tucson’s Bob Shelton to remember the great movies made at the famous movie set.

Darn tooting it's good.

 Voices of the West is a radio program originating in Tucson, AZ over AM 1030 KVOI on Saturday at 4pm MST. Host Emil Franzi talks with folks who believe America was better off when our TV shows were about Cowboys instead of Lawyers!, and now that the show is available in podcast format from iTunes and all other podcast delivery systems, as well as on the show's own website HERE. The show can be downloaded for use on your computer or mobile device. Or if you prefer you can simply stream the show from the website.

There's a large archive of old shows on the website - I recently listened to a show that looked at the westerns of James Garner, the actor having recently died when the show was recorded, and it was excellent and a fitting tribute to the great man. The way the host and guests discuss the relative merits of each movie make for entertaining listening for any western fan. The show also plays themes from western movies but given copyright restrictions the podcast and archived shows only contain  few seconds of each song - this is something the BBC also does with the Desert Island Discs. Mind you because most of the show is speech based the listener isn't really missing out on any of the entertainment.

Visit Voices of the West by clicking HERE

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 29 Sep - 5 Oct 2014


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits115157124153118111137915131
First Time Visits111140122142109107132863123
Returning Visits417211945527

Friday 3 October 2014 up a storm

History has not bestowed upon them the notoriety of The James Gang, nor are they as well known as The Daltons but in their day The Cook Gang were every bit as feared as any of the Old West's outlaws.

"They are a stench to the nostril of lawful men." Said one Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) newspaper in 1890. and during the height of their crimes they were pursued by a team of U. S. marshalls, the Army and even The Texas Rangers.

Their leader was William Tuttle Cook but their ranks changed so often that it is impossible to pin down all the names of the actual members.

The first recorded incident of Bill (William) Cook falling foul of the law was in 1892 when the half Cherokee, was charged with selling whisky in Indian Territory. Later Bill worked as a posseman for U.S. Marshall Will Smith. But when his kid brother Jim was charged with larceny and jumped bail in 1894 he moved over to the other side of the law and joined his brother on the lam. It was not too long before the two brothers met and joined up with Crawford Goldsby, an outlaw, better known to history as Cherokee Bill.

Together with other men, drifters mostly, including Jim French, Skeeter Baldwin and The Verdigris Kid (Sam Mcwilliams then only 17 years old), they started stealing horses whilst keeping one step ahead of the law.

In the Spring of 1894 the U.S. Government passed the law that became to be known as, 'Strip Money'. This was $7 million of compensation to be paid to the Cherokee Nation at Tahlequah. Now Cherokee Bill and the two Cook boys were entitled to payment under the scheme but being on the scout, as they called it, they didn't see how they could claim it. They eventually gave written persmission to one Effie Crittendon to collect their shares on their behalf.

When the law learned of this they sent a Cherokee posse out to Effie's home at Fourteen Mile Creek to capture the outlaws. The posse included Effie's husband, Dick Critterdon. There was a shoot out and Sequoyah Houston, a respected member of the Cherokee police, was killed. The two Cook brothers and Cherokee Bill managed to escape. Though Jim Cook was wounded by buckshot.

Following the incident the newspapers were calling the men 'The Cook Gang' and so began a trail of theft, murder and unspeakable violence that would turn The Cook Gang into household names across America.

Yet they are not remembered today in the way other Old West Badmen are -there was nothing romantic about the Cook gang, nothing to really mythologise though some did try - legend says that as Cherokee Bill was finally led to the hangman his last words were - "I came here to die and not make a speech. It is a good day to die." Though in fact documents record that he had no last words.

Bill Cook, leader of the gang, died in prison in 1901. His brother Jim had died the year earlier when he came second place in a gunfight over an argument about a steer.

If this brief article has prompted anyone to want to learn more about The Cook gang then I suggest getting hold of Black, Red and Deadly by Art Burton, or then again you can check out this video which was made by Samantha Ponce and tells the story using her children's toys. Or click HERE

Thursday 2 October 2014

The Ladies who won the West

Whores, or soiled doves, were an important part of the Old West. Because of the shortage of women, respectable or otherwise,  on the early frontier prostitution was a lucrative business.

 There were many euphemisms for the saloon and dance hall whores -night workers, frail sisters, the horizontally employed - and although whores back East were employed in luxurious brothels, the whores in the cowtowns had  a much more frugal existence and often lived in small back rooms of the saloon or dance hall that employed them. This enabled the saloon and dance hall owners to exploit the girls even further, for not only would they get a slice of their earnings but they also took a little more for room and board.

Girls came from all over the Union and travelled West to become horizontally employed in the shanty towns that were springing up all over. It was a dangerous time and the girls often found themselves fighting the men who visited and even, on times, one another. The idea was for the girls to make as much money as quickly as they could and then move on to safer employment where they could bury their past and try to find a gentleman to marry, or failing that a lonely miner who had struck rich. Prospects for a long and healthy life as a whore were poor.

Some of the whores in the Old West became local celebrities with their exploits . It is a fact that prostitutes were often the first female settlers in newly created towns. They helped to develop the areas in which they worked their trade and would risk disease, injury and in many cases death for their effort.

Prices for the services of these women varied from town to town but an average cost was 25c for a Mexican woman to $1 for an American lady. Higher prices were charged if a woman was of unusual youth and often a woman with red hair would fetch the highest price of all. It was a popular belief around the mining camps that women with auburn hair were the most amorous women in the world.

Why though would women become involved in this profession?

The answer to that question was no different in the Old West than it is today. Many of them had been abandoned by their families or left alone when a husband died or ran off, others were mentally illiterate and others still were immigrants with no other way to make a living. And although their profession was frowned upon they were often a vital part of early cowtown life.

Below I have posted a 1915 poem by Dana Burnet:

THE SISTERS of the Cross of Shame,
  They smile along the night;
Their houses stand with shuttered souls
  And painted eyes of light.
Their houses look with scarlet eyes      
  Upon a world of sin;
And every man cries, “Woe, alas!”
  And every man goes in.
The sober Senate meets at noon,
  To pass the Woman’s Law,       
The portly Churchmen vote to stem
  The torrent with a straw.
The Sister of the Cross of Shame,
  She smiles beneath her cloud—
(She does not laugh till ten o’clock,       
  And then she laughs too loud.)
And still she hears the throb of feet
  Upon the scarlet stair,
And still she dons the cloak of shame
  That is not hers to wear.       
The sons of saintly women come
  To kiss the Cross of Shame;
Before them, in another time,
  Their worthy fathers came.…
And no man tells his son the truth,       
  Lest he should speak of sin;
And every man cries, “Woe, alas!”
  And every man goes in.

It's a Big Adios

A good thing about the eBook revolution is that it allows for a market that had long since vanished in the print medium to thrive. There was a time when western fiction magazines were plentiful, but those days have long gone...Those day are back - The Big Adios Western Digest is a digital magazine, the first issue is out now and available from Amazon and other eBook retailers.


A Man Called Masters

Click Here
Available on Kindle for a low low price - 70p UK/69c US

The short story, A Man called Masters was first published online in Beat To A Pulp and in print in First Edition Magazine. The story has been well received by western fans the world over. And is now available for the Kindle and will soon be out in other formats.

Buy the story - not only will you be getting a sort sharp intake of western entertainment, but you'll also be helping to support the Archive. It does take considerable time and effort to produce this blog, you know.

Readers may be interested to learn that Jake Masters is the brother of Cole Masters, protagonist of The Tarnished Star . I am currently planning a novel featuring both Masters boys which I hope will be a future Black Horse Westerns title.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Sherlock Holmes - We deduce some incredible news

It's news that will have Sherlock Holmes fans roaming the moors and salivating like deranged hounds - A nearly 100-year-old silent film version of “Sherlock Holmes” starring famed Holmes thespian and American actor William Gillette has been discovered at the Cinémathèque Française, the French film archive announced Wednesday.

The rediscovered film is the only one Gillette ever appeared in, and is the actor’s only surviving appearance as the Baker Street detective, a role for which he was world-renowned in stage portrayals. It was Gillette who first donned the deerstalker hat that has remained popular through generations of Holmes performers, including the current favorite Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch.

Gillette's portrayal of Holmes is legendary and was even praised by Holmes creator, Conan Doyle himself but until now there has been no way to see Gillette's version of the detective.

“It’s an amazing privilege to work with these reels that have been lost for generations. William Gillette’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ has ranked among the holy grails of lost film and my first glimpse of the footage confirms Gillette’s magnetism. Audiences are going to be blown away when they see the real Sherlock Holmes on screen for the first time.”  Robert Byrne, Film restorer and SFSFF Board President

The nitrate dupe negative of the film, directed by Arthur Berthelet for Essanay Studios in 1916, was discovered in the vaults of the archive a few weeks ago, and is undergoing digital restoration by a partnership of the Cinémathèque Française and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The restored film will premiere at Toute la Mémoire du Monde, the film restoration festival of the Cinémathèque Française, in January 2015, and will see its U.S. debut at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in May 2015.

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