Sunday, 31 January 2010


What a marathon - The Tainted Archive ( hosted over 100 articles relating to the Black Horse Westerns. A mammoth undertaking that Broken Trails takes it hat off to.
There were interviews:
Matthew P. Mayo
Gillian F. Taylor
David Whitehead
Lance Howard
Jack Giles
Chuck Tyrell
Chap O'Keefe
Many of whom also submitted articles on writing, the Black Horse Western community and facts about the West and one that proved that the Black Horse Western was more popular than Harry Potter.
Dave Lewis and Steve M of the blog Western Fiction Review provided various book reviews.
All together and in full technicolour with sound-a-round and in 3-D we were treated to an epic Black Horse Western weekend.
Congratulations to Gary Dobbs who worked his fingers to the bone on this.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Friday's Forgotten Book: TAMIKO by Ronald Kirkbride

The US title for this book is 'A Girl Named Tamiko'.
The story centres around the central character Ivan Balin a photographer who has one goal in life and that is to get a visa so that he can live and work in America. He has crossed from mainland China, where he was born to a Chinese mother and a Russian father, to Japan.
At the opening of the book he is obsessive and a user. Obsessed with getting a visa and using a local bar girl, Eiko, and giving her the wrong impression. She kind of loves him and thinks that he'll take her with him which is the last thing on Ivan's mind.
Then he meets Fay Wilson the receptionist for the American Ambassador. She's spoilt, rich and hates everything Japanese. Ivan thinks that gives him a connection to her but then she hates his yellow skin. Sure they get it together but she's just using him.
On an off night he meets up with his English friend, Nigel, who introduces Ivan to Tamiko. She is the key to the archives in the library but it is a completely different door that she opens. Through her Ivan gets to photograph one of Japan's most influential modern artists who refuses to have his picture taken. Instead of outrage - it is the making of Ivan Balin's reputation as a photographer. He can't move for orders and it is by taking another photograph that he is given an assignment that takes him into the heart of Japan and two weeks with Tamiko that will change his attitude and his life.
Ronald Kirkbride brings life into his characters and through them gives an insight into post-war Japan. There is conflict with those, like Tamiko's brother, who want to stick with tradition and those who know that they need to embrace modern ideas if they are to compete on equal terms.
'Tamiko' is a fully satisfying read. It was first published by Cassel in 1959 and my edition was the 1960 publication from Pan Books. There is no waste in the 154 page length though believe me there are times when you feel like shouting at Ivan Balin to wake up to himself.
If you like this one then you might like Ronald Kirkbride's 'An Innocent Abroad' where a Japanese tomboy takes on modern America.

J. D. SALINGER 1919 - 2010

Sad news.
The Manhatten born writer, J.D.Salinger died last Wednesday.
Although he wrote many short stories and novellas between 1940 and 1961 he is better known for 'The Catcher In The Rye'.
Published in 1951 'The Catcher In The Rye' was, and still is, one of the most influential books of it's time. Holden Caulfield first appeared in a 1941 short story called 'Slight Rebellion Off Madison' which became the basis of the novel. It was the creation of this anti-hero who despised the 'phonies' of the adult world that turned both author and character into icons of teenage rebellion.
A huge talent.

Thursday, 28 January 2010


I had never heard of Skillet before the Smackdown vs Raw 2010 console game came out.
Two of the tracks on that game were 'Hero' and 'Monster'. Themes used by the WWE for their pay per views - 'Monster' being used for 'Hell In A Cell' and 'Hero' the theme for both 'Tribute To The Troops' and the 2010 'Royal Rumble'.

Skillet were formed back in 1996 in Memphis, Tennessee by John Cooper (lead vocals and bass guitar). Later he was joined by his wife, Korey (keyboards and rhythem guitar) and lead guitar Ben Kasica. Jen Ledger is the drummer and vocals and completes the current line up.
Over the past 13 years the music has covered many of the music genres including hard rock, Industrial rock and symphonic rock.
Two of their albums 'Collide' and 'Comatose' have been Grammy nominated.

'Awake' is classed as old school prog rock with added styles.
The opening track is 'Hero' - and a good one, too, as it makes for one of those stop what you're doing and listen for a while. 'Monster' is darker in both tone and colour and the mood continues into 'Don't Wake Me'. This is deceptive as the mood changes with 'Awake And Alive'a song that does exactly what the title implies.
This album is a rareity in that there is not a dud track on it.

If you like Linkin Park (and I don't), Puddle of Mud or Evanescence then you should take to this Skillet album.

Jen Ledger had a song to herself on an earlier Skillet 'Comatose' tour and her vocals on the 'Awake' album are absolutely excellent. Hint to Skillet - Jen should have more to do on next album. Both Jen Ledger and John Cooper's voices complement each other.

On first listening to this album I had no idea of the band's history except that it had been a No.1 album on the Billboard Chart. What I didn't know was that this was a Christian rock band.
I knew that Christian bands were around and covered every kind of genre from heavy metal to rap and many that I had sampled were so in your face with the 'important message'.
So, it was great to come across a band that didn't do that. Sure, the 'message' is there but oh, so subtle. Read the lyrics and you'll see what I mean.

'Awake' has been enough for me to go out looking for more of their albums. The music works on several levels so that the listener draws from it what they want to.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


The Black Horse Western Weekend starts this Friday over on The Tainted Archive (
Over the weekend end the blog owner, Gary Dobbs, plans a marathon of over a hundred items that include reviews, interviews and articles about Black Horse Westerns, the authors and books. One huge undertaking.
Over recent months interest in Black Horse Westerns has taken off and many new writers have been surprised at the success of their novels predominant amongst them are Jack Martin and Terry James and Thomas McNulty the latter still being in Amazon's top 10 western bestsellers. Old hands, too, are being recognised like Lance Howard and Rory Black's 'Iron Eyes' series - two of these books figure in the current chart along with Abe Dancer's 'Shot Gold'.
One Black Horse Western, I.J.Parnham's 'Devine's Law', was the subject of debate between The Tainted Archive, Broken Trails and I.J.Parnham's own blog at The Culbin Trail.
Recently, a bunch of Black Horse Western writers along with a wild bunch of new writers and old hands got together to produce the serialised western known as 'The Story With No Name'.
Nowadays the Black Horse Western brand crops up all over the place and the writers come from every continent in the world.
So sit back and enjoy the Black Horse Western weekend over on The Tainted Archive.

Sunday, 24 January 2010


This movie is set in August 1944.
The Allies are advancing with one main aim and that is to reach the Rhine and the liberation of Paris is not amongst the priorities.
Adolph Hitler, on the other hand, wants Paris to be totally destroyed.
The French Resistance are divided. The Communists want to start a resistance campaign to save the city while the Guallists are passive and want the Allies to liberate Paris. Ultimately, the Communists act first by taking over the Police Prefecture and start taking out the Germans and the Guallists have no choice but to join forces.
The Germans have their hands full and a truce is called which allows the Germans to plant their demolition charges in the Louvre and Eiffel Tower and other places of interest.
Okay, so the Germans never blew up Paris so no suspense there. But the same arguement could be made about 'The Longest Day' or any of the true war films - we all know what happened.
It's all about 'the how'.
The only 'big' star in this movie is Paris itself.
The action takes place in the real places and, as it is filmed in Black and White, enables use of film of the real events that tie in with the action.
Another point is that the French play the French, the Germans played by Germans and Americans by Americans. And Orson Welles as the Swedish Ambassador - though there is one point, when donning a black hat, the camera angle takes the viewer back to 'The Third Man' - my only complaint but a nice touch all the same.
And a star studded cast that includes Jean-Paul Belmondo, Yves Montand, Leslie Caron, Charles Boyer, Simone Signoret and Alain Delon. Most of the Germans like Hans Messner and Wolfgang Priess have turned up in German uniform in one film or another and, therefore, familiar faces. Gert Frobe gets promoted from Private in 'The Longest Day' to the General in charge of the demolition of Paris.
The Americans include Kirk Douglas as Patton, Robert Stack as Seibert and Glen Ford as Omar Bradley. Along for the ride in cameos are Skip Ward, Anthony Perkins and George Chakiris - though blink and you'll miss him but he's listed in the 'stars'.
Together Gore Vidal and Francis Ford Coppola have put together a pretty good script and Maurice Jarre's soundtrack ties it all together.
As a nice touch an aerial shot of Paris turns from black and white to colour.
And the final scenes where all you hear is Hitler screaming out 'IS PARIS BURNING?'
The thing that struck me was that we are all used to seeing the jubilant crowds surrounding tanks during the liberation - but not the tragedy for the Germans were still resisting.
The film comes in two halves. First the story of the French resistance. Then the original Intermission. Part two concentrates on the liberation by the Allies and the German 'resistance'.
A film that shouldn't be missed.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

JEAN SIMMONS 1929 - 2010

Jean Simmons who died yesterday aged 80 was born in Crouch End, North London.
Her first notable screen role was that of the young Estella in David Lean's 1946 production of Charles Dicken's 'Great Expectations' - a story that she would re-appear in with the 1980s mini-series this time playing Miss Haversham.
She then went on to play Ophelia to Laurence Olivier's 'Hamlet' (1948).
During her movie career she would star alongside the likes of Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando (Guys And Dolls); Gregory Peck (The Big Country); Burt Lancaster (Elmer Gantry); Kirk Douglas (Spartacus) and Richard Burton (The Robe).
In 1965 she took over the role of Susan, originally played by Heather Sears, in the sequal to 'Room At The Top' (1959)'Life At The Top' opposite Laurence Harvey.
Her later acting career encompassed both the stage with 'A Little Night Music' and tv series such as 'The Thorn Birds' and 'North And South'.
Jean Simmons was married twice - first to Stewart Grainger with whom she made several movies and then to the director Richard Brooks.
She is survived by two daughters Tracy and Kate.

Friday, 22 January 2010


The Vampire, according to the editor of The Vampire Archive, Otto Penzler, has been a part of the myths and legends since the Biblical Lilith. Even Greek mythology has the blood sucking daughters of Hecate.
Yet, the vampire in literature didn't really make an appearance until Dr John Polidori's 'The Vampyre' in 1816. And this was written in response to a challenge by Lord Byron after reading the vampire poem 'Cristabel' by Coleridge to the Shelleys and Polidori. As is known Mary Shelley came up trumps with 'Frankenstein' and Poliori with his piece.
The Vampire Archive is the combination of two books that contain short stories that pre-date Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' and continues into those stories that have been written since right up to those published recently. Authors like Mary Cholmondeley, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, Ray Bradbury, Ed Gorman, Roger Zelazny, Richard Laymon - the list goes on.
1,214 pages of blood tingling suspense and stories not to be read alone at midnight.
Well, that's never applied to me. Though there is a mix here as the odd vampire poem is to be found here, too.
At the end of the book there is a bibliography, compiled by Daniel Seitler, of every vampire short story and novel that has been written. Included are four entries from the Razored Zen blogger Charles A. Gramlich, Marilyn Ross's 'Barnabus Collins' Dark Shadows stories and the vampire western 'The Dark Riders' by Howard Hopkins aka Black Horse Western writer Lance Howard.
Anyone who wants to escape the 'Twilight' world of 'True Blood' that just show that fangs ain't what they used t'be - then The Vampire Archive will do the trick.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Western Wednesday: Something In The Water?

I got to thinking the other day about the Western writers who lived north of the Thames in London and most of them share common ground.
All were born just before, during or at the end of the Second World War. We played at being cowboys, although there is photographic evidence that I did, once, dress up as an Indian.
Saturday mornings were spent at the local cinema where we enjoyed the adventures of Zorro and Hopalong Cassidy and the like.
Two East End kids even filmed themselves which, on a technicality, makes David Whitehead and Mike Stotter the first Black Horse Western writers to have their early ideas turned into movies.
David Whitehead writes under various names including his own. Ben Bridges, Glen Lockwood, Matt Logan, Carter West and half the writing team under the name Doug Thorne.
Under his own name David Whitehead has written the Judge and Dury series and two Heller novels. While as Ben Bridges he has produced the Carter O'Brien series.
Mike Stotter has written four BHWs plus one under the name Jim A. Nelson. The rumour mill has it that Mike Stotter will be back with a third McKinney novel.
Both these writers were very involved with the Western by forming a fan club for Essex born Terry Harknett better known as George G. Gilman the creator of Edge, Adam Steele and Barnaby Gold aka The Undertaker.
Together they became consultants for the short lived 'Western Magazine' that ran for four issues before a strike saw the end of the venture.
George G. Gilman belonged to that group of writers known as The Piccadilly Cowboys amongst whom was a writer called John B. Harvey.
John B. Harvey was born in Kentish Town in North London. He was one half of the writing team for the series 'Herne The Hunter' and wrote all the even numbers bar No 24 'The Last Hurrah'. The one series of books that he wrote under his own name was 'Hart The Regulator'. John B Harvey writes crime and detective fiction these days though he has dropped the 'B'.
I make no secret that I was born in North London and a couple of pence, on the bus, was Enfield birthplace of Keith Chapman better known as Chap O'Keefe the creator of Joshua Dillard and that wildcat Misfit Lil.
Keith has been involved with Westerns one way or another throughout his life. One of his comic strips will form part of The Tainted Archive's blog during the Black Horse Western weekend at the end of this month.
One other person who comes to mind and pre-dates all of the above was born in Worcestershire but was living in Kensington, London when he wrote his first western. That was the creator of 'Sudden' Oliver Strange.
Like the title says - it must be something in the water.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Robert B Parker

Sad news. Robert B. Parker well known for his western and crime fiction died peacefully at his desk. An amazing writer who will be sadly missed.
More information can be found via

Monday, 11 January 2010


If you are Australian then you know who Banjo Paterson is.
Most people know, at least, one of his poems - maybe, two seeing as how one inspired a movie and a TV series.

Andrew Barton Paterson was born in 1864 at Narrambula nr Orange, New South Wales. Educated, first by a governess, he attended bush school in Binalong before going to Sydney Grammer School. On leaving school at the age of 16 he was taken on as an articled clerk with the solicitor's firm of Spain and Salway. In 1886 Paterson was admitted as a solitor and opened his own firm of Street and Paterson.
During these years he began writing poetry which he submitted to 'The Bulletin' and the 'Sydney Mail' under the pseudonyms of 'B' or 'The Banjo'.
His early poetry reflected his interest in horses and horseracing and reflections of his early life.
Banjo Paterson grew up at a time when the outback of Australia shared a time that could be compared with the Wild West of America. Cobb & Co stagecoaches, the gold fieldsand sheep took the place of cattle. Riverboats plied the Darling River carrying tons of wool many of which resembled the Mississippi riverboats. And Paterson's poetry is full of these pictures.
During these early years Banjo Paterson found himself involved in a competition that he did not want.
Three years after Paterson's birth so Edward Lawson was born. He came from a poor family and had only three weeks of formal education. An ear infection lead to total deafness but he loved to read the likes of Charles Dickens and Captain Marryatt. He, too, contributed poems to the same publications as Paterson.
Sydney society became divided. The well off supporting Paterson while others favoured Lawson. Only time has decided the issue.
In 1895 Banjo Paterson published a verse which has become symbolic of Australia - 'Waltzing Matilda' and a volume of verse titled 'The Man From Snowy River'. Titles that are still familiar today. 'The Man From Snowy River' sold out within a week of publication and continued to do so as four more editions were published over the next six months. The success of this volume made him second only to Rudyard Kipling in popularity among living poets.
Banjo Patterson became a war corresponent during the Boer War and Boxer Revolution in China. Although he went to France in World War One with the intention of covering the war he finished up working for the Australian Field Ambulance.
Banjo Paterson died in 1941 and his likeness has been on the Australian $10 note.
Couple of good books:
The Best Of Banjo Paterson (1996)
and there is a Penguin Classics collection of the works of Banjo Paterson.

Friday, 8 January 2010


Robert Mitchum as Col. Steve Janowski
Ann Blyth as Linda Day
William Talman as Col. Joe Parker

Written by: William Wister Haines, Milton Krims and Andrew Solt
Directed by Tay Garnett

One of the most memorable movies made about the Korean War - and this year marks the 6oth Anniversary of the conflict that began at 04:00 on Sunday the 25th June 1950. A fact that is not lost on Pilot Col Joe Parker and Army Col Steve Janowski who liken the attack to Pearl Harbour where Parker says:"Isn't this where we came in?" and Steve replies "And it's Sunday, too."
The last time I saw this movie was back in the late Fifties or early Sixties but it stuck in my mind for it's realism.
Like most films there are the romantic moments between the leads but even that was different.
Steve Janowski, is in Seoul to train up the South Korean Army to prepare for the imminent invasion by the Communist north.
Linda Day is a United Nations nurse who has firm views and opposes the use of military force. Nor does she care about to whom she voices her opinion.
Despite their differences Steve and Linda do draw together - more so when he sheilds her from sniper fire.
Against her will Steve forces Linda to join a flight to Japan but as the plane takes off the airfield is bombed by the North Koreans - hence the reference to Pearl Harbour.
At the front - well it is crumbling - Steve takes command of a unit that has lost it's officers and is wounded. He is flown out to Japan where he is re-united with Linda.
Both return to Korea where he links up with his unit and Linda deals with concerns of the flood of refugeees. However, amongst the refugees are North Korean soldiers. These are spotted by Joe Parker as he flies above them. Armed with this information Steve orders his men to fire over the heads of the refugees. This tactic does not have the required effect of drawing the enemy out so Steve orders down artillery fire. Unaware of the reason why, Linda witnessess what seems to be a massacre of the refugees - unaware that amongst the casualties are enemy troops.
With this relationship over Steve heads north with his troops to block an enemy supply line. Before long they are surrounded by the enemy and low on ammo. Joe Parker flies in extra supplies during which he is shot down and killed. But not before he has told Linda about the shelling of the refugees.
Steve survives the battle and reconciles with Linda before going off to the next battle.
What is impressive with the movie is the realism of the action scenes and with most of the dialogue. Some of it is cliched but for the most part reflective of attitudes of those on the ground and those at home.
The battle at the end has a kind of suspense to it as it takes place at night and until daylight you are not sure who lived and who died.
This movie also acknowledges the parts played by the British Army and the Royal Australian Air Force.
The music score for this movie was by Victor Young and includes the classic song 'When I Fall In Love' - a song forever associated with Nat 'King' Cole.
There has, so far, been no DVD release for this film. It did come out in the US on VHS.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Part 23 of this exciting serial is written by Paul Dellinger. This episode can be found at The Spirit Of The Snake blog (
If you have missed any of the parts then parts 1 - 22 can be found at The Culbin Trail (

The title and format of 'The Story With No Name' seems to be catching on. On Googling the title I discovered that, amongst others, the BBC are proposing a similar idea.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


In the Afterword to this anthology of 21 new short stories Editor Nik Morton states " Every one of this latest selection of Old West tales for Express Westerns tells a story that drew me in. I wanted to know more; I wanted to find out what was going to happen next."
How very true that statement is.
From beginning to end there is a kind of continuity to these stories that do draw the reader in. From the opening pages where Jared Walker contemplates the lack of a future to the point where Hank Webb thinks on the prospects of his own at the end of the book - the reader is drawn into many lives and a history of a time.
These are the stories of the men, women and children who shaped the Old West. It is also about survival in those days with such stories that have characters with disabilities or the young prostitutes who survive each day until they try to escape.
Boundaries are pushed with these tales.
And, of course, no western is complete without a share of gunfights, robberies and a serial killer on the loose.
Some of the writers are new, some are old hands and some come in between and have written their first western. Yet the writing is of a standard that you cannot tell the difference.
This is one of the best anthologies of short stories that I have read in a long time.
Each story is individual yet produces a kaleidoscope of colour that illustrates how the west was won.

A FISTFUL OF LEGENDS is published by Express Westerns and will be on sale on the 31st January 2010 from either or via Amazon.
Until the 11th January 2010 there is a special offer available at - for the USA go to Davy Crockett's Almanack ( or - for the UK and the Rest Of The World go to The Culbin Trail (
Well worth having.