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Monday, 2 February 2015

Gunsmoke: The Radio Series

I guess some people are always going to look back - and I'm one of those people. Give me the hi-tech marvels of the world wide web and what do I do? I'm discovering entertainments that were popular before I was even born. I've always enjoyed radio , listening to comedies and plays on BBC Radio Four but thanks to the Internet I can explore shows from a time when radio was the main form of entertainment for millions and Television was a medium yet to take over.

Being a western fan it was natural for me to check out as many of the old radio western dramas as I could find, and believe me there are many, but out of them all Gunsmoke has become a firm favourite. I started off listening to shows on websites such as the excellent Old Time Radio Archive and from there started buying DVD's off ebay which contained MP3's of complete runs, where the episodes survive, of radio shows. The recordings are in the public domain and enterprising fans are able to make a little money by making their collections available to anyone interested.

Gunsmoke of course made the transistion to televsion and I was familiar with some of the TV episodes but the radio show was first, and also featured a different actor in the lead role of Matt Dillon. William (Canon) Conrad was Marshall Matt Dillon for the entire run of the radio series, 1952-1961 and there are some great episodes in existence just waiting to be discovered or rediscovered by western fans and radio drama enthusiasts. I've got 400 plus episodes on both my hard drive and iPod and I'm pretty much addicted.

Gunsmoke was originally pitched as being the first truly adult western and it certainly delivered on the promise - some of the episodes were solemn in tone, and Marshall Matt Dillon was played as a lonely man who believed in the law above all else, and showed great courage in standing up against everything thrown against him. John Dunning, the noted author and old time radio expert wrote,' "Gunsmoke is routinely placed among the best shows of any kind and any time.'

I have embedded an entire episode above,in which Marshall Dillion meets up with an old flame. I selected this episode because it  shows the loneliness of the US Marshall, effectively portrayed by William Conrad and a great supporting cast.

Other episodes can be found online at the various Old Time Radio websites across the web or do an eBay search on old time radio. I recently bought 430 episodes for £2 - now that's incredible value. And once you've tried Gunsmoke I've no doubt you'll want to explore other radio westerns available - Six Shooter for instance stars James Stewart, while other shows feature a list of Hollywood luminaries as long as your arm. There are all sorts of radio westerns available - from the pulpy adventure of The Long Ranger, to the historically accurate shows like Gunsmoke and Hawk Durango.

Check out this page HERE which features several episodes from a variety of shows.

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 26 Jan - 1 Feb 2015


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits849812510811589142761109
First Time Visits839712210511386139745106
Returning Visits1133233162

Monday, 26 January 2015

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 19 Jan - 25 Jan 2015


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits1291189195232155132952136
First Time Visits1271178186229151128919131
Returning Visits21109344335

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Man From Jerusalem

 My next hardcover for Black Horse will be published May 29th and the cover image is shown here. I'm not sure what that hand gesture from the cowboy in the background means, but it looks rather odd, not to mention obscene. Of course there is always that possibility that he's a literary critic sending me some sort of message.

The Blurb:

There are times when it seems that even the Good Lord above might have something personal against the town of Jerusalem - day after day the sun does its utmost to roast the very land upon which the dilapidated town sits. Johnny Jerusalem is returning home to the town that gave him his name. He'd left many years previously in search of a fortune he didn't find, but no sooner is he home than the little money he has is stolen from him during a bank robbery. Johnny sets out with a young gunslinger to find the culprits who have wronged him. There's a posse behind them, bandits ahead of them and soon bullets fly as Johnny and his young companion realize that death comes from all directions.

The Man From Jerusalem
Jack Martin
Black Horse Westerns
May 2015

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Agatha Raisin The Quiche of Death TV Movie Review.

I've just caught up with the TV movie of the first Agatha Raisin novel,. The Quiche of Death which was shown on Sky over the Christmas period, and to be honest I think Sky made a botch job of the movie.

As a fan of the books the biggest problem with the TV movie was the casting -  I just can't get over  the casting of Agatha Raisin herself, actress Ashley Jensen is far too young and glamorous for the role of  the nosey old battleaxe that is Agatha Raisin. And the neighbour, love interest, described in the book as being a distinguished looking man in his mid fifties is also far wide of the mark - Sky have cast Jamie Glover, a man more James Bond than James Lacey.

I'd been looking forward to this TV movie and I did give it a chance but it just didn't seem right to me. There was nothing wrong with Ashley Jensen's performance but she seemed ridiculously young - we are supposed to believe that she is a successful businesswomen who decides to retire and move to the Cotswold for a life of peace and quiet. but this just doesn't ring true. And no sooner did I settle into the show than they introduced James Lacey and I realized that Sky's production was Agatha Raisin in name only.

The BBC adapted the novels into radio dramas several years ago with Penelope Keith in the role of Agatha Raisin and these were uniformly excellent, and remained faithful to the original novels It's a pity that Sky took a different route with their version of Agatha Raisin.

I think I'll stick with the original novels and the BBC Radio series - that's where you'll find the real Agatha Raisin.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Public Libraries Task Force formed

Libraries should be more like coffee shops, claims a new report commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport - the report which  likely cost a fortune to carry out, came up with findings that are as expected pure tripe. Libraries should, the report claims, deliver Wi-Fi in a comfortable setting when in reality many libraries do this already. It was also claimed that libraries should be more like retail outlets with the usual amenities of toilets, sofa and special offers. Though I can't help feeling that making libraries more like retail outlets goes against the entire philosophy of what a public library should be.

Libraries across the country have been closed down over recent years by local authorities in a brutal program of cost cutting exercises and once these libraries have gone it is unlikely that we will ever see them again. William Sieghart, author of the report told the Independent newspaper that he found it astonishing that one third of England's libraries don't yet offer Wi-Fi. He said that while libraries remained a vital part of the community there need to be a reinvigoration of the library system in this country. A task force will be created designed to work with local authorities to improve and revitalise libraries. The first meeting of the task force will take place in February 2015.

That's all very well but local authorities should cease closing public libraries at once - it is shameful the way councils up and down the country continue to waste money and yet make severe cuts to vital public services. I like to think that this task force will do some good, but the realist tells me that it is all a smoke screen to close yet more libraries.

This month writers across the country will feel one of the very real effects of library closures when their annual statement for PLR payment (Public Lending Rights) arrive in inboxes. I took a drop in my own PLR payments this year, despite having more titles available than the previous year. I may have more books out but there are less libraries supplying my books. For most professional writers PLR payments are essential, after all most of us don't earn big money from our work, and we are acutely feeling the effects of the brutal program of library closures across the country.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 12 Jan - 18 Jan 2015


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits9886932197589152812116
First Time Visits8681842126789140759108
Returning Visits125978012538