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In preparation for last weeks episode with John Bruening, we talk about pulps. We really are time travelers, and this episode got caught in a time slip, so it isn’t appearing until after the episode with John.
Ah, who cares, we have a good talk about the new Dungeons and Dragons movie also.
Okay so we’ve got another guest coming on next week.
Alan: Very good. John Brenning. Who it, I love pulps. We might have talked about this before. When I was growing up, I discovered pulp Heroes like.
The Shadow and Doc Savage and so forth. And what’s interesting about them is that they were written in the thirties and forties, they’re some of the oldest heroic fiction in the United States. And they were called Pulse because they were printed on really cheap paper that was like, not meant to last.
So finding those guys as opposed to comic books were never on good paper either, but they really were meant to be like disposable, like many of them were collected for the war drives and stuff like that. Yes. So having said that, there’s like a poll. Style, a pulp ethos that goes with them.
There are a lot of film noir reads like a pulp. I really love Doc Savage cause that’s back when the world wasn’t fully explored. And so to have this guy traveling the world and discovering hidden civilizations and, dinosaurs and stuff like that was really cool. And that’s all that is.
Reason for saying John Bruning does modern pulps. He really, he writes a character called The Midnight Guardian that you and I are both familiar with. We both met him. Yes. And have had really nice conversations and stuff with a minute. Wow. It finally occurred to us, no, hey, that’s that we like,
Stephen: so he said oh man, do I have to iron a shirt?
And I said, nah, we don’t bother. So don’t worry about it. Yeah.
Alan: I put on a polo today. I actually have a collar. What? What
Stephen: am I, yeah, that is unique. Are you like, Going out. Is there a funeral or a wedding to go to?
Alan: I wore my finest shorts for the funeral, yes. Oh,
Stephen: good. Yeah it’ll be fun talking to him. I it’s weird how some of those things happen that I ran into his partner Jim in flinch books at a Exactly one of the crypted conferences that Colin and I went to, and Colin was doing a talk at, and there was a guy there, Jim Beard.
That had X-files, books and some other books. I’m like, oh, that’s cool. And then I come to find out that he wrote one of the stories for a Star Wars comic that I had. Cool. So I was like, whoa, I gotta give this guy to sign it. He’s from Ohio. So I looked for him, and finally found him at another conference and went up, got ’em to sign it.
And I have that. And he has a partner. And it turns out his partner lives right here in Cleveland and I ran into him and they both go to the pulp fest down in Pittsburgh. It’s just another one of those Yeah, coincidences that just all, mish together. And then I went to a thing a while back.
At the KGA Library, which they do tons of great author events. Okay. And he was there and I was just like, oh, hi John.
Alan: So exactly. I first met him cause I went to a Pulkka, not the one in Pittsburgh, but right at a, like a Holiday Inn here in Westlake, if I remember right. And was relatively well attended.
But I kept circling back and every time we had a nice conversation and bought the first of the midnight guardian books. And then he actually did a reading in liquid and so I went and got the second, mean, it was just like every time that I met with him, it was pleasant and I was enjoying the books.
And so yes, it much, the series, how your Undiscovered Wordsmiths podcast, it’s so cool to support the John Bernies and the Ted Ofour and the folks of the squirrel that are independent authors and they’re not struggling, but they sure aren’t. The Dean Kuts of the world. Exactly. And it’s very nice to have a chance to give them some publicity, especially because, I don’t know, I’ve, we’ve both read a ton of books.
I’ve read a lot of pulps, and when something stands out as a good one, it’s not just a, an attempt, a knockoff, I really like the The World Newton Universe. Yes. It’s a shared universe where they talk about how pretty much all heroes are actually related, genealogically and stuff like that.
And there’s a difficulty where a lot of people contribute to the various different collections of that, and the quality is uneven. You know what I mean? There’s some really good ones and there’s others that they’re not well-written or they don’t get what makes those kinds of stories so cool.
They lack that essence, and so just that I’m happy to support. The great writers that just haven’t, maybe cuz they’re writing about pulps, pulps have they’re 80 years old, 90 years old. They’ve faded from view. Yes. And yet they’re they are the source for so much of what came to be hard boiled Detective fiction or Tarzan jungle Adventures or, science detectives.
Like you could probably do a through line for all the CSI shows, all the police procedurals where. That’s the kind of stuff that was written first in the pulp when they were first figuring out how to use fingerprints, how to use, yeah, and I maybe I. Some people act as if the world started when they were born and they only wanna read, current and new.
And I was always fascinated by their writing books when jet travel was not common. And so the breakthroughs of. Ultraviolet light or like the a better machine gun, a better, if you got shot, they had a little, like a plastic that you could be like an instant stitching. And only now kinda like Star Trek, have we caught up with what someone envisioned from right.
Way back in those various vivid episodes that we have the ways of being able to see someone’s footprints in because they Vaseline shows up on ultraviolet. You know what I mean? They had all kinds of fun little What they were just learning then, and like especially the lost World type stuff, if you had never been in the middle of the Gobi Desert, because we didn’t have satellites and going into any desert was like, follow the trails to the Oasis.
You don’t just go wandering around and map it out. Same with the jungle, same with the Deep Sea. It was very cool to see. What did they speculate about back then, and what did they get right and what were they like? Yeah, no, they didn’t. No, there was no zanadu, there was no cannibal tribe there, or mean. They were, there were exactly those things. So
Stephen: I like the pulps still, even though they seem a little outdated, but they’re fun. They’re adventurous. They don’t take themselves so seriously and at the time they weren’t meant to be tongue in cheeky, but they come across that way now.
But it was. I’ve gotta get this story out. I have a week to do it, to publish it, and then I’ll get paid. And bam, high adventure, quick, fast action. Most of the time, you know something absolutely interesting that people will wanna read, take ’em out of the, that’s what fiction’s all about. And as a connection to that, the cereals in the movies are, a direct descendant of the pulps. And we’ve got a new Indiana Jones movie coming out, which looks fantastic, which is a a successor to all those cereals in Pulp Fiction. Absolutely. And Stephen
Alan: Spielberg. Others have talked exactly about that, that what they were trying to capture in the Indiana Jones movies was those old cereals with the little right, the dotted line as the plane flies across and all those Conventions and tropes that they’re very effective with showing the, kinda like the passage of time and how much distance was being traveled and all those kinds of things.
The, what you just said is really important. These things, like nowadays authors, if they come out with a book a year, they’re like prolific, right? Back then people wrote a new 128, like whatever that would be, a 30,000 word novel. Every week, every two weeks. Who could maintain that pace? Only the Walter Gibsons of the world who wrote the Shadows and let’s see, Maxwell Grant was his, numb to plume, but it was Walter Gibson.
And Kenneth Robeson was the numb to plume for Doc Savage, but it was really a guy named Lester Dent. And they wrote hundreds that’s don’t wrote 181 adventures occasionally with a ghost writer, but the vast, let’s say 90%. So you’re still talking about writing. We’ll see nineties, hundreds, hundred and 60 least, and at that pace to still make them.
Interesting. You know what I mean? It might be that they were a little icky, Hey, there’s a new menace, there’s a new villain, there’s a new place we’re gonna explore. But they were creative enough that it wasn’t, oh, I feel like I’ve read this before. There’s nothing new here. It’s just a, a different jungle or something.
It was amazingly prolific and experimental. Very cool. Yeah,
Stephen: actually, which is interesting you say that too. And forgive me, I forget. It was either Lester Dent or Dash O Hammit. I believe one of those two that had a, ex, like you said, extremely prolific. Here’s a story, here’s a story, here’s a story, here’s a story, but they had created what they called the wheel, and it was like the character, the setting, the antagonist the whatever.
And then they would just kinda spin the wheel and say, okay, this is today’s story. And boo, they would write it out, right? And then, and it was a very much a template. And I think a lot of people miss that. Some of our best stories are templates and when you break that template and you get outside of what people are used to, uncomfortable with that’s when we don’t like the story.
That’s when we think the movie sucks.
Alan: The book is suck in a lot of ways. Exactly. It’s not the three act play, it’s not the, boy beats girl, boy loses girl, boy, worlds girl in the end. You know that kind of Yeah.
Stephen: We’ve said it how many times? 36 plot lines. That’s it. That’s all you get.
And That’s right. And it’s how you do it. And I will stand on this hill and over that the reason the last Star Wars trilogy sucked is because they forgot that it was an epic hero’s journey. And they did not do that. And they, people without knowing it are watching it going, this isn’t a, it doesn’t feel right.
It’s not a story there, it. Go look at any episodes. There are classes taught in schools now on writing. That’s right. TV show episodes. Here’s your template. Boom boom. And you laugh cuz once you catch onto that, it’s 10 minutes. Yeah. He did it. How do you know that? He had to, you know what I mean?
Alan: There’s a certain amount of, there’s gonna be a big reveal. There’s gonna be some pacing, there’s gonna be some romance. Exactly. It wa I think must have menial ham that had the wheel because Lester de actually had like a template for how he wrote his stories. Yes. And instead of being that they were alike and only a straight jacket, it would, they included Here’s the first cliffhanger where, the hero gets it in the neck bad.
How is he gonna recover? I think that’s even the phrase that was used. And also I liked, boy, one of the reasons I liked the Doc Savages and the Avengers and others is because it wasn’t just him. He had his fabulous five. He had a band of other adventurers that were his assistants and they all this was a this guy was a a chemist.
This guy was an engineer. This guy was an archeologist and they had banded together cuz they also liked this kind of adventure. But, The interaction between them. Some, sometimes the hijinks like between ham and Ham Brooks, who was the lawyer and Monk? Monk Mayfair, who was the chemist. They just gave the comic relief element of the pranks they were playing on each other.
Or they each had a pet that mocked the other’s profession, that kind of stuff. So Monk had a pig named habeas corpus, that, that kind of stuff. It. When I used to say, why am I liking these so much? Because, and also I’m now a man, but I was reading these as a team and so much it was, this is just so cool to get together with my pals and go on an adventure with them.
And those that have stayed with me forever when I first started to play d n d and you’re building your party. I would be like this guy should be the magician and this guy should be the fighter. He’s the brawler and this guy should be the thief. And they were all named after my favorite doc, Savage characters, that kind of stuff.
So I carried that set of, I have even have a boy, this is a long time ago. I. Bantam books, if I remember correctly, had like the doc Savage secret Society, the Brotherhood of Bronze. And you would send in and you’d get a poster and you’d get a little card. I carried that card in my wallet. Oh my God, what a geek confession for years and years.
And it had the doc savage of oaths. Where I’ll do, wrong to no man. I will, stand for the rights. I will, treat women with respect. It was like, Honestly I, doc Savage is in many ways the prototype for Superman. He was a superhuman guy who from youth had been trained by his father.
Maybe a little bit of weirdness, but it wasn’t considered weird back then to just be in every. Disciplined, knowledgeable and be a perfect physical specimen. And they talked about that. And in fact, he’s also, there’s a book called Gladiator by Philip Wiley, if I remember right. That really is the first idea of a superhuman.
And is he gonna choose good or evil? And the fact that doc. Chose good, but like they had any number of times where one of the protagonists that he met was another guy that had trained all his life, kinda like Rocky meeting, Yvon, Leggo or something like that. And it’s wow, if you grew up in a different culture, society had just bad parents, you really could use your powers for evil instead of for good.
And so much of where I get my cornball nobility is because don’t you wanna be like a force for good in the world? Don’t you want to be do right by all men if you can. Anyway I used to just am the. How I got to know them wasn’t because, oh, I found pulps in old bookstores. It’s because Bantam started to reissue the stories as paperbacks and the paperback covers were fantastic.
An artist named James Baba who did photorealistic and what are, you know now called like monotone, but if it wasn’t It was like, if you’re gonna have something about the Arctic, it’s gonna all be shades of blue. So it really looks cold. And if you’re gonna be under, in this ar the sargasso ogre, it’s gonna be the green of the ocean and of the seaweed that’s all around you and stuff like that.
And I, I have posters up on my walls of fsims of those covers because they bear up today. Like the image of Doc Savage from those covers is if anybody knows anything at all about Doc Savage. It looks like that he was a guy with a widow’s peak, almost like a skull cap of hair and a torn shirt somehow.
All the time his shirt was all torn up and he wore japer, so he looked like an adventurer. You know what I mean? That wasn’t like that on the old Pulk covers. He actually just looked like a big, good male specimen, but they hadn’t stylized him into a science adventure and stuff like that. But I just.
There. There’s so much to like that I discovered ’em at just the right time. Yeah. That and another thing that was I bant them, was publishing them out of order. Don’t know why they decided to do that, but I got to a maybe like by the fifth book in the series, and there was a reference to something that I remember what I read and it hadn’t happened yet.
So then I went and did all my research as to well, the printing ’em out of order and you had to I actually had little Stickers on the sides of my paperbacks, which probably now has hurt them because he was pulled them off. It’ll be bad. But that showed the real order instead of the Bantam published order and bantam those rascals until number 68 is still in my head.
Quest of the spider, if I remember right. That was the third one published. In real life in the pulps, you had to wait until number 68 to get the adventure. That should have been the third one in the series, and I could see how they chose them. Like the first ones were brand of the werewolf and things that like had a catchier title or something like that.
I don’t know. Quest of the Spider has a cool title. I don’t know why they pushed that one back. I don’t think there were anything like, oh, we gotta clear the rights because, it was all written by Lester Dent. And having said that, it was so much, not only they had a difference in the numbers, sometimes they had changed the title.
Yes. Rappel became the something goblin, the Not the squeaking goblin anyway. You know what I mean? It was like I became quite the doc Savage expert from having to do the research to figure out why was this done? And then what will I have to do when this one finally comes out and we’re really getting, and back then I read ’em as they came out.
I did not wait. For the first 67 until 68 finally came out. But luckily I had started when they were like in their fifties and then it, I didn’t have the frustration of having had to wait years, of monthly doc savages to finally get to that one. But you could scan the paperback racks and see how eye-catching those covers were.
And not only do I have now, I have a big book, like a celebration of James Bama, and it’s beautiful. Like leaded paper where they look perfect. And he not only did Doc Savage, he did western art, he did other kinds of sweat, and they’re all just you can see every sinew in an arm. You can see the look of strain when someone is like roping a bull or something like that.
I can’t rec if you like that kind of artwork. I don’t know that there’s maybe him and Frazetta, Frazetta also did wonderful distinctive lurid paperback covers and back then. That’s wow this James Bond book. Is tame on the cover, even though I know the story’s gonna be good compared to the magnificence of the Fritas and the Bombas and the Frees.
There were a couple people that really specialized Boris Vallejo. Vallejo used to do all kinds
Stephen: of, did Buck Rogers poster when the movie came out like
Alan: that? Exactly, yeah. And just I, yo some of the first, as you’re growing up, you’re like, wow, comic book’s not all the same. You learn to identify. Artists by their work.
Yeah. And like I know Wally Wood, I can pick out a Wally Wood piece because he has a distinctive style and his women are always like, really beautiful and shapely and, you know what I mean? Gil Kane always had the heroes always had the up the nose shots, some other there’s like when you listen to Mozart, almost all his pieces seem to have a little. It’s a bird. It’s play, it’s a moar. Anyway, and boy, I know, I’m I must be wired. I didn’t think I had this much. This is such a joy, a source of joy to me. Yes. And not to be weird. It’s not something that I get to talk about with most people cuz they’re like, they go fresh in their drinks.
Let, I’ll talk about silly pulp talk. The movie came out and it was not as good as it could have been. And so they keep talking about remaking it and very different. Keyman type stars, like Schwarzenegger the Rock, they’ve talked about that. That’s a guy who could play doc’s. Sav, he really wouldn’t have the role.
A little bit like when they had reacher made and it was Tom Cruise, and he’s he’s just not physically big enough. You know what I mean? The d But when they always describe him as being like a six, six guy and that he just walks into the room and women swoon and men are intimidated that, yeah. Tom Hanks sorry. Tom Cruise plays the cocky young guy. He doesn’t play the menacing Hulk guy. You know what I mean? Yeah, so anyway, so that’s who we’re gonna be talking to is John Bruning, because he loves the PS Puerto we Yeah, that’s what
Stephen: we were talking about. But you mentioned Frazetta and it’s funny too because Colin for some reason just got into a Conan mood and Oh, went and raided all my comics.
So like I walk into the hallway and I’m like I’m like missing a couple long boxes. He’s I’ve got ’em, he’s got all my Conan laid out. He’s reading everything from Marvel, from Dark Horse, from I D W and just going at it and there’s some new ones out. And I guess some of it is now public domain, but it has to, there’s certain restrictions on it, whatever, but Okay.
Conan’s another great example. And in the day, in the sixties, I think the stories were picked up by SM Sterling, he added to the Conan thing, and I’ve got those books. He just released a new Conan book. Interesting. So I’m like, wow. I, yeah. First of all, I didn’t know he was still around, but
Yeah. At Sterling with an I, right? I think I remember. Ah, yes, exactly. The I re Conan seems to go in and out of fashion. Like when the Lancer paperbacks came out in the sixties, they sold like hot cakes. Yeah. And then the Marvel comic book came out in the seventies and very interesting.
Barry Windsor Smith did the first 24 issues, if I remember correctly. And very uncharacteristic Conan was always shown as like a big brawler of a guy. But this was young Conan, like young Hillman Conan. So he was a little more live and still very menacing, but but Windsor Smith doesn’t have the muscularity of John Buma or des.
There was a couple artists that are really identified with being great at Conan, like Frank Frazetta, that kind of thing. Yes. So it was, and I think Roy Thomas, one of the first things that he did at Marvel, his passion project, he had done a whole bunch of superhero stuff. He was like the heir apparent to Stan Lee was gonna be the next editor, had done Avengers, all that kind of stuff.
And then when they said, what do you really want to do? He’s I kind of wanna revive Conan, and it did well. Yeah. But then it didn’t stay forever. Like I said, things go in and out of fashion and all of a sudden it was getting more and more sciencey and mutant and less sword and sorcery a thing.
Stephen: But then when they dropped it, Darkhorse picked it up in the late nineties, early two thousands, and basically took the books and adapted them, which seems like everybody does the first. And then they had some good stories with good art, and it was very solid for almost 20 years.
And then, Recently Marvel got it back. But the cool thing is every time it switches to a new company they get the backlog from the old company. So they release trades or omnibus, here’s all the old stuff from them. So you can catch up. Exactly. Yes, exactly.
Alan: Yeah I’ll tell, I liked. Yeah, I don’t know.
This is a genre we haven’t talked a lot about. I really liked Sword and so through growing up, it’s tied into d and d. It’s tied, but I love the Faffed and the Gray Mauser series by Fritz. Oh, yeah. Li I think it’s Lior. I don’t know if, is it Lior or Lieber? I don’t know if one of those, I, yeah, I sure heard it said out loud at some point in my fantasy science fiction life.
But and in fact I Those were some of the ones that they weren’t, there were only a couple novels. There was a lot of short stories. And then I got into the idea of there’s shared world books. So Robert Aspirin had the Thieves World books, remember that? And also I really like Brand Macor.
There was other Robert E. Howard things that he experimented with. And another thing, sad thing, Robert Howard, the crater of Conan only made it to like, 36 or 32. He was very young when he died, so he did not have the long career that others have had to keep adding to their legend and their legacy, if you will.
But he had
Stephen: so many characters. Yeah
Alan: he was a, one of the first guys that just instead of. Finding a good vein and staying with it. He, I let’s see, what’s the guy’s the Solomon Kane. Solomon Kane, exactly. That, the Puritan that then goes out and defeats evil in the proto United States and stuff like that.
You know it, I love those. I love the fact that they all had a reasonable sensibility here. I love where does anybody else notice this? Every time that you read a Conan book, somewhere in the book, because he’s a brawler and has just had to take on 10 men, the phrase who dies first, he said Through smashed and bloodied lips.
That’s in multiple books. That was such a great phrase. And Simon Green, who I really liked that writes really good. Fantasy books. Almost all of every one of his books has the phrase, blood flu on the air because there’s a certain amount of swordplay or that kinda stuff. And every single destroyer, the start of the second chapter is, his name was Remo, and then whatever.
He’s right to it currently, and I, it’s such a tongue in cheek thing that everybody who reads these must identify that. So it’s kinda like a little. If you want to know quickly, if someone has read them, you just drop that into conversation and they give you the. The nod, the knowing sign. I just, I love that they developed that I don’t know, characters in movies often add little catchphrases.
They all be back or whatever else it might be, but it didn’t start there. They had cool phraseology all the way back to Right. Superman and Conan and whatever else it might, anyway. Anyway.
Stephen: So you mentioned all these books, there’s a newer genre. Called Lit, R P G, which is sword and sorcery fantasy, but it’s almost it’s.
Taken right from d and d because it has character stats in it as you’re reading it keeps the character stats as part of the story That’s
Alan: interesting. So you can see who’s that’s running outta hit points and is in trouble unless he gets the healed or something like that. But I have not seen any of those.
That’s interesting. I know that the the Dungeon Dragons movie, the Honor Among Thieves is apparently a surprise hit. Yes. There’s a number of genre knockoffs from video games from d and d that just. They came out and the faithful went to them, but in this case, they got enough people, actors that people really have like faith with.
They go and see anything that crims, he, Chris Heworth is in, or trying to think, Zoe Saldana, right? And whoever they gathered for this D n D movie are some of those genre heavyweights. And so maybe cuz there also isn’t that much competition, whatever reason that and John Wick are like setting records for stuff that is Very representative of those kinds of movies.
The Death Wish they killed my family, my dog, my whatever, and I’m going to get ’em. You know what I mean?
Stephen: I’m glad you mentioned that. It’s a fantasy day. We went and saw the d and d movie on Sunday. Okay. What’d you think? Colin had super high hopes and it almost met those for him.
Okay. I, it was, if you go to it like, oh, a new Lord of the Rings fantasy type, it is not Lord of the Rings, has definitely got a subdued seriousness about it. Okay. The movies, the books, everything. This is much more tongue in cheek and but, and we talked about this on the car ride, that one of the problems they always had with superheroes was the higher ups, the people with the money would say, yeah, that’s jokey stupid kid stuff.
We’ll give you a few dollars and you can make something of it. And they make something bad and they’re like, see. Nobody cares about it until somebody Yeah, nobody likes those movie. Yeah. And then somebody figured it out, did Ironman, and it’s oh my God, you can have a good movie that’s a superhero and it makes tons of money.
So this. Wasn’t quite to that level yet. It’s it was tongue in cheek. It was very high production quality. The story was fun and good, but I didn’t leave it going. Oh my God, that was one of the best movies I have ever seen. I, I will definitely watch it again. And I enjoyed it. It had a lot of band.
D and d stuff in there. So many creatures, so many things, and to all the people out there that are complaining a wizard really couldn’t cast that many spells in one day and couldn’t do that. Oh my gosh. Give it a break. This is the best d and d movie we’ve ever had. Except it. The best part for me, Chris Pine was fantastic and they did I’ll give away just a little bit.
They did an illusion. They were distracting the guards and they illusioned Chris Pine playing mandolin and singing. The guy started losing concentration, so Chris Pine’s character, it started warping and it was like very weird and funny and it’s oh, I like that. Very good. Yeah. But the best part was they had a cameo by the group from the cartoon.
They had the cartoon group in the movie. Very, how
Alan: did they work that’s very cool. With the voices of the people who portrayed those characters
Stephen: and everything, or No, it was new actors just dressed up like them. They didn’t have any speaking roles. It was just a few brief little things here and there, but I guess the same actors did a car commercial.
In Australia as the d and d characters. But it was them, it was dressed up the same. They had the, Eric had his shield and the acrobat and then the girl at the purple cloak and Okay. Was the group. And that was so much fun to see. But they had so many cool little monsters, just everywhere, little parts.
The ax beak. Chickens, I forget what they’re called. They were just hurting them like sheep and yeah. It was just a little thing.
Alan: So it’s very cool. I love when they throw that it’s not only, it’s not an Easter egg where it’s, you really might not get it entirely, but it’s just such a love of the genre.
Yeah. That if you’ve got a book called A Monster Manual that goes into hundreds of different monsters and they’re various different characteristics and weaknesses and hit points and stuff, it’s very cool to say. With cgi, we can do anything nowadays. Let’s throw them in there too. Yeah. You know what I mean?
Phase, phase spiders, where they’re like, all you gotta do is hit ’em and you kill ’em, but in the meantime, they’re impossible to hit and so you keep on getting invented. Anyway, so
Stephen: the best, the other best part for me was the dragon, so I don’t wanna give too much away. Okay. But you’ll love the dragon scene in it because nobody’s not Oh my gosh.
Did you, okay. I’m going to jump off that now. The movie’s good. Go see it. We’ll put a trailer in our show notes. Hey I’m probably gonna
Alan: do it as a matinee. Exactly.
Stephen: Okay. You’ll enjoy it. You’ll have fun. It is fun to go see. So d i, oh my God, I’m always mess up his name. Joe Magi Magnolia something like that.
Okay. He was one of the werewolves in True Blood that TV show. He is, he’s been in a bunch of stuff. He is one of those big, rugged, good looking guys but he’s also a d and d nerd and loves d and pushes that. He’s done some of the online charity events playing d and raising money and stuff.
You know what his favorite d and d property is? Dragon lamps, which is my,
Alan: yeah, that’s cool cuz that’s an extensive series of books and if they ever wanted to adopt those, they have a whole series ready
Stephen: to go. So Dragon Lamps. I loved Dragon Lamps more than I liked Toki when I was growing up. And I’ve read that book probably a dozen times in my life.
It’s just the first six books. Wow, okay. Yeah. Just fantastic. I love them to death. They did a cartoon animated movie years ago and I got super excited cuz it had key for Sutherland and Lucy Lawless and all sorts of voice actors. But then I found out that okay, they did a 90 minute cartoon movie and took the whole first trilogy and shoved it into there.
And I’m just like, no, it sucked so bad. I’ve never even watched the whole thing. But now, okay, Joe, what’s his name? Is an actor with money and some clout. He said, I want the Dragon Lance property. I wanna do a tv, a mini-series, TV show of it. And I’m like, it’s faithful
Alan: too, the entire, that’s cool. Okay.
Stephen: Yes. So what you we’re just saying with doc Savage, somebody has to get it right.
This is the guy that is going to get it right with the power rings show, the winter show all and Sandman. Come on. They’ve learned, Hey, people like fantasy, and hey, if we really make it look good and are faithful to the original, people will watch it and we’ll make money. That’s craziness. Wow. I should have listened to the nerds like 30 freaking years ago.
The point is, I’m so hopeful he’s going to come out with such a good series. I’m so excited. I just read the first trilogy last year and I’m like time to read it again. That’s
Alan: fun. It’s, I hardly ever go back and reread things cuz there’s always so much new stuff, good new stuff coming out, and yet I, there’s also, you don’t step into the same river twice.
Things have changed. I really want, I’m thinking about if I was to go back and reread things from my teens, twenties, thirties, what are the things that I really would like to read again, because, I remember them fondly. They seem to be a very high quality. I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. I think it’ll be a different, me reading them and therefore I’ll have a different experience.
Holding onto all those things, all these years, it’s gonna be, wow, this looks like it’s brand new. Cuz I’m that guy about quality. I hope that I can, read it without it being, oh now I’m gonna break the finding.
Stephen: No, all you gotta do is check it outta the library. Or,
Alan: and that’s true too.
Most of those things are available. That’s right. Yeah, that’s right. Keep my stored copy and go to the reading copy.
Stephen: Exactly. Yeah. That, I’ve done that with I’ve got some books, but I’ve gotten the audio book out of the library. I’ve read the book already. I want to experience that world again.
I’ll just listen to the audio book cuz it, it’s like top Gun when it comes on T N t I can do housework while it’s playing in the background. I’ve seen it enough times. It’s a background t n t movie now.
Alan: Yeah. Have we, so I know if we’ve talked about this before, boy, these are terribly out of fashion.
I really like the Gore books. Oh yeah. They’re a very good heroic adventure series, which unfortunately has. Like half of the book is men are masters, females are slaves. Yeah. And that there’s a whole culture built around that. And they’re very distasteful to read. This guy really commits to, if that really was the society, he goes into e extensive detail about.
Like what kind of brands they would get and stuff like that, right? So for everyone listening, of course, I don’t want that. Of course that’s not reality. Of course, I don’t think and feel that. But what I always seemed to be able to do was separate. That crap out and still read the adventure part. The intrigue part?
Yeah. The male camaraderie part. You know what I mean? That, that, that kind of stuff is still like reading a war novel where when you’re under fire, you bond in a different way than if you just work in an office, that kind of thing. And they, he was very good about building the entire cultures.
It was not just about the slavery aspects, but it was. Here’s all the creatures, here’s all the food, here’s all the the phraseology that they use. It’s loosely based on Europe. So you know, r is the equivalent of Rome and all the various different societies, the ones that lives up in the mountains or the sea faring or whatever else it might be.
And and so those are some of the things that if I go back and reread them now, Are they really like ridiculous because they embrace that so much or would I still find that, when you’re a dual with an assassin that’s really skilled at killing people and yet you’re the guy that just doesn’t stop, that doesn’t give up, that has your own set of skills.
And I remember that being such a great epic ending battle. And they’re like up on the top of a tower where you know a false step and you fall to your death and. Just the way he dis boyed. There’s a great scene where tar Cabot the main warrior of the series has been poisoned, and he’s like he’s, his men still respect him and he’s still the leader of his town.
And yet they’ve tried everything and they can’t seem to cure him. And there’s a great scene where the They come and say, the love of his life who had left him, she’s been captured and she’s in danger, and that’s what stirs him to. Overcome this poison that’s been ravaging his body and go on his, this mission of either rescue or vengeance.
And it just I can’t describe how well written it is to be the stirring of this. Hero that had given into his fate and was bemoaning. My men still they treat me well, but I know that I’m not the man that I was and how long will it be before they abandon me and stuff and it’s really great.
So those are, seems like that are what makes the series worth it. It might be that there’s there’s some movies that are really crappy except for a specific scene. Maybe the, this, these books or something like that. There’s scenes that. I’ve met this before. I went and stood in the bookstore and I read the end of one of his books just standing there cause I had to read it again.
Same with the End of Tiana by Gig Gabriel K. It’s so perfect and so well written that it’s like I hardly ever read in the bookstore. I think that’s rude. And yet I just needed that day and it was right in front of me. It’s I’m just gonna go through these 30 pages and breathe deep of perfect literature, that kinda thing.
So I, I
Stephen: ran into the Gore books a while back at a bookstore. They had been republished and printed out with similar covers, and it was like 50 of them. I didn’t realize there were that many. But I agree with
Alan: you chronologically his, this might be the longest running fantasy series because he’s been writing it since the sixties.
Yeah. So it’s going on 60 years now,
Stephen: Anyway. Yeah, and I remember reading it and enjoying it when I was younger, and I picked up one up. Decade and a half ago or something. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much. And I think some of those other elements stood out to me more and made it a little more unenjoyable
Alan: you might say.
Like a little creepy. That’s the book. I don’t want people to see me reading cuz they’re gonna make big assumptions about me if they know anything about these books. Oh, oh man. L’s like that. God damn it.
Stephen: Yeah. The book covers definitely. Were the male equivalent of the Harlequin romance books.
You know those? There you go. Women
Alan: in the ski Savage. Exactly.
Stephen: Ok. But it’s funny, with, cuz I remember reading the Zant series, not all of it because it’s another 3000 books or something like that now. That’s right. But I remember reading several of them when I was younger and then I read one when my kids were here.
I’m like, oh, these were funny. You’ll love these. And I said, here, read these. And I picked one up to read again. I’m like, It’s not as funny anymore. So your tastes do change.
Alan: They really do. Especially, I don’t know, maybe amusement to kids is different than amusing to adults. You know what I mean? Whatever might have been like amusing in terms of embarrassment or oh no, I’ve, passed gas at the wrong time.
That I, my taste of, it’s not that. I still don’t enjoy a good. Three Stooges movie or something like that. But American Pie is not my favorite kind of comedy. You know what I mean? Yeah. It’s that I like wit as compared to only embarrassment and stuff like that. Oh, it so that, yeah.
That, that would that’s a whole bunch of episodes is I like go back into the collections and stuff like that cuz I hadn’t started cataloging the paperbacks. It’ll be very interesting to go back and Boy, I have 30 of these. I really liked them and read ’em, but would I reread them? You know what I mean?
There was a series called Blade at one point there was all kinds of men’s adventure paperbacks. It was the war against the mafia types like death merchant and the executioner and the destroyer. And there were what called the smuggler that was really well written and an anti-hero or, he’s dealing in bad stuff, but he’s doing it to help people that.
It. I remember them having very explicit sex scenes and it being like I think I’ve talked about, like maybe an executioner or James Bond was the first one that as I was reading, I was going, I think my mom and dad would let me knew what was in here. You know what I mean? And the smuggler absolutely had that kind of thing.
And so it’s I don’t know. I guess instead of the version of bees, I’m gonna get. This scene in the book, you know what I, all you need exactly, and I, and every, all says this, it’s it’s crazy nowadays be about what kinds of books are being proposed to be banned and what’s wrong with them and so forth, and.
I read everything. I read all kinds of, sex scenes torture scenes, whatever else it might be. Did I turn into a rapist? Did I turn into a torturer?
Stephen: Of course
Alan: not, because the difference between fiction and reality, the difference between good and bad. You don’t read that and turn into a robot that has to, go kill a horse or something like that, right?
You just. What terrible character, what, why it’s terrible that they did, but look, then they got, they paid the price, they got punished for their transgressions and stuff like that, right? And so the incredible weird overreaction to any mention of anything that they don’t like, and especially that there’s any number of things.
I, I know when I recommend a series to a friend, I’m happy that they like it, but if they don’t, it’s like your taste is not exactly mine. So when we talk about these things that. I don’t know Patrick Rothwell. It’s if you like this kind of thing, this is the best kind of thing of that type.
So you really should read it. And only occasionally do you get, Nope didn’t, that didn’t work for me. And, but they seem to have this thing of any, the slightest mention of you name the topic and people go crazy about it. And especially not to be weird. The topics are not like, I think it’d be murders worse than homosexuality.
Stephen: Saying just like that
Alan: they’re, if you’re gonna run a society, and we already have a system of law that’s been in works for 4,000 years and the kinds of sentences that you get are pretty proportionate to how these things damage society. They damage people. There’s no going back from a rape or a murder, those kinds of things.
They’re terrible. And then people shouldn’t treat it As equal. You said a bad word, you made fun of me. It’s just not the same. Yes. It’s not proportionate and equivalent, and yet there’s people that are trying to do that. Yes. That say the, and I don’t know. There’s the concept of sin, like sinning in mind is not the same as sin in, in deed.
It’s the commission of it is different than the Right saying it or thinking of it. It just is. I just, and
Stephen: so I just saw an article. I didn’t read it. I saw the headlines, so it could be clickbait, but it was along the lines of, there’s a town in Texas who ruled certain books or whatever should be banned and pulled from the library and the library’s defending it using a judge’s ruling that that it’s, you can’t force us to pull these books.
So the town is threatening to close the library down. I can’t even wrap my head around it.
Alan: Close a library close. One of the best things we’ve ever developed as a society, the sharing of knowledge for all to get freely. And that’s gonna be their response, right? So what you need to do is close the people that would suggest that down.
Never forget that their solution was ban books, cuz they’re beyond the pay of who she’d have in any position over others. You know what I
Stephen: mean? I just but having senators. And I saw this picture again, maybe it was Photoshop, maybe it was a fake, but I saw a picture of some senator from Texas and his family for their Christmas card were all holding machine guns.
That was their Christmas card. See? And unfortunately that’s okay, but so why? Why did they decide that’s okay for my kids to see? But I can’t say no. Ban that. Oh, you can’t tell us to ban that. That’s against our first amendment rights. We have a right to bear arms. We have, we can do this, but that.
Book from 1860 is talking about slavery. Yeah. Get rid of it.
Alan: Because apparently they haven’t read the whole constitution that has freedom of speech and of the press and so forth. And that’s the first amendment, right? So it’s the first one they put in the list before the second one. And they’re not meant to be an ordered list, it’s it just is people. Our society is right with people who pick and choose amongst the law, the bible, whatever reference they wanna make. Yes. And it’s ridiculous. It’s like you, you can’t do that. You have to be consistent.
Stephen: So if you’re going to be getting rid of books that have rapists and racist and slavery and murders and right.
Cheating by politicians and all, if you wanna get rid of those books, Make sure you include the Bible
Alan: And that’s people are fighting that fight. There’s all kinds of, I love that whole idea of hoist on your own pitard. If you’re gonna put in a law that you think was targeted at what you wanted to go away, and then you find out that indeed it is your behavior that’s just as guilty, if not more your book, that’s just as guilty if not more.
So it’s like then that’s what every time they have a freedom of religion display as to why you should have that in your schools. That’s when. The Satanists step up and say, sure, we’ll be happy to have Bath Home right here in the entrance hallway. Yes. And you just passed the law that says we do indeed have to allow for that.
So I love the wit of that. It, oh, I I like the Freakonomics books that talk about, if you look at all kinds of things in society you can often find the underlying reasons for why they’re happening. And one of the things is you don’t have to go after the bad guys. In a lot of ways, you can just create a situation where they’ll stand up and declare themselves calling a self weeding garden.
You know what I mean? Yeah. The weeds will reveal themselves and every time that you have a situation like that where it’s Hey, here’s a picture of book burning. If they just took that picture and identified every face in that and said, these guys can never hold office and never be on a school board and never have influence in this way.
How much better society would be if they took a picture of all the people that have been convicted from January 6th, an insurrection against our government where people died, and just make sure that they’re out, they’re exiled from society, they can’t hold office, they can’t, et cetera, and we’re working on that.
Hundreds of them have been convicted, but we’re still fighting about that. I think that there’s a certain arrogance to evil that they can’t help but declare themselves. The way that we’re gonna get finally rid of this big orange menace that we’ve had to deal with for the last couple years is he’s not gonna be able to shut his mouth, he’s gonna say awful things in a way that finally he’s under oath and it’ll be. Perfect perjury because he lives in his own weird world. He can’t stop himself from betraying. That’s not true. It never has been true. And it’s harmfully true. So it crosses the boundaries for all those things that you don’t have anywhere.
Sense of the responsibility that goes with your rights, and some of those things are actively criminal. They’re fraudulent, they’re libelist, they’re slanderous, et cetera, et cetera. We’ll see what he goes down for because it’s not like the. Two charges that we could get ’em on. There’s hundreds and they’re gonna continue to find those things where you can’t Do election interference like he has.
You can’t pay hush money to people and do things with election funding that is fraudulent and it’s all gonna come out and people are going to testify. The truth will be there. Since what’s not about Trump, it’s anybody who does that. They shouldn’t be in office, right? They shouldn’t be the ones proposing laws that let them off the hook.
They shouldn’t put judges in place that will pardon them. It, they’re such rot, and you can see the line of how that’s all been structured so that for a while, We became less lawful because they set it up to rot from the core of what we’ve got going. Yes. Yeah. Clarence Thomas accepting all of his wonderful vacations worth more than he makes in a year.
I just read, haven’t verified that for myself, but that’s not here. Have a deck of cards complimentary at the casino. That’s an incredible, valuable thing, and it beggars the imagination to say that didn’t have some influence on him. As to how he. Decided as a juror or what kinds of things came before him with the Supreme Court.
Stephen: will say, we’ll say to the top, the rock can go, ugh. I will say, you could see from the boomers to us and how our society has let some of this grow and happen in the politics especially. And for all I, I’ll be the grumpy old man and shake my head and tell the kids I’m back in my day and all that.
But this generation. They don’t put up with that shit. They really are making it come out. They’re not putting up with it, and they’re really pushing for some of those changes in those areas. I’ll give them a lot of credit for that. I don’t think absolutely. That they’re going to be as flam, boozed and allow the people in power to do stuff that they shouldn’t be doing.
Alan: It’s the obvious need for checks and balances for not having autocracy get in place and then start making its own rules. It’s right in front of us and indeed e e. Every generation, they have to deal with what’s been left behind for us, and is it a wonderful handoff or is it like sifting through the wreckage and the fact that how many of them are facing.
What’s our economic situation? What’s our ecological situation? What’s our legal, if it’s gotten worse, instead of better over the course of the last generation, half generation or whatever I absolutely support. Let’s write the ship of state. Let’s write everything that’s gone wrong. I hate the fact that.
There’s part of what the bad guys count on is learned helplessness. That as they gain those little gerrymanderings and those little changes of laws, that after a while people just say what are you gonna do? What you do is throw them out and fix things. It I, it’s, I hear this stated multiple times and I haven’t seen it done.
One of the best things you could do is all those laws that were passed to break taxes to, to gut the i r s to change, like just a, an omnibus bill that says we undo each one of those things. Why are we so much in debt? Because. Money was given away to places that indeed it didn’t create jobs or any of the other things that were promised.
So it was an experiment. We canceled the experiment and now it goes back to the previous tax levels and the so many things. It just isn’t trying to persuade to the new, it’s just saying, that didn’t work. Cancel it. Yeah. Call those dollars back, et cetera. Maybe we’ll have some of that happen. It seems that it has to be incremental advance instead of the sweeping terrible change that it was 20 years ago, right?
Some of the first things that Bush did in office were the restructuring and why do we have such vast wealth Inequality is directly attributable to that and everything about supply side economics, everything about don’t worry, the wealthy are good guys and they will create more jobs and all of society will raise all boats.
There’s no evidence of that. There’s evidence against it. And so when are we gonna learn? You know what I mean? Oh, what we’ll do is attack Economist. Those numbers aren’t right. I deny that. That’s true. Look around you. Look at every statistic. It’s not one or two things. Oh it’s Why do you try to have people going for faith instead of science?
Because every time that science shows up, they tell the truth and they say, those aren’t the real numbers or dollars, or.
Stephen: Et cetera, et cetera. Yep. Alright, so be before we get going here a sad note. Al Jaffy passed away. The man was, what, 102 or something
Alan: like that. He made it to 102. Al Jaffy, as is the guy who did the mad fold in, and I think it ran for 55 years.
Yeah. That’s another incredible body of work, and I love those, growing up, just the fact that he was able to so consistently create something to. It wasn’t obvious from the looking at it. Yeah. And that he could not only do the picture, but the phrasing of the words that when you folded it over, it gave you the reveal.
I I, that’s however he first came up with that, and however he maintained it and made it even better over the course of time, I still remember one that was like, here’s pollution coming out of factories, and you fold it over and it’s a skull and that, and there’s famous ones that were just so poignant and While you’re laughing, you’re also uncomfortably laughing cuz that’s freaking true.
Stephen: That kinda thing. So it was like a editorial cartoon as a puzzle
Alan: ex, that’s a great way to put it. Exactly. And as he did snappy answers to stupid questions. He did mad things we’d wanna see his art style was like, and nobody else’s, you know what I mean? He really was. An amazing contributor.
If you’re at all a mad magazine fan, Al Jaffey work. He was such a wonder. He was so great and I don’t know I have all of his paperbacks. I have, it’s one of those things that not only is he prolific, but if you wanna. You gotta give people some of the best of Mad Magazine.
You can’t go wrong with a little bit of Al Jaffy, a little bit of Frank Jacobs a little bit, people’s tastes are different also, but he was so consistently funny and great at lampooning the things that needed to be made fun of.
Stephen: Very good. Yep. So hats off to Al Jaffey will miss ’em.
We’ve still got a great body of work, like you said. Yeah.
Alan: Yeah. I hope I think. For a while they were doing album editions of all of Don Martin’s work or all of, that kind of things. And I think that there might not have been a big one done for Al Jaffey. I hope that posthumously they’ll do that.
They’ll do a nice yeah. Big, two books in a slip case type thing. That is the complete what made him such a, an incredible guy. Yeah.
Stephen: So to quit. All cool, man. Alright, I need to get running, so Sounds good. We’ll talk to John. We’ll do
Alan: reschedule and stuff. Exactly. And we got mind games coming up next week and stuff like that.
So that be big report.
Alan: Steve. Okay. Byebye.