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Friday Group Pulp Reads > Group Pulp read (03/14) "Blonde Madness", (03/22) "The Cloud Wizard"

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message 1: by John (last edited Mar 14, 2013 11:16AM) (new)

John Picha | 46 comments Is anyone interested in joining in on a group-pulp-read? I have a proposal that might be kind of fun.

To get started...

- I'll pick a one of free public domain pulp tales online. (i'm not talking about a full magazine just a brief short story from one of the old pulp anthologies.)
- Then i'll post the link to the file/text so everyone can grab it.
- The group can take a week to read it.
- Then we talk/post about what we saw in the pulp and generally try and entertain each other and ourselves with the discussion.

in this initial post i'm trying to gauge everyones interest and help kick off jeff's reading group idea. so, who'd like to participate and play? ha ha.

if we can get a group together by friday, i'll pick a story and post the link friday night.

sound good

john


message 2: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Jake | 74 comments Mod
I'm in.


message 3: by Grant (new)

Grant Gardiner | 4 comments Definitely in. I need every excuse I can get to read more old-school pulp tales. And more people to discuss them with.


message 4: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Jake | 74 comments Mod
Grant wrote: "Definitely in. I need every excuse I can get to read more old-school pulp tales. And more people to discuss them with."

EXCELLENT!


message 5: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Jake | 74 comments Mod
John wrote: "Is any interested in joining in on a group-pulp-read? I have a proposal that might be kind of fun.

To get started...

- I'll pick a one of free public domain pulp tales online. (i'm not talking a..."



Have you narrowed it down for this Friday?


message 6: by John (last edited Mar 14, 2013 11:20AM) (new)

John Picha | 46 comments Blonde Madness

Spicy Detective, September, 1934 (8 pages)

"Blonde Beauty Murdered," blared the headlines. Innocent young girls had been slain--mutilated! Was it the work of some maniac killer--some fiend in human form?

http://pulpgen.com/pulp/downloads/get...

--

The link will take you directly to a PDF file. If you'd like to save it to your desktop, do a "save as" while in your browser.

Anyone who wants in is welcome.


message 7: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Jake | 74 comments Mod
Thanks John for doing the leg work on this one! Can't wait to discuss the story.


message 8: by John (new)

John Picha | 46 comments no problem-o

Jeff wrote: "Thanks John for doing the leg work on this one! Can't wait to discuss the story."


message 9: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Jake | 74 comments Mod
I finished the story this weekend. Anyone else manage to get it done?


message 10: by John (new)

John Picha | 46 comments yes, i read it.

maybe we should we pick "start posting date", maybe wednesday? then we'll start a new cycle with a new story on friday. Sound good?

john


message 11: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Jake | 74 comments Mod
John wrote: "yes, i read it.

maybe we should we pick "start posting date", maybe wednesday? then we'll start a new cycle with a new story on friday. Sound good?

john"


Good idea John. Let's try to start posting this evening.


message 12: by John (new)

John Picha | 46 comments sounds good

Good idea John. Let's try to start posting this evening.


message 13: by John (last edited Mar 19, 2013 12:42PM) (new)

John Picha | 46 comments Caught in Blonde Madness

* My Discoveries

I enjoy discovering pop culture references from the past, and I love having the internet by my side when i encounter them. Early in the story a "Weary Willie" was mentioned. Here is who he was talking about if anyone else is curious...

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Qi4hlae7-bc...

* My Favorite Lines

- "The motor burst into a throbbing roar"

- "Hal had seen some of the pictures—they weren’t bad, that is, if a guy liked to look at blonde dames dressed in a postage stamp of velvet. "

- "Her smooth white body stood out like an ivory cameo against the dark background"

This line made me curious…

- "the joint smelled like dames."

What do you suppose he meant? ha ha.

* Headlines to Follow the Tale...

"Severed limb scheme cut short by sword fight."
"Sculptor traces his work."

* Miscellaneous Take-Away.

When there is no butler around, blame a bum.


message 14: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Jake | 74 comments Mod
The line "the joint smelled like dames." I took it to mean that the smell of perfume was heavy... hence the nose wrinkle.

For me it was fun to see the way the author described things. As you mentioned "the engine burst into a throbbing roar." I liked it, fun and campy.

I was kind of surprised at some of the racier content. "One firm little breast peeped over the dark cloth,.." Today this is barley over a G rating LOL... Back in 1934... I bet that was down right dirty!

I did have the bad guy pegged right away. (I wont mention the name so I don't spoil it)

Over all I enjoyed the story. I can see why it would be in the "Spicy Detective"

Good first read. Thanks again John for digging this one up for us. I look forward to the next pulp offering.


message 15: by John (last edited Mar 19, 2013 05:31PM) (new)

John Picha | 46 comments Jeff,

i suspect the implication of the scent in question may have been something a little more "natural", especially when you consider the locale'.

i really liked the momentum of the story and the pace of the curtain as it's pulled back.

-

can you or anyone think of any alternate titles for this tale?

john


message 16: by Jamina (new)

Jamina (jamij) I looked up the word Tophet because I'd never seen it in use before and was surprised by the definition--basically, 'hell'. Interesting! It's fun to read earlier pieces and wonder at how much the English language has changed over time.

Fast read and something different for me. Like you Jeff, I figured out who the bad guy was pretty quickly but that's okay, it still had a surprise for me.

In a creepy sort of way, it made me think of Pygmalion.

As for for alternate titles, how about "Building the Perfect Bombshell"? :)


message 17: by John (new)

John Picha | 46 comments Building the Perfect Bombshell

I LOVE IT


message 18: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Jake | 74 comments Mod
Building the Perfect Bombshell

THAT IS AWESOME!

John... You're making me blush... LOL


message 19: by John (new)

John Picha | 46 comments Jeff,

it not me it's the spice. ha ha

john


message 20: by John (last edited Mar 21, 2013 10:44PM) (new)

John Picha | 46 comments It's friday again (march 22). here is the next random pulp pick...

The Cloud Wizard

Sky Raiders February, 1942 (8 pages)

They were all in awe of Bersbee, because the man was more than just a genius – he was a veritable sorcerer in the clouds. And no one dared to ask him how he did it, until one day...

http://pulpgen.com/pulp/downloads/get...

The link will take you directly to a PDF file. If you'd like to save it to your desktop, do a "save as" while in your browser.

** SPECIAL NOTE ** the pulp archive seems to be acting a little twitchy tonight, so if the link gives you raw code instead of the PDF, just go to the this page...

http://pulpgen.com/pulp/downloads/lis...

...then look for the Sky Raiders the "Cloud wizard" link. it's about halfway down the page.

--

Anyone who wants in is welcome. Just post your observations sometime before next friday. Have fun and enjoy.

John


message 21: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa (grayeyes043) | 3 comments I just finished reading the latest group read....it was very interesting. Two things that I've noticed is the fact that the main protagonist automatically assumed that the hobo was guilty and that the final perpetrator was a foreigner. The way he was describing the girlfriend of the main guy was also interesting....she wasn't a person but just an ornament. it would have been nice to get a view of what she saw and how she felt.

p.s. sorry for the late reply....had a test this morning and now finally getting around to reading this short story.


message 22: by John (new)

John Picha | 46 comments vanessa,

great observations. I think the ornament theme had a duality in the story. in a way the good guy and bad guy were mirrored in their objectification of blondes.

John


message 23: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa (grayeyes043) | 3 comments Yeah, totally agree. I also didn't think the villian wasn't sinister or scary enough...he was very comical in nature ( if that makes any sense).


message 24: by Grant (new)

Grant Gardiner | 4 comments Sorry, I too am late.

Damn those Frenchmen!

I like the way this is essentially a straight up gothic horror mad scientist story... except it's an artist. Cause you can't trust artists so it's surprising this sort of story isn't told more often :)

In all seriousness though, it's essentially this guys jealousy of the artist's ability to get women to do anything (when they're all sorts of trouble for him personally) that he overcomes when he finally reveals that the artist (and artists in general) do indeed have dark ulterior motives behind their superpowers of seduction. He gets to beat the snot out of said artist and win his girl back who didn't know what she was missing.

Pulp-wise: it's nice and punchy, plenty of action, gory thrills, and more than a little leg for your reading buck and the bad guy is clearly and unquestionably French/bad.

The story also has a very punchy way of crossing back and forth between reporter, editor and action on the scene so that the exposition is effortless. I thought the use of the newspaper headlines was well done, giving the story a much wider scope for what could have been a fairly small and contained story about a bloke and his object of jealousy. By having the reading public in the background and kids finding corpses and police doing their thing it gave the story a much wider scope.

All in all I thought it was a very efficient, elegant piece of writing. For the small word count a lot happens, has a great author's voice and, while the characters are shallow archetypes (narrator aside), it still felt like a good journey.


message 25: by John (new)

John Picha | 46 comments the villain was kind of par for the pulp course. he was a typical pulp archetype. they are mostly evil caricatures, like james bond or batman villains. but anyone willing to give the black dahlia treatment to his victims seems dangerous to me.

john

Vanessa wrote: "Yeah, totally agree. I also didn't think the villian wasn't sinister or scary enough...he was very comical in nature ( if that makes any sense)."


message 26: by John (new)

John Picha | 46 comments my favorite quote from the feedback so far is...

"Cause you can't trust artists"


message 27: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Jake | 74 comments Mod
Grant

Thanks for diving into the discussion. I'm glad you were able to jump in.

Unless someone has an objection... I'm okay with keeping the discussion moving even on older readings.

Is everyone Okay with that?


message 28: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Jake | 74 comments Mod
John wrote: "my favorite quote from the feedback so far is...

"Cause you can't trust artists""


This is a great quote!


message 29: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Jake | 74 comments Mod
Vanessa wrote: "Yeah, totally agree. I also didn't think the villian wasn't sinister or scary enough...he was very comical in nature ( if that makes any sense)."

I think the pulpy villains tend to have some over the top characteristics. The exaggeration allows for some comical components. Thats just my thought.


message 30: by John (new)

John Picha | 46 comments Jeff,

sounds good.

Unless someone has an objection... I'm okay with keeping the discussion moving even on older readings.


message 31: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa (grayeyes043) | 3 comments Ok, Just read the story. It was very interesting. Honestly, I really thought there was strong homoerotic overtures between Bershee and Meader. It was only after I finished reading the story that I realized that it was really about how people worship anything. Many of the characters didn't care to know about their Meader or Bershee and honestly tried to learn why they were so great.


message 32: by Jamina (new)

Jamina (jamij) Interesting read! I enjoyed the description of the aerial battles and was intrigued by the relationship (or lack thereof) cultivated between Bersbee and the other pilots. It was fun trying to figure out just what exactly was this guy's gift. The ending had a tone of the old Twilight Zone show for me--be careful what you wish for and all that. So, it looked as if poor Meader had taken on the Curse of Bersbee.... I wondered, since we didn't actually see his plane blow up, if Bersbee had somehow survived, maybe by employing the thing he discovered "two months ago" that made it impossible to explain to the other chaps and seemed to frighten the man. Oh well, it'll have to remain a mystery to me. Thanks for the selection John!


message 33: by John (last edited Mar 27, 2013 12:44PM) (new)

John Picha | 46 comments Cloud Math Wiz

* My Discoveries

The name "Flight Lieutenant Limm-Gawes"

* My Favorite Lines

"Once at Cambridge, having to do with a resolution drawn up by his philosophical society, Meader had punched someone in the eye."

"A bomber was wallowing like a sick whale."

to support Vanessa's observation… "a third Nazi on his tail" ha ha.

* Headlines to Follow the Tale...

"pencil pusher becomes stupendous stick jockey"

"There is no "i" in team"

"Geometry vs Savagery"

* What i saw in the story

I think Besbess may have been some kind of savant. His real talent or gift may have been that he didn't really understand what he was doing either, but in an odd twist the problem was that he wanted to (which was the same path Meader was on). I think Besbess was trying to diagram his own instincts but it was kind of like an unresolvable math puzzle, like trying to solve pi. I don't think the rest of the team really got that either, but they could see the results and could see he was becoming unhinged and they were offering him distance more to protect him then put him on a throne. "We’ve got to cater to him just as we would cater to a highly sensitive machine."

I think the unit was trying to prevent exactly what happened in the end.

I think Meader's Alpha style Ego saw what was meant as teamwork as a scale of superiority. he could only understood the team dynamics in territorial terms and inevitably destroyed the balance.

* My Take-Away.

since i'm not a pilot i equated the problem like this...

when you're standing at a basketball free-throw line. You've just got to relax and shoot. There is math behind it and you can dissect it after the fact, but if you over-think it in the moment, you'll never make the shot.

Or think about how hard baseball actually is. You're trying to connect a round bat with a spinning sphere coming at you at 70mph. keep in mind the actually goal is to to connect the two round surfaces squarely so you can control the course of the hit. You only have a couple of seconds to decide to swing. There is a certain amount of info you can collect in those few seconds, but for the most part you're operating on instinct.


message 34: by John (new)

John Picha | 46 comments Jamina,

what's your alternate title for this one?


message 35: by John (last edited Mar 27, 2013 12:47PM) (new)

John Picha | 46 comments I really thought there was strong homoerotic overtures between Bershee and Meader.

Vanessa,

after reading the story, I can see what put you on this track, but their tension struck me more as territorial than attraction.

have you ever seen "south pacific"? I've heard gay analysis of the movie and i can see the Gay-dar bogies in it too, but if you listen to the lyrics of this song...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgzvTH...

...i think they are saying "we need to get laid"

or...

are they saying we need to get back to dames? when they say "there is nothing like dame", what else have they been sampling for comparison? ha ha.

i think there is a fun duality to WW2 era entertainment when seen through 2013 eyes.


john


message 36: by John (last edited Mar 27, 2013 12:48PM) (new)

John Picha | 46 comments Jamina,

how do you think Besbess' escape would play out? where would you like him to end up?

wondered, since we didn't actually see his plane blow up, if Bersbee had somehow survived, maybe by employing the thing he discovered


message 37: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Jake | 74 comments Mod
This one was right up my alley. As Jamina mentioned, the Twilight Zone feel was great. I'm also a sucker for any kind of WWII story.

I also agree that Bersbee's squadron knew that he was "working in a zone" and that even the slightest disturbance could throw off the "machine".

I stink at coming up with new titles... maybe "Hard Core Math"

The line that gave me a chuckle....

"Meader was annoyed, partly because he didn't like Illvers' face..."
Had to laugh at that.

John... another great story. You up for continuing the picks? I see no reason to change it up, your doing great.


message 38: by Jamina (new)

Jamina (jamij) How about Battle by the Numbers :)

John wrote: " Cloud Math Wiz

* My Discoveries

The name "Flight Lieutenant Limm-Gawes"

* My Favorite Lines

"Once at Cambridge, having to do with a resolution drawn up by his philosophical society, Meader had..."



message 39: by John (new)

John Picha | 46 comments Jeff,

"Hard core math" is great!

I'll be happy to keep picking through the plethora of pulps.

john


message 40: by John (last edited Mar 27, 2013 06:51PM) (new)

John Picha | 46 comments Jamina,

I LOVE IT!

"How about Battle by the Numbers"


message 41: by Jamina (new)

Jamina (jamij) John wrote: "Jamina,

how do you think Besbess' escape would play out? where would you like him to end up?

wondered, since we didn't actually see his plane blow up, if Bersbee had somehow survived, maybe by em..."


This might be a little predictable but I thought he might have discovered, through all those calculations, some route that took him out of our world and the war. Or maybe that he had one last "move" that would kill all the messerschmitts and he would vanish but not die. Oh the possibilities! :)


message 42: by Jamina (new)

Jamina (jamij) Jeff wrote: "This one was right up my alley. As Jamina mentioned, the Twilight Zone feel was great. I'm also a sucker for any kind of WWII story.

I also agree that Bersbee's squadron knew that he was "working..."

Jeff--that's a great title!


message 43: by John (last edited Mar 27, 2013 07:05PM) (new)

John Picha | 46 comments Jamina,

i now consider this idea as the missing page 10. ha ha.

some route that took him out of our world and the war.


message 44: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Jake | 74 comments Mod
John wrote: "Jamina,

I LOVE IT!

"How about Battle by the Numbers""


Oooo... see now I like that one!


message 45: by Grant (new)

Grant Gardiner | 4 comments With great mathematics comes great responsibility...

Weird little WW2 piece that taps into warfare superstitions with a weird mathematical twist. Sort of reminds me of those Golden Age comics where someone learns a formula and when they say it out loud it turns them into a superhero (the power of Science!).

Also has a weird old-school religious warning story vibe as well. Something like the 'we don't question the gods lest we learn the awful truth'. Definitely see the Twilight Zone connection.

Personally, I couldn't see the homoerotic undertones but that's an interesting reading. Was more inclined to see the arrogance of the new guy not listening to 'the way we do things' then getting his just deserts by learning what the true sacrifice of a hero is and the burden that goes with it.

On the pulp side of things it had some interesting cliffhanger breaks and some action but it was mostly about the bizarre finish and the Twilight Zone message. Very quirky, very mathematical but still a punchy short story that will no doubt lurk in my brain for a while.


message 46: by John (new)

John Picha | 46 comments grant,

i agree there was a "don't question authority/ just follow your orders" message.

the thing i liked about the ending was, i'm not so sure Meader is worthy of the chair. i don't know if the rest of his team thinks so either. i suspect that's why it ended where it did. if i remember correctly Meader didn't actually sit in the genius throne he just headed toward it.

Meader was able to apply the info from some of the notes in the last combat, just like he applied his flight school formulas, but i wonder if he would be able to evolve to Besbess' level and be able to create new formulas.

i also wondered if Meader is going to share any of that info with the rest of his team, or if he would lord it as secrete over them.

i kind of thought the big question here is what aspect of man is best suited for war, savagery or intellect?

--

once i heard an interview with John Cleese where he talked about being in therapy. he said something along the lines, of once he started examining his life and why he made the decisions he made, he couldn't write anything funny any more. like he looked at it too closely and started second guessing himself. he examined his comedic instincts and lost them.

i wonder if that's what this story was touching on too. like once Besbess verbalized his method, he realized how crazy he sounded then tried to correct for that, but the craziness was what he needed to survive.

john


message 47: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Jake | 74 comments Mod
once i heard an interview with John Cleese where he talked about being in therapy. he said something along the lines, of once he started examining his life and why he made the decisions he made, he couldn't write anything funny any more. like he looked at it too closely and started second guessing himself. he examined his comedic instincts and lost them.

i wonder if that's what this story was touching on too. like once Besbess verbalized his method, he realized how crazy he sounded then tried to correct for that, but the craziness was what he needed to survive.


Interesting thought. I had gone from the perspective that Meader had "thrown off" Bersbee's mojo....

In retrospect, I have to lean toward your thinking on this.


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