Category Archives: You’ve Got to Check This Out

Mary Shelley (YGtCTO Words #100)

Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus

Book written by Mary Shelley

Months ago when I was setting topics and some of the order for these posts, I had no idea that this year was the two hundredth anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece. Really, for someone who likes to read, works at writing and appreciates genre fiction, I’ve spent an awful number of years ignorant about the contents of the book itself.

Naturally, Boris Karloff came first before any concept of the novel. Much like the wolf-man, Dracula, the mummy, the invisible man, and all the other cinematic monster icons, I have been aware of them for as long as I can remember. The picture of Frankenstein’s monster that I carry in my head will always be Boris Karloff in that make-up with the bolts on his neck and his feet encased in some sort of hideously weighty footwear.

Obviously, the characters made iconic by Karloff, Claude Rains and Bela Lugosi originated in books. I was terrified of the movies and was somewhat relieved to discover that I could control the terror drip by reading the bases for the films. That did make me curious about the origins of the other characters (as well as that critter in the Black Lagoon and that blob from space and so many others).

Young Frankenstein appeared before I could indulge my fanciful ideas about reading Shelley’s book. Brooks had gone to the trouble of using as much of the original Karloff film sets as were available. That verisimilitude made the joke almost too much for any classic to overcome. Granted, we are talking about verisimilitude to a rendering of a work of imagination, but still, how could you turn to the book and accept it on its own terms?

Mary Shelley

Reading in science fiction or classic literature, I kept bumping into references to this book. I knew that I was a heathen for not having read it. Forgive me, I was still in that place of youthful exuberance where I had neither the patience nor the knowledge to know what I was missing. This was just another empty space in my experience and we all grow comfortable with those one way or another. Life is finite.

Wandering through a comic book convention, I sought out a table manned by Berni Wrightson. I had a fondness for his intricate artwork. As I was to learn, fans don;t always flock to the great artists and I had no trouble spending a few minutes chatting with an otherwise unoccupied Wrightson. I bought a copy of a newly republished edition of Frankenstein which he had illustrated from his table. To this day, it’s one of my treasures you might say.

I finally read the book.

It’s really quite good.

You should read it.

Since then, I’ve developed a willingness to tackle books from all over and whenever and about a lot of different subjects. I’ve become discerning, despite that description, as time passes. But, great screaming horses, this is still one helluva a great book. And it flies by like a dream. If you are only going on hearsay and think you know the story, then you are probably far adrift. It is fantastic. I mean it. Drop everything and spare a couple hours reading the book.

What’s it all about?

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. One more to go.

New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.

Images may be subject to copyright.

Doug and the Slugs (YGtCTO Music #100)

Real Enough

Song written by Doug Bennett and performed by Doug and the Slugs

I have been insistent all through this journey along three hundred stops on the artist path that nothing about the order matters, but that’s somewhat disingenuous. I always knew who the final three would be, perhaps the last twenty-five even. Doug and the Slugs had to be number one hundred.

Unless you were a fan of The Norm Show, which used their song as the theme, then odds are high that you don’t even know they exist. I suppose you would have heard about them from me if we spent much time together in a car.

You see, Doug and the Slugs produced two of the greatest albums anywhere during my lifetime. They are mind-blowingly good.

Doug and the Slugs

And it’s true that not a lot of other people agree with me. I’ve written too much about this song or that book that can serve as a bellwether about a person. For example, I’m probably not going to get along with someone that doesn’t like such-and-such song. But I’ve met mounds of people who dismiss Doug and the Slugs out of hand. It’s an uphill battle and I stopped fighting it a long time ago.

Having said that, if Partly from Pressure and Advice to a Friend don’t become instant favorites, then we probably haven’t been hearing the same world for all these years. Then, there’s the songs that just make the world a better place: Not on the Corner, Wrong Kind of Right, and To Be Laughing.

Cognac and Bologna

Back in the early days of HBO, they occasionally showed a music video between films. This was before MTV, so these came from bands with European hopes since those countries had platforms for such promotions. One afternoon, Real Enough appeared on my screen and I was hooked.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything out about them. Friends and music store employees thought I had made the name up. A year or more passed and I went off to college where I found Wrap It! in a used music shop. Once I got it (having left Cognac and Bologna behind- these guys were an unknown entity) home, I was shocked by how it seemed to wire directly into my brain. I raced back and purchased the prior album though I needn’t have worried. No one had heard of them, even among the store employees, who all agreed that Doug and the Slugs were probably from Cleveland. How did those copies end up in a small college town in northern Appalachia?

I established from the record that the band was from Canada and didn’t have any significant presence south of the border. They eventually signed with a major U.S. label and placed some songs in the Top 40, but I don’t think I ever heard them on the radio except when I played them.

I treasured the albums (as well as any others by the band that I could locate) and the years passed. I never did see them perform live, but got a hankering for that possibility when we settled near Canada. A slow internet connection in the late 90’s provided little information and I couldn’t really work out where they would be when I would be somewhere that might be near.

So, I let a few more years go by. A little more freedom to travel came our way and I figured I better get my act together if I ever wanted to see these guys live. The internet speed had improved and easily enough I tracked down an actual Doug and the Slugs website, where they announced the passing of Doug Bennett just a couple months before.

That may have been the initial spur to writing something about the artists that I love. Virtually none of them will ever be aware of these posts which is fine. They made something and gave it to the world. Sometimes, when I’m fortunate to be near a beach, I go for a walk on the sand. I’m inevitably overwhelmed with a sense of diffuse gratitude. In a lot of ways, that’s what this blog series has been. Sure, it’s as much about me as about the artists. I started out saying that one of the most important aspects of art is communication.

As mentioned above, this is the final lap through music, words and other art.

“Mr. Baker, please!”

What’s it all about?

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 2 more to go.

New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.

Images may be subject to copyright.

YGtCTO Coming to an End

I said there would be three hundred meditations on art and the last one will be published this week. If you’re surprised that I lasted this long, then I’m there with you. I can see so many faults with the effort, especially a typing issue that has me miss the single quotation mark and hit the semi-colon.

My website currently contains all 300 blogs that make up You’ve Got to Check This Out for anyone to peruse. They will remain available for a little while longer, but then they will start coming down. I may leave a few choice samples, but the rest are going to be collected into a book, available by the end of the year. So, look for that. It will contain additional words and a cogent (hopefully) introduction that will reflect what I wanted to accomplish and what I think I said. I hope everyone received a little pleasure and gained a moment of reflection.

I expect to continue posting, but it will not be nearly so regular. I have too many books in the pipeline to spend another 150,000 words on such a demanding schedule, but who really knows what the future holds…