Anthony Boucher (YGtCTO Words #80)

The Compleat Werewolf


Book written by Anthony Boucher

Early on, I don’t think that I made much distinction between used bookstores and those that sold only new stuff. The same was basically true of record stores. Certainly, some were nicer than others. The stock did tend to be shabbier in stores that hadn’t had a good dusting in a while. Perhaps that was because almost all of them were owned by individuals who just happened to like books or records.

At some point, I noticed that the chain stores existed and they had a different smell to them. Someone had been asked to run a broom around the floor, though they may just have swept the dust into a corner. They presented their stock in a pleasing way. They also secured their stock with devices. Small independent stores relied on the manager’s eagle eye to catch shoplifters. Also, you only found chain stores in malls.

But if you really liked books or records, you haunted the smaller shops. They were the ones that had piles of science fiction paperbacks alphabetized for easy scanning. They played to your budget and interest and tolerance for that mild mildew smell. Let’s face it, old paperbacks have a charm from their wild cover artwork to the varying type sizes. All I cared about was whether the book fell apart when you cracked the spine. The other thing about old paperbacks was the lack of a photo of the author.

Anthony Boucher

Boucher’s name
first gained my notice because he edited some short story collections. From there, I found issues of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, a long running staple where he was the editor for years. His comments in books and magazines displayed a certain wit that appealed.

Then, I read some of his stories. How could I resist someone who mixed clever with classic? He wrote mysteries and even mixed the two worlds, especially in Rocket to the Morgue. For that matter, the world mystery convention is called Bouchercon.

As an established fan, I found a copy of a first edition of The Compleat Werewolf in a used bookstore. What an irresistible title! They wanted $18 for it. I visited that copy for a couple weeks before breaking down and buying it. When I arrived home, I placed it on the table and just looked at it for an hour.

Something about the clarity of Boucher’s prose and ease with which he sketched his characters felt like a model to me. While others drew star spanning epics, I felt like Boucher envisioned a world in which little items and regular people mattered. Literature could be created from looking at life a little askew rather than with all the angst of a national book award winner.

So, I identified with someone that looked pretty much like I would at sixty if I dressed like a wacky uncle who wrote copy at at a 1950’s advertising agency. Yep, they did not have pictures in those old paperbacks.

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. 61 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.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (YGtCTO Music #80)

Even the Losers


Song written by Tom Petty and performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

I was hanging out with Allen in Brecksville when a friend walked in with a new album that we had to hear. “It’s just the normal noises in here.” This was my second bite at discovering rock and roll and it was the greatest thing that I had ever heard in my life.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers came to Cleveland a few months later. Somehow, we bought tickets for the concert, which seemed like a huge outlay. This would be my first big rock concert. In the brief time between acquiring the tickets and going to the concert, I got into some trouble and could not go. I spent the evening in agony and dismay. I never did make it to a Tom Petty concert, but it always seemed like something that we ought to plan.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Actually,
I made the list of artists over a year ago. It has evolved over time, but most of the subjects have been identified for a long time. None of them were supposed to move from the present tense into the past tense while I was waiting to write about them.

I write these far enough in advance that this is the morning after Petty died. That means that it is also two days after the horror in Las Vegas, perpetrated at a concert.

My reaction as a youth to missing Tom Petty was definitely overwrought. Since then, I should have taken advantage of the many opportunities to see him in concert. I can’t justify not going out of my way, when I have so many other times. Perhaps I just assumed that Tom Petty would magically appear in my living room and offer to perform for me for free as long as there was beer in the fridge.

Now, all I can do is look back at all those missed opportunities with regret. I’ll never get to hear his voice in person. I can live with that because of all his magnificent recordings though I doubt his friends and family have such a direct path to peace.

I can resolve to push myself a bit more to experience life and get off my backside. Realistically, that’s pretty easy compared to moving a nation toward sanity and peace.

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. 62 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.

Joe Ruby, Ken Spears, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera (YGtCTO #237)

Scooby Doo

Cartoon created by Joe Ruby, Ken Spears, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera

I seem to have an obsession with Scooby Doo…

From 2006:

Jinkies! When faced with complete absurdity, what is a parent to do, Velma? After all, your child talks intimately to Elmo and only vaguely approves of gravity. You don’t want to quash a normal fantasy life, but you want a responsible skeptic — not someone who argues for the sake of argument, but someone who is comfortable evaluating his world’s veracity. Sure, he’ll question your statements to bits as a teenager, but you also want him to question everything from the National Enquirer to the Pope and the Surgeon General. Sometimes the world throws parents a Scooby snack of support, as in Fred, Shaggy, and Encyclopedia Brown (the three wise guys).

Scooby Doo is actually pretty cool. The show debuted in 1969 as a mixture of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and I Love A Mystery. The ensuing generations who looked forward to Saturday mornings as cartoon time also learned that the world is not always as presented by those in authority. And absurdity is revealed as absurdity when you strip away the glowing paint and flippers.

Scooby has gone through numerous updates, but the essential message has gone unchanged. At least part of the secret of his longevity is that pursuit of the truth is its own reward.

Joe Ruby, Ken Spears, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
Copyright © 1969 Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc.
From 2004 (about Scooby Doo comic #78):

Nine women are crammed into a VW Microbus, circa 1969. Polyhymnia is driving and she won’t let anyone touch the radio. Calliope is writing in her journal. She has a backpack full of journals. The backpack is army surplus. Clio is lecturing everyone on a variety of counter-culture issues. No one is actually paying attention. At the same time, Erato is reciting an ode to her current inspiration, a college boy with soulful eyes.

Terpsichore has happy feet and is kicking the back of the seat in front of her. Euterpe is singing the latest song by the Mamas and the Papas. Melpomene is reading the newspaper, trying to quiet down whoever is being loudest at the moment, and swatting Terpsichore’s feet every time they kick her seat. Urania is plotting her star charts. Thalia is asleep with a smile on her face. Erato takes out her acoustic guitar and starts to sing “Me and Bobby McGee.” She does this a lot.

A van can be seen in the distance, broken down by the side of the road. Polyhymnia slows down beside the other van. A surfer-type guy wearing a red ascot and no shirt is working on the engine. A redhead is sunbathing on the ground in front of the van. Clio asks if they need any help.

“You know anything about engines?” He says, indicating that he does not expect them to be any help.

Clio frowns, but Urania jumps out of the VW and shoves blonde guy away from his engine.

Just then, the back of the van, bursts open, emitting a pungent stream of smoke. An unshaven young man crawls out and blinks at the Muses. A great dane and a short, young woman in a too-heavy sweater follow him. All of their pupils are heavily dilated. “Like, what’s going on, Fred?”

“Nothing, man. Go back to… whatever you were doing.”

Urania punches the surfer dude in the chest and says, “You’re all fixed.” She climbs back in with her sisters. The passengers of the mystery Microbus stare dumbly at the van and its nine occupants.

“Oh, for crying out loud!” Clio exclaims. “Come here, Blondie.” He drags his feet up to her. Clio wraps her arms around his head, leans down to his ear, and whispers, “Mysteries. Solve them. You’ll be good at it. All of you, together.” She releases him and the Muses drive away.

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. 63 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.