A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
1924 – Today is Woodmas in the Church of Ed Wood, Sacramento, California. It celebrates the birthday of, obviously, Ed Wood, the worst film director, producer, writer etc. etc. in history. Wood’s films are so bad you can’t smoke enough dope to enjoy them. After the guy died, and there was no possibility of his making any more movies, Ed and his films starting gathering some kind of cult status. There are Ed Wood Festivals, documentaries, blogs and… a church. There was even a Tim Burton movie Ed Wood (1994) with Johnny Depp (of course) and Martin Landau (he won an Oscar). All of this proves there are a lot of people in this world with time on their hands.
1924 – Author James Clavell, who wrote 3 incredibly good books, one mediocre one and then went into the toilet with the last two. He co-wrote the screenplay for The Great Escape and wrote and directed To Sir with Love. The 3 incredibly good books were King Rat, Tai-pan and Shogun. Shogun was made into a super miniseries. The mediocre book was Noble House. And I don’t care about the last two.
1971 – London Bridge was re-dedicated in the Arizona desert at Lake Havasu. In 1968, the city of London sold the bridge to American millionaire Robert McCulloch. McCulloch dismantled the bridge, numbered all the pieces, shipped it to Arizona and put it back together, just like a great big 3-D jigsaw puzzle. There is wide speculation that McCulloch thought he was actually buying London’s more famous Tower Bridge. However, both McCulloch who bought the bridge and Ivan Lucklin who sold it to him deny this. My thought is that if I made this big an idiot mistake, I’d deny it too, and I’d make sure everybody else along the way denied it. Extra points trivia question: What is the largest antique ever sold? Answer: London Bridge
1886 – Griswald Lorilland showed up at the 1st Annual Autumn Ball at the Tuxedo Park Club, wearing a short dinner jacket. The jacket had been first tailored by Henry Poole & Co for Edward, the Prince of Wales. The Prince had made it quite fashionable in England, and it had migrated across the Atlantic. Fashion being what it is, the “tuxedo” was soon copied by the smart set in New York and eventually became de rigueur in ultra formal wear for anybody who thought he was somebody. Most of these snobs had no idea the jacket had been originally designed for informal dinner wear.
1985 – Orson Welles genius-schmeeniuss! First of all, half his projects were re-edited by the studios, half weren’t even finished and the other half weren’t any good. Secondly, Welles was way better on radio than he ever was on film. Thirdly, he only made two good movies in his life, and one of them wasn’t Citizen Kane. And lastly, he did War of the Worlds (ON RADIO) when he was 23. It was a stroke of genius, but Welles thought he could live off that rep for the rest of his life. Oh, yeah! And he didn’t spend most of his time in Europe because they are soooo much more creative than we are; it was because he couldn’t figure out how to do his income tax.
1985 – Yul Brynner, a competent actor who brought brilliance to the two roles he is most identified with: Mongkut, King of Siam, and Chris, the gunfighter in The Magnificent Seven. He was part of the original cast of The King and I on Broadway and won an Oscar for the movie version. He reprised the role many times. He returned as Chris in a sequel to The Magnificent Seven but it was awful. He was pretty good, however, playing Chris in Westworld. Unfortunately, the poor guy died of lung cancer