Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

I am a better writer than Ed Wood.

My mood has been the wrong mood to read about the troubled last two decades of Ed Wood's life.

Nightmare of Ecstasy: the Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. by Rudolph Grey gives a portrait of the man, and that portrait is sometimes bewildering. Wood and most of those around him were contradictory, hard-to-explain-themselves people dredging up decades-old memories and seemingly looking at them through sludge. So many of the book's anecdotes are ill-told; memories seem faulty, described by people who seem to be trying desperately to be profound about stuff. Mostly, they fail.

As for himself, Ed Wood couldn't muster even the makes-a-sort-of-sense insanity of a good Yogi Berra-ism. There's no "It gets late early out there"* in Wood's words.

Why it's a bad choice at the moment is that it's sad, much of Wood's last two decades, as described here. Drunk, abusive, paranoid: it's not pretty, how he was. This isn't the more-or-less functional (yet likely deluded) Ed as pictured in the film Ed Wood; as much as I like that film, I know it kept away from a LOT of ugly stuff. And Wood ultimately couldn't transcend the ugly stuff.

Meanwhile, I'll keep avoiding being drunk, abusive, or paranoid. And I'll encounter much, much better writers. Tonight I renewed my fondness for Dorothy Parker*** at a reading: local writer-tour guide-actor David Loftus** sampled her reviews, poems and short stories for a small group at Grendel's Coffee House. I've missed going to those; I could go this time. I'm still not in a good mood, but hearing good words well-composed and thoughtful and karate chop-direct in their impact is always good and needed. Words have power. When used well. "Jerome Kildee built his home an odd way because Jerome was an odd man." Wood wrote that in 1978, in his last manuscript. Right, he never got better.

Whatever me and y'all are doing, do it better.

* Berra meant how the afternoon light in Yankee Stadium seemed to get in players' eyes earlier than it should've, compared to other ballparks. It makes a kind of sense. No, a lot of sense. Like his more famous "No one goes there anymore; it's too crowded."

** Loftus acts on stage and on TV: several extras appearances on Leverage,and a speaking part (in French) on an episode of Grimm. He's also written occasional book reviews for The Oregonian.

*** Parker, in one of her short stories, wrote my still-favorite description of a pregnant pause: "There was a silence with things going on in it."

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