“I was a little bit wild when I was young, darling, but I lived my life grandly.” – Bunny Breckinridge
The great prophet and general badass Henry Rollings said that our taste in music peaks and freezes when we’re thirteen years old.
When I was thirteen, Motley Crue was my favorite band in the world. The right song can transport me to a time when the world felt young. (This is perhaps a very uncomfortable view of my subconscious.)
Likewise, I think that our perception of the world is largely shaped by the storytellers that most captured our imaginations and our hearts as children.
This storyteller was the first to capture my imagination.
My first great love was words. I loved the sound of them. I loved reading them. Stories could take you everywhere. Who is this? The legendary Ed Wood.
Yes, that Ed Wood.
I remember living with Papa Ray and Grandma Betty at a farm house with a walnut grove somewhere in the badlands around Fresno on Fowler. I might have been around eight.
Books were a rare, precious commodity during that summer as there wasn’t a library outside of the one at the elementary school. I had yet to be introduced to the Hobbit.
We lived far away from other children. I explored the orchards with a sword fashioned from old grape trays, but eventually the summer days just dragged endlessly forward.
On a lonely Saturday afternoon, Papa Ray brought me a big plastic bowl filled with popcorn, sat me on his lap and introduced me to the Saturday Creature Feature.
The first movie was Plan 9 From Outer Space directed by Ed Wood.
Yes, this movie is horrible by today’s standards. The dialog is stilted. The special effects are horrid. However, there was a joy and celebration of the macabre that fascinated me. (Note to mention that I blame this movie for my interest in vampire girls. I don’t have a chance, I tell you!)
It seems strange to know the exact moment you start to love a thing so much that it changes your life. I watched every movie with a hint of terror. When school started, I ran to the library that first recess and then checked out and read every book that the librarian would allow.
Last night, I started a new story to submit to the Atomic Cthulhu anthology using Ed Wood, Bunny Breckinridge, the Great Griswell, and a cameo from the great Bela Lugosi.
I’ve always felt a kinship with these strange characters in the book of life. Recently, I watched the Ed Wood movie starring Johnny Depp and certain similarities in the lifestyle struck a nerve.
- Working against the odds to see your creation in the hands of readers/viewers? Check.
- A close-knit group of friends that love and support you, even when you are out of your mind with obsession with your latest pet project. Check.
- An innate happiness associated with working on your dreams. Check.
How much of that did I absorb through that movie? It feels like something of the spirit of it imprinted on my soul.
Thank you, Ed Wood.