Rich Wilhelm

The VHS Chronicles, Tape 1: Ed Wood

In movies, VHS Chronicles on August 9, 2014 at 5:23 pm

This is what I do and I am not proud of it: I get these good-to-great ideas, try them out, and then move on to something else. I could stand to have a better attention span.

One of the ideas that I had a few years back involved both my blog and the little business I have making notebooks out of record album covers, VHS tapes, music cassette inserts and cassette single (cassingles!) sleeves. I thought that, as I made the VHS notebooks, I’d actually watch some of the VHS tapes before properly recycling them. I’d post entries on my blog about what I’d watched.

I figured this would give me a chance to catch up on a variety of movies I never saw or haven’t seen in years. Plus it could be a way to promote my notebook-making business. Synergy, you know what I’m saying?

With this idea embedded in my brain, I posted my first “VHS Chronicles” entry after watching Tim Burton’s excellent Ed Wood, I posted the entry shown below. I was on my way. Only I wasn’t. Ed Wood turned out to be my only “VHS Chronicles entry.

It’s a few years later now and it’s not like I’m any more organized than I was back then. But I think the “VHS Chronicles” idea is worth reviving, especially at this time, when I’m gearing up for the Fall ’14 Notebook Buying Season. Which is totally a thing, you know.

I make no promises. This could be a one-and-done series, just like it was a few years ago. Despite that, I’ll start today by reposting the original Ed Wood entry. And we’ll just go from there.

By the way, this series will be brought to you by Rich’s Really Cool Notebooks, which can be conveniently found at

And, now, a few words, essentially untouched from my original entry, about Ed Wood. You will note that I touch on the idea-after-idea concept in this entry.

I have a hard time watching movies in my own home. Here’s why: I feel like there is always something else, something more important, that I should be doing. And, the fact is, sometimes this is true. But, on the other hand, I ought to let myself catch a movie now and then.

I think I have a solution to this dilemma. I’ve recently been buying bunches of movies in the now deprecated format of VHS cassette. I’m buying them in thrift shops, sometimes as cheap as one thin dime a piece (think of it: VHS is now at least two, maybe three, formats ago. VHS is so 2000 and late) and turning the boxes into covers for the notebooks I sell over on my Etsy site.

Of course, this leaves me with the actual tapes, which I plan on recycling in the most proper way possible. I realized though that, before I do this, I could actually sit down and watch some of these movies. This could be fun and edifying to me since many of the movies in question fall very clearly into the “what do you mean you haven’t seen…” category. When I do settle in to watch one of my VHS movies, I’ll report my findings.

So, with all this in mind, I spent one afternoon last week watching this Ed Wood.

Truth be told, I have seen Ed Wood once before; Donna and I rented it within a year of its release. But it was fun to see again, and dare I say even a little bit inspiring!

Here’s the deal: Ed Wood was not a very good film director. He is credited with the movie often considered to be the worst of all time, the inverse Casablanca, also known as Plan 9 from Outer Space. But all these years later, people still watch Plan 9…, still talk about it and enjoy it on some level. And, oh irony of ironies, the movie made about the life of the all-time worst filmmaker (highly fictionalized in spots, but still, lots of fun) won two Academy Awards.

This is what inspires me about Ed Wood, the man: he had ideas and he actually did something with them. He followed his muse to a logical conclusion (well, maybe not so logical, but a conclusion nonetheless). How many of us have idea after idea that we never follow through on?

This is why, when I turn the Ed Wood box into a notebook, I’m keeping it for myself. It’s going to be a creativity log, in which I write down the moments of inspiration that I act on, whether the result is good, bad or, as in the case of an Ed Wood movie, something else entirely.

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Patrick F. O'Donnell

writer, editor, general wordsmith and scribe

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