Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Zac Efron steals the show as serial killer Ted Bundy, and that’s the problem.

Written by Michael Werwie and directed by Joe Berlinger, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) is based on the memoir The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy by Elizabeth Kendall. While ostensibly about Ted Bundy’s relationship with his longtime girlfriend, whose call to the police eventually led to his capture, the film focuses too much on Bundy’s dark charisma and courtroom antics.

The film opens at a bar in Seattle in 1969, where single mother Elizabeth Kendall (Lily Collins) meets handsome Theodore “Ted” Bundy (Zac Efron) for the first time, and the audience is mercifully spared the usual nods to 1960s counter-culture. Ted gets along well with her daughter, Molly, and seems to embrace the fatherly role. Things turn dark, however, when Ted is arrested at a traffic stop in 1975 and charged with kidnapping Carol Daronch (Grace Victoria Cox).

Though conflicted, and despite the protestations of her best friend, Joanna (Angela Sarafyan), Elizabeth is in denial that Ted could have committed the horrible acts of which he’s suspected. She grows increasingly distant as Ted’s legal troubles multiply, and he is accused of multiple murders. In prison, Ted rekindles an old flame with Carol Ann Boone (Kaya Scodelario), while trying desperately to keep Elizabeth’s affection. Can Elizabeth break this destructive emotional bond and move on with her life?

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Did ‘White Privilege’ Enable Ted Bundy?

Police, prosecutors, and a Florida jury had no problem strapping this heinous killer in the electric chair.

Actor Zac Efron, who plays serial killer Theodore “Ted” Bundy in Netflix’s new film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019), has claimed in multiple interviews that ‘white privilege’ allowed Ted Bundy to continue his killing spree that resulted in the murder of 30 young women in the 1970s.

Efron told an interviewer at the Tribeca Film Festival “The fact is that this movie really happened. The fact is that the whole world, literally, all the media, everybody, was capable of believing that this guy was innocent. Talk about white privilege, talk about white… whatever. Every major topic in this movie is bent on showing you how evil this person is.”

He also told Ellen DeGeneres, “Ted Bundy was a clean-cut white dude who just did not seem ‘white person.’ So, talk about white privilege,” Efron said. “What he got away with back then, nobody would be able to do today.”

It’s indisputable that Bundy cultivated the image of a clean-cut law student to mask his homicidal tendencies. He often posed as an injured person in need of help to lure women into a false sense of security. His conventionally handsome features continued to work in his favor as he proclaimed his innocence at trial and racked up a bevvy of female admirers.

“The first time I saw him, he didn’t look like a serial killer. He looked like a Philadelphia lawyer,” said Jury Foreman Patrick E. Wolski.

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Did Women Fight in the Civil War?

Yes! Hundreds of women donned blue or gray uniforms to fight alongside men.

The indie film Finding Josephine (2019) purportedly follows the true story of Josephine Robison, who disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the Confederate Army to find her husband. Although I couldn’t find any evidence the real Josephine Robison did this, hundreds of women during the American Civil War (1861-1865) actually did.

When the Civil War broke out between the North and South in 1861, women didn’t just sit on the sidelines. It’s estimated between 2.75 and 3 million men served in combat in Union and Confederate armies and navies during the war, which meant women were needed to tend farms, work in textile industries, sew flags and uniforms, and fill roles traditionally filled by men in that era. Thousands worked as nurses, and many others as spies. Some, like Rose O’Neal Greenhow, gave their lives for their cause. Still others served a more unsavory role as camp followers and prostitutes.

While impossible to know for certain, it’s estimated somewhere between 400 and 750 women disguised themselves to enlist in Union and Confederate armies. Some were quickly discovered and discharged for “sexual incompatibility.” Others were discovered when they became pregnant. But still others served their entire enlistment, fought in battles, and even died in the line of duty.

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Is ‘Finding Josephine’ Bullshit?

This interesting Civil War tale is purportedly based on a true story, but there’s reason to be skeptical.

As both a Civil War and film enthusiast, I try to watch every movie set during the American Civil War. I recently purchased Finding Josephine (2019) on Amazon Prime, and thought this indie film was well constructed and had an interesting story. It revolves around issues of gender and sexuality during the war, topics usually avoided in this genre.

Its creator, country musician Rory Feek, claims the story is based on Civil War-era letters he discovered in a Tennessee farmhouse he purchased in 1999. The letters were written by a man named John Robison to his wife Josephine while he was away fighting in the Confederate Army. In the film, his unit is identified as the “3rd Tennessee.”

He wrote a pretty catchy song about the letters, and according to his Kickstarter page, a Virginia man contacted him with letters supposedly written by Josephine to John while John was fighting in Virginia. That inspired him to make a movie about their experience. In the movie, Josephine misses him so much, she dresses like a man and joins the Confederate Army and goes all the way to Virginia to find him.

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Western Hotel

Western Hotel
Callicoon, a hamlet in Sullivan County, New York, sits on a bluff overlooking the Delaware River at the Pennsylvania border. It is part of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River area, which is managed by the National Park Service. The Western Hotel, at 22 Upper Main Street, was built as a private mansion in 1852. It’s currently owned by Irene Nickolai and operated as a hotel, bar, and event center. I believe it was designed in Second Empire style.

Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois

Established in 1860 by Thomas Bryan, Graceland Cemetery, at 4001 N. Clark Street in Chicago, Illinois, is the city’s premier burial ground. Approximately 45,000 people are interred in these 121 acres, including many of Chicago’s most prominent former citizens, including Cyrus McCormick, George Pullman, John Altgeld, and Allan Pinkerton.

Remnants of the Only Delight

This lovely neoclassical bronze monument is dedicated to department store mogul Marshall Field (1834-1906). Field rose from farmer’s son to wealthiest man in Chicago when he got into the merchandising business and eventually established Marshall Field and Company. Marshall Field and John D. Rockefeller founded the University of Chicago in 1890. The statue of a sitting woman holding oak leaves (symbolizing courage), called “Memory”, was designed by architect Henry Bacon and sculptor Daniel Chester French.

In the Hands of Storm

This Granite knight, designed by Lorado Taft and called “Crusader”, commemorates Victor Fremont Lawson (1850-1920), Norwegian-American publisher of the Chicago Daily News. Lawson ran the Daily News for 29 years. His monument is unmarked, except for the epitaph: “Above al things truth beareth away the victory.”

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Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin

Olbrich Botanical Gardens, at 3330 Atwood Avenue in Madison, Wisconsin, was founded by lawyer and naturalist Michael Olbrich in 1952. Its golden Thai sala, a gift from Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is unique in the Continental United States.

There is also a traditional English garden, rose garden, and an 80-foot long reflective pool. It is also home to the Bolz Conservatory, which houses over 750 plants and features a popular butterfly exhibit in the summer called “Blooming Butterflies.”