NOTE: This is an old issue of the Brushwood Gulch Gazette, which has been archived for reference purposes. Although some links have been updated, the text of this archived newsletter remains unchanged. Please keep in mind that these articles have NOT been updated to reflect changes that may have occurred since they were originally printed. Return to the index of archived issues.
This is it. We're not only saying good-bye to another year, but we're also saying good-bye to the 1900's. So, for one last time this century, the Way Out West Tent will meet. The date will be Tuesday evening, December 7, 1999. As always, you can find us at the Mayflower Club located at 11110 Victory Boulevard (west of Vineland Avenue) in North Hollywood. The doors will open at 6:30PM and the meeting will begin at 7:15PM. The Fabulous Fisher Franks will be hopping over the counter in style, the Marvelous Mayflower Bar will be just as stylish and you might even treat yourself to some holiday cake to boot! The evening will be a celebration to honor the greatest comedy team of the century...Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. We will pay tribute to them by viewing some of their funniest films of the century. So, come on over and finish out the century with us on Tuesday evening, December 7th.
Over the years, at every December Way Out West Tent meeting, we've asked our loyal members and guests to remember the less fortunate with a canned goods donation that is given to the Maud Booth Family Center. We have been very grateful for your generosity in the past and we are asking for your help once again this year. If it is more convenient, you can make a cash donation that will be given to the Maud Booth Family Center. In either case, we thank you in advance for your kindness to those in need.
January will be here before you know it and that means it's time to bring your dues up to date. Fees are due every January regardless of when you join during the year. For example, if you joined during the final quarter of 1999, your dues were prorated through the end of 1999. The dues cycle then begins again in January 2000. You can get a jump on the new year by paying at the December 1999 meeting if you choose. The prices will remain the same again.
On Saturday evening, October 16, 1999, the Way Out West Tent held its annual banquet at the historic Culver Hotel in downtown Culver City. This building, celebrating its 75th anniversary, has had quite a history, which includes many motion picture moments in front of the camera for several Hal Roach Studios films. The evening began with a buffet dinner consisting of chicken picatta, roast beef with mushroom sauce, pasta primavera, vegetable medley, corn on the cob and assorted cakes. After dinner the banquet room was converted to a theater setting. The program began with the traditional singing of the Sons of the Desert song, led by the Way Out West Tent board members. This was followed by the toasts to Stan, Ollie and company conducted creatively by Bob Duncan. Lori McCaffery made some introductions of guests and friends who made the trip to the Culver Hotel for the evening. Jack Taylor, Grand Sheik of the Beau Hunks Tent in Seattle, Washington and chairman of the upcoming Sea-Tac 2000 convention, gave us all a preview of what to look forward to next year. Next up, Rick Greene and Earl Kress performed a very funny sketch, as Rick interviewed Melvin Fudge, played by Earl, the world's oldest and most confused elevator operator at the Culver Hotel. Jimmy Wiley and John Duff introduced our celebrity guests for the banquet. In attendance were, Anita Page (Hollywood Revue of 1929), Dorothy Deborba (Our Gang), Harold "Bouncy" Wertz (Our Gang), June Chase (Charley's daughter), Eugene "Pineapple" Jackson (Our Gang), Jay Dare (L&H costumer at 20th Century Fox), Glenn and Mark Kennedy (grandsons of Edgar Kennedy) and Alice Jackson (longtime companion to L&H composer T. Marvin Hatley). Lori McCaffery was back to present the Way Out West Tent awards to Bob Duncan (Why Don't You Do Something To Help Me?), Bevis Faversham (The Good Egg), Anita Page (Honolulu Baby) and Jack Taylor (Furthest Traveled). The raffles took place next, where many happy people won the very creative table centerpieces and other assorted L&H related prizes. The evening wrapped up with a screening of three films, all of which had scenes shot right outside in front of the Culver Hotel. Limousine Love starring Charley Chase, Putting Pants on Philip and Leave 'Em Laughing starring Laurel and Hardy headlined the marquis. Special thanks to Lori and Colin McCaffery, Kris Wiley and Jimmy Wiley III for their creative efforts in making the one of a kind (actually 15 of them) centerpieces, again to Jimmy Wiley III for designing the banquet program, to Al Bender for donating the funds to make the centerpieces, to Bart Williams for bringing Stan Laurel's 1947 Chrysler for us to see in the parking lot and to all of our celebrities, friends and guests who helped to make this evening a night to remember.
As this century and another year at the Way Out West Tent draws to a close and I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the many people who have made it possible for our tent to be as successful as it has been. The "thank yous" might be a bit longer than usual, but we are at a turning point and a lot of people have contributed a lot of their time, efforts and love to this tent for 32 years and without them this tent would not be what it is today. Lori "Mama Hen" McCaffrey has been our permanent, faithful link in the tent since day one. She helped us grow in the past, has kept us going in the present and will continue to be there for us in the next century. For that she has our undying gratitude. Bob Satterfield's contributions to the WOW tent over the years has given us all a chance to relive part of the story of Laurel & Hardy. Visiting the film locations and meeting the celebrities brought us closer to what went on during those history making days at "The Lot of Fun." Thanks to Bob's research and constant lifeline to our celebrities, we have had many memorable times at our events. Jimmy and Kris Wiley have been long time working board members. Jimmy has been doing a great job as our Vice-Sheik. Whether he's leading us in the Sons of the Desert song and the toasts at the meetings or just giving his all around help, he's always there. The same can be said about Kris. She's usually at the sales table keeping things in order but she also does a million other behind the scenes chores that go unnoticed by most. The next generation of the Wiley family, Jimmy III, has made his mark on this tent as well. For those of you who have not visited the Way Out West Tent website, you are really missing out on something special. When you visit this site, you will be blown away by the amount of work that has gone into it and what's even more impressive is that he created this site from scratch. In addition, his design of our newsletter and banquet programs are just some more reasons that this tent has plenty of which to be proud. Bob Duncan has really added a lot to our programs with his introductions of the films being screened at the meetings, telling some of the inside stories and facts. His clever offerings of the traditional toasts at our banquets have been very well received and fun for all. Jayne Barnhart's scrapbook is up for consideration by the Guinness Book of Records. The problem is that her scrapbook of our tent's history has gotten bigger than the Guinness Book of Records. Nonetheless, we thank you for keeping it all together for us to enjoy. Bill Patterson, our founding Grand Sheik, started all of this in 1967 and his initial efforts are going as strong as ever. He still comes to our meetings and banquets and it's always a pleasure to see him. We said good-bye to our faithful film projectionists, Scott James and Mike Rogers this year. Their many years of loyal work will not be forgotten. Sadly, we lost our good friend, Al Fisher, at the beginning of the year but his wife, Sharron, has carried on the tradition of the "Famous Fabulous Fisher Franks" and we're all very happy that she has. Colin McCaffery has been our ace photographer, capturing so many memorable moments of the tent's history and he has also assumed other duties that have gone without notice. To him, a big thank you. Gloria Brigante is the co-creator of the Way Out West Tent banner that we proudly display at each of our meetings and banquets. No doubt, the banner will be traveling with us to Sea-Tac 2000 next summer for the world to see. To our dedicated Board Members At Large, Alan Barasorda, Dorothy Barnhart, Steve Nelson, Neal Pinyan, Tom and Debbie Hopkins, and Dorothy Bellina, you have all been ready to give a helping hand at the meetings and banquets and you have always been there when we need you the most. Our special thanks go out to all of you. We have also had the honor of meeting many of the celebrities who worked with the boys at the Hal Roach Studios and 20th Century Fox, both in front of and behind the camera. Your numerous appearances at our functions have left all of us with many happy memories. To all of you, we thank you for making the history that we will enjoy forever. Throughout the years, many WOW tent workers, members and guests have walked through our doors, shared a part of their life with us and helped us to grow. Today, our current members and guests continue to support our events. Thanks to you, we have a strong and successful tent. We look forward to seeing more of you next year and in the years to come. My final thought is to my wife, Janet. A lot of people go through life looking for that special someone. I have been lucky enough to find that person in Janet. The fact that she likes Laurel & Hardy is a plus. That fact that she married someone who "lives" Laurel & Hardy is an even bigger plus. She's always been there for me and I will love her always. Well, I guess that's it. I promise not to write this much in a newsletter until the year 2999 as we head in to 3000. Until then, here's hoping that all of you have a very happy, healthy and safe holiday season and all the best for a great new year in 2000!
By Rip Rense
It's not every day that someone just comes out and announces, "I am an ignorant, unsophisticated, crass, arrogant buffoon."
Yet that, in effect, is what "writer" A.J. Jacobs did recently in an issue of Entertainment Weekly. For reasons known only to the EW editor, Jacobs was given a couple of pages to tell the world about his taste in comedy. Why anyone should be interested in his taste in comedy was not clear. Give the editor the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to being provocative.
In an article bearing the '90s-banale-speak headline, "Everything Old Blows," A.J. begins by proclaiming that all black-and-white comedy films are not funny. Color, he avers, is a requisite for laughter.
The drooling idiocy of this statement should require no elucidation.
Further, A.J. declares that Chaplin wasn't funny ("I just think he sucks," he so eloquently offers.) Neither was W.C. Fields (boring), Jackie Gleason (too loud), The Marx Brothers (too much music), Lucy and Desi, Jack Benny, Abbott and Costello, Sid Caesar, Phil Silvers, Gracie Allen. ...
A.J. didn't bother to mention Laurel and Hardy, presumably because they are so dull as to be beneath contempt.
All right, you say, let's give this guy a break. Everyone, after all, has his or her own taste. I never really liked Abbott and Costello, for instance. But sympathy for A.J. fades quickly as one encounters the crux of the Jacobs Theory of Comedy: "There's nothing funnier," he writes, "than a well-placed, well-timed, well-earned use of the word ass."
What's more: "In my opinion, too many butts are better than no butts at all. Butts, after all, are a part of life. ... Did Steamboat Willie ever emit a flaming fart?"
Disregarding the fact that "Steamboat Willie" is a sound-pioneering Disney cartoon, not a comedy, A.J.'s point is clear. The essence of witticism, the epitome of amusement, the very fundament of all things funny (so to speak) in the world of A.J. Jacobs is. ...
The human hindquarters.
Yes, one "butt" or "fart" joke and old A.J. is on the floor, busting a gut, lips peeled back, tears streaming. Hee-hawwww! Hee-hawwww!
Now, notwithstanding the rich history of scatology in humor (from Chaucer to the tokus-infused routines of the Catskills), I must insist that there is more to eliciting merriment and mirth in the human psyche than speaking the word, "butt."
Yes, it is true that horse-laughing hordes in Las Vegas hotels and HBO comedy specials go berserk at the faintest suggestion of the cloven configuration resting atop the legs. But then, these folks aren't exactly in the market for subtlety. They're like the groundlings of Shakespeare's day, whom the Bard always remembered with token references to things derriere. No doubt A.J. would pronounce this slight aspect (no pun intended) of Shakespearean comedy to be its very pinnacle.
Yes, according to A.J., if Laurel and Hardy had just broken wind a lot, they would be funny (provided their films were colorized, of course). W.C. Fields? Should have just said "butt" every minute or two. (To his "credit," he does address a woman as "Mrs. Broadbottom" in one film, and in another remarks, "Isn't it wonderful how everything always rounds itself out nicely in the end?") Gleason? If he'd changed "To the moooooon, Alice!" to "I'm gonna moooooon you, Alice," A.J. would have been happy. This is a guy, after all, who complains of the great Buster Keaton-as innovative and clever a comedic filmmaker as ever to get behind a camera-he "never talked out of his buttocks, now did he?"
Furthermore, "I need the joke-a-second pace of South Park or Friends," A.J. writes, thus confessing to being the victim of a psychotically fractured attention span, like much of the TV-mainlining public. Yes, A.J. is haplessly primed for kneejerk yucks in response to jokes, jokes, jokes-by his own admission-as long as they come fast and furious. "Call me an MTV-bred Philistine," he writes.
And here is the most dreadful part of A.J.'s "argument": "All the actors are dead. Lucy? Dead. Desi? Dead. That guy who hangs from the clock? Dead. I'm sorry, but I don't want to be reminded of my mortality. ..."
This is where Jacobs' appropriated Paul Reiser/Howard Stern bitchiness becomes asinine (again, no pun intended) to the point of, well, hilarity. This guy is actually dismissing the worth of artists because they are dead! Take that, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and Phil Hartman! I wonder if this prejudice extends to other professions, such as science or music, for instance. Perhaps A.J. would not have much use for Einstein, Beethoven, Salk. ...
What this puerile glib-meister has forgotten, or tragically seems never to have learned-like so many people today-are things called irony, satire, subtlety, social commentary, incisiveness, comedy that aims a little higher than the belt-say, somewhere around the head.
Oh, and then there's a little item called context. Listen, A.J., you might never find Fields or Chaplin as funny as "The Buttmans" from In Living Color, but does it occur to you that the world was very different in the pre-A.J. period of human history? Perhaps if you could understand something of the time of Fields, Chaplin, et al., you might be embarrassed by the pomposity of your currently held opinions. But probably not. I think you would sneer at Edison for not owning a cell phone.
The real tragedy of Jacobs' article is not the point of view per se, but the fact that he was given a platform in a national magazine to present it. Why not just invite some twelve-year-old kid off the street to rant and rave? (To be fair, the always-thoughtful Ken Tucker was allowed to, pardon the expression, rebut-in less space.) A.J.'s piece was devoid of perspective and evidenced no understanding of anything other than that which pleased A.J. What criteria exist at this magazine (and the media in general) for allowing people to spout off? Traditionally, writers have had to claim some sort of expertise in a subject in order to hold forth about it. A.J. has all the credentials of kids in the "Cultural Revolution" of China. Given absolute power, those tykes and teens promptly dismissed as irrelevant and evil anything they couldn't understand. As with A.J., everything "old" was bad.
"Butts," writes A.J. Jacobs, "after all, are a part of life."
Yes, and so are brains. And they're really a lot more interesting. Try using yours sometime, A.J. When you're not too busy chortling at somebody saying "buttcrack" on Friends or South Park.
And in the spirit of generosity, let me close by giving you just what you asked for, a well-placed, well-timed, well-earned use of the word:
Rip Rense is writer and columnist whose work has appeared in many newspapers and magazines, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Emmy Magazine, TV Guide, and Free China Review. He's also a long time member of the Way Out West Tent.
March of the Wooden Soldiers (Babes in Toyland) is now available on DVD.
"The Lost Films of L&H, Volume 3" has also been recently made available on DVD. The disc contains Laurel and Hardy in Liberty, We Faw Down, The Lucky Dog, and Love 'Em and Weep, as well as the Oliver Hardy solo film Along Came Auntie and the Charley Chase film Bromo and Juliet.
"The Lost Films of L&H, Volume 4" is scheduled to be released January 4 on DVD. It contains Laurel and Hardy in They Go Boom, Their Purple Moment, Bacon Grabbers, and Unaccustomed As We Are, as well as the Oliver Hardy solo film Should Sailors Marry? and the Charley Chase film On the Wrong Trek (with a cameo by Laurel and Hardy). This is the first time that Bacon Grabbers will be available in the U.S. home video market. The disc can be pre-ordered now from Amazon.com.
The 12th International Convention will be held July 20 - 23, 2000 in Tacoma, Washington. You can get an official registration form and other information by visiting the "Sea-Tac 2000" web site at
He was born on May 5, 1889 either in Cleveland, Ohio or Hannibal, Missouri, depending which source you read. At one time in his life, he was a millinery salesmen. He performed on the stage before entering films in the silent era. With over 160 film credits, he played one of the meanest heavies in the history of Hollywood. His roles were minor, but he was a vicious villain who usually met with a violent death. His appearances began with appearances in silent serials such as Ruth Roland, The Steel Trail, Wolves of the North, and Don Quickshot of the Rio Grande. His other credits include Monkey Business with the Marx Brothers, The Prizefighter and the Lady with Myrna Loy, The St. Louis Kid with James Cagney, and Beau Geste with Gary Cooper. His final film appearance was in The Sheepman with Glenn Ford in 1958. He died on December 28, 1968 in Los Angeles, California at the age of 79. Laurel and Hardy fans remember him best as the grouchy father of Butch, who made the boys chase the football down the stairs in Block-Heads...Harry Woods.
The Battle of the Century
Released December 31, 1927. Starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charlie Hall, and Anita Garvin. A banana peel starts the biggest pie throwing battle of the century recorded on film. The entire day's output of pies from the Los Angeles Pie Company totaled over 3,000 pies, which were used in this short.
The Music Box
Released April 16, 1932. Starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Billy Gilbert, Lilyan Irene, Sam Lufkin, Charlie Hall, William Gillespie, and Gladys Gale. The boys deliver a piano to a home with an unbelievable flight of stairs. After several trips up and down the stairs, the fun really begins. The Music Box received a certificate from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the best short subject comedy of 1931-1932.
Sons of the Desert
Released December 29, 1933. Starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mae Busch, Dorothy Christie, Charley Chase, and Lucien Littlefield. The boys take off to Chicago for the annual Sons of the Desert convention. The only problem is that their wives think that they are going to Hawaii for Oliver's health...and of course, they get caught in the lie.
Released March 30, 1924. Starring Charley Chase as Jimmy Jump, Beth Darlington, Joe Cobb, Mickey Daniels, and Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison. Directed by Charley's brother, James Parrott. Jimmy Jump thinks that he is dying, thanks to a misunderstanding with his doctor. Up to this point in his life, Jimmy has always been a coward. Now that his days are numbered, he plans on going out fighting like a man.
85 years Ago
80 Years Ago
75 Years Ago
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65 Years ago
60 Years Ago
55 Years Ago
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40 Years Ago
15 Years Ago
Sources for Looking Back:
Laurel or Hardy - The Solo Films of Stan Laurel and Oliver "Babe" Hardy, by Rob Stone
Laurel and Hardy - The Magic Behind the Movies, by Randy Skretvedt
Laurel & Hardy&emdash;From the Forties Forward, by Scott MacGillivray
Laurel & Hardy - The British Tours, by A.J. Marriot
November 1 Jerry Tucker Our Gang 1 Felix Knight Babes in Toyland 2 Walter Wolf King Swiss Miss 2 Dennis King The Devil's Brother 4 Darla Hood Our Gang 6 June Marlowe Pardon Us 7 Joe Cobb Our Gang 9 Gertrude Astor Come Clean 14 John McCabe Sons of the Desert Founder 19 Roy Seawright L&H Optical Effects Specialist 21 Vivian Blaine Jitterbugs 21 Dorothy Granger Hog Wild, Laurel-Hardy Murder Case 23 Boris Karloff Pardon Us (French Version) 27 Robert Youngson Documentary Filmmaker 29 Richard Bann L&H/Our Gang Author December 3 Ferdinand Munier Babes in Toyland 5 Gordon Douglas Zenobia (Director) 8 Frank Faylen A Haunting We Will Go 8 Norma Drew Churchill Chickens Come Home 10 Lois Laurel Hawes Stan's Daughter 11 Marie Windsor The Fighting Kentuckian 14 James W. Horne Way Out West (Director) 16 Harry Spear Our Gang 18 Leonard Maltin L&H/Our Gang Author 18 George Stevens L&H Cameraman 19 Al Kilgore Sons of the Desert Co-founder 20 Sunshine Sammy Morrison Our Gang 25 Eugene "Pineapple" Jackson Our Gang 27 Mary Kornman Our Gang 29 George Marshall Pack Up Your Troubles (Actor/Director) 30 Rosina Lawrence McCabe Way Out West