You're probably right. It probably does run. Come to think of it, it would probably run (poorly) even if I had the wires going clockwise, because 2 of them would be correct, and it would probably at least fire even if there were up to 3 stuck valves or if the distributor were rotated several degrees.
I suppose I just had to go through it step by step and think about it, and now that I have, I recall that right from the beginning the starter got kicked out from time to time when I was cranking the engine. That's the direction I'll go in next, but it will have to wait until Sunday when my family comes home. Until then I'm not going to fool with it any more.