Saturday, May 27, 2017


Old houses creak a lot. I understand entirely. The aging body that houses my soul and spirit is groaning with every move these days.

Friday, May 26, 2017

She stood up to Hitler

Actress Vera Ralston had been a skater in the 1936 Olympics for Czechoslovakia. At those games Adolph Hitler asked her if she would like to "skate for the swastika." According to her account, she looked right at him and told him she would rather skate on the swastika. The Fuehrer was furious.

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"Stubble your whids"

This is an old English expression that means, "Hold your tongue." If you won't let your children tell people to "shut up," you might let them use this one instead.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Gloria Talbott - an interesting Hollywood face

She was not a classic beauty, but her face had a very interesting and arresting quality that gave the impression of great beauty without quite having it.

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Lewis Charles - never a good guy

Some faces  and voices just don't work for good guys. Such was the lot of actor  Lewis Charles. He might have been cast as a good guy at some point in his career, but he made his living playing criminals and tough guys. Another of those familiar faces for which we have no name.

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Can't even remember the truth

"You have been bred to that trade in which, as you say yourself, men tell untruths for others till they lose all truth for themselves." (from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)

He must have been speaking of Presidential press secretaries.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A gorgeous slow movement - Myaskovsky's 20th Symphony

Nikolai Myaskovsky is doubtless one of the best composers that even most college music majors never heard of. He lived from 1881 to 1950 and never became as famous as some of his contemporaries, such as Prokofiev and Shostakovich. However, he is noted as "the father of the Soviet symphony," and he wrote 27 of them, an unusually large number for a 20th century composer.
Given his large output, it is understandable that his symphonies are not of similar quality. Some are very good, some are no better than mediocre, if that.

Very often symphonic composers will fall down on the slow movement. The simple fact is that it is considerably more difficult to keep slower music interesting than it is with faster pieces. A long list of fairly boring slow movements in symphonies could be mentioned, although there are some notable exceptions, including the heart-rending "Going Home" movement in Dvorak's "New World" Symphony.

Here is a LINK to the second movement of Myaskovsky's Symphony #20. In my humble opinion, it ranks with the great slow movements in symphonic literature. It is less than nine minutes long, and well worth the listening.

The cost of being liked

"He seems to make it the sole business of his life to be agreeable, and one imagines that he gained that end by the loss of certain qualities which one would have liked better."

(from Paul Clifford,  by Lord Lytton)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

We need to pay attention

One recurring theme in crime fiction (and perhaps in real life, also) is the frustration of law enforcement officers that witnesses to a crime did not notice more details concerning the people and automobiles involved. There is a simple reason for that. Policemen deal with crises all the time and they are training to look immediately for details. Ordinary people are not trained that way, and they are not accustomed to such stressful situations. Under stress, our minds often just go blank as we try to process what is happening. Forewarned is forearmed, however. If we ever are involved in a crime, we need to try to notice everything we can, and write it down at first opportunity.

Believe me, I know!

"Well, we went on splendidly enough for  about a year. Meanwhile I was wonderfully improved in philosophy. You have no idea how a scolding wife sublimes and rarifies one's intellect. Thunder clears the air, you know."

(from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)

Monday, May 22, 2017

British efficiency

If you want to give your child an efficient name (meaning that you save time and breath by not pronouncing all the letters, then you  might try this one: Cholmondeley Featherstonehaugh Woolfardisworthy, pronounced Chumley Fanshaw Woolseri.

If you are rich, it's OK

"Houses of correction are not made for men who have received and enlightened education - who abhor your pretty thefts as much was a justice of peace can do - who ought never to be termed dishonest in their dealings, but, if they are found out, unlucky in their speculations."

(from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)

Sunday, May 21, 2017


"He threw his length if  upon a neighbouring sofa, and literally rolled with cachinnatory convulsions." (from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)


a.1.Consisting of, or accompanied by, immoderate laughter.