Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Concerning the sanity of coots

          "Mad as a coot!" he said. And the words rang out through the still summer air like a public oration.
          They cut Baxter to the quick. They were not the sort of words to which a man with an inch and a quarter of skin off his left shinbone ought ever to have been called upon to listen. With flushed ears and glowing spectacles, the efficient Baxter passed on his way. Statistics relating to madness among coots are not to hand, but we may safely doubt whether even in the ranks of these notoriously unbalanced birds there could have been found at this moment one who was feeling half as mad as he did.

(from Summer Lightning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)


Being not ourselves

There is an extensive list of things which my brothers and I are not - by a long shot. Therefore when we attempt to pose as one of those things, the result is predictably comical. A silk purse made from a sow's ear is just going to be funny-looking.

When butlers steal pigs

The butler was standing mountainously beside the tea-table, staring in a sort of trance at a plateful of anchovy sandwiches: and it struck the Hon. Galahad, not for the first time in the last few days, that he appeared to have something on his mind. A strained, haunted look he seemed to have, as if he had done a murder and was afraid somebody was going to find the body. A more practiced physiognomist would have been able to interpret that look. It was one that butlers always wear when they have allowed themselves to be persuaded against their better judgment into becoming accessories before the fact in the theft of their employers' pigs.

(from Summer Lightning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Avoid weeping women

Hugo was alarmed. He was now practically certain that this girl was going to cry, and if there was one thing he he disliked it was being with crying girls in a public spot. He would not readily forget the time when a female named Yvonne Something had given way to a sudden twinge of neuralgia in his company not far from Picadilly Circus, and an old lady had stopped and said that it was brutes like him who called all the misery in the world.

(from Summer Lightning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Some folks should just leave well enough alone

Mac had many admirable qualities, but not tact. He was the sort of man who would have tried to cheer Napoleon up by talking about the Winter Sports in Moscow.

(from Summer Lightning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)


Some arguments are just not logical

"Do you find him an entertaining companion?"
Millicent yawned. "Mr. Carmody? No, not particularly."
"A dull young man, I should have thought."
"Vap to a degree."
"And yet you went riding with him last Tuesday."
"Anything's better than riding alone."
"You play tennis with him, too."
"Well, tennis is a game I defy you to play by yourself."

(from Summer Lightning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Deanna Durbin movies

Hardly anyone in the general public knows about her today, but at age 21 she was the most highly-paid female star in the world. Her movies span from her grade school years to young adulthood. Perhaps her lack of fame today stems from the fact that in the last several decades of her life she was a virtual recluse, completely avoiding publicity.

Obviously, if you claim to be an old movie fan, her movies are a "must." If you want a sampler, I highly recommend It Started With Eve and Lady on a Train. The first is a comedy in which Charles Laughton completely steals the show as an ailing tycoon whose son "borrows" Durbin to pose as his fiancee, with predictable complications following. Lady on a Train is a very nice comic murder mystery. One feature of Durbin movies was that there was almost always a very strong supporting cast and these are no exceptions.


The second most recognizable march

No doubt The Stars and Stripes Forever is the most familiar march to the general public. Next in line? Probably National Emblem, especially when the trombones and tubas come in.

LINK to the Marine Band playing National Emblem

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bonita Granville on going to the movies

Bonita Granville was a minor star from the golden age of Hollywood. She is probably best remembered for the four Nancy Drew movies in which she played the title role in 1938 and 1939. 

According to the IMDb website, she made this statement in 1972: "I don't go to the movies. They're indecent. They appeal to the baser tendencies, to temptations. Young people aren't able to cope with them, all this sex starting too early. It's thrown at them under the guise of art. But it's really immoral, amoral stuff , made just for the money."

Wouldn't it be something if someone in Hollywood had that attitude today?


I am what I am

We hear this expression used occasionally. Frequently it is used to mean, "I do what I do, and I am not going to do any differently, even if I can." A man may naturally of a quick temper; that may be his natural disposition. However, despite the fact that he is what he is, he is not forced to haul off and hit someone every time he feels anger within him. We are able to stifle our emotions and bring them under control - if we will. Far too often people say "I cannot," when what they ought to admit is, "I will not." Natural tendencies do not excuse sinful behavior.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Dropping things on people's heads

Evidently dropping heavy objects from roofs was a standard hazard of being the good guy in old movies. Charlie Chan just dodged on in Paris, Basil Rathbone had a similar experience as Sherlock Holmes, and Bob Hope also in at least a couple of movies. Better watch out above!

Curtis McCook's big problem

On the Lum and Abner radio show, Grandpappy Spears told the story of a fellow from Cherry Hill named Curtis McCook. It seems that Curtis had one large ear. His mother would never let him go outside in a high wind because it would blow him around in a circle.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Ghost Breakers (1940)

This is one of the better of the Bob Hope movies. The basic plot is that Hope and his valet (Willie Best) go with Paulette Goddard to Cuba because she has inherited a supposedly haunted castle. She receives various threats before she gets there. I will not spoil the surprise ending by telling it to you.

Suffice it to say that most of the really funny lines are given to Best, who delivers them in masterful, bug-eyed fashion. This was one of his better roles because he got  more opportunity to speak.

One undervalued facet of the movie is the wonderful music score composed by classical composer Ernst Toch. It helps to maintain the tension in what is essentially a comedy built upon a serious theme.


I heard an owl hooting a few times before breakfast today (my breakfast, not his). It reminded me of how "owlhoot" is an example of words that have mysteriously evolved in American history. Owls are nocturnal animals, and so, somehow, "riding the owlhoot trail" became synonymous with nighttime activity. Assume that most criminal deeds occur at night because the people doing them want to remain unseen, and you have "owlhoot" equalling "criminal."


Friday, September 26, 2014

Francis the Talking Mule (1950)

This is a classic movie and the first of what became a series of movies. Donald O'Connor is the (human) hero of the film. While lost in the Burma jungle, he is rescued by a mule who can talk. Because he tells the brass about it, he is in and out of the psycho ward, but in the meantime Francis makes a hero of him. Chill Wills is the voice of Francis. Patricia Medina is the femme fatale. I will not spoil the plot by telling you the ending, but it is great fun. Wonderful movie for kids and adults.

At one point in the movie, the commanding general, played by John McIntire, makes his appearance. He is named Gen. Stevens in the movie, but, of course, in real life the commander in Burma was General Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell.

By the way, this movie holds a special place in my personal history, because my wife and I saw it on TV on our honeymoon.l



Francis' great-aunt Regret

In the Francis the Talking Mule series of movies, Francis sometimes refers to his great-aunt Regret. Presumably he was talking about the racehorse of note. She was the first of only three fillies to win the Kentucky Derby.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Keye Luke - Charlie Chan's son

Of the actors who played children of detective Charlie Chan in the movie series, my favorite is
Keye Luke. He was generally less goofy than the others, and thus more believable. Luke was an artist, and worked on some of the murals in Grauman's Chinese Theatre.