Friday, May 31, 2013

The National Lum & Abner Society


Interesting site for all Lum and Abner fans.

Johnny Dollar's MBW?

Lu Tang. "She's the most beautiful woman I've ever known."

(from The Molly Kay Matter)

When the Principal Trombone muffed it

When I was in high school, I got the chance to hear the the Philadelphia Orchestra perform. At the time it was conducted by Eugene Ormandy and was one of the very best orchestras in the world. Among the pieces they performed was the Brahms Symphony #2. That work finishes with a flair and features important notes by the trombone section. The principal trombonist split two of the notes in that final passage. Rare, for a person in his position.


Training as spouses and parents

Children best learn how to be good spouses and parents by observation, and particularly those cases that affect them directly. If they have had good examples, and they do not squander their privilege, then we may expect good usefulness in them when they arrive at mature consideration.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Arkansas record temperatures?

According to Infoplease, the hottest was 120 degrees at Ozark in 1936. (Ever heard the term Dust Bowl?)

The coldest was -29 degrees at Pond in 1905.

Mayor of the Town radio show

It starred Lionel Barrymore, who was the crusty but wise and lovable mayor of a typical hometown. Lots of "feel good" type stories. It ran from 1942 to 1949.

Lionel Barrymore

 The announcer was our old friend from Fibber McGee and Molly, Harlow Wilcox.


Just use the right mode

If you want to imitate a tune from a bagpipe, use the mixolydian mode - sol-la-ti-do-re-me-fa-sol. If you want to have the "high lonesome" sound of the old hymns or fiddle tunes, use the dorian mode (re to re).

Buckinghurst and similar names

I love the names the British have developed over the years. They have such a flair to them. Lord Buckinghurst was a character in one of the Sherlock Holmes programs on radio, starring John Stanley.

When you get close to retirement

five years, or even two years, is almost a bigger load than you can bear. You have to think day to day to keep from being overwhelmed.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Senorita from the West (1945)

My wife and I really grew to like Bonita Granville from the Nancy Drew movie series. She is the ward of three old miners who have struck it rich, but do not want her to know it, for fear she may not stay around if she thinks they do not need her. Unknown to them, she has plans to go to New York and make it big to take care of them. She is a singer, and works her way alphabetically down the list of agents to William Wylliams (Renny McEvoy), who gets her a job as an elevator operator in the same building as Jess Barker, a bobby-sox heartthrob. Unknown to the world, Allan Jones actually does the singing, with Barker as the front.

The prospectors come to New York, but still will not tell Granville about their money for fear men will go after her for it. Jones introduces her to Barker, who is an egotistical jerk. But Wylliams comes in and lets it slip to Barker that her guardians are millionaires, he does an about-face and starts making a play for her. Wylliams gets her a job at a western-theme restaurant. Barker tells the prospectors that Jones is a money-hunting philanderer. (Spade Cooley and his band work in the restaurant.) Jones gets in a fight during the performance, which turns into a free-for-all. She is furious with him, but a boy outside her apartment advises him to "take a powder and make her worry."

Wylliams, who is also now agent for the prospectors, tells them that he has bought a classy restaurant for them so that Granville can sing there. She and Barker are now an "item," and he pops the question at a reception in her honor. He sneaks in, but she will not talk to him, and they announce their engagement. Minutes later they decide to elope. Jones sings before the crowd to show them that Barker is a phoney. Jones and the prospectors head out to stop them before they can get married. Jones arrives just in time to stop the wedding. But by this time Granville realizes that she loves Jones, and they embrace.

Interestingly, on their final kiss, you can plainly see the wedding ring already on Jones' left hand.

Jones, Granville and Barker

I have worn a tuxedo a few time, BUT

I have never got to wear white tie and tails.

You've been a good wife, baby

down the alleys and past the ash cans of life.

Forty Naughty Girls (1937)

The title is the name of a Broadway play which is the setting for the mystery. This is another of the Hildegard Withers movies, this one starring ZaSu Pitts. Joan Woodbury is the star of the show, who is engaged to the producer. James Gleason and Pitts, all decked out in their best, are attending the production. (James Gleason in white tie and tails is a sight to see.

I will not go into the plot on this one: you can look it up elsewhere. But I will comment that James Gleason as Inspector Oscar Piper in this series of shows is absolutely tremendous. He captures the part wonderfully. One of those actor/character match-ups where no one else could hope to follow him in the role.

The Plot Thickens (1935)

A couple is arguing on  park bench as a policeman watches. She (Louise Latimer) calls the other man (Richard Tucker). He picks her up in his car, but the boyfriend (Owen Davis, Jr.) punches him.Tucker's butler (Arthur Aylesworth) sees Tucker quarrelling with another man. He is sweet on the maid (Barbara Barondess). He follows her and Paul Fix, the chauffer, he thinks, but it was Tucker in the wrong car. Tucker kisses Latimer, and she gets out of the car, then turns to see him shot. She runs into Davis at a service station, and he sends her away and stays to take care of things.

Our old buddy James Gleason is the lieutenant assigned to the case. Aylesworth says he found Tucker in his study. Gleason does not want Hildegard Withers (ZaSu Pitts) on the case, but she butts in anyway. All of the suspects are giving phoney alibis. Pitts finds a jewel that may be a clue, and sticks it in her purse. It turns out to be the Sultan emerald, stolen in Europe years before. A policeman comes in and handcuffs her, but when he finds out who she is, she is released. She meets Latimer as she comes into the police station, and sets out to prove her innocence. Davis is grilled by Gleason, and finally confesses that he drove Tucker home, but insists that he left him in the garage, which leaves the mystery of who took him into his study.

Fix has resigned because Aylesworth threatened to kill him, and Barondess tells this to Gleason. Aylesworth confesses that he was the one who brought Tucker into the house. Pitts slips into the study, and Fix knocks her out and steals a silver cup. As she recuperates, Pitts finds that a like tray had been on display in the Cosmopolitan Museum. She goes to view it, and while she is there a guard is killed. As Gleason comes to investigate the case, the cup is stolen. Gleason finds it in a box in the check room, but they determine that it was a bogus one that had been taken from Tucker's house and switched with the real one in the museum. Later, Gleason finds the real one in the base of a clay bust being taken from the museum by a young woman. She leads him to the gang, which is led by Fix. He also was the one who killed Tucker.

Pitts is badly miscast in this role. She whines too much, and cannot match up with the crusty but lovable Gleason.



"Life is like a marathon"

When I was in school, my brother and I would sometimes run with a college student who was doing some kind of summer work in a local church. One day he shared with us his observations on how a marathon resembles life. At the first, runners are feeling good, visiting with each other and “kicking up their heels” to some degree. Thus with youth. After a while, they settle down to the long haul of hard running – the “middle age” of the race. Then, as the race winds down, they have to focus on just making it to the end: old age, so to speak. I thought his analogy was fairly apt.

"Strike the tent"

These were the last words of General Robert E. Lee, and it would be difficult to find a more fitting final sentence for us strangers and pilgrims here upon the earth.

Robert E. Lee Photograph

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dobie Gillis: "The Fast White Mouse"

In biology class they are studying heredity, especially intelligence in mice. The smart mice always run a maze faster. Dobie gets the idea of convincing Zelda that because of heredity he will never by anything but stupid - and maybe that will convince her to give up wanting to marry him. He tries to point her toward wealthy Chatsworth Osborne (Steve Franken). Zelda convinces his mother that to keep the Osborne blood line sturdy, they must intermarry with commoners. "Give me lots of grandsons - sturdy, nasty, unprincipled little boys."

Chatsworth and Zelda hit it off immediately - and Dobie is jealous, strangely enough. He goes back to his professor (Hugh Sanders) to see if the principle really is proven. Sanders tells him that the mice will not run the maze at all if they are not hungry, and he agrees to run the experiment again. Dobie plans to feed the smart mouse overnight, so that he will lose. He and Maynard slip into the classroom, have to hide in the closet, and discover Zelda also in the closet - and they all are discovered by the professor. All of them had the idea of feeding the mouse.



Master of Ceremonies of Information Please

Clifton Fadiman

File:Clifton Fadiman.jpg

He did a very good job in a somewhat difficult role.

"Business conversation at table very bad for digestion."

Charlie Chan, from Shadows Over Chinatown

Monday, May 27, 2013

Pier 13 (1940)

Lloyd Nolan is a new cop on the waterfront beat. A kid breaks a window, and he chases him into a restaurant where Lynn Bari is a waitress. He goes for her from the start. Her father (Oscar O'Shea) is a paraplegic who lives above the restaurant. Joan Valerie is her sister. Douglas Fowley is a notorious thief who is sneaking back into the country despite the watchful eyes of the cops. Nolan spots him, and is promoted to detective.

 Louis Jean Heydt is a sailor who is in love with Valerie. They throw an engagement party for them. Chick Chandler, Fowley's partner, crashes the party to tell Valerie that Fowley (an old flame) wants to see her. Nolan drops in on the party to calm it down, and it is obvious that he and Bari are hitting it off. After the party, Valerie confesses that she has seen Fowley, and that he pumped her for information about the store. Then the jewelry store where she worked is robbed by Chandler. Nolan comes up with evidence to link Fowley to the robbery, who in the meantime is buying tickets for a boat to get out of the country. He kills a cop, and come to Valerie for a hideout, telling her that she is hooked in on the robbery. Nolan is assigned strictly to the Fowley case, and after she agrees to marry him, he tells Bari that he figures a girl is the key. Valerie confesses to Bari that Fowley is hidden in the attic, and under his threats against Valerie, agrees not to turn him in for 24 hours.

Nolan discovers where Chandler's apartment was, and there he finds an ad for the store where Valerie worked, and puts two and two together regarding her relationship with Fowley. He stops by their apartment, while Fowley is waiting to come down the stairs to catch his boat. Bari's dog gives away Fowley's hiding place, and he and Nolan shoot it out. Nolan is hit, but he gets Fowley. He gets a $1000 reward from the newspaper and also the promotion.

Our old buddy Mantan Moreland has a bit part as an elevator operator, and as usual, steals the scene.



Sydney Greenstreet's laugh

Surely one of the most memorable in movie history. His laugh is one of the best part of The Maltese Falcon.

My brother and I are in great demand for wedding music

We have a rendition of "Just Before the Battle, Mother," that will bring tears to your eyes every time.

Screen doors

For those of you who grew up in a later era, you cannot perhaps imagine how comforting the sound of a screen door is. "Screeeeech - Slam!" It just has a homey feel to it. There is something about it that is right and solid and good. (Not to mention the perpetual cries of parents to children: "Don't slam that door!" or, "You're letting the flies in!")

Memorial Day suggestion for a vacation trip

The National Museum of the Pacific War is in Fredericksburg, Texas, west of San Antonio. Fredericksburg was the home of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. It is well done and interesting. If you have any interest at all in Admiral Nimitz or the Pacific theater during WWII, I highly recommend it. Plus, it is set in the picturesque hill country of Texas.

Link to the museum


Delivered on the mat at 1:25, she proved to be an upstanding light-heavyweight of some thirty summers, with a commanding eye and a square chin which I, personally, would have steered clear of. She seemed to me a good deal like what Cleopatra would have been after going in too freely for the starches and cereals.  I don't know why it is, but women who have anything to do with Opera, even if they're only studying for it, always appear to run to surplus poundage.

(from Very Good, Jeeves, by Sir P. G. Wodehouse)

Old backs are not good for much

Aaaargh! I hate this sticky, humid Arkansas heat


Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Argyle Secrets (1948)

It took me a long time to find this movie, which I really wanted because it had William Gargan (Barry Craig of radio fame), John Banner, and Marjorie Lord, who was in one of the Sherlock Holmes movies.

A reporter named Pierce is prepared to release the contents of the Argyle album, a list of traitors and war profiteers during World War II. The only reporter he is willing to talk to is William Gargan, but he dies in the hospital room during their interview. A scalpel is found in his chest. He makes his escape, goes to Pierce's office, knocks out his secretary, but cannot find the album. As he is leaving, he is interrupted by Marjorie Lord coming in. He goes to a vacationing friend's apartment, but Lord follows him, insisting on getting the album. She brings in a pre-Hogan's Heroes John Banner with two other strong arms, who work him over. When he comes to, Lord is in the room, still pumping him gently for the album. She tells him that Banner recognized what the album was and its potential for blackmail after the war. She lets him escape, because she wants the album for herself.

Gargan dodges his way through a neighbor's apartment with her policeman son. In a marine salvage shop he encounters the neighborhood fence, who is murdered as he looks on, but the fence revives just enough to kill the other man. But Gargan still does not know where the album is. He goes to Ralph Byrd, a police lieutenant acquaintance, who tells him that he has been cleared of Pierce's murder. He then goes to question Lord and another member of her gang. Banner and his thug trap him in the fence's office. He hides behind an iron door, but the thug cuts through it with an acetylene torch as Gargan explains his deductions to Banner. He thinks Banner is one of the traitors listed in the album who needs to get it to save his reputation. Banner and his stooge kill each other and Gargan escapes.

Gargan meets Lord at the airport. As he kisses her goodbye, she sticks a gun in his side, and starts to take the album, but Gargan gets a busboy to take it to the Byrd, whom he had alerted to be at the terminal.

Gargan (center) and Banner (right)

An awkward situation

If I hadn't been in a dressing-gown and he in pink pyjamas with a blue stripe, and if he hadn't been glaring quite so much as if he were shortly going to commit a murder, the tableau would have looked rather like one of those advertisements you see in the magazines, where the experienced elder is patting the young man's arm, and saying to him, "My boy, if you subscribe to the Mutt-Jeff Correspondence School of Oswego, Kan., as I did, you may some day, like me, become Third Assistant Vice-President of the Schenectady Consolidated Nail-File and Eyebrow Tweezer Corporation."

(from Very Good, Jeeves, by Sir P. G. Wodehouse)

God's mercies surround us every day.

It is just that some days we see them more than others.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Scotland Yard Investigator (1945)

Erich von Stroheim is an art lover who collects the great masterpieces - illegally. The Mona Lisa is in Britain on loan from France. Stroheim intends to have it. Forrester Harvey knows what Stroheim is after, but Stroheim does not want his help. Sir C. Aubrey Smith is the head of the museum, whose wife is confined to a wheelchair. Smith (in the movie) is to be knighted (just as Smith was in real life). French delegates show up to collect the painting, but they are Stroheim's agents. However, the painting is a fraud. Harvey has it, and he murders the man who originally stole it. Smith's knighthood is in jeopardy because of the theft.

Stroheim shows up at Harvey's house and Harvey names a price of $100,000 for the painting. Smith's expert verifies that the painting they have is the one they received from France, but there is little they can do to establish that fact. Then Harvey contacts Smith to name his price. Smith feels he has to raise the money himself since the fault for the theft was his. The French authority calls Smith granddaughter, Stephanie Bachelor, telling them of the thieves. She calls her boyfriend, Richard Fraser, who is a Scotland Yard inspector. In the meantime, Stroheim sees where Harvey has hidden the painting, stabs him and steals it. The French agent shows up and Bachelor and the museum assistant delay him with the phoney painting. When Smith comes home that night, he is attired as a burglar, and evidently intends to steal the painting from Stroheim. He gets into the house, but Stroheim greets him with a sword. However, Harvey's widow is hiding behind the curtain and shoots Stroheim. The find the painting and just have time to catch the French authority to give him the real painting.



How to get out of a bad engagement

"I once got engaged to his daughter, Honoria, a ghastly dynamic exhibit who read Nietzsche and had a laugh like waves breaking on a stern and rock-bound coast. The fixture was scratched owing to events occurring which convinced the old boy that I was off my napper; and since then he has always had my name at the top of his list of 'Loonies I have Lunched With'."

(from Very Good, Jeeves, by Sir P. G. Wodehouse)


It is indeed endless, since we are related by blood to all humanity. However, it is interesting, as long as we are willing to take the bad news with the good.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Spike Jones sound-alike

The orchestra on the It Pays To Be Ignorant radio show was somewhat of a knock-off for the zany Spike Jones group, except that they did not have as many gimmicks and were instead just hilariously bad. The panel would often make snide remarks during the numbers.

Nat Novick and his orchestra provided the entertainment.

It Pays To Be Ignorant was the quiz show

for all people over 35 who were still in the second grade.


That would make a good name, wouldn't it? Glissando McGillicuddy.

"We've got to keep costs down!"

The manager who constantly harps about that usually will also say, "We really care about our customers and our employees." And the odds are that he is a bald-faced liar! Usually what he is really concerned about is his bonus.

Crack from It Pays To Be Ignorant

"With my voice I could go to the Metropolitan."

"Yeah, with your voice it pays to have insurance."


One of the characters on The Anderson Family radio show was a neighbor named Freebairn Briggs. I do not know that I ever heard that used as a given name before.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Some folks are easily impressed

Our Area Vice President visited our plant for the first time today, and was careful to shake as many people's hands as possible. Plant management was just crowing after he left about how different that was from some of the previous bosses, who were very uncaring in their manner.

I got to thinking about that. I could not have bought one single thing with that man's smile or thanks or handshake. It cost him absolutely nothing to do that. It did not better my situation one bit. If he had increased my pay or spent some money to adequately staff the facility, then I would have been impressed, at least a little. But a handshake? I don't work for handshakes; I work for money.

Some people are easily impressed.

The use of language

Language has two basic uses - to express things precisely and to express things beautifully. The two are not the same. Vagueness is one of the frequent methods of speaking or writing beautifully. Usually, however, language's usefulness is directly proportional to its ability to express exactly what the speaker intends. To that end, the academic end of language is very useful, for it enforces conventions that allow us more precision than slang and colloquilisms generally provide.

Fog in Washburn Valley

Between Booneville and Greenwood, Arkansas, Highway 10 crosses what is known as Washburn Mountain. This is one of a series of ridges that are found between the Arkansas River and the Ouachita Mountains. Every once in a while there will be a fog which nestles in the valley just south of the ridge, which is one of the loveliest and most peaceful sights you will ever see.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oh, how right you are, Bertie!

"It will mean that Mrs. Little will get the goods on Mr. Little to an extent that which, though only a bachelor myself, I should say that no wife ought to get the goods on her husband if the proper give and take of married life - what you might call the essential balance, as it were - is to be preserved. Women bring these things up, Jeeves. They do not forgive and forget." (from Very Good, Jeeves, by Sir P. G. Wodehouse)

On the plump side, was he?

"The Right Hon. was a tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say 'When!'" (from Very Good, Jeeves)

Outpost in Morocco (1949)

George Raft is the most notorious ladies' man in the French army in the desert. (How Raft ever got to be a ladies' man is beyond me, but there you are.) He is assigned to escort an emir's daughter (Marie Windsor) to her father's mountain citadel, and try to find out what is going on in her father's stronghold, for things seem to be stirring. Enroute they fall in love (very quickly - I guess they had time restraints in the plot). However, her father greets him with cool formality. He hints to his daughter that he is planning to take up arms against the French. Then a sentry at the French post is shot. The bullet appears to be from a new weapon. Raft slips back into the emir's fortress, against all odds. Windsor hides him. He escapes and returns to the garrison with a sample of their new rifles.

He returns to his original base, but it  told that he will have to make a forced march back with reinforcements. When they arrive, they find the garrison wiped out, with evidence of prisoners having been executed. In the meantime the emir is rousing support among the other Arab leaders. Raft sends Akim Tamiroff to lead an attack against the Arabs. They try to capture the emir and end up instead with Windsor. Their water begins to run out. Tamiroff leads a party to water the stock and the Arabs ambush them, then divert the river. But the emir cannot attack with his daughter in the fort. Raft orders the horses released so they can find water, and limits the men to one cup per day. One man is shot while stealing water. The movie does a good job of depicting the heat and the thirst. Finally a shower starts, but it causes the outer wall of the fort to collapse.

The French dig in with explosives and machine guns. The Arabs attack, but Windsor has sneaked out and is riding with them. Raft sees her, but orders the charges detonated anyway. The emir and Windsor are killed. The emir's successor makes peace.

Raft and Windsor


Private Eyes have to visit some sleazy hotels

"It was not even a fleabag. The fleas sickened and died a long time ago." (from The Dry Martini Caper, an episode of the Sam Spade radio show)


The word bastard is commonly regarded as being some sort of a curse word, but it is not. It is a proper English word that means "an illegitimate child." While it is not properly profanity, it has been regarded historically as an insult. To question the legitimacy of another person's birth was about as severe a personal slur as could be made.

It would seem that today the word should have lost virtually all its sting, however. There are so many illegitimate children that it has just about lost all its social stigma.

Julius and Leroy

Walter Tetley (Tetzlaff).jpg

Walter Tetley, who was the radio voice of Leroy on The Great Gildersleeve and Julius Abruzzio on The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show.

Dangerous combination

With the crooked roads and all the deer that are in this part of the world, fog makes a dangerous situation. Deer can be on the road in a heartbeat. Not good!

Ties ALWAYS matter

"What do ties matter, Jeeves, at a time like this? Do you realize that Mr. Little's domestic happiness is hanging in the scale?"

"There is no time, sir, at which ties do not matter."

I could see the man was pained, but I did not try to heal the wound. What's the word I want? Preoccupied. I was too preoccupied, don't you know. And distrait. Not to say careworn.

(from Very Good, Jeeves, by Sir P. G. Wodehouse)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

First king of England?

It depends somewhat on who you ask, but according to Wikipedia, it was AEthelstan (b. 895).


How many bluebloods are there in Britain?

This is per Ivor Richard, their Ambassador to the United Nations in 1983.

25 Dukes
30 Marquesses
160 Earls and Countesses
105 Viscounts
 792 Barons and Baronesses

Wood panelled room with high ceiling containing comfortable red padded benches and large gold throne.

Rhythm on the Range (1936)

Frances Farmer is rehearsing her wedding, to a wealthy Wall Street heir.  It is obvious that Farmer is not overly enthused about the match. Lucille Gleason is her aunt, from the West. She is in NY for the rodeo at Madison Square Garden. Bing Crosby is a cowboy in the rodeo. He works for Gleason on her ranch. Goofy Bob Burns is his sidekick. (Burns was born about 20 miles from here in Greenwood, Ark.) Gleason is introduced at the rodeo as a "true pioneer woman." She makes a short speech, and it is obvious that Farmer is affected by it. Crosby is trying to win enough money to buy a bull named Cuddles. They just make it because Burns does a sidewalk performance with a bazooka, a homemade trombone.

In the meantime, Farmer has stowed away on the cattle train on which they are traveling back to Arizona. She falls when the train lurches to a start and is knocked out. She wakes up when Crosby accidentally stabs her with a pitchfork. He sings as he works on the boxcar and, of course, she falls for him in spite of the that he treats the bull much better than he does her. She gives a telegram to her dad to a hobo to send for her, but the bull follows her off the car and they get stranded. In the meantime the hobos figure out who she is and figure there is money to be made. Farmer buys a car, and she and Bing make their way west (Bing still singing, of course). He tells Farmer that he once broke up with a rich girl because he wouldn't be willing to let his father-in-law support him. The hobos lock them in a barn, but Bing lets the bull knock down the door. On the train, Burns has hooked up with Martha Raye, the corny combination of which is almost too much to take. Bing and Farmer get stuck in a muddy road, and have to spend the night in an old house, where they hook up with Raye and Burns. Farmer confesses to Burns that she is in love with Bing. He advises her to marry him first and tell him she is rich later. Burns sets up Bing to propose at a party at the ranch, while the hobos punch holes in all the gas tanks of the cars.

Gleason shows up and accuses Bing of being a gold digger. He angrily leaves. Farmer hires the hobos to go after him. He goes to the old house at which they stopped on the way in. Farmer and Cuddles show up, and the rest is history.

This movie introduced the song, "I'm An Old Cowhand." Roy Rogers has a bit part.

Bob Burns


Dennis Day

The famous tenor, a regular on the Jack Benny program for years, and who had his own radio program, was married to Peggy Almquist from 1948 until his death in 1988. They had ten children. He died of Lou Gehrig's Disease.

File:Dennis Day 1960.JPG
Dennis Day

Margaret Ellen Peggy <i>Almquist</i> McNulty
Peggy Day
Here is link

The real stars of Dobie Gillis

As is often the case with sitcoms, the star of the show often is not the titular character. In Dobie Gillis, the scene stealers were his father (Frank Faylen), and of course, his pal, Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver).