Monday, March 31, 2014

Haunted Honeymoon (1940)

(Also known as Busman's Honeymoon) Lord Peter Wimsey was an upper-crust British detective. In the movie Haunted Honeymoon, he was played by Robert Montgomery, with Constance Cummings as Lady Wimsey. This is a lively and enjoyable mystery with good acting. The show is stolen, however, by Sir Seymour Hicks, who plays Bunter the butler. A must on the list of all old-time mystery fans. Lots of fun.

Montgomery and Cummings


Do you like The Rifleman old television show?

Here is a LINK to a blog you might enjoy.

My brother owned a hearse

He sold the motor, but he couldn't get rid of the body.

(from the Milton Berle radio show)

"Fresh weed better than wilted rose."

from Murder Over New York (Charlie Chan)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ironic funeral arrangements

Among the pallbearers at the funeral of actor James Cagney were boxer Floyd Patterson and dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

For any poor ignorant folks who have never heard "Who's On First."

I have heard it a hundred times, and it still makes me laugh. Absolutely the best, most clever comedy routine ever done.


The routine was mostly developed by the comedians themselves, but it was a revision of an older routine called "Who's the Boss," a link for which which can be found in this blog LINK. This example is from the old radio show, It Pays To Be Ignorant.

Those quietly great people

"She's a wonderful woman," said the girl softly. "I ought to know. It was the light in her window I saw my first night on the desert. And the light in her eyes - I shall never forget. All the great people are not in the cities."

(from The Chinese Parrot, by Earl Derr Biggers)

Dear Hearts and Gentle People, by Bob Crosby

No interest in no interest

Just now I saw a sign on a bank building: "Interested in earning interest?" Then they went on to tell us that they were offering 0.80% interest on their money market account. Why bother?! That is virtually zero interest anyway. I have no interest in earning no interest.

The chaos of naval warfare

What can be settled and known is the time of first contact, and the time, ultimately, of disengagement. The terrible middle became a swirl of slash and thrust, ship against ship, captain against the enemy of the moment, which,battered then vanishing, was replaced by a new enemy who delivered or received the next blow unwitting. The records muddle the precise sequence of things. Individual memories are indelibly vivid but pointillistic, dead certain to the beholder but seldom tracking with anyone else's and unhelpful to the big picture. The events of November 13, 1942, in their chaotic simultaneity, defy the benign lie that is narrative.

(From Neptune's Inferno, by James D. Hornfischer. This is a description of the Battle of Friday the 13th during the Guadalcanal campaign.)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Two O'clock Courage (1945)

Tom Conway is almost hit by pretty cab driver Ann Rutherford. He has been hit on the head and has amnesia. She takes him under her wing to try to discover his identity. "Dave Rennick" is a character wanted by the police, and he fears that is his name. Inspector Emory Parnell and reporter Richard Lane get involved, and Rutherford has to tell them that she and Conway are newlyweds and that Conway is a reporter. They take them along as they investigate the murder. Then they go to a night club where they see Jean Brooks and Roland Drew. A drunk and a beautiful girl (Jane Greer) both call him "Step." Then Lester Matthews comes up, and obviously knows Conway. They were old college friends. Then Drew attacks Matthews. Conway goes to see Matthews in his room to check on him, and he learns that Step is a nickname from his college days and that his real name is Theodore Allison.

It is revealed that a play called "Two O'Clock Courage" is at the heart of the matter. Conway had been acting on behalf of an estate and was threatening to bring suit for plagiarism. When he is struck on the head again, everything comes back to him. The culprit turns out to be Brooks. And Conway and Rutherford get married and live happily ever after, presumably.

The comic relief of the movie is provided by Lane. He spent a lot of time playing crusty, irritable policemen, but here he does a good job on the funnier side. He keeps calling his City Editor with scoops as to who committed the murder, only to have to call in later and change his story.

Rutherford and Conway

Lum on petting lions

Lum: Cedric, do you reckon the lion would bite my arm off if I just petted him a little?

Cedric: I don't know. You can try it one time, Mr. Lum, and if it don't work . . . .

Abner: Why, sure, Lum, you can try it once.

Lum: Once?! A feller don't get but two tries on something like that, and then he runs out of arms.

The cry of the modern day Human Resources Manager

"Check the internet. Check the internet. Check the internet."

Sort of similar to the Not Very Much Help Center for computer problems.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bill Cosby on playing drums on "Cherokee"

Hilarious. Cherokee is one of the all-time great jazz standards, played by all the greats. He doesn't play on this spot, but he tells about the time that he did.


Running boards

You couldn't make old movies today, because cars do not have running boards. I mean, how is a policeman going to be able to jump up on the 'board, draw his gun, and shout, "Follow that car!"

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

One way to down an enemy plane

The fighter was evidently out of ammunition, for its driver resorted to an unusual tactic. Down came his landing gear. Down went his airspeed. it looked to McEntee as if he was trying "to set his ship down on the bomber's broad back. And he did - again and again, and again, with sledgehammer impact. He literally was pounding the enemy into the sea with his wheels." The bomber pilot had no escape. If he tried to pull up, it only increased the force of the impacts. Any evasive turn was easily matched by the agile fighter. "The only course open led down. But before the Jap could make a decision, something snapped under the pounding and the bomber plunged beneath the waves of Savo Sound."

(from Neptune's Inferno, by James D. Hornfischer)

Wildcat fighter

The cook and the admiral

At the news that a fight with battleships was brewing, [Rear Admiral Daniel] Callaghan began pacing his flag bridge. He was heard mumbling that it was a fool's errand to take on ships three times the San Fransisco's size, and that it was a shame there was no time to confer gain with Admiral Halsey. When the moment presented itself, Eugene Tarrant exercised the cook's prerogative and asked Callaghan if he really thought the mission was hopeless. As Tarrant recalled, the task force commander was candid. "He said to me, 'Yes it may be that. But we are going in.'"

(from Neptune's Inferno, by James D. Hornfischer)

USS San Fransisco passing under the Golden Gate bridge

Grandchildren warm an old man's heart

One of the unique relationships God created.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Kemp, Oklahoma

One of the contestants on You Bet Your Life (radio show) was a woman who had lived in the community of Kemp, Oklahoma. When Groucho Marx, the host, asked her about it, she replied, "It isn't there any more." What she meant was that the town had died. The population decreased from 396 in 1920 to 204 in 1940 to 144 today. While it may have been true that the town virtually died, the community still actually lives. It is located right down on the Oklahoma line.

The woman commented that her and her husband's first home had been a dugout.

Here is a good LINK about Kemp.

Bush Manson on You Bet Your Life

Bush Manson and his son were once contestants on the You Bet Your Life radio show. Groucho Marx, the host, had an interesting interview with him because he had started college late in life and had played football at Los Angeles State. The link below is to an old newspaper article about him.


Holmes gets in a dig at Watson

They are making their way into Moriarty's stronghold, when suddenly his men approach through the passageway. Holmes says, "Pretend to be a statue, Watson. Look grotesque. It shouldn't be too difficult."

(from the radio show series that starred John Stanley as Holmes)


Monday, March 24, 2014

A most unusual occupation

On Texaco Star Theater, it was revealed to the nation that Mr. Walaboo Crum's job was being an assistant mortician in a sardine factory. After the mortician lays out the sardines in the can, Mr. Crum looks in and makes sure they are all facing the same direction.

Shapiro's Double Duty Spaghetti

On one episode of the Texaco Star Theater, featuring comedian Fred Allen, they did a spoof of the radio show Take It Or Leave It. The supposed program was broadcast on station KLUK and was sponsored by Shapiro’s Double Duty Spaghetti, “the only spaghetti that can be eaten as spaghetti, or pulled through the teeth and used as dental floss.”

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tuba on old time radio - The Fat Man

It may be unique in all of old-time radio to feature a tuba in the theme music, but that is what happened in The Fat Man series, as you can here at the beginning of this LINK.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Armies win battles. Factories win wars.

"Considering the great superiority of our enemy's industrial capacity, we must win every battle overwhelmingly. This last one, unfortunately, was not an overwhelming victory."

(Captain Tameichi Hara, of the Imperial Japanese Navy, as quoted in Neptune's Inferno, by James D. Hornfisher)

He forgot that discretion is the better part of valor

Ever officer on the battleship's bridge except one hit the deck. That officer was Thomas Gatch. The ship's captain was standing on a catwalk forward of the conning tower, watching the Enterprise ahead of him through the evening mist. The popular commander, who prized a certain kind of honor from studying Napoleon's wars, the literature of Shakespeare, and the history of the War Between the States, would say later that "it was beneath the dignity of a captain of a U. S. man-of-war to duck for a Japanese bomb. The reward for his bravado was a spray of shrapnel that nicked his jugular vein.

(from Neptune's Inferno, by James D. Hornfischer)

Gatch as a young naval officer

How to put out a fire on a ship

No feat of shiphandling that day surpassed the one turned in by the captain of the destroyer Smith. During the air attack, a stricken Japanese torpedo plane, hotly pursued by a Wildcat, fell smoking toward the ship and crashed into her forecastle. As the flames engulfed the entire forward part of the destroyer, her skipper, Lieutenant Commander Hunter Wood, steered his burning vessel into the voluminous spray thrown up by the wake of the fast-stepping South Dakota ahead of him. The cascades of froth washed over the decks, bringing the fires under control.

(from Neptune's Inferno, by James D. Hornfischer)

USS Smith

I bought my dog a pig's ear to chew on

Really did. Hope he doesn't try to chew on a live one.

If my nose were a politician

it would stand a good chance of being elected, because it certainly is running strong.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Another role for Cliff Arquette

We know Cliff Arquette as the masher on the Fibber McGee and Molly radio show who was always getting their names confused, and later as Charlie Weaver on the Hollywood Squares television quiz show. He also played himself as one of the characters on later episodes of Lum and Abner.

Another use for sauerkraut

Charlie Redfield (on the Lum and Abner radio show), heard that sauerkraft juice would improve a woman's complexion and looks, so he bought a hundred barrells of it for his wife.

Another Opie - Opie Cates

Television watchers are familiar with the character of Opie Taylor on the Andy Griffith Show, but perhaps they do not remember another Opie - Opie Cates. He was a clarinetist and band leader. He was the son of an Arkansas farmer. His band played on the Judy Canova radio program and on later episodes of Lum and Abner. He also had his own radio show.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Admiral Scott visits the wounded

The admiral himself visited a hospital ship and paid tribute in the sickbay. "Not once during the entire visit was I answered with a grumble or a bellyache or a whine, but invariably with a grin or at least with an attempt at one," Scott wrote to his wife, Marjorie, at their home in Washington. "Sometimes the answer would be low, and I would lean well over to make the conversation easier going. It might take a few seconds, and then I would hear, 'I'm doing pretty well, thank you, sir.' One like that, and your heart goes right out to him. It is the custom in the Navy to remove one's cap in the sick bay. Mine will always be off to those men."

[Rear Admiral Norman Scott, as quoted in Neptune's Inferno, by James D. Hornfischer. Scott won the Medal of Honor.]

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Another depressing thing about growing old

When you get to the point in life where you ought to have a little wisdom, no one who logically ought to want some of it does.

The Chicago Stockyards

There really was such a place, when Chicago was a bustling agricultural center for many years. The stockyards shut down in 1971.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Chocolate-covered brown bread on a stick

It is called a pumpernickelsickle.

(from the Spike Jones radio show)

One of the easiest ways to be thought intelligent

is to keep to yourself any opinions that you cannot prove.

Why worry about tomorrow?

You may not live that long.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dangerous Assignment TV opening

In the lead-in to this television series, star Brian Donlevy is walking down a street in full evening attire, and stops to take a drag from his cigarette. Suddenly a knife comes flying through the air and sticks in the telephone pole beside him. With the help of modern technology, you can slow down the movement and blow up the screen, and see the thread on which the knife traveled, but probably the original viewers never caught it.

"Your voice ripens with age"

This was spoken to an aging operatic singer in the movie The Magnificent Fraud. Her voice actually had, shall we say, become a little over-ripe.

Don't you just love dirty eyeglasses?

Spots before your eyes.

I really HATE allergy season!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

How to calculate victory

Historians like to tally victories for their own sake, like league standings or stock market prices. Combat commanders have a more pragmatic perspective on the consequences of battles. It is not the volume of the enemy's hardware destroyed nor the number of his men killed that matters. What makes the difference is a battle's impact on the will to fight, and on the ability to impose one's will on an enemy in the future. Victory in in the mind, not the metal.

(from Neptune's Inferno, by James D. Hornfischer)

Firing the big guns on the USS Helena

"The night had been still and inky black a moment before," Chick Morris wrote. "Now suddenly it was a blazing bedlam. The Helena herself rared and lurched sideways, trembling from the tremendous shock of recoil. In the radio shack and coding room we were sent reeling and stumbling against bulkheads, smothered by a snowstorm of books and papers from the tables. The clock leaped from its pedestal. Electric fans hit the deck with a metallic clatter. Not a man in the room had a breath left in him." If this was the effect of the ship's gun work on the men who were practicing it, one can imagine what life might have been like on the ships they were hitting.
(from Neptune's Inferno, by James D. Hornfischer)

USS Helena

Life in the lower levelsof a warship

The prospect of a small steel-enclosed world crashing in around a man has a useful way of concentrating the mind. Men whose stations were in belowdecks compartments, situated below the waterline and sealed in at battle stations by airtight doors, were keenly aware that they already lay in their tombs should a torpedo hit.
(from Neptune's Inferno, by James D. Hornfischer)

Sleeping quarters belowdecks

“Below decks it was HOT, no air conditioning. Air was taken from topside (outside) and blown into the living compartments. At night when you slept in your bunk, you sweat. Your mattress would get real damp. When you got up the first thing you did was cover up your mattress with a fireproof cover. This would be almost airtight and after a few weeks your bunk became pretty ripe. First chance you had the ship would air bedding. You would take your bedding topside and air it. I had a large air duct alongside my bunk. I cut a small hole in it and fitted a piece of a tin can to divert some air onto me. It helped.”
William Taylor, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c, on the battleship North Carolina

More HERE on warships.

Torpedoes: The Navy's deadliest weapon

Torpedoes were the killing weapons of naval war, and much easier to aim than guns were. The art of gunnery, of firing projectiles at a moving target, entailed difficult calculations, including the problem of physically stabilizing guns on a rolling sea and the vagaries of three dimensions. Torpedo solutions were expressed in just two dimensions. If you knew your own torpedo's speed, it was s simple matter to trace the enemy's crossing angle and estimate the intersection point.
(from Neptune's Inferno, by James D. Hornfischer)

Torpedo wake

Melvyn Douglas and "Tricky Dick" Nixon

Actor Douglas was married to Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas. It was she who invented the nickname for Richard Nixon - "Tricky Dick."

President Nixon

The Douglases

The young Bogie was a little dashing

Although in his later years, Bogie played the scroungy bad guy at least as well as he did the good guy, early in his career he did pull off the dashing, clean-cut type pretty well.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Jack Elam: made to be a villain

With a face like that, he was a natural.

Zorro made a wrong turn somewhere

Somewhere along the road he took a wrong turn, forgot his name, became El Kabong, and became pretty stupid. But he also became a great cartoon. Lots of examples on Youtube, but here is a LINK to one example.

Women generally do not have high blood pressure

They are carriers.
(Not original with me, and obviously not completely true, but a lot of truth in it.)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Detectives shows and phone calls

Have you noticed how many of the old detective radio shows started off with phone calls? That was the standard procedure with the Johnny Dollar series. Also, Sam Spade would start with him calling his efficient secretary, Effie, to tell her he was one the way to dictate his report. And, for at least a portion of the series, Richard Diamond's program would start off with Helen, his sweetheart, calling him at his office. Ting-a-ling, the phone rings, and the show is on!

A kid named Otto

I made my first trip to Chicago in the early 1980's. I worked for Wolverine Toy, located in my hometown, and I had been sent to work a trade show in that city. On one taxi ride from my hotel to the show, the driver was a young man of Polish derivation. I do not remember his last name, but his first name was Otto, and I very likely owe him my life. I was half snoozing in the back seat as we were at a stoplight, and all of a sudden he started yelling, "Lock the doors; lock the doors!" As looked around, a couple of young Latinos started to get into the cab, one on each side. Their intention was obvious, and their eyes had a somewhat glazed look. Otto jumped out of the cab and started screaming at them, warning them off. His aggressive response seemed to startle them into indecision. He pointed down the street, saying, "See, there's a cop. Do you want me to call him?" They backed off and Otto jumped into the cab and we took off. Welcome to Chicago, Mark.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Admirals scared him most of all

As Hal Lamar, Nimitz's chief of staff, read the citations, Nimitz pinned them on each recipient. Among them was a tall sergeant who had  captured a Japanese tank and blown up a couple of machine-gun nests. As Nimitz reached up to pin him with the Navy Cross, the sergeant fainted. "I never saw an admiral before," he offered later.

(from Neptune's Inferno, by James D. Hornfischer)

A morbid life's ambition

"Don't you worry, dad. It's going to be great fun. All my life I've wanted to be mixed up in a good, exciting murder. As a spectator, of course."

(from The Chinese Parrot, by Earl Derr Biggers)

How did he know me?

"You have a personality that sparkes like a hangnail."

(from the Phil Harris and Alice Faye radio show)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Radio police shows and detective shows

There was a large number of each, so that today's listeners can take their pick. Generally speaking, the detective shows were more listenable than the police shows (including those involving federal agencies, as well), probably because most of the police shows were based on reality, and thus the detectives had more latitude for creativity. But there were quite a number of excellent police programs.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Are you a Jack Benny Fan?

You may not realize that there is a Jack Benny Fan Club. Here is the LINK. Also, here is a LINK to an interview with the President of the club.

The pressures of naval warfare

In trying to give you an idea of the strain put on everyone from the Admiral on down to the lowest ranks during this period, I am at a loss, but try this: Imagine your living room is made of steel, the windows are your lookout posts and you have been there for two weeks. With very little rest and less sleep, you stare out day and night for an attack from the air, from across the street, or up from your basement, that you know will destroy your home and probably take your or your family's life. This might give you a small idea of what the mental and physical conditions are like in sea warfare.

(Clifford Spencer, as quoted in Neptune's Inferno, by James D. Hornfischer)


We think of the word "feller" as a colloquialism or slang term. It is in the Bible, however, in Isaiah 14.8:
"Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us."

Monday, March 10, 2014

Shadows in the Night (1944)

Nina Foch comes to Dr. Ordway's house (Warner Baxter) in the middle of a noctural storm. She has had suicidal impulses and wants his help. While they talk, Ben Welden, the groundskeeper at their mansion, listens through the door. Baxter does to her house, meets the other members of the family, and agrees to sleep in her room to investigate her experiences. While he sleeps, a mist is pumped into the room, then a hooded female figure walks across. A man is murdered in the hall, but the body disappears. The next morning Baxter finds the body on the beach.

Baxter discovers the laboratory of George Zucco. He has discovered a way to make synthetic fabric out of weeds. He meets the various members of the household, including guests (called "building suspects"). While he is exploring the old house, Welden pulls a gun on him, but Baxter disarms him and they talk. Baxter had followed Foch to Baxter's house because he thought she was being blackmailed, and was trying to protect her. Baxter finds the candlestick that was used to murder the victim, and tht night his room is searched while he is gassed.

The culprit turns out to be Lester Matthews, who was trying to have Foch declared incompetent so she could not testify against him in court.


Charlie Chan remembers the old days

"In my youth," he continued, "I am house-boy in the Phillimore mansion. Still in my heart like old-time garden bloom memories of kindness never to be repaid." He saw Sally Jordan's eyes bright and shining with tears. "Life would be dreary waste," he finished, "if there was no thing called loyalty."

(from The Chinese Parrot, by Earl Derr Biggers)

Subtle effects of old age

My father has been a great reader. He enjoyed books and spent a lot of time with them - until recent years, that is. He used to be a big fan of Louis Lamour westeren novels, but I noticed that he left off reading even those some time back. He said he just did not have an interest in them any more. That puzzled me a little until I realized that his short-term memory has deteriorated to the point that he cannot remember the plot from the first of the book to the last, so it does not make any sense to him any more.

A blue-blood purple heart

On he morning of August 31, Commander MinoruYokota, captain of the submarine I-26, stalked the Saratoga east of San Cristobal. When he chose his moment to attack, he closed so aggressively that his periscope scratched the hull of a destroyer in the U. S. screen. The Americans spotted his incoming torpedo wakes, but too late to evade. Shortly before 7 a.m., the carrier shook "like a house in a severe earthquake" as a torpedo struck her. The shock wave whiplashed the hull from below the sea to the flag bridge, tossing Admiral Fletcher up into the overhead and inflicting a forehead wound that would make him - much to his embarrassment - the highest-ranking U. S. naval office to date to receive the Purple Heart.

(from Neptune's Inferno, by James D. Hornfischer. Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Frank Jack Fletcher was at the time of this excerpt in command of the Expeditionary Force at the Battle of Guadalcanal.)