Saturday, May 31, 2014

When Ranger died

In my early childhood, the first dog I can remember was an English Shepherd named Ranger. He was a great favorite of ours, great with children and a wonderful companion. We loved him dearly. One day we were helping my father getting firewood down in the pasture, and Ranger had gone to sleep under the truck. When Daddy started the truck, Ranger did not wake quickly enough and was run over. He flopped around for a few seconds first. It was the first grief that had come into my young life.

English Shepherd

Maxie Rosenbloom - he played lovable, punchdrunk pugs

He was once the light-heavyweight champion of the world. In 1937 he went into movies, and usually played big, clumsy, lovable characters. (Among others, we have him in Private Detective, starring Jane Wyman.) He was not a great actor by any means, but he captured his role exceptionally well.

Holllywood champion cleft in the chin?

Charles Korvin
He was born Géza Korvin Kárpáthy in Hungary.

Puts even Cary Grant to shame. Must be a real pain to shave.

It Happened in Flatbush (1942)

A great subject (baseball) and a great star (Lloyd Nolan) make a great combination and an entertaining movie. Only those who know something about the frustrations of long-suffering Brooklyn fans during the heyday of the Yankee monopoly can fully appreciate this movie.

Brooklyn is without a manager, and owner Sara Allgood is searching for Nolan ("Butterfingers"), who was disgraced for an error on the field years ago, but has dropped from sight. She finally locates him in an out-of-the way minor league town, but he is still pouting about the way he was treated because of his error. She gets him to come home to manage Brooklyn, and then dies of a heart attack, and the "goat" is without his protector. So he has to work with William Frawley, the General Manager who supports him, and the principal heir, Carole Landis, who does not. Landis is a prime example of one of those Hollywood-taught affected blue-blood accents that sound so phoney. (One of the minority heirs is Isabel Randolph - Abigail Uppington on the Fibber McGee radio show.) But Nolan romances Landis and she eventually becomes a fan - and begins to fork out money for players. Then a player whom Nolan had known as a child (George Holmes) joins the team and is an instant sensation. And Brooklyn begins to win.

Then things begin to deteriorate, with the predictable twists that lead to a cliffhanger situation - both romantically and on the field. But get ready for a slam-bang finish!

This is a great portrayal of Brooklyn's love/hate relationship with Dem Bums, with some great old-time live footage of actual ballgames.

Nolan and Landis

The quietness of the house in the early morning

It definitely is good for the soul. Too much solitude is hurtful, but especially in this busy world, we need a little bit of it.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Bruckner's 2nd and 4th Symphonies

I am not familiar with all of Anton Bruckner's symphonies, but I have listened to these two a number of times. They alone certainly would not qualify him as one of the great symphonists. They are massive more than they are imaginative, with a couple notable exceptions. Both of the scherzo movements are excellent - very much out of the ordinary and enjoyable, the bright spots of otherwise pretty ordinary compositions.

I will grant Bruckner this: that the final moments of the first movement of Symphony #4 is one of those hornists dreams. He features the horn section in unison, and the effect is brilliant. You can here it on this LINK. Go over to about 19:30 mark, and listen to the end of the movement (20:40).

Anton Bruckner

Just fade away

"Habit of being sometimes invisible very useful."
(from Charlie Chan in London)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Gildersleeve's friend Judge Hooker on radio and television

On the radio Judge Horace Hooker was played by Earle Ross, and on the television series by Harry Antrim.



America's most famous auctioneers?

Without doubt they were the Lucky Strike auctioneers on the Jack Benny program during its sponsorship by Lucky Strike. Those were F. E. Boone and Lee Aubrey "Speed" Riggs.

Here is a LINK about Boone.

Here is a LINK to Riggs' obituary.

Here is a LINK to a newspaper article about Riggs.

Here is a LINK to Riggs' biography in the North Carolina Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Correct answers

With regard to the Bible, as with most other issues but infintely more so, answers are plentiful, informed answers much less so; and correct answers are quite rare, and thus very valuable.

More HERE about the Bible.

Crooked but capable

Politicians who are dishonest and incompetent are generally despised by everyone. However, those who are crooked but capable very often become fixed in office so firmly that nothing can remove them. They serve their own interests, but they are smart enough to know they also have to serve the interests of the voters, and voters usually vote with their bellies rather than with their principles.

More HERE about politics.

Bloomer, Arkansas

This is an unincorporated community along Highway 22 in eastern Sebastian County, Arkansas. It has a convenience store that has gone through various ownerships over the last few years, a paint ball facility, a farm store and a church. In years past, its chief feature was a chicken processing plant, but that has been closed for years and the vacant structure has become a major blot upon the landscape. It seems to be a nice, quiet village, except for the volulme of traffic that moves along the highway, which is one of the main east-west thoroughfares in the area.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"Speaking of Radio" - interesting site


Lots of interesting material.

Jack Benny and Chuck Schaden speaking of radio, September 3, 1970

One place where I agree with Mr. Obama

President Obama, in a commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, signaled a significant shift in U.S. foreign policy -- one that pulls back from what he described as "military adventures" while wielding American power in other ways. The president described the new American foreign policy as one of "collective action" and restraint, deploying unilateral U.S. military force only when the American people are threatened. 
This was from a speech the President recently made. To the extent of this quote, at least, I agree with him heartily. It agrees with the sentiments of President Washington in his Farewell Address: "It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world."

Fibber and Molly's evolution

The early shows were not nearly as good as the later ones, even though several of the same characters were involved (Harlow Wilcox and Horatio Boomer, for example). The plots were lacking in comparison to the later ones, and Jim Jordan just had not developed his character to the high degree of humor which he exhibited later on. He sounded more like he did on the later shows when Molly was absent, and he did not have her to play off.

Persistent company

Guest who lingers too long become stale like unused fish.

(from Charlie Chan's Chance)

More HERE from Charlie Chan's Chance.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The perpetual changes of life

I had lived long enough to know that nothing lasts forever, and men torture themselves who believe that it will. The one law that does not change is that everything changes, and the hardship I was bearing today was only a breath way from the pleasures I would have tomorrow, and those pleasures would be all the riches because of the memories of this I was enduring.

(from Galloway, by Louis Lamour)

That Virgil was quite a skater

According to Grandpappy Spears on the Lum and Abner radio show, Virgil Breckenridge once skated a Figure Eight for his sister - with a little different twist. He skated eight ones, and made her add them up.

Caliente - 150 on Sirius radio

I have found an interesting radio station on the Sirius satellite system. It is channel 150 on my set, called "Caliente." According to Wikipedia calls it the "tropical music" station and says it plays "Salsa, Merengue, Bachata and Reggaeton," whatever those are. In any case, many of the pieces have very intricate rhythm patterns in the percussion section, offset by nicely-arranged parts for the brass section. It is toe-tapping music, although sometimes it is so involved that it is hard to find the beat.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Which Gildersleeve looks more like what you picture?

As you have listened to The Great Gildersleeve radio program, which of the two actors who portrayed him looks more like how he sounded?

Harold Peary

Willard Waterman

More HERE about The Great Gildersleeve.

Radio sound effects men

The unseen heroes of radio programs were the men who produced the sound effects. Here are a couple of pictures of these sound experts at work.

Hi, Beautiful (1944)

This is a typical wartime romantic musical comedy - not one of the better ones, but entertaining nonetheless. Martha O'Driscoll starred in several of our favorite B movies. Her job is demonstrating a "model house." The great Hattie McDaniel (of Gone With the Wind fame) works with her as the housekeeper. One morning, however, she finds Beery asleep in the bed in the house because of the chronic wartime housing shortage. Naturally, he falls head over heels for her immediately. The rest of the story is fairly predictable. Several familiar character actors make appearances in the show. There is nothing very substantial here, but it is a good example of the light-hearted entertainment that helped to keep the nation's morale boosted during the war years. The ending, as you no doubt guessed, is a happy one.



Here is a LINK to more about Martha O'Driscoll.

Bucolic - it is not a disease

  1. 1.
    of or relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life.
    "the church is lovely for its bucolic setting"

But it certainly sounds like some sort of gastrointestinal ailment, doesn't it?

Commander Robert Montgomery

Add to the names of movie stars who served in the military during World War II that of Robert Montgomery. He was a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy. He served on the USS Barton, which took part in the Normandy invasion.

USS Barton

More HERE about Robert Montgomery.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Pinky Winky - a great American hero

This story was one of the favorites of Cedric Wehunt, the town "boy" who was so much a part of the Lum and Abner radio program. Abner reading the story to Cedric is hilarious.

LINK to a radio episode
LINK to an article about Pinky Winky

Finding fault with Richard Diamond's clothing style

"Looking at that suit, I would guess that your wardrobe was designed exclusively by Popular Mechanics."

(From the episode of the Richard Diamond radio show entitled "Blue Serge Suit." The guest star, who spoke this line, was Jim Backus, famous as Mr. Howell, the millionaire on Gilligan's Island.)

The marriage vow is a simple thing

"For better OR FOR WORSE, as long as we both shall live." In these sad days, most people who say that are lying when they say it - and ought to be prosecuted for perjury.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Jane Morgan - she steals the show on Our Miss Brooks

She was Miss Brooks' landlady, and played the role wonderfully - conveniently deaf, wrinkled, absent minded.

Washburn, Arkansas

This is an unincorporated community located at the intersection of Arkansas State Highways 10 and 252 about halfway between Booneville and Greenwood in the west central part of the state. Its main claim to fame to most of us is that it is one of the few good straight stretches where you can pass slow-moving vehicles. However, it is an attractive little village in its own right. There is a store building at the intersection, but it has long since  gone out of business. Just west of the town Highway 10 goes over Washburn Mountain (actually just a ridge), which provides a beautiful view down into Washburn Valley, where fog often settles to give it an additional charm.

Economics vs. politics

Economics deals with long-term theory; politics deals with immediate practicality. Economics looks at what is best for the body politic considered as a whole; politics must necessarily deal with the pain of individuals. Thus the conflict.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The judge couldn't answer this one

Judge: Travis, is this the first time you've been up before me?

Travis: I don't know exactly, Judge. What time do you usually get up?

(from the Royal Gelatin Hour radio show)

Corporate America is sick.

Sick, sick, sick, sick - SICK!
And they have plenty of company in the rest of us.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Charlie Chan on obesity

"Good kitchens kill more men than sharp sword."
(from Charlie Chan's Chance)

More HERE on obesity.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Exile (1947)

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., is at his glib, athletic, swashbuckling best in this film based loosely on the life of Charles II of England. (The movie ignored the less savory aspect of the king's character.) Nigel Bruce is Sir Edward Hyde, his close supporter. Henry Daniell, so often the cultured villain, is here again the agent who is assigned to make sure that Fairbanks does not return from exile. Rita Corday is a Dutch girl who befriends him, and with whom he falls in love.

The climatic sword fight is set in a windmill, on the stairs, with definite overtones of the final scene in Erroll Flynn's Robin Hood.

There is some excellent photography, and the texture of the film is much cleaner than many of the era.

Fairbanks and Corday

More HERE about Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

Another radio amateur detective

Percival Forsythe Smith. He is a taxi driver in the Green Hornet radio episode entitled "Fireworks for Smitty," from 18 July 1944.

More HERE on the Green Hornet.

Nice critique of Karloff's "Mr. Wong, Detective"


Nice to have further appreciations of Karloff's non-horror work. He was an underappreciated actor.

More about Mr. Wong HERE


Extensive list of Old West gunfighters


And more HERE about gunfighters.

Loving County, Texas

In case you have never heard of it, this is probably the least-populated county in the country. In 2010, it had only 82 residents and has no incorporated communities. Per capita income? Pretty good.

File:Map of Texas highlighting Loving County.svg

Here is a LINK with more about Loving County.

And more HERE about Texas counties.

Monday, May 19, 2014

I-35 in Texas is a national embarrassment

When traveling in Texas, make your absolute worst-case estimate of the time it will take - and then add about 40%.

Just one letter different - but do not get them mixed up

Tom Conway: suave, debonair

Tim Conway: none of the above

Friday, May 16, 2014

Another popular tune that never quite made it

"Don't Lift the Jukebox, Mother, You Know You Can't Carry a Tune."

(From the Old Gold Comedy Theater radio show episode, "June Moon")

In a gallant effort to help the ladies with their dieting

Mark ate the last doughnut. His sacrifice, sadly, was not appreciated.

Look first, then investigate

"Good detective never ask 'what' and 'why' until after he's seen."
(from Charlie Chan in Paris)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Life is just too short.

I have other things to do.

Why he was a single veterinarian

On the You Bet Your Life radio show, one of the contestants (who was an unmarried veterinarian) told Groucho that from a medical standpoint it was safer to be licked by a dog than kissed by a human.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Jimmy Wallington, radio announcer

He was the announcer for Fred Allen on the Texaco Star Theater, where he engaged in considerable witty banter with the comedian. He also did Texaco Town with Eddie Cantor.

More HERE about Texaco Star Theater.

Here is a hit song I am guessing you missed

I'll Meet You at the Henhouse, Helen, If You'll Egg Me On

(from Texaco Star Theater Radio show)

Thorndyke Swinburn, subway poet

He writes witty jingles about the New York subway, and was a (fictitious) guest on the Texaco Star Theater radio program. Here are a couple of examples of his work:

A commuter named Fosdick B. Fine
Took a book in the IIP line
But they knocked off his hat,
Squeezed his Grapes of Wrath flat.
He got off with a handful of wine

You may think you’re alone in the subway
As you ride down each morning to work
When you stop at Canal,
Mister, you’ve got a pal
‘Cause the train lets you off with a jerk.

The Mad Physician?

Dr. J. Penicillin Colonna, M. D., Ph. D., LL. D., B. V. D.

"What are my chances, Doc?"

"With men who know Colonna best, it's rigor mortis, two to one."

(from the Bob Hope radio show, March 1946)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A unique proposal

     "Your show closes soon?"
     "They've extended the time for another week. Then I am going back to New Orleans."
     "You're not taking any of the offers you've had?"
     She smiled at me. "None of those I've had so far, Ben. But you never can tell . . . if the right offer came along, well, I might listen."
     "I was coming around to that. How about a run of the show contract? That's the only offer I could make. At this moment I don't even know where the show will be playing, and I m not sure of the town or the place . . . only the time."
     "Would I be the leading lady?"
     "Of course. With top billing always."
     "I'll take the offer, Ben. It's just the one I've been waiting for."

(from Bendigo Shafter, by Louis Lamour)

Ladies, was Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., a real heartthrob?

Your call.

Fred Allen's poem to Jack Benny

Roses are red,
Violets are pink.
On radio you're bad,
But on television, good luck

More on the Benny-Allen feud HERE.

This nation is finished.

All that remains is seeing what form the judgment upon it will take. And how long God chooses to forbear.

More HERE about God's justice and judgment.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Excitement has different meanings as we grow older

like actual fried bacon for breakfast. Ahhhh.

More on bacon HERE.

Fibber McGee and Molly - the early years

Below are links to two excellent spots detailing the two early eras of what became one of the most memorable and long-running of the radio shows: Fibber McGee and Molly.


Listen to Fibber and Molly HERE.

More Fibber and Molly HERE.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Narrow Margin (1952)

This is an excellent B noir movie. It is about a witness protection effort by Charles McGraw, who thinks Marie Windsor is the mob widow he is protecting, when it turns out she is a policewoman plant. Jacqueline White turns out to be the real widow. This is a tense, well-done movie that depends on acting and plot rather than special effects, and is basically confined to a train on which all the principals are traveling. The budget may be B movie level, but everything else is first class. McGraw gives a sterling performance as a tough but human cop.

HERE is more on Charles McGraw.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Fodder for memories

Some deceased men are remembered in conversation because they were colorful. Some are remembered because they were colorless. I fear I am one of the latter. In any case, it will be nice to be remembered; but I would most like to be remembered because I was faithful.

More HERE about memories.

The people who make a good world

The world isn't built around people who do what they want to do, Ben, what they want regardless of who gets hurt. It is built by people who do what they should do."

(from Bendigo Shafter, by Louis Lamour)

Be prepared

"The more ill-prepared people are to face trouble, the more likely they are to revert to savagery against each other."

(from Bendigo Shafter, by Louis Lamour)

Friday, May 09, 2014

Gary Green - he got us interested in track and field

My cousin Gary Green was four or five years older than I, and he was a very successful track athlete at  Paris (Ark.) High School on a local and state level (not to mention a National Merit scholar). In junior high he was mainly a short sprinter, but in the district meet his freshman year, his coach entered him in the 440, which he won in a district record time of 54.3 seconds. Not bad for your first try. In his second race, in the state track meet, he set a state record of 53.0 seconds. By his junior year he had run under 50 seconds and had set the Meet of Champs record for anyone in his classification (Class A back then), where he placed third. In addition, he was a good enough long jumper that the University of Arkansas showed interest in him. He was injured his senior year or he might have competed at the college level.

My younger brothers and I were great fans of his. None of us accomplished what he did, but we enjoyed it very much and had some success.

Here is a LINK to more track and field.

Perry Como and Fibber McGee

Como fans may not realize that he was the vocalist on at least a couple of early Fibber McGee and Molly radio programs.

HERE is a link to an example.

More HERE about Como and other crooners.

Thinking men

A man who reads or listens must also be a man who thinks. A man who does not filter his sources of information is almost worse off than the man who has no information.

HERE is more about thinking.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Great scenes from The Great Escape

Scenes that make this one of my three all-time favorite movies (along with The Quiet Man and Casablanca).

1. James Coburn and Charles Bronson try to sneak out among Russian prisoners. Coburn asks Bronson if he speaks Russian, and he says he knows one phrase (sounds roughly like he says "yabas lubluk"). He asks him what it means, and he says, "I love you." "What good is that?!" "I don't know. I wasn't going to use it."

2. Due to the desperate need for shoring in the tunnels, there is a raid made collecting slats from the bunks. As Steve McQueen walks out with an armload of them, Nigel Stock comes in and vaults onto his upper bunk, only to collapse through the weakened bottom.

3. McQueen, Garner and Jud Taylor, the three Americans, make their own homebrew vodka in order to celebrate the 4th of July. As they taste it, they gasp and each exclaims,"Wow."

4. After the 4th of July celebration, the tunnel is discovered, and Angus Lennie snaps. He walks to the fence and is shot by the guards, and left hanging on the barbed wire.

5. Bronson is trapped in a cave-in  and has to pull himself out by main force. "Are you all right, Danny?" "I'm all right. Bring some shovels, I'm all right." Later, during the actual escape, his claustrophobia almost gets him, and he does a wonderful job of portraying his battle with his phobia.

6. James Garner and Donald Pleasence are put in the same room. Pleasence is making tea, and says, "Afraid this tea's pathetic. Must have used these wretched leaves about twenty times. It's not that I mind so much. Tea without milk is so uncivilized."

These are a few of many. And then, of course, there are the two great finishes. Steve McQueen's motorcycle ride and final capture in the barbed wire just short of the border.

And one of the great scenes in all of cinema history, when McQueen comes swaggering back into camp, and Taylor tosses him his ball and glove as he heads back to the cooler.

HERE is more on The Great Escape.