Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mantan gets the short end of the stick

"Any time nobody gets hurt around here, it's always me." - Mantan Moreland in Let's Go Collegiate.


Preston Foster - actor and musician

Foster played a lot of tough guy roles, usually with a softer side to him. He served in the Coast Guard during World War II and rose to the rank of Captain. He was a singer with his own trio, and wrote the tune, "Got My Mojo Working," which is performed HERE by Muddy Waters.

More HERE about Preson Foster.

Pavlov's V's

For whatever reason, psychologist Ivan Pavlov (he of the salivating dog), was in a rut in naming his children: Vladimir, Victor, Vsevolod, and Vera.

File:Ivan Pavlov NLM3.jpg

Stiff upper lip, Lord Emsworth

          "You remember Daphne Winkworth who used to be Daphne Littlewood?"
          "Oh, quite. Yes, quite," said Lord Emsworth. He spoke with splendid fortitude. There was nothing in his manner or his voice to show that the sight of this woman was making him feel like the hero of a novel of suspense trapped in an underground den by the personnel of the Black Moustache gang. Your English aristocrat learns to wear the mask.

(from Galahad at Blandings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The downward spiral of filth

In the entertainment you have to get in the public’s eye. In order to do that you have to do something that catches the public’s attention. Scandalous behavior is always helpful to that end these days, of course, since there really is no negative effect to moral scandal. The problem for the stars is that there is so much that is scandalous that in order to garner any attention, you have to do something even more scandalous than all the rest of the scandal. And so we have a downward spiral of immoral behavior as the stars claw to stay at the bottom of the scumheap.

The cars with class

Every generation has automobiles that are "the" cars - the ones with pizzazz, with class, with style, or just the ones that cost the most. Back in the good ol' days, one of those cars was the Thunderbird (or T-bird). None of us could ever afford one, of course, but it was the car we all wished we had. Below is a 1971 Thunderbird, from the year I graduated from high school.


Persona non grata

My dear boy, have you no spirit, no enterprise? You must take the first train to Market Blandings. I say Market Blandings because I am unfortunately not in a position to invite you to the castle. My sister Hermione is in charge there, and for some reason all my sisters have got the idea that if someone's a friend of mine, he must be a rat of the underworld.

(from Galahad at Blandings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

The ultimate in courtesy

Gally pursed his lips. He was a chivalrous man. In his time he had said things equally or even more offensive to silver ring bookmakers and their like, but these had invariably been of the male sex. To women from youth upward he had always prided himself on being scrupulously polite. Even on the occasion in his early days when a ballet dancer of mixed Spanish and Italian parentage had stabbed him in the leg with a hatpin, his manner had remained suave and his language guarded.

(from Galahad at Blandings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Oh, my aching back!

As we get older, that is not just a theoretical expression.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Butlers with "stature"

As is so often the case with butlers, there was a good deal of Beach. Julius Caesar, who liked to have men about him that were fat, would have taken to him at once. He was a man who had made two chins grow where only one had been before, and his waistcoat swelled like the sail of a racing yacht.

(from Galahad at Blandings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Martin Kosleck - busy "enemy" actor

If you have seen a World War II vintage movie with very many Germans portrayed, it is very likely you saw Kosleck, at least in a minor role. One of our favorites of his roles was as the assassin Mirko in the Sherlock Holmes movie Pursuit to Algiers.


Movie stars do get older



Just like all the rest of us.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Not a lovely cop

The policeman was a long, stringy policeman, who flowed out of his uniform at odd spots. His face was gnarled, his wrists knobbly and of a geranium hue, and he had those three or four extra inches of neck which disqualify a man for high honours in a beauty competition.

(from Galahad at Blandings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)


More HERE about Wodehousean policemen.

"I would trust him with my life"

But for that statement to be wise, he must have the character to be trustworthy, the diligence to be faithful, and the ability to get the job done. Not a light statement to make.

More HERE about trust.

The spirit of the law

He knew the law, and adhered closely to the letter of he law, but since he had come west, here with these people of wider, more liberal view, he was beginning to feel what one of his old teachers had long ago told him. That no matter what the letter of the law said, it was of purely general application. It was teh judge and his sense of justice that gave law its meaning. There were differences. All cases were not black or white - there were many shades of gray.

(from Guns of the Timberlands, by Louis Lamour)

More HERE from Louis Lamous about law.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Battle on the Ice - won by a youth

Alexander Nevsky was born 30 May 1220. His famous Battle on the Ice victory over the Teutonic Knight was fought on 5 April 1242, meaning that he had not yet reached his 22nd birthday at that time. This was a signficant military victory in the history of the Middle Ages.

Aren't I? Come on, now!

Here is a headline from a BBC site article: "UK economy: Why aren't I feeling better?"

Aren't I? There is no way that is correct. It is just plain bad English. "Ain't I" is not formal English, but at least it is a contraction of "am not," which is gramatically correct in this sentence, if not formal. "Why are I not feeling better." Come on, folks. Go ahead and use "aint," just use it correctly.

Lum and Abner teach how to file income tax

One of the funnier episodes of the Lum and Abner radio show dealt with their filling out their income tax form. Quite creative.

Here is a LINK to that episode.


More HERE about Lum and Abner.

Big Chief tablets

Children today cannot possibly imagine what a big place Big Chief tablets had in the life of first graders years ago. They were made of the coarsest sort of paper. (You could see dark fibers all through it.) But generations of Americans learned to write using them.


How Sir Cecil deals with bores

Nothing bores a bore more than another bore; and when I bore, I bore from without, from within, and obliquely.

(Sir Cecil Smythe, played  by Arthur Treacher on The Smiths of Hollywood radio show)


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Evidently all you have to do to be considered a genius

in the scientific field these days is to come out with a theory. Everyone will jump on the bandwagon. You do not necessarily have to prove it, of course, just state the theory eloquently, frequently, and loudly.

I believe I could come up with some theories. Reckon I could get to be a genius?

Stand By For Crime radio show

This is a snappy detective/crime radio show with just a hint of humor, and a fast-moving pace. Chuck Morgan is the news reporter on radio station KOP. His boss, the owner, is called Pappy, and he generally refers to Carol Curtis, his secretary and sweet heart, as Glamor Puss. Morgan and Curtis were played by the real-life husband and wife team of Glenn Langan and Adele Jergens.


Hey business leaders: What if hospitals staffed like you do?

You staff your businesses so that you can just barely get by when everyone is there, no one is sick, and no one is on vacation. When that is not the case, well, the employees just have to work double and the customers have to grin and bear it.

But now, imagine if YOU are in the hospital and in excruciating pain. If the nurse tells you, "I am sorry you have had to lie there so long, but we have two people on vacation and just have not been able to get to you." It would serve you right, woudn't it?

NO enterprise can excel on a "just barely get by" staffing philosophy.


Rolling stops

I am told that significantly more energy is expended to start a vehicle from a complete stop than to start one that is already in motion, even if very slowly. I wonder how much energy would be saved if all stop sign laws were changed to allow rolling stops. Of course, there are safety issues that might be involved, but from a purely scientific and economic standpoint, I wonder what the result would be. How many barrels of oil?

If you never stand for anything

then you will never encounter any stress defending your principles. There is a lot in that statement. On the other hand, if you expend great amounts of energy defending principles that are of no consequence, then you may not have the necessary energy to defend the ones that are truly important.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Markham (TV series): "The Marble Face"

This series starred Ray Milland who did a great job in the title role as a middle-aged private detective/ladies' man. In this episode, an elderly woman (Lucille Vance) is called out of her bed by a mysterious voice, and then pushed down a flight of stairs. Betty Ann Lynn (Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show) is the niece of the woman, who had come a few weeks earlier to live with her. The aunt has been seeing a medium, and Lynn thinks she has been robbing her aunt. In the aunt's face there is a marble sculpted head of Vance's son. At a seance, the son supposedly speaks to the mother. Markham exposes the medium to the aunt's lawyer, but he argues that she gets pleasure from it. Milland figures out that the real aunt has disappeared some weeks earlier - for good. An imposter and the attorney are running a scam. Markham exposes it and saves the day.



Those nickel Cokes with peanuts

When I was in the first grade, my father's room at school was upstairs in the National Guard armory which was on the school campus. While he was giving private voice lessons after school, I would hang out in the armory, which was also the high school gymnasium. There were soft drink and vending machines in the entrance to the armory offices, and I remember vividly when the high school boys would buy a 5-cent Coke and a package of peanuts, pour the peanuts into the bottle, and enjoy them. I was so jealous, because I rarely had any money for anything so scandalously extravagant as snacks. But on a few occasions I had one, and I remember to this day how good they tasted. Those old 5-cent Cokes in glass bottles just tasted better than the ones they have today.


"Innocent act without thinking; guilty always make plans."

Charlie Chan, from The Sky Dragon


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Irene Ryan's date with Hans Conried

On the Jack Carson radio show, Irene Ryan (Granny Clampett) played an old maid with a long list of medical afflictions. Jack makes the mistake of promising to get her a date, which he does with an escapee from the local asylum (Conried). The results are predicably humorous.



More HERE about Hans Conried

It is a sad state of affairs in the medical profession

when people are afraid to go to the doctor for fear they will be "sold" something they do not really need and absolutely cannot afford. Profit has replaced professionalism.

This one did not take long

Ma'am, that was the shortest fight on record. I swung at him and missed. He swung at me and didn't.

(from Guns of the Timberlands, by Louis Lamour)


Monday, July 21, 2014

One needs one's hat

          "What I propose to do," continued Psmith, without waiting for an answer, "is to touch you for the good round sum of five thousand and three dollars."
          Mr. Waring half rose. "Five thousand dollars!"
          "Five thousand and three dollars," said Psmith. "It may possibly have escaped your memory, but a certain minion of yours, one J. Repetto, utterly ruined a practically new hat of mine. If you think that I can afford to come to New York and scatter hats about as if they were mere dross, you were making the culminating error of a misspent life. Three dollars are what I need for a new one. The balance of your cheque, the five thousand, I propose to apply to making those tenements fit for a tolerably fastidious pig to live in."

(from Psmith Journalist, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)


More HERE about hats.

Blenkinsop's Balm for the Bilious

This evidently very effective medication is recommend highly by the hero of the P. G. Wodehouse novel Psmith Journalist. It appears to be a complete fabrication, so one can only wonder what it's healing properties might have been.

New York policemen have no sense of humor?

There, standing on the mat, were three policemen. From their remarks I gathered that certain bright spirits had been running a gambling establishment in the lower regions of the building - where, I think I told you, there is a saloon - and the Law was now about to clean up the place. Very cordially the honest fellows invited me to go with them. A conveyance, it seemed, waiting in the street without. I pointed out, even as you appear to have done, that sea-green pyjamas with old rose frogs were not the costume in which a Shropshire Psmith should be seen abroad in one of the world's greatest cities; but they assured me - more by their manner than their words - that my misgivings were out of place, so I yielded. These men, I told myself, have lived in New York longer than I. They know that is done and what is not done. I will bow to their views. So I went with them, and after a very pleasant and cosy little ride in the patrol waggon [sic], arrived at the police station.

(from Psmith Journalist, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)


More HERE about policemen.

The shortcomings of the New York subway

Conversation on the Subway is impossible. The ingenious gentlemen who constructed it started with the object of making it noisy. Not ordinarily noisy,, like a ton of coal falling onto a sheet of tin, but really noisy. So they fashioned the pillars of thin steel, and the sleepers of thin wood, and loosened all the nuts, and now a Subway rain in motion suggests a prolonged dynamite explosion blended with the voice of some great cataract.

(from Psmith Journalist, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse.

More HERE about the subway.

A lightweight publication, perhaps?

Comrade Wilberfloss's methods were good in their way. I have no quarrel with Comrade Wilberfloss. But he did not lead public thought. He catered exclusively for children with water on the brain, and men and women with solid ivory skulls.

(from Psmith Journalist, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Corn on the cob to a squirrel

Chico Marx on the Bob Hope radio show

Chico Marx is not as well known today as Harpo (thanks to Lucille Ball) and certainly not as famous as Groucho, but he was a competent comedian in his own right. He was the special guest on one episode of the Bob Hope radio show, and played the piano (actually pretty well), while he cracked occasional jokes.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How cheap was Jack Benny?

"Benny not only has no teeth, he is too cheap to buy false teeth. He enamels his guns." - Fred Allen

More HERE about Jack  Benny.

He sat by B. B. King

A man who used to be a salesman where I work had tickets each year at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. He was a regular, and got the same seat each year. It happened that famous blues singer and guitarist B. B. King had the seat next to him. He said they got to be fairly well acquainted, even though they only saw each other once a year.

George became less humorous

In the early episodes of the Let George Do It radio show, Claire Brooks was only his secretary (not yet any romantic interest), and her younger brother Sonny provided the comic relief. Later on, Sonny was dropped, and George and Claire ("Brooksie") became very much an item. As that happened, the program lost a little of its humorous tone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pride is expensive

One of the great curses of price is that a man often cannot safely pursue the occupation which he enjoys most and does the best, because he knows the crippling effect success might have upon his moral constitution.

More HERE about pride.

The Ronald Colmans discussing Jack Benny

Benita: You know, darling, there is one thing that is rather amazing about Jack.

Ronnie: Oh, what’s that?

Benita: Well, of all the things he’s taken from us through the years, not once has he tried to borrow any money.

Ronnie: Darling, money is the one thing he doesn’t use.

Benita: He doesn’t use it? Then what does he do with his money?

Ronnie: He gets it, counts it, caresses it, and buries it.


Jimmy Jones - a movie cowboy star you may have missed

In one of the early episodes of Let George Do It, George is hired by movie star Jimmy Jones to get him through an embarrassing situation. Because of an accident, he is now terrified of horses, but he does an annual benefit for an orphanage and does not want to let them down. They notice that George and Jimmy look somewhat alike, so George volunteers to be his double - but George, being a city boy, has never ridden a horse.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

One prize you would have wanted for sure

We have a prize tonight for the best singer: a big, beautiful 25-pound box of moustache wax.

(from the Morey Amsterdam radio show)

What is a ketch?

In the radio program The Voyage of the Scarlet Queen, we are told that that vessel is a ketch. A ketch is a sailing craft with two masts. The distinguishing characteristic of a ketch is that the forward of the two masts (the "mainmast") is larger than the after mast (the "mizzen").

Bowdrie's horse

He was lean, rawboned and irritable, yet Bowdrie had developed an affection for him. Pet the roan and he would try to bite you. Curry him and he'd kick. But on a trail he would go all day and all night with a sort of ugly determination. Bowdrie had never known a horse with so much personality, and all of it bad.

(from McNelly Knows a Ranger, by Louis Lamour)

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Peerage. If you enjoy researching the bluebloods

the let me recommend this website LINK. It is a work in progress, but Mr. Lundy is doing a workmanlike job of logging a vast amount of info about the nobility of Europe and elsewhere.

OK, Mrs. Green, here it is. History is on my side.

On the Fibber McGee & Molly radio program of 15 March 1937, Fibber used this joke: "I've sawed that leg off three times, and it's still too short!"

So, take that!

What goes on at the Gildersleeve plant

The Great Gildersleeve was one of the first spin-offs in broadcast history, his character having been a regular on Fibber McGee & Molly for several seasons. On the initial program, still called The Johnson Wax Program (it was later sponsored by Kraft Foods), Gildy takes off for a while from his factory, which manufactures girdles. When he gets to Summerfield, his nephew Leroy has the mistaken impression that the factory makes girders, not girdles, and that Gildy is a rough, tough steelworker. He quips to his uncle, "I'll bet you make the supports for a lot of big projects there." Naturally, that got quite a laugh.

Interestingly, in this initial program, Gildersleeve's niece is named Evelyn, not Marjorie, as she was later.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

She looked like Paulette Goddard because she was Paulette Goddard

The Mrs. and I were watching and episode of the old British Sherlock Holmes television program entitled "The Case of Lady Beryl" from 1954. The actress playing the title role looked remarkably like Paulette Goddard, although it did not seem reasonable that she would have been in this series, since she was already a famous movie star. She had been nominated for an Oscar in 1944 and had starred opposite some of Hollywood's big names. I looked it up, however, and it was indeed Goddard. Maybe she needed money.

Jimmy Cagney - a great actor?

Cagney won one Oscar and was nominated for a couple more, but I have never viewed him as a great actor, mainly because he was put in stereotyped roles, and that flavor always permeated his performances. No matter what role he was playing, he always seemed to be a little bit of a gangster. However, his contemporaries seem to have had a high opinion of his abilities. No less an authority than Orson Welles said that he was "maybe the greatest actor to ever appear in front of a camera."

Nice, lazy Sunday afternoon

An evening of rest and relaxation with family. The good life.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Art Tatum playing "Yesterdays"

If you have never seen live footage of the great Art Tatum playing the piano, you have missed a treat. HERE he is playing the tune Yesterdays. Keep in mind that he was totally blind in one eye and partially blind in the other. His technique and the way he roared through intricate harmonic progressions are unbelievable.

Inadvertent namesakes

My son, Joshua Green, has the same given name as his great-great-great-great-grandfather, Joshua Davis, but that was not done on purpose, although it could have been. My oldest daughter, Rachel Emily Green (now Jones), had the same given names as her great-great-grandmother, but we did not know that when we named her.

Gunfight: Bob Carlisle and the King brothers

In his novel, Mohave Crossing, author Louis Lamour refers to a gunfight that occurred in the Bella Union hotel between the men named above. This was a true historical event, and a sensational one at the time. Here is a LINK to a good article about the gunfight.

Beauty is a luxury

So often our first thoughts of spouses concerns their physical attractiveness, and certainly we ought to be attracted to them. Historically, however, at least among the lower classes, beauty was less a requisite quality than ability. A man needed a wife who was a good manager; a woman needed a man who was a good provider and protector. That was the sine qua non of the relationship - the absolute necessity. Beauty was a luxury.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Here is another tough name to negotiate

Agnes Margaretha Barones Schimmelpenninck van der Oye. Her mother was named Henriette Frederique Suzanne Huyssen van Kattendijke.

Lou Holtz - the comedian

Although folks today know the name more as connected with a football coach, Lou Holtz was also the name of a well-known comedian and actor who lived 1893 to 1980. Old radio fans will know him from the Rudy Vallee programs.

Courting disclaimer

Now young man, if you're in earnest about this, you have my permission to court Julia Elizabeth as much as she'll let you. But don't blame me if she marries you. Don't go lamentin' about I helped you in or led you on or anything like that.

(From the Royal Gelatin Hour radio show. All this was said in an Irish accent.)

Just naturally comes with trouble

Even a good woman, with her ways and notions, can cause a man more trouble than he can shoot his way out of, and I'd an idea this here was no good woman.

(from Mohave Crossing, by Louis Lamour)

Ain't it the truth!

Believe me, there's more snares in a woman's long lashes than in all the creek bottoms of Tennessee.

(from Mohave Crossing, by Louis Lamour)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A lot of people talk to themselves.

That in itself is not a matter for concern. The ones you worry about are the ones who have to repeat themselves because they weren't listening.

Reasons why I like the movie Casablanca so much

First, it is filled with great lines. You hardly realize how many of them there are until you see a collection of them.

Next, there are some really great individual performances. It won three Oscars, including Best Picture, and was nominated for five more, including Humphrey Bogart for Best Actor and Claude Rains for Best Supporting Actor.

Next, it is in glorious black and white. It just would not have worked in color.

Next, there is the great music, including the all-time classic, As Time Goes By.

Last, but not least, it was released in 1942, which was the year my father graduated from high school.

Those cricket sounds

Wouldn't you like to have been the sound effects men who got to make those great cricket sounds in outdoor evening scenes in the old radio shows?

With all the kinfolks that I have

I guess I need to be studying Einstein's Theory of Relatives.

Brennan on the Moor

Author Louis Lamour often referred to this tune in his books as one of the tunes that was brought over from the British Isles.

Listen to it HERE.

He was just a leader

We pointed the cattle west into the empty land, and the brindle steer took the lead. He had no idea where he was going, but he intended to be the first one there.

(from Killoe, by Louis Lamour)

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Freckles Comes Home (1942)

This is not great art, but still it is enjoyable lightweight entertainment. A gangster has to leave town until the heat is off. On the bus he meets Johnny Downs, who is going back to his hometown and recommends it. His friend, Marvin Stephens, and the inimitable Mantan Moreland, provide the comic relief. (Someone has sold Moreland a "gold finder.") Downs' father has made a bad financial investment, and it is up to the fearless trio, with the help of the romantic interest, Gale Storm, to save the day.



George Guhl, the forgetful sergeant

Guhl played the desk sergeant at police headquarters in most of the Torchy Blane series of movies. He played an easy-going, slow-thinking, lovable sort who had great problems with his memory. He would use various tricks, like strings on his fingers, to try to remember things.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Stucco bathtubs

"Scratch while you bathe."

One of the "big deals" of Al, the perpetually-unemployed boyfriend of My Friend Irma on the old radio show.

Acclimated - how?

Summer is a lot hotter at the start of the season, and winter is a lot colder. We are not used to the drastic change in temperature, and it takes several weeks to get accustomed to it. My question is whether this change is purely physical, or at least partly mental. Does the hot seem not so hot because our minds are used to it, or do our bodies also adjust?

Want to know what Fred Flintstone really looked like?

Alan Reed, the voice of Fred Flintstone, as well as many old radio characters.

Perhaps a career modification is in order?

It dawned on him that he might have been hasty in choosing Hollywood as a career when for his first picture the studio chose as the love interests Marjorie Main and Irene Ryan.

Monday, July 07, 2014

When I saw her as she really was

There was nothing wistful and gentle about her now. The soft blue eyes I had admired so much were hard and had begun to shoot out sparks. The skin I would have loved to touch was flushed, the mouth set in a rigid line, the fingers twitching. She seemed to me, in brief, to be exhibiting all the earmarks of one of those hammer murderesses you read about in the papers who biff husbands over the coconut and place the remains in a trunk: and with all possible swiftness I removed myself to the other side of the chesterfield and stood staring at her dumbly. And, as I did so, I realized for the first time how a hen must look to a worm.

(from Laughing Gas, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Not exactly a compliment

"Good evening," she said again. She seemed a kindly, amiable old soul, and I warmed to her immediately. What attracted me about her particularly was the fact that she had a face exactly like that of a horse of mine at home, of which I was extremely fond. It made me feel that I was among friends.

(from Laughing Gas, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Now that is thirsty!

I should probably have shuddered even more than I did, had there not begun to steal into my consciousness at this juncture a rummy sensation which I could not at first analyse. Then I got onto it. It was suddenly borne in upon me that I was dying of thirst. What with the warmth of the day and the fact that I had so recently been taking vigorous outdoor exercise, the epiglottis seemed to have become composed of sandpaper. Already I was gasping painfully like a stranded fish, and it seemed to me that if I didn't climb outside something moist in about half a jiffy, I should expire in dreadful agonies.

(from Laughing Gas, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

More HERE about thirsty.