Thursday, January 29, 2015

Music on old radio detective programs

The quality of the music played on the old detective radio shows varied greatly. For example, the music, both theme and background, was outstanding on Richard Diamond. On the other hand, it was (in my opinion) pretty irritating on Philo Vance and the Michael Shayne episodes that starred Jeff Chandler. It changed over the course of the Johnny Dollar series, some of it being very good and some of it not so much. Sadly, on Vance and Shayne programs, the music made what were otherwise pretty good programs into somewhat of an endurance contest.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

If you have to wear you religion on your sleeve

in order for people to notice it, then it probably is not much of a religion.

Dragnet look-alikes

There were (at least) a couple of programs that imitated Dragnet's "real life cop" approach. These were Precinct 21 LINK and The Line-up LINK. If you enjoy these types of programs, I would recommend that you try these. They were well-done and generally enjoyable.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lap dog

This is one of the aptest metaphors commonly used. The actual animal has a peculiar and definable personality and performs a very real and significant purpose in the lives of its owner. In an animal it can be a very commendable role, but in humans it is almost universally despised.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Another name for the asylum

The Hershey Institute - you know, with the nuts inside the bars.

(from the Eddie Cantor radio show)

Eddie Cantor vs. The Mad Russian

Here is a LINK to an episode of the Eddie Cantor radio show from 12 June 1947 in which Bert Gordon (The Mad Russian) has a length conversation with Cantor. Hilarious! Incidentally, you will also hear The Sportsmen Quartet, who were perhaps most famous as from their long-running connection with the Jack Benny program.

The Sportsmen

Gordon and Cantor

Bug-eyes Award

Who wins?

Eddie Cantor

Mantan Moreland

Walmart's scorched earth policy

It is beginning to look more and more as if Walmart really does way to drive all other retailers out of business. I really, really do despise that company.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Television's favorite homewrecker

Actress June Vincent gained the nickname "Television's favorite homewrecker" because she played that role in so many shows. In private life, however, she was married for 59 years to Bill Sterling. Ironic.


My wife hates this hairstyle on Basil Rathbone

In The Voice of Terror and Sherlock Holmes in Washington, Basil Rathbone wore his hear with the sideburns brushed forward. No idea why, but it was not very appealing.



Flotsam and jetsam

You hear these terms used together a lot, and you could look up their meaning, but I will save you a little time. Flotsam means floating pieces from a wrecked ship. Jetsam means articles that have been thrown overboard, presumably to lighten the vessel.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


I have sixteen grandchildren. My grandfather had exactly twice that many, but he did not seem to spend nearly as much time on grandchildren. He went his way, and we just had to fit into his schedule. It is interesting how the perceived "responsibility" of grandparents has changed. (The fact that he did not drive probably had a lot to do with it.)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Abner's real-life father was named Romeo

Norris "Tuffy" Goff played the part of Abner Peabody on the Lum and Abner radio show. His father was Romeo Goff, born in Michigan in the 1870s. One Rootsweb site I found traced their genealogy back to one Edward Goffe, born in 1594 in Suffolk, England.

What did Lum and Abner look like in real life?

File:Lum and Abner with wives 1941.JPG
With their wives.

What characters did Norris Goff play on Lum and Abner?

Per Wikipedia:

In addition to playing the role of the likable but naive, checker-playing Abner (who worked with Lum at the "Jot 'Em down Store" in fictitious Pine Ridge), Goff co-wrote the earliest episodes with Lauck, and played many of the other recurring characters, including postmaster Dick Huddleston (named after a real life friend in Mena), con-man Squire Skimp, Mousy Gray, and in the sentimental annual Christmas show, Doc Miller.

Wonderful world!

Anyone who is familiar with the Lum and Abner radio program knows these words. There was a stretch of programs that centered around a man who called himself Diogenes Smith, and that was his greeting, which soon became the standard of the entire community. Smith turned out to be a counterfeiter, but did seem to be repentant at the end.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Green Hornet - better than you think

We might tend to think of the Green Hornet as purely a juvenile radio program because it was an offshoot of The Lone Ranger. However, the plots are pretty well done and fast moving. The Hornet was not a super-hero, just a masked hero. Oh, sure, there are some inconsistencies in it, like how the hiding place of the Black Beauty car was never discovered, but those can be overlooked. It is pretty good listening.


Chris the bartender in Rocky Jordan

A minor but sometimes important character in the enjoyable Rocky Jordan radio program was the bartender in the Cafe Tambourine, whose name was Chris. He apparently was the second-in-command at the establishment. In most of the episodes in which he appeared the part was played by veteran radio actor Lawrence Dobkin.

Lawrence Dobkin-RaidersofOldCalifornia.jpg

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The most famous faces of old horror movies

Boris Karloff

Bela Lugosi

Lon Chaney

Vincent Price

Peter Lorre

The Abbott/Niles battles

One of the regular features on the Abbott and Costello radio program was the running battle between Costello and Mrs. Niles, played by Elvia Allman. (Ken Niles was the announcer on the program; they were not really married.) Both parties got in a good many telling verbal blows on the other, with great gusto. Lots of fun.

Costello in legal trouble

On one episode of the Abbott and Costello radio program, Costello gets into legal trouble, so Abbott brings in his “mouthpiece,” Bert Gordon, “The Mad Russian.” He presents his card to them, which reads “Bert Gordon, Attorney at Law, DBTC.” Costello asks what DBTC means. Gordon answers, “Don’t Bend The Card.”

HERE is a trailer showing Gordon.


Louis Lamour's description of solid, common people

"Poor, but energetic. The kind of people who do half the work of the world but never succeed in profiting from it. Stubborn, sincere, hard-working, but not acquisitive."

(from Kilkenny)


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

An interesting simile from Fibber McGee

I'm as nervous as a mother clam taking her children past a chowder factory.

Olie's view of welfare

On one of the episodes of Fibber McGee and Molly, their friends think they have come upon hard times because they have sent out their furniture to be refurbished and they are asking for clothes. The reality is that they are making a large rag rug to give to the Elk's Club. In the course of the program, Olie, the janitor at the Elk's, comes by to give McGee a sweater and offer him an job as an elevator operator. McGee laughingly turns down the job, indicating it is beneath him (any work usually was), so Olie just keeps the sweater. "Any feller that don't need a job don't need a sweater." I thought that was a pretty good motto.

Fibber and Molly

Monday, January 19, 2015

An Arkansas connection in the Gunsmoke radio show

In one episode, Doc reveals that he was once sweet on a girl from the community of Rip Shin Thicket, Arkansas. She did not wear shoes, it seems. All she could cook was pork and hominey. She had a brother named Spotted Jack, who never slept indoors or took a bath. At least, this was the story that Doc told. Marshall Dillon was skeptical.


Rag rugs - a great project for youngsters

A great project for youngsters is crocheting rag rugs. They are handy to have at external doors, they look nice because they are very colorful and they are great fun for the kids to make. I can remember working on any number of them. We loved to do it.


Grasshoppers and the law

"Man who fights law always loses; same as grasshopper is always wrong in argument with chicken."

(from Charlie Chan Carries On)


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Detective Hochstetter

Actor Howard Caine, best known as Major Hochstetter on the Hogan's Heroes television series, made an appearance in the third season of Peter Gunn as a detective working with him on a case.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Radio troopers doing what they did best

This afternoon I listened to an episode of Jeff Regan, Investigator, in which some of the guest stars were Lurene Tuttle, Ken Christy and Larry Dobkin. Tuttle was a standard as Sam Spade's secretary, Effie. Christy was Chief Gates on The Great Gildersleeve. Dobkin was Louie, the cabbie chauffer on The Saint.

However, besides being regulars on the above-listed programs and others, these three radio veterans were very busy in guest spots on various programs. Any fan of old radio will hear their names over and over.




The Sound of Music and the thunder sheet

My wife and I first really became acquainted when we were involved in the production of The Sound of Music while we were students at Westark Community College. If you recall, there is one scene in the movie when the children are frightened during a thunderstorm and run into Maria's room, where she sings to them, "My Favorite Things." There was a thundersheet offstage to simulate the storm, and we had a lot of fun playing with it during breaks.


World War II era songs you might have missed

Supposedly these were written by Fred Allen, but they never made it to the Hit Parade, to say the least.

I’ll Be One Sad Sack ‘Till My WAC Gets Back

Say a Prayer For Me When I’m On KP


How Jeff Regan described the Hall of Records

"It's a brown building that leans over like an old lady with a short cane."

After Jeff Regan, Joe Friday was a natural

On radio, Jack Webb played the title role in the series, Jeff Regan, Investigator. Regan was a wisecracking, sarcastic guy who seemed always to be angry at the world. Almost too much so at times. So, it was a natural for Webb to take a little of the edge off the character and transfer it to the police department as Joe Friday in Dragnet.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pimento paddle

We learn from the Fred Allen program that this is a handy little instrument that is used to swat down the end of a pimento if it sticks out past the end of the olive. (See what you could be learning from listening to old radio shows?)


One of the memorable songs from "North Dakota"

This was a musical written by Fred Allen, the comedian. The tunes sounded strangely like those from "Oklahoma." In fact, you can sing this first stanza from one of the numbers to the tune of "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top."

For the cold I don't give a hoot
'Cause I'm wearin' my new Union Suit;
Yes, I'm wearin' my new Union Suit
With the hinge on the back.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Where to put the blame

If there are occasional disruptions, the fault may lie with employees. If there is continual chaos, the fault of necessity must lie with management.

Charlie Chan about learning the hard way

"Man is not incurably drowned - if he still knows he is all wet."
(from Charlie Chan in London)


Monday, January 12, 2015

An epidemic of Alzheimer's and Attention Deficit Disorder

I know virtually nothing about Alheimer's disease other than it affects the memory. I know nothing concerning the causes of it, so I am speaking here only in generalities.

My grandchildren's generation will be the first to have been raised from birth with portable electronic devices pervading their environment. One of the main consequences of electronics is that it keeps us from having to think. We do not have to exercise our brains. Also, by the constantly-changing stimuli it produces, it reduces our attention span to virtually nothing.

What is the effect upon a mind when electronics relieves it during its entire life of having to think? What is the effect of the visual stimuli never allowing the mind to rest upon any one object for more than a few seconds? What will society be like when we deliberately have trained ourselves not to memorize anything?

When people are immersed in that environment for the entirely of their lives, it seems logical to me that we will have an epidemic of memory loss and attention deficit disorder. And even worse, what will be the effect upon our souls when we never have those quiet periods of meditation and contemplation that are completely without outside stimuli, so that our brain can exercise itself on sublime things?

I will be dead soon with only the latter portion of my life cursed by electronics and the internet, but you younger folks will have allowed your minds to atrophy unless you make a concerted effort to prevent that.

Do bluebloods make good?

I wonder how many offspring of very wealthy, influential people actually turn out to be useful citizens. It would be tough to know, and the answer certainly would be subjective. But people who are taught all their lives that they are privileged and "above the law," as far as the standards that constrain most people, are no likely to amount to much - at least as far as I measure worth.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The current holder of the family title (or one of them)

It is commonly known that Sir Winston Churchill was the grandson of John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough. So who is the current holder of the title? Charles James Spencer-Churchill, the 12th Duke. 

If you want his title in full, it is (are you ready for this?) "The most high, potent and noble prince His Grace Charles James Spencer-Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, Marquess of Blandford, Earl of Sunderland, Earl of Marlborough, Baron Spencer of Wormleighton, Baron Churchill of Sandridge." Evidently he is somewhat of a black sheep, having served jail terms on at least two occasions.

Professor Moriarty: more Sherlock Holmes trivia

  • Moriarty is the only character in the Sherlock Holmes films to have been killed off three times in the same series. All deaths occurred in the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce Holmes films, and all three involved him falling from a great height.

(Source: Wikipedia)

London fogs

Any fan of Sherlock Holmes knows what a factor London fogs are in all mysteries centered there. Are they for real? Look below.




An interesting indirect Robin Hood connection

The first of the famous Sherlock Holmes movies starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce was The Hound of the Baskervilles, made in 1939. In the film, Richard Greene stars as Sir Henry Baskerville, the heir to the fortune and the center of the mystery of the giant hound. One of Rathbone's most famous roles was, of course, Sir Guy of Gisbourne in the 1938 classic, The Adventures of Robin Hood. Later, from 1955 to 1959, Greene would star as Robin Hood in the television series.

Billy Barty - Peter Gunn's favorite informer

As a private investigator, Peter Gunn had to have reliable sources of information about the underworld. One of his favorites was a little guy named Babby, played by Billy Barty. Barty had a long career, partly because he was a good actor, and partly because he stood 3'9" tall. He was a great addition to the Gunn program, adding a touch of humor that it sometimes needed. In the first two seasons, Barty could be found in a pool room, taking on all opposition as he pulled his portable stool after him. In the third season he had changed to golf, on the premise that no one would think he could play, and he carried a high handicap.

Image result for BILLY BARTY

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Out - at least most of it

There is a common expression that says, "Coffee in, coffee out." Sometimes, indeed, it seems as if this is more than true. Science, however, would indicate that some small portion of this soothing liquid is absorbed by the body tissues in the digestive process. So, we may have to modify the saying: "Coffee In, Coffee (minus 2%, more or less) Out."


Start at the bottom?

She possessed, unfortunately, the power of the high, the middle and the low justice over him. That is to say, she could at will stop his allowance and set him to work at the bottom of the fish-glue business of which he had already made mention; a prosperous concern in which she had inherited a large interest from her first husband, a Mr. Spelvin. And though Tubby knew little or nothing of conditions at the bottom of fish-glue business, instinct told him he would not like them.

(from Summer Moonshine, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)


Old folks and weather

My experience has been that increasing age decreases one's tolerance for extremes of temperature, both hot and cold. I just do not like them.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Peter Gunn's girl's uncool maitre d'hotel

In the third season of the Peter Gunn television, the ultra-cool private eye (played by Craig Stevens) has a sweetheart who owns a cool restaurant, which is managed by a very uncool expert restraunteur, played by James Lanphier.


"On Stage" radio program

This program ran during 1953 and 1954 and starred the husband and wife team of Elliott and Cathy Lewis. They were a talented duo and some of the skits are very good. Elliott was a very versatile, with his roles ranging from the intense and physical captain on Voyage of the Scarlet Queen to the constantly-wisecracking Frankie Remley on the Phil Harris and Alice Faye program.


Thursday, January 08, 2015

Interesting article about Republican Party by Judson Phillips


"The Republicans are just the party of the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber does not care about the middle class or creating competition that makes the free market work. The Chamber does not care about a flourishing middle class. All it cares about is shrinking the cost of payroll (the largest single expense for any company) and using government to ensure that some new competitor cannot come in with a better product.

If the Republican Party isn’t going to stand for freedom and liberty, what good is it? If the Republican Party is just going to be the other party of big government, what good is it? If the Republican Party is going to be the Democrats’ partner in national suicide, why should any real American support the GOP?

One-hundred-sixty years ago, America saw the death of a political party, the Whigs. Now, with the establishment firmly in control of the Republican Party, we may soon see the death of another political party."

If you keep patronizing Walmart

then do not complain when Walmart becomes the only place in town where you can buy anything, including gasoline.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Headed toward polygamy?

When the divine mandate for marriage is set aside (one man, one woman, one time), then we open up virtually any deviation which our lusts desire. If we deny that "one man, one woman" is the limit, why should we not also deny that "one man, one man" is the limit. Why not "one man, two women," or "one man, two men," for that matter? In other words, once the limit is ignored, why stop there? Why not move on to wanton disregard for an sort of morality surrounding social compacts?

It might be argued that in saying "one man, one man," we are still mandating fidelity to one person, but that argument falls apart in consideration of the lax laws governing divorce and infidelity in this country. We care nothing about the "one" portion of that equation, so why pretend.

The logical end of a setting aside of the divine rule is social chaos.

Not exactly a sterling investment

So I wrote the letter, got my fiver, and came back to Wimbledon to try and rebuild my shattered life. Because you can readily see, Corky, that I was up against it in no uncertain manner. Aunt Julia would be back before long, and would want to see her brooch; and though I'm her own flesh and blood, and I  shouldn't be surprised if she had dandled me on her knew when I as a child, I couldn't picture her bearing with anything like Christian fortitude the news that I had pawned it in order to buy a half-share in a dead dog.

(from Lord Emsworth and Others, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Zane Grey, record angler

We know Zane Grey as a prolific writer of western romances. However, he was also an avid fisherman. Below is a picture of him with his record 1040 pound marlin.

It was not an alias: it really was Mousey

Llewellyn Snavely Gray. The real name of Mousey Gray on the Lum and Abner radio show.


Horse opera

Since the day of the good-guy cowboy movies are long gone, kids today will not likely know what the term "horse opera" means. It is simply one of those wonderful old-style, stereotyped westerns. Great fun!


Monday, January 05, 2015

Costello's girlfriend

"She had so much bridgework, every time I kissed her I had to pay toll."


"Man has learned much who has learned how to die."

(Charlie Chan, from Dead Men Tell)


Sunday, January 04, 2015

Memories of croup

One of the most unpleasant memories I have of childhood is of having a bad case of the croup. I must have been pre-school age. I recall that I genuinely was concerned that I was going to die, and my mother had to reassure me that that was not going to happen. She made a vapor pan with Vicks Vaporub in the water and shaped a paper cone so that I could breathe the fumes. I hated it, but I am sure it helped.


Saturday, January 03, 2015

Great possibilities for a nickname

Clotworthy Skeffington3rd Viscount Massereene. Do you suppose that his classmates called him Clot for short?

On some things there can be no compromise

And then, one afternoon, when I had run into London to lay in a fresh supply of cigars, I happened to meet her friend, Angelica Vining, the poetess, in Bond Street. You may remember this bird, Corky? She was the one who wanted to borrow my aunt's brooch on a certain memorable occasion, but I as firm and wouldn't let her have it - partly on principle and partly because I had pawned it the day before.

(from Lord Emsworth and Others, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

The current temperature in Barrow, Alaska

is -7 degrees, with a windchill of -18. Just another reason why I live in Arkansas.