Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Balboa Dank

Another not-so-famous person with whom you may not be familiar. He was a fictitious character on one of the Fred Allen radio shows. Interesting flair for names, what?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Greetings, fellow Vallianter!

One of my best friends in high school was a fellow named Dan Kirkpatrick. He drove a Valliant, which was about the uncoolest car you can imagine. But Dan was one of those people who could take something uncool and make it the height of cool, just because it was uncool. He had a real knack for that. Many times, when riding with him, we would pass another Valliant on the road, and he would exclaim, "Greetings, fellow Vallianter," as if it were an exclusive club. And it was, sort of.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The retiring tattooist's last published work

"A Farewell to Arms"
(from the Fred Allen radio show)

Old radio shows and long drives

Our children grew up listening to old radio programs (cassette tapes back then) when we were on long trips. It is amazing how much faster the trips went and how much calmer the children were. I recommend it.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Jack Benny and the Louis-Roper fight

In one of the episodes of the Jack Benny radio show, Jack and Rochester get into an argument about who is going to win the fight between Joe Louis and Jack Roper. Rochester supports Louis, and gets so enthusiastic about how badly he is going to beat the challenger that he wrecks the car.

In fact, Louis did knock out Roper at 2:20 of the first round.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Destructive dogs

Our pooch's almost compulsive desire to destroy corrugated boxes reminds me of the Great Dane in the movie Fun on a Weekend, starring Eddie Bracken and Priscilla Lane. The hound was always chewing on the legs of desks, pianos, etc., and was one of the main comedic elements of what is an entertaining flick.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Death is a solemn thing

Last night (19 June 2015), I watched my sister-in-law take her last breath. It was a very solemn moment, and even beyond the feeling of grief at our loss and the feeling of relief at the end of her suffering, I could not help thinking about the impressiveness of what I had just seen. Knowing from the Scriptures what was happening as we watched, I knew that I had just witnessed the moment when her soul and spirit were severed from that mysterious connection with her body. Human knowledge has not and no doubt never will plumb the depths of the subject, but it is a weighty thing to think about.

Friday, June 19, 2015

When great blessings become burdens

We have few natural blessings greater than sunshine and rain. Yet when one or the other continues for a time unmixed with the other, it becomes a great burden that we long to be rid of. Ironic, isn't it?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Our medical crisis

Never in the history of humanity have we been as able to cure diseases. What we can do is amazing. However, our procedures are bogged down in red tape, frivolous lawsuits and the always-present profit motive instead of the healing motive. And the cost, of course, is staggering! And we are all going to die, anyway, sooner or later.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Triple impact of programs

There was a period of time during the early days of television when popular and profitable shows got exposure in three different media: radio, movies and television. Boston Blackie is a prime example. There were the movies, most of which starred Chester Morris, the radio program with Morris and Richard Kollmar, and the television series with Kent Taylor. All of them are "must" items for nostalgia buffs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Some rebound, and some REALLY rebound

Plummer knew all about the Rebound and the part it plays in the affairs of the heart. His own breach-of-promise case two years earlier had been entirely due to the fact that the refusal of the youngest Devenish girl to marry him had caused him to rebound into the dangerous society of the second girl from the O.P. end of the first row in the "Summertime is Kissing-time" number in the Alhambra revue.

(From A Damsel in Distress, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wodehouse the philosopher

"Trouble sharpens the vision. In our moments of distress we can see clearly that what is wrong with this world of ours is the fact that Misery loves company and seldom gets it. Toothache is an unpleasant ailment; but, if toothache were a natural condition of life, if all mankind were afflicted with toothache at birth, we should not notice it. It is the freedom from aching teeth of all those with whom we come in contact that emphasizes the agony. And, as with toothache, so with trouble. Until our private affairs go wrong, we never realize how bubbling over with happiness the bulk of mankind seems to be. Our aching heart is apparently nothing but a desert island in an ocean of joy."

The quote above, from A Damsel in Distress by Sir Pelham Wodehouse, is totally out of character for him. It is really profound. In the midst of what is, as usual, a totally flippant and nonsensical book, the author comes out with this gem of serious thought. Really good.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Be sure you are right, then go at it

"No use to hurry unless sure of catching right train."

(from Charlie Chan at the Circus)


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Another version of "Are his lips moving?"

For Albert not to lie about a thing practically proved that thing non-existent.

(From A Damsel in Distress, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

That would tend to disturb your sleep

This sort of thing, it must be remembered, was not in George's usual line. His had been a quiet and uneventful life, and the only exciting thing which, in his recollection, had ever happened to him previous to the dramatic entry of Lady Maud into his taxicab that day in Piccadilly had occurred at college nearly ten years before, when a festive roommate - no doubt with the best motives- had placed a Mexican horned toad in his bed on the night of the Yale football game.

(from A Damsel in Distress, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Oh, for the days of floor walkers

Back in the good old days, when customers mattered, department stores had employees who were called floor walkers, whose job it was to circulate throughout the store and answer questions from shoppers. Very nice. Very helpful. In fact, totally logical. But do you ever see someone like that is stores today? HA! You are on your own, friend.

The full circle

In our infancy, we are completely dependent upon our parents. If we suffer the infirmities of old age to an advance degree, we are completely dependent upon our children, or some caregiver. Things come the full circle, so we need to give some thought to the diligence shown in our behalf before the time comes to return the favor.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Dexter Payne - another neglected detective

In the early episode of Johnny Dollars entitled "Anne Connelly," he tries to read a book called "The Case of the Playful Siamese," which featured a detective called Dexter Payne. I suspect all that has ever been known about said shamus was learned in that one program.

Cluttered billboards

What is the use in having a billboard by the road if it cannot be easily read in about three seconds? The people who design those things need to try a few out on themselves before they start the project.



It might not make sense to the uninitiated, but when an old radio show mentions "headquarters," there is about a 99% probability that it is talking about police headquarters.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The sweat of thy face

"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." A good friend of mine said that he assumed this curse was no longer in effect. I disagree strongly with him. Even with all our modern conveniences, our working lives are still filled with "sweat" of some sort. Stress may have taken the place of actual drops of moisture, but it still exists.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bushmaster loose!

In the episode of the radio show Escape entitled, "A Shipment of Mute Fate," a rogue wave smashes into a ship and releases a deadly bushmaster snake that is being transported. Panic ensues among the passengers.


Tuesday, June 09, 2015

A simple rule for happiness

     "You seem to understand the art of being happy, Mac."
     "It ain't an art, sir. It's just gettin' 'old of the right little woman, and 'aving a nice little 'ome of your own to go back to at night."

(From A Damsel In Distress, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)


Sunday, June 07, 2015

Death to thrips!

A simple soul, Lord Marshmoreton - mild and pleasant, yet put him among the thrips and he became a dealer-out of death and slaughter, a destroyer in the class of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan. Thrips feed on the underside of rose leaves, sucking their juice and causing them to turn yellow; and Lord Marshmoreton's views on these things were so rigid that he would have poured whale-oil solution on his grandmother if he had found her on the underside of one of this rose leaves sucking its juice.

(From A Damsel in Distress, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)


Saturday, June 06, 2015

Accomplishment is not enough

I have said it before, but I will do so again: merely accomplishing a great deal in your lifetime is not in itself enough. We must make sure that what we are accomplishing is the thing that needed to be accomplished. Doing a whole lot of the wrong thing or even a thing of no consequence does not constitute a great life well lived.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

How coffee drinking got started

Abebe Folgers and Hackeem Mountain Grown were sitting around a fire on the edge of the Ethiopian desert one evening in the year 1385. Their fire was burning low, so Abebe searched around and found a branch from a dead tree to use for fuel. On the tree were dried beans that somewhat resembled pintos, but with a little more swagger. He thought little about it as he threw it on the fire, and continued his visit with his buddy (whom he affectionately called Hack for short - with a guttural "H," of course).
After a few moments a pleasant aroma began to fill the air. Hack made an offhand comment that that certainly would go well with croissants and jam in the mornings, and Abebe agreed. As they investigated to ascertain the origin of the smell, they determined that it came from the beans. Both agreed that it was completely unlike any odor they had ever associated with beans. They rescued a few of them from the fire, crushed them and dropped them in their University of Dolo Odo drinking mugs ($5.95 at the campus bookstore).

Abebe’s eyebrows went up. “You know, I think that would really sell to the proper market. Ashenafi sells that awful stuff he makes by steeping some sort of leaves. This would be so much better. I think I will talk to him about it.”
“Great idea!” replied Hack. “We could apply for a patent and have a monopoly right from the start.”

The boys named the new brew after Abebe, since his name would be closer to the front of the alphabet. A few years later the tag line was added. Abebe had noticed that whenever Hack would call him, he would invariably identify himself by saying, “It’s Mountain Grown.” This sounded so apt that the boys had the Marketing Department add the phrase underneath the corporate logo. Thus was laid the foundation of one of the great fortunes of the continent of Africa.

Johnny Dollar's employers

Granted that Johnny Dollar was a fictitious character, but assuming his stories had really happened, it raises some interesting questions. When he was on a case, he was a contractor for that company and therefore representing that firm and acting for it, just as if he were an employee. Usually this appeared to be on no more basis than a verbal "go to it" authorization. Dollar would skirt the limits of the law on things like misrepresentation and unlawful entry - all on company time. But even if his methods had all been within the law, in virtually every episode there were bullets and fists flying everywhere. In other words, every case exposed his employer to all manner of liability. Every time he threw a punch or pulled the trigger he was acting as a representative of the company. Knowing how conscious insurance companies are about fine print and the finer points of law, it is funny they would have taken they course they were portrayed as taking in these programs.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Are you kidding me?!

In one of the Texas Rangers radio show episodes, Jase Pearson and his fellow Ranger trail and escaped prisoner into hilly country. They meet a Mexican man who tells them that the stranger is sleeping in his hut, but that his wife and children are there with him. He says, "Ranger, I'm scared." Pearson replies, "Nothing to be scared of; just do what we tell you." Now there is a brilliant statement: your wife and children trapped in a building with an armed escaped convict, and there is nothing to be scared of? (Then again, I guess he knew how the plot was written.)

Monday, June 01, 2015

The Seven Dwarfs that never made it

It is a little known fact that Walt Disney's older brother, Oswald, had the idea first for a movie about the seven dwarfs. He made two fatal errors, however. First, he made the movie all about the dwarfs themselves, forgetting that any movie needs a love interest. Second, he just had no flair for names. His dwarfs were Stingy, Porky, Droopy, Snoopy, Lumpy, Whiney and Flatulent. Sadly, this flick never got off the ground.

Hard to do a perfect job

"No  barber shave so close but another barber find some work to do." (Charlie Chan in The Jade Mask)