Monday, November 30, 2015

You know this skit has possibilities

"General Custer's Last Hamburger Stand." From the Abbott and Costello radio show.

Strange auto parts

Costello: I can't afford a radiator cap, so I trained my dog to sit on the radiator.

Abbott: Does he bark much?

Costello: Only when it boils over.

Just keep your mouth shut

"Silence best answer when uncertain."
(from Charlie Chan in Shanghai)

This seems like a self-evident statement, but it is amazing how many people ignore it.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Counterspy - radio and movie

David Harding was the chief of the counterspy agency, evidently the FBI, but they could not use that name. The radio programs and the movies were much the same: very businesslike and no-nonsense. Enjoyable, but not much of the warm and fuzzy.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Glorious black and white

We have been watching old black and white movies so long and I actually prefer them to color movies.


Jem Mace's boxing genealogy

Readers of Louis Lamour novels will recognize the name of Jem Mace, who supposedly tutored more than one Lamour hero in the craft of boxing. Mace was the one-time Champion of England. He defeated Sam Hurst in 1861 to win that title. Hurst had won the title from Tom Paddock, who had gained the unofficial "title" in a bout with Harry Broome in 1856. Broome had won the welterweight championship of England in 1843 from Fred Mason.

Confounded railroad ties!

"He walked beside the track to avoid the nuisance of trying to walk the irregularly spaced ties."
(from The Iron Marshall, by Louis Lamour

I remember from my childhood walking along the Rock Island railroad that ran parallel to and just south of Highway 10 at Magazine, Arkansas. It was irritating. The ties were spaced too far for one step, and too near for two. (Strange what we remember from our youth.)


Friday, November 27, 2015

Why this name never got used?

Clarinette. Ought to be a good one. Has a nice sound to it.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

"Skelloch" - a useful word

It means "screech, or scream." I ran across it in The Five Red Herrings, one of the Lord Peter Wimsey mystery novels by Dorothy Sayers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Molita, from Vassar's Jazz

Bluegrass/jazz violinist Vassar Clements has an album called Vassar's Jazz. Most of the numbers on it are a little far out (Vassar has never been shy). However, right in the middle of all the weird stuff is one of those little tunes that just gets into your mind and your blood and you will be singing it all day long once you hear it. It is called "Molita," and it is nothing fancy. Just nice. And it fits. The tune and the harmonies are just right. Just right. It is worth buying the whole album just to get that one tune.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The falling birth rate

My parents are almost to the point of having enough great-grandchildren to equal the number of grandchildren my grandparents had.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hard to beat Beethoven

I heard someone asked the question years ago as to why modern classical music evolved the way it did: into more dissonant sound and non-standard forms. He answered, "It is hard to out-Beethoven Beethoven." He meant, of course, that just about everything had been done in the particular form of composing that was used in the Classical Period, and so composers moved onto something where they could do something new without having to try to out-master the masters.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ruth Terry, a survivor from Hollywood's golden age

There are not many actors still living from the period in which my wife and I specialize (up through 1953). One of them is Ruth Terry, a perky little brunette whom we know primarily from Mystery Broadcast (1943) and Slightly Honorable (1939). As of 22 November 2015, she was still living, according to Wikipedia, and has been married to John Ledbetter since 1966.

Ruth Terry.jpg

Saturday, November 21, 2015

I'll kill you!

Now, that is a very silly thing to say, even if one is not entirely serious about it; because it provides an opportunity for some other person who had reason to assassinate the person to do so with the glare of suspicion upon you, and not upon him. This fact, of course, every mystery writer knows, and makes use of from time to time

He must not have been very well liked

"I don't mind betting this is the most popular thing Campbell ever did. Nothing in life became him like the leaving it, eh, what?"

(from The Five Red Herrings, by Dorothy Sayers)


Friday, November 20, 2015

These things women do not like

Three things a woman will make any excuse to get out of: a rainstorm, a tight girdle, and a diet.

(from The Halls of Ivy radio show)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

And you want this man to be President?!

"Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has called for expanded surveillance of American Muslims, is refusing to rule out extreme measures that include warrantless searches or faith-based identification requirements."

What if the next group he is mad at is the group with which you are identified? The Constitution says you MUST have a warrant to enter a home. So Mr. Trump wants just to throw aside the Constitution?! Welcome back, King George III.

Those thirty minute movies

There were several old radio programs that presented audio versions of movies. Most of them were in a 30-minute format, which meant that there was probably about 25 minutes of actual time for the movie. Cutting down a flick that was pushing 90 minutes in its original to a third that much time must have been a real challenge to the writers. Sometimes it did not work, to the point that it was difficult to follow the plot because so much had been cut out of it. But at other times the writers were successful in including just the right pertinent dialogue to make the show enjoyable within the constraints of their time frame.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Yes, that ought to do it

A queer sensation went up his spine, such a feeling as he had known but once before, when ice cracked beneath his feet out on a lake, a half mile from shore.

(from Beyond the Great Snow Mountains, by Louis Lamour)

Be wary, young ladies

Like many young girls, Julie had thought that marriage would change her life, and indeed it had. But she discovered that the qualities in a man that had appealed to her when she was being courted were not the qualities that made a good partner for life.

(from Beyond the Great Snow Mountains, by Louis Lamour)


A real sweetheart

"He's got a personality like a temporary filling."

(from The Adventures of Maisie radio show)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Budget deficit

What you have when you haven't as much as you had when you had nothing.

(from the Fred Allen radio show)

Monday, November 16, 2015

If you got it, you got it

In the November 15, 1942 episode of the Jack Benny radio show, Dennis Day shows up with girlfriend Dorothy Lamour in tow, much to everyone's amazement. This led to some funny dialogue, as you can imagine. Whatever his other virtues, Day was far from being handsome, and on the show was supposed to have been just a kid. Jack kept saying, "I just can't understand it."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The problem with talking to my wife

After 42 years, what is there that I would have to say that she has not already heard? Terms of endearment bear repeating, of course, but all my sparkling bits of wisdom and witty repartee have long since worn thin, I fear.

We need to make up our mind about war

President François Hollande said that the attacks in Paris were an "act of war." His problem is that you cannot declare war on a non-governmental entity. In order to declare war, he would have to recognize ISIS as a legitimate nation, which I am sure he would not do. There is a difference between a criminal act and an act or war. Only nations can commit an act of war, and nations can go to war only when the representative body of that nation declares war on another sovereign state. ISIS wants to be a nation, but in reality they are just a bunch of international thugs - criminals - and ought to be treated as such.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Thinking men always have a chance

"Sharp wit sometimes much better than deadly weapon."
(Charlie Chan, in Castle in the Desert)


Thursday, November 12, 2015

I do not conduct my affairs in a haphazard manner

And I have difficulty having much sympathy for the problems created for themselves by those who do. However, I have GREAT sympathy for those who have problems dumped in their laps because of the haphazard, disorganized manner of others.

The challenge for variety

One of the difficulties that even great composers faced was making their music sound different. Music from a given period sometimes runs together. Bach is Bach, and sometimes one piece sounds about like another. Same with Mozart. Even modern composers such as Shostakovich, who were not confined nearly as much by convention, ended up sounding very much alike from one piece to another. Obviously, this was not universally true, but it was from time to time. As someone once pointed out, even the great composers had to eat, and so even Beethoven cranked out a lot of music that was somewhat less than great.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Those squealing tires and sqeaking brakes

Isn't it wonderful that every time a car came to a stop in a radio program it had either tires that squealed (even on a dirt road) or brakes that squeaked. Otherwise the sound effects man would have had nothing to do.

Throw-away line

In the episode of the radio show The Chase entitled "Killer At Large," a doctor at the state mental institution calls the daughter of the psychologist to testified to have the inmate committed originally, and whom the inmate has sworn to kill. The doctor tells her that the inmate has escaped, and then says, "Try not to worry." Oh yeah, Doc, no problem!

When overcast is beautiful

Normally overcast skies just make me depressed, especially when cooler weather sets in. The exception to that is when I really do not want to be doing anything outside, anyway. Then overcast is right attractive.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Arkansas geography lessons

Because of the Lum and Abner radio show, listeners all over the country heard about such booming metropoli as Hatfield and Oden - not to mention Pine Ridge (which originally was known as Waters, but changed its name to match the program).

Monday, November 09, 2015

How tough was Costello's boyhood gang?

They were so tough that when they walked down the street, even the sewers backed up.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

The empty people

The empty people, they wanted nothing more; they chafed at bonds because they were not mature enough for discipline, the kind of discipline one gives himself. He had seen too many of them, sad, misguided people, railing at institutions and ideas they were too juvenile to accept. The important things in life called for maturity, for responsibility. Too many fled from it, wanting to be back in childhood when somebody else coped with the problems.

(from Where the Long Grass Blows, by Louis Lamour)

Saturday, November 07, 2015


Because a custom is old is no reason for junking it. Men have found it the best way to go, and to deviate too far is to ask for trouble.

(from Where the Long Grass Blows, by Louis Lamour, with a hearty Amen from me)


Friday, November 06, 2015

Costello has good taste in interior decorating

The décor of his home is Early Army Surplus.

Legal theft

If a man borrows money and finds himself unable to repay it, despite his honest efforts to do so, then we do not fault him too much. However, if a man borrows money with no intention whatsoever of paying it back, that is theft, whatever it might be termed in legal jargon. The United States every year  borrows itself deeper and deeper in debt, and I have seen nothing that indicates that we EVER intend to pay it back. We are a nation of thieves.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

A desperate, depressing tragedy

One of the most heart-rending scenes in American history must have been the thousands of men who were willing to work, able to work, desperately needed work because their families were facing destitution, but who could not find a job - any job.

The orderliness of little boys

It is amazing to me that little boys who cannot even really express themselves yet, when they get a set of toy vehicles, will insist on lining them up in strict order on the playing surface. Orderly, logical minds even at that age.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

A lesson from Cappy Ricks

I wanted to show you how hard and cruel men can be and excuse their piracy o the plea that it is business! I tell you, Matt Peasley, when you've lived as long as I have you'll know men for the swine they are whenever they see some real money in sight.

(From Cappy Ricks by Peter B. Kyne)