Saturday, December 31, 2016

Very uncool

For a television show whose star epitomized coolness, Danger Man (Secret Agent in the U. S.) certainly had a parade of some of the uncoolest cars ever.

Not very complimentary to the fish

"You're much to fond of frowsting indoors. That's why you have the sallow look."

"I didn't know I had a sallow look."

"Of course you have a sallow look. What else did you expect? You look like the underside of a dead fish."

(from Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Jed Clampett's sister

You might know that Buddy Ebsen (Jed Clampett of Beverly Hillbillies fame) began his career as a song and dance man. What you probably did not know is that his career began as a part of a brother/sister dancing act with his sister Vilma.

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Siberian eel hound

P. G. Wodehouse mentions Siberian eel hounds in his book Very Good, Jeeves. I thought it must be a joke, and a quick search did not reveal any such recognized breed of dog. There is a musical group by that name, however.

The food was bad!

The garbage I had had to insult the Wooster stomach with at the pub had been of a particularly lethal nature. Generally these rural pubs are all right in the matter of browsing, but I had been so unfortunate as to pick one run by a branch of the Borgia family. The thought had occurred to me as I ate that if Bingley had given his uncle lunch there one day, he wouldn't have had to go to all the bother and expense of buying little known Asiatic poisons.

(from Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Advice to young men

Always treat women of every age as ladies, even if they do not act like ladies.

William Conrad's voice

If you were designing a voice to put with the actor to play the head of a crime organization, you would end up with William Conrad's.

Now, that is a snort!

Her snorts were not the sniffing snorts snorted by Ma McCorkadale; they resemble more an explosion in the larger type of ammunition dump and they send strong men rocking back on their heels as if struck by lightning.

(from Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Do you look like this?

"A physique like a gunny sack full of cantelopes." (Fibber McGee)

Feeling down in the dumps?

Just listen to a series of Fibber McGee and Molly radio shows. Hard to stay down in Wistful Vista.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

She didn't like losers

          "Is he so bent on representing Market Snodsbury in the Westminster menagerie?"
          "It isn't that so much. Left to himself, I imagine he could take Parliament or leave it alone. But he thinks Florence will give him the bum's rush if he loses."
          "He's probably right. She can't stand a loser."
          "So he told me. Remember what happened to Percy Gorringe."
          "And others. England is strewn with ex-fiances whom she bounced because they didn't come up to her specifications. Dozens of them. I believe they form clubs and societies."
          "Perhaps calling themselves the Old Florentians."
          "And having an annual dinner."

(from Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, December 26, 2016

How Bertie got his name

          "Never mind about Tuppy for the moment. Concentrate on the sticky affairs of Bertram Wilberforce Wooster."
          "Wilberforce," she murmured, as far as a woman of her outstanding lung power could murmur. "Did I ever tell you how you got that label? It was your father's doing. The day before you were lugged to the font looking like a minor actor playing a bit part in a gangster film, he won a packet on an outside in the Grand National called that, and he insisted on you carrying on the name. Tough on you, but we all have our cross to bear."

(from Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

One spacey chick

"You look a bit damp," I added, changing the subject. "Was it raining when you were out?"

"A little, but I didn't mind. I was saying good night to the flowers."

"Oh, you say good night to them, too?"

"Of course. their poor little feelings would be so hurt if I didn't."

(from Jeeves and the Tie That  Binds, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fits a lot of people we know, huh?

"It's enough to take the noble earl on the short journey to the end of his wits." (from a synopsis of A Pelican At Blandings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Does that sound familiar?

What if pianos were constructed backward

What if the tones got higher in pitch as you went toward the left. The melody usually is in the higher-pitched notes because they are more easily heard, and the melody is usually more intricate, and most people are right-handed. So if pianos were made backward, we would be playing melodies with our left hands.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Waiting for retirement

I can recall only one other event that compared to retirement, and that was marriage, at least in the anticipation aspect. Having children is almost the same, but in those cases you do not know precisely when the child will be born, and in retirement and weddings you do.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The value of knowing truth

"To know forgery, one must have original."
(from Charlie Chan on Broadway)

Having a lot of different version of error is not particularly helpful.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Just the thing to steady his nerves

I was profoundly stirred, for if you think fellows enjoy listening to the sort of thing Spode had been saying about me, you're wrong. My pulse was rapid and my brow wet with honest sweat, like the village blacksmith's. I was badly in need of alcoholic refreshment, and just as my tongue was beginning to stick out and blacken at the roots, shiver my timbers if Jeeves didn't enter left center with a tray containing all the makings. St. Bernard dogs, you probably know, behave in a similar manner in the Alps and are well thought of in consequence.

(from Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Just keep a sharp eye

I made no move to accompany him. What little I had had of his society had been ample. As we were staying in the same house, we would no doubt meet occasionally, but not, I resolved, if I saw him first.

(from Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

"Do the family still live here?"

This is a line from the television series Danger Man, starring Patrick McGoohan. It illustrates the fact that the Queen's English (the sort spoken in Britain) considers collectives to be plural, and use verb forms accordingly. "Do they still live here," is how they would  view it.

Not particularly indicative

"She's like one of those princesses in the fairy tales who used to set fellows some task to perform - it might be scaling a mountain of glass or bringing her a hair from the beard of the Great Cham of Tartary - and then gave them the brush-off when they couldn't make the grade."

I recalled the princesses of whom he spoke, and I had always thought them rather fatheads. I mean to say, what sort of a foundation for a happy marriage is the bridegroom's ability to scale mountains of glass? A fellow probably wouldn't be called on to do that more than about once every ten years, if that.

(from Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, December 16, 2016


Andrew Vabre "Andy" Devine. Famous film and radio star.

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Was the Pine Ridge of Lum and Abner a real place?

Well, yes and no. The little community of Waters changed their name to Pine Ridge in 1936 and has been known as such ever since, but evidently the name originally was fictitious. In fact, if you look at a Google map of the area, the road on which the community is located is referred to as Old Waters Highway.

Not slander, but still wrong

In law, it is a maxim that truth is an absolute defense against slander. If what you say is true, then you cannot be sued in that regard. However, just because something is true does not mean it needs to be said. It can be wrong to say it without its being untrue.

McDonald's trains their workers well

When they start to work on the drive-through phone, if the customers can understand them, they put a marble in their mouths. Then they keep adding marbles until they are impossible to understand, and then they are trained.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Old, reheated, thin crust pizza

A little like shoe leather in texture, but right tasty.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"Only losers are traitors."

A line from one of the bad guys in the TV show Danger Man. I would assume that his expression would continue, "The winners are patriots."

Duly famous

"He who filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed." Shakespeare. Occasionally that bird could turn a phrase, couldn't he? That is a profound statement, eloquently stated.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A beauty hint you may have missed

Cucumber juice massaged gently over the fingernails will improve their growth. However, cream cheese rubbed on a bald head will not improve the cream cheese. (from the Steve Allen radio show)

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Just not for very long

I was touched, as who would not have been, by the eagerness she showed for my company. Too many of my circle are apt when inviting me to their homes to stress the fact that they are only expecting me for the weekend and to dwell with too much enthusiasm on the excellence of the earlier trains back to the metropolis on Monday morning.

(from Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Pine Ridge's expression of astonishment

"That'll make their eyes bug out like a stomped-on toad frog."

I work just like I get paid

Twice a month, and very little at that.

(not original with me)

She had a hearty way of speaking

I had already divined who was at the other end of the wire, my good and deserving Aunt Dahlia having a habit of talking on the telephone with the breezy vehemence of a hog-caller in the western states of America calling his hogs to come and get it. She got this way through hunting a lot in her youth with the Quorn and Pytchley. What with people riding over hounds, and hounds taking time off to chase rabbits, a girl who hunts soon learns to make herself audible. I believe that she, when in good voice, could be heard in several adjoining counties.

(from Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Not even if you think it

If a girl thinks you're in love with her and says she will marry you, you can't very well voice a preference for being dead in a ditch. Not, I mean, if you want to regard yourself as a preux chevalier, as the expression is, which is always my aim.

(from Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Almost, but not quite

Actor Patrick McGoohan (star of the Secret Agent/Danger Man television series) was the master of the half-smile. He would smile with his lips, but almost never with his eyes.

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Detectives have sympathetic wives

Jeff jumped out of his chair and started for the door. I stepped in front of him. "Where are you going, Jeff?"

"Up to  have a chat with Polly Franklin."

"Then I'm going with you. I won't stay here alone."

"Haila, why don't you go to some seaside resort for a couple of weeks? Lie in the soothing sand, bask in the healing sun . . .?"

"And read in the newspaper how the murderer gave you your lumps? No, thanks. I want to see you get your lumps. Let's go."

(from The Frightened Stiff, by Kelley Roos)

Friday, December 09, 2016


"To be found listening to what is not meant for your ears is to show that you have something to conceal." (from Charlie Chan's Greatest Case)

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Weddings and retirement

Getting ready to retire is not unlike getting ready to get married. It generally happens only once in a lifetime, and it is approached with great anticipation.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Healthy as a brewery horse

For some odd reason, the standard for good health on old time radio shows seems to have been the draft horse, specifically one that pulled beer wagons. I know of no reason why they should have been healthier than other animals, but they certainly were massive and sturdy beasts.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

So, who originated argyle socks?

According to Wikipedia, Scottish highlanders have been wearing socks with the Argyle pattern since at least the 17th history. Here is a LINK to a Brooks Brothers spot about them.

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Monday, December 05, 2016

Paul Robeson - a great singer and a great football player

He was a two-time All-American in football at Rutgers, and sang one of the most famous renditions ever of the the song, Ol' Man River. A magnificent bass-baritone voice. Some aspects of his life were less than admirable, but in these two areas he was outstanding. Perhaps the only rival to his version is THIS one by William Warfield, which has the advantage of more modern recording technology.

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The difference between assault and battery

If I remember my old business law course correctly, if I take a swing at you and hit you, that is assault and battery. If I sneak up behind you and hit you, that is battery, but not assault, because you were never in fear of harm. If I take a swing at you and miss, that is assault, but not battery, assuming you can prove you suffered some harm because of the swing.

Arkansas beauty pageants you are not likely to see

Miss Oil Trough
Miss Bald Knob
Miss Big Flat
Miss Gravelly
Miss Lead Hill

Argyll and elephants

Now here is something I am guessing you did not know. I like the name Argyll, and I am fond of argyll socks. And I knew that the chief of Clan Campbell, Torquhil Campbell, is the Duke of Argyll. However, I did not know that he was an enthusiast in the game of Elephant Polo. It is exactly what you think it is - just like normal polo except that you ride elephants instead of horses.

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No, it isn't Basil

Think the picture below might possibly be of Basil Rathbone? No, it isn't. It is, however, a photo of Actor Frank Benson, who was Basil's cousin.

How we categorize actors

It is interesting what causes us to categorize particular actors. My wife and I are big old movie fans, but we are not into horror movies. Thus, our mental pigeonholing of Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre is much different that it might be with many people. First and foremost, we think of Karloff as Mr. Wong and Lorre as Mr. Moto, two of the famous oriental detectives. We have enjoyed those series of movies tremendously and that is how we think of those two actors.

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Saturday, December 03, 2016

The movie actress and the college professor

They were one and the same. Linda Stirling starred in a number of movies from 1944 to 1947. Then she essentially retired from films, enrolled at UCLA and eventually got a doctorate in English literature.

Linda Stirling

My father and the sense of accomplishment

I remember vividly that when my father would offer thanks over the supper table, most of the time he would include thanks "for what we have been able to get done today." To Daddy a day wasted was a crime, and one without something done that was worth doing was a source of shame and frustration.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

When those foreign-born actors change their names

It is a common thing for actors to change their names. There are many different reasons for it. Some are just not very pretty names, some are hard to pronounce, etc. Some, however, were of foreign extraction and had names that did not translate very well into the American landscape. Take, for example Cornel Wilde. He was born Kornél Lajos Weisz in Hungary in 1912.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Shostakovich on old time radio?

I was lying bed this morning listening to an episode of All Star Western Theater, which features the Riders of the Purple Sage and their brand of western music. All of a sudden in the background music I  thought I heard a familiar theme. I went to Youtube and listened to the first few measures of the 5th Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich, and sure enough, that was it. Now, it might have been pure coincidence, but that theme is unique enough that it is unlikely. Possibly the composer who wrote the music for the show just wove a little highbrow into the background.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cornell Wilde - the best of the swashbucklers

Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., etc. There were several actors who were famous for playing swashbuckling roles. However, I do not know but what Cornell Wilde was the most athletic of them all. First of all, he just looked like an athlete - muscular with broad shoulders. Also, he moved with a strength and agility that was a little beyond what the others did. Fairbanks was a close second, but I think Wilde was the best of all.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Harry Belaver - a good cop

Harry Belaver made a career of playing tough guys, hoods and gangsters, perhaps mainly because of his dented nose. However, in the TV series The Naked City, he played veteran police sergeant frank Arcaro, and did a bang-up job of it.

Friday, November 25, 2016

A good comeback

From the movie The Saint's Vacation (1941):

Monte Hayward: "I'm not as stupid as you think I am."

Rudolph Hauser: "That would be practically impossible."

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Simon  Templar and Mary Langdon

Annual sabbath

The day after Thanksgiving is generally a sort of sabbath to me. I do not mean that in any religious sense, but only in that it is a greatly-needed day of rest from the usual stressful things of life. The hubbub of Thanksgiving is over, the next day is Saturday, which means I still will be  off work, and so there is not that looming over my shoulder. It is just a good time to take a deep breath emotionally and physically.

Mongol empire

Here is a very informative LINK  that shows the spread of the Mongol empire. Under Genghis Khan and his successors it became the largest contiguous empire in history. Notice that at its apex in 1279 it was even moving into Europe.

The methods of the Mongols in conquered territories were notorious brutal, sometimes involving wholesale massacres of the civilian populations. Given the limitations of travel and communication in those days, imagine the abject terror that must have come upon the people in the path of the Mongol armies (which, of course, was the specific object of their methods).

For those of you who have enjoyed the cantata Alexander Nevsky by Prokofiev, you will recall that the first movement of that piece (and the first section of the movie for which he originally wrote the music) was called "Russia Under the Mongol Yoke." A significant part of Nevsky's political career involved his relations with the Mongols. He apparently felt that paying tribute to the Khans would relieve any pressure of repeated Mongol invasions and that it was money well spent.

How could anyone govern an empire stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea and from southern Siberia to India? That ought to make an interesting study.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

She got her point across

I had long been a snappy dresser. At least, I had felt that I was snappy enough to get by. It was a pivotal moment in our marital relationship, however, when, as we were leaving the parking lot after our wedding, my new bride turned to me in the car, stuck her finger imperiously in my face, and gently uttered the words, "You are never, ever, EVER, under any circumstances whatsoever, to buy any article of clothing more significant than socks and underwear, upon pain of poison in your coffee, unless I am involved in the purchase decision." I got the point.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Those wedding presents

          "I pulled, shoved, and coaxed furniture and Jeff into strategic places around the apartment until I was ready to drop. But finally, by practically resorting to hypnotism, I succeeded in making him do the last job; put a wedding present from one of his aunts way back on a top shelf where we couldn't see it." (from The Frightened Stiff, by Kelley Roos)
          I suppose that every newly-married couple has presents like that. In due time the wife will find some place to hide it.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Straight prose is hard to memorize

Think how much easier rhymed and metered verse is to memorize than just straight prose (or prose that masquerades as poetry). Think how much easier verses from the Bible are to memorize from the King James Version than from one of the more modern sorts. Distinctiveness in language aids memorization.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Jimmy Cagney - black belt

Actor James Cagney had  a black belt in judo. Below is a link to a clip from the movie Blood on the Sun in which he has an extended battle with the Japanese bad guy.


Burt's Bees

It is a shame the Burt's Bees line didn't exist back during the days of Fibber McGee and Molly. Wallace Wimple would have had a great time talking about those products.

Bob Hope's date

On one episode of Mail Call radio show, Bob Hope and Clark Gable exchanged phone numbers from their "little black books." Bob's date ended up being Dame May Whitty, who was 38 years older than he was. Gable's was Margaret O'Brien, who was 36 years his junior.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Listening to Henry Aldrich

It is sometimes downright painful to listen to the Henry Aldich radio show. I catch myself thinking, "Absolutely no one could be that stupid!" And then the Homer Brown character comes into the plot, and I think, "No, I was wrong: here is someone stupider."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

This book might make interesting reading

The Care and Feeding of Rich Widows. Referred to in The Man From Homicide radio show.

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Still smells the same

"Time only wasted when sprinkling perfume on goat farm."

(from Charlie Chan's Greatest Case)


A friend of ours brought his telescope last night, and we got to look at the supermoon, on a clear night. It was impressive. Along the top of the moon was a jagged edge, which was a mountain range. I wonder how tall they were.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Quote from old Doc Clemmons

On the old radio show Rogers of the Gazette, the town physician is played by Howard (Floyd the barber) McNear. Here is one of his lines:

"If you talk about others you are a gossip. If you talk about yourself, you are a bore. It is hard to know which way to turn."

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Will Rogers, Jr.

Monday, November 14, 2016

A very effective deterrent

          Childe grinned at him. "Got to be careful," he said. "They have tried twice to dry-gulch me! I put flowers on their graves every Monday!" He smiled. "And keep an extra one dug. Ever since I had that new grave dug, I've been left alone. Somehow it seems to have a very sobering influence on the local roughs."

(from Keep Travelin', Rider, by Louis L'Amour)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

One of Hollywood's most lovable mugs

"Slapsy" Maxie Rosenbloom, former boxer and lovable tough guy in dozens of movies.

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Plump, or wrinkled?

I don't bother about it any more. If I bothered, I shouldn't be so plump. But I can't do with being bothered - it's so worrying. And I'd rather be plump than have my face all over lines. Why, I know women that spend every morning in a beauty parlor, and they've got twice as man lines as I have.

(from Grey Mask, by Patricia Wentworth)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Providing for parrots

She's just made a will leavin' every farthin' to a home for decayed parrots. She says the lot of parrots who outlive their devoted mistresses is enough to make a walrus weep. She says she feels a call to provide for their indigent old age.

(from  Grey Mask,  by Patricia Wentworth)

Friday, November 11, 2016

I really like Information Please

Deride if you must, but one of my favorite old radio programs is Information Please. The expertise of the panelists was amazing, and in almost every program there were a few questions asked in which you learn something of use. Add to that the banter among the cast, and it makes for an enjoyable thirty minutes. I recommend it.

Oscar got it right

In an episode of Information Please from May of 1942, one of the questions was about what use the Germans made of certain substances. One of them was hydrogen peroxide. Oscar Levant, one of the regular panelists and a wonderful wit, responded quickly, "It keeps their Aryanism yellow," which dig drew a huge applause from the audience. When Clifton Fadiman, the moderator, informed him that that was correct, Levant could hardly believe it, because he had said it as a gag. In fact, because of the emphasis on racial purity, many Germans who were not blonde made themselves so with peroxide.

Not a bad job if you can get it

"What's her job?"

"Tryin' on hats for ugly old women who can't face 'emselves in the glass. Margaret puts on the hat, the old woman thinks she looks a  bit of a daisy in it, pays five or ten guineas, and goes away pleased as Punch. Give you my word that's how it's done. Amazin' - isn't it?"

(from Gray Mask, by Patricia Wentworth)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Blue blood in American politics

Paul Romanov-Ilyinsky (27 January 1928 – 10 February 2004) was a three-time mayor of Palm Beach, Florida, and the only child of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia. He was a great-grandson of Tsar Alexander II of Russia and a first cousin once removed of Nicholas II.

A murder mystery I am guessing you missed

In one of the episodes of the My Favorite Husband radio show, Liz refers to a murder mystery entitled The Man with the Square Eyeballs. Hmm. Endless possibilities with that one.

Bergonzi and Tosca

Sometimes I turn on the Metropolitan Opera channel on satellite radio just at the right time. This morning on the way to work it was just before Carlo Bergonzi launched into "E lucevan le stelle," the quintessentially Puccinian aria from Tosca. He did a nice job with it.

Not the first boor

Mr. Trump is not the first ill-mannered, vulgar person to have been elected President. Even within my lifetime, Lyndon Johnson was known for being a pretty trashy individual. However, as I recall, even Johnson had the respect for the office to keep such things off the front page of the media, so that the office of the Chief Executive of the nation did not become a laughingstock.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

What do you do?

when a mentally-unstable moral degenerate is elected President? Seek repentance, and get on with your life.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Amazing professor

Gilligan's Island was, of course, a complete farce, as it was intended to be. Nothing was logical about it. For example, the girls and the Howells evidently took with them most of their wardrobe for a "three hour tour." All of that served to make the program enjoyable, since it was not intended to be logical. One of the amazing inconsistencies on the program was the wide range of the Professor's knowledge. I don't know if they ever said what his specialty was, but he seemed to have been expert at just about everything.

Monday, November 07, 2016

A good New York cop

Bart Burns played New York police Captain Pat Chambers on the Mike Hammer TV show. He did a great job, and had a realistic accent.

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Thursday, November 03, 2016

Bob Cummings as a serious actor

Cummings did a few serious roles from time to time in his career, and was not bad in them. However, after you have seen him in his frothier comic roles, it takes a little mental discipline to accept him as  a serious actor. It can be done, though.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

A bold secretary

Ellen: Nice tie, Vance.

Philo Vance: Do you like it?

Ellen: The only thing that would look better around your neck would be my arms.

Perfect practice

I am sure it was not original with him, but one of my college music teachers used to say, "Practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. If all you are doing is repeating mistakes, you are just getting better at making mistakes."

There is a good lesson in that for life in general. If we would correct bad behavior patterns, then we must take whatever steps are necessary to break the downward spiral and start in the correct direction.

How to make old folks happy

It is the seventeenth time this year that I have been summoned to my Aunt Elizabeth's death-bed. She's no end bucked because I always come. She isn't goin' to die for the next hundred years or so, but it keeps the old dear no end amused to go on sendin' for me, and alterin' her will, and givin' good advice all around. She always tells me about all my little faults and failin's, anad I say "Righto," and she's no end bucked. Her doctor says it's a splendid tonic.

(from Grey Mask by Patricia Wentworth)

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

A tasty dish

Grilled piranha

Oh, well, I tried

I have another grandson on the way, and, as usual, I am giving all the help I can in the choosing of a really unique name for my progeny. A few days ago I suggested Scrymgeour. It certainly has the stamp of blue blood, Alexander Henry Scrymgeour being the 12th  Earl of Dundee. The name traces at least to 1306, the date of the death of Sir Alexander Scrymgeour of Dudhope, who fought in the Battle of Stirling Bridge as the Hereditary Standard-Bearer, and who was hung, drawn and quartered for his trouble.

Alas, my wonderful suggest did not pass the test.

Monday, October 31, 2016

What a name!

"Sidney McMurdo was a lover, but he was also a second vice-president of the Jersey City and All Points West Mutual and Co-operative Life and Accident Insurance Company."

Who but P. G. Wodehouse could come up with a company name like that? Who but Wodehouse would have enough time on his hands to say it all the way through?

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A not-very-good poem

Timothy Bobbin has a canary.
As regards its sex opinions very.
If it just goes tweet-tweet,
We shall call it Pete,
But if it lays an egg, we shall switch to Mary.

(from Rodney Has a Relapse, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, October 29, 2016


In a story by P. G. Wodehouse, we find this sentence: "Before making a shot, he would inspect his enormous bag of clubs and take out one after another, slowly, as if he were playing spillikens." An alternate spelling is spilikins. You might not have heard of this game, but it is another name for Jackstraws, a game played with a heap of small rods of wood, bone, or plastic, in which players try to remove one at a time without disturbing the others. We used to call it Pick-up Sticks.

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Past trouble can't hurt you

"Tiger going away from village is never feared."

(Charlie Chan in Dangerous Money)

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Not the best of golfers

          It was a stimulating experience to listen to his fine, frank enthusiasm. He spoke of the President's Cup as some young knight of King Arthur's Round Table might have spoken of the Holy Grail. And it was consequently with peculiar satisfaction that I noted his success in the early rounds. Step by step, he won his way into the semi-finals in his bracket, and was enabled to get triumphantly through that critical test owing to a fortunate circumstance of his opponent tripping over a passing cat on the eve of the match and spraining his ankle.
          Many members of the club would, of course, have been fully competent to defeat Horace Bewstridge if they had sprained both ankles, or even broken both arms, but Mortimer Gooch, his antagonist, was not one of these. He scratched, and Horace walked over into the final.

(from Excelsior, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A disturbing bit of news

          In short, to hurry on this painful part of my story, when Sidney McMurdo eventually arrived with his suitcase and bag of clubs and was about to clasp Agnes Flack to his forty-four-inch bosom, he was surprised and distressed to observe her step back and raise a deprecating hand. A moment later she was informing him that she had made a mistake and that the photograph on her dressing-table at even date was not his but that of Captain Jack Fosdyke, to whom she was now betrothed.
          This, of course, was a nice bit of news for a devoted fiance to get after a four-hour journey on a hot day in a train without a dining-car, and it is not too much to say that for an instant Sidney McMurdo tottered beneath it like a preliminary bout heavyweight who has been incautious enough to place his jaw en rapport with the fist of a fellow member of the Truck Drivers' Union.

(from Feet of Clay, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Be careful of Ks and Gs together

The K sound and the G sound are produced the same, except that G is voiced, while K is not. Thus, when those two sounds are placed back-to-back in a word or consecutive words, it is slightly awkward to enunciate.

I have a good name. Mark Green. Simple enough, except that it is difficult to say plainly in a hurry, because a space has to be put between the K and the G and it sounds a little like you are gagging.

Sam Sabaya

In my humble opinion, Jay Novello's portrayal of the police Lieutenant Sam Sabaya in the radio series Rocky Jordan was one of the best in that genre, certainly one of the best supporting roles. He comes across as sympathetic and compassionate, yet at the same time an efficient policeman whose patience is tried sorely by Jordan's continual skirting around official police procedures.

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Be careful how you swim

          When girls are floating in warm water, dreaming of the man they adore, it sometimes happens that there comes to them a sort of exaltation of the soul which demands physical expression. It came now to Agnes Flack. God, the way she looked at it, was in His heaven and all right with the world, and it seemed to her that something ought to be done about it. And as practically the only thing you can do in the way of physical expression in the water is to splash, she splashed. With arms and feet she churned up great fountains of foam, at the same time singing a wordless song of ecstasy.
          The trouble about doing that sort of thing when swimming is that people are apt to be misled. Agnes Flack's was one of those penetrating voices which sound like the dawn express letting off steam at a level crossing, and in the number which she had selected for rendition there occurred a series of high notes which she held with determination and vigour.  It is not surprising, therefore, that a passing stranger who was cleaving the waves in her vicinity should have got his facts twisted. A moment later Agnes, in the middle  of a high note, was surprised to find herself gripped firmly beneath the arms and towed rapidly shorewards.

(from Feet of Clay, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Just the club for muscles

        There was Poskitt faced with the task of playing two from the interior of a sort of jungle. Long grass twined itself about his ball, wild flowers draped it, a beetle was sitting on it. His caddie handed him a niblick, but I could not but feel that what was really required was a steam shovel. It was not a golf shot at all. The whole contract should have been handed to some capable excavation company.
          But I had not realized to what lengths an ex-hammer-thrower can go, when armed with a niblick and really up against it. Just as film stars are happiest among their books, so was Joseph Poskitt happiest among the flowering shrubs with his niblick. His was a game into which the niblick had always entered very largely. It was the one club with which he really felt confident of expressing his personality. It removed all finicky science from the proceedings and put the issue squarely up to the bulging biceps and the will to win.

(from The Letter of the Law, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Concetto or concerto

In one episode of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, a big deal is made that the word concetto is a misspelling of the word concerto. Once it was mentioned the second time, veteran listeners of old time radio would know that this was a definite clue and that the key to the mystery hinges upon it. Incidentally, concetto means "conceit."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Shades of The Ransom of Red Chief

(Pinky Lee speaking)
"Mr. Vallee was kidnapped when he was six years old. His parents offered a reward, but the kidnappers refused to keep him."

Rudy Vallee and Pinky Lee

During the period of the long-running Rudy Vallee radio program when Pinky Lee (below) was his main regular side-kick, the program was OK, but no better. Vallee was not a good comedian, and Lee was mainly just irritating. However, they did have a few good skits and quite a few good guest stars.

Pinky Lee

His name shrank a little

Actor Alan Alda was born Alphonso Joseph D'Abruzzo. One can somewhat understand why he took a stage name. Of course, his father, actor Robert Alda, was born Alphonso Giuseppe Giovanni Roberto D'Abruzzo.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How to get an unusual name

Fred Allen's wife and fellow radio actor, Portland Hoffa, was named for the city where she was born. This was also true of her sister, Lebanon, and her brother, Harlem.

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I wonder which title she valued most?

Actress Denise Darcel once won the title, "The Most Beautiful Girl in France." Later she was awarded the title, "Miss Welder of 1952" by the  National Eutectic Welders' Club. Sort of like being Miss America and Miss Boiler Factory at the same time.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Control the mind

"Thoughts are like noble animal - unchecked, they run away causing painful smash-up."

(from Charlie Chan in London)

How to get to sleep

According to Falstaff Oppenshaw (Alan Reed) on the Fred Allen radio show, all you have to do is take twenty tiddlies, cut them in two, and you'll have forty winks.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Braying in the night

I recently spent a couple of evenings with friends who lived in the country. Their neighbor across the road had a donkey in the pasture who was wont to bray at intervals during the night. They apologized for the noise, but I must admit that it had a certain pleasant and haunting quality. I didn't mind.

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Unappreciated string quartets

In several instances, we learn that a composer's string quartets are considered to be among the more outstanding of his compositional efforts. Assuming that to be true, how often do even musical people remember any of his string quartets? They are among the greatest music, but very, very few remember them.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Absolutely pie-faced!

          "I want to tell you just one thing. Either you throw the bloke Spelvin out on his left ear and send for the police if he tries to get in again, or I push off. I mean it! I absolutely push off." There was a tense silence.
          "Indeed?" said Jane at last.
          "Positively push off," repeated William, firmly. "I can stand a lot, but pie-faced Spelvin tries human endurance too high."
          "He is not pie-faced," said Jane, warmly.
          "He is pie-faced," insisted William. "Come round to the Vienna Bon-Ton Bakery tomorrow and I will show you an individual custard-pie that might be his brother."

(from Jane Gets Off the Fairway, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Eddie the waiter and Rochester

Eddie, the waiter in Duffy's Tavern and Jack Benny's valet Rochester both had similar roles in their programs. They were got many of the best lines. Both had menial employment, but usually came out a notch ahead of their employers. Both poked fun at their employers' idiotic ideas, frequently in a dead-pan manner.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Sussex Downs

According to the Sherlock Holmes, the detective retired to the Sussex Downs and became a bee keeper. Below are some views of that area of England.

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He trod the heavy fantastic

The week that followed was one of much festivity in our village. There were dances, picnics, bathing-parties, and all the other adjuncts of high summer. In these William Bates played but a minor part. Dancing was not one of his gifts. He swung, if called upon, an amiable shoe, but the disposition in the neighbourhood was to refrain from calling upon him; for he had an incurable habit of coming down with his full weight upon his partner's toes, and many a girl had had to lie up for a couple of days after collaborating with him in a foxtrot.

(from Rodney Fails To Qualify, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Another Arkie in old movies

Actress and singer Marion Hutton (sister of Betty Hutton) was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1919.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The three lowest

          "You don't seem to realize, wretched William Bates, that Jane is an extremely romantic girl. A fascinating stranger like this, coming suddenly into her life, may well snatch he away from you before you know where you are."
          "That's all right," said William, lightly. "I don't mind admitting that the same idea occurred s to me. But I made judicious inquiries on the way round, and found out that the fellow's a poet. You don't seriously expect me to believe that there's any chance of falling in love with a poet?"
         He spoke incredulously, for there were three things in the world that he held in smallest esteem - slugs, poets, and caddies with hiccups.

(from Rodney Fails To Qualify, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Modest goals

Rollo was consumed inwardly by an ever-burning fever of ambition. His aims were not extravagant. He did not want to become amateur champion, nor even to win a monthly medal;  but he did, with his whole soul, desire one of these days to go round the course in under a hundred. This feat accomplished, it was his intention to set the seal on his golfing career by playing a real money-match; and already he had selected his opponent, a certain Colonel Bodger, a tottery performer of advanced years who for the last decade had been a martyr to lumbago.

(from The Awakening of Rollo Podmarsh, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Papaw and the banana plant

My father-in-law was a man of varied interests. Once, while on a trip somewhere down south, he brought back a banana plant, or perhaps someone gave it to him. In any case, he had one and was determined to make it grow. Obviously, the winters in our part of Arkansas are too severe for such a species, so he would dig up the plant, put it in a large pot, and bring it into his garage for the winter. Then, in the spring he would take it out again. This went on for several years, as I recall. The plant survived, but it never did thrive, as one might expect.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

One-sided love at first sight

Rollo Podmarsh shook hands with Mary. And at her t ouch the strange dizzy feeling which had come over him at the sight of her suddenly became increased a thousand-fold. As I see that you are consulting your watch once more, I will not describe his emotions as exhaustively as I might. I will merely say that he had never felt anything resembling this sensation of dazed ecstasy since the occasion when a twenty-foot putt of his, which had been going well off the line, as his putts generally did, had hit a worm-cast sou'-sou'-east of the hole and popped in, giving him a snappy six. Rollo Podmarsh, as you will have divined, was in love at first sight. Which makes it all the sadder to think Mary at the moment was regarding him as an outcast and a blister.

(from The Awakening of Rollo Podmarsh, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, October 08, 2016

A smell to remember

Bradbury Fisher uttered a low, bleating sound. The water had had the worst effect on the animal. Even when dry, Alfred was always a dog of powerful scent. Wet, he had become definitely one of the six best-smellers. His aroma had what the advertisement-writers call "strong memory value."

(from Keeping In With Vosper, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, October 07, 2016

Almost Basil, but not quite

Tom Conway replaced Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes on the radio series, and, quite frankly, he did a very good job. He was able to imitate Rathbone's inimitable clipped manner of speaking fairly well. In short, he was a creditable Holmes. He was almost Basil, but still fell somewhat short of the master.

He was just the guy

He might not look like a Viking, but after all, it is the soul that counts and, as this afternoon's experience had taught her, Ramsden Waters had a soul that seemed to combine in equal proportions the outstanding characteristics of Nero, a wildcat, and the second mate of a tramp steamer.

(from The Rough Stuff, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, October 06, 2016

The definition of boredom

Playing the bass part in Ravel's Bolero.

Duffy's Tavern's motto

(Archie the Manager speaking): Remember our motto: "The customer is never right. If he was, he wouldn't be eating here."

Not a dazzling conversationalist

He was one of those men who fall over their feet and start apologizing for themselves the moment they see a woman. His idea of conversing with a girl was to perspire and tie himself into knots, making the while a strange gurgling sound like the language of some primitive tribe. If ever a remark of any coherence emerged from his tangled vocal cords it dealt with the weather and he immediately apologized and qualified it.

(from The Rough Stuff, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The cost of bathing

Archie: Hey Finnegan, loan me fifty cents.

Finnegan: I can't, Arch, not until I get me allowance.

Archie: You get an allowance?

Finnegan. Yeah, I get fifty cents a week to take a bath.

Archie: You have to get paid to take a bath?

Finnegan: Yeah. Me Mother pays me Dad a dollar to take one, and he splits it with me to take it for him.

(from Duffy's Tavern radio show)

The Big Three

We are awash in all sorts of pain killers these days, but in my childhood, the Big Three (at least in terms of television ad time) were Anacin, Bufferin and Bayer (not necessarily in that order).

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

One of Fibber McGee's greatest lines

(speaking to Doc Gamble)
"You don't count blood, Tummy Thumper, you measure it!"

Sparkling conversation

"Fine weather we're having," said Mortimer, who was a capital conversationalist.

"Yes," said the girl.

"I like fine weather."

"So do I."

"There's something about fine weather!"


"It's - it's - well, fine weather's so much finer than weather that isn't fine," said Mortimer. He looked at the girl a little anxiously, fearing he might be taking her out of her depth, but she seemed to havfe followed his train of thought perfectly.

"Yes, isn't it?" she said. "It's so - so fine."

"That's just what I meant," said Mortimer. "So fine. You've just hit it." He was charmed. The combination of beauty with intelligence is so rare.

(from Sundered Hearts, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, October 03, 2016

Wrong emphasis

One of the great faults with the common system of raising children these days is that the visible rewards are for the most part for things of no real consequence.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

His part for the war effort

Conrad Veidt's was a familiar face in World War II era movies, usually playing a Nazi. Actually, Veidt had left Germany in 1933 because his wife was a Jew. He was very good at making his characters have a very arrogant, despicable demeanor, and in portraying them that way, he struck his blow on the home front for the war effort.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Sort of a surprise

In the pause which followed this brisk move it soon became evident to John, rubbing his shoulders against the oak panel and glowering upon the two treasure-seekers, that if the scene was to be brightened by anything in the nature of a dialogue the ball of conversation would have to be set rolling by himself. Not for some little time, it was clear, would his companions be in a condition for speech. Chimp Twist was looking like a monkey that has bitten into a bad nut, and Soapy Molloy like an American Senator who has received an anonymous telegram saying, "All is discovered. Fly at once." This sudden activity on the part of one whom they had regarded as under the influence of some of the best knock-out drops that ever came out of Chicago had had upon them an effect similar to that which would be experienced by a group of surgeons in an operating theatre if the gentleman on the slab were to rise abruptly and begin to dance the Charleston.

(from Money For Nothing, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, September 30, 2016

Better make SURE it cannot happen

"The impossible sometimes permits itself the luxury of occurring."

(Charlie Chan's Chance)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Buster V. Davenport - one of Lum and Abner's funniest

One of the funniest sequence of programs in the entire history of the Lum and Abner radio show is when Grandpappy Spears is hit on the head and gets amnesia. He then concludes that his name is Buster V. Davenport (because those initials are in his underwear), and that he is a vacuum cleaner salesman from Toledo. Great fun!

The curse of Literary Societies

I do not know if you have had any experience of suburban literary societies, but the one that flourished under the eye of Mrs. Willoughby Smethurst at Wood Hills was rather more so than the average. With my feeble powers of narrative, I cannot hope to make clear to you all that Cuthbert Banks endured in the next few weeks. And, even if I could, I doubt if I should do so. It is all very well to excite pity and terror, as Aristotle recommends, but there are limits. In the ancient Greek tragedies it was an ironclad rule that all the real rough stuff should take place off-stage, and I shall follow this admirable principle. It will suffice if I say merely that J. Cuthbert Banks had a thin time. After attending eleven debates and fourteen lectures on vers libre Poetry, the Seventeenth-Century Essayists, the Neo-Scandinavian Movement in Portugese Literature, and other subjects of a similar nature, he grew so enfeebled that, on the rare occasions when he had time for a visit to the links, he had to take a full iron for his mashie shots.

(from The Clicking of Cuthbert, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Not very conducive to romantic thought

There is probably no better corrective of the pangs of hopeless love than a real, steady application to the prosaic details of an estate. The heart finds it difficult to ache its hardest while the mind is busy with such items as Sixty-one pounds, eight shillings and fivepence, due to Messrs Truby and Gaunt for Fixing Gas Engine, or the claim of the Country Gentleman's Association for eight pounds eight and fourpence for seeds. Add drains, manure, and feed of pigs, and you find yourself immediately in an atmosphere where Romeo himself would have let his mind wander.

(from Money For Nothing, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dante television program

This series  starred Howard Duff of Sam Spade radio fame as a night club owner who ends up being a detective most of the time. Sort of reminds you of Rocky Jordan. The plots are interesting, and the supporting cast is strong. A number of the episodes are available on Youtube.

Alan Mowbray - one of our favorites

He was in at least one of the Sherlock Holmes movies; he starred as the head waiter in the Dante television series; as the sidekick of the Lone Wolf in one of the films in that series; and in an almost endless series of guest appearances in numerous movies and television shows. Always entertaining. Always classy.

Watch out!

If you are ever in a detective program, and at some point someone you don't know or someone you suspect offers you coffee, DON'T DRINK IT!! It will be a mickey. (You would think these dumb gumshoes would have figured that out by now.)

Monday, September 26, 2016

I take it he was not overly intelligent

"Sweet potatoes!" moaned Dolly. "Use your bean, you poor sap, use your bean. If you had another brain you'd have just one."

(from Money For Nothing, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Here is a creative insult

          "I don't get it," he said.
          Mrs. Molloy straightened herself militantly in her chair. Of all masculine defects, she liked slowness of wit least; and she had never been a  great admirer of Mr. Twist.
          "You poor, nut-headed swozzie," she said with heat. What don't you get? It's simple enough, isn't it?

(from Money For Nothing, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Nut-headed swozzie? Now there is a new one to me. I'll have to remember that one. Might or might not want to use it, depending on what it means in the ever-changing world of slang.

Friday, September 23, 2016

"Time for a work break"

The President of a company I worked for in my youth used to say that when he needed to talk to someone who was engaged in a non-essential conversation. I get to feeling like that quite a bit of the time, myself.

Sort of deadpan?

          "You know what old John is. One of these strong, silent fellows who looks on all occasions like a stuffed frog."
          "He doesn't."
          "Pardon me," said Hugo firmly. "Have you ever seen a stuffed frog? Well, I have. I had one for years when I was a kid. And John has exactly the same power of expressing emotion."

(from Money For Nothing, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trivia facts about The Quiet Man (movie)


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Not as attractive as he had thought

Left alone at the table with nothing to entertain him but his thoughts, John came almost immediately to the conclusion that his first verdict on the Mustard Spoon had been an erroneous one. Looking at it superficially, he had mistaken it for rather an attractive place: but now, with maturer judgment, he saw it for what it was - a blot on a great city. It was places like the Mustard Spoon that made a man despair of progress. He disliked the clientele. He disliked the head waiter. He disliked the orchestra. The clientele was flashy and offensive and, as regarded the male element of it, far too given to the use of hair oil. The head waiter was a fat parasite who needed kicking. And, as for Ben Baermann's Collegiate Buddies, he resented the fact that they were being paid for making the sort of noises which he, when a small boy, had produced - for fun and with no thought of sordid gain - on a comb with a bit of tissue paper over it.

(from Money For Nothing, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trying to figure Bing Crosby

He was not tall, nor athletic. He was not bad looking, but with those ears certainly not dashingly handsome. (And, of course, there was that famous pot belly.) He had a smooth style, but it had enough of a dash of the corny that it did not rate with many of the great screen lovers. He was no challenge to Adolph Menjou as a stylish dresser. He was an awkward kisser and dancer on the screen. Yet he ranks as one of the great heart-throbs of all time. Go figure. I guess it must have been that voice, reckon?

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