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.

Image result for playing spilikens

Friday, October 28, 2016

Past trouble can't hurt you

"Tiger going away from village is never feared."

(Charlie Chan in Dangerous Money)

Image result for chan dangerous money

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)

Image result for boxer knocked out

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.

Image result for jay novello

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.

Portland hoffa 1940.JPG

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.

Denise Darcel (Battleground).jpg

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.

Image result for donkey braying

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.

Image result for sussex downs

Image result for sussex downs

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)