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.