Monday, December 11, 2017

Why they did not get married

In The Penguin Pool Murder, the movie ends with Inspector Oscar Piper (crusty police inspector) and Miss Hildegarde Withers (crusty spinster schoolteacher) headed off to get married. A very nice, completely surprising end to an entertaining movie. However, in subsequent movies in that series, the couple, although they work together regularly and obviously have a crusty affection and respect for one another, are not married. We learn what happened in Murder On Wheels, the second novel in the series.

"You didn't think I was going to sit there in Whyte's and eat your cinnamon toast as well as my own, did you?" Her voice was pitched low,but it had an edge on it. "The last time you heard a police alarm and walked out of me you left me sitting in a taxi outside City Hall until the Marriage License bureau had closed. I'm not letting you get away from me again that way."

Hildegard did not mean "get away again" from marriage, but from involving her in an investigation. The novel later reveals that they realized that they were not suited for marriage. However, in one of the later movies in the series, they are attending a social event together (with Piper in white tie and tails, no less), so they were still an "item," but just never got married.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Hall of Famer

Well-known actress Ruta Lee is of Lithuanian descent. In 2013 she was inducted into the National Lithuanian American Hall of Fame.

See the source image

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Here is what a police Inspector looks like

"A tall, gaunt man in a loose gray topcoat was pushing through the crowd. His lower lip protruded belligerently, and a dead cigar was clamped in one corner of his mouth." (from Murder on Wheels, by Stuart Palmer)

This is our introduction to Inspector Oscar Piper in this novel. He fits the prototype of that role that we find over and over again in old movies. Always the topcoat. Always the cigar.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Hildegarde vs.The Falcon and Bulldog

Stuart Palmer, the creator of Hildegarde Withers (one of our favorites), took a 6-year break from writing novels to go to Hollywood to work as a script writer. While there, he worked, among others, on scripts for the Bulldog Drummond and Falcon series of movies, which also are among our favorites. So, if you like old detective/adventure movies, Palmer is connected to a considerable slide of the landscape.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Horse-faced

Those of you who are acquainted with the Hildegarde Withers series of movies (and if you like old detective flicks, you should be) will recall that she is called "horse-faced" a time or two during the course of the shows. Edna Mae Oliver, the first actress to play the role, was no raving beauty; but the nickname was not because of her. The author of the books from which the character was taken, Stuart Palmer, had a "horse-faced English teacher" from his high school days. However, the role was indeed inspired by Oliver, whom Stuart had seen on stage in the musical Showboat.

See the source image

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

The Man With Two Left Feet and Other Stories (P. G. Wodehouse)

This collection of short stories is early Wodehouse (published in 1917). Sir Pelham had not yet fallen into his predictable and enjoyable formula from which we have derived so much pleasure. These were a little different. The humor is a little understated compared to, say, those involving Bertie Wooster's relatives. And, consequently, I think his writing is actually a little better because of it. I highly recommend this one.

Very methodical

There was something admirable - and yet a little horrible - about Henry's method of study. He went after Learning with the cold and dispassionate relentlessness of a stoat pursuing a rabbit. The ordinary man who is paying installments on the Encyclopaedia Britannica is apt to get over-excited and to skip impatiently to Volume XXVII (VET-ZYM) to see how it all comes out in the end. Not so Henry. His was not a frivolous mind. He intended to read the Encyclopaedia through, and he was not going to spoil his pleasure by peeping ahead.

(from "The Man With Two Left Feet," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, December 04, 2017

Do you reckon she was hard to live with?

Famous actress Ginger Rogers was married five times. The longest of them lasted about eight years. One would logically deduce from this that the gal may have been a little difficult to live with.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Not exactly a hot spot

Mr. Megg's hometown was no City of Pleasure. Remove the Vicar's magic-lantern and the try-your-weight machine opposite the post office, and you practically eliminated the temptations to tread the primrose path. The only young men in the place were silent, gaping youths, at who lunacy commissioners looked sharply and suspiciously when they met. The tango was unknown, and the one-step. The only form of dance extant - and that only at the rarest intervals - was a sort of polka not unlike the movements of a slightly inebriated boxing kangaroo.

(from "A Sea of Troubles," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, December 02, 2017

He had the easier job

"Young man," he said, "don't worry yourself. You've got a cinch. You've only got to hand a story to the police. Any old tale will do for them. I'm the man with the really difficult job - I've got to square myself with my wife."

(from "One Touch of Nature," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, December 01, 2017

Blue-blooded dogs

Any dog will tell you what prize-ribbon dogs are like. Their heads are so swelled they have to go into their kennels backwards.

(from "The Mixer," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Keep the family name clean

Through a sort of mist I seemed to have a vision of Aunt Agatha hearing that the head of the Mannering-Phippses was about to appear on the vaudeville stage. Aunt Agatha's worship of the family name amounts to an obsession. The Mannering-Phippses were an old, established clan when William the Conqueror was a small boy going round with bare legs and a catapult. For centuries they have called kings by their first names and helped dukes with their weekly rent; and there's practically nothing a Mannering-Phipps can do that doesn't blot his escutcheon

(from "Extricating Young Gussie," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Musical comedy

Musical comedy is the Irish stew of the drama. Anything may be put into it, with the certainty that it will improve the general effect.

(from "Bill the Bloodhound," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Looking ahead to Mr. Chicken

The bad guy in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken was played by Philip Ober. His lawyer was played by Charles Lane. Both of them rarely played good guys. However, in the episode of Whirlybirds entitled "Bankrupt Alibi," Lane plays the good guy sheriff. Ober remains the bad guy.

See the source image

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At least he left well

"Ah," he said, and left quickly, with the feeling that, however poorly he had shown up during the actual interview, his exit had been good. He might have been a failure in the matter of disguise, but nobody could have put more quiet sinisterness into that "Ah!" It did much to soothe him and ensure a peaceful night's rest.

(from 'Bill the Bloodhound," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

No matter how smelly

He lit his cigar. Among his friends at the Green-Room Club it was unanimously held that Walter Jelliffe's cigars brought him within the scope of the law forbidding the ferrying of concealed weapons; but Henry would have smoked the gift of such a man if it had been a cabbage leaf.

(from "Bill the Bloodhound," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Delegate

"It affords me, if I may say so, the greatest satisfaction," continued the noble lord, "that in a collaboration like ours all the uninteresting and disagreeable routine work is done by you."
(from Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers)

Amateur detectives, especially those of the nobility, did not have to dirty their hands with routine, and could get the official police to do those things.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Unrealistic memories

"The thing I object to in detective stories," said Mr. Piggott, is the way fellows remember every bloomin' thing that's happened to 'em within the last six months. They're always ready with their rime of day and was it rainin' or not, and what were they doin' on such an' such a day. Reel it all off like a page of poetry." (from Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers)

I'm right there with you, Mr. P. Normal people do not remember things like they do in these stories. I have commented before about how the characters in the Philip Marlowe radio show can remember the address of all their friends? Can you do that?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ann Baker - why didn't she make it big?

Ann Baker's only major role was the title slot in the television series Meet Corliss Archer. She was not a great actress, but certainly adequate. She was not dazzlingly beautiful, but sort of summed up "cute." But most notably she did have a really dazzling smile - really attractive.

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So stupid it hurts

As previously mentioned, the Meet Corliss Archer television program was enjoyable and fun. However, it has one of those characters who is so stupid that it just hurts to watch him. Dexter, the boyfriend of the title character, is one of those really, really dumb individuals who cannot be trusted to be in the same room with anyone or anything. He sort of reminds me of Gilligan of the Island fame.

See the source image

Bunter fit the part

"He had a truly terrible man-servant - the sort you read about in books - who froze the marrow in your bones with silent criticism." (from Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers).

It appears the butlers of Sayers' acquaintance were the same as in the circle of P. G. Wodehouse.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Morality and freedom

The moral degeneration of a people almost always will lead to a loss of civil liberties. People who are self-disciplined do not need totalitarianism to keep the peace. Plus, a moral people is more likely to be a watchful people, and a watchful people is more likely to be a free people.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Interesting description of a piece of furniture

"An elderly but affectionate armchair." From Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers, which is one of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Not hard to find motives

          "You'd have to begin by the usual things, I suppose - finding out what the person had been doing, and who'd been to call, and looking for a motive, wouldn't you?"
          "Oh, yes," said Lord Peter, "but most of us have such dozens of motives for murderin' all sorts of inoffensive people. There's lots of people I'd like to murder, wouldn't you?"

(from Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Real love

"We're really in love. Lots of times in the school lunchroom we just look into each other's eyes and forget to eat. That's really love when two people just look at each other and lose their appetite."

(from Meet Corliss Archer TV show)

A meal he intends to miss

          "Lady Swaffham rang up, my lord, and said she hoped your lordship had not forgotten you were lunching with her."
          "I have forgotten, Bunter, and I mean to forget. I trust you told her I had succumbed to lethargic encephalitis suddenly, no flowers by request."

(from Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Chief Gates and Corliss Archer

The voice of Ken Christy became one of the most distinguishable in old radio history. He played a variety of roles, probably the most memorable of which was Chief Gates on the long-running series The Great Gildersleeve. As old movie fans, also, my wife and I have noted his appearance in quite a few flicks of that era. He was on television as well. On the Meet Corliss Archer show, he played the neighbor of the Archers and the father of Corliss' boyfriend Dexter.
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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mary Brian - the transformation of different eras

The 1920s and early 1930s were a period in which women's grooming was (in my opinion) singularly unattractive. This is illustrated in the transformation that occurred in photographs of actress Mary Brian (see below) as she moved from that period into the 1940s.


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Meet Corliss Archer

This was a cute sit-com from the early days of television. (It had also been a radio show and a comic book.) Ann Baker starred in the title role. She had a not-very-bright and extra-clumsy boyfriend who evidently almost lived at the Archer's house. The scope of the show was limited, but it is enjoyable and well worth the effort. Something the family could watch and enjoy.

See the source image

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Illogical conclusion

          "Well, it is not good jumping at conclusions."
          "Jump? You didn't even crawl distantly within sight of a conclusion. I believe if you caught the cat with her head in a cream-jug you'd say it was conceivable that the jug was empty when she got there."

(from Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Not accustomed to honesty

I always think that the franker you are with people, the more you're likely to deceive 'em; so unused is the modern world to the open hand and the guileless heart, what?

(from Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers)

A nice way of saying "going bald"

Mr. Alfred Thipps was a small, nervous man, whose flaxen hair was beginning to abandon the unequal struggle with destiny.

(from Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers)

Thursday, November 09, 2017

An experienced butler to a detective

"Bunter!'

"Yes, my lord."

"Her Grace tells me that a respectable Battersea architect has discovered a dead man in his bath."

"Indeed, my lord? That's very gratifying."

(From Whose Body? by Dorothy M. Sayers. This is a Lord Peter Wimsey novel. He is the son of a duke, and Bunter is his butler - obviously having the legendary imperturbability of the British butler, plus a keen interest in his lordship's cases.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Too much of that Taste

Back in my childhood - maybe even before my teenage years - one of the Fort Smith radio stations had a call-in request program. I would occasionally list to it for a while. About the only thing I remember was that they played A Taste of Honey by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass (seemingly) every other time. In fact, it got so bad that once the host had to say that they were going to set it aside for a while and give some other songs a turn.

LINK

Monday, November 06, 2017

Dugs

"She - the Gaunt Woman - is the bitch at whose dugs they must feed or starve."

This is an expression from Edmund Gilligan's novel, The Gaunt Woman. The Gaunt Woman was a translation of the Danish name of a sailing vessel masquerading as Danish, but actually a German sub tender. It carried the supplies for a pack of submarines off the eastern coast of Canada. I must admit that the term dug used as "the udder, teat, or nipple of a female animal" was a new one to me.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Interesting description of a good man

The kid held out his hand. He had plenty of good stuff in him. Cape Breton stuff. Patrick knew his kind and liked it well. Tough as halibut and faithful to the last kick of their hearts.

(from The Gaunt Woman, by Edmund Gilligan)

Saturday, November 04, 2017

The Gaunt Woman

This is a very nice novel by Edmund Gilligan. It was the basis for the screenplay of the movie Sealed Cargo (1951), which is how I became familiar with it. I recommend it highly. It concerns the captain of a sailing vessel who is involved in the identification and destruction of a German submarine tender during World War II. The tender was disguised as a Danish sailing vessel. Mystery, danger, even a touch of romance. Well worth the read.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

The perfect Grannies

Ellen Corby (The Waltons) and Irene Ryan (Beverly Hillbillies) were the two prototypical Grannies in television history - one serious and one comic.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Ozzie Nelson's ridiculous baton

The director of a stage band is largely window dressing, but it still irks me to see those massive batons used by some of them in an entirely improper manner. Take Ozzie Nelson (of the Ozzie and Harriet TV show) for instance. Before he was a television star he was a band leader, and he used one of those ridiculously-large batons that he waved largely to no purpose. The way he used it, it would have been almost impossible to see the beat from his baton. Below is a link to a video of his band. And yes, that is Harriett singing midway through the clip.

LINK

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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Who was his secret love?

Harriet Nelson: Don't tell me you didn't have a crush on a girl when you were his age.

Ozzie: Yes, I did, but she married Douglas Fairbanks.

So who was she? Well, we would deduce that "she" was Mary Pickford. Ozzie was born in 1906, and Pickford married Fairbanks in 1920.

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The feminine mind

Ozzie Nelson (discussing Harriet with the boys): The feminine mind is a very weird and complicated machine.

Ricky: Like an airplane.

Ozzie: Yes, and without a pilot

Did we really say that?

Before we were married, my wife and I told a gentleman that we could keep our cost of living down because we did not drink coffee. Can you imagine?

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Just superior

When I was in high school, one of my best friends was never lacking in self-confidence. Muhammed Ali had popularized the slogan, "I'm not conceited, I'm just convinced." My buddy went it one better: "I'm not conceited, I'm just superior." He intended it to be taken tongue-in-cheek, I am (reasonably) sure.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Gail Kobe - one of those "hard" actress faces

Gail Kobe was one of those actresses who just looked like she was almost perpetually angry. Always a little hard edge. Never quite soft and friendly, warm and fuzzy. Of course, appearances are very often deceiving, but that is the way she looked, to me.

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Sometimes the truth hurts

"Truth sometimes like stab of cruel knife." (from Charlie Chan at the Race Track)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The medicine I feared the most

When I was a child, I preferred any medicinal treatment to rubbing alcohol put on an open wound. It stung like fire!

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sam Spade in wartime?

Want to see how Sam Spade (Howard Duff) is as a soldier? Just watch the episode of Combat! entitled "Missing In Action" in the link below.

LINK

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Monday, October 23, 2017

William Leahy - the unknown Five Star

Nine men have worn five stars in the military of the United States: five Generals of the Army and four Fleet Admirals. Without much doubt the least known of these nine was Fleet Admiral William Daniel Leahy. He had been Chief of Naval Operations (1937-1939), following which he undertook a couple of diplomatic posts. He was recalled to active service by President Roosevelt in 1942 as his personal Chief of Staff. In addition, he chaired the Chiefs of Staff during the war. According to Wikipedia, from 1942 to 1949 he was the highest-ranking member of the military, reporting only to the President.

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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Bombed out buildings

One of the constant backdrops on the Combat! television program was the partially-destroyed buildings of Europe. Everywhere you looked. That had to be depressing for the people who lived there. Destruction all around you.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Ricky Ricardo's ancestors were politicians

Desi Arnaz (who played Ricky Ricardo on the I Love Lucy show) was almost universally known as a band leader and actor. What many people may now know is that his father and grandfather were well-known politicians - in Cuba.

From Wikipedia:
Desiderio Arnaz II was the youngest mayor of Santiago de Cuba (1923–1932). He was elected to the Cuban House of Representatives in November 1932 for the Oriente Province. When Gerardo Machado was overthrown as president in August 1933, Rep. Arnaz was arrested and jailed. Six months later, he was allowed to go into exile. He graduated from the Southern College of Pharmacy (merged and known now as Mercer University, School of College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences) in 1913 in Atlanta, Georgia. Rep. Arnaz was the son of Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha I (1857–1929), a doctor (and grandson of Manuel Arnaz, a mayor of Santiago de Cuba in 1869) and Rosa Alberni y Portuondo (1870-?), the great-granddaughter of a mayor of Santiago de Cuba, José Joaquín Portuondo y Rizo, 1st Conde de Santa Inés (1762–1824).

Friday, October 20, 2017

The important things

It is some consolation to us of the "little people" to observe how uniformly rich and famous people's personal lives are a shambles. They are good at the unimportant things, but they pretty much mess up the important things.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Their beautiful young co-stars liked working with them

Buddy Ebsen and Andy Griffith were comic actors with long-running and successful television programs who both turned to serious roles late in their careers (Barnaby Jones and Matlock, respectively). Per Wikipedia, both evidently had very good relationships with their female co-stars in those programs.

After her stint on Barnaby Jones, Meriwether became best friends with Ebsen, keeping in touch for many years until his death on July 6, 2003.

[Nancy] Stafford continued to have a relationship with Andy Griffith after her departure from Matlock. After Griffith's death, Stafford said about him that "Andy was more than you can imagine. Obviously, he was an American icon, but he was an incredible professional. He set a tone on the set, every single day that was absolutely inspiring. He was fun. He was profoundly loyal. He was just an amazing wonderful man and he left an indelible mark on my life as well as the lives of everyone who watched him over the years." She recalled speaking to him on his 86th birthday (shortly before his death), saying, "He sounded so wonderful, he picked the phone right up and he was upbeat and he sounded full of energy and we laughed and we joked. I told him how much I loved him and we just had a great, great, great conversation; so glad that we did. He sounded amazing."


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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why string quartets are important in music

Most musical ensembles have a variety of tonal color in their make-up. Even choirs' sounds vary depending upon the words they are saying. However, in a string quartet there is not much variation in color. Just a string sound. Maybe some pizzicato thrown in. So, the composer has to rely purely upon the music itself to make the composition good. Therefore, writing for string ensembles is in that respect more challenging than for other groups. It reveals very quickly if the composer can compose.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

One foot in the grave

Patty: Look at all those gray hairs (speaking about her father). He has seven: I counted them.

Richard: So, what's seven gray hairs.

Patty: It's the beginning of the end, Nature's way of saying, "You've had it!"

Richard: I guess when they start to get decrepit, they start to go pretty fast.

(from The Patty Duke Show)

Clearwater Clapsaddle?

He was a character on the Jack Benny radio show. I am guessing the writers had a lot of fun dreaming up that name.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Perfect nerdy little brother

Paul O'Keefe played Ross, the younger brother of Patty Duke on The Patty Duke Show television series. He was perfectly cast.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

A very specialized musical post

Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales. It is a position within the Royal Household of the United Kingdom. There have been six of them, currently Anne Denholm. In 2006 the Prince presented to the Harpist a gold leaf harp costing 150,000 pounds, which is the instrument the Harpist uses.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

What instrument did she take up?

On one episode of The Patty Duke Show she takes up a musical instrument. Which one? The tuba, of course. You just knew it was going to be either that or the drums.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Blots on civilization

There were the others, like Henry Rossiter, who wanted the rewards without the labor, who, to get them, would take from others what they had worked hard to gain. It was the mindless selfishness of those who had not come to understand that all civilization was simply a living together, so that all could live better.

(from The Man From the Broken Hills, by Louis L'Amour)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Good advice for a young man

"It is a poor man who has not honor, but before you do a deed, think how you will think back upon it when old age comes. Do nothing that will shame you."

(from The Man From the Broken Hills, by Louis L'Amour)

Monday, October 09, 2017

Aunt Bea on The Eve Arden Show

The Eve Arden Show ran on television for one season of 26 episodes. (Arden was much more famous for her work on Our Miss Brooks on radio and TV.) One of the main cast members on this cast was Frances Bavier, who portrayed her mother, and who went on to greater fame as Aunt Bea on The Andy Griffith Show.

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Sunday, October 08, 2017

Hollywood's most closely set eyes

Actor Allyn Joslyn wins the prize.


Saturday, October 07, 2017

The Great Blue Norther of 1911

So you think you have experienced a "cold snap"? Consider these facts regarding the cold front that moved through the central U. S. on November 11, 1911:

Kansas City had a record high for the date of 76 by late morning. By midnight the temp had dropped to 11 degrees.

Springfield, MO was at 80 degrees at 3:45 PM. Fifteen minutes late the temperature was at 40 degrees. By midnight they had a record low of 13 degrees.

Oklahoma City set a record high and low in the same day: 83 and 17 degrees, respectively.

As one might expect, there were nine tornadoes set off by the system as it moved through.

Given the lack of public communications in those days, just imagine the number of people who were trapped in situations with totally inadequate clothing for the severe temperatures.

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Friday, October 06, 2017

Two of the oiliest - Fortunes of Captain Blood

When you think of the term "oily" with regard to actors' voices, the movie Fortunes of Captain Blood exhibited two of the three best (or worst) examples that I know. George Macready and Lowell Gilmore both had starring roles. The only other worthy competitor that I can think of offhand is Carleton Young, who starred as The Whisperer on the radio.

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Macready

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Gilmore

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Young

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Take One False Step (1949)

This is a great little murder mystery starring William Powell, one of our favorites. One of the things that makes this flick doubly enjoyable is the presence of two of the all-time great character actors as the two detectives on the case, those being James Gleason and Sheldon Leonard, both in fine form.

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Gleason

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Leonard


Maroons

In his novel The Warrior's Path, Louis L'Amour gives a significant role to an ethnic group on Jamaica called Maroons. These were slaves who had escaped and had established communities in the mountainous interior of the island. Here is a quote from a Wikipedia article about the Maroons:

To this day, the maroons in Jamaica are to a small extent autonomous and separate from Jamaican culture. Those of Accompong have preserved their land since 1739. The isolation used to their advantage by their ancestors has today resulted in their communities being amongst the most inaccessible on the island.

In 1973, there were still 11 Maroon settlements remaining, holding lands allotted to them in the 1738-1739 treaties with the British. These maroons still maintain their traditional celebrations and practices, some of which have West African origin. For example, the council of a Maroon settlement is called an Asofo, from the Twi Akan word asafo (assembly, church, society).

Native Jamaicans and island tourists are allowed to attend many of these events. Others considered sacred are held in secret and shrouded in mystery. Singing, dancing, drum-playing and preparation of traditional foods form a central part of most gatherings. In their largest town, Accompong, in the parish of St. Elizabeth, the Leeward Maroons have a vibrant community of about 600. Tours of the village are offered to foreigners. They hold a large festival annually on 6 January to commemorate the signing of the peace treaty with the British after the First Maroon War.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

See, you don't have to use profanity

"You thick-headed, feeble-minded, dim-witted Kallikak, snake-brained, gopher-livered, tin-plated, peg-topped, maggot-headed . . ."

(from Crooked Shadow, by Kurt Steel) In case you were wondering what a Kallikak is, it was the pseudonym used for the family that was the object of a study by psychologist Henry H. Goddard, entitled The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Heredity of Feeble-Mindedness.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Refreshment

When you live on a dirt road, a gentle rain in the midst of a dry season is a wonderful thing. It even smells wonderful.

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Monday, October 02, 2017

Time is relative

"At my age, time is rather a nasty subject. You have noticed that for the last ten years I haven't carried a watch."

(Mr. Cartwright, an elderly character on the Whirlybirds TV show)

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Some of Hollywood's loveliest off-center eyes

Fay Wray was perhaps more famous for her scream (in King Kong) than for her eyes, but they fell into that class of beautiful imperfections. One of them was off center just a little, but the effect was very pleasing.

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Why did Andy Griffith hate his uncle?

(in the movie No Time For Sergeants)

As he is being interviewed by the psychiatrist, he is asked if he hated his mother or father. He said no, but he did have one uncle that he hated, because he always used to wrestle with their mule and kept him (the mule) all worn out.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Pneumonic plague

Ever heard of this disease? It is one of the three main forms of plague, and is even more virulent than the famous bubonic plague. Here is a LINK to an episode of the old TV program Whirlybirds, which deals with this disease.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Now there is a name for you

Viviane Ventura was a minor actress, born in London and raised in Colombia. Her daughter is named Sheherazade Goldsmith. That is an interesting combination. Sort of like being named Giuseppe Schwartz.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The deterioration of speech

"There is a special immediacy to history when one sees the root speech morals of a simple folk disintegrate."

This sentence is from Crooked Shadow, a mystery novel by Kurt Steel. It refers to the phrase "one of the new men," the meaning of which changed during the rise of the Nazis in Germany.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Not so young man

Several times in the movie "Murder in the Private Car" (1934), Russell Hardie calls Charlie Ruggles by the name "young man." This is ironic, since Ruggles was born in 1886 and Hardie in 1888


Ruggles

Truth's path

"Truth, like football, receive many kicks before reaching goal."
(from Charlie Chan at the Olympics)

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Monday, September 25, 2017

People who never come home

Travel does broaden one's perspective: there is no doubt about that. If we never "get out of Dodge," we do not have much beyond a worm's viewpoint. However, living constantly on the road is not healthy, either. There is a reason that people have homes, and those who do not have one in the truest and fullest sense of the word are lacking one of the most important things in life.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

One of the smoothest

Of all the detectives, one of the very smoothest was Roger Moore (later Sir Roger) as The Saint of television fame. His taste was impeccable, and he was always suave and debonair, and all that sort of thing. But he was quick with his fists and equal to every challenge.

Image result for roger moore the saint

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Standard procedure with women

Mike Barnett: How long will it take you to dress?

Gloria: Five minutes.

Barnett: OK, I'll be back in an hour and wait for your to finish.

(from Man Against Crime television program)

Interesting, if true

"I never knew a really brave fighting man, yet who was reckless." (from The Daybreakers, by Louis L'Amour)

If this statement is even generally true, it is quite interesting. Brave men are careful men.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Concerning gun control

"Violence is an evil thing, but when the guns are all in the hands of the men without respect for human rights, then men are really in trouble." (from The Daybreakers, by Louis L'Amour)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

"Know" - a confusing word?

The "k" is silent. The "w" is silent. It is pronounced exactly like "no," but has an entirely different meaning. Must be tough on people learning to speak English.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

One man's view of politics

"Statesmanship is about ten percent good ideas and motives and ninety percent getting backing for your program." (from The Daybreakers, by Louis L'Amour)

Whether or not that ought to be the case, I suspect it is the case in a good number of cases.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Tough medicine

Cap was a fair hand at patching up wounds and he made a poultice of herbs of some kind which he packed on my shoulder. He cleaned the wound by running an arrow shaft through with a cloth soaked in whiskey, and if you think that's entertainment, you just try it on for size.

(from The Daybreakers, by Louis L'Amour)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Don't worry

"There would be trouble enough, but man is born to trouble, and it is best to meet it when it comes and not lose sleep until it does." (from The Daybreakers, by Louis L'Amour)

This quote contains the essence of an important biblical principle.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dona Drake - a broad range of roles

She was a beautiful actress who generally was assumed to be of Latino derivation because she looked the part and played so many of those roles. However, Dona Drake actually was 3/4 black and 1/4 white. The remarkable result of this combination of bloodlines made Drake a tremendously versatile actress.

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Johnny Midnight

This was a television program starring Edmond O'Brien about an actor turned private investigator. Naturally, its subject matter deals a lot with the stage. The plots are pretty good, and O'Brien does a creditable job with the lead acting. The staging tends to be very dark, and with the production quality that made its way to YouTube, it is hard to watch, but still worth the effort.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Guy Williams - unappreciated sword fighter

Hollywood has had its flashy on-screen swordsmen. They all looked pretty good, whether or not they actually could fight. (Cameras can cover a multitude of faults.) Some that come to mind are Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone, Tyrone Power, and Stewart Granger. Rathbone actually was supposed to have been a decent swordsman. One who came across pretty well on television was Guy Williams, who played Zorro in the Disney television series. He looked athletic and moved very well.

Image result for guy williams zorro

Monday, September 11, 2017

Sanitizing humor

In today's politically-correct environment, it is very dangerous to use caricatures of people for fear of offending someone. The problem is that much (perhaps even most) of humor involves caricatures. Caricatures are exaggerations, and exaggerations are funny. Political cartoons are funny because they involve caricatures. Take away the exaggeration of the person's physical features and you take away the humor.

It is the same with the ethnic groups. Lum and Abner, Archie Bunker, Andy Capp: all were exaggerations of features sometimes found in certain ethnic groups. Take away the exaggeration and you take away the humor.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

What I have in common with the Sacketts

"Far away back and on three sides of the family, we were Welsh." (Tyrel Sackett in The Daybreakers, by Louis L'Amour)

It just so happens that that statement applies to me, also. Three of my grandparents were born Loyd, Davis and Evans, three of the most common Welsh surnames. (The usual Welsh spelling is "Lloyd".)

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Not Freddie's fault

That she should be furious at her failure to find the jewels was excusable, but she had no possible right to be furious with Freddie. It was not his fault that soot had poured from the chimney in lieu of diamonds. If he had asked for a necklace and been given a dead bat, he was surely more to e pitied than censured. Yet Eve, eyeing his grimy face, would have given very much to have been able to scream loudly and throw something at him. The fact was, thee Hon Freddie belonged to that unfortunate type of humanity which automatically gets blamed for everything in the moments of stress.

(from Leave It To Psmith, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, September 08, 2017

Making his case

          "Good-bye," said eve. "Thank you for being so hospitable and lavish. I'll try to find some cushions and muslin and stuff to brighten up this place."
          "Your presence does that adequately," said Psmith, accompanying her to the door. "By the way, returning to the subject we were discussing last night, I forgot to mention, when asking you to marry me, that I can do card-tricks."
          "Really?"
          "And also a passable imitation of a cat calling to her young. Has this no weight with you? Think! These things come in very handy in the long winter evenings."

(from Leave It To Psmith, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Getting his forty winks

The ability to sleep soundly and deeply is the prerogative, as has been pointed out earlier in this straightforward narrative of the home-life of the English upper classes, of those who do not think quickly. The Earl of Emsworth, who had not thought quickly since the occasion in the summer of 1874 when he had heard his father's footsteps approaching the stable-loft in which he, a lad of fifteen, sat smoking his first cigar, was an excellent sleeper. He started early and finished late.

(from Leave It To Psmith, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Vintage Wodehouse

          He could not analyze the sound, but the fact that there was any sound at all in such a place at such an hour increased his suspicions that dark doings were toward which would pay for investigation. With stealthy steps he crept to the head of the stairs and descended.
          On uses the verb "descend" advisedly for what is required is some word suggesting instantaneous activity. About Baxter's progress from the second floor to the first there was nothing halting or hesitating. He, so to speak, did it now. Planting his foot firmly on a golf-ball which the Hon. Freddie Threepwood, who had been practicing putting in the corridor before retiring to bed, had left in his casual fashion just where the steps began, he took the entire staircase in one majestic, volplaning sweep. There were eleven stairs in all separating his landing from the landing below, and the only ones he hit were the third and tenth. He came to rest with a squattering thud on the tower landing, and or a moment or two the fever of the chase left him.

(from Leave It To Psmith, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Image result for man falling down stairs

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Making his pitch for her hand

Reflect that I may be an acquired taste. You probably did not like olives the first time you tasted them. Now you probably do. Give me the same chance that you would an olive. Consider, also, how little you actually have against me. What, indeed, does it amount to, when you come to examine it narrowly? All you have against me is the fact that I am not Ralston McTodd. Think how comparatively few people are Ralston McTodd.

(from Leave It To Psmith, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, September 04, 2017

Poor Freddie!

He looked at Eve. He looked at her searchingly. Into her pleading eyes he directed a stare that sought to probe her soul, and found there honestly, sympathy and - better still - intelligence. He might have stood and gazed into Freddie's fishy eyes for weeks without discovering a tithe of such intelligence.

(from Leave It To Psmith, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, September 02, 2017

A speech you might pass on

About now, if she had not had the sense to detach herself from the castle platoon, she would, she reflected, be listening to Lord Emsworth's speech on the subject of the late Hartley Reddish, M.P., J.P.: a topic which even the noblest of orators might have failed to render really gripping.

(from Leave It to Psmith, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, September 01, 2017

Politically incorrect, but still very funny

According to the standards of today, the Amos and Andy television show was very politically incorrect. But that does not detract from the fact that the actors in the show did a wonderful job, if their job was to be funny. Tim Moore particularly gave a legendary performance as the Kingfish, and Ernestine Wade was the perfect complement as Sapphire, his wife (although they were almost 20 years apart in age). So, regardless of the surrounding political circumstances, we can look back on the crew of actors who devoted two years to this show and say that they were great!

Image result for amos n andy tv

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Do you remember this secret order?

Mystic Knights of the Sea. This was the name of the lodge of George "Kingfish" Stevens on the Amos and Andy television program. The Kingfish is actively involved, but it is not clear just exactly what the nature of the organization is.

Image result for mystic knights of the sea lodge

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Unlikely or impossible?

"In this life, Comrade Cootes," said Psmith, "we must always distinguish between the Unlikely and the Impossible. It was unlikely, as you say, that you would meet any friend of McTodd's  in this out-of-the-way spot, and you rashly ordered your movements on the assumption that it was impossible. With what result? The cry goes round the Underworld, 'Poor old Cootes has made a bloomer.'"

(from Leave It To Psmith, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Extinct languages

Here is a LINK to a list of extinct languages - those no longer spoken. (That is opposed to a dead language, which is one that is no longer the native language of any community, e.g., Latin.) There are approximately 7000 spoken languages currently, and one publication estimates that 90% of those will become extinct by 2050.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Not still, perhaps, but close enough

To say that Baxter's heart stood still would be medically inexact. The heart does not stand still. Whatever the emotions of its owner, it goes on beating. It would be more accurate to say that Baxter felt like a man taking his first ride in an express elevator who has outstripped his vital organs by several floors and sees no immediate prospect of their ever catching up with him again.

(from Something Fresh, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Endangered languages

Here is a LINK to a list of the endangered languages in the world today. Note the in 2005, there were 6909 living languages in the world. Did you have any idea there were so many? A very few languages so dominate the world scene that we forget about the others. In the United States particularly, there are quite a few Indian languages that are endangered. For example, as of the date of the attached article, only eight people spoke Achumawi, the tongue of the Pit River people in California.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Bridgework Blues

"I had a bad year in '32 and I had to pawn my bridge. I tell you, Andy, it's an awful feelin' to pass by the pawn shop and see your own teeth grinnin' at you from behind the glass."

(from Amos and Andy)

Just put him down

Kingfish: We put our dear, beloved Andy away this morning. And this is the gentleman here that packed the box.

Queenie: You buried Andy Brown?

Algonquin Calhoun: Well, he was dead. There wasn't much else we could do with him.

The funniest prisoner ever

Actor Tim Moore portrayed George "Kingfish" Stevens on the television version of Amos 'n' Andy. Here is an interesting note from Wikipedia about his later life:

          Moore married his last wife Vivian Cravens (1912–1988) eight months after Benzonia's death; they had been performing as a comedy team for some time before marrying in 1957. This marriage won him considerable publicity thanks to the "Roast Beef Scandal" of January 1958. Moore fired a gunshot in his home because of his "mooching in-laws" (stepson, stepdaughter, and her husband) when he found that the last of the New Year's roast beef had been eaten by them. Moore related, "These free-loaders have eaten everything in the house. My wife protects them and every time we talk about it, we get into an argument. The argument got a little loud and the next thing I knew, the big boy (his stepson Hubbard) jumped out of his chair. I ran upstairs and got out my old pistol. I didn't want to hit anybody."

          When the police arrived at the home, Moore, pistol still in his belt, told them, "I'm the old Kingfish, boys. I'm the one you want. I fired that shot. I didn't want to hit anyone, although I could have. Anyway, you should have seen the in-laws scatter when I fired that gun." The shot Moore fired hit the china cabinet; he was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, with police calling him the "funniest prisoner in police history." Moore was initially ordered held on $1,000 bond; the judge changed his mind and released Moore on his own recognizance. Tim and his wife reconciled, with Vivian's pleading for the charges to be dropped. Moore entered a not guilty plea before the case went to trial on March 24. He received a $100 fine and a year's probation as his sentence.

Tim Moore Kingfish Amos 'n' Andy.jpg

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Kingfish's opinion of Andy's intelligence

"If he had put a bullet hole in your head, that would be the only thing in there."


Kingfish's addition

"Andy, puttin' two and two together, we comes up with one of the nastier fours we ever run into."

(from Amos and Andy television show)

Drunk again!

Hal Smith became famous playing Otis Campbell, the town drunk on the Andy Griffith television show. Obviously, he also had other "non-drinking" roles as well. At least once, however, he played a drunk on a program other than the Griffith show. That was in the episode of Adam 12 entitled "A Jumper Code Two."

Here is a LINK to that episode.

Hal Smith Picture

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Reading material of riper vintage

He went into the waiting-room, and having picked up a magazine from the table, settled down to read a story in The Girl's Pet - the January number in the year 1919, for employment agencies, like dentists, prefer their literature of a matured vintage.

(From Leave It To Psmith, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse. It was written in 1924.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

One thing that made Wodehouse's works so readable

"An Anglo-Saxon right then had the run of the world's two richest slang systems in their primes, which, laid on top of a classical education, gave him unrepeatable equipment."

(Wilfred Sheed, commenting on P. G. Wodehouse's work in his Introduction to Leave It To Psmith)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Took one on the chin

Baxter, meanwhile crawled steadily on his hands and knees towards the light switch. He was in much the same condition as one White Hope of the ring is after he has put his chin in the way of the fist of a rival member of the Truck-driver's Union. He knew that he was still alive. More he could not say.

(from Something Fresh, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bad backs

I remember the first time my back went out on me. It was when I was working for the toy company here in Booneville, covering the annual downtown event. I had to move a large number of large boxes of toys, and finally - there it went. I managed to get home, fell over on the bed, and just lay there trying not to move so it would not hurt quite as badly.

Before that time I had scoffed at people who complained about bad backs, figuring they were just using that as an excuse. I got cured of that opinion in a hurry.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

No more stomachs!

He had been growing more and more annoyed with this little person who buzzed and barked and bit at him, but the idea of definite revolt had not occurred to him. But his sufferings at the hands of Beach the butler had reduced him to a state where he could endure no further mention of stomachic linings. There comes a time when our capacity for listening to data about the lings of other people's stomachs is exhausted.

(from Something Fresh, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A nice cut

"Her mind is an open book to me. Most of the pages are blank."

(Donald O'Connor in This is the Life)

Death wish?

"Anything in the mail?"

"Just a post card of Grant's tomb from Angela, saying 'Wish you were here.'"

(from "This Is the Life," starring Donald O'Connor)

Tax cuts

If someone owed you a large amount of money, would you think kindly of his taking a lower-paying job just because he did not wish to have to work as hard? Not likely!

The United States of America owe over 11 trillion dollars. We have a moral obligation to pay that debt. A moral obligation. Therefore, we have a moral obligation to run a revenue surplus each year, and to pursue whatever fiscal policy will maximize that surplus, at least until we get our debt paid. I have no sympathy whatever for the party (Republicans) who do not want to pay more taxes nor for the party (Democrats) who do not want to cut spending. Neither party appears to have the slightest intention of fulfilling their moral obligations. To borrow money without any intention of paying it back is stealing.

A Wodehousian description of true love

He was conscious, to the very depths of his being, that a future in which Joan did not figure would be so insupportable as not to bear considering, and in the immediate present, he very strongly favoured the idea of clasping Joan in his arms and kissing her till further notice. Mingled with these feelings was an excited gratitude to her for coming to him like this with that electric smile on her face; a stunned realization that she was a thousand times prettier than he had ever imagined: and a humility which threatened to make him loose his clutch on the steamer-trunk and roll about at her feet, yapping like a dog.

(from Something Fresh, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Be careful with those glances, ladies

If girls realized their responsibilities, they would be so careful when they smiled that they would probably abandon the practice altogether. There are moments in a man's life when a girl's smile can have as important results as an explosion of dynamite.

(from Something Fresh, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Ain't it the truth, brother! Ain't it the truth!

Ashe drifted out. He was conscious of a wish that he understood girls. Girls, in his opinion, were odd.

(from Something Fresh, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Help wanted

It is the saddest spectacle in the world, that of the crowd collected by a "Wanted" advertisement. They are so palpably not wanted by anyone for any purpose whatsoever: yet every time they gather together with a sort of hopeful hopelessness. What they were originally, the units of these collections, Heaven knows. Fate has battered out of them every trace of individuality. Each now is exactly like his neighbor, no worse, no better.

(from Something Fresh, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Frances yes, Skinnay no

Frances Langford was, in my opinion, one of the more under-appreciated of the female vocalists from the big band era. She had a lovely, dark-toned voice and an impeccable style. (Her range dropped from soprano to contralto as a girl because of a tonsillectomy.) Although she was attractive, she was not a drop-dead beauty, and that may have had something to do with why her career did not reach the heights of some of her contemporaries. However, her tours with Bob Hope did help make her a household name.

In contrast, her fellow musician on the Hope tours, Skinnay [sic] Ennis, had to have been just about the worst of the male crooners. His voice was just barely strong enough to be heard, even with a mike, and was not that good even when you could hear it. His phrasing was suspect at best. Maybe his contract as band leader required that they let him sing on the shows, but they would have been much better off to have let Langford have an extra song and to have cut out Ennis from the slate.

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