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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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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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


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


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.

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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.

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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."
          "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)

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Shannon television program

George Nader starred as insurance investigator Joe Shannon in this program that ran for one season in 1961-62. It was fairly low-budget in terms of production values, but the plots were fairly good. Shannon was high-tech for the times. There are several episodes available on YouTube.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Sometimes you just need to get out of town

The Bennett brothers had money, cattle, and strong political influence, while Swante Taggart had only a fast horse. A man must use what he has.

(from Taggart, by Louis L'Amour)

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

She was REALLY involved in politics

Many Hollywood sorts get involved in politics, but few to the extent that Lita Milan did. According to the IMDB site, "In 1958, Lita abruptly abandoned her career after marrying Ramfis Trujillo, son of infamous Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo. Her husband seized power of the republic after the assassination of his father in 1961, but the couple were forced to flee the country soon after. She bore a son, Ramses, and has lived in exile in Madrid ever since, remaining there after the 1969 death of her husband following a car accident." By all accounts Trujillo was a thoroughly despicable human being, brutal and licentious to the extreme.

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Monday, August 07, 2017

Food for special occasions

Galloway was making soup. He got that from Ma. Anytime anybody had anything happen, birth death, fight or wedding, Ma made soup.

(from Galloway, by Louis L'amour)

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Just listen to the birds

In the cold of dawn the birds were telling stories in the brush, and that spoke well of the neighborhood. As happy as they sounded, it was unlikely there was anything hateful around.

(from Galloway, by Louis L'Amour)

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Mob mentality

Any mob is composed of cowards, and each hopes to commit brutality and cruelty within the safety of the mob. He does not wish to be singled out.

(from The First Fast Draw, by Louis L'Amour)

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

I sat in this kind of desk in the first grade

My first year was the last in the old building, which was torn down to make way for the new elementary school (which has since itself been replaced).

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So why isn't he breathing hard?!

Portly actor Broderick Crawford is in a chase after a criminal up a long flight of stairs. In addition to being somewhat overweight, Crawford was known to be a heavy drinker. Yet when he apprehends the bad guy he isn't even breathing hard. Amazing!

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The day the thunder stopped

On March 31, 1992, the USS Missouri was decommissioned, and an era came to an end. On that date the US Navy had no more active battleships. One of the things in life that I regret never getting to see is a broadside by one of the big ships. Below is a picture of the New Jersey, which was the next-to-last battleship.

Here is a LINK to some very impressive footage of the USS Wisconsin firing broadsides. If you have young boys, they need to watch this.

Monday, July 31, 2017

She specialized in being icey

Dorothy Green (no relation) was a busy actress beginning about the time I was born. She was a strikingly beautiful woman, but generally played aloof, haughty characters. "Cold" would be the way I would describe her typical role. I always wonder what such actors are like in person. Maybe they are good at a certain role because they do not have to do very much acting to play it. On the other hand, sometimes actors are the opposites of the role they generally played. Tough-guy gangster Edward G. Robinson was a "softly-spoken and cultured man, who spoke seven languages," according to Wikipedia. Dan Duryea played a number of tough, psychotic roles and became identified with that persona, but in real life "lived a quiet life at his house in the San Fernando Valley, devoting himself to gardening, boating, and community activities that included, at various times, active membership in the local parent-teacher association and Scout Master of a Boy Scout troop."

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Schultz's greatest role

We are great Hogan's Heroes fans, needless to say. John Banner as Sgt. Schultz always stole the show, and never more so than in the episode "Art for Hogan's Sake." The saluting scene in the sidewalk café, and especially his dressing down of the Gestapo agents are absolute classics.


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Thelma Ritter - guarantee of an enjoyable movie

She won six nominations for Best Supporting Actress (more than anyone in history), plus a Tony award for best actress in a musical. If you have watched old movies at all, you will recognize her face, but since she played supporting roles, you might not have known her name. But learn it, and remember it. Her performances were classic and memorable. Pick out one of her movies, buy it, and watch it - just for her alone.

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Need a psycho? He was your man.

If you were a movie or television producer and you needed an actor to play a wild-eyed, close-to-the-edge sort, then Elisha Cook was your man.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Who were the Black Irish?

In a place or two in his novels, Louis L'Amour refers to someone as being of the Black Irish demographic group. Here is a LINK to a very good discussion of why that group of people may have been called that.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Busy as a bee

Folks are always talking about how busy a bee is, shows they never really watched a bee. A bee makes so much fuss with all his perambulating around that folks think they're doing a sight of work, but believe me, I've watched bees by the hour and I can tell you all that buzzing is a big fraud. The bees I've watched always buzzed in the sunniest places around the best-smelling flowers, just loafing their heads off fusting around in the play of sun and shadow at the swamp's edge. Busy? Not so's you could notice.

(from The First Fast Draw, by Louis L'Amour)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Goals and living

It meant hard work, and lots of it. Living a life is much like climbing mountains - the mountains are always further off than you think, but when a man has a goal, he always feels he's working toward something.

(from The Lonely Men, by Louis L'Amour)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

We could use the Sacketts today

"All day my mind kept going back to turnip greens, and to wild-hog hunting in the hills on those foggy mornings when the forest dripped and a body prowled through it like a red Indian, scourint for wile hogs to give us bacon to cook with turnip greens in an iron pot." (from The Lonely Men, by Louis L'Amour)

As big a problem as wild hogs have become today, we could use those Sackett boys. They could take all the bacon they wanted!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Must have caused quite a bit of comment

          "My ideas have changed since my student days. Every boy goes through the stage of collecting, whether it's bird's eggs or butterflies or postage stamps."
          Miss withers knew that well enough, having been confronted with problems of such nature in her classes now and then - particularly did she remember the time when little Abraham brought his collection of white mice to school one afternoon.

(from The Penguin Pool Murder, by Stuart Palmer)

Another song you probably missed

"I'll Meet You At the Hen House, Helen, If You Will Egg Me On"

(from the Fred Allen radio show)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Emergency! television show

I am watching some old episodes of the Emergency! television series. It was really good. The tension they built in some of the rescue scenes was tremendous. And without sacrificing a touch of humor throughout the program. It was something children could watch, for the most part, and (I assume) it gives a very interesting insight into the difficulties and dangers that the rescue squads face.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


Now there is a good word that does not get used much. Asanine is very common, meaning "like an ass." Very few, however, take it to its noun form.

Friday, July 21, 2017

How to spot a plainclothes cop

Miss Withers realized that she was getting to be an insider, for she could recognize a plainclothes man a block away. Whenever one sees a man who looks as if he had a trade, but weren't working at it, and a man who hangs about as if he had a place to go if he only wanted to, that man is a detective, she told herself.

(from The Penguin Pool Murder, by Stuart Palmer)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Charioteers on the Rudy Vallee radio show

I heard this black gospel group on an episode of the Rudy Vallee Show, and they were really good. Here is a LINK to one of their numbers.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The regrets of our lives

Something everyone is left with is regrets. We do not do what we wish we had. We do many things we wish we had not. Much of what we do, we do in the wrong way and for the wrong reason.

Frank Sinatra sang that he did it "My Way." Much of my regret is that I tried to do it my way instead of according to God's commandments. Thankfully, my home in heaven does not depend upon what I do, but upon what Christ has done.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hey Mulligan television show

This sitcom from 1954 is available on YouTube. It was also known as the Mickey Rooney Show. It actually is pretty entertaining. Sure, it is cornball and slapstick in places, but the cast pulls off the funny spots pretty well. Here is a LINK to one particularly good episode.

Monday, July 17, 2017

How an ordinary detective works

This is a real case, not a puzzle out of a story magazine. I'm a detective, not a super-sleuth. Sherlock Holmes would know all about this case in no time, what with a magnifying glass and his knowledge of the bone structure of Polynesian aborigines. Philo Vance would solve it between puffs of a Regie cigarette, from simple deductions based on the squawks of those penguins we met up with yesterday. But not me. I don't know any more than you do. Maybe less, only I know how to act wise. I'm just blundering ahead, trying not to miss any of the more apparent lines of approach. Sooner or later the murderer will leave something open, and I'll stumble in.

(Inspector Oscar Piper, in The Penguin Pool Murder, by Stuart Palmer)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A happy sort, I take it?

"He's the type of man who'd have a wonderful time at a wake."

(from The Penguin Pool Murders, by Stuart Palmer)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


I do not recall many times when it has been this green this far into the summer. We have not had a huge amount of rain, but it has come at advantageous intervals.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A little older, but it still works

In my humble opinion, the team of James Gleason and Edna May Oliver in the three Hildegarde Withers movies that they made was at least equal to the legendary team of Myrna Loy and William Powell in the Thin Man series of films. Whereas Powell and Loy were urbane and sophisticated, Gleason and Oliver were more on the crusty side, but just as effective in their roles and with just as good on-screen chemistry.

In the book, however, Miss Withers is listed as being 39 years old, whereas Oliver was about ten years older when the first of her three flicks was filmed. Thus the old maid looked even old-madier than she was in the book.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Hogan's Heroes the best

We were watching some of the old Hogan's Heroes episodes when my 92-year-old father was at our house the 4th of July, and he commented that he still thought that program was just about his favorite.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Another private eye

In the pilot episode of the television program Hey Mulligan, Mickey Rooney plays an aspiring actor who tries to demonstrate to the attractive secretary in the firm where he works that he has what it takes as an actor by reading from the script of a program called Peter Abel, Private Eye.

Be prepared

"Too late to dig well when honorable house is on fire."

(from Charlie Chan Carries On)

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

The Jimmy Stewart Show - unique

During the 1971-72 television season, James Stewart starred in his own television series. It only lasted one season, reportedly because it received poor reviews and ratings. Actually, we have found it to be very enjoyable, although it has the easy pace and style (perhaps too easy) of its star, and therefore may not have been entertaining enough for the audience.

This reportedly was the only time Stewart allowed himself to be billed on screen as "Jimmy." All his other credits were as James Stewart.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Harry Bellaver was a good actor

Although, because of his flattened nose, Bellaver got type-cast as a heavy, he was actually a good actor with a wider range of ability than one might think at first glance. He was in several Broadway plays. His transition from tough-guy to a more sensitive character is perhaps seen in what was probably his best-known role as Sgt. Frank Arcaro in the television series, Naked City.

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Sunday, July 02, 2017

An epitaph for General Patrick Cleburne

Cleburne County in north central Arkansas was named for Major General Patrick Cleburne of the Confederate Army. After he was fatally wounded in 1864, General George Gordon wrote this remembrance of him:

"A truer patriot or knightlier soldier never fought and never died. Valor never lost a braver son or freedom a nobler champion. . . . He was a patriot by instinct and a soldier by nature. He loved his country, its soldiers, its banners, its battleflags, its sovereignty, its independence. For these he fought, for these he fell."

Cleburne had lived in America for only fifteen years, the last four of them in arms in the defense of his country. His capabilities were such that he was known as The Stonewall of the West - high praise indeed.

At the time of his death, General Cleburne was engaged to Miss Sue Tarleton. She wore mourning every day for a year. Eventually, three years later, she did marry Captain Hugh Cole, but died less than a year later.

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An institution you may have missed

The Passaic Pinochle and Pinball Athletic Club.

(From a joke by Peter Donald from the Can You Top This radio show)

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Socially relevant programs

I really tire quickly of movies and television programs that obviously are trying to make some sort of a social statement. In the first place, frequently I do not agree with the statement they are making, and in the second place, I watch such programs to be entertained, not to be educated in sociology or ethics. I don't need some degenerate Hollywood sort trying to teach me on those subjects.

Friday, June 30, 2017

One time he got to be the good guy

The television series Law of the Plainsman ran for one season 1959-60. Michael Ansara starred as an Apache Indian who was a U. S. Marshall. Because of his stern-looking features, Ansara usually played heavies, but in this particular show, of course, he was the good guy and got to display a softer side in some of the episodes.

Because of his swarthy complexion, Ansara often portrayed Indian roles. Actually he was of Syrian descent.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Zorro the heart-throb

It is easy to see why Zorro was such a hit with both boys and girls. Tyrone Power (movie) and Guy Williams (television) cut handsome and dashing figures. They were smooth with the ladies, had impeccable manners, and, of course, they fought the bad guys with a flair that rarely has been matched. Great fun!

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wisdom from the milk man

"Letting a woman handle money is like letting a cat have its own fish market." (Woodrow Yamada, the milk man on The Jimmy Stewart TV show. He preferred to be known as nutrition dispersal engineer.)

Oops. The subtitles goofed.

My wife and I are watching episodes of The Saint occasionally. She has her tablet set so that it shows what is being said on the bottom of the screen. Except that the actors usually have distinct accents from some other country, so the system that translates the sounds into visual words sometimes slips up.

Like yesterday, when the beautiful lady was offering some food to Simon Templer, and said, "Caviar?" Except that when the computer translated it, it read "Carrion?"

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

One advantage of retirement

In an ordinary and desirable situation, upon retirement, the pace of life for the individual involved slows down immediately and markedly. At least that was my experience. And that was a HUGE immediate benefit. Healthwise, for sure. I wish I had had my blood pressure checked before and after retirement, but I am sure it has come down. I am now able to slow down and enjoy life, doing things like appreciating the quietness of a morning, or enjoying an extra cup of coffee with my wife. Or just sitting and thinking. Good things. And, I can actually plan out my day in a rational and sane manner, just the opposite of how it was before.

Monday, June 26, 2017

An honorable soldier

A one point in the War Between the States, one gun crew under the commend of General Patrick Cleburne were caught plundering a local home and were placed under arrest. Shortly afterward, during the preparations for a battle, "Captain Calvert, commander of the artillery piece, approached Cleburne to request the temporary release of his crew so that they could work the gun. Instead, Cleburne ordered him to take his gun to the rear, and in a voice loud enough to be widely heard, he declared that 'his men expected to fill honorable graves and not to rest side by side with thieves.'"

(from Stonewall of the West, by Craig Symonds)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Silly, but fun

I am enjoying an evening of Gilligan's Island with two of my granddaughters. This has to be one of the silliest televisions programs ever that was really fun to watch. Loads of fun, though, if you just sit back and enjoy it. Jim Backus, of course, was one of the great comic character actors in television and radio history.

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