Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Red in the face

Aunt Dahlia's face grew darker. Hunting, if indulged in regularly over a period of years, is a pastime that seldom fails to lend a fairly deepish tinge to the patient's complexion, and her best friends could not have denied that even at normal times the relative's map tended a little towards the crushed strawberry. But never had I seen it take on so pronounced a richness as now. She looked like a tomato struggling for self-expression.

(from Right Ho, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Teeth - the great lie of the silver screen

Actors (at least those playing the good guys) almost always have lovely, white, straight teeth. Wonderful, appealing smiles. Do you think that was really the case back in the old days? No braces. No dentists, or at least not any that most people could afford. But, you can't have heroes and leading ladies with crooked or missing teeth, can you?

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Actor Arthur Q. Bryan portrayed Doc Gamble on the Fibber McGee & Molly radio show, and was also the original voice for Elmer Fudd. You might have known that if you follow old radio shows or classic cartoons.

However, you probably did not know that the initial Q. stood for Quirk. Really.

Arthur Quirk Brian the Voice Actor of Elmer Fudd.jpeg

They would, indeed

"A girl who could make cracks about human pythons who ate nine or ten meals a day and ought to be careful not to hurry upstairs because of the danger of apoplectic fits is a girl, many people would say, in whose heart love is dead. Wouldn't many people say that, Jeeves?"

(from Right Ho, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Uneasy Money

This is the title of a novel by P. G. Wodehouse, and in my humble opinion, is one of this better ones, and considerably out of his norm. It might surprise you  somewhat to know that PGW could write, when called upon to do so, a very nice romantic story. Oh, it has its comic moments, as every Wodehouse novel should, but at its root it is an old-fashioned, feel-good "boy meets girl" romance. Thoroughly enjoyable.

The only cook that measures up

I have stated earlier in this chronicle that this curious object of the seashore with whom Aunt Dahlia has linked her lot is a bloke who habitually looks like a pterodactyl that has suffered, and the reason he does so is that all those years spent in making millions in the Far East put his digestion on the blink, and the only cook that has ever been discovered capable of pushing food  into him without starting something like Old Home Week in Moscow under the third waistcoat button is this uniquely gifted Anatole.

(from Right Ho, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, January 27, 2017

How a man gets trapped

My whole fate hung upon a woman's word. I mean to say, I, couldn't back out. If a girl thinks a man is proposing to her and on that understanding books him up, he can't explain to her that she has got hold of entirely the wrong end of the stick and that he hadn't the smallest intention of suggesting anything of the kind. He must simply let it ride. And the thought of being engaged to a  girl who talked openly about fairies being born because stars blew their noses, or whatever it was, frankly appalled me.

(from Right Ho, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

The way to a quick promotion

Captain Binghamton: J. W., I'll bet the right man could really go places with your outfit, huh?

Lt. Jason Whitworth: Well,  I did. I went from office boy to President in less than a year.

Binghamton: That's incredible!

Whitworth: I know. I was so stunned when the Chairman of the Board told me, that all I could say was, "Thanks, Dad."

(from McHale's Navy TV show)

Image result for binghamton mchale's navy

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Payments for information

Being "experts," as my wife and I are, on detective programs of the 1930's, '40's and '50's, we know that one thing that private eyes could do that regular policemen could not do was to pay for information. Private dicks were always slipping someone $5 or $20, or maybe more, to get the information they needed.

So just exactly how much would that have been in today's money? According to the DollarTimes calculator, $50 in 1940 would have been worth $86 today. So, $20 accordingly would have been worth $345 today. Folks in down-and-out circumstances might well have talked for those amounts of money.

Give him an impressive name

If you want your son to have an impressive-sounding name, then just give him a first name that starts with a "J" (it doesn't matter which name), then an imposing-sound surname as his middle name.

J. Struthers Smith
J. Pilkington Brown
J. Willoughby Jones

It's easy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Those Hollywood people aren't so smart

They can't even understand a simple, two-word sentence. "I do."

The Nicholas Brothers - were they good, or what?!

Watch this LINK to see one of the great dance duos of the World War II era. Unbelievable!

Image result for the nicholas brothers

Stressful dialogue

I remember at my Aunt Agatha's place in Hertfordshire once being put on the spot and forced to enact the role of King Edward III saying good-bye to that girl of his, Fair Rosamund, at some sort of pageant in aid of the Distressed Daughters of the Clergy. It involved some rather warmish medieval dialogue, I recall, racy of the days when they called a spade a spade, and by the time the whistle blew, I'll bet no Daughter of the Clery was half as distressed as I was. Not a dry stitch.

(from Right Ho, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A lively group

          What with having, on top of her other troubles, to rein herself back from the trough, Aunt Dahlia was a total loss as far as anything in the shape of brilliant badinage was concerned. The fact that he was fifty quid in the red and expecting Civilization to take a toss at any moment had caused Uncle Tom, who always looked a bit like a pterodactyl with a secret sorrow, to take on a deeper melancholy. The Bassett was a silent bread crumbler. Angela might have been hewn from the living rock. Tuppy had the air of a condemned murderer refusing to make the usual hearty breakfast before tooling off to the execution shed.
          And as for Gussie Fink-Nottle, many an experienced undertaker would have been deceived by his appearance and started embalming him on sight.

(from Right Ho, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, January 23, 2017

She expected the worst of his friends

Well, this friend of yours has got here, and I must say that or a friend of yours he seems less sub-human than I had expected. A bit of a pop-eyed bleater, but on the whole clean and civil, and certainly most informative about newts. Am considering arranging a series of lectures for him in neighbourhood.

(from Right Ho, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Eduardo Ciannelli - actor, and baritone

We know Eduardo Ciannelli as a prolific actor who played gangsters and criminals, including a good number of bad-guy Germans during the World War II period, even though he was an Italian. Before he became an actor, he had been trained as a surgeon, and then as a singer, and achieved sufficient success to sing at La Scala, the famous Italian opera house.

The jump from hoods to cops

Two of the most recognizable faces for underworld characters in old movies were Harry Belaver and Horace McMahon. However, in the TV series Naked City, they were promoted to two of the main police characters in the show. So, we viewers had to adjust.

Image result for harry belaver

Saturday, January 21, 2017

An unappetizing young gentleman

I threw my mind back to the last time I had seen him. About two years ago, it had been. I had looked in at his place while on a motor trip, and he had put me right off my feed by bringing a couple of green things with legs to the luncheon table, crooning over them like a young mother and eventually losing one of them in the salad. That picture, rising before my eyes, didn't give me much confidence in the unfortunate goof's ability to woo and win, I must say. Especially if the girl he had earmarked was one of these tough modern thugs, all lipstick and cool, hard, sardonic eyes, as she probably was.

(from Right Ho, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, January 20, 2017

Those opera singers can get tough!

          "I shouldn't worry, I said. "There's probably nothing in it. Whole thing no doubt much exaggerated."
          "You think so, eh? Well, you know what he's like. You remember the trouble we had when he ran after that singing-woman?"
          I recollected the case. You will find it elsewhere in the archives. Cora Bellinger was the female's name. She was studying opera, and young Tuppy thought highly of her. Fortunately, however, she punched him in the eye during Beefy Bingham's clean, bright entertainment in Bermondsey east, and love died.

(from Very Good, Jeeves!, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Confusing British punctuation

In quotations, the British use the single first ['], and then the double ["] for quotes within quotes - just the opposite of how we do it in the USA. This makes reading it slightly difficult to read their passages that contain involved conversations.

British: 'She told me, "I'm going to town," and then she went.'
U.S.: "She told me, 'I'm going to town,' and then she went."

This aunt was not the best foot forward

I began to see that this Rhoda knew her business. If I'd been a girl with someone wanting to marry me and knew there was an exhibit like this aunt hanging around the home, I, too, should have thought  twice about inviting him to call until the ceremony was over and he had actually signed on the dotted line. I mean to say, a thoroughly good soul - heart of gold beyond a doubt - but not the sort of thing you wanted to spring on Romeo before the time was ripe.

(from Very Good, Jeeves!, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A hearty "Tchah" to you, too

You see, I'm one of those birds who drive a lot but don't know  the first thing about the works. The policy I pursue is to get aboard, prod the self-starter, and leave the rest to Nature. If anything goes wrong, I scream for an A.A. scout. It's a system that answers admirably as a rule, but on the present occasion it blew a fuse owing to the fact that there wasn't an A.A. scout within miles. I explained as much to the fair cargo and received in return a "Tchah!" from the Pyke that nearly lifted the top of my head off. What with having a covey of female relations who have regarded me from childhood as about ten degrees short of a half-wit, I have become rather a connoisseur of "Tchahs," and the Pyke's seemed to me well up in Class A, possessing much of the timbre and brio of my Aunt Agatha's.

(from Very Good, Jeeves!, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

"Nobody is that stupid"

Ensign Chuck Parker of McHale's Navy definitely falls into the Nobody Could Be That Stupid category.

Image result for ensign parker mchale's navy

Gas and gaiters

"Gas and gaiters." This term is used in Very Good, Jeeves!, by P. G. Wodehouse. One LINK  I found explains it.

Monday, January 16, 2017

This, my friends, is Osgood, our idiot pooch

"I pressed the bell, and presently in shimmered Jeeves, complete with tea-tray and preceded by dog, which leaped upon the bed, licked me smartly in the right eye, and immediately curled up and fell into a deep slumber."

(from Very Good, Jeeves!, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Image result for Full-Grown Morkie

An interesting description of people in love

"When people are in love," Lady Lacklander said, with a little scream as a new fomentation was applied, "they instinctively present themselves to each other in their most favourable light. They assume pleasant characteristics as unconsciously as a cock pheasant puts on his spring plumage. They display such virtues as magnanimity, charitableness and modesty and wait for them to be admired. They develop a positive genius for suppressing their least attractive points. They can't help it, you know, Kettle. It's just the behaviourism of courtship."

(from Scales of Justice, by Dame Ngaio Marsh)

No grounds for complaint

Republicans who supported Donald Trump certainly have no ground whatsoever to criticize "yellow dog Democrats."

Sunday, January 15, 2017

He qualifies

"He's a bigger klutz than Ensign Parker." Thus opined Captain Binghamton (Joe Flynn) in a McHale's Navy episode after visiting British Lieutenant Clivedon (Bernard Fox) stumbled over a couple of tables and broke his best china. This is easy to imagine when you know that Fox played Colonel Crittendon on Hogan's Heroes.  Here is a LINK to that episode.

Bernard Fox Werner Klemperer Hogan's Heroes 1968 (cropped).JPG

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Pretty good description

"The modern young man," said Aunt Dahlia, "is a congenital idiot and wants a nurse to lead him by the hand and some strong attendant to kick him regularly at intervals of a quarter of an hour."

(from Very Good, Jeeves!, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, January 13, 2017

The lass had a hearty voice

"Well, Bertie?"

"Well, what?"

"I mean, isn't she?"

"Oh, rather," I said, humouring the poor fish.

"Wonderful eyes?"

"Oh, rather."

"Wonderful figure?"

"Oh, quite."

"Wonderful voice?"

Here I was able to intone the response with a little more heartiness. The Bellinger, at Tuppy's request, had sung us a few songs before digging in at the trough, and nobody could have denied that her pipes were in great shape. Plaster was still falling from the ceiling.

(from Very Good, Jeeves!, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A non-sibilant hiss

"You!" said Sir Roderick finally. And in this connection I want to stat that it's all rot to say you can't hiss a word that hasn't an "s" in it. the way he pushed out that "You!" sounded like an angry cobra, and I am betraying no secrets when I mention that it did me no good whatsoever.

(from Very Good, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The face of the Great Depression

This photograph by Dorthea Lange tells the story of the Great Depression about as well as anything I have seen or read. The subject of the photograph was Florence Owens Thompson, a migrant mother of seven.


Ensign Parker: "When you've got ESP, you can't just turn it on and off."

Sailor: "ESP? What's that?"

Parker: "I learned about it in college psychology. ESP means Extra Sensory Perception. But that doesn't necessarily mean you have any extra sense. As a matter of fact, I flunked the course."

(from McHale's Navy TV show)

What did she say?

"Rich, hunting-field expletive." This is how P. G. Wodehouse describes some of the expressions that fell (or were hurled) from the lips of his Aunt Dahlia Travers, whose voice evidently was quite strong and who used to be addicted to fox hunting. One wonders, just out of morbid curiosity, what those expressions might have been, but PGW does not reveal them, so we are left to use our imagination.

Not a kindly noise

What was disturbing me was the discovery that, whoever else the bloke in the bed might be, he was not young Tuppy. Tuppy has one of those high, squeaky voices that sound like the tenor of the village choir failing to hit a high note. This one was something between the last Trump and a tiger calling for breakfast after being on a diet for a day or  two. It was the sort of a nasty, rasping voice you hear shouting "Fore!" when you're one of a slow foursome on the links and are holding up a couple of retired colonels. Among the qualities it lacked were kindliness, suavity, and that sort of dove-like cooing note which makes a fellow feel he has found a friend.

(from Very Good, Jeeves! by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tough way to get out of an engagement

Stop me if I've told you this before: but, in case you don't know, let me just mention the facts in the matter of this Glossop. He was a formidable old bird with a bald head and outsize eyebrows, by profession a loony-doctor. How it happened I couldn't tell you to this day, but I once got engaged to his daughter, Honoria, a ghastly dynamic exhibit who read Nietzsche and had a laugh like waves breaking on a stern and rock-bound coast. The fixture was scratched owing to events occurring which convinced the old boy that I was off my napper, and since then he has always had my name at the top of his list of "Loonies I have Lunched With."

(from Very Good, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, January 09, 2017

Furry friends

We live just outside town, and thus we get a large number of rabbits and squirrels visiting us, and even an occasional deer. They are interesting to watch. Just now I saw three squirrels, one by one, race down a tree and head off down the slope of our hill lickety-split. All this external activity really raises the blood-pressure of Osgood, our faithful Booger Hound. He barks and barks to be let out, runs outside and accomplishes exactly nothing, and then comes strutting back inside like he had conquered the Animal Kingdom on his own. Great fun.

Image result for squirrel on tree trunk

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Admiral William Lowndes Calhoun

My father served in the Navy during the latter portion of World War II. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor. My niece very kindly put together a very attractive album containing photographs and other momentos of his military service. One of the photographs is an 8x10, personally autographed by a Vice Admiral whose name appears to be H. L. Calhoun. I searched for him on the internet and could not come up with anything. However, one site reference a William Lowndes Calhoun, and after looking more closely at the signature, and then at photographs, that is who it is.

On 13 March 1945, Vice-Admiral W. L. "Uncle Bill" Calhoun was named Commander of the South Pacific Area (COMSOPAC), which would have been his command during the latter part of Daddy's enlistment. Prior to that time he had been Commander Service Force, Pacific Fleet, and as such he played a pivotal role in establishing the supply system for the South Pacific. In his book, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, author S. E. Morison said, "A man who inspired deep affection from those who came in contact with him, he allowed no difficulties to daunt him. As Admiral [Raymond] Spruance said, 'There was nothing the fleet wanted that Uncle Bill wouldn't get.'"

W. L. Calhoun retired 1 December 1946.  On 14 January 1954, Calhoun was given a combat promotion to Admiral, USN, Retired, with his commission dated 7 August 1947. Fleet Admiral Chester. W. Nimitz flew from Berkeley. CA, to Coronado, CA, to make personal delivery of this commission at the Naval Air Station, San Diego.

Photograph of William L. Calhoun

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Some actors just don't cut it

Some actors make their characters unpleasant and despicable on purpose. Some actors, however, just do too good a job of it. They give the impression that fiction is too close to truth. A good example is Carl Ballantine's portrayal of Lester Gruber on the TV series McHale's Navy. Character and actor just seem to be someone I would not like to have known. Maybe it was merely a good job of acting,  but I doubt it.

Carl Ballantine 1968.jpg

The greatest discrimination of all

Perhaps the most blatant discrimination in society, and one about which we hear no objections, is that which is against left-handed people. The way we write the English language is against them. The natural motion is to pull the pen as we write, but left-handed people have to push it (which is more awkward), or curl their hand around so that they pull the pen from the other side. The pressure required to use scissors is different for the left hand. True, they do manufacture left-handed scissors, but if a person picks up a pair that is handy, it is almost always going to be one that he will have to use with his "off" hand.

Why is there no outraged social movement demanding an end to this unjust discrimination against left-handed people?! Hmmmm?

Poor snake!

          "There are all sorts of ways of nobbling favourites," he said, in a sort of death-bed voice. "You ought to read some of these racing novels. In Pipped on the Post, Lord Jasper Mauleverer as near as a toucher outed Bonny Betsy by bribing the head lad to slip a cobra into her stable the night before the Derby."
          "What are the chances of a cobra biting Harold, Jeeves."
          "Slight, I should imagine, sir. And, in such an event, knowing the boy as intimately as I do, my anxiety would be entirely for the snake."

(from The Inimitable Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Part of the fun of writing novels such as Wodehouse's has to be getting to invent some of the colorful names that he uses for the British upper crust.

Friday, January 06, 2017

In short, he turned red

Cyril had been gaping a bit while these first few remarks were in progress. He now shot down to the footlights. Even from where I was sitting, I could see that these harsh words had hit the old Bassington-Bassington family pride a frightful wallop. He started to get pink in the ears, and then in the nose, and then in the cheeks, till in about a quarter of a minute he looked pretty much like an explosion in a tomato cannery on a sunset evening.

(from The Inimitable Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Earnest Borgnine and McHale's Navy

Borgnine played the part of Lt. Commander Quinton McHale in the TV sitcom. In real life, he served almost ten years during two stretches in the Navy before and during World War II, receiving an honorable discharge with the grade of Gunner's Mate 1st Class.

During World War II, Borgnine serve aboard the anti-submarine warfare ship USS Sylph.

USS Sylph (PY-12), steaming down the Patomac River. The Washington skyline can be seen in the background.U.S. Navy photo 80-G-1017145

This sort of stuff would be rough mush!

Bingo had got chapter one of All for Love past his guard before he knew what was happening, and after that there was nothing to it. Since then they had finished A Red, Red Summer Rose, Madcap Myrtle and Only a Factory Girl, and were half-way through The Courtship of Lord Strathmorlick.

(from The Inimitable Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, January 04, 2017


This is a German word meaning roughly "knock on wood." It is supposed to head off the ill effects of some superstitious word or curse. We encounter it (spelled "oom beroofen") in the P. G. Wodehouse novel, Right Ho, Jeeves, where Aunt Dahlia utters it in opposition to a scheme that Bertie has proposed.

Not going to happen

Cowboys on galloping horses shooting at other cowboys on galloping horses. The odds against a hit are just too great!

Avoid the political arena!

"You will miss the debate, sir."

"The what?"

"The debate between Mr. Winship and his opponent. It takes place tomorrow night."

"What time?"

"It is scheduled for a quarter to seven."

"Taking how long?"

"Perhaps an hour."

"Then expect me back at about seven-thirty. the great thing in life, Jeeves, if we wigh to be happy and prosperous, is to miss as many political debates as possible."

(from Jeeves and the Tie That Binds)

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

A letdown, naturally

She's all worked up about it, and I can understand how she feels. No joke for a girl who thinks she's going to be Countess of Sidcup to have the fellow say, "April fool, my little chickadee. What you're going to be is Mrs. Spode." If I had been told at Madeleine's age that Tom had been made a peer and then I learned that he was going to back out of it and I wouldn't be able to call myself Lady Market Snodsbury after all, I'd have kicked like a mule. Titles to a girl are like catnip to a cat.

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

What foreign language do hog callers study?

Pig Latin
(from Fibber McGee)

McGee wants to change his name

In one episode of Fibber McGee & Molly, he gets irritated that no one will believe him (imagine that!), and thinks it is because of his name. He reveals that he was supposed to have been named after a cousin Walpole J. Fimmer, but the minister that performed the christening ceremony had a cold and mispronounced the name as Fibber. McGee begins searching for a new name and goes through several possibilities - Chauncey, Cyril, Archibald, Pierpont, Willoughby, Marmaduke, Parmalee and Upton - but finally settles on Ronald.

How to break up a honeymoon

Jim Jordan (Fibber McGee) received his draft notice five days after he and Marian were married in 1918.

Fibber and Molly 1937.JPG

Monday, January 02, 2017

Pine Hollow, AR

I am watching an old television series called Cowboy G-Men. In one episode the two heroes have to travel to the Ozark Mountains to search for stolen money. They ride into a town called Pine Hollow, Arkansas (Population 711). I cannot locate any such actual place, so it appears to be entirely fictitious. However, since there is a Pine Bluff and a Pine Ridge, there certainly could have been a community named Pine Hollow.

Image result for cowboy g-men tv series

Sunday, January 01, 2017

An actor with morals?!

Patrick McGoohan, the star of Danger Man (Secret Agent in the U. S.), twice turned down the lead in James Bond movies on moral grounds. When he negotiated his original contract in Danger Man, one of the stipulation is that there would be no kissing (presumably by him), even though his character was a heart-throb type. Far from this restriction ruining the show, its popularity led to McGoohan's becoming the highest paid actor in the U. K.

It might not be surprising that McGoohan and his wife were married for 58 years (wedding picture below).

Image result for patrick mcgoohan