Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"He's cute!"

That was my youngest daughter's reaction to actor Grant Withers when we used to watch the old Mr. Wong movies, starring Boris Karloff in the title role.

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The Restless Gun and Britt Ponsett

The Restless Gun was a television western that ran from 1957 to 1959. In the pilot episode, the title role was named Britt Ponsett, taken from The Six Shooter radio program. After that, however, the name was changed to Vint Bonner. That episode and a number of others are available on Youtube.

Reforming insurance companies

Was there not, he asked himself, a great deal to be said for this theory of hers that insurance companies had much too much money and would be better, finer, more spiritual insurance companies if someone came along occasionally and took a bit of the stuff off them? Unquestionably there was. His doubts were removed. He saw now that it was not only a pleasure, but a duty, to nick the London and Midland Counties Mutual Aid and Benefit Association for five thousand. It might prove the turning-point in the lives of its Board of Directors.

(from Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, February 27, 2017

She is going to get mad!

The Bingo menage, as you are no doubt aware, is one that has been conducted from its inception on one hundred per cent Romeo and Juliet lines. She is devoted to him, and his ingrowing love for her is such that you would be justified in comparing them to a couple of turtle doves. Nevertheless, he was ill at ease. Any male turtle dove will tell you that, if conditions are right, the female turtle dove can spit on her hands and throw her weight about like Donald Duck. And it needed no diagram to show Bingo that conditions here were just right. Mrs. Bingo had taken a lot of trouble to get him his job, and when she found that through sheer fatheadedness he had chucked it away, she would, something told him, have a lot of comment to make.

(from Egg, Beans and Crumpets, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Not a fond goodbye

          "Cheer up," he said. "You still have me."
          "No, I haven't," said Purkiss. You're fired."
          And in words whose meaning there was no mistaking he informed Bingo that the end of the month would see his finish as Ye Ed., and that it was his, Purkiss's, dearest hope that when he, Bingo, finally left the premises, he would trip over the door mat and break his neck.

(from Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

They did things differently back then

Gally produced his case. Vanessa stood looking over the battlements, a rather rapt expression on her face.

"I suppose your ancestors used to pour boiling lead on people from up here?" she said.

"All the time. Made them jump."

"That's just the sort of thing I find so romantic about the place."

"I can see how you might. Very attractive, those old English customs."

(from A Pelican At Blandings,  by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Boy, is that an understatement!

From Wikipedia's spot on Ginger Rogers, speaking about movie partner Fred Astaire: "a peerless dancer who sometimes struggled as an actor and was not considered classically handsome."

No kidding! He looked like a refugee from a concentration camp.

The last "Extra"

Putting out "extra" editions for important breaking news used to be a big part of the newspaper business. Of course, that was before electronic media. At some point, extras became a largely thing of the past. I wonder when that last "extra" was issued, or will be issued.

Not a newspaper I have read

To her relief he appeared reasonably placid. He was sitting up in bed smoking a cigar and reading the local paper, the Bridgnorth, Shifnal and Albritton Argus, with which is incorporated the Wheat Grower's Intelligencer and Stock Breeder's Gazette.

(from A Pelican At Blandings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Name him Fanshaw?

Considering naming your son Fanshaw? One of those old, honored, British names that just reek history and blue blood. True. So true. But you might want to think again before you do, because "Fanshaw" is how it is pronounced, not how it is spelled. The spelling it Featherstonehaugh.


Short on marbles

No sister could view him now without concern. There was an expression she had heard her husband James Schoonmaker use to describe an acquaintance of whose mentality his opinion was low, which seemed to her to fit the ninth Earl of Emsworth like the paper on the wall. It was the expression, "He has not got all his marbles." What had occurred in the past few days, and particularly what had occurred tonight, had left her with the conviction that, whatever the ninth Earl's merits, he offered an open target for her James's criticism. He was amiable, he was clean, sober and obedient, but the marbles in his possession were virtually non-existent.

(from A Pelican At Blandings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Just die

Evidently it does not matter how much of a scoundrel you may be, all you have to do in order to be eulogized as a paragon is to die.

Bulldog Drummond movies

There was a whole series of movies based upon the Bulldog Drummond character. In most of them, Drummond was portrayed by actor John Howard. It is lightweight entertainment, but my wife and I have watched them many times and still enjoy them.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

What it was, was love

That was the night you were so disturbed because she hummed and giggled, giving you the impression that something had gone wrong with the two hemispheres of her brain and the broad band of transversely running fibres known as the corpus callosum and that she was, in your crisp phrase, potty. It was not pottiness, Dunstable, it was the natural exuberance of a young girl who has found love and happiness and is looking forward to the wedding with full choral effects, with the man she adores standing at her side in a morning coat and sponge bag trousers and the bishop and assistant clergy doing their stuff as busily as one-armed paperhangers with the hives.

(from A Pelican At Blandings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Tough way to end the relationship

A thing I've noticed as I've gone through life is that girls never need much of a rason for breaking engagements. It's their first move when anything goes wrong. I remember a fellow named Ponderby at the old Pelican - Legs Ponderby we used to call him - short for Hollow Legs - because of his remarkable capacity for absorbing buttered rum - who got engaged to a girl who did a snake act on the suburban Halls and always took her supporting artists around in a wickerwork basket. And one night, when they were having a bite of supper at the Bodega, a long green member of the troupe got loose and crawled up Legs's leg, and wanting to sell his life dearly he hit it on the nose with a bread stick. He explained to the girl that seeing snakes always affected him profoundly, but she broke the engagement just the same and went off and married a comedy juggler.

(from A Pelican At Blandings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

She was glad Dad was stingy

Revolted though she would have been had someone informed her views on anything could coincide with those of her brother Galahad, on the subject of the Duke's affection for money they were identical. This partiality of his for coin of the realm had been drawn to her attention twenty years ago, when he had informed her that their engagement was at an end because her father refused to meet his terms in the matter of dowry, and she could never be sufficiently  grateful to her late parent for his parsimony.

(from A Pelican At Blandings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Gally to the rescue

If only, he was thinking, Mr. Galahad could have been here to lend aid and comfort to his stricken employer: and even as he framed the thought the door opened and Gally came in. To say that he leaped from his seat would be an overstatement. Men of Beach's build do not leap from seats. He did, however, rise slowly like a hippopotamus emerging from a river bank, his emotions somewhat similar to those of a beleaguered garrison when the United States Marines arrive.

(from A Pelican At Blandings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Women just grow up faster

At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.

(from Easy Money, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Hit him where he felt it

Bill got up. He stood for a moment holding to the back of his chair before speaking. It was almost exactly thus that he had felt in the days when he had gone in for boxing and had stopped forceful swings with the more sensitive portions of his person.

(from Easy Money, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, February 13, 2017


Not nifty, but NIFFY. I learned this word while reading after P. G. Wodehouse. The phrase was "a niffy piece of cheese." At first I thought I had read it wrong, because I could see nothing about a piece of cheese that would be described as particularly nifty, but then I looked more closely and saw that there was no "t", but two "f"'s. Niffy is defined as "ill smelling, malodorous, stinky, unpleasant-smelling" - all of which would fit a piece being used as dog food.

The good old days

"Those were great days," she said cheerfully. "None of us had a bean, and Algie was the hardest up of the whole bunch. After we were married we went to the Savoy for the wedding breakfast, and when it was over and the waiter came with the check, Algie said he was sorry, but he had had a bad week at Lincoln and hadn't the price on him. He tried to touch me, but I passed. Then he had a go at the best man, but the best man had nothing in the world but one suit of clothes and a spare collar. Claire was broke, too, so the end of it was that the best man had to sneak out and pawn my watch and the wedding-ring."

(from Uneasy Money, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

He was thin!

Nutty Boyd conformed as nearly as a human being may to Euclid's definition of a straight line. He was length without breadth. From boyhood's early day he had sprouted like a weed, till now in the middle twenties he gave startled strangers the conviction that it only required a sharp gust of wind to snap him in half. Lying in bed, he looked more like a length of hose-pipe than anything else.

(from Uneasy Money, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

No water

It was with a dark foreboding that she returned to the kitchen and turned on one of the taps. For perhaps three seconds a stream of the dimension of a darning-needle emerged, then with a sad gurgle the tap relapsed into a stolid inaction. There is no stolidity so utter as that of a waterless tap.

(from Uneasy Money, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Another old Hollywood star from Arkansas

Gail Davis was the star of the Annie Oakley television show. She was born in Little Rock and raised in McGehee. Her father was a prominent physician and became the Arkansas State Health Officer.

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The Adventures of Clarence and Eustace

          Things came to a head this morning at breakfast. Clarence, my snake, has the cutest way of climbing up the leg of the table and looking at you pleadingly in the hope that you will give him a soft-boiled egg, which he adores. He did it this morning, and no sooner had his head appeared above the table than Algie, with a kind of sharp wail, struck him a violent blow on the nose with a teaspoon. Then he turned to me, very pale, and said: "Pauline, this must end! The time has come to speak up. A nervous, highly-strung man like myself should not, and must not, be called upon to live in a house where he is constantly meeting snakes and monkeys without warning. Choose between me and -."
          We had got as far as this when Eustace, the monkey, who I didn't know was in the room at all, suddenly sprang on to his back. He is very fond of Algie.
          Would you believe it? Algie walked straight out of the house, still holding the teaspoon, and has not returned.

(from Uneasy Money, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Do you know boys like this?

He was only ten, and small for his age, yet he appeared to have the power of being in two rooms at the same time while making a nerve-racking noise in another.

(from Uneasy Money, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

A little light upstairs

"Gunther, watch yourself! He's trying to brainwash you. With you it will just take a light rinse."

(Fred Gwynne in Car 54, Where Are You?)

Columbus said it first

          The decision at which Bill had arrived with such dramatic suddenness in the middle of Piccadilly was the same at which some centuries earlier Columbus had arrived in the privacy of his home.
          "Hang it!" said Bill to himself in the cab, "I'll go to America!" The exact words probably which Columbus had used, talking the thing over with his wife.

(from Uneasy Money, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

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Tuesday, February 07, 2017

I actually have seen this

"You  treat me," Curtis said without malice, like a tympanist in a jazz band perpetually dodging from one instrument to another." (from Scales of Justice, by Dame Ngaio Marsh)

If you have ever seen a one-man percussion section, you know precisely what Dame Ngaio means in this excerpt from her novel. One minute you are playing this instrument, and the next something else.

Sooner or later you need friends

At some point in life you will need help that cannot be given to you by your close circle of buddies. If your modus operandi has been to insult and alienate everyone who is not among your buddies, then when "crunch time" comes, you are going to be in a difficult situation, because all of those non-buddies, who might have helped you if you had not insulted and alienated them, are going to take great delight in watching you burn.

There is a definite advantage in exhibiting common courtesy and good manners in our dealings with others. Dictators probably do not worry about such things, but people who operate in a free country where people have a say in their government have to think about them if they are going to be successful.

Monday, February 06, 2017

We always irritate the ones we love

Sometimes there exists in people who are attracted to each other a kind of ratio between the degree of attraction and the potential for irritation. Strangely, it is often the unhappiness of one that arouses an equal degree of irascibility in the other. The  tear-blotted face, the obstinate misery, the knowledge that this distress is genuine and the feeling of incompetence it induces, all combine to exasperate and inflame.

(from Scales of Justice, by Dame Ngaio Marsh)

Sunday, February 05, 2017

A durable role

According to Wikipedia, Yul Brynner performed the role of King Mongkut in The King and I 4625 times on stage. It would take a great deal of professionalism to keep a role fresh after that many performances.

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Saturday, February 04, 2017

Innocence and timidity

          "I suppose," Mr. Phinn said, "I am a timid man, but I know, in respect of this crime, that I am an innocent one."
          "Well,  then," Alleyn said, and tried to lend the colour of freshness to an assurance he had so often given, "your innocence should cancel your timidity. You have nothing to fear."

(from Scales of Justice, by Dame Ngaio Marsh)

The ideal conducting style

I have found a conductor whose podium style I like about as much as any I have seen. Some conductors' baton technique is far too flamboyant and indefinite (their beats are hard to follow). Others' beats are clear enough, but their manner is bland. Paavo Jarvi has a nice combination of both. He is vigorous and expressive in his manner, but his baton work is very clear. HERE he is conducting Shostakovich's magnificent 5th Symphony.

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Friday, February 03, 2017

A few Romani (gypsy) female given names

and so  on.

So, for example you might have Luminitsa Dumitrescu. Pretty colorful, huh? Rolls off the tongue nicely.

One thing I will never get to see

One of those things that I wish I could have seen, but never will, is a broadside by a battleship. Since they are now obsolete, they will never be fired again, and an era has passed away. Here is a LINK to a Youtube spot about the Battle of Jutland in World War I which shows some battleship footage.

A mistake, or historical fact

 Early in the movie Tora, Tora, Tora, Secretary of State Cordell Hull has a meeting with the Japanese ambassador. On the wall of his office is one of the famous pictures of Stonewall Jackson. I wonder if it really was in his office, or if the movie-makers muffed it.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

A qualified promise

She: "When we got married you promised you wouldn't bring your work home with you."

He: "When we got married I was still working for the sanitation department."

(from Car 54 Where Are You?)

Regular customer

"Boy, he's been up to Sing Sing and back so often he's listed as a commuter."

(from Car 54 Where Are You television program)


Being a musician, I know what a paradiddle is, just as I know what flams and ratamacues are. (They are some of the rudamental strokes for snare drummers.) However, I was not familiar with the term taradiddle - that is, until I read Scales of Justice by Dame Ngaio Marsh. A taradiddle is "a petty lie; pretentious nonsense."

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

So what does a detective look like?

"Fox was one of those, nowadays rather rare, detectives who look verey much like their job. He was large, grizzled man with extremely bright eyes."  (from Scales of Justice, by Dame Ngaio Marsh)

There you have it. The prototype of a detective.