Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Code of the gentlemanly thief

"Why have recourse to rough measures, as long as we can find easy fools?"

(from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Love and truth

"Love refines every roughness;  and that truth which nurtures tenderness is never barren of grace."  (from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Here's to rich fools

"May fools be rich, and rogues will never be poor." (from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)

Saturday, May 27, 2017


Old houses creak a lot. I understand entirely. The aging body that houses my soul and spirit is groaning with every move these days.

Friday, May 26, 2017

She stood up to Hitler

Actress Vera Ralston had been a skater in the 1936 Olympics for Czechoslovakia. At those games Adolph Hitler asked her if she would like to "skate for the swastika." According to her account, she looked right at him and told him she would rather skate on the swastika. The Fuehrer was furious.

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"Stubble your whids"

This is an old English expression that means, "Hold your tongue." If you won't let your children tell people to "shut up," you might let them use this one instead.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Gloria Talbott - an interesting Hollywood face

She was not a classic beauty, but her face had a very interesting and arresting quality that gave the impression of great beauty without quite having it.

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Lewis Charles - never a good guy

Some faces  and voices just don't work for good guys. Such was the lot of actor  Lewis Charles. He might have been cast as a good guy at some point in his career, but he made his living playing criminals and tough guys. Another of those familiar faces for which we have no name.

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Can't even remember the truth

"You have been bred to that trade in which, as you say yourself, men tell untruths for others till they lose all truth for themselves." (from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)

He must have been speaking of Presidential press secretaries.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A gorgeous slow movement - Myaskovsky's 20th Symphony

Nikolai Myaskovsky is doubtless one of the best composers that even most college music majors never heard of. He lived from 1881 to 1950 and never became as famous as some of his contemporaries, such as Prokofiev and Shostakovich. However, he is noted as "the father of the Soviet symphony," and he wrote 27 of them, an unusually large number for a 20th century composer.
Given his large output, it is understandable that his symphonies are not of similar quality. Some are very good, some are no better than mediocre, if that.

Very often symphonic composers will fall down on the slow movement. The simple fact is that it is considerably more difficult to keep slower music interesting than it is with faster pieces. A long list of fairly boring slow movements in symphonies could be mentioned, although there are some notable exceptions, including the heart-rending "Going Home" movement in Dvorak's "New World" Symphony.

Here is a LINK to the second movement of Myaskovsky's Symphony #20. In my humble opinion, it ranks with the great slow movements in symphonic literature. It is less than nine minutes long, and well worth the listening.

The cost of being liked

"He seems to make it the sole business of his life to be agreeable, and one imagines that he gained that end by the loss of certain qualities which one would have liked better."

(from Paul Clifford,  by Lord Lytton)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

We need to pay attention

One recurring theme in crime fiction (and perhaps in real life, also) is the frustration of law enforcement officers that witnesses to a crime did not notice more details concerning the people and automobiles involved. There is a simple reason for that. Policemen deal with crises all the time and they are training to look immediately for details. Ordinary people are not trained that way, and they are not accustomed to such stressful situations. Under stress, our minds often just go blank as we try to process what is happening. Forewarned is forearmed, however. If we ever are involved in a crime, we need to try to notice everything we can, and write it down at first opportunity.

Believe me, I know!

"Well, we went on splendidly enough for  about a year. Meanwhile I was wonderfully improved in philosophy. You have no idea how a scolding wife sublimes and rarifies one's intellect. Thunder clears the air, you know."

(from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)

Monday, May 22, 2017

British efficiency

If you want to give your child an efficient name (meaning that you save time and breath by not pronouncing all the letters, then you  might try this one: Cholmondeley Featherstonehaugh Woolfardisworthy, pronounced Chumley Fanshaw Woolseri.

If you are rich, it's OK

"Houses of correction are not made for men who have received and enlightened education - who abhor your pretty thefts as much was a justice of peace can do - who ought never to be termed dishonest in their dealings, but, if they are found out, unlucky in their speculations."

(from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)

Sunday, May 21, 2017


"He threw his length if  upon a neighbouring sofa, and literally rolled with cachinnatory convulsions." (from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)


a.1.Consisting of, or accompanied by, immoderate laughter.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Here are two (probably) new terms for you

He who surreptitiously accumulates bustle is, in fact, nothing better than a buzz gloak." (from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)

"Bustle" is money, and a "buzz gloak" is a pickpocket.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Three different versions of "Niagara Falls" comedy sketch




"Never throw away a simile unnecessarily." (from Paul Clifford,  by Lord Lytton)

We in the South, especially, ought to take this advice to heart. Our jargon is filled with colorful comparisons, e.g., "As happy as a dead pig in the sunshine." They are part of what makes our sub-dialect distinctive.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


"In each of these three, I believe without vanity I am a profound adept." (from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)

We rarely use "adept" as a noun today, but it is very proper.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Manners and happiness

"I tell you, sir, that manners are no less essential to human happiness than human virtue." (from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)

That might be taking it just a little bit too far. However, if we consider that manners are the consideration of others, then manners would be a sub-set of love; and as such, this statement would be true.

Monday, May 15, 2017

So just ask yourself

"The only person to whom one ever puts a question with a tolerable certainty of receiving a satisfactory answer is one's self." (from Paul Clifford,  by Lord Lytton)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

An interesting insult

"You snivelling, whey-faced ghost of a farthing rushlight."

This is from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton. A rushlight is "a type of candle or miniature torch formed by soaking the dried pith of the rush plant in fat or grease. For several centuries rushlights were a common source of artificial light for poor people throughout the British Isles. They were extremely inexpensive to make."

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Shotgun Slade

This was a 30-minute television western that ran for two seasons, ending in 1961. Scott Brady played the title role. There were a couple of interesting features of the show. Slade's nickname stemmed from the fact that he did not normally carry a six-shooter, favoring a shotgun/rifle combination. Also, he was a private detective, hiring out his services like any modern-day shamus would. Lastly, Brady had a pair of the longest arms I ever saw on an  actor.

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The nomination system needs fixing

I have no idea regarding current law governing the presidential nomination process. But the bottom line is that it is a function of the party, NOT of the public. The public will get a chance to vote on the parties' nominees in the general election. But the major parties have tailored the nomination process based on popularity and not on electability. They let the public choose their nominee for them instead  of doing it themselves, and we are getting a steady stream of bad candidates.

Maybe we need to go back to smoke-filled rooms. That couldn't work any worse than what we have now.

Popular is bad

"This gentleman was no other than Mr. Peter Mac Grawler, the editor of a magnificent periodical, entitled the Asinaeum, which was written to prove that whatever is popular is necessarily bad - a valuable and recondite truth." (from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)

Although there is some truth in the basic premise here stated, it is not universally true. In it lies the basis of unfounded snobbery.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Tannies and smash

"Tannies today may be smash tomorrow."

This is an excerpt from Paul Clifford, by Baron Lytton. According to the footnotes, it means that what is of no value today may be precious tomorrow.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

A hippo in love

His eyes were starting, his hair ruffled where he had clutched it with an excited hand, and his face as nearly like the Soul's Awakening as it was possible for it to look. Picture a hippopotamus that has just learned that its love is returned by the female hippopotamus for which it has long entertained feelings deeper and warmer than those of ordinary friendship, and you have Stanwood Cobbold at this important moment in his life.

(from Spring Fever, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Buddy Clark - underappreciated crooner

In his day he evidently was a fairly big name, but his legacy has not survived the years quite as well as some of the other big name crooners. Here is a LINK to a video of Clark singing his biggest hit Linda.

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Quiet dignity

          In the code of the Stanwood Cobbolds of this world there is a commandment which stands out above all others, written in large letters, and those letters of gold. It is the one that enacts that if, by his ill-considered actions, the man of honour has compromised a lady he must at once proceed, no matter what the cost, to de-compromise her.
          He did not hesitate. Tripping over the skirt of his dressing-gown and clutching at a pedestal bearing a bust of the late Mr. Gladstone, and bringing pedestal and bust with a crash to the ground, he said with quiet nobility:
         "It's all right, ma'am. We're engaged!"

(from Spring Fever, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Left-handed praise

          Terry was a girl who believed in giving praise where praise was due, even though there was the risk that such praise might increase the tendency of its recipient to get above himself.
          "What a splendid idea. How nice it is to come across someone with a really criminal mind. I  suppose this is one of those hidden depths of yours that you were speaking of?
          "That's right. I'm full of them."

(from Spring Fever, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, May 08, 2017

Messiah Stradivarius

This violin is the most expensive one in the world, estimated at $20 million by one source. Its value is that it is the only Stradivarius in existence considered to be in an "as new" state. It is currently a museum piece.

Guy Mitchell - singing cowboy - really

In the Whispering Smith television series, Guy Mitchell played George Romack, Smith's sidekick and fellow-deputy detective in Denver. In an episode or two he sings, and naturally enough, because he was a big-name singing star. His biggest hit was "Singing the Blues" (see the link below).


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Yeggmen have to be resilient

Of all the learned professions none is so character-building as that of the  burglar. The man who has been trained in the hard school of porch climbing, where you often work half the night on a safe only to discover that all it contains is a close small and a dead spider, learns to take the rough with the smooth and to beaer with fortitude the disappointments from which no terrestrial existence can be wholly free.

(from Spring Fever, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Don't tell him a secret!

There is no vice in Stanwood Cobbold. His heart is the heart of a little child. But, like the little child whom in heart he so resembles, he has a tendency to lisp artlessly whatever comes into his head. His reputation is that of a man who, if there are beans to be spilled, will spill them with a firm and steady hand. He has never kept a secret, and never will. His mother was frightened by a B. B. C. announcer.

(from Spring Fever, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, May 06, 2017

A stingy duke

All you have to go on is Wellbeloved's word, and that would not carry much conviction. I like George Cyril Wellbeloved and always enjoy exchanging ideas with him,but I wouldn't believe his word if he brought it to me on a plate with watercress round it. On this occasion he probably deviated from the policy of a lifetime and told the truth, but what of it? You know and I know that Dunstable is a man who sticks and nothing and would walk ten miles in the snow to chisel a starving orphan out of tuppence, but we are helpless without proof.

(from Service With a Smile, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, May 05, 2017

Grow old with dignity

It surely is a lot easier than the other option.

Be careful what you say

"Tongue often hang man quicker than rope." (Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo)

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Thursday, May 04, 2017

Happiness in the home

There is no surer way of promoting human happiness than to relieve a mild man of the society of a sister who says, "Oh, Clarence!" to him and sees life in the home generally as a sort of Uncle Tom's Cabin production, with herself playing Simon Legree and her brother in the supporting role of Uncle Tom.

(from Service With a Smile, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Magazine Mountain has its own endangered species

Magazine Mountain Shagreen. A snail.


More cool jazz detectives

The music track is not quite as purely cool jazz as it is in Peter Gunn, but the Honey West series did pretty well in its own right.

The Irish Rebellion of 1848

In his novel Callaghen, Louis L'Amour refers to "the ill-fated rebellion of 1848" in Ireland. This is sometimes known as the Young Irelander Rebellion and the Famine Rebellion, as it took place during the Great Irish Potato Famine. The rebellion ended with "The Battle of Widow McCormack's cabbage plot."

In other words, he was tight

          "But, look here, we don't want to do anything . . . what's the word?"
          "Yes, we want to move cautiously. You see, on teh strength of getting engaged to the daughter of a millionaire I'm hoping to extract a thousand quid from Uncle Alaric."
          Lord Ickenham pursed his lips. "From His Grace the pop-eyed Duke of Dunstable? No easy task. His one-way pockets are a byword all over England."
          Archie nodded. He had never blinded himself to the fact that anyone trying to separate cash from the Duke of Dunstable was in much the same positionh as a man endeavoring to take a bone from a short-tempered wolf-hound.

(from Service With a Smile, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

He made a good tough cop

Ken Lynch played Lieutenant Keller on the Honey West television program. Another one of those familiar TV faces that never has a name to go with it.

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Feline camera hog

The Honey West television series was a well-done detective series, combining tension with just a touch of comedy. However, Bruce steals the show. Bruce is, of course, Honey's pet ocelot. He only gets into the picture for a few minutes of each episode, but he makes the most of them. A really beautiful animal, by the way.

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Monday, May 01, 2017

Cheese it, the cops!

It would be too much, perhaps, to say that remorse gripped Lord Emsworth, but he was undoubtedly in something of a twitter and wondering if that great gesture of his had been altogether well-advised. His emotions were rather similar to those of a Chicago business man of the old school who has rubbed out a competitor with a pine-apple bomb and, while feeling that that part of it is all right, cannot help speculating on what the FBI are going to do when they hear about it.

(from Service With a Smile, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)