Thursday, June 22, 2017

How Wodehouse created despicable characters

"Something, I perceived, had g ot to be done, and done swiftly. From some source I had to raise fifty quid. But where could I turn? My credit, Corky - and I tell you this frankly, as an old friend - is not good."

So here we have a lazy, pampered, deadbeat who, though he needs money badly, refuses to consider the option of gainful employment. We find this type of individual all through the stories of P. G. Wodehouse, and they elicit no sympathy whatsoever from me. Let them starve to death, for all I care.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A quiet brain

"He was standing there with his customary air of thinking hard about absolutely nothing."

(from Lord Emsworth and Others, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

I know folks like that, don't you?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A glass jaw?

"Well, listen, One-Round Peebles is fighting Teddy Banks at my place next month." (from Lord Emsworth and Others, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

For a boxer to have gone down in the first round enough times to have earned that nickname is not a very promising sign.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Cleburne's manner

It was said of General Patrick Cleburne that "he abhorred the vague and undefined." That is an admirable trait in anyone, and absolutely necessary in a military commander. Given the fact that he was a native Irishman, with their legendary propensity for loquatiousness, it was also fairly remarkable.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A kind of patriotism Yankees do not understand

General Patrick Cleburne emigrated from Ireland, and finally settled in Helena, Arkansas, where he became a respected lawyer. As South Carolina and then Mississippi seceded from the Union, he wrote, "These people have been my friends, and have stood up to [for] me on all occasions." "I  am with Arkansas in weal or woe."

As the war broke out, it is a well-known historical fact that General Robert E. Lee was offered the command of the Union armies, but declined, saying, "Save in the defense of my native State, I never desire again to draw my sword."

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

A fun episode of December Bride

December Bride was a very enjoyable TV comedy show from the 1950s. In one episode two of my favorite movie tough guys, Dan Duryea (below) and Douglas Fowley, were guest stars (Duryea playing himself.) It made for a nice, fun thirty minutes. By the way, Duryea, for all the weird characters he played in movies, was very much a family and community sort of guy.


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Irish eloquence

"Ireland! Land of my fathers. Ireland! Birthplace of my children. Ireland! That shall hold my grave. Ireland! That I l the fondest aspirations, your men are too brave, your women are too beautiful and good, you are too elevated among the nations of the earth, too moral, too religious, to be slaves. I promise you that you shall be free."

This was from a speech by Daniel O'Connell in 1843 during the time that he was the leader of a movement to obtain a separate Parliament for Ireland. Imagine this sort of extemporaneous speaking compared to the mush that gets served up to us today, mostly all canned.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Last of the Maltese Falcon cast

The last surviving member of the cast of movie classic, The Maltese Falcon, was Elisha Cook, Jr., who played Wilmer, the gunman who worked for the fat man.

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Less than noble motives

And then, one afternoon, when I had run into London to lay in a fresh supply of cigars, I happened to meet her friend, Angelica Vining, the poetess, in Bond Street. You may remember this bird, Corky? She was the one who wanted to borrow my aunt's brooch on a certain memorable occasion, but I was firm and couldn't let her have it - partly on principle and partly because I had pawned it the day before.

(from Lord Emsworth and Others, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

He must really be ugly

"You surprise me, my boy," he said. 'I am really beginning to think that if you continue as you have begun and are careful, when you propose, to do it in a dim light so that she can't get a good look at you, you may win that girl."

(from Lord Emsworth and Others, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dirt roads and air conditioning

Watching old  television shows from the 1950s reminded me that most cars in my childhood did not have air conditioning, and a much bigger percentage of the public roads were dirt than is the case today. When you met a car on the dirt road, all you could do was just grin and bear it until the dust began to clear out.

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There is a Finnish female hurdler named Nooralotta Neziri, which is neither here nor there, except that I thought that was a very interesting given name. Kind of musical, really.

Hitler's moustache

          The situation in Germany had come up for discussion in the bar parlour of the Angler's Rest, and it was generally agreed that Hitler was standing at the crossroads and would soon be compelled to do something definite. His present policy, said a Whisky and Splash, was mere shilly-shallying.
          "He'll have to let it grow or shave it off," said the Whisky and Splash. "He can't go on sitting on the fence like this. Either a man has a moustache or he has not. There can be no middle course."

(From Lord Emsworth and Others, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse. This was written in 1937, before the start of World War II.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Indian land

"That her father had bought land from the Indians might not help at all, for another Indian could always be found to dispute the right of the original Indian to sell the land at all." (from Flint, by Louis L'Amour)

This illustrates the difficulties of dealing with "Indian lands." Some of the tribes  settled on lands, built homes and farmed the land. However, many of the plains tribes were basically nomadic. How do you  "own" land if all you do is travel across it occasionally to hunt?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Tough medicine

The medicine-man, having given him the once-over, had ordered him to abstain from all alcoholic liquids, and in addition to tool down the hill to the Royal Pump-Room each morning at eight-thirty and imbibe twelve ounces of warm crescent saline and magnesia. It doesn't sound much, put that way, but I gather from contemporary accounts that it's practically equivalent to getting outside a couple of of little old last year's eggs beaten up in sea-water.

(from Carry On, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A man of many - talents?

There was no doubt that it was hopeless expecting Freddie to do anything for himself in this crisis. I'm not saying that dear old Freddie hasn't got his strong qualities. He is good at polo, and I have heard him spoken of as a coming man at snooker-pool. But apart from this you couldn't call him a man of enterprise.

(from Carry On, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, June 09, 2017

Sums up my view of New York City exactly

"Pretty soft!" he cried. "To have to come and live in New York! To have to leave my little cottage and take a stuffy, smelly, over-heated hole of an apartment in this Heaven-forsaken, festering Gehenna. To have to mix night after night with a mob who think that life is a sort of St. Vitus's dance, and imagine that they're having a good time because they're making enough noise for six and drinking too much for ten. I loathe New York, Bertie. I wouldn't come near the place if I hadn't got to see editors occasionally. There a blight on it. It's got moral delirium tremens."

(from Carry On, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Yes, that is indeed lazy

Constitutionally the laziest young devil in America, he had hit on a walk in life which enabled him to go the limit in that direction. He was a poet. At least, he wrote poems when he did  anything; but most of his time, as far as I could make out, he spent in a sort of trance. He told me once that he could sit on a fence, watching a worm and wondering what on earth it was up to for hours at a stretch.

(from Carry On, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

"I only miss when I want to."

Barnaby Jones (Buddy Ebsen) as he backs down one of the bad guys.

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Small town excitement

"All my bally life, dear boy," Motty went on, "I've been cooped up in the ancestral home at Much Middlefold, in Shropshire, and till you've been cooped up in Much Middlefold you don't know what cooping is. The only time we get any excitement is when one of the choir-boys is caught sucking chocolate during the sermon. When that happens, we talk about it for days.

(from Carry On, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

How still was it?

"It was one of those still evenings you get in the summer, when you can hear a snail clear its throat a mile away." (from Carry On, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, June 05, 2017

An assessment of Bertie's character

In the presence of the Unusual, Mr. Wooster is too prone to smile weakly and allow his eyes to protrude. He lacks Presence. I have often wished that I had the power to bestow upon him some of the savoir-faire of a former employer of mine, Mr. Montague-Todd, the well-known financier, now in the second year of his sentence. I have known men call upon Mr. Todd with the express intention of horsewhipping him and go away half an hour later laughing heartily and smoking one of his cigars.

(from Carry On, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Relive a pivotal moment in musical history

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) was one of the major composers of the 20th century, and probably the greatest symphonist of that century. Much of his creative years were spent under the brutal and repressive regime of Joseph Stalin. After the performance of Shostakovich's opera Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk, Pravda, the official government newspaper, published a scathing denunciation of the work under the direct orders of Stalin. Shostakovich had completed his 4th Symphony and its performance was planned, but when he realized that he was in very real danger of arrest, he withdrew it and began work on the 5th Symphony. In it he addressed the issues of criticism that had been directed at him.

Now, take yourself back in history to November 21, 1937 and the premier of the 5th Symphony by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. The composer has been under official censure by Stalin, and this is his next major work. No doubt the auditorium is packed. It is said that during the Largo (slow) movement many people wept openly. Then comes the finale, with its soaring, triumphant climax. The ovation lasted well over 30 minutes. Here is a LINK to a performance of the symphony. If you don't want to listen to the whole thing, run the button over to about the 46 minute mark and listen to the finish. Just imagine, given the historical situation that existed, what the emotions of the audience must have been.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Telltale initials

It has fallen out of vogue in the last couple of generations, but at least until the generation before mine, it was common to see men named after some famous person, e.g., a President of the United States. Thus, if a man's initials were G. W., it was at least likely that his given name was George Washington, and if T. J., he was Thomas Jefferson, and if A. J. he was Andrew Jackson. The times do change.


"No, Captain. Don't be glimflashey. You have not heard all yet." (from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)

Definition? "Angry, or in a passion."

Friday, June 02, 2017

Bobby Troup of "Emergency!" fame

Julie London, who played one of the leads on the long-running Emergency! television series, was well-known as a singer, especially her rendition of Cry Me A River, which was a huge hit. What might not be so well known was that Bobby Troup, who played one of the doctors on the series, was also an accomplished musician before he became an actor. Here is a LINK of his rendition of Tenderly.

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Public men

"Public men are only praised by their party. , , , Believe me, that no man can mix largely with men in political life, and not despise everything that in youth he adored." (from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)

A sober warning to those who would go into politics.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Something folks in Washington need to learn

"Nothing gives such a scope to scandal as mystery; nothing  disarms it like openness."
(from Paul Clifford, by Lord Lytton)