Sunday, December 31, 2017

Pierre Jalbert

Jalbert played the French-Canadian soldier "Caje" on the Combat! television series, and did an outstanding job with the role. He portrayed a unique blend of toughness and sensitivity, since he was the only member of the squad who spoke French and was constantly interacting with civilians. Jalbert was both Junior and Senior National Ski Champion in Canada, however, due to breaking his leg he never got to ski in the Olympics. His brother, Rene Marc Jalbert, was the Sergeant-At-Arms of the National Assembly of Quebec and became famous for ending the killing spree of an armed gunman in the assembly chamber.

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

It won't win friends

"Intuition tells me he is not overfond of me."
"You did treat him a bit cavalierly. Sarcasm is not exactly a means of endearment."

(from The Greene Murder Case, by S. S. Van Dine)

Philo Vance was exactly right in this estimation. One of the things that will make one dislike another person the quickest is sarcasm.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Dogs have stares?

The supercilious stare of which only a pedigreed collie is capable.
(from Murder On Wheels, by Stuart Palmer)

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

I am with Vance on this one

Vance signed. "Not a nice creature, Markham - not at all a nice creature. I shall never be a politician if it involves an acquaintance with such gentlemen." (from The Greene Murder Case, by S. S. Van Dine)

Like Philo Vance, there are some people I just prefer not to be around, rather than have to associated with them and be civil.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

They had a blast!

The special effects guys in the Combat! television series must have had a blast - literally. There were explosions constantly in that program. There is no telling how much they used of whatever sort of explosive they used. That part of the budget alone must have been considerable.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Combat! - nice features of the program

One of the things that my father really liked about the Combat! television program was the fact that the Germans spoke German. He minored in German in college and enjoyed following the dialogue. Another nice feature was the fact that the larger battle sequences used actual WWII footage.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Cutting the UN budget

I think the United States pays more than our share of the United Nations budget - no doubt about that. However, I have no problem paying more than anyone else. In the first place, we want to have more influence on world affairs than anyone else. In the second place, with the UN building located in the US, that is a lot of money from foreign nations being spent here - no telling how much, because those are all high dollar jobs.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Their taste in gum

"A big copper leaned against the door post and chewed Juicy Fruit, noisily."  (from Murder On Wheels, by Stuart Palmer) It is nice to know what was the favorite chewing gum of New York finest.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Lap organ

In one episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, we see Granny playing a lap organ. This is a very cumbersome, very limited instrument, but probably was fun if it was all you had.


Friday, December 22, 2017


This is a nice, creative insult flung at Fibber McGee by Doc Gamble. Fairly descriptive, I thought.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Granny had it

"Honey, when I was your age, I set so many men's hearts on fire that they started calling that part of Tennessee the Smokey Mountains."

(Granny Clampett)

An insult that just died

"You are a cad and a bounder!" When is the last time you heard that? Have you ever heard it, unless someone was speaking tongue in check? I have no idea why that expression died, but it surely did.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How to get at secrets

Long experience as a teacher had given Miss Withers the pet theory that the time to find out anything that someone doesn't want to tell is early in the morning. She knew that a large majority of the world's citizens awaken by slow degrees, with resistance at a low ebb, and whenever she found it necessary to determine a culprit among her pupils at Jefferson School, she made the accusation bright and early the nest morning as the boys and girls were filing into their seats.

(from Murder On Wheels, by Stuart Palmer)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Child prodigy

Erich Wolfgang Korngold, who wrote the film score for Robin Hood (the Errol Flynn version) was a child prodigy. He wrote a ballet at age 11, which became a sensation in Vienna, and a piano sonata at 13, which was played throughout Europe by famed pianist Artur Schnabel.


Image result for Korngold Young

Monday, December 18, 2017

That horse had some party!

          "The usual complaints of a noisy party came I, but this wasn't the usual party. The people in a basement apartment on Bedford Street complained that their ceiling was coming down.
          "Well, as it turned out later a crazy poet above them was throwing a lease-breaking party. As a climax some of the boys had kidnapped a milkman's hose and somehow led it up four steps and into the ground-floor living room. When we got there they'd all ducked out, and all we picked up was a lonesome white horse surrounded by empty gin bottles."

(from Murder On Wheels, by Stuart Palmer)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Slow motion

"A cleaning man with a mop who was presumably posing for slow-motion pictures."

You can picture the type, can't you?

(from Murder On Wheels, by Stuart Palmer)

Saturday, December 16, 2017


I watched my son-in-law receive his Doctorate today at the Fayetteville campus of the University of Arkansas. It was a proud moment for us all. He actually has not graduated yet, because he still has to defend his dissertation, but I have every confidence that it will go well. He is an outstanding young man, in many respects.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Bird brain

"Ribbons held back the white curtains, doilies lay primly on every table, there was a stupid looking canary in a gilt cage." (from Murder On Wheels, by Stuart Palmer)

I have never paid much attention to canaries, certainly not enough to judge their intelligence; but if one actually looked stupid, then it must have been. Really stupid.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hildegarde had good taste in old movies

          He turned to Miss Withers. "Hildegarde, what movie is playing at that Strand this week?"
          Miss Withers didn't know. But Aunt Abbie stopped doing the Florence Nightingale. "It's a wonderful picture, Inspector. I saw it last night. It's 'What Price Gangster,' with Chester Morris."

Chester Morris is, of course, one of our favorites, mainly because of his Boston Blackie movies, but also his appearances in other old flicks. Not a prototypical leading man type, but somehow he managed to pull off that role.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Good technique for a detective

It was years ago that Miss Withers had learned to be silent and invisible. She might have been standing in the doorway of her third grade classroom during a furious spitball battle, or looming up over the shoulder of a hapless youth who preferred a lurid copy of Weird Tales to the more prosaic reading of his Geography, and had got the happy idea of enclosing the former within the covers of the latter. Naturalists call it "the ability to freeze" - and a just-hatched partridge chick can do it perfectly.

(from Murder on Wheels, by Stuart Palmer)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"Close enough for jazz"

This expression is from musicians tuning their instruments, but not being too particular about it. The inference is that since jazz musicians "bend" the note much of the time, anyway, the tuning of the instrument is not of paramount importance. There is, however, the implication that jazz is a sub-par type of music, and some jazzers resent the expression. Be that as it may, it has come to have a broader meaning: "It is adequate, and there is no need to go to great lengths to make it better."

Monday, December 11, 2017

Why they did not get married

In The Penguin Pool Murder, the movie ends with Inspector Oscar Piper (crusty police inspector) and Miss Hildegarde Withers (crusty spinster schoolteacher) headed off to get married. A very nice, completely surprising end to an entertaining movie. However, in subsequent movies in that series, the couple, although they work together regularly and obviously have a crusty affection and respect for one another, are not married. We learn what happened in Murder On Wheels, the second novel in the series.

"You didn't think I was going to sit there in Whyte's and eat your cinnamon toast as well as my own, did you?" Her voice was pitched low,but it had an edge on it. "The last time you heard a police alarm and walked out of me you left me sitting in a taxi outside City Hall until the Marriage License bureau had closed. I'm not letting you get away from me again that way."

Hildegard did not mean "get away again" from marriage, but from involving her in an investigation. The novel later reveals that they realized that they were not suited for marriage. However, in one of the later movies in the series, they are attending a social event together (with Piper in white tie and tails, no less), so they were still an "item," but just never got married.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Hall of Famer

Well-known actress Ruta Lee is of Lithuanian descent. In 2013 she was inducted into the National Lithuanian American Hall of Fame.

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Here is what a police Inspector looks like

"A tall, gaunt man in a loose gray topcoat was pushing through the crowd. His lower lip protruded belligerently, and a dead cigar was clamped in one corner of his mouth." (from Murder on Wheels, by Stuart Palmer)

This is our introduction to Inspector Oscar Piper in this novel. He fits the prototype of that role that we find over and over again in old movies. Always the topcoat. Always the cigar.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Hildegarde vs.The Falcon and Bulldog

Stuart Palmer, the creator of Hildegarde Withers (one of our favorites), took a 6-year break from writing novels to go to Hollywood to work as a script writer. While there, he worked, among others, on scripts for the Bulldog Drummond and Falcon series of movies, which also are among our favorites. So, if you like old detective/adventure movies, Palmer is connected to a considerable slide of the landscape.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017


Those of you who are acquainted with the Hildegarde Withers series of movies (and if you like old detective flicks, you should be) will recall that she is called "horse-faced" a time or two during the course of the shows. Edna Mae Oliver, the first actress to play the role, was no raving beauty; but the nickname was not because of her. The author of the books from which the character was taken, Stuart Palmer, had a "horse-faced English teacher" from his high school days. However, the role was indeed inspired by Oliver, whom Stuart had seen on stage in the musical Showboat.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

The Man With Two Left Feet and Other Stories (P. G. Wodehouse)

This collection of short stories is early Wodehouse (published in 1917). Sir Pelham had not yet fallen into his predictable and enjoyable formula from which we have derived so much pleasure. These were a little different. The humor is a little understated compared to, say, those involving Bertie Wooster's relatives. And, consequently, I think his writing is actually a little better because of it. I highly recommend this one.

Very methodical

There was something admirable - and yet a little horrible - about Henry's method of study. He went after Learning with the cold and dispassionate relentlessness of a stoat pursuing a rabbit. The ordinary man who is paying installments on the Encyclopaedia Britannica is apt to get over-excited and to skip impatiently to Volume XXVII (VET-ZYM) to see how it all comes out in the end. Not so Henry. His was not a frivolous mind. He intended to read the Encyclopaedia through, and he was not going to spoil his pleasure by peeping ahead.

(from "The Man With Two Left Feet," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, December 04, 2017

Do you reckon she was hard to live with?

Famous actress Ginger Rogers was married five times. The longest of them lasted about eight years. One would logically deduce from this that the gal may have been a little difficult to live with.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Not exactly a hot spot

Mr. Megg's hometown was no City of Pleasure. Remove the Vicar's magic-lantern and the try-your-weight machine opposite the post office, and you practically eliminated the temptations to tread the primrose path. The only young men in the place were silent, gaping youths, at who lunacy commissioners looked sharply and suspiciously when they met. The tango was unknown, and the one-step. The only form of dance extant - and that only at the rarest intervals - was a sort of polka not unlike the movements of a slightly inebriated boxing kangaroo.

(from "A Sea of Troubles," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, December 02, 2017

He had the easier job

"Young man," he said, "don't worry yourself. You've got a cinch. You've only got to hand a story to the police. Any old tale will do for them. I'm the man with the really difficult job - I've got to square myself with my wife."

(from "One Touch of Nature," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, December 01, 2017

Blue-blooded dogs

Any dog will tell you what prize-ribbon dogs are like. Their heads are so swelled they have to go into their kennels backwards.

(from "The Mixer," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)