Monday, December 31, 2018

Discretion the better part of valor

"Are you aware, miss, that the reptile is navigating at the rate of knots along the corridor and may at any moment begin scaring the daylights out of nervous people and invalids?"

Lottie Blossom uttered a bereaved cry. "Didn't you fasten the lid of its basket?"

"No, miss. In answer to your question, I did not fasten the lid of its basket. When a lady instructs me to open a wickerwork basket and I find inside a young alligator which if it had aimed half an inch more to the left would have took the top of my thumb off, I don't hang around fastening lids."

(from The Luck of the Bodkins, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, December 30, 2018

She had an impact

But principally, as we say, it was her hair that caused the eye of the beholder to swivel in its socket and his breath to come in irregular pants. Seeming on the screen to have merely a decent pallor, it revealed itself when she made personal appearance a vivid and soul-shattering red. She looked as if she had been dipping her head in a sunset: and this, taken in conjunction with her large, shining eyes and the impression she gave, like so many of her sisters of the motion picture art, of being supremely confident of herself, usually hit the stranger pretty hard. Monty, for one, felt as if he had just been run down by a motorcar with dazzling headlights.

(from The Luck of the Bodkins, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, December 29, 2018

That steely-eyed look

William Boyd played Hopalong Cassidy in a ton of movies, but he hardly would be considered a notable actor because of that. He just was not that good. However, he was a master of that steely-eyed look that struck ice into the souls of bad guys (at least according to Louis L'Amour, who wrote four Hopalong Cassidy novels under a pseudonym).

Friday, December 28, 2018

Just leave her strictly alone

"George won't steal Grayce's necklace."

"Why not?"

"He knows Grace."

Mr. Llewellyn was compelled to recognize the force of her argument. His wife in her professional days had been one of the best-known panther-women on the silent screen. Nobody who had seen her in her famous role of Mimi, the female Apache in When Paris Sleeps, or who in private life had watched her dismissing a cook could pretend for an instant that she was a good person to steal pearl necklaces from.

"Grace would skin him."

(from The Luck of the Bodkins, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, December 27, 2018

But she can cook!

Myrtle Cootes proves to be very much the sort of niece you would have expected a man like Jas Waterbury to have. In features and expression she resembled a dead codfish on a slab. She wore steel-rimmed spectacles, topping them off with ginger hair and adenoids. But Oofy wasn't looking for a Venus de Milo or a Helen of Troy: what he wanted was a Grade A skilled wielder, and a private word with the cook assured him that the culinary arrangements of the training camp could safely be placed in this gargoyle's hands.

(from "Oofy, Freddie and the Beef Trust," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

It challenges even cast-iron stomaches

No doubt wrestlers can eat almost anything. Nevertheless, there is a point beyond which the human stomach, be it even that of a wrestler, cannot be pushed, and that point has been reached - nay, passed - in this establishment. The meal of which we have just partaken was the sort of meal an inexperienced young female buzzard might have prepared for her newly married buzzard husband. When I was a boy, I had a goat that ate brass doorknobs. That goat would have passed up tonight's steak with a dainty shudder of distaste. Who does the cooking in this joint? Lucrezia Borgia?

(from "Oofy, Freddie and the Beef Trust," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Frances Drake married well

Add to the list of Hollywood actresses who married British bluebloods that of Frances Drake. Actually, she did not marry among the peers, since her husband was one of those infamous "second sons" - specifically Lt. the Hon. Cecil John Arthur Howard. However, his father was Henry Howard, 19th Earl of Suffolk.

Drake gave up her Hollywood career after her marriage, since Howard did not approve of it. She was well prepared for her role among the nobility, as she was born to a wealthy New York City family. Her voice was rich, sultry, and patrician-sounding.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Irritating authoress

Mrs. Lavender Botts had a distressing habit of writing books and talking a good deal about them. Her works were not novels. I am a broadminded man and can tolerate female novelists, but Mrs. Botts gave English literature a ad name by turning out those unpleasant whimsical things to which women of her type are so addicted. My Chums The Pixies was one of her titles, How To Talk To The Flowers another, and Many Of My Best Friends Are Field Mice a third. The rumour had got about that she was contemplating a fourth volume on the subject of elves.

(from "Joy Bells For Walter," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Add Desmond to the list

As we accumulate our list of private detectives from fiction, we can add to the list "Dauntless Desmond, the crooks' despair." He is found in "Leave It To Algy," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Babies are no feast for the eyes

          "Ugh!" said Purkiss, shuddering strongly.
          "I beg your pardon?" said Bingo. He spoke coldly. He had no illusions about his first-born's appearance, being well aware that though Time, the great healer, would eventually turn Algernon Aubrey into a suave boulevardier like his father, he presented to the eye as of even date, like so many infants of tender years, the aspect of a mass murderer suffering from an ingrowing toenail. Nevertheless he resented this exhibition of naked horror. Purkiss, himself far from being an oil-painting, was, he felt, in no position to criticize.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Jimmy Stewart encouraged a kid

Brendon Boone was one of the stars of the Garrison's Gorillas television show, which ran for one season in the 1960s. One interesting fact about his life is that he was the Mississippi state Soap Box Derby champion in 1952. He came in second in the World Soap Box Derby championship held in Ohio, and was very discouraged because of it. However, he was encouraged by no less a figure than famous actor Jimmy Stewart to return home to Mississippi with his head held high because he was still a champion in his home state.

Brendon Boone

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Dumb as a brick

Apart from his ability to sing Old Man River, probably instinctive, he was not a very gifted young man. Amanda Biffen, the girl he loved, though she admired his looks - for, like all the Mulliners, he was extraordinarily handsome - had never wavered in her opinion that if men were dominoes, he would have been the double blank.

(from "Big Business," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Those Wodehousean towns

In the story, "Big Business," we meet the quaint village of Lower-Smattering-on-the-Wissel. Now, how is that for a monicker for a town? It would take a double-sized sign on the main road coming into town in order to get the whole name shown.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

In short, he was too fat

It was at the conclusion of one of these promenades that he had asked her to be his wife, and she had replied that the only obstacle standing in the way of the suggested merger was his adipose deposit. She refused, she said, to walk up the aisle with a human hippopotamus.

Horace Prosser chuckled again. "The whimsical way she put it was that a woman who married a man my size ran a serious risk o being arrested for bigamy. She confessed that she had often yearned for someone like me, but was opposed to the idea of getting twice as much as she had yearned for. Very bright, amusing woman. She comes from Pittsburgh."

(from "The Fat of the Land," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Thea Gregory had six children

Actress Thea Gregory married actor John Gregson in 1947. They remained married until his death in 1975. And, they had six children. All that is an unusual combination for Hollywood.

Friday, December 14, 2018


"I recked little whether anybody saw me." This is a line from a Wodehouse novel. The verb to reck means "to pay heed to something." I think it is safe to say it is virtually never used today.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Drexdale Yeats

Here is another in our growing list of intrepid private investigators of fiction. We meet him in Sir Pelham Wodehouse's novel, Thank You, Jeeves. Supposedly he is a character in the fictitious novel, The Masked Seven, which falls into the genre know as a "goose flesher," at least according to Bertie Wooster.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A tasty invitation

"I shall be frightfully bucked if you will come and mangle a spot of garbage on the boat tonight."

Now, how is that for a dinner invitation? It is borrowed from Thank You, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse. I doubt that the chef would have been overly complimented to hear his employer speaking thusly about his renderings.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Garrison's Gorillas

This is an interesting twist in the group of post-World War II television series from the 1960s. The "gorillas" were all cons, chosen for some particular specialty. It ran in the 1967-68 season. The result was fairly pleasing. It had the realism of Combat!, with aspects of humor from Hogan's Heroes (although not going quite so far with it). Well worth watching if you are a fan of that genre. By the way, if the music of this show sounds a lot like the score for Combat! it is because they had the same composer.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Did he get the point across?

"You have friends, have you?"

"Lots of them."

"So have I, mostly in the Collectors Club. That's a club in New York, called the Collectors Club because its members are collectors. You have to be a collector to become a member, and by collector I imply a man who collects things."

(from The Purloined Paperweight, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Life among the health food nuts

"Sorry I couldn't offer you a cocktail, my boy. We don't have them here. But they serve an excellent glass of parsnip juice, if you would care for it. No? Then suppose we order. Will you have stewed lettuce, or would you prefer an orange? Ah, but wait, I see we are in luck. This is grated carrot day. How about starting with potassium broth, going on to grated carrots and winging up with a refreshing cup of dandelion cofree?"

(from "The Fat of the Land," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, December 08, 2018

The Old Story of Bertie and the Pea

As two-seaters go, I had always found mine fairly comfortable, but then I had never before tried to get the eight hours in it, and you would be surprised at the number of knobs and protuberances which seem suddenly to sprout out of a car's upholstery when you seek to convert it into a bed.

(from Thank You, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, December 07, 2018

Did Bogie have many namesakes?

It has been a fairly common custom in this country to name children, especially boys, after famous individuals. The initials A. J. (Andrew Jackson) and G. W. (George Washington) are frequently found. One can surmise, however, that famous actor Humphrey Bogart did not have many babies named after him.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

He was a LARGE constable

This Voules was a bird built rather on the lines of Albert Hall, round in the middle and not much above. He always looked to me as if Nature had really intended to make two police sergeants and had forgotten to split them up.

(from Thank You, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, December 05, 2018


Girls may mean to keep things to themselves, but too often, even for the best of them, the strain becomes too much and top secrets are poured out in the strictest confidence to an intimate female friend. And one knows what intimate female friends are like. Tell them anything in the strictest confidence, and you might just as well arrange with the BBC to have it broadcast on their Light Program.

(from The Purloined Paperweight, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Avoiding asininity

          It isn't pleasant for a man who has a cast-iron scheme on the fire and needs only a friend's sympathy and cooperation to steer it to success to be fobbed off with a flippant instruction not to be an ass. How do you suppose John D. Rockefeller, when he was trying to raise capital to start Standard Oil, would have felt if people had told him not to be an ass?
          Bill pointed out that all this embarrassment could have been avoided if Algy had refrained from being an ass, but added, for he was a fair-minded man, that this was perhaps too much to expect.

(from The Purloined Paperweight, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, December 03, 2018

Not a good crook

It may be that the collecting of French eighteenth-century paperweights does something to a man's nervous system, unfitting him for a life of crime by robbing him of the coolness and calm with the criminal classes find so essential in the exercise of their profession, but whether this is so or not, it is an undoubted fact that Wendell was completely lacking in the qualities that go to make a good crook. Where Henry had seemed unmoved by the dark deed they were undertaking and Kelly as plainly as nonchalant as a fish on ice, he had felt from the very inception of the scheme as if spiders to the number of several dozens were parading up and down his spinal cord.

(from The Purloined Paperweight, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Bachelor Pimpernel

In the movie, The Scarlet Pimpernel, as well as in the novel behind it, one of the main themes is the forlorn love that his wife has for him, but which seems to have waned when he assumed the role of his fatuous alter ego in order to hide the identity of the Pimpernel. (They live happily ever after, happily.) However, in the TV version of the Pimpernel, there is no wife, thus making room for bits of romance as he rescues various lovely ladies in distress.

Image result for scarlet pimpernel goring

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Stay with me, now

"I was telling Algy, I'm going to settle down in the country somewhere."

"What will you do there? Raise chickens?"


'Oh? Well, I suppose you know your own business best," said Jane dubiously. I don't think I'd like to run a poultry farm myself." Bill saw that the intricacies of the English language had misled her.

"When I said write, I didn't mean right, I meant write," he said helpfully.

"Oh, write?"


"I'm glad we've got that straight. It was worrying me."

(from The Purloined Paperweight, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, November 30, 2018

Somewhat gone to seed

In appearance Kelly was on the buxom side. in her middle forties she still retained much of the spectacular beauty of her youth, but a carelessness these last years in the matter of counting the calories had robbed her figure of its old streamlined look. Today she resembled a Ziegfeld Follies girl who had been left out in the rain and had swollen a little.

(from The Purloined Paperweight, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Hard to sneak

It is amusing watching cowboys sneaking around in the old movies. Cowboy boots, which are clumsy at best; often wearing noisy spurs; large hats on their heads. Just hard to sneak up on anyone wearing such a get-up.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Billy Brooks vs. Kirk Jordan

In his novel, A Man Called Noon, Louis L'Amour refers to a confrontation between these two gunfighters. In 1913, Robert M. Wright gave the following account of the conflict:

A hunter by the name of Kirk Jordan and Brooks had a shooting scrape on the street. Kirk Jordan had his big buffalo gun and would have killed Brooks, but the latter jumped behind a barrel of water. The ball, they say, went through the barrel, water and all, and came out on the other side, but it had lost its force. We hid Brooks under a bed, in a livery stable, until night, when I took him to the fort, and he made the fort siding next day and took the train for the East. I think these lessons were enough for him, as he never came back. Good riddance for everybody.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The epic dance-off of all time

According to Wikipedia, "in 1938, at the Cotton Club there was a face-off dance competition between the Nicholas Brothers and the Berry Brothers. It has become a legendary confrontation, a sort of dance-fight for supremacy." In case you think this was just a friendly little neighborhood dance contest, look at the two links below that show both sets of brothers at their best. Don't you wish you could have been a fly on the wall for that one?



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Evil and error both grow like cancer

"You cannot submit to evil without allowing evil to grow. Each time the good are defeated, or each time they yield, they only cause the forces of evil to grow stronger. Greed feeds greed, and crime grows with success. Our giving up what is ours merely to escape trouble would only create greater trouble for someone else." (from The Man Called Noon, by Louis L'Amour)

The Bible backs up the general principle that L'Amour set forth here. "But shun profane and vain babbling: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker" (2 Tim. 2.16-17).

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The price of freedom

The weak, and those unwilling to make the struggle, soon resign their liberties for the protection of powerful men or paid armies; they begin by being protected, they end by being subjected.

(from The Man Called Noon, by Louis L'Amour)

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Louis cites the Hanging Judge

"You mean you think he's one of those Judge Parker gunslingin' marshals workin' out of Fort Smith?"

This is a quote from The Man Called Noon, by Louis L'Amour. Wherever authors write about the old West, sooner or later they are going to run into Judge Isaac Parker, who presided over one of the roughest jurisdictions in the United States during his term on the bench.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Learn something

In a country like this, ignorance is a crime. If a man is going to vote, if he is going to take part in his country and its government, then it's up tp him to understand.

(from Sackett, by Louis L'Amour)

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Hollywood's World War I connection

Ronald Colman, Claude Rains, Basil Rathbone, Cedric Hardwicke, Herbert Marshall all served in the London Scottish Regiment in WW1.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Just be sure you are right

There was a Texas Ranger one time who said that there's no stopping a man who knows he's in the right and keeps a-coming. Well, I've often been right and they had to pay mind to me or bury me, and mine is a breed that dies hard.

(from Sackett, by Louis L'Amour)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The problem with gold

Gold is never a simple thing. Many a man has wished he had gold, but once he has it he finds trouble. Gold causes folks to lose their right thinking and their common sense. It had been lied for and killed for, and I was in a lawless land. Gold has weight, and when a body carries it, it is hard to hide. Gold seems almost to have an odor. Folks can smell it out even faster than gossip.

(from Sackett, by Louis L'Amour)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Old Bill Williams

Early in his novel, Sackett, Louis L'Amour mentions Old Bill Williams along with better-known Kit Carson. Williams lived from 1787 to 1849, led several expeditions westward, served as an interpreter for the government, and actually married the daughter of an Osage Indian chief. Interestingly, after he married Wind Blossom, he never returned to life among the whites. However, after the death of his wife, he did send their two daughters to school in Kentucky.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

What did Mrs. Whistler really look like?

We all know the famous painting commonly called "Whistler's Mother." So what did his mother look like in a photograph?

 Image result for anna mcneill whistler

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Get right with it

She wasted no time waiting for explanations. Too often in emergencies had I seen people who took the time to ask "Why" not live long enough to receive an answer.

(from The Warrior's Path, by Louis L'Amour)

Friday, November 16, 2018

Why we have sons

It is given that no man can do it all, that each must carry the future forward a few years and then pass the message on to him who follows.

(from The Warrior's Path, by Louis L'Amour)

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Concerning law

There must be law, for without it man descends to less than he is, certainly less than he can become. (from The Warrior's Path, by Louis L'Amour)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

How to make Indian whisky

Indian whiskey is a simple concoction of river water, not strained, straight alcohol (roughly two gallons to the barrel), three plugs of chewing tobacco, five or six bars of soap (very strong lye soap), one half pound of red pepper, and a liberal dose of sagebrush leaves. To this is added two ounces of strychnine, and the resulting brew is something to make a mummy rear on his hind legs and let out a regular Comanche yell.

(from "Monument Rock," by Louis L'Amour)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Uncouth is a common word today. It means "lacking in sophistication or delicacy." Couth, then, is its opposite: "cultured, refined, and well mannered." "Couth," then, is an adjective. Since it is of one syllable with nothing extraordinary about its spelling, it stands to reason that the standard "er" suffix would be proper to take it to its proper form. Although I cannot remember ever having seen it, I would assume that "couther" would be proper English; for instance, "I am couther than you are." (No one ever had any reason to say that about me.)

Monday, November 12, 2018

Frontier diet problem

When a body lives off the country around, fat is the hardest thing to come by. Fresh meat was no problem, but it was lean, mighty lean.

(from The Warrior's Path, by Louis L'Amour)

Sunday, November 11, 2018


As I get older, I like to travel less and less, and like staying home more and more. Perhaps this in some way mirrors my life, as I anticipate my long home, my heavenly home.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Not used to early snow

I am sitting in my daughter's living room looking out on a snow-covered yard - on November 10th. That is just strange. My father said that he could remember one time that it snowed in Arkansas before the end of October, but that was just once in 94 years. It just looks cold! It IS cold!

Friday, November 09, 2018

Am I smarter than a fifth grader?

Well, that depends entirely on the fifth-grader, of course. Not Mozart. Not Sir Isaac Newton (who would not have been knighted in the fifth grade, of course). Not the fifth grader who eventually engineered the construction of the pyramids in Egypt.

Thursday, November 08, 2018


I am glad that elections fall under the providential government of God Almighty, because I certainly would not know what to do if I could determine the outcome. When your choices have slipped to the point of being between none and none, things are really bad.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Be happy in your work

"Ugliest trade sometimes have moment of joy. Even gravedigger know some people for whom he would do his work with extreme pleasure." (Charlie Chan, from Dark Alibi)

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Monday, November 05, 2018

One of Hollywood's best chefs

Vito Scotti was a familiar face on television for a generation. He played a wide variety of nationalities. (On Gilligan's Island, he was once Japanese, and another time Russian.) Off the screen, he was highly regarded as a chef, especially enjoying cooking the recipes of his mother and grandmother. (As you might guess, he was of Italian heritage.) According to Wikipedia, two generations of Hollywood's finest left his dinner parties raving about the food and wine.

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Sunday, November 04, 2018

I saw the Hope Diamond

It was in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and I saw it on a family trip we made following my senior year in high school. It is impressive by any measurement. Yes, I was only a few inches away from it, but there is a thick pane of presumably impenetrable glass between it and the public.

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Saturday, November 03, 2018

Not the Gabby you thought

George "Gabby" Hayes made a good living playing crusty, crochety sidekicks in old B western movies. In real life? Well, here is how Wikipedia and IMDB portrayed him.

"Hayes, in real life an intelligent, well-groomed and articulate man"
"Offstage an elegant and well-appointed connoisseur and man-about-town"

Nicotine in a who-done-it

In the novel Death of a Ghost, by Margery Allingham, one of the murders is done by poisoning, and the poison of choice was nicotine, which I never would have thought of. It was in concentrated form, of course.

Friday, November 02, 2018


Outrage, combining as it does shock, anger, reproach, and helplessness, is perhaps the most unmanageable, the most demoralizing, of all the emotions.

(from Death of a Ghost, by Margery Allingham)

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Morey had a rough start

Those of you who watch TV reruns will know the Dick Van Dyke show. One of the regulars on the program was co-writer Buddy Sorrell, who was portrayed by actor Morey Amsterdam, the biggest laugh-getter of the cast.

Amsterdam was born in Chicago to Jewish immigrants from Austria-Hungary. By 1924, he was working in a speakeasy owned by gangster Al Capone. Later, after he was caught in a gunfight (presumably involving gangsters), he moved to California. Who could blame him?

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Considerable wisdom in this utterance

"I hate theorizing. It's always silly." This is a quote from Death of a Ghost, by Margery Allingham. If you will think about it, this short utterance contains a great deal of wisdom. Until we have sufficient data to draw a conclusion, what point is there in the endless theorizing that we are so prone to do. How many human relationships have been strained by this practice? It is much safer (and much more efficient) just to wait until we know. Endless guessing serves only to torment and exhaust the mind.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

We just assume doctor's know

During his seven or eight years of general practice he had not quite grown used to the amazing complacency with which the relations of his patients put their responsibilities gratefully onto his shoulders, as if his medical degrees carried with them a species of omnipotence together with a thorough knowledge of the world.

(from Death of a Ghost, by Margery Allingham)

Monday, October 29, 2018

The natural path of an artist's popularity

Johnnie believed in his work, and he guessed that it would boom just after his death and then go completely out of favour - as of course it did. But he realized that as it was really good it would be bound to be recognized again eventually, and he guessed that ten years was about the time public opinion would take.

(from Death of a Ghost, by Margery Allingham)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Countess de Jongh

Her name was Andree Eugenie Adrienne de Jongh. Her nickname was Deedee. She was one of the more famous of the members of the European Resistance during World War II. She organized the famous Comet Line to get escaped Allied soldiers and airmen to places of safety. In the course of her work she became a World War II legend. After the war she was made a Countess in the Belgian nobility by King Baudouin.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Self-assurance overcomes lack of fashion

"She wore it with the assurance that it was unfashionable, unconventional, and devastatingly becoming." (from Death of a Ghost, by Margery Allingham)

Sometimes women can wear something that ought not to work, but they make it work because it just fits them.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Leaving a trail

Whatever a man does leaves a trail behind, and in his passing he leaves indications of the manner of man he is, of his character, and even something of his plans. It requires only the observant and understanding eye to read what the trail can show. Nor does any person stand completely alone in this world, for when he passes he brushes, perhaps ever so slightly upon other, and each is never quite the same thereafter.

(from High Lonesome, by Louis L'Amour)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The need to protect

"Folks talk a lot about the maternal feeling in women, but they say nothing about man's need to protect and care for someone; yet the one feeling is as basic as the other."

(from High Lonesome, by Louis L'Amour)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Frank Puglia - he looked the part

Frank Puglia made a good living playing heavies in the movies and later on television. If you needed someone who looked like he was a mafioso, Puglia was your man.

And, in fact Puglia was born in Sicily, the origin of the mafia. So if he looked the part, there was good reason for it.

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Monday, October 22, 2018

What the days take away

Folks said time was a healer, but time was also a thief. It robbed a man of years, and robbed him of memories.

(from High Lonesome, by Louis L'Amour)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Yes, he is talking about the Sacketts

"I had never seen that man before, but once I knew somebody who looked very much like him, and if they are related let me suggest you find the killer and find him fast."

"What's that mean?"

"It means that if that man should be part of the family I am talking about, you have the killer in jail before they come looking. If you don't they'll take the town apart, plank by plank, brick by brick."

(from Borden Chantry, by Louis L'Amour)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Just a small-fry crook

Probably if I'd been one of the topnotchers, about to do a ten years stretch for burglary or arson or what not, it would have been different, but I was only one of the small fry who get twenty-eight days in the second division, and I couldn't help thinking the officer was looking down on me. Not actually sneering, perhaps, but aloof in his manner, as if feeling I wasn't much for a cop to get his teeth into.

(from Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, October 19, 2018

Cass Daley - a rough way to die

Wikipedia gives this account of the death of goofy comedienne Cass Daley: "On March 22, 1975, alone in her apartment, the 59-year-old comedian apparently fell and landed on her glass-top coffee table. A shard of glass jammed into her throat and she bled out before her husband came home and discovered her."

Ouch! That is a rough way to go.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

You have to be tough with these guys

"Never does to let these fellows off lightly," said Plank. "I had a servant chap in Mozambique who used to help himself to my cigars, and I foolishly overlooked it because he assured me he had got religion and everything would be quite all right from now on. And it wasn't a week later that he skipped out, taking with him a box of Havanas and my false teeth, which he sold to one of the native chiefs in the neighbourhood. Cost me a case of trade gin and two strings of beads to get them back."

(from Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Lethargy among the savages?

My disapproval extended to the personnel of the various native tribes he had encountered in the course of his explorations. On his own showing, he had for years been horning in uninvited on the aborigines of Brazil, the Congo and elsewhere, and not one of them apparently had had the enterprise to get after him with a spear or to say it with poisoned darts from the family blowpipe. And these were fellows who called themselves savages. Savages, forsooth! The savages in the books I used to read in my childhood would have had him in the Obituary column before he could say, "What ho," but with the ones you get nowadays it's all slackness and laissez-faire. Can't be bothered. Leave it to somebody else. Let George do it. One sometimes wonders what the world's coming to.

(from Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Give me meat!

"I don't believe it. Thousands of people are vegetarians and enjoy perfect health."

"Bodily health, yes," I said, cleverly seizing on the debating point. "But what of the soul? If you suddenly steer a fellow off the steaks and chops, it does something to his soul. My Aunt Agatha once made my Uncle Percy be a vegetarian, and his whole nature became soured. Not," I was forced to admit, "that it wasn't fairly soured already, as anyone's would be who was in constant contact with my Aunt Agatha."

(from Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, October 15, 2018

A canine survivor

My uncle Ishmael and his family lived right on Arkansas Highway 10 - I mean right on it. The highway began where the yard left off. They went through a long list of dogs during their stay there. The fatality rate was high. Except for one. Penny was a survivor. They called her a mole dog. I don't know if that was because of her activities or if that was supposed to be a specific breed. Whatever the case, she knew how to look both ways before she got out on the highway, and lived to a ripe old age.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Ripe aroma

"Stop that, Bartholomew, you blighted dog!" bellowed Stiffy, abruptly changing the subject, and she hastened off on winged feet to confer with the hound, who had found something in, I presumed, the last stages of decay and was rolling on it. I could follow her train of thought. Scotties at their best are niffy. Add to their natural bouquet the aroma of a dead rat or whatever it was, and you have a mixture too rich for the human nostril. There was a momentary altercation, and Bartholomew, cursing a good deal as was natural, was hauled off tubwards.

(from Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Crime on the distaff side

The gentler sex love blackmail. not once but on several occasions has my Aunt Dahlia bent me to her will by threatening that if I didn't play ball she would bar me from her table, thus dashing Anatole's lunches and dinners from my lips. Show me a delicately nurtured female, and I will show you a ruthless Napoleon of crime, prepared without turning a hair to put the screws on some unfortunate male whose services she happens to be in need of. There ought to be a law.

(from Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, October 12, 2018

Repent, you sinner!

Looking about me, I found myself gazing into the eyes of the dog Bartholomew, which were fixed on me with the sinister intentness which is characteristic of this breed of animal. Aberdeen terriers, possibly owing to their heavy eyebrows, always seem to look at you as if they were in the pulpit of the church of some particularly strict Scottish sect and you were a parishioner of dubious reputation sitting in the front row of the stalls.

(from Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Want to be a specialist?

Tired of the drab, every-day world of being an airline pilot? Then why not become a Super Guppy pilot? It is a unique aircraft specially made to transport outsize loads. Five of them were built, all of which still exist, but four of which currently are on display.

Image result for super guppy plane

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Definitely fishy

Seeing him steadily, if not whole, I could detect in his aspect no trace of the lamb, but he was looking so like a halibut that if he hadn't been wearing horn-rimmed spectacles, a think halibuts seldom do, I might have supposed myself to be gazing on something a.w.o.l. from a fishmonger's slab.

(from Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Glad to get rid of me

Myself, I've never found a host and hostess who could stick my presence for more than about a week. Indeed, long before that as a general rule the conversation at the dinner table is apt to turn on the subject of how good the train service to London is, those present obviously hoping wistfully that Bertram will avail himself of it. Not to mention the time-tables left in your room with a large cross against the 2:35 and the legend, "Excellent train. Highly recommended."

(from Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, October 08, 2018

Some guys are just weird

"You've never kept newts, have you?"

"No, sir."

"Nor have I. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, have Einstein, Jack Dempsey and the Archbishop of Canterbury, to name but three others. Yet Gussie revels in their society and is never happier than when curled up with them. It takes all sorts to make a world, Jeeves."

(from Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Gun control would not be enough

"I wish we had a gun) for you, too, Matty."

"It would be better mum, but there's never a home without its weapons. There's the butcher knife yonder and sticks of stove wood, lids from the stove, and there's pepper in the shaker. As for that, we could keep some water hot. Boilin' water has a way of changin' men's minds. We will have to do with what we have, mum."

(from The Cherokee Trail, by Louis L'amour)

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Concerning mad colonels

The beating of the gong in a country house is so exclusively the prerogative of the butler, and so rigidly confined to the half hour before dinner and the moment when that dinner is ready to be served, that when its note rings out after dinner has been concluded, the natural inference on the part of those who hear it is that the butler must have gone mad. And as a mad butler is a sight which only the most blasé would ignore, it is not surprising that within a few moments of the commencement of Colonel Tanner's performance the hall had become full of interested spectators.

Mr. Chinnery and Mr. Waugh-Bonner came from the billiard room. The drawing room gave of its plenty in the shape of Mrs. Folsom, Mrs. Shepley, Mr. Profitt and Mr. Billing, who had been sitting down to a rubber of bridge.

The discovery of the gonster's identity caused the excitement of the company to turn to bewilderment, tinged a little with disappointment. A mad colonel is always well worth looking at, of course, but he can never have quite the same box office appeal as a mad butler.

(from Summer Moonshine, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, October 05, 2018

George Murphy - a good all-round actor

He was a "hoofer," a song and dance man, and so was fairly athletic in his stage presence. And even in films where he did not dance, he had a very good feel for comedy and came off as a nice leading man type. Of course, he went on to a bigger career as a U S Senator from California.

Image result for george murphy

Thursday, October 04, 2018

The rousing of the stomach

A sudden quiver ran through Tubby. The words had started a train of thought. It was as if his stomach had been a Sleeping Beauty and that crack about cold beef the kiss that had wakened it to life. For there was no mistake about it having been wakened to life. It was up and shouting. Until this this moment, having been practically pure spirit, he had been able to ignore the frequent complaints which it had been endeavouring to communicate with G.H.Q., but now connexion was established. He continued to fold her in his arms, but it was with a growing feeling that he wished she had been a steak smothered in onions.

(from Summer Moonshine, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, October 03, 2018


"And let me mention that if you persist in refusing to come clean, I'll poke you in the snoot." It was a policy which had suggested itself to him once or twice since this interview had begun, and he had found himself more and more drawn to it. It had worked wonders, he reminded himself, in the case of Mr. Bulpitt, and who could say that it would not prove equally effective now? Snoot-poking, moreover, is a thing which grows on a man. Once let him acquire the appetite, and he becomes like the tiger that ha tasted blood. Just as such a tiger goes about calling for more blood and refusing to be put off with just-as-good substitutes, so does he yearn for more snoots to poke. He gets the feeling that he wants to do it to everyone he meets, sparing neither age nor sex.

(from Summer Moonshine, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Not fond of his step-mother

"You've never met the Princess Dwornitzchek, of course. . . . Yes, you have, though. What am I thinking of? If that boy's your brother, she's your stepmother."

"No getting away from that."

"Then you know what a perfectly ghastly woman - I beg your pardon. Shouldn't have said that."

"On the contrary," Joe assured him warmly, "your words are music to my ears."

"You don't like the Princess?"

"I regard her as the sand in Civilization's spinach."

(from Summer Moonshine, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, October 01, 2018

"Slip the plaster on him"

In P. G. Wodehouse's novel, Summer Moonshine, one of the characters is a process server. He comes to the main residence saying, "Miss Prudence Whittaker is suing this T .P. Vanringham for breach of promise and heart balm, and I've come to slip the plaster on him." Plaster, then, refers to the official summons.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

87th Precinct television show

This was a well-done police detective show that ran for only one season in 1961-62. It was in a slot against some tough competition on other networks. However, it was one of the better programs of its kind that I have seen. It was set in the squad room of the detective group in one of the precincts of a major metropolis. One of the detectives was named Meyer Meyer, and played by Norman Fell. Another interesting feature was that the wife of squad leader Steve Carella was a beautiful deaf-mute, played by Gena Rowlands.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Just a real sweetheart, she is

"Oh, I've nothing against her, except that she's a hard, arrogant, vindictive, domineering harridan, if harridan's the word I want."

(from Summer Moonshine, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, September 28, 2018

A strange kind of fear

Many men avoid battle not from cowardice but from fear of cowardice, fear that when the moment of truth comes they will not have the courage to face up to it. (from Treasure Mountain, by Louis L'Amour)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Looking for a home

Folks had it down that I was a wanderin' man, but most wanderin' men I've known only wandered because of the home they expected to find . . . hoped to find, I mean.

(from Treasure Mountain, by Louis L'Amour)

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Gunfighting and western Arkansas

Whenever old-time gunfighters are discussed, one of the names that arises is that of Luke Short. (There was a western author who took that name, but is not that man.) His encounters with Charlie Storms and Jim Courtright have become the stuff of western legend. Short (one of ten children) was born in Polk County, Arkansas, of which Mena is now the county seat.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Concerning discipline

It takes a mighty fine discipline to hold men together when trouble is creeping up on you. Yet without discipline there is surely disaster. The best discipline comes from within a man, but you'll never get a party of men together where all have it.

(from Treasure Mountain, by Louis L'Amour)

Monday, September 24, 2018

Some things never change

They had their way of life, and we had ours, and when the white man moved in he did just what the Indians had done before him. He took what land he needed. There were mighty few Indians for the size of the country, and we crowded them like they crowded others

Life had been that way from the beginning of time, and I could see no end to it. Over there in Europe the Celts crowded the Picts, and the Saxons crowded the Celts, and then the Normans moved in an took over the country, and it was the same story all across the world.

(from Treasure Mountain, by Louis L'Amour)

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The stillness of the wilderness

          For over an hour I just set there, a-listening to the evening. There was sunlight on the mountain across from me, but it was high up, toward the crest of the ridge. There was stillness in the canyon below, and a marvelous coolness coming up. Somewhere an owl spoke his question to the evening, and the aspen leaves hung as still as you'll ever see them, for they move most of the time.
          It was a mighty fine thing setting there getting the feel of the night, a kind of stillness like you never felt anywhere else but in the far-off wilderness. There was no vanity here, nor greed; there was only a kind of quietness.

(from Treasure Mountain, by Louis L'Amour)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Rogue vs. Diamond

Actor Dick Powell portrayed two different hard-boiled detectives on the radio, both with a little twist to them. He was Richard Rogue in Rogue's Gallery, and also acted the part of Richard Diamond. Both were well done and classic radio shows. Since Diamond came second, they probably had time to refine their game by the time it came around, but Rogue still was well done. He would get knocked out every program and would end up on a cloud with his alter ego Eugor. Diamond was the singing detective, and for a while in the program would close by singing a song at the instigation of Helen, his millionaire girlfriend.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Jane Powell on the Golden Age of Musicals

People are always fascinated by the so-called golden age of musicals, but it wasn’t all that great. Everything was glazed. Those movies didn’t reflect reality. I was at MGM for 11 years and nobody ever let me play anything but teenagers. I was 25 years old with kids of my own and it was getting ridiculous. Publicity was froth. Everything you said was monitored. With me, they didn’t have to worry. I never had anything to say, anyway. It was hard work, I had no friends, no social interaction with people my age and the isolation was tough. But I had to support my family, so I did what I was told and had no other choice.
(Rex Reed, New York Observer, July 31, 2000)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Jane Powell was just irritating

In the 1940s and early 1950s, Jane Powell was a big name in Hollywood, back when big ticket musicals were the thing. She had a coloratura soprano voice that made her "another Diana Durbin;" and even though she never quite became the mega-star that Durbin was, she was a big name for a decade or so.

But to me, Powell did not add to the movies she was in. In the first place, she was not pretty. I realize that is not a crime, but if I am paying money to see a movie, I want to get what I pay for. In the second place, her singing voice, although flexible and with a high range, had a piercing quality that was unpleasant. Finally, she never was able to project a screen presence that was pleasing. Her personality came across as just, well, irritating, and that in characters that were not supposed to be irritating. (Given that she went through five husbands, it may just be that perception was fact.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Allergic to lead

I've been shot at now and again, and I've taken some lead here and there, but I never cared much for it. To tell you the truth, I'd as leave let it lay. There's something mighty disconcerting about a bullet in the brisket . . . lead sets heavy on the stomach.

(from Treasure Mountain, by Louis L'Amour)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

When the good days come to an end

They'd lived mighty easy most of their days. They'd built themselves a style of life they preferred, and then they discovered that money did not last forever. Ahead of them was loss of face and poverty, and all that would go with it, and they had no courage to face what many face with dignity their life long.

(from Treasure Mountain, by Louis L'Amour)

Monday, September 17, 2018

Not much to look at

The Squire of Matchingham was seated in a chair, looking fixedly at the photograph of the speculative builder in the pink frame. He plainly did not think highly of the speculative builder. Indeed, if questioned, he would have said that he had never seen such a bally bounder in his life. And it must be admitted that, as speculative builders go, this one, considered from the angle of personal beauty, was not much of a speculative builder.

(from Pigs Have Wings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, September 16, 2018


Honestly, this was the stage name of comedian Harry Einstein. (Say it, "Park your carcass.") He was a regular on the Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor radio programs, and appeared in several movies. He is pictured below with the inimitable Sheldon Leonard and Betty Rhodes.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

How to write a murder mystery

          The inspiration for it had hit him like a bullet the moment he had set eyes on Mr. Lancelot Cooper. The junior partner of Caine and Cooper, though a man of blameless life, had one of those dark, saturnine faces which suggest a taste for the more sinister forms of crime, and on one cheek of that dark, saturnine face was a long scar. Actually it had been caused by the bursting of a gingerbeer bottle at a YMCA picnic, but it gave the impression of being the outcome of battles with knives in the cellars of the underworld. And on top of all that, he had been wearing lavender gloves.
          It was those gloves that had set Jerry tingling. His trained mind saw them as the perfect box office touch. There is nothing so spine-chilling as a dressy assassin. All murderers make us shudder a bit, but when we encounter one who, when spilling human gore, spills it in lavender gloves, our backbone turns to ice.

(from Pigs Have Wings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Less-than-cushy accommodations

The Emsworth Arms, like most inns in English country towns, specialized in beer, and when it came to providing it patrons with anything else was rather inclined to lose interest and let its attention wander. Beds, for instance. It did not worry much about beds. You could have one, if you wanted to, but Jerry, having inspected the specimen offered to him, shrank from the prospect of occupying it for an indefinite series of nights. If he had been an Indian fakir, accustomed from childhood to curling up on spikes, he could have wished for nothing better, but he was not an Indian fakir accustomed from childhood to curling up on spikes.

(from Pigs Have Wings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How to cure a cold, Galahad style

"Hullo, Clarence," said Gally. "How are you feeling now? I've been thinking about that cold of yours, and I'll tell you the stuff to give it. You want to take a deep breath and hold it as long as you possibly can. This traps the germs in your interior, and not being able to get fresh air, they suffocate. When you finally exhale, the little sons of guns come out as dead as doornails and all you have to do is buy a black tie and attend the funeral."

(from Pigs Have Wings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)