Saturday, June 30, 2018

That was his name?

Danny Thomas (he of the big nose) was a very familiar name to television fans for a number of years. However, he might have remained a complete unknown in show business if he had used his real name: Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz. His parents emigrated from Lebanon.

Friday, June 29, 2018

A hero of English agriculture

Robert Bakewell was a pioneer in the field of the breeding of livestock in England. His attention to that discipline brought tremendous benefits to the farmers of that country. "The records of Smithfield Market at London show that between 1710 and 1795, when Bakewell died at seventy, the average weight of sheep rose from 28 to 80 pounds, while cattle jumped from 370 to 800." (from A History of England and the British Empire)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

File this under "intimidating"

Image result for musk oxen circle

18th Century Campusology

The universities were at much lower ebb in the eighteenth century than in the seventeenth. Oxford was described as "steeped in port and prejudice," and Cambridge was not much better. Occasionally a young student like Charles James Fox would develop a real passion for absorbing all the learning he could find; but most of the young aristocrats did little more than grace the university with their presence, receiving at the end a "pass' degree without examination."

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A unique movie credit

In the movie Buck Benny Rides Again, there is a credit for Carmichael, Jack's pet polar bear. I figure it is a safe guess that he is the only polar bear to have a credit, at least in a non-nature movie.

Image result for carmichael polar bear

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Inexpensive independence

It has been estimated that it cost England some 110 million pounds to lose the American colonies; France spent 55 million pounds to help the Americans gain their independence; and the Americans, who gained most, spent only 20 million pounds.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Monday, June 25, 2018

How the American Revolution cost the British navy

Time and again throughout the war came the tale of masts split open and tumbled into the sea. The explanation was that since Cromwell's time the navy had depended on New Hampshire and Maine for its great masts; the colonists had cut off the supply at the opening of the war; and Sandwich neglected to seek substitutes elsewhere. When France entered the war, she dispatched a fleet to America. Admiral Byron, the poet's grandfather, was sent with thirteen ships to head them off. A mild gale struck his squadron in mid-Atlantic, the rotten masts broke, the ships limped away in every direction, and only one reached New York ahead of the French. So it went throughout the war.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

But he did invent the sandwich!

It is hard to say whether Lord Sandwich, in charge of the navy, or Lore George Germain, in charge of military affairs, did more damage to the British cause. Sandwich, a cynical debauchee, termed one of the most dissolute men of Georgian England, won immortality of a sort of having meat placed between slices of bread so that he could lunch without having the leave the table and break his luck while gambling. By neglecting the material condition of the ships and by alienating the Whig admirals, Sandwich probably did more damage to the navy entrusted to his care than any hostile French admiral had ever done.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Saturday, June 23, 2018

They wanted the war

It is difficult to say at what time the American Revolution became inevitable; but it is likely that a successful compromise might have been achieved if it had not been for two men: George III in England and Samuel Adams in Boston. The king was to display several times that the colonial defiance should not go unpunished, though many Englishmen were ready to smooth things over. So, too, were many Americans; but Samuel Adams, by continual inflammatory correspondence, strove to keep alive the original indignation engendered by the Stamp Act.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Friday, June 22, 2018

Just ship him out!

Capt. Shafer: Miss Hale, didn't you tell me that we had a request for a dentist at our Greenland base?

Miss Hale: No, sir. I think you made that up, sir.

Capt. Shafer: You're right, I did. Now, I want you to cut orders assigning Dr. Blair overseas.

Miss Hale: Where overseas, Sir?

Capt. Shafer: Pick someplace! Wait a minute! . . . Guam! Yes, that would be a good place for our millionaire playboy to spend the winter, don't you think so, Doctor?

(from the Hennessey TV program)

Interestingly, I once worked for a man who had been stationed on Guam, and from what he said, that would be exactly the place to take the wind out of the sails of a high-life sort.

The Black Hole of Calcutta

The Bengal prince was annoyed at the defenses which the British began to make at Calcutta as soon as they learned of the outbreak of the Seven Years' War. He swooped down on the city, captured it, and herded one hundred and forty-five Englishmen and the half-caste wife of one of them into a little room, the "Black Hole," barely eighteen feet long and fourteen feet wide. All day and all night the suffocating group called in vain for more air and for water. On the following morning only twenty-three still remained alive; among these the woman, who was taken to Surajah Dowlah's harem.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The ideal wife

"Now there's a woman that's got everything a man could ask for: enough muscles to pull a plow and not enough brains to start an argument." (Grandpa McCoy)

Leo the Lion

What is the name of the MGM lion? There actually have been seven of them through the years, and all of them have been called "Leo," although that is the actual name only of the current holder. In order, they have been:

Slats (1916-1928)
Jackie (1928-1956)
Telly (1928-1932)
Coffee (1932-1935)
Tanner (1934-1956)
George (1956-1958)
Leo (1957-present)

Jackie appeared in over a hundred movies, in addition to his logo work, including the Johnny Weismuller "Tarjan" films

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Not an impressive peer

Newcastle was a master politician, but a ridiculous statesman. A fussy little man, who enjoyed power for its own sake, he bustled around with an air of great importance. One wit remarked that Newcastle always "lost half an hour in the morning and spent the rest of the day running after it."

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Unwieldy name for a Lady

She is Lady Stuart, the wife of the 2nd Viscount Stuart of Findhorn. Her birth name was Grizel Mary Wilfreda Fyfe.  Sort of an awkward name for a blueblood, one would think, wouldn't one?

Grandpa McCoy's name for an old man with glasses

"A four-eyed fossil"

Heroic, but futile

The high point came in 1745 at Fontenoy, on the Scheldt. Cumberland attacked a position strongly fortified by Saxe. The British infantry made one of the most remarkable attacks in its history. Forming under heavy artillery fire, the thin red line marched slowly in perfect order for half a mile, constantly closing up the gaps torn in the ranks. Not firing a shot, the redcoats advanced until within fifty yards of the enemy. A French commander, according to legend, stepped out in front of his line, bowed low, and requested the English gentlemen to fire first, an English officer responded to this courtesy by proposing a toast to the gallant foe. Then the British fired, and several crack regiments of the French army simply melted away under their crushing volleys. But the attack was in vain, for the Dutch and Austrian allies had not cleared away their sections of the French line, and the British had to retire.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Monday, June 18, 2018

One main result from this war

By 1742, the "War of Jenkins' Ear" had died of inertia, becoming involved in a more general European conflict. England's only worthwhile gain from this effort to loot the Spanish empire was Anson's demonstration that lime juice is an excellent preventative for scurvy, a disease prevalent among sailors deprived of vitamin-bearing fresh foods on long voyages.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The old queen is doing them a favor

Queen Elizabeth is popular in England. Prince Charles, next in line for the throne, is not. Prince William, his son with the three cute little children, is very popular.

Queen Bess is doing them a favor by hanging in there. Every year that she lives is a year less that Charles will reign, and a year closer to the coronation of William.

Image result for queen elizabeth

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Cabin fever

"Scott Collins was restless and irritable, but he fought down the feeling, knowing that there was nothing worse in the confinement of a snowbound shelter than a man who grumbles and complains." (from Down the Long Hills, by Louis L'Amour)

The more confined the circumstances, the more essential courtesy becomes. Thus the contrast between the lack of restraint in the western USA and the exquisite courtesy of Japan.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Learning to see

From hearing the mountain man talk, he had learned something about looking and seeing. All people look, but few really see; and they can rarely give details of any place they have passed - its appearance or what might be found there.

(from Down the Long Hills, by Louis L'Amour)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Women? Argue? Perish the thought!

One thing you could say for Betty Sue. She would do what she was told, without making a big argument. A sight better than most grown-up women . . . always arguing a man. Even Mrs. Andy. She couldn't do anything without making a lot of talk about it. Fussed more than a jaybird over a garden snake.

(from Down the Long Hills, by Louis L'Amour)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A word that just does not fit

Doughty means "brave and persistent." Well and good, but it just does not sound like it. Some words sound like they ought to mean what they do. For example, "curmudgeon" sounds like a gripey old man, which is what it indicates. But "doughty" looks like it ought to have something to do with the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

Monday, June 11, 2018

An old story

Man for man, the Redcoats [of the 1700s] were as good as any soldiers in Europe. Too often it was a case of "heroes led by fools" or "lions led by asses;" for in battles like Bunker Hill the men executed, with utmost bravery, stupid orders which should never have been given.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Press gangs

To man the fleets, the same Parliament which talked so much of the "fundamental rights of Englishmen" and the "sanctity of private property time and again authorized impressment, which was virtual kidnapping. Sailors in the merchant marine, looking forward to shore leave after a long voyage, would often find themselves taken off for naval service before they reached land. The men of the coast towns were always on guard against the press gangs which made sailors, willy-nilly, out of anyone upon whom they could lay their hands. Once caught in this way, the poor devils often had to remain in naval service until disability released them.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Related image

Saturday, June 09, 2018

They couldn't cut it on their previous engagement

Fred Allen said that Rodney Smythe Beddington and his Gut-Bucket Gondoliers wanted to get on with him because at their previous gig the audience had thrown wet tea bags into the French horns.

Friday, June 08, 2018

The problems with shipbuilding

[Ships of the line during the 1700s] required for the hull some two thousand oak trees, averaging a hundred years old, and England was cutting down her oaks much faster than she was replacing them. There was particular difficulty in securing great trees for the massive sternposts, and crooked timbers for the sixty or seventy ribs of the ship. For the planking of the bulging yellow sides England had to send to Danzig, Riga, or other ports of the Baltic, whence also, from Polish forests, came the masts of middling size. The little spars had general grown on some Norwegian mountainside; but for the great lower masts, anywhere from two feet to forty inches in diameter, the royal navy depended upon colonial pines in New Hampshire and Maine. More than once, as we shall see, the navy was to be handicapped when its supply of masts or oak was curtailed.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Anthony Caruso: not what he seemed

He had the name and the face for it: Anthony Caruso, with a cleft chin and chiseled features that looked exactly like what he was - the son of Italian immigrants. After he made his film debut in 1940, he had a variety of roles, with a good number of them being gangsters and heavies.

However, in real life Caruso was far from a "heavy." He was happily married for 63 years, and he was described as "the consummate family man" who was very fond of gardening and cooking. The Carusos were a "tongue-twister family: Tony and Tonia were the parents of Tonio and Tina.

Anthony Caruso

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

The British navy

England's chief pride and interest, of course, lay in her navy. The royal navy has probably enjoyed a longer record of power and success than any other fighting organization in history except the Roman army. England maintained it on a two-power basis, ordinarily keeping it as large as the combined forces of the French and Spanish Bourbons, who might always be expected to join forces. It consisted during the eighteenth century of three or four hundred vessels, about a hundred of which belonged to the important category known as ships-of-the-line or line-of-battle ships Counterparts of our modern battleships, they were used in squadrons or fleets to fight the major battles.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Nice work, if you can get it

Best of all were the official appointments, where drawing a salary was frequently the only work involved. Some of these, like the post of Master of the King's Buckhounds, were absolute sinecures in which no work was expected. More frequent was the practice of accepting a well-paid position and then appointing a deputy who did all the work for a small fraction of the salary. One George Selwyn, who controlled two or three votes in the Commons, was "at one and the same tie, Surveyor-General of Crown Lands, which he ever surveyed; Registrar of Chancery at Barbados, which he never visited; and Surveyor of Meltings and Clerk of the Irons at the Mint, where he showed himself once a week in order to eat a dinner which he ordered but for which the nation paid."

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Monday, June 04, 2018

Verna Felton - another of those familiar faces

She played lots of parts, and folks always knew her face, but hardly anyone outside Hollywood knew her name. Verna Felton was one of the stock grumpy old women.

Image result for verna felton

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Scottish highlanders in the early 1700s

Beyond the Highland line was another Scotland, wilder, less civilized, and even poorer. The clansmen of the Highlands cared little for the authority of Kirk or king; to them the paternalistic chief, with his power of life and death, was everything. They preserved more of their Celtic inheritance than that, in their speech, in their romantic belief in the supernatural, and in many other ways, while in religion a large section of them were still Roman Catholic. No Sir Walter Scott had yet appeared to give to Lowlanders and Englishmen a glamorous picture of this Highland life; to the outsiders the kilted clansmen in their plaids were dangerous relics of an older and lower civilization. Physical danger and the utter absence of roads in those wild hills discouraged most southerners from venturing beyond the line.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Freeze them into submission

By 1709, France was bled white and ready for peace. On top of her defeats and an empty treasury from such prolonged warfare, she was faced with famine after an especially bitter winter, the "Great Frost," which froze crops in the ground and peasants in their huts.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Friday, June 01, 2018

Pete and Gladys

This is an old television sitcom that starred Harry Morgan and Cara Williams. It involved the typical familial situations, usually brought on by Gladys' lack of common sense or overreaching confidence. Williams was one of the prettier of the female comediennes, with large, expressive eyes. It was an entertaining program. Some of the episodes are currently available on YouTube.

Image result for pete and gladys tv show