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?

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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?