Monday, May 20, 2019

Just don't talk!

"Landladies and fellow boarders have gaping ears and galloping tongues." (from The Case Is Closed, by Patricia Wentworth)

In other words, there are times when we really, really need to keep our thoughts to ourselves.

Sunday, May 19, 2019


One of the character's mentioned in the novel, "The Case Is Closed," by Patricia Wentworth is Louisa Kezia Mercer. In the last chapter of Job, Kezia is listed as one of the second group of daughters of Job. I have long thought that was a very pretty name, and wondered why no one ever seems to use it.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Ned Maddrell's place in history

At the time of his death in 1974, Edward "Ned" Maddrell was the last surviving native speaker of the Manx language, which is spoken on the Isle of Man. Since his death, and partly because of his efforts, the language has undergone a revival at now has about 1800 people who speak it as a second language.


Friday, May 17, 2019

What people want to hear

"People are not always pleased to know the truth." Miss Silver nodded her head in a gentle depreciating manner. "You've no idea how often that happens. Very few people want to know the truth. They wish to be confirmed in their own opinions, which is a very different thing - very different indeed." (from The Case Is Closed, by Patricia Wentworth)

Not only that, but people also frequently hear what they want to hear, not necessarily what you said.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A description of Miss Silver

"She was very neatly dressed in an unbecoming shade of drab." (from The Case Is Closed, by Patricia Wentworth)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

All related

"He went back to the shop and rang up Charles Moray, who was some sort of seventeenth cousin and a very good friend." (from The Case is Closed, by Patricia Wentworth)

That is getting into a distant relationship, all right. But if you think about it, all of us are going to link up in father Noah sooner or later. Just keep going back, and we are all cousins, or uncles and aunts, or grandparents. Some sort of kin.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The real life Big Valley

The Big Valley television show was reportedly based loosely upon the Hill Ranch in Caleveras County, California. The time frame would have been in the late 1870s.

Calaveras County view

Monday, May 13, 2019

Dithery dreep

In the Patricia Wentworth novel, The Case Is Closed, we find a woman described as "a dithery dreep." That was a new one to me. "Dithery" means "indecisive." "Dreep" is a British variant of "drip." As a verb it means "to lower oneself from a height and drop the remaining distance."

It is not completely clear to me how the phrase was used by Wentworth, but it definitely was not complimentary. Here is the complete section:

"Not that she thought Mrs. Mercer had shot James Everton. She was a dithery dreep of a woman, and she wouldn't have the nerve to shoot a guinea pig. Hilary simply couldn't believe in her firing a pistol at her employer. A dreep is and remains a dreep. It doesn't suddenly become a cool plotting assassin."

Sunday, May 12, 2019

An old plot

In one episode in the first season of The Big Valley, there is an earthquake, and three people are buried in the rubble underneath a building. Including a pregnant woman. Very pregnant. She had the baby while they are there, of course. I wonder how many times that scene has been used by Hollywood over the years.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Apache May Slaughter

The holder of this colorful name was the adopted daughter of famous cattleman and lawman John Slaughter. He found the girl, who evidently had been abandoned by her parents while being pursued by Slaughter in Mexico. By her adoption, she became the great-great-great-granddaughter of Daniel Boone. Her name comes from her race and from the date of her birth, as calculated by the Slaughters.

Apache May.jpg

Friday, May 10, 2019

"The Virginian" was one of the best of the westerns

I have read the original novel, and it is a western classic. Usually when Hollywood takes over they mess things up, but I don't know but what they actually improved upon the novel. First of all, the 90-minute format allowed more time to develop the plot line. Second, James Drury was the ideal actor for the title character, reserved and intense as he was. Third, the rest of the cast had featured some outstanding performances, perhaps most notably Lee J. Cobb as Judge Garth and Doug McClure as Trampas. Whatever the factors, the series just clicked, and lasted for nine seasons.


Thursday, May 09, 2019

Oklahoma's largest funeral

You never know if what you see on the internet is correct. After all, anyone can put anything out there for us to read. However, after infamous Depression-era criminal Pretty Boy Floyd was killed, his body was placed on public display in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. His funeral was attended by over 20,000 people and reportedly remains the largest funeral in Oklahoma history.


Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Questions at the inquest

The Coroner: "Are you a good shot?"

Geoffrey Grey: "I am a fair shot."

The Coroner: "At a target?"

Geoffrey Grey: "At a target?"

The Coroner: "You could hit a man across a room?"

Geoffrey Grey: "I have never tried."

(from The Case is Closed, by Patricia Wentworth)

Monday, May 06, 2019

Against our own best interests

Money and comfort are not everything. The dark motives of jealousy, hate, and revenge run counter to them, and in that clash security and self-interest may go down.

(from The Case Is Closed, by Patricia Wentworth)

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Roberta Shore

Shore played the daughter of the ranch owner on the early seasons of the  TV series The Virginian. She had a fresh-faced look that fit well with the outdoor life on the ranch. Her birth name was interesting: Roberta Jymme Schourop.

Related image

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Force of habit

"The neat, inconspicuous clothes of a respectable woman who has stopped bothering about her appearance, but is tidy from habit and training." (from The Case is Closed, by Patricia Wentworth)

I thought that was a pretty good description of a certain class of women that we do see all the time, but do not necessarily think about in this particular way.

Friday, May 03, 2019

The cesspool of pride

What he wished now was to find Jordan and kill him before her eyes. He wanted to break her spirit and, ad the same time, to prove his own superiority. (from The Burning Hills, by Louis L'Amour)

So much of evil involves pride, even physical cruelty and violence. He must think and prove that he is better than someone else, even if the very act of seeking to prove it demonstrates his inferiority.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

TV westerns and memories

I grew up in the days of the great television westerns - the kinds kids could watch. I remember hurrying to my maternal grandparents' house near Malvern to arrive on Friday night in time to watch Rawhide. Wagon Train. Sugarfoot. Bonanza on Sunday night. There were lots of them. We can still watch many of them on reruns and on YouTube. Ah, the good ol' days! A lot of good memories are attached to those old "shoot 'em up" shows.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Look past appearances

"Very difficult to estimate depth of well by size of bucket." (Charlie Chan, from The Feathered Serpent)

Image result for the feathered serpent chan

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Looking backward

"Hindsight is a miserable thing," she ended in a strained voice. "You keep trying to turn time back so you can do the things you know you could have done to keep it from happening."

(from This Is It, Michael Shayne, by Brett Halliday)

Monday, April 29, 2019

Quite true, quite true

"Maud will have to marry somebody awfully rich or with a title. Her family's one of the oldest in England, you know."

"So I understand."

"It isn't as if she were the daughter of Lord Peebles, or somebody like that."

"Why Lord Peebles?"

'Well what I mean to say is," said Miss Plummer, with a silvery echo of Reggie Byng, "he made his money in whiskey."

"That is better than spending it that way," argued George.

(from A Damsel In Distress, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sakall's sisters

S. Z. Sakall was one of those character actors whose faces we knew well, but whose names escaped us. Perhaps his most famous role was as the head waiter in Casablanca.

What many people may not know is that all  three of his sisters, plus some other relatives, died in Nazi concentration camps.
Image result for sz sakall

Friday, April 26, 2019

Of English ditches

There is nothing half-hearted about those ditches which accompany English country roads. They know they are intended to be ditches, not mere furrows, and they behave as  such. The on that sheltered Lord Belpher was so deep that only his head  and neck protruded above the level of the road, and so dirty that a bare twenty yards of travel was sufficient to coat him with mud. Rain, once fallen, is reluctant to leave the English ditch. It nestles inside it for weeks, forming a rich, oatmeal-like substance which has to be stirred to be believed. Percy stirred it. He churned it. He ploughed and sloshed through it. The mud stuck to him like a brother.

(from A Damsel In Distress, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

What he didn't need were scruples

War is war, and love is love, and in each the practical man inclines to demand from his fellow-workers the punch rather than a lofty soul. A page-boy replete with the finer feelings would have been useless in this crisis. Albert, who seemed on the evidence of a short but sufficient acquaintance, to be a lad who would not recognize the finer feelings if they were handed to him on a plate with watercress round them, promised to be invaluable.

(from A Damsel In Distress, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The place to carry a torch

The Rocky Mountains, that traditional stamping-ground for the heart-broken, may be well enough in their way; but a lover has to be cast in a pretty stern mould to be able to be introspective when at any moment he may meet an annoyed cinnamon bear. In the English village there are no such obstacles to meditation. It combines the comforts of civilization with the restfulness of solitude in a manner equaled by no other spot except the New York public library.

(from A Damsel In Distress, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Walter Sutherland - a trivia fact

If you ever want to impress your friends at dinner, here is a fact you can fling at them. Norn is an extinct North Germanic language that was spoken in the Northern Isles of Scotland. Walter Sutherland, who lived in the northernmost house in the British Isles, near the present day Unst Boat Haven, died in 1850. He was the last known speaker of Norn, although there were reported to have been some on the island of Foula who survived him.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Not a very appealing fellow

"What did happen? You must remember I couldn't see a thing except your back, and I could only hear indistinctively."

"Well, it started by a man galloping up and insisting that you had got into the cab. He was a fellow with the appearance of a before-using advertisement of an anti-fat medicine and the manners of a ring-tailed chimpanzee."

(from A Damsel In Distress, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Watchers

Maudie, accompanied by perhaps a dozen more of London's millions, added herself to the audience. These all belonged to the class which will gather round and watch silently while a motorist mends a tyre. They are not impatient. They do not call for rapid and continuous action. A mere hole in the ground, which of all sights if perhaps the least vivid and dramatic, is enough to grip their attention for hours at a time. They stared at George and George's cab with unblinking gaze. They did not know what would happen or when ti would happen, but they intended to wait till something did happen. It might be for years and it might be for ever, but they meant to be there when things began to occur.

(from A Damsel in Distress, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, April 20, 2019

An apt simile

"I dare you to give me permission to circulate this story up and down California Street! Yes, sir, I dare you - and you aren't game! Why, everybody would be cheering for me and laughing at you, and you'd get about as much sympathy as a rich relative with arterial sclerosis."

(from Cappy Ricks, by Peter B. Kyne)

Friday, April 19, 2019

He made "Best Dressed" his own

Actor Adolphe Menjou was undeniably a natty dresser. That single attribute was probably the one most identified with his name. The extent to which that is true is revealed in the fact that he was voted the Best Dressed Man in America nine times.

Image result for adolphe menjou

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Skinners of the world

Every large business office has its Skinner - a queer combination of decency, honesty, brains and brutality, a worshiper at the shrine of Mammon in the temple of the great god Business, a reactionary Republican, treasurer of his church and eventually a total loss from diabetes, brought on by lack of exercise and worry over trifles.

(from Cappy Ricks, by Peter B. Kyne)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Maybe I missed my name

He was what he was - a dapper, precise, shrewd, lovable little old man with mild, paternal blue eyes, a keen sense of humor and a Henry Clay collar, which latter, together with a silk top hat, had distinguished him on 'Change for forty years - it was inevitable that along the Embarcadero and up California Street he should bear the distinguishing appellation of Cappy. In any other line of human endeavor he would have been called Pappy - he was that type of man.

(from Cappy Ricks, by Peter B. Kyne)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A good cop

Ollie had been a good officer, a conscientious man who had a name for thoughtfulness and consideration. He never went in for the rough stuff, knowing the taxpayers paid his salary and understanding he was a public servant. He treated people with consideration and not as if they were enemies.

(from "I Hate To Tell His Widow," by Louis L'Amour)

Monday, April 15, 2019

Larry (of the Three Stooges) was a boxer

Larry Fine was accidentally burned with acid in his childhood. Later, in an attempt to strengthen the arm, he took up boxing and actually won one professional bout. However, his father was opposed to boxing and made him stop.

Image result for larry fine boxing

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The criminal's disadvantage

"One of the great advantages  the law has over the criminal is the criminal's mind. He is always afraid of being caught. He can never be sure he hasn't slipped up: he never knows how much you know." (from "The Hills of Homicide," by Louis L'Amour)

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Courteous of him to mention it

"Pull up a chair an' set. No, not there. Move left a mite. Ain't exactly safe to get between me and' that spittoon." (from "The Hills of Homicide," by Louis L'Amour)

Friday, April 12, 2019


Those of us who are Hogan's Heroes fans are very familiar with this city (although, to be honest, until I looked it up, I assumed it was fictional). It is an actual city in south-central Germany with a population of 11,000. Stalag 13 on the TV show was supposed to have been near the city.

In real life, during World War II, Stalag XIII-B and XIII-C were in Hammelburg.

Image result for hogan's heroes hammelburg

Thursday, April 11, 2019

VERY local

"It was a time when few men got more than a mile or two from their door, unless following the sea of the fishing, but I was a restless one, moving about and working wherever an extra hand might be needed." (from Sackett's Land, by Louis L'Amour)

I don't know how true this statement is, but I suspect it is correct in general, if not in specifics. In that day, most poor folks got as far as they could walk. Their world was very small.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

(Sigh) It is an old, old story

"And with this ultimatum Lady Constance withdrew haughtily, leaving the Duke, as so many men have been left by women in their time, with the loser's end of the debate."  (from A Pelican At Blandings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Have men ever won that debate?

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

A spirited lass

He had taken an immediate liking to Linda, but he was not blind to the fact that in making her his wedded wife Johnny would be running up against something hot. She was no Ben Bolt's Alice, who would weep with delight when he gave her a smile and tremble with fear at his frown. She was a girl of spirit, and any husband rash enough to frown at her would very shortly know that he had been in a fight.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Piercing glance

"Yes, I could see that, however little you showed it, you found Connie overpowering. Long association has made me immune, but she does take the stuffing out of most people. Somebody wrote a story years ago entitled The Bird With The Difficult Eye, and I have always thought the author must have had Connie in mind. She takes after my late father, a man who could open an oyster at sixty paces with a single glance."

(from A Pelican At Blandings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Not likely a ghost

As to the identity of this prowler and his motives in visiting the portrait gallery at such a time he was completely fogged. The possibility that it might be the Blandings Castle ghost he rejected. Ghosts do, of course, keep late hours, but they do not switch on electric light. The Blandings Castle ghost, moreover, if he remembered correctly the stories he had heard in childhood, went about with its head under its arm, which would be a handicap to a spectre when looking at pictures.

(from A Pelican At Blandings, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, March 29, 2019

The Ray Brown Trio

It is a very unusual thing to find a jazz trio named after its bassist. It would take a player of considerable stature to swing such a thing, but that is what Ray Brown was. For a while during his career he was The Man on the bass.

Image result for ray brown trio

Sound advice

Gomez was outside. From the trees he called out, "Surrender now and we will let you go free! lay down your weapons and come out!"

Long ago my father had said, "Never give up your weapons. I know of no case where weapons were surrendered that was not followed by a massacre."

(from Jubal Sackett, by Louis L'Amour)

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Stimulating memory

She plied me with questions until I told her more than I knew, things Pa had told us, forgotten until her questions dredged them up. Memory holds much more than we suspect, I found, and began to wonder what else there was I had forgotten.

My experience is that this is exactly true, and I wish I knew how to do it better.

(from Jubal Sackett, by Louis L'Amour)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The limitations of eye witnesses

In all evidence there is some interpretation. The eyes see, the mind explains. But does the mind explain correctly?

(from Jubal Sackett, by Louis L'Amour)

Monday, March 25, 2019

Keep your mouth shut, and keep the advantage

To talk too much is always a fault. Information is power.

(from Jubal Sackett, by Louis L'Amour)

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Smart, as well as tough

"Take my word for it, son, a marshal must be judged not by the number of men he has killed in the line of duty, but by the tough men he has handled without using a gun, even without violence."

(from The Iron Marshall, by Louis L'Amour)

Friday, March 22, 2019

Just a little Sackett

From a page from the notebook of a veteran lawman in Louis L'Amour's novel, The Iron Marshall:

"Drako, Henry, age 41 . . . To Tennessee, trouble with man named Sackett whose horse Drako "borrowed." Sackett recovered horse, suggested they leave. They did."

Louis found ways to weave the Sackett family into several novels that were not specifically about them.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Honesty the best policy

"Chickens come home to roost, me bye. Right a straight trail and y'll get farther and feel better, and have no worry about what someday will be discovered. Those who are dishonest will be dishonest with you, and when it suits their purpose will turn on y'. Among such folks trust no man . . . and particularly, no woman."

(from The Iron Marshall, by Louis L'Amour)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Lots of shoveling work

"There's many a smith in New York City, and there's more than two hundred thousand horses in the town, bye. Each horse will drop twenty-five or -six pounds of manure per day, and there's a stable in near every block on Manhattan.

(from The Iron Marshall, by Louis L'Amour)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Just be patient

A few tracks of buffalo, here and there the trail left by a drifting band of mustangs, and always, lost against the brassy sky, the slow, swinging loops of the buzzards. Men may play, they may dream and struggle, but the buzzard has only to wait, for all things come to him in the end.

(from Reilly's Luck, by Louis L'Amour)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Here is a pretty name for a girl

In his novel, Reilly's Luck, one of the characters author Louis L'Amour introduces is a beautiful young lady named Boston Bucklin. I thought that had a nice sound to it, what with the alliteration. I have found that place names very frequently work well for female names.

Saturday, March 16, 2019


"Just as some people are born with physical defects, you were born with a moral defect. You have no conception of right and wrong. Things are good or bad as they serve your purpose or do not serve it." (from Reilly's Luck, by Louis L'Amour)

Sadly, I fear there is a sizable percentage of the human race that operates off the same principle.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Tough bunch

"Pa will be upset. Uncle Joe was the only kin of my mother, an' Pa and him thought a lot of one another. I reckon we'll have some huntin' to do."

"You may be outnumbered."

Cody turned cold eyes on Val. "No Bucklin is ever outnumbered, young feller."

(from Reilly's Luck, by Louis L'Amour)

The Bucklins must have been kin to the Sacketts.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

It was musical genius

Have you ever listened to the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies theme song? LINK Notice the steel guitar at the beginning? That single sound has become engrained on our American consciousness. Just that one little lick with an instrument you would not have expected to be in a cartoon.

Image result for looney tunes logo

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Bible principles in common literature

"Trouble?" Dai smiled his wide smile. "It's trouble, you say? All my life there's been trouble. Where man is, there will be trouble to the end of time, if not of one kind, then another. But I take my trouble as it comes, boy." (from Showdown on the Hogback, by Louis L'Amour)

Whether he realized it or not, Louis stated fairly eloquently two basic biblical principles in this quote. "Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble." So said the old prophet Job. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." So said our Lord.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

St. John's Wort

This herb is found in almost any medicine section. Some studies have concluded that it is helpful as an anti-depressant. "A 2015 meta-analysis review concluded that it has superior efficacy to placebo in treating depression, is as effective as standard antidepressant pharmaceuticals for treating depression, and has fewer adverse effects than other antidepressants."

Monday, March 11, 2019

Miss Subways

Actress Mona Freeman was the first Miss Subways of New York City in 1941 at the tender age of 14. Not exactly the world's most coveted title, right? I suspect not. However, it did propel her to a 28-year movie and modeling career.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Laredo TV series

This was a pretty good show. It was about a unit of the Texas Rangers, and featured three young officers who were in all sorts of comical situations. While not exactly slapstick, every episode had a strong element of humor. Obviously, it was not to be taken seriously, because I certainly hope Rangers were a little more serious about their job than these are depicted as being.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Princess Baba

Her real name was Valerie Nancy Brooke, but her professional name was Princess Baba. Really. She had two movie credits in the late 1930s, including The Charge of the Light Brigade, which starred Errol Flynn. She was the youngest daughter of Sir Charles Vyner de Windt Brooke, the last British Rajah of Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Her sister Leonora married the 2nd Earl of Inchcape.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Benefits of peace

"If the fight continues, all the rustlers in the country will come in here to run off our herds while we fight. Did it ever fail? When honest men fall out, thieves will always profit."

(from Riders of the Dawn, by Louis L'Amour)

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Another Hollywood star who married a blue-blood

Actress Geraldine Fitzgerald was born in Ireland, but moved to America for her career. She eventually married Sir Edward Lindsay-Hogg, 4th Baronet. The First Baronet was awarded his title for his contributions to horse breeding, as well as his service in Parliament.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

A definite calming effect

"I'm looking for the boss of the B Bar B."

"What might you want with him?"

"Business talk. I'm friendly."

The chuckle was dry. "Ever see a man covered by two Spencers that wasn't friendly?"

(from Riders of the Dawn, by Louis L'Amour)

Monday, March 04, 2019

Feminine, and feline

"There is no trait that women possess more fortunate for men than their curiosity." (from Riders of the Dawn, by Louis L'Amour)

Sunday, March 03, 2019

The saga of Capt. Dagworthy

Captain Dagworthy was a man who was a thorn in the side of Col. George Washington because he claimed precedence since (presumably) his rank was by the British army, while Washington's was merely colonial. About him, Washington made the comment that he "has not such superlative to balance an inequality of rank." I take that to mean that if he had been a brilliant officer, Washington might have been more prone to put up with his shenanigans, but he was not.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Oh, my aching back!

It used to amuse me to watch my uncle walk. His knees were always just a little bit bent. He would never come down on a locked knee. An "old man" walk.

And then I became an old man. Now I walk like that. Bent knees are just a little shock absorber. And when your back begins to go south on you, any shock you can absorb is a big help.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Dr. Watson had lots of blueblood connections

Actor Nigel Bruce, best known for his lovable portrayals of Dr. Watson in the series of Sherlock Holmes movies, had lots of family connections with the upper crust of British society. His father was Sir William Waller Bruce of Stenhouse, 10th Baronet. That line went all the way back to Sir William Bruce, the 1st Baronet, who died in 1630. The Bruce baronet line connects back to Sir Patrick Agnew, who died in 1661; and William Cuningham of Robertland, 5th Baronet; and Standish O'Grady, 1st Vicount Guillamore; and Patrick Agnew of Locknow, 1st Baronet; and Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Galloway. And I quit looking at that point.

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Those stupid movie cowboys

"He thought of his spurs. Kneeling down, he unfastened them from his boots and hung them over a root near the end of the log. He wanted no jingling spurs to give his presence way at an inopportune moment." (from The Trail to Crazy Man, by Louis L'Amour)

How often in old cowboy movies have we watch a cowboy sneaking up on the bad guy with his spurs still on? Almost as dumb as trying to peek over a rock with his hat on, which they all did, also.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

He skipped some ranks

Any student of U. S. military history knows that Chester Nimitz was one of only four men to have held the 5-star rank of Fleet Admiral. What they might not know is that Nimitz skipped three ranks in his upward progression.

Nimitz never held the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade, as he was appointed a Full Lieutenant after three years' service as Ensign. (His service record states that he was promoted to Lt. JG and Lieutenant on the same day.)

At the time he was promoted from captain, the one-star rank did not exist. One star previously had been Commodore, and later became Rear Admiral Lower Half. Thus, Nimitz did not hold a one-star rank.

By congressional appointment, he skipped the 3-star rank of Vice Admiral and became a full Admiral.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Frances Chan: she might have been kin

Charlie Chan was, of course, a purely fictitious character. However, in 1944 an actress named Frances Chan played one of Charlie's daughters in a speaking role in Black Magic. She was very pretty, had been on the cover of Look magazine, her parents were both Hollywood extras, and she seemed to be on the verge of making a splash in Hollywood. Then, after two more small parts the next year, she disappeared from the movies. The reason? She had suddenly became engaged to Edward J. Eng, with whom she eventually had four daughters and a son. So, given that she had the right surname and, like him, a sizable family (although not quite so many as he did), she might have been a real relative of Charlie Chan.

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Sunday, February 24, 2019

A wise Mom

My mother taught me to listen, to question when in doubt, and to keep my thoughts until the time for speaking. (from "Beyond the Great Snow Mountains," by Louis L'Amour)

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Never again!

The hole wasn't big, but we got out. Soderman looked at me. "We did it, pal! We did it!" he said. Then he added, "Mister, that's the last time I ever go underground until they bury me. I mean it!" (from "Under the Hanging Wall," by Louis L'Amour)

I know what the man meant. Those were exactly my sentiments the last time I went into a cave about ten years ago.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Choose your words carefully

"Useless talk like boat without oar - get no place." (from Charlie Chan at the Race Track)
Image result for charlie chan at the racetrack

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Dark and quiet

"There is no soundlessness such as the silence far under the earth. There is no dark such as that absolute blackness where there is complete absence of light." (from "Under the Hanging Wall," by Louis L'Amour)

Anyone who has been into an underground cave knows this to be true. When I was a teenager, one of our older cousins took several of us boys to a cave in northwest Arkansas. Once we were deep beneath the earth, he had us turn off our lights and be quiet for a few seconds. It was very impressive.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Edmund Cobb - prolific, even if not great

You probably do not recognize the name Edmund Cobb, and maybe not even his face. But you certainly had plenty of opportunities to familiarize yourself with either. According to Wikipedia, he appeared in 623 films between 1912 and 1966.

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Late for her own wedding

In 1928, actress Hermione Baddeley married David Tennant, the third son of Edward Tennant, First Baron Glenconner. She forgot the time for the wedding, and arrived an hour late. That was a great way to make a good start in the nobility!
Image result for hermione baddeley

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The faces that go with the voices - Barney Phillips

Obviously, you do not see the actors on radio, so you get to picture what they looked like, until you see an actual photograph of them. Barney Phillips had a rich, deep, resonant voice that kept him very busy during the old radio days. Then finally, Phillips landed the role as Major "Doc" Kaiser, the physician on the Twelve O'clock High television series, and we got to see the face that went with the voice.
Image result for barney phillips

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Victor Jory - one of the great bad guys

Occasionally in cinematic history you will come across an actor who was just made to be a bad guy. Something about him made him fit that role. A lot of actors were "bad" in appearance: tough-looking, heavy beard, looked Mediterranean or Eastern European. And a few of them were handsome, but still had that "bad guy" look about them.

Victor Jory played a few good guy roles, but he made his living on the other side of the wanted poster. He managed to look conniving and sleezy. I would guess that most of his bad guy roles were in westerns, but he also filled that slot in some of the old detective movies. (I remember him in one Boston Blackie film.)

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Friday, February 15, 2019


Actor Robert Lansing was the star of the TV program Twelve O'clock High. He had one of the most brooding countenances I have seen among the acting fraternity. In that show he played a general who was constantly under high-stress situations, and his face really fit the role.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Reginald Denny was a boxer?!

He generally played upper-crust, air-headed British sorts. Very proper, and all that sort of rot. In short, the last person you would have pictured as a boxer.

File:Reginald Denny.jpg

Reginald Denny is a movie actor who had been a boxer in his younger days. "In 1917 Denny joined the Royal Flying Corps as a pilot and remained for two years, during which he became the brigade heavyweight-boxing champion." [1].
Factoid, from the Los Angeles Times of December 16, 1922:
Jack Dempsey will tangle with at least one opponent during his stay in Los Angeles, for he is scheduled to meet Reginald Denny, well-known screen star and heavyweight fighter, this evening on the Pantages stage, where the champion is filling a vaudeville engagement. Jack Kearns, manager of the champ, has seen Denny workout in such prize-ring films as ‘The Leather Pushers’ by H.C. Witwer, […] and declares that the screen fighter shows unusual class, is fast, carries a wicked wallop, and has plenty of nerve. Denny is well known in pugilistic circles overseas, having won the heavyweight championship of the Royal Air Force during his service in the war. His ring career looked unusually bright before he decided to fight his way to fame in motion pictures […]. The star has tackled such well known pugs as Al Kaufman, Al Norton and Sam McVey, the ‘black beauty’ from Oxnard, and others, in his film work. Dempsey has expressed his admiration of Denny’s nerve and ability as a boxer, and intends to make the champion of the film world show his stuff when they meet this evening.”

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Medicine Bow, Wyoming

The long-running TV western, The Virginian, was set around the little community of Medicine Bow, Wyoming. That is a real community, located in Carbon County in the south-central part of the state. Its population in the 2010 census was 284. However, during its heyday in the oil boom (1980), its citizenry reached a count of 953.

Virginian Hotel (Medicine Bow, Wyoming).JPG

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Be content

"Most folks set their sights too high. They demand too much of life. How many meals can you eat? How many horses can you ride? How many roofs do you have to sleep under? Let me tell you, the happy man is the man who is content with just what he needs . . . just so he has it regular." (from Where the Long Grass Blows, by Louis L'Amour.

I don't know if that is where Louis got it, but there is a principle in the Bible that says much the same thing: "Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have."

Monday, February 11, 2019

Isom Dart - a real outlaw

In his novel, Ride the Dark Trail, Louis L'Amour brings in a character named Isom Dart. It turns out that Dart (born Ned Huddleston) was a real-life outlaw. He was part of the Tip Gault Gang, who engaged in rustling in southeastern Wyoming.
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