Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Lesley Woods - detectives' girlfriend

Woods was a busy radio actress, appearing in some 17 different programs. She is notable for having portrayed the girlfriend of two different radio detectives. She played Mary Wesley in the original radio version of Boston Blackie opposite the movie Blackie, Chester Morris. Then she spent a while as reporter Ann Williams, the sweetheart/sidekick of Casey, Crime Photographer.

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Monday, July 22, 2019

The cruel gender

"Well, after what happened this afternoon . . ." said Molly. She drew away. She was not normally an unkind girl, but the impulse of the female of the species to torture the man it loves is well-known. Women may be a ministering angel when pain and anguish wring the brow: but, if at other times she sees a chance to prod he loved on and watch him squirm, she hates to miss it.

(from The Small Bachelor, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, July 18, 2019

A new exclamation

"Sweet suffering soup-spoons!" This is from P. G. Wodehouse. That is a new one for me. It raises the question, In just what fashion could soup spoons suffer?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Poached egg wedding

     "This is the Reverend Gideon Voules," said Molly. "He's going to marry us."
     "This," said Mrs. Waddington, turning to the clergyman and speaking in  voice which seemed to George's sensitive ear to contain too strong a note of apology, "is the bridegroom."
     The Reverend Gideon Voules looked at George with a dull and poached-egg-like eye. He did not seem to the latter to be a frightfully cherry sort of person: but, after all, when you're married, you're married, no matter how like a poached egg the presiding minister may look.

(from The Small Bachelor, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

We're not getting anwhere with this conversation!

     "Say, listen!" said Sigsbee H. Waddington.
     "Proceed," said Hamilton Beamish.
     "Say, listen!'
     "I am all attention."
     "Say, listen!" said Mr. Waddington.
     Hamilton Beamish glanced at his watch impatiently. Even at its normal level of imbecility, the conversation of Sigsbee H. Waddington was apt to jar upon his critical mind, and now, it seemed to him, the other was plumbing depths which even he had never reached before.
     "I can give you seven minutes," he said. "At the end of the period of time I must leave you. I am speaking at a luncheon of the Young Women Writers of America. You came here, I gather, to make a communication to me. Make it."
     "Say, listen!" said Sigsbee H. Waddington.
     Hamilton Beamish compressed his lips sternly. He had heard parrots with a more intelligent flow of conversation.

(from The Small Bachelor, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, July 15, 2019

Don't destroy her dreams

"She has forbidden him the house?"

"Yes."

"I suppose it's because he has no money?"

Hamilton Beamish was on the point of mentioning that George had an almost indecent amount of money, but he checked himself. Who was he that he should destroy a young girl's dreams? It was as a romantic and penniless artist that George Finch had won this girl's heart. It would be cruel to reveal the fact that he was rich and the worst artist in New York.

(from The Small Bachelor, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Did Wodehouse really know?

P. G. Wodehouse wrote about the British aristocracy like he was a fly on the wall in those baronial estates, like he had firsthand knowledge. But did he? Well, first of all, his great-grandfather was Sir Armine Wodehouse, 5th Baronet. Another great-grandfather was Sir Edmund Bacon, 6th Baronet. In another line, his great-great-grandfather was Sir Robert Kemp, 3rd Baronet. And so forth.

But then Baronets, though somebody, are not peers of the realm. They are only Sirs, not Lords. But Sir Armine's maternal grandfather was William Fermor, 1st Baron Leominster. And so on. Once you get in amongst the bluebloods, who knows where it all will end?

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Not the prize guest of the year

"Sigsbee H. Waddington is one of those men who have only to express a liking for anybody to cause their wives to look on him as something out of the Underworld. Sigsbee H. Waddington could not bring the Prince of Wales home to dinner and get away with it. And when he drags in and lays on the mat a specimen - I use the word in the kindliest spirit - like you, and does so, moreover, five minutes before the start of a formal dinner-party, thus upsetting the seating arrangement and leading to black thoughts in the kitchen, can you blame his wife for not fawning on you? And on top of that you pretend to be an artist."

(from The Small Bachelor, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, July 12, 2019

A synthetic Westener

"Sigsbee H. Waddington is a synthetic Westerner. His whole life, with the exception of one summer vacation when he went to Maine, has been spent in New York State; and yet, to listen to him, you would think he was an exiled cowboy. I fancy it must be the effect  of seeing too many Westerns in the movies. Sigsbee Waddington has been a keen supporter of the motion pictures from their inception: and was, I believe, one of the first men in this city to hiss the villain. Whether it was Tom Mix who caused the trouble, or whether his weak intellect was gradually sapped by seeing William S. Hart kiss his horse, I cannot say: but the fact remains that he now yearns for the great open spaces and if you want to ingratiate yourself with him, all you have to do is to mention that you were born in Idaho - a fact which I hope that, as a rule, you carefully conceal."

(from The Small Bachelor, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Smells and memories

"Why is it that smells are so strongly associated with memories? But is usually the smell that inspires the recall of the memory, and not the other way around."

(from Mojave Crossing, by Louis L'Amour)

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Your memory was critical

In those days every saloon was a clearing house for information. Sitting around in a saloon or standing at a bar, loafing in a cow camp or riding the trail, men just naturally talked about places they'd been. It was likely to be all a body would ever get to know about trails or towns until he traveled them, so men listened and remembered.

(from Mojave Crossing, by Louis L'Amour)

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Eric Blore as Jamison

One of the most under-appreciated comic performances in cinematic history is that of Eric Blore as Jamison the Butler in the Lone Wolf series of movies. He played the role in ten different films. Certainly none of them was in the Oscar-nominated category, but all were thoroughly enjoyable, and in most of them Blore steals the show. Taken as a whole they deserve a much higher place in the annals of comic cinematic performances than they have.

Image result for eric blore lone wolf

Saturday, July 06, 2019

The basic rule of commerce

Nobody ever claimed I was any kind of a businessman, least of all me, but if a body can buy cheap and sell high, he just naturally ain't liable to starve.

(from Mojave Crossing, by Louis L'Amour)

Friday, July 05, 2019

Before horses

Before they domesticated horses, how did the plains Indians get around? By dog power. According to Wikipedia:

Traditionally an Arikara family owned 30–40 dogs. The people used them for hunting and as sentries, but most importantly for transportation in the centuries before the Plains tribes adopted the use of horses in the 1600s. Many of the Plains tribes had used the travois, a lightweight transportation device pulled by dogs. It consisted of two long poles attached by a harness at the dog's shoulders, with the butt ends dragging behind the animal; midway, a ladder-like frame, or a hoop made of plaited thongs, was stretched between the poles; it held loads that might exceed 60 pounds. Women also used dogs to pull travois to haul firewood or infants. The travois were used to carry meat harvested during the seasonal hunts; a single dog could pull a quarter of a bison.

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Thursday, July 04, 2019

Tarantass

In his novel Sitka, Louis L'Amour makes reference to a particular style of horse-drawn vehicle called a tarantass. (L'Amour spelled it with one "s".) Evidently it was made to endure bad roads, and not for comfort. It was common in Russia during the early 1800s.

See the source image

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Naval high collars

On our living room wall we have a picture of a British naval officer with the stiff coat collars that went all the way up under the chin. They looked awfully uncomfortable, and awfully hot. But when you consider that much of a sailor's time was spent where it was extremely cold, such clothing was indispensable.

Image result for british naval officer uniform 1800

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Ersatzbrot

Literally "replacement bread." This was made with potato starch and extended with sawdust. It was given to prisoners of the Germans and often brought on legal dysentery.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Tom Conway's best effort

We have enjoyed Tom Conway as The Falcon in the series of movies. Considering that he had to step in and replace his brother, George Sanders, who was an outstanding actor, that was a tough task. However, I don't know but what Conway's best effort was in replacing Basil Rathbone as the radio Sherlock Holmes. Rathbone, of course, WAS Holmes, and following up a legend is always difficult. However, Conway did a creditable job, imitating Rathbone's voice style approximately, if not exactly.

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Dust off your resume

"Wages of stupidity is hunt for new job" (Charlie Chan, from The Black Camel)

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Saturday, June 29, 2019

A vivid and intriguing simile

"Like a neon-lit tombstone": I heard that expression recently, and it stuck in my mind. Just think what that would look like in a cemetery at night. That is a striking expression.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Yankee Sullivan

Yankee was one of the bad guys in the Louis L'Amour novel Sitka. And, pretty much everything that L'Amour says about him was true. He was a thorough-going thug of the worst sort. He started off in Ireland, served part of a sentence in Australia, and finally ended in California.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Always feminine

She was warm, lovely and exciting, yet beneath it there was steel. It was one thing, he reflected to love a woman. It was quite another to admire her and respect her judgment. Yet he admired her most of all because she was successful at being a woman, she was always and forever feminine.

(from Sitka, by Louis L'Amour)

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Distaff wisdom

He was aware that it did not necessarily take years to make a woman practical, or experience to make her wise. To a fool time brings only age, not wisdom.

(from Sitka, by Louis L'Amour)

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Alan Napier's relatives

His is one of those familiar actor faces that you may recognize, but whose name you probably do not. Alan Napier became famous as Batman's butler on the 1960s television series. He also was the pharmacist on The Beverly Hillbillies who quoted sonnets to Granny when they went to London.

Napier had some important connections. He was a first cousin once removed of Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He was also a great-grandson-in-law of Charles Dickens.

LINK
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-ScJWXkIIE

GRANNY AND THE CHEMIST (SCROLL TO 22:35)

Monday, June 24, 2019

America's first arch-villain enemy

Long before there was Adolph Hitler or Saddam Hussein, there was Banastre Tarleton. At the Battle of Waxhaw Creek in 1780 during the Revolutionary War, Tarleton's soldier's ignored the white flag of surrender and massacred the American troops, killing 113 and severely wounding 150. In his operations in South Carolina, Tarleton alienated colonists by arbitrary confiscations of cattle and food stocks. When Tarleton was involved in the surrender at Yorktown, special arrangements had to be made to protect him because of his unsavory reputation.

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Just a good cattleman

"Bonelli hires gunhands?"

"He surely does! He's revolutionized the cow business in this neck of the woods. He drove fifty head into the hills three months ago, and now they all have four or five three- to six-month-old calves!"

Bowdrie chuckled. "Sounds like an enterprising man."

(from "The Killer From the Pecos," by Louis L'Amour)

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Think before you mount

He had become a disciple of the old western adage that "brains in the head save blisters on the feet." A little rest and meditation often saved a lot of riding over rough country, and right now he had a lot to think about, when he got around to it.

(from "More Brains Than Bullets," by Louis L'Amour)

Friday, June 21, 2019

Learn it early

Bowdrie studied him, and was not fooled. Young he might be, but this boy was no coward and he was responsible. In Bowdrie's limited vocabulary, to be responsible was the most important word.

(from "Bowdrie Passes Through," by Louis L'Amour)

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Job's daughters

Job's children were killed early in that prophesy, but late in the book they were "replaced" with seven sons and three daughters. The names of the sons are not listed, but the daughters' are, which, I would assume, means they are worth noticing. Jemima, Kezia, Keren-happuch.

Jemima was a daughter of Daniel Boone, of course. And, overlooked by some perhaps, Kezia was one of the female citizens of Boonesborough in the television series. Perhaps we might prefer today to omit the second half of the final daughter's name, but use the spelling of the first half. "Keren" would be a unique (and biblical) spelling of a common name.

The Bible says that "in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job." And their names are as beautiful as they must have been.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Mingo's blue blood

The character Mingo on the Daniel Boone TV show (played by Ed Ames) was supposed to have been the son of the 4th Earl of Dunmore. Oddly enough, this was a real person. Since Kenneth Randolph Murray was the Earl (the 11th) at the time of the program, one wonders if they cleared beforehand any possible legal objections before attaching an illegitimate son to the family name.

John Murray was a Scottish peer and the last royal Governor of Virginia. He has previously been the Governor of New York and later was Governor of the Bahamas, so he was an important figure in colonial affairs.

The current Earl (the 12th) is Malcolm Murray, a native of Australia.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Ed Ames made a good Indian

With his dark skin coloration and high cheekbones, singer Ed Ames looked the part of an Indian on the Daniel Boone television series. He was of Ukranian Jewish heritage. I did a quick check of pictures of other Ukranians, and no one that I saw had nearly the distinctive facial features of Ames. So, he must have been somewhat unique in that regard. In fact, of the four Ames Brothers in the family singing group, he would have been singled out for the part immediately.

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Fatigue notwithstanding

          When Matt reached up to help Kris from the saddle she almost fell into his arms. "I am sorry," he said, and he held her in his arms for a moment. "Truly sorry."
          "For better or for worse, Matt - remember? I asked for this. I bought it with my eyes wide open." She drew back her head to look at him. "But I am tired."

(from The Key-Lock Man, by Louis L'Amour)

Sunday, June 16, 2019

I mean, REALLY quiet

What I wanted was a good used saddle, and there was a reason. I was of no mind to ride into Apache country with a squeaky new saddle. Now, any saddle will squeak a mite, and it's a comforting sort o sound, most times; but when there are apaches around any sound more than your breathing is liable to get you killed.

(from The Lonely Men, by Louis L'Amour)

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Hole

"Very difficult to explain hole in doughnut, but hole always there." (from Charlie Chan in Paris)
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Friday, June 14, 2019

Not realistic, but a good yarn

Television programs based on real-life situations are notable for stretching the facts a good bit, and the Daniel Boone show from the 1960s was no different. In the show, Daniel had two children, who appeared to be about ten years different in age, with Jemima being older than Israel. In real life, Boone had ten children, and Israel was about three years older than Jemima.

Second, Fess Parker, who portrayed Boone in the show, was 6 feet 6 inches tall, and the theme song described Daniel as "a big man." The real Daniel was not particularly large and did not ordinarily wear a coonskin cap. However, Parker had worn one in the previous movie about Davy Crocket, and the feature was continued in the television show. The real-life Mrs. Boone was supposed to have been an fairly attractive woman, but it is doubtful that she had the dazzling beauty of Patricia Blair, the actress who portrayed her on television.


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Not a very happy group

We were men with sorrows behind us, and battles too; men with regrets behind us of which we did not speak, nor too often think. With none to share our sorrows or regrets, we kept them to ourselves, and our faces were impassive. Men with no one to share their feelings learn to conceal those feelings. We often spoke lightly of things which we took very seriously indeed.

(from The Lonely Men, by Louis L'Amour)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Colt revolving shotgun

One of the most fearsome weapons that Louis L'Amour mentions in his novels is the Colt revolving shotgun. It does not take much imagination to see why.

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Monday, June 10, 2019

The gun code of the West (according to Louis)

He was a good man with a gun, but a man who used one sparingly. He never threatened, never swaggered, never laid a hand on a gun unless to draw it, and never drew unless to shoot. And he never shot unless to kill.

(from Kiowa Trail, by Louis L'Amour)

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Hop Sing and the hijacking

Actor Victor Sen Yung became famous as one of Charlie Chan's sons in the movie series, and then later as cook Hop Sing on the Gunsmoke television program. In 1972, he was on a Pacific Southwest Airlines flight, which was hijacked. The FBI stormed the plane, and in the ensuing gunfire Yung was shot in the lower back. He and another wounded passenger survived, but a third passenger and the two hijackers were killed.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Young love on the frontier

She looked straight at him, with a smile on her face, and at nineteen the smile of a strange girl is a glory to the blood and a spark to the spirit, carrying a richer wine than any sold across the bar of a frontier saloon.

(from Kiowa Trail, by Louis L'Amour)

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Live for the moment

He was forever commenting to me on how few people actually lived now. Most people, he said, exist in an emptiness between memory and anticipation, but never live in the moment.

(from Kiowa Trail, by Louis L'Amour)

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Concerning Lady Oranmore and Browne

Her screen name was Sally Gray.
After she married Oranmore and Browne, the couple
settled at Castle Mac Garrett, County Mayo. Although she had
never before been to Ireland, she happily left her career
behind and developed a passion for gardening. But the estate
no longer had the financial support which had been provided
by the second Lady Oranmore and Browne, the former Oonagh
Guinness, and the rural economy in Ireland was declining
sharply.
Lord Oranmore and Browne ended up rearing pigs in the
drawing room in the hope that animals raised in such
surroundings would command a higher price.
Lady Oranmore and Browne, who died on September 24,
continued to enjoy lunching at Simpson's and Wilton's. She
remained unflappably good-humoured even when she became
stuck in her bath.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Always on stage

"He must act. That is true," he replied. "Whatever he does and however keenly he does it, he sees a row of footlights in front of him."  (from The House of the Arrow, by A. E. W. Mason)

You know people like that, don't you?

Monday, June 03, 2019

In the brig

We always hear of people being tossed "in the brig" as punishment on shipboard. So what exactly is the brig? It is a Navy or Coast Guard jail. Since the room on board a ship is already limited, you would expect a brig to be especially cozy, and you would be right. Below is a picture of the brig on board the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier.
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Sunday, June 02, 2019

Should have been on the stage

"You may take this from me, my friend. All women who are great criminals are also very artful actresses. I never knew one who wasn't."

(from The House of the Arrow, by A. E. W. Mason)

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Privacy

"The two girls had recognized from their first coming together that privacy was the very salt of companionship." (from The House of the Arrow, by A. E. W. Mason)

How true that is! No matter now "cozy" the situation is forced to be due to circumstances, the participants have to make some allowances for "space" for each individual. Otherwise cabin fever will consume them.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Motives

"Motives, no doubt, are signposts rather difficult to read, and if one reads them amiss, they lead one very wide astray."

(from The House of the Arrow, by A. E. W. Mason)

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Silent Service

If life in the US Navy intrigues you, then you would enjoy this old television show, which is available on YouTube. Each episode details the "life" of a particular submarine and some remarkable aspect to its service. Each episode is introduced and closed out by Rear Admiral Thomas Dykers.

See the source image

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

She must have been very lovely

Jim was conscious of a mist of shining yellow hair, a pair of sapphire eyes, and of a face impertinently lovely and most delicate in its color.

(from The House of the Arrow, by A. E. W. Mason)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Politics is the worst

"Do you know what I am doing, Monsieur Frobisher?" he asked. "I am putting to myself a riddle. Answer it if you can! What is the strongest passion in the world? Avarice? Love? Hatred? None of these things. It is the passion of one public official to take a great big club and hit his brother official on the back of the head."

(from The House of the Arrow, by A. E. W. Mason)

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memory

"Memory is a woman," he said to himself. "If I don't run after her, she will come of her own accord."

(from The House of the Arrow, by A. E. W. Mason)

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Who is the Premier Baronet?

There are two types of "Sirs" in the United Kingdom. Baronets are hereditary knights, although not peers. Then there are the life peers, whose titles may not be inherited. Thus, baronets are neither fish nor foul. They are not peers of the realm and thus cannot be addressed as "Your Lordship." They would be called "Sir William, or whatever. However, their titles do pass from generation to generation. (Just to be clear, a baron is a peer, and a baronet is not.)

The Premier Baronet is the current holder of the oldest extant baronetcy in the realm. At the moment that would be Sir Nicholas Hickman Posonby Bacon, 14th and 15th Baronet. He inherited the baronetcy in 1982 upon the death of his father.

If you are wondering about the double numbers applied to him, Sir Nicholas is both the 14th and 15th Baronet of Bacon since the 8th Bacon Baronet of Mildenhall in the County of Suffolk (created in the Baronetage of England on 29 July 1627), additionally succeeded as the 7th Bacon Baronet of Redgrave in 1755 when his third cousin, the 6th Bacon Baronet of Redgrave, died without heirs. Also in case you are wondering, Sir Nicholas has four sons, so it looks like the succession is in good shape.

The original baronet was Sir Nicholas Bacon, 1st Bt., who was born about 1540 and was appointed to the baronetcy in 1611.

Sir Nicholas Bacon, 14th Baronet prolandscapermagazinecomwpcontentuploads2013

Saturday, May 25, 2019

A strange looking fellow

He is a tall, shambling fellow with a shock of grey hair standing up like wires above a narrow forehead and a pair of wild eyes. He made me think of a marionette whose limbs have not been properly strung.

(from The House of Arrow, by A. E. W. Mason)

Friday, May 24, 2019

Handy weapons

Think - think hard about the room - about where the furniture is. He'll be taken by surprise. Think where the table is, and the chairs. The chairs. Pick one up if you can - yes, pick on up an drive at him with a leg - at his knees - or his head. A good deal could be done with a chair, and his knife would be no good to him.

(from The Case Is Closed, by Patricia Wentworth)

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Dartmoor prison

If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, you are familiar with the long shadow cast by famous Dartmoor Prison. It was finished in 1809, and held 6500 American prisoners after the War of 1812. Believe it or not, it still is open and still is a prison, although today it is a Category C prison, housing mainly non-violent offenders.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Drought of '33

In her novel, The Case Is Closed, author Patricia Wentworth makes reference to "the drought of 1933." In a paper called "An historical analysis of drought in England and Wales" by Gwyneth Cole and Terry Marsh, we find 1933-34 listed as one of the "major droughts" in recent British history.

"Major drought. Intense across southern Britain. Severe surface water impacts in 1933 followed by severe groundwater impacts in 1934, when southern England heavily stressed." A graph in this paper shows that 1933 had one of the ten highest aridity indices since 1766. And we know that in this country as well, during that period we had the Dust Bowl days. So things evidently were dry all over.

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

Kezia

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.

RECORDING OF MADDRELL SPEAKING MANX

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.

Thevirginiantitle.jpg

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.

PrettyBoyFloyd01.jpg

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.

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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)

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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.
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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)