Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Gave him quite a start

     "The more I see of America," sighed Archie, "the more it amazes me. All you birds seem to have been doing things from the cradle upwards. I wish I could do things!"
     "Well, why don't you?"
     "Archie flicked the ash from his cigarette into the finger-bowl. "Oh, I don't know, you know," he said, "Somehow, none of our family ever have. I don't know why it is, but whenever a Moffam starts out to do things he infallibly makes a bloomer. There was a Moffam in the Middle Ages who had a sudden spasm of energy and set out to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, dressed as a wandering friar. Rum ideas they had in those days."
     "Did he get there?"
     "Absolutely not! Just as he was leaving the front door his favorite hound mistook him for a tramp - or a varlet, or a scurvy knave, or whatever they used to call them at the time - and bit him in the fleshy part of the leg."
     "Well, at least he started."
     "Enough to make a chappie start, what?"

(from The Indiscretions of Archie, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, December 29, 2019

BIG cops

Archie had listened to the dialogue with growing uneasiness. Not for the first time since he had made their acquaintance, he became vividly aware of the exceptional physical gifts of these two men. The New York police force demands from those who would join its ranks an extremely high standard of stature and sinew, but it was obvious that jolly old Donahue and Cassidy must have passed in first shot without any difficulty whatever.

(from The Indiscretions of Archie, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

And you think I snore!

The Minister of War lay upon his back, his distinguished corpulence severely dislocating the chaste simplicity of the bed-clothing. Athwart his shelving chest, fat hands were folded in a gesture affectingly naïve. His face was red, a noble high-light shone upon the promontory of his bald pate, his mouth was open. To the best of his unconscious ability, he was giving a protracted imitation of a dog-fight; and he was really exhibiting sublime virtuosity; one readily distinguished  individual howls, growls, helps, against and undertone of blended voices of excited non-combatants.

(from The Lone Wolf, by Louis Joseph Vance)

Friday, December 27, 2019

Don't depise the cat

He could not have enjoyed the immunity ascribed to the Lone Wolf as long as he had without gaining a power of sturdy self-confidence in addition to a certain amount of temperate contempt for spies of the law and all their ways.

Against the peril inherent in this last, however, he was self-warned, esteeming it the most fatal chink in the armour of the lawbreaker, this disposition to underestimate the acumen of the police: far too many promising young adventurers like himself were annually laid by the heels in that snare of their own infatuate weaving. The mouse has every right, if he likes, to despise the cat for a heavy-handed and bloodthirsty beast, lacking in wit and imaging, a creature of simple force-majeure; but that mouse will not advisedly swagger in cat-haunted territory; a blow of the paw is, when all's said and done, a blow of the paw - something to numb the wits of the wiliest mouse.

(from The Lone Wolf, by Louis Joseph Vance)

Thursday, December 26, 2019


It is not the having of many offspring that brings joy to an old man's heart, but having well-behaved offspring.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

An unwieldy monicker

"Did you see the lawyer?"

"Yes, I saw him. His name is Stoganbuhler."

"Well, sooner him than me."

(from The Girl In Blue, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, December 24, 2019


Jeeves (Wodehouse's peerless butler) liked to read Spinoza. One of Bertie Wooster's collection of fiancees tried to mold him into an intellectual. (Couldn't be done.) She caught him in a bookstore trying to buy a copy of Spinoza for Jeeves, and assumed he wanted to read it. He did not.

I have not read Spinoza. I do not want to read Spinoza. I am on Bertie's side. If anyone out there feels a wild inclination to buy me a volume of Spinoza, just save your money.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Too much happiness

     But before he could reach the door it opened, and he saw that Chippendale, the human homing pigeon, had returned. He received chilly glances from both Jerry and Crispin. There are times when a nephew and uncle with a great deal on their minds are glad of the addition to their deliberations of a weedy little man who looks like a barnyard fowl, but this was not one of them.
     What particularly irked them was the fact that this foul-impersonator was so plainly in the best of spirits, looking indeed as if he had just bought the world and paid cash down for it. That was what in their despondent mood they found so hard to bear. A melancholy Chippendale they could have endured; to a Chippendale in tears they might have extended a cordial welcome; but a Chippendale grinning all over his face in the manner popularized by Cheshire cats affected them like a knife stab in the breast.

(from The Girl In Blue, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, December 21, 2019


     I was telling you about my Aunt Myrtle. She had false teeth same as father, but whereas his fitted him like the paper on the wall, hers didn't, and she had to get another set, which left her with the first lot on her hands. She never liked wasting anything, but she couldn't think what to do with them. Why she didn't pawn them and give the proceeds to the West Africans, I don't know, but apparently it didn't occur to her.
     The idea she got after a lot of thought was to make them the basis, if you know what the word means, of a mousetrap. She got a scientific feller she knew to fix one up with the teeth inside it in such a way that any mouse that shoved its nose in would get its loaf of bread snapped off, and all would have been well if she hadn't gone into the kitchen in the dark one night with no shoes on and tripped over the trap, which promptly came down like a ton of bricks on her big toe, nearly severing it. And the doctors at the hospital decided to amputate in case gangrene might set in.
     And as the teeth were legally hers, the result that she became the only woman in East Dulwich, where she was living at the time, who could truthfully say that she had bitten her own toe off. It gave her prestige.

(from The Girl In Blue, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, December 20, 2019

Three at a loss

The shock of bad news affects different people in different ways. Some hardy souls are able to take it with a stiff upper lip, but on none of the three upper lips at the moment under advisement was there anything remotely resembling rigidity. Crispin, who on receipt of Barney's bombshell had quivered like a jelly in a high wind, was still quivering; Jerry uttered an odd gurgling sound which might have proceeded from the children's toy known as the dying rooster; while Chippendale once more requested some unspecified person to chase his Aunt Fanny up a gum tree. It would not be too much to say that consternation reigned.

(from The Girl In Blue, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Fess Parker trivia

People of my generation remember Parker primarily because his part if the Davy Crockett movie and the Daniel Boone TV series.

He enlisted in the Navy in the latter part of World War II, but was turned down as a pilot because of his height (6' 5"). Then he tried to become a radioman gunner, but could not fit in that part of the plane, either.

During college, he was stabbed in the neck during an argument after an auto collision.

Among others, Parker beat out James Arness and Buddy Ebson for the Crockett role in the movie.

Parker's path in Hollywood was helped by introductions by Adolph Menjou, who had met him on a guest visit to the University of Texas.

He was once asked by President Reagan to become the Ambassador to Australia.

He gave Buddy Ebsen guitar lessons in order to get dancing lessons from him.

He founded a winery and vineyard, which is still producing.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

William Conrad trivia

If you are an old radio fan, then you easily recognize William Conrad's voice, because it seemingly was everywhere during those days. Later on he was the star of the Cannon television show for five seasons. Glamorous he was not, but he still had that resonant bass voice.

Conrad was a fighter pilot during World War II. He left the service with the rank of Captain. He twice flew a P-39 under the Golden Gate.

He estimated that he played 7500 roles during his radio career.

He had three memorable (but invisible) roles as narrator: for the radio show Escape, and later for the cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle and The Fugitive, which starred David Janssen.

At its peak, his weight was 260 pounds, packed onto a 5'7" frame.

He was certain to be found walking around the stage with his hands in his pockets.

Although he was by-passed for the role of Matt Dillon on the TV version of Gunsmoke because of his corpulence, he did direct some of the episodes.

The lead statue of the Maltese Falcon which was marred by Sydney Greenstreet at the end of the movie was given to Conrad by studio chief Jack Warner. After Conrad's death it was auctioned for $398,500, which at the time was the highest price ever paid for a movie prop.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

How tall were the Three Stooges?

They looked small on the screen because they were small in real life. And I think their directors deliberately chose tall leading ladies for their pictures as a contrast.

Moe 5' 3 1/2"
Larry 5' 4"
Curly 5' 5"

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Not front cover material

He was not a physically attractive man. His complexion was muddy, his ears stuck out like the handles of an antique Greek vase, and he had the beak and eyes of a farmyard fowl. Seeing him, one wondered how Marlene Hibbs could enjoy his society, even though a free bicycle lesson went with it.

(from The Girl in Blue, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Prime candidate

     "You must marry someone with lots of money."
     "Who would have a man like me?"
     "With a place like this? Dozens. You've only to advertise in The Times that you're open to offers and they'll come running. Good heavens, man, you're amiable, intelligent, understanding, sober, honest and kind to animals. I saw you talking yesterday to that cat that hangs around, and I could see you were saying all the right things. You'd be snapped up in no time.

(from The Girl in Blue, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, December 13, 2019

Models should grin and bear it

     "Don't wobble, confound you!" snorted Mr. Wheeler.
     "Yes, but, my dear old artist," said Archie, "what you don't seem to grasp - what you appear not to realize - is that I'm getting a crick in the back."
     "You weakling! You miserable, invertebrate worm. Move an inch and I'll murder you, and come and dance on your grave every Wednesday and Saturday. I'm just getting it."
     "It's in the spine that it seems to catch me principally."
     "Be a man, you faint-hearted string-bean!" urged J. B. Wheeler. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Why, a girl who was posing for me last week stood for a solid hour on one leg, holding a tennis racket over her head and smiling brightly withal."
     "The female of the species is more india-rubbery than the male," argued Archie.

(from Indiscretions of Archie, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Looked bad, did he?

His aspect was grave.  He looked, as always, as if he had been carved from some durable form of wood by someone who was taking a correspondence course in sculpture and had just reached his third lesson.

(from The Girl in Blue, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Stuffy, what?

The library was on the second floor, a large somber room brooded over by hundreds of grim, calf-bound books assembled in the days when the reading public went in for volumes of collected sermons and had not yet acquired a taste for anything with spies and a couple of good murders in it.

(from The Girl in Blue, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Old What's-her-name

 And his first move must be to find out her name, a thing he had once again carelessly omitted to do. A wooer who attempts to woo without having this vital fact at his fingers' ends can never hope to make a real success of his courtship.

(from The Girl in Blue, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, December 09, 2019

Mean old cab drivers

The cab rolled off. Jerry walked back to his flat. He had to. Barribault's had taken all his assets, with the exception of a few coppers, and mere charm of manner is never accepted by taxi drivers as a substitute for cash.

(from The Girl in Blue, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Do you get the idea that she was beautiful?

There are girls who are rather pretty and girls who are all right; there are girls who aren't too bad and girls who have a certain something; but it is only seldom that one encounters a girl who is really spectacular and takes the breath away. Into this limited class Vera, only daughter of the late Charles ("Good Old Charlie") Upshaw and his wife, Dame Flora Faye, the actress, unquestionably fell.

(from The Girl in Blue, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, December 07, 2019

A compliment - I suppose

She laughed. Analyzing it, Jerry described it to himself as a silvery laugh. Rather like, he thought, for there was a touch of the poet in him, the sound ice makes in a jug of beer on a hot day in August.

(from The Girl in Blue, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Hair dye did not work

The colour of his hair, a clamorous red, was the spring of his secret sorrow. By that token he was a marked man. At irregular intervals he made frantic attempts to disguise it; but the only dye that would serve at all was a jet-black and looked like the devil in contrast with his high colouring. Moreover, before a week passed, the red would drop up again wherever the hair grew thing, lending him the appearance of a badly-singed pup.

(from The Lone Wolfe, by Louis Joseph Vance)

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Don't lift them

The arresting of shoplifters, like art, knows no frontiers. A repugnance toward those who lift shops is common to all emporia, whether in the United States of America or on the other side of the ocean.

(from The Girl In Blue, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Would this constitute torture?

"Zimmer's breaking down to bedrock. Maybe it wasn't strictly ethical, but Teal showed him a quart bottle of castor oil and he cracked wide open."

(from Crooked Shadow, by Kurt Steel)

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Gabby Hayes trivia

Hayes was, of course, the crusty side-kick of Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy.

He did not learn to ride a horse until he was in his 40s.

He and his wife worked in vaudeville, but lost all their money in the Crash of 1929, and moved to California to try their fortunes there.

In real life he was intelligent, well-groomed and articulate.

Concerning westerns, he said, "I hate 'em. Really can't stand 'em. You have so few plots."

Married one time, to Olive E. Ireland, for about 43 years.

George 'Gabby' Hayes Picture

Thursday, November 28, 2019

A single-minded woman

To have dissuade her would have taxed the combined arts of a Demosthenes, a Cato, and a Dale Carnegie. In thirty seconds we four humble mortals knew defeat, struck our tattered colors, and retired before a swirl of fury that would have put to frantic rout fie times our strength in Memelukes.

(from Crooked Shadow, by Kurt Steel)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Quiet sunrise

The sun is coming up as I type. No wind is blowing at all, that I can see. Not a creature is stirring in the house (amazingly enough, given how many grandchildren are here). It is quiet, and it is beautiful, even if I hardly slept at all.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Idiot detectives

     Henry thrust himself from the window and strode over to stare down at her. "Why didn't you come? Three days and a half," savagely. "What've you been doing since Wednesday?"
     She snorted. "Hiring detectives - and firing them. Do all the epileptics and morons naturally swarm to your profession, Hyer? Or do they get that way afterward?"

(from Crooked Shadow, by Kurt Steele)

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Nice depiction

"The house was silent, dark save for the lighted vestibule, wrapped in the rhythmic, small-hour hush of the city." (from Crooked Shadow, by Kurt Steele)

I thought that was an interesting description - "rhythmic hush."

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Crazy map

"Who laid out the streets in the Bronx?"

"The Indians. After the Dutch paid 'em off in red-eye."

"That's a good a theory as any."

(from Crooked Shadow, by Kurt Steel)

The same theory exists about the street system in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Friday, November 22, 2019

If they're not against us, they're for us

"In a war," Brook said defensively, "when you see a chap pointing his gun the same direction you're pointing yours, you have a feeling of sympathy for him, and if you don't know anything about him you're naturally curious."

(from Crooked Shadow, by Kurt Steel)

Thursday, November 21, 2019


In old radio shows, if there was an Irishman involved, sooner or later you were going to hear the word "spalpeen" used. I just saw it in Stuart Palmer's book, The Penguin Pool Murder. Just exactly what is a spalpeen? He is a rascal, and that pretty much sums it up.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Concerning justice

Justice is bigger than human hates and loves and sympathies, not only legal justice, but abstract justice. The kind of justice that lets the letter of the law go sometimes to follow the spirit instead.

(from The Penguin Pool Murder, by Stuart Palmer)

Monday, November 18, 2019

What happened to "shan't"?

Can't. Won't  Those and other contractions are still healthy in our language. But what happened to "shan't"? Shall not. It is just that we do not use "shall," and so its contraction disappeared when it did?

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Maybe one of those behind-the-scene facts of history

Alexander Ulyanov was the older brother of Vladimir Lenin, the Russian revolutionist. Ulyanov was involved in a plot of assassinate Tsar Alexander III, and was captured and hanged in 1887. Who knows if that might have played a part in Lenin's zeal for the revolution?

Friday, November 15, 2019

Which brand do you smoke?

"Have a chair first, won't you? Sorry that I haven't a Camel to offer you . . . wasn't that what you asked for last night? Would a Lucky do?" (from The Penguin Pool Murder by Stuart Palmer)

Richard Diamond smoked Camels. Jack Benny pushed Lucky Strikes. We are so unaccustomed to hearing cigarette advertising today that it looks strange, even in a novel.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

How a detective works

Piper shook his head. "My dear Miss Withers, a detective has no beliefs. He either suspects or he knows. I have to suspect everybody and everything."

(from The Penguin Pool Murder, by Stuart Palmer)

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Miss Withers gets in her digs

     The guard, fat and perspiring from his unaccustomed chase, took a firm grip of the prisoner's coat collar and jerked him into a sitting position. As he did so, three gold watches slid from the pocket and clinked musically on the floor.
     "A pickpocket, huh? said the guard.
     "Quite obvious, even to the most limited intelligence," pointed out Miss Withers. "I guessed it myself."
     "Stealing watches, too."
     "Do they look like grandfather clocks?"

(from The Penguin Pool Murder, by Stuart Palmer)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Barbara Hale trivia

Hale's most famous role was as the secretary of Perry Mason on the television program.

She began her professional career as a model for the comic strip Ramblin' Bill.

She and actor Bill Williams were married for 46 years and had three children, all named Katt (Williams' real-life name). She said, "It took me two years to talk him into marrying me." Williams became the star of The Adventures of Kit Carson television program, which ran for four seasons in the 1950s.

Perry Mason co-star Raymond Burr said she had "the best shriek in Hollywood," and she was known for her screams.

She has an orchid named for her.

On the set of Perry Mason she sketched constantly.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

How John Dehner got his start

John Dehner was a prominent radio actor, starring in Have Gun, Will Travel and being a regular visitor on several other programs. He actually started his Hollywood career as an animator for Walt Disney. He then worked as a disc jockey (easy to imagine given his rich voice) and a professional pianist.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Always Bendix

For some reason, I have never cared for William Bendix as an actor. He always seemed to me to be a caricature of life, and therefore unable to portray real life. Even when he was a comic figure, which was most of the time, he came across as irritating rather than entertaining. And no matter who he was portraying, he always sounded like Bendix.

His Life of Riley radio show was very popular, but if it had not been for the supporting cast, it would not have had much going for it, in my opinion. ( John Brown as Digger O'Dell was great.) Bendix was an actor I could take or leave - preferably leave.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Bill Chadney - Peter Gunn's piano player

On the Peter Gunn television program, his girlfriend Edie (Lola Albright) performed with a small jazz combo in Mother's, a waterfront bar. The piano player in the combo was a regular bit part (rarely a speaking role), whose name was Emmett. The actor who played that part was Bill Chadney, who actually was a popular Southern California jazz pianist, who actually married Albright toward the end of the Gunn series. He opened three Chadney's restaurants, which featured live jazz, just like Mother's.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

One of the good cops

Hollywood's policemen are not always uniformly good guys. Some of them have pretty "flexible" morals, some are needlessly brutal - all sorts have been depicted on the screen. But Peter Gunn's poor, abused pal, Lt. Jacoby, was one of the good guys. He was strictly honest, tireless in the pursuit of his duty, not to mention homely as a mud fence and always having to put up with the handsome, flashy Gunn and his gorgeous, jazz singer girlfriend. Gunn got the money and the girl, but Jacoby would always be there to bail him out at the last minute - and always with a hang-dog look.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Why he went to Hollywood

Antony Carbone was born in sunny Italy, but raised in Syracuse, New York, where they have legendary winters. He hated the cold and the snow, so he moved to California, determined to become an actor. Like many actors of Mediterranean lineage, his was a familiar face in crime and police dramas.

Friday, November 01, 2019

She wasn't buying it

A common-sense actress who was also a great actress: Teresa Wright. Here is what she said when Samuel Goldwyn terminated her contract:

I would like to say that I never refused to perform the services required of me; I was unable to perform them because of ill health. I accept Mr. Goldwyn’s termination of my contract without protest—in fact, with relief. The types of contracts standardized in the motion picture industry between players and producers are archaic in form and absurd in concept. I am determined never to set my name to another one… I have worked for Mr. Goldwyn seven years because I consider him a great producer, and he has paid me well, but in the future I shall gladly work for less if by doing so I can retain my hold upon the common decencies without which the most glorified job becomes intolerable.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

John Doucette trivia

His ugly mug was familiar on the screen during my youth, almost always as a bad guy, and very often as the most brutal sort of thug. You probably remember his face, if not his name. What you might now know?

He was married to his wife, Katherine, for 43 years, and they had eight children.

He was said to be the fastest draw with a six-gun in Hollywood.

He fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

His father was a shoemaker, who would have to relocate frequently when his factory closed down. As a rule, Doucette attended 32 different elementary schools.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The death of Frances Day

Day was an actress who died in 1984 of leukemia. In her handwritten will she left this directive:

"[That] there be no notice or information of any kind of my death, except for and if a death certificate is obligatory. Any persons, private or Press, you shall simply say that I am no longer at this address. "Gone away. Destination unknown", and that is the truth."

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

James Gleason's son

James Gleason is one of our favorite actors, mainly for his portrayal of Inspector Oscar Piper in the Hildegarde Withers series of movies. In 1945 his son was in NYC, waiting for the deployment of his regiment to Europe, when he fell out of a fourth story window of the hotel which was being used to house troops. There were mixed opinions as to whether it was suicide or an accident.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Small country, beautiful queen

Bhutan is a small country, with less than a million people. Yet they may just have the most beautiful first lady (in this case, their queen) of any nation in the world. Jetsun Pema is the 29-year old who in 2011 married the king of Bhutan (I would give his name, but it is a mile long). They are distant cousins.

She may be mean as a snake and so high-maintenance that even a king cannot afford her, but she certainly has a positive effect upon the palace décor.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Miss Withers waxes sarcastic

     The guard, fat and perspiring, from his unaccustomed chase, took a firm grip of the prisoner's coat collar and jerked him into a sitting position. As he did so, three gold watches slid from the pocket and clinked musically on the tile floor.
     "A pickpocket, huh?" said the guard.
     "Quite obvious, even to the most limited intelligence," pointed out Miss Withers. "I guessed it myself."
     "Stealing watches, too."
     "Do they look like grandfather clocks?"

(from The Penguin Pool Murder, by Stuart Palmer)


Thursday, October 24, 2019

Naval power graphically remembered

The battleship Iowa firing a broadside

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Detached from pain

"It should be possible so to divorce the mind from the body that one could look at one's own physical pain with the same analytical detachment one directs toward the agony of another person."

This is a statement made in Dame Ngaio Marsh's novel, A Man Lay Dead. I will grant that perhaps this is theoretically possible in a few cases, but it is not something I would ever expect to be able to do.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Be skeptical

"When player cannot see man who deal cards, much wiser to stay out of game." 

(from Charlie Chan at the Race Track)

Image result for charlie chan at the race track

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Emotional suicide

"He used, as far as I can recollect,  these very words: 'It's no go, Benny; I've been caught poaching and I've lost my license.' I asked him what he meant by that, and he laughed, very bitterly I thought, and said that marriage with a woman who understood you was emotional suicide, a phrase that had the advantage of sounding well and meaning nothing."

(from A Man Lay Dead, by Dame Ngaio Marsh)

Saturday, October 19, 2019

When a great detective picks up the scent

The voice crackled on. Alleyn extended his call. He wrote busily, and gradually a curious expression - eager, doubtful, intensely concentrated - stole over his face. It was a look with which they were very familiar at the Yard.

(from A Man Lay Dead, by Dame Ngaio Marsh)

Friday, October 18, 2019

Get a butler before you plug him

"As a rule," he observed, "there is much less to be gleaned from the clothes of a man with a valet than from those of the poorer classes. 'Highly recommended by successful homicide' would be a telling reference for any man-servant."

(from A Man Lay Dead, by Dame Ngaio Marsh)

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Women are worse

"When a woman is wicked and unscrupulous," said Parker, sententiously, "she is the most ruthless criminal in the world - fifty times worse than a man, because she is always so much more single-minded about it."

(from Unnatural Death, by Dorothy L. Sayers)

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

My favorite day, weather-wise

After one of our brutal, sauna-bath Arkansas summers, that first day when the air has just a little bit of that cool nip of autumn is my favorite. It refreshes the body, the mind - and the soul.

Gorse bushes

In her novel Unnatural Death, Dorothy L. Sayers refers to "gorse bushes." This is a common name for Ulex, which is a genus of flower plants.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019


Loneliness is one of the most painful of the emotions through which humans go. It is a tremendously powerful motivator, and frequently not a good one. Many people make bad decisions in order to escape loneliness. They think, "Better bad friends than no friends," when just the opposite is true.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

If you want to get lost, go here

To the person who has anything to conceal - to the person who wants to lose his identity as one leaf among the leaves of a forest - to the person who asks no more than to pass by and be forgotten, there is one name above others which promises a haven of safety and oblivion. London. Where no one knows his neighbor. Where shops do not know their customers. Where physicians are suddenly called to unknown patients whom they never see again. Where you may lie dead in your house for months together unmissed and unnoticed till the gas-inspector comes to look at the meter. Where strangers are friendly and friends are casual. London, whose rather untidy and grubby bosom is the repository of so many odd secrets. Discreet, incurious and all-enfolding London.

(from Unnatural Death, by Dorothy L. Sayers)

Monday, October 07, 2019

Never foolishness

     "Regular brought up with 'osses I've been all my life. Work with 'em, slept with 'em - lived in a stable, you might say, sir."
     "You couldn't have better company," said Lord Peter.
     "That's right, sir, you couldn't. my wife always used to say she was jealous of the 'osses. Said I preferred their conversation to hers. Well, maybe she was right, sir. A 'oss never talks no foolishness, I says to her, and that's more than you can always say of women, ain't it, sir?"
     "It is indeed," said Wimsey.

(from Unnatural Death, by Dorothy L. Sayers)

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Noisy failures

It's always the failures that make the noise. Successful murderers don't write to the papers about it. They don't even join in imbecile symposia to tell an inquisitive world "What Murder Means To Me," or "How I became a Successful Poisoner." Happy murderers, like happy wives, keep quiet tongues. And they probably bear just about the same proportion to the failures as the divorced couples do to the happily mated.

(from Unnatural Death, by Dorothy L. Sayers)

Saturday, October 05, 2019

How to get by with crime

"Society is at the mercy of a murderer who is remorseless, who takes no accomplices and who keeps his head."

 (Edmund Pearson, from Murder at Smutty Nose, as quoted in Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers)

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Strange-looking woman

Tall, over-dressed, Musquash and those abbreviated sort of shoes with jeweled heels and hardly any uppers - you know the sort of thing. Heavily peroxided, strong aroma of orifan wafted out upon the passer-by; powder too white for the fashion and mouth heavily obscured with sealing-wax red; eyebrows painted black to startle, not deceive; finger-nails a monument to Kraska - the pink variety.

(from Unnatural Death, by Dorothy L. Sayers)

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Actually a very good singer

Roy Rogers actually had an outstanding light tenor voice. It was clear and clean and very listenable. He reminds me a lot of popular singer Jimmie F. Rodgers, who became famous for his rendition of "Honeycomb," among other hits. (See photo below.)

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

I think Dorothy has them pegged

Lord Peter paused, in the very act of ringing the bell. His jaw slackened, giving his long, narrow face a faintly foolish and hesitant look, reminiscent of the heroes of Mr. P. G. Wodehouse

(from Unnatural Death, by Dorothy L. Sayers)

Lord Peter is Lord Peter Wimsey, the amateur sleuth hero of several of her novels.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Roy Glenn of the deep voice

If you are an old movie and television fan, you probably would recognize the face and voice of actor Roy Glenn. His voice was amazingly deep and resonant. He appeared a few times on the Jack Benny television show as a friend of Rochester.

And, without any chance of being sued for slander, you could have said that he was married for about 35 years to a "fractious" woman. In 1936 he married Pauline Fractious, and they remained married until his death in 1971.

Roy Glenn (publicity still).JPG

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Navy Log

This television series aired for one season in 1955-56. It was a group of true-life adventures and problems from various areas of the Navy, most of which are set in the context of the Korean War. It is reasonably well done, and the quality of the production is acceptable. If you like military stories, you might enjoy this. Many of the episodes are available on YouTube.

Image result for navy log tv show

Friday, September 27, 2019


In the Lord Peter Wimsey novel, Unnatural Death, we encounter the surname Gotobed. I assume it is pronounced just like it looks. Other spellings have been found in history. One site I found said that its original meaning was "the son of Godbert." One of the first known bearers was Roger Godberd in 1273.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


This was a musical "instrument" played by Smiley Burnette, the sidekick one a multitude of old western films. Here is a LINK to a video of Burnette (as "Frog" Millhouse) playing the jassackaphone in The Old Barn Dance (1938).

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A British Southern colloquialism

"That cock won't fight." That is from Dorothy L. Sayers' novel, Unnatural Death, which features amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. I take it to be the equivalent of, "That dog won't hunt."

Monday, September 23, 2019

Not even close

"Shut up, Sherlock," said his friend, "the doctor's story is not going to be obvious. Far from it, as the private said when he aimed at the bull's-eye and hit the gunnery instructor."

(from Unnatural Death, by Dorothy L. Sayers)

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Tough job

We arranged to start on the following Saturday from Kingston. Harris and I would go down in the morning, and take the boat up to Chertsey, and George, who would not be able to get away from the City till the afternoon (George goes to sleep at a bank from ten to four each day, except Saturdays, when they wake him up and put him outside at two) would meet us there.

(from Three Men In a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Don't take short sea trips

     I objected to the sea trip strongly. A sea trip does you good when you are going to have a couple of months of it but, for a week, it is wicked.
     You start on Monday with the idea implanted in your bosom that you are going to enjoy yourself. You wave an airy adieu to the boys on shore, light your biggest pipe, and swagger about the deck as if you were Captain Cook, Sir Francis Drake, and Christopher Columbus all rolled into one. On Tuesday you wish you hadn't come. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, you wish you were dead. On Saturday you are able to swallow a little beef tea, and to sit up on deck, and answer with a wan, sweet smile when kind-hearted people ask you how you feel now. On Sunday, you begin to walk about again, and take solid food. And on Monday morning, as, with your bag and umbrella in your hand, you stand by the gunwale, waiting to step ashore, you begin to thoroughly like it.

(from Three Men In a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A true hypochondriac

I said, "I will not take up your time, dear boy, with telling you what is the matter with me. Life is brief, and you might pass away before I had finished. But I will tell you what is not the matter with me. I have not got housemaid's knee. Why I have not got housemaid's knee, I cannot tell you; but the fact remains that I have not got it. Everything else, however, I have got."

(from Three Men In a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome)

Monday, September 16, 2019

NOT gourmet

We ate a silent and dismal dinner out of the cans I had salvaged from our cottage in Connecticut. Tomato soup, then black bean soup, then succotash for the main course. For dessert I offered Jeff his choice of vegetable soup or two marshmallows. He picked the marshmallows and threw them at me. Not playfully.

(from The Frightened Stiff, by Kelley Roos)

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Why husbands leave rearranging alone

     "Jeff, couldn't we just take an hour or two off from murder and try to make the place look like home? It would do wonders for my morale."
     "Sure, tell me what to do."
     "I should have known; Jeff wasn't much help. He would pick up a lamp or a chair, walk thoughtfully around the room with it, then deposit it exactly the same spot where it had been standing.

(from The Frightened Stiff, by Kelley Roos)

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Didn't look the part

He was a little man, his hands and feet so small that they seemed almost feminine. His eyes were meek and colorless, his face had the look of a scared rabbit. Never in a million years should George Turner have been cast as a landlord. If he could foreclose a mortgage, I could play tackle for West Point.

(from The Frightened Stiff, by Kelley Roos)

Thursday, September 12, 2019


The common name for Ptaeroxylon is "sneezewood tree." It is found in southern Africa. The wood produces oils containing nieshoutol, which causes violent sneezing by workers exposed to it. It is not poisonous, but has been known to cause respiratory complications.

Ptaeroxylon obliquum, habitus, Walter Sisulu NBT.jpg

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

True bravery

When I hear of a man doing a brave deed, I always want to discover whether at the time he was well and comfortable in body. That, I am certain, is the biggest ingredient in courage, and those who plan and execute great deeds in bodily weakness have my homage as truly heroic.

(from Prester John, by John Buchan)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Keep the emotions under control

"Indeed I was a convert, if there can be conversion when the emotions are dominant and there is no assent from the brain." (from Prester John, by John Buchan)

This is the ingredient found in mob psychology.

Monday, September 09, 2019


Here is another word from John Buchan's writings. Aasvogel is from "aas" (carrion) and "vogel" (bird, from the Dutch). Or, in other words, a vulture.

Sunday, September 08, 2019


I just finished reading Prester John, by John Buchan. This novel is set in South Africa, and so I am encountering many new words. One of them is kloof, which means "a steep-sided, wooded ravine or valley."

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Not a very appealing fellow

He had a face the colour of French mustard - a sort of dirty green - and blood-shot, beady eyes with the whites all yellowed with fever.

(from Prester John by John Buchan)

Friday, September 06, 2019

The re-uniting of twin souls

     "We've always suited each other, Squiffy," she said. "I'm not denying we had our rows, but we're older now, and I think we should hit it off. We both like the same things. I think we should be awfully happy if we had another try at it." Lord Tidmouth stared at her, impressed.
     "Perfectly amazing you should say that," he said. "That very same thought occurred to me the moment I saw you at Bingley. I remember saying to myself, 'Squiffy, old man,' I said, 'haven't you rather, as it were, let a dashed good thing slip from our grasp?' And I replied to myself, 'Yes, old man, I have.'" Lottie beamed at this twin-soul.
     "I'm awfully fond of you, Squiffy"
     "Awfully nice of you to say so."
     "After all, what are brains?"
     "Or looks?"

(from Doctor Sally, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)