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.

Image result for frances chan actress

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)
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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!
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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.
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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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Saturday, February 09, 2019

Enjoy the road

The thing to remember when traveling is that the trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.

(from Ride the Dark Trail, by Louis L'Amour)

Friday, February 08, 2019

The Brasnos

Olive and Gus Brasno were a famous dwarf song and dance team during the vaudeville days. They also appeared in a handful of movies, including major roles in Charlie Chan at the Circus. They were perfectly proportioned and, among other things, would do ballroom-style dancing on stage. They were offered roles in The Wizard of Oz, but turned down the opportunity because they were making more money in vaudeville. However, Olive's husband of 37 years, Gus Wayne, did appear in the movie.

Image result for george and olive brasno

Thursday, February 07, 2019

If he has gold fever, ignore what he says

We'd learned long ago to discount anything anybody said who was either going to or coming from a gold field.

(from Lonely On the Mountain, by Louis L'Amour)

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Quicker, or deader

The Ox was wary. He did not believe Orrin Sackett was faster than he, but neither did he want to be mistaken. It was a simple case. If he was wrong, he was dead.

(from Lonely On the Mountain, by Louis L'Amour)

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

"Moral equivalent" is NOT war

In recent years, some in governmental circles have used the existence of what they call "the moral equivalent of war" to justify diluting some of our most fundamental civil rights. That is a totally bogus argument.

War is when one sovereign nation officially, by an act of its government, declares war upon another sovereign nation. Then, at that point, you are at war with all the citizens of that other nation, and you can go to war against all the citizens of that nation. (At least that is the rationale used.) Certain inhumane actions are "excused" because of that declaration. But without that declaration, those same actions become blatant murder and butchery, whether or not someone claims "moral equivalency" as the logical and moral support for them.

Monday, February 04, 2019

Bent's Water Crackers

In his novel, Lonely On the Mountain, Louis L'Amour refers to Bent's Hard-Water Crackers. That is an actual product line that is still around. G. H. Bent Company began business in 1801 when Josiah Bent began selling "water crackers" (biscuits made of flour and water that would not deteriorate during long sea voyages). Josiah's grandson, George H. Bent, built the factory in Milton, Massachusetts, where the products are made. The company has expanded its menu to include a variety of sandwiches and George and Martha Washington pies.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Divorce in the World War II generation

"Expectations were different. We had a higher regard for marriage. You just didn't divorce." And if they hit a bump in their relationship, they worked it out between themselves. They were too busy putting their lives back together, too grateful that they had emerged from those difficult years alive and together again, to dwell on the occasional hitches in their relationships.

(from The Greatest Generation, by Tom Brokaw)

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Red River carts

In his novel, Lonely On the Mountain, Louis L'Amour inserts the use of Red River carts, which were used by the metis, particularly in what is now Manitoba.

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Friday, February 01, 2019


I have heard the term Off-Broadway used for years. What does it mean. Does it mean that it is on some other street in NYC besides Broadway? No, it refers to the seating capacity of the venue where the production is being shown. It specifically refers to "any professional venue in Manhattan in New York City with a seating capacity between 100 and 499, inclusive." And, as if that weren't enough, there is also an Off-Off-Broadway designation, for theaters that seat less than 100.

So, I suppose when my grandchildren put on one of their little productions in our living room, that should be designated Off-Off-Off-Broadway?