Wednesday, July 31, 2019


This line from S. S. Van Dine: "Beware of those pseudopyriform faces." That was a new one on me. I got the first half: pseudo indicates "false." Pyriform means "pear-shaped."

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Boulle cabinet

In S. S. Van Dine's novel, The "Canary" Murder Case, a piece of furniture that plays a significant role in the story is a Boulle cabinet (Van Dine spells it with one "L"). So what do they look like?

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Monday, July 29, 2019

"Pops" Crosby

One of Bob Hope's running gags in the "Road To" movies was Bing Crosby's age. Hope was born May 29, 1903. Crosby was born May 3, 1903. So, yes, Bing was older, but only by 26 days.

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Sunday, July 28, 2019

Dorothy Lamour about the Road pictures

The two male stars began ad-libbing during filming. "I was trying to follow the script but just couldn't get my lines out," she said later. "Finally, I realised that I should just get the general idea of a scene rather than learn the words by heart, then go along with the boys." Said Hope, "Dottie is one of the bravest gals in pictures. She stands there before the camera and ad-libs with Crosby and me knowing that the way the script is written she'll come second or third best, but she fears nothing." (from Wikipedia)

Friday, July 26, 2019

Quite a description of a woman

The murder victim in S. S. Van Dine's The "Canary" Murder Case, Margaret Odell, he described as "a scintillant figure who seemed somehow to typify the gaudy and spurious romance of transient gaiety." Not very flattering, if you can wade through the verbiage.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

She must have been right pretty

Hers was the type of face, voluptuous and with a hint of mystery, which rules man's emotions and, by subjugating his mind, drives him to desperate deeds.

(from The "Canary" Murder Case, by S. S. Van Dine)

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

What kind of animal is that?

     He retracted the lower abdomen, and holding it retracted, leaned well over to the left side, contracting the muscles of the left side forcibly. He kept his legs straight all the time, his knees stiff. He revrsed to right side, and repeated twenty times - ten right, ten left. This exercise was done slowly and steadily, without jerking.
     "Ah!" said Hamilton Beamish, relaxing. "Splendid for the transversalis muscle, that, converting it into a living belt which girds the loins. Have you ever given considered thought to the loins, Garroway?"
     The policeman shook his head. "Not that I know of," he said indifferently. "I've seen 'em in the Bronx Zoo."

(from The Small Bachelor, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

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?"


"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.

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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


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.

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Tuesday, July 02, 2019


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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