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 d├ęcor.

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.