Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mysterious Days: 30 May

Charlie Chan in Reno is released.

The second Chan film to feature Sidney Toler as Charlie Chan, it co-starred Sen Yung as his son Jimmy.

Sen Yung on right, Sydney Toler, Ricardo Cortez next to woman

Mysterious Days: 31 May

Sir Robert Peel's Police Bill is passed, leading to the creation of an organized British police force, housed in Whitehall Palace adjoining Great Scotland Yard road. In the 1880s the headquarters is moved to a new building at the Parliament end of Whitehall, and is called New Scotland Yard. (It's moved again since then.)

Clive Brook is born in London. In 1927 Brook had the lead in Josef von Sternberg's Underworld, the first gangster movie. In 1929, he will star in the first talking movie featuring Sherlock Holmes.

Sax Rohmer, creator of Fu Manchu dies.

The last episode of the popular LA crime sseries Baretta airs on ABC. Robert Blake stars as the streetwises, unconventional cop Tony Beretta

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mysterious Days: 30 May

George Sims, is born in Iowa. He uses the pseudonym Paul Cain for his stories which are published in Black Mask. His only novel is The Fast One (1933) the story of gunman Gerry Kells and his dipsomaniac lover S Grandquist. Some consider it the "toughest tough guy novel ever written" which remains "as violent and disturbing today as when it first appeared."

The "professor" of detection, Julian Symons, is born in London. A noted scholar, critic, biographer, novelist, president of the Detection Club, and Mystery Writers of America Grand Master (1982).

He is the author of:
The Thirty-first of February (1950)
The Plot Against Roger Rider (1973)

His erudite study of crime literature, Bloody Murder (in US - Mortal Consequences) is a cornerstone analysis of the genre.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mysterious Days: 29 May

Frederick Faust, creator of Dr. Kildare, is born in Seattle, Washington. As Max Brand, he writes mysteries and Westerns, becoming a constant contributor to the pulps in the 1920s and 1930s.

The first James Bond movie, Dr. No, starring Sean Connery and Ursula Andress is released.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mysterious Days: 28 May

GK Chesterton is born in London. Chesterton is the author of the Father Brown mysteries and the novel the Man Who Was Thursday.

Ian Fleming is born in London. He is the creator of Bond. James Bond.

Dial M For Murder, Alfred Hitchcock's film starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly and John Williams, is released. It is based on a play by Frederick Knott. Originally shot in flatscreen, it will be withdrawn so 3D effects can be added.

Alfred Hitchcock's movie Vertigo, starring James Stewart and Kim Novak, is released.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mysterious Days: 27 May

Dashiell Hammett is born in St. May's Countty, Maryland. He works as a Pinkerton operative before turning to writing. He is of the hard-boiled school, author of The The Thin Man, Red Harvest, and The Dain Curse, as well as The Maltese Falcon.

Tony Hillerman is born in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma. Raised among Native Americans, he writes mysteries featuring Lt Joe Leaphorn and Sgt Jim Chee.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mysterious Days: 26 May

Paul Lukas (born Pal Lukacs) is born in Budapest, Hungary. Although he won an Oscar for his role in Watch on the Rhine, and played Philo Vance in The Casino Murder Case (1931), he is best known as Professor Arronax in Walt Disney's 1954 film, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, and as the villain in Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes.

Flashpowder and More

The Cape Cod Mystery, (1931) pg 31
Young Sullivan adjusted a rickety tripod and with a great deal of difficulty succeeded in fixing his antiquated camera to his satisfaction. He poured out a liberal portion of powder on a t-shaped holder and touched it with a match. Instantly we were blinded and almost asphyxiated by the smoke.

The earliest flashes had of a quantity of thermite flash powder that was ignited by hand. Later (first patented in 1930), magnesium filaments were contained in flash bulbs, and electrically ignited by a contact in the camera shutter; such a bulb could only be used once, and was too hot to handle immediately after use, but the confinement of what would otherwise have amounted to a small explosion was an important advance. An innovation was coating flashbulbs with a blue plastic coating to match the spectral quality to daylight balanced colour film and to make it look more moderate, as well as providing shielding for the bulb in the unlikely event of it shattering during the flash. Later bulbs substituted zirconium for the magnesium, which produced a brighter flash and tended to temporarily blind people.
Coroner vs medical examiner

The post of coroner is ancient, dating from approximately the 11th century, shortly after the Norman conquest of England in 1066.

The office of Coroner was formally established in England by Article 20 of the "Articles of Eyre" in September 1194 to "keep the pleas of the Crown" (Latin, custos placitorum coronas) from which the word "coroner" is derived. This role provided a local county official whose primary duty was to protect the financial interest of the crown in criminal proceedings. The office of coroner is, "in many instances, a necessary substitute: for if the sheriff is interested in a suit, or if he is of affinity with one of the parties to a suit, the coroner must execute and return the process of the courts of justice."

This role was qualified in Chapter 24 of Magna Carta in 1215, which states: "No sheriff, constable, coroner or bailiff shall hold pleas of our Crown." "Keeping the pleas" was an administrative task, while "holding the pleas" was a judicial one that was not assigned to the locally resident coroner but left to judges who traveled around the country holding Assize Courts. The role of Custos rotulorum or keeper of the county records became an independent office, which after 1836 was held by the Lord Lieutenant of each county. The person who found a body from a death thought sudden or unnatural was required to raise the "hue and cry" and to notify the coroner.

Coroners were introduced into Wales following its military conquest by Edward I of England in 1282 through the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284.

As of 2004, of the 2,342 death investigation offices in the United States, 1,590 are coroners offices. Of those, only 82 serve jurisdictions of more than 250,000 people.[13] Qualifications for coroners are set by individual states and counties in the U.S. and vary widely. In many jurisdictions, little or no training is required, even though a coroner may overrule a forensic pathologist in naming a cause of death. A coroner may be elected or appointed. Some coroners hold office by virtue of holding another office: in Nebraska, the county district attorney is the coroner; in many counties in Texas, the Justice of the Peace may be in charge of death investigation; in other places, the sheriff is the coroner.

Because of the differences between jurisdictions, the terms "coroner" and "medical examiner" are defined differently from place to place. In some places, stringent rules require that the medical examiner be a forensic pathologist. In others, the medical examiner must be a physician, though not necessarily a forensic pathologist or even a pathologist. General practitioners, obstetricians, and other types of physicians with no experience in forensic medicine have become medical examiners. In others, such as Wisconsin, each county sets standards, and in some, the medical examiner does not need to meet any medical or educational qualifications of any type.
"At least, they're (Oriental daggers and untraceable South American poisons) rare from Sagamore Bridge to Race Point."

The Sagamore Bridge in Sagamore, Massachusetts carries U.S. Route 6 across the Cape Cod Canal, connecting Cape Cod with the rest of Massachusetts, USA. [The bridge Taylor is referring to is a drawbridge built in 1912, replaced in 1933 by the current structure.]

Race Point Light is a historic lighthouse on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It was first established in 1816, the third light on Cape Cod (after Highland Light, 1797, and Chatham Light, 1808), a rubblestone tower with one of the first rotating beacons. In 1858 the light got a fourth order Fresnel lens and, in 1874, a second keeper's quarters. In 1875, after significant deterioration of the original tower, it was replaced with an iron tower lined with brick. The original keeper's house was rebuilt as part of the project. The station was electrified in 1957. The larger keeper's house was removed in 1960 and the other was updated.

The station has been restored by the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation and both the keeper's house and the whistle house are available for vacation rental.
rolled up copy of the Saturday Evening Post

The Saturday Evening Post is a bimonthly American magazine. It was published weekly under this title from 1897 until 1969, and quarterly and then bimonthly from 1971.

Each issue featured several original short stories and often included an installment of a serial appearing in successive issues. Most of the fiction was written for mainstream tastes by popular writers, but some literary writers were featured. The opening pages of stories featured paintings by the leading magazine illustrators. The Post published stories and essays by Ray Bradbury, Kay Boyle, Agatha Christie, Brian Cleeve, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, C. S. Forester, Ernest Haycox, Robert A. Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut, Paul Gallico, Hammond Innes, Louis L'Amour, Sinclair Lewis, Joseph C. Lincoln, John P. Marquand, Edgar Allan Poe, Sax Rohmer, William Saroyan, John Steinbeck and Rex Stout and Rob Wagner. It also published poetry by such noted poets as Carl Sandburg, Ogden Nash, Dorothy Parker, and Hannah Kahn.

Jack London's best known novel The Call of the Wild was first published, in serialized form, in the Saturday Evening Post in 1903

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mysterious Days: 25 May

Robert Ludlum is born in New York. He is the best-selling author of complex, convoluted conspiracy thrillers such as The Osterman Weekend (1972) and The Icarus Agenda (1988).

The outspoken journalist, social critic and novelist John Gregory Dunne is born in New York. His True Confessions (1975) is ostensibly based on the famous "Black Dahlia" murder case, but is actually an indictment of corruption in Los Angeles city government and the Roman Catholic Church.

(The Black Dahlia" was a nickname given to Elizabeth Short (July 29, 1924 – ca. January 15, 1947), an American woman and the victim of a gruesome and much-publicized murder. She acquired the moniker posthumously by newspapers in the habit of nicknaming crimes they found particularly colorful. Short was found mutilated, her body sliced in half at the waist, on January 15, 1947, in Leimert Park, Los Angeles, California. Short's unsolved murder has been the source of widespread speculation, leading to many suspects, along with several books and film adaptations of the story.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mysterious Days: 24 May

Anthony Abbott (born Fulton Oursler) dies. His mystery novels featuring New York police commissioner Thatcher Colt have titles that usually begin with the word "About". (About the Murder of the Night Club Lady, 1931). He does this so his books will be first on library lists.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mysterious Days: 23 May

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow (Bonnie and Clyde) are ambushed by Texas Rangers outside Gibsland, Louisiana. They are riddled with hundreds of bullets while they are in their car.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mysterious Days: 22 May

Arthur Conan Doyle, who will go on to create Sherlock Holmes, is born in Edinburgh.

Victor Hugo, author of the historic French novel Les Miserables, dies. The novel tells the story of the fugitive Jean Valjean, who is relentlessly pursued by Inspector Javert for the crime of stealing a loaf of bread.

The 271st, and final, episode of the Perry Mason series starring Raymond Burr, entitled "The Final Fadeout", airs.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mysterious Days: 21 May

Raymond Burr is born in New Westminster, British Columbia. He will star as Perry Mason in that still much-loved series from the late 1950s to early 1960s, then create another memorable character, Ironside. (He also has a memorable turn in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1952)).

In an attempt to commit the perfect crime, University of Chicago honor students Nathan Leopold and Richard Lob kidnap and murder 14-year-old Bobbie Franks. Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 film Rope is based on this case.

Touch of Evil, a dark tale of a psychopathic cop in a dangerous Mexican border town, starring Orson Welles and Charlton Heston, opens.

Miami Vice, the definitive 1980s cop TV series, ends its five-year run on NBC. The show makes a star of Don Johnson, revitalizes Miami tourist trade, and creates a fashion craze for pastel t-shirts worn with oversize Italian sports coats.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mysterious Days: 20 May

Margery Allingham is born in London. She is the creator of Albert Campion, who had originally been intended as an update of the Scarlet Pimpernel. He first appears in The Black Dudley Mystery in 1929. Her most famous novel is The Tiger in the Smoke (1952). "The Smoke" is a nickname for the city of London.

The first radio series based on Earl Derr Bigger's character harlie Chan broadcasts its final episode. Waltert Connolly plays the title role. (Charle Chan is a popular character and will appear in movies and radio throughout the 1940s. There will be a TV series in the 1950s.

Stanley Kubrick's The Killing, from Lionel White's novel Clean Break, is released, starring Sterling Hayden as the mastermind behind an elaborate racetrack library. Kubrick co-writes the screenplay with novelist Jim Thompson.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mysterious Days: 19 May

Paul E. Erdman (May 19, 1932 - April 23, 2007 in Sonoma County, California) , Swiss banker imprisoned briefly for the failure of his bank in 1969, turned mystery writer, is born in Stratford, Ontario. The result of his first prison writing attempt was the Edgar-award winning financial mystery The Billion Dollar Sure Thing (1973). His next novel, The Silver Bears (1975) was a fictionalized version of the events that led to his imprisonment.

The Billion Dollar Sure Thing (1973)
The Silver Bears (1974)
The Crash Of '79 (1976)
The Last Days Of America (1981)
The Panic Of '89 (1986)
The Palace (1987)
The Swiss Account (1992)
Zero Coupon (1993)
The Set-up (1997)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Books of etiquette and more

The Cape Cod Mystery, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor (1931)

"It doesn't tell what to do in books of etiquette on the occasion of a murder." pg 26

(Taylor doesn't mention Emily Post, but she was probably thinking of her.

Emily Post (October 27, 1872 – September 25, 1960) was an American author famous for writing on etiquette.

Post was born as Emily Price in Baltimore, Maryland, into privilege as the only daughter of architect Bruce Price and his wife Josephine Lee Price of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. She was educated at home and attended Miss Graham's finishing school in New York, where her family had moved. She met a prominent banker named Edwin Main Post, her husband-to-be, at a ball in one of Fifth Avenue’s elegant mansions. Following a fashionable wedding and a honeymoon tour of the Continent (1892), Mrs. Post’s first home was in New York’s Washington Square. The couple had two sons, Edwin Main Post, Jr. (1893) and Bruce Price Post (1895). The couple divorced in 1905, because of her husband's affairs with chorus girls and fledgling actresses, which had made him the target of blackmail.

When her two sons were old enough to attend boarding school, she turned her attention to writing. She produced newspaper articles on architecture and interior design, as well as stories and serials for such magazines as Harper's, Scribner's, and The Century, as well as light novels, including Flight of the Moth (1904), Purple and Fine Linen (1906), Woven in the Tapestry (1908), The Title Market (1909), and The Eagle's Feather (1910).

She wrote in various styles, including humorous travel books, early in her career. In 1922 her book Etiquette (full title Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home) was a best seller, and updated versions continued to be popular for decades. After 1931, Post spoke on radio programs and wrote a column on good taste for the Bell Syndicate; it appeared daily in some 200 newspapers after 1932.

In 1946, she founded The Emily Post Institute which continues her work. She died in 1960 in her New York City apartment at the age of 87.

Peggy Post, wife of Emily's great-grandson, is the current spokeswoman for The Emily Post Institute — and writes etiquette advice for Good Housekeeping magazine, succeeding her mother-in-law, Elizabeth Post. She is the author of more than twelve books.

Peter Post, Emily's great-grandson, writes the "Etiquette at Work" column for the Sunday edition of the Boston Globe. Peter is author of best selling book Essential Manners For Men, Essential Manners For Couples and co-authored The Etiquette Advantage In Business, which is in its second edition.

Anna Post is Emily Post’s great-great-granddaughter. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear White? Emily Post Answers America’s Top Wedding Questions, (Collins 2009) as well as Emily Post’s Wedding Parties: Smart Ideas for Stylish Parties, From Engagement to Reception and Everything in Between. Anna is the wedding etiquette expert for Brides.com and Inside Weddings magazine. She speaks at bridal shows and other venues providing wedding etiquette advice and tips.

Emily Post's name has become synonymous, at least in North America, with proper etiquette and manners. More than half a century after her death, her name is still used in titles of etiquette books.[1] In 2008, Laura Claridge wrote Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners, the first full-length biography of the author.

First traffic lights installed on Cape Cod
On December 10, 1868, the first traffic lights were installed outside the British Houses of Parliament in London, by the railway engineer J. P. Knight. They resembled railway signals of the time, with semaphore arms and red and green gas lamps for night use. The gas lantern was turned with a lever at its base so that the appropriate light faced traffic. Unfortunately, it exploded on 2 January 1869, injuring or killing the policeman who was operating it (accounts vary.).

The modern electric traffic light is an American invention. As early as 1912 in Salt Lake City, Utah, policeman Lester Wire invented the first red-green electric traffic lights. On 5 August 1914, the American Traffic Signal Company installed a traffic signal system on the corner of East 105th Street and Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.

It had two colors, red and green, and a buzzer, based on the design of James Hoge, to provide a warning for color changes. The design by James Hoge allowed police and fire stations to control the signals in case of emergency. The first four-way, three-color traffic light was created by police officer William Potts in Detroit, Michigan in 1920. In 1922, T.E. Hayes patented his "Combination traffic guide and traffic regulating signal" (Patent # 1447659). Ashville, Ohio claims to be the location of the oldest working traffic light in the United States, used at an intersection of public roads until 1982 when it was moved to a local museum.

The first interconnected traffic signal system was installed in Salt Lake City in 1917, with six connected intersections controlled simultaneously from a manual switch. Automatic control of interconnected traffic lights was introduced March 1922 in Houston, Texas. The first automatic experimental traffic lights in England were deployed in Wolverhampton in 1927.

In 1923, Garrett Morgan patented his own version. The Morgan traffic signal was a T-shaped pole unit that featured three hand-cranked positions: Stop, in all -directional stop position. This third position halted traffic in all directions to allow pedestrians to cross streets more safely. Its one "advantage" over others of its type was the ability to operate it from a distance using a mechanical linkage.

"And I found Hunter, the state cop." pg 28
State police (or State troopers) are a type of sub-national territorial police force, particularly in Australia and the United States. Some other countries have analogous police forces, such as the provincial police in some Canadian provinces, while in other places, the same responsibilities are held by national police forces.

In the United States, state police are a police body unique to each U.S. state, having statewide authority to conduct law enforcement activities and criminal investigations. In general, they perform functions outside the jurisdiction of the county sheriff (Vermont being a notable exception), such as enforcing traffic laws on state highways and interstate expressways, overseeing the security of the state capitol complex, protecting the governor, training new officers for local police forces too small to operate an academy, providing technological and scientific support services, and helping to coordinate multi-jurisdictional task force activity in serious or complicated cases in those states that grant full police powers statewide. A general trend has been to bring all of these agencies under a state Department of Public Safety. Additionally, they may serve under different state departments such as the Highway Patrol under the state Department of Transportation and the Marine patrol under the Department of Natural Resources. Twenty-three U.S. states use the term "State Police."

He wore the dark blue uniform which I knew had belonged to the Boston police of at least 20 years ago. [1911]. It was complete from the high-crowned helmet to the full-skirted coat. There was even a long billy suspended from his broad leather belt.
A truncheon or baton (also called a cosh, Paddy wacker, billystick, billy club, nightstick, sap, blackjack, stick) is essentially a stick of less than arm's length—usually made of wood, plastic, or metal. They are carried for less lethal self-defense purposes by law-enforcement officers, correctional staff, security-industry employees and (less often) military personnel. Other uses for truncheons and batons include crowd control or the dispersal of belligerent or non-compliant targets.

A truncheon or baton may be used to strike, jab, block, bludgeon and aid in the application of armlocks. Sometimes, they also are employed as weapons by criminals and other law-breakers because of their easy concealment. As a consequence, they are illegal for non-authorized civilian use in many jurisdictions around the world. They have a common role to play, too, in the rescuing of trapped individuals—for instance, people caught in blazing cars or buildings—by smashing windows or even doors.

In the Victorian era, police in London carried truncheons about one-foot long called billy clubs ( According to the Online Etymology Dictionary: BILLY CLUB, 1848, American English, originally burglars' slang for "crowbar;" [the] meaning "policeman's club" first recorded 1856, probably from nickname of William ) applied to various objects. The truncheon acted as the Policeman's 'Warrant Card' as the Royal Crest attached to it indicated the Policeman's authority. This was always removed when the equipment left official service (often with the person who used it).

The Victorian original has since developed into the several varieties available today. The typical truncheon is a straightstick made from wood or a synthetic material, approximately 1.25 inches (32 mm) in diameter and 18–36 inches (460–910 mm) long, with a fluted handle to aid in gripping. Truncheons are often ornamented with their organizations' coats of arms. Longer truncheons are called "riot batons" because of their use in riot control.

Until the mid 1990s, British police officers carried traditional wooden truncheons of a sort that had changed little from Victorian times. After the early 1990s, forces replaced truncheons with side-handle and collapsible batons for all but ceremonial duties.

Mysterious Days: 18 May

Phoebe Atwood Taylor (aka Alice Tilton) creator of detectives Asey Mayo and Leonidas Witherall, is born in Boston, MA.

Director Robert Aldrich's Kill Me Deadly is released. It stars Ralph Meeker as Mickey Spillane.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mysterious Days: 17 May

Actor Jean Gabin is born in France. He will portray Inspector Maigret in three films. In 1937, he starred in the first film version of the life of French gangster Pepe le Moko, remade the following year as Algiers, starring Charles Boyer.

Inspector Maigret 1958
Maigret and the St. Fiacre Case 1959
Maigret voit rouge 1963

Director Nicholas Ray's noir film, In a Lonely Place, starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame, based on the novel by Dorothy Hughes, is released.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mysterious Days: 16 May

Thomas Gifford, author of The Wind Chill Factor, a thriller in the "resurrected Nazi" genre, is born in Dubuque, Iowa. Some of his later novels are The Glendower Legacy (1978) and The Assassini (1990).

Alfred Hitchcock's second version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, starring James Stewart and Doris Day, is released. This film garners for Hitchcock one of the few Oscars awarded to his works - for Doris Day's rendition of "Que Sera, Sera."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mysterious Days: 15 May

Anthony (15 May, 1926-6 November, 2001) and Peter Shaffer (b 15 May, 1926) are born in Liverpool, England. Although they are best known for their work, seperately and together, for the stage and screen, they collaborate on three detective novels during the 1950s under the pseudonym Peter Anthony.

The Woman in the Wardrobe - A lighthearted detective story (1951) – by Peter Antony with pictures by Nicolas Bentley dedicated to my parents with deepest love and appreciation
How Doth the Little Crocodile? (1952) – co-written with Peter Shaffer, published under the pseudonym "Peter Anthony"
Withered Murder (1955) – co-written with Peter Shaffer, published under the pseudonym "Peter Anthony"

Anthony Shaffer
Sleuth (1970)
Murderer (1975)
Whodunnit (1977)
Frenzy (1972) screenplay
Murder on the Orient Express (1974) uncredited rewrite of screenplay
The Wicker Man (1973)

Peter Shaffer
The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1964)
Equus (1974)
Amadeus (1979)
Lettice and Lovage (1987)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mysterious Days: 14 May

Matthew Gregory Lewis, whose gothic thriller The Monk (1795) creates a scandal in late 18th century England due to its excessive blood, sacrilege, murder and "immorality", dies of yellow fever at sea (en route from Jamaica to England).

Friday, May 13, 2011

No, you're not being gaslighted

If there were posts here yesterday that you read, which are not here today, it's because...they're not here.

Blogger.com, the platform that hosts this blog, was down for much of yesterday afternoon and all night...just coming up now (11 am mountain time.) And all posts made yesterday have disappeared.

Supposedly, those posts will be restored. I'll give them a day to do so, and if not, will re-post them tomorrow.

Sorry for the inconvenience!

Dr Fell and More

The Cape Cod Mystery (1931)

pg 23
"If I had to make up my mind I'd say I didn't like him. Case of Dr. Fell, I suppose."
Not to be confused with Dr. Gideon Fell, John Dickson Carr's detective.

The Doctor Fell (1625-1686) that is referred to in the Mother Goose rhyme (first published in the Mother Goose books in 1926) was the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. The author of the rhyme is the satirist Thomas Brown, who was a student of Doctor Fell at Oxford. Fell threatened to expel Brown from Oxford unless he translated the lines of Martial:

Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare;
Hoc tantum possum dicere, Non amo te.

A translation of this epigram is:

I do not love thee, Sabidi, nor can I say why;
This only I can say, I do not love thee.

Brown’s translation is said to be the verse:

I do not love thee, Doctor Fell.
The reason why I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not love thee Doctor Fell.

"It was an awful picture. Reel broke four times, the pianist fell asleep,..."
Although it is 1931, and sound pictures started with Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer in 1929, it took a few years for the sound apparatus to make it to the various theaters. For silent films, a pianist, employed by the theater, usually accompanied the action on screen.

With a flick of his tail that was the equivalent of a thumb to the nose, he turned and ran away.
Thumbing the nose is a sign of derision in Britain made by putting your thumb on your nose and wiggling your fingers. This gesture is also known as Anne's Fan or Queen Anne's Fan, and is sometimes referred to as cocking a snook.

From The Word Detective:
While the phrase "thumb one's nose" first appeared in English around 1903, "cocking a snook" is much older, first appearing in print back in 1791. The verb "to cock" comes from strutting behavior of male chickens, and means, as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it, "to turn up in an assertive, pretentious, jaunty, saucy, or defiant way." The "snook" is of uncertain origin, but may be related to "snout," which would certainly make sense.

Mysterious Days: 13 May

Daphne du Maurier is born in London. She is the author of Jamaica Inn, made into a movie by Hitchcock in 1939, Rebecca (made into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940), and The Birds, made into a movie by Hitchcock in 1963.

Alan Ladd stars as the psycho assassin Philip Raven in the film version of Graham Greene's This Gun For Hire, released on this day. (It also starred Robert Preston and Veronica Lake)

The Iron Curtain, directed by William A. Wellman, starring Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney, is released. "Hollywood fired its first shot in the cold war yesterday, and they're ready to fight it out to the last sneer...A highly inflammatory film" commented Bosley Crowther in the New York Times.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mysterious Days: 12 May

Achmed Abdullah (ne Alexander Nicholayevitch Romanoff) is born in Yalta. Author of a popular series of adventure novels in the 1910s and 1920s, his most renowned work is The Thief of Bagdad, (1924), the source for the various movie incarnations of that story.

Leslie Charteris and Roger Moore (1960s Saint on TV)
Leslie Charteris, creator of Simon Templar (aka The Saint) is born in Singapore. Born Leslie Charles Bowyer Yin, his mother was English, his father Chinese - a physician.

In 1926 he adopts the pseudonym Leslie Charteris because of his admiration for Colonel Francis Charteris, the notorious duelist, gambler, rogue and founder of the Hellfire Club.

From the Saint's first appearance (1928, in Meet the Tiger) the modern Robin Hood was an enormous hit.

As a youth, Charteris produced and illustrated his own magazine. One of his stick-figure drawings eventually became known as the calling card of the Saint.

George Sanders played The Saint in 4 movies in the 1940s. Despite this advertisement, the Saint Overboard and the Saint's Vacation were never made. Sanders left the series to play as similar role as Gay Lawrence, the Falcon, for 3 movies, then turned that role over to his brother Tom Conway and moved on to other things.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cucumber to stop sunburn and more

The Cape Cod Mystery pg 21

Rubbing a cucumber over your skin to stop sunburn
Looking at home made remedies for sunburn on the web, quite a few of them advocate rubbing a cucumber over your skin, either to stop the sunburn but more usually to ease the pain of it.

The cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, which includes squash, and in the same genus as the muskmelon. The plant is a creeping vine which bears cylindrical edible fruit. There are three main varieties of cucumber: "slicing", "pickling", and "burpless". Within these varieties, several different cultivars have emerged. The cucumber is originally from India, but is now grown in most of the continents. Many different varieties are traded on the global market.

First powder compact
A compact is cosmetic product. It is usually contained in a small, round case, with two or all of the following: a mirror, pressed powder, and a powder puff. The term is an abbreviation for "compact powder". Eventually the more elaborate compact, the 'vanity case' became popular as it had more compartments for more makeup items.

Compacts prior to the 1960s are vintage and are very desirable as a collector's item. Made of many different materials and often depicting the era of when it was made. ie: Art Deco.

Although cosmetics had been used since ancient times, the powder compact did not arrive on the scene until the beginning of the 20th Century. Evolving from small boxes of loose face powder, compacts satisfied the need for portability as society became literally more mobile and women began to enter the workforce in ever greater numbers. Influenced by movie stars and fashion plates, everyone wanted to "look their best" at all times, and that meant being able to quickly and easily freshen their makeup several times a day. Compacts helped to serve that purpose.

By the 1920's and 30's, compacts were offered in such variety that they could speak to the taste of almost any individual. Art Deco designs were particularly popular, as were exotic images based upon Egyptian motifs. Bakelite, shell, silver, and gold were just a few of the materials used in the manufacture of the cases.

Even World War II could not curtail the compact, though most metals were necessarily replaced with materials like wood and plastic. It was not until the Sixties, with its emphasis on the "natural" look, that the compact was demoted to a mostly utilitarian object.

She sat down and stirred maynaise into devilled ham
The William Underwood Company, founded in 1822, was an American food company best known for its flagship product, Underwood Deviled Ham, a canned meat spread. The company also had a key role in time-temperature research done at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1895 to 1896, which would lead to the development of food science and technology as a profession.

Deviled ham was created in 1868 as a mixture of ground ham with seasonings, and deviling would also be done with other meat and seafood products. This included turkey, lobster, chicken, and tongue. Deviling consists of adding such spices as hot sauce, cayenne pepper, Dijon mustard, or chopped hot peppers. Deviled eggs are one well-known example of this process.

And just because it's interesting: The devil logo was trademarked in 1870 and it is the oldest food trademark still in use in the United States. The red devil that debuted in 1895 and started as a demonic figure evolved into a much friendlier version when compared to the original.

The older version, in use during the first half of the 20th century, can be seen in many old magazine advertisements, such as this advertisement from Woman's Home Companion, August 1921. It lacks the pitchfork and smile of the modern version, but has long fingernails not found in the modern version. The barbed tail is in the shape of the letter W, and along with the lower-case M to the right of the devil forms the abbreviation "Wm.", for William, as in William Underwood. The lettering in the logo and on the can are also spouting small flames, reinforcing the spicy devil concept. In 2008, B&G Foods updated the devil logo by adding color to the previously all-red image. The pitchfork became black, and small amounts of yellow were added in the tail and horns, along with shading to add depth.

The devil logo has appeared on Underwood products that are not deviled as part of the overall brand identity, such as sardines and chicken spread.

Other companies have made deviled ham products. In 1895, at least seven other companies produced their own versions of a deviled ham, among them Armour and Company, and in 1900 Libby's entered the market with its own deviled ham product.

In 1906, the Massachusetts Board of Health banned all deviled meats, except Underwood's, from sale in Massachusetts.[23] The National Billposters' Association, based in Chicago, center of America's meat packing industry at the time, then banned its members from posting bills with devil images on them.

Betsy has a weakness for sardines
Sardines, or pilchards, are several types of small, oily fish related to herrings, family Clupeidae. Sardines were named after the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, where they once lived in abundance.

The terms sardine and pilchard are not precise, and the usual meanings vary by region. Britain's Sea Fish Industry Authority, for example, classifies sardines as young pilchards. One criterion suggests fish shorter in length than 6 inches (15 cm) are sardines, and larger ones pilchards. The FAO/WHO Codex standard for canned sardines cites 21 species that may be classed as sardines; FishBase, a comprehensive database of information about fish, calls at least six species "pilchard", over a dozen just "sardine", and many more with the two basic names qualified by various adjectives.

Canned sardines
An open sardine canCanned sardines in supermarkets may actually be "sprat" (such as the “brisling sardine”) or round herrings. Fish sizes vary by species. Good quality sardines should have the head and gills removed before packing. They may also be eviscerated before packing (typically the larger varieties). If not, they should be purged of undigested or partially digested food or feces by holding the live fish in a tank long enough for them to empty their digestive systems

Mysterious Days: 11 May

Margaret Rutherford, who will play Agatha Christie's Miss Marple four times, is born in London. She was a popular British character actress - her first "breakthrough" role on screen being Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mysterious Days: 10 May

Edward L. Stratemyer, who founded the legendary Stratemyer sindicate, dies. "The Factory" as it was known, churned out hundreds of children's mystery and adventure novels in its heyday and gave young Americans their first taste of mystery fiction.

Among the series:
The Hardy Boys
Nancy Drew
Tom Swift (first Sr, then Jr.)
The Rover Boys
The Bobbsey Twins

Books were written by different authors using "house names."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hot box and more

The Cape Cod Mystery (1931)
pgs 18-19

"She simply worked at it [asn afghan] all the way down [from New York to Cape Cod] even at that place where we had the hot box."
A hot box is the term used when an axle bearing overheats on a piece of railway rolling stock. The term is derived from the journal-bearing trucks used before the mid 20th century. The axle bearings were housed in a box that used oil-soaked rags or cotton (collectively called packing) to reduce the friction of the axle against the truck frame. When the oil leaked or dried out, the bearings overheated often starting a fire that could destroy the entire railroad car (and cars coupled to it) if not detected early enough.

The packing and bearing had to be regularly inspected, and packing was often added at major stops. The journal was replaceable, but if neglected it would heat to a temperature where the alloy would melt away and leave the brass carrier riding on the steel axle. This would eventually lead to the axle fracturing and the car above falling onto the wheel, which could cause a major derailment of the train. Train worker duties consisted partly of inspecting the train as it ran by, looking for smoke, sparks, or fire. They would then sound the audible report "All Black" to mean the train was not giving off any light energy that would indicate combustion or destruction of the wheel bearings. If the train worker saw "Red" or smoke, he would alert other crew members, or else make an emergency stop to the train to prevent further damage.

When this type of axle box was used, any diesel exhaust smells had to be tracked to their source, as a hot-box sometimes smells similar. Most of the larger railroads use defect detectors to scan passing trains for hot box conditions. Some of these detectors also have "automated mile posts" which send an automated radio signal to the train crew listing the train number, track number, and train speed.

Modern ball, roller or tapered bearings can also overheat, but the likelihood of a roller bearing overheating is usually far smaller than it was with journal bearings. When modern bearings do go wrong, the balls or rollers and their races fail, generating heat which can ignite fires or be the ignition source of a dust explosion in grain, coal, sawdust, etc.

"Fop," said Betty pleasantly. Beau Brummel. Dandy."
"Dude, buck, swell, macaroni."
Fop - a man who is excessively vain and concerned about his dress, appearance, and manners. 1400–50; late Middle English foppe, fop;
Beau Brummel - ( George Bryan Brummell ), 1778–1840, an Englishman who set the fashion in men's clothes. [and would die in an insane asylum, broke, dressed in rags]
Dandy - a man who is excessively concerned about his clothes and appearance; a fop.
1770–80; origin uncertain
Dude - dude up, Informal . to dress in one's fanciest, best, or most stylish clothes; dress up: He got all duded up to go to the dance.
Origin: 1880–85, Americanism ; origin uncertain [Now of course it is slang for any man.]
Buck - an impetuous, dashing, or spirited man or youth. Origin:
before 1000; Middle English bukke, Old English bucca he-goat, bucc male deer; cognate with Dutch bok, German Bock, Old Norse bukkr; def. 5, 6 by shortening; buck private (from circa 1870) perhaps as extension of general sense “male,” i.e., having no status other than being male
Swell - (of persons) fashionably dressed or socially prominent. The meaning "wealthy, elegant person" is first recorded 1786; hence the adj. meaning "fashionably dressed or equipped" (1810), both from the notion of "puffed-up, pompous" behavior. The sense of "good, excellent" first occurs 1897, and as a stand-alone expression of satisfaction it is recorded from 1930 in Amer.Eng
Macaroni - an English dandy of the 18th century who affected Continental mannerisms, clothes, etc.
Used after c.1764 to mean "fop, dandy" (the "Yankee Doodle" reference) because it was an exotic dish at a time when certain young men who had traveled the continent were affecting Fr. and It. fashions and accents. There is said to have been a Macaroni Club in Britain, which was the immediate source of the term.

I found sliced bread for sandwiches covered with a damp cloth.
Sliced bread is a loaf of bread which has been pre-sliced and packaged for convenience. It was first sold in 1928, advertised as "the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped". This led to the popular phrase, "the greatest thing since sliced bread".

In homes with a cook, they probably continued to make their own bread, and sliced it themselves.

That refrigerator had been another added attraction to the cottage. Until this summer we had carried our ice like the rest of the summer people from freight cars at the station whenever a load of ice happened to come in.
The first refrigerator to see widespread use was the General Electric "Monitor-Top" refrigerator introduced in 1927, so-called because of its resemblance to the gun turret on the ironclad warship USS Monitor of the 1860s.

The compressor assembly, which emitted a great deal of heat, was placed above the cabinet, and surrounded with a decorative ring. Over a million units were produced. As the refrigerating medium, these refrigerators used either sulfur dioxide, which is corrosive to the eyes and may cause loss of vision, painful skin burns and lesions, or methyl formate, which is highly flammable, harmful to the eyes, and toxic if inhaled or ingested.

The introduction of Freon in the 1920s expanded the refrigerator market during the 1930s and provided a safer, low-toxicity alternative to previously used refrigerants. Separate freezers became common during the 1940s, the popular term at the time for the unit was a "deep freeze". These devices, or "appliances", did not go into mass production for use in the home until after World War II. The 1950s and 1960s saw technical advances like automatic defrosting and automatic ice making. More efficient refrigerators were developed in the 1970s and 1980s, even though environmental issues led to the banning of very effective (Freon) refrigerants.

Mysterious Days: 9 May

Gavin Lyall (9 May 1932 - 18 January 2003), RAF pilot turned thriller writer, is born in Birmingham, England. Lyall used his aviation nackground to write international thrillers in the John Buchan vein (Midnight Plus One, 1965).

His later espionage novels featured Major Harry Maxim (The Crocus List, 1985) are traditional British spy tails told with a light touch.

The Wrong Side of the Sky (1961)
The Most Dangerous Game (1963)
Midnight Plus One (1965)
Shooting Script (1966)
Venus With Pistol (1969)
Freedom's Battle: The War in the Air 1939-1945 (1971)
Blame the Dead (1973)
Judas Country (1975)
Operation Warboard: How to Fight World War II Battles in Miniature (1976) non-fiction, in collaboration with his son Bernard Lyall
The Secret Servant (1980)
The Conduct of Major Maxim (1982)
The Crocus List (1985)
Uncle Target (1988)
Spy's Honour (1993)
Flight from Honour (1996)
All Honourable Men (1997)
Honourable Intentions (1999)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mysterious Days: 8 May

The Blue Dahlia directed by George Marshall from a screenplay by Raymond Chandler, starring Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, is released. Chandler's agreement with Paramount includes the condition that he be allowed to write the script at home, while drunk.

Plot from Wikipedia
Navy pilot Lieutenant Commander Johnny Morrison (Alan Ladd) is put on the inactive list. He returns home to Hollywood from the fighting in the south Pacific, bringing along his buddies and medically discharged crewmates Buzz Wanchek (William Bendix) and George Copeland (Hugh Beaumont). Buzz is prone to memory lapses and headaches, and is often short tempered, all likely due to his head wound.

Johnny finds his wife Helen (Doris Dowling) living (and partying) in a hotel bungalow. When he spots her kissing her boyfriend Eddie Harwood (Howard Da Silva), the owner of the Blue Dahlia nightclub, he punches Eddie. Though Johnny is willing to try to salvage their troubled marriage, Helen is not. She tells him that their son did not die of diphtheria as she had written him but because she got drunk at a party and crashed her car. Johnny pulls a gun on her but decides she is not worth it. He drops the pistol and walks out taking a framed photograph of their son.

When Buzz comes looking for Johnny, Helen picks him up in the hotel bar and brings him home, neither one knowing who the other is. Later, Helen calls Eddie and becomes angry when he wants to break off their relationship. Eddie drops by that night to straighten things out. All these comings and goings are noted by the house detective, "Dad" Newell (Will Wright). Dad sees Eddie and gets paid to keep his mouth shut. He later sells information about Johnny's whereabouts to his worried friends.

By chance, Johnny is offered a ride by Joyce (Veronica Lake), Harwood's estranged wife, though he tells her his name is "Jimmy Moore" and they remain unaware of their connection. He brushes off her attempts to become better acquainted and gets out of the car. but she spends the night at the same inn. When they meet again at breakfast, she talks him into a walk along the beach. However, when Johnny hears on the radio that Helen has been found dead and that the police are looking for him, he leaves without keeping the rendezvous. Joyce puts two and two together and guesses his identity.

Johnny hides out in a flophouse run by Corelli. When he catches Corelli going through his suitcase, a scuffle breaks out, during which the frame of his son's picture is broken. Johnny discovers a message written by Helen and addressed to him on the back of the photograph; it states that Eddie's real name is Bauer, and that he is wanted in New Jersey for murder. Johnny pays a visit to Eddie, but before he can do anything, Joyce shows up. Upon learning that she is Eddie's wife, Johnny leaves in disgust, in the mistaken belief that Joyce was helping her husband all along.

Meanwhile, Corelli calls Eddie's business partner Leo and tells him about Johnny. Leo and one of his men pick up Johnny by pretending to be policemen and take him to Leo's ranch. When the henchman finds and reads Helen's message, Leo has no choice but to dispose of him. Then, though his hands are tied, Johnny manages to strangle Leo and cut himself free before Eddie arrives. Eddie admits to killing a man during a robbery fifteen years ago, but denies murdering Helen, pointing out that he could easily have arranged it much more discreetly. Just then, Leo regains consciousness and tries to shoot Johnny. In the ensuing brawl, Leo accidentally kills Eddie before he himself is shot dead.

When Johnny turns himself in, he finds Buzz about to confess to Helen's murder, even though he cannot remember what happened that night. Johnny is certain he is innocent. He helps Buzz recall that he just walked out. Police Captain Hendrickson (Tom Powers) then accuses Dad (who has already admitted to blackmailing Helen). Hendrickson suggests that when she refused to pay his increased demands after her husband's return, Dad killed her, fearing that she would turn him in to the police or worse, tell Eddie. Dad confesses and pulls out a gun. When he is distracted, Hendrickson shoots him. Afterward, Johnny and Joyce get together.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

"It is my duty and I will", and more

The Cape Cod Mystery by Phoebe Atwood Taylor

pg 16."My own convenience counts as nil,-it is my duty and I will."
This is a line from a song by W. S. Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame)
Of all the ships upon the blue
No ship contained a better crew
Than that of worthy CAPTAIN REECE,
Commanding of The Mantlepiece.

He was adored by all his men,
For worthy CAPTAIN REECE, R.N.,
Did all that lay within him to
Promote the comfort of his crew.

If ever they were dull or sad,
Their captain danced to them like mad,
Or told, to make the time pass by,
Droll legends of his infancy.

A feather bed had every man,
Warm slippers and hot-water can,
Brown windsor from the captain's store,
A valet, too, to every four.

Did they with thirst in summer burn?
Lo, seltzogenes at every turn,
And on all-very sultry days
Cream ices handed round on trays.

Then currant wine and ginger pops
Stood handily on all the "tops";
And, also, with amusement rife,
A "Zoetrope, or Wheel of Life."

New volumes came across the sea
From MISTER MUDIE'S libraree;
The Times and Saturday Review
Beguiled the leisure of the crew.

Kind-hearted CAPTAIN REECE, R.N.,
Was quite devoted to his men;
In point of fact, good CAPTAIN REECE
Beatified The Mantlepiece.

One summer eve, at half-past ten,
He said (addressing all his men):
"Come, tell me, please, what I can do
To please and gratify my crew?

"By any reasonable plan
I'll make you happy, if I can;
My own convenience count as nil
It is my duty, and I will."

Then up and answered WILLIAM LEE
(The kindly captain's coxswain he,
A nervous, shy, low-spoken man),
He cleared his throat and thus began:

"You have a daughter, CAPTAIN REECE,
Ten female cousins and a niece,
A ma, if what I'm told is true,
Six sisters, and an aunt or two.

"Now, somehow, sir, it seems to me,
More friendly-like we all should be
If you united of 'em to
Unmarried members of the crew.

"If you'd ameliorate our life,
Let each select from them a wife;
And as for nervous me, old pal,
Give me your own enchanting gal!"

Good CAPTAIN REECE, that worthy man,
Debated on his coxswain's plan:
"I quite agree," he said, "O Bill;
It is my duty, and I will.

"My daughter, that enchanting gurl,
Has just been promised to an earl,
And all my other familee,
To peers of various degree.

"But what are dukes and viscounts to
The happiness of all my crew?
The word I gave you I'll fulfil;
It is my duty, and I will.

"As you desire it shall befall,
I'll settle thousands on you all,
And I shall be, despite my hoard,
The only bachelor on board."

The boatswain of The Mantelpiece,
He blushed and spoke to CAPTAIN REECE.
"I beg your honour's leave," he said,
"If you would wish to go and wed,

"I have a widowed mother who
Would be the very thing for you
She long has loved you from afar,
She washes for you, CAPTAIN R."

The captain saw the dame that day—
Addressed her in his playful way—
"And did it want a wedding ring?
It was a tempting ickle sing!

"Well, well, the chaplain I will seek,
We'll all be married this day week—
At yonder church upon the hill;
It is my duty, and I will !"

The sisters, cousins, aunts, and niece,
And widowed ma of CAPTAIN REECE,
Attended there as they were bid;
It was their duty, and they did.

"Be good, Snoodles, until this here Light Brigade gets back, when and if it does."
The Light Brigade was a famous brigade during the Crimean war: The Charge of the Light Brigade was a charge of British cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against superior Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854 in the Crimean War. The charge was made famous in a poem by Alfred Lord Tennsyon (There's not to wonder why, theirs but to do and die, into the valley of death rode the 600).

"I have a genteel sufficiency, thank you. More would be a superfluous redunandancy."
From Fun Trivia.com
Senior Moments
My wife often comes out with the complete phrase "No thank you, I have had an elegant sufficiency and anymore would have been a superfluous indulgence."
I on the other hand just burp and pass out

Dec 05 03, 7:30 AM
The phrase seems to be a variation on a polite rejoinder that was once quite widely known and is still around. A host might ask if you have had enough to eat. Rather than just say that you had had enough, being fearful that so bald a statement might be taken as unrefined or ill-bred, you might instead say, I've had an elegant sufficiency. This presumably has its origin in some catch phrase old enough that it has had time to disseminate widely, since I've seen examples from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Australia, and the USA. A possible source is a poem called Spring by James Thomson, dating from the middle of the eighteenth century, very widely quoted during that century and the following one:

An elegant sufficiency, content,
Retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books,
Ease and alternate labor, useful life,
Progressive virtue, and approving Heaven;
These are the matchless joys of virtuous love.

Mysterious Days: 7 May

Sherlock Holmes - the first American Holmes film with an all-star cast-is released. John Barrymore plays Holmes, famed German silent movie actor Gustav von Seyffertitz plays Moriarty. A young Hedda Hopper has a small role.

Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur, starring Robert Cummings and Priscilla Lane, opens. Sabateur is best remembered for its breathless climax atop the Statue of Liberty. Many of the film's bon mots are supplied by Dorothy Parker, who contributed to the screenplay.

Damed robber Willie "the Actor" Sutton tunnels his way out of a staet penitentiary in Philadelphia, but unfortunately emerges a few feet away from a pair of Philly beat cops, who immediately rearrest him. ("Why do you rob banks?" "Because that's where the money is."

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mysterious days: 13 May

Daphne du Maurier is born in London. She is the author of Jamaica Inn, made into a movie by Hitchcock in 1939, Rebecca (made into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940), and The Birds, made into a movie by Hitchcock in 1963.

Alan Ladd stars as the psycho assassin Philip Raven in the film version of Graham Greene's This Gun For Hire, released on this day. (It also starred Robert Preston and Veronica Lake)

The Iron Curtain, directed by William A. Wellman, starring Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney, is released. "Hollywood fired its first shot in the cold war yesterday, and they're ready to fight it out to the last sneer...A highly inflammatory film" commented Bosley Crowther in the New York Times.

Mysterious Days: 6 May


Max Marcin is born in Posen, Germany (now Poznan, Poland). He will co-author the successful play The House of Glass (1915) with George M. Cohan.

In 1940 he creates Robert Ordway, the popular radio character known to millions as The Crime Doctor. Psychiatrist-detective Ordway's investigations into cases involving the mentally aberrant become a series of B pictures from 1943 to 1949.

Orson Welles is born in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Among his best performances in movies of suspense or espionage are profiteer Harry Lime in The Third Man (1949), Colonel Haki of the Turkish Secret Police in Journey into Fear (1942) and a Nazi incognito in small-town America in The Stranger (1946.)

He is also the first voice of Lamont Cranston, aka The Shadow, on the radio, and also stars as Harry Lime, anti-hero, in the Third Man radio series.

The Mystery Book of Days, William Malloy, Mysterious Press, 1990

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lalique and more

Illuminated automobile hood ornament in the form of a rooster by René Jules Lalique

The Cape Cod Mystery (1931)
Pg 15
"Jimmy sent him a 16-cylinder roadster this spring. It's got a special body, silver fittings and a lalaque radiator ornament, a trick horn and Lord knows what else."

Lalaque is a typo, Phoebe Atwood Taylor must mean Lalique.

René Jules Lalique was a renowned glass designer. He became known for his stunning creations of perfume bottles, vases, jewellery, chandeliers, clocks and in the later part of René's life, automobile hood ornaments. He was born in Ay, a small French village on 6 April 1860 and lived until 5 May 1945. He started a glassware firm, named after himself, which still remains successful.

A 1931 Ford Roadster. (Porter is a fictitious car company created by Taylor).

Mysterious Days: 5 May

Shoemaker Nicolo Sacco and fish peddler Bartolomeo Vanzetti are arrested on this day in South Baintree, Massachusetts, and charged with the April 15, 1920 robbery and murders at the Slater and Morrill shoe factory. With only circumstantial evidence presented against them, they will eventually be convicted and sentenced to execution. Current thought is that this occurred primarily because of their immigrant backgrounds and anarchist policies. Despite worldwide sentiment for them - they are one of the century's greatest judicial cause celebres-both men are electrocuted at Charlestown Prison on August 23, 1927.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New feature: This day in Mystery

Starting today I'm introducing a new feature to the blog. In addition to my normal annotations of mystery books, I'll also be sharing "This day in mystery" - the births, deaths and other events in the mystery field on each day.

These posts will be identified with the preface: Mysterious Days:

Hope you enjoy them.

Theodore Dreiser and more

The Cape Cod Mystery, (1931) pg 14

Theodore Dreiser

Bill: "Better not let your neice hear any such heresy. She thinks he's got Dreiser and those lads sewn up in a sack."
Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser (August 27, 1871 – December 28, 1945) was an American novelist and journalist. He pioneered the naturalist school and is known for portraying characters whose value lies not in their moral code, but in their persistence against all obstacles, and literary situations that more closely resemble studies of nature than tales of choice and agency.
Sister Carrie (1900)
Old Rogaum and His Theresa (1901)
Jennie Gerhardt (1911)
The Financier (1912)
The Titan (1914)
The "Genius" (1915)
Free and Other Stories (1918)
Twelve Men (1919)
An American Tragedy (1925)
Chains: Lesser Novels and Stories (1927)
A Gallery of Women (1929)
The Bulwark (1946)
The Stoic (1947)

Dale Sanborn, I reflected, would probably not care to be seen in Bill's outfoot at the proverbial dog-fight.
According to a study by the Michigan State University College of Law published in 2005, in the United States, dog fighting was once completely legal and was sanctioned and promoted during the colonial period (17th century through 1776) and continuing through the Victorian era in the late 19th century. The early 19th century saw the development in England of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, first imported into the United States ca. 1817. Organized dog fighting became a part of American culture, and was even condoned and promoted by the United Kennel Club.

As the activity grew in popularity, so too did opposition to it. By the early 20th century the United Kennel Club dropped its support and by the 1860s most states had made it illegal. It was not until 1976 that it was outlawed in all states and even then, enforcement was generally lax.

By the late 20th century, as dog fighting became more popular in the poor areas of major U.S. cities, research and investigations revealed strong links with connected with street gangs and social problems, enforcement efforts increased.

"Is lunch at one?"
"at two. It's dinner today because Olga has the afternoon and evening off instead of Thursday. It's convenient, but we'll have a pick up supper."
In rural areas of the United States, Upper Midwest and Southern United States, dinner is a larger noon-time meal, and supper is a lighter evening meal and similar to eating customs in northern Europe where most of the inhabitants originate from.

Supper is the last of three to five daily meals: breakfast, (morning lunch), dinner, (afternoon lunch or "coffee") and supper.

The main meal is between 11.30am and 1pm. Supper is usually lighter and often consists of bread with cold meat, cheese, soup, salads, fried potatoes, egg dishes and / or dairy products.

The decline of typical Midwestern farm culture and urbanization of American language and habits has led to a change in Midwestern eating habits in the past thirty years (1970-2000s. Supper is still usually considered lighter fare and a more casual setting, and may be served before a usual dinner time so that evening activities may be unaffected.

In New England "dinner" refers to a more formal evening meal, such as at Christmas or Thanksgiving, while "supper" refers to an evening meal eaten everyday by the family consisting of traditional fare — often cod, haddock, or chicken, potatoes, and baked beans.

"He still drives the thing [an old car] though one of these fine days its going to disintegrate like the One Hoss Shay."
The one-horse shay is a light, covered, two-wheeled carriage for two persons, drawn by a single horse. It is the American adaptation, originating in Union, Maine[1], of the French chaise, and is also known as a whisky as its owners tended to whisk about doing errands. The body is chairlike in shape and has one seat for passengers positioned above the axle, which is hung by leather braces from wooden springs connected to the shafts. It is colloquially known as a one-hoss shay.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. memorialized the shay in his light poem "The Deacon's Masterpiece or The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay". The fictional deacon built this wonderful one horse shay so it wouldn't break down. He built it from the very best of materials so that each part was as strong as every other part. In Holmes' humorous, yet "logical", twist, the shay endures for a hundred years to the day (actually to the moment of the 100th year of the Lisbon Earthquake — to the precise hour of the earthquake shock) then it "went to pieces all at once, and nothing first, — just as bubbles do when they burst." It was built in such a "logical way" that it ran a hundred years to a day.

In economics, the term "one-hoss shay" is used, following the scenario in Holmes' poem, to describe a model of depreciation, in which a durable product delivers the same services throughout its lifetime before failing with zero scrap value. A chair is a common example of such a product.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Anthony Trollope and more

The Cape Cod Mystery, pgs 11-13

"Hooey," said Bill inelegantly. "Just as if you didn't swipe my entire stock of Old Sleuth in days gone by and force me to read Trollope or something equally wordy."

Old Sleuth
Old Sleuth, appearing in The Fireside Companion story paper beginning in 1872, was the first dime novel detective and began the trend away from the western and frontier stories that dominated the story papers and dime novels up to that time. He was the first character to use the word “sleuth” to denote a detective, the word’s original definition being that of a bloodhound trained to track. And he also is responsible for the popularity of the use of the word “old” in the names of competing dime novel detectives, such as Old Cap Collier, Old Broadbrim, Old King Brady, Old Lightning, Old Ferret and many, many others.

Anthony Trollope
Anthony Trollope (24 April 1815 – 6 December 1882) was one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era. Some of his best-loved works, collectively known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire, revolve around the imaginary county of Barsetshire. He also wrote penetrating novels on political, social, and gender issues, and on other topical conflicts of his day.

Trollope has always been a popular novelist. Noted fans have included Sir Alec Guinness (who never travelled without a Trollope novel), former British Prime Ministers Harold Macmillan and Sir John Major, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, American novelists Sue Grafton and Dominick Dunne and soap opera writer Harding Lemay. Trollope's literary reputation dipped somewhat during the last years of his life, but he regained the esteem of critics by the mid-twentieth century.

"Of all novelists in any country, Trollope best understands the role of money. Compared with him even Balzac is a romantic." — W. H. Auden

Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation (officially The President and Fellows of Harvard College) chartered in the country. Harvard's history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Harvard was named after its first benefactor, John Harvard. Although it was never formally affiliated with a church, the college primarily trained Congregationalist and Unitarian clergy. Harvard's curriculum and students became increasingly secular throughout the 18th century and by the 19th century had emerged as the central cultural establishment among Boston elites.

Following the American Civil War, President Charles W. Eliot's forty year tenure (1869–1909) transformed the college and affiliated professional schools into a centralized research university, and Harvard became a founding member of the Association of American Universities in 1900.

James Bryant Conant led the university through the Great Depression and World War II and began to reform the curriculum and liberalize admissions after the war. The undergraduate college became coeducational after its 1977 merger with Radcliffe College. Drew Gilpin Faust was elected the 28th president in 2007 and is the first woman to lead the university. Harvard has the largest financial endowment of any academic institution in the world, standing at $27.4 billion as of September 2010.

The university comprises eleven separate academic units — ten faculties and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study — with campuses throughout the Boston metropolitan area. Harvard's 210-acre (85 ha) main campus is centered on Harvard Yard in Cambridge, approximately 3.4 miles (5.5 km) northwest of downtown Boston. The business school and athletics facilities, including Harvard Stadium, are located across the Charles River in Allston and the medical, dental, and public health schools are located in the Longwood Medical Area.

As of 2010, Harvard employs about 2,100 faculty to teach and advise, approximately 6,700 undergraduates (Harvard College) and 14,500 graduate and professional students. Eight U.S. Presidents have graduated from Harvard and 75 Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the university as students, faculty, or staff. Harvard is also the alma mater of sixty-two living billionaires, the most in the country. The Harvard University Library is the largest academic library in the United States, and the second largest library in the country.

The Harvard Crimson competes in 41 intercollegiate sports in the NCAA Division I Ivy League. Harvard has an intense athletic rivalry with Yale University traditionally culminating in The Game, although the Harvard–Yale Regatta predates the football game

"Maybe he went incog., like a Student Prince."
The Student Prince is an operetta with music by Sigmund Romberg and book and lyrics by Dorothy Donnelly. It is based on Wilhelm Meyer-Förster's play Alt Heidelberg. The piece has elements of melodrama but lacks the swashbuckling style common to Romberg's other works. The plot is mostly faithful to its source.

It opened on December 2, 1924, at Jolson's 59th Street Theatre on Broadway. The show was the most successful of Romberg's works, running for 608 performances, the longest-running Broadway show of the 1920s. Even the classic Show Boat, the most enduring musical of the 1920s, did not play as long - it ran for 572 performances. "Drinking Song," with its rousing chorus of "Drink! Drink! Drink!" was especially popular with theatergoers in 1924, as the United States was in the midst of Prohibition. The operetta contains some of the most beautiful, yet gruelling, tenor arias in the operetta repertoire, notably the Serenade ("Overhead the moon is beaming").

Ernst Lubitsch made a silent film of the operetta titled The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, starring Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer. The stage work was revived twice on Broadway – once in the 1930s and again in the 1940s. Mario Lanza's performance on the soundtrack of the 1954 MGM film The Student Prince, renewed the popularity of many of the songs. Composer Nicholas Brodszky and lyricist Paul Francis Webster wrote three new songs for the film. Two of these songs – "I'll Walk with God" and "Beloved" – became closely associated with Lanza, although the role was played on screen by British actor Edmund Purdom, who mimed to Lanza's recordings. In recent years, the operetta has been performed each summer at the Heidelberg Castle Festival

"I've noticed in him is is tendency to say "Thank you" in one syllable, as though it were a thing you played billiards with."
In other words, he says, "k'You," sort of like Patrick McGoohan.

Bill Porter is a selectman
The board of selectmen is commonly the executive arm of the government of New England towns in the United States. The board typically consists of three or five members, with or without staggered terms.

"You know, the more I look at your friend Emma, the more she reminds me of that mammoth bronze Buddha, the resigned one in Japan somewhere."
Bill is referring to teh Great Buddha of Nara.

Buddha was never fat, however. Author Phoebe Atwood Taylor may have confused the Buddha with Hotei, a fat-bellied individual whom even Chinese restaurants use as a "happy Buddha" representation!

(Hotei, God of Luck)
Why venerate a ... gasp.... extremely fat man? Because up until the later 20th century, most people in the world barely got enough to eat. To be "overweight" was the sign of a prosperous individual.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Patum Peperium - or, Never Assume

This isn't from the current book I'm annotating, The Cape Cod Mystery (1931) or indeed from any mystery story.

But when I take a break from my work, I like to read the children's books of Margery Sharp - more specifically her The Rescuers series - they are a lot of fun and I love Miss Bianca.

Well, for years and years I've read The Turret, and Miss Bianca always offers a young half-Irish mouse named Shaun, toast and patum peperium spread. And I'd always assumed that this was some kind of pepper spread.

But today, I finally decided to look it up, and no, it has nothing to do with pepper. Anchovies are its main ingredient.

It's also called Gentlemen's Relish, and while I believe I have read of Gentlemen's Relish being served...I think in a couple of Catherine Aird's mystery novels, I had never looked that up either.

I'm afraid it never would have occurred to me that anything would be made out of anchovies!

So, you learn something new every day, especially if you're willing to look up words to which you already thought you knew the correct definition.
Gentleman's Relish is a type of anchovy paste. It is also known as Patum Peperium.

It was created in 1828 by an Englishman called John Osborn. It has a strong, very salty and slightly fishy taste, and contains anchovies (minimum 60%), butter, herbs and spices. The exact recipe however has remained a secret and has been passed down by word of mouth over the years. Today, only Elsenham Quality Foods in Elsenham, England, is licensed to make it.

Gentleman's Relish is traditionally eaten thinly spread on slices of buttered white-bread toast, either on its own, or with cucumber, or "Mustard and cress" sprouts. It can also be added to minced meat for a different-tasting shepherd's pie or to the mixture for fish cakes, potato cakes and croquettes. Alternatively it can be melted into scrambled eggs or be used as a topping for jacket potatoes. It has been depicted as an upper or middle class taste, for example Gentleman's Relish is mentioned in Nancy Mitford's book, The Pursuit of Love as a favorite food of Uncle Matthew. In Ian Fleming's book For Your Eyes Only (short story collection) - it mentions that at the time of the visitors, Mr and Mrs Havelock were having Patum Peperium sandwiches.