Thursday, August 30, 2012

So, what is my favorite Western film?

This post is in answer to the little poll that is in the right-hand column here. I notice that there are three votes. Elizabeth can't remember if she voted or not (not fair, since she knows the answer), but that means that at least two others must have voted. Yay! Sometimes I wonder if anyone but my Dad and sister read this blog. Guess they do!

My all-time favorite Western is Ride Clear of Diablo, starring Audie Murphy and Dan Duryea. Sure. I know there are some other people billed, too --- but who cares about them?! If Dan D. and Audie are on the screen, then that's the scene for me. They are just fabulous.

Audie Murphy's father and brother are killed by cattle rustlers at the beginning of the film. He comes back to his home town to seek out the killer. What better way to do that than become a deputy? So, he talks the sheriff into giving him a badge (not realizing that the sheriff is crooked). That sheriff wants to do away with Audie, so he sends him out to capture a notorious gunman named Whitey Kinkade. Enter Dan Duryea.

Of course, Audie has a faster draw than anybody --- even a notorious gunman. He captures Whitey and takes him back to town for a trial. The sheriff arranges for Whitey to be acquitted, but in the meantime, Whitey and Audie have become friends. The rest of the movie is spent with Whitey helping Audie track the killer of his family. Some real excitement and a lot of laughs are in store along the way.

I definitely recommend this one and won't spill anymore of the plot. It's fabulous, and Dan Duryea should have gotten an award. His laugh is just great! And crazy. More later.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Oliver vs. Horatio: Any Similarities?

"Horatio". He's that fantastic cat character in the Horatio children's books written by Eleanor Clymer and illustrated by Robert Quackenbush. He is an orange-striped, self-centered, middle-aged cat. His owner, Mrs. Casey, lives alone in a little town house surrounded by her pets. Horatio doesn't like the other pets. The bunny rabbit is too messy, the puppy chews things and barks and the little kittens jump on Horatio's tail. He tries to ignore them. Horatio only likes to eat his food out of his "special" bowl --- and it has to be mixed just right. He really likes it when Mrs. Casey just sits in her chair and knits. That way he can sit next to her and sleep. If Mrs. Casey goes away for the weekend, Horatio shows his displeasure by sitting on top of the clothes in her suitcase while she's packing.

Elizabeth pointed out that there are just a few similarities between Horatio and dear little Oliver. Is that fair? Okay, so Oliver is orange-striped, middle-aged and definitely self-centered. But he's a "cat in a million," so why shouldn't he have his own way? Okay, so Oliver lives in a house with ten other cats and still thinks that he's an only pet. Actually, he thinks that he's a little person and the rest are just nuisances. Okay, so he only eats Max Cat chunkies in gravy from his own special green and white bowl. And he only eats them once you've mixed them up for him and placed them on top of the washing machine. Okay, so he's only happy when Mom is sitting at her computer desk, so that he can sleep in his special bed that's up there next to her. Or if it is evening, he sleeps on his special pillow while she watches a movie. And what's so wrong about sitting in the suitcase if it looks like we're going somewhere? Maybe we won't notice and just take him along.

Alright, so he's spoiled rotten, but he is the best cat in the world --- in our opinion. He prances around the house, following us from room to room (hoping that we'll sit down and pay attention to him). He lives for the hour when he gets his special food, and his favorite toy is anything that's been thoroughly coated in catnip. All in all, I don't see any resemblance between Oliver and Horatio, but . . .

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Neil Armstrong: The First Man on the Moon Has Died

We spent all day yesterday down in Columbus, and I was really surprised when we came home to see that Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, had died. That's one of those things that will take a little time to get used to.

Elizabeth and I spent years reading and studying about the NASA Space Programs. Mom made our very own NASA-blue flight suits for us --- complete with Apollo 11 patches and marks. We built space ships and command modules in the house and played in them for hours. We went to Dayton Air Force Museum and looked into real Command Modules. We've been to the Kennedy Space Center to see a real Apollo rocket, the launching pads and touched a real moon rock. We've been to Neil Armstrong's Museum in Wapakoneta. We've even been to the National Air and Space Museum in D.C. to see the real Command Module from Apollo 11. It's just hard to think of Neil Armstrong passing away.

He's one of twelve men who have actually walked on the moon that every person in the world sees at night. Wow! It is an amazing thing to think that God created the universe out of nothing --- when in all our years of trying, men have only gotten twelve astronauts on the moon. And that was a HUGE undertaking. More later.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Surprise from One of My Princes

I've posted before about my "Disney Princes" --- five singers that sound like the classic princes from the original Disney fairy tales.

The only surviving "Prince" (I believe since the 1990s) was Tony Martin, and I was quite sad to learn that he had passed away last month. He was ninety-eight years old, but had still been performing in the last several years. That was like the passing of an era. A whole world and style of music is gone, except that we can still enjoy it through recordings.

Elizabeth and I had sent fan letters to Mr. Martin some time last year. We were hoping for a reply, but didn't really expect one. No answer came, and it seemed like that was the end of it. Until today, that is!

Mr. Martin had been performing at Michael Feinstein's club in New York, so we had addressed our letters there. Today we got a package back with the sheet music that we had sent and a note from Michael Feinstein. He had found our music, actually autographed, while sorting through Mr. Martin's things and thought we'd like to have them. Might like? Yes like! What a really special thing. It kind of leaves me speechless.

I really wanted an autograph from Tony Martin, but surely never expected to get one. It's nice how God even grants little wishes that aren't really important in the grand scheme of things. This definitely rates as about the most special thing in my scrapbook. Thanks to Mr. Feinstein, this has been a very wonderful afternoon! More later.

It's been a really happy day!

Today has been a pretty cool day. In fact, it's been so cool that I'm going to post about it in two separate entries. Something extra special just happened --- you can read about that in the next post.

The first thing that's nice today is that my new computer is up and running. It took Mom and me all day yesterday to get everything activated, loaded and uninstalled. It's amazing how much junk comes on computers these days. Fifty-two games that were mostly free trials, video players and downloaders, some wireless receiver "thingy" and tons more that I can't even remember. This is the first time that we've dealt with Windows 7, though, and it's great so far.

This also gave me the opportunity to clean my desk out by taking everything out and dusting. That's always a good thing --- and not one that I do often enough. Here is a picture of my new computer running and in situ. Notice the book standing at the right hand side? That's another of the nice things that happened today.

I've had birthday money for two months now that I just haven't been able to decide how to spend. I wanted something kind of frivolous and extra special. Not something that I would have just gone out and bought eventually anyway or something immemorable a year from now. It's been driving Elizabeth nuts that I haven't spent it, but I finally found the thing that I wanted.

It's a big reference book called Bad Boys: The Actors of Film Noir. It's full of short biographies centering on the careers of actors who appeared in films of the film noir genre, but are not necessarily only famous for that type of role. This appears to be the only bio ever written about Dan Duryea, so I had ordered the book into the library last month some time. I ended up reading a bunch more of it and really enjoyed some of the bios about actors that I don't even enjoy watching . . . usually.

The hardback edition is no longer in print, and the paperback edition is $75.00. I figured on waiting to find a used hardback edition sometime. The going asking price online is over $100.00, but I found an ex-library on Amazon for less. In the end, I got it for $50.00. And since my favorite happens to be Mr. Duryea, I made a dust jacket of my own (the book was issued without one) and printed it yesterday.

The book arrived today, and Elizabeth already put my jacket in the mylar cover and it's in place. The pictures show my book with the jacket that I made. Pretty cool, huh?! I'm really happy.

Now, if you want to see what's made me REALLY happy, just read the next entry!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Computer Got a Death Certificate

It happened. On Sunday afternoon, my computer jammed up. We actually had to shut the power strip off in order to turn it off, then when we tried to power it back up. Nothing. The CPU just let out a long beep, then a short pause, then another loud beep.

We took it into the computer repair guy yesterday, and hoped for the best. Elizabeth and I had our teeth cleaned this morning, and it just so happened that we met up with the computer man at the dentist. (That's the nice part of living in a small town!)

The news was anything but good. The motherboard is kaput. That means that we've spent an hour or two here discussing the options and have finally decided on a newer model of, basically, the same thing. It should be ready tomorrow afternoon, so I think that I'll be spending a few days re-installing programs, setting things up and getting into the swing of Windows 7. More later.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Selling on eBay (or you might call it 'listing'!)

A week has gone by, and we've been pretty busy listing books on eBay. We're trying really hard to get the house and shelves cleaned off to make room for books that we really want. Today is rather depressing, though, because a ton of our auctions are going off --- unsold. I've just spent the last several hours taking pictures and cropping them for more auctions, but it seems like the day is dragging by.

Beatrice has been my little friend and helper, but I caught her resting on the job (see first picture). Isn't she cute?! She just squeaks at me every now and then and follows me around. I sure love her a lot! Max is trying to be a love bug. He finds this eBay stuff way too exhausting, so he finally gave up and went to bed (see second picture).

I mowed the lawn on Wednesday evening. Spent the whole time dodging crickets and grasshoppers --- not to mention a bunny rabbit. It sure looks like Fall is about here. The golden rod is even starting to bloom along the roadsides that haven't been mown recently.

Buddy and Kay came over yesterday for the afternoon and evening. As always, we had a great time. We haven't gotten to see each other (due to their very busy Summer --- Buddy is one busy singer this year!) in ages, so we had lots of catching up to do. We solved the problems of the world and even managed to squeeze in an Audie Murphy show and a movie. Guess which one?! The King's Thief. Hot off the presses, too, as Elizabeth got the DVD made a few hours before the arrived!

Don't know what's happening around here this weekend. The truck and the good car got "check engine" lights this week, so I think that'll keep us around here a bit. More later.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Finding Bing and Nelson at a Book Sale

We went to a book sale today way up in Alliance. That is a pretty good trek from our house, but we're always game for a book sale. Everybody got a few things that really made them happy --- mine were two books and two records. It's not usual to come home with something to do with Bing Crosby or Nelson Eddy from a book sale. This time, I got something of both of them!

The coolest thing is a novel based on the RKO film The Bells of St. Mary's, starring Der Bingle and Ingrid Bergman. This is neat, because it's got movie tie-in pictures throughout the book and a really beautiful dust jacket with lovely art work. We also found a record of the High Society soundtrack (one of our favorites!) which features Bing, "Frankie Boy" (aka: Sinatra) and Grace Kelly. Not bad, considering that this is one of our favorite records and we only had one. :) The other record features songs from the operettas New Moon and Rose Marie. These are performed by Nelson Eddy, Dorothy Kirsten and Eleanor Steber. I've seen this record online but never been able to find one. Hooray! All in all, not bad.

The other book that I'm really happy about is Amazing Grace: The Life of John Newton by John Pollock. This makes a nice addition to my Abolition of the Slave-Trade collection. We were also able to pick up a bunch of childrens' books, which is the area of our library that we're really working on these days.

Well, everybody is pretty beat. I've been spending some more time making web pages and updating things on our site. I even got the Buddy Davis Fan Club pages back up, so check those out --- if you care to! ;) More later.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

'The King's Thief' and an Invasion of Yellow Jackets

Talk about an exciting week. I mean, things have really kept us on our toes. For the past month or two, we've noticed an occasional bee (turns out that they were actually German Yellow Jackets) coming from behind the books in the corner of the TV room. Elizabeth could actually hear buzzing behind the wall, on occasion. Well, they reached an all-time, unacceptable high this week. For three evenings we couldn't even watch through a whole movie, because we had to keep getting up to swat bees. They are entering through the siding outside of our bedroom window, so Dad sprayed the entrance twice, and that always sent a ton of them flying inside. Dad figures that he killed fifty or so the other night alone!

Yesterday, being Saturday, Dad and I went up to the TV room (armed with two fly-swatters, a flashlight and a tube of dark brown caulking), closed the door and got to work eliminating the bees' secret passage. Elizabeth and I had found the biggest bee I've ever seen (other than the fuzzy bumble bees that flit around outside) in the morning, and we're pretty sure it was the Queen. That was promising, anyway. So, Dad and I began by emptying ten or twelve shelves of books (that's hundreds of them, if not a thousand) and moving all the furniture to the other side of the room. We found a couple of spots where the pests were coming in. In the 1970s, when the TV room was added to our house, the builders just nailed the paneling on (no drywall underneath, either!) a little crooked. This caused tiny gaps between the wall and the ceiling. Dad used some small strips of wood and caulking to seal all the spots! What a handy man. :)

It doesn't take as long to explain these actions in a blog post as it takes in real life. Once all the caulking was finished, we had to put the books back on the shelves and rearrange the furniture. Not a small task, I assure you! We weren't finished until about 3:30pm.

Mom and Elizabeth had been up at the Keultjes' house all day helping them sort through books. Turns out that they had sorted a bunch out (to be specific: fourteen full banana boxes!) that we're going to list on eBay, so Dad and I met them up there with the pick-up truck. Couldn't go to the Keultjes' house without visiting, so we stayed until about seven o'clock. They are the best!

Now, about the other half of the title of this post: The King's Thief. This is a 1955 film, starring Edmund Purdom and Ann Blyth. We'd never heard of it, but Elizabeth came across it and managed to get a very old video tape from the library. This is a swashbuckling tale set in London during the reign of Charles II (played by George Sanders). It was filmed in widescreen and vivid technicolor, but we won't comment on that. (The VHS tape is old, so the widescreen has been modified to fullscreen with "pan and zoom" effect and the color is faded to about 50% saturation.) David Niven plays the crooked Duke of Brampton, trusted adviser to the King.

It falls to Edmund Purdom and Ann Blyth to prove the treachery of the Duke to King Charles. Easier said than done. Poor Mr. Purdom. He was really put through the ropes on this one, and appears to have been very game when it came to physical stunts. This movie has everything! Sword fights, horse chases, a spectacular prison break (including a bell tower scene that is absolutely nerve wracking!), romance (nothing mushy), and a thrilling finale in the Tower of London! Elizabeth and I were so nervous that our stomachs were all tied up in knots. This has definitely become one of our favorites. Let's hope that a restored DVD comes out soon!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Reply from David Suchet (with Poirot Business Cards)

I don't usually like to post twice in the same day, but this is worth it. The mail just got here, and we got a reply that we weren't expecting.

A couple of years ago, we wrote to David Suchet (he plays Hercule Poirot in the TV shows) and got his autograph. He was very fast to reply, and a few months later he helped us out by signing a special picture that went along with the Poirot doll that we made for Mom. (The story of that is posted on this blog.) Yet again, a few months after that, we wrote to him again and sent pictures of the doll to say "thank you" for all of his help. He responded with a nice card, and we were pretty thrilled.

Some time last month, we sent him two more notes telling him how much we absolutely loved his audio books, particularly Murder on the Orient Express. (If you haven't heard it, then I can't say enough about it. No one should ever --- and I mean ever --- have played Mrs. Hubbard other than him. His voice for that was great! Hardman, too, particularly on the gum chewing.) This wasn't a request for autographs or anything. It was just a chance to tell him how much we enjoyed something that he had obviously put a LOT of time into. Well, the mailman just brought a little envelope that was a reply. He sent us two really nice autographed photos, which are just fabulous! What really takes the cake, though, is that he sent two little business cards with Hercule Poirot's name and address on them. How cute!!

So, now you know what was so worth making a second post today. More later.

Some More Fan Mail Replies (from a Disney Princess)

Yesterday, we received our first fan mail replies that have come in ages! They were extremely fast in responding, too. The first was from Mary Costa, the voice of Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty. We were really excited to get these. Elizabeth found pictures of her posed in front of the Disney story boards for the film, so we sent those. They came back beautifully autographed, along with two more pictures (one for each of us) and a little photo of Mary Costa singing in La Traviata in 1970. That last is for Elizabeth, who loves Mary Costa singing opera. It will find a nice home in E's opera scrapbook. Isn't her handwriting just beautiful? It really looks "princess-ly"!

The second envelope was from 1950s actress, Jane Powell. We had sent to her about two years ago and received autographs, but this time we sent pictures from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Elizabeth also wanted a couple pictures for some friends of hers that are crazy about Jane Powell.

It was really fun to come home to a mailbox full of fan mail responses. We've got several more that we're packing up to mail soon, so maybe there will be some more coming! My scrapbook is getting quite full. Fun! More later.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Carmen Miranda is Back from the Fair!

Today was the day. The State Fair ended last night, so we were allowed to pick up the entries today (or tomorrow, if we’d wanted to)! Yahoo. I’ve really been missing Carmen Miranda, since she had only been finished one day before I had to part with her. It was worth it though, after all — look at that beautiful purple prize that she came home with. :)

The weather is very warm today, but very beautiful. Blue sky with just some little fluffy couds strewn about. We don’t have that kind of weather very often. In fact, there were such bad storms here all morning yesterday that we actually couldn’t go to church. They cleared up by about 1:30pm though. I spent a while working on fun stuff in Photoshop.

It’s been a year or so since I had a chance to really do something other than cropping, adjusting levels and saving pictures. Not bad, but a bit dull. That banner for Tony Martin started the urge. I got to use some fun tools and effects, so that really gave me a fun couple of hours. I’ve been working on cleaning some Dan Duryea photos up for my scrapbook. We can’t really print photos these days. It’s just too hot and humid, so the ink separates and spreads. No problem, it gives me time to fix a bunch up and then I’ll have a lot to work on all Winter. More later.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Working on Putting Up New Webpages

It is miserably hot today. This has to be one of the worst days of the whole year. Mom went to a garage sale this morning, and Dad cleaned the chimney. Elizabeth and I voted to stay home and work on assorted projects that are just piling up. For me, that meant working on some webpages for our website, We haven't been good about working on that one for a long time now, so it's definitely overdue.

We've been working a bit over the last week, and I was finally able to get three new pages on and one existing page updated. I'm working on the "SE Entertainment" section, which is about enjoying films from the classic era of the 1930s through the 1950s. We've been wanting to spotlight a few favorite actors, so the first two (which are what I finally put up today) are Dan Duryea and Teresa Wright. Yay!

Mom and I have spent all week working on selling some stuff on eBay. Sales are pretty low, though, so we're sending a lot of it out to assorted thrift stores and the like. We also went to another book sale. Elizabeth is really thrilled, because we were able to get eighteen Ruth Fielding books for fifty cents a piece.

Day after tomorrow, we get to pick up my dolls from the State Fair! I can't wait. No other news than all that, really. More later.