John Wayne~The Life & Legend

John Wayne, who made 162 feature films, was one of the 20th century’s biggest Hollywood stars. Here are 10 things we learned about the Oscar-winning actor from an impressive new biography by Scott Eyman. Martin Chilton-The Telegraph Culture Editor john_wayne_life_legend

He cheated at chess; John Wayne was actually very good at chess (film director and experienced player Josef von Sternberg “was livid” when beaten by Wayne) and the actor had a chessboard permanently set up on his 136ft boat, The Wild Goose. Wayne once said of fellow actor Rock Hudson: “Who the hell cares if he’s queer? The man plays great chess.” Wayne repeatedly cheated when playing chess against Robert Mitchum (Wayne had huge hands and would carefully slide a piece into a different position as he made a separate move) and Mitchum eventually plucked up the courage to tell him he was cheating. Wayne replied “I was wondering when you were going to say something. Set ‘em up, we’ll play again.”
He loved literature; Wayne liked the novels of Agatha Christie but his two favourite books were written by Arthur Conan Doyle and both are historical novels – The White Company (1891) and Sir Nigel (1906) – both set during the Hundred Years’ War. Wayne was also a fan of Charles Dickens and if the actor agreed to a business deal, he would always say “Barkis is willing!”, a phrase used by Mr Barkis when he tells David Copperfield that he is ready to marry Peggotty.JohnWaynesummary_2874969b
Just call him MMM or Duke but never Marion: Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison (on May 26, 1907) and earned the lifelong nickname Duke, after Big Duke, the family dog. Big Duke, an Airedale, would chase fire engines, and the firemen christened Wayne Liitle Duke, which was shortened to Duke. Wayne said: “The guy you see on the screen isn’t really me. I’m Duke Morrison, and I never was and never will be a film personality like John Wayne. I know him well. I’m one if his closest students. I have to be. I make a living out of him.”
John Ford called him a “poached egg:” Ford’s four Academy Awards for Best Director (1935, 1940, 1941, 1952) are a record but he missed out in 1939 for Stagecoach. His behaviour on set angered Wayne, who said of the director “I was so f–king mad I wanted to kill him”. Ford kept baiting Wayne during filming, yelling at one point: “Don’t you know how to walk? You’re as clumsy as a hippo. And stop slurring your dialogue and show some expression. You look like a poached egg.” Privately Ford said of Wayne at the time: “He’ll be the biggest star ever”.stagecoach 12Wayne was once a sports journalist: Wayne was born in Iowa but went to the Glendale Union High School in California, where he played for the football team. Although he was seen as sporty, he also did well academically. He was part of the high school debating team and president of its Latin Society. He graduated with an average score of 94/100. He was also a member of its newspaper staff and wrote sports reports under byline ‘M.M.M’.

Wayne was a strange political beast; John Wayne was known for his right-wing views (he was scathing about actress Jane Fonda’s anti-Vietnam war pronouncements) and was a fervent supporter of President Richard Nixon, insisting in 1971 that “Nixon is too great a man to be mixed up in anything like Watergate.” But Wayne also liked debating politics with the actor Paul Newman, who would send him political essays written by progressive liberal thinkers.John Wayne Smoking

He was a deeply superstitious man; Among the many things (normally wives) that made a volatile Wayne fly off the handle was the act of anyone leaving a hat on top of a bed. Also, no one in his family was ever allowed to pass salt directly to Wayne, it had to be placed on the table instead and then he would reach for it. He was not superstitious about his smoking, though, getting through five packets of cigarettes a day, something that brought him first a persistent hacking cough and later lung cancer.

Don’t wet on his blue suede shoes; When he first met Michael Caine, Wayne gave him some friendly thespian advice. “Talk low, talk slow and don’t say too f—— much”. He then baffled the Brit by adding “and never wear suede shoes”. When Caine asked “Why?”, Wayne replied: “Because one day a guy in the next stall recognised me and turned towards me and said ‘John Wayne you’re my favourite actor! And p—-d all over my suede shoes. So don’t wear them when you’re famous, kid.”

He was in awe of Churchill; Wayne would often tell friends how highly he thought of Winston Churchill and had a complete set of the British Prime Minister’s prose on his bookself.
johnwayneoscar_2874944c

Wayne was a gracious winner; When he won his Best Actor Oscar for playing Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969), Wayne whispered in presenter Barbra Streisand’s ear “beginner’s luck”. Wayne later spent the night drinking with Richard Burton (who had been nominated for playing King Henry VIII in Anne of the Thousand Days), having knocked on the Welshman’s door, thrust the Oscar statue at him and shouted: “You should have this, not me.”jima_2874943kMore Here Of Interest in the Washington Times Book Review: ‘John Wayne: Life and Legend.’  

Well it looks like another book order is going into Amazon. “The hell it is!”    Yours Aye.

SOE ‘Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’

Volunteers for British clandestine operations within WWII had many reasons for doing so. It was never for the extra money or the glamour of the work, the extra money was negligible, and there was very little glamour attached to the work; it article-0-1BB708DB000005DC-124_634x549was also too secretive to reveal outside of a very tight knit organisation. Most agents of the Special Operations Executive were square pegs in round holes as far as regular service life was concerned. Potential Agents joined for the love of their country, or to avenge a loved one or a family member. Christine Granville (her cover name, her true name was Krystyna Skarbek) was one such woman  Never-before-seen pictures of SOE agent whose extraordinary courage paved the way for the liberation of France  Christine Granville – the favourite spy of Winston Churchill – worked for years undermining the Nazi regime despite SOE agents having a short life expectancy in the field. As a specialist agent trained in sabotage and destruction, she operated in heavily occupied territory to fight for her country, and her Jewish mother who was killed in a Nazi concentration camp.hs9-612a-enlargeAs a young 14 year old, I read the original true story of a different SOE agent; ‘Carve Her Name With Pride’ by R. J. Minney [published 1956] that tells the amazing story of Violette Szabo, a young woman who joined Britain’s SOE after her French husband was killed in the battle of El Alamein. On her second mission in France, she was caught by the Nazis, tortured, and sent to the women’s concentration camp in Ravensbrück, where she was eventually shot. Her four-year-old daughter, Tania, collected her mother’s posthumous George Cross from the wartime King, King George VI in 1946. Carve_her_name_with_pride_2

The Life That I Have is all that I have, and the life that I have is yours. The love that I have of the life that I have is yours and yours and yours. A sleep I shall have, a rest I shall have, yet death will be but a pause. For the peace of my years in the long green grass will be yours and yours and yours

We will never see their like again. I still have the book, which is typically written in the ‘ever-so-matter-of-fact’ sort of way that you would expect from the 50′s; still a great read.                          Yours Aye.

Aptanagrams, eunonyms & portmanteau words

English is full of wordplay, witticisms, puns and quirks. On work related issues I am a stickler over the correct use of grammar, punctuation and spelling. When it comes to sending a text message I rarely, if ever, abbreviate a word.zz080910bede 490 (Roman Catholic education, was a painful experience for those that dared to adapt their writing style)

Being a natural born rebel of sorts, I often dabbled with the written word, trying to squeeze out a hidden meaning by abusing punctuation within a scribed sentence; however, six of the best (three hearty whacks of a bamboo cane on each hand) put paid to that… imagesNow, here I am, in my element, with not a bamboo cane in sight, nor a care in the world as I pixilate before you!

Crossword puzzlers will be familiar with anagrams, words that mean something else when the letters are rearranged, but what about aptanagrams, eunonyms and portmanteau words?

An aptanagram is one reason why a mother-in-law, is a woman Hitler          Yours Aye.article-2399493-1B665FB4000005DC-365_634x322

Navy Orders, by Academy Grad Geri Krotow

Finally, I found a book for all you yearning for a little lite, frothy summer reading, a Harlequin Romance titled Navy Orders by Geri Krotow, a Naval Academy grad:

Navy Orders (Harlequin Romance) Geri Krotow

Navy Orders (Harlequin Romance) Geri Krotow

After a romantic betrayal, naval lieutenant commander Roanna Brandywine doesn’t trust anyone the way she used to. When a chance encounter brings chief warrant officer Miles Mikowski into her life, she’s intrigued. But Ro has spent so long focusing on her career, she resists the attraction.

Miles has had his own share of trauma, but it’s taught him that life is short and he has to go after what’s important to him. Then, unexpectedly, they’re ordered to investigate a sailor’s suicide. They must rely on each other as they discover that his death is not as straightforward as it seems. During their investigation, they acknowledge the chemistry between them, but the real question is whether there’s trust…and maybe even love.

Love the Whidbey Island thingy on the cover. . .

Cold steel hand from the sea

I have endured some serious sleepless nights these past few weeks or so, which I have put down to the heat of summer. Even with the assistance of my good friend ‘Captain Morgan’ I have only managed a couple of pitiful hours in the dead zone. The dogs love it as they now expect to be out and about as the first grey chink of morning light breaks over the Eastern horizon. Methinks some thing is amiss, it’s not as if I do not exercise my brain as well as my body. Last night I reverted to the old school way of reading, and chose a true story in paper back The Wonga Coup: Simon Mann’s Plot to Seize Oil Billions in Africa by Adam Roberts, (from which the cowardly Mark Thatcher does not walk away smelling of roses).images 

Now I understand why Simon Mann has every right to Cry Havoc, which is my next read. I just hope Ridley Scott includes the whole ball of corruption and dirty politics in his film portrayal of the book. Having settled into a nice leather easy chair, I read of the coup until the words disappeared slowly from the page. I awoke with two snoring dogs sleeping in front of a fan, and a ticking clock with the big hand on 12 and the little hand on 7… Unbelievably I had slept for several hours.             Click pic to enlargeRM Commando Replacing the book back onto the shelf I noticed a hard back that I received as a gift at Christmas, ‘Commando’ THE DIRTY DOZEN, a collection of the best 12 Commando comic books ever. “Thought to self, research the comics on line as they were classics from my childhood“.
DownloadedFileI did so after breakfast, Britain’s sole surviving war comic Commando and was shocked to see that the iconic short story Commando comic magazines are no longer printed in the UK. They are now printed by a German media group ‘GGP Media’ who are based in Possneck, Thuringia – near where the revolutionary Messerschmitt Me 262 fighter jets were being built in an underground weapons factory in the Second World War! My paper childhood heroes crumbled in front of me, such is life I suppose. But hey! I am not cross because of the irony of it all, we have moved on to become allies against a more common foe.

Yours Aye.

Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling

JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, pulled a fast one on the book-buying public. She secretly published a book under the name Robert Galbraith called The Cuckoo’s Calling:

JK Rowling has secretly written a crime novel under the guise of male debut writer Robert Galbraith.

The Harry Potter author was acclaimed for The Cuckoo’s Calling, about a war veteran turned private investigator called Cormoran Strike.

The book had sold 1,500 copies before the secret emerged in the Sunday Times. Within hours, it rose more than 5,000 places to top Amazon’s sales list.

Rowling said she had “hoped to keep this secret a little longer”.

The author described “being Robert Galbraith” as a “such a liberating experience”.

Some military folks online have been claiming Stolen Valor, in that Robert Galbraith was not a veteran as claimed. And JK banked on the military’s good name to generate sales. Of course, when it came out who really wrote the book, sales skyrocketed. I especially like how certain publishers (Kate Mills, editor at Orion Books) turned the manuscript down.

Mad dogs, Englishmen, & cricket

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out into the midday sun“… So goes the saying, as well as the song by Noel Coward!  Given the choice of watching a game of cricket, or watching paint dry; I would ask to view a nice combat green matt emulsion drying on a Saturday afternoon.article-2351483-1A7739DC000005DC-339_964x653 Unlike these mad English dogs from Threlkeld Cricket Club in Cumbria, who tend to go out and play in any weather; their balls must get incredibly cold at times, as well as their hands and feet… Howzat that for daring? Amazing photos of cricketers playing at some unlikely locations including a rope bridge and jetty  But if you are up for a jolly good read to take your mind off the drying paint, how about this book from a  true Mad Dog and Englishman; Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes. OBE.DownloadedFile-1 Reputedly the worlds greatest living explorer, ex Royal Scots Greys Cavalry Regiment, ex SAS, holder of several endurance records, prolific book writer; one of which being The Feather Men (1991)The Feather Men by Ranulph Fiennes – Reviews, Discussion … The non-fiction book upon which the film ‘Killer elite’ is based.
Ranulph Fiennes
Hard man or eccentric? Sir Ranulph Fiennes decision to cut off his own dead fingers has passed into exploring folklore. In 2000, he lost the tips of his fingers on his left hand during an unaided attempt to reach the North Pole. On returning home, his surgeon insisted the necrotic fingertips be retained for several months before amputation, to allow re-growth of the remaining healthy tissue. Impatient at the pain the dying fingertips caused, Fiennes cut them off himself with a fretsaw, just above where the soreness was. The tip of his little finger was removed after two hours sawing; it took five days to complete the job (mad, bad, and dangerous to know). His ‘wiki’ page is well worth a peruse!

Yours Aye.

Book Hangover?

A new word for you, book hangover:

Book hangover:

The headache you get after staying up into the wee hours of the morning staring at teeny tiny print. Generally an ailment experienced exclusively by book nerds, but becomes a nation wide issue after the release of a new Harry Potter book.

Guy 1: Man, I stayed up all night reading the Deathly Hallows! I have such a book hangover!

Guy 2: You nerd.

Guy 2 then pushes his copy of the Deathly Hallows deeper into his book bag and longingly eyes the aspirin bottle guy 1 has just opened.

Although, in all seriousness, I would not be reading Harry Otter. What? You’ve never heard of Harry Otter? Here (link warning- very amateurish):

Hairy Otter is a regular otter who very much dislikes being called a wombat. One day, a strange yellow creature whisks him off to Owlpoops School of Magic. Turns out he isn’t so normal after all!

If I were in the mood for political economics (and who isn’t) I would perhaps be reading The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die, by Niall Ferguson:

From renowned historian Niall Ferguson, a searching and provocative examination of the widespread institutional rot that threatens our collective future

What causes rich countries to lose their way? Symptoms of decline are all around us today: slowing growth, crushing debts, increasing inequality, aging populations, antisocial behavior. But what exactly has gone wrong? The answer, Niall Ferguson argues in The Great Degeneration, is that our institutions—the intricate frameworks within which a society can flourish or fail—are degenerating.

Representative government, the free market, the rule of law, and civil society—these are the four pillars of West European and North American societies. It was these institutions, rather than any geographical or climatic advantages, that set the West on the path to global dominance beginning around 1500. In our time, however, these institutions have deteriorated in disturbing ways. Our democracies have broken the contract between the generations by heaping IOUs on our children and grandchildren. Our markets are hindered by overcomplex regulations that debilitate the political and economic processes they were created to support; the rule of law has become the rule of lawyers. And civil society has degenerated into uncivil society, where we lazily expect all of our problems to be solved by the state.

It is institutional degeneration, in other words, that lies behind economic stagnation and the geopolitical decline that comes with it. With characteristic verve and historical insight, Ferguson analyzes not only the causes of this stagnation but also its profound consequences.

The Great Degeneration is an incisive indictment of an era of negligence and complacency. While the Arab world struggles to adopt democracy and China struggles to move from economic liberalization to the rule of law, our society is squandering the institutional inheritance of centuries. To arrest the breakdown of our civilization, Ferguson warns, will take heroic leadership and radical reform.

Too many books to read, too little time. . .

Dog’s Puppy, Lyssa Chapman

Duane ‘Dog The Bounty Hunter’ Chapman's daugher, Lyssa Chapman and her book, Walking on Eggshells

Lyssa Chapman’s Walking on Eggshells

Duane ‘Dog The Bounty Hunter’ Chapman has had a veritable litter of children. His ninth pup, Lyssa Chapman has put out a book called Walking on Eggshells. A little taste of the magic from Fox411:

FOX411: You have had quite a life.

Lyssa Chapman: It’s so funny I keep hearing that but really it was the only life I ever knew. That was what really inspired me to write the story because when I did tell people little tidbits of my life their reaction was, ‘Wow, I can’t believe you’re still standing,’ so I thought, ‘Well this would be a really good story to get out.’

FOX411: You became a mother at a very young age, as did your sister.

Curiously enough, my current life is the only one I know too. Tough girl, wish her well.

Going to war over an inconvenient truth…

Over the past few weeks I have tried to sit and read through ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, Al Gore’s book on bluff & bluster; a book that a good friend gifted/loaned to allow me to peruse at my leisure (please note, we are both absolute non-believer’s in the ‘tripe’ printed within its covers).

The reason for reading the ‘tome’ is that we will soon be hurtling ‘head on’ into discussion with a couple whose life evolves around their passion for global warming and living an eco friendly lifestyle. Each to their own beliefs, but when a belief is forced upon third parties I for one tend to stand up and be counted. (Unbelievably Al Gore’s book is one often quoted from their collection of Bible’s). The cracking and banging of skulls will take place at a sit down dinner at an engagement party, from which the Eco warriors will certainly bite off more than they can chew, in more ways than one.

I have less than a fortnight to plough through the nonsense printed within ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, which as it happens, is a great title that has since blown effluent back at the writer!

The Political left wing spin factories here in the UK & Europe still spout forth the nonsense attributed to Global Warning. Through the same horror stories and spin, an industry was fraudulently set up from which wealthy groups of business people still benefit; all achieved through handsome tax deductions as well as state sponsorship. Carbon Credits also form part of the nonsense, which is yet another industry that collapsed through fraudulent activity as it was totally non-regulated.

There are a few British/European/’and other’ politicians who may be reading this, that may wish to search their conscience as well as their souls; and perhaps hand some money back! (Was that a raspberry I heard some one blow from afar)?

Perhaps of interest? Last year the BBC was forced to admit that it’s research into global warming (via its own weather records) had been miscalculated, grossly! They pushed out the press release on Christmas Eve… And by doing so they buried bad news at a time ‘convenient’ to themselves to save embarrassment!

Absolute ‘Tosh’ or even ‘Taurus Cacas Nugarum’, as my Company Commander would whisper quietly in briefings.

Some thing else that made my earwax steam is the fact that Mr. Gore actually won a (politically enhanced) Nobel Peace prize for his waffle, bluff, & bluster. In doing so he blocked a honourable nominee, who, through her unselfish acts saved more lives than the feted ‘Oskar Schindler’ of Schindler’s List fame. A true heroine by the name of Irene Sendler; previously nominated several times.

Yesterday afternoon I sat outside on my ‘pondering logs’ with the book perched comfortably on my lap. This spot normally allows me the sanctuary I crave away from my home-office. The slight wind was cool, but in the lee of the felled tree trunk the warmth of the sun made up for it. My steaming tin mug of tea washed down three-fig rolls handsomely, but all was not well. As I sat and pondered I realised it was the bloody ‘Inconvenient book’ that was creating havoc with my mind-set.

Summer home office view 2012Winter home office view 2013

The book now sits on a shelf within the down stairs toilet, which is fitting in one sense (it’s a man thing, which when required perusing through would produce the solitude and appropriate surroundings to work things out) ;-)

Now sitting in front of my Mac, I have just viewed the evidence of the cold lingering winter held within my picture file. My mood has since lightened, as I caught sight of a picture from the previous summer, this with the fresh smell of spring drifting in on the breeze, which means this year’s summer is approaching once again, regular as clockwork as nature intended.

Isn’t that an inconvenient truth, Al?

Pippa Pens a Schnoozer

Except for when I am driving, I like to keep one eye craned in the literary world. Who is writing what, for whom. A lot of it is pretentious nonsense. Novels that take pages to describe the snow falling. But there is also a lot of genuinely good writing. And I like to know what the market is calling for.

Pippa Middleton

Pippa Middleton dropped

Although, since I rarely read fiction, I don’t buy it. Pippa Middleton, Kate Middleton’s sister, herself tried her hand at writing in Celebrate. A book not of the literary genre:

Literary guru David Godwin masterminded the deal with Penguin that saw Pippa Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge’s younger sister, pocket an estimated £400,000 advance from publisher Michael Joseph.

Under Godwin’s expert guidance, she set out to style herself as the go-to party planning expert. But she failed to impress observers astounded that someone without real writing experience had managed to secure such a substantial offer.

Insiders were more baffled as to why she was being represented by an agent whose stable includes highbrow writers such as biographer Claire Tomalin, novelist Vikram Seth and historian William Dalrymple. In the end, despite Godwin’s expertise, Pippa’s guide was a flop.

The only Pippa I know is this one.

Reza Aslan Versus Mustafa Akyol

Islam without Extremes- A Muslim Case for Liberty by Mustafa Akyol

Islam without Extremes by Mustafa Akyol

If I were not up to the very tippy-toes of my adam’s apple with reading for work, I would be deciding whether I wanted to read Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty, by Mustafa Akyol:

From furious reactions to the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad to the suppression of women, news from the Muslim world begs the question: is Islam incompatible with freedom? With an eye sympathetic to Western liberalism and Islamic theology, Mustafa Akyol traces the ideological and historical roots of political Islam. The years following Muhammad’s passing in 632 AD saw an intellectual “war of ideas” rage between rationalist, flexible schools of Islam and the more dogmatic, rigid ones. The traditionalist school won out, fostering perceptions of Islam as antithetical to modernity.

However, through his careful reexamination of the currents of Muslim thought, Akyol discovers a flourishing of liberalism in the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire and the unique “Islamo-liberal synthesis” of present-day Turkey. Only by accepting a secular state, he powerfully asserts, can Islamic societies thrive.

Resa Azlan, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam

Resa Azlan, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam

Persuasive and inspiring, Islam without Extremes offers a desperately needed intellectual basis for the reconcilability of Islam and religious, political, economic, and social freedoms.

Or No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, by Reza Aslan.

Not to be confused with this Aslan. . .