Introducing: Laurel and Hardy


I doubt many of my followers have heard or seen Laurel and Hardy, but to my mind they remain one of the funniest duos I’ve ever seen. Mind you, I’m not old enough to have seen them in person, but I did see some of their sketches on TV when I was a little girl. The Bluebird of Bitterness ( had a video of them dancing on her blog Friday, and that stirred me to go back and find out more about them.

    Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy

Let me introduce you:

Laurel and Hardy were a comedy team in the early classical Hollywood cinema. Laurel was  the thin Englishman Stan Laurel who paired with the heavyset American Oliver Hardy. They became well known during the late 1920s through the mid-1940s for their slapstick comedy, with Laurel playing the clumsy and childlike friend of the very pompous Hardy.

Their comedy is very typical of the simple, physical slapstick of the time – also a feature of the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, and later, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. It sustained people both here and in England, during the dark days of the 1930s and 40s.

Their physical differences played out in their comedy routines. Stan Laurel was of average height and weight, but appeared small and slight next to Oliver Hardy, who was 6 ft 1in and weighed about 280 lb. They used some details to enhance this difference. Laurel kept his hair short on the sides and back, growing it long on top to create a natural “fright wig”. At times of shock, he would simultaneously cry while pulling up his hair. Hardy’s thinning hair was pasted on his forehead in spit curls and he sported a toothbrush mustache. Laurel walked flat-footed by removing the heels from his shoes, and both wore bowler hats, Laurel’s with a flattened brim. Hardy wore a neck tie which he would twiddle and Laurel a bow tie, and they contrasted their jackets. Hardy’s was always a bit small with straining buttons, while Laurel’s was loose fitting.

You can see this in these clips:

Laurel and Hardy appeared as a team in 107 films – 32 short silent, 40 short sound films and 23 full length feature films. Since the 1930s, the works of Laurel and Hardy have been released in numerous theatrical reissues, television revivals, 8-mm and 16-mm home movies, feature-film compilations, and home videos, so their comedy is still making people laugh. There is even a Laurel and Hardy appreciation society called The Sons of the Desert, named after one of their films of the same name.

I dare you not to laugh watching this clip:


Thank you to the Buebird of Bitterness for this trip down memory lane. Visit this blog – she never fails to make me laugh!

Introducing: Ritual of the Lost Lamb – a new book by Charles Yallowitz (@cyallowitz) #fantasy#magic#elves


Charles Yallowitz is the creative and imaginative author of the Legends of Windemere series, bound to appeal to anyone who likes fantasy and magic, swords and sorcery, battles, elves and dragons.

Amazon blurb

Death is a blessing that the Baron is not ready to bestow upon his new toy.

In the chaos surrounding the Spirit Well, Luke Callindor has disappeared and the only clue the psychic scream of agony that Dariana cannot ignore. Knowing that a journey to Shayd will result in their ultimate battle, the champions have devised another way to rescue their friend. With permission from the gods, Nyx has begun the Ritual of the Lost Lamb. It is a long and exhausting spell, which is made even more difficult by a new threat that is out to make all of the Baron’s enemies suffer.

It is a race against time where every minute lost brings Luke Callindor one step closer to a fate worse than oblivion.

Here is an excerpt to entice you:

Having said her piece, Nyx gnaws on a hunk of jerky and sips at a waterskin while the others discuss her idea. She refuses to admit that she is having second thoughts about breaking a god seal even with permission. The last time she accomplished such a feat was by accident and resulted in her magic being sealed for days. Nyx shudders at the memory of feeling so many lives ending at her hands and takes a sloppy drink of leathery water to steady her nerves. The result is a full body convulsion of disgust and a hacking cough as the liquid goes down her windpipe. Flicking a green beetle off her shoulder, the channeler impatiently paces in a circle and wonders why the others are taking so long.

The hairs on the back of Nyx’s neck rise and her arms become covered in goosebumps as a pulse of energy ripples through the clearing. She is about to ask her friends if they feel anything, but stops when she sees that they are frozen in time. The half-elf’s heart pounds in her chest as she fears that the Baron is about to attack. More terror seeps into her mind when she expects to turn around and find Luke’s tortured body dangling before her eyes. Not wanting to be caught by surprise, a flaming disc appears in her palm and hums as she searches for the source of the powerful spell. The snap of a twig to her left causes Nyx to hurl the fiery circle, which splits into a swarm of deadly copies that would destroy any normal enemy. Against the ebony platemail of Gabriel, the discs puff into balls of harmless smoke that remain hovering in place.

“Your friends have agreed to your idea,” the Destiny God states, ignoring the mortal’s amusing attack. He removes his black cape, which becomes a vague chair for the nervously bowing channeler. “Now, this is unique. In fact, it is quite unheard of, which is why I am granting you an audience. The Law of Influence says I cannot get involved, but nobody has ever asked for permission to do something like this. Needless to say, all of us are very curious to see how all of this plays out.”

“I want to unseal the Ritual of the Lost Lamb,” Nyx politely requests while she takes a seat on the cape. An enchanting warmth rises from the cloth and she nearly falls asleep from the blissful energy that infects her body. “This is the only way to save Luke without marching into the Baron’s territory. We both know that is what he wants. With the forbidden ritual, I can gather my little brother’s residual energy and bring him home. None of us will be at risk since it’s a combination of a summoning and teleportation spell.”

“Strange that you know about a spell designed by channelers. Especially since it has not been used since the ancient Race War,” Gabriel says with a nod of his head. Urging voices in the back of his head causes the god to hum with his mouth closed, the spell jolting the sources of his rising irritation. “The Ritual of the Lost Lamb was taken from mortals before my time, but I understand the reason it made the gods worry. Such a thing could be the first step into summoning a deity against his or her will. Possibly even stealing immortality. Though I believe times have changed and we should reconsider the sealing.”

“Time is also running out,” the channeler replies, shying away when the powerful deity stares at her. A flickering realization that the Baron’s power might be on the same level of Gabriel gives her the courage to meet the man’s piercing eyes. “I apologize for sounding like I’m rushing you. Yet, it has been said that the gods and goddesses have no concept of time since you exist forever. That means I have to push even though I want to speak with respect.”

“In other words, you want a decision now.”

“That would be best, sir.”

“Sadly, I cannot agree to your terms.”

“I haven’t made any terms.”


Need to catch Legends of Windemere from the beginning?

You can start for FREE . . .



About the author

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

You can find Charles:

On his blog:




Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy 2


For Mother’s Day, my daughter and son-in-law took Hubs and me to see Guardians II. They’d gotten tickets for a new movie theater in town, one where you reserve specific seats and can have beer, wine or cocktails delivered to your seat, along with food (cheeseburgers, French fires, pizza). I had a vodka lemonade, which was a mellow way to start the movie.

Did I mention the seats are really wide and well padded? Good thing the movie was exciting, or I would have dropped off.

I had watched Guardians I a few weeks ago at home, on pay per view. I enjoyed it, but after seeing this sequel, it was clear you need to see it in a theater.

The movie is a film based on the Marvel comics superhero team of Guardians: Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldano), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket the raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). In this adventure, Ayesha, leader of the Sovereign race, has the Guardians protect valuable batteries from an inter-dimensional monster in exchange for Gamora’s estranged sister, Nebula. Nebula hates her sister and is determined to kill her. Rocket steals some of the batteries and a fleet of Sovereign drones attack the guardians’ ship after they leave. The Guardians are saved by a person who says he is Quill’s father, Ego. The young Ego is an incredible CGI’d Kurt Russell, later replaced by the real actor. The rest of the film involves the revelation of the real Ego and the attempt to wreak vengeance on the Guardians by the blue skinned Yondu Udonta, a former Ravager (thief, pirate, goon played by Michael Rooker), who is hired along with his men by Queen Ayesha.

And that’s all I’m going to say about the plot.

The movie opens with the delightful scene of the mini-veggie Baby Groot, juking his way through ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky.”  I was hooked! The music, 70’s hits, is a real character in the film – Come a Little Bit Closer (Jay and the Americans) , My Sweet Lord (George Harrison), Southern Nights ( Glenn Campbell), Brandy You’re a Fine Girl (Looking Glass), just to name a few.

We were treated to an adventure filled with whimsy, humor and family. Family means the interaction between Quill and his father, Zoey and her sister, Yonda and the greater Ravager family, from which he has been expelled. And of course, the Guardian family.  The characters really come into their own in this sequel, and we meet a possible new member, Mantis, a ditsy empath with antennae.   

The movie doesn’t lack for things that go boom! and there are striking visuals, great production design, some space battles, and lots and lots of laughs. The emotion gets a bit heavy at the end, but Guardians 2 is not a remake of the first movie – there’s no sophomore slump here, but a new and refreshing adventure. And a hint of the next one, in which Groot is an obnoxious teenager. You have to sit through the credits to see this.

I am not a follower of the super hero movies. I did see Spider Man and Thor, but that’s about all this aging brain can manage. With Guardians of the Galaxy, I’m a devoted fan and I look forward to their next adventure.  With a cocktail, and possibly some French fries.


Renaissance Artists of Venice – other artists in the exhibit


Obviously, there were other artists in this exhibit then Titian, Bellini and Carpaccio. Here are three:

Bartolomeo Veneto (active from 1502-1546) worked in Venice and Lombardy. In Venice, he studied under Gentile Bellini. There is not a lot of information about his life, most being derived from signatures, dates and inscriptions on his painting. Bartolomeo’s early work were devotional paintings, but his subject matter soon changed to suit his patrons, with his portraits becoming very popular. Documents suggest Bartolomeo went to Padua in 1512 and Milan in 1520. Leonardo da Vinci had recently been to Milan, and Leonardo’s effect is evident in Bartolomeo’s developing style.

                        Portrait of a Gentleman, ca. 1520, oil on panel transferred to canvas

Vincenzo Catena (c. 1480–1531) was another artist featured in the exhibit. The earliest known record of him is in an inscription on the back of a painting by Georgione, in which he is described as the painter’s colleague. Catena’s early style is however, much closer to that of Giovanni Bellini, brother of Gentile Bellini. There are about a dozen signed paintings by Catena in existence and his will indicated he indicate that he was a man of some wealth, with friends in Venetian humanist circles.

                                        Portrait of Giambattista Memmo, circa 1510

Of these three artists, the least in known about Francesco Bissolo. He first mentioned as working in the Doge’s Palace, Venice, for a modest wage. There are many signed works, some dated, although the latest date known is 1530. His style derives from that of Giovanni Bellini, Gentile’s brother.

I want you to note something in this painting: look at the proportion of the head of the infant to the rest of the body. Many of the artists of the time painted babies as little adults. The infant head should be about one-third of the total length of the body!

Renaissance Artists of Venice Part 2


In Part 1 on the Renaissance artists of Venice, I mentioned that they differed from some of the Florentine artists in that they painted during the High Renaissance and they used oil at their medium.

The North Carolina Museum of Art allowed visitors to take pictures of the art work, but I have to admit my phone didn’t do a very good job. So I will use the artists and find the art on line. The three artists who were featured were Titian, Bellini, and Carpaccio.

Titian Self portrait

Titian is perhaps the most famous of all the Venetian Renaissance painters.  He was born Tiziano Vecelli and  was one of the most versatile of Italian painters, equally adept with landscapes, portraits, religious subjects and mythology. His use of color with oils exerted a profound influence on other painters during the Renaissance but also on future generations of artists. His artistry changed considerably during his life (he lived to be 86), ranging from the vivid, luminous colors of his early work to the loose brushwork and subtlety of tone that dominated his later work.

Titian Adoration of the Magi

Titian Madonna and Child 1508


Titan, Christ Carrying the Cross, 1508

Gentile Bellini came from Venice’s leading family of painters and from 1474 he was the official portrait artist for the Doges of Venice. He also he painted a number of large subjects with multitudes of figures, especially for the wealthy confraternies (voluntary associations of Christian lay people) that were very important in Venetian patrician social life. Much of Gentile Bellini’s surviving work consists of very large paintings for public buildings.

Bellini The Annunciation diptych, 1490-1500, oil on canvas

Bellini, Christ’s Blessing, 1500


 Vittore Carpaccio was an apprentice with Gentile Bellini. He is best known for a cycle of nine painting, The Legend of Saint Ursula. His style was somewhat conservative, showing little influence from the Humanist trends that transformed Italian painting during the Renaissance.




The is Carpaccio’s Flight into Egypt, 1515 oil on panel. This was a popular subject in the early sixteenth century and this painting was likely done for a private residence. I loved this painting and spent a good while admiring it.

These are just a few of the wonderful paintings in this exhibit!

There were some works by lesser known but also talented artists in this exhibit which I will show in an additional post.

Renaissance Artists of Venice – Part 1


For the A-Z Challenge three years ago, I presented Renaissance artists. I was heavily into Renaissance art when I was an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke College; my professor loved Florence and emphasized the Florentine artists, so I jumped at the chance to see an exhibit of the Venetian Renaissance artists when it came to the North Carolina Museum of Art. (We saw it at the same time as the Ansel Adams exhibit, about which I posted a few weeks ago.)


For this first of two posts, let me give you a little background…

The main differences between the artists of Florence and Venice are the times during which they worked and the media they used.

Florence is considered the birthplace of Renaissance art (late 14th century), while Venice figured largely in the late or high Renaissance, during the later 15th and early 16th centuries.

Fresco by Fra Angelico 1436- 1445

The artists of Florence first worked in tempera or fresco. Fresco is a technique for mural painting involving the application of pigment to a wall covered with fresh plaster. Water is used as the vehicle for the pigment to merge with the plaster, and when the plaster sets, the painting becomes part of the wall. The area to be painted was first covered with an under layer of plaster named the arriccio. Often the artists would sketch their compositions on this under layer in a red pigment called sinopia. The artist could not make changes in the composition of the painting and had only the drying time of the plaster in which to complete his work (about 8 or 9 hours). Fresco colors are flat.

Tempera is created when pigment is mixed with egg to produce a durable paint. The types of colors that painters could achieve with tempera was limited, but it was the medium of choice for most artists working in Italy until the advent of oil paints. A far greater variety of pigments can be used in tempera painting, tempera paint can be applied to any substance, such as dry plaster, wood, stone, terracotta, vellum, and paper. Because it isn’t applied to wet plaster, the pigments are not degraded by the caustic action of wet lime. Tempura colors are somewhat flat.

Madonna of the Harpies tempura on wood by Andrea del Sarto 1517

Because of the relatively fast drying time, artists using fresco or tempura sketched their paintings before creating them in their media. Thus we have surviving sketches by some of the most famous Florentine artists.

Drawing by Raphael

A Knight’s Dream by Raphael 1504, tempura on wood

Oils, by contrast, have a slow drying time, which allows for corrections and changes to the painting directly on the canvas. Their application is easy, as is the blending of colors. Oil allows for deep rich colors, subtle gradation, and the application of paint in layers. Oils were first used in Venice because the damp climate was less suited to fresco and tempura, but their use spread to Florence.

The Rape of Europa by Titian

La Donna Velata by Raphael

In my next post, I’ll show you some of the paintings I saw at the NC Museum of Art.

Book Review: Henry – Book Three of the Tudor Trilogy by Tony Riches @tonyriches #RBRT #historical fiction


I have read parts one and two of this trilogy (Owen and Jasper) and enjoyed both books very much. I learned quite a lot about the War of the Roses and with book three had the opportunity to learn more about Henry VII, who for centuries has been overshadowed by his much more famous and flamboyant son.

After victory over King Richard III at the battle of Bosworth Field, Henry Tudor becomes King of England. Henry is related to Owen Tudor, who was first a servant and then husband to a Queen of England, and Jasper, his son, who continued the fight to make his nephew Henry the rightful King. Uniting the houses of Lancaster and York with his marriage to Elizabeth of York is not an easy task, and Henry must now deal with rebels and a series of pretenders plotting to take his throne.

Different from books one and two, which were filled with swash and buckling, this third book is a sedate waltz through a quagmire of barons and earls whom Henry fears to trust. His mother, the doughty Lady Margaret Beaufort, is the only person in whom he has the confidence to help him keep peace and ensure the survival of his family. It is also the love story of Henry and his beautiful Plantagenet wife.

Thus this volume has a slower pace but is rampant with intrigue. Few probably recognize that Henry VII maintained peace for 28 years, married his daughters to a King of Scotland and an Emperor of Rome, and betrothed his oldest son Arthur, to Catherine of Aragon, thus setting in motion the tumultuous reign of Henry VIII and the magnificent times of Elizabeth I.  Henry was a hazy, cold impression in my mind, but Tony Riches fills him out, gives him intelligence, compassion, human frailty, and a consuming love of country, and I ended the book with great admiration for this man.

As always with this author’s books, the historical detail is fascinating and complex. I think it is very fitting this book emerges on the heels of the discovery and reburial of the bones of Henry’s great adversary, Richard III.

Although my favorite book in the trilogy is the first one, Owen, this is a solid and compelling ending to the Tudor Trilogy and I recommend it highly to anyone with an interest in British history, or even just history.

About the author

Tony Riches was born in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, and spent part of his childhood in Kenya. He gained a BA degree in Psychology and an MBA from Cardiff University and worked as a Management Consultant, followed by senior roles in the Welsh NHS and Local Government.

After writing several successful non-fiction books, Tony decided to turn to novel writing. His real interest is in the history of the fifteenth century, and now his focus is on writing historical fiction about the lives of key figures of the period. His novels Warwick, The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses and The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham have both become Amazon best sellers.

Today Tony has returned to Pembrokeshire, an area full of inspiration for his writing, where he lives with his wife. In his spare time he enjoys sailing and sea kayaking.

Visit Tony online at, Tony Riches Author on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @tonyriches.

You can find Henry on Amazon and Kindle:

Book Review: Clash of Empires – The Mallory Saga by Paul Bennett #RBRT #historical fiction #family saga


I chose to read this book for Rosie’s book review team because my knowledge of the French and Indian Wars is limited to what I learned reading The Last of the Mohegans by James Fennimore Cooper and Northwest Passage by a Maine author I revere: Kenneth Roberts. I hoped to increase my knowledge with Clash of Empires and the book did not disappoint.

This first book, The Mallory Saga, is modestly described as follow: “In 1750, the Mallory family moved to the western Pennsylvania frontier, seeking a home and a future. Clash of Empires reveals the harrowing experiences of a colonial family drawn into the seven-year conflict between the British and French for control of the continent – the French and Indian War.”

What an understatement this blurb is! The book is so much more, populated by three-dimensional characters, embedded in a story that has you on the edge of your seat wondering when the next tomahawk will fall, and (at least for me) stimulating me to do more reading on the various historical events.

By 1754, both the British and the French were well established in the ‘New World,’ and families from England were encouraged to go there for a better life, with the promise of land. Both France and Britain ignored the fact this land was already inhabited by many Native American tribes, treating them more or less like wayward children, plying them with gifts or promises never kept to pay them for their land. The Mallory family from Ireland is already established in Eastern Pennsylvania when Thomas decided to move his family to the western frontier. At this time the frontier is just west of the Allegheny mountains and in French- controlled territory. They establish a trading post on the Kiskiminetas River, a tributary of the Allegheny River in western Pennsylvania. Hard to think of western Pennsylvania as wilderness!

Mallory brings friends with him, all of them interesting, and the author draws the reader into the harshness of life on the frontier, especially with rumors swirling of raids by the French and their allies, the Shawnee, to destroy British forts and English settlements. The Mallory family – daughter Liza and sons Daniel and Liam – each have a story line that winds in and out of strategic events that mark this period. There are losses of people along the way to the brutality of war at that time, and I found myself grieving right along with the other characters. The main story line concerns Liam, a wanderer by nature, who is adopted by a Mohawk tribe and marries the chief’s daughter. He acquires two mortal enemies amongst the Shawnee, much like Hawkeye’s deadly enemy Magua in The Last of the Mohegans, and his story is one of anger and revenge.

From this novel comes a comprehension of the vast and different tribes of Native Americans and one can’t help but wonder how different the story might have been if there had been any respect and understanding of their cultures. The reader also gets the sense of the early beginnings of this country, and the courage of settlers to put their lives on the line for the promise of a better life for their families.

The history is excellent, weaving in the events of the war and historical figures – such as the young George Washington, Daniel Boone, and the British Generals Braddock and Munro – to create a real world, worth visiting.

I very much look forward to the next novel in this series.

About the author

Paul Bennett focused more on his interest in history during his education, not just the rote version of names and dates but the causes. He studied Classical Civilization at Wayne State University with a smattering of Physical Anthropology thrown in for good measure. He spent four decades working in large, multi-platform data centers, and is considered in the industry as a bona fide IBM Mainframe dinosaur heading for extinction. He currently resides in the quaint New England town of Salem, Massachusetts with his wife, Daryl. The three children have all grown, in the process turning Paul’s beard gray, and have now provided four grandchildren; the author is now going bald.

You can find Paul

On Facebook:

On Twitter: @hooverbkreview

And email:

Book Review: This Parody of Death by William Savage @penandpension #RBRT #Georgian Mystery


This is the third book in the Ashmole Foxe series, about a Georgian dandy, bookseller, and occasional unofficial investigator. I reviewed both of the previous books and like this character. Of the three, this book is my favorite.

Ashmole Foxe, a man about town and known for his foppish ways, moves easily through Georgian Norwich because of his ownership of a popular bookstore. He has also developed something of a nose for investigation. When a miserly, curmudgeonly undertaker and bell ringer is found with his throat cut, Foxe is sought out by the local grocer, Foxe’s friend Captain Brock, and Alderman Halloran to find the killer. There are more tracks to follow in the investigation than a dog has fleas: a group committed to a secret heresy, a son who betrayed his father, a house with deep and deadly secrets, a woman determined to protect the great passion of her life, a daughter scorned, and a group of bell ringers with axes to grind.  Foxe has to unwind a web of lies, false leads, and decades-old deceits to find the killer.

There were no giveaway hints in this book, and I was kept guessing almost to the end. The characters are wonderfully individual, from the urchin whom Foxe befriended, with his own army of street minions, the widow who runs his store, to the seafaring Captain Brock, who may soon be landlocked by a woman. The Georgian world created by the author is authentic to minuscule details, and the reader is immediately immersed in its colorful activity. What I liked most about This Parody of Death was the growth of Foxe. He engages in serious self-examination about the nature of his life, his over-the-top fashion, and possible goals for the future. This character is truly three dimensional and real.

There are a few drawbacks I have noted before: some repetition, over-long discussions between characters and Foxe’s lengthy considerations. However, these are minor compared to the enjoyment of this read. Who knew I would learn about the mathematical patterns of the change-ringing of church bells?

I recommend this book as a great read, as are all of William Savage’s books.

About the author:

William Savage grew up in Hereford, on the border with Wales and too his degree at Cambridge. After a career in various managerial and executive roles, he retired to Norfolk, where he volunteers at a National Trust property. His life-long interest has been history, which led to research and writing about the eighteenth century.  But his is not just a superficial interest in history, but a real desire to understand and transmit the daily experience of living in turbulent times.

You can find This Parody of Death on Amazon:

William Savage’s blog is Pen and Pension:

What To do on a Rainy Day


It’s been raining non-stop for two days and the critters are getting antsy. Elijah Moon just had to go out today, but decided he didn’t like being wet. So he just sat here.

Then he came in and went back to zzzzing.


Our squirrels are quite pathetic in the rain. Their tails get bedraggled and since I need to fill the bird feeders, which they have somehow learned to draw down (even though they were advertised as being squirrel proof), they are happily chawing on the hot pepper suet. Also supposed to be squirrel proof. Here is the one I named Robert (yes, he is male), approaching the feeder and then getting his lunch.


As for me, I am writing ! No outside distractions…well, except for Elijah and the squirrels.