A little over a month ago I began a project intended to add structure my day, since my airline went out of business. Collecting quotes has long been my hobby and I thought one way to indulge my hobby would be to share it with others. If you are on my email chain you have already seen these. Here are the Q.O.T.D. entries up to May 28.

QUOTES OF THE DAY – #1 – APRIL 16, 2020

“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

-Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

“Humor is the universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life.”

-Senator Alan K. Simpson


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #2 – APRIL 17, 2020


“Truth is mighty & will prevail. There is nothing the matter with this except that it ain’t so.” 

-Mark Twain1

“The way to make people trust-worthy is to trust them.” 

-Ernest Hemingway2

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

-Aldous Huxley3


Quotes are often interesting because of the way they evolve. It may be that quotes, over time, become better versions of themselves. The Hemingway quote is a great example. I have always enjoyed it, but it is almost always misquoted. Most sources will relate it as “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” I like that because it is optimistic and hopeful. 

In fact, Hemingway’s quote, in a letter to Dorothy Connable was a cautionary statement about a man Hemingway considered to be an unscrupulous biographer, Charles Fenton. To capture the true spirit of Hemingway’s quote one should include the next sentence, “The way to make people trust-worthy is to trust them. But this man is not a person that works with that system.” 

1. Mark Twain’s Notebook (Harper & Brothers, 1935.)

2. Letter to Dorothy Connable, La Finca Vigia, February 17, 1953

Ernest Hemingway Selected Letters 1917-1961, edited by Carlos Baker.

(Charles Scribner’s, 1981)

3. Complete Essays of Aldous Huxley: Complete Essays, 1926-1930 Vol. II 

(Ivan R. Dee, 2000)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #3 – APRIL 18, 2020



“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”1

“Life is complicated. It’s filled with nuance. It’s unsatisfying. … If I believe in anything, it is doubt. The root cause of all life’s problems is looking for a simple f—ing answer.”2

“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”3


Anthony Bourdain (June 25, 1956 – June 8, 2018) was not a predictable celebrity. He was a sometime drug addict and directionless youth who became the Executive Chef at a well-regarded New York restaurant. His 2000 book Kitchen Confidential became a surprise best-seller and catapulted Bourdain to fame and other media opportunities. Chief among these were No Reservations on the Travel Channel and CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Both shows, focusing on food and travel, revealed Bourdain’s fundamental humanity, humility, decency, and integrity. He was intelligent, broad-minded, and generous.

1. No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach

2. New York Times – retrospective (June 8, 2018)

3. No Reservations – Peru (April 10, 2006)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #4 – APRIL 19, 2020


“When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him; and you are torn by the thought of the unhappiness and night you cast, by the mere fact of living, in the hearts you encounter.”

– Albert Camus1

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”

-Albert Schweitzer1

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

– Mohandas K. Gandhi1

“Fate often puts all the material for happiness and prosperity into a man’s hands just to see how miserable he can make himself with them.”

– Don Marquis1,2

HAPPINESS, n. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.”

-Ambrose Bierce3


It is time, already, to address the gorilla in the room of every conversation about quotes. It is just damn difficult to authenticate quotes. For starters, many quotes by their nature, are spontaneous. Many really clever or insightful ones happen in real conversation and are not properly recorded by the listeners for obvious reasons. Do you carry a notebook around in your pocket to jot down the wisdom that comes out of your friends’ mouths? Exactly. My goal here will be to either properly document quotes, or, if the quotes are worthy but can’t be documented, to let you know. These are examples of those.

1. (Undocumented) These four quotes, by Albert Camus, Albert Schweitzer, Mohandas K. Gandhi, and Don Marquis are widely attributed to these four men. I was unable to find a definitive source for any of them, though. Every single one is in character and could plausibly have been said by the given individual. Doesn’t that sound like Camus? Isn’t that exactly what Gandhi would say? Sure it is. That is the problem with quotes. I would give each of these about 80% credibility, based on my research. Sometimes that’s as good as it gets.

2. I love Don Marquis. You will hear more from him as this goes on. I love his wry humor and skeptical outlook on the world, and, perhaps most of all that he attended my alma mater, Knox College. 

“Donald Robert Perry Marquis (July 29, 1878 – December 29, 1937) was a humorist, journalist, and author. He was variously a novelist, poet, newspaper columnist, and playwright. He is remembered best for creating the characters Archy and Mehitabel, supposed authors of humorous verse. During his lifetime he was equally famous for creating another fictitious character, “the Old Soak,” who was the subject of two books, a hit Broadway play (1922–23), a silent movie (1926) and a talkie (1937).” (Wikipedia)

3. The Cynic’s Dictionary (1906)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #5 – APRIL 20, 2020


“The dead might as well try to speak to the living as the old to the young.”1

“Freedom so often means that one isn’t needed anywhere. Here you are an individual, you have a background of your own, you would be missed.”2

“If you love the good thing vitally, enough to give up for it all that one must give up, then you must hate the cheap thing just as hard. I tell you, there is such a thing as creative hate! A contempt that drives you through fire, makes you risk everything and lose everything, makes you a long sight better than you ever knew you could be.”2

“In the course of twenty crowded years one parts with many illusions. I did not wish to lose the early ones. Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.”3

“Writing ought either to be the manufacture of stories for which there is a market demand — a business as safe and commendable as making soap or breakfast foods — or it should be an art, which is always a search for something for which there is no market demand, something new and untried, where the values are intrinsic and have nothing to do with standardized values.”4


Willa Sibert Cather (December 7, 1873 – April 24, 1947) was an American writer who achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, including O Pioneers! (1913), The Song of the Lark (1915), and My Ántonia (1918). In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours (1922), a novel set during World War I. (Wikipedia)

1. One of Ours (1922)

2. O Pioneers! (1913)

3. My Antonia (1918)

4. On the Art of Fiction (1920)


QUOTE OF THE DAY – #6 – APRIL 21, 2020


“Anyone out there who’s in junior high, high school, working it out, suffering, there are days you’re gonna feel sad, you’re gonna feel angry, you’re gonna be scared. That’s nothing you can choose. But you can make stuff. Make films. Draw. Write. It’ll make a world of difference.”

-Pete Docter1


1. Oscar acceptance speech for Best Animated Feature for Inside Out (March 23, 2016)

Peter Hans Docter (born October 9, 1968) has described himself as a “geeky kid from Minnesota who likes to draw cartoons.” He is an American animator, film director, screenwriter, producer, voice actor and chief creative officer of Pixar. He is best known for directing the Pixar animated feature films Monsters, Inc. (2001), Up (2009), and Inside Out (2015). He has been nominated for eight Oscars (two wins thus far for Up and Inside Out – Best Animated Feature).(Wikipedia)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #7 – APRIL 22, 2020


“I tell everybody the Earth’s going to be here no matter what humans do. If we wipe ourselves out, the Earth will keep spinning and keep orbiting the sun. We want to save the world— for us.”

-Bill Nye1

“Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling.”

-Greta Thunberg2

“The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, ‘What good is it?’ If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.

-Aldo Leopold3

“The thickness of the Earth’s atmosphere, compared with the size of the Earth, is in about the same ratio as the thickness of a coat of shellac on a schoolroom globe is to the diameter of the globe. That’s the air that nurtures us and almost all other life on Earth, that protects us from deadly ultraviolet light from the sun, that through the greenhouse effect brings the surface temperature above the freezing point. Now that atmosphere, so thin and fragile, is under assault by our technology.

-Carl Sagan4


1. Pasadena Magazine, A Conversation With Bill Nye.

2. Address to the British House of Commons (April 23, 2019)

3. Conservation (c. 1938); Published in Round River, Luna B. Leopold (ed.), Oxford University Press, 1966, p. 146-147.

4. Skeptical Enquirer – “Wonder and Skepticism” (Jan-Feb 1995)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #8 – APRIL 23, 2020


“The worst is not, So long as we can say, ‘This is the worst.'”1

“The robb’d that smiles, steals something from the thief.”2

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”3

“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”4

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.”5

“I think the devil will not have me damned, lest the oil that’s in me should set hell on fire.”6 

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.”7

“Everyone can master a grief but he that has it”8

“They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.”9

“For I must tell you friendly in your ear, sell when you can; you are not for all markets.”10


1. King Lear – Act 4, Scene 1

2. Othello – Act 1, Scene 3

3. Hamlet – Act 2, Scene 2

4. Measure for Measure –  Act 1, Scene 4

5. As You Like It – Act 2, Scene 7

6. The Merry Wives of Windsor – Act 5, Scene 5

7. Julius Ceaser – Act 2, Scene 2

8. Much Ado About Nothing – Act 3, Scene 2

9. Love’s Labour’s Lost – Act 5, Scene 1

10. As You Like It – Act 3, Scene 5


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #9 – APRIL 24, 2020


Fiction – All The King’s Men

“Upon my return I found the call in my box. It was Anne’s number, then Anne’s voice on the wire, and, as always, the little leap and plunk in my heart like a frog jumping into a lily pool, with the ripples spreading round.”1 

“And what we students of history always learn is that the human being is a very complicated contraption and that they are not good or bad but are good and bad and the good comes out of the bad and the bad out of the good, and the devil take the hindmost.”1 

“…the air so still it aches like the place where the tooth was on the morning after you’ve been to the dentist or aches like your heart in the bosom when you stand on the street corner waiting for the light to change and happen to recollect how things once were and how they might have been yet if what happened had not happened.”1 

“So I tried to make what amends I could for being what I was…”1 


“It is to our credit that we survived the War and tempered our national fiber in the process, but human decency and the future security of our country demand that we look at the costs. What are some of the costs? 

Blood is the first cost. History is not melodrama, even if it usually reads like that. It was real blood, not tomato catsup or the pale ectoplasm of statistics, that wet the ground at Bloody Angle and darkened the waters of Bloody Pond. It modifies our complacency to look at the blurred and harrowing old photographs — the body of the dead sharpshooter in the Devil’s Den at Gettysburg or the tangled mass in the Bloody Lane at Antietam.”2


“Most writers are trying to find what they think or feel. . . not simply working from the given, but toward the given, saying the unsayable and steadily asking, ‘What do I really feel about this?’”3

“A young man’s ambition — to get along in the world and make a place for himself — half your life goes that way, till you’re 45 or 50. Then, if you’re lucky, you make terms with life, you get released.”4

“Storytelling and copulation are the two chief forms of amusement in the South. They’re inexpensive and easy to procure.”5


I love Robert Penn Warren. He was a remarkable talent and received all sorts of accolades and awards, not the least of which was the title Poet Laureate of the United States. Still, most of my admiration for him is based on his novel All the King’s Men. It holds up well today and, in some ways, makes one reflect on the kind of cynical populism rampant in the world today.

1. The Legacy of the Civil War (1961)

2. All The King’s Men (Harcourt, Brace, and Company -1946)

3. National Observer (6 February 1967)

4. The New York Times (2 June 1981)

5. Newsweek (25 August 1980)

Robert Penn Warren (April 24, 1905 – September 15, 1989) was an American poet, novelist, and literary critic and was one of the founders of New Criticism. He received the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel for All the King’s Men and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1958 and 1979. He is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry. In 1980, Warren was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter. In 1981, Warren was selected as a MacArthur Fellow and was named the first U.S. Poet Laureate on February 26, 1986. (Wikipedia)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #10 – APRIL 25, 2020


“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

-Mike Tyson1

“A few more steps and we’ll be safe in the fire swamp.”

“We’ll never survive!”

 “Nonsense, you’re only saying that because no one ever has.”

-Westley and Princess Buttercup2

“Remember, none of your ancestors was a virgin.”

-Neil Pasricha3 

“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking about it.”

-Daniel Kahneman4 

“People who count their chickens before they are hatched act very wisely because chickens run about so absurdly that it’s impossible to count them accurately.”

-Oscar Wilde5


1. Mike Tyson definitely said this during some pre-fight trash talk. He referred to it in a November 9, 2012 interview in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, but could not, himself, remember which fight.

2. The Princess Bride – (20th Century Fox, 1987) Adapted from the 1973 William Goldman novel.

3. 1000 Awesome things blog  – “#2 -Stopping to remember how lucky we are to be here right now.” (April 20, 2016)

4. Thinking, Fast and Slow – (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011)

5. Letter from Paris (May 1900)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #11 – APRIL 26, 2020


“Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.”

-Virginia Woolf1

“Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another.”

-H.L. Mencken2

“By all the vows that ever men have broke,

In number more than ever women spoke”

-William Shakespeare3

“Men are all right for friends, but as soon as you marry them they turn into cranky old fathers, even the wild ones. They begin to tell you what’s sensible and what’s foolish, and want you to stick at home all the time.”

-Willa Cather4

“I met a lady in the meads

Full beautiful—a faery’s child,

Her hair was long, her foot was light,

And her eyes were wild.”

-John Keats5

“The Book of Life begins with a man and a woman in a garden. It ends with Revelations.”

-Oscar Wilde6

“I did not always think he was right nor did he always think I was right, but we were each the person the other trusted.”

-Joan Didion7

“Maybe…you’ll fall in love with me all over again.”

“Hell,” I said, “I love you enough now. What do you want to do? Ruin me?”

“Yes. I want to ruin you.”

“Good,” I said. “That’s what I want too.” 

-Ernest Hemingway8

“After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her.”

-Mark Twain9


1. A Room of One’s Own (Harcourt Brace & Co., 1929)

2. A Mencken Chrestomathy (Alfred A. Knopf , 1949)

3. A midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 1 Scene 1

4. My Antonia (Houghton Mifflin, 1918)

5. La Belle Dame sans Merci (1819)

6.  A Woman of No Importance (1893)

7. The Year of Magical Thinking, (Alfred A. Knopf, 2005)

8. A Farewell to Arms (Scribner, 1929)

9. Extracts from Adam’s Diary (Harper and Bros., 1904)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #12 – APRIL 27, 2020


“I sincerely believe in this life, if we’re going to learn anything at all, you know, we will be learning from people who are different than us. Someone who speaks like me, who dresses up like me, who votes exactly like me is only an echo of my voice. We do not learn anything from echoes.”

-Elif Shafak1

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”

-Bill Nye2 

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new”

-The Dalai Lama3


1. TED Radio Hour (July 27, 2018)

Elif Shafak (born 25 October 1971) is a Turkish-British writer, storyteller, essayist, academic, public speaker, and women’s rights activist. Shafak writes in Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels, including 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World, The Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love, and Three Daughters of Eve. Shafak is an activist for women’s rights, minority rights, and freedom of speech. (Wikipedia)

2. University of Massachusetts Lowell 2014 Commencement

3. Widely attributed to the Dalai Lama, and a good quote, but could not verify the attribution.


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #13 – APRIL 28, 2020


“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

“Folks don’t like to have somebody around knowin’ more than they do. It aggravates ‘em. You’re not gonna change any of them by talkin’ right, they’ve got to want to learn themselves, and when they don’t want to learn there’s nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language.”


All quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird (J. B. Lippincott Company,1960)

I love Harper Lee and I love To Kill a Mockingbird. Of course, to the average American reader that is akin to saying “I like Christmas!” To Kill a Mockingbird, at 281 pages, belongs, rightfully, to the pantheon of short American classics. If a young person today asked my opinion about what to read, my short list would include Of Mice and Men, The Old Man and the Sea, and Mockingbird

There is a certain type of “serious” reader who would “poo-poo” that list. It is a perverse rule of literature that the more popular a book becomes, the less it is esteemed (in some quarters.) These three are classics, not only because they are magnificent and deal with important “eternal” themes, but, to be honest, because they are accessible. They are easy and efficient, and, well, readable. That is by design. Brevity is hard work; believe me. Literature should be accessible. It should be inviting. We want kids to learn to love reading. We want more readers in the world. And if serious important ideas can be slipped into a thin little book, so much the better.

We all have our prejudices, of course (this is the part where I admit to my prejudices). None of us likes to see our heroes brought down. I sometimes say that I admire Abe Lincoln more because he occasionally had feet of clay, but I’m not sure I mean it. We need our heroes. We need real ones and we need literary ones. I will just come right out and say it, “We didn’t need a sequel (or prequel) to To Kill a Mockingbird.” I suspect there is a reason Harper Lee didn’t publish Go Set a Watchman in 1960. Without going into detail about the controversial 2015 publication of Watchman, I will just say this, “If Atticus Finch is even just a little tiny, teeny, bit of a racist, I don’t want to know about it.” 

Finally, I wanted to add a little aside. I hope I can make this work. Every high school freshman can tell you “To Kill a Mockingbird is not about killing a mockingbird.” That is an old joke, of course. But I think one gets a definite insight about the book if one understands how mockingbirds are, honestly, special. They are unique and they are amazing. 

Growing up in Illinois, I never saw (or noticed) a mockingbird until I was visiting Alabama in my late twenties. I was sleeping, and awoke in the middle of the night to a bird, or ten different birds, singing lustily, in a tree right outside my window. After awhile I began to think somebody, for some obscure reason, was pulling my leg. Birds, in my experience, don’t sing at night and no single bird that I knew of, sang with ten different clear and distinct calls. I walked outside and with a flashlight discovered a single little grey bird producing all of that music. 

Since then, whenever I’m in the south, I keep an eye peeled and an ear cocked for that little grey bird and I can never get enough of their music. I have even discovered that occasionally we are favored by their presence in the midwest. Last summer I found a mockingbird singing from the top of the old pine tree in our yard. I got a video of it which I will try to share here. Just listen for a minute or two and know that all of the bird sounds you hear are produced by this one little grey bird. Is it any wonder Harper Lee used it for a metaphor?



QUOTES OF THE DAY – #14 – APRIL 29, 2020


“Self-pity in its early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable.”

-Maya Angelou1

“People with plenty of work to do are less enamored of self-destruction.”

-Garrison Keillor2

I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”3

-John Cage


1. Gather Together in My Name (Random House, 1974)

2. Garrison Keillor Blog – “A Man Watching His Own Heartbeat”(August 30, 2018).

3. Quoted in Richard Kostelanet’z book Conversing with Cage (Limelight Editions, 1988).

John Milton Cage Jr. (September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992) was an American composer, music theorist, artist, and philosopher. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was also Cage’s romantic partner for most of their lives.

Cage is perhaps best known for his 1952 composition 4′33″, which is performed in the absence of deliberate sound; musicians who present the work do nothing aside from being present for the duration specified by the title. The content of the composition is not “four minutes and 33 seconds of silence,” as is often assumed, but rather the sounds of the environment heard by the audience during performance. (Wikipedia)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #15 – APRIL 30, 2020


“Evolution loves death more than it loves you or me. This is easy to write, easy to read, and hard to believe. The words are simple, the concept clear—but you don’t believe it, do you? Nor do I. How could I, when we’re both so lovable?”

“Our excessive emotions are so patently painful and harmful to us as a species that I can hardly believe that they evolved. Other creatures manage to have effective matings and even stable societies without great emotions, and they have a bonus in that they need not ever mourn … It would seem that emotions are the curse, not death—emotions that appear to have devolved upon a few freaks as a special curse from Malevolence.

All right then. It is our emotions that are amiss. We are freaks, the world is fine, and let us all go have lobotomies to restore us to a natural state. We can leave the library then, go back to the creek lobotomized, and live on its banks as untroubled as any muskrat or reed. You first.”

“The world is a monster. Any three-year-old can see how unsatisfactory and clumsy is this whole business of reproducing and dying by the billions. We have not yet encountered any god who is as merciful as a man who flicks a beetle over on its feet. There is not a people in the world who behaves as badly as praying mantises. But wait, you say, there is no right and wrong in nature; right and wrong is a human concept. Precisely: we are moral creatures, then, in an amoral world. The universe that suckled us is a monster that does not care if we live or die—does not care if it itself grinds to a halt. It is fixed and blind, a robot programmed to kill. We are free and seeing; we can only try to outwit it at every turn to save our skins.”

“Let me repeat that these parasitic insects comprise ten percent of all known animal species. How can this be understood? Certainly we give our infants the wrong idea about their fellow creatures in the world. Teddy bears should come with tiny stuffed bear lice; ten percent of all baby bibs and rattles sold should be adorned with colorful blowflies, maggots, and screw-worms. What kind of devil’s tithe do we pay? What percentage of the world’s species that are not insects are parasitic? Could it be, counting bacteria and viruses, that we live in a world in which half the creatures are running from—or limping from—the other half?”


All passages here are from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Harper’s Magazine Press, 1974)

I love Annie Dillard. She is an acquired taste, no doubt. I fell in love with her on my first day of Freshman Preceptorial class at Knox College when we were assigned her Pulitzer Prize winning book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. And, the thing is, many (ok, most) other students hated Tinker Creek. From the first paragraph Dillard flies off in bizarre directions. If you are not, yourself, just a little bizzarre, you probably will be put off. Here is the opening paragraph:

I used to have a cat, an old fighting tom, who would jump through the open window by my bed in the middle of the night and land on my chest. I’d half-awaken. He’d stick his skull under my nose and purr, stinking of urine and blood. Some nights he kneaded my bare chest with his front paws, powerfully, arching his back, as if sharpening his claws, or pummeling a mother for milk. And some mornings I’d wake in daylight to find my body covered with paw prints in blood; I looked as though I’d been painted with roses.

She gets weirder from there and I, being a very weird person to start with and already enamored of nature and biology and Thoreau’s Walden (I hadn’t discovered Aldo Leopold yet), I ate it up.  

Annie Dillard (born 30 April 1945) is an American author born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her non-fiction narrative Pilgrim at Tinker Creek in 1974. She has since published ten other books. Her most recent is the novel The Maytrees. (Wikipedia)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #16 – MAY 1, 2020


“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.”1


1. Catch-22 (Simon & Schuster, 1961)

Joseph Heller (May 1, 1923 – December 12, 1999) was an American author of novels, short stories, plays, and screenplays. His best-known work is the novel Catch-22, a satire on war and bureaucracy, whose title has become a synonym for an absurd or contradictory choice. (Wikipedia)




One of my readers wrote to me to talk about the H.L. Mencken quote from the HE SAID/SHE SAID post from April 26. She took exception to Mencken’s unfair generalization about women and to his using cheap humor at the expense of others. Referring to Mencken and another writer she said: “They think being funny gives them permission to be rude (or in Mencken’s case, just an A-hole).”

As my reader is someone whose opinion I respect a great deal I decided to rethink the quote. I’m glad I did because it revealed to me some subtlety in the debate which I had not considered before. Here is what I thought:

Your comment about H.L. Mencken really made me step back and think, not only about the “She Said/He Said” post, but about the idea of collecting quotes in the first place and the consideration that, as you put it very well, “being funny gives them permission to be rude.” Unfortunately, since I chose the quotes, I too am culpable.

I would like to protest, of course, that “I am not a misogynist!” or, as I sometimes claim to my daughter, “I am the least chauvinistic person you know!” Now that I hear it out loud that rings about as hollow as Trump’s constant retort that he is the “least racist person in the world.”

Quotes, by their nature are reductionist. They generate a conclusion with very limited data. And that is a problem. It is a problem when we quote someone else. It can even be a problem for a writer trying to explore new ideas. What you put on paper tends to be about one-one-thousandth of what ping-pongs about in your mind while you are writing, and yet it is that product by which people will judge your writing skills and your intentions.

I don’t believe I would want to undertake a wholesale defense of H.L. Mencken. The term A-hole probably captures him fairly well. Certainly many of his contemporaries thought so, from Franklin Roosevelt to the Mormon Church.

What I might argue is that Mencken, like some of my other favorite curmudgeons (Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde, George Carlin) were equal opportunity jerks. They spread their vitriol over the whole culture. They gored everyone’s oxen. They slaughtered many a sacred cow. And that is their value. I am reminded of Mencken’s critique of American democracy, “the worship of jackals by jackasses.”

While someone needs to speak truth to power, stereotyping and insulting half the human race is not defensible. Why did Mencken do it, and why did I highlight it? These are valid questions and I think you hit the nail right on the head. Mencken did it to get a laugh and I, at least to some degree, did the same. That is the part that deserves introspection. 

I believe all ideas should be openly explored. If someone out there has a legitimate argument supported by empirical evidence that “all men are idiots” I think they should be able to say their piece. That is one thing. The interesting thing about Mencken here is that he’s not doing that. I’m not even convinced that he was a dyed-in-the-wool misogynist. As evidence I would offer this piece from Wikipedia about his own marriage:

In 1930, Mencken married Sara Haardt, a German-American professor of English at Goucher College in Baltimore and an author eighteen years his junior. Haardt had led an unsuccessful effort in Alabama to ratify the 19th Amendment …The marriage made national headlines, and many were surprised that Mencken, who once called marriage “the end of hope” and who was well known for mocking relations between the sexes, had gone to the altar… Haardt was in poor health from tuberculosis throughout their marriage and died in 1935 of meningitis, leaving Mencken grief-stricken. He had always championed her writing and, after her death, had a collection of her short stories published under the title Southern Album.

It seems clear to me that Mencken is not making a philosophical argument, but just “being funny.” After thinking it over, I have concluded that this is actually worse than an honestly proffered, but mistaken argument about sex relations. What to do?

I still want my favorite curmudgeons to use comedy and liberally-spread vitriol to cut the rich and the powerful down to size.  Having said that, I do not regard women as a category to be generalized, contrary to the Mencken quote I featured. So, I think, (drumroll please) that you are right. “Funny” does not justify “rudeness” in all cases, and particularly not this one. These things call for discernment. They call for human judgement, a thing which I need to work on constantly. To refine this argument into a rule is probably impossible but, after thinking it over, I believe my takeaway is that criticism and ridicule are useful and have their place. The “target” matters though, as does the imperative to kindness and to not stereotype.


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #17 – MAY 2, 2020


 “And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes. 

People aren’t supposed to look back. I’m certainly not going to do it anymore. I’ve finished my war book now. The next one I write is going to be fun. This one is a failure, and had to be, since it was written by a pillar of salt.”

  • Kurt Vonnegut1


1. Slaughterhouse-Five (Delacorte, 1969)

My quote yesterday featured Joseph Heller on his birthday. His most famous book was Catch-22. That book, about fictional bomber pilots, got me to thinking about World War II. A subsequent discussion with my friend Dan about his father’s role in the war (very interesting, too) led me to reading about the fire bombing of Dresden and reminded me that one of my favorite writers, Kurt Vonnegut, was actually a prisoner-of-war in Dresden when the bombing took place. That made me pick up and re-read parts of his book about Dresden, Slaughterhouse-Five. That led me to remember one of my favorite passages in all literature which is the one above. That’s how my mind works, I guess. 

For those of you who note that I have quoted Kurt Vonnegut twice already in 17 days, I will just say “sorry, but get ready for more.” Part of the advantage of starting your own quote newsletter is that you can feature your favorites. There will be more Vonnegut and more Hemingway and more Dorothy Parker and (sorry Misty) more Mark Twain. I am still offering a get-out-of-quote-purgatory card to anyone who wants it. Just send me an email and I’ll cut you from the list, no harm, no foul. Have a beautiful day. It sure looks nice so far.


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #18 – MAY 3, 2020


“The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”1

“A lullaby is a propaganda song and any three-year-old knows it”2

“Shh. Listen to the sounds that surround you. Notice the pitches, the volume, the timbre, the many lines of counterpoint. As light taught Monet to paint, the earth may be teaching you music.”3

“The easiest way to avoid wrong notes is to never open your mouth and sing. What a mistake that would be.”3

“If singing were all that serious, frowning would make you sound better.”3

“Every time I read the paper those old feelings come on. 

We are waist deep in the Big Muddy and the big fool says to push on.”4

“There’s no hope, but I may be wrong.”5


By featuring Pete Seeger on his birthday today I have completed a trifecta of anti-war activists, Heller, with Catch-22, Vonnegut, with Slaughterhouse-Five, and now Seeger, with practically everything he ever wrote. Although I am, philosophically Anti-war, this arrangement of political thought is sheer coincidence. Whether you love or hate his politics, Pete Seeger was a powerful influence on American music for longer than probably anyone else who ever lived. He wrote and recorded and performed music in every decade from the 1930’s up to his death in 2014, at the age of 94.

 1. New York Times – “Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94” (January 28, 2014)

2. Pop Chronicles – “Show 33 – American musicians respond to the British invaders.”  (February 14, 1968)

3. How Can I Keep from Singing: Pete Seeger  (Da Capo Press,1981)

4. Waist Deep in the Big Muddy (Pete Seeger, 1967)

5. NPR: Weekend Edition (2 July 2005)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #19 – MAY 4, 2020


Deep philosophy

Han: “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”

Luke: “You don’t believe in the Force, do you?”

Han: “Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything. There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. Anyway, it’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.”1


Imperial Commander Motti: “Any attack made by the Rebels against this station would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they’ve obtained. This station is now the ultimate power in the universe!”1

Excuses, excuses

Han Solo: “Hey, Jabba. Look, Jabba, I was just on my way to pay you back, and I got a little sidetracked. It’s not my fault…”

Jabba the Hutt: “It’s too late for that, Solo. You may have been a good smuggler in the business, but now you’re Bantha fodder!”2

Wisdom from the Little, Green Guy

“Judge me by my size, do you?”3 

“Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.”4

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”3

Wisdom? From the Tall, Evil Dude

“He’s as clumsy as he is stupid.”3

“Be careful not to choke on your aspirations.”5

I find your lack of faith disturbing.”1


1. Star Wars (1977)

2. Return of the Jedi (1983)

3. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

4. The Phantom Menace (1999)

5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #20 – MAY 5, 2020


“Salary is no object: I want only enough to keep body and soul apart.”1

“It takes me six months to do a story. I think it out and then write it sentence by sentence—no first draft. I can’t write five words but that I change seven.”2

“Brevity is the soul of lingerie.”3

“It’s not the tragedies that kill us; it’s the messes.”2

“Too f—king busy, and vice versa.”4

-Response to an editor pressuring her for overdue work

“The House Beautiful is, for me, the play lousy.”5

-Review of the Broadway play The House Beautiful

“They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.”6

“What fresh hell can this be?”7

-If the doorbell rang in her apartment

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”8

-From a review of The Elements of Style



Razors pain you,

Rivers are damp,

Acids stain you,

And drugs cause cramp.

Guns aren’t lawful,

Nooses give,

Gas smells awful.

You might as well live.9

Unfortunate Coincidence

By the time you swear you’re his,

Shivering and sighing,

And he vows his passion is

Infinite, undying,

Lady, make a note of this —

One of you is lying.10


Some men tear your heart in two,

Some men flirt and flatter,

Some men never look at you,

And that clears up the matter.10


Four be the things I am wiser to know:

Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.

Four be the things I’d been better without:

Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.

Three be the things I shall never attain:

Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.

Three be the things I shall have till I die:

Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.11

Thoughts for a Sunshiny Morning

It costs me never a stab nor squirm

To tread by chance upon a worm.

“Aha, my little dear,” I say,

“Your clan will pay me back some day.”12

To My Dog

I often wonder why on earth

You rate yourself so highly;

A shameless parasite, from birth

You’ve lived the life of Reilly.

No claims to fame distinguish you’

Your talents are not many;

You’re constantly unfaithful to

Your better self – if any.

Yet you believe, with faith profound,

The world revolves around you;

May I point out, it staggered ‘round

For centuries without you?12

The Flaw in Paganism

“Drink and dance and laugh and lie,
Love, the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die!
(But, alas, we never do.)”13


“Katharine Hepburn delivered a striking performance that ran the gamut of emotions, from A to B.”14

“Mr. Hodge plays with his accustomed ease, even carrying the thing so far as to repeat many of his lines with his eyes shut; and in a pretty spirit of reciprocity, many members of the audience sit through the play with their eyes shut.”14

“Anyone can do that—the stunt lies in not doing it.”14

“If you arrive late, you won’t know what anything is about, and if you are there all the way from the beginning, you won’t care.”14

“So seeing that there is nothing further to say, I shall go right on talking about The Circle, thus proving that I am a born reviewer of plays.”14

“Rockliffe Fellowes gives a likable performance of the secondary crook’s role, and there are some decidedly agreeable-looking doughnuts consumed in the first act. And that is about all one can say for Pot Luck.”14


“Excuse my dust.”15

“That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.”16


I love Dorothy Parker, always have, always will. No further comment necessary.

1. The New Yorker (4 February 1928)

2. Interview, The Paris Review (Summer 1956)

3. Caption written for Vogue 1916

4. Interview, The Paris Review (Summer 1956)

5. The New Yorker (21 March 1931)

6. New York World (January 20, 1928)

7. You might as well live: the life and times of Dorothy Parker – John Keats (Simon Schuster, 1970)

8. Esquire (November 1959)

9. New York World (August 16, 1925)

10. Life (April 8, 1926)

11. Life, (November 11, 1926)

12. The New Yorker (April 9, 1927)

13. Death and Taxes (1931)

14. Dorothy Parker: Complete Broadway, 1918–1923 (2014)

15. Vanity Fair (June 1925)

16. The New Yorker (1929)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #21 – MAY 6, 2020



“Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.”1

“Beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it. Yet civilization could not do without it.”2

“We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love.”2

“One feels inclined to say that the intention that man should be ‘happy’ is not included in the plan of Creation.”2

“The first requisite of civilization, therefore, is that of justice—that is, the assurance that a law once made will not be broken in favour of an individual.”2

“Thinking is an experimental dealing with small quantities of energy, just as a general moves miniature figures over a map before setting his troops in action.”3

“What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.”4


1. Letter to Wilhelm Fliess (October 15, 1897)

2. Civilization and it’s Discontents (Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag Wien, 1930)

3. New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-analysis “Anxiety and Instinctual Life – Lecture 32” (1933)

4. Letter to Ernest Jones (1933)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #22 – MAY 7, 2020


Note from the quote collector:

I have been in need of a little optimism lately as, I imagine, we all are. My usual method to reassure myself that the world is fundamentally good and that everything is going to be okay is to call my father, whose cheerfulness and optimism have carried me through many a rough patch. I love you, Dad. 

Another source of encouragement, and a reminder that pessimism is a form of weakness, is a little book, on my shelves, called The Story of My Life, by Helen Keller. It is difficult to wallow in self-pity or indulge a negative outlook while you are reading the story of a blind and deaf woman who not only learned to read, but to write, and write brilliantly. She graduated college and studied philosophy and gave inspirational speeches and worked for women’s rights and suffrage and campaigned for worker’s rights and was a voice for pacifism and, did I mention she was deaf and blind?

Recently I discovered an essay Keller wrote in 1903, while in college. It is called Optimism and it is about, you know, optimism. It is beautiful and well-written. I could not write anything half as good today, let alone when I was a senior in college. And, did I mention that she was deaf and blind? 

Below are some quotes from Keller’s essay. It is a good thing to read right now and if, like me, you are feeling just a little sorry for yourself, it will kick you in the ass (gently) and encourage you to put on your big boy pants and get back at it.


“I know what evil is. Once or twice I have wrestled with it, and for a time felt its chilling touch on my life; so I speak with knowledge when I say that evil is of no consequence, except as a sort of mental gymnastic. For the very reason that I have come in contact with it, am more truly an optimist. I can say with conviction that the struggle which evil necessitates is one of the greatest blessings. It makes us strong, patient, helpful men and women. It lets us into the soul of things and teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to coöperate with the good, that it may prevail.”

“Thus my optimism is grounded in two worlds, myself and what is about me. I demand that the world be good, and lo, it obeys. I proclaim the world good, and facts range themselves to prove my proclamation overwhelmingly true. To what is good I open the doors of my being, and jealously shut them against what is bad. Such is the force of this beautiful and willful conviction, it carries itself in the face of all opposition. I am never discouraged by absence of good. I never can be argued into hopelessness. Doubt and mistrust are the mere panic of timid imagination, which the steadfast heart will conquer, and the large mind transcend.”

“I, too, can work, and because I love to labor with my head and my hands, I am an optimist in spite of all. I used to think I should be thwarted in my desire to do something useful. But I have found out that though the ways in which I can make myself useful are few, yet the work open to me is endless.”

“Thus from philosophy I learn that we see only shadows and know only in part, and that all things change; but the mind, the unconquerable mind, compasses all truth, embraces the universe as it is, converts the shadows to realities and makes tumultuous changes seem but moments in an eternal silence, or short lines in the infinite theme of perfection, and the evil but a halt on the way to good.”

“The highest result of education is tolerance. Long ago men fought and died for their faith; but it took ages to teach them the other kind of courage,—the courage to recognize the faiths of their brethren and their rights of conscience. Tolerance is the first principle of community; it is the spirit which conserves the best that all men think.”

“Thus in my outlook upon our times I find that I am glad to be a citizen of the world, and as I regard my country, I find that to be an American is to be an optimist.”

“The test of all beliefs is their a practical effect in life. If it be true that optimism compels the world forward, and pessimism retards it, then it is dangerous to propagate a pessimistic philosophy.” 

“Let pessimism once take hold of the mind, and life is all topsy-turvy, all vanity and vexation of spirit. There is no cure for individual or social disorder, except in forgetfulness and annihilation. “Let us eat, drink and be merry,” says the pessimist, “for tomorrow we die.” If I regarded my life from the point of view of the pessimist, I should be undone. I should seek in vain for the light that does not visit my eyes and the music that does not ring in my ears.”

“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.”


Optimism (C. Y. Crowell and Company, 1903, by Helen Keller)

Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. The story of Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, was made famous by Keller’s autobiography, The Story of My Life, and its adaptations for film and stage, The Miracle Worker. Her birthplace in West Tuscumbia, Alabama, is now a museum[1] and sponsors an annual “Helen Keller Day”. Her June 27 birthday is commemorated as Helen Keller Day in Pennsylvania and, in the centenary year of her birth, was recognized by a presidential proclamation from US President Jimmy Carter.

A prolific author, Keller was well-traveled and outspoken in her convictions. A member of the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World, she campaigned for women’s suffrage, labor rights, socialism, antimilitarism, and other similar causes. She was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1971 and was one of twelve inaugural inductees to the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame on June 8, 2015. (Wikipedia)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #23 – MAY 8, 2020


“Show business is my life. When I was a kid I sold insurance, but nobody laughed.”

“I used to play golf. I wanted to be a better player, but after a while I realized I’d always stink. And that’s when I really started to enjoy the game.”

“Eddie Fisher married to Elizabeth Taylor is like me trying to wash the Empire State Building with a bar of soap.”

“When you enter a room, you have to kiss his ring. I don’t mind, but he has it in his back pocket.”

-talking about Frank Sinatra

“I’m very shy so I became very outgoing to protect my shyness.”

“You throw your best punch, otherwise don’t do it.”

“Some people say funny things, but I say things funny.”

“An insult comic is the title I was given. What I do is exaggeration. I make fun of people, at life, of myself and my surroundings.”

“If I were to insult people and mean it, that wouldn’t be funny, there is a difference between an actual insult and just having fun.”

“I don’t care if the average guy on the street really knows what I’m like, as long as he knows I’m not really a mean, vicious guy. My friends and family know what I’m really like. That’s what’s important.”

“I want to be a dog, but I’m a pussycat.”

“After I graduated, I tried Broadway, which was difficult for me. It was tough to get a part on Broadway, so I just started talking to audiences at different social gatherings, and little by little I became Don Rickles – whatever that is.”


Helen Keller one day, Don Rickles the next. I don’t know if you guys like this quote project, but I sure do. Thanks for reading.


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #24 – MAY 9, 2020




“Of all delectable islands the Neverland is the snuggest and most compact; not large and sprawly, you know, with tedious distances between one adventure and another, but nicely crammed. When you play at it by day with the chairs and tablecloth, it is not in the least alarming, but in the two minutes before you go to sleep it becomes very nearly real. That is why there are night-lights.”

“Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal. John’s, for instance, had a lagoon with flamingoes flying over it, … while Michael, who was very small, had a flamingo with lagoons flying over it.

“How clever I am!” he crowed rapturously, “oh the cleverness of me!”

“Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys.”

“I want always to be a little boy and to have fun.”1


“Sergeant O’Leary is walkin’ the beat

At night he becomes a bartender

He works at Mister Cacciatore’s down

On Sullivan Street

Across from the medical center

Yeah he’s tradin’ in his Chevy for a Cadillac-ac-ac-ac

You oughta know by now

And if he can’t drive

With a broken back

At least he can polish the fenders”2

“Things are okay with me these days

Got a good job, got a good office

Got a new wife, got a new life

And the family’s fine

We lost touch long ago

You lost weight I did not know

You could ever look so nice after

So much time”3

“And the waitress is practicing politics

As the businessmen slowly get stoned

Yes they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness

But it’s better than drinking alone”4


“Just as youth is wasted on the young, money is wasted on the rich.” 

“Someone wisely told me once: the world always makes sense. When it doesn’t make sense, it just means we don’t have all the information yet.” 

“Political identities aren’t about tax cuts. They are about tribes… This is the result of the incredible rise in political polarization in recent decades. It used to be that both the Republican and Democratic parties included both liberals and conservatives. Since parties contained ideological multitudes, it was hard for them to be the basis of strong, personal identities.”

“Demythologizing our past is necessary if we are to clearly understand our present. But an honest survey of America’s past offends the story we tell ourselves…”

“And yet, we have not changed so much, have we? We still coach Little League and care for our parents, we cry at romantic comedies and mow our lawns, we laugh at our eccentricities and apologize for harsh words, we want to be loved and wish for a better world. That is not to absolve us of responsibility for our politics, but to trace a lament oft heard when we step away from politics: Aren’t we better than this?

I think we are, or we can be. But toxic systems compromise good individuals with ease. They do so not by demanding we betray our values but by enlisting our values such that we betray each other. What is rational and even moral for us to do individually becomes destructive when done collectively.”5 

1. (Hodder & Stoughton, 1911)

2. Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) (November 1, 1977)

3. Scenes From an Italian Restaurant (September 1977)

4. Piano Man (November 9, 1973)

5. Why We’re Polarized (Avid Reader Press / Simon Schuster, January 28, 2020)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #25 – MAY 10, 2020


“The next suitable person you’re in light conversation with, you stop suddenly in the middle of the conversation and look at the person closely and say, “What’s wrong?” You say it in a concerned way. He’ll say, “What do you mean?” You say, “Something’s wrong. I can tell. What is it?” And he’ll look stunned and say, “How did you know?” He doesn’t realize something’s always wrong, with everybody. Often more than one thing. He doesn’t know everybody’s always going around all the time with something wrong and believing they’re exerting great willpower and control to keep other people, for whom they think nothing’s ever wrong, from seeing it.”1

“Routine, repetition, tedium, monotony, ephemeracy, inconsequence, abstraction, disorder, boredom, angst, ennui—these are the true hero’s enemies, and make no mistake, they are fearsome indeed. For they are real.”1

“And I submit that this is what the real, no-shit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about. How to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone, day in and day out.”2

Note: The following is from an article Wallace wrote for Harper’s magazine about a seven day Caribbean cruise he took on the M.S. Zenith. In true Wallace style he re-names the ship the M.S. Nadir and used that throughout the article.

“This is related to the phenomenon of the Professional Smile, a pandemic in the service industry, and no place in my experience have I been on the receiving end of as many Professional Smiles as I was on the Nadir: maitre d’s, chief stewards, hotel managers’ minions, cruise director-their P.S.’s all come on like switches at my approach. But also back on land: at banks, restaurants, airline ticket counters, and on and on. You know this smile-the one that doesn’t quite reach the smiler’s eyes and signifies nothing more than a calculated attempt to advance the smiler’s own interests by pretending to like the smilee. Why do employers and supervisors force professional service people to broadcast the Professional Smile? Am I the only person who’s sure that the growing number of cases in which normal-looking people open up with automatic weapons in shopping malls and insurance offices and medical complexes is somehow causally related to the fact that these venues are well-known dissemination-loci of the Professional Smile?3

1. The Pale King (Little, Brown and Company, 2011)

2. This Is Water (Kenyon College Commencement Speech, 2005)

3. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again (Little, Brown and Company, 1997)


This is David Foster Wallace. His writing is sometimes difficult and requires effort – but it is worth it. He was, in my opinion, one of the most brilliant and best American writers. His understanding of human nature and his ability to analyze and explain the experience of everyday life are unrivaled. His book The Pale King, quoted above, is a 500 page novel about, among other things, boredom. He captures the experience in a way that any human could recognize and say “Oh yeah, that’s exactly what it’s like.”  Another of his essays, The Planet Trillaphon as It Stands in Relation to the Bad Thing, explores depression, the kind of depression he, himself suffered from, and takes the reader inside the mind of the sufferer – the internal battles and recriminations related to anti-depressant medications and their effect on a creative person.


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #26 – MAY 11, 2020


“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”1

“You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It’s their mistake, not my failing.” 2

“Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don’t think about what you want to be, but what you want to do. Keep up some kind of a minimum with other things so that society doesn’t stop you from doing anything at all.” 2

“It doesn’t seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil — which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama.”3

“Physics is to mathematics what sex is to masturbation.”4

“Scientific knowledge is an enabling power to do either good or bad — but it does not carry instructions on how to use it.”5

“If an apple is magnified to the size of the earth, then the atoms in the apple are approximately the size of the original apple.”6


1. Lecture “What is and What Should be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society”, given at the Galileo Symposium in Italy (1964).

2. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character (W.W. Norton, 1985)

3. Quoted in Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (1992)

4. Quoted in Fear of Physics: A Guide for the Perplexed (1993)

5. Lecture, “The Value of Science” (1955)

6. Lecture, “Atoms in Motion”; section 1-2, “Matter is made of atoms.”

Richard Phillips Feynman (May 11, 1918 – February 15, 1988) was an American theoretical physicist, known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics for which he proposed the Parton model. For contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965.

He assisted in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II and became known to a wide public in the 1980s as a member of the Rogers Commission, the panel that investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Along with his work in theoretical physics, Feynman has been credited with pioneering the field of quantum computing and introducing the concept of nanotechnology. (Wikipedia)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #27 – MAY 12, 2020


“Irony deals with opposites; it has nothing to do with coincidence. If two baseball players from the same hometown, on different teams, receive the same uniform number, it is not ironic. It is a coincidence. If Barry Bonds attains lifetime statistics identical to his father’s, it will not be ironic. It will be a coincidence. Irony is ‘a state of affairs that is the reverse of what was to be expected; a result opposite to and in mockery of the appropriate result.’ For instance: a diabetic, on his way to buy insulin, is killed by a runaway truck. He is the victim of an accident. If the truck was delivering sugar, he is the victim of an oddly poetic coincidence. But if the truck was delivering insulin, ah! Then he is the victim of an irony.”1

“Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.”1

“I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don’t have as many people who believe it.”1

“Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that shit.”1

“I think I am, therefore I am. I think.”2

“So I say live and let live. That’s my motto. Live and let live. Anyone who can’t go along with that, take him outside and shoot the motherf—er.”3

“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”3

“Here’s some bumper stickers I’d like to see:

We are the proud parents of a child whose self esteem is sufficient that he doesn’t need us promoting his minor scholastic achievements on the back of our car.

We are the proud parents of a child who has resisted his teachers’ attempts to break his spirit and bend him to the will of his corporate masters.”4

1. Brain Droppings (Hyperion Books, 1998)

2. Napalm and Silly Putty (Hyperion Books, 2001)

3. HBO special Carlin on Campus (1984)

4. HBO Special Complaints and Grievances (2001)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #28 – MAY 13, 2020


“The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend. I have no wealth to bestow on him. If he knows that I am happy in loving him, he will want no other reward. Is not friendship divine in this?”

-Henry David Thoreau1

“I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.”

-Nelson Mandela2

“I’ve always said there’s no hope without endeavor. Hope has no meaning unless we are prepared to work to realize our hopes and dreams but in order to that we do need to have friends. We need those who believe in us. Friends are those who believe in us and who want to help us whatever it is that we are trying to achieve.”

-Aung San Suu Kyi3

“We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.”

-James Boswell4

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”


“I get by with a little help from my friends.”

-The Beatles6


1. Winter: From the Journal of Henry David Thoreau (Houghton Mifflin and Company, 1888)

2. From his unpublished autobiographical manuscript written in 1975. Source: From Nelson Mandela By Himself: The Authorised Book of Quotations © 2010 by Nelson R. Mandela and The Nelson Mandela Foundation

3. Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought Acceptance Speech Strasbourg, Germany (22 October 22, 2013)

4. Life of Samuel Johnson – “September 19, 1777” (1791)

5. The Bible – John 15:13.

6. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – “With a Little Help from My Friends” (26 May 1967)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #29 – MAY 14, 2020


“When father and I started out, that late April morning, it was like the dawn of creation, so sweet and clean and crispy damp-cool. All along the first two miles south from town the blackbirds in the big cottonwoods ka-cheed among the jade-flake leaves, leaves no bigger that a ground squirrel’s ear. The blackbirds themselves were like gems, jet set with ruby and gold, the red-wings and the yellow-heads, all ka-cheeing in the sun not half an hour high. And in the roadside alfalfa silvery blue-green in new leaf and dew, was a jackrabbit in from the sandhills for breakfast, the sun making his long black-tipped ears pink as rose quartz. It was all spring and new beginnings, a morning to be alive and laughing.”1

May 14 – The Green Land

“We think of this as the time of Spring flowers, fruit blossoms, lilacs. Actually, it is the time of leaves, the time of the countless greens which have not yet settled and matured into the standard green of Summer. This is the time when there is a whole spectrum of green across the land, when the whole world is dappled and misted as with a gently drifting haze whose color ranges from greenish yellow to greenish blue.”2

“I shall never get over the feeling that bogs and swamps are primitive places, a vestige of prehistoric ages. Swamp muck has the feel and look, even the smell, of land and life evolving; and the life I find in the bogland both plant and animal, has an ancient and faraway look, like life from another age.”3


1. High, Wide, and Lonesome (G.K. Hall & Co., 1984)

2. Sundial of the Seasons – A Selection of Outdoor Editorials from The New York Times (Lippincott, 1964)

3. Beyond Your Doorstep (Alfred A. Knopf, 1962)

About 1995 I was given a book by my grandmother, who was a reader and a writer (she kept a daily journal from the 1940’s right up to the early 2000’s, an amazing feat in our modern age.) The book, by Hal Borland, was called High, Wide, and Lonesome and it captured my imagination. It was a book that my grandmother had read and enjoyed with my grandfather.

Both of them, born in eastern Nebraska (1919) and central Oklahoma (1917) respectively, possessed such an powerful affection for the great plains that it infected me, born nearly 50 years later and hundreds of miles east. Even after they moved to Illinois during World War II, a sort of reverse migration, they returned, time after time, to Nebraska and Kansas, and they shared their stories with me. I still consider myself to be an expatriate Nebraskan and I have read many of the books my grandmother loved, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Willa Cather, Mari Sandoz.

In 1910, when Borland was nine years old, his family homesteaded a piece of land on the plains of eastern Colorado. This was the end of the pioneer epic in the United States, but no less harrowing and no less romantic. The Borlands “proved up” their homestead (live 5 years on the land and make improvements in order to get title) but soon after, moved into town, Mr. Borland starting a newspaper in Flagler, Colorado. Like previous homesteaders in that region, they discovered that great plains land west of the 100th meridian is too arid for farming without the intervention of mechanized irrigation.

The newspaper business captured Borland’s imagination, also. He moved to New York City where he studied journalism and graduated from Columbia University in 1923. After graduating he wrote for the Brooklyn Times, United Press, and King Features Service. He worked for a variety of newspapers across the United States, including The Philadelphia Morning Sun, The Philadelphia Morning Ledger, and The New York Times, as a staff writer for The New York Times Sunday Magazine andan editorial writer for The New York Sunday Times. Borland also wrote short stories, poetry, novels, non-fiction, and one play.

While researching for today I discovered that I had, on my shelves, no fewer than four Hal Borland books. Two, High, Wide, and Lonesome and Country Editor’s Boy were from my grandmother. Two were from the collection of my wife’s grandmother, who loved Borland, also. They are Sundial of the Seasons and Beyond Your Doorstep


QUOTE OF THE DAY – #30 – MAY 15, 2020


“Don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying yes begins things. Saying yes is how things grow. Saying yes leads to knowledge. ‘Yes’ is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say yes.

-Stephen Colbert1 


  1. Knox College commencement address (June 3, 2006)



QUOTES OF THE DAY – #31 – MAY 16, 2020


“So the story in its essence is only this: in a world full of war and terrorism, capitalist industry and vanishing ecosystems, a world where all things set in time or place or motion will eventually dissolve, there are still moments wherein one human being shows a small kindness to another, however forgotten or unobserved. That’s it. That’s the story.”

-Misty Urban1

“When he leaned in, I thought, He looks like a bird. I thought, will he hit me with his glasses? I thought, this is my last first kiss.”

-Misty Urban2

“My mother is alone in her kitchen but somewhere upstairs, behind her, my father snores in warm oblivion.”

-Misty Urban3

“Liberation takes the form of a yoke, the boundaries of life formed by tethers to those we love, those we created, those who created us. Without origin, we are without vector.

Independence is a prison of the singular.”

-Robin Abbott4

“If the news was about a death in the family, the captain had the affected sailor and hospital corpsman come to his stateroom. In that sterile setting, the captain informed the unfortunate man that his mother, father, or heaven forbid his wife or child, had passed away. He would offer some comforting words, then leave him and the Doc there until the man regained his composure. In the submarine’s confines, this was as close to a sanctuary as could be provided. The sailor would be given a respite from standing watch for a day or so, until he got his wits back together.”

-Dan Moore5

“The open mic boomed, “Conn, sonar, torpedo in the water! Torpedo in the WATER!” 

Hearts pounded in the control room. Grampus had no way of knowing if the Echo II had aimed correctly. The team had to plot it to confirm it. If it were an exercise torpedo, then the torpedo’s sound would slowly merge with the target bearing. But, if it was an errant shot, a malfunction, or worse yet, a warshot and Grampus had been counterdetected, then the torpedo would go after any iron in the water, exactly what Grampus was.”

-Dan Moore5

“You can have Spring when Robins don’t sing.

You can have one without cleaning.

You can miss daffodils, and the flowers’ frills.

Without baseball, it’s demeaning.”

-Dan Moore6

“I wanted to touch the clouds

But one foggy day

They came down

And touched me

-Gesene Oak7

“Even grownups kick

at the fallen leaves.”

-Gesene Oak8

Waters stagnate in the pond

Sullen frogs plop and splash

Brown opens in the green

Lilies drop their glowing blooms

Rose petals, too, droop and curl

Growing rabbits eat the rest

Evening offers little hope

Of cooling air or rain

To ease the panting dog

These days they stretch too long

When all is still cicadas sing

Monotony of melody”

-Gesene Oak9


Being part of the Muscatine writers club, Writers on the Avenue, has been one of the most pleasant and rewarding experiences in my life. I love our group, I love the supportive, interactive feedback we offer each other, and I love the opportunity to read the work of really talented writers.

1. A Lesson in Manners “Sally” (Snake Nation Press, 2016)

2. Draft: A Journal of Process “Unified Field Theory”(Oct. 2017)

3. The Necessaries “The Necessaries”(Paradisiac Publishing, 2018)

4. Liberation (unpublished, though it should be)

5. From his upcoming novel

6. From River To River “You Know It’s Spring When” (Writers on the Avenue, 2018)

7. Climbing the Hill of Life “Cloudtouch”

 (Writers on the Avenue, 2017)

8. Climbing the Hill of Life “Walking the Discovery Center Trail in Autumn” (Writers on the Avenue, 2017)

9.  “Late Summer Song


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #32 – MAY 17, 2020


“It’s not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases, that age and kill us; it’s the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of omnibuses.”1

“The strange thing about life is that though the nature of it must have been apparent to every one for hundreds of years, no one has left any adequate account of it.”1

“One likes people much better when they’re battered down by a prodigious siege of misfortune than when they triumph.”2

“Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners … These webs are not spun in midair by incorporeal creatures, but are the work of suffering human beings, and are attached to the grossly material things, like health and money and the houses we live in.”3

“Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad impressions — trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel. From all sides they come, an incessant shower of innumerable atoms; and as they fall, as they shape themselves into the life of Monday or Tuesday, the accent falls differently from of old; the moment of importance came not here but there”4

“What is the meaning of life? That was all — a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.”5

“Though we see the same world, we see it through different eyes. Any help we can give you must be different from that you can give yourselves, and perhaps the value of that help may lie in the fact of that difference.”6

“I read the book of Job last night, I don’t think God comes out well in it.”7

“My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery – always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What’s this passion for?”7


There is a fundamental unfairness to the world; it manifests in myriad ways. There is unmerited good fortune and undeserved suffering. There is an unjust and arbitrary distribution of wealth and talent. And even when someone with proper humility and a commendable work ethic is rewarded with true genius, the combination often destroys that person. You can’t say God doesn’t enjoy irony.

Virginia Woolf was a genius. She explored so much of human nature, and did it so brilliantly and insightfully, that her work should be revered (and is). Her talent should have brought her great joy and pride. But, like other such geniuses (Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Anne Sexton, David Foster Wallace) whatever insights they gained through their genius was irreconcilable with the actual world they saw around them.  

Trying to find inspiring quotes in the work of Virginia Woolf is more a matter of sifting than mining. I ended up with twenty quotes (easily), that I wanted to share. I pared it down to ten, but it was a painful process. I hope they will inspire you to look deeper into her work. Don’t be afraid of Virginia Woolf.

1. Jacob’s Room (Hogarth Press, 1922)

2. Virginia Woolf’s Diary 1882-1941 (August 13, 1921)

3. A Room of One’s Own (Hogarth Press, 1929)

4. The Common Reader (1925)

5. To the Lighthouse (Hogarth Press, 1927)

6. Three Guineas (Hogarth Press, 1938)

7. These are awesome quotes and very widely attributed to Virginia Woolf. They sound like her, but I was unable to pin down their source. If they are hers they are likely from her diary or letters. 


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #33 – MAY 18, 2020



“It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.”1

“In the visible world, the Milky Way is a tiny fragment; within this fragment, the solar system is an infinitesimal speck, and of this speck our planet is a microscopic dot. On this dot, tiny lumps of impure carbon and water, of complicated structure, with somewhat unusual physical and chemical properties, crawl about for a few years, until they are dissolved again into the elements of which they are compounded. They divide their time between labour designed to postpone the moment of dissolution for themselves and frantic struggles to hasten it for others of their kind.”2

“The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.”3

“If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance with his instincts, he will accept it even on the slenderest evidence.”4

“I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive. I am not young and I love life. But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.”5

“The old often envy the young; when they do, they are apt to treat them cruelly.”5


Bertrand Arthur William Russell (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970) was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate. He is considered one of the founders of analytic philosophy. He is widely held to be one of the 20th century’s premier logicians. With A. N. Whitehead he wrote Principia Mathematica, an attempt to create a logical basis for mathematics. Russell was a prominent anti-war activist and he championed anti-imperialism. He was an outspoken proponent of nuclear disarmament. In 1950, Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought. (Wikipedia)

1. Principles of Social Reconstruction [Originally titled Why Men Fight : A Method Of Abolishing The International Duel] (London, George Allen and Unwin., 1917)

2. Skeptical Essays “Dreams and Facts” (George Allen & Unwin, 1928)

3. The Philosophy of Logical Atomism (Capricorn, 1918)

4. Proposed Roads To Freedom (George Allen & Unwin, 1918)

5. What I Believe (Kegan Paul, Trench Trubner & Co Ltd, 1925)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #34 – MAY 19, 2020


“I am continually fascinated at the difficulty intelligent people have in distinguishing what is controversial from what is merely offensive.”1

“It struck me that the movies had spent more than half a century saying, ‘They lived happily ever after’ and the following quarter century warning that they’ll be lucky to make it through the weekend. Possibly now we are entering a third era, in which the movies will be sounding a note of cautious optimism: You know, it just might work.”2

“And then the dreams break into a million tiny pieces. The dream dies. Which leaves you with a choice: you can settle for reality, or you can go off, like a fool, and dream another dream.”3 

“I moved into directing for a couple of reasons. … Most directors, I discovered, need to be convinced that the screenplay they’re going to direct has something to do with them. And this is a tricky thing if you write screenplays where women have parts that are equal to or greater than the male part. And I thought, ‘Why am I out there looking for directors?’ — because you look at a list of directors, it’s all boys. It certainly was when I started as a screenwriter. So I thought, ‘I’m just gonna become a director and that’ll make it easier.’”4

“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”5

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”5

“I was so tired of seeing these stupid, cheerful books about aging. One of them even has this whole thing in it about how you are going to have the greatest sex of your life in your sixties and seventies. Which is just garbage. I thought about it and realized that there was one circumstance that you could have the best sex of your life in your sixties and seventies. That would be if you had never had sex until you were 60 or 70.”6

“When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.”7 

“There is something called the rapture of the deep, and it refers to what happens when a deep-sea diver spends too much time at the bottom of the ocean and can’t tell which way is up. When he surfaces, he’s liable to have a condition called the bends, where the body can’t adapt to the oxygen levels in the atmosphere. All of this happens to me when I surface from a great book.”7 


Nora Ephron (May 19, 1941 – June 26, 2012) was an American journalist, writer, and filmmaker. She is best known for her romantic comedy films and was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Writing: for Silkwood (1983), When Harry Met Sally… (1989), and Sleepless in Seattle (1993). She won a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay for When Harry Met Sally. She also co-authored the Drama Desk Award–winning theatrical production Love, Loss, and What I Wore. In 2013, Ephron received a posthumous Tony Award nomination for Best Play for Lucky Guy.

1. Esquire (January 1976)

2. Interview in The Los Angeles Times (July 27, 1989)

3. Heartburn (Alfred A. Knopf, 1983)

4. Dreams on Spec (2007 documentary film)

5. Wellesley College Commencement (1996) 

6. London Times Online – “Get real – aging’s not all Helen Mirren” (March 4, 2007)

7. I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman  (Knopf Publishing Group, August 1st 2006)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #35 – MAY 20, 2020


Inigo: “You seem a decent fellow, I hate to kill you.”

The Man in Black: “You seem a decent fellow, I hate to die.” 

-Inigo and Westley, The Princess Bride (1987)

“I’ve been in the revenge business for so long, now that it’s over I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.”

-Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride (1987)


”What’s the most you ever lost on a coin toss?” 

  • Anton Chigurh, No Country for Old Men (2007)


“There’s no crying in baseball!” 

-Jimmy Dugan, A League of Their Own (1992)


“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?” 

-Benjamin Braddock, The Graduate (1967)


Dave: “Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”

HAL: “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

-Dave and HAL, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)


Norman: “You like that word, don’t you? Bullshit.”

Billy Ray: “Yeah”

Pause –

Norman: “It’s a good word.”

-Norman and Billy Ray, On Golden Pond (1981)

Chelsea: “It just seems like we’ve been mad at each other for so long…”

Norman: “I didn’t think we were mad; I just thought we didn’t like each other.”

-Norman and Chelsea, On Golden Pond (1981)


“This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.”

Phil Connors, Groundhog Day (1993)

Phil: What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?

Ralph: That about sums it up for me.

-Phil and Ralph, Groundhog Day (1993)


English Bob: “Well, actually, what I heard was that you fell off your horse — drunk, of course — and that you broke your bloody neck.”

Little Bill: “I heard that one myself, Bob. Hell, I even thought I was dead ’til I found out it was just that I was in Nebraska.”

-Little Bill and English Bob, Unforgiven (1992)

Kid: “Jesus Christ! It don’t seem real. Guy ain’t gonna never breathe again ever. Now he’s dead, and the other one too, all on account of pullin’ a trigger.”

Will: “It’s a hell of a thing, killin’ a man. You take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have.”

Kid: “Yeah. Well, I guess they had it comin’.”

Will: “We all have it comin’, kid.”

Will Munny and The Schofield Kid, Unforgiven (1992)


“Some of us have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes, with boats, and friends, and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that’s their story; good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you’re that pissed that so many others had it good.”

-Melvin Udall, As Good As It Gets (1997)


“Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him … Then nothing would ever happen to him.”

-Dory, Finding Nemo (2003)


“So it is that we can seldom help anybody. Either we don’t know what part to give or maybe we don’t like to give any part of ourselves. Then, more often than not, the part that is needed is not wanted. And even more often, we do not have the part that is needed.” 

― Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It (1992)


Pete: “Who elected you leader of this outfit?”

Ulysses Everett McGill: “Well, Pete, I thought the leader should be the one with the capacity for abstract thought, but if that doesn’t seem to be the case, hell, we’ll put it to a vote.”

-Pete and Ulysses, Oh BrotherWhere Art Though (2000)


Miles Massey: [after ordering food for both of them]  “I assume you’re a carnivore.”

Marylin Rexroth: “Oh, Mr. Massey. You have no idea.”

-Miles and Marilyn, Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

Waitress: “Yeah?”

Wrigley: “I’ll just have a salad, please – baby field greens”

Waitress: “What did you call me?”

Wrigley: “Uh, I didn’t call you anything.”

Waitress: “You want a salad?”

Wrigley: “Yeah. Do you… Do you have a… uh, green salad?”

Waitress: “What the f—k color would it be?”

Wrigley (turning to Miles): “Why are we eating here?”

Waitress: “What’s his problem?”

Miles: “Just bring him iceberg lettuce and a mealy tomato wedge smothered in french dressing.”

Waitress, Wrigley, and Miles, Intolerable Cruelty (2003)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #36 – MAY 21, 2020


“If there is to be any permanent improvement in man and any better social order, it must come mainly from the education and humanizing of man.”1

“I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure — that is all that agnosticism means.”2

“Chase after the truth like all hell and you’ll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat tails.”3

“At times I felt that I stood alone in the world, and it is not a bad feeling.  And it is well enough for a man once in a while to feel that he stands alone and is ready to fight the world.  It is good for your courage; it is good for your character.”4 

“You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man’s freedom.  You can only be free if I am free.”5

“When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. I’m beginning to believe it.”6

“History repeats itself. That’s one of the things wrong with history.”7

“I have suffered from being misunderstood, but I would have suffered a hell of a lot more if I had been understood.”8

“There is no logical consistency in what a man does with his life. I run on emotions, like everybody else.”9

“I wish some fellow like Henry Ford or Rockefeller or some other patron saint of America with great organizing ability would teach us how to be inefficient and happy.”9

“I am sure of very little, and I shouldn’t be surprised if those things were wrong.”9


I was a weird kid, I will admit. My heroes did not tend to be baseball players, rock stars, or captains of industry. I revered the men and women who spoke truth to power, iconoclasts who swam against the current and stood up for the little guy against the rich and powerful. In short, Clarence Darrow was my hero. It explains a lot about me today. I have never been brave enough to be a Darrow, but I aspire to be.

Clarence Seward Darrow (April 18, 1857 – March 13, 1938) was an American lawyer who became famous in the early 20th century for his involvement in the Leopold and Loeb murder trial and the Scopes “Monkey” Trial. He was a leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and a prominent advocate for Georgist economic reform.

Called a “sophisticated country lawyer”, Darrow’s wit and eloquence made him one of the most prominent attorneys and civil libertarians in the nation. He defended high-profile clients in many famous trials of the early 20th century, including teenage thrill killers Leopold and Loeb for murdering 14-year-old Robert “Bobby” Franks (1924); teacher John T. Scopes in the Scopes “Monkey” Trial (1925), in which he opposed statesman and orator William Jennings Bryan; and Ossian Sweet in a racially-charged self-defense case (1926).(Wikipedia)

1. Crime: Its Cause And Treatment (Thomas Y. Crowell and Co., 1922) 

2. Scopes Trial, Dayton, TN (July 13, 1925)

3. The Sign (May 1938)  

4. Quoted in Clarence Darrow, Attorney for the Damned, (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2011) 

5. Darrow’s argument in People v. Lloyd, 304 Ill. 23, 136 N.E. 505 (1922).

6. Quoted in Clarence Darrow for the Defense (Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1941)

7. Quoted in Peter’s Quotations: Ideas For Our Time (William Morrow & Co., 1977) 

8. Quoted in Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do by Peter McWilliams (Prelude Press, 1996)

9. Darrow’s Obiturary in The New York Times (March 14, 1938)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #37 – MAY 22, 2020


“The more we progress the more we tend to progress. We advance not in arithmetical but in geometrical progression. We draw compound interest on the whole capital of knowledge and virtue which has been accumulated since the dawning of time.”1

“I should dearly love that the world should be ever so little better for my presence. Even on this small stage we have our two sides, and something might be done by throwing all one’s weight on the scale of breadth, tolerance, charity, temperance, peace, and kindliness to man and beast. We can’t all strike very big blows, and even the little ones count for something.”1

“I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air — or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be. Under such circumstances I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained. There I stayed for some time at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a comfortless, meaningless existence, and spending such money as I had, considerably more freely than I ought.”2

“While the individual man is an insoluble puzzle, in the aggregate he becomes a mathematical certainty.”3

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”4

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”5

“Work is the best antidote to sorrow.”6

“To let the brain work without sufficient material is like racing an engine. It racks itself to pieces.”7


Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a British writer and medical doctor. He created the character Sherlock Holmes in 1887 when he published A Study in Scarlet, the first of four novels and more than fifty short stories about Holmes and Dr. Watson. The Sherlock Holmes stories are generally considered milestones in the field of crime fiction.

Doyle was a prolific writer; other than Holmes stories, his works include fantasy and science fiction stories about Professor Challenger and humorous stories about the Napoleonic soldier Brigadier Gerard, as well as plays, romances, poetry, non-fiction and historical novels. One of Doyle’s early short stories, J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement (1884), helped to popularise the mystery of the Mary Celeste.

1. The Stark Munro Letters (Longmans, Green & Co., 1895)

2. A Study in Scarlet (Ward Lock & Company, 1887)

3. The Sign of the Four (Spencer Blackett, 1890)

4. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes  “A Case of Identity” (George Newnes, 1892)

5. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” (George Newnes, 1892)

6. The Return of Sherlock Holmes “The Adventure of the Empty House” (George Newnes, 1905)

7. His Last Bow (John Murray, 1917)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #38 – MAY 23, 2020


Note from the quote collector:

What follows is a true story. I understand that it is not quite kosher to quote yourself in a collection of this kind. I am only the straight man here, however, which I think is okay. To fully get the goody from this you must know what the show The Goldbergs is. If you haven’t watched it you have really missed out. The concept is that Adam Goldberg (the show runner) has made a comedy series out of the events of his life growing up in the 1980s. It is excellent!

Me crabbing at Owen: “Turn that TV down, shut off those lights, pick up that garbage, etc., etc.”

Owen: “Oh Dad, don’t be such a Murray Goldberg.” 

Me: “Well his kid has his own television show. Do you have your own television show?” 

Owen: “No, but I’m writing a book which may be adapted into a screenplay.”

Me: “Is it about what a good Dad you have?” 

Owen: “No, it’s non-fiction.” 


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #39 – MAY 24, 2020


You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (1967)1

“Clouds so swift

Rain won’t lift

Gate won’t close

Railings froze

Get your mind off wintertime

You ain’t goin nowhere

Whoo-ee ride me high

Tomorrow’s the day

My bride’s gonna come

Oh, Oh are we gonna fly

Down in the easy chair”

The Times They Are A-Changin’2

“Come mothers and fathers

Throughout the land

And don’t criticize

What you can’t understand

Your sons and your daughters

Are beyond your command

Your old road is rapidly agin’

Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand

For the times they are a-changin”

Shelter From the Storm3

“Suddenly I turned around and she was standin’ there

With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair

She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns

‘Come in,’ she said, ‘I’ll give you shelter from the storm’”

Positively Fourth Street4

“I wish that for just one time

You could stand inside my shoes

And just for that one moment

I could be you

Yes, I wish that for just one time

You could stand inside my shoes

You’d know what a drag it is

To see you”

Mr. Tambourine Man5

“Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind

Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves

The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach

Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow”

A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall6

“And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?

And what did you hear, my darling young one?

I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’

Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world

Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’

Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’”

Like a Rolling Stone7

“How does it feel

How does it feel

To be on your own

With no direction home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone?”

Buckets of Rain8

“I like your smile

And your fingertips

Like the way that you move your hips

I like the cool way you look at me

Everything about you is bringing me misery”

Blowin’ in the Wind6

“How many times must a man look up

Before he can see the sky?

Yes, ’n’ how many ears must one man have

Before he can hear people cry?

Yes, ’n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows

That too many people have died?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind

The answer is blowin’ in the wind”


Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman; May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, author, and visual artist who has been a major figure in popular culture for more than 50 years. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” (1963) and “The Times They Are a-Changin'” (1964) became anthems for the civil rights and anti-war movements. His lyrics during this period incorporated a range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defied pop music conventions and appealed to the burgeoning counterculture…In 2016, Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.(Wikipedia)

1. The Basement Tapes, 1967

2. The Times They Are A-Changin’, 1964

3. Blood on the Tracks, 1975

4. Single, 1965

5. Bringing It All Back Home, 1965

6. The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, 1963

7. Highway 61 Revisited, 1965

8. Blood on the Tracks, 1975


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #40 – MAY 25, 2020


“Never read any book that is not a year old.”1

“Poetry teaches the enormous force of a few words, and, in proportion to the inspiration, checks loquacity.”2

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have yet to be discovered.”3

“Every man I meet is in some way my superior; and in that I can learn of him.”4

“People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.”5

“To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven.”6

“We are always getting ready to live, but never living.”7

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”8

“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”9

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”9

“The Religion that is afraid of science dishonours God and commits suicide. It acknowledges that it is not equal to the whole of truth, that it legislates, tyrannizes over a village of God’s empires but is not the immutable universal law.”10

“Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”9 


Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of transcendentalism in his 1836 essay “Nature”.

Emerson wrote on a number of subjects, never espousing fixed philosophical tenets, but developing certain ideas such as individuality, freedom, the ability for mankind to realize almost anything, and the relationship between the soul and the surrounding world. Emerson’s “nature” was more philosophical than naturalistic: “Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul.” Emerson is one of several figures who “took a more pantheist or pandeist approach by rejecting views of God as separate from the world.” … Emerson is also well known as a mentor and friend of Henry David Thoreau, a fellow transcendentalist. (Wikipedia)

1. The Conduct of Life, “In Praise of Books” (Ticknor & Fields 1861)

2. Parnassus, Preface (Houghton, Osgood and Company, 1880)

3. “Fortune of the Republic: Lecture Delivered at the Old South Church” (March 30, 1878)

4. As quoted in Think, Vol. 4-5 (1938)

5. The Conduct of Life, “Worship” (Ticknor & Fields 1861)

6. Emerson’s Journals (1822–1863) (December 20, 1822)

7. Emerson’s Journals (1822–1863) (April 12, 1834)

8. Emerson’s Journals (1822–1863) (November 11, 1842)

9. Essay “Self-Reliance” (1841)

10.  Emerson’s Journals (1822–1863) (March 4, 1831)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #41 – MAY 26, 2020


The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Lou: “You know what, you’ve got spunk!”

Mary: “Well, yes …”

Lou: “I hate spunk!”

“I came home the other day and everything in my apartment had been stolen and replaced with an exact replica. I couldn’t believe it. I said to my roommate, ‘Look at this stuff, it’s all an exact replica.’ He said, ‘Do I know you?’”

-Steven Wright

“If you’ve ever had to haul a can of paint to the top of a water tower to defend your sister’s honor – you might be a redneck.”

-Jeff Foxworthy

“By the Way, If Anyone Here Is in Advertising or Marketing … Kill Yourself!”

-Bill Hicks

“I used to work at McDonald’s making minimum wage. You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? ‘Hey, if I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.’”

-Chris Rock, 

“I don’t like country music, but I don’t mean to denigrate those who do. And for those who like country music, denigrate means to ‘put down.’”

-Bob Newhart

“The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.” 

-George Carlin

“I have low self-esteem; when we were in bed together, I would fantasize that I was someone else.” 

-Richard Lewis

“Do you ever get halfway through eating a horse and go ‘you know, I’m not as hungry as thought I was’?” 

– Tim Vine

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” 

– George Carlin

“The second I get shampoo in my eyes, I’m 100% sure there’s a murderer in my bathroom.” 

– Bill Murray

“What a kid I got; I told him about the birds and the bees and he told me about the butcher and my wife.”

 – Rodney Dangerfield

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”

 – Groucho Marx


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #42 – MAY 27, 2020


“If you have a story that seems worth telling, and you think you can tell it worthily, then the thing for you to do is to tell it, regardless of whether it has to do with sex, sailors or mounted policemen.”1

“Who shot him? I asked.

The grey man scratched the back of his neck and said: “Somebody with a gun.”2

“The people who lie the most are nearly always the clumsiest at it, and they’re easier to fool with lies than most people, too. You’d think they’d be on the look-out for lies, but they seem to be the very ones that will believe almost anything at all.”3

“I haven’t laughed so much over anything since the hogs ate my kid brother.”2 

“I don’t mind a reasonable amount of trouble.”4

“He felt like somebody had taken the lid off life and let him see the works.”4

“Play with murder enough and it gets you one of two ways. It makes you sick, or you get to like it.2

“Listen, Dundy, it’s been a long time since I burst into tears because a policeman didn’t like me.”4 

“…It’s probably polite to pretend you don’t see people coming out of pawnshops, anyhow.”3 

“Be still while I get up or I’ll make an opening in your head for brains to leak in.”2 

“I don’t want to brag about how dumb I am, but this job is plain as astronomy to me. I understand everything about it except what you have done and why, and what you’re trying to do and how.”5

“But where knowledge of trickery is evenly distributed, honesty not infrequently prevails.”6

“Did it ever occur to you that everybody is more or less afraid of nearly everything, and that courage isn’t a damn thing but a habit of not dodging things because you’re afraid of them?”7

“If a man says a thing often enough, he is very likely to acquire some sort of faith in it sooner or later.”8


1. (June, 1924 Interview, can’t pin down the publication)

2. Red Harvest (Alfred A. Knopf, 1929)

3. The Thin Man (Alfred A. Knopf, 1934)

4. The Maltese Falcon (Alfred A. Knopf, 1930)

5. The Novels of Dashiell Hammett

6. Nightmare Town (Argosy All-Story Weekly, December 27, 1924)

7. The Cure (unpublished story, first printed in The Hunter and Other Stories in 2013)

8. The Second Story Angel (Alfred A. Knopf, 1924)

Samuel Dashiell Hammett (May 27, 1894 – January 10, 1961) was an American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories. He was also a screenwriter and political activist. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse).

Hammett “is now widely regarded as one of the finest mystery writers of all time”. In his obituary in The New York Times, he was described as “the dean of the… ‘hard-boiled’ school of detective fiction.” Time magazine included Hammett’s 1929 novel Red Harvest on its list of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005. His novels and stories also had a significant influence on films, including the genres of private-eye/detective fiction, mystery thrillers, and film-noir. 

During the 1950s, Hammett was investigated by Congress. He testified on March 26, 1953, before the House Un-American Activities Committee about his own activities, but refused to cooperate with the committee. No official action was taken, but his stand led to him being blacklisted, along with others who were blacklisted as a result of McCarthyism. (Wikipedia)


QUOTES OF THE DAY – #43 – MAY 28, 2020


CBC Interviewer: “Is it possible, one of these days, that we will read a James Bond novel in which the hero is killed in the end?”

Flemming (with a wry smile): “I couldn’t possibly afford it.”1

‘I’m wondering whose side I ought to be on. I’m getting very sorry for the Devil … The Devil has a rotten time and I always like to be on the side of the underdog. We don’t give the poor chap a chance.2

“He disagreed with something that ate him.”3

“Never say ‘no’ to adventures. Always say ‘yes’, otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life.”4

“Love of life is born of the awareness of death, of the dread of it.”5 

“It reads better than it lives”6 

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.”7

“The gain to the winner is always less than the loss to the loser.”3 

“You can get far in North America with laconic grunts. “Huh,” “hun,” and “hi!” in their various modulations, together with “sure,” “guess so,” “that so?” and “nuts!” will meet almost any contingency.”8 

“The conventional parabola–sentiment, the touch of the hand, the kiss, the passionate kiss, the feel of the body, the climax in the bed, then more bed, then less bed, then the boredom, the tears and the final bitterness–was to him shameful and hypocritical.”2 

“When the odds are hopeless, when all seems to be lost, then is the time to be calm, to make a show of authority – at least of indifference”9 

“It was a room-shaped room with furniture-shaped furniture, and dainty curtains.”10


1. CBC interview(1953)

2. Casino Royale (Jonathan Cape, 1953)

3. Live and Let Die (Jonathan Cape, 1954)

4. Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car (Jonathan Cape, 1964)

5. The Spy Who Loved Me (Jonathan Cape, 1962)

6. Diamonds Are Forever (Jonathan Cape, 1956)

7. Goldfinger (Jonathan Cape, 1959)

8. For Your Eyes Only (Jonathan Cape, 1960)

9. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Jonathan Cape, 1963)

10. Thunderball (Jonathan Cape, 1961)