Monday, January 31, 2011

Mitch Ratcliffe

Computers have enabled people to make more mistakes faster than almost any invention in history, with the possible exception of tequila and hand guns.
(Mitch Ratcliffe is a technology journalist, media executive, and entrepreneur.)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Humble Pie

Newcastle Brown
It can sure smack you down 
Take a greasy whore
And a rollin' dance floor 
It's got your head spinnin' round 
30 days in the hole 
(That's what they give you) 
30 days in the hole . . . 
(From their 1972 song, "30 Days in the Hole."  Steve Marriott, who wrote and sang the song, was born on this date in 1947.  He died in 1991.)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

H. L. Mencken

The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle . . . .  If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism.

*     *     *     *     *
The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it's good-bye to the Bill of Rights.
*     *     *     *     *

A man may be a fool and not know it — but not if he is married.

(H. L. Mencken died on this date in 1956.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer; 
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold...

(From his poem, "The Second Coming," which was composed in 1919.  Click here to read the entire poem.  Yeats died on this date in 1939.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Blue, blue is the sun 
Brown, brown is the sky 
Green, green are your eyes 
A million miles, a million miles 
Hey, don't you wanna go down 
Like some disgraced cosmonaut 
A million miles below their feet 
A million miles, a million miles 
I'll be with you girl 
Like being low 
Hey, hey, hey, 
Like being stoned

(From their 1993 song, "Low.")

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Daniel Woodrell

"You must've heard about what Dollys are, ain't you, mister? . . . Well, I'm a Dolly, bred 'n' buttered, and that's how I know Dad's dead."

(From his 2006 novel, Winter's Bone.  The 2010 movie of the same title was just nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.  It was shot in part in Douglas County, Missouri.  Ava, which is the county seat and only incorporated city in the Douglas County, was founded in 1871 and named by my great-great-great-grandfather, James Hailey.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dead Weather

I'm not the way that you found me
I'm neither here or there
One day I'm happy and healthy
Next day ain't doing so well

(From the 2010 release, "The Difference Between Us.")

Monday, January 24, 2011

Karl Marx

Money’s properties are my – the possessor’s – properties and essential powers.  Thus, what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality.  
I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women.  Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness – its deterrent power – is nullified by money. 
(From Marx's 1844 work, "The Power of Money.")

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Asylum Choir

Stray dogs that live on the highway 
Walk on three legs 
'Cause they learn too slow to get the message. 
(From the 1969 song, "Ballad of a Solider."  Asylum Choir consisted of Leon Russell and Marc Benno.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

George Pelecanos

Soon it began to drizzle for the second time that night. The drops grew heavier and became visible in the headlights of the cars. 

It was said by some of the police on the scene that God was crying for the girl in the garden. To others, it was only rain.

(From his 2006 novel, The Night Gardener.) 

Friday, January 21, 2011

George Orwell

England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality.  In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution . . . .

It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during "God Save The King" than of stealing from a poor box.

(From his 1941 essay, "The Lion and the Unicorn."  Orwell died on this date in 1950.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011


What do you want from life?
An Indian guru 
To show you the inner light?
What do you want from life?
A meaningless love affair
With a girl that you met tonight?
(From their 1975 song, "What Do You Want From Life?")

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Henning Mankell

Wallander shut his eyes.  In his mind he saw a burning wall in front of him.  He readied himself.
Then he ran straight through the wall.  He only singed his hair and skin.
He opened his eyes again and smiled.
Something was behind him.
Something else was only just beginning.
(From Firewall, a novel originally published in Swedish 1998 and subsequently published in English in 2002.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Robert Palmer

You can't sleep, you can't eat
There's no doubt, you're in deep
Your throat is tight, you can't breathe
Another kiss is all you need
You like to think that you're immune to the stuff, 
Oh yeah
It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough, 
You know you're gonna have to face it, 
You're addicted to love
(From his 1986 song, "Addicted to Love.")

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Saul Williams

I want my money back 
I'm down here drowning in your fat
You got me on my knees 
Praying for everything you lack
I ain't afraid of you -- 
I'm just a victim of your fears
You cower in your tower 
Praying that I'll disappear . . .
I got a list of demands 
Written on the palm of my hands
I ball my fist 
And you're gonna know where I stand

[From his 2004 song, "List of Demands (Reparations)," which was used in a famous Nike commercial.]

Saturday, January 15, 2011

John Burdett

The unpalatable truth is that promiscuity makes men happy, and quite a few women, too, especially when they get paid.
(From his 2010 novel, The Godfather of Kathmandu.)

Friday, January 14, 2011


And you see your girl's brown body 
Dancing through the turquoise,
And her footprints make you follow 
Where the sky loves the sea.
And when your fingers find her, 
She drowns you in her body,
Carving deep blue ripples 
In the tissues of your mind.
(From their 1967 song, "Tales of Brave Ulysses," which featured Eric Clapton's first use of a wah-wah pedal.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Laura Kightlinger

I can’t think of anything worse after a night of drinking than waking up next to someone and not being able to remember their name, or how you met, or why they’re dead.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lydia Davis

If only I had a chance to learn from my mistakes, I would, but there are too many things you don't do twice; in fact, the most important things are things you don't do twice, so you can't do them better the second time.
(From "A Second Chance," published in 1997.)

Lydia Davis

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

J. D. Salinger

[T]he first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

(From his 1951 novel, The Catcher in the Rye.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Smiths

Sweetness, I was only joking when I said 
I'd like to smash every tooth in your head 

Oh, sweetness, 
Sweetness, I was only joking when I said 
By rights you should be bludgeoned in your bed 

And now I know how Joan of Arc felt 
Now I know how Joan of Arc felt 
As the flames rose to her Roman nose 
And her Walkman started to melt 

(From the 1986 song, "Bigmouth Strikes Again.")

Sunday, January 9, 2011

John Lennon

I've had enough of reading things 
By neurotic, psychotic, pigheaded politicians
All I want is the truth
Just give me some truth
No short-haired, yellow-bellied son of Tricky Dicky's
Gonna Mother-Hubbard, soft-soap me
With just a pocket full of hope
(The 37th President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, was born on January 9.  So was my mother.)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Anne Tyler

Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.

(The opening line of her 2001 novel, Back When We Were Grownups.)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Samuel Beckett

Then I went back into the house and wrote, "It is midnight.  The rain is beating on the windows."  

It was not midnight.  It was not raining. 

(From the 1951 novel, Molloy.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Edith Wharton

I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.

(From the 1911 novel, Ethan Frome.)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Raconteurs

I feel compelled to just yell out for you
To say the words that you can't bring out
But I cannot do everything for you . . .

Speak to me and don't speak softly
Talk to me and let me know
Grab hold of my shoulder and tell me . . .

(From the 2008 song, "These Stones Will Shout.")

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Talking Heads

You start a conversation, 
You can't even finish it.
You're talking a lot
But you're not saying anything.
When I have nothing to say, 
My lips are sealed.
Say something once, 
Why say it again?

Psycho killer,
Qu'est-ce que c'est?

(From the 1977 song, "Psycho Killer.")

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ernest Hemingway

“Oh, Jake,” Brett said, “we could have had such a damned good time together.”

Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.

“Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

(These are the last lines of Hemingway's 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises.)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Last

See that girl with the soft blue eyes
They never seem to close or show surprise.

(From the song "She Don't Know Why I'm Here" -- click here to read more about this song.)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ring Lardner

"Shut up," he explained.

Ring Lardner
(From the 1920 book, The Immigrunts.  This is my favorite line in all of literature.)