Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dave Barry

The difference between men and women is that, if given the choice between saving the life of an infant or catching a fly ball, a woman will automatically choose to save the infant, without even considering if there's a man on base.

(The New York Yankees -- greatest sports franchise in the history of the universe -- open their 2011 season today.  For me, the answer to Barry's dilemma would depend on whether the man on base was Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, or another member of the Boston Red Sox.)

Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, and Nick Swisher

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Joseph Lindsley

There is an old rule of physics.  If you have too many people riding the wagon, and not enough people pulling the wagon, the wagon stops.
(From a 2009 editorial in the Putnam County (N.Y.) News & Recorder.  I am sooooo ready to start riding the wagon, but I am beginning to worry that there won't be enough people to pull it until I get to my destination.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kanye West

Restraining order
Can't see my daughter
Her mother, brother, grandmother hate me in that order

(I'd say that's a bad romance -- and this is "Bad Romance Tuesday," isn't it?  From his 2010 song, "All of the Lights," which features not only Kanye and Rihanna, but also Kid Cudi, Fergie, Alicia Keys, and Elton John.)  

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ernest Hemingway

Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?  He thinks I don't know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right.  But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.
(Hemingway's response to Faulkner's quote from yesterday.  I'm with Hemingway.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

William Faulkner

He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.
(Faulkner was speaking of Ernest Hemingway here.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor

I've been married too many times.  How terrible to change children's affiliations, their affections — to give them the insecurity of placing their trust in someone when maybe that someone won't be there next year.
(From her 1965 book, An Informal Memoir.)  

From "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fred Rodell

There are two things wrong with almost all legal writing. One is its style. The other is its content.
(From a 1936 law review article.  Fred Rodell was a professor at Yale Law School for more than 40 years.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Virginia Woolf

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
(From her extended essay, "A Room of One's Own," which was published in 1929.  I felt very sorry for my son Nick when he told me he would have to read two Virginia Woolf novels for a high school English class.  I've been unable to finish any of her books, and I think I'm going to stop trying.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thomas Wolfe

Writing is easy.  Just put a piece of paper in the typewriter and start bleeding.

(This is the first in a series of 2 or 3 lines a day posts about writing and writers.  I'm not sure if anyone today reads Thomas Wolfe -- as opposed to Tom Wolfe.  Thomas Wolfe's first and most famous novel, Look Homeward, Angel, was published when he was 29.  He died when he was 38.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lady Gaga

I want your loving
All your love is revenge
You and me could write a bad romance
(From her 2009 hit single, "Bad Romance."  Until further notice, every Tuesday from this date forward will be "Bad Romance Tuesday" on 2 or 3 lines.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

John Donne

License my roving hands, and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O, my America, my Newfoundland!

(From his Elegy #19, "To His Mistress Going to Bed."  Who knew that John Donne was such a horndog?)

John Donne

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Jerry Reed

Eastbound and down, 
Loaded up and truckin'
We gonna do what they say can't be done
We've got a long way to go 
And a short time to get there
I'm eastbound, just watch ol' Bandit run
(The late, great Jerry Reed was born on this date in 1937.  Reed was a virtuoso guitar player, and had a string of country-western hit singles -- many of which were comic -- but is best remembered as the sidekick of Burt Reynolds in the "Smokey and the Bandit" movies, all three of which were just awful.  This song is from the soundtrack of the first "Smokey" movie.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rebecca West

There is no such thing as conversation.  It is an illusion.  There are intersecting monologues, that is all.  
(Rebecca West was the pen name of Cicely Isabel Fairfield, an English novelist, journalist, and literary critic who was lauded by Time magazine in 1947 as "indisputably the world's number one woman writer."  I will use this quote the next time my wife tells me that I don't know how to have a conversation, that we haven't had one conversation in the entire time we have been married, etc., etc.)

Rebecca West in 1934

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wilson Pickett

Gotta know how to Pony 
Like Bony Moronie 
Mashed Potato 
Do the Alligator 
Put your hands on your hips 
Let your backbone slip 
Do the Watusi 
Like my little Lucy 

(The late Wilson Pickett was born on this date in 1941.  His version of the song -- which was covered by everyone from Ike and Tina Turner to Ted Nugent to . . . Joan Baez? -- was the most successful and probably the best.  The original recording of the song mentioned 16 dances: In the original recording by Chris Kenner, 16 dances are specifically mentioned: the Pony, the Chicken, the Mashed Potato, the Alligator, the Watusi, the Twist, the Fly, the Jerk, the Tango, the Yo-Yo, the Sweet Pea, the Hand Jive, the Slop, the Bop, the Fish, and the Popeye.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

La Rochefoucauld

In the misfortune of our best friends, we always find something which is not displeasing to us.
(Francois VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, the 17th-century French memoirist and aphorist, died on this date in 1680.  His use of "not displeasing" rather than "pleasing" in the above maxim illustrates his acute intellect and command of language.)  

La Rochefoucauld's chateau

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Margaret Atwood

Nobody dies from lack of sex.  It's lack of love we die from.
(Margaret Atwood.  From her 1986 novel, The Handmaid's Tale.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sly and the Family Stone

Different strokes for different folks

And so on and so on 
And scooby dooby dooby
(From their 1968 #1 hit single, "Everyday People."  Sly Stone was born Sylvester Stewart on this date in 1943 in Denton, Texas.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Franklin P. Adams

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.
Adams said this in 1960 -- imagine if he had lived long enough to have had access to the internet.  (Of course, I stumbled across this quote while looking for something different.)

Franklin P. Adams

Sunday, March 13, 2011


The beast and dragon, adored
You been gone so long
Where you been for so long?
I went to places unknown
(From their 2005 album, Gimme Fiction.  I recently learned that Perry Moore, the executive producer of the recent "Narnia" movies, died of an accidental prescription drug overdose last month.  Moore -- who was only 39 -- described himself as a "Narnia geek," and I plead guilty to being one as well.)

From "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" (2010)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

David Brooks

Various research teams have conducted a simple study.  They hire a woman to go up to college men and ask them to sleep with her.  More than half the men say yes.  Then they have a man approach college women with the same offer.  Virtually zero per cent say yes.
(Perhaps the least surprising paragraph in The Social Animal, the new book by David Brooks.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

David Brooks

I've come to think that flourishing consists of putting yourself in situations in which you lose self-consciousness.

It happens sometimes when you are lost in a hard challenge, or when an artist or craftsman becomes one with the brush or the tool.  It happens sometimes while you're playing sports, or listening to music or lost in a story.

 And it happens most when we connect with other people.

(From the new book, The Social Animal, by David Brooks.)

An illustration that accompanied the excerpt from
The Social Animal that appeared in the New Yorker

Thursday, March 10, 2011

David Brooks

Despite the saying about opposites attracting, people usually fall in love with people like themselves. . . .  [During their blind date], Harold and Erica quickly discovered they had a lot in common. . . . People generally overestimate how distinct their own lives are, so the commonalities seemed to them a series of miracles.  The coincidences gave their relationship an aura of destiny.

(From the new book, The Social Animal, by David Brooks.)

David Brooks

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

David Brooks

Harold and Erica got their first glimpse of each other in front of a Barnes & Noble. They smiled broadly as they approached, and a deep, primeval process kicked in. Harold liked what he saw, from the waist-to-hip ratio to the clear skin, all indicative of health and fertility. He enjoyed the smile that spread across Erica’s face, and unconsciously noted that the end of her eyebrows dipped down. The orbicularis oculi muscle, which controls this part of the eyebrow, cannot be consciously controlled, so, when the tip of the eyebrow dips, that means the smile is genuine, not fake.

(That little tidbit about the orbicularis oculi muscle could come in very handy someday.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

David Brooks

You'd think, if you listened to cultural stereotypes, that women are the more romantic of the sexes.  In fact, there's evidence that men fall in love faster and are more likely to believe that true love lasts forever.  Though men normally spend twice as much time talking about themselves as women do . . .
(New York Times columnist David Brooks is the author of The Social Animal, which is being published today.  The book uses the lives of a composite America couple -- Brooks calls them Harold and Erica -- to illustrate what scientists have learned in recent years about fundamental human nature.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Arthur Lee and Love

When I was invisible
I needed no light
You saw right through me, you said
Was I out of sight?
From "She Comes In Colors," a 1967 song by the group, Love.  Love's lead singer and primary songwriter was Arthur Lee, who was born on March 7, 1945. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chauncey Depew

If you will refrain from telling any lies about the Republican Party, I'll promise not to tell the truth about the Democrats.
(Here's another good line from a politician.  Depew was the attorney for Cornelius Vanderbilt -- one of the richest men in American history -- and a US Senator from New York from 1899 to 1911.  Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson apparently stole Depew's idea and used it -- vice versa, of course -- in a 1952 campaign speech.)

Robber baron mouthpiece Chauncey Depew

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dick Tuck

The people have spoke -- the bastards.

(Dick Tuck is not a member of the "Wisconsin 14," but rather was an unsuccessful candidate for a California State Senate seat in 1966 who uttered these words when he finished in 3rd place in the Democratic primary.  Tuck is better known as a political prankster and dirty-trickster who was a particular nemesis of Richard Nixon.)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Jonathan Swift

Men are never so serious, thoughtful, and intent, as when they are at Stool.
(From Gulliver's Travels.  Today is "Dress in Blue Day," when Americans are encouraged to wear blue to promote colon cancer awareness.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Sunlight angles on
A wooden floor at dawn
A ceiling fan is on
Chopping up my dreams
What is left of them
I take to sleep again
Where I dare pretend
I'm more than I seem . . .
When I'm awake enough
I'm gonna shake it off

(On this date in 2007, Wilco introduced its Sky Blue Sky album by streaming it in its entirety on the band's website.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hannah More

He liked those literary cooks
Who skim the cream of others' books;
And ruin half an author's graces
By plucking bon-mots from their places.

(Hannah More was an English poet, playwright, religious writer, and philanthropist.  She died in 1833, so this verse was not written with the creator of 2 or 3 lines a day in mind.  But if the shoe fits . . .)

Hannah More

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Alexander Pope

Next o'er his books his eyes began to roll,
In pleasing memory of all he stole;
How here he sipp'd, how there he plunder'd snug,
And suck'd all o'er like an industrious bug.

(From Alexander Pope's satire, The Dunciad.  Like the unnamed plagiarist in Pope's verse, the creator of "2 or 3 lines a day" looks on his works like King Ozymandias once did, and remembers how he "sipp'd," "plunder'd," and "suck'd" the words of others "like an industrious bug.")

An illustration from "The Dunciad"