January 30, 2011

“The evil that men do…”


FAMOUS FUNERAL ORATION QUOTE:

“The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.”
       William Shakespeare (1564-1616) 
       This is one of several well-known quotes in Mark Antony’s funeral oration for Julius Caesar, from
Act 3, Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. These two lines follow the famous opening words: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” The oration in the play is loosely based on a real speech Antony gave at Caesar’s funeral, a few days after Caesar had been assassinated by his political enemies on March 15, 44 B.C. (the “Ides of March”). A report on what Antony said was recorded by the Greek-born Roman historian Appian in his history of Rome’s civil wars. According to Appian, the Roman masses became so angry after hearing Antony’s subtly inflammatory speech that they burnt down the Senate building where Caesar was killed and went hunting for his murderers, who were forced to flee Rome. At left is a video of Marlon Brando performing the funeral oration in the 1953 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s play.


THE GOD CONUNDRUM:

“If, as the theologians say, ‘the very act of free choice is traced to God as to a cause’...if ‘everything happening from the exercise of free choice must be subject to divine providence,’ must not the evil that men do be attributed to God as cause?”
       From a commentary on the philosophical debate over free will in
The Great Ideas volume of Encyclopedia Britannica’s multi-volume series about the great books and ideas of the Western World. (Edited by Mortimer Adler and first published in 1952.)


AN EARLY LABOR ACTIVIST’S VIEWPOINT:

“It is sins of omission, not commission, that are most fruitful of harm; not the evil that men do, but the good they did not do, that lives after them.”
       Editorial comment in an 1889 issue of
The Railway Conductor’s Monthly
       Included in The Conductor and Brakeman Vol. 6, compiled by The Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen


A MODERN ACTIVIST’S VIEWPOINT:

“It’s not the evil that men do that outlives them; it’s the mischief that computers and genetic research can get us into when they are spliced together that we need to worry about.”
       A paraphrase of the views of technology critic Jeremy Rifkin
       In the book Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Business Ethics and Society (2006), written by Lisa Newton, Elaine Englehardt and Michael Pritchard


THE SEXIST PARSON’S OPINION:

“Parson Fawcett said: the evil that men do lives after them; but the evil that women do goes on for countless generations through their breeding.”
       Catherine Cookson (1906-1998)

       British novelist
       In her period romance novel The Love Child (1990)

See more takeoffs and variations on “The evil that men do...”

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Further reading…

January 24, 2011

Sometimes it’s not just a cigar…


THE FAMOUS FALSE “QUOTATION”:

“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
       Attributed to Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
       Creator of the psychoanalytic school of psychiatry (and a heavy cigar smoker)
       This famous “quotation” suggesting that not every penis-shaped object should be viewed as a Freudian “phallic symbol” was coined by some unknown jokester decades ago. It has been cited and satirized so often that most people assume Freud actually said it. However, the line does not appear anywhere in Freud’s writings or any of his recorded public comments. Quotation experts like Fred Shapiro, author of The Yale Book of Quotations, and Ralph Keyes, author of The Quote Verifier, have concluded that there’s no evidence Freud uttered this quip and highly unlikely that he said it. (It’s hard to conclusively prove a negative. No Freudian pun intended.)


GEORGE CARLIN’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“Haven’t we had about enough of this cigar smoking shit in this country?...Sigmund Freud said ‘Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.’ Oh, yeah? Well, sometimes it’s a big, brown dick, with a fat, arrogant, white-collar business criminal asshole sucking on the wet end of it.”
       George Carlin (1937-2008) 
       Comic genius
       In his 1999 HBO special You Are All Diseased


THE BILL CLINTON EXCEPTION:

“As Bill Clinton learned the hard way, sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar.”
       Keri McCormick White
       Advice blogger
       In a post on her “Social Grace” blog, Monday, December 6, 2010


THE DICK CHENEY HYPOTHESIS:

“Sometimes a Dick is Just a Dick.”
       Actor Steven Weber
       Comment about then Vice President Dick Cheney on The Huffington Post, February 9, 2007


THE SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT’S MISSING UNIT CASE:

SVU Detective Stabler: “Stabbings aren’t necessarily sexual. You know sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Is there a specific reason you called us out?”
Police Detective Bremmer: “Whoever did this sliced off his ‘cigar’ and took it with him. Is that specific enough?”
       In the “Payback” episode of the TV show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (first aired September 20, 1999)

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Further reading and viewing…

January 20, 2011

A man’s home is his castle…


THE FAMOUS COKE QUOTE:

“A man’s house is his castle.”
      
Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634)
       English jurist, member of parliament and writer
       Although the saying “a man’s house [or home] is his castle” is
an old English proverb, many books of famous quotations include this quote by Coke, who used the phrase in several of his writings and rulings. One of his most noted uses is in his legal treatise The Institutes of the Laws of England (1628). In that, Coke wrote “A man’s house is his castle and fortress, et domus sua cuique tutissimum refugium.” The Latin part at the end translates as “and each man’s home is his safest refuge.” Coke’s use helped establish the general legal principle that no one may enter a person’s home without permission.


THE MORE ACCURATE QUOTE:

“A man’s home is his wife’s castle.”
       Alexander Chase
       American journalist 
       In his book
Perspectives (1966)


THE HAPPY WIFE VERSION:

“The sun of a man’s home is his wife.”
       A quote from
The Kolbrin Bible
       The Kolbrin Bible is an obscure, Druid-influenced version of the Bible dating back to the Twelfth Century


THE UNHAPPY WIFE’S VERSION:

“He said ‘A man’s home is his castle
It always has been and so it remains’
But he holds the keys in a fist of rage
His home is his castle
And mine is a cage.”
       Faith Hill 
       Lyrics from her song “A Man's Home Is His Castle,” written by Ariel Caten
       On Hill’s 1995 album It Matters To Me


THE MONEY PIT VERSION:

“Taxes are higher. Mortgages are higher. Fuel prices are higher. Verily, in these times a man’s home is his hassle.”
       Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, December 1974, in
the “Changing Times” humor section


THE MAN’S SANCTUARY VARIATION:

“A MAN’S HOME IS HIS CASTLE BUT HIS BAR IS HIS SANCTUARY”
       Sign sold on
The Saucy Minx Toy Box site 

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Further reading: books of proverbs from around the world…

January 13, 2011

12 things to do “When in doubt…”


THE FAMOUS ORIGINAL QUOTE:

“When in doubt, win the trick.”
       Edmond Hoyle (1672-1769)
       British writer best known for books on card games
       This quotation has long been attributed to Hoyle and is included in many of the variously-titled editions of “the book of Hoyle” printed since 1790. It’s generally listed as Rule #12 in the Chapter “Whist: Twenty-Four Short Rules for Learners.” However, according to The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, the quip may actually have been an editorial addition by Charles Jones, the editor of the 1790 book Hoyle’s Games Improved, since it does not appear in earlier copies of Hoyle’s rules for whist.
 


JON STEWART’S RULE:

“When in doubt, don’t be douchey.”
       Jon Stewart
       Discussing the importance of civility in political discourse

       In a segment about the Rally to Restore Sanity on The Daily Show, October 12, 2010
 


CHAIRMAN MALCOLM’S ADVICE:

“When in doubt, duck,”
       Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990)
       Publisher of Forbes magazine
       Quoted in the book The Sayings of Chairman Malcolm: The Capitalist's Handbook (1978)


AL PACINO’S ADVICE:

“When in doubt, fuck.”
       Actor Al Pacino, playing the blind, retired Army officer Frank Slade
       Comment to his cat in the 1992 movie Scent of a Woman
 


THE FOUNDING FATHERS PLOY:

“When in doubt, in American politics, left, right, or center, deploy the Founding Fathers.”
       Jill Lepore
       Author and Professor of American History at Harvard University
       In her book The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History (2010)
 


THE SEXY NAME PLOY:

“If you’re bad with names, don’t call out any during sex. It’s likely to get you into trouble...When in doubt, acknowledge them with saucy terms of endearment such as stud muffin, sugar, ooh baby, oh my god, hotness and such.”
       Midori “The Traveling Sexpert”
       In a post on the EdenFantasys.com website, January 03, 2011
 


THE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION SOLUTION:

“Just pick a resolution that you know you can stick to for a full year; when in doubt pick an easy one such as…never helping those in need, dieting when you are really skinny, and never running on the treadmill.”
       PNToday.com blogger Cody Carroll
       In his post “New Year’s Resolutions that are most likely to fail,” January 7, 2011
 


THE SELF INTEREST PRINCIPLE:

“When in doubt, bet on narrow ‘head in the sand’ self-interest.”
       Ian Ayres
       Professor of Law and Economics at Yale
       In a post on the Freakonomics blog, December 28, 2010
 


THE ANTI-SELF INTEREST PRINCIPLE:

“Remember: when in doubt, don’t ever do what you really want to do.”
       Actor Tim Robbins, as psychologist Nathan Bronfman
       In the 2001 movie Human Nature (2001)
 


BOREN’S GUIDELINES FOR BUREAUCRATS:

“Guidelines for bureaucrats: (1) When in charge, ponder.  (2) When in trouble, delegate.  (3) When in doubt, mumble.” 
       James H. Boren (1925-2010)
       Humorist, former U.S. Foreign Service Agency official and founder of the mythical International Association of Professional Bureaucrats  
       Originally used by Boren in an article in The New York Times, November 8, 1970 and popularized by his book When in Doubt, Mumble: A Bureaucrat's Handbook (1972).
 


JULIA’S GUIDELINE FOR COOKS:

“When in doubt, add more butter.”
       Julia Child (1912-2004) 
       Paraphrase of her advice in The French Chef Cookbook (1968)


MARK TWAIN’S MAXIM:

“When in doubt, tell the truth.” 
       Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens; 1835-1910)
       This is one of the best known of Twain’s slyly witty “Pudd’nhead Wilson” sayings. It’s featured at the top of Chapter 2 in his non-fiction travel book Following the Equator (1897).
       In a speech to the Whitefriars Club in London on June 20, 1899, Twain discussed this advice, saying: “I should be sorry to sit down without having said one serious word which you can carry home and relate to your children and the old people who are not able to get away. And this is just a little maxim which has saved me from many a difficulty and many a disaster, and in times of tribulation and uncertainty has come to my rescue, as it shall to yours if you observe it as I do day and night. I always use it in an emergency, and you can take it home as a legacy from me, and it is ‘When in doubt, tell the truth.’”

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Further reading: books full of advice quotations...

January 6, 2011

“‘Tis better to have loved and lost” – as adapted for TV…


THE FAMOUS POETRY VERSES:

“‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”
       Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)
       English poet
       From Canto 27 of his poem “In Memoriam A.H.H.” (1850)
       This is one of several famous quotes from Tennyson’s long poem, which initially began as the poet’s homage to his friend Arthur Henry Hallam. Hallam, the A.H.H. in the title, died unexpectedly from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1833. When the poem was finally published 17 years later, in 1850, it had grown into a far-ranging lyrical discourse on love, death, grief, religious faith, the Victorian debate over Darwin’s theory of evolution and other deep subjects. In addition to the “‘Tis better…” lines, this poem includes the famous, dark description of the animal world “Nature, red in tooth and claw” (from Canto 56) and the familiar phrases “so near and yet so far” (Canto 97) and “Ring out the old, ring in the new” (Canto 106).


HEIDI KLUM’S GERMAN PROVERB:

“We have a saying in Germany. It is better to have loved and lost than to engage in a land war with Russia in the winter.”
       Heidi Klum, as herself,
in the TV series Spin City (1996-2002)


THE OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN PRINCIPLE:

Holly (actor Norman Lovett): “It’s better to have loved and lost than to listen to an album by Olivia Newton-John.”
Cat (actor Danny John-Jules): “Why’s that?”
Holly: “Anything’s better than to listen to an album by Olivia Newton-John.”
       From the “Stasis Leak” episode of the Red Dwarf TV series (1988-1999)


WOODROW CALL’S PHILOSOPHY ON GUNS:

“It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”
       Woodrow Call (actor Tommy Lee Jones)
       Comment after handing a gun to Newt (Rick Schroder) in the TV miniseries Lonesome Dove (1989)


MUNG DAAL’S CONCLUSION:

Mung Daal (voiced by Dwight Schultz): “I have a saying: it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.”
Chowder (voiced by Nicky Jones): “What does that mean?”
Mung Daal: “It means love stinks.”
       From the “Mahjongg Night/Stinky Love” episode of the Cartoon Network’s animated TV series Chowder (2007-2010)

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook group.

Further reading: books of quotations about love…

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