December 19, 2014

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” – or maybe a Jewish, gay, green, brown or red one...


THE FAMOUS “JEWISH” CHRISTMAS SONG:

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.”
      
Irving Berlin (1888-1989)
       American songwriter 
       Lyrics of Berlin’s song
“White Christmas”
       “White Christmas” was publicly introduced and made famous by the 1942 film Holiday Inn, in which it is
sung by Bing Crosby. The fact that it became one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time may seem a bit ironic, since Berlin was Jewish. However, as noted by journalist Nate Bloom in a post on the InterfaithFamily.com website, 12 of the 25 most popular Christmas holiday songs were written by Jews.


THE GAY FRIENDLY VERSION:

“I’m dreaming of a gay Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the treetops shimmer with rainbow glitter
And ev-ry fella had a beau.
Oh, I’m dreaming of a gay Christmas
With Every Streisand song I play.
And no matter which way you sway
I hope all your Christmases are gay.”
       The “Gay Christmas” song, from
the “Last Christmas” musical show, first performed in 2007 by the California-based gay and lesbian theatre group, 

Theatre Out.


THE ECO-FRIENDLY VERSION:

“I’m dreaming of a green Christmas
Not like the ones I used to know.
With presents handmade or re-gifted
To prevent the climate being shifted
And leaving Christmas trees to grow.” 
      
Nancy Hiler, the “Go Green Gal” 
       In a blog post titled
“I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas (with apologies to Irving Berlin)” 


THE LATINO VERSION:

“I’m dreaming of a brown Christmas,
Just like the one in Mexico.
Where bunuelos glisten,
Posadas at the mission,
And yes, we don’t need no snow.”
      
El Vez (stage name of Robert Lopez)
       Mexican-American rock and roll artist
       From his song
“Brown Christmas”


THE CHRISTMAS CHEERS! VERSION:

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
But if the white runs out
I’ll drink the red.” 
       A
popular variation I first saw as the caption of this cartoon from the now defunct website YourFunnyStuff.com

       Cheers and Happy Holidays from QuoteCounterquote.com!

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More Christmas music parodies…

September 29, 2014

A man’s (and a girl’s) best friends...



THE ORIGIN OF “MAN’S BEST FRIEND”:

“The best friend a man has...is his dog.”
       George Graham Vest (1830-1904)
       American lawyer and politician
       These words are from Vest’s summation in the trial of a sheep farmer who shot and killed his neighbor’s dog, Old Drum. The trial was held at the Johnson County Courthouse in Warrensburg, Missouri on September 23, 1870. Vest’s client, the broken-hearted owner of Old Drum, had sued the farmer for compensation. Vest brought the jury to tears when he said:
 
      “The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith…The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.”
       The first six words of that paragraph, combined with the last three — “The best friend a man has...is his dog” — is traditionally credited as the origin of the dog-lovers’ saying we know today: “A dog is a man’s best friend.” (Sometimes given as “A man’s best friend is his dog.”)  You can read more about the Old Drum case in this post on my This Day In Quotes site.



THE MARX-FLAVORED VARIATION:

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”
      Groucho Marx (1890-1977)
       Legendary American comedian
       This quip has been credited to Groucho since the 1970s. However, as noted in a post on the great Quote Investigator site, it doesn’t appear in his movies or written works and a similar joke was published in the February 1954 issue of Boys’ Life magazine, so he probably didn’t coin it.



THE INTENTIONALLY CREEPY VERSION:

“A boy’s best friend is his mother.”
       Actor Anthony Perkins, as the character Norman Bates, in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Psycho (1960)



THE UNINTENTIONALLY CREEPY VERSION:

“Whoever said, ‘A dog is man’s best friend’ must have been a single fellow. As helpful and useful as all of God's creation would be to man, none of these animals were socially, intellectually, or sexually compatible to man.”
       From “At The Beginning: A Study of Marriage” 
       An article posted on the Christian “electronic magazine” called “The Expository Files.” (Which are not related to The X Files…Or are they?)



THE GIRLS CLICHÉ IMMORTALIZED BY MARILYN:

“A kiss on the hand may be quite continental,
But diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”

       From the song “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,” written by songwriters Jule Styne and Leo Robin
       This great song comes from the 1949 Broadway musical Gentleman Prefer Blondes, which was adapted from the 1925 book Gentleman Prefer Blondes, written by Anita Loos. It was introduced by Carol Channing in the original Broadway production. But for many people, the most remembered and iconic version was performed by Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 film version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.



THE COUNTERQUOTE TO THE GIRLS  CLICHÉ:

“Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend never had a dog.”
       A dog-lovers’ quote of anonymous origin that has reached meme level status in the Internet.

       (The girls in the photo are my wife BJ and our dog Barbie Boo.)

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Related reading and viewing…

August 9, 2014

The fine lines between stupid, clever – and various other things...


SPINAL TAP’S “SMELL THE GLOVE” PRINCIPLE:

“It’s such a fine line between stupid…and clever.”
       The legendary saying from the mockumentary This is Spinal Tap (1984) 
       This “quote” actually combines parts of consecutive lines spoken by two characters in the movie: Spinal Tap’s lead singer and rhythm guitarist, David St. Hubbins (played by Michael McKean) and the band’s bass player, Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer).
       In the scene, the band members and their manager Ian Faith (Tony Hendra) are discussing the fact that the latest Spinal Tap album, Smell the Glove, had been criticized as sexist and banned by major retailers for featuring a photo of a greased, naked woman on all fours wearing a dog collar around her neck. Meanwhile, the album of a rival musician, Duke Fame, was selling well even though it had photos of several naked women on the cover. Ian explains that Duke is shown tied down and the women are whipping him in his album cover photo. Thus, Duke is the “victim,” so it’s not sexist.
       Ian notes: “If we had all you guys tied up, that probably would have been fine...But it’s still a stupid cover.”
       David muses: “It’s such a fine line between stupid and...”
       Derek finishes the thought and creates the famed “quote” by adding: “And clever.”
       David agrees: “Yeah, and clever.” 
       And, thus, the legendary saying was born.


THE CONGRESSIONAL VARIATION:

“There’s a fine line between irony and hypocrisy. I’m not sure our political leaders in Congress understand either one. But at least that makes for some fine comedy!” 
       From a July 31, 2014 post on The Center for Justice & Democracy’s PopTort.com site 
       The post was about the news that the U.S. House of Representatives had passed a resolution authorizing Speaker John Boehner to sue President Obama for what Republicans say has been inadequate enforcement of “Obamacare” – the health care program they oppose.
       (Cartoon by Steve Sack, political cartoonist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.)


THE CLIVEN BUNDY VARIATION:

“There’s a fine line between a folk hero and a scofflaw.”
       Editorial by the Nashua Telegraph, April 25, 2014
       Commenting on Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy, who had about “15 minutes of fame” for publicly thumbing his nose at federal laws and regulations regarding grazing of private cattle herds on public lands and refusing to pay the fees required to use those lands.
       (Cartoon by Milt Priggee.)


ERMA’S OBSERVATION:

“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt…How do you know laughter if there is no pain to compare it with?”
       Erma Bombeck (1927-1996)
       American humorist, newspaper columnist and author 
       From her book If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? (1985)


BLANCHE’S OBSERVATION:

“There is a fine line between having a good time and being a wanton slut.”
       Actress Rue McClanahan (1934-2010) as the character Blanche Devereaux
       In an episode of the TV series The Golden Girls


THE FISHING VERSION:

“There’s a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like an idiot.”
       Steven Wright
       American comedian
       A widely-repeated joke Wright used in his stand-up comedy routine in the early 1990s. It now appears on posters, t-shirts and other items and hundreds of Internet graphics and posts.


THE GARDENING VERSION:

“There’s a fine line between gardening and madness.”
       Actor John Ratzenberger, as the character Cliff Clavin
       In an episode of the TV series Cheers 
       This one is for my wife Barbara Jo, a certified Master Gardener who spends much of her time maintaining the amazing subtropical botanical garden she created in our front and back yards – and for all those other avid gardeners out there who will understand why the joke is funny.

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Related viewing, listening and reading…

June 26, 2014

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”


THE FAMOUS COACHES’ QUOTE:

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” 
       A saying popularized by American football coaches Red Sanders and Vince Lombardi
       There has been a longstanding debate over whether this saying was used first by UCLA football coach Henry “Red” Sanders or Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. According to the authoritative reference book
The Quote Verifier by Ralph Keyes and other sources, Sanders probably said it first in 1950. However, Lombardi also used the saying and is the coach most often associated with it. 



THE WORLD CUP COROLLARY:

“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. The World Cup athletes have a ‘Whatever it takes’ attitude. They've made the decision to pay any price and bear any burden in the name of victory.”
      
Steve Siebold
       Author, blogger, Huffington Post columnist and “
expert in the field of critical thinking and mental toughness training”
       In
a June 2014 post about “Why Your Employees Should Watch the World Cup.”


A RACER’S VIEWPOINT:

“Winning is everything. The only ones who remember you when you come second are your wife and your dog.”
       Damon Hill
       British race car driver
       Quoted
in the London Sunday Times, December 18, 1994


A POLITICIAN’S VIEWPOINT:

“Winning may not be everything, but losing has little to recommend it.”
       Dianne Feinstein
       U.S. Senator for California
       Quoted in
Women Know Everything (2007) and other books


A PHILOSOPHY PROFESSOR’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“When winning is everything, then other values such as fair play, honesty, and human compassion are all thrown out in the face of  winning.”
       Michael Boylan
       Professor of philosophy at Marymount University (Arlington, Virginia)
       In his book
A Just Society (2004)


J-MO’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“Don’t we get enough ‘Winning Is Everything’ bullshit thrown at us from a zillion other sources? Are we really surprised that kids wind up on Lexapro at age 18 when they inevitably learn the Real-Life Lesson that you just can’t win all the time?” 
       Online journalist J-Mo
      
In a post on the TrashTalkTV site about the win-lose mentality of many reality TV shows, like Top Chef.


THE LOVE HANDLES COUNTERQUOTE:

“Losing is everything. Whoever said winning is everything never tried to lose their love handles.”
       Headline in an ad for
NordicTrack (1994)

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Related reading…

June 10, 2014

Genius is one percent inspiration – or maybe two…


THE FAMOUS EDISON QUOTE (THAT HE MAY NOT HAVE SAID):

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
       Attributed to
Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)
       American inventor and businessman 
       This well-known witticism (often given without the word “and” after “inspiration”) is traditionally credited to Thomas Edison. He did say some things like it. But those exact words do not appear in his writings or in his recorded speeches or interviews. The first mention of a definition of genius by Edison is in an article about him in
the April 1898 issue of the Ladies Home Journal. A paragraph in that article says:
       “Once, when asked to give his definition of genius, Mr. Edison replied: ‘Two per cent is genius and ninety-eight per cent is hard work.’ At another time, when the argument that genius was inspiration was brought before him, he said: ‘Bah! Genius is not inspired. Inspiration is perspiration.’” 
       An article
in a 1902 issue of Scientific American claimed that Edison once remarked: “Genius is 2 percent inspiration and 98 percent perspiration,” but it gave no source for the quote. That 2%/98% definition was also mentioned in a 1908 biography of Edison and a 1911 article in Chamber’s Journal — without providing any information on when Edison supposedly said it. Then in 1932, a year after Edison died, an article Harper's Monthly Magazine noted that sometime around 1902 or 1903 Edison said: “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” No source for the quote was given by Harper’s. However, this version became legendary and is cited by many books and websites (often giving Harper’s Monthly Magazine as the source).


THE **** HAPPENS VERSION:

“Life is one percent what happens to you, and ninety-nine percent how you respond to it.”
       Shubhra Krishan
       Indian born American journalist, author and holistic health advocate
       In her book Essential Ayurveda (2003). Quoting something she’d read.


JOHN GARDNER’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent obdurate stupidity.”
      
John C. Gardner (1933-1982)
       American scholar and novelist 
       A line attributed to a fictional writer in Gardner’s novel Stillness and Shadows (1986)


THE SEX AND CRIME VARIATION:

“Sex is like crime. Only one percent motivation and ninety-nine percent opportunity.”
      
Len Deighton  
       British novelist and historian
       In his novel Mexico Set (1985)


THE ASSASSINATION VARIATION:

“Assassination is one percent shooting, ninety-nine percent preparation.” 
      
Jeffrey Donovan (as former spy Michael Westen)
       In the
“False Flag” episode of Burn Notice (Season 1, Ep. 10)


THE BUSINESS SUCCESS VARIATION:

“Succeeding in this business is ninety-nine percent perseverance and one percent talent. Congratulations, gentlemen, you’re ninety-nine percent of the way there.”  
      
Bob Balaban (as the character Arthur Planck)
       In the movie Dedication (2007)

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotes Facebook page.

Related reading and viewing…

June 1, 2014

Measuring out life with coffee spoons (and various other things)…


T.S. ELIOT’S FAMOUS LINE:

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”
      
T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
       American-born British poet 
       This is one of the most quoted lines from Eliot’s early poem
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” first published in the June 1, 1915 edition of Poetry magazine. It is sometimes misquoted as “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.” Initial critical reception of the poem was mixed. But it launched Eliot’s career as a poet and gave him initial visibility that grew to worldwide fame with publication of his other early masterpieces of modernist verse: “Gerontion” (1920), “The Waste Land” (1922) and “The Hollow Men” (1925). “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was included in Eliot’s first book of collected verse, Prufrock and Other Observations (1917). It remains one of his most best-known poems and contains several passages found in many books of quotations. For more background on the poem see the post about it on my This Day in Quotes site.


A STRESSED PARENT'S TAKE ON COLLEGE TUITION:

"As the mother of a new college graduate, I am reminded today of T.S. Eliot, the famous St. Louis-born poet who will be forever remembered for the line in that one poem of his that resonates with parents everywhere: 'I have measured out my life in tuition years.' At least I THINK he wrote that. I mean, T.S. Eliot sure never had to pay tuition. His grandfather founded Washington University...Which means he graduated debt-free. Which explains why he could pursue a career in poetry. Which you hope your own son isn't considering. I mean, what kind of benefits package does THAT offer?"
      
Mary Bufe
       Freelance writer and columnist for Missouri’s Webster-Kirkwood Times
       Some of the funny quips in her newspaper column about the pressures parents face in trying to pay for their kids' college tuition.


A DEPRESSED JOURNALIST’S VERSION:

“I just hit forty. I don’t want to look up at fifty and realize I measured out my fucking life with a coffee spoon.”
      
Kenneth Branagh, playing the unsuccessful journalist Lee Simon
       In Woody Allen’s movie
Celebrity (1998)


A DEPRESSED POET’S VERSION:

“I have measured out
my life in little pills—Zoloft,
Restoril, Celexa,
Xanax.”

      
Kim Addonizio
       American poet and novelist
       In her poem
“The First Line is the Deepest,” included in her book Lucifer at the Starlite: Poems (2011)


THE SEX ADDICT’S VERSION:

“What in the name of God is it all for? To fuck? Is that my comfort and my staff?...To cruise the bars, to measure out my life in ejaculations?”
      
Daniel Curzon
       Pen name of the pioneering gay novelist and playwright Daniel R. Brown
       In his novel
Among the Carnivores (1978)


THE BRAVE NEW WORLD VARIATION:

“The Trixie Telemetry company sells a program to help parents raise their babies by quantifying their little lives, and turning what they do into data...It’s a mere matter of time before we can substitute T.S. Eliot’s tragic modern man, living by ‘measuring out my life with coffee spoons’ with the new postmodern dolt: A man who measures out his life with data spoons.”
      
Laurie Fendrich 
       Professor of Fine Arts at Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY) 
      
In an op-ed posted on The Chronicle of Higher Education website, November 20, 2009


THE OLD WORLD RELIGION VARIATION:

“Catholicism’s once vivid otherworldliness had devolved into a sort of rote board game, in which preoccupation with involved scenarios of the life to come became an excuse to measure out one’s life in Hail Marys and First Fridays while ignoring real moral concerns.”
      
Rev. Richard McBrien 
       Controversial Catholic theologian at the University of Notre Dame
       An observation by McBrien cited in the article,
“Does Heaven Exist?,” in the June 24 2001 issue of Time magazine


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Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Further reading: about and by T.S. Eliot…

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