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…

July 12, 2014

“The rich are different”… The real story behind the famed “exchange” between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.


If you’re a quotation buff, you’ve probably heard of a legendary exchange about “rich people” that supposedly took place between the American novelists F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) and Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961).

Fitzgerald is usually quoted as saying either “The rich are different from you and me” or “The rich are different from us.”

Hemingway is quoted as responding: “Yes, they have more money."

In fact, this quote-counterquote repartee never actually occurred. But it is based on things written by Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

Here’s how it became a legend…

In 1925, Fitzgerald wrote a short story titled “The Rich Boy.” In 1926, it was published in Red Book magazine and included what became a very popular collection of Fitzgerald's early short stories, titled All the Sad Young Men.

The third paragraph of the story says:

     "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."

Clearly, that’s not a favorable view of rich people.

But years later, Ernest Hemingway, who had a sometimes-warm, sometimes-acrimonious relationship with Fitzgerald, decided to mock those lines from “The Rich Boy” in his short story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.”

Hemingway’s original version of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” was printed in the August 1936 issue of Esquire magazine. In a passage in that original version, Hemingway wrote:

     “The rich were dull and they drank too much, or they played too much backgammon. They were dull and they were repetitious. He remembered poor Scott Fitzgerald and his romantic awe of them and how he had started a story once that began, ‘The very rich are different from you and me.’ And how some one had said to Scott, Yes, they have more money. But that was not humorous to Scott. He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him.”

Understandably, Fitzgerald was shocked and offended.

He expressed his dismay to Hemingway in a letter. He also complained to Maxwell Perkins, the editor who oversaw publication of both writers’ novels and story collections at the Charles Scribner’s Sons book company.

Hemingway responded with what Fitzgerald described as a “crazy letter,” a rambling diatribe that offered no real explanation or apology.

Perkins tried to smooth things over between his two prized writers and used his editorial power to fix the source of the problem when Scribner’s reprinted “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” in the 1938 anthology of Hemingway stories, The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories.

In the version of the story in that book, the name “Scott Fitzgerald” was changed to “Julian.” It has appeared that way in most subsequent reprintings.

Unfortunately for Fitzgerald, he made the mistake of writing a cryptic entry in a personal notebook that cemented the legendary version of his “exchange” with Hemingway into literary history.

The entry said simply: “They have more money. (Ernest’s wisecrack.)”

After Fitzgerald died in 1940, his friend, the noted critic and book reviewer Edmund Wilson, compiled a collection of his essays and unpublished writings in a book titled The Crack-Up. It was published in 1945. Wilson included various entries from Fitzgerald’s notebooks in the anthology.

One of them was the brief note about “Ernest’s wisecrack.”

Wilson decided to add an explanatory footnote for that entry in the book. He wrote:

     “Fitzgerald had said, ‘The rich are different from us.’ Hemingway had replied, ‘Yes, they have more money.’”

Then, the famous literary critic Lionel Trilling repeated what he called this “famous exchange” that “everyone knows” in a review and essay about The Crack-Up, published in The Nation.

After that, many other articles and books cited this “exchange” as if it were an actual conversation between Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

And thus a famous quote-counterquote myth was born.

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Related reading and listening…

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 19, 2014

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – from Bert Lance and Burger King to Dilbert and beyond…



THE PROVERBIAL AXIOM:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
      
Bert Lance (1931-2013)
       American banker and political advisor to President Jimmy Carter
       This was
already a proverbial saying in the Southern U.S. and maybe elsewhere before Lance adopted it as one of his own favorite quips. But Lance is widely credited with popularizing the saying and making it a national catchphrase. It’s a pithy way of expressing the belief that if some thing or policy is working adequately, it makes no sense — and may be unwise — to try to change or improve it. Lance was a top advisor to Jimmy Carter during the 1976 presidential campaign and served as Carter’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget from January 1977 until he was forced to resign in September 1977, due to allegations of past banking improprieties. During that time, Lance’s use of the “If it ain’t broke…” saying was quoted in many news stories and articles and is still cited in many books about politics and quotations.



THE BURGER KING EXAMPLE:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Right? Well, Burger King didn’t get the memo. They’ve decided to flip their 40-year-old slogan. The days of ‘Have It Your Way’ will soon be a thing of the past. Their new slogan ‘Be Your Way’ kicks off this month. What the heck does that even mean?”
       A May 2014 article on NewsFixNow.com about the fast food chain’s puzzling new advertising slogan

 



ADVICE FOR REAL WORLD DILBERTS:

“Remember: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!" But if it is ‘broke’ or if the current operation is not optimum, make changes and additions for an improved operation that complies with ISO 9000 standards.”
       Quoted
in The American Society for Quality Control’s 49th Annual Quality Congress Proceedings (1995)



THE “MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON” VERSION:

“If it is broke, you’ve got nothing to lose from trying.”
      
William Langewiesche
       American journalist and book author 
       In his book Fly by Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson (2009)
      
Langewiesche cited this as the philosophy adopted by pilot Chesley Sullenberger and first officer Jeffrey Skiles, who saved the lives of 155 passengers and crew members by successfully “landing” U.S. Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River in January 2009 after it was disabled in a collision with flying geese.



THE SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE VERSION:

“There are still many, many people who aren’t willing to listen to mounting evidence about environmental dysfunction. Their mantra is, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ but mine is, ‘If it ain’t fixable, don’t break it.’”
      
David Wann
       American author, filmmaker and advocate of “sustainable lifestyles”
      
An excerpt from his book Simple Prosperity: Finding Real Wealth in a Sustainable Lifestyle (2007)



ADVICE FOR HUSBANDS WILLING TO RISK THEIR WIFE’S WRATH:

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it and if it is broke wiggle your way out of fixing it.”
      
Quoted in the book Never Hang Wallpaper With Your Wife (2006) 
       A guide to “decorating and renovating from a guy’s point of view,” written by William S. Peckham and Michael C. Hammar

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Related reading: books of quotations about politics and government…

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