August 12, 2014

“Carpe diem.” (This one’s for you, Robin…)



THE PLUCKY LATIN QUOTE:

“Carpe diem.” [Traditionally translated as “Seize the day.”]
      
Horace (Quintas Horatius Flaccus, 65-8 B.C.)
       Roman poet
       The famous phrase from Book I of his Odes (35 B.C.)
       “Carpe diem” is one of the two most famous quotations from Horace’s Odes. The other is:
“Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.” (“It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”) Although the usual translation of “Carpe diem” is “Seize the day,” Latin scholars have pointed out that the more accurate translation is “Pluck the day.”  
       In fact, the phrase does come at the end of a poem that uses several pastoral and harvest-related metaphors. So, “pluck” is probably closer to the original literal meaning. Below is a longer section of the poem, translated to English:
  
    “Ask not — we cannot know — what end the gods have set for you, for me;
            nor attempt the Babylonian reckonings Leuconoë.
       How much better to endure whatever comes, 
            whether Jupiter grants us additional winters or whether this is our last,
            which now wears out the Tuscan Sea upon the barrier of the cliffs!
       Be wise, strain the wine; and since life is brief, prune back far-reaching hopes!
       Even while we speak, envious time has passed:
            seize [pluck] the day, putting as little trust as possible in tomorrow!”  
       Regardless of variations in translation, the meaning of the poem and the famous phrase is clear. Live life to the fullest every day and take advantage of the pleasures and opportunities each day offers. Or, as Warren Zevon put it:
“Enjoy every sandwich.”



RIP, ROBIN. YOU WERE INDEED EXTRAORDINARY…

“Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”
      
Robin Williams (1951-2014), as English teacher John Keating
       His advice to his students in the movie
Dead Poets Society (1989)
       This quote comes at the end of a great sequence in which Keating says to his students:
       “‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.’ The Latin term for that sentiment is Carpe Diem... Seize the day. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Why does the writer use these lines?...Because we are food for worms lads. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold, and die. Now I would like you to step forward over here and peruse some of the faces from the past. [Old photos of previous students.] You’ve walked past them many times. I don't think you've really looked at them. They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see, gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Carpe. Hear it? Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”



STEVE ZAHN’S VERSION:

“Carpe poon, man.”
      
Steve Zahn (as the character Wayne)
       In the movie
Saving Silverman (2001), after seeing a good looking woman in a bar
       Thanks to fans of the movie, “Carpe poon” has now made it into the
Urban Dictionary



ERMA BOMBECK’S VERSION:

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”
      
Erma Bombeck (1927-1996)
       American humorist
       Quoted as one of “Erma Bombeck’s 10 Rules To Live By” in
David Wallechinsky’s Book of Lists



SKYLER’S VERSION:

Question on a school test: “Define carpe diem.”
Skyler’s answer:
“Fish of the day.” 
       In the 
Shoe cartoon strip, by Jeff MacNelly, October 8, 2010



TEDDY ROOSEVELT’S VERSION:

“Get action. Seize the moment. Man was never intended to become an oyster.”
      
Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt (1858-1919)
       26th President of the United States
       Teddy’s advice to his children, quoted in David McCullough’s book Mornings on Horseback (1981)

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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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