December 31, 2016

“Ring out the old, ring in the new” … Happy New Year from!


“Ring out the old, ring in the new.”
Alfred Tennyson (a.k.a. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson; 1809-1892)
       English poet 
       Famous line from Tennyson’s
In Memoriam A.H.H. (1850)
Many websites and books say these familiar words linked to New Year’s Eve are from a Tennyson poem titled “Ring Out, Wild Bells.” Technically, that’s incorrect. 
       The verses that go by that name come from Tennyson’s epic work, In Memoriam A.H.H., his elegiac musings on the death his friend
Arthur Henry Hallam (the “A.H.H.” in the title). In Memoriam A.H.H. is essentially a very long poem comprised of 131 short ones that are referred to as cantos. These cantos were not given individual names by Tennyson. The popular title “Ring Out, Wild Bells” are the first four words of the canto that includes the line “Ring out the old, ring in the new.” (Canto CVI, or 106 in Roman numerals). Here’s the part where the famous lines first appear…  
out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
                 The flying cloud, the frosty light:
                 The year is dying in the night;
              Ring out, wild bells, and let him die. 
              Ring out the old, ring in the new,
                 Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
                 The year is going, let him go;
              Ring out the false, ring in the true.

       The tradition of tolling bells to “ring out” the year that is ending and “ring in” the new one predates Tennyson.
It’s actually an old custom in England and many countries around the world. However, Tennyson is generally credited for cementing “Ring out the old, ring in the new” into the English language and making it a linguistic tradition associated with New Year’s celebrations.  

Phil Hands, I want my country back 

      “Gloom is a terrible way to ring out the old, and despair is of no help in trying to imagine the new.
       So let us consider what good might come from the political situation in which we will find ourselves in 2017.  Doing this does not require denying the dangers posed by a Donald Trump presidency or the demolition of progressive achievements he could oversee. It does mean remembering an important distinction President Obama has made ever since he entered public life: that ‘hope is not blind optimism.’
      ‘Hope,’ he argued, ‘is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it.’”
E.J. Dionne Jr.
       American political commentator and professor at Georgetown University      
his December 28, 2016 column in the Washington Post
by Phil Hands for the Wisconsin State Journal)


“Bring out the old, bring in the new
A midnight wish to share with you
Your lips are warm, my head is light
Were we alive before tonight?
I don't need a crowded ballroom
Everything I want is here
If you're with me, next year will be
The perfect year.”

Don Black
       English lyricist
       Lyrics from
“The Perfect Year,” one of the songs in the musical Sunset Boulevard, with lyrics by Black and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. (First performed in London in 1993.)


“Yesterday, today was tomorrow
And tomorrow, today will be yesterday
So, ring out the old, ring in the new
Ring out the old, ring in the new
Ring out the false, ring in the true.”

George Harrison (1943-2001)
       English rock musician
       From the lyrics of his 1974 song
“Ding Dong, Ding Dong” (included on the Dark Horse album)

James Joyce finnegans_wake

“Wring out the clothes! Wring in the dew! Godavari, vert the showers! And grant thaya grace! Aman.”
James Joyce (1882-1941)
       Irish novelist and poet 
from his novel Finnegans Wake (1939)
       What's Joyce’s version mean? Well,
in his book Verbal Behavior (1957), American psychologist B.F. Skinner offered this, er, helpful explanation: “Joyce’s line ‘Wring out the clothes, wring in the dew’ borrows strength from the latent intraverbal sequence ‘Ring out the old, ring in the new,’ as well as from a current theme of women washing clothes in the open air. The line may not be musical, it may or may not evoke emotional or practical responses, but it clearly manipulates verbal strength. It is this verbal play which is reinforcing to the reader and hence indirectly to the writer.” ... Got it?


“Wring out the Old; Bring in the New...
The Old: Sponges can be sanitized in the microwave.
The True: Using the microwave can be risky...there is the possibility of starting a fire.”
The American Cleaning Institute (formerly the Soap and Detergent Association)
       In the
January/February 2009 edition of the organization’s newsletter, "Cleaning Matters"

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Related reading…

December 17, 2016

Facts are stubborn things – but not half so stubborn as fallacies...

John Adams, Facts are stubborn things quote TDIQ


“Facts are stubborn things.”
       John Adams (1735-1826)
       American lawyer and Founding Father who became the second President of the United States
       Adams famously used this saying on December 4, 1770, during his defense of the British soldiers on trial for the March 5, 1770 incident popularly called the “Boston Massacre.”
       That incident started when a Boston man got into an argument with a British soldier. Eight other soldiers who came to protect their comrade were soon surrounded by a large crowd of hostile Americans, who pelted them with snowballs and ice chunks. The soldiers panicked and shot into the crowd, killing five men. When the soldiers were arrested and put on trial for murder a Tory merchant asked John Adams to defend them. He accepted the case. 
       Many irate Bostonians wanted the soldiers executed for murder. Adams argued they’d been provoked and were not cold-blooded killers. During his summation he said: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence...This was a provocation, for which the law reduces the offence of killing down to manslaughter.” The jury agreed. Six of the soldiers were acquitted. Two were found guilty of manslaughter and punished by having their thumbs branded. 
       “Facts are stubborn things” became one of Adams’ best-known quotations. Some people think he coined it. In fact, it was already a proverbial saying. (For more background see the post on my site at this link.)

John McCain, Face the Nation, Dec 11, 2016


“I don’t know what to make of it because it’s clear the Russians interfered. Whether they intended to interfere to the degree that they were trying to elect a certain candidate, I think that’s a subject of investigation, but the facts are stubborn things.”
       John McCain
       American Republican politician who has long served as US Senator for Arizona 
       Comment in an interview on the CBS news show “Face the Nation,” December 11, 2016
       This was McCain’s response when asked about Donald Trump’s recent dismissal of reports by US intelligence agencies that Russia was behind the hacking of emails on servers of the Democratic National Committee, with the apparent intent of hurting Hillary Clinton’s campaign and helping Trump win the November 2016 presidential election. Earlier that day, Trump told Fox News he didn’t believe it.

internet obsessed with pizzagate


“Zombie claims are stubborn things. No matter how many times you debunk them, they keep rising from the dead.”
       Michelle Ye Hee Lee
       Washington D.C.- based reporter for the Washington Post
       In her May 8, 2016 column in the Post
       Lee was commenting on the type of claims that seem increasingly common in the realm of politics nowadays; claims that continue to be spread and believed by many people even after they have been proven false.

Lucy Maud Montgomery - Facts are stubborn WM2


“Facts are stubborn things, but as someone has wisely said, not half so stubborn as fallacies.”
       Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942)
       Canadian author best known for a series of novels beginning in 1908 with Anne of Green Gables, written under her pen name L.M. Montgomery 
       This line, from Montgomery’s book Anne of the Island (1915), is in a letter written by the character Stella Maynard.

quote-Mark-Twain-facts-are-stubborn-but-statistics FALSE


“Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.”
       Attributed (wrongly) to Mark Twain (1835-1910)
       This quip is credited to Twain by thousands of internet posts and many books
       One problem: the facts don't support that claim. As noted by language maven Barry Popik in his post about the quote on his Big Apple site, there’s no evidence Twain ever said it. It appears to be one of the many fake Mark Twain quotes that float around. 

Reagan August 15, 1988 Republican National Convention


“Facts are stupid things.”
       Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)
       American actor-turned-politician; 40th President of the United States
       In his speech at the August 15, 1988 Republican National Convention
       Reagan made this unfairly-mocked slip in the part of his speech that focused on the economic problems he blamed on his Democratic predecessor, President Jimmy Carter. “Before we came to Washington,” Reagan said, “Americans had just suffered the two worst back-to-back years of inflation in 60 years...Fuel costs jumped through the atmosphere, more than doubling. Then people waited in gas lines as well as unemployment lines. Facts are stupid things.”
       Reagan immediately corrected himself, adding: “Stubborn things, I should say.” But once the word stupid came out of his mouth, that’s the version that was picked up and satirized by his critics.



“January is the month of broken resolutions. The gyms are packed for a week, Jenny Craig is full of new recruits and houses are cleaned for the first time in ages. We pledge to finally become the person we want to be: svelte, neat and punctual. Alas, it doesn’t take long before the stairmasters are once again sitting empty and those same dirty T-shirts are piling up at the back of the closet… Human habits, in other words, are stubborn things, which helps explain why 88 percent of all resolutions end in failure, according to a 2007 survey of over 3,000 people conducted by the British psychologist Richard Wiseman.”
       Jonah Lehrer
       American writer and speaker 
       In an article he wrote for in January 2012 

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November 16, 2016

"Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”– from Macbeth and Trump memes, to Slackers and Superman…

Macbeth sound and fury quote V3 wm


“Life’s but a walking shadow...a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

William Shakespeare
Act 5, Scene 5
       Even if you’re not a Shakespeare fan you’ve probably seen or heard things or people
described as “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” These words are spoken by Macbeth near the end of The Bard’s play about him, first performed in 1606. They reflect Macbeth’s realization that all the scheming he’d done and the murders he’d committed to become the King of Scotland had ultimately led him to a joyless, grim and meaningless end. Macbeth says the lines after being told that his wife is dead. Soon after, so is he.
       The phrase “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” turned into a common way of saying that something, or some person, is loud or attention-getting but essentially inconsequential or irrelevant. 
       Author William Faulkner helped make “sound and fury” an an especially common phrase by titling what would become his most famous novel
The Sound and the Fury (first published in 1929).
       By the way, if you are a Shakespeare fan like me, I highly recommend two modern adaptations of Macbeth that you can stream on Amazon: the 2010
PBS “Great Performances” adaptation starring Patrick Stewart as Macbeth in a fascist-style realm, and the visually-stunning 2015 film starring Michael Fassbender in the title role.

Sound and fury idiot Trump


       One of the many snarky internet
memes about candidate Donald Trump posted on Facebook prior to his victory in the November 8, 2016 presidential election, a result that was widely dismissed as unlikely or even impossible before it happened.

Trump protesters November 2016


“Whatever reactions the protesters have, they need to face the facts that Clinton’s large margin in popular votes didn’t translate into an electoral victory. Their protests are mostly ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’ more than profound disappointment.”
       Mitch Edelman
       American journalist
In his column about the post-election anti-Trump on the Carroll County News site, November 14, 2016

Slacker book Richard Linklater


“I’m what, a slacker?...I’m in that white space where consumer terror meets irony and pessimism, where Scooby Doo and Dr. Faustus hold equal sway over the mind, where the Butthole Surfers provide the background volume, where we choose what is not obvious over what is easy. It goes TV channel-cruising, no plot, no tragic flaws, no resolution, just mastering the moment, pushing forward, full of sound and fury, full of life signifying everything on any given day.”
Richard Linklater
       American filmmaker, screenwriter and actor 
In his book Slacker (1992), about the making of his 1991 movie Slacker             

LA Story movie poster


“Sitting there at that moment I thought of something else Shakespeare said. He said, ‘Hey, life is pretty stupid, with lots of hubbub to keep you busy but really not amounting to much.’ Of course I'm paraphrasing.”
Steve Martin as the character Harris K. Telemacher
In the movie L.A. Story (1991)

Miss Peregrine’s Home poster


“Once you get past all the sound and fury, what you’re left with is basically emptiness.”
Allison Shoemaker
       Staff writer for the Consequence of Sound entertainment website
In her review of Tim Burton's 2016 film Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

Dawn of Justice poster


“‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ is a rancid brew of silence, sound and fury, signifying the absolute worst the comic book movie genre has to offer.” 
Alex Biese
       American entertainment journalist and reviewer
In his review of the film for the Asbury Park Press, March 28, 2016

       NOTE: For some other uses and variations of “full of sound and fury…” see the previous post at this link.

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November 9, 2016

“Living well is the best revenge.”


“Living well is the best revenge.” 
       Generally attributed to
George Herbert (1593-1633)
       English clergyman and poet
       A saying included in his collection of proverbs, first published in Outlandish Proverbs (1640)
Many books and websites credit “Living well is the best revenge” to Herbert. It’s one of hundreds of common proverbs from various languages that he collected and translated as a scholarly hobby, and as grist for sermons he gave as an Anglican priest. Seven years after Herbert died, 1,032 of the sayings he collected were assembled into a book published under the name Outlandish Proverbs. This was republished with some additional entries in 1651, with the title Jacula Prudentum (Latin for “javelins of the wise”). It’s likely that Herbert heard and recorded “Living well is the best revenge,” rather than coining it. But its inclusion in his widely-read, pioneering collection of proverbs certainly helped popularize this old saying.

Cyndi Lauper 2016


“I don’t think I have ever achieved greatness despite everything I’ve done, but it’s not so much greatness, it’s happiness you need to focus on. Enjoying life is the best revenge. You have to stay connected to life and the things that excite you. Life is for learning.”
       Cyndi Lauper
       American singer, songwriter and actress
       In an interview posted on the Music News website and others in November 2016


“Everybody join the club,
Failure is the best revenge.
Only one way of doing things right,
   but a thousand ways wrong.
So join the fight
   in showing the winners we don’t play their games
An army of losers, retarded and lame.”
The Vandals
       American punk rock band
       Lyrics from their song
“Failure Is The Best Revenge,” on their album The Quickening (1996)


“That’s the best revenge of all: happiness. Nothing drives people crazier than seeing someone have a good fucking life.” 
Chuck Palahniuk
       American novelist and journalist, best known for his novel Fight Club (1996)
       This quip is widely attributed to Palahniuk, though
an old discussion thread on the biggest fan site for the author suggests he may not have said it.


“Sticks and stones may break bones, but a poison pen is the best revenge.”
Kristen Bell, as the voice of the unseen blogger “Gossip Girl”
       In a voiceover in the
“You've Got Yale!” episode of the TV series Gossip Girl (Season 2, Episode 16, first aired January 19, 2009)


“Living well is the best revenge...and by living well, I mean seeing my enemies die in agony.”
Mike Stivers
       American cartoonist 
       Word bubbles in a cartoon created by Stivers in 2003

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July 21, 2016

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Today is the first day fridge magnet-8x6

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”
Charles Dederich (1914-1997)
       Founder of
Synanon, the 1960s drug rehabilitation organization that morphed into a cult 
Most sources credit Charles Dederich with coining this well-known self-help mantra in the 1960s, around the time he founded Synanon. Clearly, it’s use by Dederich and Synanon as a slogan for recovering drug addicts helped popularize the saying. However, Dederich may or may not have created it. It’s one of those sayings that just seem to have been floating around in the 1960s. Many websites and books say it was coined by the legendary Hippie activist/theater group called The Diggers. It was also used by Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman in his 1968 book Revolution for the Hell of It (1968), as the title of a song in the obscure 1968 musical Love Match, and on on everything from head shop posters and greeting cards. I suspect that’s why some sources simply (and perhaps rightly) credit it to “Anonymous.” (Related post: “One day at a time”)

Steve Martin Twitter profile pic


“I thought yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life but it turns out today is.”
       Steve Martin
       American actor, comedian, musician and writer
       A tweet from his Twitter feed

Juicy Tomatoes book cover-8x6

“Do something outrageous, bold, unlike yourself. If the bathing suit doesn’t fit, skinny-dip. The clock ticketh. To adapt an old philosophy: Today is the youngest day of the rest of your life.”
Susan Swartz
       California-based journalist, author and public radio commentator
       Advice in her book
Juicy Tomatoes: Plain Truths, Dumb Lies, and Sisterly Advice about Life After 50 (2000)


“Today today is the first day of the rest of your life...and it too will suck.” 
T-shirt slogan (on


“Remember those posters that said, ‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’? Well, that’s true of every day but one — the day you die.”
Kevin Spacey, as the character Lester Burnham
       A poignant quote from the 1999 film
American Beauty, spoken as a voiceover by Lester not long before he commits suicide.

botld-02 - Happy Zombie button-8x6

“To our newest undead recruits. Good moaning. Today is the first day of the rest of your afterlife.”
Virginia Reynolds (a.k.a. “MsCadavreExquis”)
       American author alleged to be the “love child of Marcel Duchamp and Victoria Woodhull”
       From the "Deadication" of her book
The Art of War for Zombies: Ancient Chinese Secrets of World Domination (2011)

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