April 19, 2017

“Hell is other people” – and their taste in music…

Hell is quiz quotes FINAL


“Hell is other people.” (“L’enfer, c’est les Autres.”)
       Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)
       French existential philosopher and writer and Marxist social activist
       This is the oft-quoted line from Sartre’s play No Exit (titled Huis Clos in French), spoken by the character Joseph Garcin. The play was first performed in French at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier theatre in Paris in May 1944. It was first performed in English at the Biltmore Theatre in New York City in 1946, using the translation by the renowned Beat writer and translator, Paul Bowles.  
       Bowles was a bit creative in his translation. “Huis clos” is a French idiomatic expression that’s similar to the English legal term “in camera,” meaning a judicial proceeding or discussion held in private. In fact, the play has sometimes been performed and filmed in English under the title In Camera.
       A more literal translation of “Huis Clos” would be “behind closed doors.” However, the play is best known by the title Bowles came up with. Apparently, it was a hellish translation challenge for him. In the biography Paul Bowles: A Life, he is quoted as saying: “I’m not very good at titles. It took me six weeks to get No Exit out of Huis Clos.”
       No Exit/Huis Clos is about the three doomed souls: a man, Joseph Garcin, and two women, Inès Serrano and Estelle Rigault. They are condemned to Hell for their sins. But instead of facing flames and torture, they are locked together in a room furnished in the Second French Empire style. (Hellish in itself!) There’s not much for them to do except talk about themselves and eventually deal with Estelle’s attempt to seduce Joseph.

French Church of Satan


“Have you heard the expression ‘Hell is other people’? This is true, especially if the other people are French.”
       Satan (as quoted by writer David Katz)
       In a humorous “interview” with the Lord of Hell, “What I’ve Learned: Satan,” published in Esquire magazine, January 2007.

T.S. Eliot Cocktail Party play poster


“What is hell? Hell is oneself,
  Hell is alone, the other figures in it
  Merely projections. There is nothing to escape from
  And nothing to escape to. One is always alone.”
       T.S. Eliot
       British poet and playwright
       Said by the character Edward Chamberlayne in Eliot’s play The Cocktail Party, first performed in 1949. In the play, Edward makes amends with his wife Lavinia at a party, after they’d split due to his infidelity. It was the most popular of Eliot’s seven plays in his lifetime.

The Heming Way book


“Hell isn’t other people; it’s other people when you’re sober.”
       Marty Beckerman

       American author
       In his very funny book The Heming Way, which spoofs Ernest Hemingway’s uber-manly attitudes and behavior. The subtitle is How to Unleash the Booze-Inhaling, Animal-Slaughtering, War-Glorifying, Hairy-Chested Retro-Sexual Legend Within, Just Like Papa!

Wilson movie


“Hell may be other people, but they’re all we’ve got.”
       Stephanie Zacharek
       Film critic for Time magazine
       Her encapsulation of the point of the movie Wilson (starring Woody Harrelson as the title character), in her review in Time, April 3, 2017. The film is based on the graphic novel by American cartoonist Daniel Clowes.

Li'l Bastard by David McGimpsey


“Hell is other people’s taste in music.”
       David McGimpsey

       Canadian poet and novelist
       In his book of sonnets, Li’l Bastard (2011)

john guzlowski on Twitter


“Hell is other people’s politics.”
       John Guzlowski
       Polish-born American writer and poet
       His response on Twitter to a tweet by Quaint Magazine that said: “Throughout the next few days, we'll be reposting links to work we've published that speaks to the current political climate.”

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April 12, 2017

In space no one can hear you scream (or retch, or sigh, or…)

Alien movie poster


“In space no one can hear you scream.”
       The memorable marketing slogan used for the 1979 movie Alien 
       This famous tagline and the image of the alien egg used for posters and ads promoting Alien were created by Steve Frankfurt and Philip Gips, partners of the graphic design firm Frankfurt Gips Balkind (now In Sync Bemis Balkind). It has been repurposed, copied and parodied countless times ever since.

PASSENGERS movie poster 2016


“In space, no one can hear you retch.”
       Barry Hertz
       Film critic for the UK Globe and Mail
       This is the pointed headline of his review of the 2016 science fiction movie Passengers, starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, published in the Globe and Mail, December 20, 2016.
       “It’s Stockholm Syndrome masked as true love, and it is sickening,” Hertz said of the film’s plot. Most critics and women’s rights activists agreed. The film was widely-criticized as being cluelessly sexist. Why? In a nutshell, Pratt’s character finds himself to be the only crew member who’s awakened from cryogenic sleep on a spaceship taking a long voyage. He gets lonely, fixates Lawrence’s still-hibernating body and wakes her up. He lies to her by saying her revival was a pod malfunction, then woos her. In the minds of the spaced-out producers who greenlit Passengers, this was supposed to be a romantic storyline.

LIFE movie poster, 2017


“Don’t let the very good cast fool you, this outer space adventure is just another Alien clone...In space, no one can hear you sigh with resignation.”
       Adam Graham
       Film critic at the Detroit News
       In his review of the science fiction movie Life, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds, published in the Detroit News, March 23, 2017.

Alien Covenant movie poster 2017


“In space, no-one can hear you scream...except whatever it is that’s about to rip your chest apart.”
       Susan Arendt
       US Executive Editor for GamesRadar and Co-founder of TakeThis.org
       In her article on the GamesRadar site previewing the sixth movie in the Alien series, Alien Covenant (2017).  

Space Above and Beyond Boot Camp scene


“In space, no one can hear you scream – unless it is the battle cry of the United States Marines!”
       Line yelled at a group of rookie marines by Drill Sergeant Frank Bougus (played by actor R. Lee Ermey) in the boot camp scene in the first episode of the TV series Space: Above and Beyond, first aired on September 24, 1995. (One of my favorite science fiction TV shows, gone too soon after only one season.)

Danny Charnley tweet


“in space, no one can hear your political views”
       Danny Charnley 
       American writer and comedian
In a Twitter tweet about the overabundance of idiotic political posts on sites like Twitter and Facebook. (A modern phenomenon that is scarier than most science fiction horror movies.)

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March 28, 2017

“The pen is mightier than the sword”


“Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword.”

       Edward George Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873)
       British politician and playwright
       In his play Richelieu (1839) 
       Although Bulwer-Lytton’s line “The pen is mightier than the sword” is the most famous use and is often cited as the first, the basic concept was already proverbial and has many predecessors.

Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart


“Governments may think and say as they like, but force cannot be eliminated, and it is the only real and unanswerable power. We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.” 
       Adrian Carton de Wiart (1880-1963)
       British Army officer and war hero 
       In his autobiography, Happy Odyssey, first published in 1950 
       De Wiart’s comment undoubtedly reflects his experiences as a soldier in the Boer War, World War I and World War I. In the course of those conflicts, he lost his left eye, part of an ear, and his left hand. He is considered one of the bravest badasses in military history.

Matthew Russell


“If the pen is mightier than the sword, what does that say about the tweet?”
       Matthew A. Russell
       American computer scientist and author
       An observation he made in his 2011 book Mining the Social Web. It seems even more prescient in view of the role Twitter has played in the rise and presidency of Donald Trump.

Steve Lonegan-8x6


“We cannot allow the pen to be mightier than the sword!”
       Steve Lonegan 
       Republican politician who became Senior Policy Director for “Americans for Prosperity”
       Speaking against the Democrats’ proposed “Affordable Health Care Act” (a.k.a. “Obamacare”) at a December 15, 2009 “Tea Party” protest

Jon Stewart with Lonegan-8x6


“And, that is why, today, I’ve written my speech with my sword, and...We can’t let the pen be mightier than the sword [!?!] — because that’s ONLY THE BASIS OF OUR CIVILIZATION!
       Jon Stewart 
       American comedian and political satirist
       Making fun of Steve Lonegan’s quote on The Daily Show on December 16, 2009

Get Thee To a Punnery, Richard Lederer-8x6


“The pun is mightier than the sword.” 
       Richard Lederer 
       American word and phrase maven, author, speaker, and teacher 
       One of the puns in his book Get Thee to a Punnery (1988)

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March 21, 2017

“Familiarity breeds contempt” – and various other things…

Aesop Fox and the Lion


“Familiarity breeds contempt.”
       Aesop (c. 620-564 B.C.)
       The moral of
“The Fox and the Lion” story in Aesop’s Fables
       In traditional English translations of Aesop’s Fables, there’s a phrase at the end of each brief tale that summarizes “the moral of the story.” The origin of the proverbial saying “Familiarity breeds contempt” is widely credited to the traditional translation of Aesop’s fable “The Fox and the Lion,” which reads:
When first the Fox saw the Lion he was terribly frightened, and ran away and hid himself in the wood. Next time however he came near the King of Beasts he stopped at a safe distance and watched him pass by. The third time they came near one another the Fox went straight up to the Lion and passed the time of day with him, asking him how his family were, and when he should have the pleasure of seeing him again; then turning his tail, he parted from the Lion without much ceremony.
       “Familiarity Breeds Contempt”

Daniel Katz CUNY


“Just as unfamiliarity breeds fear, an intimate introduction to multiple cultures breeds trust.”
       Daniel Katz 
       Professor of History and labor history expert, City University of New York (CUNY)
       In his 2012 book Labor Rising: The Past and Future of Working People in America (co-edited with Richard A. Greenwald)

The Affluent Society-8x6


“Familiarity may breed contempt in some areas of human behavior, but in the field of social ideas it is the touchstone of acceptability. Because familiarity is such an important test of acceptability, the acceptable ideas have great stability.”
John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006)
       American economist
In Chapter 2 of his pioneering book about social economics, The Affluent Society (1958)

Aldous Huxley quote 1000


“Familiarity breeds indifference. We have seen too much pure, bright color at Woolworth’s to find it intrinsically transporting. And here we may note that, by its amazing capacity to give us too much of the best things, modern technology has tended to devaluate the traditional vision-inducing materials.”
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)
       British author and social critic
       In his book length essay Heaven and Hell (1956), often published together with his earlier essays extolling the benefits of hallucinogenic drugs, The Doors of Perception (1954)



Melissa Hastings (actress Torrey DeVitto): “I was hoping you'd be happy for me.”
Spencer Hastings (Troian Bellisario):
“Well, you know what they say about hope: it breeds eternal misery.”
       Some repartee from
the pilot episode of the TV show Pretty Little Liars (2010)



“The undue familiarity usually existing between husband and wife is a feeder of psycho-sexual aberrations. Once the halo of sex mystery is dispelled, romance often fails completely... Familiarity breeds satiety. Satiety is the parent of sexual discontent. The satiated, discontented man often browses in queer pastures in search of new thrills for his exhausted psycho-sexual centers.”
George Frank Lydston (1858–1923)
       An American urologist who had some unusual theories (and issues)
       The quote above is from Lydston’s book
Impotence and Sterility: with Aberrations of the Sexual Function and Sex-Gland Implantation (1917).
       In addition to coming up with the odd theory that men who became too “familiar” with their wives would turn gay, Lydston experimented with the transplantation of testicular tissue from animals into humans, as a form of
“androgen therapy” for older men. The donors included dogs, goats, monkeys and even guinea pigs. (Really. I’m not making this stuff up.)

Mark Twain familiarity breeds children quote QC


“Familiarity breeds contempt — and children.” 
       Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens; 1835-1910) 
       A quip Twain recorded in his journal in 1894; included in his posthumously published Notebooks (1935)

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March 5, 2017

“Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.”

Peter O'Toole - My Favorite Year-8x6

“Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” 
Peter O’Toole, playing the washed-up actor Alan Swann
       In the 1982 movie
My Favorite Year  
       Precursors of this widely-quoted line in the movie
have been attributed to English actors Edmund Kean and Edmund Gwenn (among others)

Tony Blair

“Outrage is easy; strategy is hard…The emotional response to the rightist populism sweeping the West is one of protest and dismay. But if there is to be an effective fightback, there has to be a cool analysis of what is happening, why and what can be done...The politics of the progressive center has not died, but it needs reinventing and re-energizing. For liberal democracy to survive and thrive, we must build a new coalition that is popular, not populist.”
       Tony Blair
       Former leader of the British Labour Party; Prime Minister of Britain from 1997 to 2007
In an op-ed in the New York Times, March 3, 2017

Art Buchwald-8x6

“Dying is easy. Parking is hard.”

Art Buchwald(1925-2007)
       American humorist and journalist 
       A quip he made while dying from kidney failure 
Quoted in Time magazine, shortly after his death

Donald Cook - First Marine Captured in Vietnam-8x6

“Cook said POWs must realize simple truths: dying is easy, living is hard, and surviving the day is always in doubt. Thus, he said, to awaken each morning to a new day is a victory.”   
       Donald L. Price  
       Retired Marine Colonel and author 
In his book The First Marine Captured in Vietnam (2007)
       Referring to Medal of Honor recipient,
U.S. Marine Col. Donald G. Cook, who died in a Viet Cong prison camp in 1967

Christopher Reeve - Nothing is Impossible-8x6

“I've slipped into that ‘numb zone’ many times. That’s when creating humor and appreciating it becomes very difficult, but even more necessary....If you get stuck in it for a long period of time you may end up going back to square one, when life after a catastrophe has no meaning....I agree with the dying comedian; sometimes humor is hard but it’s worth it.”
Christopher Reeve (1952-2004)
       American actor and patient advocate
       In his inspiring book
Nothing is Impossible (2004)

Dennis Lehane-8x6

“Sympathy is easy. It's always given from a position of power...But when you have empathy, you empathize with the person. You put yourself on equal footing. Sympathy is easy. Empathy is hard.” 
       Dennis Lehane 
       American novelist
       In a commencement speech he gave at the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2004
       Quoted in
Here We Stand: 600 Inspiring Messages the World’s Best Commencement Addresses (2009)

Carl Reiner-8x6

“Lust is easy. Love is hard. Like is most important.”
Carl Reiner (b. 1922)
       American comedian, actor, director and producer   
       A comment he made in an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2005
that is still widely quoted

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February 14, 2017

A government — and a nation — of laws…

John Adams government of laws quote WM


A government of laws and not of men.”
John Adams (1735-1826) 
       American lawyer, politician and 2nd President of the United States
       Although the basic concept of “a government of laws, and not of men” reflects a political philosophy dating back to the ancient Greeks, Adams gave it lasting fame in those exact words, initially by using it in his
7th “Novanglus” letter published in the Boston Gazette in 1775, then more famously by including it in the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780.
The “Novanglus Letters” were a series of essays Adams wrote for the Boston Gazette under the pseudonym Novanglus (meaning “New Englander”). In them, he argued that Great Britain’s treatment of American colonists violated their rights under British law.
       In the seventh Novanglus letter, Adams said:
“If Aristotle, Livy, and Harrington knew what a republic was, the British constitution is much more like a republic than an empire. They define a republic to be a government of laws, and not of men. If this definition is just, the British constitution is nothing more nor less than a republic, in which the king is first magistrate. This office being hereditary, and being possessed of such ample and splendid prerogatives, is no objection to the government's being a republic, as long as it is bound by fixed laws, which the people have a voice in making, and a right to defend.” 
       Five years later after he wrote the Novanglus letters, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts adopted the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. Adams was primary author of that historic document. In it, he again used the phrase “a government of laws and not of men.” In the section outlining the crucial principle of the separation of powers, he wrote:
       “In the government of this Commonwealth, the legislative department shall never exercise the executive and judicial powers, or either of them: The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them: The judicial shall never exercise the legislative and executive powers, or either of them: to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men.” 
       “A government of laws” and the variation “a nation of laws” came to be commonly used in commentaries on legal issues, political disputes and court decisions. They are sometimes
used almost simultaneously by people on both sides of such issues, who believe their interpretation of the law is the correct one — often regardless of what the courts decide.



“We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws.  As a sovereign country, America has the right to control its border.”
Sen. John Neely Kennedy 
       Republican politician now serving as U.S. Senator for Louisiana
a press statement he released on January 30, 2016 in support of President Donald Trump’s travel ban executive order. The order, designed to bar the entry of travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations into the U.S., was soon blocked by a federal judge whose decision was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. 
       Presumably, Sen. Kennedy respects that outcome as an example of how the separation of powers works in our nation of laws. (But somehow I doubt it.)




“We are a nation of laws. And, as I have said, as we have said, from day one, that those laws apply to everybody in our country, and that includes the President of the United States.”
Bob Ferguson
      Washington State Attorney General
      In a
press conference on February 9, 2017 after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the state’s favor in a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s “travel ban” executive order. As I write this, it’s unclear whether President Trump will appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
       It also remains to be seen whether supporters or opponents of the ban will be happily (or grumpily) using “a nation of laws” when the legal dust finally settles.

Archibald Cox


“Whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people.”
Archibald Cox (1912-2004)
      American lawyer and law professor who served as a Special Prosecutor during the investigation of the Watergate scandal
Comment to the press on October 20, 1973 after President Richard Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Cox from his Special Prosecutor position for zealously pursuing access to the then still-secret Watergate Tapes.
       Richardson refused to fire Cox and resigned in protest. Deputy Attorney General
William Ruckelshaus also refused to carry out the president’s order and resigned. Nixon then succeeded in getting Robert Bork, who’d been tapped as acting head of the Justice Department, to fire Cox on Saturday, October 20, 1973. 
      This so-called
“The Saturday Night Massacre” didn’t help Nixon. It simply generated negative press, public outrage and even more intense Congressional investigations. Ultimately, Nixon was forced to release the tapes. On August 9, 1974, he became the first American president to resign, knowing he’d be impeached if he didn’t.



“My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works. Our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule.” 
       Gerald R. Ford (1913-2006)
       American politician who served as 38th President of the United States
       Lines from
his speech on August 9, 1974, the day he ascended from being Richard Nixon’s Vice President to be inaugurated as President of the United States after Nixon resigned.
       One month later, President Ford gave Nixon a “full, free and absolute pardon” for any crimes he committed while president. Whether “the people” agreed with that decision didn’t matter. In our nation of laws, the president has the legal power to grant such pardons under the powers given to him by the U.S. Constitution.

Philip K. Howard


“In our obsessive effort to perfect a government of laws, not of men, we have invented a government of laws against men.”
Philip K. Howard (b. 1948)
       American lawyer and conservative political commentator and author 
       A quote from his 1994 book The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America
       In the book, Howard argues that the increasing number of laws and regulations in the United States have reached a point of absurdity that stifles our economy, personal freedom and our quality of life.



“The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.”
Frank Zappa (1940-1993)
       American rock musician, provocateur and entrepreneur     
       A famous quotation
widely attributed to Zappa, though it’s unclear if and when he said it 
his excellent Big Apple language history site, Barry Popik notes that in a 1992 interview journalist Jon Winokur reminded Zappa that he “once said” the line.
      Zappa didn’t actually confirm that he’d said those words in the interview. But the quote does seem consistent with his typically critical view of the American political and legal system.

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