We've all seen them. They tend to show up at supermarkets, airports, and movie theaters, and they make life miserable for everyone else. I'm speaking, of course, of the parents who do absolutely nothing to supervise the little terrors who are their children. In Sweden there is a word that beautifully describes this sort of... Continue Reading →
Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) was a master of words and knew how to use them to make a point. As a critic, poet, and essayist, everything and everyone was fair game for her brilliant and ruthless prose. She once observed, "The first thing I do in the morning is... Continue Reading →
When an actress asked Father Mugnier if it was a sin for her to look at herself naked in a mirror, the priest gave a cursory glance at her decidedly unfit figure and responded, "No, madame, it's an error." source: Skinner, C. O. (1963). Elegant Wits and Grand Horizontals: Paris - La belle epoque. London:... Continue Reading →
From the pens of critics who are not afraid to speak freely: "This is not a novel to be tossed lightly aside. It should be thrown with great force." --- Dorothy Parker "I am sitting in the smallest room in my house. I have your review in front of me. Soon it will be behind... Continue Reading →
"His forehead was so wrinkled, he had to screw his hat on." -- Carlton Alsop source: Jarski, R. (2008). Dim wit: the funniest, stupidest things ever said (p. 452). London: Ebury.
The Duchess de la Rochefoucauld was overheard commenting on the prominent facial features of an unfortunate girl, "God forgives. The world forgets, but the nose remains."
As George Bernard Shaw perused the shelves of a secondhand bookstore, he came across a volume of his plays. He opened the book and found his handwriting on the flyleaf, addressed to a friend, with the words, "With the compliments of George Bernard Shaw." Mr. Shaw purchased the book and sent it back to the... Continue Reading →
Senator Robert Dole, upon seeing a picture of former presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon lined up at an official event, pointed them out and identified them, in turn, as "See no Evil. Hear no Evil. And Evil." source
Known as the Scourge of God, Attila the Hun (c. 406-453) terrified the eastern and western Roman Empires as he led his armies on a campaign of destruction and conquest. He also terrified people for other reasons. Contemporary accounts of his personal appearance depict him as "an extremely short man, built like an ogre, who... Continue Reading →
Søren Kierkegaard earned the nickname "The Fork" in his youth, due to his ability to identify an opponent's weaknesses and stick it to him. Generally this took the form of surgical strikes from his rapier-sharp wit, but occasionally he could bluntly lob a cannonball, as well. When moved to frustration in his debates with Hans... Continue Reading →
Pope John XXIII (1881-1963) had an impatience for bureaucracy and a wonderful sense of humor. Sometimes these two qualities came together with memorable results. When asked how many people work at the Vatican, the pontiff famously replied, "About half of them."
While serving as U.S. minister to France, Benjamin Franklin attended a dinner in Paris shortly after the British surrendered at Yorktown in 1781. The French foreign minister, Vergennes, began the toasts, saluting his King: "To His Majesty, Louis XVI, who, like the moon, fills the earth with a soft, benevolent glow." The British ambassador rose: "To... Continue Reading →
Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, was known for her acerbic wit as well as for her hats -- both of which she displayed since she was First Daughter. When President Lyndon Johnson complained that her wide-brimmed hats prevented him from being able to kiss her, Alice responded, "That, Mr. President, is... Continue Reading →
President Harry Truman occasionally practiced Abraham Lincoln's technique of venting anger through letters that were written, but not sent. Truman -- who at this point had been out of office for almost 9 years -- was so frustrated as he read the report of the Treasurer of the United States that he wrote to the... Continue Reading →
Critic John Ruskin left no doubt of his opinion of Wagner's opera "Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg" -- "Of all the bête, clumsy, blundering, boggling, baboon-blooded stuff I ever saw on a human stage, that thing last night beat — as far as the acting and story went — and of all the affected, sapless,... Continue Reading →