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Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Mamet

Published Wednesday, November 30, 2011 @ 9:39 AM EST
Nov 30 2011

"Act as if ye had faith; and faith will be given to you."
-David Mamet (b. November 30, 1947)

This certainly sounds like it comes straight out of the King James version of the Bible, but its origin is far more contemporary.

The line is spoken by Paul Newman in Sidney Lumet's The Verdict (1982). Mamet's screenplay was based on the late Barry Reed's 1980 novel, which in turn was ghost written by this fella.

It's left as an exercise to the reader to attempt to locate the line in the novel. All the Internet references I checked credit it to Mamet, and who am I to doubt WikiQuote?

How could a line of dialogue from a modern film be mistaken for scripture written two millenia ago? It appears in the middle of Paul Newman's jury summation scene, which is cited by those who rank such things as one of the greatest monologues to appear in a motion picture:

(YouTube video: The summation monologue from "The Verdict." Newman, Mamet, and director Sidney Lumet received Academy Award nominations, but didn't win.)

"You know, so much of the time we're just lost. We say, 'Please, God, tell us what is right; tell us what is true.' And there is no justice: the rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time, we become dead- a little dead. We think of ourselves as victims- and we become victims. We become- we become weak. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. We doubt our institutions. And we doubt the law. But today, you are the law. You are the law. Not some book- not the lawyers- not the, a marble statue- or the trappings of the court. See those are just symbols of our desire to be just. They are- they are, in fact, a prayer: a fervent and a frightened prayer. In my religion, they say, 'Act as if ye had faith- and faith will be given to you.' If- if we are to have faith in justice, we need only to believe in ourselves. And act with justice. See, I believe there is justice in our hear"ts.

"In my religion," coupled with the use of the archaic "ye," strongly suggest to the audience the phrase is taken from a religious text. That it's delivered by Paul Newman in a Boston courtroom filled with Irish Catholics pretty much rules out the Bhagavad Gita as the source..

Most Christians are accustomed to hearing scripture quoted out of context, without chapter and verse references. The sincerity of Mamet's dialogue and Newman's delivery sell it completely.

The Mamet line joins a number of much older quotes as pseudo-scripture.

Aesop's "The Gods help those who help themselves" was tweaked into a monotheistic form and inserted into "Poor Richard's Almanac" by Benjamin Franklin, a undenominated Deist.

"Cleaniness is indeed next to Godliness" was a common saying when John Wesley used it in a sermon in 1791. He probably was paraphrasing Francis Bacon's "Advancement of Learning" from 1605.

"Even the Devil can quote scripture?" The actual line is "The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose," spoken by Antonio in Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice." Similarly, "This above all things: to thine own self be true" and "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" are from "Hamlet."

Perhaps the best approach is that recommended by Anatole France:

"When a thing has been said and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it."

Categories: Quotes of the day

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Quote of the day

Published Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 12:15 AM EST
Nov 29 2011

Quote of the day? As far as I'm concerned, this is the quote of the year:

"I have zero tolerance for self-inflicted drama."
-Tina Roth Eisenberg, swissmiss.com

I love this observation because its three major elements- zero tolerance, self-inflicted, and drama- are "dense" words which vividly evoke both an intellectual and an emotional response.

How much of the turmoil which surrounds us each day is, indeed, caused by the very persons who bemoan their sorry situations?

Team this baby up with "Actions have consequences," and you've pretty much nailed the cause and effect of much the chaos we must endure these days.

This isn't a quotation- it's a philosophy.

Categories: Quotes of the day

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Hallelujah, indeed

Published Sunday, November 27, 2011 @ 11:07 PM EST
Nov 27 2011

Paul Shaffer (b. November 28, 1949) is perhaps best known as late night talk show host David Letterman's band leader, a position he's held since the show's original premiere on NBC in 1982.

That year, a song Shaffer co-wrote in 1979 with Grammy and Academy Award winning composer Paul Jabara was recorded by a duo of plus-sized black women originally called Two Tons o' Fun. To tie in to the theme of the song, the group renamed themselves The Weather Girls. The recording, a disco tune with a driving beat and unusual minor chord progression, was It's Raining Men.

The rest, as they say, is history.

In 1982, I was working as the second-shift supervisor of a financial printing company on the fringes of downtown Pittsburgh, and I always tried to make it home in time to catch Letterman's show.

I vividly remember the night Men made its appearance. Letterman had repeatedly razzed Shaffer about his new disco tune, and when the two huge black women in glittering evening gowns appeared as the now-iconic intro began, I expected a clever disco parody sketch.

Instead, Shaffer's band and the vocalists gave a raw, spontaneous performance that had the audience clapping along and cheering wildly. Letterman admitted they'd "ripped the roof off the joint."

The original performance is here, and it's definitely worth watching. (The video's owner prohibits embedding it here.) It's a rare opportunity to watch the birth of a pop culture phenomenon.

Shaffer gives the history of the song in this interview,

and introduces it at the 2011 Tony Awards, where it's the opening number in the Broadway music adaptation of the film Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Categories: Music, Video, YouTube

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Happy anniversary, KGBQD

Published Saturday, November 26, 2011 @ 11:31 PM EST
Nov 26 2011

"There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
-Dave Barry

The KGB Quotations Database is 25 years old this month.

It began as the cookie file of the Fido computer bulletin board system (bbs) I started in 1986.

When a user logged on to the bbs, the software would access a file called cookie.txt, pick a record at random, and display it. It might be something silly, like "ME WANT COOKIE!" Most system operators populated their cookie.txt file with quotations, and some labored mightily to improve their quality and quantity.

I had always been a quotations fan, although I really can't explain why. I've been a compulsive reader since about the age of four, and even then I remember encountering certain phrases or sentences that would cause an intellectual or emotional epiphany, a feeling of delight in its structure, rhythm, or density of meaning.

I knew some people "collected" quotations, transcribing them to notebooks or index cards. Pre-1986, that struck me as self-indulgent and a waste of time. My computer consulting business and monthly column for DEC Professional magazine left litle time for such diversions.

Ah, but the cookie file provided both a mechanism and, more importantly, a raison d'être to begin my own collection. Visitors to my BBS system began to expect more than the stale cookies of default Fido installations, and I began using the quotations in my magazine column.

For a few years- between the time I shut down the BBS and began this website- there was no online presence for my quotes file. But I continued to maintain it, because I knew it would reappear someday.

It did, in October, 2002. The "KGB Quote-A-Matic" at the top of the right column of this page has been present in some form in every iteration of this website.

I've never really considered quotation collection a hobby. A hobby implies a discrete activity unto itself. Quotation collection is a full-time activity, albeit an almost subconscious one.

There's a part of my brain that seems to constantly run a wetware equivalent of a pattern recognition program. It's like an anti-virus program on a PC- I'm not aware it's running, but when a new, interesting pattern passes by, it sets off an alarm alerting the conscious part of my brain to record the quotation that triggered the response.

The other day I decided to calculate how much time I've invested in this activity. I estimated that each quote added to the list requires about an hour of reading.

That works out to 15,000 hours, or 625 days, or 1.7 years. In other words, I've spent 6.8% of the last 25 years of my life collecting quotations.


Before you label me a lunatic, consider that the A.C. Nielsen Co. estimates the average American watches four hours of television a day. While I may have spent 1.7 of the last 25 years reading and accumulating quotations, during that same period the average American spent 36,500 hours- 4.1 years- staring at the television.

For my efforts, I have a database of 15,000 quotations, a witty comment for just about any occasion, and exposure to some of the greatest minds in history.

You, my average American friend, have a large, butt-shaped dent in your couch.

Here's hoping for another 25 years. And a new couch.

Categories: KGB, KGB Blog News, Quotes of the day

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Quotes of the day

Published Saturday, November 26, 2011 @ 12:16 AM EST
Nov 26 2011

Eric Sevareid (November 26, 1912 – July 9, 1992)

As long as we know in our hearts what Christmas ought to be, Christmas is.

Better to trust the man who is frequently in error than the one who is never in doubt.

Brotherhood is not so wild a dream as those, who profit by postponing it, pretend.

Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves.

Consultant: any ordinary guy more than fifty miles from home.

Dealing with network executives is like being nibbled to death by ducks.

I have never quite grasped the worry about the power of the press. After all, it speaks with a thousand voices, in constant dissonance.

I'm sort of a pessimist about tomorrow and an optimist about the day after tomorrow.

Never underestimate your listener's intelligence, or overestimate you listener's information.

Next to power without honor, the most dangerous thing in the world is power without humor.

No man was ever more than about nine meals away from crime or suicide.

Saints are usually killed by their own people.

The bigger the information media, the less courage and freedom they allow. Bigness means weakness.

The biggest big business in America is not steel, automobiles, or television. It is the manufacture, refinement and distribution of anxiety.

The chief cause of problems is solutions.

Wisdom is essential in a president, the appearance of wisdom will do in a candidate.

With breathtaking rapidity, we are destroying all that was lovely to look at and turning America into a prison house of the spirit. The affluent society, with relentless single-minded energy, is turning our cities, most of suburbia and most of our roadways into the most affluent slum on earth.

You can't know who you are, as a nation or a people, unless you know where you've been.

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Quotes of the day

Published Friday, November 25, 2011 @ 12:01 AM EST
Nov 25 2011

Andrew Carnegie (November 25, 1835 - August 11, 1919)

A man who dies rich dies disgraced.

All honor's wounds are self-inflicted.

As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.

Do not look for approval except for the consciousness of doing your best.

Do your duty and a little more and the future will take care of itself.

Man must have no idol and the amassing of wealth is one of the worst species of idolatry.

Not only had I got rid of the theology and the supernatural, but I had found the truth of evolution.

The first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell.

The way to become rich is to put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket.

There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else.

There is nothing that robs a righteous cause of its strength more than a millionaire's money.

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Yep, it's that time again...

Published Thursday, November 24, 2011 @ 12:09 AM EST
Nov 24 2011

A Thanksgiving tradition since 1978!
Click here.

While recovering from tryptophan poisoning, we recommend watching this great PBS special:

Watch My Life as a Turkey on PBS. See more from NATURE.

Gobble, indeed.

Categories: Video, YouTube

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Rim shot (Geek Edition)

Published Wednesday, November 23, 2011 @ 10:39 AM EST
Nov 23 2011

Heisenberg is driving on the highway and gets pulled over. The cop walks up to his car and says, "Do you know how fast you were going?" Heisenberg says, "No, but I know where I am."


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Here's another Johnny...

Published Wednesday, November 23, 2011 @ 12:06 AM EST
Nov 23 2011

Born November 23, 1925, Johnny Mandel's original compositions include the themes to two iconic motion pictures: "Suicide is Painless" from M*A*S*H, and "The Shadow of your Smile" from The Sandpiper.

YouTube video: opening credits to "M*A*S*H."

YouTube video: Barbra Streisand's recording of "The Shadow of Your Smile."

Categories: Video, YouTube

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The revolution may not be televised...

Published Tuesday, November 22, 2011 @ 7:55 AM EST
Nov 22 2011

... but it will be Photoshopped.

Categories: Cartoons

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Some Respect

Published Tuesday, November 22, 2011 @ 12:01 AM EST
Nov 22 2011

Rodney Dangerfield
November 22, 1921 - October 5, 2004

Dangerfield's headstone at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles

"On April 8, 2003, Dangerfield underwent brain surgery to improve blood flow in preparation for heart valve-replacement surgery on August 24, 2004. Upon entering the hospital, he uttered another characteristic one-liner when asked how long he would be hospitalized: 'If all goes well, about a week. If not, about an hour and a half.'

"In September 2004, it was revealed that Dangerfield had been in a coma for several weeks. Afterward, he began breathing on his own and showing signs of awareness when visited by friends. However, on October 5, 2004, he died at the UCLA Medical Center from complications of the surgery he had undergone in August. He was a month and a half short of his 83rd birthday. Dangerfield was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. His headstone reads, 'Rodney Dangerfield... There goes the neighborhood.'

Classic Dangerfield quotes:

A hooker once told me she had a headache.

Always look out for Number One and be careful not to step in Number Two.

At my age I'm envious of a stiff wind.

Doctors will tell you don't smoke, don't drink, eat certain foods... From this point on, if I take excellent care of myself, I'll get very sick and die.

I drink too much. Last time I gave a urine specimen, there was an olive in it.

I haven't spoken to my wife in years. I didn't want to interrupt her.

I joined Alooholics Anonymous. I still drink, I just use a different name.

I like to date school teachers. If you do something wrong, they make you do it over again.

I live in a tough neighborhood. They got a children's zoo. Last week, four kids escaped.

I lost my parents at the beach. I asked a lifeguard to help me find them. He said, "I don't know kid, there are so many places they could hide."

I was an ugly kid. When I was born, after the doctor cut the cord, he hung himself.

I was going with a girl. I trusted her. She let me down. She ran away with my best friend. Now I got no dog.

I was kidnapped and they sent back a piece of my finger to my father. He said he wanted more proof.

If it wasn't for pickpockets, I'd have no sex life at all.

It's lonely on the top when there's no one on the bottom.

Love is an extension of life, and lust is an extension.

My old man never liked me. He gave me my allowance in traveler's checks.

My problem is that I appeal to everyone that can do me absolutely no good.

My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.

My wife has cut me down to once a month. I'm lucky. I know two guys she cut off completely

My wife likes to talk during sex. Last night, she called me from a motel.

When I played in the sandbox, the cat kept covering me up.

When I was a kid I got no respect. I worked in a pet store. People kept asking how big I would get.

When I was born, the doctor turned me over and said, "Look! Twins!"

When my old man wanted sex, my mother would show him a picture of me.

When my parents got divorced there was a custody fight over me. No one showed up.

Categories: Quotes of the day

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Quotes of the day

Published Monday, November 21, 2011 @ 5:48 AM EST
Nov 21 2011

Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet), (November 21, 1694 – May 30, 1778)

A witty saying proves nothing.

Animals have these advantages over man: They have no theologians to instruct them, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills.

Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.

Common sense is not so common.

Do well and you will have no need for ancestors.

Doubt is not a pleasant state of mind, but certainty is absurd.

Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.

Every sensible man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror.

History is after all only a pack of tricks we play on the dead.

History supplies little more than a list of people who have helped themselves with the property of others.

I advise you to go on living solely to enrage those who are paying your annuities. It is the only pleasure I have left.

I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.

If God did not exist it would be necessary to invent Him. But all nature cries aloud that He does exist; that there is a supreme intelligence, an immense power, an admirable order, and everything teaches us our own dependence upon it.

If this is the best of all possible worlds, what are the others like?

It is amusing that a virtue is made of the vice of chastity; and it's a pretty odd sort of chastity at that, which leads men straight into the sin of Onan, and girls to the waning of their color.

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.

It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue.

It is with books as with men: a very small number play a great part, the rest are lost in the multitude.

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.

Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.

Love truth, but pardon error.

Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.

Marriage is the only adventure open to the cowardly.

Men who seek happiness are like drunkards who can never find their house but are sure that they have one.

Men will always be mad, and those who think they can cure them are the maddest of all.

Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.

Paradise is where I am.

Physicians pour drugs of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, into humans of which they know nothing.

Prejudice is the reason of fools.

The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.

The English people are like the English beer. Froth on top, dregs at the bottom, the middle excellent.

The great consolation in life is to say precisely what one thinks.

The ideal form of government is democracy tempered with assassination.

The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.

There are some that only employ words for the purpose of disguising their thoughts.

There has never been a perfect government, because men have passions; and if they did not have passions, there would be no need for government.

Those who can make you believe in absurdities can also make you commit atrocities.

To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.

Virtue debases in justifying itself.

What most persons consider as virtue, after the age of 40 is simply a loss of energy.

When it is a question of money all men are of the same religion.

Work keeps us from three great evils: boredom, vice, and poverty.

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Published Sunday, November 20, 2011 @ 12:01 AM EST
Nov 20 2011

Robert F. Kennedy
(November 20, 1925 - June 6, 1968)

No politician today is capable of this. No notes, no teleprompter- and he quoted Aeschylus.

I'm a firm believer in not second-guessing the past. But when I see this clip, I can't help but wonder, "what if..." And what has happened to the nation that once produced great men like Bobby? It seems the killers have remained, but, for the most part, the Bobbys and Martins are nowhere to be found.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I'm only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some- some very sad news for all of you- Could you lower those signs, please?- I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black- considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible- you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization- black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with- be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poem, my- my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King- yeah, it's true- but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love- a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past, but we- and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

And let's dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.

Thank you very much.

Categories: Martin Luther King, Jr., Questions for the Ages, Quotes of the day, Video, YouTube

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Peace on earth, and watch it, you heathen.

Published Saturday, November 19, 2011 @ 11:44 PM EST
Nov 19 2011

I always say "Merry Christmas" to my Christian friends, "Happy Hanukkah" to my Jewish friends, and "Io, Saturnalia" to my pagan friends.

When I didn't know the beliefs of the person, I used to just say "Have a happy holiday."

But the Christians would read me the riot act since everyone knows they're the only religion in the United States that observes a holiday in December.

Now I just say Merry Christmas to everyone. The Jews, Pagans, and atheists don't go ballistic on me. They're not offended in the least. They ignore the error and merely appreciate the sincerity of the sentiment.

And I don't have to worry about getting a lecture from the Christians.

During this season of universal peace and good will, I just don't need the hassle.

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The 0.01%

Published Saturday, November 19, 2011 @ 7:50 PM EST
Nov 19 2011

Categories: Video

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Quote of the day

Published Saturday, November 19, 2011 @ 6:17 AM EST
Nov 19 2011

Sasha Anne


Dogs' lives are too short.
Their only fault, really.
-Agnes Sligh


Categories: Dogs, KGB Family, Photo of the day, Quotes of the day

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Hi De Hi De Ho

Published Friday, November 18, 2011 @ 1:16 AM EST
Nov 18 2011

Remembering the great Cab Calloway
(December 25, 1907 – November 18, 1994)

Cab Calloway as Curtis in The Blues Brothers (1980)
"Boys, you got to learn not to talk to nuns that way."

(YouTube video: Audio track of Calloway's
"Minnie the Moocher" from "The Blues Brothers")

Categories: Music, Video, YouTube

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Quote of the day

Published Thursday, November 17, 2011 @ 7:28 AM EST
Nov 17 2011

The term "job creator" reminds me a lot of "baby maker." I can still do it, but I've done all the baby making I really want to do, so I think I'll pass, thanks.
-Kevin G. Barkes

Categories: KGB, Quotes of the day

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Signs of the Apocalypse, #902

Published Thursday, November 17, 2011 @ 12:20 AM EST
Nov 17 2011

Categories: Signs of the Apocalypse

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Quote of the day

Published Wednesday, November 16, 2011 @ 12:04 AM EST
Nov 16 2011

God told me not to vote for any of the GOP candidates.
-Elayne Boosler

Categories: Elayne Boosler, Quotes of the day

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When initialisms collide

Published Wednesday, November 16, 2011 @ 12:01 AM EST
Nov 16 2011

(via "The New Yorker")

Categories: Cartoons

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November 15

Published Tuesday, November 15, 2011 @ 12:03 AM EST
Nov 15 2011

Twenty years ago today, my family and I moved to our present house. It's the twelfth of 15 different places I've lived- permanently or temporarily- in my 57 years, but it's the place I think of when I think of "home."

Well, that's not entirely true. Home, I discovered several years ago, is that place in my memory where my grandmother cooks Thanksgiving dinner, my kids open their Christmas presents, my father watches the Pirates, and where there's always a dog or cat nearby. That's what's neat about home. It's not a physical place, it's a state of mind. You can be home just about anywhere. The house- or houses- provide a place in which to accumulate those experiences, but it's like the difference between a fine merlot and the container in which it's stored. We remember the wine, not the wine botle.

Happy 20th, house. Thanks for the memories. And I promise to get around to cleaning out your garage any day now.

Categories: KGB, KGB Family

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Quotes of the day

Published Monday, November 14, 2011 @ 12:06 AM EST
Nov 14 2011

P.J. O'Rourke, (b. 11/14/1947), the most quoted living man in The Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotations.

[A]merica is where the wildest humans on the planet came to do anything they damn pleased.

[T]here are several recognizable types of humorous activity. There is parody, when you make fun of people who are smarter than you; satire, when you make fun of people who are richer than you; and burlesque, when you make fun of both while taking your clothes off.

"Change" has a warm, vernal sound at age twenty-two. Then comes a day when all the word brings to mind is "any change in a wart or mole ..."

A bimbo is a young woman who's not pretty enough to be a model, not smart enough to be an actress, and not nice enough to be a poisonous snake.

A hat should be taken off when you greet a lady and left off for the rest of your life. Nothing looks more stupid than a hat.

A little government and a little luck are necessary in life; but only a fool trusts either of them.

A lot of people out there think Easy Rider had a happy ending.

A nation with a goofy foreign policy needs a very serious policy of defense.

A record number of savings-and-loan failures left America with a nationwide shortage of flimsy toaster ovens, cheap pocket calculators, and ugly dinnerware.

A Texas accent can be developed by most of the normal means of acquiring brain damage.

After all, what is your hosts' purpose in having a party? Surely not for you to enjoy yourself; if that were their sole purpose, they'd have simply sent champagne and women over to your place by taxi.

Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut.

Always read the stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

America wasn't founded so that we could all be better. America was founded so we could all be anything we damn well pleased.

American children grow up to be valuable citizens. Bangladeshi children grow up to be part of the world population problem. They just aren't giving birth to any Marky Marks or Howard Sterns in Dhaka.

And by the way, I've about had it with this "greatest generation" malarkey. You people have one stock market crash in 1929, and it takes you a dozen years to go get a job. Then you wait until Germany and Japan have conquered half the world before it occurs to you to get involved in World War II. After that you get surprised by a million Red Chinese in Korea. Where do you put a million Red Chinese so they'll be a surprise? You spend the entire 1950s watching Lawrence Welk and designing tail fins. You come up with the idea for Vietnam. Thanks. And you elect Richard Nixon. The hell with you.

Anything that makes your mother cry is fun.

Are we disheartened by the breakup of the family? Nobody who ever met my family is.

At 47 the things which really matter and the things which are really fun are the dreadful things that our parents really said mattered. Family and work and duty. Crap like that.

At least we American tourists understand English when it's spoken loudly and clearly enough. Australians don't. Once you've been on a plane full of drunken Australians doing wallaby imitations up and down the aisles, you'll never make fun of Americans visiting the Wailing Wall in short shorts again.

Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race.

Being gloomy is easier than being cheerful. Anybody can say "I've got cancer" and get a rise out of a crowd. But how many of us can do five minutes of good stand-up comedy?

Britain, France and Germany are obscure branch offices of American culture and may be closed in the interests of rational consolidation.

Canadians don't deal with the same kind of health care problems and traumas we face. They have a health care system based on treating hockey injuries and curing sinus infections that come from trying to pronounce French vowels.

Communists worship the Devil himself. Socialists believe damnation is a good system run by bad people. And liberals want to send everyone to hell because it's warm there in the winter.

Considering the image projected, bicycling commuters might as well propel themselves to the office with one knee in a red Radio Flyer wagon.

Corporate corruption gives al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and other Muslim radicals second thoughts about messing with the United States. If we'll screw our own grandmothers in the stock market, God knows what we'll do to them.

Dammit, I am for some stuff, but not too much of it, and against other stuff, but not too against it.

Drugs are a one-man birthday party. You don't get any presents you didn't bring.

Drugs have taught an entire generation of American kids the metric system.

During the mid-1980s dairy farmers decided there was too much cheap milk at the supermarket. So the government bought and slaughtered 1.6 million dairy cows. How come the government never does anything like this with lawyers?

Each American embassy comes with two permanent features; a giant anti-American demonstration and a giant line for American visas. Most demonstrators spend half their time burning Old Glory and the other half waiting for green cards.

Earnestness is just stupidity sent to college.

Economics is an entire scientific discipline of not knowing what you're talking about.

Even a band of angels can turn ugly and start looting if enough angels are unemployed and hanging around the Pearly Gates convinced that all the succubi own all the liquor stores in Heaven.

Every generation finds the drug it needs.

Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us.

Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them.

Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.

Everyone's very busy, though not exactly working.

Everything that's fun in life is dangerous.

Explain the concept of death very carefully to your child. This will make threatening him with it much more effective.

Fame is a communicable disease. If you get screwed by someone who's got it, you may catch it yourself.

Feeling good about government is like looking on the bright side of any catastrophe. When you quit looking on the bright side, the catastrophe is still there.

Fish is the only food that is considered spoiled once it smells like what it is.

Fishing... is a sport invented by insects, and you are the bait.

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

Government proposes, bureaucracy disposes. And the bureaucracy must dispose of government proposals by dumping them on us.

Guns are always the best method for private suicide. Drugs are too chancy. You might just miscalculate the dosage and just have a good time.

Harvard has been almost as important to the American Jewish community as the pork-sausage industry.

Humans are the only animals that have children on purpose with the exception of guppies, who like to eat theirs.

I guess the argument of contextuality is that anything is okay as long as it's done by people who are sufficiently unlike you.

I hate political correctness because it's founded on the idea that by means of language you can escape truth- that if you simply give a different name to something you've somehow changed it. It is a very childlike idea.

I like to do my principal research in bars, where people are more likely to tell the truth or, at least, lie less convincingly than they do in briefings and books.

I like to think of my behavior in the Sixties as a "learning experience." Then again, I like to think of anything stupid I've done as a "learning experience." It makes me feel less stupid.

I'm a registered Republican and consider socialism a violation of the American principle that you shouldn't stick your nose in other people's business except to make a buck.

I... know why most societies don't allow women in combat. Combat is just a battle to the death. You don't want to turn it into something really ugly like a marriage.

Idealism is based on big ideas. And, as anybody who has ever been asked "What's the big idea?" knows, most big ideas are bad ones.

If Europeans didn't discover America, then how'd we all get here?

If God had wanted me to attend church, He'd have given me a bigger butt to sit on, and a smaller head to think with.

If government were a product, selling it would be illegal.

If Martin Luther were a modern ecologist, he would have to nail ninety-five T-shirts to the church door in Wittenberg.

If the outdoors are so swell, how come the homeless aren't more fond of it?

If the U.S. is going to be involved in military multilateralism, it should ask its partner nations that ancient question of diplomacy, "You and what army?"

If we want to demoralize the population of Iraq and sap their will to fight, we ought to show them videotapes of the South Bronx, Detroit City and the West Side of Chicago. Take a look, you Iraqis- this is what we do to our own cities in peacetime. Just think what we're going to do to yours in a war.

If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.

If you are young and you drink a great deal it will spoil your health, slow your mind, make you fat-in other words, turn you into an adult.

If you say a modern celebrity is an adulterer, a pervert and a drug addict, all it means is that you've read his autobiography.

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free.

In general, life is better than it has ever been, and if you think that, in the past, there was some golden age of pleasure and plenty to which you would, if you were able, transport yourself, let me say one single word: "Dentistry."

In Japan people drive on the left. In China people drive on the right. In Vietnam it doesn't matter.

In order to understand the stock market we have to realize that, like anything enormous and inert, it's fundamentally stable, and, like anything emotion-driven, it's volatile as hell. Got that? Me neither.

In our brief national history we have shot four of our presidents, worried five of them to death, impeached one and hounded another out of office. And when all else fails, we hold an election and assassinate their character.

In school we had a name for boys trying to get in touch with themselves.

In what is widely thought to be the largest leveraged buyout to date, Donald Trump announced that if everyone in the world will lend him all the money they have, he will buy everything they own.

Indeed, getting America involved in anything of a multilateral nature is like naming The Rock to an Olympic rowing team and giving the other oars to David Spade and Calista Flockhart. When America does manage to participate, as an equal, in the community of nations, the results are not pretty. Look at the stupid U.N. And somewhere in the hills of former Yugoslavia the ghost of Woodrow Wilson wanders Marley-like, dragging his chains and regretting the deeds of his life. Yet the foolish notion of one-worlders persists: Let the lion lie down with the lamb chop.

Industrialization came to England but has since left.

Instead of a society infested with lawyers they [Russia] have a society infested with hit men. Which is worse, of course, is a matter of opinion.

It is easy to understand why the cat has eclipsed the dog as modern America's favorite pet. People like pets to possess the same qualities they do. Cats are irresponsible and recognize no authority, yet are completely dependent on others for their material needs. Cats cannot be made to do anything useful. Cats are mean for the fun of it. In fact, cats possess so many of the same qualities as some people that it is often hard to tell the people and the cats apart.

It takes a village to raise a child. The village is Washington. You are the child.

It's all there in the Declaration of Independence. We are the only nation in the world based on happiness.

It's better to spend money like there's no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there's no money.

Japan turned out to be a macroeconomic Pokémon craze.

Keeping house is as unpleasant and filthy as coal mining, and the pay's a lot worse.

Let's reintroduce corporal punishment in the schools... and use it on the teachers.

Lust, Pride, Sloth, and Gluttony, or, as we call them these days, "getting in touch with your sexuality," "raising your self-esteem," "relaxation therapy," and "being a recovered bulimic."

Making fun of born-again Christians is like hunting dairy cows with a high powered rifle and scope.

Man has been breeding livestock for ten thousand years and has yet to come up with a monstrous sheep that can trample buildings and graze a whole golf course for breakfast.

Marijuana is... self-punishing. It makes you acutely sensitive, and in this world, what worse punishment could there be?

Maybe a nation that consumes as much booze and dope as we do and has our kind of divorce statistics should pipe down about "character issues."

Maybe a vague president and an incompetent and somewhat corrupt administration is what the nation needs.

Modern society is without any concept of dignity, worth, or regard. Today the only thing which sets one person apart from another is his or her degree of fame.

Most vegetables are something God invented to let women get even with their children. A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something brussels sprouts never do.

Neither conservatives nor humorists believe man is good. But left-wingers do.

Never be unfaithful to a lover, except with your wife.

Never fight an inanimate object.

Never let the people with all the money and the people with all the guns be the same people.

Never refuse wine. It is an odd but universally held opinion that anyone who doesn't drink must be an alcoholic.

Never serve oysters in a month that has no paychecks in it.

Never steal anything so small that you'll have to go to an unpleasant city jail for it instead of a minimum-security federal tennis prison.

Never wear anything that panics the cat.

Nothing handles better than a rented car. You can go faster, turn corners sharper, and put the transmission into reverse while going forward at a higher rate of speed in a rented car than in any other kind.

Of course we're unilateral. If we Americans had wanted to be ordered around by English wig-tops, French functionaries, bossy Germans, disorganized Italians, tin-pot Latin American dictators, and Ice Age Siberian bureaucrats, we would have stayed where we were.

Once the XFL was canceled for not being stupid enough, it was clear that America's internal enemies had already triumphed.

One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on. And when you do find somebody, it's remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver's license.

Peat is found only in Celtic countries because God realized the Celts were the only people on earth who drank so much that they would try to burn mud.

People who are wise, good, smart, skillful, or hardworking don't need politics, they have jobs.

Personally, I believe a rocking hammock, a good cigar, and a tall gin-and-tonic is the way to save the planet.

Politicians are interested in people. Not that this is always a virtue. Fleas are interested in dogs.

Politics are a lousy way for a free man to get things done. Politics are, like God's infinite mercy, a last resort.

Politics is the business of getting power and privilege without possessing merit.

Politics should be limited in scope to war, protection of property, and the occasional precautionary beheading of a member of the ruling class.

Reporters thus ignore a basic principle of news: There are two sources you can't trust, those who won't tell their story and those who will.

Russia, as a case study, is wonderful. Unless, of course, you're a Russian.

Sloths move at the speed of congressional debate but with greater deliberation and less noise.

Smoking crack is a way for people who couldn't afford college to study the works of Charles Darwin.

Sociology is journalism without news.

Some people are better imagined in one's bed than found there in the morning.

Some people are worried about the difference between right and wrong. I'm worried about the difference between wrong and fun.

Some people say a front-engine car handles best. Some people say a rear-engine car handles best. I say a rented car handles best.

Some women want the strong silent type, so they can tell him to shut up and rearrange the furniture.

Sometimes you need a B-2 bomber and sometimes you need your mother.

Stay away from girls who cry a lot or look like they get pregnant easily or have careers.

Staying married may have long-term benefits. You can elicit much more sympathy from friends over a bad marriage than you ever can from a good divorce.

Strip a car of its paint. Strip a person of his clothes. Which looks worse in broad daylight?

Term limits aren't enough. We need jail.

The cellular-phone industry has greatly expanded, making complete local and long-distance service available to the homeless.

The college idealists who fill the ranks of the environmental movement seem willing to do absolutely anything to save the biosphere, except take science courses and learn something about it.

The difference between corporations and governments is governments have a monopoly on force. It's a lot easier to vote with your feet or your wallet than it is to change a government with your vote.

The fact that nothing's happening never stops a real reporter.

The founding fathers, in their wisdom, devised a method by which our republic can take one hundred of its most prominent numbskulls and keep them out of the private sector where they might do actual harm.

The free market is ugly and stupid, like going to the mall; the unfree market is just as ugly and just as stupid, except there is nothing in the mall and if you don't go there they shoot you.

The French are a smallish, monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore. True, you can sit outside in Paris and drink little cups of coffee, but why this is more stylish than sitting inside and drinking large glasses of whiskey I don't know.

The French are masters of "the dog ate my homework" school of diplomatic relations.

The French are sawed-off sissies who eat snails and slugs and cheese that smells like people's feet. Utter cowards who force their own children to drink wine, they gibber like baboons even when you try to speak to them in their own wimpy language.

The Greenpeace booth at all the rock and roll shows nowadays are akin to the old sorcerers who used to stand in the middle of villages warning of danger, "When night wolf swallows mother moon, there will be great famine."

The idea of a news broadcast once was to find someone with information and broadcast it. The idea now is to find someone with ignorance and spread it around.

The interesting thing about staring down a gun barrel is how small the hole is where the bullet comes out yet how big a difference it would make in your social life.

The Middle Eastern states aren't nations; they're quarrels with borders.

The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.

The notion of economic equality is based on an ancient and ugly falsehood central to bad economic thinking: There's a fixed amount of wealth. Wealth is zero-sum.

The one thing that can be safely said about the great majority of people is that we don't want them around.

The only really good vegetable is Tabasco sauce. Put Tabasco sauce in everything. Tabasco sauce is to bachelor cooking what forgiveness is to sin.

The problem is not that 50 percent of people are females. The problem is that 100 percent of females are humans.

The process of Darwinian selection does not work on things that don't die. If it weren't for death we'd all still be amoebas and would have to eat by surrounding things with our butts.

The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk. This drunkenness culminates on New Year's Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you're married to.

The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work; then they get elected and prove it.

The Sixties was a decade without quality control.

The Soviet Union has been reduced to a collection of too many smaller states, creating many opportunities for k's and z's in "Scrabble."

The weirder you're going to behave, the more normal you should look. It works in reverse, too. When I see a kid with three or four rings in his nose, I know there is absolutely nothing extraordinary about that person.

The whole idea of our government is this: if enough people get together and act in concert, they can take something and not pay for it.

There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible.

There are just two rules of governance in a free society: Mind your own business. Keep your hands to yourself.

There are twenty-seven specific complaints against the British Crown set forth in the Declaration of Independence. To modern ears they still sound reasonable...in large part, because so many of them can be leveled against the federal government of the United States.

There can be no greater sacrifice than that a man lay down his lifestyle for others.

There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.

There is something more horrible than hoodlums, churls and vipers, and that is knaves with moral justification for their cause.

There's a whiff of the lynch mob or the lemming migration about any overlarge concentration of like-thinking individuals, no matter how virtuous their cause.

This country was founded by religious nuts with guns.

To grasp the true meaning of socialism, imagine a world where everything is designed by the post office, even the sleaze.

Traffic was like a bad dog. It wasn't important to look both ways when crossing the street; it was important to not show fear.

Two wrongs don't make a right, but the Middle East is a place where two rights don't make a right.

Undeterred by historical example, however, the EU looks to fulfill the age-old dream of having a country of English cooks, German lovers, French defense forces and Italian efficiency experts.

Usually, writers will do anything to avoid writing.

Very little is known of the Canadian country since it is rarely visited by anyone but the Queen and illiterate sport fishermen.

Violence is interesting. This is a great obstacle to world peace and also to more thoughtful television programming.

War is a great asshole magnet.

War will exist as long as there's a food chain.

Watching Republicans in Washington is like watching lemmings, if lemmings jumped into cesspools instead of off cliffs.

We journalists don't have to step on roaches. All we have to do is turn on the kitchen light and watch the critters scurry.

We'll run this planet as we please, and if you don't like it, go back where we came from.

We're told cars are dangerous. It's safer to drive through South Central Los Angeles than to walk there. We're told cars are wasteful. Wasteful of what? Oil did a lot of good sitting in the ground for millions of years. We're told cars should be replaced with mass transportation. But it's hard to reach the drive-through window at McDonald's from a speeding train. And we're told cars cause pollution. A hundred years ago city streets were ankle deep in horse excrement. What kind of pollution do you want? Would you rather die of cancer at eighty or typhoid fever at nine?

West Germans are tall, pert and orthodontically corrected, with hands, teeth and hair as clean as their clothes and clothes as sharp as their looks. Except for the fact that they all speak English pretty well, they're indistinguishable from Americans.

Whatever it is that the government does, sensible Americans would prefer that the government do it to somebody else. This is the idea behind foreign policy.

When a thing defies physical law, there's usually politics involved.

When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.

When somebody's muffler shop goes bankrupt, the government doesn't pay him $100,000 to not install mufflers.

When you're tied to the bed, at least you know where you are going to be for the next few minutes...

Wherever there's injustice, oppression, and suffering, America will show up six months late and bomb the country next to where it's happening.

Why do some places prosper and thrive, while others just suck?

Why is this soiled, crumpled, overdecorated piece of paper bearing a picture of a rather disreputable president worth fifty dollars, while this clean, soft, white, and cleverly folded piece of paper is worth so little that I just wiped my nose on it?

With Epcot Center the Disney corporation has accomplished something I didn't think possible in today's world. They have created a land of make-believe that's worse than regular life.

Women are successful in the business world because the business world was created by men. Men are babies. And women are... Good With Kids.

Writing is a slow and a difficult process mentally. How you physically render the words onto a screen or a page doesn't help you. I'll give you this example. When words had to be carved into stone, with a chisel, you got the Ten Commandments. When the quill pen had been invented and you had to chase a goose around the yard and sharpen the pen and boil some ink and so on, you got Shakespeare. When the fountain pen came along, you got Henry James. When the typewriter came along, you got Jack Kerouac. And now that we have the computer, we have Facebook. Are you seeing a trend here?

You are not going to achieve individuality by having your knee pierced or wearing a great big ring in your buttock.

You are smarter than the government, so when the government pays you to do something you wouldn't do on your own, it is almost always paying you to do something stupid.

You can always reason with a German. You can always reason with a barnyard animal, too, for all the good it does.

You can't get good chinese takeout in China and cuban cigars are rationed in Cuba. That's all you need to know about communism.

You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money.

You can't put your VISA bill on your American Express card.

You say we [reporters] are distracting from the business of government. Well, I hope so. Distracting a politician from governing is like distracting a bear from eating your baby.

You throw these bastards out the door of totalitarianism, and back they come through the window of environmentalism.

Categories: P.J. O'Rourke, Quotes of the day

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Quote of the day

Published Sunday, November 13, 2011 @ 12:01 AM EST
Nov 13 2011

Conductance is utile.
-The Covert Comic

Categories: Covert Comic, Quotes of the day

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Photo of the day

Published Saturday, November 12, 2011 @ 6:09 AM EST
Nov 12 2011

"The Department of Education,
the Department of Commerce,
and... uh... oops."
-Rick Perry

Categories: Animals, Photo of the day

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Observation of the day

Published Friday, November 11, 2011 @ 9:03 AM EST
Nov 11 2011

If life gives you melons, you may be dyslexic.


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So it goes.

Published Friday, November 11, 2011 @ 12:08 AM EST
Nov 11 2011

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (November 11, 1922 - April 11, 2007)

[Art is] a conspiracy between clever parasites and millionaires to make poor people feel stupid.

A great swindle of our time is the assumption that science has made religion obsolete. All science has damaged is the story of Adam and Eve and the story of Jonah and the Whale. Everything else holds up pretty well, particularly lessons about fairness and gentleness. People who find those lessons irrelevant in the twentieth century are simply using science as an excuse for greed and harshness. Science has nothing to do with it, friends.

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.

Alcohol and marijuana, if used in moderation, plus loud, usually low-class music, make stress and boredom infinitely more bearable.

All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental.

All time in all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all bugs in amber.

Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.

Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.

Beer, of course, is actually a depressant. But poor people will never stop hoping otherwise.

Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn't well connected.

Belief is nearly the whole of the Universe, whether based on truth or not.

Big, undreamed-of things. The people on the edge see them first.

But do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites, standing for absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.

Dear Future Generations: Please accept our apologies. We were roaring drunk on petroleum.

Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules- and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress.

Everybody's shaking in his boots, so don't be bluffed.

History is merely a list of surprises. ... It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.

I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine.

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.

I was taught that the human brain was the crowning glory of evolution so far, but I think it’s a very poor scheme for survival.

If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: The Only Proof He Needed For The Existence Of God Was Music.

If people think nature is their friend, then they sure don't need an enemy.

If you really want to hurt your parents and you don't have nerve enough to be a homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts.

Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the Universe.

My last words? "Life is no way to treat an animal, not even a mouse."

My theory is that all women have hydrofluoric acid bottled up inside.

One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.

Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.

So it goes.

Suicide is the punctuation mark at the end of many artistic careers.

Take care of the people, and God almighty will take care of Himself.

The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart.

The only difference between [George W.] Bush and [Adolf] Hitler is that Hitler was elected.

The two real political parties in America are the Winners and the Losers.

There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don't know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.

There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.

True terror is waking up one morning and realizing your high school class is running the country.

We are here on earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you differently.

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.

We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.

We're terrible animals. I think that the Earth's immune system is trying to get rid of us, as well it should.

Categories: Quotes of the day

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You can't make this stuff up dept.

Published Thursday, November 10, 2011 @ 12:44 AM EST
Nov 10 2011

Categories: Snrk, WTF?

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Quote of the day

Published Thursday, November 10, 2011 @ 12:00 AM EST
Nov 10 2011

I wanted to put a reference to masturbation in one of the scripts for the Sandman. It was immediately cut by the editor [Karen Berger]. She told me, "There's no masturbation in the DC Universe." To which my reaction was, "Well that explains a lot about the DC Universe."
-Neil Gaiman (b. November 10, 1960)

Categories: Quotes of the day

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Published Wednesday, November 09, 2011 @ 12:31 AM EST
Nov 09 2011

Categories: Snrk, WTF?

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Quote of the day

Published Wednesday, November 09, 2011 @ 12:21 AM EST
Nov 09 2011

A parent's only as good as their dumbest kid. If one wins a Nobel Prize but the other gets robbed by a hooker, you failed.
-Sam Halpern

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And suddenly, everyone was run over by a truck. The end.

Published Tuesday, November 08, 2011 @ 12:20 AM EST
Nov 08 2011

(from www.saturday-night-live.com)

By Donald Liebenson

To the general public, he is remembered perhaps dimly, if at all, as Mr. Mike, a recurring character from "Saturday Night Live's" golden era who horrified audiences with his malevolent "least-loved bedtime stories."

But to comedy aficionados, Michael O'Donoghue (January 5, 1940 - November 8, 1994) ranks in the pantheon.

Among those calling him "a god" is Dennis Perrin, a former stand-up comedian and joke writer for TV's "Politically Incorrect." Perrin was bewildered that O'Donoghue, who died of a massive brain hemorrhage on Nov. 8, 1994, might be relegated to the pop culture scrap heap as "a well-known unknown."

So even though he'd never written a book before- and had no agent or publisher- Perrin was determined to write O'Donoghue's biography, to help preserve a singular and subversive voice that helped define a generation's humor.

"The story of '70s humor cannot be told without Michael O'Donoghue," Perrin wrote in "Mr. Mike: The Life and Work of Michael O'Donoghue" (Avon Books). "He was as vital to modern comedy as was Buster Keaton to silent film and Ernie Kovacs to early television."

O'Donoghue had been profiled by Timothy White in Rolling Stone and was featured prominently in "Going Too Far" (Doubleday), Tony Hendra's history of boomer humor, and Doug Hill and Jeff Wingrad's "Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live" (Beech Tree Books).

But Perrin felt that further attention must be paid.

"I wanted to present O'Donoghue as an artist worthy of serious consideration," he said recently, on the phone from his home in New York. Along with the late Doug Kenney (best remembered as a co-screenwriter of "National Lampoon's Animal House" and "Caddyshack"), O'Donoghue "smashed down the door that Lenny Bruce and later George Carlin opened in his prime."

O'Donoghue and Kenney were part of what Perrin calls "a convergence of talents that happens once in a generation, if you're lucky." They "set trends in motion, and neither has gotten the credit he deserves."

* * *

For O'Donoghue, "nothing was sacred," Perrin said. "His satire was aimed at getting a rise out of even the most jaded. 'You must drive an ice pick into the brain pan,' O'Donoghue once said. 'Did I say an ice pick? I mean 900 ice picks.' "

O'Donoghue wielded those picks with deadpan precision. His first prominence came via National Lampoon with such savage pieces as "A Child's Letters to the Gestapo," "The Vietnamese Baby Book" and "Magical Misery Tour," a "dream is over" deconstruction of the Beatles, later adapted for the first Lampoon album, "Radio Dinner."

In "How to Write Good," another Lampoon classic, he shared his sure-fire technique for ending any story: "Suddenly, everyone was run over by a truck. The end."

His was not so much black humor as it was bleak humor, the literary equivalent of that giant foot that suddenly would stomp onto the scene in the "Monty Python's Flying Circus" TV series. He'd been impacted profoundly by a long childhood bout with rheumatism, during which he found escape through the radio and books, which he read voraciously. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Kenneth Grahame were among his favorite authors.

His own misanthropic outlook was expressed in his concept of the "others," those who did not share his worldview, a group that later would include network television censors and movie studio executives.

Perrin remembers Bill Murray's eulogy of O'Donoghue: "He hated the horrible things in life, and the horrible people in life. And he hated them so good."

As one of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players, O'Donoghue found full voice on "Saturday Night Live," which in its original incarnation fused the sensibilities of the Lampoon and Chicago's legendary Second City improvisational troupe. He wrote some of the fledgling series' most memorable sketches, both famous ("The Last Voyage of the Star Ship Enterprise," in which NBC execs repossess the "Star Trek" set and even Spock's ears) and infamous ("Fluckers," in which increasingly disgusting names are utilized to sell jam).

But it was the recurring character Mr. Mike that established his sinister public persona. In the "least loved" stories, the Little Engine That Could couldn't and suffered a heart attack, and Br'er Rabbit was skinned alive- one of the "random acts of meaningless violence" a deadpan Mr. Mike took such pleasure in relating.

As a teenager, Perrin initially watched "SNL" to marvel at Dan Aykroyd. But Mr. Mike shifted his focus. "I ended up worshiping the writers more than the cast members. Each sketch then had the specific voice of a writer, and I followed the show to see if I could guess which sketches were his."

Perrin finally met his hero in 1989 while hosting a radio show in New York. Through a friend of a friend, he'd invited O'Donoghue to be interviewed on the air. Perrin says his ability to recall O'Donoghue's most obscure "SNL" sketches- particularly a little number called "Nick the Knock"- "got my foot in the door."

He remembers that O'Donoghue "was very kind and generous" and encouraged Perrin's writing. "I was only allowed to come so close," he adds. "I wouldn't have known how to act anyway."

* * *

He first heard about O'Donoghue's death while listening to Howard Stern's radio show. "I just froze. They discussed him with great respect, which is rare [for them]." Perrin paid his respects to O'Donoghue's widow, Cheryl Hardwick, who invited him to the wake, which was described by New York magazine as "the hippest party in New York."

Spurred by his own wife, Perrin approached Hardwick with the prospect of an O'Donoghue biography. "I thought a ton of writers would be wanting to do it," he says. "I didn't know her at all. Taking my hat off and shuffling my feet, I said I would be honored to do this...

"I sold her on it. She said, 'You're the guy.'"

But the long shadow of Bob Woodward haunted Perrin and impeded his research. "Mr. Mike" is the first major biography of a "Saturday Night Live" personality since Woodward's bestselling "Wired," which some saw as a devastating evisceration of John Belushi.

Perrin had Hardwick's blessing. But Belushi's widow, Judy Jacklin, had given Woodward her blessing and like Hardwick had encouraged intimates to cooperate with the biographer. "I had to convince people that I was not going to write another 'Wired,' " recalls Perrin. "That was the real challenge, dealing with all these people who felt burned by Bob Woodward and saw me as another hustler looking to cash in on their reputations.

"I think half of them didn't trust me, and that's being generous. A lot of them talked to me through clenched teeth."

But he did enjoy unprecedented access to O'Donoghue's voluminous files. "He kept everything. I had access to stories he wrote [when he was a child] in his bedroom in pencil on colored paper."

In the end, Perrin did not skirt the darker sides of O'Donoghue's volatile personality (O'Donoghue's volcanic tantrums are legendary). But, Perrin says, he wanted to "write about the work as opposed to the drugs and his sex life... I was trying to discover where his comedy came from and what it meant to those of us who consumed it and who were influenced by it."

Perrin- currently writing his second book, about the American sports fan- says that writing "Mr. Mike" was "a cathartic experience. [O'Donoghue's] legacy for me is that it is OK to go too far sometimes. Going for the throat is a noble comic instinct. Not enough people do it.

"Gross-out humor is more in vogue these days. It's easy to write one-liners about [the president's sex life], but I wish I could see more dark stuff. Our times demand that."

And suddenly, everyone was run over by a truck. The end. (Or, if the story takes place in England: And suddenly, everyone was run over by a lorry. The end.

Categories: National Lampoon, SNL

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Quotes of the day

Published Monday, November 07, 2011 @ 12:01 AM EST
Nov 07 2011

Albert Camus (November 7, 1913 - January 4, 1960)

A fate is not a punishment.

A single sentence will suffice for modern man: he fornicated and read the papers.

All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant's revolving door.

An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself.

By definition, a government has no conscience. Sometimes it has a policy, but nothing more.

Charm is a way of getting the answer yes without asking a clear question.

Do not wait for the Last Judgement. It takes place every day.

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Everyone would like to behave like a pagan, with everyone else behaving like a Christian.

I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is.

In the depth of winter I finally realized that there was in me an invincible summer.

Integrity has no need of rules.

It's better to be wrong by killing no one than to be right with mass graves.

It's better to bet on this life than on the next.

Life is a sum of all your choices.

Live to the point of tears.

Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.

Men are never convinced of your reasons, of your sincerity, of the seriousness of your sufferings, except by your death. So long as you are alive, your case is doubtful; you have a right only to their skepticism.

Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.

One recognizes one's course by discovering the paths that stray from it.

Politics and the shape of mankind are shaped by men without ideals and without greatness. Men who have greatness within them don't concern themselves with politics.

Since we're all going to die, it's obvious that when and how don't matter.

Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves.

The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding.

The one thing your friends will never forgive you is your happiness.

To grow old is to pass from passion to compassion.

Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity.

We rarely confide in those who are better than we are.

We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives, that it is inside ourselves.

What is a rebel? A man who says no.

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How's my driving?

Published Sunday, November 06, 2011 @ 11:09 AM EST
Nov 06 2011

No, go ahead. Tell me.

Categories: Photo of the day

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Quotes of the day

Published Sunday, November 06, 2011 @ 12:03 AM EDT
Nov 06 2011

Andy Rooney, (January 14, 1919 – November 4, 2011)

"Shut down the computer? Well, what the hell else do you think I want to shut down? The bedroom window?"

(YouTube video: Classic Rooney rant about computers.)

Anyone who likes golf on television would enjoy watching the grass grow on the greens.

As an old reporter, we have a few secrets, and the first thing is we try the phone book.

Being kind is more important than being right.

Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don't need to be done.

Conservatives are more religious than liberals- although there is no evidence that they're nicer people because of it.

Democrats believe people are basically good but must be saved from themselves by the government. Republicans believe people are basically bad but they'll be okay if they're left alone.

Don't rule out working with your hands. It does not preclude using your head.

Go to bed. Whatever you're staying up late for isn't worth it.

I can't choose how I feel, but I can choose what I do about it.

I don't like food that's too carefully arranged. It makes me think that the chef is spending too much time arranging and not enough time cooking. If I wanted a picture I'd buy a painting.

If dogs could talk it would take a lot of the fun out of owning one.

In a conversation, keep in mind that you're more interested in what you have to say than anyone else is.

It's not so much that I write well, I just don't write badly very often, and that passes for good on television.

I’m already suspicious of anyone who thinks he or she is smart enough to be president. You’d have to have some ego to believe that about yourself

Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

Love, not time, heals all wounds.

Making duplicate copies and computer printouts of things no one wanted even one of in the first place is giving America a new sense of purpose.

Milk without fat is like nonalcoholic Scotch.

Money doesn't buy class.

Nothing in fine print is ever good news.

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don't clean it up too quickly.

Opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.

Patriotism is only a virtue if the person who has it lives in your country.

People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe.

The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.

The Lord didn't do it all in one day. What makes me think I can?

Vegetarian- that's an old Indian word meaning lousy hunter.

Categories: Quotes of the day

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Quote of the day

Published Saturday, November 05, 2011 @ 12:00 AM EDT
Nov 05 2011

My wife told me "I need you like the desert needs the rain. Once, maybe twice a year, for no more than twenty minutes."
-The Covert Comic

Categories: Covert Comic, Quotes of the day

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Do what I tell you

Published Friday, November 04, 2011 @ 8:18 AM EDT
Nov 04 2011

Go to the google.com homepage.

Search for "Do a barrel roll." I'll wait.

TGIF, indeed.

Categories: WTF?

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Quotes of the day

Published Friday, November 04, 2011 @ 12:01 AM EDT
Nov 04 2011

Will Rogers (November 4, 1879 – August 15, 1935) achieved the height of his popularity during the Great Depression. Reading him reveals two things- that he was a keen observer of American life, and that we never learn from our mistakes. As Gore Vidal said, "Happily for the busy lunatics who rule over us, we are permanently the United States of Amnesia. We learn nothing because we remember nothing."

We need to remember people like Will...

A diplomat is an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country.

A government treaty gave Cherokees their land as long as the grass grows and the water flows, but when they discovered oil, they took it back because there was nothin' in the treaty about oil.

A holding company is the people you give your money to while you're being searched.

A remark generally hurts in proportion to its truth.

Almost all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

An economist's guess is as good as anyone else's.

Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate; now what's going to happen to us with both a Senate and a House?

Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.

Civilization has taught us to eat with a fork, but even now if nobody is around, we use our fingers.

Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.

Government investigations have always contributed more to our amusement than they have to our knowledge.

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.

I don't think you can make a lawyer honest by an act of legislature. You've got to work on his conscience. And his lack of conscience is what makes him a lawyer.

I hope we never live to see the day when a thing is as bad as some of our newspapers make it.

I love a dog. He does nothing for political reasons.

I would rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it.

If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?

If there are no dogs in heaven, when I die I want to go where they go.

If we ever pass out as a great nation we ought to put on our tombstone, "America died from a delusion that she had moral leadership."

If we have Senators and Congressmen there that can't protect themselves against the evil temptations of lobbyists, we don't need to change our lobbies, we need to change our representatives.

If you ever injected truth into politics you'd have no politics.

It's not what you pay a man but what he costs you that counts.

Let advertisers spend the same amount of money improving their product that they spend on advertising and they wouldn't have to advertise it.

Liberty don't work as good in practice as it does in speeches.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Nothing you can't spell will ever work.

On account of us being a democracy and run by the people, we are the only nation in the world that has to keep a government four years, no matter what it does.

Our Constitution protects aliens, drunks, and U.S. Senators. There ought to be one day (just one) when there is open season on senators.

People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.

People want just taxes more than they want lower taxes. They want to know that every man is paying his proportionate share according to his wealth.

Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat with.

Politics is applesauce.

Republicans take care of the big money, for big money takes care of them.

Statesmen think they make history; but history makes itself and drags the statesmen along.

Ten men in our country could buy the whole world and ten million can't buy enough to eat.

The American people are a very generous people and will forgive almost any weakness, with the possible exception of stupidity.

The man with the best job in the country is the Vice-President. All he has to do is get up every morning and say "How's the President?"

The more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other.

The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets.

The rest of the people know the condition of the country, for they live in it, but Congress has no idea what is going on in America, so the President has to tell 'em.

The schools ain't what they used to be and never was.

There is one rule that works in every calamity. Be it pestilence, war, or famine, the rich get richer and poor get poorer. The poor even help arrange it.

There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.

This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.

This would be a great time in the world for some man to come along that knew something.

This would be a great world to dance in if we didn't have to pay the fiddler.

Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like.

We are the first nation to starve to death in a storehouse that's overfilled with everything we want.

We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.

When everybody has got money they cut taxes, and when they're broke they raise 'em. That's statesmanship of the highest order.

You can't say civilization isn't advancing: in every war they kill you in a new way.

You shake a slogan at an American and it's just like showing a hungry dog a bone.

You take religion backed up by commerce and it's awful hard for a heathen to overcome.

You've got to be an optimist to be a Democrat, and you've got to be a humorist to stay one.

Categories: Quotes of the day

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"Our blacks are so much better than their blacks..."

Published Thursday, November 03, 2011 @ 6:06 AM EDT
Nov 03 2011

"They can't stand that a black man, much blacker than Obama, and a real American black, is this right-winger."-Ann Coulter

"Even I'm offended by that, and I'm a racist."-Jon Stewart

("The Daily Show" video, in which Donald Trump expresses outrage at Jon Stewart's racist impression of Herman Cain, and Ann Coulter notes Republican blacks are better than Democratic blacks.)

Categories: Daily Show, Jon Stewart, Video

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That dude's hammered.

Published Tuesday, November 01, 2011 @ 11:45 PM EDT
Nov 01 2011

The cynic in me sometimes thinks candidates and politicians behave this way because they know the game is rigged, the process is a charade, and it just doesn't make any difference who gets elected.

"All of this back and forth debate implies that there are really choices in this country- that we really have choices. It’s an illusion. There is no real choice... Americans are meant to feel free by the exercise of meaningless choice. You know what the choices are in this country? Paper or plastic, aisle or window, smoking or no smoking. These are your real choices. You don’t get to choose anything."
-George Carlin

Categories: Daily Show, George Carlin, Jon Stewart, Video

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