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  • mistermuse 12:00 am on May 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Benjamin Franklin, , , , , , , , , , , , , , Victor Hugo   


    May is Older Americans Month (fka Senior Citizens Month). Back in 1963, when the month was established, I was “a young man full of idealism and vigor” (as Barack Obama joked recently at the White House in a different context), a year out of the army with the rest of my life ahead of me. Now here it is 2016, some 53 years later, and I still have the rest of my life ahead of me. Amazing.

    So much for the glass-half-full outlook. In the other hand, the glass is half-empty:


    Old age is a sad estate.
    With it comes wisdom,
    But it comes so late.

    Now recall innocent youth.
    Ignorance was bliss,
    But less than truth.

    Why can’t life be in reverse:
    Born knowing the score,
    Blameless in the hearse?

    The old joke about old age is that there’s not much future in it. Maybe so, but I like to think ‘outside the box.’ One thing for sure: Old age is no place for sissies. –Bette Davis

    Well, never let it be said that this blog is no place for good quotes. Most of the following goodies aren’t funny, but then, old age isn’t exactly a barrel of laughs either. So, until further adieu:

    Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative. –Maurice Chevalier

    Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that can happen to a man. –James Thurber

    A stockbroker urged me to buy a stock that would triple its value every year. I told him, “At my age, I don’t even buy green bananas.” –Claude Pepper

    Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late. –Benjamin Franklin

    Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age. –Victor Hugo

    There’s no such thing as old age; there is only sorrow. –Fay Weldon

    Whatever poet, orator or sage may say of it, old age is still old age. –Sinclair Lewis

    A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity, and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight. –Robertson Davies

    Not even old age knows how to love death. –Sophocles

    By the time you’re 80 years old you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it. –George Burns (who, in case you forgot, lived to age 100)

    And now for the BIG (double) FINISH:



    • Cynthia Jobin 12:34 am on May 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I enjoyed listening to both renditions of the Farewell Blues.

      I like Mark Twain’s take on the fear of death: — ‘I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience…’

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 7:33 am on May 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you, Cynthia. I hadn’t read that Mark Twain quote before (or, if I did, I forgot it in my old age). 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • eths 1:45 am on May 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Losing a son last year made me look at my life differently. I feel really lucky to be 81 and in good health and to look forward to each day, particularly now that I’ve found the blogging world.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 7:48 am on May 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        I can empathize, as I lost my only sister this year. As for your blog, I read it (ir)religiously and I look forward to it each day — or at least each year (just kidding – I wholly recommend it). 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • eths 5:46 pm on May 5, 2016 Permalink

          I am sorry about your sister. I hope you are doing well.

          Liked by 1 person

    • ladysighs 7:43 am on May 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for informing me that May is Old Age Month. I think. 😦
      One of those things I’d rather not think about, but now that I know about it I can’t stop thinking about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:10 am on May 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Ladysighs, I’d apologize, but I’d like to think this post inspired your excellent blog post today along the same lines (I’m sure you wrote yours before you saw mine, but that’s just a minor detail). 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • arekhill1 2:47 pm on May 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Old or young, keep in mind the words of the philosopher–“Nobody gets out of life alive.”


      • mistermuse 6:11 pm on May 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Some people are lucky to get INTO it alive….which seems ironic, when you consider that none of us asked to be conceived, much less born. To paraphrase Rick (Humphrey Bogart) in Casablanca: It seems that fate takes a hand.


    • Carmen 6:56 am on May 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      mister use-
      I get that comment from a few of my students when they realize I’m the same age as their grandmothers. They’ll blurt out, “You’re OLD!!” I always come back with, “Compared to whom?”
      It’s all relative. . 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:10 am on May 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      It’s all relative until we kick the bucket….and then it’s all relatives (at the funeral). 🙂


    • Don Frankel 5:29 am on May 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I swore I commented on this but then maybe I just came into the room where I have the computer and stared at the screen and forgot why I went into this room. What’s this post about again?

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:34 am on May 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Welcome to the club, Don. It’s the only club I know of where, once you’re in, there’s only one way out. 😦


        • Carmen 8:49 am on May 7, 2016 Permalink

          Methinks you two exaggerate. . .there’s lots of mustard left to cut with the pair of you! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 9:20 am on May 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Carmen, your comment cuts the mustard, whether we exaggerate or not. 🙂


    • blindzanygirl 12:17 am on May 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Love those quotes mistermuse. Looks like I have dug right back into your blog. But it was worth it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 12:48 am on May 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        To think that when I wrote this post, Trump wasn’t even the Republican nominee for U.S. President yet. They say time flies when you’re having fun, but judging by the past 3 1/2 years, time flies even when you’re not having fun.

        Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 6:45 pm on April 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Benjamin Franklin, , , Damon Runyon, , humorists, , , , , , Toulouse-Lautrec   


    Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke, the leading 19th century Prussian strategist, was said to have laughed only twice: once when told that a certain French fortress was impregnable, and once when his mother-in-law died. -Paul Johnson, historian/author

    April is NATIONAL HUMOR MONTH. Why? April may have this privilege over other months because it begins with April Fools Day and ends with National Honesty Day — but to be honest, I’m just speculating. A more interesting question is raised by this post’s title….or, as W. C. Fields put it, We know what makes people laugh. We do not know why they laugh.

    But we do know that what some people find funny, others don’t. A joke that cracks you up, I may not get. Something I consider juvenile may strike you as hilarious. Paul Johnson takes a stab at this in his book HUMORISTS FROM HOGARTH TO NOEL COWARD, in which he relates journalist/writer Arthur Koestler’s example of “the very primitive Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert of South Africa. What really makes them roar is when a springbok, fatally wounded by a bullet, continues to jump and kick in its death agony.”

    What is the difference between our reaction to the Prussian’s reaction to the death of his mother-in-law, and to the Bushmen’s reaction to the death throes of the springbok? Apples and oranges? That comparison will have to do….at least, until someone pays me for the fruits of my labor. Meanwhile, for those who might contemplate the purchase of Paul Johnson’s HUMORISTS, here is a list of A-list humorists covered in his book:

    Hogarth, Dr. Johnson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Rowlandson, Dickens, Toulouse-Lautrec, G. K. Chesterton, Damon Runyon, W. C. Fields, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers, James Thurber, Nancy Mitford and Noel Coward.

    An interesting cast of characters, no doubt, though in a few cases, such as the second name mentioned, “it stretches [quoting Paul Johnson himself] credulity to write of Dr. Samuel Johnson as a comic.” What seems to me even more curious, however, is the non-inclusion of the likes of Mark Twain, whose omission I will make a feeble attempt to mitigate by giving him the last word here (which was also the closing quote of my April 16 post):

    Well, humor is the great thing, the saving thing, after all.







    • arekhill1 9:32 am on April 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Every month should be National Humor Month, unless every other month was International Humor Month instead. Or World Humor Month. Or Planetary Humor Month. Whether you call attention to the humor in the month or not, it’s always there.


    • mistermuse 10:34 am on April 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      If only the religious fanatics and extremists of the world believed humor is always there.


  • mistermuse 12:01 am on September 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin, Common Sense, , French Revolution, , , The Age of Reason, Thomas Paine   


    These are the times that try men’s souls.  –Thomas Paine, December 19, 1776

    God knows I have a sense of humor, even as I raised the question (in my last post) as to whether God has a sense of humor. So, researching Thomas Paine quotes (as a follow-up to Paine comments on my Sept. 2 post TO DEist OR NOT TO DEist), I hoped to find a few witticisms among the sober words of his Common Sense and other writings. No such luck — these were indeed “the times [the American and French Revolutions] that try men’s souls.” There’s not much to laugh about when the fates of lives and countries hang in the balance.

    Paine (1737-1809), born in England into a poor family, was still poor in 1774 when he gained the friendship of Benjamin Franklin, who was then in London and advised him to go to America. Armed with letters of recommendation from Franklin, he soon became contributing editor to PENNSYLVANIA MAGAZINE and began pressing for American independence.

    In 1776 he served as a soldier and published his famous pamphlet Common Sense in support of the colonies, which Washington, Jefferson and other leaders read with approval. This was followed by a series of pamphlets called The American Crisis, the first of which began with this post’s opening quote.

    Paine subsequently supported the French Revolution — at least, initially — and was made a French citizen by the National Assembly of France in August 1792 and then a member of the National Convention, until his outspoken opposition to the revolution’s excessive bloodshed and violence got him expelled, deprived of French citizenship, and imprisoned.

    While in prison, Paine worked on The Age of Reason, which advocated freedom from oppressive and organized religions. Although it began “I believe in one God, and no more,” it was called “the atheist’s bible” by those who couldn’t abide deviance from religious orthodoxy. By proclaiming deism, Paine became “one of the most hated men of his time” (source: The World Book Encyclopedia).

    After James Monroe, American Minister to France, claimed Paine as an American citizen and obtained his release, President Thomas Jefferson in 1802 arranged for Paine’s return to the U.S.  But Paine found that people remembered him more for his opinions on religion than for his Revolutionary War service, and he died poor, ill and a social outcast.

    How far America and the world have come since those centuries-old days of religious intolerance (to use the kindest possible euphemism), I leave for you to consider. It’s time for me to get to a few of those understandably serious Paine quotes :

    The World is my country, all mankind are my brethern, and to do good is my religion.

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power…. I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself.

    We have it in our power to begin the world over again.

    • Don Frankel 7:34 am on September 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      We’ve sort of had this conversation before Muse. People will manipulate people to their advantage. Religion has no corner on this market. Just turn on the TV and watch people tell you that you can lose 30 or 40 pounds and you don’t have to diet or even exercise. Just sprinkle this stuff on your food or buy the pills. Or explain to me what the TSA does other than put a lot of people’s useless in-laws on the government payroll at 8 billion a year?


    • mistermuse 9:22 am on September 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Don, religion may not have a corner on the market, but they have a monopoly on the afterlife, and more people will buy a chance on losing 30 or 40 pounds than will take a chance on losing their souls (as if their religion – or any religion – has that power). Believe me, having been a practicing Catholic for decades, I know how power can cower a person. It takes some serious thinking to get beyond that.


    • the stay at home philosopher 1:56 pm on September 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      If God doesn’t have a sense of humor, I’m in big trouble…


      • mistermuse 5:12 pm on September 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        ….but perhaps not in as much trouble as people who have no sense of humor.

        Keep thinking and smiling, and thanks for commenting.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Michaeline Montezinos 4:02 pm on September 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I thought it was a good post and I was reminded about the life of Thomas Paine. His life was a “pain” for sure. “Poor” writer of truths and then he was despised by countries on both sides of the Atlantic. I think he must have been an intelligent person and a deep thinker who knew that religion could make a follower miserable. mistermuse, if you recall I was a Catholic, also. So I understand the intensity of “God -brainwashing” done in Catholic schools. After life kicked me down, then I wised up to the fact that no matter what one believes or not, we have one life to live to the fullest and we better get on with that challenge.


    • Don Frankel 5:04 pm on September 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Muse, they’ve got a pretty good routine. I’ll grant you that but they’re not the only game in town. There are people who do practice what they preach too.


      • D R (Donnie) Hosie 12:25 am on October 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        I can’t remember exactly who was it that first noted that, without religion, good men would still be good – and bad men would continue to be bad. But for good men to do evil, requires religion. I think that pretty well sums up the unique relationship that can exist, between orthodoxy and evil.


        • Outlier Babe 11:26 am on February 7, 2016 Permalink

          What an interesting saying. Does it mean that an evildoer must have religious faith in order to perform evil (say, acts of personal violence not done from immediate temper–particularly acts which prolong the victim’s suffering)?

          Or only that a third party must have faith to consider such acts evil?

          I reject the premise, in any event. I believe it requires only the Sneetch Effect: A power imbalance. Once otherwise-good people (not just men) are positioned to perceive they are superior to other exactly-good people, evil seeds will sprout. Even if God were to first manifest and declare “For the purposes and duration of this experiment, none of you believe I exist.”

          Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 5:15 pm on September 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Don, as long as they don’t preach jihad, I can live with it.


    • mistermuse 8:51 pm on February 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I also reject the premise that “for good men to do evil, requires religion” – or at least, I reject the word “requires” in that statement. It can’t be denied that a lot of evil has been done in the name of religion, but it also can’t be denied that a lot of good has been done as well. But I think D R Hosie is probably right is saying that “without religion, good men would still be good.”


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