A QUOTER OF NINE

One must never miss an opportunity of quoting things by others which are always more interesting than those one thinks up oneself. –Marcel Proust

The idea for this post was born of the mating of the above quote (which came from a book I’m reading about Marcel Proust) with a play on words from the title of this old song:

The next step was to come up with nine quotes based on the above premise. Almost by default, I chose quotes about quotes. I hope the result isn’t born stillborn — if so, de fault is yours (or mine, if you want to be petty about it). Let’s begin and see how it works out:

Those who never quote, in return are never quoted. –Isaac D’Israeli

Pretty things that are well said — it’s nice to have them in your head. –Robert Frost

I have made it a rule that whenever I say something stupid, I immediately attribute it to Dr. Johnson, Marcus Aurelius or Dorothy Parker. –George Mikes

Asked to describe his most recent play, a playwright (who Dorothy Parker felt had been copying her) said, “It’s hard to say — except that it’s a play against all isms.” She replied, “Except plagiarism.

I always have a quotation for everything — it saves original thinking. –Dorothy L. Sayers

To be amused at what you read — that is the great spring of quotation. –Charles Edward Montague

While reading writers of great formulatory power — Henry James, Santayana, Proust — I find I can scarcely get through a page without having to stop to record some lapidary sentence. Reading Henry James, for example, I have muttered to myself, “C’mon, Henry, turn down the brilliance a notch, so I can get some reading done.” –Joseph Epstein

If you want to be quoted, say something you shouldn’t say. –Evan Esar

I really didn’t say everything I said. –Yogi Berra

So that makes me a quoter of nine, unless one counts the opening Marcel Proust quote, which doesn’t count as ten unless you’re keeping count, in which case, count it instead as a bonus which would only count if you don’t count Yogi, who said he didn’t say what he said if he didn’t say it (but don’t quote me on that).

 

 

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HOW TO MAKE A WORLD OF (NON)SENSE

If you cannot read these directions and warnings, do not use this product. –WARNING ON DRAIN CLEANER LABEL

What’s Walmart? Do like they sell wall stuff? –Paris Hilton

I believe I’ve been reincarnated because every time I eat chicken, I eat with my hands….like they did in the olden days. –Lee Ryan, English singer/actor

I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman. –Arnold Schwarzenegger

Just remember the words of Patrick Henry: “Kill me or let me live.” –Bill Peterson, football coach

I don’t think anybody should write his autobiography until after he’s dead. –Samuel Goldwyn

It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it. –George W. Bush

[Who was President during the Civil War?] Ummm…. Winston Churchill? I wasn’t around then, so who cares? –Tommy Lee, rocker

Predictions are difficult, especially about the future. –Yogi Berra

I guess I’m gonna fade into Bolivian. –Mike Tyson, boxer (after losing his last big fight)

I make Jessica Simpson look like a rock scientist. –Tara Reid, actress (suggesting Jessica was stoned?)

[This world is] the best of all possible worlds. –Gottfried Leibniz, German philosopher

REALLY? That makes a world of sense to me….if our soul competition is the worst of all possible worlds. –mistermuse

MISTER MUSE AND MISS QUOTES

I have made it a rule that whenever I say something stupid, I immediately attribute it to Dr. Johnson, Marcus Aurelius or Dorothy Parker. –George Mikes, British author

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Fellow and female Americans: In case you’re not old enough — as I am — to remember the Father of our Country, George Birthington’s washday was February 22nd. OK, I admit that after all these years, I may have a hard time recalling names and certain words correctly, but what does it matter? As Christopher Shakespeare (or was it William Marlowe) famously wrote, a ruse by any other name would smell anyway.

Anyway, my point is that quotes may frequently get mis-attributed, but Miss Attributed couldn’t care less, so why should we? Well, I’ll tell you why — because we’re righters, that’s why, and we righters deserve credit where credit is dubious. Therefore, with the aid of my busty — I mean, trusty — aide, Miss Quotes, the objective here was to do an extensive investigation into the subjective and dig up our quota of misquotes (our quota being whenever we decided to quit) . You are now about to be the beneficiary of our research, which we bent over backwards to have ready for this post (just to make it a bit more fun, I’ll throw in a few correctly-attributed quotes; can you pick them out of the pack?):

1. “I cannot tell a lie.” –George Washington
2. “Give me liberty, or give me death.”  –Patrick Henry  
3. “The British are brave people. They can face anything except reality.” –George Mikes
4. “Anybody who hates dogs and children can’t be all bad.” –W.C. Fields
5. “Our comedies are not to be laughed at.” –Samuel Goldwyn
6. “I never said most of the things I said.” –Yogi Berra
7. “Let them eat cake.” –Marie-Antoinette
8. “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.” –Mark Twain
9. “Elementary, my dear Watson.” –Sherlock Holmes (in the stories of A. Conan Doyle)
10. “I am the greatest!” –The Donald

Here are the misattributions:

1. The quote itself is a lie. An Anglican minister, Mason Locke, ascribed it to our first President in his pietistic biography of Washington as part of the made-up ‘Who chopped down the cherry tree’ story: “I can’t tell a lie, Pa; I did cut it with my hatchet.”
2. Possibly another biographical fiction, though not as clear-cut as the cherry tree story. Biographer Wm. Wirt based his attribution on the memory of two Henry contemporaries. The phrase resembles a passage from CATO, a 1713 play written by Joseph Addison.
4. Actually said by humor writer Leo Rosten in introducing Fields at a dinner.
5. An old Hollywood gag, not said (at least originally) by Goldwyn.
7. By all accounts, Marie-Antoinette never uttered those words. Several years before she supposedly said them, they appeared in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s THE CONFESSIONS.
8. Although Twain used this quote in his autobiography, he credited it to Benjamin Disraeli.
9. Doyle never put those words in the great detective’s mouth in any of his four novels and 56 short stories about Holmes between 1887-1927.  It was actor Basil Rathbone, playing Holmes in the late 1930s-1940s, who spoke those words and made them famous.
10. Donald Trump may think it, but it was Muhammad Ali who said it.

As a bonus, I leave you with this quote:

 

 

 

“Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

The above title is one of the most famous, fascinating quotes in history. It was, of course, uttered by Sir Henry Stanley upon finding Dr. David Livingstone near Africa’s Lake Tanganyika in November, 1871, after an arduous 8 month search. If you’re not familiar with the details, here’s a refresher:

http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/stanley.htm

I bring this up because today is Livingstone’s birthday (March 19, 1813), and one can hardly imagine a more droll, understated salutation than Stanley’s under the circumstances at the time. Stanley had been sent by the New York Herald to find Livingstone, the explorer who for several years had been out of contact with the outside world and was feared lost. To say it was an adventure which captured the world’s imagination would itself be an understatement. Almost 70 years later, in 1939 (a year of epic movies, such as GUNGA DIN and GONE WITH THE WIND), the story was still powerful enough to inspire an on-location biopic titled STANLEY AND LIVINGSTONE, starring Spencer Tracy.

As a lover of dry wit, it made me wonder what other droll quotes and witticisms are out there waiting to be discovered….so I set out in search thereof. You may presume I found the following to be the most telling (even though I don’t know who told some of them):

I have not yet begun to procrastinate.

You can observe a lot by just watching. -Yogi Berra

I’m sorry, but I never apologize.

Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours. -Yogi Berra

A photon checks into a hotel and is asked if he needs help with his luggage. He says, “No, I’m traveling light.”

The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep. -W. C. Fields

Being able to predict the future is nothing like I thought it would be.

You’d be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap. -Dolly Parton

I used to think I was indecisive, but I’m not so sure now.

Nonetheless, I think this is THE END.

 

SAYS WHO?

I really didn’t say everything I said.  — Yogi Berra

Maybe he didn’t….but Yogi did say that he didn’t say everything he said — and it should go without saying that some say he is not the only one who didn’t say everything he said. Sad to say, no way can one say who said what was said in all cases, and always saying who said what one said is way easier said than done. Or so they say.

That said, the following is a selection of famous quotes not said (or at least not said originally) by those to whom they are attributed, along with some quotes which are correctly attributed (or so they say). Some mis-atributed quotes happened inadvertently, others deliberately; some have persisted despite attempts to set the record straight.  Can you separate the suspect ones from the correct ones?

1. Go west, young man, go west.  –Horace Greeley
2. Go West, Virginia, yes, Virginia: there is a  —Santa Claus
3. Win one for the Gipper.  –Knute Rockne
4. Win one for the Gingger.  –Newt Gingrich
5. A woman drove me to drink and I didn’t even have the decency to thank her.  –W. C. Fields
6. Forget your troubles, come on, get happy.  –Elysian Fields
7. Our comedies are not to be laughed at.  –Samuel Goldwyn
8. Our cold meds are not to be sneezed at.  –Dr. Don
9. Elementary, my dear Watson.  –Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
10. Excelente, my dear Sr. Muse.  –Ricardo Cahill (after bribe payment) 

Of the above, the following are attributed incorrectly (supposedly):

1. Greeley did write this in an 1865 editorial, but denied originating it, crediting it to John Soule’s authorship in a Terre Haute (Indiana) newspaper in 1851. Nonetheless, the Greeley attribution persists.
3. Actually, this was said by Ronald Reagan in the 1940 film “Knute Rockne – All American.”
6. Forget Ely Fields – this is the opening lyric of “Get Happy” by Harold Arlen & Ted Koehler: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGk3tY4yP7k
7. Like many “Goldwynisms,” origin is suspect. Reported to be an old Hollywood quip pre-dating its attribution to Goldwyn.
9. Never said by Holmes in Doyle’s novels and short stories. Made famous by actor Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in movies.

How many did you get right?
You got all of them?
Says who?