Shakespeare doesn’t always speak to me. Like, I may be hanging around the house, giving the dogs some mid-afternoon treats, killing a few hours just to see them die. I rarely say, think I’ll go grab that Hamlet story and re-read the ghost parts. Now I like the man’s sonnets, I’ve said that before on these pages, but you know you go re-read a Shakespearean sonnet once a year, that’s enough anymore.
I cannot abide TV programming in which there is no quarterback or 3 point shot. Talking heads bore me. And who made politics the number One subject of conversation? Politics per se is boring. And don't try to tell me otherwise. And personalities in politics are interesting to a point, but Jesus, there are more people on the face of this good earth than politicos and wags in WDC.
I don’t play golf anymore. Don’t have any interest in hitting the girlie clubs on the Vegas strip, or even playing poker as much as I did. And you know we have Alma in our lives now and around the house there are no chores to do. None. Zero.
I got friends out in the world who ever month or so send me suggestions for books to read - or they send me books - and I do my duty there. I read books people send me… and sometimes even enjoy them… well that’s not true, I always enjoy them. Only with some of these books, it takes hours of reading - and focus - before you can appreciate them, you know what I mean? Heavy lifting. I get brain fodder much more than I get fun reads.
I probably read a book a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. And I certainly have my favorites.
The genre that I can always depend on for mind treats are books by columnists, . You don’t find them in the papers anymore like I remember. And the number of men of letters or essayists who write about life Its ownself has diminished. Used to be able to go to the sports page and get an entertaining little 10 paragraph story, with a few well turned phrases. Now not so much. Sports columns talk about domestic abuse and money and more and more they talk about failures on the field of play, as much as they talk about the winners.
But I remember newspaper columnists all through my life who gave me good words to read just all the time. Without fail. Rokyo, Caen, Lederer, Murray. Uplifting, insightful, entertaining. Some writing you can go to and for fifteen/twenty minutes you feel like you’ve got your upside charged. I get this charge now – seems to me – mostly from books I re-read on collections of column from gifted wordsmiths. I got maybe 30 favorites and with most, when I think of them, I remember passages they wrote, that stuck inside my head. What follows are quotes from some of these people, who are among my most valued heroes.
So here you go. Brain candy….
“When speaking aloud, you punctuate constantly — with body language.
Your listener hears commas, dashes, question marks, exclamation points, quotation marks as you shout, whisper, pause, wave your arms, roll your eyes, wrinkle your brow.
In writing, punctuation plays the role of body language. It helps readers hear the way you want to be heard.”
“The Democrats seem to be basically nice people, but they have demonstrated time and again that they have the management skills of celery. “
Roy Blount, Jr
“I have written some of the clumsiest, most clogged-yet-vagrant, hobbledehoyish, hitch-slipping sentences ever conceived by the human mind.”
“I haven’t trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I’ve never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.”
“I know I grew up in the time when a young man in a baggy suit and slicked-down hair stood spraddle-legged in the crossroads of history and talked hot and mean about the colored, giving my poor and desperate people a reason to feel superior to somebody, to anybody. I know that even as the words of George Wallace rang through my Alabama, the black family who lived down the dirt road from our house sent fresh-picked corn and other food to the poor white lady and her three sons, because they knew their daddy had run off, because hungry does not have a color.”
“I have no idea where I’m going but here’s the real question: What am I doing here in the first place?”
William R. Buckley
“I would rather be governed by the first 2000 people in the Manhattan phone book than the entire faculty of Harvard.”
“A city is where you can sign a petition, boo the chief justice, fish off a pier, gaze at a hippopotamus, buy a flower at the corner, or get a good hamburger or a bad girl at 4 A.M. A city is where sirens make white streaks of sound in the sky and foghorns speak in dark grays. San Francisco is such a city.”
“You get a little moody sometimes but I think that’s because you like to read. People that like to read are always a little fucked up.”
“It would be a much better country if women did not vote. That is simply a fact. In fact, in every presidential election since 1950 – except Goldwater in ’64 – the Republican would have won, if only the men had voted.”
“I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.”
“I don’t think I’ll get married again. I’ll just find a woman I don’t like and give her a house.”
Sydney J. Harris
“The generality of mankind is lazy. What distinguishes men of genuine achievement from the rest of us is not so much their intellectual powers and aptitudes as their curiosity, their energy, their fullest use of their potentialities. Nobody really knows how smart or talented he is until he finds the incentives to use himself to the fullest. God has given us more than we know what to do with.”
“All day long I’ve been telling myself it’s only a merry-go-round. Some people fall off quicker than others. No big mystery.”
“Highfalutin moral principles are impossible guides to foreign policy. At worst, they reflect hypocrisy; at best, extreme naivete.”
“Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. Why doesn’t “buick” rhyme with “quick”?”
“Willie Mays’ glove is where triples go to die”
Russians not only vehemently despise blacks, they believe Africa begins at the Ukraine border.
“For when the One Great Scorer comes…To mark against your name,…He writes – not that you won or lost –but HOW you played the Game.”
Here are just a few reasons why: A woman over forty will never wake you in the middle of the night to ask, “What are you thinking?” She doesn’t care what you think. If a woman over forty doesn’t want to watch the game, she doesn’t sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do. And, it’s usually something more interesting. Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it’s like to be unappreciated. A woman over forty looks good wearing bright red lipstick. This is not true of younger women. Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over forty is far sexier than her younger counterpart. Yes, we praise women over forty for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it’s not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed hot woman of forty-plus, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some twenty-two-year-old waitress. Ladies, I apologize. For all those men who say, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,” here’s an update for you. Now 80 percent of women are against marriage, why? Because women realize it’s not worth buying an entire pig, just to get a little sausage.”
“I never went to a John Wayne movie to find a philosophy to live by or to absorb a profound message. I went for the simple pleasure of spending a couple of hours seeing the bad guys lose.”
“Never assume the obvious is true.”
“Dying is no big deal; the least of us will manage it. Living is the trick.”
“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”
“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”
“Everybody, everybody everywhere, has his own movie going, his own scenario, and everybody is acting his movie out like mad, only most people don’t know that is what they’re trapped by, their little script.”