Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lillian Disney

No one's ever gonna pay a dime to see a dwarf picture.

--to her husband, Walt Disney, about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Sunday, December 18, 2011


On judgement day if God should say, "Did you clean your house today?" I will say, "I did not, I played with my dogs and I forgot."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Noel Coward

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Martha Beck

Researchers at Northwestern University have found that people who'd just watched a comedy video were better at solving a word puzzle than subjects who'd watched clips from a horror film or a lecture on physics. It seems a part of the brain activated by laughter and lightheartedness is especially well suited to helping us find clever solutions to our problems.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gabrielle Hamilton

In the university program where I was supposed to be emancipating myself from the kitchen, preparing myself to go back to New York having at least answered the question of my own potential, the novelty and thrill had thoroughly worn off. I could not find the fun or the urgency in the eventless and physically idle academic life. It was so lethargic and impractical and luxurious. I adored reading and writing and having my brain crushed; but those soft ghostly people lounging around in agony over their "texts," endlessly theorizing over experiences they would never have, made me ache to get out of the leather chairs, to put my shoes and socks back on, and get back into the kitchen, which I increasingly found practical and satisfying. The work may not have held much meaning and purpose, but I was gunning the motor of my car to get off campus and get to it each day.

To tackle a prep list at eight a.m. and have it knocked out by four p.m., black Sharpie line crossing out each item on the To-Do list:
  • 6 quarts aioli
  • brown brisket
  • butcher salmon
  • toast walnuts
felt so manageable and tactile and useful. I could wake up and tackle that in a way that I would never be able to wake up and take a crack at certain literary pursuits, like for example, illuminating the fog surrounding the human condition. This is not suggest that I accepted this understanding about myself gladly, with just a sneering dismissal of the pursuit in the first place. Human condition. It's a blow to have to admit to yourself that you are not quite cut out for something that matters so much to you. More than a blow--it's a knockout. I had to lie down on the floor of my apartment for a very long time letting that one sink in. Did I have something more to offer, any other talent than a strong work ethic? Did I have something in me other than dishwasher?

As it turns out, I did not.

To stand at the prep table with other cooks who were just doing mundane things like fixing the car over the weekend, cleaning the house, and shuttling kids to doctor's appointments felt newly satisfying and meaningful enough. I liked these people and their lives. But more to the point, I came to understand that I liked People and Life. After sitting around for too long in those leather chairs, I welcomed the intense pressure of getting a dinner for 200 plated quickly, and came to see that there was a rush and a method in that that I hadn't quite known to what extent I liked and needed in my life. And I will admit, spending that chilly hour cleaning out a cluttered walk-in and putting impeccable order to it is still, 30 years later, my favorite part of kitchen life. I bring my mother's compulsion for concrete order with me wherever I go.

--Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (2011)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Anne Lamott

...the garden is about life and beauty and the impermanence of all living things. The garden is about feeding your children, providing food for the tribe. It's part of an urgent territorial drive that we can probably trace back to animals storing food. It's a competitive display mechanism, like having a prize bull, this greed for the best tomatoes and English tea roses; it's about winning, about providing society with superior things, and about proving that you have taste and good values and you work hard. And what a wonderful relief every so often to know who the enemy is─because in the garden, the enemy is everything: the aphids, the weather, time. And so you pour yourself into it, care so much, and see up close so much birth and growth and beauty and danger and triumph─and then everything dies away, right? But you just keep doing it.

-from Bird by Bird, c. 1994

Anne Lamott

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.

-from Bird by Bird, c. 1994

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Jennifer Michael Hecht

We think our version of a happy life as more like physics than like pop songs; we expect the people of the next century, say, to agree with our basic tenets — for instance, that broccoli is good for a happy life and that opium is bad — but they will not. Our rules for living are more like the history of pop songs. They make their weird sense only to the people of each given time period. They aren't true.

--speaking about her book The Happiness Myth: The Historical Antidote to What Isn't Working Today (2007)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Julia Moskin

It’s a quandary: there is no such thing as a traditional Thanksgiving chocolate dessert. But at a big festive dinner, there will always be a demand for chocolate. You might paint a parbaked pie crust with melted chocolate before filling it. (This is good for pecan pie.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

St. Augustine

Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage;
anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not
remain the way they are.

Monday, November 14, 2011

P.J. O'Rourke

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.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Martin Luther

When a friend wrote Luther a letter confessing that he was depressed, Luther had some advice for him: "Be strong and cheerful and cast out these monstrous thoughts. Whenever the devil harasses you thus, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, aye, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: 'Do not drink,' answer him: 'I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.' One must always do what Satan forbids. What other cause do you think that I have for drinking so much strong drink, talking so freely and making merry so often, except that I wish to mock and harass the devil who is wont to mock and harass me. Would that I could contrive some great sin to spite the devil, that he might understand that I would not even then acknowledge it and that I was conscious of no sin whatever. We, whom the devil thus seeks to annoy, should remove the whole decalogue from our hearts and minds."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Norman Rush

The main effort of arranging your life should be to progressively reduce the amount of time required to decently maintain yourself so that you can have all the time you want for reading.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Everything is hard when you're carrying a bag of dog poop.

Friday, October 21, 2011

David Treuer

If these words are lost," he wrote in a 2008 essay for the Los Angeles Times, "much will happen, but also very little will happen. We will be able to go to Starbucks and GameStop and Wal-Mart and the Home Depot as before. We will tie our shoes the same way and brush our teeth and use Crest Whitestrips. Some of us will still do our taxes. Some of us still won't. The mechanics of life as it is lived by modern Ojibwes will remain, for the most part, unchanged. The language we lose, when we lose it, is replaced by other languages. And yet, I think, more will be lost than simply a bouquet of discrete understandings ... I think what I am trying to say is that we will lose beauty — the beauty of the particular, the beauty of the past and the intricacies of a language tailored for our space in the world.

--David Treuer, Ojibwe novelist, on working to record and preserve the Ojibwe language

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Meghan O'Rourke

After a loss, you have to learn to believe the dead one is dead. It doesn't come naturally.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mary Pipher

I read of a Buddhist teacher who developed Alzheimer's. He had retired from teaching because his memory was unreliable, but he made one exception for a reunion of his former students. When he walked onto the stage, he forgot everything, even where he was and why. However, he was a skilled Buddhist and he simply began sharing his feelings with the crowd. He said, "I am anxious. I feel stupid. I feel scared and dumb. I am worried that I am wasting everyone's time. I am fearful. I am embarrassing myself." After a few minutes of this, he remembered his talk and proceeded without apology. The students were deeply moved, not only by his wise teachings, but also by how he handled his failings.

There is a Buddhist saying, "No resistance, no demons."

p197 in Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World

Mary Pipher

Theoretically, I wanted to meditate, but I found actually doing it extraordinarily difficult. As a therapist, I knew that we all want progress, but we resist change. I was a vivid example of this maxim. Figuring out my taxes and going to the dentist were easier than meditating. Even as I told myself meditation was a top priority, I worked to avoid that forty-five minutes alone with my mind. (p182)

from Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World

Mary Pipher

Religions are metaphorical systems that give us bigger containers in which to hold our lives. A spiritual life allows us to move beyond the ego into something more universal. Religious experience carries us outside of clock time into eternal time. We open ourselves into something more complete and beautiful. This bigger vista is perhaps the most magnificent aspect of a religious experience. . . . Religion can give us skills for climbing up onto a ledge above our suffering and looking down at it with a kind and open mind. (p176)

from Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Jonah Lehrer

For too long, we've disparaged our inarticulate instincts/hunches/emotions/intuitions as irrational and irresponsible, a vestigial legacy of our animal past. Thanks to this new research, however, it's becoming increasingly clear that our emotions have a logic all their own, that our instincts are often rooted in the processing powers of the unconscious brain.
--Wired, in an article about making hard decisions

Roger Ebert

I believe that if, at the end, 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 didn't always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Alice G. Walton

Meditation is an interesting method for increasing one’s sense of happiness because not only has it stood the test of time, but it’s also been tested quite extensively in the lab. Part of the effect of mindfulness meditation is to quiet the mind by acknowledging non-judgmentally and then relinquishing (rather than obsessing about) unhappy or stress-inducing thoughts....

These findings may suggest that for people who practice meditation or prayer, the focus becomes less on the self as a distinct entity from the external world, and more on connection between the two. This reflects the idea discussed earlier where shifting attention from inside to outside is at least part of what quells unhappiness.

--"Eat, Smoke, Meditate," on (9/21/2011)


I feel like I'm on this solitary lifelong path. No matter who weaves in and out of your life, regardless of the quality of those deep friendships and familyships, I'm the only common denominator at this point who's been with me the whole time. And there's this sense of trying to make sense of that ultimate solitude. It's not a negative or even a positive. It's just a fact.

--New York Times (9/18/2011) on the release of her new album, Metals.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Roger Ebert

I have many places where I sit and think, "I have been here before, I am here now, and I will be here again." Sometimes, lost in reverie, I remember myself approaching across the same green, or down the same footpath.... These secret visits are a way for me to measure the wheel of the years and my passage through life. Sometimes on this voyage through life we need to sit on the deck and regard the waves.
--in Life Itself: A Memoir 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thomas Jefferson

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Judith Collas

Her life was okay. Sometimes she wished she were sleeping with the right man instead of with her dog, but she never felt she was sleeping with the wrong dog.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Stephanie Kallos

Less is less. Heartbreak is heartbreak. You think I'm sitting here gloating. Telling myself that my suffering beats yours? Hurt is hurt. You don't measure these things.

Broken for You, p.271

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tony Hoagland

The Word
Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,

between "green thread"
and "broccoli," you find
that you have penciled "sunlight."

Resting on the page, the word
is beautiful. It touches you
as if you had a friend

and sunlight were a present
he had sent from someplace distant
as this morning—to cheer you up,

and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing

that also needs accomplishing.
Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds

of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder

or a safe spare tire?
Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue,

but today you get a telegram
from the heart in exile,
proclaiming that the kingdom

still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,

—to any one among them
who can find the time
to sit out in the sun and listen.
from Sweet Ruin (1992)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Leo Tolstoy

During my stay in Paris [in 1857], the sight of an execution revealed to me the instability of my superstitious belief in progress. When I saw the head part from the body and how they thumped separately into the box, I understood, not with my mind but with my whole being, that no theory of the reasonableness of our present progress could justify this deed; and that though everybody from the creation of the world had held it to be necessary, on whatever theory, I knew it to be unnecessary and bad; and therefore the arbiter of what is good and evil is not what people say and do, nor is it progress, but it is my heart and I.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jane Addams

Action is indeed the sole medium of expression for ethics. We continually forget that the sphere of morals is the sphere of action, that speculation in regard to morality is but observation and must remain in the sphere of intellectual comment, that a situation does not really become moral until we are confronted with the question of what shall be done in a concrete case, and are obliged to act upon our theory.
--in Democracy and Social Ethics (1902)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Qianlong Emperor

--exhibit at Milwaukee Art Museum

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Eleanor Hibbert

Never regret. If it's good, it's wonderful. If it's bad, it's experience.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Abigail Thomas

     My mother's first criterion for a man is that he be interesting. What this really means is that he be able to appreciate my mother, whose jokes hinge on some grammatical subtlety or a working knowledge of higher mathematics. You get the picture. Robbie is about as interesting as a pair of red high-top Converse sneakers. But Robbie points to the mattress on the floor. He grins, slowly unbuckling his belt, drops his jeans. "Lie down," says Robbie.
     This is interesting enough for me.

-excerpt from "Modern Love" in Getting Over Tom, a collection of short stories, c. 1994

Friday, August 26, 2011

Christian Wiman

There is a distinction to be made between the anxiety of daily existence, which we talk about endlessly, and the anxiety of existence, which we rarely mention at all. The former fritters us into dithering, distracted creatures. The latter attests to—and, if attended to, discloses—our souls.
And yet it is a distinction without a difference, perhaps, and as crucial to eventually overcome as it is to initially understand, for to be truly alive means to feel one's ultimate existence within one's daily existence, to feel one's trivial, frittering anxieties acquiring a lightness, a rightness, a meaning. So long as anxiety is merely something to be alleviated, it is not life, or we are not alive enough to experience it as such.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Before you go to bed at night, give all your cares and worries to God; he'll be up all night anyway.

Antonio Damasio

The cognitive part of our brain works very fast, so you can do a lot
of reasoning, a lot of recognition of objects, remembering names in
just a few hundredths of a second. But the emotional part of our
brains works very differently, and there is precious little evidence
that this is going to change. Tasks that have to do with empathy and
imagination, with slow-growing qualities like love and fidelity and
ethics, will continue to develop in their own sweet time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Barack Obama

I think that we forget when [Martin Luther King Jr.] was alive there was nobody who was more vilified, nobody who was more controversial, nobody who was more despairing at times. There was a decade that followed the great successes of Birmingham and Selma in which he was just struggling, fighting the good fight, and scorned, and [made] many folks angry. But what he understood, what kept him going, was that the arc of [a] moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. But it doesn't bend on its own. It bends because all of us are putting our hand on the arc and we are bending it in that direction. And it takes time. And it's hard work. And there are frustrations.

Gene Roddenberry

[Stark Trek] speaks to some basic human needs. That there is a tomorrow — it's not all going to be over in a big flash and a bomb, that the human race is improving, that we have things to be proud of as humans. No, ancient astronauts did not build the pyramids — human beings built them because they're clever and they work hard. And Star Trek is about those things.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Oversoul

Let us learn the revelation of all nature and thought;
that the Highest dwells within us,
that the sources of nature are in our own minds.
As there is no screen or ceiling between our heads and the heavens,
so there is no bar or wall in the soul where we, the effect, cease, and God, the cause, begins.

I am constrained every moment to acknowledge a higher origin for events than the will I call mine.
There is deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is accessible to us.
Every moment when the individual feels invaded by it is memorable.

It comes to the lowly and simple;
it comes to whosoever will put off what is foreign and proud;
it comes as insight;
it comes as serenity and grandeur.
The soul’s health consists in the fullness of its reception.

For ever and ever the influx of this better and more universal self is new and unsearchable.
Within us is the soul of the whole;
the wise silence,
the universal beauty,
to which every part and particle is equally related;
the eternal One.

When it breaks through our intellect, it is genius;
when it breathes through our will, it is virtue;
when in flows through our affections, it is love.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sanaya Roman

A lot of you end up doing so many small tasks that you don't have time to create your life's work; you confuse busyness with accomplishing your higher purpose. You may have stacks of chores to be done and be rushing around, busy every moment. If you are going to get to your life's work, you need to take time to start it.

   *   *   *

Creating your life's work doesn't come from choosing safety and comfort over growth. It comes from choosing and taking those actions that help you get to where you want to go. Learn to embrace your challenges with love rather than avoiding them. Start by doing something that is a slight reach for you; take on a slightly more challenging project than you normally tackle, or learn a new skill. When you do things that make you reach, the rewards are great.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Clinton Kelly

Scrunchies go with nothing.

Henry David Thoreau

I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

from Walden

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ken Burns

All truth is manipulated, because the universe is chaotic. What we divine from it is the superimposition of some kind of order, whether it's religion, superstition, story and art, literature, science — all of them are an attempt to keep the wolf from the door. And that wolf is the panic of chaos.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Anita Brookner

I suppose what one wants really is ideal company and books are ideal company.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Walt Whitman

This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.

--from the preface of Leaves of Grass

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Neil Simon

If you can go through life without ever experiencing pain, you probably haven't been born yet. And if you've gone through pain and think you know exactly why, you haven't examined all the options.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Frederick Law Olmsted

It is a scientific fact that the occasional contemplation of natural scenes of an impressive character, particularly if this contemplation occurs in connection with relief from ordinary cares, change of air and change of habits, is favorable to the health and vigor of men and especially to the health and vigor of their intellect beyond any other conditions which can be offered them, that it not only gives pleasure for the time being but increases the subsequent capacity for happiness and the means of securing happiness.
--in a treatise on national parks requested by the Board of Yosemite Commissioners, 1865. President Lincoln granted the Yosemite Valley to California for "public use, resort, and restoration" on this date in 1864.

Colin Firth

60 Minutes: How hard was it to get you to do the scene that's used for the closing credits [in Mama Mia]?
Colin: Do you know what? That may be the reason I did the movie.
60: You have no shame?
Colin: [Nods]. I'm sorry. If one thing has come out of 60 Minutes, it's that we have discovered, we have unveiled the fact that Colin Firth has no shame. I am such a drag queen. It's one of my primary driving forces in life. You cannot dangle a spandex suit and a little bit of mascara in front of me and not just have me go weak at the knees.
(Italics mine. -Ed.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ayn Rand

Love should be treated like a business deal, but every business deal has its own terms and its own currency. And in love, the currency is virtue. You love people not for what you do for them or what they do for you. You love them for the values, the virtues, which they have achieved in their own character.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Thurgood Marshall

The government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and momentous social transformation to attain the system of constitutional government, and its respect for the individual freedoms and human rights, we hold as fundamental today. When contemporary Americans cite 'The Constitution,' they invoke a concept that is vastly different from what the Framers barely began to construct two centuries ago. ... The men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 could not have envisioned these changes. They could not have imagined, nor would they have accepted, that the document they were drafting would one day be construed by a Supreme Court to which had been appointed a woman and the descendent of an African slave. 'We the People' no longer enslave, but the credit does not belong to the Framers. It belongs to those who refused to acquiesce in outdated notions of 'liberty,' 'justice,' and 'equality,' and who strived to better them.

--His was the dissenting voice at the 1987 bicentennial celebration of the Constitution while other speakers praised the document and the founding fathers' foresight.

George Herbert

Living well is the best revenge.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Kitchn

On thickening summer fruit pies

There are many, many thickeners out there, but flour, cornstarch, and quick-cooking tapioca are probably the most popular and each for good reason. Cornstarch has a nice smooth texture and no real flavor, but it can lead to an occasional murky color with berry pies and its thickening power is compromised with high acidity fruit like cherries. Quick-cooking tapioca will never result in a cloudy filling and soaks up really juicy fruit better than anything we've tried. However, it is a little temperamental in the sense that it really needs high heat to activate completely. Make sure to give your pies a good ten minute does of heat at 400 F if you're using this thickener. Flour is an easy thickener in that you generally always have it on hand and it works beautifully. It can lead to a gummy, cloudy filling with delicate summer berries though. We reserve using flour as a thickener for heartier fruits like apples and pears.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sara Paretsky

[Paretsky] was raising children, working full-time, and volunteering when she decided to write her first novel. Her decision came after thinking about Raymond Chandler's work—and not because he inspired her. She was frustrated that most of his books, six out of seven, feature a wicked femme fatale. She said, "As I began reading general fiction, I saw it as women using their bodies to try and make good boys do bad things: it was just a constant in literature of all kinds. So I wanted a woman who could be a whole person, which meant that she could be a sexual person without being evil. That she could be an effective problem solver, as women are in reality but not very often in fiction or on the screen. And that who she was sexually had nothing to do with it, except that it made her more fully human. It just took me quite a long time to come up with a way of being able to do that. And the courage, really, to try and do it at all." So she wrote Indemnity Only (1982), a novel featuring a hard-boiled female detective, V.I. Warshawski, who is smart and good with a gun and also likes nice shoes and enjoys her sex life. V.I. Warshawski was such a popular character that Paretsky has written 13 more novels about her, including Bitter Medicine (1987), Burn Marks (1990), Blacklist (2003), and most recently, Body Work (2010).

--from The Writer's Almanac for June 8, 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Abigail Adams

I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors....Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.

--in a letter to John Adams, March 31, 1776

On June 4, 1919, Congress approved the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the vote.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


The only difference between a mistake and a variation is a facial expression.

Earl Warren

Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile I caught hell for.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Alan Watts

In music, one doesn’t make the end of a composition the point of the composition. If that was so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest. And there would be composers who wrote only finales. People go to concerts to hear one crashing chord, ‘cause that’s the end! Same way in dancing; you don’t aim at a particular spot in the room: that’s where you should arrive; the whole point of dancing is the dance.

Nora Ephron

Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.

Marilyn Monroe

I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.

Marilyn Monroe

Ever notice how 'What the hell' is always the right answer?

Ian Fleming

Never say "no" to adventures. Always say "yes," otherwise you'll lead a very dull life.

--Commander Pott in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Judith Martin

There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection IS the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bill Keller

The shortcomings of social media would not bother me awfully if I did not suspect that Facebook friendship and Twitter chatter are displacing real rapport and real conversation, just as Gutenberg's [printing press] displaced remembering. The things we may be unlearning, tweet by tweet ─ complexity, acuity, patience, wisdom, intimacy ─ are things that matter.

My own anxiety is less about the cerebrum than about the soul, and is best summed up not by a neuroscientist but by a novelist. In Meg Wolitzer's charming new tale, "The Uncoupling," there is a wistful passage about the high-school cohort my daughter is about to join. Wolitzer describes them this way: "The generation that had information, but no context. Butter, but no bread. Craving, but no longing."

from: The New York Times Magazine, The Twitter Trap, May 22, 2011. Bill Keller is the executive editor of The New York Times.

John Waters

Peter Sagal: Can you describe, for people who haven't been lucky enough to see one, what a John Waters movie is, quintessentially?

John Waters: It's a political action against the tyranny of good taste.

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, April 23, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Al Franken

Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Brother Cavil

I can't even express these things properly because I have to conceptualize complex ideas in this stupid, limiting, spoken language.

(Battlestar Galactica)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

L. Frank Baum

I am convinced that the only people worthy of consideration in this world are the unusual ones.

(Today is his birthday!)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Katharine Hepburn

If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.

(Today is her birthday!)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Elvis Presley

I believe the key to happiness is someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Stephen Hawking

...concentrate on things your disability doesn't prevent you doing well, and don't regret the things it interferes with. Don't be disabled in spirit as well as physically.

May 9, 2011 NY Times: Life and the Cosmos, Word by Painstaking Word

Abraham Hicks

Worrying is using your imagination to create something you don't want.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

St. Augustine

Who can map out the various forces at play in one soul? I am a great depth. The hairs of my head are easier by far to count than my feelings, the movements of my heart.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

David Thorne

Q: Why do you lash out at people?
A: Distraction. I work in the design industry, which one might assume is a creative field but is actually like any other form of cubicle prostitution. Writing is an escape from filling out time sheets, making type larger, and explaining to clients that animated gifs will not work on business cards.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Margaret Thatcher

Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to say you are, you aren't.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered:
"Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mohammad Mahallati

We know our world by learning about difference. What is the word we often use? Tolerance. Is that a positive notion? Not really. "For the time being, I will tolerate you?" I'm against that concept. It means difference is a threat. Difference is a blessing and you don't tolerate a blessing. You embrace it.

--Mohammad Mahallati, presidential scholar in Islamic studies at Oberlin College

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Vincent van Gogh

To do good work, one must eat well, be well housed, have one's fling from time to time, smoke one's pipe, and drink one's coffee in peace.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mike Newell

I was very anxious to break the franchise out of this goody-two-shoes feel. It's my view that children are violent, dirty, corrupt anarchists. Just adults-in-waiting, basically.

--on taking over as director of the Harry Potter film series for the fourth installment, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mark Twain

I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Scott Adams

Here's a tip for falling asleep. I don't think you'll see it anywhere else. It goes like this: Don't think words.

 By that I mean don't imagine conversations that you plan to have, and don't replay in your head conversations you've had.It's impossible to clear your mind of all thoughts. But I find it somewhat easy to switch off the language center of my brain. What happens after that is a flow of images, starting with ones that make some sense to my current life, quickly followed by randomness, then sleep. It usually takes less than a minute.

 Let's say something is bugging you, or fascinating you, and the thought is keeping you awake. I'll bet that in those situations you're obsessed with the verbal elements of your problem. You're imagining what you will say to someone, or how you will explain yourself, or maybe what words someone else chose when annoying you.  To fall asleep, don't abandon the troublesome topic, because you probably can't. Just picture the situation in images alone. That will satisfy the part of you that can't let go of the problem while putting you on the sleep trajectory.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Louis Adamic

My grandfather always said that living is like licking honey off a thorn.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.

Friday, March 18, 2011

John Updike

Religions Consolation

One size fits all. The shape or coloration
of the god or high heaven matters less
than that there is one, somehow, somewhere, hearing
the hasty prayer and chalking up the mite
the widow brings to the temple. A child
alone with horrid verities cries out
for there to be a limit, a warm wall
whose stones give back an answer, however faint.

Strange, the extravagance of it—who needs
those eighteen-armed black Kalis, those musty saints
whose bones and bleeding wounds appall good taste,
those joss sticks, houris, gilded Buddhas, books
Moroni etched in tedious detail?
We do; we need more worlds. This one will fail.

From Americana and Other Poems. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2001.

Friday, March 11, 2011

John Hagelin

Enlightenment is our birthright. We're wired for it. It's what the human brain was designed to experience.

Candace Pert

Of course we have free will. Free will resides in our frontal cortex (lobe), and we can train ourselves to make more intelligent choices and to be more conscious of the choices we're making.

Lynne McTaggart

Reality is unset Jell-O. There's a big indeterminate sludge out there that's our potential life. And we, by our very act of involvement, we get that Jell-O to set. So we're intrinsic to the whole process of reality. Our involvement creates that reality.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.

Joshua Foer

There's actually a scientific term for jingles that get lodged in your head: earworms... A study published earlier this year (the researchers gave subjects the 'Catchy Tunes Questionnaire') found that the worst way to get rid of earworms is to try to get rid of earworms. The more you think about trying to forget them, the deeper they burrow. This is pretty much true about consciously trying to forget anything. There's even a name for the phenomenon: ironic processing. The best advice I've heard for making earworms go away is to just stop being irritated by them, and come to peace with the fact that you're humming Britney Spears.

--by Joshua Foer, memory expert and the author of Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

John Keats

I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion — I have shudder'd at it. I shudder no more — I could be martyr'd for my Religion — Love is my religion — I could die for that — I could die for you. My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet. You have ravish'd me away by a Power I cannot resist; and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavoured often "to reason against the reasons of my Love." I can do that no more — the pain would be too great — My Love is selfish — I cannot breathe without you.

--in a letter to Fanny Brawn

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ira Glass

His favorite sorts of stories are the ones where there's "a cheerful embracing of life ... and a curiosity about the world," stories that "reassert the fact that we live in a world where joy and empathy and pleasure are all around us, there for the noticing," stories that "make the world seem like an exciting place to live." He said, "I come out of them feeling like a better person — more awake and more aware and more appreciative of everything around me. That's a hard thing for any kind of writing to accomplish."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Matt Damon

I had never really hung out in Miami and one night in the middle of the shoot, the crew, a couple guys, said, 'We're going to get a beer somewhere.' I said, 'I'm not really into it.' They said, 'Come on,' and kind of dragged me along. We ended up at a bar where my wife was the bartender. I literally saw her across a crowded room... and eight years and four kids later, that's my life. I don't know how else our paths would have crossed if that didn't happen... The moral is that when you're tired, suck it up and go to the bar because you might meet your wife.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ella Fitzgerald

Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can ever go wrong.

John Ruskin

The highest reward for a person's work is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.

Dennis Wholey

When we don't enjoy what we do, we only nick the surface of our potential.

Ram Dass

Don't compare your path with anyone else's. Your path is unique to you. Whatever path you take, it's God calling you.


We're sitting under the tree of our thinking minds, wondering why we're not getting any sunshine!


Who you think you are will always be frightened of change. But it doesn't make any difference to who you truly are.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Much more surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable, determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place. --Where you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow.

from The Secret Garden (1911)

 One of the few things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts --just mere thoughts-- are as powerful as batteries-- as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. . . .So long as Mistress Mary's mind was full of disagreeable thoughts about her dislikes and sour opinions of people and her determination not to be pleased by or interested in anything, she was a yellow-faced, sickly, bored, and wretched child. . . .When new, beautiful thoughts began to push out the old, hideous ones, life began to come back to her, her blood ran healthily through her veins, and strength poured into her like a flood. Much more surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable, determinedly courageous one. --(i)Where you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Julia Child

Life itself is the proper binge. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

David Kirkpatrick and David Sanger

They fused their secular expertise in social networks with a discipline culled from religious movements and combined the energy of soccer fans with the sophistication of surgeons and psychiatrists. Breaking free from older veterans of the Arab political opposition, they relied on tactics of nonviolent resistance channeled from an American scholar through a Serbian youth brigade - but also on marketing tactics borrowed from Silicon Valley.

from A Tunisian-Egyptian Link That Shook Arab History: Two-Year Collaboration of Dissidents Was a Key to the Democracy Movement published in The New York Times on Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sue Gray

We never thought we'd be camping between jumbo pickup trucks at a bayou bar in Louisiana. But this too, is America.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dalai Lama

While the mind is untamed it can only cause trouble. If anger, greed or arrogance spring up they will take over the situation.

via Twitter

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Louis Nizer

A man who uses his hands is a laborer.
One who uses his hands and his mind is a craftsman.
He who uses his hands and his mind and his heart is an artist.

Nicole is Better

I'm tired of all of the comparisons, and I'm tired of giving myself such a hard time over such insignificant things. So how's this for a new rule: you're allowed to do whatever you want, but only if you don't carry it with you after you're done. You can eat Nutella for lunch, but once you're done eating it, be done eating it. It's almost never the actual thing that's the problem, it's how we continue to be weighed down by the thing, even long after it's over. That's when we go comparison shopping for other people's lives. That's when we're Mean Girl bitches to ourselves. That's when we conveniently forget that if anyone else ever talked to us the way that we talk to ourselves, we'd dropkick them, no question.

So get your dropkick on. Live your fucking life. Leave everyone else's lives out of it. Make more good choices than not good choices. Let go of the not good choices. Eat Nutella. Repeat.

[Italics mine. --Ed.]

Blog post, 2/7/2011,

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Aaron Sorkin

I have a big problem with people who glamorize dumbness and demonize education and intellect.

Ronald Reagan

I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph, and there is purpose and worth to each and every life.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


No great thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Judith Martin

If you can't be kind, at least be vague.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Justin Townes Earle

I'm no fool, mama / I know the difference / between tempting and choosing my fate

(Editor's Note: Admittedly, the rest of the song doesn't have the most uplifting lyrics, but wow--I loved his performance.)

Francis Beaumont

Let us have a care not to disclose our hearts to those who shut up theirs against us.


Be happy. It's one way of being wise.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Brett McCracken

Brett McCracken praises Mike Leigh's new film, Another Year:

We live in a time when "authenticity" is equated with those things or those people who are forthright in their brokenness and messiness, while stable, happy people are sometimes looked upon with skepticism, as if their lack of apparent problems makes them phony or untrustworthy. Our jadedness leads us to a sort of self-reinforcing stasis of raw brokenness, because this is what we believe. This is what we know. But what we really need are models of goodness & virtue in our lives… figures of hope who can motivate us out of the cycle of dreary cynicism.

Another Year offers a great example of such people–a happily married, flourishing couple who love people in need but don't pander to them. They stand firm in their principles without condescending to those struggling around them...


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Joan Baez

You don't get to choose how you're going to die, or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now!

Thomas Dent Mutter

The world is no place of rest. I repeat, it is no place of rest, but for effort. Steady, continuous, undeviating effort. Our work should never be done and it is the daydream of ignorance to look forward to that as a happy time, when we shall wish for nothing more, and have nothing more to accomplish.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Arnold Schwarzenegger

I can only operate to the utmost and to 100 percent of my potential if I have no safety net. Because it's only then that I'm at my peak. That's one reason I never did TV shows — I didn't want to have that security. What I liked about being governor was never knowing how a meeting would end. The legislative leaders could leave and destroy you to the press. Or they go out and compliment you. So you don't know. You don't know the way the people go. One year they like something, the next year it's number seven on their priority list. So you just never know. That brings excitement and spice to life. And that to me is the difference between living and existing.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Thomas Edison

I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that do not work.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Craig Ferguson

If there's any hope for any of us in this giant explosion in which we inhabit, then surely that's it: intellect and romance triumph over brute force and cynicism.

--summarizing Doctor Who in creative dance and song

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Nancy Reagan

A woman is like a tea bag: you cannot tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.

Monday, January 3, 2011

E.M. Forster

If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.

E.M. Forster

The people I respect most behave as if they were immortal and as if society was eternal.