Quotable #19: Idealist And Cynic

quotable

“An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.”

“A cynic is a man, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.”

— H. L. Mencken

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Is That That That That That Correct?

The following verse contains grammatical wordplays on the word “that”:

Now, that is a word that may often be joined,
For that that may be doubled is clear to the mind;
And that that that is right, is as plain to the view,
As that that that that we use, is rightly used too;
And that that that that that line has in it is right —
In accordance with grammar, is plain in our sight.

— Anon., The Peterson Magazine, Vol. 29, 1856

 

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Pun Of The Weak: Money Grows On Trees

money nexture

Money does indeed grow on trees. However, the problem is that all the branches are owned by the banks.

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A Limerick About Writer’s Block

A limerick fan from Australia
Regarded his work as a failure:
His verses were fine
Until the fourth line.

— Anon.

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How To Say “Good Grief, Charlie Brown!” In Various Provinces Of France

In the March 28, 1977, issue of the New York Times, Craig Claiborne related that a few years prior, he had reviewed a book about French cuisine. He felt that the book’s tone was ostentatious, and he also thought that the author didn’t know what he’s talking about. Hence, he ended his review with a rhetorical question, “How do you say ‘Good grief, Charlie Brown!’ in French?”

After a few days, Claiborne received a letter in reply to the question. He was surprised someone from Montreal took the question seriously. The letter informed him that “Good Grief, Charlie Brown!” has different translations in various provinces of France. These examples were listed: Continue reading

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Gleanings From The Past #13

gleanings

Nonconductor

Dr. Beeton, in a letter to Dr. Mitchill of New York, dated 19th of July, 1824, states, that the beech tree (that is, the broad leaved or American variety of Fagus sylvatiea,) is never known to be assailed by atmospheric electricity. So notorious, he says, is this fact, that in Tennessee, it is considered almost an impossibility to be struck by lightning, if protection be sought under the branches of a beech tree. Whenever the sky puts on a threatening aspect, and the thunder begins to roll, the Indians leave their pursuit, and betake themselves to the shelter of the nearest beech tree, till the storm pass over; observation having taught these sagacious children of nature, that, while other trees are often shivered to splinters, the electric fluid is not attracted by the beech. Should farther observation establish the fact of the non-conducting quality of the American beech, great advantage may evidently be derived from planting hedge rows of such trees around the extensive barn yards in which cattle are kept, and also in disposing groups and single trees in ornamental plantations in the neighbourhood of the dwelling houses of the owners.

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Naming Book Titles After Just Hearing The First Lines

books

A few years ago, I met someone who said that he would be able to know the title of a popular book by only reading the first line or two of the book to him. I decided to test his claim by reading these lines to him:

  1. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
  2. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
  3. I am a sick man… I am a spiteful man.
  4. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
  5. Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.

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