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Favorite quotations

"Life in New York is a constant struggle to die of natural causes."
  — Thomas Adcock, "Dark Maze"

"Indulgences should never be hesitant."
  — Thomas Adcock, "Dark Maze"

"The trouble with hope is that it only pays off when there's some sense in back of it."
  — Thomas Adcock, "Drown All the Dogs"

"There's no sense to being Irish unless you know the world is going to break your heart."
  — Thomas Adcock, "Drown All the Dogs"

"So few women have any clear idea of the power their ordinary beauty holds over so many of us men."
  — Thomas Adcock, "Sea of Green"

"It's only the dead who'll tell you the truth."
  — Thomas Adcock, "Sea of Green"

"Loneliness comes up so slowly on a man, it can leave him helpless.
  — Thomas Adcock, "Sea of Green"

"Things you plan in life usually turn out to be meaningless, things you accumulate without knowing it become your real treasure."
  — Thomas Adcock, "Thrown-Away Child"

"Here's to politics in the U.S. of A. – to the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other."
  — Oscar Ameringer

"You're beyond DeNiro. This is Russell Crowe serious."
  — Chuck Bartowski, "Chuck" (October 10, 2010)

"If you start experimenting with everything then you could take ten lifetimes, and in the end you have to get some varnish on the wood."
  — Peter Beares, English luthier, on modern efforts to replicate Stradivarious' varnish

"Like most Alaska immigrants, my roots continue to petition for equal time."
  — Tom Bodett, "The Free Fall of Webster Cummings"

"That's what the American odyssey is really about: Leaving home. Leaving home and coming home, and trying to understand the difference."
  — Tom Bodett, "The Free Fall of Webster Cummings"

"In the America I see from here, anything is possible — especially the impossible."
  — Tom Bodett, "The Free Fall of Webster Cummings"

"The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson."
  — Tom Bodett

"New York was his city and he had missed it. There were still crowds pushing through the streets. Going to dinner, or coming back from dinner. Trying to get in a few more last-minute deals. Scrambling for a buck, hurrying to meet somebody. Hustling one last victory, for love or money, wrestling satisfaction from the city."
  — Stephen Humphrey Bogart, "The Remake: As Time Goes By"

"I’ve known people who have never played an instrument, who know little or nothing about music technically, but who have tremendous taste, more than most musicians, because they’ve done a lot of listening and have known how to listen.”
  — Ruby Braff, as told to Nat Hentoff in the May 1958 issue of Esquire

"My confidence in the future of literature consists in the knowledge that there are things that only literature can give us, by means specific to it."
  — Italo Calvino, "Six Memos for the Next Millennium"

"Truth is not a virtue, but a passion. It is never charitable."
  — Albert Camus, "Notebooks 1951-1959"

"One must place one's principles in big things. For the small, graciousness will suffice."
  — Albert Camus, "Notebooks 1951-1959"

"Those who prefer their principles over their happiness, they refuse to be happy outside the conditions they seem to have attached to their happiness. If they are happy by surprise, they find themselves disabled, unhappy to be deprived of their unhappiness."
  — Albert Camus, "Notebooks 1951-1959"

"To remain a man in today's world, one must have not only unfailing energy and unwavering intensity, one must also have a little luck."
  — Albert Camus, "Notebooks 1951-1959"

"Whoever gives nothing, has nothing. The greatest misfortune is not to be unloved, but not to love."
  — Albert Camus, "Notebooks 1951-1959"

"There is not one talent for living and another for creating. The same suffices for both. And one can be sure that the talent that could not produce but an artificial work could not sustain but a frivolous life."
  — Albert Camus, "Notebooks 1951-1959"

"Every writer, big or small, needs to say or write that the genius is always hissed at by his contemporaries. Naturally, this is not true, it happens only occasionally and often by chance. But this need within the writer is enlightening."
  — Albert Camus, "Notebooks 1951-1959"

"We enter New York harbour. A terrific sight despite or because of the mist. The order, the strength, the economic power are there. The heart trembles in front of so much admirable inhumanity."
  — Albert Camus, "American Journals"

"We must admit that today conformity is on the Left. To be sure, the Right is not brilliant. But the Left is in complete decadence, a prisoner of words, caught in its own vocabulary, capable merely of stereotyped replies, constantly at a loss when faced with truth, from which it nevertheless claimed to derive its laws. The Left is schizophrenic and needs doctoring through pitiless self-criticism, exercise of the heart, close reasoning, and a little modesty."
  — Albert Camus, "Socialism of the Gallows"

"It should be pointed out for our own guidance in the West that the continual signing of manifestoes and protests is one of the surest ways of undermining the efficacy and dignity of the intellectual. There exists a permanent blackmail that we all know and that we must have the often solitary courage to resist."
  — Albert Camus, "Socialism of the Gallows"

"In our well-policed society we recognize that an illness is serious from the fact that we don't dare speak of it directly."
  — Albert Camus, "Reflections on the Guillotine"

"When silence or tricks of language contribute to maintaining an abuse that must be reformed or a suffering that can be relieved, then there is no other solution but to speak out and show the obscenity hidden under the verbal cloak."
  — Albert Camus, "Reflections on the Guillotine"

"Liberty is dangerous, as hard to get along with as it is exciting."
  — Albert Camus, Nobel Prize acceptance speech (1957)

"To me, art is not a solitary delight. It is a means of stirring the greatest number of men by providing them with a privileged image of our common joys and woes."
  — Albert Camus, Nobel Prize acceptance speech (1957)

"Heart disease has changed my eating habits, but I still cook bacon for the smell."
  — George Carlin

"The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head."
  — G.K. Chesterton, "Orthodoxy"

"Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad, but chess players do."
  — G.K. Chesterton, "Orthodoxy"

"You and me – we're opportunists looking for a circumstance."
  — Josh Corey (Charles Bronson), "You Can't Win 'Em All"

"When there's trouble, it's God and the soldier. When it's over, God is ignored and the soldier forgotten."
  — Josh Corey (Charles Bronson), "You Can't Win 'Em All"

"Politics is a way of ruling divided societies without undue violence."
  — Bernard Crick, "In Defence of Politics"

"An artist is never poor."
  — Isak Dinesen, "Babette's Feast"

"Doing research on the Web is like using a library assembled piecemeal by pack rats and vandalized nightly."
  — Roger Ebert

"America's unique contribution to government theory was to separate matters of religious conscience from the machinery of politics and the will of the majority."
  — Carl Esbeck, Cornerstone, July 22, 2014

"Anybody who can't keep his enemies in his head has too many enemies."
  — Then-Congressman Gerald S. Ford, reacting to Richard Nixon's "enemies lists"

"You don't need qualifications as an actor or a politician. And I didn't want to be a politician."
  — James Garner, to the LA Times, explaining his career choice

"It took me most of my life to learn what notes not to play."
  — Dizzy Gillespie, as told to Nat Hentoff in "At the Jazz Band Ball"

"Neither irony, humor nor self-knowledge penetrate that carapace of self-satisfaction."
  — Jonathon Green, "Chasing the Sun," describing efforts to ban certain words from modern dictionaries

"It's better to have died a small child than to be a politician who gets caught in a scandal during a slow news month."
  — Lewis Grizzard

"God bless Merle Haggard. He did all the things that Johnny Cash was supposed to have done."
  — Lewis Grizzard

"I know lots of people who are educated far beyond their intelligence."
  — Lewis Grizzard

"Being a newspaper columnist is like being married to a nymphomaniac. It's great for the first two weeks."
  — Lewis Grizzard

"You begin well, sir. I don't trust a man who says 'When.' He's got to be careful not to drink too much, because he's not to be trusted when he does."
  — Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet), "The Maltese Falcon"

"Of course newspaper sportswriting is mostly terrible – and of course it is usually the best writing in the paper."
  — Donald Hall, "Fathers Playing Catch With Sons: Essays on Sport [Mostly Baseball]"

"I don't think about music as being new or modern. I just play."
  — Coleman Hawkins

"Fortunately I have never learned to take the good advice I give myself nor the counsel of my fears."
  — Ernest Hemingway, "The Dangerous Summer"

"Any man can face death but to be committed to bring it as close as possible while performing certain classic movements and do this again and again and again and then deal it out yourself with a sword to an animal weighing half a ton which you love is more complicated than just facing death."
  — Ernest Hemingway, "The Dangerous Summer"

"There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games."
  — Ernest Hemingway

"Count Basie isn't just a man, or even just a band. He's a way of life."
  — Lena Horne

"So you want to be a reporter? Well, here's some advice for this racket: Don't ever change your mind. It may not be the oldest profession, but it's the best."
  — Ed Hutcheson (Humphrey Bogart), "Deadline – U.S.A."

"There's always something new to explore in music. That's why, every night, I begin again."
  — Hank Jones, as told to Nat Hentoff in "At the Jazz Band Ball"

"The nice thing about being a celebrity is that when you bore people, they think it's their fault."
  — Henry Kissinger

"The Bible did not give us the Church; it was the Church that gave us the Bible."
  — Father Bratso Krsich, May 21, 2016

"Making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite. Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman)."
  — Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"

"Innovation is the result often of provocation."
  — Harold Laski

"We shall make the basis of our state consent to disagreement. Therein shall we ensure its deepest harmony."
  — Steve Lundin

"The imagination demands that life be told slant because of its need of distance."
  — John McGahern, "Creatures of the Earth"

"Among its many other obligations, fiction always has to be believable. Life does not have to suffer such constraint, and much of what takes place is believable only because it happens."
  — John McGahern, "Creatures of the Earth"

"You can only know the unity of the church by believing it, not by seeing it."
  — Brian McLaren, "A Generous Orthodoxy"

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing which he cares about more than his personal safety is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
  — John Stuart Mill

"I like a good Greek meal better than a good French meal, even though it be heresy to admit it."
  — Henry Miller, "The Colossus of Maroussi"

"In spite of being an outcast, being mixed up, looking different, he maintains his point of view. He can't be bullied or put on. He's freaky with dignity. There are very few characters who have that kind of pride, cool and ability to lay it out and walk away. Humphrey Bogart played most of them."
  — Leonard Nimoy, on his "Star Trek" character Spock, to the New York Times in 1968

"Children don't learn faith – they absorb it."
  — Father Bruce Orsborn, St. Mark's Catholic Church, San Marcos, Calif.

"Any work of art represents a series of conscious choices on the part of the artist — what color to paint, what note to play, what word to use — in that artist’s attempt to share what is in his or her soul. The audience is free to accept or reject those choices; it is emphatically not free to substitute its own."
  — Leonard Pitts Jr.

"There are only two potential tragedies in life, and dying young isn't one of them. These are the two real tragedies: If you go through life and you don't love ... and if you go through life and you don't tell those whom you love that you love them."
  — John Powell, "Unconditional Love"

"What's really going on here is that one side of the debate wants to make it impermissible for the other to speak. At all."
  — Marc J. Randazza, free speech attorney, writing about "political correctness" (CNN, Aug. 1, 2014)

"Let us discuss, debate, and let that debate get uncivil at times. The one common ground that I can count on with those who disagree is that neither of us will draw weapons to prove our point. That is what civilization is."
  — Marc J. Randazza, (CNN, May 3, 2015)

"Entertainment cannot sustain the weight of the human soul."
  — Pastor Jim Rauch, Westminster Presbyterian Church (Dec. 20, 2015)

"Since I don't have many close friends, I have to get along with myself."
  — Jim Rockford, "The Rockford Files

"Cataloguing my virtues won't work either ... I hold them to a minimum so they're easy to keep track of."
  — Jim Rockford, "The Rockford Files

"Lest I keep my complacent way I must remember somewhere out there a person died for me today. As long as there must be war, I ask and I must answer: Was I worth dying for?"
  — Eleanor Roosevelt

"Faith is not a question of basking in the certainty that there is a God and that God is taking care of us. Many of us are never granted this kind of assurance. Certitude is not the real substance of faith. Faith is a way of seeing things."
  — Ronald Rolheiser, "Against an Infinite Horizon"

"The highest compliment we can give to God, our Creator, is to thoroughly enjoy the gift of life. One should never look a gift universe in the mouth! The best way to pay for a beautiful moment is to enjoy it."
  — Ronald Rolheiser, "Against an Infinite Horizon"

"We get ready for death by beginning to live life as we should have been living it all along."
  — Ronald Rolheiser, "Against an Infinite Horizon"

"The search for truth in cyberspace will take you through the wormhole, and there's nothing on the other side but pedants and nitpickers and bottomless ambiguity. If you're not careful, you'll spend all your time proving everything and understanding nothing."
  — Mike Rowe, Facebook, June 29, 2014

"Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."
  — Oliver Sacks, New York Times, February 19, 2015

"Without the ability read or write, I no longer have even the slightest possibility of being actively engaged as a writer: my occupation as a writer is completely destroyed. ... The only point to my life was writing. I would write out what I had been thinking about beforehand, but the essential moment was that of the writing itself. I still think, but because writing has become impossible for me, the real activity of thinking has in some way been suppressed. What will no longer be accessible to me is something that many young people today are scornful of; style, let us say the literary manner of presenting an idea or a reality. This necessarily calls for revisions – sometimes as many as five or six. I can no longer correct my work even once, because I cannot read what I have written."
  — Jean-Paul Sartre, on losing his vision at age 70, as told to Michel Contat in Le Nouvel Observateur, summer of 1975

"All I can do is make the best of what I am, become accustomed to it, evaluate the possibilities, and take advantage of them the best I can."
  — Jean-Paul Sartre, on losing his vision at age 70, as told to Michel Contat in Le Nouvel Observateur, summer of 1975

"I think there is an enormous diference between speaking and writing. One rereads what one writes. But one might read it slowly or quickly. In other words, you do not know how long you will have to spend deliberating over a sentence. ... But if I listen to a tape recorder, the listening time is determined by the speed at which the tape turns and not by my own needs."
  — Jean-Paul Sartre, on the difference between the act of writing, and that of recording one's thoughts, as told to Michel Contat in Le Nouvel Observateur, summer of 1975

"Everything in my past, in my training, everything that has been most essential in my activity up to now has made me above all a man who writes, and it is too late for that to change."
  — Jean-Paul Sartre, on no longer being able to write, as told to Michel Contat in Le Nouvel Observateur, summer of 1975

"Many young people today do not concern themselves with style. They think that what one says should be said simply and that is all. For me, style – which does not exclude simplicity, quite the opposite – is above all a way of saying three or four things in one. There is the simple sentence, with its immediate meaning, and then at the same time, below this immediate meaning, other meanings are organized. If one is not capable of giving language this plurality of meaning, then it is not worth the trouble to write."
  — Jean-Paul Sartre, on literature, as told to Michel Contat in Le Nouvel Observateur, summer of 1975

"I'm not comfortable with categories, and I distrust most definitions. The word 'definition' is based on the word 'finite,' which would seem to indicate that once we've defined something, we don't need to think about it anymore."
  — Artie Shaw, as told to Nat Hentoff in "At the Jazz Band Ball"

"We have always been told to refrain from belching in public, to yield our seats on the subway to old people, and to avoid using big words where simple ones will do. The implication was unmistakable: there was no time when a short, sensible term could not, virtuously and profitably, replace a big bad word. ... Though the simple word is often the best, there are also times when the less obvious, less current, and, usually, longer word is preferable."
  — John Simon, "Sesquipedality, Anyone?"

"Surprise is inherent in the structure of the world."
  — Lee Smolin, "Time Reborn"

"I always wondered what it would feel like to have a big hit on my own. Now I know. It's like not having a hit only you have one."
  — John Stewart, on his 1979 hit, "Gold" (1994, liner notes to "Airdream Believer")

"There is no such thing as wrong notes. It's what you do after."
  — Art Tatum, as told to Nat Hentoff in "At the Jazz Band Ball"

"Freedom has a taste to it to those who fight and almost die that the protected will never know."
  — Unknown American prisoner of war, as inscribed on a wall of a North Vietnamese prison camp

"When it is done right, it is the most beautiful thing on earth. When it is not done right, it is horrible."
  — Robert Vavra, wildlife photographer, on bullfighting

"This is why I like the dead: They don't call me on my hypocrisy."
  — Dr. Loretta Wade (CCH Pounder), "NCIS New Orleans"

"Science doesn't care about the lies men tell."
  — Dr. Loretta Wade (CCH Pounder), "NCIS New Orleans"

"Never whine about the French. It's considered a sign of weakness to even acknowledge their existence. Remember: The poor devils haven't won anything since they rebuffed the Kaiser at Marne. Irritating the world into submission is their only hope. Ignore them when you can, agree with them when you can't — but never, ever make eye contact. Particularly after dark."
  — Randy Wayne White, Outside magazine

"Listen to music you don't even like and see why you don't like it."
  — Phil Woods, as told to Nat Hentoff in "At the Jazz Band Ball"

"Whoever invented smooth jazz, man, I wanna kill 'em: You're turning an art form into a hooker."
  — Phil Woods, as told to Nat Hentoff in "At the Jazz Band Ball"

"Music is the journey. You never arrive in music; the work is never over."
  — Phil Woods, as told to Nat Hentoff in "At the Jazz Band Ball"