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Acrostic Quote Sources

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. Don't read on if you plan to solve these acrostics.

Here are the 633 acrostic quotes we have, from 574 authors, sorted by the author of each quote.

Quotes by anonymous or unknown authors are at the bottom of this page.

Authors with 3 or more quotes

Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle

Authors with 2 quotes

Diane Ackerman, Isaac Asimov, Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, Dave Barry, Bill Bryson, Alan Burdick, Rachel Carson, Angela Carter, Julia Child, Billy Collins, Laurie Colwin, Charles Darwin, Robertson Davies, Annie Dillard, Timothy Egan, George Eliot, M. F. K. Fisher, Stephen Fry, Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Jay Gould, Sue Grafton, William Least Heat-Moon, Paul Hoffman, Washington Irving, Garrison Keillor, Ralph Keyes, Amy Leach, Betty Macdonald, Hilary Mantel, Paul Martin, Sy Montgomery, Mary Morris, Vladimir Nabokov, Edna O'Brien, Patricia O'Conner, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Pollan, Agnes Repplier, Eloise Ristad, Leo Rosten, David Sedaris, Henry David Thoreau, Barbara W. Tuchman, Mark Twain, John Updike, Sarah Vowell, David Foster Wallace, Barbara Wallraff

The complete set of quotes organized by quote author

Diane Ackerman (2)
(DIANE) ACKERMAN, (A NATURAL) HISTORY OF THE SENSES — Color as a... language works so well that nearly every animal speaks it. Octopuses change color as they change mood. A scared freshwater perch automatically turns pale. A baboon flashes its blue rump in sexual situations. -> December 10, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
DIANE ACKERMAN, MUTE DANCERS (HOW TO WATCH A HUMMINGBIRD) - [Hummingbirds] spell out their intentions and moods just as bees, fireflies or hula dancers do. ... Males twirl, joust, sideswipe and somersault. Brazen and fierce, they will take on large adversaries, even cats, dogs or humans. -> April 20, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jennifer Ackerman
(JENNIFER) ACKERMAN, THE GENIUS OF BIRDS — Many birds open nuts... and eggs... . The vampire finch of the Galapagos... breaks... the large eggs of boobies by bracing its beak on the ground and booting the egg with both feet to crack it against rocks or roll it over a cliff. -> November 13, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Robert K. Adair
(ROBERT K.) ADAIR, THE PHYSICS OF BASEBALL - An eminent physicist... said, "There are two unsolved problems. ... The first is the unified field theory... of the universe. The second is why does a baseball curve? I believe... we may solve the first, but I despair of the second." -> April 30, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Douglas Adams
DOUGLAS ADAMS, MOSTLY HARMLESS — The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong, it... turns out to be impossible to get at or repair. -> August 1, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Melitta Weiss Adamson
(MELITTA WEISS) ADAMSON, FOOD IN MEDIEVAL TIMES — [W]hat stands out is... the... theatrics, peacocks, swans, and pheasants cooked[,]... redressed in their plumage and made to breathe fire, pies filled with live birds... . Playing with food, far from being discouraged, was elevated to an art... . -> November 20, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Stella Adler
STELLA ADLER, THE ART OF ACTING — The reality you create on the stage by opening a jar or threading a needle isn't so that the audience will believe in you. It's so that you'll believe in yourself. Acting is truthful when you yourself are convinced. -> March 4, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Leila Ahmed
LEILA AHMED, A BORDER PASSAGE — In the poetry of... Sufism, the song of the reed is the metaphor for our human condition.... Cut from its bed and fashioned into a pipe, the reed forever laments the living earth that it once knew, crying out... its ache... and loss. -> September 11, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jean Aitchison
(JEAN) AITCHISON, WORDS IN THE MIND — Planets might appear … to wander randomly 'round the night sky, yet … their movements are under the control of natural laws. … Similarly, words are not … stacked higgledy-piggledy in our minds, like leaves on an autumn bonfire. -> November 5, 2023 by David Balton & Jane Stewart
Mildred Aldrich
(MILDRED) ALDRICH, A HILLTOP ON THE MARNE — There is a law which decrees that two objects may not occupy the same place at the same time... [T]wo people cannot see things from the same point of view, and the slightest difference in angle changes the thing seen. -> June 7, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Stewart Lee Allen
STEWART (LEE) ALLEN: THE DEVIL'S CUP — India produces the world's most consistently vile cup of joe. It is never fresh-brewed but made with instant "flakes," which are boiled with milk, sugar, and nutmeg. The resulting stew is... a sickening... piping-hot milkshake. -> April 22, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Woody Allen
WOODY ALLEN, SIDE EFFECTS — How did the cosmos originate? How long has it been around? Did [it] begin with an explosion or by the word of God? ... If the latter, could He not have begun it... two weeks earlier to take advantage of some of the warmer weather? -> December 23, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Isabel Allende
(ISABEL) ALLENDE, MY INVENTED COUNTRY — My granddaughter... wrote a composition for school in which she said... she liked her "grandmother's imagination." I asked... what she was referring to, and without hesitation she replied, "You remember things that never happened." -> August 20, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Richard D. Altick
RICHARD (D.) ALTICK, TO BE IN ENGLAND — [A]s vulgarizers the British are... incompetent. If they invent cheap gewgaws for people to take home as mementos of their... visit to the Bard's shrine, they immediately salve their conscience by planting more flower gardens. -> May 25, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Roger Angell
ROGER ANGELL, THE SUMMER GAME--[T]his is the week of the unfurled bunting,... the restored hope, the repainted seat... . In another month, some order will... emerge from the standings. Infields will have hardened, some arms and expectations will have gone bad... . -> March 27, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Maya Angelou
MAYA ANGELOU, (I KNOW WHY) THE CAGED BIRD (SINGS) — I thought... my brother and his friends had created Pig Latin. Hearing my father speak it didn't startle me so much as it angered. It was simply another case of the trickiness of adults... . Another case... of... Grownups' Betrayal. -> June 24, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Natalie Angier
NATALIE ANGIER, THE CANON — The second law [of thermodynamics] guarantees a certain degree of chaos and mishap in your life no matter how compulsively you plan your schedule and triple-check every report. To err is not just human; it's divined. -> July 22, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Emily Anthes
(EMILY) ANTHES, FRANKENSTEIN'S CAT — [Utah] is home to a strange herd of goats. Thanks to... genes borrowed from a spider, each female... produces milk that's chock-full of silk proteins. ... [I]n the lab, scientists can extract the spider proteins and spin them into silk. -> January 26, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Karen Armstrong
(KAREN) ARMSTRONG, FIELDS OF BLOOD — The Sumerians had no word for priest: aristocrats who were also the city's bureaucrats, poets, and astronomers officiated at the city cult. This was only fitting, since for them all activity — ... especially politics — was holy. -> June 28, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David Arscott
DAVID ARSCOTT, THE OLYMPICS — That first Olympic marathon... caught the public's imagination to a startling degree — especially in Greece itself. ... [I]ncentives included clothing, wine, a vast amount of chocolate... and free haircuts for life at a local barber's. -> August 21, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Katherine Ashenburg
(KATHERINE) ASHENBURG, THE DIRT ON CLEAN — The medieval world was immeasurably less deodorized than ours. ... So spiritual a character as... Thomas Aquinas approved of incense in church because it masked the prevailing body [odor], which, he admitted, "can provoke disgust." -> July 13, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Isaac Asimov (2)
(ISAAC) ASIMOV, YOURS, ISAAC ASIMOV -- As it happens, I don’t... have time for hobbies. But I am a fiend at Crostics. … Crostics don’t have the public that crosswords do, because Crostics seem hard. They aren’t, and they’re infinitely more interesting than crosswords. -> July 31, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(ISAAC) ASIMOV, MACHINES THAT THINK — Adults have invested endless hours... growing accustomed to inches and miles; to February's twenty-eight days; to... silent letters; to qwertyuiop.... To introduce something... new would mean to... run the old... risk of failing to learn. -> February 20, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Kate Atkinson
(KATE) ATKINSON, EMOTIONALLY WEIRD — I have... hair that usually exists only in the imagination of artists and can be disturbing to see on the head of a real woman.... It is the color of nuclear sunsets... but on me the corkscrewing curls are clownish and... carroty. -> June 3, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Margaret Atwood (2)
MARGARET ATWOOD, (THE) TESTAMENTS — The collective memory is notoriously faulty, and much of the past sinks into the ocean of time to be drowned forever; but once in a while the waters part, allowing us to glimpse a flash of hidden treasure... for a moment. -> December 5, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(MARGARET) ATWOOD, THE BLIND ASSASSIN — Inside our heads we carry ourselves perfected, ourselves at the best age and in the best light... never caught awkwardly, one leg out of a car, one still in, or picking our teeth, or slouching, or scratching our noses or bums. -> April 21, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Marcus Aurelius
MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS — If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception ... who is harmed. -> November 17, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Paul Auster
PAUL AUSTER, THE MUSIC OF CHANCE — Each number has a personality.... Twelve is upright... whereas thirteen is a loner, a shady character.... eleven is tough, an outdoorsman.... ten is rather simpleminded, a bland figure who... does what he's told.... nine is deep and mystical. -> January 13, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mary Hunter Austin
MARY (HUNTER) AUSTIN, (THE) LAND OF LITTLE RAIN — The yucca bristles with bayonet-pointed leaves, dull green, growing shaggy with age, tipped with panicles of fetid, greenish bloom. After death,... the ghostly hollow network of its woody skeleton... makes the moonlight fearful. -> September 12, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sarah Bakewell
SARAH BAKEWELL, HOW TO LIVE — The observer is as unreliable as the observed.... To try to understand the world is like grasping a cloud of gas, or a liquid, using hands that are themselves made of gas or water, so that they dissolve as you close them. -> October 20, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Julian Barnes (2)
(JULIAN) BARNES, KEEPING AN EYE OPEN — [B]y the Sixties... there was Postmodernism, and later post-Postmodernism, and so on until eventually the labels ran out. A literary critic in New York was later to call me a "pre-Postmodernist," a moniker I am still working on. -> November 27, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
BARNES: FLAUBERT'S PARROT — Mystification is simple; clarity is the hardest thing of all. ... you trust the mystifier more if you know he's deliberately choosing not to be lucid. You trust Picasso all the way because he could draw like Ingres. -> February 27, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Simon Barnes
(SIMON) BARNES, THE MEANING OF BIRDS — Drab birds can be suddenly aflame with iridescence when seen in a good light. A springtime starling explodes into a heavenly creature of glowing purple, lit with deep blues and greens, all of it spangled with gold. -> April 15, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Cynthia Barnett
CYNTHIA BARNETT, RAIN: A (NATURAL AND CULTURAL) HISTORY--As air moves away from the equator it cools and sinks, creating... dry bands around the globe at the subtropics... in two belts, one above and one below the equator. I like to think of the subtropics as Mother Earth's bikini. -> April 10, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Martha Barnette
(MARTHA) BARNETTE, A GARDEN OF WORDS — The anth- in... anthurium... means "to bloom."... The Greek word for "flower," anthos,... gave us one of the loveliest of English words, anthology, which literally means a "gathering of flowers," or "garland" — a literary bouquet, if you will. -> February 12, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Dennis Baron
DENNIS BARON, A BETTER PENCIL — Ordinary objects are covered with text. Although few people besides collectors and counterfeiters pay attention to them, there are eighty-one words and twenty-three numbers, including MDCCLXXVI, engraved on a dollar bill. -> February 3, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
J. M. Barrie
[J.M.] BARRIE, THE LITTLE MINISTER — A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses... the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man woke in the night. -> October 29, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Dave Barry (2)
DAVE BARRY, (DAVE BARRY'S) GREATEST HITS — Under the new [tax] system,'ll get...unintelligible forms from the government,...put off doing anything...until mid-April,...miss a lot of deductions, and...worry about being audited. Other...things will remain pretty much the same. -> April 15, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
DAVE BARRY TURNS FORTY — It's not easy to maintain a high Romance Quotient ... over long periods.... Even Romeo, if he had spent enough time under the balcony gazing up worshipfully at Juliet, would eventually have noticed her protruding nostril hairs. -> February 13, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Lynda Barry
LYNDA BARRY, ONE HUNDRED DEMONS — I... always noticed the smell of... houses... . When I was a kid... our house smelled like grease and fish and cigs, like... pork and dogs, like all the wild food my grandma boiled... . And if they could get that into a spray can, I'd buy it. -> May 29, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Marcia Bartusiak
MARCIA BARTUSIAK, BLACK HOLE — [S]pace-time... becomes a bottomless pit. Light and matter can go in but never come back out. It's a... condition of zero volume and infinite density called a "singularity..." ... where the ordinary laws of physics completely break down. -> September 4, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Carol Ann Bassett
CAROL ANN BASSETT, GALAPAGOS (AT THE CROSSROADS) — Bizarre life-forms... evolved there: ...iguanas able to hold their breath under water..., cormorants that no longer need wings..., vampire finches that survive on the blood of... boobies, daisies that have morphed into giant trees. -> October 21, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Elif Batuman
ELIF BATUMAN, THE POSSESSED — Every morning I called Aeroflot to ask about my suitcase. "Oh, it's you," sighed the clerk. "When we find the suitcase we will send it to you. In the meantime, are you familiar with our Russian phrase 'resignation of the soul'?" -> November 16, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mary Beard
(MARY) BEARD, LAUGHTER IN ANCIENT ROME — Unlike the barking of dogs, the grunting of pigs, or the croaking of frogs — which different languages render in... different ways... — laughter in almost all... languages... is rendered as... some variant on ha ha, hee hee, or tee hee. -> April 29, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Alison Bechdel
(ALISON) BECHDEL, (THE SECRET TO) SUPERHUMAN STRENGTH — I was born... in the primordial darkness just before the dawn of the exercise epoch.... There was no T-ball, no soccer, no aquatics....There was no working out, no going for the burn, no digging deep, nor any shredding of the gnar. -> August 15, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Alan Bennett
ALAN BENNETT, WRITING HOME — [Kafka's] writing is that of someone whose... life was spent in apartments, with lifts, stairwells, muffled voices behind closed doors, and sounds through walls. Put him in a... detached villa and he'd never have written a word. -> July 11, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Janine M. Benyus
JANINE M. BENYUS, BIOMIMICRY — Humbling... are the hordes of organisms casually performing feats we can only dream about.... How do dragonflies outmaneuver our best helicopters?... How do ants carry the equivalent of hundreds of pounds... through the jungle? -> August 27, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Nina Berberova
(NINA) BERBEROVA, THE ITALICS ARE MINE — Not losing time has been my permanent concern since I was three years old, when it dawned on me that time is the warp of life, its very fabric, something that you cannot buy, trade, steal, falsify, or obtain by begging. -> March 10, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Cyrano de Bergerac
(CYRANO) DE BERGERAC, THE OTHER WORLD — [Y]oung people of [the moon]... can have thirty books in their pockets or hanging on the pommels of their saddles. They... need only wind a spring to hear one... . I attached... books to my ears as pendants and went for a walk in town. -> May 20, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Howard Bergerson
HOWARD BERGERSON, PALINDROMES (AND ANAGRAMS)--Sydney Yendys was born... to be a palindromist. His first coherent utterance was "Dad-dad-dad...!" followed in due course by "Mam-mam-mam...!" Later in life he was to marry a girl called Edna, and to have a daughter, also named Edna. -> January 1, 2023 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David Berlinski
(DAVID) BERLINSKI, (A) TOUR OF THE CALCULUS — [The] square root of 2 is like the Yeti or the Loch Ness monster, the snows of yesteryear, the dusky ghost by the dusty window — it is not there, it cannot be found, it is not... part of the furniture of this or any other world. -> November 10, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jim Bernhard
(JIM) BERNHARD, WORDS GONE WILD — [T]hree brothers... inherited... parcels of land from their father and wanted to combine them into one... ranch. They didn't know what to name their ranch until their... mother suggested: "Focus — ... it's where the... mourning sons raise meat." -> April 5, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sarah Bernhardt
SARAH BERNHARDT, (THE) MEMOIRS (OF...) — The monster of advertisement... is a sort of octopus with innumerable tentacles. It throws out ... its clammy arms, and gathers in, through its ... suckers, all the gossip and slander and praise afloat, to spit out ... at the public. -> October 29, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Chuck Berry
CHUCK BERRY, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY — I had driven through New Orleans on tour and I'd been told my great grandfather lived "way back up in the woods among the evergreens" in a log cabin. I revived the era with a story about a... boy named Johnny B. Goode. -> June 11, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Patrick Berry
(PATRICK) BERRY, CROSSWORD (PUZZLE CHALLENGE)S FOR DUMMIES — [C]rossword constructors are … unified by … a genuine love of the craft. Anyone who looks upon crossword construction … as a moneymaking venture is barking up the wrong tree; believe me, you can make money in easier ways. -> June 4, 2023 by Jim Horne
Ambrose Bierce
(AMBROSE) BIERCE, THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY — LEXICOGRAPHER... A pestilent fellow who, under the pretense of recording some particular stage in the development of a language, does what he can to arrest its growth, stiffen its flexibility and mechanize its methods. -> September 27, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Burkhard Bilger
(BURKHARD) BILGER, NOODLING FOR FLATHEADS — [H]ow could I miss such a huge fish? A twitch of my... hand solves the conundrum: I can't feel [it]... because my arm is... down its throat. [We]... realize this at... the same time, like stooges backing into each other in a haunted house. -> February 22, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Eula Biss
(EULA) BISS, NOTES FROM NO MAN'S LAND — For a... time the telephone was little more than a novelty. ... Mark Twain was among the first... to own a telephone, but he wasn't completely taken with the device. "The human voice carries entirely too far as it is," he remarked. -> April 28, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Roy Blount
ROY BLOUNT, ALPHABET JUICE — [Trying] to spell... the... sounds that pigs make... isn't easy. ... Chickens being more articulate, you'll find their noises to be... similar the world round. Baby chicks go peep peep in English, pio pio in Spanish, piyo piyo in Japanese. -> October 7, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Deborah Blum
(DEBORAH) BLUM, THE POISONER'S HANDBOOK — I dreamed of becoming a chemist (which my children assure me reveals the true geekiness at the core of my personality). I changed my mind on the day... I set my hair on fire — think long, dangling... braids, think Bunsen burner. -> January 5, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Nellie Bly
NELLIE BLY, AROUND THE WORLD (IN SEVENTY-TWO DAYS) — I found the roads in the same state of perfection in almost all the Eastern ports at which I stopped. I could not decide... whether the smoothness of the road was due to the absence of... New York street commissioners. -> July 29, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Adam Jacob de Boinod
(ADAM JACOB) DE BOINOD, THE MEANING OF TINGO — My interest in the quirkiness of foreign words was triggered when one day working... for the BBC quiz programme "QI," I picked up a weighty Albanian dictionary to discover that they have... twenty-seven words for eyebrows. -> August 28, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Basil Boothroyd
(BASIL) BOOTHROYD, CAN YOU READ MUSIC? — Rachmaninov as everyone knows used to get mad with people who thought his C sharp minor Prelude described a man nailed into his coffin on insufficient medical evidence who kept banging on the lid to attract passersby. -> June 24, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Thomas Boswell
(THOMAS) BOSWELL, THE GREATEST GAME (EVER PLAYED) — The [Boston] Red Sox have long memories. It is their curse. They are... susceptible to hauntings and collective nervous breakdowns. ... The evil that the Bosox do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their moans. -> June 15, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ray Bradbury
RAY BRADBURY, YESTERMORROW — Cats come at dawn to sit on your bed. They may not nip your nose or inhale your breath or make a sound. They simply sit... until you open one eyelid and spy them... about to drop dead for need of feeding. So it is with ideas. -> August 10, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Gyles Brandreth
GYLES BRANDRETH, WORD PLAY — Aegilops... is the longest word whose letters are... in alphabetical order. Seven-letter words with this property include beefily and billowy. Six-letter words include... accent, access, almost, biopsy, bijoux,... chintz and effort. -> November 25, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Christine Brennan
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, INSIDE EDGE — [N]o other sport heralds its... moment of ultimate importance as figure skating does. ... Its enticement is the lure of imminent disaster,... the only activity that makes room for both Rodgers and Hammerstein and Alfred Hitchcock. -> February 18, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Joel Glenn Brenner
(JOEL GLENN) BRENNER, (THE) EMPERORS OF CHOCOLATE — [It] was ... customary to eat a Hershey Almond bar by biting the letter H first, and then the ... Y, and then the E and the R, leaving behind the SHE. No one knew why .... Like playing hopscotch ..., it was part of growing up in the U.S.A. -> April 9, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Curtis F. Brown
(CURTIS F.) BROWN, STAR-SPANGLED KITSCH — [C]amp mocks bad taste; kitsch exploits it. ... Mae West, whose... provocative delivery, eye-rolling, lip-pursing, and pelvic tics parody the conventional invitation to dalliance, is never out of control and is camp, pure and simple. -> June 29, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Dan Brown
DAN BROWN, THE DA VINCI CODE — Most tourists... sprint through the [Louvre] to see the three most famous objects: the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory. Art Buchwald... boasted he'd seen all three masterpieces in five minutes and fifty-six seconds. -> August 22, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mike Brown
MIKE BROWN, HOW I KILLED PLUTO--It was... clear that if the asteroids were... schools of minnows swimming among the pod of whales, then Pluto and the Kuiper belt objects were simply a previously overlooked collection of sardines swimming in a faraway sea. -> February 27, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Holly Brubach
HOLLY BRUBACH, GIRLFRIEND — [F]or Carnaval..., there are dozens of cornucopia headdresses bobbing in time to the samba beat... . The fruit is sequined...; the hair is bigger...; the jewelry is clunkier... . Carmen Miranda is cast as the champion of fads in bad taste... . -> February 18, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Bill Bryson (2)
(BILL) BRYSON, NEITHER HERE NOR THERE — [T]urn any street corner in Rome and it looks as if you’ve just missed a parking competition for blind people. … Romans park their cars the way I would park if I had just spilled a beaker of hydrochloric acid on my lap. -> June 18, 2023 by David Balton & Jane Stewart
(BILL) BRYSON: THE MOTHER TONGUE — The average English speaker confronted with agglomerations of letters like tchst, sthm, and tchph would ... conclude that they were ... unpronounceable. Yet we use them every day in the words matchstick, asthma, and catchphrase. -> January 14, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Stephen Budiansky
(STEPHEN) BUDIANSKY, THE TRUTH ABOUT DOGS — Cave canem... means "Beware of the dog." I think it was a not entirely facetious suggestion that this... meant beware... in the sense of "... be careful not to trip over him because he's not going to get up and move out of your way." -> April 30, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Alan Burdick (2)
ALAN BURDICK, WHY TIME FLIES--The clepsydra, or water clock, ticks to the steady drip of water, which... drives a set of gears that nudges a pointer along a series of numbers... . ... Roman senators used them to keep their colleagues from talking for too long. -> March 13, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
ALAN BURDICK, WHY TIME FLIES — [S]econds... are the currency of... life, the pennies of our time: ubiquitous and critical in a pinch (for instance, when you just manage to make a train...) yet sufficiently marginal to be... dropped by the handful without thought. -> August 4, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Anthony Burgess
ANTHONY BURGESS, (THE) PIANOPLAYERS - Here's a chord you can't do without, [my dad] said, if you're a picture palace pianoplayer. You use it for fights, thunderstorms, burst dams, the voice of... God, ... a wife telling her old man... off. ... And he showed me. C E flat G flat A. -> July 23, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Samuel Butler
SAMUEL BUTLER, (THE) NOTE-BOOKS (OF SAMUEL BUTLER) — My father is one of the few men I know who say they do not like Shakespeare. I could forgive [him] if it was only because Shakespeare wrote poetry; but [h]e says he likes Tennyson and this seriously aggravates his offence. -> June 15, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
A. S. Byatt
A.S. BYATT, ANGELS AND INSECTS — I was... struck by the universal incapacity of Amazon Indians to imagine a community which did not reside on the banks of a vast river. They are not capable of asking, "Do you live on a river?" only "What is your river like?" -> May 5, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David Byrne
DAVID BYRNE, HOW MUSIC WORKS — Sinatra and... Crosby... adjusted their vocal dynamics in ways that would have been unheard of earlier. It might not seem... radical now, but crooning was a new kind of singing... then. It wouldn't have worked without a microphone. -> September 17, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
George Carlin
GEORGE CARLIN, BRAIN DROPPINGS — If you... dine with pretentious people, here are some items... that are sure to impress: diced yak, badger gumbo, ... jackal tartare, ... loin of chipmunk, curried woodpecker, penguin scallopini, sweet-and-sour loon heads, ... wombat souvlaki. -> December 1, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Lewis Carroll
(LEWIS) CARROLL, ALICE('S ADVENTURES) IN WONDERLAND — She had never seen such a curious croquet ground...; it was all ridges and furrows; the balls were live hedgehogs, the mallets live flamingoes, and... soldiers had to double themselves up... on hands and feet, to make the arches. -> January 29, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Anne Carson
(ANNE) CARSON, EROS: THE BITTERSWEET — Human beings were originally... two people joined together as one perfect sphere... but Zeus chopped each of them in two. As a result, says Aristophanes, "each of us is perpetually hunting for the matching half of himself." -> February 9, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Rachel Carson (2)
RACHEL CARSON, (THE) SENSE OF WONDER — There is... beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides... . There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after... winter. -> February 2, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
RACHEL CARSON, THE SEA AROUND US — Autumn comes to the sea with a fresh blaze of phosphorescence, when every wave crest is aflame. ...[T]he whole surface may glow with sheets of cold fire, while below schools of fish pour through the water like molten metal. -> October 3, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Angela Carter (2)
(ANGELA) CARTER, EXPLETIVES DELETED — [O]f all creatures we eat, we are most brutal to snails. Helix optera is dug out of the earth..., cracked like an egg, and eaten... alive. ... If God is a snail, Bosch's depictions of Hell are going to look like a vicarage tea-party. -> April 7, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
ANGELA CARTER, SHAKING A LEG — Sometimes professional wrestling is like... ballet,... sometimes like a crude morality play... decked out with... elements of antique theater,... hieratic posturing, menace, dread,... pain.... This is Theater of Cruelty played for laughs. -> January 28, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Howard Carter
(HOWARD) CARTER, THE TOMB OF TUT-ANKH-AMEN — At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker …. [A]s my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details … emerged … strange animals, statues and … everywhere the glint of gold. -> November 19, 2023 by David Balton & Jane Stewart
Kenneth Catania
(KENNETH) CATANIA, GREAT ADAPTATIONS — It has strange teeth and clawed shovels for hands. But the real mystery... is that nose. If one day you... cross paths with a star-nosed mole, don't feel self-conscious, everybody stares, and the mole can't see, so no harm done. -> August 1, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Willa Cather
W(ILLA) CATHER, SHADOWS ON THE ROCK — Sometimes a neighbor whom we have disliked... for his arrogance and conceit lets fall a single commonplace remark that shows us another side, another man, really; a man uncertain, and puzzled, and in the dark like ourselves. -> August 24, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Raymond Chandler
(RAYMOND) CHANDLER, PEARLS ARE A NUISANCE — He snorted and hit me in the solar plexus. I bent over and took hold of the room with both hands and spun it. When I had it nicely spinning I gave it a full swing and hit myself on the back of the head with the floor. -> December 4, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ken Chen
KEN CHEN, CITY OUT OF BREATH — If an American city at night is film noir, then Hong Kong is just a camera blur. The residents of Kowloon speed around as if irked at their bodies for not being cars. You feel that you have no other choice but motion. -> March 18, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
G. K. Chesterton
G. K. CHESTERTON, A PIECE OF CHALK — White is... not a mere absence of color; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. When (so to speak) your pencil grows red-hot, it draws roses; when it grows white-hot, it draws stars. -> October 17, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ted Chiang
TED CHIANG, THE GREAT SILENCE — It’s no coincidence that “aspiration” means both hope and the act of breathing. When we speak, we use … breath … to give our thoughts a physical form. The sounds we make are simultaneously our intentions and our life force. -> April 9, 2023 by Mark Halpin
Julia Child (2)
JULIA CHILD, THE WAY TO COOK — A blowtorch is not just for laughs — it is a legitimate kitchen tool, and marvelous for loosening aspics from their molds. Buy a portable torch with an instant self-igniting nozzle that attaches to a small propane bottle. -> April 11, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(JULIA) CHILD, CASSOULET FOR A CROWD — Cassoulet, that best of bean feasts, is... ambrosia for a gastronome, though its ideal consumer is a three-hundred-pound blocking back who has been splitting firewood... for the last twelve hours on a subzero day in Manitoba. -> July 27, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Shirley Chisholm
SHIRLEY CHISHOLM, (THE) GOOD FIGHT — We Americans... can become a dynamic equilibrium, a harmony of many different elements, in which the whole will be greater than all its parts and greater than any society the world has seen before. It can still happen. -> January 18, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Agatha Christie
AGATHA CHRISTIE, THE CLOCKS — It was clear that the books owned the shop rather than the other way about. Everywhere they had run wild and taken possession of their habitat, breeding and multiplying[,]... clearly lacking any strong hand to keep them down. -> October 1, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Patricia S. Churchland
(PATRICIA S.) CHURCHLAND, TOUCHING A NERVE — I find joy in commonplace mental events, such as a many-factored decision that I have mulled over for days coming to consciousness one morning as I stand in a hot shower. My brain has settled into a choice... . Yay brain! -> February 8, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Linda Civitello
(LINDA) CIVITELLO, CUISINE AND CULTURE--Once people knew for sure that potatoes caused leprosy and sugar cured toothaches. Romans believed that cinnamon grew in swamps guarded by giant killer bats. Americans thought beer was a really good drink for children. -> November 20, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Eugenie Clark
(EUGENIE) CLARK, THE LADY AND THE SHARKS — You can pick up a good-sized sting ray by slipping your fingers into its spiracles. It's like picking up a bowling ball and is the best way to lift this slippery creature and avoid the poisonous sting on the tail. -> April 16, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Arthur C. Clarke
(ARTHUR C.) CLARKE, PROFILES OF THE FUTURE — The most convincing argument against time travel is the remarkable scarcity of time travelers. However unpleasant our age may appear to the future, surely one would expect scholars and students to visit us if... possible. -> November 18, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Andrei Codrescu
ANDREI CODRESCU, HAIL BABYLON! — Mardi Gras is the balm that unites everyone... . Identities become a matter of costuming... . African dance and voodoo ritual combines with Catholic pageantry and native exuberance to produce a genuinely New World bacchanalia. -> March 3, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Alexis Coe
(ALEXIS) COE, YOU NEVER FORGET YOUR FIRST — Washington had a poacher's smile. His dentists took chunks of ivory from hippopotamuses, walruses, and elephants, sculpted them down, and affixed them to dentures... . They filled in any gaps with teeth from less exotic animals... . -> February 13, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
K. C. Cole
K.C. COLE, (THE) UNIVERSE AND THE TEACUP — Mathematics is a way of thinking that... works like turning off the houselights in a theater. ... [Y]ou can no longer see the faces... around you or the inlaid patterns on the ceiling. But you gain a far better view of the subject.... -> October 20, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Billy Collins (2)
BILLY COLLINS, NIGHT GOLF — I remember the night I discovered, lying in bed …, that a few imagined holes of golf worked much better than a thousand sheep, that the local links, not the cloudy pasture with its easy fence, was the greener path to sleep. -> March 26, 2023 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
BILLY COLLINS, PIANO LESSONS — My teacher... tells me... every scale has a shape/ and I have to learn to hold/ each... in my hands./ I practice with my eyes closed./ C is an open book./ D is a vase with two handles./ G flat is a black boot./ E has the legs of a bird. -> February 8, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Gail Collins
GAIL COLLINS: SCORPION TONGUES — Politicians have been a favorite target [of gossip]... at least since the time of the ancient Greeks, when Athenians speculated that Pericles always kept his helmet on because he was embarrassed about his pear-shaped head. -> March 11, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Laurie Colwin (2)
LAURIE COLWIN, HOME COOKING — People lie when you ask them what they eat when they are alone. A salad, they tell you. But when you persist, they confess to peanut butter and bacon sandwiches... fried... with hot sauce, or spaghetti with butter and grape jam. -> January 30, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
LAURIE COLWIN, HOME COOKING — "I'm stuffing the turkey this year," I told my sister. She was much relieved. ... After all, an unstuffed turkey is like a jigsaw puzzle of the American flag with a piece missing... in the middle. Now... all was restored to order. -> November 30, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Neal Conan
NEAL CONAN, PLAY BY PLAY — The bus is more than a form of transportation. It's a rolling dormitory, living room,... office, game room and movie theater. It's also a metaphor for the minor leagues. ... [P]layers on the way up are delighted to get off the bus. -> September 22, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Craig Conley
CRAIG CONLEY, ONE-LETTER WORDS — X marks the spot on a pirate’s map where treasure is buried. ... [T]he archetype of a mad scientist is Dr. X. ... X is a power of magnification, an axis on a graph, and a female chromosome. ... X is a kiss at the end of a love letter. -> February 14, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Evan S. Connell
(EVAN S.) CONNELL, (THE) AZTEC TREASURE HOUSE — What seems to resist oblivion, outlasting all other created things, including the greatest plays and... exquisite poems,... murals, statues, bronze mirrors, and stone sarcophagi, is pottery, the humble craftsman's daily product. -> March 19, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
William Connor
WILLIAM CONNOR, DAILY MIRROR — Turkey has practically no taste except a dry fibrous flavor reminiscent of... warmed-up plaster... and horse hair. The texture is like wet sawdust and the whole vast feathered swindle has the piquancy of a boiled mattress. -> November 11, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Kinshasha Conwill
(KINSHASHA) CONWILL, DREAM A WORLD ANEW — [T]he British promise of liberty caused widespread slave escapes across the South when... war moved to the region... . Jefferson estimated that thirty thousand slaves had run away in Virginia alone, including many of his own. -> July 4, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Alistair Cooke
A(LISTAIR) COOKE: TALK ABOUT AMERICA — It has been ... doctrine that ... a pink goo with overtones of sugared tomatoes ... is a delectable necessity of the Thanksgiving board ... . [Y]ears of ... satisfaction with ... America could not reconcile this expatriate to cranberry sauce. -> November 21, 1999 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Lucy Cooke
(LUCY) COOKE, THE TRUTH ABOUT ANIMALS — The various... three-toed sloths... sport medieval haircuts and immovable smiles. ... Of the four species, the largest of the bunch is the marvelously maned Bradypus torquatus, which looks uncannily like a coconut with a mullet. -> July 22, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Robert Coover
ROBERT COOVER, (Whatever Happened to) GLOOMY GUS (of the Chicago Bears?) — Football is not about violence…, it's about balance. The line of scrimmage is a fulcrum, not a frontier…. The struggle is not for property, it's for… freedom…. Of course, I admit most footballers are probably ignorant of all this. -> December 29, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Bill Cosby
BILL COSBY, ON FATHERHOOD — [M]y father did try... not to curse... . Having to squelch the profanities... reduced him to saying such things as, "If you ever... because you're a... and I swear I'll..." For many years... I thought my father was... unable to complete a sentence. -> June 16, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Phil Cousineau
(PHIL) COUSINEAU, THE PAINTED WORD — The English language is studded with terrific group nouns... a crash of rhinoceros, a parliament of owls, a skulk of foxes,... a zeal of zebras.... [C]oinages include... a couch of video game players, and a cuddle of homecoming queens. -> August 2, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Michael Crichton
(MICHAEL) CRICHTON, JURASSIC PARK — Much of [biotechnology]... is... frivolous. Efforts to engineer paler trout for better visibility in the stream, square trees for easier lumbering, and injectable scent cells so you'll always smell of... perfume... are not [a joke]. -> October 11, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Francis Crick
FRANCIS CRICK, WHAT MAD PURSUIT — When the right idea... clicks into place, one immediately sees how many previously puzzling facts are neatly explained by the new hypothesis.... One could kick oneself for not having the idea earlier, it now seems so obvious. -> April 7, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Quentin Crisp
(QUENTIN) CRISP, MANNERS FROM HEAVEN — Euphemisms are not... useless verbiage. ..; they are like secret agents on a delicate mission, they must airily pass by a stinking mess with barely... a nod of the head. ... Euphemisms are unpleasant truths wearing diplomatic cologne. -> July 19, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Vicki Croke
VICKI CROKE, ELEPHANT COMPANY — [A trunk]... acts, among other things, as a hand, an arm, a nose, a snorkel, a sledgehammer, a trumpet, and a hose. ... Without containing a single bone, it is strong enough to lift heavy logs, and sufficiently nimble to pick up a coin. -> October 19, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David Crystal
DAVID CRYSTAL, LANGUAGE PLAY — [N]othing... can liven up a lecture on encyclopedia construction more than... typos... . ...[T]he world was nearly informed about the "Index of Prohibited Boos"... and the new olfactory means of linking Britain and France, the "Chanel Tunnel." -> May 18, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
L. L. Larison Cudmore
(L.L. LARISON) CUDMORE, THE CENTER OF LIFE — Amoebas may not have backbones, brains,... plastic,... [or] Valium...; but their architecture is two billion years ahead of its time. The amoeba had the... ideas of R. Buckminster Fuller before there was anyone... capable of having an idea. -> April 16, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Will Cuppy
WILL CUPPY, THE GREAT BUSTARD — The desire to romp with Lions when they are seen bounding across their native heath appears to be widespread... . It is difficult to take bounding animals seriously, but if one doesn't, they are likely to have the last laugh. -> January 19, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Rachel Cusk
(RACHEL) CUSK, DRIVING AS METAPHOR — [A] person traveling by bicycle feels an antipathy towards cars, yet once inside a car can immediately become irritated by cyclists, and as a pedestrian could dislike them both, sometimes all in the course of a single day. -> March 15, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Charles D'Ambrosio
CHARLES D'AMBROSIO, LOITERING — Gray whales don't look especially dirigible. You'd hate to have to park one. They have a lumpy crudeness of design, a banged-up body... ugly mouth and... a color that seems to come from a supply of government surplus paint... . -> January 21, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Melissa Dahl
MELISSA DAHL, CRINGEWORTHY — Perhaps you've heard of the reminiscence bump, a term psychologists use to describe the way... episodes... that occur between... ten and thirty tend to be recalled more vividly than those that occur earlier or later in life. -> November 7, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Bertha Damon
BERTHA DAMON, A SENSE OF HUMUS - [Radishes] are the one amateur crop to be relied on. ...[F]ew are eaten, except those first prompt miraculous test cases which the gardener wipes on the seat of his overalls and eats on the spot, with no condiment but grit. -> June 11, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jeanne Darst
(JEANNE) DARST, FICTION RUINED MY FAMILY — As a kid I was absolutely terrified of cliches. My father forbade them. If you said, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink," my father would go ballistic.... Mom violated this rule about every five seconds. -> February 26, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Charles Darwin (2)
(CHARLES) DARWIN, ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES -- There is grandeur in this view of life... that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the... law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and... wonderful have been, and are being, evolved. -> December 18, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(CHARLES) DARWIN, THE VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE — A strong desire is always felt to ascertain whether any human being has previously visited an unfrequented spot. A bit of wood with a nail in it, is picked up and studied as if it were covered with hieroglyphics. -> May 24, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Meghan Daum
MEGHAN DAUM, THE UNSPEAKABLE — Dogs are incapable of being anything but themselves. Show me a dog that puts on airs or laughs politely at an unfunny joke and I'll show you a human in a dog costume, possibly one owned and licensed by... Walt Disney. -> June 14, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Robertson Davies (2)
(ROBERTSON) DAVIES, (THE DIARY OF) SAMUEL MARCHBANKS — At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme, I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves. -> March 11, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(ROBERTSON) DAVIES, WHAT'S BRED IN THE BONE — Much may be learned about... society by studying... its children, for [they]... are shadows of their parents. ... What they believe and do are... what their parents believe in their hearts and would do if society would put up with it. -> October 6, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Richard Dawkins
(RICHARD) DAWKINS, THE SELFISH GENE — Chaucer could not hold a conversation with a modern Englishman, even though they are linked to each other by an unbroken chain of... Englishmen. Language evolves... at a rate... orders of magnitude faster than genetic evolution. -> January 7, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Cathy Day
CATHY DAY, THE CIRCUS IN WINTER - The elephant's trunk — part nose, part hand — ... [is] a versatile appendage which could also be... cowboy lariat, swath-cutting scythe, showman's hook, flyswatter, trumpet, crane, or... a billy club capable of knocking the wind out of a man. -> February 6, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Margaret Lazarus Dean
MARGARET (LAZARUS) DEAN, LEAVING ORBIT — I love the language of spaceflight: the go and the no-go, the translunar injection burn, the nod and the twang. The names Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. The sonorousness of the... acronym NASA. These are the sounds of dreams. -> February 21, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ellen Degeneres
(ELLEN) DEGENERES, THE PLANE TRUTH — So here I am, sitting in my seat, working on my journal. Hey, there's a fly on this plane. I am so scared of flying, I can't imagine how flies do it all day, every day. But, then again, that's what a fly does, fly. It's his job. -> January 27, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mark Denny
MARK DENNY, GLIDING FOR GOLD — [A] spinning skater can increase her angular speed... . You may reproduce this... on your office... chair. ... [G]et spinning with your legs extended,... then draw your legs in... . This... will cause your... colleagues to stare and you to spin faster. -> February 23, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Elinor Dewire
ELINOR DEWIRE, [THE] FUNKY CHICKEN — I suppose I'm a bit eccentric with my chickenpalooza kitchen. A giant resin rooster perches over my oven. My whimsical flying hen clock with her fried egg pendulum ticks rhythmically from the wall. Tick, tock, cluck, clock. -> January 7, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Charles Dickens (3)
CHARLES DICKENS, HARD TIMES — Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. … Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. … This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and … on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir! -> April 23, 2023 by Jim Horne
(CHARLES) DICKENS, A CHRISTMAS CAROL — "I don't know what to do!" cried Scrooge... . "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy, I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world!" -> December 22, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(CHARLES) DICKENS, AMERICAN NOTES — What words shall describe the Mississippi,... an enormous ditch, sometimes... three miles wide, running liquid mud,... its frothy current choked everywhere by huge logs and whole forest trees... rolling past like monstrous bodies. -> August 19, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Paul Dickson
PAUL DICKSON: SLANG DICTIONARY — The point at which we speakers of American English are most open-minded would seem to be when we are most open-mouthed. We devour words like pasta, empanadas, souvlakia, quiche lorraine, havarti,... yakitori, and osso bucco. -> July 1, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Annie Dillard (2)
ANNIE DILLARD, THE WRITING LIFE — A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. ... If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter... with bravura, holding a chair... and shouting "Simba!" -> October 5, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(ANNIE) DILLARD, AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD — How ... gracious is the straight ... girl. She spreads before her friend a gift-wrapped, beribboned gag line he can claim for his own, if only he will pick it up instead of pausing to contemplate what a nitwit he's talking to. -> December 19, 1999 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Cherie Dimaline
CHERIE DIMALINE, EMPIRE OF WILD — Rogarou... was a dog, a man, a wolf. He was clothed, he was naked in his fur, he wore moccasins to jig. He was whatever made you shiver but he was always there,... whistling to the stars so that they pulsed bright in the navy sky... . -> October 25, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Isak Dinesen
ISAK DINESEN, OUT OF AFRICA — I... watched the progression across the plain of the giraffe, in their... inimitable, vegetative gracefulness, as if it were not a herd of animals but a family of rare, long-stemmed speckled gigantic flowers slowly advancing. -> February 19, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
E. L. Doctorow
E.L. DOCTOROW, LIVES OF THE POETS — I've never found a hat that looks right on me... fedora, homburg, Swiss Tirol, Irish tinker, deerhound, Russian lamb, baseball, ten-gallon, seaman watch, Greek fisher, garrison, pith or steel helmet, on me they're all dunce caps. -> September 7, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Hope Donahue
(HOPE) DONAHUE, BEAUTIFUL STRANGER — In the paintings of Flemish masters, women lounged like plump... felines, showing off pre-Raphaelite ringlets, generous noses, thin lips, and white skin. Today... [they] would be... considered fat, pasty, frizzy-haired, and unattractive. -> May 1, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Michael Downing
(MICHAEL) DOWNING, SPRING FORWARD — Before it became... law, Daylight Saving was considered a joke. Even... its... advocates believe that when Ben Franklin took pen in hand and wrote the first detailed proposal to save daylight... he had his tongue in his cheek. -> March 14, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Arthur Conan Doyle (3)
A. C. DOYLE, THE SIGN OF THE FOUR — Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science... . You have attempted to tinge it with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you worked a love story or an elopement into the fifth proposition of Euclid. -> November 26, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
A(RTHUR) C(ONAN) DOYLE, (THE ADVENTURE OF) THE MUSGRAVE RITUAL — Although... methodical... [he] keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very center of his wooden mantelpiece. -> December 14, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, HIS LAST BOW — His incredible untidiness, his addiction to music at strange hours, his... revolver practice within doors, his weird... scientific experiments, and the atmosphere of... danger... around him... made him the very worst tenant in London. -> December 3, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ken Druse
KEN DRUSE, THE NEW SHADE GARDEN — Plants are moving... . ... Slowly but surely, the population of growing things that like... cold temperatures will creep ever northward, to a cooler climate. Even the oak trees are moving northward, with the help of the squirrels. -> August 5, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ursula Dubosarsky
URSULA DUBOSARSKY, (THE) WORD SNOOP — A black cat dreamt every fourth goose hunted invisible jellyfish. Kindly let many nice ostriches pass quickly. Rather stupidly the umbrella voted when x-raying yellow zebras. ...[M]ake up your own crazy pangrammatic story... [.] -> April 19, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Tammy Duckworth
(TAMMY) DUCKWORTH, EVERY DAY IS A GIFT — Traditional Thai cuisine doesn't include cheese, and many Thais find the odor... gag-inducing. ... I did eventually develop a taste for cheese, and now good luck prying me away from a nice runny Camembert or a stinky Stilton. -> July 18, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Leo Durocher
(LEO) DUROCHER, NICE GUYS FINISH LAST — Managing... is the most vulnerable job in the world. ... If you don't win, you're... fired. If you do win, you've only put off the day you're going to be fired. ... The manager... has to call it... now. Everybody else can call it after it's over. -> October 5, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Bob Dylan
(BOB) DYLAN, CHRONICLES, VOLUME ONE — I had no song in my repertoire for commercial radio... . Songs about debauched bootleggers,... Cadillacs that only got five miles to the gallon, floods,... fires, darkness and cadavers at the bottom of rivers weren't for radiophiles. -> February 28, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Freeman Dyson
F(REEMAN) DYSON, TO TEACH OR NOT TO TEACH — I belonged to a small minority of boys who were lacking in physical strength and athletic prowess.... We found ... refuge in science.... We learned ... that science is a territory of freedom and friendship in the midst of tyranny. -> June 18, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David Eagleman
DAVID EAGLEMAN, INCOGNITO — [T]here is a... "blind spot" in each eye. ... Your brain, with no information from that... spot in visual space, fills in with the patterns around it. You're not perceiving what's out there. You're perceiving whatever your brain tells you. -> April 2, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Roger Ebert
ROGER EBERT, AWAKE IN THE DARK — We need to feel above comedy. ... Buddy Hackett told me he turned down big bucks in Vegas rather than play a room where the stage was higher than the audience. "They won't laugh unless they're looking down at you," he explained. -> August 19, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Umberto Eco
UMBERTO ECO, THE NAME OF THE ROSE — A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements and clumsy hands... so the librarian protects the books... against nature... and devotes his life to this war with the forces of oblivion. -> October 15, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Stewart Edelstein
(STEWART) EDELSTEIN, DUBIOUS DOUBLETS — Some towns bordering other countries or... states are portmanteau-ized. Calexico is across the border from Mexicali. Any student of U.S.... geography can readily figure out the locations of Calzona,... Kanorado, Virgilina, [and] Moark... . -> October 2, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Timothy Egan (2)
TIMOTHY EGAN, (THE) WORST HARD TIME — When the dust fell, it penetrated everything: ...nose, throat, kitchen, bedroom, well. ... The eeriest thing was the darkness. People tied themselves to ropes before going to a barn just a few hundred feet away, like a walk in space... . -> December 7, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
TIMOTHY EGAN, LASSO THE WIND — [T]he West will leave most... [with] a sense of light-headed exuberance. ... Who can look at rivers that boil out of the ground, or Las Vegas at dawn, or the hunchbacked, flute-playing Kokopelli incised on... sandstone, and not laugh? -> June 13, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Barbara Ehrenreich
(BARBARA) EHRENREICH, THE WORST YEARS (OF OUR LIVES) — Some of us still get all weepy... about the Gaia Hypothesis... . But if you look at the historical record — Krakatoa, Mt. Vesuvius, Hurricane Charley, poison ivy, and so forth... — you have to ask yourself: Whose side is she on, anyway? -> April 6, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Gretel Ehrlich
GRETEL EHRLICH, (THE SOLACE OF) OPEN SPACES — Wyoming seems to be the doing of a mad architect, tumbled and twisted, ribboned with faded deathbed colors, thrust up and pulled down as if the place had been startled out of a deep sleep and thrown into a pure light. -> August 21, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Juliet Eilperin
JULIET EILPERIN, DEMON FISH — If we pay attention, sharks … tell us about their watery world and its implications for the land we inhabit. How we negotiate sharing the planet with sharks could help determine what our … future looks like, not just theirs. -> July 30, 2023 by David Balton & Jane Stewart
George Eliot (2)
GEORGE ELIOT, MIDDLEMARCH — [Y]outh is the season of hope... only in the sense that our elders are hopeful about us; for no age is so apt... to think its emotions, partings, and resolves are the last of their kind. Each crisis seems final,... because it is new. -> May 8, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(GEORGE) ELIOT, THE MILL ON THE FLOSS — If his father had lived to... old age and his uncle had died... early... we can conceive Hamlet's having married Ophelia and got through life with a reputation of sanity, notwithstanding many soliloquies and some moody sarcasms. -> January 27, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
T. S. Eliot
T.S. ELIOT, THE MUSIC OF POETRY — Edward Lear's nonsense is not vacuity of sense: it is... parody of sense. ... "The Jumblies" is a poem of adventure and... nostalgia. ... "The Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo" and "The Dong with a Luminous Nose" are... of unrequited passion: "blues" in fact. -> December 9, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Hattie Ellis
(HATTIE) ELLIS, SWEETNESS AND LIGHT — The bee has a daily diary of appointments since flowers tend to produce their nectar at set times. ... Nine in the morning is good for dandelions, while marjoram flows at lunchtime and viper's bugloss gets going at [three pm]. -> July 21, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ralph Waldo Emerson
RALPH WALDO EMERSON, ESSAYS — We fetch fire and water, run about all day among the shops and markets, and get our clothes and shoes made and mended, and are the victims of these details, and once in a fortnight we arrive perhaps at a rational moment. -> December 16, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Nora Ephron
NORA EPHRON, SCRIBBLE, SCRIBBLE — Mrs. Kingsley... worked out her puzzles using anagram blocks on a piece of felt. ... [H]'s were the bane of her existence, with f's and w's close behind. ... "Powwow" was a favorite answer; "tow-row" set off a terrible fracas among her fans. -> August 25, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Norrie Epstein
(NORRIE) EPSTEIN, (THE) FRIENDLY SHAKESPEARE — Baconists would look at... [Shakespeare's] passages backward, upside down, and diagonally, inventing elaborate Latin acrostics, skipping every five letters or every third word — it didn't really matter, as the system was... arbitrary. -> January 9, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Louise Erdrich
(LOUISE) ERDRICH, THE BLUE JAY'S DANCE — [T]he jays are all screeching greed and hungry jeers. ... As soon as I've put down the seed,... jays appear, kamikaze-diving from the low branches of the poplars, plucking themselves upward at the final instant in swift chandelles. -> January 8, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Anne Fadiman
(ANNE) FADIMAN, AT LARGE AND AT SMALL — The first canto of Pale Fire contains, within its... compass, the words torquated, stillicide, shagbark, vermiculated, preterist, iridule, and lemniscate. Nabokov collected rare words, just as he collected rare butterflies. -> March 24, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Donald Fagen
DONALD FAGEN, EMINENT HIPSTERS — I started going to jazz clubs in New York when I was twelve or thirteen... . I remember seeing... Count Basie at... Birdland... . When the whole band pumped out one of those thirteenth chords, you could feel the breeze on your face. -> September 30, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Deborah Fallows
D(EBORAH) FALLOWS, DREAMING IN CHINESE — Chinese... characters are not bound by space. Each character, even if it is half of a... word, is separated equally from its neighbor. There is no telling where a word begins and ends - itwouldbeasifyouwerereadingthetextthisway. -> April 24, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Stefan Fatsis
STEFAN FATSIS, WORD FREAK — [M]y... Q... is a Trojan horse. Sure, it and the Z are the only tiles worth [ten] points, but clinging to the Q... prevents you from drawing letters that offer a fresh chance for a bingo. A lingering Q is like an unwanted houseguest.... -> May 19, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David Feldman
(DAVID) FELDMAN, DO PENGUINS HAVE KNEES? — Using all caps, cartoonists can allocate their space... more easily. Small letters not only vary in height but a few… [swoop] below or above... other letters (l's make a's look like midgets, and p's and q's dive below most letters). -> July 31, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Edna Ferber
(EDNA) FERBER, A PECULIAR TREASURE — Only amateurs... write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth. [It] may be... absorbing,... racking, relieving. But amusing? Never! -> July 6, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Joshua Ferris
(JOSHUA) FERRIS, THEN WE CAME TO THE END — Our [copywriter]... Don... had another screenplay about a disaffected and cynical copywriter suffering ennui in the office setting... while dreaming of becoming a famous screenwriter, which he claimed was not autobiographical. -> March 28, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Richard Feynman
(RICHARD) FEYNMAN, LECTURES ON PHYSICS — The most significant event of the nineteenth century will be judged as Maxwell's discovery of the laws of electrodynamics. The American Civil War will pale into provincial insignificance in comparison with this... event. -> January 12, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Helen Fielding
(HELEN) FIELDING, BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY — I think New Year's resolutions can't technically be expected to begin on New Year's Day... because it's an extension of New Year's Eve... It would be much more sensible if resolutions began generally on January the second. -> December 27, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Gary Belsky and Neil Fine
(GARY) BELSKY (AND NEIL FINE), ON THE ORIGINS OF SPORTS — [W]hat is now a home run was at first a foul. ... [T]he regular playing area — ... in Hoboken, New Jersey — abutted the Hudson River. When balls were hit out of bounds, they landed in the water. ..., so irretrievable shots were discouraged. -> October 14, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
M. F. K. Fisher (2)
M.F.K. FISHER, DUBIOUS HONORS--Our family talked a lot at table, and only two subjects were taboo: politics and personal troubles. ... Father ran a nonpartisan daily in a small town,... and did not wish to express his... opinions in public, even when in private. -> June 19, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
M.F.K. FISHER, CONSIDER THE OYSTER — For about a year... our oyster is a male... . Then one day, maternal longings surge between his two valves in his cold guts and gills and all his crinkly fringes. Necessity, that well-known mother, makes him one. He is a she. -> May 10, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Joshua Foer
JOSHUA FOER, MOONWALKING (WITH EINSTEIN) — [O]ur memories do a pretty darn good job. For all of our griping over the everyday failings of our memories — the misplaced keys, the forgotten name, the factoid stuck on the tip of the tongue — ... we forget how rarely we forget. -> May 29, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mark Forsyth
(MARK) FORSYTH, ELEMENTS OF ELOQUENCE — A poet is not somebody who has great thoughts. That is the menial duty of the philosopher. A poet is somebody who expresses... thoughts... exquisitely. That is the one and only difference between the poet and everybody else. -> July 12, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Alison Frankel
ALISON FRANKEL, DOUBLE EAGLE — Coin auctions... are grubby affairs,... populated by unkempt, bespectacled men whispering to one another. They have the feel of a reunion of the high school chess club... they all speak a language not... comprehensible to outsiders. -> February 4, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Tana French
TANA FRENCH, THE LIKENESS — Being easily freaked out comes with its own special skill set: you develop subtle tricks to work around it, make sure people don't notice. Pretty soon,... you can get through the day looking almost... like a normal human being. -> June 9, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Lawrence M. Friedman
(LAWRENCE M.) FRIEDMAN, (THE) HORIZONTAL SOCIETY — The average citizen, who has no idea how… a refrigerator works, still feels that scientists, if they worked hard enough, could cure… the common cold, or get… power out of turnip juice, or send a satellite zooming off to Pluto. -> September 21, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Stephen Fry (2)
STEPHEN FRY, THE FRY CHRONICLES — You barely have to stir or incommode yourself to find things out. The only reason people do not know much is because they do not care to know. They are incurious. Incuriosity is the oddest... most foolish failing there is. -> September 29, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
STEPHEN FRY, MOAB IS MY WASHPOT — Dale always shouted "Aiee!" when he was in pain. It... amazed me... when I first heard him stubbing his toe..., since I had never imagined that expressions of pain could vary. I... thought "Ouch!" and "Ow!" were the same all over the world. -> February 24, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Betty Fussell
BETTY FUSSELL, MY KITCHEN WARS — [T]he French... christened the kitchen arsenal the batterie de cuisine.... To satisfy [hunger] is to do battle, deploying a full range of artillery — crushers, scrapers, beaters, roasters, gougers, grinders, to name but a few... implements.... -> November 19, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Neil Gaiman
NEIL GAIMAN, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK — One grave in every graveyard belongs to the ghouls.... You will find it, waterstained and bulging, with cracked... stone, and a feeling... of abandonment.... If the grave makes you want to be somewhere else, that is the ghoul-gate. -> October 25, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
J. K. Galbraith
J.K. GALBRAITH, THE GREAT CRASH — The principle of leverage is the same... as in the game of crack-the-whip. By the application of well-known physical laws, a modest movement near the point of origin is translated into a major jolt on the... periphery. -> March 29, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
George Gamow
GEORGE GAMOW, (THE) GREAT PHYSICISTS (FROM GALILEO TO EINSTEIN) — [A]fter dinner, Bohr suggested... working on a crossword.... It did not go... well and... we all... [went] to sleep. At some unknown hour..., a muffled voice [came] through the door: "[T]he English... city with seven letters, ending in ich is Ipswich!" -> May 15, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
W. Lambert Gardiner
W. LAMBERT GARDINER, PSYCHOLOGY: (A STORY OF A SEARCH) — A class... conditioned their... professor a week after he told them about learning without awareness. Every time he moved toward the right..., they paid more attention..., until... they were able to condition him right out the door. -> December 2, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Martin Gardner
(MARTIN) GARDNER, THE LAST RECREATIONS — [W]ords can... display various types of geometrical symmetry. ... One day in a supermarket my sister was puzzled by the name on a box of crackers, "spep oop," until she realized that a box of "doo dads" was on the shelf upside down. -> December 13, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Olivia Gentile
OLIVIA GENTILE, LIFE LIST — The closer you get to the equator, the birdier it gets:... tiny... Panama,... just north of the equator, has almost a thousand bird species, more than have been recorded in all of North America; Peru... has a whopping eighteen hundred. -> April 21, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ted Gioia
TED GIOIA, THE IMPERFECT ART (Reflections on Jazz and Modern Culture) — We should... be thankful for second-rate art. The poorest practitioners of a... craft are often, like clumsy magicians or awkward liars, more revealing than their betters. The... neophyte... magnifies the flaws of a whole generation. -> December 26, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Malcolm Gladwell (2)
M(ALCOLM) GLADWELL, DAVID AND GOLIATH — The battle is won miraculously by an underdog…. This is the way we have told one another the story over the … centuries since…. And the problem with that version of the events is that almost everything about it is wrong. -> August 13, 2023 by David Balton & Jane Stewart
(MALCOLM) GLADWELL, THE TIPPING POINT — Yawning is incredibly contagious. I made some of you reading this yawn simply by writing the word "yawn." The people who yawned when they saw you yawn... were infected by the sight of you yawning — ... a second kind of contagion. -> January 16, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Gabrielle Glaser
GABRIELLE GLASER, THE NOSE--[H]e drew... great breaths, trying... to catch smells that the breeze would throw... . For odors told you when crops... were ripe; one whiff of morning air could convey that it was... too damp to run the combines, or too dry to fertilize. -> August 28, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
James Gleick
JAMES GLEICK, THE INFORMATION — A notorious example of a meme that could not have emerged in pre-Internet culture was the phrase "jumped the shark."... To jump the shark means to pass a peak of quality or popularity and begin an irreversible decline. -> July 17, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Allison Glock
(ALLISON) GLOCK, BEAUTY BEFORE COMFORT — At the age of eighty-one, [my grandmother] has her hair colored weekly and doesn't descend the stairs without full makeup. If an opera spontaneously broke out at her nursing home, Grandmother would be appropriately dressed. -> March 7, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Seth Godin
SETH GODIN, SMALL IS THE NEW BIG — Lobbying for daylight saving time started... about one hundred years ago (just eighty years after time was standardized... [B]efore trains traversed the Continent, it didn't... matter that time was different in different towns). -> November 3, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Arthur Golden
A(RTHUR) GOLDEN, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA — [T]he obi...[is] nearly always made of heavy silk brocade. Just to carry it up... stairs is exhausting, so you can imagine how it feels to wear it... squeezing your middle... as if someone has strapped a traveling trunk to your back. -> May 7, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jane Goodall
(JANE) GOODALL, THROUGH A WINDOW — We clear a tiny peephole and stare through. No wonder we are confused by the tiny fraction of a whole that we see. It is... like trying to comprehend the panorama of the desert or the sea through a rolled-up newspaper. -> August 30, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Allegra Goodman
ALLEGRA GOODMAN, PARADISE PARK — Let me tell you about red-footed boobies. They are white with long pointy bills and pouchy necks like pelicans'. Their feet are... scarlet. If you come... close..., [they] rise up flapping and... scream... and... barf squid vomit on [you]. -> January 12, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ellen Goodman
ELLEN GOODMAN, CLOSE TO HOME — I am a member of a... minority group, a kind of urban lost tribe who insist, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, on the sanctity of being on time. ... [U]nfortunately, we never seem to have appointments with each other. -> August 5, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ruth Goodman
(RUTH) GOODMAN, HOW TO BE A VICTORIAN — A lightly boned... corset... is... very easy... to wear, more comfortable, in my opinion, than... underwired bras of the twenty-first century. ... [I]t is hard to achieve more compression than is produced by the shapewear currently on sale... . -> March 22, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Doris Kearns Goodwin
DORIS (KEARNS) GOODWIN, TEAM OF RIVALS — Captivated by [Mary Todd's] lively manner, intelligent face, clear blue eyes, and dimpled smile, Lincoln reportedly said, "I want to dance with you in the worst way." And, Mary laughingly told her cousin later..., "he certainly did." -> September 30, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Adam Gopnik
ADAM GOPNIK, A PURIM STORY — Old, Henny Youngman-style jokes... apparently circulate permanently in the lower grades of New York schools, like Mercury space-program debris circulating in... orbit. ... "Waiter, what's this fly doing in my soup!" "The backstroke." -> May 18, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Stephen Jay Gould (2)
S(TEPHEN JAY) GOULD, THE MISMEASURE OF MAN — What craniometry was for the nineteenth century, intelligence testing has become for the twentieth, when it assumes that intelligence (or at least a dominant part of it) is a single, innate, heritable and measurable thing. -> August 27, 2023 by David Balton & Jane Stewart
S(TEPHEN) J(AY) GOULD: DINOSAUR IN A HAYSTACK — A sixth-century monk named ... Dennis the Short ... instructed to prepare a chronology for [the] Pope ... neglected to begin time with the year zero ... During the year that Jesus was one year old, the time system ... was two years old. -> January 2, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sue Grafton (2)
SUE GRAFTON, B IS FOR BURGLAR — My standard breakfast of bacon,... eggs, toast, jelly, and orange juice, with coffee... contains every element I crave: caffeine, salt, sugar, cholesterol, and fat. ... In California,... eating such a meal is regarded as a suicide attempt. -> June 21, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
SUE GRAFTON, M IS FOR MALICE — Other human beings have all these hotly held opinions, habits, and mannerisms,... not to mention... food preferences, passions,... emotional fixations, and attitudes that in no way coincide with the correct ones, namely yours. -> May 21, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Temple Grandin
(TEMPLE) GRANDIN, THINKING IN PICTURES — The Lord's Prayer was incomprehensible until I broke it down into... images. The power and the glory were represented by a... rainbow and an electrical tower. ... When I think about [will], I imagine God throwing a lightning bolt. -> June 17, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Kate Greene
KATE GREENE, ONCE (UPON A TIME) I LIVED ON MARS — [C]ooking wouldn't be possible on the... journey to... the Red Planet; zero g wouldn't allow for that. ... [O]n Mars..., a crew... could have any number of gustatory adventures. They could bake and saute, boil water for pasta, and toss a salad. -> April 11, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Linda Greenlaw
LINDA GREENLAW, (THE) HUNGRY OCEAN — Fishermen are superstitious. ... Pork [is] taboo, as [is] merely speaking the word "pig"... . [Setting sail] on a Friday is absolutely forbidden. ... Whistling aboard a boat is a real no-no. ... The number 13 is always pronounced "twelve plus one." -> August 17, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Andrew Sean Greer
(ANDREW SEAN) GREER, THE STORY OF A MARRIAGE — Young people are inept at love; it is like being given a flying machine, and you leap inside, ready to set off as you've always dreamed, yet you don't have the first notion of how to make it start, much less how to move it. -> February 16, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Taras Grescoe
TARAS GRESCOE, (THE) DEVIL'S PICNIC — Satan would favor Epoisses above [other cheeses]... for one compelling reason: its smell. ... [L]ike the spike-husked tropical fruit durian, which is banned in buses in Bangkok, it is illegal to carry Epoisses on the Parisian metro. -> November 26, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ursula Le Guin
(URSULA) LE GUIN, (THE) LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS — Legends of prediction are common throughout the whole Household of Man. Gods speak, spirits speak, computers speak. Oracular ambiguity or statistical probability provides loopholes, and discrepancies are expunged by Faith. -> December 31, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Chris Hadfield
(CHRIS) HADFIELD, AN ASTRONAUT'S GUIDE (TO LIFE ON EARTH) — It's almost comical that astronauts are stereotyped as daredevils and cowboys. As a rule, we're highly methodical and detail-oriented. Our passion isn't for thrills but for the grindstone, and pressing our noses to it. -> May 17, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
J. B. S. Haldane
(J.B.S.) HALDANE, ON BEING THE RIGHT SIZE — An angel [with] no more power weight for weight than... an eagle... would require a breast projecting four feet to house the muscles... in... its wings, while to economize in weight, its legs would have to be reduced to mere stilts. -> December 14, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Constance Hale
CONSTANCE HALE, SIN AND SYNTAX — The exquisite cutouts of Matisse and elegant line drawings of Picasso came late in long careers of painstaking work and wild experimentation. In writing as in painting, simplicity often follows considerable torment. -> January 20, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Dianne Hales
DIANNE HALES, LA BELLA LINGUA — In... workshops..., I paddled through Italian's treacherous tenses…. I struggled to corral its impish pronouns, which flit from the front to the back of sentences, disappear entirely, or latch on to verbs like fleas to a cat's ear. -> December 30, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Lisa Halliday
LISA HALLIDAY, ASYMMETRY — A man flying into Honolulu says to the guy in the seat next to him, "Excuse me, how do you pronounce it? Hawaii or Havaii?" "Havaii," says the other guy. "Thank you," says the first guy. And the other guy says, "You're velcome." -> September 2, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Steven Halpern
STEVEN HALPERN, SOUND HEALTH — When Mozart was composing ..., Vienna was so quiet that fire alarms could be given ... by a shouting watchman .... As recently as just before World War II, the ... bell on ... a fire truck was loud enough to clear traffic from its path. -> March 1, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Margaret Halsey
(MARGARET) HALSEY, WITH MALICE TOWARD SOME — Humility is not my forte... whenever I dwell for any length of time on my own shortcomings, they... begin to seem mild, harmless, rather engaging little things, not at all like the staring defects in other people's characters. -> September 28, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jane Hamilton
(JANE) HAMILTON, A MAP OF THE WORLD — There is never an end to stones in a field. You can clear... five acres one summer and come spring there will be a new crop. With each freeze and thaw stones are pushed up... to the light... as if they have the sense of a seed. -> April 25, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Dashiell Hammett
(DASHIELL) HAMMETT, THE MALTESE FALCON — Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting V under the more flexible V of his mouth. ...His pale... hair grew down from high flat temples in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond Satan. -> June 16, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jack Handey
JACK HANDEY, DEEPEST THOUGHTS — [M]y great uncle Jerry would... whittle all day long. Once he whittled me a toy boat out of a larger toy boat I had. It was almost as good as the first one, except now it had bumpy whittle marks all over it. And no paint.... -> September 5, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Kristin Hannah
KRISTIN HANNAH, THE FOUR WINDS--[M]en... seemed to think it meant nothing to cook and clean and bear children and tend gardens. But we women of the Great Plains worked from sunup to sundown,... toiled on wheat farms until we were as dry and baked as the land... . -> May 8, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Peter Harnik
P(ETER) HARNIK, FROM RAILS TO TRAILS — The rail-trail is laid onto the detritus of a surpassed technology …. [B]icyclists, walkers, runners … and even snowmobilers are merely Johnny-come-lately beneficiaries of a … network created … for a totally different purpose. -> October 8, 2023 by David Balton & Jane Stewart
Kamala Harris
KAMALA HARRIS, (THE) TRUTHS WE HOLD — My parents often brought me in a stroller... to civil rights marches. ... My mother would laugh telling a story... about the time when I was fussing as a toddler. "What do you want?" she asked, trying to soothe me. "Fweedom!" I yelled... . -> January 17, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Edward Harrison
[EDWARD] HARRISON, MASKS OF THE UNIVERSE — [E]lectrons do not move in clear-cut orbits like... celestial bodies. ... [T]hey dance, and the atom is a ballroom. They perform stately waltzes, weave curvaceous tangos, jitter in spasmodic quicksteps, and rock to frenetic rhythms. -> September 16, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Helen Hayes
HELEN HAYES, ON REFLECTION — It is difficult... for a star to occupy an inch of space without... unbalancing a play. No matter how self-effacing [he] may be, he makes an entrance as a casual neighbor and the audience interest shifts to the house next door. -> August 31, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
William Least Heat-Moon (2)
(WILLIAM) LEAST HEAT-MOON, BLUE HIGHWAYS — [T]he farther west the river..., the more honest the names become: Stinking Water Branch, Dead Horse Fork,... Damnation Creek. Perhaps the old... prospectors figured settlers would be slower to build along a river named Calamity. -> June 6, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(WILLIAM) LEAST HEAT-MOON, RIVER HORSE — I have an old highway atlas... the pages so soft from a thousand thumbings they whisper as I turn them. Put your finger... anyplace in this United States atlas, and I've either been there or within twenty-five miles of it. -> August 13, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Steve Hely
STEVE HELY, THE WONDER TRAIL — Australians respect nothing except the epic and ridiculous, because that is the nature of the native animals of their homeland. Wherever you go in the world, you will find Australians being preposterous. I love them. -> October 2, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sandra Hempel
(SANDRA) HEMPEL, THE INHERITOR'S POWDER — Opium was sold... in a... solution called laudanum, which... cost about the same as a pint of beer. ... [G]allons of Godfrey's Cordial, a blend of opium, treacle and spices..., were poured down infants' throats during the nineteenth century... . -> May 3, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Robert Hendrickson
(ROBERT) HENDRICKSON, THE LITERARY LIFE — The longest common English palindromic word is redivider but... Malayalam, the... language of the Malayali people... equals it, and the rare kinnikinnik, a dried leaf and bark mixture smoked by the Cree... tops it by two letters. -> July 16, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Robin Henig
(ROBIN) HENIG, THE MONK IN THE GARDEN — Mendel had not always worked with peas; at first he had tried breeding mice. But... the local bishop... seemed to find it inappropriate... for a priest who had taken vows of chastity... to be encouraging and watching rodent sex. -> August 11, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
HERODOTUS, AN ACCOUNT OF EGYPT — [T]his is the appearance which he presents: he is four-footed, cloven-hoofed like an ox, flat-nosed, with a mane like a horse and... teeth like tusks,... and his hide is so exceedingly thick that... shafts of javelins are made of it. -> September 21, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Rachel Herz
RACHEL HERZ, THAT'S DISGUSTING — Lobsters... were considered aquatic vermin... by European colonists... . This sea pestilence, which littered the shores of New England, was used as fish bait and fertilizer... . Excessive serving of this "junk" food led slaves... to rebel... . -> November 30, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Emily Hiestand
EMILY HIESTAND, (THE) VERY RICH HOURS — American hotels... when asked for tea... deliver a... jug of tepid water covered by a square of Saran wrap... One might as well ask for a trip to Bombay as to ask for looseleaf Earl Grey, or first-flush Darjeeling, or Assam tips. -> March 6, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Laura Hillenbrand
LAURA HILLENBRAND, SEABISCUIT — His stubby legs were a study in unsound construction, with squarish, asymmetrical... knees... . His walk was an odd, straddle-legged motion that was often mistaken for lameness... . One observer compared his action to a duck waddle. -> January 11, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Edward Hirsch
EDWARD HIRSCH, HOW TO READ A POEM — The list of Neruda's subjects in the odes is dizzying. ... Everything was magical. ... He wrote odes to tomatoes, artichokes, and onions... to chowder,... to his socks,... to lizards,... to the dictionary,... a stamp album,... and a movie theater. -> December 2, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Christopher Hitchens
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, AND YET--As I look back on my long... struggle to make myself over, and on my dismaying... glimpses of lost babyhood, I am more than ever sure that it's enough to be born once, and to take one's chances, and to grow old disgracefully. -> July 17, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Edward Hoagland
(EDWARD) HOAGLAND, (THE) COURAGE OF TURTLES — They can stretch out their necks like a giraffe, or loom underwater like an apocryphal hippo. ... They have a penguin's alertness combined with a build like a brontosaurus. ... They hunch and ponderously lunge like a grizzly. -> August 17, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Paul Hoffman (2)
PAUL HOFFMAN, KING'S GAMBIT — Fischer's adversaries knew that he derived unwholesome pleasure from ravishing them. When [he] was alone..., psyching himself up for a... game, people... would hear him shout... Slam! Bam! Zowie! as he banged pieces down on the board. -> June 22, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(PAUL) HOFFMAN, ARCHIMEDES' REVENGE — Cryptography has... come a long way since the first century B.C., when Julius Caesar reportedly used a... simple substitution cipher.... Caesar's confidants would have understood him had he said "Hw wx, Euxwh!" instead of "Et tu, Brute!" -> April 1, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Douglas Hofstadter
(DOUGLAS) HOFSTADTER, I AM A STRANGE LOOP--From an early age... I pondered what my mind was and, by analogy, what all minds are. ... I wondered what it would be like to be a girl, to be a native speaker of another language, to be Einstein,... a dog,... an eagle, even... a mosquito. -> June 5, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Billie Holiday
(BILLIE) HOLIDAY, LADY SINGS THE BLUES--[Louis Armstrong's] recording of ‘West End Blues’... used to gas me. It was the first time I ever heard anybody sing without using any words. I didn't know he was singing whatever came into his head when he forgot the lyrics. -> January 15, 2023 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
HOLLANDER, DOUBLE DACTYL — Higgledy, piggledy,/ Benjamin Harrison/ Twenty-third president/ Was, and as such,/ Served between Clevelands, and/ Save for this trivial/ Idiosyncrasy,/ Didn't do much. -> November 11, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jim Holt
(JIM) HOLT, WHY DOES THE WORLD EXIST? — Fred Hoyle felt that an explosion was an undignified way for the world to begin, rather like "a party girl jumping out of a cake."... Hoyle sardonically referred to the hypothesized origin as "the Big Bang." The term stuck. -> February 24, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Alex Horne
ALEX HORNE, WORD WATCHING — I read and re-read a slim blue book called "Palindromes and Anagrams"... . I was... fascinated by the neatness of the best examples. ... '[M]oonstarers' became 'astronomers',... 'eleven [plus] two' equalled 'twelve [plus] one' and... 'one hug' was 'enough'. -> April 3, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sabine Hossenfelder
(SABINE) HOSSENFELDER, LOST IN MATH — Kepler, in later life, became convinced that the planets play music along their paths. In his... book "Harmony of the World" he derived the planet's tunes and concluded that "the Earth sings Mi-Fa-Mi." It wasn't his best work. -> December 8, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sarah Blaffer Hrdy
SARAH B(LAFFER) HRDY, MOTHERS AND OTHERS — [H]unter-gatherers... are known for being fiercely egalitarian and going to great lengths to downplay competition and forestall ruptures in the social fabric,... shunning... those who behave in stingy, boastful, or antisocial ways. -> May 9, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sue Hubbell
SUE HUBBELL, A BOOK OF BEES — Bees are easier to keep than a dog or a cat. They are more interesting than gerbils. ... A well-known New York City publisher keeps bees on the terrace of his... penthouse where they happily work the flowers in Central Park. -> June 27, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland
(Christoph Wilhelm) Hufeland, (The Art of) Prolonging Life — Laughter is one of the greatest helps to digestion with which I am acquainted, and the custom prevalent among our forefathers of exciting it at table by jesters and buffoons was founded upon true medical principles. -> November 21, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Langston Hughes
L(ANGSTON) HUGHES: SIMPLE TAKES A WIFE — Bop is ... not to be dug unless you've seen dark days, too. Folks who ain't suffered ... think it's just crazy crazy. They do not know Bop is also MAD crazy, SAD crazy, FRANTIC WILD CRAZY — beat out of somebody's head! That's what Bop is. -> January 16, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Zora Neale Hurston
(ZORA NEALE) HURSTON, DUST TRACKS ON A ROAD — Rome, the eternal city, meant two different things to my parents. To Mama,... you must build it today so it could last through eternity. To Papa,... you had to lay some bricks today and you have the rest of eternity to finish it. -> January 15, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Chrissie Hynde
CHRISSIE HYNDE, RECKLESS — My dad played... chromatic harmonica and had an ocarina... which I would sneak down from the shelf and have a go on myself. ... I copied Bob Dylan's harmonica holder out of a coat hanger so I could play my uke at the same time. -> June 20, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Washington Irving (2)
(WASHINGTON) IRVING, (THE) LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW--He was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, ... hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels. ... [O]ne might have mistaken him for ... some scarecrow eloped from a cornfield. -> October 23, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
WASHINGTON IRVING, (THE LIFE AND VOYAGES OF CHRISTOPHER) COLUMBUS — He died in ignorance of the real grandeur of his discovery. Until his last breath he entertained the idea that he had... discovered... wild regions of the East. ... He supposed... Cuba and Terra Firma were but remote parts of Asia. -> October 12, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Molly Ivins
MOLLY IVINS, YOU GOT TO DANCE (WITH THEM WHAT BRUNG YOU)--I think government is a tool, like a hammer. You can use a hammer to build or... to destroy... . It is the purposes to which it is put and the skill with which it is used that determine whether the hammer’s work is good or bad. -> November 6, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Pico Iyer
PICO IYER, THE GLOBAL SOUL — I'm sitting in a Parisian cafe... outside Chinatown (in San Francisco), talking to a Mexican-American... about biculturalism while a Haitian woman stops... to congratulate him on a piece he... delivered on TV on Saint Patrick's Day. -> March 23, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Leslie Jamison
(LESLIE) JAMISON, THE EMPATHY EXAMS — Empathy isn't just something that happens to us a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain it's also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves. It's made of exertion, that dowdier cousin of impulse. -> August 24, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers
(JODIE) ARCHER (AND MATTHEW L. JOCKERS), THE BESTSELLER CODE — [A] now ex-CEO of one of the major... publishing houses..., when asked to predict a title for a... megahit, replied "Lincoln's Doctor's Dog." The combination of a beloved president,... health, and America's favorite pet could never fail. -> September 16, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Marilyn Johnson
MARILYN JOHNSON, LIVES IN RUINS — [A]rchaeologists work with humble stuff... . They are expert in the way things fall apart and acute observers of context; the placement and surroundings of an object can make the difference between junk and intellectual gold. -> January 25, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Steven Johnson
STEVEN JOHNSON, THE GHOST MAP — [An] itinerant underclass managed to conjure up an entire system for processing... the waste generated by two million people. ... [T]he scavengers of Victorian London weren't just getting rid of that refuse — they were recycling it. -> August 29, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mary Paumier Jones
MARY (PAUMIER) JONES, (THE) OPPOSITE OF SAFFRON — A curious thing has happened to syzygy; time can do strange things to words... Originally referring to the conjunction of two heavenly bodies,... the word has [since] become one of those few whose meaning includes its opposite. -> November 14, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mother Jones
MOTHER JONES, (THE) AUTOBIOGRAPHY (OF MOTHER JONES) — Goodbye, boys; I'm under arrest. I may have to go to jail. ... Keep up this fight! Don't surrender! ... . The Federal judge is a scab... . While you starve he plays golf. While you serve humanity, he serves injunctions for the money powers. -> September 6, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sadie Jones
SADIE JONES, (THE) UNINVITED GUESTS — [T]he edge of the gardens formed a ha-ha... bordered by a knee-high... hedge... . [C]hildren... used to take running jumps off the apparent precipice, terrifying visitors..., only to emerge laughing hilariously, covered with dandelion fluff... . -> June 30, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Rachel Kadish
RACHEL KADISH, TOLSTOY LIED — People misunderstand happiness. They think it's the absence of trouble.... Happiness is the ability to live well alongside trouble. No two people have the same trouble.... QED: No two happy people are happy in the same way. -> June 29, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ken Kaiser
KEN KAISER, PLANET OF THE UMPS — God must have put me together in the dark. I'm built... like a barrel with... arms stuck on backwards. My hands seem to face away from my body. When I walk my... body... shifts from side to side. If people watch me they get seasick. -> June 26, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Michio Kaku
(MICHIO) KAKU, PHYSICS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE — [W]riters of... Star Trek... were so stung by... criticism from physicists that they added "Heisenberg compensators" to explain their teleporters... Today, because of a recent breakthrough, physicists can teleport atoms across a room... -> June 7, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mindy Kaling
MINDY KALING, WHY NOT ME? — Who is the beauty icon that inspires you the most?... Mine is Nosferatu, because that vampire taught me my... two favorite beauty tricks of all time: avoid the sun at all costs and always try to appear shrouded in shadows. -> October 27, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Eric Kandel
(ERIC) KANDEL, THE DISORDERED MIND -- When scientists looked through their microscopes at brain tissue, they saw a tangled mess that seemed to have no beginning and no end. For this reason,... [t]hey weren't sure there was such a thing as a discrete nerve cell. -> February 26, 2023 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Robert Kaplan
(ROBERT) KAPLAN: THE NOTHING THAT IS — The Sumerians wrote by pressing... the tip of a hollow reed into wet clay tablets, which were then preserved by baking. Masses of these... survive from those... remote days;... computer punchcards [from] the [Sixties] largely do not. -> March 25, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jane Holtz Kay
JANE HOLTZ KAY, ASPHALT NATION — [S]talled traffic has... given us a new... entrepreneur. On the Cross Bronx Expressway,... peddlers cruise from lane to lane hustling mobile phones to the immobilized.... In Boston vendors sell coffee... at jam-packed Callahan Tunnel.... -> July 2, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sam Kean
SAM KEAN, (THE) DISAPPEARING SPOON — Nebuchadnezzar, the king who built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon..., used a noxious antimony-lead mix to paint his palace walls yellow. Perhaps not coincidentally, he... went mad, sleeping outdoors... and eating grass like an ox. -> June 5, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Garrison Keillor (2)
(GARRISON) KEILLOR, PRETTY GOOD JOKE BOOK — The lawyer... [was] cross-examining the doctor about whether he checked the pulse of the deceased... . And the doctor said, "Well,... [t]he man's brain was in a jar on my desk, but for all I know he could be out practicing law somewhere." -> March 19, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(GARRISON) KEILLOR, TAKE IN THE STATE FAIR — The state fair is a ritual carnival marking the end of summer and gardens and apple orchards and the start of school and... algebra and the imposition of strict rules and what we in the North call the Long Dark Time. -> August 26, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Michael Kelly
MICHAEL KELLY, REMINISCENCES — Mozart... was a remarkably small man,... thin and pale, with a profusion of fine fair hair, of which he was rather vain. ... He was... fond of punch,... also fond of billiards... . Many... a game... I played with him, but always came off second best. -> May 23, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Pagan Kennedy
PAGAN KENNEDY, INVENTOLOGY — "[N]egative spaces" are the zones in which people create without seeking to patent their ideas. ... [F]olk songs, magic tricks,... hairstyles, Wikipedia, languages, and roller-derby noms de guerre... have emerged from the negative spaces. -> March 5, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Randy Kennedy
RANDY KENNEDY, SUBWAYLAND — [W]orkers have come across all manner of humanity in the subway over the years. Like the homeless man who liked to sit at a Y in the tracks, in a lawn chair, with a battery-powered light, reading The Wall Street Journal. -> May 31, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Bettyann Holtzmann Kevles
B(ETTYANN) H(OLTZMANN) KEVLES, NAKED TO THE BONE — [S]ubjects of... [the earliest photographic] portraits look frozen, like children playing "statues." "People posed, and... sitters may have felt that, rather than help capture an instant of time, they had been asked to hold time still. -> February 9, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ralph Keyes (2)
(RALPH) KEYES, (THE HIDDEN) HISTORY OF COINED WORDS — Oliver Sacks was... a connoisseur of eggcorns, including his own. As his hearing declined..., he recorded actual words... and the way he'd misheard them... such as choir practice (for chiropractor)... and "Kiss my feet!" (for Christmas Eve). -> December 19, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
RALPH KEYES, THE QUOTE VERIFIER — Some of Wilde's best lines occurred only during conversation. "One must have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing" for example — like many of his... quips — appears nowhere in his published work. -> September 14, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Robin Wall Kimmerer
(ROBIN WALL) KIMMERER, BRAIDING SWEETGRASS--If a fountain could jet bouquets of chrome yellow in dazzling arches of chrysanthemum fireworks, that would be Canada Goldenrod. Each three-foot stem is a geyser of... gold daisies, ladylike in miniature, exuberant en masse. -> July 3, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Florence King
FLORENCE KING, REFLECTIONS (IN A JAUNDICED EYE) — For preppies [the nicknaming ritual]... allows Bunny to tell Pooky that they belong to the same tribe, while among the good ole boys it serves the cause of masculine dominance by identifying Bear and Wrecker as Alpha males. -> September 24, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Stephen King
STEPHEN KING, ON WRITING — Take any noun, put it with any verb, and you have a sentence. It never fails. Rocks explode. Jane transmits. Mountains float. ... Many such thoughts make little... sense, but even the stranger ones... have a kind of poetic weight... . -> July 19, 2020 by Nick Lowe and Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Thomas King
(THOMAS) KING, THE INCONVENIENT INDIAN — Native history is... akin to a fossil hunt in which we find a skull in... Idaho, a thigh bone on the Montana plains, a tooth... in Virginia, and... assuming... all... are from the same animal, we guess at the size and shape of the beast. -> October 10, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mary H. Kingsley
(MARY H.) KINGSLEY, WEST AFRICAN STUDIES — If you see a thing that looks like a cross between a flying lobster and the figure of Abraxas on a Gnostic gem,... just keep quiet and hope it will go away...; you have... [no chance] in a stand-up fight with a[n]... African insect. -> July 10, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Barbara Kingsolver
(BARBARA) KINGSOLVER, HIGH TIDE IN TUCSON — Some habits that saw us through the millennia are proving hazardous in a modern context — for example the yen to consume carbohydrates and fat whenever they cross our path, or the proclivity for unchecked reproduction. -> July 14, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Arthur Koestler
A(RTHUR) KOESTLER, BRICKS TO BABEL — Zen... teaching is... in the form of parables as ambiguous as the pebbles in... [a] rock-garden. ... When a disciple asks "What is Zen?", the... traditional answer is "Three pounds of flax" or "A decaying noodle"... or a whack on the pupil's head. -> December 29, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Maria Konnikova
MARIA KONNIKOVA, (THE) BIGGEST BLUFF — Texas hold'em creates a... useful balance between skill and chance. Two hole cards is just about as practical a ratio as you can have: enough unknown to make the game a good simulation of life, but not... a total crapshoot. -> October 24, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jon Krakauer
JON KRAKAUER: INTO THIN AIR — The ink-black... summit... stood out in stark relief.... Thrust high into the jet stream, the mountain ripped a visible gash in the... hurricane, sending forth a plume of ice crystals that trailed to the east like a long silk scarf. -> October 24, 1999 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Lawrence M. Krauss
(LAWRENCE M.) KRAUSS, THE PHYSICS OF STAR TREK — There is no way in the universe to get more bang for your buck than to take a particle and annihilate it with its antiparticle to produce pure radiation energy. [This] is the ultimate rocket-propulsion technology. -> October 16, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Tim Kreider
TIM KREIDER, WE LEARN NOTHING — I have never even idly thought for a single passing second that it might make my life nicer to have a small rude incontinent person follow me around screaming and making me buy them stuff for the rest of my life. -> January 11, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Charles Kuralt
(CHARLES) KURALT, DATELINE AMERICA — The [Minnesota] state seal... should be changed to ice cubes rampant on a field of white, a grinning, barefoot Swede in a... T-shirt riding a snowmobile, and a shivering visitor whose stricken breath is freezing into... crystals. -> February 28, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mel Rosen and Stan Kurzban
(MEL) ROSEN (AND STAN KURZBAN), PUZZLE MAKER'S HANDBOOK — You will discover a tempo to... acrostic puzzles. At first the paucity of known letters allows... only snaillike progress. But with a few... lucky wild guesses, a... glimmer of recognition breaks the stalemate and the pace quickens. -> October 8, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Anne Lamott
ANNE LAMOTT, BIRD BY BIRD — Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. ... It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop the... storm, but singing can change the... spirits of the people who are together on that ship. -> April 12, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Frank Langella
FRANK LANGELLA, DROPPED NAMES — Our principal... came in to ask if there might be a volunteer... to audition for the role of an elf in the annual school extravaganza... Mysteriously, my hand shot up... as if having been yanked there by some divine puppeteer. -> July 1, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
William Langewiesche
(WILLIAM) LANGEWIESCHE, INSIDE THE SKY — Among hard-core weather watchers, tornadoes are known affectionately as "beasts"... . Because they are localized,... you can drive right up to them... . There are risks, of course... . [They] will make projectiles... of full-sized rental cars. -> November 16, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Gale Lawrence
GALE LAWRENCE, A FIELD GUIDE (TO THE FAMILIAR) — Whereas a blue jay is elongated,... a chickadee is like a little ball. This roundness helps the small bird balance itself in... topsy-turvy positions... while... searching for insect eggs on the twigs and outer branches of trees. -> January 13, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Amy Leach (2)
(AMY) LEACH, THE EVERYBODY ENSEMBLE--[W]hat would a book or a song or a kangaroo be without finitude? Isn't it their impermanence that gives kangaroos that je ne sais quoi? Doesn't our transitory condition lend an endearing quality to almost anything we do? -> May 22, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
AMY LEACH, THINGS THAT ARE — [T]he Jackson's chameleon... will by mistake grab... its own forehead-horns and then panic, wrestling itself, frantic to escape its own... grasp, a one-reptile bedlam... . As... sunbeams... mix... around the thrashing chameleon, it can shift... hues... . -> October 4, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Richard Lederer
RICHARD LEDERER, (THE) WORD CIRCUS — An isogram is a... word in which no letter of the alphabet appears more than once.... In uncopyrightable each major vowel plus y appears only once.... The eleven-letter [word] palindromes receives extremely honorable mention. -> December 5, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Bill Lee
BILL LEE, THE WRONG STUFF — Strikeouts, from my perspective, are boring things. Nothing happens. They are fascist weapons. I prefer the ground-ball out and view it as the perfect symbol of democracy. It allows everybody a chance to get into the game. -> July 10, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Harper Lee
[HARPER] LEE, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD — Never... on cross-examination ask a witness a question you don't already know the answer to, was a tenet I absorbed with my baby-food. Do it, and you'll often get an answer you don't want, an answer that might wreck your case. -> January 6, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jennifer 8. Lee
(JENNIFER 8.) LEE, (THE) FORTUNE COOKIE CHRONICLES — Chop suey is the greatest culinary prank... one culture has ever played on another. Even its name is an inside joke. ... What Americans once believed to be the "national dish" of China translates to "odds and ends" in Cantonese. -> November 23, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Hilary Leichter
HILARY LEICHTER, TEMPORARY — My temp agency is an uptown pleasure dome of powder-scented women... . I place my employment in their manicured hands. With trusty carpal alchemy they knead my resume into a series of paychecks that constitute a life. -> July 5, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Emily Leider
EMILY LEIDER, BECOMING MAE WEST — Opulence was in fashion.... [D]resses... required yards... of fabric.... Hips and bosoms stinted by nature had to be fleshed out... with padding. Wide-brimmed picture-book hats were piled high with what one wag called "delirium trimmings." -> September 9, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jonathan Lethem
(JONATHAN) LETHEM, MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN - I've got Tourette's. My mouth won't quit.... If I were a Dick Tracy villain, I'd... be Mumbles.... The words rush out of the cornucopia of my brain to course over the surface of the world, tickling reality like fingers on piano keys. -> March 26, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Primo Levi
PRIMO LEVI: THE PERIODIC TABLE — [Phosphorus] is in the tips of matches, and girls driven desperate by love ate them to commit suicide; it is in will-o'-the-wisps, putrid flames fleeing before the wayfarer. No, it is not an emotionally neutral element. -> February 11, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Roger Lewis
ROGER LEWIS, ANTHONY BURGESS — Having proclaimed that there were two thousand songs embedded in the text of Finnegans Wake, Burgess had a piano wheeled into the library so he could... play them all... for the entertainment of tourists and visitors. -> February 4, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sara Lewis
SARA LEWIS, SILENT SPARKS — [B]irds, toads, and mice show classic aversion reactions to fireflies — they wipe off their snouts or beaks, gag, and run away. So... evidence suggests that... bioluminescence first evolved to help baby fireflies ward off predators... . -> May 28, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Elinor Lipman
ELINOR LIPMAN, I CAN'T COMPLAIN — My mother had a condiment phobia. She refused to taste anything from the grocery aisle displaying relishes, mustards, pickles of any kind; salad dressings, barbecue sauces, the Tabascos, the Worcestershires, or the A.1.'s. -> May 14, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Simu Liu
SIMU LIU, WE WERE DREAMERS — I became more than … a comic book character — I became a part of an idea that everyone deserves to see themselves as superheroes, as the leads of their own stories, or … as multifaceted beings with … aspirations and flaws. -> May 21, 2023 by Jeff Chen
Penelope Lively
PENELOPE LIVELY, MOON TIGER — I have seen Cairo since..., but in my head was that... place, conjured up by the smell of dung and paraffin, the felt-shod tittuping sound of a donkey's hooves, kites... in a Wedgwood blue sky, the baroque gaiety of Arabic script. -> March 20, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Anita Loos
(ANITA) LOOS, KISS HOLLYWOOD GOODBYE — I... admired Clark [Gable] for his lack of vanity. .... One day I happened on him at... [a] faucet... where he'd stopped to wash... his denture. Clark grinned, pointed to his... mouth, and said with an exaggerated lisp, "Look, America's thweetheart!" -> February 15, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Barry Lopez
BARRY LOPEZ, ARCTIC DREAMS — No wild frenzy of feeding distinguishes the... summer. But for the sudden movements of charging wolves and bolting caribou, the gambols of muskox calves,... the swoop of a jaeger, the Arctic is a long, unbroken bow of time. -> June 4, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Simon Louvish
SIMON LOUVISH, MONKEY BUSINESS — Groucho, the most intellectual of the brothers,... developed his ideas under the influence of social commentators like... Mencken, with his passionate defense of freedom of speech... and contempt for the American "boobocracy"... . -> January 22, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Margaret D. Lowman
M[ARGARET] D. LOWMAN: LIFE IN THE TREETOPS — [T]wisting vines travel hundreds of meters atop the canopy;... strangler figs wrap around host trees and suffocate them; bromeliad tanks provide watery homes for frogs and salamanders.... the lives of plants are full of... mystery.... -> April 8, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
E. V. Lucas
(E.V.) LUCAS, FIRESIDE AND SUNSHINE — [T]oast from which the crispness has... thawed away... is abomination. It is limp, and tough, and indigent. ... [T]he mastication of it makes no sound. ... [T]he noise from good toast should reverberate in the head like the thunder of July. -> July 26, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Alison Lurie
(ALISON) LURIE, BOYS AND GIRLS FOREVER — In... Oz, women rule... . [T]he Emerald City is governed by... the Wizard of Oz, but it presently becomes clear that he is an incompetent phony... . [B]y the end of the second volume,... Oz has a female sovereign,... Ozma... who began life... as a... boy. -> January 6, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Rose Macaulay
(ROSE) MACAULAY, PERSONAL PLEASURES — How agreeable to watch, from the other side of the high stile, this mighty... bull..., snorting, champing, pawing the earth, lashing the tail, breathing defiance at heaven and me... his heart hot with hate, unable to climb a stile. -> November 25, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Betty Macdonald (2)
(BETTY) MACDONALD, MRS. PIGGLE-WIGGLE — The most remarkable thing about Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is her house, which is upside down. It is a little brown house …. [S]itting there in its tangly garden it looks like a small … puppy lying on its back with its feet in the air. -> September 10, 2023 by David Balton & Jane Stewart
BETTY MACDONALD, THE EGG AND I — I got so I could dress chickens like an expert, but... wondered how this ability to defeather a chicken in about two minutes... could ever be mentioned socially... or gracefully demonstrated as with violin and piano playing. -> September 2, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Helen Macdonald
HELEN MACDONALD, H IS FOR HAWK — Goshawks resemble sparrowhawks the way leopards resemble housecats. Bigger, yes. But bulkier, bloodier, deadlier, scarier, and much, much harder to see. Birds of deep woodland, not gardens, they're the birdwatchers' dark grail. -> August 9, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Robert Macfarlane
ROBERT MACFARLANE, THE OLD WAYS — The foot is a document of motion, inscribed by repeated action. Babies from those first foetal footfalls, the kneading of sole against womb-wall have already creased their soles by the time they emerge into the world. -> December 23, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Katie Mack
KATIE MACK, (THE) END OF EVERYTHING — I love stories about time travel. ... (T)here's something appealing about the idea that we might somehow find a trick that will... allow us to step off this runaway train of "now" barreling inexorably toward some unknown fate. -> November 8, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Rosemary Mahoney
ROSEMARY MAHONEY, DOWN THE NILE — When Napoleon's soldiers, who had never seen a photograph..., rounded a bend and caught sight of the Temple of Karnak for the first time, they were so moved by the marvelous sight that they burst into spontaneous applause. -> March 2, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David Mamet
(DAVID) MAMET, THREE USES OF THE KNIFE — It is in our nature to dramatize. ...(W)e reinterpret the weather — an essentially impersonal phenomenon — into an expression of our current view of the universe. "Great. It's raining. Just when I'm blue. Isn't that just like life?" -> August 25, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Alberto Manguel
(ALBERTO) MANGUEL, A HISTORY OF READING — [T]he Grand Vizier of Persia,... in order not to part with his collection of... [one hundred seventeen thousand] volumes when travelling, had them carried by a caravan of four hundred camels trained to walk in alphabetical order. -> July 28, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Charles C. Mann
C(HARLES) C. MANN, FOURTEEN NINETY-ONE — [T]he Olmec... lived in cities and towns centered on temple mounds. ... They invented... systems of writing, established... trade networks, tracked the orbits of the planets,... and recorded their histories in... "books" of fig tree bark paper. -> October 11, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Thomas Mann
THOMAS MANN, THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN — Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce... a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols. -> December 30, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Richard Manning
(RICHARD) MANNING, ONE ROUND RIVER — [D]etails of oral tradition often are real. The Mycenaeans were actively working in gold by the time of Jason... . [It] was gathered by staking... fleeces in streams, because the hides had a natural affinity for the precious metal. -> November 4, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Hilary Mantel (2)
HILARY MANTEL, WOLF HALL — You can have a silence full of words. A lute retains, in its bowl, the notes it has played. The viol … holds a concord. A shriveled petal can hold its scent …, an empty house, when the owners have gone … can … be loud with ghosts. -> July 2, 2023 by Mark Halpin
(HILARY) MANTEL, BRING UP THE BODIES — Where to begin with Cromwell? Some start with his sharp little eyes, some... with his hat. ... Wherever they begin, the... impact is the same: if he had a grievance against you, you wouldn't like to meet him at the dark of the moon. -> May 1, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jo Marchant
(JO) MARCHANT, DECODING THE HEAVENS -- By Homer's time... bronze was... melted down and used again and again over generations. A dagger... might become beads or a bangle, then be sold and recycled into a cooking pot..., then reincarnated as a chariot wheel... or a spearhead. -> December 4, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Lynn Margulis
LYNN MARGULIS, MICROCOSMOS — Animals... that... adapted to... land did so through the trick of taking their former environment with them. ...No matter how high and dry the mountain top, no matter how secluded and modern the retreat, we sweat and cry... seawater. -> August 14, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Beryl Markham
(BERYL) MARKHAM, WEST WITH THE NIGHT - I know animals more gallant than the... warthog, but none more courageous. ... [H]e will fight anything of any size that intrudes upon his smug existence. ... What he does not understand, he suspects, and what he suspects, he fights. -> July 9, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Karal Ann Marling
(KARAL ANN) MARLING, THE COLOSSUS OF ROADS — [E]arly... long-distance driving was a nightmare of missed turns, frantic hunts for landmarks, and quarrels over whether the signpost at the last crossroads, bristling with hand-lettered... arrows, had... been rotated by pranksters. -> August 15, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Don Marquis
(DON) MARQUIS, (THE) ALMOST PERFECT STATE — Seen from the middle arch of the [Brooklyn] bridge at twilight, New York with its girdle of shifting waters and its drift of purple cloud and its quick pulsations of unstable light is a miracle of splendor and beauty. -> April 3, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Wynton Marsalis
WYNTON MARSALIS, (MOVING TO) HIGHER GROUND — The rhythm guitar... plays every beat as if to remind us, "Here's home."... [T]he rhythm section's like a trampoline: Stiff but springy, it lets everyone... jump around and have a great time. Too stiff or... soggy, and we have a bad time. -> February 7, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Moira Marsh
(MOIRA) MARSH, PRACTICALLY JOKING — Practical jokes are intended to cause people discomfort but not necessarily distress... . Whether... the effects of a... joke go too far to be considered amusing is a judgment made by the audience each time a joke is enacted... . -> April 1, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Yann Martel
YANN MARTEL, LIFE OF PI — I never had problems with my fellow scientists. Scientists are a friendly, atheistic, hard-working, beer-drinking lot whose minds are preoccupied with sex, chess and baseball when they are not preoccupied with science. -> April 4, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Judith Martin
(JUDITH) MARTIN, MISS MANNERS' GUIDE (TO EXCRUCIATINGLY CORRECT BEHAVIOR) — [R]ules for eating outdoors are different from those that apply indoors. For example, it is permissible to execute... wildlife found crawling across the... table... . At picnics, one may kill ants, but not complain of their presence. -> July 3, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Paul Martin (2)
PAUL MARTIN, SECRET HEROES — Hercules Mulligan is a name every schoolchild should know and not just because it's fun to say. The man didn't utter a memorable last line like his... fellow spy Nathan Hale, but what he did was infinitely more important. -> August 7, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
PAUL MARTIN, COUNTING SHEEP — The puritan work ethic and the cult of time management nag us to do a little... more... each day. So we get less sleep. But that is stupid, because people who cut back on their sleep achieve less and feel bad into the bargain. -> March 8, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Steve Martin
STEVE MARTIN, BORN STANDING UP — My most persistent memory of stand-up is of my mouth being in the present and my mind being in the future: the mouth speaking the line... while the mind [is] observing,... analyzing, worrying, and then deciding... what to say next. -> January 25, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Bobbie Ann Mason
BOBBIE ANN MASON, CLEAR SPRINGS — All my life I have had a recurrent... dream. I face a buffet or cafeteria line laden with beautiful foods. My anticipation is deliciously agonizing... I always wake up just as I've made my selections but before I get to eat. -> November 28, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Peter Matthiessen
PETER MATTHIESSEN, SAND RIVERS — The wildebeest has a goat's beard and a lion's mane and a slanty back like a hyena; the head is too big and the tail too long... Africans say [it is] a collection of... parts... left over after God... finished up all other creatures. -> August 12, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
W. Somerset Maugham
(W. SOMERSET) MAUGHAM, A WRITER'S NOTEBOOK — The philosopher is like a mountaineer who has... climbed a mountain for the sake of the sunrise, and arriving at the top finds only fog... . He must be an honest man if he doesn't tell you that the spectacle was stupendous. -> August 3, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Bairbre Mccarthy
(BAIRBRE) MCCARTHY, (IRISH) LEPRECHAUN STORIES — Often he is seen sitting, cross-legged with a tiny hammer in his hand, working on a fairy shoe. ... Usually he wears a suit of green and... fine leather shoes adorned with silver buckles. Sometimes he wears a cap with a feather. -> March 17, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Scott Mccloud
(SCOTT) MCCLOUD, REINVENTING COMICS — The heart of comics lies in the space between the panels where the reader's imagination makes still pictures come alive! It's a process that can be quantified, classified, and even measured, yet remains utterly mysterious. -> December 11, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Carson Mccullers
(CARSON) MCCULLERS, THE MORTGAGED HEART — [H]omesickness… is... as... [American]... as the rollercoaster or the jukebox. It is... Janus-faced: we are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign... [W]e are homesick most for the places we have never known. -> December 28, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Gretchen Mcculloch
(GRETCHEN) MCCULLOCH, BECAUSE INTERNET — [T]he most commonly used... emoji are the faces and hands, like the smile, the face with tears of joy, the thumbs up, and the crossed fingers. We use emoji less to describe the world..., and more to be... ourselves in an online world. -> March 28, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Paul Mcfedries
PAUL MCFEDRIES, WORD SPY — [N]eologisms are often just... fun. What's not to like about a word such as zitcom, a television sitcom aimed at or featuring teenagers? Or consider the torpedo, an inept employee who quits to go work for a rival company. -> December 28, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Phyllis Mcginley
P(HYLLIS) MCGINLEY, SAINT-WATCHING — [T]he wonderful thing about saints is that they were human. They lost their tempers, got hungry, scolded God, were egotistical or testy..., made mistakes and regretted them. Still they went on doggedly blundering toward heaven. -> October 28, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Maryn Mckenna
MARYN MCKENNA, BIG CHICKEN — Antibiotics... created the conditions that allowed... us to turn a skittish, active backyard bird into a fast-growing, slow-moving, docile block of protein, as muscle-bound and top-heavy as a bodybuilder in a kids' cartoon. -> January 31, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Bill Mckibben
BILL MCKIBBEN, LONG DISTANCE — Snow is an enchantment. It turns the sleek fat: bulbous cars, puffy spruces. It turns the world silent... . It mutes color. ... The Eskimos... may not have fifty-six words for snow, but doubtless they can catalog... that many varieties... . -> December 25, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
John Mcphee
(JOHN) MCPHEE, THE CONTROL OF NATURE — Southern Louisiana exists in its present form because the Mississippi River has jumped here and there within an arc... two hundred miles wide, like a pianist playing with one hand, frequently... surging in new directions. -> November 2, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Marion Meade
MARION MEADE, DOROTHY PARKER (WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS?) — Her way of looking at life was incurably pessimistic. Confronted by the unknown, she immediately prepared for the worst. Ordinary occurrences — the doorbell or a ringing telephone — made her wonder "What fresh hell is this?" -> September 12, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Herman Melville
HERMAN MELVILLE, MOBY DICK — When the sea is moderately calm... and this gnomon-like fin stands up and casts shadows on the wrinkled surface... the watery circle surrounding it somewhat resembles a dial, with its style and wavy hour-lines graved on it. -> February 25, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
H. L. Mencken
H.L. MENCKEN, (A MENCKEN) CHRESTOMATHY — Man is the yokel par excellence, the booby unmatchable, the king dupe of the cosmos. He is... unescapably deceived... by his... talent for searching out and embracing what is false, and for overlooking and denying what is true. -> June 12, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Zeeya Merali
(ZEEYA) MERALI, (A) BIG BANG IN A LITTLE ROOM — Before the digital age, if you tuned your TV to somewhere between channels, it would show the faint hum of white noise or snow. One percent of that snow was actually made up of radiation left over by the big bang. -> November 12, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
O. V. Michaelsen
(O.V.) MICHAELSEN, (THE) WORD PLAY ALMANAC — The palindrome has... been called... Sotadic... after the third century BC Greek poet Sotades. ... Legend has it that he wrote a poem lampooning... King Ptolemy II... who, in retribution, had him sealed in a box and dumped in the sea. -> July 13, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Bette Midler
BETTE MIDLER, A VIEW FROM A BROAD — [T]here were some initial difficulties when the director first told me... that if the film was to have any semblance of reality at all there would have to be moments when other people were on-screen at the same time I was. -> February 22, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Melissa Milgrom
MELISSA MILGROM, STILL LIFE — The lobby... was a veritable Noah's ark on luggage carts. A taxidermist from Nebraska carted a prairie chicken and a mink... . [C]ougars, geckos,... marmots,... and... turtles were all being wheeled this way and that... in the... convention hotel... . -> April 10, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Susan Milius
SUSAN MILIUS, SCIENCE NEWS -- Plants invented "steamy but not touchy" long before the Victorian novel -- much flowering, perfuming and... green yearning, all without direct contact of... organs. Just a dusting of pollen wafted on a breeze or delivered by a bee. -> February 12, 2023 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Agnes de Mille
(AGNES) DE MILLE, DANCE TO THE PIPER — I learned three... things in college — to use a library, to memorize quickly and visually, to drop asleep at any time given a horizontal surface and fifteen minutes. What I could not learn was to think creatively on schedule. -> April 18, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Brenda Miller
BRENDA MILLER, INCANTATIONS — The best present I ever received as a girl was the Magic 8 Ball: every day I asked it a question,... then I turned it over so the answer floated up with sharp clarity from the murk: It depends, No, All signs point to yes. -> September 3, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Steven Millhauser
(STEVEN) MILLHAUSER, EDWIN MULLHOUSE — Unlike real life, which presents us with question marks, censored passages, ... asterisks, omitted paragraphs, and numberless sequences of three dots trailing off into whiteness, biography presents an illusion of completeness. -> December 5, 1999 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Lawrence Millman
(LAWRENCE) MILLMAN, BOOKLESS IN BIAK — Of all the maladies capable of striking down a traveler in a foreign land... the one I fear... most is being caught with nothing to read. Let the monsoons play havoc with my itinerary..., a good book... will always save the day. -> January 8, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
A. A. Milne
A.A. MILNE, A TABLE NEAR THE BAND — Your family, like every other..., has a language of its own, consisting of unintelligible catch phrases, favorite but not generally known quotations, obscure allusions, and well-tried but not intrinsically humorous... jokes. -> June 20, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David Mitchell
D(AVID) MITCHELL, UTOPIA AVENUE — Art is memory made public. … Books turn to dust, negatives decay … civilizations burn. … [A]s long as … art endures, a song or a view … someone once thought worth keeping is saved and stays shareable. Others can say, “I feel that too.” -> May 7, 2023 by Mark Halpin
Melanie Mitchell
MELANIE MITCHELL, COMPLEXITY — Galileo did not have the sophisticated experimental devices we have today: he... timed the swinging of a pendulum by counting his heartbeats and... measured the effects of gravity by dropping objects off the... tower of Pisa. -> December 6, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Nancy Mitford
(NANCY) MITFORD, THE PURSUIT OF LOVE — [We] are as happy as married people can be. ...Yet when I consider my life, day by day, hour by hour, it seems to be... a series of pinpricks. Nannies, cooks, the... drudgery of house-keeping, the nerve-racking noise... of small children. -> February 10, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Azadeh Moaveni
(AZADEH) MOAVENI, HONEYMOON IN TEHRAN — Religious authorities... during the revolution... dealt harshly with... music. They... declared classical musical instruments, as well as a woman's singing voice, to be forbidden.... Museum-quality instruments were burned in bonfires. -> July 4, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Howard Mohr
(HOWARD) MOHR, HOW TO TALK MINNESOTAN — Fifty percent of Minnesota conversations are conducted through the window of a pickup, thirty percent over lunch at the kitchen table, fifteen percent in a rowboat, and five percent in movie theaters during the movie. -> March 9, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Michel de Montaigne
MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE, OF VANITY — If others examined themselves attentively, as I do, they would find themselves, as I do, full of inanity and nonsense. Get rid of it I cannot without getting rid of myself. We are all steeped in it, one as much as another... . -> May 15, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sy Montgomery (2)
(SY) MONTGOMERY, (THE) SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS — Here is an animal with venom like a snake, a beak like a parrot, and ink like an old-fashioned pen. It can... stretch as long as a car, yet it can pour its baggy, boneless body through an opening the size of an orange. -> October 1, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
SY MONTGOMERY, THE GOOD GOOD PIG — Everything about a pig makes people want to laugh... with joy: the way their lardy bulk can mince along gracefully on tiptoe hooves, the way their tails curl, their... flexible nose disks, their great, greedy delight in eating. -> June 6, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Dinty. W. Moore
D(INTY). W. MOORE, SON OF MR. GREEN JEANS — After the female Japanese carp gives birth to hundreds of tiny babies, the father carp remains nearby. When he senses approaching danger, he sucks the... babies into his mouth, and holds them there until the coast is clear. -> May 13, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Judith Moore
(JUDITH) MOORE, NEVER EAT YOUR HEART OUT — [M]ere chemistry can explain what makes a cake, while pie demands metaphysics. The opposition between a pie's inside and out, the dialectic... between crust and filling, can't but set minds wondering.... [W]e never lose interest.... -> November 18, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Lorrie Moore
(LORRIE) MOORE, SEE WHAT CAN BE DONE — I have... a hard time getting people to go to the movies with me. ... I am interested in the... grapplings of Eros and Thanatos as performed, attractively, by young people. Such dramas comprise a kind of middle-aged pornography... . -> February 17, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Virginia Morell
VIRGINIA MORELL, ANIMAL WISE — Hardly a week goes by that doesn't see a... new discovery about animal minds: "Whales Have... Regional Dialects," "Fish Use Tools," "Squirrels Adopt Orphans," "Honeybees Make Plans," "Sheep Don't Forget a Face," "Rats Feel Each Other's Pain..." -> September 8, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Dave Morice
(DAVE) MORICE, (THE) DICTIONARY OF WORDPLAY — Wordplay unites us... . Americans born generations apart... will still collectively recognize the likes of "Fuzzy wuzzy was a bear...," "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?...," and "A sailor went to C-C-C to see what he could C-C-C... ." -> August 29, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mary Morris (2)
(MARY) MORRIS, ALL THE WAY TO THE TIGERS — As a child, I had a tiger dream. ... [I]t was always the same. ... [A] tiger at the foot of my bed... sits on his haunches, sharpening his claws on my bedposts. ... [T]hen he... springs through the air... [J]ust before he lands on top of me, I wake up. -> January 3, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
MARY MORRIS, NOTHING TO DECLARE — I love maps the way stamp collectors love stamps. Not for their usefulness, but rather for the sheer beauty of the object itself. I love to look at a map, even if it is a map of Mars, and figure out where I am going... . -> March 6, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Grant Morrison
GRANT MORRISON, SUPERGODS — It was common for... advanced races in pulp illustrations to sport capes, tights, and exterior underpants, as if foremost among the natural consequences of millennia of peace... would be a vogue for knee-length boots on men. -> January 1, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Toni Morrison
TONI MORRISON, SONG OF SOLOMON — Saying something is pitch black is like saying something is green. ... Green like a cucumber, lettuce, or green like the sky is just before it breaks loose to storm? Well, night black is the same way. May as well be a rainbow. -> August 16, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Patricia Morrisroe
PATRICIA MORRISROE, WIDE AWAKE — Clement C. Moore['s]... narrator actually sees Santa while his sleeping children... are rewarded with visions of candied fruit. The inherent message was that sleep didn't pay, so on Christmas Eve I'd keep a vigil at my... window. -> December 19, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Susan Brind Morrow
(SUSAN BRIND) MORROW, THE NAMES OF THINGS — Words... are prismatic, vehicles of hidden, deeper shades of thought. You can hold them... at different angles until the light bursts through in an unexpected color. The word carries the living thing concealed across millennia. -> May 16, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Alice Munro
(ALICE) MUNRO, THE PROGRESS OF LOVE — Hatred is always a sin, my mother told me.... One drop... in your soul will spread and discolor everything like a drop of black ink in white milk. I was struck by that and meant to try it, but knew I shouldn't waste the milk. -> May 19, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Cullen Murphy
CULLEN MURPHY, CARTOON COUNTY — To get a comic strip off the ground you needed syndicate backing. ... And they had rules. You... couldn't show a navel, even on children... Mort Walker began retaliating by... adding crates of navel oranges into the story line. -> July 8, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Vladimir Nabokov (2)
(VLADIMIR) NABOKOV, STRONG OPINIONS — I am an ardent memoirist with a rotten memory... With absolute lucidity I recall landscapes, gestures, intonations, but names and numbers topple into oblivion with absurd abandon like little blind men in file from a pier. -> March 6, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
VLADIMIR NABOKOV: SPEAK MEMORY — Competition in chess problems is not really between Black and White, but between ... composer and ... solver, just as in a ... work of fiction the ... clash is not between the characters involved, but between the author and the world. -> September 12, 1999 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Don Van Natta
DON VAN NATTA, FIRST OFF THE TEE (PRESIDENTIAL HACKERS, DUFFERS, AND CHEATERS FROM TAFT TO BUSH) — Hours after taking... office, Kennedy was astonished to discover thousands of small cleat marks in the Oval Office's... floor, leading a pockmarked trail from... the desk to the South Lawn, and Ike's... custom-built putting green. -> May 2, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jill Nelson
JILL NELSON, STRAIGHT, NO CHASER — In Tarzan movies I identified with the Africans or the apes. ... I wanted to be Sheena, Queen of the Jungle not because she was white but because she was... one of the only women on television who existed independently of men. -> July 25, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mary Norris
MARY NORRIS, BETWEEN YOU AND ME — Benjamin Franklin, who... befriended Webster, and... advocated spelling reform,... proposed that we lose c, w, y, and j; modify a and u to represent their different sounds; and adopt a new form of s for sh and a variation on y for ng... . -> November 15, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Wendy Northcutt
WENDY NORTHCUTT, (THE) DARWIN AWARDS (4: INTELLIGENT DESIGN) — True Darwin Award candidates imagine that they live in a world where tigers don't bite, sharks are as cuddly as stuffed animals, and people can fly... . In their minds, steering a motorcycle with their feet just makes sense. -> June 8, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Michael Novak
MICHAEL NOVAK, THE JOY OF SPORTS — Basketball is jazz: improvisatory, free,... fast, exulting, screeching, torrid, explosive, exquisitely designed for letting first the trumpet, then the sax, then the drummer, then the trombonist soar away in virtuoso excellence. -> March 10, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Geoffrey Nunberg
(GEOFFREY) NUNBERG, GOING NUCULAR — You can get a good sense of the pace of change over the past century just by looking at the retronyms we've accumulated[:]… steam locomotive, silent movie, manual transmission, AM radio, day baseball,… and acoustic guitar. -> September 18, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Emily Nussbaum
EMILY NUSSBAUM, I LIKE TO WATCH -- I dug Taxi, I loved M*A*S*H. ... I memorized Monty Python sketches... . But I also regarded TV the way that Americans had been taught to... . Television was junk. It wasn't worthy of deep thought, the way that books or movies might be. -> September 11, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Bill Nye
BILL NYE, EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE — Every knot is... its own little lesson in symmetry... —a microcosm of mathematical elegance. ... Like... equations, knots come in almost endless variations that may look superficially similar but have wildly different properties. -> January 2, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Patrick O'Brian
P(ATRICK) O'BRIAN, MASTER AND COMMANDER — Even a small vessel needs a wonderful amount of stores: casks of beef, pork and butter,... puncheons, butts and half-pieces of rum,... hard-tack by the ton... quite apart from the gunner's powder, sponges,... priming-irons, wads, and shot. -> September 10, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Edna O'Brien (2)
EDNA O'BRIEN, BYRON IN LOVE — Byron was five feet eight and a half inches in height, had a malformed right foot, chestnut hair, a haunting pallor, temples of alabaster, teeth like pearls,... and an enchantedness that neither men nor women could resist. -> February 14, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
EDNA O'BRIEN, DOWN BY THE RIVER — [T]he road runs in a long entwined undulation of mud, patched tar and fjords of green, the ... flowers ... in full regalia, ... foxglove ... lordliest of all, the big furry bees nosing in the cool speckled recesses of mauve and white bell. -> March 12, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Patricia O'Conner (2)
PATRICIA O'CONNER, WOE IS I -- Nature is a fertile field... for clichés. Besides blankets of snow, beware sheets of rain..., calms before the storm,... raging torrents, bolts from the blue,... uncharted seas..., wide-open spaces,... and anything silhouetted against the sky. -> August 14, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
PATRICIA O'CONNER, WOE IS I — [Y]our spell-checker... doesn't care whether someone's a guerrilla or a gorilla, lives in a desert or a dessert, has a sweet tooth or a suite tooth. ... So don't... hit Replace every time the program tells you to (oar Yule bee sari). -> July 27, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Flannery O'Connor
(FLANNERY) O'CONNOR, MYSTERY AND MANNERS — His tail raised in a shimmering arch... the peacock will turn this way and that... his beak parted, his eyes glittering. Meanwhile the hen goes about... searching the ground as if any bug in the grass were of more importance... -> July 15, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mark O'Donnell
MARK O'DONNELL, (O'DONNELL'S LAWS OF) CARTOON MOTION — Cartoon cats possess... more than... nine lives... . They can be... splayed, accordion-pleated, spindled, or disassembled, but they cannot be destroyed. After a few moments of... self-pity, they reinflate, elongate, snap back, or solidify. -> July 28, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Nuala O'Faolain
N[UALA] O'FAOLAIN, ARE YOU SOMEBODY? — I walked around Dublin... like a spy behind enemy lines. ... I would... stop to look at... a horse and cart..., a woman calling down from a window, a butcher emptying a basin of pink water into the gutter. No one sees a child watching. -> March 15, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Joyce Carol Oates (2)
(JOYCE CAROL) OATES, THE LOST LANDSCAPE — My way of taking pictures was to scribble earnestly with Crayolas... . Grass would be horizontal motions of the green crayon. ... Chickens were upright scribbles, vaguely humanoid in expression. My parents, I would not attempt. -> June 12, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(JOYCE CAROL) OATES, SOUL AT THE WHITE HEAT — Prose... is discourse; poetry ellipsis.... The one is... articulate and social, a shared language...; the other is private,... teasing, sly, idiosyncratic as the spider's delicate web, a kind of witchcraft unfathomable to ordinary minds. -> October 30, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Barack Obama
[BARACK] OBAMA, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER — [M]y father remained a myth to me, both more and less than a man. … I knew him only through the stories that my mother and grandparents told. They all had their favorites, each one seamless, burnished smooth from repeated use. -> July 16, 2023 by David Balton & Jane Stewart
Arika Okrent
ARIKA OKRENT, HIGHLY IRREGULAR — There are... maybe... twenty vowels in English... . There's a as in cat or father, e as in be or bed, i as in sir or big, o as in soap or look, and u as in sum or true. ... [I]f you come from New York or... Texas, these... will work differently... . -> September 26, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Meg Olmert
MEG OLMERT, MADE FOR EACH OTHER — Pliny... the Roman natural historian, tells us that his countrymen were charmed by friendly dolphins. These animals came when called, ate from human hands, and by several accounts allowed young boys to ride on their backs. -> August 16, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Michael Olmert
MICHAEL OLMERT, MILTON'S TEETH (AND OVID'S UMBRELLA) — [A] river... through Vermont's Green Mountains, called les Monts Verts and... pronounced lay moan vair, was anglicized into the Lemon Fair River. This... mystical name... [is] impossible to account for without a bit of fractured French. -> January 23, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Dean Olsher
DEAN OLSHER, FROM SQUARE ONE — A puzzle is not about anything. It is just an experience, with an arbitrary beginning, middle, and end that are unique for each solver. ... We enjoy bursts of insight as we hopscotch over islands of meaning, and then it's over. -> May 5, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Susan Orlean
SUSAN ORLEAN, THE ORCHID THIEF — Orchids have diverse and unflowerlike looks.... There are species that look like butterflies, bats, ladies' handbags,... swarms of bees,... clamshells, roots, camel hooves, squirrels, nuns dressed in their wimples, and drunken old men. -> April 23, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Beatrice K. Otto
(BEATRICE K.) OTTO, FOOLS ARE EVERYWHERE — The... qualifications of a good jester included the ability to extemporize verse and trot out rhyming retorts or cringe-inspiring doggerel. Poetic skill was a vital part of the jester's ragbag of tricks at all times... . -> March 30, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jennifer Ouellette
(JENNIFER) OUELLETTE, (THE) CALCULUS DIARIES — Archimedes... was the quintessential math nerd. ... Plutarch tells how... [his] servants had to forcibly bathe their preoccupied master, who would sketch geometrical figures in... the oils that anointed his naked body after bath time. -> September 25, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Delia Owens
(DELIA) OWENS, WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING — Marsh is a space of light, where grass grows in water, and water flows into the sky. ... [T]rue swamp crawls into low-lying bogs... in clammy forests. Swamp water is still and dark, having swallowed the light in its muddy throat. -> September 1, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Camille Paglia
CAMILLE PAGLIA, THE BIRDS - After shooting had finished, most [birds] were released.... However, fifty crows refused to leave the studio lot and perched near Hitchcock's bungalow; they soiled his car until the tree they were roosting in was cut down. -> July 24, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Satchel Paige
SATCHEL PAIGE, HOW TO STAY YOUNG — If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts. Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move. Go... light on the vices, such as carrying on in society.... Avoid running at all times. -> April 13, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Chuck Palahniuk
CHUCK PALAHNIUK, LULLABY — George Orwell got it backward. Big Brother isn't watching. He's singing and dancing. He's pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother's busy holding your attention every moment you're awake. ... He's making sure you're fully absorbed. -> April 12, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Charles Panati
PANATI('S) EXTRAORDINARY ORIGINS (OF EVERYDAY THINGS) — Despite the popularity ... of toy bears with names such as Bear Mitzvah, Lauren Bearcall, and Humphrey Beargart, the classic bear is still the one named Teddy, who derived his moniker from America's twenty-sixth President. -> November 7, 1999 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Deborah Papier
DEBORAH PAPIER, INSIGHT — For months they have lain in wait,... lurking in... forgotten corners... . [N]ow they are upon us, sodden with alcohol, their massive bodies bulging with strange green protuberances... — there is no escape, it is the hour of the fruitcake. -> December 25, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ann Patchett
ANN PATCHETT, TRUTH AND BEAUTY — [I]t is possible to... understand things at certain points, and... to be in utter confusion just a short while later. ... [S]ometimes what you knew... goes out with a bang... just like a lightbulb cracking off when you throw the switch. -> December 10, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Patricia Pearson
(PATRICIA) PEARSON, (A BRIEF) HISTORY OF ANXIETY — I would prefer not to be afraid of phone bills,... black bears, climate change,... heights,... flying, the prospect that the supervolcano underlying Yosemite... will erupt and kill us..., and... that the car I'm driving will simply explode. -> October 26, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Georges Perec
G(EORGES) PEREC: LIFE A USER'S MANUAL — [A]n unicum ... is an object which is the only one of its kind...., like ... the bread basket into which the head of Louis XVI ... rolled, ... the Ems Telegram, the boxing gloves Dempsey wore to defeat Carpentier..., [or] Tarzan's first underpants.... -> September 26, 1999 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
S. J. Perelman
(S.J.) PERELMAN, THE LAST LAUGH — I have been... chopfallen on the Champs Élysées, and doloroso on the Via Veneto, but the avenues themselves were blameless. Hollywood Boulevard, on the contrary, creates an instant and malignant impression in... the beholder. -> September 23, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Tony Perrottet
(TONY) PERROTTET, THE NAKED OLYMPICS — [T]he rowdy throngs... flung their bedding wherever they could,... sprawling like refugees across the surrounding countryside. ... [W]ith its lack of basic sanitation or facilities, the Olympic festival was the Woodstock of antiquity. -> August 12, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
George Sessions Perry
GEORGE (SESSIONS) PERRY, CITIES OF AMERICA — Wisconsin's politics have traditionally been uproar politics — full of the yammer, the squawk, the accusing finger, the injured howl. Every voter is... full of zeal to get out and nip a little political iniquity in the bud. -> February 17, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
John Perry
(JOHN) PERRY, (THE) ART OF PROCRASTINATION — Procrastinators seldom do… nothing; they do marginally useful things.... The procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely, and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important. -> June 2, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Robert W. Peterson
ROBERT W. PETERSON, PIGSKIN — [I]n football's early years... vests were worn... tight-fitting... [with] leather straps... sewn to the shoulders like suitcase handles... to help a runner's teammates pull him through the opponents' line, a tactic... permitted by the rules. -> December 20, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Alexandra Petri
(ALEXANDRA) PETRI, (A FIELD GUIDE TO) AWKWARD SILENCES — I secretly carry a really wonderful person... inside me.... This person is... good and smart and talented and kind... and she uses the correct bins for glass recyclables and doesn't say "uh" or wave her arms around when talking. -> December 11, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Henry Petroski
HENRY PETROSKI: THE PENCIL — [N]o single... pencil... is everyone's favorite.... The Think Big! store in New York... chooses... the Dixon Ticonderoga... as its model for a six-foot pencil.... [O]thers... claim the Faber-Castell Velvet..., or the Berol Mirado... is the number one No. 2. -> May 6, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Terry Burnham and Jay Phelan
(TERRY) BURNHAM AND (JAY) PHELAN, MEAN GENES — Human genes have not changed much in thousands of years. Plato would have been puzzled by e-mail, but he enjoyed the same buzz we do from a fine... wine. His brain contained exactly the same... pleasure buttons that we have. -> March 24, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Steven Pinker
(STEVEN) PINKER, THE LANGUAGE INSTINCT — Maven, shmaven! Kibbitzers and nudniks is more like it. ... Most of the prescriptive rules of... language mavens... are bits of folklore that originated for screwball reasons... years ago and have perpetuated themselves ever since. -> March 18, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Craig Pittman
CRAIG PITTMAN, OH, FLORIDA! — The mosquitoes are bloodthirstier than any Twilight vampire. Sharks lurk just offshore, ready to chomp on your leg... . Alligators show up at your picnic... . And without any warning, the ground is liable to swallow you up. -> October 30, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Bart Plantenga
BART PLANTENGA, YODEL-AY-EE-OOOO — Other vocals may tinker with falsetto, trill, and vibrato, but it's that abrupt, almost rude, leap across the cavern of pitch that makes the yodel yodel. Simply put: no glottal jolt, no yodel. Everything else is secondary. -> May 23, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Edgar Allan Poe
EDGAR ALLAN POE, MARGINALIA — I never can hear… an Italian opera, without fancying myself at Athens, listening to that particular tragedy, by Sophocles, in which he introduces a full chorus of turkeys, who set about bewailing the death of Meleager. -> November 22, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Michael Pollan (2)
(MICHAEL) POLLAN, HOW TO CHANGE YOUR MIND — Some scientists have raised the possibility that consciousness may pervade the universe, suggesting we think of it the same way we do electromagnetism or gravity, as one of the fundamental building blocks of reality. -> April 14, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
MICHAEL POLLAN, SECOND NATURE — Preparing a bed for roses is... like getting the house ready for the arrival of a difficult old lady, some biddy with aristocratic pretensions and persnickety tastes. You want as little cause for complaint as possible. -> May 11, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Katha Pollitt
(KATHA) POLLITT, LEARNING TO DRIVE -- I've always believed in the Nero Wolfe theory of knowledge. You can just sit... in your room... and through sheer mental effort force the tiniest snippets of information to yield the entire story of which they are a fragment... -> January 29, 2023 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
John Powell
JOHN POWELL, WHY YOU LOVE MUSIC — We try to make sense... of everything... including music. ... We find it pleasant if our expectations are frustrated occasionally, but we don't expect to be wildly donkey... like the way you didn't expect the word "donkey" just then. -> June 23, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Richard Powers
RICHARD POWERS, THE OVERSTORY — [T]rees under attack pump out insecticides to save their lives. ... [T]rees a little way off, untouched by the invading swarms, ramp up their own defenses... . The... trees... are signaling. They're linked together in an airborne network... . -> April 25, 2021 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Terry Pratchett
TERRY PRATCHETT, THIEF OF TIME — It was three o'clock. And every clock struck it at once. Cuckoos cuckoo'd,... hour pins fell out of the candle clock, the water clocks gurgled and seesawed back as the buckets emptied, bells clanged, gongs banged, chimes tinkled... . -> March 13, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Catherine Price
CATHERINE PRICE, VITAMANIA — [O]ne... gelatin capsule..., can cure night blindness in a single day. Its protection can last... half a year or more. It costs about two cents per capsule, and the FDA doesn't even consider it a drug. The miracle cure is Vitamin A. -> October 16, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Oliver Pritchett
(OLIVER) PRITCHETT, (THE) DOGGER BANK SAGA — It is surprising that the Impressionists never became involved in the Christmas Card Movement. They remained in a cultural backwater, devoting... their energies towards a form of card known as Blank for Special Messages. -> December 21, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Francine Prose
(FRANCINE) PROSE, READING LIKE A WRITER — I still have my old copy of Sophocles, ... covered with... notes... written in my... neat schoolgirl print. ... [H]andwriting that you know was... yours but... now seems only dimly familiar can inspire a confrontation with the mystery of time. -> March 31, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Robert R. Provine
(ROBERT R.) PROVINE, CURIOUS BEHAVIOR — Emperor Nero..., an avid actor and student of... theater, ... brought his own personal cheering section in the form of five thousand Roman soldiers to applaud his performances, for which the wise judges always awarded first prize. -> June 21, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David Quammen
DAVID QUAMMEN, NATURAL ACTS — A vigorous mountain river will have... its ... share of greenish slimes, filamentous botanical cruds, tiny crawling and squiggling critters of... grotesque appearance, sleek trout flashing discreetly,... and dead things in the water. -> October 10, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Anna Quindlen
ANNA QUINDLEN, LIVING OUT LOUD — [F]ootball... [is] a game in which two tractors approach each other... and collide. ... I have contempt for a game in which players have to wear so much equipment. Men play basketball in their underwear, which seems just right to me. -> January 2, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Michele Raffin
(MICHELE) RAFFIN, (THE) BIRDS OF PANDEMONIUM — These birds can boogie. ... Our dancers are naturals, grooving smack on the beat. Some macaws pop and lock on their perches like hip-hop MCs. If they're dancing outside their cages, the African gray parrots form a conga line... . -> July 23, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
V. S. Ramachandran
(V.S.) RAMACHANDRAN, (THE) TELL-TALE BRAIN — How can a three-pound mass of jelly... imagine angels, contemplate... infinity, and... question its... place in the cosmos? ... With the arrival of humans,... the universe has... become conscious of itself. This... is the greatest mystery of all. -> January 24, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ainissa Ramirez
AINISSA RAMIREZ, (THE) ALCHEMY OF US — Our ancestors slept differently. ... [T]hey'd wake up after midnight and stay up for... an hour or so. ... These distinct doses of slumber were known as "first sleep" and "second sleep," and this was the customary way of catching z's. -> September 13, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David K. Randall
DAVID K. RANDALL, DREAMLAND — [W]e have so much artificial light that after a[n]... earthquake knocked out... power, some residents of Los Angeles called the police to report a strange "giant, silvery cloud"... . It was the Milky Way. They had never seen it before... . -> November 1, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Lisa Randall
LISA RANDALL, WARPED PASSAGES — James Clerk Maxwell... was a brilliant scientist who counted among his... interests optics and color,... the rings of Saturn, ... and the question of how cats land upright while conserving angular momentum when dropped upside down. -> November 11, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
(MARJORIE KINNAN) RAWLINGS, THE MAGNOLIA TREE — There is no such thing in the world as an ugly tree, but the magnolia grandiflora has a unique perfection. No matter how... thickly holly and live oak and sweet gum may grow up around it, it develops with complete symmetry... . -> April 20, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ruth Reichl
RUTH REICHL, TENDER AT THE BONE — Most mornings I got out of bed and went to the refrigerator to see how my mother was feeling. You could tell instantly just by opening the door. The more odd and interesting things there were..., the happier my mother was. -> May 14, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Alastair Reid
ALASTAIR REID, SELECTED PROSE (AND POETRY) — Scratch a poet and you will find... a word-player, a puzzler, a palindromist, a punster, someone bedazzled by language and addicted to... those occasional felicities that Cyril Connolly called "unbreakable toys for the mind." -> March 4, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Agnes Repplier (2)
AGNES REPPLIER, TO THINK OF TEA! — [D]ates... are worse than elusive, they are perverse. Events do not happen at the right time, nor in... proper sequence. That sense of harmony with place and season... so strong in the historian... is lamentably lacking in history... . -> January 17, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(AGNES) REPPLIER, TIMES AND TENDENCIES — The pleasure of possession, whether we possess trinkets, or offspring — or... books, or prints, or chessmen, or postage stamps — lies in showing these things to friends who are experiencing no immediate urge to look at them. -> July 8, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Richard Rhodes
RICHARD RHODES, HEDY'S FOLLY — Lamarr was an inventor. … It annoyed her deeply, however, that few people saw beyond her beauty to her intelligence. "Any girl can be glamorous," she famously and acidly said. "All you have to do is stand still and look stupid." -> December 6, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Anne Rice
ANNE RICE, THE VAMPIRE LESTAT — I saw myself as a man might expect, except that my skin was very white,... my eyes had been transformed from... blue to a mingling of violet and cobalt.... My hair had a high luminous sheen, and... I felt a... new and strange vitality. -> October 21, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Matt Ridley
MATT RIDLEY, THE AGILE GENE — Jane Goodall's account of life among the chimps... reads like a soap opera about the Wars of the Roses written by Jane Austen... . We feel the ambition, the jealousy,... the affection;... we sense motives; we cannot help empathizing. -> October 24, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Arthur Rimbaud
(ARTHUR) RIMBAUD, UNE SAISON EN ENFER — I invented the colors of the vowels! — A black, E white, I red, O blue, U green — I made rules for the form and movement of each consonant, and... flattered myself that I had created a poetic language accessible... to all the senses. -> August 26, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Eloise Ristad (2)
E(LOISE) RISTAD, A SOPRANO ON HER HEAD — Improvisation, whether it be on bongo drums, in movement, in gibberish … or whatever, has a profound effect upon us. We live … often unaware of the characters waiting to peek out from behind the curtains and be recognized. -> September 24, 2023 by David Balton & Jane Stewart
(ELOISE) RISTAD, A SOPRANO ON HER HEAD — It is in performance that... we... court the very experience that terrifies us. ... A well-meaning friend says, "There's nothing to get nervous about," and it almost helps, because the desire to strangle distracts us for the moment. -> May 27, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mary Roach
MARY ROACH, PACKING FOR MARS — Yuri Gagarin... recall[ed] that as he walked the red carpet before the... Central Committee of the Communist Party... and a cheering crowd of thousands, he noticed that his shoelace was undone and could think of nothing else. -> November 7, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Michele Roberts
(MICHELE) ROBERTS, PLAYING SARDINES — Our father liked his food, but it had to be British. ... Paella, spaghetti and couscous were forbidden suitors at our door. No daughter of mine, our father seemed to imply, will keep company with a sweet potato, a mango, or yam. -> November 21, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Linda Ronstadt
LINDA RONSTADT, SIMPLE DREAMS — When I bend my ear to a singer's performance, I often try to track who... influenced him or her. For instance, I can hear Nat King Cole in early Ray Charles, Lefty Frizzell in early Merle Haggard,... Fats Domino in Randy Newman. -> December 15, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Phyllis Rose
PHYLLIS ROSE: (THE YEAR OF) READING PROUST — I am a narrative junkie. I consume stories in all forms. TV shows, novels, dreams, newspaper accounts of kidnappings, murders, heroism, panic, disaster: they all feed the habit. In a way they're all the same.... I need [my] daily fix. -> May 20, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Charles Rosen
CHARLES ROSEN, PIANO NOTES — The performance of music is not only an art, but a form of sport, rather like tennis or fencing.... [Arthur] Rubinstein, jealous of Horowitz's glamorous success, remarked sardonically to him, "You have won the Octave Olympics." -> October 18, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mort Rosenblum
(MORT) ROSENBLUM, A GOOSE IN TOULOUSE — A French taco... is usually lettuce,... cheese, meaty bolognese sauce, and a sweet tomato salsa piled onto a flat tortilla. How else could you eat it with a fork, [which] as any Frenchman can tell you is the proper way to do it? -> March 23, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Leo Rosten (2)
LEO ROSTEN, THE JOYS OF YIDDISH — A neighbor... was so fierce in her maternal affections that when her no-goodnik son was arrested for some... infraction... she returned from visiting him to announce, "You never saw such a beautiful jail as my Morris is in." -> May 9, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
LEO ROSTEN, CARNIVAL OF WIT — Groucho Marx offered to write a blurb for a book I was about to publish. ... His comment, verbatim [was]: From the moment I picked your book up till the moment I put it down, I could not stop laughing. Someday I hope to read it. -> February 23, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
J. K. Rowling
(J.K.) ROWLING, THE SORCERER'S STONE — Harry learned that there were seven hundred ways of committing a Quidditch foul, and that... although people rarely died playing Quidditch, referees had been known to vanish and turn up months later in the Sahara Desert. -> September 19, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Elizabeth Royte
(ELIZABETH) ROYTE, THE TAPIR'S MORNING BATH — I spent twenty minutes plucking... [seed ticks] off my legs with a scrap of duct tape. ...Then... wrapping the duct tape in duct tape, so I could transport the tick ball back to the lab. What a magical place is a rain forest.... -> December 15, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mary Ruefle
(MARY) RUEFLE, MADNESS, RACK, AND HONEY — Years ago I read in a magazine that you could hire an interior decorator to come to your house and arrange your books by color in such a way as to coordinate with the color scheme of the particular room they were in. -> April 6, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Steve Rushin
STEVE RUSHIN, HIGH ROLLERS — Toupees, tube tops, car keys, cameras,... inhibitions, and lunch. A great many things are routinely lost on roller coasters... . [W]orkers... in England drained the... pool beneath two coasters and found twenty-five sets of false teeth. -> August 18, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Bertrand Russell
(BERTRAND) RUSSELL, MYSTICISM AND LOGIC — Organic life... has developed gradually from the protozoon to the philosopher, and this development, we are assured, is indubitably an advance. Unfortunately it is the philosopher, not the protozoon, who gives... this assurance. -> May 28, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Kate Russo
KATE RUSSO, TOTAL ADDICTION — The temperature drops. The wind picks up speed. The sunlight slowly dims, bathing the surroundings in an eerie twilight... . Moments before totality a wall of darkness comes rushing towards you... this is the shadow of the Moon. -> August 20, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David Sacks
DAVID SACKS, LETTER PERFECT — B... has a relationship with M... . While the two... sound different, they use much the same speech mechanism... . To discover the connection, pinch your nostrils and say, "My mommy meets me." It comes out a bit like, "By bobby beets be." -> September 7, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Oliver Sacks
OLIVER SACKS, UNCLE TUNGSTEN — My mother told me that diamond was a special form of carbon, like the coal we used in every room in winter. I was puzzled... how could black, flaky, opaque coal be the same as the hard, transparent gemstone in her ring? -> May 6, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
William Safire
WILLIAM SAFIRE, HOW NOT TO WRITE — Writing carefully, dangling participles should be avoided. ...Jacques Barzun, the great grammarian, produced the classic example of the dangle with: ..."Quickly summoning an ambulance, the corpse was carried to the mortuary." -> April 2, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Carl Sagan
CARL SAGAN, (THE) DEMON-HAUNTED WORLD — Jefferson... believed that... skepticism is an essential prerequisite for responsible citizenship. He argued that the cost of education is trivial compared to the cost of ignorance, of leaving the government to the wolves. -> September 17, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
J. D. Salinger
(J.D.) SALINGER, THE CATCHER IN THE RYE — What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're... done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone... . I wouldn't mind calling this Isak Dinesen up. -> March 16, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Kelefa Sanneh
KELEFA SANNEH, MAJOR LABELS -- The success and intensity of groups like Judas Priest inspired what was known as the new wave of British heavy metal, or NWOBHM, an initialism that was... better suited to obsessive fanzines than to casual conversation. -> September 25, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Robert Sapolsky
(ROBERT) SAPOLSKY, A PRIMATE'S MEMOIR — According to the books,... the alpha male [baboon]... spearheaded the hunts, defended against predators, kept the females in line, changed the lightbulbs, fixed the car, blah blah blah. ... Most of that turned out to be wrong, naturally. -> June 30, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
George Saunders
(GEORGE) SAUNDERS, (THE) BRAIN-DEAD MEGAPHONE — [N]ightly news may soon consist entirely of tirades by men so angry and inarticulate that all they do is sputter while punching themselves in the face, punctuated by videos of dogs blowing up after eating firecrackers... . -> August 6, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Leslie Savan
LESLIE SAVAN, (THE) SPONSORED LIFE — When Monty Python's mistaken messiah in "The Life of Brian" exhorts the crowd... "Don't follow me!... Think for yourselves!... You are all individuals!" they reply in unison, "We are all individuals!" That is advertising in a nutshell. -> September 18, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Peter Schickele
PETER SCHICKELE, (THE DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY OF) P.D.Q. BACH — P.D.Q. invented a technique for playing arpeggios... on the foot pedals of an organ; the technique, known as the "tootsie roll," is now standard practice... and... stood P.D.Q. in good stead when it came to writing for the bicycle. -> May 30, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Stacy Schiff
STACY SCHIFF, CLEOPATRA — [She] descended from a long line of murderers. ... For... generations her family had styled themselves pharaohs. The Ptolemies were in fact Macedonian Greek, which makes Cleopatra approximately as Egyptian as Elizabeth Taylor. -> June 19, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Henri Schindler
HENRI SCHINDLER, MARDI GRAS: (NEW ORLEANS) — It would be hyperbole... to name jazz a child of Carnival; however the joyous license of the music owes more than passing acquaintance to the liberties of Mardi Gras and a population...accustomed to dancing in the streets. -> February 3, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Cathleen Schine
CATHLEEN SCHINE, RAMEAU'S NIECE — Edward had no difficulties at dinner parties. If he had been seated beside a rock, he would have quickly begun an animated discussion of its layers of granite... or lime, its life underground, its... journeys and aspirations... . -> September 22, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Esther Schor
ESTHER SCHOR, BRIDGE OF WORDS — Like... Doctor Frankenstein,... [Zamenhof] took the "dismembered" parts of other languages and created a new being entirely. It must have been a lonely venture, being the sole speaker of a language yet to be put before the world. -> February 19, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ben Schott
BEN SCHOTT, [SCHOTT'S] FOOD AND DRINK [MISCELLANY] - Few questions have so vexed drinkers as whether to shake or stir a Martini. Shaking creates a colder drink..., but... risks diluting the ingredients... . James Bond... added insult to uncertainty by eschewing gin in favor of vodka. -> June 10, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Arthur Schulman
ARTHUR SCHULMAN, RESONANCES — Roget had many irons in the fire before compiling his thesaurus…. His writings include treatises on physiology and phrenology … on … inhaling nitrous oxide; … and … a method of completing a knight's tour of the chessboard. -> April 26, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David Sedaris (2)
DAVID SEDARIS, HOLIDAYS ON ICE — Christmas Eve... was a day of nonstop action... . It was the rowdiest crowd I have ever seen, and we were short on elves... . It was us against them. ... My Santa and I had them on the lap, off the lap in forty-five seconds flat. -> December 24, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(DAVID) SEDARIS: ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY — I prefer to believe that inside every television there lives a community of... thumb-size actors.... Fickle gnomes control the weather, and an air conditioner is powered by a team of squirrels, their cheeks packed with ice. -> July 15, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Michael Segell
MICHAEL SEGELL, THE DEVIL'S HORN — From the moment his lips first touched his saxophone prototype, Adolphe Sax would face a juggernaut of slander, theft, litigation,... and attempts on his life that tried to suppress... a sound never before heard in nature. -> March 5, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Charles Seife
CHARLES SEIFE, PROOFINESS (THE DARK ARTS OF MATHEMATICAL DECEPTION) — Each roll of the die... is totally unrelated to... events that came before it.... There's no pattern.... Yet our brains simply refuse to accept this fact. This is randumbness: insisting that there is order where there is only chaos. -> March 27, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Barbara Seuling
(BARBARA) SEULING, ELEPHANTS CAN'T JUMP — During the invasion of Normandy..., army jeep drivers were helped... in blackouts by glowworms living along the sides of the roads. The tiny lights of these creatures, flashing to attract mates, kept the drivers on the roads. -> June 2, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Beth Shapiro
(BETH) SHAPIRO, HOW TO CLONE A MAMMOTH — The mammoth... may be one of the least potentially annoying... candidates for de-extinction. The most appropriate habitat... is... the Arctic, where human populations are... small and... the mammoth is not likely to get in their way. -> June 26, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Laura Shapiro
LAURA SHAPIRO, WHAT SHE ATE — Biography... tends to honor the old-fashioned custom of keeping a polite distance from food. We're meant to read the lives of important people as if they never... took a coffee break, or stopped for a hot dog on the street... . -> November 24, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Leanne Shapton
(LEANNE) SHAPTON, SWIMMING STUDIES — Trying to define what swimming means to me is like looking at a shell... in... clear, still water. ... [O]nce I reach for it, breaking the surface, the ripples refract the shell... and I blindly feel for what I saw perfectly before... . -> November 29, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
George Bernard Shaw
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, THE AUTHOR — As to spelling the... word though with six letters instead of two, it is impossible to discuss it, as it is outside the range of common sanity. In comparison such a monstrosity as phlegm for flem is merely disgusting. -> May 4, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ammon Shea
AMMON SHEA, READING THE O.E.D. — I chuckle, laugh out loud, smile..., cringe..., feel sadness.... All of the human emotions and experiences are right there in this dictionary, just as they would be in any fine work of literature. They just happen to be alphabetized. -> October 6, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mary Shelley
MARY SHELLEY, FRANKENSTEIN (OR, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS) — His hair was of a lustrous black...; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes... the dun white sockets..., his shriveled complexion, and straight black lips. -> October 23, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jean Shepherd
(JEAN) SHEPHERD, A CHRISTMAS STORY — Families in those days spent their lives eating canned corn, meat loaf, peanut-butter sandwiches, oatmeal, red cabbage and peas.... Great meals... stuck out like icebergs in the Caribbean. Buying a turkey was a state occasion. -> December 16, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
RICHARD (BRINSLEY) SHERIDAN, THE CRITIC — I open with a clock striking, to beget an awful attention in the audience: it also marks the time, which is four o'clock..., and saves a description of the rising sun, and a great deal about gilding the eastern hemisphere. -> August 2, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
M. E. W. Sherwood
(M.E.W.) SHERWOOD, (AN) EPISTLE TO POSTERITY — Amsterdam,... with its patchwork of water streets, its long double rows of trees..., its palaces, its magnificent houses with machicolated roofs, and... the old Dutch galleons, with their shadowy sails,... is a paradise for the painter... . -> September 26, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Leonard Shlain
LEONARD SHLAIN, ART AND PHYSICS — Both art and physics are... forms of language. ... While physicists demonstrate that A equals B or that X is the same as Y, artists... choose signs, symbols, and allegories to equate a painterly image with a feature of experience. -> August 7, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David Allen Sibley
(DAVID ALLEN) SIBLEY, WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE A BIRD — Birds have no teeth. Food can be broken up a little by the bill, but most of the work of crushing food is performed by the very muscular gizzard. ... [A] Wild Turkey can crush whole walnuts..., and the Surf Scoter can crush... clams. -> November 22, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Phyllis Siefker
PHYLLIS SIEFKER, SANTA CLAUS, (LAST OF THE WILD MEN) — Our Santa is one of the last... of a long line of dark, sooty, hair-covered men, the remnant of a pre-Christian god of awesome power. Our pipe-smoking "jolly old elf" is only one offshoot... . ... Santa and Satan... have the same origin. -> December 20, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Maida Silverman
MAIDA SILVERMAN, A CITY HERBAL — Clover is... from the Latin clava, meaning... cudgel... attributed to the resemblance the leaflets bore to the... Club of Hercules which had three prominent knobs... This... is the origin of the suit of clubs in the playing-card deck. -> May 22, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sherry Simpson
(SHERRY) SIMPSON, THE WAY WINTER COMES — [E]xterminating wolves does not guarantee a moose or caribou in every hunter's freezer. ... [L]ife and death in the wild form a Mobius strip. It's impossible to trace one side without inexplicably finding yourself on the other. -> January 10, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Simon Singh
SIMON SINGH, FERMAT'S ENIGMA - India and Arabia... replaced the... Greek symbols and... Roman numerals with the counting system that has now been universally adopted. ... Try multiplying CLV by DCI and you will appreciate the significance of the breakthrough. -> June 25, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David J. Skal
[David J.] Skal, Death Makes a Holiday — The story of Jack-o'-Lantern parallels that of Will-o'-the-Wisp; both... personify... fool's-fire, or ignis fatuus — the phosphorescent swamp gas long known in... Britain, and sometimes used today as a[n]... explanation for UFO sightings. -> October 31, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David Skinner
DAVID SKINNER, THE STORY OF AIN'T — Etiquette books in the twenties licensed the use of slang in polite company..., modestly admitting that "even 'swell' and 'sweetie pie' are correct in certain moods." In... business, however, ... "O.K." and "all righty" were not to be used... . -> March 9, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Richard Furnald Smith
R(ICHARD) F(URNALD) SMITH, PRELUDE TO SCIENCE — Most chemists are tolerant — even proud — about alchemy, but astronomers take a hard line toward astrology. Possibly chemists would be less broadminded if they... saw columns of alchemical advice in all the daily newspapers. -> July 18, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Dava Sobel
DAVA SOBEL, GALILEO'S DAUGHTER — Galileo arrived at [the]... relationship between distance and time without... a reliable unit of measure or an accurate clock. Italy possessed no national standards..., gauging... by flea's eyes, hairbreadths,... hand spans,... and the like. -> November 2, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Rebecca Solnit
REBECCA SOLNIT, (A FIELD GUIDE TO) GETTING LOST — The strange resonant word instar describes the stage between... molts... as a caterpillar... splits its skin. ... Instar implies something both celestial and ingrown, heavenly and disastrous, and perhaps change is commonly like that. -> January 20, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Maynard Solomon
MAYNARD SOLOMON, BEETHOVEN — He was wholly lacking in physical grace: his movements were awkward and clumsy, and he constantly overturned or broke things and tended to spill his inkwell into the piano.... He never learned to dance in time to music. -> November 5, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Robert Sommers
ROBERT SOMMERS, GOLF ANECDOTES — Mencken claimed that anyone who played golf should be barred from holding public office. Mark Twain called it a good walk spoiled, and Winston Churchill claimed it was like chasing a quinine pill around a pasture. -> June 10, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Stephen Sondheim
(STEPHEN) SONDHEIM, FINISHING THE HAT — There are plenty of fresh rhymes still to be found. The problem is one of appropriateness: The situation has to justify the rhyme. I once rhymed "let Papa sit" with "opposite"... because I had a scene involving... a dinner table. -> January 30, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Hilary Spurling
(HILARY) SPURLING: THE UNKNOWN MATISSE — [Matisse] once told the Hollywood... star Edward G. Robinson that the only thing that drove him to paint was the rising urge to strangle someone. "I've always worked like a drunken brute trying to kick the door down," he said. -> July 29, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Kory Stamper
KORY STAMPER, WORD BY WORD — [I]n Springfield, there are a couple dozen people who spend their workweek doing nothing but making dictionaries — ... writing... definitions, thinking deeply about adverbs, and slowly, inexorably going blind. They are lexicographers. -> July 9, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Freya Stark
FREYA STARK, BAGHDAD SKETCHES — The tourist travels... like a snail in his shell and stands... on his own perambulating doorstep to look at the continents .... But if you... sally forth with a leisurely and blank mind, there is no knowing what may... happen to you. -> July 5, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Gertrude Stein
GERTRUDE STEIN, PICASSO — [He] wrote painting as other children wrote their A B C.... His drawings were not of things seen but of things expressed, in short they were words for him and drawing... was his only way of talking and he talked a great deal. -> April 8, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Neal Stephenson
(NEAL) STEPHENSON, CRYPTONOMICON — There was a time when places like... Oxford and Cambridge existed... to train ministers, and their job was... to say something thought-provoking several times a week. They were the retail outlets of the profession of philosophy. -> July 20, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Christopher Stevens
(CHRISTOPHER) STEVENS, WRITTEN IN STONE — Why is an acrobat like a horse?... [A] monosyllabic sound used by Neolithic farmers... to signify something quick... or piercing... was ak and it has survived into English... in... acute... acrostic... acerbic... acrimony... equine and equestrian. -> March 20, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Amy Stewart
(AMY) STEWART, FLOWER CONFIDENTIAL — From... one lily, you can learn... about how flowers are made. Its anatomy is right there, out in the open — there's no need to go hunting around between crumpled petals to find a stamen or a stigma the way you might with a rose. -> February 13, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Jackie Stewart
(JACKIE) STEWART, FASTER! A RACER'S DIARY — When some people speak of speed in conjunction with racing, they... don't know what they're talking about. Two hundred... miles an hour in a Formula I car... is literally like eighty... on the highway. The car is made to go that fast. -> May 27, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Rex Stout
R(EX) STOUT: OVER MY DEAD BODY — When an international financier is confronted by a holdup man... he automatically hands over not only his money and jewelry but also his shirt and pants... It doesn't occur to him that a robber might draw the line somewhere. -> June 17, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Susan Strasser
SUSAN STRASSER, WASTE AND WANT — Everyone was a bricoleur in the preindustrial household of the American colonies...; saving and reusing scraps was a matter of course. Cloth, wood, and food could only be obtained by arduous... work, or by spending scarce cash. -> September 3, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Bill Strickland
(BILL) STRICKLAND, (THE) QUOTABLE CYCLIST — (T)he bicycle is the most efficient machine... : Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon. A person pedaling a bike uses energy more efficiently than a gazelle or an eagle. -> October 13, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Robert Sullivan
ROBERT SULLIVAN, CROSS COUNTRY — In the interstates are traces of our first explorations, our impenetrable mountain passes, our old Santa Fe Trail, our pioneers' path to Oregon, our race to California's gold, our first nation-spanning... private highways. -> November 12, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sir Arthur Sullivan
SIR ARTHUR SULLIVAN, PHONOGRAM — Dear Mr. Edison,... I am astonished and somewhat terrified at... this evening's experiment: astonished at the wonderful power you have developed and terrified at the thought that so much... bad music may be put on record forever. -> February 10, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Amy Sutherland
(AMY) SUTHERLAND, WHAT SHAMU TAUGHT (ME ABOUT LIFE, LOVE, AND MARRIAGE) — We touchy-feely Homo sapiens assume all creatures great and small would like a pat on the head, a hug, even a big kiss. ... For many animals, to be embraced is to be devoured. ... They have to learn a behavior we take for granted. -> May 12, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Audrey Sutherland
(AUDREY) SUTHERLAND, PADDLING NORTH — They say geese honk. That isn't the right word. It isn't an ooga like a Model A Ford, or a beep like a VW. It's a symphony of a dozen clear trumpets and haunting French horns all on different notes. It's Circe and the Lorelei... . -> September 15, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Rebecca Wragg Sykes
REBECCA WRAGG SYKES, KINDRED -- Larger and deeper-set eyes gazed out from a face whose nose and mouth seemed pulled forwards, but with swept-back cheekbones. Framing all this were magnificent... brow ridges... . [T]he brain inside... was just as big... as your own. -> October 9, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Daniel Tammet
DANIEL TAMMET, BORN ON A BLUE DAY — I see numbers as shapes, colors, textures and motions. The number 1, for example, is a brilliant and bright white.... Five is a clap of thunder or the sound of waves crashing against rocks. Thirty-seven is lumpy like porridge. -> May 4, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Amy Tan
AMY TAN, WHERE THE PAST BEGINS — There is a... word in Chinese my mother used to describe my personality: li hai. Depending on context..., it can mean "fierce" or "formidable" in doing what is right, or it can mean... "persistent," or "unstoppable" in doing what is wrong. -> May 13, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sarah Tarlow
(SARAH) TARLOW, EMOTION IN ARCHAEOLOGY — In representing the people of the past we... need to negotiate between the Scylla of making them... incomprehensible... and the Charybdis of rendering them as late-twentieth-century Europeans wearing wimples or furry bikinis. -> April 17, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Rob Temple
(ROB) TEMPLE, VERY BRITISH PROBLEMS — If a sufferer of VBP ever tells you they're 'fine', back slowly out of the room. ... We're walking... sacks of volatile madness,... concealed behind stiff upper lips; ready to burst open... in... rage if, heaven forbid, we ever run out of tea. -> June 25, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Lewis Thomas
LEWIS THOMAS, (THE) FRAGILE SPECIES — Our word "human" comes from the... root dhghem, meaning simply "earth." The most telling cognate word is "humus," the primary product of microbial industry. ... It gives a new... spin, to the old cliche for an apology: "Sorry, I'm only human." -> April 22, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Henry David Thoreau (2)
HENRY DAVID THOREAU, WALKING — I, who cannot stay in my chamber for a single day without acquiring some rust, … am astonished at the power of endurance … of my neighbors who confine themselves to shops and offices the whole day for weeks and months. -> October 22, 2023 by David Balton & Jane Stewart
HENRY DAVID THOREAU, WALDEN — Often in winter days, I heard the forlorn but melodious note of a hooting owl, indefinitely far; such a sound as the frozen earth would yield if struck with a suitable plectrum, the very lingua vernacula of Walden Wood. -> January 26, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Calvin Trillin
QUITE ENOUGH OF CALVIN TRILLIN — I was never able to convince the mathematics teacher that many of my answers were meant ironically. Also, I had trouble with... "pi r squared."... Years ago,... Texas... passed a resolution to change pi to an even three.... I was for it. -> June 1, 2014 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Fanny Trollope
F(ANNY) TROLLOPE, DOMESTIC MANNERS (OF THE AMERICANS) — [T]he land is defended from... the river by a... levee; without which the dwellings would speedily disappear... . I could not help fancying [Nature] would some day take the matter into her own hands..., and if so, farewell to New Orleans. -> August 30, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Lynne Truss
(LYNNE) TRUSS, EATS, SHOOTS AND LEAVES — For a(ny)... true stickler, the sight of the plural word Book's with an apostrophe in it will trigger a ghastly private emotional process similar to... bereavement. ... Shock gives way to disbelief, disbelief to pain, and pain to anger. -> November 13, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Barbara W. Tuchman (2)
(BARBARA W.) TUCHMAN, THE MARCH OF FOLLY — Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception,... plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived... notions... while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts. -> July 7, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
BARBARA W. TUCHMAN, (THE) PROUD TOWER — [L]ife for the... wealthy [was] pleasant... . When Colonel Brabazon, who affected a fashionable difficulty with his r's,... [was] informed that the train for London had just left, he instructed the station master, "Then bwing me another." -> August 8, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Tad Tuleja
TAD TULEJA, POPULAR AMERICANA — To counter Soviet pressure in Eastern Europe, John F. Kennedy went to the Berlin Wall... and announced that "Ich bin ein Berliner."... He meant "I am a citizen of Berlin." The German actually translates "I am a jelly doughnut." -> July 30, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Peter Turchi
PETER TURCHI, A MUSE AND A MAZE — Every piece of writing is a... puzzle. This is true not only of a complex satirical novel but also of a... sonnet,... a love letter, and an email to a colleague about a problem at work. ... Should we start with a joke? A quotation? -> December 9, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sherry Turkle
SHERRY TURKLE, SECOND SELF — Pinball games were constrained by... physical laws... . The video world knows no such bounds. Objects fly,... accelerate, change shape and color, disappear and reappear. ...[A] representation of a ball... never need obey the laws of gravity... . -> June 1, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mark Twain (2)
MARK TWAIN, (ADVENTURES OF) HUCKLEBERRY FINN — It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there all speckled with stars and we used to... look up... and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened. Jim... allowed they was made but I allowed they happened. -> August 23, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
THE WRITINGS OF MARK TWAIN — The people of those foreign countries are... very ignorant. ... In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language. -> November 27, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Joyce Tyldesley
(JOYCE) TYLDESLEY, TUTANKHAMEN — The Egyptians omitted vowels from their hieroglyphic texts; like modern emailers and... (txtrs), they saw no need to waste time... and space... writing sounds and sometimes even words that would have been obvious to everyone. Lol. -> September 23, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Aisha Tyler
(AISHA) TYLER, SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS — Here's the thing. I am uniquely, and occasionally quite stupidly, fearless. I have never been... truly afraid. ... I like to shoot first and ask questions about why there is a bullet lodged deeply in my own foot much, much later. -> October 15, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Anne Tyler
ANNE TYLER, (THE) ACCIDENTAL TOURIST — I've always thought a hotel ought to offer optional small animals. ... I mean a cat to sleep on your bed at night, or a dog of some kind to act pleased when you come in. You ever notice how a hotel room feels so lifeless? -> November 8, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Neil Degrasse Tyson
(NEIL DEGRASSE) TYSON, WELCOME TO THE UNIVERSE — I have an app on my computer, such that every time I bring up the desktop, the Moon is there, showing its phase, day by day. That’s my lunar clock. It connects me to the universe even when I’m staring at my computer screen. -> March 12, 2023 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
LAUREL (THATCHER) ULRICH, (THE) AGE OF HOMESPUN — [A] single pound of beaver would have purchased two and a half pounds of broadcloth, the most expensive... fabric. ...Algonkians gave up Adam's clothing not because it was inferior... but because it had become too valuable to wear. -> November 17, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
John Updike (2)
(JOHN) UPDIKE, SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS — I tend... to resist dropping consonants... elongating "Worcester" as "Woooster" in acknowledgment of the spurned letters. I pronounce words as they look in print, and hence consistently mispronounce "monk," "sponge" and "Wodehouse." -> November 3, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(JOHN) UPDIKE: HUB FANS BID KID ADIEU — Fenway Park ... is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus ... . It ... offers a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities. -> October 10, 1999 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Tom Vanderbilt
TOM VANDERBILT, TRAFFIC — In ancient Rome, the... traffic grew so intense that Caesar, the self-proclaimed curator viarum, or "director of the great roads," declared a daytime ban on carts and chariots, "except to transport construction materials..." -> March 1, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Oretta Zanini de Vita
(ORETTA ZANINI) DE VITA, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PASTA — None other than Leonardo da Vinci had attempted to industrialize pasta making... . He preferred to be thought of as a cook rather than a painter or... a military engineer... . Early in his career... he managed a restaurant part-time. -> January 31, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Piers Vitebsky
(PIERS) VITEBSKY, THE REINDEER PEOPLE — Scattered across... Mongolia... stand... stones dating from the Bronze Age... . They are carved with... reindeer... depicted with... neck outstretched and... legs flung out fore and aft, as if not merely galloping but leaping through the air. -> December 24, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sarah Vowell (2)
SARAH VOWELL, (THE) WORDY SHIPMATES — "The Courtship of Miles Standish"... is full of... hooey, like calling Alden a scholar, even though in real life he was the guy on the "Mayflower" the Pilgrims hired as their barrel maker. Basically, he was in charge of the beer. -> December 1, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(SARAH) VOWELL, (THE) PARTLY CLOUDY PATRIOT — To drink a mocha is to gulp down the... history of the New World. From the Spanish exportation of Aztec cacao and the Dutch invention of the chemical process for making cocoa... down to the capitalist empire of Hershey, PA... -> February 5, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Frans de Waal
FRANS DE WAAL, MAMA'S LAST HUG — An Internet video of a... monkey cracking nuts with stones will get far fewer hits than one of a buffalo herd driving lions away from a calf... . We identify with the calf... and are delighted by the reunion with its mother. -> May 10, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Mabel Wagnalls
(MABEL) WAGNALLS, STARS OF THE OPERA — People seldom appreciate the vast knowledge... which... orchestra players possess. ... [M]ost of them play several... instruments; and they all hold as a creed that a false note is a sin, and a variation in rhythm is a fall from grace. -> May 24, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David Foster Wallace (2)
(DAVID FOSTER) WALLACE, A SUPPOSEDLY FUN THING (I'LL NEVER DO AGAIN) — The cars sound... like jets... with a... lawn-mowerish component you can feel in your skull. ... When the main mass of cars passes... your very skeleton hurts from the noise, and your ears are still belling when they come around again. -> May 26, 2019 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
(DAVID FOSTER) WALLACE, EVERYTHING AND MORE — The Mentally Ill Mathematician seems now... to be what the Knight Errant,... Tortured Artist, and Mad Scientist have been for other eras: our Prometheus,... who goes to forbidden places and returns with gifts... he alone pays for. -> January 4, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Barbara Wallraff (2)
(BARBARA) WALLRAFF, WORD FUGITIVES — Are toujours vu, newbiquitous, and coincidensity... words? No, not quite. They are the verbal equivalents of... Tinker Bell, whose little light will be extinguished if we don't believe in her. They are words only if we use them. -> March 25, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
BARBARA WALLRAFF, WORD COURT — [W]ords exist to describe all sorts of ideas. ... Consider... misnomer, "a wrong or unsuitable name"; mnemonic, "a device, such as a formula or rhyme, to assist memory";... mumbo jumbo, "gibberish"; and mytacism, "excessive... use of the letter m... ." -> September 27, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Marina Warner
M(ARINA) WARNER, NO GO THE BOGEYMAN — Bluebeards, ogres and child-snatchers are close cousins to other... spirits that nurses... have invoked to scare... children into obedience.... The most notorious of night visitors, the Sandman,... throws sand in wakeful children's eyes. -> October 22, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sylvia Townsend Warner
(SYLVIA TOWNSEND) WARNER, MR. FORTUNE'S MAGGOT - Most Englishmen who visit the South Sea Islands are... shocked at the vegetation. Such fecundity, such a largesse and explosion of life... all this profusion unbridled and untoiled for and running to waste disturbs them. -> March 14, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Cecelia Watson
CECELIA WATSON, SEMICOLON — Garamond's semicolon is... aggressive, and elegant, its lower half a cobra's head arced back to strike. ... Palatino's is a thin flapper in a big hat slouched against the wall at a party. ... Didot's puffs its chest out pridefully. -> March 29, 2020 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Eric Weiner
ERIC WEINER, (THE) GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS — Until the eighteenth century,... the Garden of Eden... appeared on maps — located, ironically... in what is now... Iraq. European explorers prepared for expeditions in search of paradise by learning Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke. -> November 9, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Gene Weingarten
GENE WEINGARTEN, THE FIDDLER (IN THE SUBWAY) — I learned... from Dave Barry... one... principle that... I stole... from him... shamelessly... . When asked... whether there are any good rules for writing humor, I say "Always try to put the funniest word at the end of your sentence underpants." -> February 5, 2017 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Holly Welker
HOLLY WELKER, SATIN WORSHIP — Spinning a yarn is a metaphor for telling a story... . But quilting doesn't seem to be of much use as a way to talk about narrative. ... In fact, it's... an insult to call a story a patchwork, but high praise to call it seamless. -> April 29, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Carolyn Wells
CAROLYN WELLS: (THE) REST OF MY LIFE — [L]ooking up things... is the most ravenous time-snatcher I know. You pull one book from the shelf, which... sends you posthaste to another book.... It is incredible, the number of books you hopefully open and disappointedly close.... -> June 3, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Diana Wells
DIANA WELLS, LIVES OF THE TREES — The Norfolk Island pine... is most often... sold as a perfect little indoor Christmas tree. ...[I]f you keep it for too many Christmases you may have to make a hole in your ceiling. In the wild it can reach two hundred feet high. -> December 18, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
H. G. Wells
H. G. WELLS, THE TIME MACHINE — The peculiar sensations of time travelling... are excessively unpleasant. There is a feeling... of a helpless headlong motion. I felt the... anticipation... of an imminent smash.... Night followed day like the flapping of a black wing. -> November 6, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ali Wentworth
(ALI) WENTWORTH, ALI IN WONDERLAND — I physically cannot chug. I'm a sipper. And I inherited a very low tolerance to alcohol from my mother. She once drank a glass of white wine and performed the entire second act of The Pirates of Penzance in our kitchen. -> September 20, 2015 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Edith Wharton
EDITH WHARTON: (THE) AGE OF INNOCENCE — An unalterable and unquestioned law of the musical world required that the German text of French operas sung by Swedish artists... be translated into Italian for the clearer understanding of English speaking audiences. -> October 19, 2003 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Sara Wheeler
SARA WHEELER, TERRA INCOGNITA — Robert... Scott, Ernest Shackleton, Roald Amundsen and Douglas Mawson... were the heroes of a generation of children who pored over images of bergs towering above wooden ships and men and dogs straining in front of sledges. -> January 3, 2010 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
E. B. White
E.B. WHITE, HERE IS NEW YORK — Although New York often imparts a feeling of great forlornness or forsakenness,... you always feel that... by shifting your location ten blocks or by reducing your fortune by five dollars you can experience rejuvenation. -> October 14, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Walt Whitman
(WALT) WHITMAN, AN AMERICAN PRIMER — The appetite of the people of these States, in popular speeches and writings, is for unhemmed latitude, coarseness, directness, live epithets, expletives, words of opprobrium.... I understand because I have the taste myself. -> October 9, 2011 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Christie Wilcox
CHRISTIE WILCOX, VENOMOUS — Snakes have fangs. Lionfish have spines. Jellyfish have stinging cells. Male platypuses have spurs. ... Platypuses are really awfully, terribly venomous. ... I've heard, being stung by a platypus is a life-changing experience... . -> October 28, 2018 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Isabel Wilkerson
(ISABEL) WILKERSON, (THE) WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS — In a symbolic... way, snow was to Chicago what cotton was to Mississippi. ... [W]here you saw snow you by definition would not see cotton and vice versa. Coming to Chicago was a guarantee that you would not be picking cotton. -> January 16, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Elma Williams
ELMA WILLIAMS, (THE) PANT GLAS STORY — Dogs wave tails... in several indicative ways. There is the wide sweep of expectancy, or the more vigorous movement of greeting. Or, tail under tummy, a subterranean waggle which can be pleasure tinged with guilt or fear. -> April 27, 2008 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Joy Williams
(JOY) WILLIAMS, THE FLORIDA KEYS--For experienced... divers, a dive at night is... especially remarkable... . The coral polyps open like flowers to feed on the plankton floating by, and the water is lit by luminescent organisms corkscrewing through the blackness. -> April 24, 2022 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Wendy Williams
WENDY WILLIAMS, THE HORSE — Despite what you see in Hollywood movies, horses... rarely "stampede" en masse. If several bands of horses... are frightened..., the bands... head off in all different directions. Their... flight trajectories... look... like spokes in a wheel. -> April 17, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Connie Willis
CONNIE WILLIS, BELLWETHER — Mood rings supposedly reflected the wearer's mood. Blue meant tranquillity; red meant crabbiness; black meant doom. Since the ring actually responded to temperature, no one achieved the ideal "bliss" purple without... a fever. -> September 8, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Edmund Wilson
EDMUND WILSON, A PIECE OF MY MIND — I have had a good many more uplifting thoughts, creative and expansive visions, while soaking in comfortable baths or drying myself after bracing showers, in... well-equipped... bathrooms than I have ever had in any cathedral. -> September 13, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
David Wilton
DAVID WILTON, WORD MYTHS — OK is the most successful of all Americanisms. It has invaded hundreds of... languages... . It was... the first unscripted word spoken on the surface of the moon, uttered by Buzz Aldrin just after the lunar module touched down. -> January 22, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Marie Winn
(MARIE) WINN, CENTRAL PARK IN THE DARK — At certain times of year you'll find hundreds of... cuckoos, kinglets, and grosbeaks... You'll find raccoons wandering and... bullfrogs croaking. And if you're lucky you might come upon a silver-haired bat dozing in the leaf litter. -> April 26, 2009 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Ruth R. Wisse
RUTH R. WISSE, THE SCHLEMIEL (AS MODERN HERO) — The... distinction between the schlemiel and the schlimazl... [is]... that... the former spills the soup, [and] the latter is the one into whose lap it falls. ... The schlemiel is the... disseminator of bad luck, and the schlimazl its... victim. -> January 25, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
P. G. Wodehouse
P.G. WODEHOUSE, LIFE WITH JEEVES — Jeeves doesn't have to open doors. He's like one of those birds in India who bung their astral bodies about — the chaps... who having gone into thin air in Bombay, reassemble the parts and appear two minutes later in Calcutta. -> August 6, 2006 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Barbara Woodhouse
(BARBARA) WOODHOUSE, TALKING TO ANIMALS — "Talking to animals"... is a matter of... your expression, and above all the tone of your voice. A harsh voice from me can make my cows jump in terror. I shouted at old Queenie once and she... fell down just as if she'd been shot. -> September 4, 2005 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Virginia Woolf
VIRGINIA WOOLF, THE MOMENT (AND OTHER ESSAYS) — [Dickens] saw oddities and blemishes, gestures and incidents, scars, eyebrows, everything.... [He] made his books blaze up, not by tightening the plot or sharpening the wit, but by throwing another handful of people upon the fire. -> January 21, 2007 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Lucy Worsley
L(UCY) WORSLEY, IF WALLS COULD TALK — [S]nuggling... together in a big bed was normal... . A French phrase book for use by medieval [travelers] included the... useful expressions: "you are an ill bed-fellow", "you pull all the bed clothes" and "you do nothing but kick about". -> September 9, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Orville and Wilbur Wright
ORVILLE (AND WILBUR) WRIGHT, TELEGRAM — Success. Four flights Thursday morning. All against twenty-one-mile wind. Started from level with engine power alone. Average speed through air thirty-one miles. Longest fifty-nine seconds. Inform press. Home Christmas. -> December 17, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Andrea Wulf
ANDREA WULF, (THE) BROTHER GARDENERS — Plants suffered greatly on sea voyages. Often the boxes and barrels with trees and shrubs were put on the open deck, exposed to... salt water... . [T]hey were... the first freight to be jettisoned during storms or pirate attacks. -> July 24, 2016 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
William Zinsser
(WILLIAM) ZINSSER, ON WRITING WELL — Beware of all the slippery new fad words: paradigm and parameter, prioritize and potentialize. They are all weeds that will smother what you write. Don't dialogue with someone you can talk to. Don't interface with anybody. -> July 14, 2013 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon

Quotes by anonymous or unknown authors (6)

THE WPA GUIDE TO MISSISSIPPI — [Politics] is... football, baseball, and tennis rolled into one. We enjoy it; we will hitch up and drive for miles in order to hear and applaud the vitriolic phrases of a candidate we have already reckoned we'll vote against. -> November 4, 2012 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
NPR, WAIT, WAIT… DON'T TELL ME! — [A]... contortionist... experienced a rubber man's worst nightmare... — his... foot got stuck behind his neck. ...[H]is circus pals ignored his cries for help because they thought he was joking. ... [He] had "...pins and needles for ages afterwards." -> December 12, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
THE WPA GUIDE TO FLORIDA — Diddy-Wah-Diddy ... is a place of no work and no worry. ... The road to it is so crooked that a mule pulling a load of fodder can eat off the... wagon as he plods along. All curbstones are chairs, and all food is already cooked. -> March 21, 2004 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
A LITTLE BOOK OF YANKEE HUMOR — "I don't know about your farm in Maine, mister, but I have a ranch in Texas and it takes me five days to drive around my entire spread," says the Texan. The Maine farmer replies, "Oh yes, I have a car just like that myself." -> August 11, 2002 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS — The oldest letter is "O," unchanged in shape since its adoption in the Phoenician alphabet... The newest letters added to... English... are "j" and "v," which are of post-Shakespearean use. Formerly they were... variants of "i" and "u." -> October 7, 2001 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
It's impossible to duplicate... the conditions under which Mozart heard music.... Pitch has gone up a... half tone since his day. If he... were to hear his G Minor Symphony in what to him would be G sharp minor, he would become... ill. -> January 30, 2000 by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
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