September 15, 2011

On today’s date, the Vulcan blessing “Live long and prosper” became part of our Earthly language…


You don’t have to be a full-fledged Trekkie to be familiar with the famous “Vulcan blessing” from Star Trek “Live long and prosper” — or with the splay-fingered “Vulcan salute” that is generally used when this saying is spoken.

If you’re a fan of the original Star Trek television series, you’re undoubtedly know the episode that introduced the Vulcan blessing and salute.

It’s titled “Amok Time” and today is its anniversary.

It was first aired on September 15, 1967 (as Episode 1 of Season 2).

I remember watching “Amok Time” that night in ‘67 as a teenager and working to make my fingers split apart in proper Vulcan fashion.

Today, like many Trek fans, I consider it one of the best episodes of the original series.

The script for “Amok Time” was written by the legendary science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon.

It’s one of three scripts he wrote for Star Trek. Sturgeon also penned the script for the humorous “Shore Leave” episode from Season 1 and a script titled “Joy Machine” that was never produced.

In addition to being the first Trek episode to feature the Vulcan blessing and salute, “Amok Time” is the only episode of the original Trek series that includes scenes set on Vulcan, the home planet of Mr. Spock (actor Leonard Nimoy).

Many key elements of Vulcan culture created by this episode were used throughout the rest of the original series — and in the following Trek spin-off TV series and movies.

The most memorable initial use of the Vulcan blessing and salute comes near the end of the “Amok Time” episode.

As Spock prepares to leave the planet, he says to the female Vulcan leader, T’Pau: “Live long, T’Pau, and prosper.”

T’Pau responds: “Live long and prosper, Spock.”

As they speak, they give each other the Vulcan salute.

According to Nimoy, he invented the hand gesture himself and adapted it from one used by Jewish priests while giving a blessing.

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook group.

Further reading…


In his autobography, I Am Not Spock (1977), Leonard Nimoy revealed that he invented the Vulcan salute for the Star Trek episode “Amok Time” — and that he based it on a traditional hand gesture used by Jewish priests.

For true Trekkies, this book is required reading.

May 03, 2011

Dr. Mardy Grothe’s NEVERISMS – a highly-recommended new book of quotations…


Every once in a while, I depart from the usual format of this blog to tell readers about new books of quotations that I particularly like and personally recommend.

Today’s post is about one of those books — Neverisms: A Quotation Lover's Guide to Things You Should Never Do, Never Say, or Never Forget.

Neverisms is the latest in a series of books about quotations by quote maven, psychologist and management consultant Dr. Mardy Grothe.

Previous books in the series include: 
   
  • Ifferisms: An Anthology of Aphorisms That Begin with the Word “IF” (2009); 
      • I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like: A Comprehensive Compilation of History’s Greatest Analogies, Metaphors, and Similes (2008); 
      • Viva la Repartee: Clever Comebacks and Witty Retorts from History's Great Wits and Wordsmiths (2005); and 
      • Oxymoronica: Paradoxical Wit & Wisdom From History's Greatest Wordsmiths (2004)

As those titles suggest, Grothe’s approach to books of quotations is clever, unique and entertaining.

Neverisms is no exception. It’s a one-of-a-kind collection of quotes, illuminated with background written by Grothe, that’s simultaneously fun to read and educational, often humorous and sometimes quite thought-provoking.

Like Grothe’s previous books, Neverisms includes quotations related to the book’s topic. In this case, as the subtitle indicates, the topic is quotes about “Things You Should Never Do, Never Say, or Never Forget,”

Grothe coined the term neverisms as a short (and memorable) term for such quotes. His new book collects and discusses more than 2,000 neverism quotations by nearly as many people, from every era of history and every walk of life.

The quotes are organized into chapters based on some aspect they have in common. Sometimes it’s a topic, such as sex, sports, politics or business. In other cases, it’s a linguistic similarity, such as quotes beginning with a certain phrase, like “never underestimate” or “never trust.”

Each chapter includes interesting introductory comments and fascinating “back stories” about the quotes written by Grothe.

This approach, which Grothe has used in his previous books, makes Neverisms hard to pigeonhole. It’s a great compilation of quotes, but it’s much more than just a compilation. It’s educational, but not at all dry. It’s fun reading — and you’re guaranteed to learn a lot of facts you didn’t know about a lot people and subjects.

For example, here are a couple of entries from the Stage & Screen chapter of Neverisms:

               Never confuse the improbable with the impossible: “Burke’s Law.”
                          GENE BARRY, as Captain Amos Burke, in a 
                          1963 episode of the TV series Burke’s Law

    In this popular 1960s television series, Gene Barry played a dapper Los Angeles millionaire who had been named chief of detectives for the L.A. Police Department. As he fought crime from his chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, Burke was famous for dispensing proverbial sayings to his young detectives, always ending them in his trademark manner: “Burke's Law.” The series also included these neverisms:

Never walk away from a long shot.
Never call your captain unless it’s murder.
Never drink martinis with beautiful suspects.
Never give your girl and dog the same kind of jewelry.

               Never resist an impulse, Sabrina. Especially if it’s terrible.
                          HUMPHREY BOGART, to Audrey Hepburn, 
                          in the 1954 Billy Wilder classic Sabrina 
                          (screenplay by Wilder & Samuel A. Taylor)

    This is the reply that business executive Linus Larrabee (Bogart) makes to the beautiful Sabrina Fairchild (Hepburn), after she waltzes into his office and announces, “All night long I’ve had the most terrible impulse to do something.”

I’ve collected and read hundreds of books of quotations and I rate Dr. Mardy Grothe’s new book Neverisms as one of the best. I give it my highest recommendation.

If you like books of quotations, or just like reading interesting books, I’m sure you’ll enjoy Neverisms.

By the way, if you’re a quote lover, you’ll also enjoy Dr. Mardy’s free weekly newsletter. You can subscribe to it by visiting his website at drmardy.com.

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Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on my quotations Facebook group.

Further reading: quotation books by Mardy Grothe...

February 09, 2011

The dual anniversary of Joe McCarthy’s “Red Scare” and Jerry Falwell’s “Purple Scare”…

Two notorious warnings about threats to the American way of life are linked to the date February 9th.

In both cases, the quotes generated national attention when they were reported in the press. But the results were considerably different.

On February 9, 1950, Republican Senator Senator Joseph McCarthy made an ominous announcement in a speech to the Ohio Country Women’s Republican Club of Wheeling, West Virginia.

In the speech, McCarthy famously claimed:

“I have here in my hand a list of 205 that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist party, and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy in the State Department.”

This quote was essentially the public launch of what evolved into an anti-Communist panic and witch hunt that lasted for years.

It was soon dubbed McCarthyism.”

That term was originally coined in a March 29, 1950 political cartoon by the great political cartoonist Herbert Block, who signed his cartoons as “HERBLOCK.”

Exactly forty-nine years after McCarthy launched the Cold War era “Red Scare,” national news was made by another controversial public figure who was trying to launch what might be called a “purple scare.”

The story was broken on February 9, 1999 in an Associated Press story written by journalist David Reed.

It reported that televangelist Rev. Jerry Falwell had announced that the children’s TV show Teletubbies was secretly trying to turn kids into homosexuals.

The comments by Falwell in the AP story generated a great deal of additional media attention.

However, they created far more eye-rolling, snickers and scorn than alarm. And, no official Telletubby witch hunt followed.

The AP article that broke the story said:

The Rev. Jerry Falwell is trying to out Tinky Winky, suggesting that the purple, purse-toting character on television’s popular “Teletubbies” children’s show is gay.

The February edition of the National Liberty Journal, edited and published by Falwell, contains an article warning parents that the rotund Teletubby with the triangular antenna may be a gay role model.

To support its claim, the publication says Tinky Winky has the voice of a boy but carries a purse.

“He is purple – the gay-pride color; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle – the gay-pride symbol.”

Falwell contends the “subtle depictions”' are intentional and issued a statement Tuesday that said, “As a Christian I feel that role modeling the gay lifestyle is damaging to the moral lives of children.”

Of course, the fact that these famous/infamous warnings by McCarthy and Falwell are both associated with the date February 9th is just a coincidence OR IS IT!?!

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook group.

Related reading…

January 26, 2011

George H.W. Bush and “the vision thing”...


It’s impossible to predict what quotes will come to be indelibly associated with each president of the United States. However, the famous quotes most presidents are remembered for include some they may regret and be haunted by later.

One of the quotes by George Herbert Walker Bush in that category is his remark about “the vision thing.”

In January 1987, Bush was near the end of his second term as Vice President under Ronald Reagan. It was common knowledge that he planned to run for President in 1988.

However, some critics — including some in Bush’s own Republican Party — viewed Bush as a politician who lacked the ability to clearly articulate his fundamental beliefs and policies, as Reagan did so well.

The January 26, 1987 issue of Time magazine included an article by journalist Robert Ajemian exploring this topic. It was titled “Where Is the Real George Bush?”

One of the anecdotes in that story made “the vision thing” a famous/infamous quotation.

“Colleagues say that while Bush understands thoroughly the complexities of issues, he does not easily fit them into larger themes,” Ajemian wrote. “This has led to the charge that he lacks vision. It rankles him. Recently he asked a friend to help him identify some cutting issues for next year’s campaign. Instead, the friend suggested that Bush go alone to Camp David for a few days to figure out where he wanted to take the country. ‘Oh,’ said Bush in clear exasperation, ‘the vision thing.’ The friend’s advice did not impress him.”

Bush’s comment about “the vision thing” was quickly picked by the press and political commentators and used against him by his critics.

Bush defeated Democrat Michael Dukakis in the November 1988 presidential election. And, he won despite allegations of his “vision problems” and other indignities, such as the October 19, 1987 issue of Newsweek that featured a cover headline essentially calling him a “wimp” (“GEORGE BUSH: FIGHTING THE ‘WIMP FACTOR’”).

However, Bush’s lack of “the vision thing” as president, especially in terms of domestic policies, was seen as a factor in his defeat by Democrat Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential race. And, today, the vision quote is still commonly cited in bios of Bush. For example, even the Bush bio posted on the official U.S. Senate website says:

“Bush...suffered from his lack of what he called ‘the vision thing,’ a clarity of ideas and principles that could shape public opinion and influence Congress. ‘He does not say why he wants to be there,’ complained columnist George Will, ‘so the public does not know why it should care if he gets his way.’”

As noted by a brief entry in Wikipedia, “the vision thing” went on to become a metonym, i.e., a shorthand figure of speech. It is now used as a description “for any politician’s failure to incorporate a greater vision in a campaign, and has often been applied in the media to other politicians or public figures.”

Ironically, January 26th also happens to be the anniversary of two quotes that Bill and Hillary Clinton later regretted. For more about those quotes, click this link...

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook group.

Further reading: books about presidential quotations…

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