“I’m mad as hell” — the misquote of a movie line that is itself a misquote!

During almost every recent election season, political commentators seem to talk about “angry voters” of one kind or another. These disgruntled voters are usually said to be angry about certain current events or something politicians did or didn’t do. During the last presidential election, I even saw one story that claimed “angry voters are now … Read more

Two famous quotes launched by Captain John Paul Jones…

The quotation most people associate with American Navy Captain John Paul Jones is “I have not yet begun to fight.”  According to legend, Jones said that defiant line during a naval battle with the British on September 23, 1779 when a British officer asked if he was ready to surrender. Some historians and quote mavens … Read more

Spiro Agnew vs. the “effete intellectuals” and “nattering nabobs”…

Nowadays, Conservative provocateurs like Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter get lots of media attention for coming up with snarky, quotable insults aimed at Liberals. But the way was paved for them decades ago by Republican politician Spiro Agnew (1918-1996), the former Governor of Maryland who became Vice President of the United States under … Read more

“Say it ain’t so, Joe!”

One of the most famous quotes in sports history is linked to the date September 28, 1920. On that day, “Shoeless Joe” Jackson supposedly admitted during testimony to a grand jury that he was one of eight Chicago White Sox baseball players who took bribes to let the Cincinnati Reds win the 1919 World Series. … Read more

Hanging … It concentrates the mind wonderfully.

Many of the famed witticisms uttered by British writer, lexicographer and wit Samuel Johnson were recorded for posterity in a journal kept by his admirer and friend James Boswell. Boswell used entries from the journal as a foundation for his classic biography, Life of Johnson (first published in 1791). One of Johnson’s oft-quoted quips comes … Read more

“Our long national nightmare is over.”

In August of 1974, faced with Congressional hearings, a mountain of bad press and the looming threat of impeachment over the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon became the first president in U.S. history to resign. His official letter of resignation was delivered at 11:35 a.m. Eastern Time on August 9, 1974. A half-hour later, Nixon’s Vice … Read more

“Kill them all and let God sort them out.”

In 1209, Pope Innocent III decided it was time to crack down on followers of a religious sect that had become popular in Southern France. Originally called Albigensians, they came to be more widely known as the Cathars. Cathars were Christians. But they rejected the authority of the Pope and other key aspects of Catholicism, … Read more

Jimmy Carter’s “Malaise Speech” (which didn’t include the word ‘malaise’)…

On the night of July 15, 1979, in the midst of his third year as president, Jimmy Carter gave a televised speech from the White House that is often called his “Malaise Speech.” Malaise is a French word meaning a feeling of uneasiness or discomfort, adopted into English long ago. It definitely fit the timing … Read more

“Houston, we have a problem” — but “failure is not an option”…

On June 30, 1995, the movie Apollo 13 was released to theaters in the US. This epic film about the near-disastrous Apollo 13 lunar mission in April 1970 was directed by Ron Howard, using a screenplay by William Broyles Jr. and Al Reinert. Two lines from the film soon became famous quotations: “Houston, we have … Read more

Famous war-related and “fighting words” quotes uttered on June 18…

By an odd coincidence, a number of famous war-related quotations were uttered on the date June 18. On June 18, 1757, at the Battle of Kolin, Prussian King Frederick the Great urged his hesitant troops to attack the larger Austrian army by shouting:        “Rascals, would you live forever?” Thousands of those rascals didn’t … Read more