“There is less in this than meets the eye.”

On January 4, 1922, the New York Times published a review of the dramatic play Aglavaine and Selysette by the paper’s witty critic Alexander Woollcott. Woollcott had attended the premiere of the play at the Maxine Elliott Theatre in New York City the day before, on the afternoon of January 3rd. His review wasn’t glowing. … Read more

I’m dreaming of a white, gay, green, brown or red Christmas…

THE FAMOUS CHRISTMAS SONG: “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas Just like the ones I used to know. Where the treetops glisten and children listen To hear sleigh bells in the snow. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas With every Christmas card I write. May your days be merry and bright And may all your … Read more

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address – and Lord Buckley’s “hip translation” . . .

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave a brief speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania at the dedication of a cemetery for the Union soldiers who had died in that bloody Civil War battle four months earlier. Lincoln’s remarks came to be known as “The Gettysburg Address.” It’s his best known speech and includes two of … Read more

As Maine goes, so goes: (a) the nation (b) Vermont . . .

In the November 1936 presidential election, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was reelected for a second term in a landslide victory over his Republican opponent, Kansas Governor Alf Landon. Roosevelt received more than 60% of the vote and won in all but two states – Maine and Vermont. On November 4, 1936, the day after the … Read more

“Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” (and finger-eating wolverines)

On October 11, 1975, at 11:30pm Eastern Time, a new TV comedy show debuted on the NBC network. It opened with a wacky skit featuring three comic actors who were virtually unknown at the time. In the skit, a frumpy-looking East European immigrant with a heavy accent is being tutored on how to speak proper … Read more

“Yada Yada Yada…”

During its long, successful original run on NBC, from 1989 to 1998, the Seinfeld TV show created or popularized many catchphrases. Some of the best known are:        ● the famed snub of the “Soup Nazi,” “No soup for you!”        ● the sexual euphemism “master of your domain”        ● the food-related faux pas … Read more

“Well, all I know is what I read in the papers.”

The most famous line used by American humorist Will Rogers when he poked fun at the latest antics of politicians or commented on other recent news stories was “Well, all I know is what I read in the papers.”  Many books and websites cite the September 30, 1923 edition of The New York Times as … Read more

“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

In many books of quotations and on thousands of websites H.L. Mencken is credited with the famous quote “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” Most sources fail to mention that this “quote” by “The Sage of Baltimore” is actually the traditional paraphrase of what Mencken actually wrote — not … Read more

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

The animal characters Walt Kelly created for his classic newspaper comic strip Pogo were known for their seemingly simplistic, but slyly perceptive comments about the state of the world and politics. None is more remembered than Pogo the ‘possum’s quote in the poster Kelly designed to help promote environmental awareness and publicize the first annual … Read more

The 1941 New Yorker cartoon that created the expression “Back to the old drawing board!”

Drawing boards have been used by engineers and architects for more than two centuries. But the saying “back to the old drawing board” is more recent and can actually be traced to a specific source and date. It was coined by the American artist Peter Arno in a cartoon first published in the March 1, … Read more