“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

The awful origin of “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

On March 7, 1839 the play Richelieu: or, the Conspiracy, by the British politician and author, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, premiered at the Covent Garden Theatre in London. Few people today have heard of this play. But everyone knows one of the lines in it: “The pen is mightier than the sword.” The basic meaning of … Read more

10 famous quotes and phrases linked to the date January 10

1. and 2. “The die is cast.” and “cross the Rubicon” “The die is cast” was Julius Caesar’s famous remark on January 10, 49 B.C. as he led his troops across the Rubicon River to start a civil war for control of the Roman Empire. This event also led to the idiom “to cross the … Read more

“Like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning.”

The British stage actor Edmund Kean (1789-1833) was like the James Dean of his time. He gained celebrity and fame at a young age. His performances were fiery and highly innovative at the time, especially the new twists he gave to well-known characters in plays by Shakespeare. For example, instead of playing Shylock in The … Read more

The embarrassingly wrong history of the expression “embarrassment of riches”

“Embarrassment of riches” is a widely-used idiomatic expression that most people are familiar with. If you Google the phrase, you get millions of hits. At any given time, if you limit your search to Google’s News section, you’ll find it in hundreds of of recent news-related stories and posts. The phrase “embarrassment of riches” is … Read more

“The Famous Quotes of October 8th,” a short film script by Robert Deis…

EXTERIOR. SMALL CAFÉ IN KEY WEST, FLORIDA – MORNING An old, gray-haired man is sitting at one of the tables at an outdoor café in Key West, sipping Cuban coffee, reading the Key West Citizen newspaper. A very beautiful young woman and extremely handsome young man sit down together at a table nearby. They are … Read more

Mae West was very good at being bad…

Mae West (1893-1980) was like Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Dorothy Parker all combined in one package. She was sensuous, smart and funny. She was a singer, actor, playwright and screenwriter – and a genius at generating and capitalizing on sex-related controversy. Indeed, the first play she starred in on Broadway (which she also wrote under … Read more

A little tea and sympathy (and sex and censorship)…

Back in my college days, I tended to snigger at drug references in rock songs. So, I probably sniggered when I first heard Mick Jagger sing the lines in the Rolling Stones’ 1969 song “Let It Bleed” that go:       “Baby, you can rest your weary head right on me         And there will always … Read more

What is the “It” the Greeks had a word for? And what does that saying come from?

You’ve probably heard the saying “the Greeks had a word for it” (sometimes given as “the Greeks have a word for it”). But you may not be aware of how this enigmatic idiomatic expression got its start. It was launched into our language with a splash on September 25, 1930, when a bawdy play titled … Read more

Before Marilyn Monroe, “the seven year itch” was an annoying skin condition…

On November 20, 1952, the play The Seven Year Itch by George Axelrod debuted on Broadway at the Fulton Theatre. It starred Tom Ewell, as a married man attracted to a gorgeous young neighbor, played by Vanessa Brown. Ewell was also in the famous 1955 movie version of The Seven Year Itch, directed by Billy … Read more