Giving credit where due, and not
July 18, 2013
You probably can’t tell from reading my columns, but I really admire a well-turned phrase. I try to mix in an occasional clever quote with my meaningless gibberish whenever possible to make it seem like I might have a point. I provide the “almost” the quotes provide the “clever.”
Whenever possible I try to give proper credit for the quotes I use but more often I’ll just paraphrase it because I am far too lazy to research the actual quote and who said it.
Many commonly used quotes aren’t from the source quoted and many are just plain misquoted. For example, Humphrey Bogart never said, “Play it again, Sam” in Casablanca. It’s true!
It’s a little know fact that “Play it again Sam” was first uttered on a Fourth of July episode of the TV show “Cheers” by a mesmerized mailman named Cliff after the bartender, Sam Malone, had just shown a videotape of Bea Arthur wearing a stars and stripes bikini playing “Yankee Doodle” on a harmonica.
OK, that may not be true, but it’s an image that should keep Humphrey Bogart out of your head for a while.
I may have ripped off a quote or two over the years, but I’ve honestly never meant to. Sometimes great minds think alike and come up with similar ideas and sometimes we just don’t realize someone else may have used a similar line; but I like to give credit where it is due.
Laurence J. Peters probably said it best, “Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it.” If that’s true, I’m a pretty original guy.
Today is all about great quotes, and I’ll admit right up front that there is nothing original about these lines because I’m going to tell you exactly where they came from. A great quote is a line that can be taken out of context and still make you laugh, smile or ponder.
Mark Twain has probably been quoted, misquoted and ripped off as much as any American because he was a true master of the language with a uniquely American sense of humor. Most of us have heard a famous Mark Twain quote but here are a few you may not have heard; “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.” Or one of my favorites, “All generalizations are false, including this one.”
Dang, I wish I had said that … any of that! Other great lines that I didn’t say include:
“Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.” Jim Carrey
“A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man.” Lana Turner
“Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement.” President Ronald Reagan
“One man’s folly is another man’s wife.” Helen Rowland
“Electricity is really just organized lightning.” George Carlin
“I haven’t spoken to my wife in years. I didn’t want to interrupt her.” Rodney Dangerfield
“I’m not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Woody Allen
“I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.” Lily Tomlin
I could go on because there are so many great quotes from so many funny and insightful people…who aren’t me.
Every week I sit here and share whatever semi-amusing thoughts that might pass through my mind, but I don’t have any illusions that anyone will ever quote, or even misquote the drivel I write here.
Although I did see a “Life is a rollercoaster” quote on the Internet the other day, and even though I wrote one a column with that title a few years ago, the quote wasn’t mine. The good news is it wasn’t as good as my quote.
I wrote, “Life is like a roller coaster; you wait forever for something to happen and when it does it starts too fast, there are slow climbs to the top followed by quick falls back down, sudden turns that you never see coming then all too soon its over. That’s it. That’s my philosophy. Life is a roller coaster; you stand in line, you pay your dime and sometimes people throw up. That’s as deep as I get.”
Geez, on second thought maybe mine wasn’t so good after all, but I never claimed to be clever … just almost.
Rick Seley is an award-winning humor columnist.