Tag Archives: humor

Rotten Reviews: Three by Robert Coover

The Origin of the Brunists

‘…an explosion in a cesspool.’

Bruno McAndrew, Best Sellers

The Public Burning

‘…an overwritten bore…a protracted sneer.’

Paul Gray, Time

Gerald’s Party

‘The novel should develop a reader’s sensitivities, not deaden them with risible comic strip.’

New Statesman”

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.    

The Algonquin Wits: Robert Benchley

“On mirrors: ‘Things are depressing enough as they are, without my going out of my way to make myself miserable.’”

Robert Benchley

Excerpted from: Drennan, Robert E., ed. The Algonquin Wits. New York: Kensington, 1985.

Cuckold

“Cuckold: The husband of an adulterous wife. The name derives from cuckoo, the chief characteristic of this bird being to deposit its eggs in other birds’ nests. Dr. Johnson explained that ‘it was usual to alarm a husband at the approach of an adulterer by calling Cuckoo, which by mistake was applied in time to the person warned.’ The cuckold was traditionally supposed to wear horns as the attribute of his condition. The usage is ancient; the Romans used to call an adulterer a cuckoo.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

The Devil’s Dictionary: Absurdity

“Absurdity, n. [1.] A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one’s own opinion. [2.] The argument of an opponent. A belief in which one has not had the misfortune to be instructed.” 

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000. 

Write It Right: Calculated for Likely

“Calculated for Likely. ‘The bad weather is calculated to produce sickness.’ Calculated implies calculation, design.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. Write it Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2010.

Stephen Leacock on Statistics

“In ancient times they had not statistics so they had to fall back on lies.”

Stephen Leacock

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Scott Adams on the Dilbert Principle

“The basic concept of the Dilbert principle is that the most ineffective workers are systematically moved where they can do the least damage: management.”

Scott Adams

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Kin Hubbard on…A Visit to the Office of a Professional

“Nothing is as irritating as the fellow who chats pleasantly while he’s overcharging.”

Kin Hubbard

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Boilerplate

“Boilerplate (noun): Standard, stereotypical news stories, features, etc., syndicated to newspapers; ready-to-print copy; pedestrian or hackneyed writing (from the printer’s matrix or plate form). Adj. boilerplate

‘In newspaper jargon, you might call all this the boiler plate of the novel—durable informative matter set up in stereotype and sold to country newspapers as filler to eke out a scarcity of local news, i.e of ‘plot.’ And the novel, like a newspaper boiler plate, contains not only a miscellany of odd facts but household hints and how-to-do-it instructions (you can learn how to make strawberry jam from Anna Karenina and how to reap a field and hunt ducks).’ Mary McCarthy, On the Contrary”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.

The Devil’s Dictionary: Ink

“Ink, n. A villainous compound of tannogallate of iron, gum-arabic, and water, chiefly used to facilitate the infection of idiocy and promote intellectual crime. The properties of ink are peculiar and contradictory: it may be used to make reputations and unmake them; to blacken them and to make them white; but it is most generally and acceptably employed as a mortar to bind together the stones in an edifice of fame, and as a whitewash to conceal afterward the rascal quality of the material. There are men called journalists who have established ink baths which some persons pay money to get into, others to get out of. Not infrequently it occurs that a person who has paid to get in pays twice as much to get out.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000.