Tag Archives: humor

Write It Right: Coat for Coating

“Coat for Coating. ‘A coat of paint, or varnish.’ If we coat something we produce a coating, not a coat.”

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

Pablo Picasso on Computers

[Of computers:] “They are useless. They can only give you answers.”

Pablo Picasso, quoted in William Fifeld, In Search of Genius (1982)

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

H.L. Mencken on Morality

“Morality is the theory that every human act must be either right or wrong, and that 99 percent of them are wrong.”

H.L. Mencken

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

 Rotten Reviews: 10:30 on a Summer Night

“…has the proud air of saying in her every painful, glottal line, ‘Hup for prose.’”

Hortense Callisher, The Nation

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

The Devil’s Dictionary: Adherent

“Adherent, n. A follower who has not yet obtained all that he expects to get.” 

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

The Algonquin Wits: Robert Benchley

“Benchley spent a short, highly unsuccessful apprenticeship in the advertising department of Curtis Publishing Company, about which he recalled: ‘When I left Curtis (I was given plenty of time to get my hat and coat) I was advised not to stick to advertising. They said I was too tall, or something. I forget just what the reason was they gave.’”

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

Write It Right: Clever for Obliging

“Clever for Obliging. In this sense the word was once in general use in the United States, but is now seldom heard and life here is less insupportable.”

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

Write It Right: Citizen for Civilian

“Citizen for Civilian. A soldier may be a citizen, but is not a civilian.”

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

S.J. Perelman on Freelance Writers

“The dubious privilege of a freelance writer is he’s given the freedom to starve anywhere.”

S.J. Perelman

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Portable Curmudgeon. New York: Plume, 1992.

The Algonquin Wits: Alice Duer Miller

“Novelist and Round Table frequenter Alice Duer Miller once paid off a loss at cards to Aleck Woollcott, informing him: ‘You, sir, are the lowest form of life—a cribbage pimp.’”

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