War of the Words: Amazing Quotes 2

In these times of Sahara Desert cheerfulness, it’s not a bad idea to distract ourselves from the swirling, cynical sands and find an oasis for our suffering spirits – if not forever, at least for a moment.

Guru Maharaj Ji was the 16-year old incarnation of God. The young avatar from the Upper Ganges proclaimed his divinity at the Houston Astrodome in 1973 during the Millennium: “The Most Holy and Significant Event in Human History!”

The anti-Vietnam War leader Rennie Davies was a devotee: “I would cross the planet on my hands and knees to touch his toe.”

His fellow Chicago Seven defendant Abbie Hoffman on the other hand, was not: “If the Guru Maharaj Ji is God, he’s the kind of God America deserves!”

Speaking of the Vietnam War, Major Paul M. Roseman, operations officer of the 377th Security Police squad, issued this order: “Salute when you recognize an officer, even though you both, officer and non-commissioned officer, are nude.”

In 1822, George Bidder won the mathematics prize at Edinburgh University. He was asked how far a pendulum would go in 7 years, 14 days, 2 hours, 1 minute and 56 seconds if it swings at the rate of 9 ¾ inches in 1 second – taking the year to be 365 days, 5 hours, 40 minutes and 50 seconds long. And without missing a beat, he replied: “2,165,625,744 ¾ inches!”

Jose de Fonseco was a Mexican sociologist who was nettled by an American advertisement that spoofed Emiliano Zapata. Striking back, he came out with a poster for something that does not exist: “George Washington, United States secessionist, had an excessive fondness for black slaves…For us, Darkie is not a person, but a beer. We know you’ll enjoy it!”

A 2-page advertisement for a furniture store with pictures of 50 naked behinds appeared in Paris-Match magazine in 1969 with these tag lines: “Yes, that’s where it’s at. We agree with Madame de Sevigne who wrote ‘Most of our troubles come from having our asses squarely on the saddle!’ Our job is to sit you down anatomically, socially and somewhat philosophically!”

Bottle labels from a Calcutta distillery proclaimed the most tasteful sound bite in advertising: “Excellent whiskey from high quality Scotch grapes!”

Speaking of Calcutta, Sir George Otto Trevelyan gushed about it in 1863: “The place is so bad by nature that human efforts could do little to make it worse but that little has been done faithfully and assidously.”

Sir Winston Churchill beamed happily upon seeing Calcutta once. When asked why, he said: “So I never have to see it again!”

It was a Dr. Siccary from Virginia who proved in 1733 that tomatoes were not poisonous. Before his death he said: “A person who should eat a sufficient abundance of these apples would never die.”

Before Thomas Crapper invented the prototype of the modern toilet in 1884, people would usually sluice water from cisterns into pipes and eventually into the river. Queen Victoria was intrigued by all those pieces of paper floating in the Thames. Her lady-in-waiting told her: “Your Majesty, they are notices that swimming here is forbidden.”

When modern plumbing came to being, Price Philip groused: “This is the biggest waste in the country by far. You spend half a pint and flush two gallons!”

Barnaby Condrad compiled celebrities’ famous last words in a book titled, well, Famous Last Words. Apparently, Gertrude Stein kept repeating: “What is the answer? What is the answer?” Then she sat up suddenly and shouted: “What is the question?!” – and fell back dead.

Then there was young criminal William Palmer. When he was about to be hanged in the gallows in 1853, he turned to the executioner and asked nervously: “Are you sure it’s safe?”

Dylan Thomas was celebrating his birthday, and before he collapsed, said: “I’ve had 18 straight whiskeys. I think that’s the record.”

And although she spent her life being victimized by Alexander Pope’s satires, it was English writer Lady Mary Wortley Montagu who left the best lines in 1762: “It has all been very interesting.”

Enough of dying words – let’s go to the cemetery. This is the inscription on a woman’s grave in East Hartford Connecticut: “Hark! She bids all her friends adieu;/ an angel calls her to the spheres;/ Our eyes the radiant sun pursue/ Through liquid telescopes of tears.”

Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick in 1851 and in his introduction, gave this piece of trivia: “The breath of the whale is frequently attended by such an insupportable smell as to bring a disorder to the brain.”

After an accident, Florence Foster Jenkins found she could sing “a higher F than ever before”. She wasted no time in conquering the music scene, eventually staging a concert at the Carnegie Hall on Oct 25 1944. In a Saturday Review review, Robert Lawrence said: “Her sing at its finest suggests the untrammeled swoop of some great bird.”

Although Beethoven’s music was “flawlessly constructed, original in detail and inspired in melody”, Lotte Eisner said his 1961 film bio The Magnificent Rebel featured a composer “with false eyelashes, played by a mediocre actor with a broad face.”

Edgar Varese was the composer of Ionization: “Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling atoms mine, you are lost and gone forever ionize and recombine!”

But his greatest masterpiece was Integrales, and Ernest Newman of the New York Evening Post showed his appreciation: “It sounded like a combination of early morning at the Mott Haven freight yards, feeding time at the zoo, and a Sixth Avenue trolley rounding a curve, with an intoxicated woodpecker thrown in for good measure.”

In 1847, a young fellow named Sylvester Graham espoused such lunacies as taking cold showers, wearing loose clothing and that wheat bread is better than white bread – and was nearly lynched by rioting Boston bakers. Ralph Waldo Emerson hailed him as “The poet of bran bread and pumpkins!”

Voltaire (“Chance is a word devoid of sense, nothing can exist without a cause”) was once punished by his patron Frederick The Great with a cause. He gave a receipt afterwards: “Received from Condrad Bochhoffer thirty lashes on my bare back, being in full for an epigram on Frederick II King of Prussia, Vive le Roi! [signed] Arouet de Voltaire”

During World War II, Resistance fighters In France would say these code words when they would use the toilet: “Je vais telephoner a Hitler!”

The pianist and composer Frederick Chopin once shaved only the left side of his face. He explained: “It does not matter. My audience sees only my right side.”

Bosley Crowther of the New York Times noticed with amusement that the 1944 Laurel and Hardy film The Big Noise “has about as much humor in it as a six-foot hole in the ground.”

Some people will do everything for money. The headline for a June 28 1967 New York Times articles goes: “GARBAGE CARTING IN THE GRIP OF MAFIA”

When news spread that George III had died, Foreign Minister Talleyrand was besieged for confirmation: “Some say that the King of England is dead. Others say he is not dead. But do you wish to know my opinion? Well then, I believe neither! I mention this is confidence to you…The slightest imprudence on your part would compromise me seriously.”

In a manifestation of sisterhood, 2,000 Catholic and Protestant women from 27 countries gathered in New York in 1983 to venerate the female God Sophia: “Our maker Sophia, we are women in your image; with the hot blood of our wombs we give form to new life. With nectar between our thighs we invite a lover; with pour warm bodily fluids we remind the world of it’s pleasures and sensations.”

A teacher from the Union Theological Seminary who calls herself Rev. Dolores Williams explained their unusual brand of feminism: “I don’t think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff.”

When Thomas Jefferson heard in 1807 that Benjamin Silliman said in 1807 that meteors came from space, he sniffed: “I would rather believe that a Yankee professor would lie than believe stones fall from heaven.”

The Rev. William Spooner of Oxford had a unique way with words. Upon commenting on the custom of kissing the bride, he said: “It is kisscustomary to cuss the bride!”

A truant student of his received this immortal scolding: “You have hissed all my mystery lectures! I saw you fight a liar in the back quad, in fact you tasted the whole worm!”

And his fans would agree that his finest moment came when he greeted Queen Victoria as “The Queer Old Dean.”

John A. Yacenda of the California County Health Dept. was asked how long before cigarette smoke becomes lethal, and he replied: “About three seconds.”

Before writing and directing Sleepless In Seattle (and divorcing Martin Scorcese), Nora Ephron once told an anecdote about a movie legend: “He was sitting in a low chair with his back to the room, so no one in the restaurant knew he was tall, much less he was Gary Cooper.”

In Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche told Stanley: “You’re simple, straightforward and honest, a little bit on the primitive side I should think!”

Gilbert K. Chesterton was not a communist – but he’s not a capitalist either: “To be clever enough to get a great deal of money, you have to be stupid enough to want it.”

Indeed, Chesterton is, to use journalistic lingo, a good copy: “If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at some of the people He gives it to.”

It is important to be earnest, that’s why Oscar Wilde once lamented: “It’s a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information.”

Leo Rosten shares this brilliant idea from his book Treasury of Jewish Quotations: “When you go to a restaurant, be sure to get a table near the waiter.”

His kosher gallimaufry also includes Woody Allen’s death defying statement: “I don’t believe in a hereafter, but I’m taking along a change of underwear.”

During the Joey-Kris Issue, beauty queen Melanie Marquez showed what sibling solidarity was all about: “Stop judging my brother! He’s not a book!”

Groucho Marx was making small talk in his quiz show ‘You Bet Your Life’ to put a nervous contestant at ease: “You’re a model? What do you model? Clay?”

And lest we forget, Pythagoras reminds us once again in the Golden Verses: “Avoid beans as you would matricide.”

Photo courtesy of Prem-Rawat-Maharaji.info


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