Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to explore strange old quotes, to seek out new sayings, and new ways of stating them in a galaxy not so far away. [Listen to our podcast at thequotablespodcast.libsyn.com ]

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Facebooking for Quotes

Listen to this week's episode, Facebooking, now.

So, when you join the world's best-known social network, they ask you innumerable questions. Where do you live? Where did you go to school? Who are your relatives? When is your birthday? Do you like boys or girls?

At The Quotables, however, we have always been fascinated that they also ask you to identify your favorite quotations. Why? It's not exactly the kind of thing you ask at a cocktail party or even as a way to try to build a friendship. I would bet that no one ever bellied up to a bar and asked, "Hey, baby, what's your favorite quotation?"

Nevertheless, quotations have become a huge part of the Facebook culture. Not only do most people have at least one on their "About" page, but some people actually spend time trawling through them. Don't believe me? Check out the post "My 50 Favorite Facebook Quotations" on Blog Income for Women. Plus, there are tons of posts where people share quotations to express their thoughts and many, many pages devoted to adding pithy sayings and profound remarks to funny or beautiful pictures. These get posted and re-posted continuously. Of course, they are not always accurately attributed, and some are even intentionally inaccurate like the one below:

This well-shared "Lincoln" quote has been created and re-created by a variety of people using different images and different variations of the quotation. There is even a version with Lincoln's name, but Benjamin Franklin's image. Then, there is the version with Ben Franklin saying, "You can't trust quotes on the internet." But, apparently, there is a battle in cyberspace, because William Shakespeare takes the opposite perspective: 

Oh wait, that IS Shakespeare's image BUT with Franklin's name AND a title Franklin never held. So, enjoy your quotations on Facebook all you want, but be careful if you decide to use one in your English paper. In the meantime, enjoy our new segment, where we randomly select Facebook friends and share their favorite quotations with you. Listen now.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Speaks Yoda Does

In this week's episode (listen now), we celebrate the sayings of the great Jedi master Yoda from the Star Wars universe.  (Ed is such a Star Wars fan that he once featured in the newspaper for being the first person in line to see one of the newly released films! Of course, I barely escaped similar notoriety when pandas arrived at the local zoo, thanks to pandamaniac sister!!)

Yoda is, of course, wise in addition to being small, green and powerful. However, his wisdom is delivered with a distinctive syntax that gets the words out of order. So, when TomTom, the navigation company, decided to offer Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz), as one of its celebrity voices, it offered a perfect opportunity to create a hilarious "behind the scenes" video of the taping, which you can watch below.

For more about Star Wars, Star Trek, and other geeky topics, check out our Digital Mancave podcast and Digital Mancave blog.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Diana Debate: Behind the Scenes at TQ

Ed and I rarely disagree about anything (except what temperature the house should be), so our friends would have been shocked to overhear our pre-show meeting about this week's episode, TQ5: Ew-logy (listen to the episode now). Of all things to fight over, we argued over Princess Diana!

To be fair, I was the most heated. After all, I am a self-proclaimed princess expert who has studied royalty for more than 30 years, so I feel that my opinions are very well-qualified. But, here's the problem: I don't think Diana was a saint. I don't think she "saved" the royal family. I don't think she was a better parent than Prince Charles. (Read my Princess Palace post, Diana and Me.)

Don't get me wrong. I greatly respect her work, her beauty and her legacy. But, I also admire the work of Prince Charles and the rest of the royal family, which started long before anyone ever heard of Lady Diana Spencer.

On the other hand, I have very limited respect for Diana's brother, Charles Earl Spencer, who delivered Diana's eulogy at Westminster Abbey. So, as we discussed which parts of his eulogy for her to include on the podcast, there were parts I absolutely refused to read. Ed was befuddled. Like many people, he thinks Diana was a tragic victim of a cold royal family. "She was so young," he said in her defense. Yes, she was 19 when she became engaged, but her own family helped push her into it. Where were they when it fell apart? And, she didn't stay "so young"--she was 34 when she gave that scathing interview to Martin Bashir, which upset her own children so much.

Diana's burial place: The island in the lake at
Althorp Estate, which is held by Earl Spencer.
I guess I feel like those who would sanctify Diana the way Republicans feel about liberals or Democrats feel about Tea Party-ers. So, Ed caught the edge of 20 years of my frustration on this topic, which was greatly enflamed by many of the things Earl Spencer said that summer day in 1997. As I told Ed, it was like he told The Queen "eff you" in the very church where she was married and where she was crowned. For the Earl to pledge to Prince William and Prince Harry that Diana's "blood family" would ensure that they were raised as Diana wanted was pure hypocrisy. Not only had Diana regularly been on the outs with various members of her family, the earl himself was living thousands of miles away at the time in South Africa. When he moved back to England, he left his own children there and started another family with wife #2. From there, he had a brawl with a friend, probably had an affair, divorced wife #2, got engaged, broke that engagement, and married wife #3, who gave him his seventh child earlier this year. All of which certainly makes him a fitter role model for his princely nephews than the royals. (Insert sarcasm sign.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nastiest Insults: In Memory of Larry Hagman

One of television's nastiest antagonists is undoubtedly J.R. Ewing of "Dallas," played brilliantly by veteran actor (and actual good guy) Larry Hagman, who passed away on November 23, 2012.  The writers drafted incredible insults for the pompous Texas oilman, and Hagman delivered them with the perfect blend of snark, animosity and just-plain rudeness.

In this week's episode (listen now), we tribute to Hagman and his evil alter ego. Here are some bonus examples of the world according to J.R.  Try these at your next party and you won't be invited again!

"Why don't you book tickets on the Titanic?"
"I'm amazed you're not a better loser after all the experience you've had."
"Ray was always uncomfortable dining with the family. After all, we do use knives and forks."
"I expect to find you in my bed tonight. I might be late Wait up for me."
"I'm kinda tired of half-breeds and moochers and strangers hanging out around here."
"The only thing you ever learned is that vodka doesn't smell on your breath."
"He's just about the best liar I ever met, with the exception of myself of course."
"What's a family for if it can't take care of its losers?"
"Weren't you here a couple of months ago? You're not gonna make habit out of this are you?"

For our favorite J.R. quotes, listen to the episode.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Great Emancipator? Yes, but ...

Yesterday marked the 150th anniversary of th Gettysburg Address, which inspired us to induct Abraham Lincoln into our new The Quotables Hall of Fame. Listen to the new episode.

Lincoln is definitely one of the most well-known and most revered American presidents. He may be as close to sainthood as a politician can get. He is remembered as a man of principles, a man ahead of his time, a defender of equality. This iconographic status is based on a true story. Nevertheless, history has taken some liberties with the full story.

Was Lincoln opposed to slavery? Absolutely. Did he free the slaves? Yes. Was he in favor of racial equality? Absolutely not. He made that point clear repeatedly, especially during his famous debates with Stephen Douglas. If he had lived to lead the nation through Reconstruction perhaps he would have softened these views but we can never know that now.

As for his principles, he was like any politician and most successful leaders: willing to bend them when he had a greater goal in sight. The new Spielberg film "Lincoln" illustrates this very well.

Was he ahead of his time? No. Millions of people in his era and before him opposed slavery. If they had not, the nation would not  have been divided. However, he was an extraordinary leader, the right man at the right moment of history. And for that, we salute him.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What's Your Favorite Movie Line?

We are preparing for an upcoming episode about the influence of movies. So, we were wondering what are your favorite movie lines. Use the comment link below or send them to us on Twitter at @palaceprincess or @savagetechman. Feel free to just type in the line OR to tell us why it is special to you. You might even be invited to appear on the show...  To listen to this week's episode, Remembrance, click here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


In this week's episode, we welcome guest Patricia Watts of A Petite Princess blog and honor Veterans Day. listen now: Listen now.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Most Vulgar Campaign Slogan Ever

With everyone still a little hungover from Campaign 2012, it seems like an appropriate cure is a bit of the "hair of the dog that bit you." In other words, more campaign slogans. That's the topic of Votable Quotables on this week's episode of The Quotables. Download the podcast now.

Franklin Pierce: Even in the 19th century,
it was all about the hair.
Our research for the episode turned up one of the most vulgar campaign slogans I have ever heard: "We Polked you in '44; we shall Pierce you in '52." Clearly my reaction to this slogan from 1852 has been colored by modern sensibilities. I have, perhaps, watched too many PG-13 movies and listened to too much rap music. Nevertheless, I cannot imagine that pre-Facebook people particularly enjoyed being poked much less being pierced. Neither activity seems very polite, either.

On top of that, Pierce was something of a nonentity. He had not been expected to gain his party's nomination, was not a national political figure, was a Northerner with Southern sympathies in the era before the Civil War, and he had not held elected office in some time. But, he was a war veteran and since no one really knew what he thought about anything, he was a "safe" candidate when the convention deadlocked. (You see, back then, the country did not endure endless months of primary battles and the candidates were actually selected at the convention.)

Fortunately for the poking, piercing candidate, his opponent was Winfield Scott, an anti-Slavery Southerner whose running mate came to be known as "Old Fuss and Feathers"--not exactly a nickname to inspire confidence. To make things even more interesting, the two parties had virtually identical platforms. So, what really made the difference? Turns out, Mr. Pierce was a genuinely nice person. People just liked him.

And, I guess, they didn't mind being Pierced.

What's your favorite campaign slogan?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Collective Wisdom of Assassins

In our first episode/post, we explored the history of the word "assassin." That got me thinking about what some of the most famous assassins have had to say for themselves. Here are selections that may or may not help explain what was in their minds. Download the episode.

Charles Guiteau
"The President's tragic death was a sad necessity."
Charles J. Guiteau, who delayed his assassination attempt on President James Garfield until the First Lady had recovered from an illness. It took Garfield 11 weeks to die from the infection caused by the gunshot wound.

"I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people, the good working people."
Leon Czolgosz shot President William McKinley in a public receiving line at the Pan-American Exposition. Again, the president died of infection, not the gunshots, but it only took McKinley eight days.

"Before I fired the shots I actually wished him well and bowed to him in reverence."
Nathuram Godse killed Gandhi because he opposed Gandhi's teaching of extreme nonviolence. Nevertheless, Gandhi's sons attempted to have Godse's life spared in order to honor their father's beliefs. They were unsuccessful.

Lee Harvey Oswald being shot
by Jack Ruby as Oswald is
being moved by police, 1963
"Revolutions require work, revolutions require sacrifice, revolutions, and our own included, require a certain amount of rationing, a certain amount of calluses, a certain amount of sacrifice."
Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of President John Kennedy, is one of the most famous assassins in history, but many conspiracy theorists question whether he was an assassin at all. (P.S. He was.)

"Maybe something can be saved, something can be done."
Jack Ruby, who killed Lee Harvey Oswald, is also a favorite topic of conspiracy theorists. In killing Oswald, was he covering up a much larger plot? (P.S. No.)

"They can gas me, but I am famous. I have achieved in one day what it took Robert Kennedy all his life to do."
Sirhan Sirhan assassinated presidential candidate Robert Kennedy in 1968, but he still lives today in a California prison where he is eligible for parole hearings every five years. This is my favorite assassin's quote because it is the most true: a moment of infamy can (unfortunately) propel the unknown into the world spotlight and keep them there for decades to come.

"I am the son of peasants and I know what is happening in the villages. That is why I wanted to take revenge, and I regret nothing."
Gavrilo Princip may have known about his neighborhood, but he likely had no idea that killing Archduke Franz Ferdinand would ignite the First World War. He may have had no regrets but the 37 million people who died might have urged him to make a different choice.

"I don't think I'm a celebrity. A chimpanzee could have done what I did."
Mark David Chapman murderd John Lennon in 1980 and has spent the rest of his life in prison, where he receives treatment for mental illness.

Aftermath of the Reagan
assassination attempt
“Guns are neat little things, aren't they? They can kill extraordinary people with very little effort.”
John Hinckley Jr. was spared prison following his attempt on President Ronald Reagan's life. When he was sentenced instead to a mental health facility, public outrage helped inspire the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Get Out the Vote

Good morning, my fellow Americans! Today is the day to exercise your rights at the polls. Even in close years, like 2000, it is amazing that we can enact this "peaceful revolution" every four years.

Download the podcast now.

This week on The Quotables podcast, in a new segment called Votable Quotables, we take a look at how presidential campaigns over the years have used slogans to build themselves up, tear the other guy down or otherwise persuade the voters to support them. Also, in Ed-ymology, we explore the political term "gerrymander." And, if you think you know what Ed will say about this one, believe me, you don't.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ed-ymology: The Origin

In this week's mini episode [listen now] we introduce one of our most fun segments, "Ed-ymology." In this segment, I (the one with a socially unacceptably large vocabulary and an atypical interest in word origins) choose a word and Ed offers his own self-generated insights on the possible original meaning of the word. Since he hasn't read a dictionary like I have--what can I say, it was a lonely childhood--his take offers quite a lot of amusement, whereas mine would be quite boring (if you don't believe me, just keep reading). And, the selected word gives us a new perspective on related quotations that we can explore.

An Assassin at work.
The topic this time is "assassin," which everyone understands is someone who kills a politically prominent person. It originates from a European/Christian mispronunciation of the name of a Middle Eastern/Muslim sect that was active during the Middle Ages, when Christian Crusaders were actively battling to gain control of the lands that both religions hold sacred. For me, then, the word is fascinating because it is an example of how language can be used for propaganda purposes. To call someone "assassin" in Europe had far greater ramifications early on because it would have alluded that you were truly an "enemy" or perhaps even a "heathen."

This politicization of an ethnic group's identity as a derogatory term reminds me of another commonly used word: "barbarian," which means savage or uncivilized. The term was coined by the Ancient "civilized" Greeks who were constantly beset by allegedly less sophisticated peoples. The Greeks would ridicule some of these neighbors by making fun of the way their languages sounded, "bar bar bar," in the same way a racially insensitive person today might say, "ching ching chong," to simulate a Chinese language.

Of course, the most offensive of these types of words today is so heinous most people will only refer to it as "the n-word," which is derived from the French word "negre" and Spanish word "negro," both of which simply mean "black." And although you'll find very few people with skin that is actually black in color, (for that matter, I would say that I am much closer to pink than white, but I digress), Europeans used this term generally to refer to people from Sub-Saharan African as well as other places where skin tones were darker than their own. Once the transatlantic slave trade was started, the reference became increasingly derogatory, and by the mid-20th century, when racial intolerance was no longer the accepted norm, most people of African descent protested against its use. Even the use of the words "negro" and "black" are offensive to some, but these terms are still considered to be much milder than the infamous "n" word.

Barack Obama and his mother.
In the United States, this has left us referring to people with African ancestry as "African American." But, even this more accurate description is less than satisfactory for some. After all, due to centuries of race mixing, a large number of U.S.-born individuals with African ancestry also have European, Asian, or Native American ancestry. President Obama, Tiger Woods and Halle Berry are just a few examples. They could just as easily check "white/caucasian" on their census forms, which is why an increasing number of those kinds of forms now include "mixed race" as an option. The other issue with using "African American" is that people who immigrate to the United States from other countries don't consider that term to refer to them. For them, "African American" is more an ethnic subset of the larger racial group.

(And that, my friends, is why Ed is in charge of entertaining you and I am in charge of boring you...)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Who are The Quotables?

In today's meme-driven world of social media within a universe of the 24-hour news cycle, absolutely anyone can become "Quotable" with  the click of a return key. We seek out and share quotes because they are funny, insightful, outrageous, moving, or wise. Whether drawn from the "wisdom" of the centuries or the most recent TV program, quotes have a way of taking on a life of their own. Some are created on purpose by speech writers, dramatists, orators or ad copy writers while others are spontaneous creations of a moment that find life in their repetition. 

We use quotations to be inspired, to be entertained and to be educated. We quote directly, paraphrase and misquote. Quotations are so important to us that Facebook even asks you to include your favorite quote among your profile characteristics along with your contact info, your schools and your relationship status.

In this new blog and podcast, we'll explore the full range of Quotables and offer our own inspiring, entertaining education. And so, to paraphrase The Bard,

"So long as folks can speak, or tweeps can tweet,
So long live quotes, and this gives life to The Quotables."

Podcast episodes are released at 10 a.m. Eastern Time on Tuesdays. Look for the first episode on 10/30/12 at bit.ly/tqhomepage on Liberated Syndicate.