Q is for a Famous Quotation

My late father used to say, fairly frequently as I recall, this quotation: “It is better to remain silent and be thought of as a a fool than to speak up and remove any doubt.”

But who was he quoting? I couldn’t find anything in Bartelby or Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, the latter, in print form, a constant source of my entertainment growing up.

Finally, I found a similar quotation at Quote Investigator. Was it attributed to Abraham Lincoln? Mark Twain? A Biblical Proverb?

“There is a biblical proverb that expresses a similar idea, namely Proverbs 17:28. Here is the New International Version followed by the King James Version of this verse:

“‘Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.’

“‘Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.'”

After dismissing Lincoln and Twain because the attributions to them were so much after their time, and noting the Proverbs have not quite the same sentiment, QI favors Maurice Switzer, from a “book titled ‘Mrs. Goose, Her Book’… The publication date was 1907 and the copyright notice was 1906. The book was primarily filled with clever nonsense verse, and the phrasing in this early version was slightly different:

“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.”

This all begs the question, Is it true? Do people actually think you’re smart if you retain a mysterious silence? Perhaps; this does not appear to be a period in history when a lot goes unsaid. That apparent need to always say SOMETHING is often to the detriment of the speaker, and, quite often, of us all.

Rather off topic, but LISTEN to the Tremeloes sing Silence is Golden.

For ABC Wednesday

“You complete me”: Ask Roger Anything

This would be a very different experience if you didn’t encourage me with your comments.

“You complete me.” There was this segment on CBS Sunday Morning the day of the most recent Academy Awards called Why do people love to quote movies?? Reporter Faith Salie does not have that affliction, though her husband does.

I’m only so-so at remembering movie quotes, but I surely know the title quote is from Jerry Maguire, which I saw at the cinema, probably in early 1997. It is specifically from a monologue from the title character (Tom Cruise) to his estranged wife Dorothy ( Renée Zellweger).

It occurred to me that, in some metaphysical way, you all complete me, especially blogwise. This would be a very different experience if you didn’t encourage me with your comments.

And what do I do it repay your kindness? I ask for more, more, MORE! I request that you Ask Roger Anything, and I really do mean anything. Of course it’s also more work for me, but it helps with my self-discovery, so I don’t mind at all. I promise to respond, generally within a month, although the last batch of questions I stretched to less than two weeks ago.

I will answer your questions to the best of my ability, though that may be diminishing, as memories are wont to fade. Obfuscation on my part, though, comes with the territory. You know you like it.

You can leave your comments below or on Facebook or Twitter; for the latter, my name is ersie. If you prefer to remain anonymous, that’s fine; you should e-mail me at rogerogreen (AT) gmail (DOT) com, or send me an IM on FB (make sure it’s THIS Roger Green, the one with the duck) and note that you want to remain unmentioned; otherwise, I’ll assume you want to be cited.

“New” information that is hardly that

wilson_headerThere was this article in some news feed I was reading a while ago – oh, maybe this is it: 10 things from Grimms’ Fairy Tales you got wrong. I rather hate that title, and, if you’ve read Grimm, and I have, well, I didn’t get them wrong, Mister or Ms. Article Title Writer. A better one in this specific genre is 11 Fairytales You Loved As A Child That Are Actually Really Creepy, which does not assume how well the reader is informed on the topic.

It may be that people are not familiar with the late Tom Wilson (pictured), unless they are liner note readers, like I am, but The Greatest Music Producer You’ve Never Heard of Is… is annoying.

I rather like this article, BEATLE GEORGE HARRISON’S BRIEF JOURNEY INTO EXPERIMENTAL ELECTRONICS. It refers to the album Electronic Sounds and gives not only the information about it, but the actual album from Zapple Records. Yeah, I own it, but haven’t listened to it in a VERY long time. It IS obscure, but the title informs without gloating. BTW, either today (very late) or tomorrow would have been George’s 71st birthday.

I DO like articles that clear up common misconceptions. I suppose there are a lot of people who have misunderstood the context of the quote, “Nice guys finish last” from baseball manager Leo Durocher. Even the Baseball Almanac provides no insight.

Durocher, in this excerpt from his book Nice Guys Finish Last, explains:

The Nice Guys Finish Last line came about because of Eddie Stanky too. And wholly by accident. I’m not going to back away from it though. It has got me into Bartlett’s Quotations— page 1059, between John Betjeman and Wystan Hugh Auden—and will be remembered long after I have been forgotten.

This is the context:

It came about during batting practice at the Polo Grounds, while I was managing the Dodgers. I was sitting in the dugout with Frank Graham of the old Journal-American, and several other newspapermen, having one of those freewheeling bull sessions. Frankie pointed to Eddie Stanky in the batting cage and said, very quietly, “Leo, what makes you like this fellow so much? Why are you so crazy about this fellow?”

I started by quoting the famous Rickey statement: “He can’t hit, he can’t run, he can’t field, he can’t throw. He can’t do a …thing, Frank—but beat you.” He might not have as much ability as some of the other players, I said, but every day you got 100 percent from him and he was trying to give you 125 percent…. The Giants, led by Mel Ott, began to come out of their dugout to take their warm-up. Without missing a beat, I said, “Take a look at that Number Four there. A nicer guy never drew breath than that man there.” I called off his players’ names as they came marching up the steps behind him, “Walker Cooper, Mize, Marshall, Kerr, Gordon, Thomson. Take a look at them. All nice guys. They’ll finish last. Nice guys. Finish last.”

I appreciate when old information is clarified, but not in a way that I feel is condescending to the reader.

QUESTION: Columbus discovered America, et al.

People falsely reported as dead on social media is practically a cliche.

Started musing – my, I muse a LOT – about how certain information is considered true, even though there is incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, such as Abner Doubleday inventing baseball, even though he clearly did not; yet, the ballpark in Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of fame, remains as Doubleday Field.

I’m not sure there is a better example than that. There are quotes that are misstated. The one I find most interesting is “Nice guys finish last” by US baseball manager Leo Durocher (1906–1991). His remark was actually his reply to being asked his opinion of the 1946 New York Giants. He actually said: ‘Take a look at them. All nice guys. They’ll finish last. Nice guys – finish last.'” The words are there, but the emphasis is totally off.

How about this list of misattributed inventions? Lots of Thomas Edison. See they are picking on poor Al Gore over the Internet quote YET AGAIN.

This, of course, requires that a lot of people believe something as true. These top urban legends at About.com don’t work for me, because most of them I never heard of. People falsely reported as dead on social media is practically a cliche. It’s not like the old days when having someone reported dead required certain circumstances (see Mark Twain or Paul McCartney).

Nor do I count the deniers, of the Holocaust, e.g., because they seem to be a fringe element.

With Photoshop and Facebook, it’s easy to start a credible rumor, for fun, political mischief, or other criteria.

Tell me what obviously untrue info do you believe many, or most people believe?

30-Day Challenge- Day 21 – Favorite Movie Quote

I used to BE a Census taker, so maybe I take it personally.

I love the movies, and I love movie quotes. When the American Film Institute presented its list of 100 Top Movie Quotes, you know I had to be watching. The Wizard of Oz is a particular yeasty source of quotes.

The one I may have actually used most often in real life is #27, from Midnight Cowboy: “I’m walking here! I’m walking here!” when Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) almost gets run over by a cab. I hear Hoffman explain that he almost DID get run over by that cab, who was supposed to be blocked off while the crew filmed the scene.

The one that creeps me out the most: A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti; I used to BE a Census taker, so maybe I take it personally. That line’s from The Silence of the Lambs, which I never actually got all the way through, spoken by Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins).

Ultimately, though, the all-encompassing quote is what I need to go with: Davis (Steve Martin) saying in the movie Grand Canyon: “That’s part of your problem: you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” I’m not 100% sure that’s true. But it might be.