Friday, September 26, 2008


Speaking of sports quotes, here's some from the master, Yogi Berra (with comments):

"A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore."
(It ain't even even worth a nickel.)

"Even Napoleon had his Watergate."
(But at least he didn't to cover it up.)

"Half the lies they tell about me aren't true."
(That means you're batting .500.)

"He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious."
(Uh, that would be "ambivalent.")

"I always thought that record would stand until it was broken."
(I never expected someone to come along to prove me right.)

"I never said most of the things I said."
(But I said a few things I didn't say, so it's a wash.)

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."
(Practice makes perfect — in theory.)

"The future ain't what it used to be."
(Wonder what the past will be like.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Coach Talk

Heard on the radio: "We're here to assist people with assistance of every kind."
What better assistance is there than assistance?

Sports Talk
Does it ever bug you how coaches and sports commentators speak of past events in future tense?
In the post-game interview, coaches invariably say something like: "If we make that pass we're within a touchdown and we've got a game."
Too late, coach. You DIDN'T make that pass. And it wasn't a game. You were blown out 35-7.
Who started that? And why did everyone else have to follow his lead? Why is it so hard to say: "If we had completed that pass we would have been within a touchdown. But we still would have lost"?

Murray State Coach Matt Griffin has been suspended for this week for comments he made in his postgame press conference following last weekend's loss to Illinois State. He was not suspended for mangling the English language but for criticizing the officiating.

His comments included: "The one hold I'll give the stripes some credit. They called that one right on us. But nothing else, though." Anyone want to translate? How did the Ohio Valley Conference office even know Griffin was criticizing the officiating?

It must have been the other comments: "A couple of these guys are 2-year-olds. They shouldn't be at this level. That's that."
That is, indeed, that. And perfectly clear.

Any chance of getting the OVC — or the NCAA, NAIA, NFL or NBA, for that matter — to start suspending coaches whose comments don't make any sense? No, on second thought, maybe they should get bonuses. Their comments are pure entertainment.

Take this one from John Madden: "Hey, the offensive lineman are the biggest guys on the field. They're bigger than everybody else. And that's what makes them the biggest guys on the field."
Ah. Mystery solved.

And I leave you to contemplate this Madden prize, delivered at a rare introspective moment: "Real frontier-busting math explores new worlds. ... If you can communicate that experience, somewhere between math and uncertainty, life experience provides the balance."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Two Fears

I don't know Beryl Pfizer's work, but I can identify with this quote:
"I write down everything I want to remember. That way, instead of spending a lot of time trying to remember what it is I wrote down, I spend a lot of time looking for the paper I wrote it down on."

I have two big fears in my published writing. The first is that I will make a mistake. That fear is realized on a regular basis. But the fear does at least serve to reduce the number of errors. (Having a couple of other editors look it over helps even more.)

The second fear is that I will repeat myself. This happens too, but not as often. Yet, anyway.

I am much too vain to plagiarize (I always think I can say it better than someone else), but I never know where something that pops into my mind comes from. I have not yet found that a phrase or passage that I wrote was first used by someone else, but I have found that a passage I wrote on a given day was the same thing I had written earlier. It might not matter, except that a few readers out there actually hold on to the columns and editorials so they can point out contradictions. And they've been known to note the repeats too.

Having my contradictions pointed out is not nearly as painful as my retreads. The former challenges me to reconcile the two. The latter is just, well, boring.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Write for Free

I've heard many writers and editors echo this thought from Mark Twain:
"Write without pay until somebody offers to pay."

I was always astounded when aspiring writers would bring their work — short stories, feature stories, poems — to the newspaper to "give" me the opportunity to publish them for some outrageous fee. Often they left angry and insulted when I told them I might consider their work as space was available, but I would not pay anything for it. I tried to explain that this was not a comment on the value of their work, which is entirely subjective, it was just dealing with reality. Their work, no matter how clever or enlightened or entertaining, wasn't worth anything to the newspaper, which is a business. And the business of every business is to make money. With the possible exception of their parents, who might spend a couple of bucks buying extra copies of the paper, it wouldn't benefit the paper in any way. But the writers could benefit just by getting a published byline. Many writers stand in the way of their own success by making unrealistic demands. If you want to get published, follow Mark Twain's advice.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Abe, Bill and the Brit

No takers on the last quiz. The answer: C.S. Lewis.

Perhaps echoing the thought in that first quote from Lewis is this statement from Abraham Lincoln:
"Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all."

Will Rogers on his craft: "There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you."

And J.K. Rowling on hers: "I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It's totally for myself."