Saturday, January 03, 2015

He Said, She Said

By his own account, Fred Shapiro was a trailblazer. As a student back in 1978 at Harvard Law, he says he was the first person to use the fledgling Lexis research database to find out the earliest citation for the word "mootness." Whether or not you consider that historically significant or not, it was emblematic of his lifelong interest in words and quotes, an interest that continues to this day on a professional basis as an associate librarian and lecturer in legal research at Yale Law, as well as author of the Yale Book of Quotations.

It's also the driver for him to publish his yearly list of top utterances, something he's done since 2006. Not surprisingly, this year the mantras of the recent protests against police brutality "I Can't Breathe" and "Hands Up! Don't Shoot!" came in first and third respectively. They were split by Bridget Anne Kelly's email directive that it was "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." Other notables included number six, Hillary Clinton's assertion that "We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt." And while the final spot was a three way tie, it included Joe Biden's gem, where he sympathized with the second in command in Harvard's student government association, "Isn't it a bitch? I mean, this vice president thing?"

But with apologies to both Spinal Tap and Doctor Seuss, if you go on beyond eleven, you find a number of other mutterings that should not go completely unnoticed. While they may have flown a bit below the radar, herein are some of this year's favs that shouldn't be allowed to escape the bright, clear light of day.

"There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity." - M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) in Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel."

"I feel like a doughnut coming out of the fryer, rolling in the sugar." - Michelle Wie on winning golf's U.S. Women's Open.

"We've changed our internal motto from ‘Move Fast and Break Things' to ‘Move Fast with Stable Infrastructure.'" - Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook's evolving culture.

"Personally, I just hope they suck forever." - Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on the L.A. Lakers, who aren't having a very good year.

"Everyone wants Atticus Finch until there's a dead hooker in the bathtub." - Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) in the movie "The Judge."

"I understand that my career is over, but people are giving you well-wishes like you're about to die." - Derek Jeter as he played his final year before retiring.

"The founders of Snapchat last year turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook and a $4 billion offer from Google. It was a surprising show of integrity from the guys who invented the app that lets you look at pictures of boobs for five seconds." - Comedian Cecily Strong.

"I think Jesus could probably coach this team pretty well, but outside of him maybe Mohammed, maybe Gandhi, someone like that." – Phil Jackson, former NBA player and coach, currently president of the NY Knicks.

"It's kind of like the horse - you know, the horse was good until we had the car." - Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on broadcast television.

"If there wasn't a Republican in a race, I wrote in my dog." - Lynne Rothermel, a voter in Baltimore MD on Election Day.

"With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon." - Elon Musk in an address at MIT.

"You are graduating today as the most diverse class in Yale's long history. Or as it's called in the NBA, Donald Sterling's worst nightmare." - Secretary of State John Kerry at Yale's commencement.

"I came in third, Amy. Even the Nazis came in second." Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) after losing the NH primary on HBO's comedy "Veep."

"When I suck, I'll retire." - NE Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

"You want to be reelected? You want me to be elected? Then zip up your pants, shut your mouth and stop banging the help." - Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) on "The Good Wife."

"I'll tell you something - if I was Jay Leno and I was retiring, you know what I'd do? I'd go out and buy myself a car." - David Letterman on his retirement.

"Any pizza is a personal pizza if you believe in yourself." - Madi Genz, Iowa City High School Class of 2014, under her yearbook picture.


Marc Wollin of Bedford loves a good quote. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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