Monday, April 30, 2012

Impertinent, and steamed

Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on this day in 1431.

"There is a certain impertinence in allowing oneself to be burned for an opinion." -- Anatole France.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

And life, as well

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith died on this day in 2006.

"If all else fails, "Galbriath said, "immortality can always be assured by spectacular error."

Friday, April 27, 2012

And good luck

Poet Hart Crane committed suicide on this day in 1932. These were his last words before he jumped off the back of a boat coming back from Mexico, where he had been on a Guggenheim Fellowship:

"Goodbye, everybody."

This is from Crane's last poem, The Broken Tower:

And so it was I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)
But not for long to hold each desperate choice

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tardiness is the worst crime

Author Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe) died on this day in 1731. He wrote:

"The best of men cannot suspend their fate:
The good die early, and the bad die late

Defoe himself was 70 when he died.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I am not a kook

Former President Richard Nixon died on this day in 1994.

"A man is not finished when he is defeated," Nixon once said. "He is finished when he quits."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Madam, I'm Adam, and this is Death

Mark Twain died today in 1910.

"Whoever has lived long enough to find out what life is," Twain wrote, "knows how deep a debt of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first great benefactor of our race. He brought death into our world."

For more about Twain, visit

Today in Cynic's Almanac

Monday, April 16, 2012

You mean I'm gonna die someday?

"The most terrible burden any creature was ever compelled to endure is the sure knowledge of its death; all human civilization -- but especially religion -- testifies to the ingenuity and tenacity of our denial." -- Bosley Crowther.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Out of the Darkness

   "On December 20, 2009, I went to visit my son Jeff – it was his birthday.  I entered his apartment to find that he was a casualty of suicide.  I lost a son and my world has been forever changed by that tragic event.

   "This year on September 29th, I will be participating in the Out of the Darkness Community Walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  The Nashville Music Row Walk will start at 10:00 am at Owen Bradley Park.  Funds from this event will support education and research programs for suicide prevention, erase the stigma surrounding suicide and its causes, and encourage those who suffer from mental troubles to seek treatment.

   "I think of Jeff everyday – remembering him and doing good in his memory is something that helps me cope with the loss.  To walk with me for this worthy cause please visit and register with my team “Jeff Miller – Our Love”. 

   "Please consider a donation – you can do so online.  At the before mentioned web site or at  Donations of any amount are appreciated.

   "With God’s help maybe we can help someone, somewhere.   No one should experience what it feels like to be so sad you wake up crying. 

"Thank you for your support.

Woody Miller"

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Make my ticket a return trip

English author Evelyn Waugh died on this day in 1966. He wrote:

"It is a curious thing that every creed promises a paradise which will be absolutely uninhabitable for anyone of civilized taste."

And also:

"I can see nothing objectionable in the total destruction of the earth, provided it is done, as it seems most likely, inadvertently."

For more on Waugh, visit This day in Cynic's Almanac

Monday, April 9, 2012

He lies where the rabble lays

The French writer Francois Rabelais (Gargantua and Pantagruel) died on this day in 1553. His last words have sometimes been recorded as:

"Bring down the curtain, the farce is played out."

And sometimes as:

"I am going to seek the great perhaps."

I like Rabelais' bequest to posterity:

"I owe much; I have nothing; the rest I leave to the poor."

Friday, April 6, 2012

Robinson rues so

Poet Edward Arlington Robinson died on this day in 1935. He is the poet who wrote this surprise ending to one of his poems:

"And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head

Robinson also once wrote:

"There is a good deal to live for, but a man has to go through hell really to find it out."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

And he told me to tell you you're fired

Wilson Mizner, an American screenwriter, wit, gambler and raconteur, died on this day in 1933.

Mizner wrote a couple of modest plays (The Deep Purple, The Greyhound), but he is best remembered as co-owner of The Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles and as a raconteur. He and his brother, Addison, were involved in a number of picaresque scams that inspired Stephen Sondheim's Bounce.

Mizner's last words, as he lay on his deathbed with eyes closed and opened them to see a priest hovering over him:

"Why should I talk to you? I've just been talking to your boss."