“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'” – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instruction on Writing and Life
“Both Freud and Jung suggest that horror might be defined as what every culture, no matter how different, seeks to submerge in the name of social order. Whether fictional terror was an escape from the real world, or a kind of training for its conflicts, was a question taken up by the psychologist Bruno Bettelheim in the twentieth century, when he argued in The Uses of Enchantment that stories like the Grimm fairy tales (first published in 1812) helped children master their otherwise overpowering fears of the invisible world. The desire to experience fear, to go to horror movies, to scream on roller coasters, all to a certain extent are explainable through Bettelheim’s ideas.” – Leo Braudy, Haunted: On Ghosts, Witches, Vampires, Zombies, and Other Monsters of the Natural and Supernatural Worlds
“There is so much to be joyful about, so many different kinds of rainbows in one’s life: making love is an incredible rainbow, as is falling in love; knowing friendship; being able to really talk with someone who has a problem and say something that will help; waking up in the morning, looking out, and seeing a tree that has suddenly blossomed, like the one I have outside my window—what joy that brings. It may seem a small thing, but rainbows come in all sizes.” – Gloria Vanderbilt, The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss (by Gloria Vanderbilt and her son Anderson Cooper)
“One day in Hollywood I went out for a drive with this rich young blonde starlet. She was running around with Billy Daniels, whom I used to work with back at the Hotcha [a club in Harlem]. Billy had loaned her his pretty Cadillac to drive around in. She was taking me to the aquarium, when boom, this brand-new fishtail stopped and we couldn’t start it.
“There we sat out on this deserted spot near the beach. I knew from nothing about a car and she knew damn little more. I thought we were stranded until I saw a car down the road a piece. There was a cat lying under it, tinkering around, and he looked like he knew what he was doing.
“So I hailed him. ‘Hey, man,’ I said, ‘there’s a couple of chicks in distress over here. How about coming over and seeing what’s wrong?’ When he crawled out from under the car he had sunglasses on, but he looked familiar. I said, ‘I know you from some damn where.’ He was real nice; he recognized me from having been over to the joint in the valley and heard me sing.
“It only took him about two minutes to find out what was wrong and to fix it. Then he got behind the wheel and drove the car for a little to make sure everything was all right before he left us. Then he asked us if we wouldn’t like to stop and have a drink. I was ready, so he drove us up to a big fancy country club or something right near the beach.
“We walked in the bar and people were all eyes. I didn’t think anything of it. That was always happening. But there has to be one joker everywhere. And there was one there at the bar. When he finally got loaded enough he walked over to our table; he stared me up and down. Then he stared the blonde up and down. Then he turned to our mechanic friend and said, ‘Well, I see you get all the dames.’
“It wasn’t until our mechanic buddy got up from behind the table and flattened this cracker to the floor that I came to. It was Clark Gable who’d given us the lift.
“He laughed when I told him I recognized him by his fist work.” – Billie Holiday, Lady Sings the Blues (1956)
“There’s no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.” – Will Rogers
“I asked Ring Lardner the other day how he writes his short stories, and he said he wrote a few widely separated words or phrases on a piece of paper and then went back and filled in the spaces.” – Harold Ross, founder of The New Yorker magazine
“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.” – Marie Curie