Clemenza's overriding responsibility is to his family. He takes a moment out of his routine madness to remember that he had promised his wife that he would bring dessert home. His instruction to his partner in crime is an entire moral manifesto in six little words: 'Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.— Sarah Vowell
The most unique Sarah Vowell quotes that are free to learn and impress others
I loved that these two guys argued with each other as if movies actually mattered. Nobody I knew talked about movies that way, but Siskel and Ebert took each movie as it came and talked about whether it was a success on its own terms.
I talk about going to his [George W. Bush's] Inauguration and crying when he took the oath, 'cause I was so afraid he was going to "wreck the economy and muck up the drinking water"... the failure of my pessimistic imagination at that moment boggles my mind now.
Like Lincoln, I would like to believe the ballot is stronger than the bullet.
Then again, he said that before he got shot.
Being a nerd, which is to say going too far and caring too much about a subject, is the best way to make friends I know.
The modern mocha is a bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top
The whole point of Louis Armstrong is that no one can really figure him out.
There was a while where I thought you could try.
While I gave up God a long time ago, I never shook the habit of wanting to believe in something. So I replaced my creed of everlasting life with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
My lips are chapped from the winds of change.
History is one war after another with a bunch of murders and natural disasters in between.
I no longer drink nearly as much as I used to but, still, my motto is Sine coffea nihil sum. Without coffee, I'm nothing.
Dig deep into its communitarian ethos and it reads more like an America that might have been, an America fervently devoted to the quaint goals of working together and getting along. Of course, this America does exist. It's called Canada.
You know, it's always good to have a synonym just for variety.
Despite his consistent party-line voting record, some independents and Democrats still think of Senator McCain as the most palatable, independent-minded Republican. But this is the sort of empty compliment a friend of mine once compared to being called “the coolest Osmond.
In death, you get upgraded into a saint no matter how much people hated you in life.
American history is a quagmire, and the more one knows, the quaggier the mire gets.
Assassins and presidents invite the same basic question: Just who do you think you are?
I probably am a cranky writer, but I am actually a fairly nice, normal person.
Since I'm a grouchy writer, of course I have friends whose books are doing way better than mine.
Oh my dear, idealists are the cruelest monsters of them all.
There are people who look forward to spending their sunset years in the sunshine; it is my own retirement dream to await my death indoors, dragging strangers up dusty staircases while coughing up one of the most thrilling phrases in the English language: 'It was on this spot…' My fantasy is to one day become a docent.
In these fast and fickle times, it’s nice to know that there are some things you can always count on: the enduring brilliance of the last page of The Great Gatsby; the near-religious harmonies of the Beach Boys’ “California Girls”; and the lifelong friendship of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.
No cowboys for Canada. Canada got Mounties instead - Dudley Do-Right, not John Wayne. It's a mind-set of "Here I come to save the day" versus "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.
What are you hiding? No one ever asks that.
I discovered that Robert Todd Lincoln was there for each of the first three assassinations. I wanted to write about the Lincoln Memorial, so when I found out he had attended its dedication, that helped focus it further.
Not that I want the current president killed.
I will, for the record and for the FBI agent assigned to read this and make sure I mean no harm, clearly state that while I am obsessed with death, I am against it.
Presidents and presidential assassins are like Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.
Even though one city is all about sin and the other is all about salvation, they are identical, one-dimensional company towns built up by the sheer will of true believers.
The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Civil War-when I really think about them they all seem about as likely as the parting of the Red Sea.
I didn't come from any kind of academic background, but I lived in a college town and I knew people who weren't without pretense. There was this idea in the town that if something was European it would be good.
The true American patriot is by definition skeptical of the government.
I hated the lost colony; in second grade, we were doing American History, and they said, We don't know what happened to them. That drove me nuts. That lost colony drove me crazy.
Buffy's high school was built on top of a vortex of evil, the Hellmouth. And whose wasn't?
I still believe in public radio's potential.
Because it's the one mass medium that's still crafted almost entirely by true believers.
Relics are treasured as something close to the divine.
Most people don't like to talk about violent historical death.
Part of the success of This American Life, I think, is due to the fact that none of us sound like we should be on the radio. We don't sound professional; we sound like people you would know.
I'm always disappointed when I see the word 'Puritan' tossed around as shorthand for a bunch of generic, boring, stupid, judgmental killjoys. Because to me, they are very specific, fascinating, sometimes brilliant, judgmental killjoys who rarely agreed on anything except that Catholics are going to Hell.
One night last summer, all the killers in my head assembled on a stage in Massachusetts to sing show tunes.
Behind every bad law, a deep fear.
Along with voting, jury duty, and paying taxes, goofing off is one of the central obligations of American citizenship.
I haven't decided if he deserved to eat bread made out of sticks or live in a rancid puddle, probably because I haven't made up my mind whether anyone deserves such treatment, though I suspect that the day a person gives up on the Geneva Conventions is the day a person gives up on the human race.
When one of a culture's guiding credos is that "all men are created equal," any person who, say, becomes an expert on, say, nuclear weapons or, say, ecology, i.e., anyone who distinguishes himself through mental excellence, is a nuisance.
Jesus and Lincoln, Moses and Jefferson can seem so long gone, so unbelievable, so dead.
Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, Robert Lincoln bought a nice ski lodge.
After Hiram Bingham built the first church on Oahu the student recalls, "When it was completed some of the natives said among themselves, 'That house of worship built by the haoles is a place in which they will pray us all to death. It is meant to kill us."
Listening to the radio every day for an entire year was a prison sentence.
It was the most depressing, annoying, debilitating project I have ever undertaken, and I have a master's degree in art history.
History is full of really good stories.
That's the main reason I got into this racket: I want to make the argument that history is interesting.
Winthrop and his shipmates and their children and their children's children just wrote their own books and pretty much kept their noses in them up until the day God created the Red Sox.
When I think about my relationship with America, I feel like a battered wife: Yeah, he knocks me around a lot, but boy, he sure can dance.
I have a similar affection for the parenthesis (but I always take most of my parentheses out, so as not to call undue attention to the glaring fact that I cannot think in complete sentences, that I think only in short fragments or long, run-on thought relays that the literati call stream of consciousness but I still like to think of as disdain for the finality of the period).
We go in to liberate Cuba, but Cuba still isn't free;
we don't really think through what we'll do after the initial treaty is signed, but we're still occupying. There's chaos and torture and finally an outcry.