Category Archives: Great Sentences

This Week in Great Sentences

Themes of the New Year: face punching, underground snowstorms, ye olde duderino, and prodigious use of the F bomb:


It’s Carnivale in the truest sense: social mores are out the window, and everyone is looking to have The Night Of Their Lives. The girls look at you like they want to fuck you and the guys look at you like they want to punch you in the face.

To wit: I was punched in the face.

-Chris Chafin, “Passion Pit at Terminal Five,” New York Press, 1/11


The makers of this film seem to have given slight thought to the psychology of teenage girls, less to the possibility that there is no heaven, and none at all to the likelihood that if there is one, it will not resemble a happy gathering of new Facebook friends.

-Roger Ebert, “The Lovely Bones,”, 1/13. Tip via Cribbster.


Seriously, you know the line about how they “paved paradise and put up a parking lot?” Like how they replaced something beautiful with something cold and heartless and commercial? That’s you. You’re the parking lot, motherfucker. You drove your shitty steamroller over something everyone loved so you could pander your sensitive pussyhound whine to people waiting in line at the Carl’s Jr. They paved Nirvana and put up a Counting Crow. Argh!

Maura Johnston and Christopher R. Weingarten, The 50 Worst Songs of the ’00s, F2K No. 1: Counting Crows ft. Vanessa Carlton, “Big Yellow Taxi,” Village Voice, 12/22/09


In the vicinity of the accident the air had been instantly supercooled by the tons of escaping helium—which meant that several hundred feet underground, sealed off from skies and weather, snow began to fall. “Some say the world will end in fire / Some say in ice,” wrote Robert Frost, but in this sector of the Large Hadron Collider, the showstopping spectacle involved both at once.

Kurt Andersen, “The Genesis 2.0 Project,” Vanity Fair, 1/09


DONALD: Wherefore thou playest not at ninepins on Saturday, Sir Walter?
WALTER: On our most holy Sabbath I am sworn / To keep tradition, form and ceremony. / The seventh and the last day rests the Jew; I labour not, nor ride in chariot, / Nor handle gold, nor even play the cook, / And sure as Providence I do not roll.

-Adam Bertocci, excerpted from “Two Gentleman of Lebowski,” via Thrillist, 1/8

This Week in Great Sentences


America washes ashore like cultural driftwood in countries like this one. The locals wear and digest it like an imported non sequitur as they walk through an absurdist landscape that used to be their homeland.


Henry Rollins, “Good News: The World is Finally Flat,” Vanity Fair, 11/12, on the occasion of seeing a woman in a Black Flag T shirt walking around the slums of Jakarta.


Being an enthusiastic coughstucker myself, I would someday like to ask Henry if it was the insulting delivery of the word, or the subtext of gayness that the word implies that angered him most? Seeing as how our department is gleefully R-rated in much of its casual discourse, it’s hard to know.

Hank Stuever, “Coughstucker,” Hank Stuever’s blog, 11/4, on the recent Washington Post Style section fisticuffs


Gold recommended what he called “the winciest dish in town: a sharp, glistening steel skewer stabbed through thin coins of meat sliced from a bull penis, which bubble and hiss when they encounter the heart of the fire, sizzling from proud quarters to wizened, chewy dimes.

Dana Goodyear, quoting Jonathan Gold, “The Scavenger,” New Yorker, 11/9


This Week in Great Sentences: My Employers Edition


But I will, one day soon, so that I can truly absorb the end of the second “Transformers” movie in heretofore unimagined splendor, clarity so spectacular that I can see, almost down to the pixel, which parts of the movie suck.

-Jeff Vrabel, “Your TV isn’t hyper-real?” Gatehouse, Oct. 5

His corollary to that sentence: “(it’s all of them, spoiler alert).”


So crisp, so eerily timeless, so reminiscent of an era when magazines mattered, when a wasp-waisted gal might curl up on the avocado tweed couch with a Tab and a Winston and plan a lamb dinner with little paper crowns for her middle-manager husband’s boss, because back then middle management might lead somewhere. While the inside pages didn’t always have the same visual verve, you’d look at each cover and say, see, this is the reason why magazines might not die—because people want to be transported by their beauty, to be fed dreams along with their blueberry cheesecake bars.

-Faye Penn, “RIP Gourmet,” Brokelyn, Oct. 5

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This Week in Great Sentences

Maybe the only time Pat Conroy and a particular brand of naughty bits have appeared together in the same blog post?


What fresh hell is this?

David Carr, “You’re gone. But, hey, you can reapply,” NYT 8/30, commenting on The (Westchester) Journal News’ plan to force 288 news and advertising employees to reapply for their jobs.



God can forgive a lot of things but he can’t forgive what we’ve done to Bluffton, South Carolina.

author Pat Conroy, as quoted by Justin Paprocki, “Pat Conroy returns with Charleston-based novel,” Island Packet 8/23


Whether or not his compass was finally true, he endured as the battered, leaky vessel through which the legislative arts recovered some of their lost glory.

Sam Tanenhouse, “In Kennedy, the last roar of the New Deal liberal,” NYT 8/30


There is only one way to make money at writing, and that is to marry a publisher’s daughter.

George Orwell, Down and Out and Paris and London, 1933


Dildos, like cars and chocolate bars, are produced on assembly lines, and the

at the factory

at the factory

operatives who busy themselves molding, massaging, and cleaning them are not the sweaty-palmed phallophiles you might think they are. They’re about as normal as an average German mother, albeit one who might turn a blind eye to the bondage gear littering your living room when she makes a surprise visit.

Conor Creighton,” Surrogate Cocks, Inc.,” Vice Magazine (sometime earlier this summer)

This week(ish) in Great Sentences

I’m a little behind on some of these, but it’s August and the world is slow, so I feel no shame.


You slog through your days beleaguered and reactive even when there are no noticeable disasters — a normal day has its many large and small annoyances, and the world, if you care to notice, and it is difficult not to, is burning

Norm Fischer, “For the Time Being,” NYT 8/7, on zen meditation and finding concrete happiness


Surrounded by candles, Stapp strummed an acoustic guitar, with an annotated Bible open on the table in front of him, next to a closed copy of The Art of War.

DX Ferris, “Creed’s Stapp talks breakup, make up and shaved head,” Rolling Stone, 8/7, via Idolator

Who were the people clamoring for a Creed reunion again?


But we have needs we can’t admit, and one is to be in a scrum of thinly clad corpulence milling in brilliant sun in front of the deep-fried-ice-cream stand and feel the brush of wings, hip bumps, hands touching your arm (“Oh, excuse me!”), the heat of humanity with its many smells (citrus deodorant, sweat and musk, bouquet of beer, hair oil, stale cigar, methane), the solid, big-rump bodies of Brueghel peasants all around you like dogs in a pack, and you—yes, elegant you of the refined taste and the commitment to the arts—are one of these dogs.

Garrison Keillor, “Take in the State Fair,” National Geographic, July 2009

“Scrum” is a tragically under-used word in modern writing.


“It’s what we’ve got to keep doing. People feel that here. I think even our drivers feel like, We’re not bringing in doughnuts. We’re bringing in The Inquirer and Daily News.”

Brian Tierney, quoted in “What’s a Big City Without a Newspaper?” NY Times Magazine, 8/6


“How far will reporters go for a story? Some are so desperate, they’ll work for a newspaper.

— Stephen Colbert, Aug. 17, via Obsolete

Saturday Happy: Not a sports page, not a magazine

The funniest damn thing I’ve seen all week:

warning: here be explicit lyrics, Tipper

It’s been around for awhile, but thanks to Joe Dairy for the introduction.

Oh, and for old-time’s sake,

This Week in Great Trivia Team Names

Re-Reading Kavalier and Clay Edition


Apparently Permanent Pubertal Smudge

Pseudonymous Hackdom

The Invisible Hand of Eleanor Roosevelt

They Were Childen, We Were Wolves

This Week in Great Sentences

This week’s themes: New York, drinking and drinking in New York.

That has something to do with smart governance but more to do with the gritty culture of the city, its work ethic, its inspiring sense of its own grandeur, its shared knowledge of the personal struggle that goes into a day. A Fuld (Lehman Brothers former chief executive), who never took the subway, never sat in Bryant Park with a sandwich, knew nothing of what makes the city tick.

-Roger Cohen, “A Nation Hard to Short,” NYT 7/26


look at this fucking guy

look at this fucking guy

The hipsters that will be the “dead end of Western Civilization” are the ones who add nothing new or original and simply recycle and reduce old trends into a meaningless meme. It’s for that reason that when Williamsburg’s hipster playland is in crisis, there aren’t many who are concerned.

-Dan Fletcher, “A Brief History of Hipsters,” Time, which apparently is now in the business of publishing stories that sound like they were written in 1998. This story is dumb, inane, trite blog-bait. The sentence is only great in the sense of spectacular tragedy, much like flames that explode from a car wreck.


In their scope, both the Internet and New York are profoundly humbling: young people accustomed to feeling special about their gifts are inevitably jarred, upon arrival, to discover just how many others are trying to do precisely the same, with equal or greater success. (For a vivid demonstration of this online, try to invent a play on words, and then Google it. You’ll be convinced that there is, in fact, “nothing new in the cloud” — a joke that a British I.B.M. employee beat me to last November.)

-Bill Wasik, “Bright Lights, Big Internet,” NYT 7/29, about the parity between moving to New York and trying to make a name for yourself online


“OBAMA: I could pick up the phone right now, get the plane, we could go to Italy for pizza.”

-John Kenney, “Shouts and Murmurs: A Beer With Obama,” The New Yorker, 7/27


Fox Headline: U.S. Brewers Upset over White House Beer Selection. I guess there’s no end to the controversy over this brewhaha.

-Howie Kurtz, Twitter, 10 a.m. 7/30