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17 Joss Whedon Quotes for His 50th Birthday

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The man who brought you Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, The Avengers, and so much more turns 50 today—and he's said some pretty wise words along the way.

1. On Humor

"Humor keeps us alive. Humor and food. Don't forget food. You can go a week without laughing."

From an interview with Alan Sepinwall

2. On Fanfiction

"All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn't your pet—it's your kid. It grows up and talks back to you."

From a Reddit AMA

3. On Changing the World

"You are going to change the world, because that is actually what the world is. You do not pass through this life, it passes through you. You experience it, you interpret it, you act, and then it is different. That happens constantly. You are changing the world. You always have been."

From his 2013 Wesleyan Commencement Address

4. On how Close Encounters of the Third Kind Changed his life

"More than anything, seeing that film was a germ that opened my mind: the idea that Roy was going to leave Earth and travel through space, and that when he came back it would be several decades later and everybody he had known would be dead, hit home the reality of being human. It made me consider what we are, what we can be, what our limitations are. That blew the brains out of my head and I wore them on my shoulders as epaulettes. I became obsessed with the film. ... When I got back to school I told my best friend what had happened and he handed me a copy of Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre. I realized, 'Oh! Other people have gone through this!' Basically, the film had made me an existentialist."

From an essay he wrote for The Guardian 

5. On Rebellion

"The greatest expression of rebellion is joy."

From the Emmy Acceptance Speech for Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog

6. On Horror

"I think there's a lot of people out there who say we must not have horror in any form, we must not say scary things to children because it will make them evil and disturbed ... That offends me deeply, because the world is a scary and horrifying place, and everyone's going to get old and die, if they're that lucky. To set children up to think that everything is sunshine and roses is doing them a great disservice. Children need horror because there are things they don't understand. It helps them to codify it if it is mythologized, if it's put into the context of a story, whether the story has a happy ending or not. If it scares them and shows them a little bit of the dark side of the world that is there and always will be, it's helping them out when they have to face it as adults."

From an interview with NPR

7. On writing

“If I find out I have to write today and nothing else, that’s a perfect day. I know a lot of people who are great at it and make it look easy who are tortured and miserable people. Writing for me is perfect peace.”

From an interview with Entertainment Weekly

8. On Making A Connection

“This was one of the most important things I’ve ever learned, one of the defining things about humanity. ... [E]very time somebody opens their mouth they have an opportunity to do one of two things—connect or divide. Some people inherently divide, and some people inherently connect. Connecting is the most important thing, and actually an easy thing to do. ... I’m shocked that there are so many people that live to divide."

Speaking about what he learned as a writer on Roseanne during a 2003 interview with Ken Plume

9. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"I designed the show to create that strong reaction. I designed Buffy to be an icon, to be an emotional experience, to be loved in a way that other shows can't be loved. Because it's about adolescence, which is the most important thing people go through in their development, becoming an adult. And it mythologizes it in such a way, such a romantic way—it basically says, 'Everybody who made it through adolescence is a hero.' And I think that's very personal, that people get something from that that's very real."

From an interview with the A.V. Club

10. On obsession

“Obsession is beautiful. It's what makes art.”

Mother Jones

11. On Why He Creates Strong Female Characters

“There is one question that I've been asked almost every time I’ve been interviewed. So I thought tonight, briefly, I would share with you one question and a few of my responses. Because, when you're asked something 500 times, you really start to think about the answer. ...

“‘So, why do you write these strong women characters?’
Because equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity, we need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and women who’s confronted with it. We need equality, kinda now.

“‘So, why do you write these strong female characters?’
Because you’re still asking me that question.”

From his Equality Now Speech

12. On His Writing Rituals

“I do listen to music. Movie scores, exclusively, because it’s all about mood and nonspecificity. I love the way modern movie scoring is all about nonspecificity. You know, if I shuffled the tracks from Inception, I challenge you to tell me which is which. But … you feel incredibly heightened during all of it. I don’t know what I’m very excited about but I’m very excited. Or worried. Or sad, I’m not sure which, but it’s all happening. And that’s really great. Whereas, you know, your old-school, very theme-specific music, which is the kind I like to actually use in my movies, is useless to writing.”

13. On Humanism

"The enemy of humanism is not faith. The enemy of humanism is hate, is fear, is ignorance, is the darker part of man that is in every humanist, every person in the world. That is what we have to fight. Faith is something we have to embrace. Faith in god means believing absolutely in something with no proof whatsoever. Faith in humanity means believing absolutely in something with a huge amount of proof to the contrary. We are the true believers."

Harvard’s Humanist Chaplaincy acceptance speech

14. On the Kinds of Conversations He Enjoys

“I always enjoy conversation more if there is some substance to it—which is a just incredibly hilarious thing for me to say because for many, many years I was the guy whose only contribution to any conversation was, ‘There was a funny Simpson’s joke about that.’ But I’m trying to evolve from that. I mean, just having a silly time and laughing your butt off is . . . don’t get me wrong, I’ll take it, but yeah, I have a problem with pointlessness.”

From an Interview with Fast Company

15. On Inspiration and Creation

"Actually, I don't think of myself as being inspired to create. I can't imagine doing anything else. It's like breathing."

From a Reddit AMA

16. On advice he’d give to geeks with good ideas

"If you have a good idea, get it out there. For every idea I’ve realized, I have ten I sat on for a decade till someone else did it first. Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE."

From a Hulu Q&A

17. On Happiness and Peace

"If you think that happiness means total peace, you will never be happy. Peace comes from the acceptance of the part of you that can never be at peace. It will always be in conflict. If you accept that, everything gets a lot better."

From his 2013 Wesleyan Commencement Address

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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18 Timeless Will Rogers Quotes
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William Penn Adair Rogers ranks among the finest performers, comedians, and social commentators in American history. So today, let’s all find an excuse to recite some of his best remarks.


“Everything is funny, as long as it’s happening to somebody else.”


“Why don’t they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as well as prohibition did, in five years we will have the smartest people on earth.”


"I was born on November 4, which is election day ... my birthday has made more men and sent more back to honest work than any other days in the year."


“When I first started out to write and misspelled a few words, people said I was plain ignorant. But when I got all the words wrong, they declared I was a humorist.”


“Live in such a way that you wouldn’t be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.”


“Best doctor in the world is a veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what’s the matter. He’s just got to know.”


“It’s great to be great, but it’s greater to be human.”


"This Einstein has proven a great comfort to us that always knew we didn’t know much. He has shown us that the fellows that we thought was smart is just as dumb as we are."


“There is nothing as easy as denouncing ... It don’t take much to see that something is wrong but it does take some eyesight to see what will put it right again.”


“A fanatic is always the fellow that is on the opposite side.”

11. ON AGE

"Eventually you reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it."


"Everything is changing in America. People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke."


“This would be a great world to dance in if we didn’t have to pay the fiddler.”


“[Get] a few laughs and do the best you can… Live your life so that whenever you lose, you’re ahead.”


"I was born on election day but never was able to get elected to anything. I am going to jump out some day and be indefinite enough about everything that they will call me a politician, then run on a platform of question marks, and be elected unanimously."


"Finding things to tax is becoming quite a problem. You see when taxes first started (who started 'em anyhow?), Noah must have taken into the ark two taxes, one male and one female, and did they multiply bountifully! Next to guinea pigs, taxes must have been the most prolific of animals."


"Everybody is ignorant only on different subjects."


"We don’t know what we want, but we’re ready to bite somebody to get it."


“I never met a man I didn’t like.”

Ironically, for somebody who came up with so much Grade A material, most people associate Rogers with a long-lived misquote. In actuality, the full, unaltered line was: “I joked about every prominent man in my lifetime, but I never met one I didn’t like.” A few years before his death in 1935, Rogers proposed it as an epitaph for his tombstone. However, the shortened version does appear chiseled upon his final resting place in Claremore, Oklahoma.  

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11 Incredible Stephen Hawking Quotes
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When Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at age 21, doctors thought he'd only survive a few more years. But the theoretical physicist defied the odds: Hawking, who passed away yesterday, lived to be 76. Here are 11 quotes from the director of research and founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time


"At school, I was never more than about halfway up the class. It was a very bright class. My classwork was very untidy, and my handwriting was the despair of my teachers. But my classmates gave me the nickname Einstein, so presumably they saw signs of something better. When I was twelve, one of my friends bet another friend a bag of sweets that I would never come to anything. I don't know if this bet was ever settled, and if so, which way it was decided."

— From the lecture "My Brief History," 2010


"If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet."

— From Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, 2010


“I wouldn’t compare it to sex, but it lasts longer.”

— From a lecture at Arizona State University, April 2011


"If you are disabled, it is probably not your fault, but it is no good blaming the world or expecting it to take pity on you. One has to have a positive attitude and must make the best of the situation that one finds oneself in; if one is physically disabled, one cannot afford to be psychologically disabled as well. In my opinion, one should concentrate on activities in which one's physical disability will not present a serious handicap. I am afraid that Olympic Games for the disabled do not appeal to me, but it is easy for me to say that because I never liked athletics anyway. On the other hand, science is a very good area for disabled people because it goes on mainly in the mind. Of course, most kinds of experimental work are probably ruled out for most such people, but theoretical work is almost ideal. My disabilities have not been a significant handicap in my field, which is theoretical physics. Indeed, they have helped me in a way by shielding me from lecturing and administrative work that I would otherwise have been involved in. I have managed, however, only because of the large amount of help I have received from my wife, children, colleagues and students. I find that people in general are very ready to help, but you should encourage them to feel that their efforts to aid you are worthwhile by doing as well as you possibly can."

— From "Handicapped People and Science," Science Digest 92, No. 9, September 1984


"I would go back to 1967, and the birth of my first child, Robert. My three children have brought me great joy."

— To The New York Times, May 2011


"I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road."

— From Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays


"There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win, because it works."

— To Diane Sawyer/ABC News, June 2010


"Next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist."

— From Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, 2010

9. On HIS I.Q.

"I have no idea. People who boast about their I.Q. are losers."

— To The New York Times, December 2004


“They are a complete mystery.”

— To New Scientist, January 2012


"One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away."

— To Diane Sawyer/ABC News, June 2010


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