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16 Clever Quips from Ogden Nash

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Happy birthday to poet Ogden Nash, known for his ability to turn a witty verse on everything from politics to celery. “I think in terms of rhyme, and have since I was six years old,” he once said. Lucky for us.

In honor of what would have been his 114th birthday today, here are some of his greatest hits.

ON LIQUID COURAGE:

“Candy
Is dandy
But liquor
Is quicker.”

— "Reflections on Ice-Breaking"

Nash updated the poem in 1968, adding this line at the end: “Pot is not.”

ON PROGRESS:

“Progress might have been alright once, but it has gone on too long.”

— "Come, Come, Kerouac! My Generation is Beater Than Yours"

ON HAPPINESS:

“There is only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball, and that is to have either a clear conscience or none at all.”

—"Interoffice Memorandum"

ON WORKING:

“If you don’t want to work you have to work to earn enough money so that you won’t have to work.”

—"More About People"

ON VISUAL POLLUTION:

In 1958, a reporter asked Nash if he thought any of his poetry had done anything to help the human race. Nash smiled and recited this piece:

“I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.”

— "Song of the Open Road"

ON ANIMALS:

“The trouble with a kitten is
THAT
eventually it becomes a
CAT."

— "The Kitten"

“The cow is of the bovine ilk; one end is moo, the other milk.”

— "The Cow"

ON INSECTS:

"God in His wisdom made the fly
And then forgot to tell us why."

—"The Fly"

ON MIDDLE AGE

“Middle age is when you've met so many people that every new person you meet reminds you of someone else.”

— "Let's Not Climb the Washington Monument"

ON MARRIAGE:

“To keep your marriage brimming
with love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.”

— "A Word to Husbands"

ON PARSLEY:

"Parsley
Is gharsley."

— "Further Reflections on Parsley"

ON MONEY:

“Certainly there are lots of things in life that money won’t buy, but it’s very funny —
Have you ever tried to buy them without money?”

— "The Terrible People"

"O, money, money, money,
I’m not necessarily one of those who think thee holy,
But I often stop to wonder how thou canst go out so fast
When thou comest in so slowly.”

— "Hymn to the Thing that Makes the Wolf Go"

ON YETIS:

“I've never seen an abominable snowman
I'm hoping not to see one.
I'm also hoping, if I do,
That it will be a wee one."

— "The Abominable Snowman"

ON CHILDREN:

"Children aren't happy with nothing to ignore,
And that's what parents were created for."

"The Parent"

ON CHOCOLATE:

“If some confectioners were willing
To let the shape announce the filling
We’d encounter few assorted chocs
Bitten into and returned to the box.”

— "Assorted Chocolates"

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Designer Reimagines the Spanish Alphabet With Only 19 Letters
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According to designer José de la O, the Spanish alphabet is too crowded. Letters like B and V and S and Z are hard to tell apart when spoken out loud, which makes for a language that's "confusing, complicated, and unpractical," per his design agency's website. His solution is Nueva Qwerty. As Co.Design reports, the "speculative alphabet" combines redundant letters into single characters, leaving 19 letters total.

In place of the letters missing from the original 27-letter Spanish alphabet are five new symbols. The S slot, for example, is occupied by one letter that does the job of C, Z, and S. Q, K, and C have been merged into a single character, as have I and Y. The design of each glyph borrows elements from each of the letters it represents, making the new alphabet easy for Spanish-speakers to learn, its designer says.

Speculative Spanish alphabet.
José de la O

By streamlining the Spanish alphabet, de la O claims he's made it easier to read, write, and type. But the convenience factor may not be enough to win over some Spanish scholars: When the Royal Spanish Academy cut just two letters (CH and LL) from the Spanish alphabet in 2010, their decision was met with outrage.

José de la O has already envisioned how his alphabet might function in the real world, Photoshopping it onto storefronts and newspapers. He also showcased the letters in two new fonts. You can install New Times New Roman and Futurysma onto your computer after downloading it here.

[h/t Co.Design]

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15 Powerful Quotes From Margaret Atwood
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It turns out the woman behind such eerily prescient novels as The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake is just as wise as her tales are haunting. Here are 15 of the most profound quips from author, activist, and Twitter enthusiast Margaret Atwood, who was born on this day in 1939.

1. On her personal philosophy

 “Optimism means better than reality; pessimism means worse than reality. I’m a realist.”

— From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

2. On the reality of being female

“Men often ask me, Why are your female characters so paranoid? It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

3. On limiting how her politics influence her characters

“You know the myth: Everybody had to fit into Procrustes’ bed and if they didn’t, he either stretched them or cut off their feet. I’m not interested in cutting the feet off my characters or stretching them to make them fit my certain point of view.”

— From a 1997 interview with Mother Jones

4. On so-called “pretty” works of literature

“I don’t know whether there are any really pretty novels … All of the motives a human being may have, which are mixed, that’s the novelists’ material. … We like to think of ourselves as really, really good people. But look in the mirror. Really look. Look at your own mixed motives. And then multiply that.”

— From a 2010 interview with The Progressive

5. On the artist’s relationship with her fans

“The artist doesn’t necessarily communicate. The artist evokes … [It] actually doesn’t matter what I feel. What matters is how the art makes you feel.”

— From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

6. On the challenges of writing non-fiction

“When I was young I believed that ‘nonfiction’ meant ‘true.’ But you read a history written in, say, 1920 and a history of the same events written in 1995 and they’re very different. There may not be one Truth—there may be several truths—but saying that is not to say that reality doesn’t exist.”

— From a 1997 interview with Mother Jones

7. On poetry

“The genesis of a poem for me is usually a cluster of words. The only good metaphor I can think of is a scientific one: dipping a thread into a supersaturated solution to induce crystal formation.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

8. On being labeled an icon

“All these things set a standard of behavior that you don’t necessarily wish to live up to. If you’re put on a pedestal you’re supposed to behave like a pedestal type of person. Pedestals actually have a limited circumference. Not much room to move around.”

— From a 2013 interview with The Telegraph

9. On how we’re all born writers

“[Everyone] ‘writes’ in a way; that is, each person has a ‘story’—a personal narrative—which is constantly being replayed, revised, taken apart and put together again. The significant points in this narrative change as a person ages—what may have been tragedy at 20 is seen as comedy or nostalgia at 40.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

10. On the oppression at the center of The Handmaid's Tale

“Nothing makes me more nervous than people who say, ‘It can’t happen here. Anything can happen anywhere, given the right circumstances.” 

— From a 2015 lecture to West Point cadets

11. On the discord between men and women

“‘Why do men feel threatened by women?’ I asked a male friend of mine. … ‘They’re afraid women will laugh at them,’ he said. ‘Undercut their world view.’ … Then I asked some women students in a poetry seminar I was giving, ‘Why do women feel threatened by men?’ ‘They’re afraid of being killed,’ they said.”

— From Atwood’s Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, 1960-1982

12. On the challenges of expressing oneself

“All writers feel struck by the limitations of language. All serious writers.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

13. On selfies

“I say they should enjoy it while they can. You’ll be happy later to have taken pictures of yourself when you looked good. It’s human nature. And it does no good to puritanically say, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be doing that,’ because people do.”

— From a 2013 interview with The Telegraph

14. On the value of popular kids' series (à la Harry Potter and Percy Jackson)

"It put a lot of kids onto reading; it made reading cool. I’m sure a lot of later adult book clubs came out of that experience. Let people begin where they are rather than pretending that they’re something else, or feeling that they should be something else."

— From a 2014 interview with The Huffington Post

15. On why even the bleakest post-apocalyptic novels are, deep down, full of hope

“Any novel is hopeful in that it presupposes a reader. It is, actually, a hopeful act just to write anything, really, because you’re assuming that someone will be around to [read] it.”

— From a 2011 interview with The Atlantic 

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