Reference Desk: A Question and Some Funny Lines

I've got a question about a book title for folks, and then a request for folks to share their favorite odd or surreal sayings; I'll cover the book question above the fold, then share an odd line related to the author and a relate a short experience with another "gotcha!" line afterward.

You'll have full use of the comment section for replies to either or both. First, the book related question:

There's a 1958 book by Richard Matheson called "A Stir of Echoes" -- it was eventually made into a Kevin Bacon flick, but that's not important. I'm interested in determining whether the title was ever a quote from a larger work of literature. I've checked quote databases, but cannot locate it. Yet, I can't shake the feeling that it was taken from somewhere...anybody know for sure?

:: ::

OK, so that was the book-related question. Now, for the fun stuff:

Apparently (and I got this third or fifth hand) Harlan Ellison once said, or was at least quoted as having said, the following about Richard Matheson;

"Matheson has the heart of a small child. On his desk."

That's the kind of quote a horror genre writer would ... well, would kill for, I s'pose. It's the type of thing to make ya go "Hmmmmm..." (and then hope that it's not serious). When my friend passed the quote along to me, it reminded me of another brief Missy the Woo Dog tale...a true story, of course:

Once, when I was out walking with Missy, a small toddler shouted with joy at the size of her -- kids tend to either love dogs, or fear them, but both reactions are usually accompanied by a profound need to stare at the dog. In the case of the former, the kids run toward the animal and can't wait to touch it, patting it and/or kissing it.

Missy was used to this sort of thing, and having grown up with a lot of kids she was also very good with them. Not far behind the incoming toddler, his young mother approached slowly.

Her eyebrows raised slightly as the size of Missy in comparison to her child, and -- just to be on the safe side -- the young mother asked me if Missy liked children. She had a hint of concern -- maybe fear -- in her eyes, but was expecting a soothing answer based her perception of my stance and the dog's reaction as the child approached.

I said "Yes, she loooooves children."

As the mother began to visibly relax, I then added "...particularly with mustard and ketchup."

The mother's eyes began to widen in fear for a split-second as the kid came to an abrupt halt at Missy's side, but she relaxed when her little one looked up at me, then back at her, and started laughing hysterically.

Apparently, the kid was quick on the uptake.

...I was lucky to have survived. If the mom had gotten me alone anytime immediately following the incident, I have absolutely no doubt that the daggers that flashed ever-so-briefly in her eyes would have manifested tenfold before me and reduced me to a human equivalent of sushi.


So, what kind of surreal or borderline psychotic lines have you heard or miraculously survived uttering?

No votes yet


I first posted this only on DailyKos, but then realized that it would likely be beneficial to spread it around. I'd not only increase my chance of a more definitive answer, but some of the other wacky folks who might stumble across it could share some wonderful tales or great lines.


of the "heart of a child quote" -- it appears that Robert Bloch is, and was speaking of himself:

Robert Bloch wrote a fan letter to H P Lovecraft at the age of 16. Lovecraft encouraged the young boy to begin writing fiction and to submit his stories to Weird Tales. Thus began a 60-year writing career that is one of the most distinguished in the horror and mystery field. Bloch is today most famous as the author of Psycho. He is also well-known for having said, "Despite my ghoulish reputation, I really have the heart of a small boy. I keep it in a jar on my desk."

From here:

Hat-tip to peskydang of Delphiforums for the heads-up.

From Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse over on DailyKos:

Archibald MacLeish ''Chambers of Imagery''

The Happy Marriage, and Other Poems

by Archibald MacLeish was published in early 1900s. one poem was "Chambers of Imagery."

NY TIMEs has a few lines:

Sometimes within the brain's old ghostly house, I hear, far off, at some forgotten door, A music and an eerie faint carouse And stir of echoes down the creeking floor. - Archibald MacLeish ''Chambers of Imagery''

And then, added on from Ray Radlein:

Quotations fact, it turns out that the poem "Chambers of Imagery" is quoted by Matheson in the preface to the novel.

So there we have it -- the original source of the phrase "stir of echoes" with regard to the genesis of the title by Matheson.

Thank you, everyone. :)

but back in the days when I still subscribed to magazines, either Time or Newsweek had an interview with Stephen King. The

I have the heart of a small child ... in a jar on my desk.

was attributed to King. He also made the statement in regard to ebooks ... and I am paraphrasing here ...

You will have to pry my books from my cold dead hands.

But mere months later, Riding the Bullet was released in ebook format only.

ePMedia ... get the scoop with us!
If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

Here is the full text of the above quote:

Speaking personally, you can have my gun, but you'll take my book when you pry my cold, dead fingers off the binding. [source]

The Whitehouser ran a story about King in Nov. 2007 and he speaks out on the media and the Bush Administration. Here are a couple of choice quotes:

“I suggested Jenna be waterboarded and then she could talk about whether or not she thought it was torture.” — Stephen King

And a quote from an interview with Time Magazine, reprinted in the Whitehouser article ...

Yeah. You know, I just filmed a segment for Nightline, about [the movie version of his novella] The Mist, and one of the things I said to them was, you know, “You guys are just covering — what do they call it — the scream of the peacock, and you’re missing the whole fox hunt.” Like waterboarding [or] where all the money went that we poured into Iraq. It just seems to disappear. And yet you get this coverage of who’s gonna get custody of Britney’s kids? Whether or not Lindsay drank at her twenty-first birthday party, and all this other shit.

You can find the Times interview with Stephen King here.

ePMedia ... get the scoop with us!
If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

from Bloch, predating King by quite a ways, but I hear that a lot writers will recycle and adapt good lines -- not surprising, then, to have heard an Ellison or a King version of it.


I don't think it had any particular significance to the time period of the 70's. It was a good joke ... and a funny, witty phrase ... but only the first 800 times that you heard it. As with anything that is 30-40 years old, the humor gets stale. But it certainly was funny / witty in its day. Good for a laugh. Aside from the alliteration of the "g" sound, I also thought that the word "germs" was intended to be derogatory / poking fun at males. In the sense of ... a stand up comedian saying to his audience: "Hello, ladies and germs" ... meaning, "Hey, there's all these pretty ladies out here in the audience ... and why are they with all these schleps and loser guys?" That's how I always took it, at least. [ SEO link removed -- GH ]

When doing something this way becomes a copyright violation you can't tell anyone where to go:

From Young Frankenstein, watch where you put your feet