Tony-winning Irish playwright Brian Friel died on Oct 2, 2015 at the age of 86. Friel was constantly exploring issues of language in his plays, often painting beautifully lyrical linguistic portraits of emotions and experiences that his characters contended were beyond the power of mere words. Friel was also concerned with history and family and his most popular play in the United States, Dancing at Lughnasa, was about a group of sisters and the weight and joy of personal history. Above all, Brian Friel was a master of language and had an amazing ability to use words to evoke reactions from an audience. Here are ten vocabulary words from the plays of Brian Friel.
Republican Representative John Boehner announced his resignation as Speaker of the House, and from the Congress altogether, on September 25, 2015 -- a move that will take effect at the end of October. Boehner had a tumultuous tenure as Speaker, featuring many disagreements both with his ideological opponents and those within his own party. On the occasion of his announcement, here are ten quotes from Boehner from his time in office about a wide range of issues.
Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra died on September 22, 2015 at the age of 90. Yogi was famous for his ability to misuse words in a way that looked not mistaken but wise and clever upon reflection, and some of his quotes, like "it ain't over til it's over," have become common in everyday speech. Here are 9 classic quotes from Yogi Berra himself and one about his baseball ability from another master of the baseball quip, Casey Stengel.
Oliver Sacks, neurologist and author of popular books on the workings of the mind, died on August 30, 2015 at the age of 82. In books like The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings, the latter of which was made into a film with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, Sacks made highly unusual neurological cases relevant to a general audience by showing us what, neurologically speaking, makes human beings human. In recent months he had written eloquently in newspapers about facing death from the liver cancer that killed him. Here are eleven quotes from Sacks' life and work.
Amelia Boynton Robinson, known as the matriarch of the Civil Rights Movement, died on August 26 at the age of 104. Boynton Robinson was active in voter registration drives, with many of the planning sessions taking place at her house, and she is widely credited as the person who convinced Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to come to Selma, Alabama and take up the cause there. In 1964, when most African-Americans were still struggling to secure the right to vote, Boynton Robinson ran for Congress, becoming the first female African-American to run for office in Alabama and the first woman of any race to run for the ticket of the Democratic Party in the state. Although she advocated and practiced non-violent protest, Boynton Robinson will forever be associated with a violent image of her seemingly lifeless body lying on the ground after she was beaten unconscious by police with billy clubs during the first Selma-to-Montgomery March, on March 7, 1965, a day which is known as "Bloody Sunday."...
Civil Rights icon Julian Bond died on August 15 at the age of 75. Bond was one of the original members of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which responded to incidents of violence and the policy of segregation throughout the southern United States with non-violent protests and demonstrations, such as lunch counter sit-ins, as well as voter registration drives. Bond was also the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy group, and he later became chairman of the N.A.A.C.P. As these ten quotes demonstrate, Bond was an expert at describing the big picture and what he felt was at stake. Also in these quotes one finds a Julian Bond capable of providing a historical perspective. He was at the forefront of huge changes in American history, which also means he had a sense of what still needs to change.
Frank Gifford, New York Giant football star and Monday Night Football commentator died on August 9, 2015 at the age of 84. Gifford, both during his football career and in the broadcast booth, helped define the notion of the football celebrity and make football the national pastime and huge industry it has become. Gifford is also famous for being married to media personality Kathie Lee Gifford, and for being immortalized as the object of the author's obsession in Frederick Exley's A Fan's Notes. Here are eleven vocabulary words from quotes by Gifford and about him from Exley's novel.
Actor and folksinger Theodore Bikel died on July 21, 2015 at the age of 91. Bikel had many memorable roles in films, including a role in "The African Queen" and the film version of "My Fair Lady," but he was perhaps best known for his work on stage, where he created the role of Captain Von Trapp in "The Sound of Music" on Broadway and was well-known for his touring version of Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof." As the quotes below demonstrate, Bikel could speak his mind on complicated issues and make his position clear without making the opposition into a caricature, a rare talent among people in the public eye. Here are ten vocabulary words from quotes by Theodore Bikel.
Omar Sharif, noted actor and Bridge columnist and expert, died on July 10, 2015 of a heart attack at the age of 83. Sharif was of Egyptian descent and his roles in Lawrence of Arabia (alongside Peter O' Toole) and Dr. Zhivago made him the first Arab Hollywood screen idol in modern film history. Other notable roles include Nicky Arnstein in Funny Girl and the suspicious Major Grau in Night of the Generals, which reunited him with O' Toole. Here are 10 vocabulary words drawn from quotes from Sharif and dialogue from his films.
Hollywood mega-producer Jerry Weintraub died on July 6, 2015 at the age of 77. Weintraub started in music, producing concerts for Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, John Denver and even Elvis Presley. Weintraub entered the movie business and produced such huge hits at The Karate Kid, The Firm and the remake of Ocean's Eleven and its sequels. A list of credits doesn't do Weintraub justice, however. He knew and was friends with nearly everyone in Hollywood and as this list of quotes demonstrates, he was a consummate storyteller and great with an inspiring quip. Here are 10 quotes from Jerry Weintraub, possibly the only man ever to have been able to call both George Clooney and George H.W. Bush close friends.
Sir Nicholas Winton died on July 1 at the age of 106. When he was just 29 years old, Nicholas Winton exhibited an ingenuity and bravery most people only hope to aspire to. Nicholas Winton organized the safe transport of 669 children out of Czechoslovakia and into Britain away from the approaching Nazi forces. He also found all the children homes, saving their lives. An amazingly modest man, he didn't talk about these actions for 50 years, keeping them secret even from his wife. Here are 10 quotes from and about this extraordinary man - quotes from Winton except where noted.
This list consists of quotes from the 23 candidates for President of the United States (17 Republicans, 6 Democrats) in their own words. These quotes are drawn from the candidates' official websites or transcripts of the speeches they gave when they declared their intention to run.
Ornette Coleman, a divisive but important figure in the history of Jazz, died on June 11. He was 85 years old. Coleman's improvisational approach to music, and his willingness to stretch the boundaries of what counted as beautiful, made him a figure that not everyone listened to, but that every jazz musician and jazz fan had an opinion about. Here are ten quotes from and about Ornette Coleman that try to paint a picture of a revolutionary musician in words. Quotes are from Coleman unless otherwise indicated.
Nobel Prize winner John Forbes Nash, Jr., 86, was killed in a car accident on May 23, 2015 along with his wife, Alicia, who was 82. Nash's story was told in " A Beautiful Mind," a book adapted into a major Hollywood film starring Russell Crowe as Nash. Nash made major breakthroughs in the sub-field of math and economics known as game theory while suffering from paranoid schizophrenia that led to several stays in institutions. Nash's research examined the outcome of cooperation and mutual benefit. He often spoke of having to ignore the voices in his head- a man so interested in cooperation had trouble getting the rest of his own mind to cooperate with him. Here are ten quotes from Nash about his life's work and his mental illness.
"In West Africa, an alleged slave-ship snafu reflects the trauma of an ongoing business of marketing children as forced labor." This is the subtitle from an April 30, 2001 Time article by Simon Robinson and Nancy Palus. Read this list to find out more about why this awful human trade is so difficult to stop.
Sam Simon, who had an exceptional career as a writer and producer on television, died on March 9, 2015 after a long battle with cancer. Among his many other credits, Simon was the unsung hero on the creative staff of "The Simpsons" when the show was was first finding its footing, visually, comedically and emotionally. Here are ten quotes from the first four seasons of the show, when Simon was credited as Creative Supervisor.
Leonard Nimoy died on February 27, 2015 at the age of 83. Although he was an accomplished poet, photographer and motion picture director, Nimoy will forever be associated with the role of Spock on "Star Trek." It is perhaps the logical nature of this character that made Nimoy explore so publicly his search for meaning in his life. Here are ten quotes from a variety of sources: Spock quotes from the TV series and Star Trek films, Nimoy's own poetry and his Twitter feed and interviews.
In the Chicago Tribune article "Doctors, Talk Tough on Measles," Cory Franklin traces the measles back to a nineteenth century outbreak in the South Pacific, discusses what this has in common with the comeback today, and highlights both sides of the vaccine controversy. Learn 15 words to help get you up to speed on the measles outbreak.
In the New York Times article "Internet Taxes, Another Window Into the Net Neutrality Debate," Steve Lohr outlines how legislators feel a tax ban on high-speed internet service will further the discussion on net neutrality. Learn these 20 words to assist you in the understanding of net neutrality, the concept that all Internet data should be treated equally by Internet service providers.
Mario Cuomo, 3-term governor of New York and expert articulator of his party's principles, died on January 1, 2015. Cuomo became a national figure with a series of speeches in 1984, several of which are quoted below. The keynote address at the Democratic National Convention that year was so eloquent that many in the audience were left wondering why Cuomo wasn't the man the party was nominating for president. Whether he would have succeeded in that role or not, Mario Cuomo was a singular politician and a singular master of the language.
British Singer Joe Cocker died on December 22, 2014 after a battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. Known for his ability to interpret the songs of others, his signature arm motions and raspy howl seemed to encapsulate the late 1960s. In fact, when the creators of TV "The Wonder Years" had to choose a theme, they chose Cocker's version of "With a Little Help From My Friends" (not the original by the Beatles) as emblematic of the difficulty of the time. (The Beatles assured you that everything was going to be ok, but Cocker's vocals communicated that things were still going to be rough, but it was a stroke of luck to have friends going through it, too.) In more than four decades of recording, many people found that kind of solace in Cocker's unusual voice. Here are ten vocabulary words from Joe Cocker's discography.
Mike Nichols first achieved fame as part of the improvisational comedy pair Nichols & May. He and Elaine May were among the first to stage sketches grounded in reality but willing to embrace the absurd. They are still considered among the best comedy duos ever. Nichols went on to be a very successful film and theater director, having won so many awards for his work that he completed his EGOT, earning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and A Tony. On top of all this, he was hysterically funny with an incisive wit. Nichols was 83. Here are ten quotes from Mike Nichols, including one that hints at the priceless Nichols and May chemistry.
Originally a series in The New York Times, these 14 articles compiled and edited by Bill Keller give glimpses into the lives of people across America to prove that, despite our image of being the land of equal opportunity, social class still matters. Here are links to our lists for the nonfiction text: Chapters 1-5, Chapters 6-10, Chapters 11-15