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?


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    • GreyHawk on January 20, 2008 at 08:23

    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.


    • GreyHawk on January 20, 2008 at 15:21

    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.

    • GreyHawk on January 20, 2008 at 15:32

    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:


    …in 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. 🙂

    • kj on January 20, 2008 at 16:53

    my husband and i spent a weekend with another couple at an ashram. both of us are sort-of laid back, not too easily impressed, take life as it comes people. the couple we were with were agong at the ashram, floating around in a state of bliss, marveling over the idea of not eating meat.  we’d sort of been there, done that in our Diet for a Small Planet days, and weren’t as keen on the idea of vegetables as a sole source of food. (my apologies to vegetarians who might read this.) the wife of the couple kept at it, and finally my husband turned to her and said (bluntly), “I like meat.”  so, she turned on me and said, “I’ll bet you’re the kind of people who would feed your child hotdog.”  I looked at her and said, “Yes. And did you know, choking on hotdogs are the leading cause of death among toddlers?”

    the look on her face was priceless.    

    • kj on January 20, 2008 at 16:56

    doesn’t ring any bells (or echoes of bells, ouch!) but it is a lovely, evocative, title.

    • RiaD on January 20, 2008 at 19:58

    she attends college with many vet tech students. she is often approached ‘do you want any kittens/baby squirrels/ chinchillas/ rats/ etc?’

    she replies ‘ sure, my dogs would love them. for breakfast.’

    this worked until last month. she now has a cat that holds his own with her 2 dogs. my 2 however, have him on the run. we’re trying.

  1. Before I retired

    I had one of the most wonderful of bosses

    when she would get excited she would yell

    I worked as a waitress for 34 years in a very busy place, at lunch time people had only a 1/2 to an hour for lunch

    So she got executed often                                

    By her boss who did not want there emage tarnished  

    To stop her from yelling out in the dinning room

    The servers would raise our little finger in the air

    It was a sign to her that she was not good enough to get the best

    The best was the middle finger

    She would be in the middle of the dinning room laughing out loud

    After lunch she would walk over and pat you on the back and say good job

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