When writing gets difficult for me, I turn to HL Mencken. The “Sage of Baltimore” was a free thinker and prolific writer in the early 20th century. His writing inspires me, improves my own writing and, I believe, helps me amuse my audience.
As time moves forward, Mencken becomes a little more obscure and misunderstood. But he remains eminently quotable. For example:
Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
He’s inspired me to collect and share many a truism, bon mot, aphorism and even a few jokes. With that, here are a few anonymous entries from the archives:
- Bad breath is better than no breath at all.
- Old age may not have much to recommend it, but generally speaking, it is preferable to the alternative.
- When you are not sure what to say or how to answer, the only two good choices are to either 1. tell the truth or 2. be quiet.
- If you want something to be different, you need to do something differently.
- If you always tell the truth you will never need to remember what lie you told to who.
- Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.
- Fall down seven times. Get up eight.
- Truth is illusory. Rumors are real.
- “Transparent” is the new buzzword for “buy my product now!”
- The best way to avoid a fight is to make sure the outcome is obvious before the first punch is thrown.
- Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes because there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.
- Character is what you are. Reputation is what people think you are.
- A man who says marriage is a 50-50 proposition doesn’t understand two things: 1. Women. 2. Fractions.
- The facts, although interesting, are irrelevant.
- The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.
And I close with one more from the “truisms that inspire” archive from Mr. Mencken himself:
The final test of truth is ridicule. Very few dogmas have ever faced it and survived.