Heard on NFL Blackhawks vs. Redwings

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Dec 28 15:19:05 UTC 2009

At 5:42 AM -0800 12/28/09, James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at netscape.com> wrote:
>  >Re the quick and the dead ...
>>>>  Is that meaning still used? I don't think I've ever seen it outside
>  >>> of references. BB

I don't know if this counts as "outside of references", but it's been
used as the title of a number of books and movies, not infrequently
in military contexts.  This may have prompted the basic training joke
pun below, and I've always assumed (without evidence) that Norman
Mailer's WWII novel _The Naked and the Dead_ (the one with all the
"fug"s that prompted the (real or apocryphal) line of Tallullah
Bankhead's that we've discussed on the list--"You're the young man
who doesn't know how to spell 'fuck'") was an intended reference to
"the quick and the dead".


>  >>>
>>>  Perhaps not.  It turns up in cryptic crosswords.  I suppose it only is
>>>  spoken by people being consciously archaic.
>>>  AM
>>I think this would have been the case even when A. E. Housman used it in
>>the second stanza of Poem LXI: "The vane on Hughley steeple," in _A
>>Shropshire Lad_ in 1896:
>>         To south the headstones cluster,
>>               The sunny mounds lie thick;
>>         The dead are more in muster
>>               At Hughley than the quick.
>>I can't see it as having become any less archaic and consciously
>>literary in the more than a century since Houseman used it.
>Not necessarily literary.  There's an old joke "In Los Angeles there
>are only two kinds of pedestrians: the quick and the dead."
>This joke was so well-known that in Basic Training (1969) a training
>sergeant told us "there are only two kinds of infantrymen: the quick
>and the dead."
>     - Jim Landau
>Netscape.  Just the Net You Need.
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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