John Petrie’s Collection of

Dave Barry Quotes

Dave Barry
Dave Barry

They're gold, Barry, gold!

(Click here for Dave Barry columns in the Miami Herald!)

If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there are men on base.

How do these celebrities stay so impossibly thin? Simple: They have full-time personal trainers, who advise them on nutrition, give them pep talks, and shoot them with tranquilizer darts whenever they try to crawl, on hunger-weakened limbs, toward the packet of rice cakes that constitutes the entire food supply in their 37,000-square-foot mansions. For most celebrities, the biggest meal of the day is toothpaste (they use reduced-fat Crest).

Karate is a form of martial arts in which people who have had years and years of training can, using only their hands and feet, make some of the worst movies in the history of the world.

Of course it’s possible that there really ISN’T any shadow government. The whole thing could be a phony story that was fed to The Washington Post to mislead our enemies. As you recall, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently admitted that the Pentagon had set up an office—officially named “The Office of Disinformation”—that was supposed to put out false statements to the media, thus throwing our enemies off the track. For example, if we were getting ready to attack Iraq, officials of the Office of Disinformation would hold a press conference and state: “Well, we’re certainly not going to attack Iraq!” The news media would report this, and Iraq would relax. (France, meanwhile, would surrender.)

Meanwhile, in nearby Italy, Christopher Columbus was forming. As a youth, he spent many hours gazing out to sea and thinking to himself: “Someday I will be the cause of a holiday observed by millions of government workers.” The fact that he thought in English was only one of the amazing things about the young Columbus. Another was his conviction that if he sailed all the way across the Atlantic, he would reach India. We now know, thanks to satellite photographs, that this makes him seem as stupid as a buffalo, although it sounded pretty good when Columbus explained it to the rulers of Spain, Ferdinand and his lovely wife, Imelda, who agreed to finance the voyage by selling six thousand pairs of her shoes.


Here’s a simple experiment that you might want to try if there is absolutely nothing else going on in your life. All you need is a cork, a bar magnet, and a pail of water. Simply attach your magnet to your cork, then drop it into the water, and voilà (literally, “you have a compass”)—you have a compass. How does it work? Simple. Notice that, no matter which way you turn the bucket, the cork always floats on top of the water (unless the magnet is too heavy). Using this scientific principle, early hardy mariners were able to tell at a glance whether they were sinking!

He went to an area that he called Virginia, in honor of the fact that it was located next to West Virginia, and he established a colony there, and then—this was the darnedest thing—he lost it. “Think!” his friends would say. “Where did you see it last?” But it was no use, and this particular colony is still missing today. Sometimes you see its picture on milk cartons. (On Sir Walter Raleigh)

Q. As a fourth-year medical student, I am wondering if there is any way to remember the difference between “prostrate”‘ and “prostate.”

A. We contacted the Mayo Clinic, which informs us that surgeons there use this simple poem:
If two R’s are found, it is down on the ground
If one R is on hand, then it is a gland

Scientists tell us that the fastest animal on earth, with a top speed of 120 ft/sec, is a cow that has been dropped out of a helicopter.

Several months ago, out of the blue, a company named “Cingular” started sending me bills. I had never heard of Cingular, and I honestly did not know what these bills were for, so I put them in the pile where I keep documents that I intend to scrutinize more carefully later on, after my death. Then I started seeing TV commercials for Cingular, but of course they did not make it clear what Cingular is, because the First Rule of Modern Advertising is: “Never reveal what you are advertising.”

But my point is that competitive eating is a real sport, and I considered taking it up. But when I thought about what this would mean—sitting around for hours, stuffing my face with unhealthy food—I realized it was basically the same thing as journalism.

The other day my son and I were talking, and the subject of women came up, and I realized that it was time he and I had a Serious Talk. That’s the talk every father should have with his son; and yet, far too often, we fathers avoid the subject because it’s so awkward. The subject I am referring to is: buying gifts for women. This is an area where many men do not have a clue. Exhibit A was my father, who was a very thoughtful man, but who once gave my mother, on their anniversary, the following token of his love, his commitment, and—yes—his passion for her: an electric blanket.

Benjamin Franklin proved an important scientific point, which is that electricity originates inside clouds. There, it forms into lightning, which is attracted to the earth by golfers. After entering the ground, the electricity hardens into coal, which, when dug up by power companies and burned in big ovens called “generators,” turns back into electricity, which is sent in the form of “volts” (also known as “watts,” or “rpm” for short), through special wires with birds sitting on them to consumers’ homes, where it is transformed by TV sets into commercials for beer, which passes through the consumers and back into the ground, thus completing what is known as a “circuit.”

To you taxpayers out there, let me say this: Make sure you file your tax return on time! And remember that, even though income taxes can be a “pain in the neck,” the folks at the IRS are regular people just like you, except that they can destroy your life.

On the IRS website, you can travel through history with Sherri and PJ in PJ’s “time taxi” and learn everything about the American tax system, except (1) why it’s riddled with loopholes for special interests; and (2) why it’s incomprehensible to most Americans. At the end of this journey, you realize, along with Sherri and PJ, that we have a really swell and fair tax system, and that we need to pay taxes so our government can provide us with benefits such as...well, such as an elaborate Internet site that brainwashes young people. Ha ha! There I go again! What a kidder I am!

Here’s my proposal, which is based on the TV show Survivor: We put the entire Congress on an island. All the food on this island is locked inside a vault, which can be opened only by an ordinary American taxpayer named Bob. Every day, the congresspersons are given a section of the Tax Code, which they must rewrite so that Bob can understand it. If he can, he lets them eat that day; if he can’t, he doesn’t.

We’re riding in a cab from La Guardia Airport to our Manhattan hotel, and I want to interview the driver, because this is how we professional journalists take the Pulse of a City, only I can’t, because he doesn’t speak English. He is not allowed to, under the rules, which are posted right on the seat:


Which is just as well, because if he talked to me, he might lose his concentration, which would be very bad because the taxi has some kind of problem with the steering, probably dead pedestrians lodged in the mechanism, the result being that there is a delay of eight to 10 seconds between the time the driver turns the wheel and the time the taxi actually changes direction, a handicap that the driver is compensating for by going 175 miles per hour, at which velocity we are able to remain airborne almost to the far rim of some of the smaller potholes.

        ...Chuck and I are extremely alert as we descend into the complex of subway tunnels under Times Square, climate-controlled year-round at a comfortable 172 degrees Fahrenheit.
         Athough it was constructed in 1536, the New York subway system boasts an annual maintenance budget of nearly $8, currently stolen, and it does a remarkable job of getting New Yorkers from Point A to an indeterminate location somewhere in the tunnel leading to Point B. It’s also very easy for the “out- of-towner” to use, thanks to the logical, easy-to-understand system of naming trains after famous letters and numbers. For directions, all you have to do is peer up through the steaming gloom at the informative signs, which look like this:

A 5 N 7 8 C 6 AA MID-DOWNTOWN 7 3/8
DDD 4* 1 K * AAAA 9 ONLY

                        EXCEPT CERTAIN DAYS BB ** 3


"YY" * 1,539

To cut costs, many newspapers around the country are now using fewer words. Not need adjectives, adverbs. Nouns, verbs can communicate story gist (“Middle East Fighting”).

On behalf of the newspaper industry, I wish to announce some changes we're making to serve you better. When I say “serve you better,” I mean “increase our profits.” We newspapers are very big on profits these days. We're a business, just like any other business, except that we employ English majors.

Recently I was in an electronics store, trying to buy a telephone that was just a telephone. I did not want the conference-call feature, the intercom feature, the programmable memory feature, the coffee-making feature, or the feature (this is a new one) that displays the current latitude and longitude of Representative Gary Condit. All I wanted was the feature that lets you talk to the person on the other end.

The earliest known newspaper, published in 59 B.C. in Rome, was called Acta Diurna (literally, the Portland Oregonian). The first issue offered coverage of Roman politics (“Strom Thurmond Elected to Senate”); science news (“Study Shows Thunder is Actually God Burping”); and an early episode of the comic strip “Nancy,” in which Sluggo tries to avoid paying admission to the Colosseum by peeking through a knothole, and, to the amusement of Nancy and Aunt Fritzi, gets a spear right through the eyeball. Unfortunately, Acta Diurna was not profitable, because every copy had to be entirely handwritten by slaves (called “reporters”); if a major story broke, a huge hairy man (the “editor”) would yell “Stop the presses!” and whack them with a club.

Miami loves to party. We party to celebrate when something good happens, such as winning the World Series, which we do, like clockwork, every six years. When something bad happens, we party to cheer ourselves up. When nothing is happening, we party because we are bored. If Fidel ever dies, Miami will not regain consciousness for decades.

[L]ook what the government does: it takes money from some people, keeps a bunch of it, and gives the rest to other people.

The Bush administration says the Mars mission can be accomplished for only 143.8 zillion dollars, but critics claim that the true cost is likely to be much more like 687 fillion dillion dollars. (These numbers are imaginary, but trust me, they’re as accurate as any other cost estimates you see about the Mars mission.)

Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.

Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.

Men: You know how, when your wife can’t open a pickle jar, she gives it to you, and you’re supposed to smile in a manly patronizing way as you effortlessly twist it open? That’s not what happens in our house. What happens is, after a grim struggle lasting several minutes, I wind up lying on the kitchen floor, exhausted and whimpering, while the pickle jar, unopened, laughs and flirts boldly with my wife. Sometimes it gives me a wedgie.

The weightlifting competition I saw was the women’s 63 kg class. I’m not sure whether this means the actual women weighed 63 kg or the weights they lifted weighed 63 kg. Or possibly the temperature in the weightlifting hall was 63 kg. There’s no way to know for sure without finding out what a “kg” is, and my belief, as an American, is that if I have to start understanding the metric system, then the terrorists have won.

But the more important implication is that dog spit could be a revolutionary new hair-growth treatment for balding men. Granted, we do not yet have actual laboratory proof of this. But we do have a published report in the form of this column, which has been printed in a newspaper with professional-looking margins.

I could point out that, to judge from the covers of countless women's magazines, the two topics most interesting to women are: (1) Why men are all disgusting pigs, and (2) How to attract men.

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