The Movie: Barton Fink, 1991 (Joel and Ethan Coen, screenwriters; Joel Coen, dir.)
Who says it: John Goodman as Charlie “Madman” Mundt, a traveling salesman
The context: Charlie rooms next door to Barton Fink (John Turturro), a playwright struggling to write a screenplay. Barton patronizes Charlie with rants about art and the life of the mind, not knowing that Charlie keeps his own terrible secret. Charlie says this line as he strides through a burning hotel hallway, shotgun over his arm.
How to use it: With a wild look in your eye, to deflate anyone who’s spouting pseudo-intellectual garbage. People should say it to me more often.
Throughout all this car nonsense, friends have said to me, "Things could be worse." I know they mean that it's better that the car got disemboweled here, rather than somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. But "things could be worse" has always sounded more like a threat to me than a consolation -- I know that things could be worse, I know exactly how things could be worse, and I pray constantly that these things I imagine don't come to pass.
So now things are worse. My mom went back into the hospital yesterday for what they think is pneumonia. This seems to be treatable and everyone is talking about when she'll be home, so it's true that this is not as bad as it might be. But please, please, please do not tempt fate by telling me that things could be worse.
My car can spontaneously combust and all my possessions can get buried in an earthquake, as long as Mom's okay.