Hyperbolic Contrast Examples

“Relegates Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World to the nursery” (Daily Mail review of Constantine Fitzgibbon’s When The Kissing Had to Stop”)

“Makes Moses and Aron look like the Headmasters’ Conference”                                 (Tony Percy spoof review quote of Whitgift School Prefects’ performance of Brian Rix’s Dry Rot, 1965. The performance of the Schoenberg opera was described by the Sunday Times as “the notoriously scandalous 1965 Covent Garden production, directed by Sir Peter Hall and conducted by Solti.” Further, “Despite the controversy surrounding the sacrifice of four naked virgins at the climax of the golden-calf episode – or perhaps because of it – the Hall production was only revived once, in 1966.”)

“Makes Room at the Top look like a vicarage tea-party.” (Tagline of 1960 film, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, from review in The Daily Telegraph (1958), which said: ‘A novel of today, with a freshness and raw fury that makes.. etc. etc.’ The tagline was also used in the paperback version of Alan Sillitoe’s novel.)

“Makes All Quiet on the Western Front look like a vicarage tea-party.” (Retroblurb of Tableau, by James White)

“We are creating and will create a civilization in comparison with which capitalist civilization will seem like a vulgar street dance compared with the heroic symphonies of Beethoven.”         (Bukharin, in 1928, cited in Lenin i problema kul’turnoi revoliutsii, in Put’ k sotsializmu v Rossii, New York, 1967, p 375, and quoted by Heller and Nekrich in Utopia in Power, p 221)

“For several years Malenkov had served in Stalin’s personal secretariat, which was led by Poskrebyshev. There he had mastered the arts of party apparatus intrigue, which makes Machiavellianism look like child’s play.”                                                                                                                                      (from Heller and Nekrich’s Utopia in Power, p 498)

“Among other widely publicized investigations undertaken by Andropov was one involving bribery and abuse of power in the Krasnodar region. Local officials and militia were involved in corruption on a scale that makes the nineteenth-century abuses satirized by Gogol seem like a cheerful musical comedy.”                                                                                                                                  (from Heller and Nekrich’s Utopia in Power, p 707)

“I think beneath that English exterior throbs a passion that would make Lord Byron look like a tobacconist.”                               (Mrs Peignoir to Basil Fawlty, in The Wedding Party, third episode in Series 1 of Fawlty Towers, first broadcast on 3 October, 1975)

“The postfeminist Papa Bear [Stan Berenstain of the Berenstain Bears] is the Alan Alda of Grizzlies, a wimp so passive and fumbling he makes Dagwood Bumstead look like Batman.”                            (Charles Krauthammer, in a 1989 column in the Washington Post, as reported in the NYT obituary of Stan Berenstain, November 30, 2005)

“Nick Faldo, on his role as an announcer for ABC: ‘When I loosen up, I’m going to make Johnny Miller look like Mary Poppins….’”                  (Golf Digest, January 2006)

“The combined effect of all their [the US 1930s protofascist paramilitary movements’] efforts was to make Sir Oswald Mosley look like Napoleon.” (Alonzo L. Hamby, in For The Survival Of Democracy, p 269)

“Analysts are predicting that the impending format war [between the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD specifications] will make the VHS-Betamax war of the mid-1970’s look like a warm-up act.”                                                   (David Pogue, in NYT, January 1, 2006)

“Martin Amis makes his father seem like a warm-hearted humanist.”                                                                                                           (John Fowles, in his Journals Volume II)

“Publisher’s Weekly-January 24, 1966, vol. 189, no. 4 transcription: Valley of the Dolls: a novel by Jacqueline Susann, author of Every Night, Josephine (over 25,000 copies sold). A big, brilliant and sensational novel about the men and women who inhabit the “Valley of the Dolls”—the nightmarish show business world of pep pills, sleeping pills, and bright red, yellow and green pills to chase the world away. Louella Parsons says, “It makes Peyton Place look like a Sunday School picnic.” Coast-to-coast author appearances and national advertising.”

“A Million Little Pieces,” which became the second-highest-selling book of 2005 (behind only “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”), clearly did not sell because of its literary merits. Its narrative feels willfully melodramatic and contrived, and is rendered in prose so self-important and mannered as to make the likes of Robert James Waller (“The Bridges of Madison County”) and John Gray (“Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”) seem like masters of subtlety and literate insight. (Michiko Kakutani, NYT, January 17, 2006)

“Mr. Daly [John, the golfer] makes the controversial Bode Miller (who recently said that he had competed while hungover a few times) seem a bit like a vicar whose indulgences extended to too much shortbread.” (Ginia Bellafante, NYT, January 18, 2006)

“This is a level of hysteria that makes McCarthyism look benign.” (Frank Furedi, a professor of sociology at the University of Kent, and the author of Paranoid Parenting, on the ‘pedophile teachers’ scandal in the UK, as reported in the NYT, January 20, 2006)

“And in the long shots, it [Windsor Castle] makes Brideshead look like a guest house.’’                                                                                                                            (Anita Gates, in television preview of Windsor Castle: a Royal Year in NYT, February 12, 2006)

“Unhappily for Sierra Leone, neighbouring Liberia had fallen into the hands of a psychotic adventurer called Charles Taylor, who made Siaka Stevens [the “thuggish and kleptocratic” leader of Sierra Leone] seem like a man of Kantian iron principle.”                                                                        (Anthony Daniels, in the Spectator, 11 February, 2006)

“She makes the Indy 500 look like a Roman chariot-race, now…” (from Fun, Fun, Fun by the Beach Boys)

“… the movie [Larry the Cable Guy] pursues its unsanitary goals with a relentlessness that makes ‘Dumb and Dumber’ seem the epitome of sophistication.”                                                                                                           (Jeannette Catsoulis, NYT, March 28, 2006)

“What followed  [interrogations by Oberstleutnant Alois Schreiber] made Popov’s previous meetings with von Karsthoff seem like cozy fireside chats.”                                                                                                   (Codename Tricycle, p 212, by Russell Miller)

“It would be impossible to parallel the crime of Kut in the annals of war. I have heard a man who was through one of its minor phases as well as the retreat from Mons refer to the latter as a Sunday school picnic in comparison.”                                                 (Hesketh Pearson (anonymously) in Warriors, from The Whispering Gallery)

“The true fan, the man who can see past the vanity of mere results, is Alan Hansen, a commentator who makes Eeyore sound like Mr. Cheeryble.”                                                                                                     (Simon Hoggart, in the Spectator, June 17 2006)

“The Republicans, after all, got a monopoly while headed by W., a guy who makes Reagan look like Hannah Arendt.”                      (Maureen Dowd, in NYT, July 1, 2006)

“Tony’s [Anthony Powell’s] new one [The Fisher King] is a right stinker, well no, nicely done as ever but no matter, all art, half a dozen unlikely/cliché events spun out in reflection and discussion and more reflection and surmise. Makes H James seem like, well, a novelist.”                   (Kingsley Amis letter to Robert Conquest, 7 June 1986)

“It’s [the taping of an interview of Dame Iris Murdoch by neurologist Professor Jiohn Hodges] sanctioned, one imagines, by John Bayley, whose efforts on behalf of his late wife and her reputation make Max Clifford seem timid and retiring.”                                                                                                        (Alan Bennett, in Untold Stories, 304)

“It was the light about Dr. Nunn-May’s head which made the thought of his imprisonment intolerable; the sense of a network of perceptions and associations and interpretations which make the Nazi-Fascists seem like hogs rooting among the simple unimproved beechmast of the world.”                                                                                                                                     (from Rebecca West’s The New Meaning of Treason, p 157)

“The new Vice-Chancellor’s team, John Hood and the Hoodies, came in with a modernizing manifesto for Oxford governance, Convocation, Congregation, Council, Conference of Colleges – Oxford drowned in a sea of Cs. Is complexity makes the Schleswig-Holstein question seem like Sudoku.”                                                                                                                               (Michael Beloff, in the Spectator, August 5, 2006)

“He [Lyndon Johnson] was personally (and sexually) reckless in ways that make Bill Clinton seem like a model of rectitude.”                                                                               (Alan Brinkley, in review of LBJ, by Randall B. Woods, in NYT, August 20)

“Perhaps the most startling instance of this [the tendency for vegetarians not to be mild-mannered] was the career of the Scot turned French revolutionary, John Oswald, a vegetarian of the utmost tenderness towards the animal kingdom, but who was also so politically bloodthirsty that he made Robespierre look like a pacifist.”        (Anthony Daniels in review of The Bloodless Revolution in the Spectator, September 2, 2006)

“In 1976 he [the King of Tonga] set another record by weighting in at 460 lbs, making Edward VII look like a Bataan death-watch survivor.”                                                                                                                                   (Taki, in the Spectator, September 16, 2006)

“The consequences for human life could make Darfur look like an imams’ tea-party.”                                                                (Charles Moore, in the Spectator, September 30, 2006)

“Empson clearly deplored Duval Smith and was left deeply unhappy by Hetta’s determination to take the openness of their marriage to its absolute limit. He kept his moral nerve, but there were scenes of bloody and drunken complications which make the intrigues of Iris Murdoch look pallidly genteel.” (Rupert Christiansen, in review of William Empson: Volume II, Among the Christians, in the Spectator, October 26, 2006)

“Her [Alice Rothschild’s] legs make Betty Grable’s look like the pins of Toulouse-Lautrec.”                                                          (Taki, in the Spectator, October 26, 2006)

“Cuomo’s two greatest contributors to the tune of more than half a million dollars are … Andrew Farkas, and one Aby Rosen, a German-born vulgarian who makes Bill Clinton look like the Duke of Wellington.”                         (Taki, in the Spectator, November 4, 2006)

“It ought to be widely demonstrated that a first-rate creative artist can put in a day’s work that would make the average business man seem like an inmate of a convalescent home.”                                                                            (J. B. Priestley, in Midnight on the Desert, p 157)

“Navarino was a brilliant fleet action by Admiral Codrington, who got no thanks for it from a Foreign Office which had given him orders so contradictory that they make the Balfour Declaration seem a masterpiece of clarity…”                                                                                       (William Waldegrave, in review of Breaking The Chains: The Royals Navy’s War on White Slavery, by Tom Pocock, in the Spectator, December 16/23)

“We all tend to be subjective about our early schooldays, and perhaps time has dramatized my memory of what – on my pampered horizon – made Dotheboys Hall seem like the Club Med.”                                                                                                                                            (Alister Horne, on Ludgrove School, in A Bundle From Britain, p 86)

“[Frank] Harris would charm Jesus Christ on a first meeting, and would continue to charm as long as he thought there was any chance of touching him for dough, but once let him get into his ape-like bean that the Saviour was no longer saving him, and he’d hurry the Crucifixion along at a pace that would make Pontius Pilate look like a snail.”                                                                                                                                     (Buckland-Plummer in a letter to Hesketh Pearson, quoted in Rebel Artist, from Extraordinary People)

“These guys [members of the Australian government] are so onside in the great fight for civilization against barbarism that they make ‘Bush’s poodle’ Tony Blair look like a Harold Pinter wannabe on a bad day in Basra.”                                                                                                                                     (Melanie Phillips, in the Spectator, March 17, 2007)

“If we were to withdraw from Iraq it would make Darfur look like a Sunday afternoon picnic.”                                                                                                           (Alexander Downer, according to Melanie Phillips, in the Spectator, March 17, 2007)

“It [the film I Want Candy] makes Sex Lives of the Potato Men look like Citizen Kane.”                                                (The Guardian, according to Private Eye, 13-26 April, 2007)

“Douglas, Douglas [Hurd], you would make Neville Chamberlain look like a warmonger.”                                                                                                                                                 (Margaret Thatcher in 1993, according to Nick Cohen, in What’s Left, Chapter 5)

“He [Ramsay MacDonald] once confessed to a colleague that ‘often I am speaking and I have no idea how the sentence I am saying should finish’. John Major was a Pericles in comparison.”                                                                   (Nick Cohen, in What’s Left?, p 220)

“Is there anyone, aside from Johnny Depp, who can make John Inman look like Oliver Reed and still somehow get away with it?”                                                                                                                                                       (Deborah Ross, in the Spectator, 26 May, 2007)

“His [Rudolph Giuliani’s] personal life – the two divorces, the public extramarital affairs, the estrangement from his children – makes Bill Clinton look like a 1950s sitcom dad.”                                                                                 (Ross Douthat, in Prospect, September 2007)

“When exactly in the Warholian arc of fame did we arrive at a point where we create celebrities of people so little accomplished that they make Paris Hilton look like Marie Curie?”                                                       (Guy Tebay, in NYT, October 28, 2007)

“Loos was no picnic, and we had some ugly bits of scrapping before that, but the worst bit of the campaign I had seen was a tea-party to the show I had been in with Bullivant before the war started.” [Richard Hannay]                                                                 “How if there is a thing which you alone can do? Not some embusqué business in an office, but a thing compared to which your fight at Loos was a Sunday-school picnic.” [Sir Walter Bullivant]                       (from John Buchan’s Greenmantle, Chapter 1)

“Not a bad list, even if I say so myself, but the beauty and strength of the club [Pug’s] is the list of those who have tried to join and been blackballed by an admissions committee which makes Saudi Arabian religious courts look like small-claims tribunals in Berne.”                                                                                 (Taki, in the Spectator, December 8, 2007)

“Walter Bowart, a founder and the first publisher of The East Village Other, a New York newspaper so countercultural that it made the Village Voice look like a church circular, died on Dec. 18 in Inchelium, Wash.”             (NYT obituary, January 14, 2008)

“Tom [Old Tom Morris] was the runner-up in that first Open. He lost to Willie Park, along-driving tough whose go-for-broke style would make John Daly look like Chip Beck.”                                                                (Kevin Cook, in Golf Magazine, March 2008)

“Woody Allen and Mel Brooks are polo-playing gentiles compared with Mr. [Jackie] Mason.”                                                                              (from NYT, March 22, 2008)

“… as I said to Larry and Vivien, my TV success [Together with Music, with Mary Martin] made Las Vegas look like a bad matinée at Dundee Rep.” (Noël Coward to Ginette Spanier and her husband Paul, from The Letters of Noël Coward, Chapter 24)

“He [Leopold Stokowski] said he’d put me through a custody case which would make ‘In the Matter of Vanderbilt’ look like a picnic.”                                                                                                                  (Gloria Vanderbilt, from John Mortimer’s Character Parts)

“However mild they [gentlemen who go sailing] may be on ‘terra firma’, as soon as they step aboard they drive their crews to the point of mutiny with a flow of language which would make Captain Bligh sound like an officer in the Salvation Army.”                                                                                            (Douglas Sutherland, in The English Gentleman)

“Hillary Clinton makes Rocky Balboa look like a pansy.”                                                                             (North Carolina Governor Mike Easley, according to NYT, May 4, 2008)

“We’re going to have an administration so squeaky clean that it makes Jimmy Carter look like Marc Rich.”                                                                                  (‘Senator Barack Obama’ to ‘Bill Clinton’, in pastiche column by Maureen Dowd, in NYT, May 28)

“Corbu’s boulevards made Hogarth’s Gin Lane look like the oceanside street of dreams in Southampton, New York.”                         (Tom Wolfe, in From Bauhaus to Our House, p 82)

“They [the first London Olympics] were masterminded by Lord Desborough, a gentleman amateur sportsman, whose range of accomplishment makes decathlete Daley Thompson seem like a one-club golfer.” (Michael Beloff, in the Spectator, July 26, 2008)

“The European Parliament even voted a resolution condemning it [a requirement in nearly every EU state that all citizens register their residence with the police] as incompatible with European values, which provoked a vigorous response from several Italian ministers, whose Euroscepticism can make Bill Cash look like Kenneth Clarke.”                                                                  (John Laughland in the Spectator, July 26, 2008)

“Bill [Clinton] continues to howl at the moon – and any other reporters in the vicinity – about Obama; he’s starting to make King Lear look like Ryan Seacrest.”                                                                                                             (Maureen Dowd in NYT, August13, 2008)

“’If they intermarry,’ [Elwood] Mead asked, regarding the Italian, Portuguese, and Japanese farmers of California, ‘what will the mongrel descendants be like? What they are in South America we know…. If they do not intermarry, then each of our great valleys will be the home of racial friction which will make the Balkans seem like a prayer meeting.’”                                           (Chapter 5 of Kevin Starr’s Inventing The Dream)

“Then I come across an advertisement for a telephone company that funds a literary prize. It features the most recent prize-winner, ending with a slogan that makes the death of Little Nell seem like a detached clinical report. ‘I am who I am because of everyone’, it says.”                           (Theodore Dalrymple in the Spectator, August 30, 2008)

“His [George Barker’s] The True Confessions of George Barker is one of the greatest poems ever writen… It makes The Waste Land look like a stubble field.”                  (Emily Coleman to Eric Siepmann, from Wild Mary, by Patrick Marnham, Chapter 12)

“It [the marriage of Randolph Churchill and Pamela Digby) was a union that in affection and fidelity made Evelyn Waugh’s first marriage seem like that of Victoria and Albert.”                                                                     (David Lebedoff in The Same Man, Chapter 5)

“The main character, Dad, is a garrulous small-minded bully who makes Fred Dibnah sound like Socrates.”                                                                                                                     (Lloyd Evans, in review of Sons of York in the Spectator, September 13, 2008)

“But he [Norman Thomas] must have serious illusions if it is not plain to him that democracy of the capitalist system is at the present time mowing down lives like hay, and by killing off the dispossessed classes through starvation. Disease, and despair – to say nothing of the slaughter of soldiers in imperialistic warfare and the assassination of strikers and radicals – rolling up a record of cruelty which makes the Communist revolution in Russia look like a humanely conducted operation.”                                                                           (Edmund Wilson in The Thirties, Provincetown and New York, 1932)

“These guys [on Wall Street] make Andrew Carnegie look like Bono. They make Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette look like Brangelina.”                                                                                     (Colin Quinn at the Comedy Cellar, reported in NYT, September 27, 2008)

“Mind you, some of that divine Mamluke architecture, there [Hama, Syria] or in Cairo, was originally put up by people who would make 20th-century dictators look about as frightening as Fanny Cradock.”        (Philip Hensher, in the Spectator, October 18, 2008)

“Obama will have a honeymoon at home and abroad that makes John F. Kennedy’s look like a weekend in Skegness.”         (James Forsyth, in the Spectator. November 8, 2008)

“As compared with the Gestapo terror, the Ochrana terror was a holiday.”                                                                                      (from Jan Valtin’s Out Of The Night, Chapter 28)

“One of the lectures was given by a lady apparatchik from the Department of Health whose grimacing attempts at smiles, and whose bodily writhing as she tortured the English language with neologisms, acronyms and platitudes in the service of evident untruth, made Gordon brown’s bonhomie seem like a model of spontaneity.” (Theodore Dalrymple, in the Spectator, November 15, 2008)

“Jerk bosses who have been provoked can make ‘Saw V’ look like an episode of ‘Little House on the Prairie’.”               (Philip Galanes in NYT, November 30, 2008)

“At its present growth rate, health care spending could potentially drag our nation into a financial crisis that makes our major subprime mortgage crisis look like a warm summer rain.”   (Michael O. Leavitt, US secretary of health and human services, in September [conference in Paris, September 10] speech, as quoted in NYT, December 3, 2008)

“He’s [J. D. Salinger] been so secretive he makes Thomas Pynchon look like a gadabout.”                                                             (Charles McGrath in NYT, December 31)

“In fact, I had only a single afternoon

of total silence to show for myself,

a spring day in a cell in Big Sur,

twenty or so monks also silent in their nearby cells –

a community of Cameldolites,

an order so stringent, my guide told me,

that they make the Benedictines,

whom they had broken away from in the 11th century,

look like a bunch of Hells Angels”                  (from Quiet, by Billy Collins, in Ballistics)

“Burnaby’s [Frederick Burnaby, 1842-85] make Rambo look wet.”                                                                                  (letter in Prospect, January 2009, from Jonty Olliff-Cooper)

“But what is new about [Mark] Driscoll is that he has resurrected a particular strain of fire and brimstone, one that most Americans assume died out with the Puritans; Calvinism, a theology that makes Pat Robertson seem warm and fuzzy.”                                                                                                            (From NYT Magazine, January 11, 2009)

“Michael Ledeen, who makes Cheney look like Jane Fonda, put it this way: “I always liked Panetta. He served in the army and is openly proud of it. He seems to be a good lawyer (oxymoronic though it may seem). He’s a good manager. And he’s going to watch Obama’s back at a place that’s full of stilettos and has a track record for attempted presidential assassination second to none.”                                                                                                                                   (Andrew Sullivan in Sunday Times, January 11, 2009)

“It was Sonia Kohn, of the Medici bank of Vienna, a woman who makes Midge Dexter look like Ava Gardner, who involved Charles Fix, and not Andres Piedrahita, as I reported two weeks ago.”                             (Taki in the Spectator, January 24, 2009)

“Haiti makes Burundi resemble a holiday location.”                                                                                                                          (Aidan Hartley, in the Spectator, January 24, 2009)

“You make George Jean Nathan look like a blurb writer.”                            (Alan Manheim to Sammy Glick, in Budd Schulberg’s What Makes Sammy Run?, Chapter 1)

“Hello, sweetheart – come on over and drink to the future of a writing team that’s going to make Hecht and MacArthur look like a couple of office boys.”                                                                   (Sammy Glick, in Budd Schulberg’s What Makes Sammy Run?, Chapter 6)

“He [Foxy Four Eyes] was chinless and puffy cheeked and when he started to talk he exhibited a mouth full of bad teeth and a vocabulary that made Sammy sound like the Archbishop of Canterbury.”                                                                                                                                             (from Budd  Schulberg’s What Makes Sammy Run?, Chapter 9)

“If,  as ministers claim, these bank investments will one day be realized as a profit to the taxpayer, then selling them will mean a privatization programme that makes the 1980s look like a car-boot sale.”       (Richard Northedge in the Spectator, February 14, 2009)

“[Larry] Summers is so tone-deaf that he makes [Timothy] Geithner seem like Bobby Kennedy.”                                                  (Frank Rich, in NYT, March 22, 2009)

“[If the country does not modernize its banking and currency systems.,… the country would]  have such a panic … as will make all previous panics look like child’s play.’

                               (Banker Jacob Schiff, in 1906, as quoted in NYT, March 23, 2009)

“Filmed on a set whose fanciful evocation of a Parisian faubourg makes ‘Moulin Rouge!’ look naturalistic (and ‘Amélie’ look like a documentary). ‘Paris 36’ is unstinting in its deployment of Gallic clichés.”     (A. O. Scott in NYT review of ‘Paris 36’, April 3)

“Over the years, I heard Mum utter whoppers that would make Pinocchio look button-nosed,…”                                                                                                             (Christopher Buckley, from Mum and Pup and Me, excerpted in NYT Magazine, April 26, 2009)

“You don’t want to be cross examined by Fred S. Ridley [chairman of the PGA competition committees]. He’s very serious. He makes an IRS audit seem like a square dance.”                                                   (Bob Verdi in Golf World, April 20, 2009)

“There is a touch of Woody Allen in his [Nicolas, in ‘Shall We Kiss?’] persona, though when it comes to bodily confidence he makes Woody Allen look like Victor Mature.”                                                                       (Anthony Lane in the New Yorker, April 6, 2009)

“Poor Bob Stanfield. His flub of a football pass during the 1974 election campaign made Gerald Ford look gainly.”                                                                                     (Sports and Politicians Are Not Always A Good Mix; Toronto Star (Canada); June 12, 2007)

“In North Korea I saw the acme of tyranny, millions of people in terrorized, abject obeisance to a personality cult whose object, the Great Leader Kim Il Sung, made the Sun King look like the personification of modesty.”                                                     (Theodore Dalrymple in The Frivolity of Evil, from Our Culture, What’s Left Of It)

“In short, everything was proceeding much as normal in the prison, despite the death of Diana. It was only much later that I realized that a mass hysteria had been unleashed that makes the death of Little Nell look like a detached criminal report.”                                                                                                                                               (Theodore Dalrymple in The Goddess of Domestic Tribulations, from Our Culture, What’s Left Of It)

“You should have seen the creepy smile of welcome he [Alastair Campbell] gave them all: it made Dr. Crippen look as wholesome as Ben Fogle.”                                                                                                                         (James Delingpole in the Spectator, May 9, 2009)

“Japan… has an aging population and a national obsession with cleanliness that makes even Switzerland look messy.”                 (Donald G. McNeil Jr., in NYT, May 18, 2009)

“The politics of Lebanon, a scalding soup of ethnic groupings, some of them armed and dangerous, make Chicago’s look like Montpelier’s.”                                                                                                          (Hendrick Hertzberg, in the New Yorker, June 22, 2009)

“I have seen the future of golf, and it comes from Dardanelle, Ark., it has a baby face, it wears a blond wig, and it drives the ball so far it makes everybody else look like an interior decorator. Meet John Daly.” (Dan Jenkins [in 1991], from Jenkins at the Majors)

“The small clubhouse, which was once a slaughterhouse for a butcher, makes Tony Soprano’s back room at the Bada Bing seem luxurious.”                                                                                                             (Carol Wallace on Strathtay Golf Club, in the NYT, July 10)

“The batsmen are making Nathan Hauritz look like Jim Laker, they’re batting like twerps.”                                                            (Geoffrey Boycott on Test Match Special, describing the England batsmen in the First Test against Australia, June 12, 2009)

“Others aren’t so sure, in particular many of Faldo’s contemporaries who can’t reconcile life-of-the-party Faldo with the introvert who made Ben Hogan look like Ben Stiller.”                                                                (Alan Bastable, in Golf Magazine, July 2009)

“But the fact remains that that man must have been one of the world’s biggest liars, a liar of inconceivable genius and magnitude, a liar beside whom Ananias would have been a saint, Cagliostro a child, and Barry Lyndon a novice.”                                                                                                                       (Mr. Fall, in Michael Arlen’s The Irreproachable Conduct Of A Gentleman Who Refused a Knighthood, from These Charming People)

“But although the songs of the [Mexican] Revolution and the heroes it inspired were the stuff of legend, all I could see through my young Hollywood eyes was a hunger that made the poverty of South Los Angeles look like Hearstian grandeur.”                                                                                       (Budd Schulberg, in Moving Pictures, Chapter 34)

“In 1937, during the war in Spain, when I found myself in prison with the prospect of facing a firing squad, I made a vow: if ever I got out of there alive I would write an autobiography so frank and unsparing of myself that it would make Rousseau’s Confessions and the Memoirs of Cellini appear as mere cant.”                                                                                                      (Arthur Koestler, in Arrow In The Blue, Chapter 3)

“The most out-of-the-world place to which I have ever been is a village near the Soviet-Afghan frontier, called Permetyab. It is inhabited by Afghani and Baluchi tribesmen, compared to whom the Turkomans are a nation of sophisticated intellectuals.”                                                                (Arthur Koestler, in The Invisible Writing, Chapter 11)

“… if ever I got out alive I would write an autobiographical essay where truth would be carried to the point of self-immolation, done with the ruthless sincerity of an X-ray photograph that would make Rousseau’s Confessions look like a conventional oil-print.”                                                  (Arthur Koestler, in The Invisible Writing, Chapter 33)

“I predict a revolution in this country which will make the French Revolution look silly!”                                                                                      (Father Charles Coughlin at a 1934 congressional hearing, quoted by Jonah Goldberg in Liberal Fascism, Chapter 4)

“I’m so exposed, I’m making Paris Hilton look like a recluse.”                                       (Mr. Barack Obama, as a senator-elect in 2004, reported by NYT, September 18, 2009)

“The New York Times makes the Titanic look like the Good Ship Lollipop.”                                                                        (from the website of Americans for Limited Government, commenting on the paper’s financial outlook, reported in NYT, September 26)

“The government is preparing to observe the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China with a parade that will make 76 trombones look like a child’s plastic kazoo.”                                                           (Sharon LaFraniere in the NYT, September 29, 2009)

“Those Nobel ninnies are so lulu left they make the U.N. look like a Fox jamboree.”           (‘W’ to ‘Clinton’ in Maureen Dowd’s imagined telephone conversation between them, on hearing of Obama’s winning of the Nobel Peace Prize, in NYT, October 11)

“Evelyn Waugh describes this side of English society [i.e. in Vile Bodies] in a fashion that makes Aldous Huxley seem evangelical and the Sitwells pedantic.”                                                             (Malcolm Cowley, in 16 November 1932 article in the New Republic)

“The Edwardian breakfast alone would make one of our Christmas dinners look meager.”                                                 (J. B. Priestley, in The Edwardians, Part 1, Chapter 6)

“A Garbo at her best would have made them [Edwardian ‘beauties’] look like pink marshmallows.”                     (J. B. Priestley, in The Edwardians, Part 1, Chapter 6)

“Rand labored for more than two years on Galt’s radio address near the end of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ – a long paean to capitalism, individualism and selfishness that makes Gordon Gekko’s ‘Greed is good’ speech sound like the Sermon on the Mount.”                                                                                                                                    (Adam Kirsch reviewing Anne C. Heller’s Ayn Rand and The World She Made, in NYT, November 1, 2009)

“This meeting [between Whittaker Chambers and Margarete Buber-Neumann] was memorialized in a letter that Chambers wrote to Buckley [June 24th, 1959]. After explaining briefly who was this woman whose life story ‘makes the Odyssey, for all its grandeur, somehow childish,’ Chambers added a wistful reverie…”                                                                       (John V. Fleming in The Anti-Communist Manifestos, p 346)

“I remember on the first emergence of Hitler at the time of the beer cellar putsch in 1929, he [Bernard Berenson] said ‘This will turn into something that will make Mussolini look like a fairy tale.’”                        (Kenneth Clark, in Another Part of the Wood, Chapter 4)

“And it might, just might, start Fifa, who usually make the Taleban look progressive, on the road to suing video technology in games.”                                                                                                                              (Roger Alton, in the Spectator, November  28, 2009)

“That person [Lady Gaga] is a 23-year-old New Yorker of outsized ambition and middling talents, a onetime Catholic school girl with a Duchampian show-business handle, a self-promoter so tireless she made Paris Hilton look like a lay-about.”                                                                                                         (from NYT, December 27, 2009)

“’Jersey Shore’ should snap them out of that; its brash, bawdy inhabitants make the indolent, overprivileged Kardashians look as exciting as an old ‘Father Knows Best’ episode.”                                                         (Neil Genzlinger in NYT, January 3, 2010)

“Lacking Hitler’s ear, Rosenberg saw him again scarcely half a dozen times – the Fuhrer’s gate-keeper, Martin Bormann, held views on the Slavs that made Hitler look moderate…”                                                                      (from Mark Mazowers Hitler’s Empire, Chapter 5)

“More recently [Tory MP John] Whittingdale also recruited Martin Le Jeune, a free-market head-banger who makes Margaret Thatcher look positively Keynesian.”                                                                                                          (Private Eye, 11-24 December 2009)

“The thug [Mutassin Gaddafi] has been involved in similar fracas in Paris, in Rome, and I’d hate to think what he’s been up to down south, where he makes the unlamented Uday Hussein resemble Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind.”                                                                                                                                     (Taki, in the Spectator, January 9, 2010)

“In these renditions, the principal players [in the 2008 election campaign] make a typical ‘Survivors’ cast look like paragons of dignity and altruism.”                                                                                                                 (Frank Bruni, in NYT, January 17, 2010)

“That’s [‘the bridegrooms of death’] what they called the legion. Make the French legion look like Sunday-school teachers.”                                                                                                                                            (Tolhurst, in C. J. Sansom’s Winter in Madrid, Chapter 17)

“The banality of ‘Love Story’ makes ‘Peyton Place’ look like ‘Swann’s Way’ as it skips from cliché to cliché with an abandon that would chill even the blood of a True Romance editor.”                                                                                               (from Newsweek review of Erich Segal’s Love Story, according to his NYT obituary, January 20, 2010)

“Not only does Russia have fifteen times as many tanks facing Western Europe as Hitler had when he invaded France, Belgium, and the Low Countries; she has a Fifth Column and a Fourth Arm which in power and influence make the Nazis look like a vicarage tea-party.”                                                          (Winston S. Churchill, Jr., in The Sunday Express, March 29, 1981, quoted in William Stephenson’s Intrepid’s Last Case, Chapter 32)

“But the teeter-tottering test of wills that takes place in ‘Venus in Fur’, a tasty new comedy-drama by David Ives at the Classic Stage Company, makes even the most fraught encounter between a domineering director and a sensitive performer seem like a ply date in a sandbox.” (Charles Isherwood, in NYT, January 30, 2010)

“It’s probably true that if the mid-term elections were held this week, Democrats would take enough casualties to make the Capitol look like the Alamo.”                                                                                                          (Matt Bai, in NYT Magazine, January 31, 2010)

“I plan to read Marcus Scriven’s splendid book on yet another terrific bugger, John Bristol, a man who makes everyone I’ve mentioned above [James Lees-Milne, Somerset Maugham, John Cheever] sound like choirboys.”                                                                                                                                       (Taki, in the Spectator, January 30, 2010)

“He [Morgan Leafy] made Hamlet look rash and hot-headed.”                                                                                      (William Boyd, in A Good Man In Africa, Part 3, Chapter 1)

“’Compared to Doug Fieger, Rod Stewart is a paragon of sexual humility,’ Dave Marsh wrote in a Rolling Stone review of the band’s [the Knack’s] second album, ‘… But the Little Girls Understand.’”    (from NYT obituary of Doug Fieger, February 16, 2010)

“It [the BBC Radio 4 program on the Royal Society] made the episode on ‘Silas Marner’, George Eliot’s 1861 novel, seem frivolous.” (Adam Cohen, in NYT, February 17, 2010)

“The [Republican] party’s chairman, Michael Steele, makes Howard Dean look like a model of reticence,..”                                                    (Matt Bai, in NYT, February 21, 2010)

“This place [Mogadishu] makes Kabul look like Manhattan.”                                                                                                      (Justin Marozzi in the Spectator, February 27, 2010)

“As editor of the News of the World and the Daily Mirror, hid [Piers Morgan’s] rages would have made bullying Gordon Brown look like a wimp.”                                                                                                     (Freddy Gray, in the Spectator, March 20, 2010)

‘Self-reliance’ is the essence of a system [in North Korea] based largely on Confucian emperor-worship, and is married to a strict totalitarianism that makes Erich Honnecker’s [sic] East Germany look like a holiday camp.”                                                                                                                             (Mark Seddon in the Spectator, March 27, 2010)

“Professional boxing, it turned out, was so corrupt it made the Catholic Church seem scandal-free.”                                             (Luke Coppen, in the Spectator, April 3, 2010)

“Cameron’s future claim to fame will surely be as a prime minister so floppy and useless he makes Ted Heath look like Winston Churchill.”                                                                                                                                 (James Delingpole, in the Spectator, April 3, 2010)

“Cross the channel and this dislike [of the intellectual], in more countries than one, has taken a practical form, to which the occasional ducking of an Oxford aesthete seems a nursery tiff.”                                                                                                                  (from the Introduction to The Poet’s Tongue [1935], by W. H. Auden and John Garrett)

“…’[The Human] Centipede’ promises to return with a sequel that, according to Mr. Six, will make this movie ‘look like “My Little Pony”’”                                                                                                                                              (from film review in NYT, April 30, 2010)

“The vote seems to be as resilient as Brown himself, a man who makes Rasputin look like [a?] hypochondriac.” (Patrick Wintour in the Guardian, quoted in NYT, May 4, 2010)

“Caine was in a gang, but, he said, ‘we looked like Mary Poppins compared to these guys now. Our drug was alcohol, and our weapon was fists – now its drugs and guns.’” (Michael Caine being interviewed on Harry Brown, in the New Yorker, May 10, 2010)

“Once she [Hera Björk] opened her mouth, at the start of ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’, what emerged made Meat Loaf sound like Judy Holliday.”                                                                                                                (Anthony Lane in the New Yorker, June 28, 2010)

“He [Tamim Iqbal] makes India’s nuclear opener Virender Sehwag look like a blocker.”                                                                            (Kevin Garside, in The Times, June 7, 2010)

“Derek Jeter, the Yankees shortstop, makes John Terry look like Gandhi, but still gets sponsorship deals.”                                        (Roger Alton, in the Spectator, July 24, 2010)

“Homer makes Shakespeare and Goethe look like soap opera hacks..”                                                                                                              (Taki, in the Spectator, July 24, 2010)

“Christine O’Donnell has accomplished the impossible: She’s made Jimmy Carter look like a libertine.”                            (Maureen Dowd, in NYT, September 22, 2010)

“The poverty and squalor of his [Stalin’s] home would make those of Wells or Lloyd George seem indecently opulent.”                     (from C. P. Snow’s Variety of Men)

“Some of the examples are so complex that, in the words of one exasperated philosopher, this branch of ethics [‘trolleyology’] ‘makes the Talmud look like Cliff’s Notes.’”                                                                        (David Edmonds in Prospect, October 2010)

“Like Sir Charles Napier, the most discerning and most chivalrous of enemies, who as general in charge of the northern command averted a collision compared with which Peterloo would have been child’s play,…” (from R. H. Tawney’s William Lovett)

“He [David Cameron] is making Maggie Thatcher look like Tip O’Neill.”                                                                            (Pat Buchanan in The American Conservative, late 2010)

“His [Harold Wilson’s] short-term opportunism, allied with a capacity for self-delusion which made Walter Mitty appear unimaginative, often plunged the government into chaos.”                                        (from Denis Healey’s The Time of My Life, Chapter 16)

“Tony Benn was now moving to the Left at a speed which already made Michael Foot look conservative.”                      (from Denis Healey’s The Time of My Life, Chapter 17)

“Its [the TV program ‘Skins’’] main innovation – besides using depictions of sex and drug use which make ‘Gossip Girl’ look like ‘iCarly’ – was Elsley and Brittain’s decision to fill the cast and the writing staff with real live teen-agers.”                                                                                                                         (from the New Yorker, January 10, 2011)

“Frankly, I’ve never seen anything like the Calpers sales document, which makes even Goldman Sachs’s alleged nondisclosure look like child’s play.”                                       (David Crane, aide to former Governor Schwarzenegger, quoted in NYT, January 7, 2011)

“It is surely permissible to hazard the guess that somewhere beyond Betelgeuse there may be a race of men whose intelligence makes ours seem like the works of an old-fashioned music box.”          (James Thurber, in What I Believe, edited by Mark Booth)

“It [An Island Parish] is so gentle that it makes The Archers look like The Oresteia.”                                                                  (Simon Hoggart, in the Spectator, January 22, 2011)

“These housewives [‘The Real Housewives of Miami’] make their sisters in Beverly Hills — with their philanthropic projects and careers and creativity enough to give their children names like Pandora — seem like Meryl Streep.”                                                                                                                  (Ginia Bellafante, in NYT, February 22, 2011)

“Bubba Watson makes Arnold Palmer look like Luke Donald.”                                                                                                       (Johnny Miller on NBC TV, February 27, 2011)

“Between the ages of 18 and 21, they [Mormons] had spent two years in some foreign slum, dressed in a white shirt and tie, knocking on doors and being told to get lost, It makes your average gap-year experience look like a Saga cruise.”                                                                                    (Philip Delves Broughton, in the Spectator, March 5, 2011)

“The government in Sanaa makes even the Karzai regime, in Afghanistan, seem like a model of propriety.”                                  (Dexter Filkins, in the New Yorker, April 11, 2011)

“The candidates [for President] they [the Republican Party] are recruiting make Michael Dukakis look like John F. Kennedy.”       (Jonathan Chait, in NYT, April 10, 2011)

“The poet Ezra Pound foresaw an inevitable ‘American Risorgimento’ which would ‘make the Italian renaissance look like a tempest in a teapot.’”                                                                    (William E. Leuchtenburg in The Perils of Prosperity 1914-32, Chapter 8)

“..I’m sure her [Sarah Palin’s] burden-of-government message resonated powerfully in an India whose suffocating bureaucracy makes America seem like a libertarian paradise.”                                                                            (Bill Keller in NYT Magazine, April 17, 2011)

“There will have been a great burning and smashing-up of human habitations which no one will have had the energy to replace, and such a destruction of beautiful buildings, works of art and irreplaceable loveliness of all sorts, as will make the feats of the Huns and Vandals seem mere boyish mischief.”                                                                                                                                 (H. G. Wells in The Fate of Homo Sapiens, Chapter 26)

“When she turns on her overdrive, [Michelle] Bachman is perhaps the only woman in American politics who can make Palin sound like Indira Gandhi.”                                                                                                  (Richard Littlejohn, in the Spectator, April 16, 2011)

“Then again, the Hellenising Evangelist who starts his Gospel with ‘In the beginning was the Word’ could make even a Roman hegemon sound like a philosopher.”                                                                           (Bruce Anderson, in the Spectator, April 23-30, 2011)

“I am going to explain the American South, a subject that makes the quantum theory seem like child’s play.”                   (Florence King, in the Spectator, April 23-30, 2011)

“He [Paul Allen] doesn’t seem mad so much as resigned to having been outfoxed by a junior [Bill Gates] who makes even Mark Zuckerberg look like a slacker.”                                                                     (Gary Rivlin, in New York Times Book Review, May 8, 2011)

“The Gaddafis make Bill Clinton sound like Diogenes….”                                                                                                                                       (Taki, in the Spectator, May 7, 2011)

“The neutron-bomb landscape was the first thing I noticed after we hired a van at the airport from a woman so dumb she made ugly lower-middle-class female Guardian writers sound like intelligent parrots.”

“Gipsy was so greedy, she made Bernard Madoff look like Mother Teresa.”                                                                                                     (Taki, in the Spectator, May 21, 2001)

“Mr. Wesker, though, makes Odets look like a cockeyed optimist.”                                                                                     (Ben Brantley, in review of Arnold Wesker’s Chicken Soup With Barley, referring to Clifford Odets’s Awake and Sing!, in NYT, July 12, 2011)

“Is it any wonder the poor woman [Rebekah Brooks] was too distracted to notice that her office was a seething jungle of iniquity beside which the Nixon White House looks like the Blue Peter garden?”                                    (Private Eye, p 9, 22 July- 4 August, 2011)

“When it comes to ethical discrimination, [Kelvin] Mackenzie makes [Piers] Morgan look like Ronald Dworkin.”                                                (New Yorker, August 1, 2011)

“The greatest nation? This debt fiasco makes Washington look like a parish council.”                                                         (Martin Vander Weyer, in the Spectator, August 6, 2011)

“Sir Basil Spence was responsible for one of the worst atrocities, which is so bad that it makes Coventry Cathedral look beautiful.”                                                                                                                       (Bruce Anderson on Glasgow, in the Spectator, August 27, 2011)

“… and if it [the break-up of the European Union] did happen it would cause a financial convulsion that would make the collapse of Lehman Brothers seem like a theme-park ride.”                                               (John Lanchester in the New Yorker, October 10, 2011)

“Hello America. I’ve been watching a part of the world being blown to pieces. A part of the world as nice as Vermont, Ohio, Virginia, California and Illinois, lies ripped up and bleeding like a steer in a slaughterhouse. I’ve seen things that make the history of the savages read like the Pollyanna legend.”    (Final commentary from Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent, quoted by Michael Burleigh in Moral Combat, Chapter 6)

“Compared with this [Citigroup’s selling of mortgage-backed securities], Goldman Sachs mortgage traders look like Boy Scouts.”   (James B. Stewart, in NYT, October 22, 2011)

“We’re looking at a Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff look like a Boy Scout.”                                                                                   (Jose M. Berto, supply officer for Rhode Island, on the state’s pension problem, quoted in NYT, October 23, 2011)

“But much of the credit must go to their [the Welsh rugby XV’s] inspirational captain, Sam Warburton, who was 23 a few days ago but appears to operate with a maturity that makes William Pitt the Younger look like William Brown of the Outlaws.”                                                                                 (Roger Alton, in the Spectator, October 15, 2011)

Infinite Jest has wall upon wall of porkers going back to 15th-century German Morris dancers who should switch to Jazzercise and culminating in Honoré Daumier’s The Legislative Belly, a chamber of deputies who make the crowd at WalMart look like David Bowie and Iman.”                               (P. J. O’Rourke, in Prospect, November 2011)

“..we’re talking about a couple whose all-too-brief union makes the 72 days of Kardashian-Humphries nuptial bliss seem as old as the cosmos itself. That would be Ernest Borgnine and Ethel Merman, who separated after five weeks of marriage in 1964.”                                                                                      (NYT, November 3, 2011)

“Jimmy Savile, an acclaimed English television host whose dress, hair, and verbal flummery made all other comers in a nation renowned for eccentrics look like Puritans, was found dead last week at his home in Leeds, in the north of England.”                                                                                                        (from NYT obituary, November 3, 2011)

“The hubbub [over Private Eye’s 50th birthday celebrations], the London Times wrote, makes ‘the Diamond Jubilee look like a small children’s party.’”                                                                                                                (from the New Yorker, November 21, 2011)

“…Florence’s young mayor Matteo Renzi, who at 36 makes David Cameron and even George Osborne look like grizzled veterans.”                                                                                                                           (Carla Powell, in the Spectator, November 12, 2011)

“… the lyrics [by John Grant of Midlake] are so self-laceratingly, unremittingly (if comically) bleak they make Morrissey sound like Lady Gaga.”                                                                                         (James Delingpole in the Spectator, November 12, 2011)

“He obviously doesn’t read Le Canard Enchainé, whose shafts at Sarko and other Gallic politicos and meticulously documented exposures of scandals make Private Eye look like the Beano.”                         (Barry Baldwin, in letter to the Spectator, November 26, 2011)

“Eddy routinely mocked and neglected Saffy and instead went clubbing with Pats, a tall, thin and lugubrious fashion-magazine editor whose capacity for no food and lots of drugs and drink made Keith Richards look abstemious.”                                                                                        (Alessandra Stanley on Absolutely Fabulous, in NYT, January 6, 2012)

“Prose-wise, he makes Mitt Romney sound like F. Scott Fitzgerald.”                                                                                      (Gail Collins on Rick Santorum, in NYT, January 7, 2011)

“There’s enough unrequited love to make ‘The Remains of the Day’ look like ‘Caligula’.”                                                                                                                         (Emily Nussbaum on ‘Downton Abbey’, in the New Yorker, January 23, 2012)

“Although every chapter of it [Arnold Toynbee’s Study of History] has been shot to pieces by the experts, and although it is written in a style compared with which that of Hitler or Rosenberg is of Gibbonian lucidity,…”                                                                                                                     (Hugh Trevor-Roper, in Arnold Toynbee’s Millennium)

“Christ, he could talk! Made even you sound like a board-school lad at the pit-face.”                                                                                                                 (Superintendent Dalziel to Detective-Sergeant Pascoe, in A Clubbable Woman, by Reginald Hill, Chapter 5)

“Now, in a parting that makes Kramer vs Kramer look like Noel’s House Party, he’s [rugby player Chris Ashton] off to Saracens this summer,…”                                                                                                   (Roger Alton, in the Spectator, January 28, 2012)

“His father, David, was a sadistic pedophile and a rapist, while his mother, Eleanor, was a dotty do-gooder whose telescopic philanthropy made Dickens’s Mrs. Jellyby seem, by contrast, a paragon of maternal solicitude.”                                                           (Francis Prose on Patrick Melrose, the hero of Edward St. Aubyn’s novels, in NYT, February 12, 2012)

“Its [Big Fat Gypsy Weddings’] female characters can make Snooki, from ‘Jersey Shore,’ seem like an Oxford don.”                                          (Dwight Garner, in NYT, February 17)

“Quite how Scotland contrived to lose to England is a mystery that makes Fermat’s Last Theorem look like the Daily Star quick crossword.”                                                                                                              (Roger Alton, in the Spectator, February 11, 2012)

“Ron Paul was cantankerous and Rick Santorum oddly charming, given that some say his views on society make Genghis Khan look like a European socialist pinko.”                                                                                                 (John Sweeney, in the Oldie, March 2012)

“You know Roman, that’s very flattering and the money’s good, but, hey the Chelsea dressing room is so poisonous it makes a viper’s nest look like Andy Pandy’s herb garden;..”                                                                                                                     (André Villas-Boas, according to Roger Alton’s spoof in the Spectator, March 10, 2012)

“The Republican budget is so far to the right, it makes the Contract With America [Newt Gingrich’s legislative manifesto of 1994] look like the New Deal.”                                                                                                             (President Obama, quoted in NYT, April 4, 2012)

“He wanders so far from his true nature that he makes Mitt Romney look like Mr. Authenticity.”                                                      (David Brooks, in NYT, April 6, 2012)

“Philip Larkin’s body of work is so slender and, often, so seemingly slight, so devoid of belly fat and blather, as to make Elizabeth Bishop (whom I now think of as his nearest American counterpart) look like a blimp and a bigmouth.”                                                                                                                              (Paul Muldoon, in NYT, April 22, 2012)

“British empire buff Andrew Rosindell (Con), who spends his life wallowing in nostalgia for the glory days of Lord Curzon, is also on the committee, as is his party colleague Sir John Stanley, a man to make Sir Bufton Tufton appear a frivolous modernizer.”                                                                                                         (Private Eye, 20 April-3 May, 2012)

“His right-arm dobbers make Jonathan Trott look like Fred Trueman.”                                                              (Martin Johnson on Darren Sammy, in Sunday Times, May 27, 2012)

“Besides making previous horror films look like variations of ‘Pollyanna’, ‘Psycho’ is overlaid with a richly symbolic commentary on the modern world as a public swamp in which human feelings and passions are flushed down the drain.”                                                    (Andrew Sarris, in The Village Voice, from his NYT obituary, June 21, 2012)

“And yet 1848 was only child’s play compared with their frenzy in 1871.”                         (Frederick Engels, Introduction , On the 20th Anniversary of the Paris Commune)

“Romney is so secretive that he’s beginning to make the über-clandestine Cheney look like The Bachelorette.”                                        (Maureen Dowd, in NYT, July 25)

“The plot [of ‘Klown’] makes ‘Borat’ look like ‘L.A. Confidential’.”                                                                                              (Anthony Lane in the New Yorker, 6 August, 2012)

“I won’t spoil the fun by telling all, but let’s just say that what Rose endured makes the dilemma faced by the heroine of ‘Sophie’s Choice’ seem like a matter of deciding between matte and glossy nail polish.”                                   (Charles Isherwood, in review of ‘Red Dog Howls’, by Alexander Dinelaris, in NYT, September 25, 2012)

“And our prime minister’s policy on Israel and Palestine makes Romney look like Jimmy Carter.”                  (Matthieu Aikins, Canadian journalist, quoted in NYT, November 4)

“[Walter] Harris’s alarming testimony makes ‘Carleton-Browne of the FO’ appear positively Stakhanovite.”                                            (Donald Gillies, in Radical Diplomat, the Life of Archibald Clark Kerr, Lord Inverchapel, 1882-1951, Chapter 3)

“LaPierre [executive vice-president of the NRA] makes Charlton Heston look like Michael Moore.”                                 (Maureen Dowd, in NYT, December 23, 2012)

“Dodd-Frank makes Glass-Steagall look like throat-clearing.”                                                                                                          (Andrew Haldane, Bank of England’s executive director for financial stability, quoted in Atlantic Monthly, January/February 2013)

“This guy [Dick Cheney] makes Al Haig look like a shrinking violet.”                                                                                                         (Maureen Dowd, in NYT, March 6, 2013)

“The graphic sexual encounters were so magnificent, The Guardian wrote, that ‘they make the sex in famous movies like, say, “Last Tango in Paris,” look supercilious and dated.’”         (on the movie “Blue is the Warmest Color”, in NYT, June 6, 2013)

“He [Gabriele D’Annunzio] was the father of fascism before Mussolini, although as my friend Andrei Navrozov wrote in Chronicles, ‘He was a social climber compared with the likes of whom Cecil Beaton resembled a Franciscan friar.’”                                                                                                             (Taki, in the Spectator, September 7, 2013)

“You drink like you’re watering the desert single-handed and you pick jazz friends with records that make Benedict Arnold look like Shirley Temple.”                                                                                          (Sheriton in John le Carré’s The Russia House, Chapter 12)

“Sandi Toskvig, as this book’s cover declares, ‘makes Stephen Fry look like a layabout’.” (Mary Killen on Sandi Toskvig’s Peas and Queues, in the Spectator, November 9, 2013)

“Labour’s lack of interest in a ‘more audacious policy’, he joked, ‘makes Mr Lloyd George look like a reckless Bolshevist.’”                                                     (Harold Laski, quoted in Kramnick’s and Sheerman’s Harold Laski; A Man of the Left, p 256)

“But Gary [Bell] has a dark secret: underneath that elephantine carapace of intellectual arrogance, gratuitous cruelty, and room-clearing crassness beats a heart so warm and tender it makes Princess Diana look like Hannibal Lecter.”                                                                                                             (James Delingpole, in the Spectator, November 30, 2013)

“We are not greatly enjoying our visit to Boulder. It is a dull place which makes Didcot seem exciting.”                                                                                       (Hugh Trevor-Roper, in a letter, reported by David Womersley in the Spectator, January 18, 2014)

“The violence most of the African rebel groups practice makes Al Qaeda look like a bunch of schoolgirls.”                                                                       (Bronwyn Burton, an African scholar at the Atlantic Council in Washington, quoted in NYT, May 8, 2014)

“Had it not been for Hiroshima, Mountbatten might have been responsible for an attack which would have made the Dieppe raid look like a textbook example of military planning.”                                           (Andrew Roberts in Eminent Churchillians, p 76)

“There was also a time when whole swaths of the map being overrun by Islamic groups who make al-Qa’eda look like Quakers would have caused concern to the civilised world.”                                         (Douglas Murray, in the Spectator, August 9, 2014)

“This is a reality series of almost unimaginable savagery and cruelty about a Pittsburgh dance-school boss called Abby Lee Miller who makes Don Corleone look like Mr Humphries from Are You Being Served?”                                                                                                                                           (James Delingpole, in the Spectator, August 9, 2014)

“These hair-raising reminiscences have shown British intelligence in a light which makes the Keystone Cops in comparison look like a deadly efficient force.”                    (London Evening News, October 1967 [?], quoted in Christopher Moran’s Classified, p 172)

“On 24 March [1945] she [Ellen Wilkinson] confided to Reynolds News that she was worried that removals of economic controls post-war would lead to a ‘hangover which would make the between wars depression seem like a Christmas party.’”                                                                                      (from Paula Bartley’s Ellen Wilkinson, p 114)

“This early 1970s mishmash of marching bands, choral chants and electric guitars [Bernstein’s Mass] makes John Lennon’s Yoko-inspired yawns on the White Album seem the last word in singalong fun.”                                                                                                                                    (Christopher Bray in the Spectator, November 29, 2014)

“Dour, glacial, ill-shaven, ineloquent, Bailey [68-year-old MP for Bromwich West] makes John Prescott look like Erasmus.”                    (Private Eye, 12-19 December 2014)

“The philosophers of India, T. S. Eliot once wrote, ‘make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys.’”        (Pankaj Mishra in NYT Book Review, December 21, 2014)

“DUCKWORTH-LEWIS   An insanely complicated method for determining the winner if a match is stopped by rain. Makes the old Bowl Championship Series rankings seem like simple arithmetic.”                                            (from NYT, February 19, 2015)

“On the other hand, the descriptive passages make Fifty Shades of Grey seem like A la Recherche du Temps Perdu.”                                                                                     (Cressida Connolly on Elena Poniatowska’s Leonora: A Novel, in the Spectator, March 28, 2015)

“She [Natalia Summerscale] made Grace Kelly look like a market trader.”                                       (from Vesna Goldsworthy’s Gorsky, reviewed in the  Spectator, April 18, 2015)

“She [Kate Fleetwood, as Tracy Lord in ‘High Society’] make Medusa look like a dinner lady.” (Lloyd Evans, in the Spectator, May 23, 2015)

“ . .  a man [Henry Kissinger] who made Machiavelli seem like Brown Owl in the girl guides.”          (Bruce Anderson, in the Spectator, May 23, 2015)

“His [Martin Scorsese’s] new movie, Shutter Island, based on a thriller by Dennis Lehane, scheduled for release early in 2010, is set in an institution for the criminally insane off the Massachusetts coast, a pile that makes the hotel in The Shining or Motel Bates look like day-trips to Disneyland.”                                                                                                                                        (Simon Schama, in Martin Scorsese: Good-Fella)

“It is doubtful that the full story of these violent years [of the oligarchs] will ever be written. If so, they could make the period of the American robber barons appear like petty quarrels in a kindergarten.”                              (Walter Laqueur, in Putinism, pp 56-57)

“In its first chapter, ‘Economy,’ Thoreau lays out a program of abstinence so thoroughgoing as to make the Dalai Lama look like a Kardishian.”                                                                                                  (Kathryn Schulz in the New Yorker, October 19, 2015)

“A previous posting of his (MI6 officer Frank Steele) had been in Kenya, and he recalled that ‘the Mau Mau’s operational techniques and their obscene rituals made the IRA look like a Sunday-school choir’.”                                                 (Stephen Dorril, in MI6, p 739)

“It [the Japanese bullet-train] makes HS2 look like Stephenson’s Rocket.”  (Boris Johnson in the Spectator, October 24, 2015)

“She [Christine Keeler] showed a catholicity of undiscriminating sexual taste that makes all-in wrestling seem like a monastic pursuit.”       (Cassandra, in the Daily Mail, undated, according to Thomas Grant in The Casebook of Jeremy Hutchinson, p 112)

“Socially, he makes Steve Jobs look like David Niven.”      (Michael Burry in ‘The Big Short’, according to Anthony Lane in the New Yorker, December 14, 2015)

“They [“acceptable gifts” in Palm Beach] make the luxury goods of Bond Street seem by contrast as plain and utilitarian as ironmongery in Streatham.” (Stephen Potter, in Potter on America, p 52)

“A non-stop burlesque (strip-tease) show was uninhibited beyond anything I’ve seen in Barcelona or Toulouse, and makes the Vieux Carrée, New Orleans, look like a Jane Austen tea-party.” (Stephen Potter, in Potter on America, p 102)

“I arrived a bit late – the party had begun – and when I opened the door, I was faced by a scene so surreal, so insane, that it made the Mad Hatter’s tea party seem, by comparison, the essence of sanity and propriety.”      (Oliver Sacks, in On the Move, p 137)

“Well, the sun is out, the sky is blue, and poor Boris Johnson is taking such a pounding from Matthew Parris and Petronella Wyatt that it makes the battle of Kursk look like an Easter Parade.”    (Roger Alton, in the Spectator, April 2, 2016)

“They could have done with a little complication – the sexual politics of Djamileh, in particular, make Madama Butterfly look like The Handmaid’s Tale.”  (Richard Bratby in the Spectator, May 21, 2016)

“But it [Going Forward] just can’t resist sneaking in the sledgehammer in order slyly to bash you over the head with anti-austerity politics so strident they make John McDonnell sound like Ayn Rand. “  (James Delingpole, in the Spectator, May 28, 2016)

“Lambing season makes Game of Thrones look like Mary Poppins . . . “   (James Delingpole, in the Spectator, May 28, 2016)

“Now the place [Cannes] makes Rodeo Drive look like Harold Vanderbilt’s yacht.”    (Taki, in the Spectator, May 28, 2016)

“’There aren’t going to be many more movies this year better than Hacksaw Ridge,’ Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, adding that the film’s gruesome battle scenes on a Japanese island ‘make the first half hour of Saving Private Ryan look like a Noel Coward play’.”                              (from the Times of September 6, 2016)

“The threatening monsters which it would need the prophet of a new Apocalypse to invent for the violent times to come, compared to which its Johannine symbolic predecessors would seem like gentle doves and harmless charmers.” (prediction by Heinrich Heine, according to Roland Hill in A Time Out of Joint, p 220)

“A drama to be staged in Germany, compared to which the French Revolution is the merest pastoral idyll.” (prediction by Heinrich Heine, according to Roland Hill in A Time Out of Joint, p 221)

“ . . . an exercise in artistic masochism that makes Marina Abramovic look like a wuss.” (Laura Gascoigne on Gina Paine’s ‘Azione Sentimentale’, in the Spectator, September 24, 2016)

“Gorbachev’s dacha made Stalin’s dacha look like a dormitory.” (‘N’, in Svetlana Alexievich’s Secondhand Time, p 133)

“By now, with Heaney so firmly established on the international scene that he makes the secretary general of the United Nations look like a filing clerk on a short contract, Longley remains such a local poet  . . .” (Clive James, in Poetry Notebook, p 202)

“When, as in the case of  a joint Washington communiqué, President Eisenhower also took a hand [with Anthony Eden], the result was a brew which makes Coca-Cola seem, by comparison, like Imperial Tokay.” (Malcolm Muggeridge, in Boring for England, from The Most of Malcolm Muggeridge)

“I might, from the manner of his address, have been casting aspersions upon some archdeacon’s impeccable widow rather than  upon two gangsters [Bulganin and Khrushchev] compared with whom Tamburlaine the Great and Genghis Khan were mere beginners.” (Malcolm Muggeridge, in In Defence of Bad Taste, from Last Things)

“Both unions disrupted services with exorbitant pay claims and enforced a system of restrictive practices: their conservative obstinacy made Bournemouth Tories seem progressive.” (Richard Davenport-Hines in An English Affair, p 21)

“’Everybody,’ which is directed by Lila Neugebauer and asks much of its hard-working ensemble of nine, is inspired by the 15th-century morality play ‘Everyman’. That, as you may or may not have learned in English lit, is a stark Christian allegory of trudging toward the boneyard that makes John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ look like ‘Singin’ in the Rain’.” (Ben Brantley in NYT, February 22)

“His [Bill Clinton’s] concupiscent shenanigans over the years make even the libidinous Jack Kennedy look like a monk in a cloister.” (John Hughes-Wilson, in The Secret State, pp 93-94)

“Sadly her [Harriet Harman’s] writing style is so dull it makes ditchwater look like a dry martini  . . .”  (Julie Burchill, in the Spectator, February 25, 2017)

“And he [Trump] wants to slash red tape that has started to make France look like a free-market paradise.” (Matthew Lynn, in the Spectator, March 4, 2017)

“In terms of belligerence, Ian McLauchlan would make Donald Trump look like Mother Teresa.” (Alasdair Reid in the Times, March 10, 2017)

“Makes Ben-Hur look like an epic.” (tagline for Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

“The Silvers, Harriet discovered, were an ancient Warwickshire family, so ancient, it was alleged, as to make the Plantagenets look like parvenus, . . .” (D. J. Taylor in The New Book of Snobs, pp 257-258)

“Meghan [Markle], however, is a chronic virtue-signaller who makes Sarah, Duchess of York, look like a paragon of humility.” (Freddie Gray, in the Spectator, May 13, 2017)

“In contrast now, not only is O’Grady celebrated for frequent bisexual innuendo, but Tinder and other shagging-apps also make the exchanges on Cilla’s Blind Date look like a Jane Austen tea-party.” (‘Remote Controller’, in Private Eye, 30 June-13 July, 2017)

“These days she [Beth Ditto] makes Mama Cass look like Edie Sedgwick.” (Rod Liddle in the Spectator, July 8, 2017)

Bromans is like a cross between Love Island and Carry on Cleo, so shamelessly low, tacky and brain-dead that it makes Geordie Shore look like Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation.” (James Delingpole in the Spectator, October 14, 2017)

“The great John Chrysostom frequently issued pronouncements on wealth and poverty that make Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin sound like timid conservatives.” (David Bentley Hart, in NYT, November 5, 2017)

“Though Trump seems to be doing his best to make King George III look like Gandhi, in the current state of partisan feeling even the right set of high crimes and misdemeanours might not guarantee impeachment.” (Tina Brown, in the Spectator, November 11, 2017)

“My experience with the Saudis is that they never pay their debts, cheat on contracts and agreements, and tell lies that make Baron Munchhausen sound like Enoch Powell.” (Taki, in the Spectator, December 9, 2017)

“Such even-handedness, though, does not apply to the monarchy, on which, as The Coronation confirmed, the Beeb’s default attitude makes the late Lord St John of Fawsley look like a republican.” (Private Eye, 26th January- 8th February 2018)

“As the waters rise, millions of these people will be displaced, many of them in poor countries, creating generations of climate refugees that will make today’s Syrian war refuge crisis look like a high school drama production.” (Jeff Goodell in The Water Will Come, quoted by Meehan Crist in London Review of Books, February 22, 2018)

Kids Rule OK was about a post-apocalyptic world which made Lord of the Flies look like Mary Poppins.” (James Delingpole in the Spectator, June 2, 2018)

“His [Alcibiades’s] later political career makes Boris Johnson seem like a man of firm and unbending principle.” (Peter Thonemann in Literary Review, July 2018)

“The poets he [de Gaulle] adored are poets of mordant melancholy, Vigny and Verlaine, and above all Charles Péguy, Catholic, patriot, who died in the Battle of the Marne and who can make Rupert Brooke look like a conscientious objector.” (Ferdinand Mount, in London Review of Books, August 2, 2018)

“ . . . few modern readers of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s That Lass O’Lowrie’s get far beyond it because the novel’s characters speak in  Lancashire dialect that makes Mark Twain’s Huck Finn sounds like a Harvard preppy.” (Laura Gascoigne, in the Spectator, October 20, 2018)

“ . . . and either J. K. Rowling’s plots are now so labyrinthine she makes your average John le Carré look like Noddy,  . . .” (Deborah Ross, in the Spectator, November 17, 2018)

“He [John Le Carré] makes Henry James seem like Frankie Howerd.” (Rod Liddle, in the Spectator, December 8)

“The contrast between the unbridled subject matter of Ms. Athill’s memoirs and the very bridled background of their author became deliciously apparent the minute she opened her mouth. What emerged, as the Sunday Telegraph put it in 2011, was an English so beautifully enunciated it makes the queen sound faintly common.’” (from the NYT obituary of Diana Athill, January 25, 2019)

“The land of the mad mullahs is about the only place you’ll be able to avoid this unmitigated crap [Ariane Grande’s Thank U Next], a collection of chemically processed ur-songs that make Taylor Swift seem like Debussy.” (Rod Liddle, in the Spectator, March 2, 2019)

“Gina Lollobrigida makes Marilyn Monroe look like Shirley Temple.” (Humphrey Bogart, during Beat the Devil, according to J. Hoberman in NYT, March 31)

“He [Alan Ryan] said the book [Michael Oakeshott’s On Human Conduct] was written in ‘a prose that makes Proust look like a telegraph operator.’” (Paul Franco, in Michael Oakeshott: An Introduction, p 145)

“ . . . (Mick Hucknall) still managing to have enough sex to make James Bond look like one of the Inbetweeners.” (Michael Hann, in the Spectator, November 9, 2019)

“ . . . eight pages of iridescent polychromous effulgence that makes the rainbow look like a lead pipe!” (William Randolph Hearst, on his cartoon supplement, quoted by Art Spiegelmann in The New York Review of Books, March 12, 2020)

“The music is uniformly awful – Parchis made S Club 7 look like Stockhausen  . . .” (Michael Hann in the Spectator, May 16, 2020)

“Alathea is so old-fashioned, and so authentically old-style Catholic, that she makes Brideshead Revisited seem progressivist.” (A. N. Wilson on Alathea Fitzalan Howard’s The Windsor Diaries, 1940-45, in TLS, October 21, 2020)

“Aunt Munca makes Moll Flanders look like a couch potato.” (Claire Lowdon, in review of Ferdinand Mount’s Kiss Myself Goodbye: The Many Lives of Aunt Munca, in the Spectator, October 31, 2020)

“The President of the Philippines makes Donald Trump look like Betty Crocker.” (Francis Pike, in Spectator.US, January 2021)

“If I wasn’t leaving the place at any moment, I’d carve up that woman with a Commando knife in a way that would make Jack the Ripper look like the vicar cutting sandwiches for a school treat.” (Odo Stevens on Pamela Flitton, from Chapter 2 of The Military Philosophers, by Anthony Powell)

“The uneventfulness of my biography would make Beckett’s ‘The Unnamable’ read like Dickens.” (Philip Roth, according to Parul Sehgal, in NYT, March 31, 2021)

“Emily Dickinson’s quiet, circumscribed existence in the small town of Amherst, Massachusetts, makes George Mackay Brown look like Indiana Jones by comparison.’’ (Simon Armitage, according to Craig Raine, in Spectator, May 29, 2021)

“In days so sluggish as to make the daily life of Oblomov’s footman seem Stakhanovite.” (from Gregor von Rezzori’s The Death of My Brother Abel, p 252)

2 Responses to Hyperbolic Contrast Examples

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