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Some of the sickest burns in history have been delivered by writers, but in this episode of The List Show we also cover historic insults from a famous actress, a pop star, and even a Valentine's Day card (sort of).

Would-be lover-boys and aspiring film critics will want to watch. You'll learn what Truman Capote said to a man who revealed a bit too much of himself and find out why you didn't want Dorothy Parker penning your eulogy.

In case you forgot, The List Show is a trivia-tastic, fact-filled show for curious people. Subscribe here for new Mental Floss episodes every Wednesday:


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Roger Ebert skewered dozens of awful movies durings his decades as a film critic, but his review for Larry Bishop's 1996 crime comedy, Mad Dog Time, with a cast that included Jeff Goldblum and Ellen Barkin, just might be his most creative takedown. He worte that "Mad Dog Time is the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time. Watching it is like waiting for the bus in a city where you're not sure they have a bus line." It gets better, and by better, I obviously mean worse. Ebert closed his critique with a suggestion for the film: "Mad Dog Time should be cut into free ukulele picks for the poor."

Hi, I'm Erin McCarthy, Editor-in-Chief of, and welcome to the List Show. 

At some point in your life, a well meaning adult has probably spouted this wise, old adage: "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Fortunately, for our purposes, a lot of people seemed to have missed the memo. Or flat out ignored it. 

Today, I'm covering some of history's sickest burns. From a story of Truman Capote responding to indecent exposure with a withering comeback, to the time when Virginia Woolf, compared James Joyce's ulysses to pimple popping. Let's get started. 

One night at a packed bar in Key West Florida, a woman appraoched Truman Capote and asked him to autograph her napkin. He was happy to oblige, but the request irritated the woman's inebriated husband. As Capote later recalled, "he staggered over to the table, and after unzipping his trousers and hauling out his equipment, said: 'Since you're autographing things, why don't you autograph this?'"

A hush fell over the area as other bar patrons wiated to see how Capote would respond. He didn't disappoint. "I don't know if I can autograph it," he said. "But perhaps I can initial it." Yet another reason to keep your pants on in public. 

Behind the posh facade in Victorian society were certain impolite customs, like vinegar valentines. These cards featured catty rhymes that insulted anyone from an unwated admirer to the worst singer on your street. Here's part of one that does just that, titled

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