Jeff Higgins knocking down all the objections that members of the emergency committee offer to his proposing to Gretchen the day he met her. Particularly, "Yeah, Mr. Ferrara, I know we'll probably just wind up getting divorced anyway. So what? Some of you folks have been divorced, haven't you?"
A moment's pause in the ruckus. Not much. Just a little stutter before the voices of adult wisdom plowed on.
When the D&D boys gush about Frank Jackson's tactical planning of an imminent battle and name drop The Duke of Wellington, leading to this exchange:
Frank Jackson [gruffly]: Common fucking sense, is what it is. I learned this trick from a sergeant in Nam. I think he learned it from the NVA. So who the hell is Wellington? [beat] Jeff Higgins [appalled]: He's the guy they named your favorite boots after. Frank Jackson [impressed]: Oh, him. Good man! Whoever he was.
During the battle of Jena, when Julie Pink Mists one of the enemy mercenaries ... and starts swearing, because she "missed".
Mackay's eyes were like saucers. Mike was amused — and half-appalled. "She was aiming for what James calls the 'sniper's triangle' — both eyes down to the breastbone," he explained. "That shot was a little high."
When posters are hung with portraits of some of the mercenaries declaring that they are to be killed if found in American territories after July 5 (two days in the future), the mercenaries' commander asks how far the "American territories" extend. Heinrich (serving as a translator between the Germans and the uptimers) turns to Mike Stearns — who just stares at the commander. A few months later, the commander has found a job. In Russia. He figures that it would be far enough.
After the meeting at which Don Francisco Nasi — a scion of the Turkish Abrabanels who at one time had hopes of an Arranged Marriage with the beautiful and intelligent Rebecca Abrabanel — insists that Rebecca set a date for her marriage with Mike on Thicker Than Water grounds, he offers to walk her to the school for her TV program. During the walk, she first apologizes for his disappointment, reassuring him that she would have been happy as his wife, and then...
Rebecca: But I have a cousin in Amsterdam. She is very pretty — very intelligent, too — her name is— Francisco [holding up a hand, and with a chuckle]: Please! Allow me a day or two to wallow in my heartbreak. [thoughtfully] Besides, it would be best to leave that aside, for the moment. I am here now, to stay. Perhaps I should give some thought to following your own example. Ties of blood. Rebecca: Even better! There is a young schoolteacher — Gina Mastroianni — very good family, as Americans count such things — a good friend of mine, she has become — she is even prettier than my cousin — smarter too, in all honesty — and— Francisco [laughing out loud]: Be off! Later!
In the middle of Chapter 57, when Dr. Nichols and Julie each have one of the school's two .30-06 rifles and start shooting at the Croat officers leading the attack on the school.
Nichols [staring down the sights]: I'll take the guy in the middle. You take— [Crackcrackcrackcrack.] [Julie reloads.] [Crackcrack. Crack. Crack.] Nichols: Jesus Christ. Julie [sing-song]: "Can you handle a .30-06, Julie?" Nichols [relinquishing his rifle]: Tell you what, Julie. Why don't you do the shooting and let me reload for you? Julie: Good idea.
At the end of Chapter 57, when Gretchen's call for a volunteer to drive the bus comes up with her brother Hans.
Dan [boarding, and seeing Hans at the wheel]: Oh, shit. Gretchen [firmly]: He can drive anything. [The bus careens around a corner] Gretchen [less firmly]: Anything. [The bus bounces off a curb taking another corner, throwing half the passengers to the floor] Dan [gripping the pole white-knuckled]: Oh, shit. [The bus takes out a stop sign] Gretchen [prayerfully]: Anything. Gott mit uns.
The following brief exchange between Jeff Higgins and the down-timer American soldier Heinrich:
Jeff: Do you know any more about ships than I do, sir? Heinrich: I'm fairly certain that my aunt's old cow understands more about ships than you do, Sergeant. I, on the other hand — officer-grade material, even as a lad — could always stump the beast.
Francisco Nasi uses the forged histories a book smuggler supplies to the French to claim there are gold deposits in the Everglades. In other words, he basically sells them Florida swampland.
So. At least that legend was true. Americanesses did use the Austrian kiss. Her tongue felt like it was halfway down his throat. Good thing he came from sturdy farmer stock, with stout hearts on both side of the family. Or he would have died, right then and there.
During a planning session between several USE military leaders:
Jesse: No, I've got plenty of other things to attend to. And participating in another argument over machine guns ranks somewhere below getting a colonoscopy, in my book. Tornstensson: What is a colonoscopy? And how soon could we have one deployed against the Ostenders?
Melissa Mailey freaking out after Harry Lefferts has bombs planted on several famous London landmarks like the London Bridge and the Globe Theatre. She's further enraged when Harry dismisses his bombing of the Globe Theatre with a nonchalant "Jeez, Ms. Mailey, ease up some, willya? It ain't like we're talkin' about Grauman's Chinese theater in Hollywood, y'know."
All in all they do quite a number on invaluable historical landmarks. In 1632 they drive a small Spanish army into a nearby castle, then napalm it the next day. Passing mention is made that the castle might be important, but the concern is dismissed. That castle? A UNESCO World Heritage Site with "lasting and universal significance". Considering it attained that listing in 1999, it seems probable that its significance was precisely why it got destroyed in a book published in 2000.
Eddie Cantrell's running gag: "Who ordered this?"
Speaking of whom: Lt. Cantrell's debriefing at Simpson's hands after the battle.
Had he been asked a year earlier—even a few days earlier—Eddie Cantrell would have sworn that no human being could possibly stand at attention as rigidly as he was doing that very moment. As if, by imitating perfectly the absence of all life, those still alive in the vicinity might just possibly ignore him. Mistake him for a potted plant or a vase or something. Maybe a statue.
Alas, it didn't work.
"Let me get this straight, Lieutenant Cantrell," said Admiral Simpson, staring down at him from what seemed an impossibly imposing height, his hands clasped behind his back. "If I'm interpreting your incoherent mumbles correctly, the accusation leveled by the king of Denmark against one of my junior officers is indeed correct. Entirely correct, and in all its particulars."
Ring of Fire
The single casualty on the Grantville side to the Croat attack on the town was a woman injured when a black-velvet portrait of Elvis was shot off the wall and fell on her. In the Ring of Fire short story "Between the Armies", it is revealed that a downtimer, Monsignor Giulio Mazarini, was in the room. Not knowing better, he mistakes the portrait for an icon and asks, "What saint is this?"
Eddie Cantrell getting drafted in "In the Navy".
The story of Grantville's first Santa — Pappenheim. That is, the prematurely white-haired General Pappenheim, inadvertently shanghaied into playing Santa Claus for German orphans while trying to deliver a covert message to Julie Sims, who he thinks is a Jew named Lee Sims - "the Jew, Lee Sims."
Grantville Gazette I
Most of the short story "When the Chips are Down" in Grantville Gazette I, featuring the four Dungeons and Dragons nerds trying to cook potato chips for the whole town in time for Christmas.
In "The Rudolstadt Colloquy", Secretary of State Ed Piazza is attending the colloquy, bored out of his mind and doodling in the margins of his Concordia Triglotta with a pencil when he notices Leopold Cavriani — bored out of his mind and doodling in the margin of his copy in pen.
In "Curio and Relic", starring the misanthropic old tunnel-rat Paul Santee, there's a couple especially good ones:
When Santee is talking with Frank Jackson about how to move Santee's guns out of his isolated cabin in the woods. Santee suggests taking army recruits on a Recon run — i.e. a long trip with full packs.
Jackson: I like it! We can get sixty rifles in one trip. Santee:[sheepishly] Uh, I counted. It's more like eighty. Plus some pistols. Jackson: Okay, two Recon runs. We can send some armed scouts with them for protection. Santee: Uh... Jackson: Three? Santee: Four. Maybe five. Bullets are heavy. [shrugging] Jackson:[grinning] You're going to be 'That bastard on the hill' to those boys. Santee: Won't be the first time privates have cussed me. Do 'em some good, in the end. Jackson: If it's any compensation, remember that Mike says you're allowed to teach them to swear. Santee: Go up and down that fucking hill enough, I do believe they'll learn all by their lonesome.
While Eddie Cantrell and Santee are rounding up spare weapons, they come upon a particularly unpleasant fellow named Bobby Jones who insists that he needs everything he has. Santee is ready to give up on him, but Eddie instead draws Jones into a long, boring story about a trophy deer ... in which Jones just so happens to name all his hunting buddies, any of whom could testify that he most certainly has weapons to spare.
Ten minutes later Santee and his assistant were struggling back to Mrs. Tippett's with eight rifles and assorted ammo. "Slick, Eddie! Good job. I didn't see how you could really be interested in that stupid long-winded story of his.... We've got to get a wagon or something!" He'd almost dropped a box of shells and had to reposition his load. "So, what made you think of that?"
Eddie grinned bashfully. "I learned it playing Dungeons and Dragons. We had a similar problem back in Bloomtree, but it was with one of the Elven blacksmiths. Worked out about the same, except for the cursed gauntlets we got stuck with."
Lots in the series, and especially prevalent in the comedy of errors integral to the plots of The Galileo Affair and The Bavarian Crisis. One of the more specific example is Tom Stone who, when tasked with making paper money due to his knowledge in making waterproof dyes, promptly putJohnnyCash on the 20-dollar bill.
Pictures for one dollar bills include male deer (a buck), fivers have a pair of hands kneading dough, tens have a loaf of bread. Get it?
In "Diving Belle" from Ring of Fire II, the story of the church bells of Delsbo. A particular highlight of the story is how the sailors who hid the bells in the lake cut a notch in the side of their boat to mark the spot.
Mazalet: But then you couldn't find the bells again? Olof: That's right. 'Cause the boat with the notch in the side got burned in a cattle raid.
The entirety of the short story "On the Matter of D'Artagnan", in which Cardinal Richelieu tries to locate and gain the loyalty of the hypothetical historical person Dumas based D'Artagnan on. Complete with Richelieu staring at the pictures on the videocassette boxes of two different movie adaptations of The Three Musketeers, musing on if he likes how Charlton Heston or Tim Curry portrayed him better.
In The Bavarian Crisis, "the prince formerly known as the Cardinal-Infante" has the idea for a bold action that will make great propaganda for his new regime. His advisors are aghast, since it involves him risking his life in one of the still-somewhat-crude airplanes. He points out, "Just think of the songs. The poems. The Harlequin Romances." (They're still aghast.)
In 1635: The Eastern Front, when Janos Drugeth is discussing the Ottoman Air Force with a spy:
Janos: Ah. There is also such a thing as a blimp. Or a dirigible. I'm not quite clear on the difference. Either way, they are essentially elongated balloons that are capable of being steered. Very slow, however. Grassi [shrugging]: Such a machine would not need to be quick—if its target was a city. Baghdad will surely be much slower.
Also in The Eastern Front, at a Fourth of July Party meeting:
Ableidinger: No shit, Sherlock, as you up-timers say. Helene Gundelfinger: There is not a single up-timer in the room, Constantin. Ableidinger [slightly abashed]: Well ... well. Rebecca, you know. She always seems... Rebecca: I was born in London, actually, and spent most of my life in Amsterdam. All of that, moreover, in this century. Not— [gesturing vaguely] that other, much later one.
When Gretchen forces Krenz to give a straight answer on whether they could hold Dresden against the siege.
Eric [Krenz] rose, strode to the door, plucked his hat off the hook, jammed it on, and came back to the table.
"I feel better now. Don't ask me why the hat makes a difference. It just does."
The progressively more ridiculous exploits of Jozef Wojtowicz, spy and spymaster for Stanislaw Koniecpolski, Grand Hetman of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, when his plan to quietly evade pursuit from his operation in Wismar goes pear-shaped, leaving him in Dresden right as Banér is approaching with his army to besiege the place. And, of course, right as the CoC, particularly the Polish element thereof, is on high alert looking for spies. The end result:
"They claim some Poles were involved [in the Battle of Dresden]," said Lukasz Opalinski, as he scanned through the report. After reading a couple of more lines, he hissed. "I don't believe it! The fellow who was apparently their leader claims some connection to the Koniecpolskis! Some bastards will say anything."
"His name?" asked Stanislaw Koniecpolski.
Lukasz shook his head. "They don't provide it. But it's an obvious lie. The only Pole we know in Dresden is Jozef and he certainly wouldn't..."
His voice trailed off. Startled, he looked up at the grand hetman. "You don't think... Surely..."
Koniecpolski started to laugh.
"The Ram Rebellion" has Brillo, an unusually intelligent ram with terrible wool who becomes an in-universe Memetic Badass and Memetic Molester though broadsheet stories about his supposed exploits.
From 1635: The Cannon Law, while they're trying to get the Pope out of Rome, he suggests sheltering from the demolition of a gate in some nearby granaries. Ruy's response:
"Did not I, Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz, say that God would aid us? His personal vicar on Earth shows us the way!"
Frank Stone wondering if there are any ninjas in Venice:
There would certainly be a market for their services. He imagined ads in the Ninja Times of Japan: "Come to Venice for the most lucrative working holiday of your life!"
1635: The Dreeson Incident, in Frankfurt, an Anti-Semetic riot is on the horizon. The intervention by a Danish woman leads to something of a pogrom on the would-be pogromers, which winds up being a Media Coup, especially that a Dane was the spark that started it all. So much so that Christian IV wants to give her a medal. Not to be out done, Gustavus Adolphus announces that he will do the same... Before Christian can. Ron and Gerry Stone set up a collection of newspapers by date that shows off the clear contest of one-upmanship between the two Scandinavian kings.
"Ain't Radio communication grand?"
Grantville Gazette VI includes this bit from "Monster", when Magdalena van de Passe writes a letter soliciting bids to construct aircraft for TransEuropean Airlines:
In 1636: The Kremlin Games, Ivan Nikitich Odoevskii, a prince and member of the Boyar Duma (the council of advisers to the rulers of Russia), explains what he has learned from uptimer texts about the problems with Russia's economy.
Ivan Nikitich: What we need is money and the writings of the up-timers explain how to do that without silver or gold. The idea, as I understand it, is to have just a little more money available than there is product for it to buy. That encourages the peasants to work harder to get the last bit. It's like hanging a carrot in front of a mule. Too close and he eats it. Too far and he gives up. Russia's carrot is hanging off the mule's ass.