I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
March 05, 2018 - 10:37 a.m.
I've been ridiculously busy and I'm writing as fast as I can to catch up. The busy stretch ends today, starting Wednesday I'll be looking for things to write about. Today is Monday, I'll be writing about Saturday. I don't want to write two entries like I did yesterday; let's see if I can get two days into one edition of Wise Madness. It doesn't help that I didn't get enough sleep last night.
Saturday's schedule was cinematic, not musical; I went to the 7th Annual The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. The Newbery Awards are for the best children's books of the year; there is one medal winner and an indeterminate number of honor winners. The concept for the festival is that these are films made by children based on medal and honored books each of which is about 90-seconds long. It's the warped-brainchild of YA novelist James Kennedy, author of Order of Odd-Fish. James is a friend of Carey's and by transitivity a friend of mine. The festival tours the country with stops in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Since I've been going I've wanted Erika to go with me. She's a fan of YA literature and a few years ago switched careers and became a librarian working with teens. Last year not only did she go but her teens submitted a fill. This was a vicarious thrill for me. This year she didn't submit a film, but she and her beau Arthur joined me. We made plans to go out with James afterward.
It was a wonderful day. I got there shortly after Erika and then Arthur arrived and joined us on the line. We were early which was fine with me, it gave us more socializing time.
I'm not a kid's lit person. I have not read many of the Newbery books, I didn't even like Charlotte's Web as a kid; I was disappointed that it started with a pig. "Where's Charlotte? I was promised a spider!" I'm a demanding reader. I am a fan of kids and of extreme condensation. These films are pure neuro. There is always an opening bit with James and his co-host, this year it was Michael Northrop, author of Polaris, and the Tombquest series. It was on the importance of being stupid and weird; that's where I live. They showed video games ostensibly based on classic kid's books. The games were real, we didn't find that out until I asked at dinner. The audience was in stitches. The best of the films are stupid and weird. My all-time favorite was Shiloh, a book about a dog but the kid didn't have a dog, so it was about a bagel.
This year some of the good ones were a cross-dressing Bridge to Terabithia, … OK I was going to go through a list of all the Newbery books to find the titles of the films I like but this is taking forever. I'll just describe a few of my favs. I like the ones that are NOT respectful of the originals. There's one book about two friend swimming in a river that one was admonished to not swim in. The other friend drowns. The survivor goes home and eventually confesses what happens. Maudlin and trite. What the filmmaker did was have the kid not drown but taken by monsters to the Down Under, yes it was in the style of Stranger Things. Eleven kills the monsters with her psychic blast. Now that's my kind of story. Another memorable one was about a kid exploring mysterious sounds coming from a mountain above a town. It was done in the style of Twin Peaks, pure weirdness.
After the festival came dinner. Usually I see the Festival in Brooklyn as that's where I was living. This year we saw it at the Main Branch of the NYPL. That means a different crowd. We joined James other friends, Michael, the co-host, his girlfriend Rebecca, Maria, and Magda. There was one other woman from the NYPL whose name I never got. When we were introduced Maria said, "Are you Gordon Nash?" I said yes. She's Carey's friend and co-host of Go Your Own YA Podcast. I've know of her for years. We've often commented on the same threads. The weirdest thing is that she knows James independently of Carey. The world is tiny. Magda is Madeleine l'Engle's great granddaughter. We ate at Shakespeare, their usual place. It's a quirky small pub a few blocks away. A miracle occurred, bangers and mash were on the menu and I didn't order it! I went even more English and had a steak and ale pie. I'd like to think that it was made of priest, but I don't think the pub is quite that authentic.
This was a great dinner party, a mixture of friends and interesting strangers. I heard lots of great stories, James lived in a convent, Michael shared a bill with Rerun and Horshack, Horshack didn't show. I am not going to explain them.
When the party broke up it was unfair, everyone else walked west while I had to walk east alone. I felt like Sam going east from the Grey Havens except that Merry and Pippin didn't come and join me. I'm already looking forward to doing this again next year.
I woke up early today, it's still earlier than I usually start writing. I'm going to plunge right in and write about yesterday. I'll be all caught up! I'm easily excited.
Last night was re-union night. Dan and I went to see Kat Quinn at Pianos. When we got there, we found that Jo Kroger was joining Kat on some songs. It's been many months since I've seen Kat. She's someone I was in the habit of seeing much more often, she has just not been performing much. It's been a month or so since I've seen Dan and we haven't talked much on the phone. He's someone I usually see much more often than that. I don't think I've seen Jo in a year, and she was someone I would see almost as often as Kat. That I don't understand as she has been performing and I just didn't know about it. Howard was there too. I haven't seen him since Tuesday. That doesn't count as a reunion,
I met Dan for dinner at our usual place, the Diner. It has a name, but we always just call it the Diner, that's what the lit sign says. I remembered that it started Re, I was thinking, "The Revenge Diner?" That didn't sound likely. It's actually the Remedy. It's on Houston a block east of the Mercury Lounge. I told Dan I'd meet him at Rockwood 0, which is on the way, at 7:10. That didn't happen.
The 6 ran a little slow to 125th street. I was going to just take it all the way to Bleecker Street and switch to the F because I saw that the 4 and 5 were running local. Then I saw that the 6 was running express after 42nd Street so I couldn't switch to the F. My new plan was to go to 59th Street where I can transfer to the F though it means walking three blocks outside. As the train approached 125th street the Motorman announced; "the 4 and 5 trains are making all express stops to 42nds street." He said that five times. I thought, great! I can switch to the express. I got to 125th and the 4 was just two minutes behind so I'd gain by the switch. The 4 came and announced it was making all local stops. Arrgghh. It came more than 2 minutes late too. I was annoyed. I also knew I was running a late now, so I texted Dan and said I'd be there at 7:30. I walked to 63rd and made the deep descent into the station. Then I waited and waited. Finally, a train came, and I got on. I looked at my watch. I'm a genius I'm going to get there at 7:30! I read the Times on my phone and then many stops later I hear, "This is a Q train to Brooklyn, next stop Canal Street." No! I was anxious and rushed and got on the wrong train. I now had to take a 6 train up to Bleecker and then switch to the F. I texted Dan again and told him to go to meet me at the diner. I had a long wait for the 6, it was actually a 4 running local. I then had a long wait for the F. I texted Dan again to give him my order, so we'd get out of there in time. I finally made it at 8, two hours and twenty minutes after I left the house.
But dinner was great and it's always fun to hang out with Dan. He made the observation that we are meaner to each other than we are to our enemies. That's what guys do. For instance, it was in the thirties and with the wind chill it felt like the 20s. Dan didn't have a coat, he just wore a sweater. I gave him a very hard time. It's like not knowing enough to come in out of the rain. Don't hold it against him. He can't help it.
I told him that I'm meeting Katherine today, that will be four days in a row eating with friends. There was a time I went three months without sharing a meal with anyone. I have friends now but that's because people look at me like a stray dog missing an ear and looking mournful. Dan said he doesn't feel sorry for me, he doesn't even like me. It' so good having friends.
Kat was great. She always has at least one new song. There was one string that went from Cigarettes and Fireflies to a new song about Stars, to the Galaxy is Laughing. I liked how that worked as a them. At some point the world turned neuro. There was this attractive young woman standing near me, I thought with her boyfriend from their body language. Next thing I know she put her hand into the crook of my elbow and starts dancing with me. The guy was no where to be seen. He handed me her bag and we danced the entire song. She didn't say a word. I was a bit dumbfounded but went along with it. If I had one that people would be saying #metoo. Some of the dancing involved her rubbing against me. Kat almost lost in on stage. She couldn't look. Dan and Jo were very amused. Kat had been talking about how New York City is not just background, it's a character in your life. That entire dance was very New York, it's the story of the woman, me, and New York.
After Kat's set I made sure that Howard bought a CD and signed Kat's mailing list. I made sure to get on Jo's mailing list. I told Kat she has to perform more often, she agreed. I don't want it to be so long since I see them again. Dan and I said our goodbyes and headed our separate ways. The trip home was much less difficult. The only problem was missing the bus to City Island by a minute, meaning a half-hour wait till the next one. I went to 7-11 as I had a free medium drink coming to me. They had something new, a Reese Cup hot chocolate! It tasted of chocolate and peanut butter. It wasn't epic, but it was good.
I've spent the last three days hanging out with groups of people whose company I greatly enjoy, and I had one-on-one time with Dan. All that is very good. No more not breaking bread with friends for three months. I love my friends and today I get to see Katherine. After that it's no plans till Saturday. Something will probably come up but if not, I enjoy my own company too. I need my down time.
Who gets the subtlety of the title?
I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.
∞ - March 10, 2018
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