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
-Bertrand Russell

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

January 01, 2018 - 11:05 a.m.

New Year's Eve with the Space Dog

I only got five hours of sleep last night; should I take a nap instead of writing? If it were just about me I would but I have to think of My Gentle Readers; they need to get the new year started right, with some Wise Madness.

Last year on New Year's Ever I stayed home. From 2001 to 2007 I went out just once. Most of my life I didn't go out. I'm not much of a partier. Since 2007 I've gone out must years. My default plan is to go to Warren and Tina's party. They live in Flushing, I live on City Island. That is difficult for me. The problem is getting home before the last bus to City Island leaves. It was also very cold; I figured I'd stay home with hot chocolate. I posted on Facebook and Tina was disappointed. I did a check on Google Maps. It said I could get home. After talking to them some more It turns out that Warren gets an Uber credit every month that he doesn’t use, and he loses it the end of the month. I used the December credit to get to their house. I'm such a fancy person, I get chauffeured to my New Year's Eve party.

You are picturing this party wrong. This is a nerdy crowd. I met Warren playing bridge. His wife Tina is a math prof. I think that every adult at the party had a STEM degree. There was at least one other, and maybe two other party's going on. Their kids had invited friends over too. I know there was one group in the TV room and there might have been another upstairs. At one point a herd of teens came stampeding down the stairs into the kitchen. They might have been the TV room crowd. Warren and Tina's kids are nerds too. The eldest, Tabitha, graduated from the Bronx High School of Science. She's the only one that I talked to. When I arrived, her other guests hadn't, and she was sitting with her girlfriend and the two of them were perfectly happy talking to the old people. I was the oldest of the old. Let me see if I can dredge up Tabitha's girlfriend's name. I think I can. Michelle. I'm going to check on Facebook now to see if I'm right. I am! Damn I must stop telling people I'm terrible with names.

The tradition is that we play games. I never know the games. Last night we played a game that nobody knew, Concept. The concept is isomorphic to charades or Pictionary; you try to get people to guess something from non-verbal clues. In Concept you place little pieces next to squares that represent, hold on to your hat, concepts. The toughest part is figuring out what the pictures are of, especially for me as I'm blind. There were complicated scoring rules. We dropped them, and just took turns giving the clues while everyone else guessed. Once we decided that and decided to ignore many of the other details things went smoother. You pick a card at the start with a list of nine ideas you can give clues for, easy, medium, and hard. I went first and gave the clues; animal, flying, water, and someone quickly guessed duck. That was on easy.

The players were Alyson, Bruce, Tina, David, Warren, Margot, and me. Margot was part of Tabitha's party, but she didn't like the game they were playing. I got all those names right too. I had some help with Margot, as soon as she told us her name, I asked if it was with a "t." She said, "Yes," the right way. She's my people.

My favorite part of the game was a latter concept I gave the clues on. I figured this was a knowledgeable enough crowd I could play it. This was a hard one, Laika. To get it they had to know that Laika was the name of the first dog in space. They did! Moxy Fruvous fans are smiling because they had a song called Laika.

Warren is Chinese but for reasons that nobody gets when he tries to sound like an old person he sounds like an old Jewish person. This amused us and got us talking about the oldest Jewish person, the 2000-Year-Old Man. Warren and Tina weren't familiar with it, Bruce, Alyson, and I felt that needed to be corrected. We watched on YouTube. If you aren't familiar with it, you should watch it too. It's a comedy routine by Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. It started as something they did at parties. The premise is that Mel is the titular 2000-Year-Old Man and Carl interviews him. Carl would prepare questions, but Mel would improvise his answers. It takes a sharp wit to do that. First, we watched the classic first album. I owned that and was totally familiar with it. Then it went into a video of them doing it on the TV show, The Hollywood Palace. As it was an improv, this was totally different, not one joke the same. I should see if I can find other videos of them doing it. Everybody was in stiches. It's hard to not be; it's one of the funniest things ever.

We stopped everything to watch the ball drop. We could successfully count down to zero. Then came the traditional post-midnight meal. I forgot we had a post-midnight meal. Usually Warren grills but it was in the single digits. We ate inside. They had real in the case, Nathan's franks. The good ones. The best hot dogs in the world. He also made a perfect burger.

After midnight Tina's sister Cathy, or is that Kathy? And her husband Paul came buy. They had been visiting Paul's parents. They came in time for the food. Cathy said, "I just came for the food." She's my people too. When we sat around talking I discovered they live in Pelham, not far from me. They gave me a ride home. If I had known that from the start I would have said I was going when I was first invited.

The one note of sadness was that this was our first NYE without Larry. The last time I saw Warren and Tina was at his funeral. I know them through Larry. I'm glad we all talked about him and Diana, his widow. Larry was far too young to die.

I got home around 2:30 and got to sleep after 3:00 My alarm went off at 8:30. I did not get enough sleep, yet I'm going out again today for my annual New Year's Day party at Coco and Bruce's House in Brooklyn. That's even further but it's all subways after the first bus and more importantly it's early. I don't have to worry about making the last bus. I'm not sure which of my friends will be there other than Carolann, and I assume Mark and Felix, and Bev. I live in the Bronx, I spent most of my life in Queens, but I'm a Brooklyn person at heart. It's where I have the most friends.



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A Tale of Two Drivers - January 06, 2018
Let Me Explain - January 05, 2018
Shopping Cart of Shove - January 04, 2018
From Heartache to God - January 03, 2018
The New Year in the County of Kings - January 02, 2018



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