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
December 26, 2015 - 12:21 p.m.
Happy Boxing Day! When did people start talking about Boxing Day again? It’s the kind of thing I knew as a kid as trivia, that it was the day after Christmas and was a big deal in England. Now I hear people use it here. Or is it just that I use it? I’m always aware of the possibility of my observational bias.
Yesterday I headed out to my natal borough, Queens, to visit Seth in Forest Hills. I was tempted to take the LIRR which is a lot faster but decided to be frugal and take the subway. I consulted Google Maps, Transit, and the MTA website for the best route. I then rejected all of them and chose my own. I was right. My time was less than what the apps and websites said it would take. They balked at taking three trains, they shouldn’t have. I took the to the to the and made it in a little over an hour. Seth was at Emily’s mother’s home in Forest Hills Estate. I know that area pretty well but not the particular block she lives on. I followed Google maps to walk it but it misplaced the building. I realized it didn’t even put it on the right block. I never saw it get that wrong. It was like it put 45 Smith Street on Jones Street.
Unfortunately Emily couldn’t be there. That’s sad. Emily is Seth’s girlfriend and my fiancé. Do not look askance. She gave me amazing chocolate truffles so of course I proposed. She’s going to be one of my food wives along with Emily and Sarah. I have a food wife harem. She actual told her mother that we are engaged and explained why. I am often surprised I don’t leave a trail of exploding heads.
I had lamented on Facebook that there was no place I could watch It’s A Wonderful Life for free online. Seth invited me over to watch it with him. He was planning on watching it anyway. So even though Seth is not Jewish we had a Jewish Christmas, we watched a movie and had Chinese food. I had garlic beef. I knew you were going to ask.
There were a few hitches with the DVD player but Seth got it working and we watched one of the greatest film, and THE greatest Christmas film ever. I have seen it a zillion times and spent some time analyizing, making a time line, and checking one thing I had wondered about. In the first scene, the conversation of the angels, Clarence tells him that he has an hour before he has to help George Bailey. Clarence wants to spend the time getting dressed but Joseph tells him he has to spend it learning about George Bailey. That’s the entire first section of the movie. What I wanted to know is if it took an hour. It didn’t! It took closer to an hour and a half. This is an almost perfect film. It would have been perfect if Joseph had said “you have a hour and a half.”
OK so here’s some things I figure out. George was born in 1907 and his brother Harry in 1911. Harry fell through the ice in 1919. In the alternate future without George Harry dies then we see his tombstone with this birth and death years. Harry was 8 but Clarence says he’s nine. Well we were told that Clarence was stupid. George is 21 when his father dies and he takes over the bank. He’s 25 when he gets married in 1932 and there is the run on the bank. He’s 38 when he tries to commit suicide. Jimmy Stewart was a year younger, just about the right age. Why did they feel the need to make him graying at the temples in the last scene? I guess because they couldn’t make him look 21 earlier on.
I was going to say this was my first time watching the film with somebody but Lauren and I watched it together back in college or right after. Still it’s been a long time. I like having someone to talk about it with while I watch. There’s just so many great little details. There are also so many funny little bits of business that you actually laugh at. And yes I had tears in my eyes at the end. I always have tears in my eyes at the end. I have tears in my eyes now just thinking about it. No man is a failure who has friends. The entire film can be encapsulated in three shots of Jimmy Stewart. The despair on his face when he’s about to jump off the bridge, the terror in his eyes when he realizes that Mary doesn’t know who he is in the alternate timeline, and the ecstasy when he gets his life back and screams with joy that he is going to jail. That’s acting. It’s also great direction. He’s filmmaking. It could not be told in any other medium. You could not get the close-ups of his face on stage.
We watched the end of A Christmas Story then I headed out. I did not head home. It was Christmas and I hadn’t seen the tree yet. You should know which one I mean. If you are in New York and simply say “the tree” you mean Rockefeller Center. So I headed back on the and headed there. I am sure I’ve been there before on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve but have no specific memories of it. Would it be packed? Would it be relatively empty as people were with their families? It was crowded but not as bad as on some other days. Most of the people were tourists of course. I don’t like the press of people who don’t know how to act in a crowd but I love listening to their voices. They speak every language under the sun. As it’s Christmas should I make the Star Trek pun and say “under the son?” No I shouldn’t. I love watching people’s faces. I love watching the children. I’m not so thrilled at all the selfies or the people that try to take long shots of their friends and expect the crowd to just stop while they do it. But you know what? Everyone is nice about it, even me. I took my pictures and I’ll show them to you. Here is is from many different angles
I was surprised how easy it was to get on the Subway right next to Radio City Music Hall. The trip home was nice and easy.
OK now I have to make breakfast then run to Trader Joe’s before I go out tonight to see Jewmongous with Aaron. I was reminded that I haven’t made grits in ages. How did that happen? Did I run out? I hope I have some if not they go on my shopping list.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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