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 12, 2014 - 12:22 p.m.

The Apartment

I did not even make my way down the stairs yesterday but somehow the problem is that I have too much to write not too little. Ideally I'd write several entries but I'm going out today and I should go food shopping too. No way that's actually happening.

I spent most of yesterday having anxiety. There were three phone calls I wanted to make but only managed one of them. That was to Dave who thinks he can fix my computer. I'm pretty sure it's diagnosed now. The pin in the power jack is lose. We'll see if a bit of solder can fix it. I just have to find a time we are both free.

The other calls were personal and that they gave me anxiety gives me great anxiety. It should be the easiest people to call, not the hardest. There are actual things to be anxious about, it isn't all in my head.

So that managed to take up most of my day. Then I made dinner. I don't have much to eat in the house but the weather was miserable and I didn't want to go out. I had two jalapeo chicken sausages and roasted potatoes. I have no bread so I had them on an English Muffin. It's not a bad combination. All I had to drink was apple cider.

Then I decided to stop spinning my wheels and watch a movie on Amazon Prime. I started with Chicago but it wasn't available for free. Then I looked at a list of Academy Award best pictures and worked my way backward. None of the ones I wanted to watch were free. So I skipped way back to 1960. Know what film won best picture then? I had them all memorized back when I was on Jeopardy. And the winner is The Apartment. I saw it on TV when I was a kid. It was probably 1968 shortly after The Odd Couple was released. I saw that and loved it and got on a Jack Lemmon kick. This was one of those films I watched alone when my parents were out. I expected a comedic romp. That's not what it is. I found it oppressively depressing. I think I only got to the pill scene. At least that's the last thing I remember. I didn't remember much of it and last night might as well have been the first time I saw it.

Yes the film is oppressively depressing but it is also funny. There's brilliant satire. It's this great period piece. It sets the scene showing C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) in his office, an endless line of identical desks. People always think an impersonal world is new. It's not. All that changes is the window dressing. As much as anything the film dealt with "a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits," Cabell wrote that almost a hundred years ago.

Here's the basic story, pretty much all I remember from watching the film as a kid. An accountant at a huge insurance company lets four married executive use his apartment for assignations with women. He hopes eventually to have it pay off with a promotion. He gets it when their boss, Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) finds out and asks to use the apartment. Meanwhile Baxter falls in love with elevator operator, Miss Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), the woman that Mr. Sheldrake wants to take to the apartment. It could have been a farce but that's not where Billy Wilder took it.

One thing that amused me was that the apartment is just a few blocks from my school on 62nd Street. The rent was $85 a month. That's $685 in today's dollars. I'd take that in a second. I'm going to move in.

On one level it's Baxter's journey from schnook to mensch. The words are actually used in the film. None of the principles are Jewish but Baxter's landlady and neighbors are. So of course was Wilder. Fran Kubelik grows self respect. Fred MacMurray and the others never grow. They are big men with small souls. Nu?

Miss Kubelik is used by Mr. Sheldrake. Baxter is all alone in the world, "Robinson Crusoe shipwrecked alone in a city of eight million people." But Wilder never allowed the film to lapse into pathos. It was not a tearjerker. Everything was leavened with humor.

How do you classify The Apartment. If you are going to put it in a box you better make it a big box. It has elements of romantic comedy, existential drama, and social satire. It does all these things at once. It does them perfectly. It was shot in black and white because the characters live in gray world.

My life is totally unlike the characters in the film but every emotion struck a chord. They strike chords in all of us. That's not pop entertainment, that's high art. As for me I want Miss Kubelik to run up the stairs to play gin rummy with me on New Year's Eve.

So here's the problem. The other things I want to write about just don't go with this. There's no way to shoehorn it in. I can perhaps combine them but not with this. So I'll just call it quits.

I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.

Memories: Not that Horrid Song - May 29, 2018
Wise Madness is Now In Session - May 28, 2018
The NFL and the First Amendment - May 27, 2018
On The Road Again - May 26, 2018
Oliver the Three-Eyed Crow - May 25, 2018

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Horvendile January 12, 2014
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