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

December 25, 2013 - 1:45 p.m.


I pretty much did nothing yesterday. I did get to Trader Joe's before the closed for the holiday so I'd have eggs for breakfast this morning. I of course picked up treats too. Anyone ever hear of helka? It's a babka cupcake except that all the chocolate is on the outside. I am pampering myself so I bought it. Everyone knows that me pampering myself means eating chocolate, right? It is my prescription for all emotional issues; a broad spectrum psychotropic medication and I'm only half kidding.

That was not the best thing I found in the store. I went over to the sample counter. That's where I found the Helka. All the best stuff is at the sample counter. They also have coffee. After I poured my coffee a little girl came over to get some and had to squeeze by me. She said excuse me and when I moved she thanked me, kid was brought up right, and then said, "Merry Christmas." So I of course said "Merry Christmas" back. This lovely woman thought I was talking to her turned around and wished me a "Merry Christmas." I thought it was the kid's mother, there was a resemblance. I didn't know for sure that she wasn't till we got on the checkout line and she left the kid behind. Now how did we go from Merry Christmas to talking. I have no idea. But you know I do that. What I do know is that we talked about her accent, she's from London. It was very mild. I had a suspicion and I asked her what she did. OK this is me, not only is it me but I'm writing about it. So what's the answer? That's right, she's a singer. Singer's have good ears and pick up the way the people around them speak so they tend to lose accents quicker. At the party I was at Saturday I met a woman, why can't I remember her name? Oh right I'm an idiot, who is from Prague, has been here only a little longer than a year, and I wasn't sure she even had an accent. And yes she's a singer. Now it's not surprising to meet a singer at a party hosted by a singer, where everyone but me was in the arts. But to meet one at Trader Joe's on New Year's Eve takes talent. Of course that is my one talent. LORi became convinced that I was a musician magnet when I met Robert Sarazin Blake while electioneering for Obama his first election, in Philadelphia. What makes it better is that Robert is from Seattle. What makes it even better is that I then found out he's friends with my friends Anas Mitchell, Jefferson Hamer, and Rachel Ries. It is a microscopic world.

But I'fell off the subject and the lovely woman will soon get upset that I refer to her only as "the lovely woman" Her name is Tzaddi, like the Hebrew letter except that she pronounces it to rhyme with lady. Just him me that people must have been saying, "Foxy Tzaddi" to her, her entire life.

So we talked in the store, then talked on the checkout line and then finished talking after we checked out. She of course has a website, Tzaddi. She's working on an album"Universal Soul" and is raising money both for that and for sending aid to the Philippines for hurricane relief in an Indiegogo campaign. I really am a magnet for good people. That was my social contact for the day so I'm glad it was such an enjoyable one.

Tzaddi is thinking of organizing a fundraiser concert for the Philippines in the next few days. She has a place she can do it. would any of my wonderful musician friends be interested? It would be in Brooklyn near Clinton Hill.

I did have perishables so I had to head home after that. For dinner I had the leftovers from my meal at Georgia Barbecue. Since it made two complete meals $15 was pretty cheap.

I decided to be a good Jew and watch a movie Christmas Eve. I didn't want to watch one of my usual holiday films. I knew that the way I'm feeling they would not strike me the right way. Instead I finished watching Cyrano de Bergerac. I started watching on Friday night but fell asleep during it. And horror of horrors I fell asleep to it again last night, right during the balcony scene! I've been having a rough time so I won't be too hard on myself. There's great art, there's art that is personal, and there is great art that is personal, that's Cyrano to me. I cry with real tears every time I see or read it. I am not ashamed to admit that I first saw him portrayed by that great actor, Mr. Magoo.

Since then I've seen the film with Jose Ferrar and read several translations. The one that counts is the Modern Library edition that I've read and reread. I wish I knew who translated it. I saw it on Broadway with Derek Jacobi. That production was then does as a TV movie and I watched that too. If that were on Amazon Prime I would have watched that.

From the beginning I have identified with Cyrano. He was not just a swordsman and poet but a rationalist. OK I'm not a swordsman but I did take fencing in college and did very well. And Cyrano probably had something to do with me taking the class.

The movie version leaves off much of the rationalism and atheism. It only gives three of the seven ways of reaching the moon that Cyrano expounds to de Guiche to delay him.

CYRANO (volubly):
First, with body naked as your hand,
Festooned about with crystal flacons, full
O' th' tears the early morning dew distils;
My body to the sun's fierce rays exposed
To let it suck me up, as 't sucks the dew!

DE GUICHE (surprised, making one step toward Cyrano):
Ah! that makes one!

CYRANO (stepping back, and enticing him further away):
And then, the second way,
To generate wind--for my impetus--
To rarefy air, in a cedar case,
By mirrors placed icosahedron-wise.

DE GUICHE (making another step):

CYRANO (still stepping backward):
Or--for I have some mechanic skill--
To make a grasshopper, with springs of steel,
And launch myself by quick succeeding fires
Saltpeter-fed to the stars' pastures blue!

DE GUICHE (unconsciously following him and counting on his fingers):

Or (since fumes have property to mount)--
To charge a globe with fumes, sufficiently
To carry me aloft!

DE GUICHE (same play, more and more astonished):
Well, that makes four!

Or smear myself with marrow from a bull,
Since, at the lowest point of Zodiac,
Phoebus well loves to suck that marrow up!

DE GUICHE (amazed):

CYRANO (who, while speaking, had drawn him to the other side of the square near a bench):
Sitting on an iron platform--thence
To throw a magnet in the air. This is
A method well conceived--the magnet flown,
Infallibly the iron will pursue:
Then quick! relaunch your magnet, and you thus
Can mount and mount unmeasured distances!

Here are six excellent expedients!
Which of the six chose you?

Why, none!--a seventh!

Astonishing! What was it?

I'll recount.

This wild eccentric becomes interesting!

CYRANO (making a noise like the waves, with weird gestures):
Houuh! Houuh!


You have guessed?

Not I!

The tide!
I' th' witching hour when the moon woos the wave,
I laid me, fresh from a sea-bath, on the shore--
And, failing not to put head foremost--for
The hair holds the sea-water in its mesh--
I rose in air, straight! straight! like angel's flight,
And mounted, mounted, gently, effortless,. . .
When lo! a sudden shock! Then. . .

Cyrano was a historical person much like the character and he is sometimes given credit for being the first science fiction writer. He wrote a story about reaching the moon. I read it but I'm not sure if he used the bone marrow or the rocket. I guess I need to read it again.

The final scene always overwhelms me. Everything I love about Cyrano is laid bare. You know the story. Cyrano is loves Roxanne but cannot tell her. He is the bravest man in France fearing no man with no fear of death. His only fear is a woman's scorn. He fears she will mock him for being ugly, for his enormous nose. He uses his wit, his poetry to woo Roxanne for the handsome Christian. And just as he finds that it is his words that she loves, not Christian's beauty, Christian is killed in battle and Cyrano's sense of honor will not let him tell Roxanne the truth.

And at that I always want to call noble Cyrano a schmendrick. For 14 years after Christian's death not only did Cyrano suffer but so did Roxanne who withdrew from the world to a convent to mourn. It is only when he lies dying, in the greatest death scene in drama, that he tells her the truth and she who has loved but one man loses him twice. What a schmendrick. but I'm a schmendrick too fo course. It's Yiddish for idiot. For some reason I have always lambasted Cyrano in Yiddish.

If you havent seen or read it you should. Maybe the Derek Jacobi version is available on Netflix, if so watch that. If not watch the 1950 film or read the book. You can read it for free here on Project Guttenberg, Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand.

OK as usual I have wasted the morning away and now must eat. Monna my landlady who is wonderful has invited me to a Christmas Party but I'd find that far too depressing. I won't like anyone else there and I don't want to go to a gathering of people who have nothing in common other than having no one else to spend Christmas with. Instead I will go out and find distraction. I'll probably go to Jewmongous. I prefer going with someone but I can go alone and at least have people I know onstage. Last year I didn't talk to Cindy and she read my blog and said this year I should. That's enough reason to go right there. The only reason I hesitate is that it's quite a bit more money this year but I think this counts as indulging myself even if there is no chocolate. If I decide it's to much money or it's sold out I'll be a good Jew and see a movie, the Hobbit, on Christmas and then go out for Chinese food.

Tomorrow I'll get to see friends when I see Dar Williams.

I have written a lot but one more thing. The songwriting bug has bitten me again. I have the idea for a few songs and inspirations for more bouncing around in my head. Oddly I have one about Cyrano that I thought of weeks ago. Well perhaps not odd, it wasn't inspired by seeing the movie yesterday but seeing the movie was perhaps partially inspired by the song.

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 December 25, 2013
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