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

July 08, 2012 - 10:26 a.m.

"To Rome with Love" with Love

I'm going to start by talking about my day but I might then stray into something far more serious. We'll see how the time and my mood works out.

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year but I decided that I would not let it make me a prisoner in my air conditioned bedroom. First I indulged myself for breakfast and went out and got a fresh bagel to go with my omelet. I haven't gone out for fresh bagels since I moved out of Bayside. Briarwood did not have a good bagel store so I would go into south Flushing and buy a dozen at a time and freeze them. Now I have two good bagel places within four blocks of my apartment.

After that my plan to beat the heat was simple, I'd go to the movies. The BAM theater is four blocks from me and they had a movie playing that I wanted to see, Woody Allen's To Rome with Love. I had some time between finishing my brunch and when I had to leave. I spent it in my bedroom on my laptop. That was the plan but while waiting for a page to load I fell asleep. When I woke up it was just 13 minutes before the film started. I got ready as fast as I could and walked to the theater. I got my ticket and walked into the auditorium right before the credits started. I had never been there before and didn't know the layout. I was a bit odd. You enter from the back corner. I went to walk down the center aisle and here wasn't one. I did see from there that it was crowded, there weren't many seats available. My favorite place to sit is fourth row center which is too close for most people and I saw there were seats down front though I couldn't tell which row.

As I started walking down the side aisle the credits started. If you've seen any Woody Allen film since Annie Hall you might have noticed that his credits are stark, simple white lettering on a black background. That meant the screen did not illuminate the auditorium well. I had to be very careful walking down the steps and did it largely by feel. When I got to the fourth row my eyes were better dark adjusted. There was a seat by the aisle but I hate sitting close and on the aisle, the picture is distorted. I saw there were seats in the middle. I decided to move in and that the time to move in was during the credits and not when the film had started. It was difficult as it was still hard to see but I made it. One person muttered "I can't believe it." I guess she had never been to a movie before and didn't know that people do move in and out on occasion.

My Long-Time Gentle Readers know that I rarely go to the movies and that I always vow to start going more often. I love films. The reason I don't go is social. I don't have film friends. That doesn't mean that my friends don't go to the movies, it means that the dynamics of our friendship don't involve going to movies together. Back in the late seventies I averaged more than a film a week. Then I'd go regularly with Bad Carey, Lauren, Ira, or Aubrey or some combination of them.

I've always been a bit averse to going to films by myself. I was going to say there was no good reason for it but there is. Though I don't talk during the film I always love the post mortem discussion. That's part of the fun. And yes during the movie I don't have conversations but the occasion whisper pointing something out or making a joke is fun and I do it.

But still I have enjoyed movies by myself, I mean that's how I watch them on TV so I should do it more. Living so close to BAM I think I will.

If I am going to the movies there is a good chance I'll see one by Woody Allen. He's been a favorite of mine since high school. He isn't just a great film maker but he's one of those artists that I belongs to me more than the general public. Do you know exactly what I mean by that? Do you get that feeling about artists? I feel that way about Terry Pratchett, Tolkien, James Branch Cabell, Gene Roddenberry, George Romero and others. The musicians I feel that way about I so often end up becoming friends with. Maybe thats why I listen to so much music. I can socially connect with the artists I already feel a connection with.

Woody had his serious films and for a while he wasn't comfortable with being funny. That seems to have passed. From Rome with Love had the audience and myself laughing out loud. One laugh ways a lot about how humor works. The film's structure was following different pairs of lovers in Rome. They didn't interact, each plot was separate. In the beginning of the film the couples were introduced. One woman says that her parents were flying in to meet her fianc and his family. The next shot is the plane and the camera slowly makes its way down the aisle. As it got closer to the back the audience, and me, started to laugh. Why? There was absolutely nothing funny going on. It was because we knew that when we got near the end we'd see Woody Allen and he'd say something funny and in a reversal of causality we laughed before the joke was made. We then laughed again after it was made.

The film was cinematic, it wouldn't be the same in any other medium. There was a mixture of realism and absurdism I couldn't see working anywhere else or guided by a different hand than Woody. When we meet Alec Baldwin's character he's a real person. He then meets on of the male lovers and becomes a vehicle for internal dialogues. He can't really be in the scene and he doesn't interact with anyone else. There is no dividing line it just happens.

Roberto Benigni's plot of an ordinary man transformed into a pop culture obsession for absolutely no reason could have come out of Woody's Stardust Memories. It could have been written by Kafka, well Kafka collaborating with George Kaufman. As does all great absurdist art it actually says quite a bit about the real world even though it could never happen in real life.

You might have gotten the idea that I loved the film. You'd be right. Woody still has it. I don't have time to go through all the subplots. I'll mention one Woody Allen's character produces Pagliacci starring his daughter's future father-in-law who can only sing in the shower so there is a shower on stage during the entire opera. It's a fairly long scene of musical highlights and you find yourself laughing, stopping, the laughing again 20 seconds later as it never stops being ridiculously funny. It hits you over and over.

After the film I planned on hanging out in the Muffin place with WiFi but instead played on my laptop in my bedroom and took another nap. The heat makes me tired. Then in the early evening I went to Trader Joe's. I made a great discovery, Trader Joe's is empty on a Saturday night. There was only one person in front of me when I got on the checkout line. I also discovered that I was an idiot for not taking the bus there last time. The bus leaves me right at the store and takes about 5 minutes. The entire time for the trip is waiting for the bus and walking the 5 blocks to my house. It was much easier than the subway and there were no steps.

I've written 1342 words and have to make breakfast and shower before I go to the Met game so my serious stuff has to wait. Maybe tomorrow.

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 July 08, 2012
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