Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s midafternoon here in New Hometown, Florida on Saturday, January 30, 2021. Currently, the temperature is 72˚F (22˚C) under mostly cloudy skies. With humidity at 43% and the wind blowing from the east-southeast at 6 MPH (9 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 72˚F (22˚C). The forecast for the rest of the afternoon calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 75˚F (24˚C). Tonight, we can expect partly cloudy skies; the low will be 54˚F (12˚C).
Today I found out that PBS will premiere Ken Burns’ Hemingway, a new three-part documentary from the makers of The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, The Roosevelts, The War, Prohibition, and The Vietnam War, on Monday, April 5. As an American writer – albeit not a particularly famous one – I toil under the towering shadow of Ernest Hemingway, who rose to fame in the 1920s when novels such as A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises were both critical and commercial successes and became one of American literature’s larger-than-life figures. “Papa” Hemingway was a gifted writer whose spare but vivid prose was considered by many to be the gold standard by which all male American writers should be judged by, but he was also haunted by his family legacy of depression and suicide.
I haven’t read many of Hemingway’s books – the only one I have in my possession is For Whom the Bell Tolls, his 1940 anti-fascist novel set in the early years of the Spanish Civil War – but I did see a short documentary about his tumultuous and oft-tragic life when I watched The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones on DVD. In it, I learned that his grandfather and father both committed suicide, and his experiences in World War I (where he was wounded while serving as an ambulance driver in the Italian front), combined with Hemingway’s bouts of depression and inner struggles to prove himself as a man and a writer, caused him to project a self-image of the ideal American male. To this day, when one hears the name “Hemingway,” the mind’s eye sees a burly, bearded – or mustachioed – man sitting at his desk and typing a manuscript, bedding beautiful, intelligent women (he was married four times and was quite a philanderer), or going deep-sea fishing out on the Gulf Stream on his yacht, Pilar.
Anyway, since I am a huge fan of Ken Burns’ documentaries, I am looking forward to seeing Hemingway, although I think I will have to get it on disc or stream it on my computer; The Caregiver is usually not interested in watching documentaries, especially if they tackle difficult topics such as war, crime, or dark stories such as Hemingway’s life, although when we were a couple she watched many of the short ones that come with the 2007-2008 DVD sets of The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones.
Today I asked The Caregiver to shave my beard off; ever since she started dating her New Guy, she became disinterested in helping me keep my whiskers trimmed. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, she would take me to the nearby Cuts Just For Guys for a haircut and a beard trim. Since the pandemic started last February, I have had a few haircuts there, but since both the barber and I have to wear masks, we had two choices: either shave the beard altogether or The Caregiver could trim It herself.
Well, she went for Option No. 2 – she says I look like a writer when I grow a beard – but since she had not bothered to maintain it, the facial hair was getting long, scraggly, and itchy! Hell, I was reluctant to go out for walks around the neighborhood because I didn’t want to get hostile looks from neighbors who might have thought I was a member of Al Qaeda or The Proud Boys.
I was going to take a selfie to show you the New, Improved Alex, but I have a red welt on one side of my face due to irritation. Blech! Who wants to see that, right? I sure as hell don’t.
Aside from that, Dear Reader, there’s not much to tell. I played two turns of Strategic Command WWII: World at War earlier today. It is now January 1945, and the war is going well for the Allies, with Soviet forces now reoccupying the Baltic States, most of Ukraine and Belorussia, and the first foreign capital, Bucharest, has fallen to the Red Army.
In the West, most of the Italian peninsula is free, as are France and 90% of Belgium and parts of Holland. In the Pacific and China, Japan is clearly not doing all that well; her navy has been all but destroyed, and many of her island conquests are in American hands. The only place where the Japanese can be said to be faring well is in mainland China, but that will change once the war in Europe ends and the Russians shift their forces to the border with Manchuria.
Well, that’s all the news that I have for you today, so I’ll close for now. Remember to stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.