Hi, Dear Reader. Here in New Hometown, Florida it is almost mid-afternoon on Saturday, March 6, 2021. It’s chilly outside – at least by Florida standards – and a bit gray and almost gloomy. The temperature is 64˚F (18˚C) under mostly cloudy skies. The forecast for today – scattered rain showers and a high of 69˚F (21˚C) – has been fairly accurate, since I’ve seen a few spotty showers from my bedroom window. Tonight, we can expect partly cloudy skies and a low of 54˚F (12˚C).
Yesterday was my 58th birthday, the sixth recurrence of the occasion since my mother died in 2015 and the fifth that I’ve observed here in New Hometown. Since I lived for most of my life in Miami, most of my birthday memories are of my time there, although I lived in Colombia from 1966 to 1972 and celebrated Birthdays 4-9 in that South American country’s capital, Bogota.
As birthdays go, this one falls into the category of “Fair to Middling.” The Caregiver gave me some nice gifts, including (weirdly) a plush Grogu (aka “Baby Yoda”) to put on my futon (I really have nowhere else to display it), a T-shirt from The Mandalorian, a Star Wars The Black Series 6-inch scale figure of Jar Jar Binks, several pairs of Star Trek socks, and a few other things. She said that if it weren’t for the COVID-19 pandemic we might have all gone out for dinner, but she opted to order Chinese food instead.
My friend Patti, who I know from our years as reviewers at the now-defunct Epinions, sent me two Star Wars Funko Pop bobblehead figurines based on Princess Leia and Han Solo as seen in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. They’re cute and comical, and I already found a place to display them: the shelves of my modest entertainment center. I think that was a generous gift, and I am extremely grateful.
I also received over 130 birthday messages from friends and family on my Facebook timeline, as well as a “happy birthday” text from my filmmaking collaborator (and long-time friend) Juan Carlos Hernandez.
I also treated myself to the 4K UHD Blu-ray of The Shining, which arrived yesterday afternoon and in time for an after-dinner viewing. Before last night, I’d watched the “edited for television” cut on ABC back when network TV still broadcast theatrically-released films – I think it aired back in 1982 or ’83. As I recall, on that occasion I watched it with Mom, who was more scared by Kubrick’s substantially altered adaptation of Stephen King’s novel than I.
Obviously, the R-rated theatrical version has scenes with adult language and mature content that couldn’t be shown on broadcast television, but I wasn’t fazed by any of it. It’s a stylish Gothic film with Stanley Kubrick’s trademark visual esthetics and tone and viewed exclusively as “a Stanley Kubrick film” it works really well. (I like the fact that when Scatman Crothers’ character, Dick Hallorann, is in Miami, Kubrick used a fake news story about the snowstorm in Colorado “reported” by a real Miami TV station, WPLG Channel 10, and a real anchor from that station, the late Glenn Rinker.)
As I said yesterday, though, the film is an extremely loose adaptation of Stephen King’s 1977 novel that depicts the characters as being nearly 100% different from the author’s creations. Kubrick’s Jack Torrance is not as “normal-looking” or sympathetic as the novel’s, and Shelly Duvall’s Wendy is a polar opposite of the Wendy as created by the Master of Horror in his best-selling book. The 1980 film, therefore, works better if you don’t read the book beforehand, even though the two versions of The Shining share their setting and certain characters and situations.
I enjoyed watching it, and I’m glad I own it; however, it’s probably not going to go into the “constant rewatch” rotation of movies in my Blu-ray/DVD collection.
So, I can’t complain too much.