Musings & Thoughts for Monday, May 31, 2021, or: The Immediate Past, Present, and (Near) Future….

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Hello, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida on Monday, May 31, 2021. In the United States and its territories, it is Memorial Day, a federal holiday originally set aside to honor the men and women who died while serving in the military in our country’s wars but is now mostly  the unofficial “start of summer.[1] It is a hot and gray-skied day; the current temperature is 86˚F (30˚C) under mostly cloudy skies. With humidity at 40% and the wind blowing from the east at 11 MPH (18 KM/H), the heat index is 91˚F (33˚C). Today we can expect light rain throughout the afternoon, and the high will be 90˚F (32˚C). Tonight, skies will be partly cloudy. The low will be 72˚F (22˚C). The Air Quality Index is 48 or Good.

Yesterday

After I posted yesterday’s daily blog – in which I said nothing much was happening – two noteworthy (at least for me) events took place.

First, about 10 minutes after I clicked Publish on Musings & Thoughts for Sunday, May 30, 2021, or: Just Another Uneventful Day in My Quiet Corner of Florida, I heard the distinctive tone that tells me I received an email in my  AOL account. I immediately went to my inbox and noticed that I had received an unexpected message from this sender: Great Voices Film Company and cdk films.

This is what it said:

Hi Alex,

I hope this email finds you well. In recent months, I have received notes from different people stating that the Great Voices website was not working. We tried to go back through every link we had and correct the issue. Then I remembered your wonderful review and just went back and checked the link in your story.  That link is no longer active.  Please update the link to the correct webpage: https://www.gvsjd-thefilm.com/

Much appreciated and stay well.

Kenneth Shapiro

The Great Voices Film Company

CDK Productions

My jaw dropped.

I have written thousands – literally – of online reviews, articles, and slice-of-life blog posts, but I don’t often hear from book authors or film directors unless (a) it’s a writer who wants an advance review for a book, or (b( the less frequent  emails in which an author reaches out to thank me for writing a positive (and unsolicited) review of his or her work. It always comes out of left field when I get emails like the one I got from Kenneth Shapiro in January of 2020:

(C) 2021, 2013 Great Voices Film Corporation and CDK Corporation

Here it is in its entirety:

Sent: Mon, Jan 20, 2020 4:04 pm
Subject: Great Voices Blu-ray issue

Hi Alex,

I was quite moved by your review of my film, Great Voices Sing John Denver, and I was happy to read that you enjoyed it so much. I am sorry to hear about the issue you are having with the Blu-ray disc you recently received. We are sending you a replacement so you can enjoy every moment.[2] 

Best wishes and keep spreading the word.

Best regards,

Kenneth Shapiro

The Great Voices Film Company

CDK Productions          

Anyway, back to what happened yesterday….

I politely wrote a quick reply  in which I assured Shapiro that I would replace the dead URL with the new one and thanked him for remembering my article. I hit Send, and I thought that would be the end of the conversation.

Not quite.

A few minutes later, I heard the “bong” sound of another incoming email on AOL. Lo and behold, it was Ken Shapiro again:

Thanks Alex! With your permission, I’d love to quote you on the website and place a link to your review. Let me know if that would be okay.

K

Wow. A filmmaker wanted to quote me on his movie’s website and link my review!

I, of course, replied:

Dear Kenneth,

Sure, go ahead! It’ll be an honor! 
Alex

And that, dear friends, was the highlight of my Sunday.

We also had a wicked thunderstorm pass overhead. It lasted for over an hour, and at its worst point, it dumped a torrent of rain, lots of lightning, and even some pretty nasty-looking hailstones.

Today

I don’t have much in the way of news about today, really. I woke up twice this morning – once at 5:11 AM, then again at 7:30 AM – and – this being Memorial Day – I decided to take it relatively easy. I had a late breakfast around 11 AM, and I played a Single Battle in Armored Brigade (a defensive scenario that pitted an American armored cavalry regiment against a Soviet tank regiment. I was able to win, although the Soviet force managed to temporarily capture one of the three towns in the Fulda Gap that were its objectives.

A screenshot from Veitikka Studios/Matrix Games’ Armored Brigade.

Thankfully, I have learned, more or less, how to use terrain and technology to set up ambushes and employ helicopter gunships and artillery in order to defeat a larger force. Like I said, the Soviets managed to win a minor and temporary victory in one small sector, but by the scenario’s end the Russian tank regiment had lost so many tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and troops that many of the vehicle crews abandoned their vehicles and most of their soldiers made a beeline back to Soviet lines.

I will probably continue taking it easy today; I might watch a movie or read a book for a while. We don’t do anything fun as a family group anymore – COVID and the changed relationship with the Caregiver put the kibosh on any trips to the beach or out to a restaurant – and I spend 90% of my time in my room because of the changed dynamic here.

The Future

(C) 2021 Paramount Home Media Distribution and Lucasfilm Ltd.

Well, in eight days’ time I will – if all goes well – receive two expensive Blu-ray box sets, both of which are “format upgrades” of media I already have in older formats.

(C) 1994, 2011, 2021 PBS and Florentine Films/The Baseball Project

First up, of course, is Paramount Home Media Distribution’s Indiana Jones: 4-Movie Collection box set, which presents the adventures of the Man in the Hat’s Steven Spielberg-directed movies in 4K UHD. Paramount and Walt Disney-owned Lucasfilm (the owner of the Indiana Jones IP) are releasing this box set in time for the 40th Anniversary of the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I own the 2003 four-DVD set with what was then the Indiana Jones trilogy and a Bonus Features disc and the 2012 Blu-ray set with five discs (four discs for the films, one for the bonus features), so I need this new set like I probably need a hole In my head. But considering my circumstances here in New Hometown, I hope no one begrudges my wanting an item that will, at least for the short term, bring some joy to my otherwise drab existence here.

The other upgrade is PBS’ first-time on Blu-ray reissue of Baseball: A Ken Burns Film, a multipart documentary series that is divided into the original nine “innings” that aired on PBS in 1994 and The Tenth Inning, a two-part update directed by Burns and his frequent collaborator Lynn Novick and released in 2010. The Tenth Inning was also released some time ago as a standalone Blu-ray, but it was included in the 2011 DVD box set as well in the older format. I opted to not get the standalone Blu-ray – what was the point of doing that? – but I promised myself that I would get Baseball on Blu-ray if and when it was ever reissued on 2K BDs.  

I am looking forward to these releases, although my excitement is severely dampened by the fact that when I pre-ordered them, I had no idea that I would buy a laptop this month. I can afford the credit card bills, of course, but I briefly considered canceling one of the orders in order to make the bill for next month less painful.

Again, considering my life here in New Hometown, I decided to go ahead with the pre-orders and not cancel them. It’s not like I won’t help the Caregiver with the house expenses. She’ll just get a little less money in June or July.

Well, that brings us to the end of another blog post here in A Certain Point of View, Too. This is my 506th post on WordPress and the latest in a 326-day streak of writing activity on this blog. So, until next time, Dear Reader, adios, amigo, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.


[1] Interestingly, while it is true that astronomical summer does not start till June 20 this year, meteorological summer and the Atlantic hurricane season begin tomorrow. So if anyone gives you grief about summer not starting for another three weeks, show them this blog.

[2]  This is the issue with the Blu-ray that is alluded to in the email’s Subject line:

In one of our Blu-ray players – a Sony Blu-ray player connected to our house’s Samsung 1080p high definition set and a home theater sound system – the Great Voices Sing John Denver plays well and without hiccups of any kind throughout the main feature. The images shot by cinematographer Matt Bass are always compelling to watch, and the sound recording by Josh Morton is both crystal clear and without flaws.


However, I had to resort to going to IMDb.com to look up the cast and crew of Great Voices Sing John Denver because once the main feature ends, the credits freeze when the list of producers comes on the screen. This happened the first time I played the disc, so I ejected the Blu-ray, examined it, noticed it had a fingerprint smudge (probably mine), and carefully cleaned it with a soft non-abrasive cloth. I put the disc back in the player, skipped to the credits, and lo and behold! It froze at that point again even though the disc was clean and had no smudges or scratches. I tried again earlier this morning – the disc’s playing surface looks fine to the naked eye, but it still freezes at the same spot in the credits rollup.

In my other player, a Samsung Blu-ray player that’s connected to my Samsung smart TV and a soundbar, the playback is, well, spotty. The sound and image are fine, but it tends to skip and even freeze at odd times. Maybe it’s because I rarely use that TV/Blu-ray player combination, or maybe it’s the HDMI cable acting up, but playback was not as good in this setup as it was in the main TV’s.

I’ll try cleaning the Blu-ray again later. I’ll also try to figure out if it’s the HDMI cable or another connection issue with my office  TV/Blu-ray connection. If nothing solves the playback issues with this TV, then I’ll just have to watch it on the set where Great Voices Sing John Denver plays 99% well. – from my Blogger blog post of January 10, 2020.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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