Musings & Thoughts for Saturday, June 5, 2021, or: Broken Traditions, Lost Songbooks and the Persistence of Memory (and Grudges)

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay 

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida on Saturday, June 5, 2021. It is a hot summery day; the current temperature is 87˚F (30˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 55% and the wind blowing from the south-southeast at 9 MPH (14 KM/H), the heat index is 94˚F (34˚C). Today’s forecast calls for scattered showers and a high of 88˚F (31˚C). Tonight, those scattered showers will continue to pop up, and the low will be 73˚F (23˚C). The Air Quality Index (AQI) is 28 or Good.

Since today is one of my “down” days, I have been trying to decide if I want to watch anything related to D-Day (or rather, the famous D-Day…June 6, 1944) or not.

A still from The Longest Day. (C) 1962 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

In my previous life, or in the BMGS (Before Mom Got Sick) era, I used to watch movies such as Darryl F. Zanuck’s The Longest Day or Saving Private Ryan on home media either on June 5 or 6. Either that, or I’d start re-reading Cornelius Ryan’s 1959 classic The Longest Day (on which the movie is somewhat based) or Stephen Ambrose’s 1994 D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II.

I’m not sure why I did that; after all, I’m a first-generation U.S. citizen born to two Colombian immigrants (Jeronimo and Beatriz Diaz-Granados); none of my family members (as far as I know) served in the armed forces during the war even though Colombia joined the Allies in 1943. As a result, I have no personal connection to D-Day, just a genuine and long-lasting fascination with World War II in general but specifically with certain battles/campaigns, especially the Pearl Harbor attack, the Battle of Midway, the Guadalcanal campaign, and the liberation of Europe.

As eccentric as it might seem, I try to stick to personal traditions as much as I can. On May 25, I tend to watch any Star Wars film in my collection to commemorate the anniversary of the original film’s release. On December 7, I also try to watch Tora! Tora! Tora! or any decent, non-conspiracy theory documentary about the attack on Pearl Harbor. And since I don’t have any good movies (based on real events) about the Kennedy assassination, I sometimes would re-read Jim Bishop’s The Day Kennedy Was Shot on or around November 22.

For the most part, ever since my mom died on July 19, 2015,  and the Caregiver took me in (an act that required me to move across the Sunshine State), I have had a hard time sticking to those traditions.  I’m not sure why, exactly, but it could be because:

  • The daily grind of caring for my mom while she was ill and confined to bed disrupted my reading and TV watching routine.
  • I no longer have someone to watch the movies with; I didn’t always watch The Longest Day, much less the more graphic Saving Private Ryan, with my mother, but sometimes I did. Afterwards, Mom would tell me anecdotes about her teenage years (which coincided with the war), or that The Longest Day was one of my father’s favorite films of 1962.

It’s funny. I used to do the whole “let’s watch a D-Day movie” thing constantly and with great enthusiasm. Now, I have to remind myself to do it, and more often than not, I end up not doing it.

(C) 1985 Hal Leonard. Photo Credit: eBay

Anyway, today I am keeping my eye on yet another Amazon order that I’m expecting tomorrow. This time around, I am tracking the progress of my Billy Joel Greatest Hits, Volumes 1 and 2  songbook for piano, vocals, and guitar. Back when I was in college, a friend gave me the cassette version of that compilation album by the legendary Billy Joel. I loved that album so much that I bought a copy of this songbook, published by Hal Leonard around the same time (1985-1986), and I’d often try to learn the lyrics so I could sing the songs. (Sometimes, when I had the time, I’d ask a piano-playing friend to go into one of the campus Music Department’s piano practice rooms so we could learn songs such as Piano Man or She’s Always a Woman to Me.)

I lost that book sometime in the 1990s, and although I always intended to replace it, every time I went to a record store (which was usually where sheet music and song books were sold before Amazon and shopping online became a “thing”), I would forget to get a new copy because I decided to buy a new Boston Pops Orchestra album or a movie soundtrack instead.

This week, after trying – and failing – to remember the lyrics to She’s Always a Woman to Me while I sang in the shower, I decided to go ahead and replace my long-lost songbook. At least I’ll keep my promise to myself about replacing it, and I can practice my singing, even though I doubt that I’ll ever do the “Karaoke Night” thing with friends again.

Official pre-release banner ad for the 4K UHD release of the first four Indiana Jones films, which is due out on June 8. (C) Paramount Home Media Distribution and Lucasfilm Ltd.

And, if all goes well and Amazon does not let me down, I should have my two much-anticipated box sets – the Blu-ray reissue of Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns and Paramount’s 4K UHD Indiana Jones: 4-Movie Collection – as early as Tuesday, or at the very latest, Wednesday.

Other than that, Dear Reader, I don’t have much in the way of news to share; I think about my mom on occasion, of course, especially around this time of year. Luckily, I often manage to recall happy or at least drama-free moments that I shared with her, although on occasion – like when Facebook Memories shows me an old post from when Mom was sick – I will not have so-happy recollections.

I also sometimes wonder how my older half-sister Vicky is doing; we have been estranged ever since Mom died (an eventuality that both my mother and I knew was inevitable) nearly six years ago, so we don’t – obviously – keep in touch. The only person who kept me up-to-date on how Vicky was doing was her paternal first cousin Juan Manuel, but he died suddenly last fall, so I don’t know anything about her life or if she ever expresses regrets over our estrangement.

I do know – from what Juan Manuel told me in our last email exchange –  that she was not in the best of health last year because she fell and broke the same hip twice and therefore undergone two hip replacement operations within a short period of time. I considered – seriously – reaching out to her (since I do have her address and phone number), but I decided against it. I am where I am today – far from my former home and hometown – mainly due to her Machiavellian intentions toward Mom’s old townhouse and me. I did try sending her a gift once to see if she was at least open to some kind of reconciliation, but she sent it back to Amazon, so….no dice.

Well, my friend. I think I’ll close for now. It is my day off, and I should get up from behind this desk and find something else to do besides writing. So, until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.  

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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