Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s mid-morning here in my corner of west-central Florida on Friday, November 26, 2021. It is a chilly late fall day here in the Sunshine state, a reminder that meteorological winter is only a few days off (astronomical winter, or the winter solstice, is still a few weeks away; it doesn’t fall until December 21). Currently, the temperature is 55˚F (13˚C) under sunny conditions. With a becalmed wind and humidity at 95%, the wind-chill factor is 54˚F (12˚C). Today’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 77˚F (25˚C). Tonight, we can expect partly cloudy skies and a low of 46˚F (8˚C).
Highlights from Thanksgiving 2021
Last night, of course, we had Thanksgiving dinner – one of only three occasions in which my strange “new family” (for lack of a better term) sits together to share a meal – in the Caregiver’s formal dining room. There were seven of us present – eight if you include Sandy the Wonder Schnauzer: the Caregiver, her boyfriend, her older son (the Gamer with the cigarette habit), her middle son (the guy who has the upstairs loft), her daughter (the college frosh/Target employee), and her Cuban-born, U.S.-raised boyfriend. And, of course, I was there, too.
We had the usual fare for Thanksgiving – turkey, green beans casserole, mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping, gravy, stuffing, and regular mashed potatoes. This year the Caregiver did not make wild rice – she said it usually goes to waste since few of us (I’m one!) like to eat it.
After dinner, everyone went their separate ways – we didn’t sit around the dinner table catching up or anything. The only nod to tradition came when the Caregiver asked each one of us to say something brief about what we were thankful for.
When it was my turn, I said:
I’d like to thank the Academy for….
Oops. Wrong speech. I thought I was at the Academy Awards accepting the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
I’m thankful for….not having any toxic people in my life.
(In my defense, we didn’t do this “what are we thankful for” routine when my mom presided over Thanksgiving. I don’t remember any huge gatherings at our house for this particular holiday, and Mom wasn’t one to stand on traditions that she wasn’t raised with.)
After dinner – the Caregiver had bought three pies but didn’t serve any – we adjourned. I started to watch TV in my room – the Caregiver and the boyfriend invited me to watch The Beach with them, but I declined – and promptly fell asleep. It wasn’t that late – we finished eating around 9 PM Eastern – but I fell asleep while watching The Age of Tanks on Netflix.
The drawback to falling asleep that early was, of course, that I woke up early today. It was cold in my room, and someone had left the kitchenette light on, so those two factors roused me from sleep at 5:20 AM. Ugh. So I got up, put a bottle of chocolate-flavored Boost in the fridge to cool, and booted up my PC after turning off some lights that were left on all night in other rooms of the house.
So. There you have it: a brief and somewhat superficial account of my sixth Thanksgiving without my blood relatives. Predictable, undramatic, and relatively free of negativity.
Musings & Thoughts for Friday, November 26, 2021
As I mentioned earlier, I woke up at the ungodly hour of 5:20 AM (three hours and 29 minutes ago – as I write this). It’s cold, it’s eerily quiet, and pretty soon I will walk to the kitchen and at least brew some coffee. I’ll probably eat a slice or two of panettone since I doubt we have any Cheerios left.
Today I will receive my Criterion Collection Blu-ray of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, a 1964 French-West German film directed by Jacques Demy. It’s a musical that, unlike most Broadway-style musicals, is a “sing-through” work in which every line of dialogue is delivered through song. Set between 1958 and 1963, this thoroughly French story stars Catherine Deneuve (in one of her first major roles),Nino Castelnuovo, Anne Vernon, Marc Michel, and Ellen Farner.
Per the blurb on the Amazon The Umbrellas of Cherbourg: The Criterion Collection page:
An angelically beautiful Catherine Deneuve was launched into stardom by this glorious musical heart-tugger from Jacques Demy. She plays an umbrella-shop owner’s delicate daughter, glowing with first love for a handsome garage mechanic, played by Nino Castelnuovo. When the boy is shipped off to fight in Algeria, the two lovers must grow up quickly. Exquisitely designed in a kaleidoscope of colors, and told entirely through the lilting songs of the great composer Michel Legrand, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is one of the most revered and unorthodox movie musicals of all time.
Since this is a Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg also includes primo extra features:
BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
-2K digital restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
–Once Upon a Time . . . “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” a 2008 documentary
-Interview from 2014 with film scholar Rodney Hill
-French television interview from 1964 featuring director Jacques Demy and composer Michel Legrand discussing the film
-Audio recordings of interviews with actor Catherine Deneuve (1983) and Legrand (1991) at the National Film Theatre in London
-PLUS: An essay by critic Jim Ridley
I saw The Umbrellas of Cherbourg only once when Miami’s PBS station WPBT (Channel 2) aired it…sometime in the 1990s, was it? I don’t remember exactly, but I have not seen it since. I obviously like it – otherwise, I wouldn’t have ordered it. I especially love the music by Academy Award-winning composer Michel Legrand, and one of its songs –“Je ne pourrai jamais vivre sans toi”/ I Will Wait for You – became a popular song in the early 1960s. The English language lyrics were written by American lyricist Norman Gimbel, and I Will Wait for You was covered by several well-known singers and musical groups, including Connie Francis, Steve Lawrence, Dick Hyman, Ray Conniff and His Orchestra and Chorus, John Williams and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and Lawrence Welk and Orchestra.
My copy arrived at the nearby Amazon distribution center yesterday morning, so it should be placed in a delivery vehicle around 11 or so this morning and it should be here in the afternoon. I hope it gets here in the early afternoon, though today is Black Friday…I wouldn’t want to bet on it. Amazon says it should be here by 10 PM tonight, but the delivery van usually gets to this neighborhood between 3 and 6 PM.
I was tempted to order the Blu-ray set of The Office: The Complete Series from Amazon for Black Friday. The price is tempting: $89.97 (list price: $106.03). But my anti-virus subscription and a couple of December pre-orders already used up my quota of non-essential expenses for December, so I’ll have to wait till at least January. Oh, well. That’s the way it goes sometimes.
Oh, and for those of you who are history-minded, today is the 80th anniversary of the day that Japan’s Kido Butai, the six-carrier striking force that launched the infamous surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941. Under the command of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu, Soryu, Shokaku and Zuikaku, along with an escort of two battleships, two heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, and eight destroyers, departed Hittokapu Bay on Kasatka (now Iterup) Island in the Kuril Islands, en route to a position northwest of Hawaii.
It’s hard to believe that 80 years have passed since that task force – the most powerful array of naval air power assembled at the time – began its transpacific rendezvous with destiny…and guaranteed Japan’s ultimate defeat in the Asia-Pacific War. And yet, here we are.
Well, I don’t have anything else to share, so I’ll close for now, Dear Reader. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, get vaccinated (if you haven’t already!) and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.
 I find this argument to be ironic since we are more than likely going to have to throw away most of the leftovers today. Instead of storing the uneaten portions of the dinner (especially the turkey) after we ate, the Caregiver and her boyfriend decided to watch The Beach in what I call the Common Room. The young adults scattered to their respective rooms, and I can’t put away all that food on my own. So everything is just sitting on that dining room table, inviting all kinds of bacteria to make their home there. And, of course, the Caregiver and her beau are asleep.
 Speaking of Pearl Harbor, I am still annoyed – and amused – by the revelation in the book A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America that the former President did not know what happened at Pearl Harbor or why it was such a world-changing event. Then again, we live in a world where science denial and history denial are still “things.”