Musings & Thoughts for Monday, December 6, 2021, or: Melancholy, Movies, and the Weight of Memory

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in the Tampa Bay area on Monday, December 6, 2021. It’s a warm early winter day in west-central Florida. The current temperature is 77˚F (25˚C) under sunny skies. With the wind blowing from the south-southeast at 3 MPH (5 KM/H) and humidity at 80%, the feels-like temperature is 75˚F (24˚C). The forecast for today calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 83˚F (28˚C). Tonight, skies will be partly cloudy and the low will be 62˚F (17˚C).

It’s already the sixth of December, which means that:

  • Tomorrow is the 80th anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that forced the United States to enter World War II
  • There are only 18 or 19 days left before Christmas, depending on how you observe the holiday. In my Miami life, Mom considered December 24 (Christmas Eve) as D-Day (or, more accurately, N-Night). Thus, she always strove to get her holiday prep done by December 23
  • I find myself feeling nostalgic
  • I am already on an internal countdown for my 59th birthday, which is almost three months away – and not in a good way
  • I miss my mother. My older half-sister? Not so much

In my old life, I used to watch Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), a dramatized version of the Pearl Harbor attack, either on December 6 or 7, but usually on the 7th. Produced and released by 20th Century Fox (it was Darryl F. Zanuck’s last big project at Fox, even though his name is not in the credits). Tora! Tora! Tora! is a Japanese American co-production with two separate production teams working in Japan and the United States under the corporate gaze of 20th Century Fox.

Conceived by Zanuck as a bookend to his 1962 war epic The Longest Day, Tora! Tora! Tora! was based on two books (an eponymous book about the Pearl Harbor raid by Gordon W. Prange, and The Broken Seal, by Ladislas Farago, which delves into Japanese espionage that aided the planners of the attack in crafting “Operation Hawaii,” as well as American efforts to break Japan’s diplomatic and military codes before December 7, 1941). It had three directors – Richard Fleischer for the U.S. sequences, Toshio Masuda and Kinji Fukasaku for the Japanese ones. And because the movie was shot on both sides of the Pacific, the American and Japanese cast and crew members worked independently from each other – the finished film was edited by James E. Newcom, Pembroke J. Herring, and Inoue Chikaya in California.

Until 2016, I used to watch Tora! Tora! Tora! on the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, or as close to it as possible. I bought the DVD in 2001 – for the 60th Anniversary and upgraded it to Blu-ray in March of 2015 – this was the last birthday present from Mom; I ordered it from Amazon but used her credit card with her permission. I remember watching Tora! Tora! Tora! for the last time on my old Samsung 720p HDTV set when this room was my study and not my bedroom sometime before December 2016.

Will I watch it tonight or tomorrow? I think not. My mom’s lengthy illness, her death in the summer of 2015, and the aftermath caused me to change many personal habits and established routines, and I don’t have an urgent need to resume them.

That having been said, I miss my old life. Hanging out with my mom and close friends, mostly.  And I avoid sticking to traditions I had in Miami because I don’t – and can’t – live there anymore.

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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