Greetings, Dear Reader. It is mid-morning here in Lithia, Florida on Tuesday, February 1, 2022. It is another chilly winter day in the Tampa Bay area, although there is a bit of a warming trend today. Presently the temperature is 51˚F (11˚C) under sunny conditions, although with the wind blowing from the east at 5 MPH (8 KM/H) and humidity at 80%, the wind-chill factor is 45˚F (7˚C). Today’s forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and a high of 75˚F (24˚C). Tonight, we can expect partly cloudy skies. The low will be 48˚F (9˚C).
Well, yesterday one month ended. Today, the second month of 2022 started at midnight. And no matter how hard I try to wrap my head around the concept of the passage of time, I’m always amazed about how we perceive how “time passes.” On the one hand, as I grow older, there’s an illusion that days, months, years, and decades “fly” more quickly as time goes on. On the other hand, how we feel at any given time also affects our perception of time.
For instance, I have been in Lithia for just under six years. I started moving into the Caregiver’s house on the second week of April of 2016 – she had wanted to start moving me here a few days before I made my last bus trip to the West Coast – of Florida, natch – after April 9, 2016, which was the day when my copy of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was delivered to “my” townhouse in East Wind Lake Village.
Because I was somewhat happy – it’s hard to be 100% happy even under normal circumstances, and its even harder when a death in the family is the catalyst for unexpected change, so I’d say I was in a state of Comme ci comme ça my first three years in Lithia – when I first got here, time seemed to flow a lot faster than it does now.
Maybe it’s because I felt more affection for the Caregiver than I do now, or maybe it’s because the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed me from a normal “homebody” into a hermit-like recluse (with five housemates and a dog, the latter of which I think is the only living being that loves me). I honestly can’t remember the last time we did anything outside this house as a family unit. Either way, sometimes I feel like time has slowed to a crawl – a snail-paced crawl, at that.
And yet, at the same time, time seems to fly fast, like a DVD or Blu-ray disc being played at fast forward.
This morning, for instance, I awoke at 6:55 AM Eastern Standard Time, partly because I had to go to the john, but mostly because of the chill in my room. And my second conscious thought today – after Geez, it’s fucking cold today! – was, in fact, This feels like Bogota in February of 1972.
To put that in perspective:
On February 1, 1972, Mom, my half-sister Vicky, and I lived permanently in Bogota, Colombia. Mom and I had been there since some time in 1966, or roughly six years. Vicky joined up with us in the late spring of 1969; she was away at a Catholic all-girls’ school in Parkersburg, WV from 1965 to 1969, so she was entering her third year with us at the time.
I was starting – I believe – third grade at Colegio El Nogal, a privately run Catholic school with a co-ed student body. If memory serves, I missed a few days of school the month before because I was laid up with a bad case of bronchitis, but by February 1 I was back on campus and following my normal routine of going to school in the morning, attending classes – including a dull Religious Studies course that I loathed – then going home at three o’clock on a school-owned van.
On this date half-a-century ago, I was eight years old. I didn’t speak much English then, although I was beginning to grasp some of the written word in that (then) foreign language, mainly because I had been given a copy of Raymond Tolliver’s Fighter Aces of World War II during our Christmas 1971 vacation in Miamiand I was picking up words like plane, fighter, bomber, pilot, interceptor, attack, ace, and so on.
Not that it mattered. Fifty years ago, I was looking forward to my ninth birthday, which was only a few weeks away – on March 5. Beyond that, I had no grand plans for the future, nor did I envision living anywhere else but Bogota, Colombia.
Little did I know that less than three months later, Mom and I would be on an Aerocondor turboprop bound for Miami, Florida and that my ninth birthday would be the last I’d celebrate in South America.
Time. Fate. Unexpected life-turns-on-a-dime changes. Permanence is an illusion. Happiness, doubly so.
This week – tomorrow, I think? – fans of movie musicals and/or Steven Spielberg films can begin to pre-order the 2021 release of Spielberg’s updated take on West Side Story. The second film adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical (conceived by Jerome Robbins, written by Arthur Laurents (based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet), and featuring music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim)was scheduled for release in December 2020, but it was postponed for a year by the hated and seemingly endless COVID-19 pandemic.
West Side Story 2021, as it is referred to so it won’t be confused with the Jerome Robbins/Robert Wise film version from 1961, didn’t do much business at the box office thanks to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, The pandemic was one of the reasons why I didn’t go even though I very much wanted to. As a result, I was thrilled to learn a few weeks ago that Spielberg’s West Side Story is getting a 4K UHD/1080p HD Blu-ray release on March 15, with pre-orders going live as early as tomorrow.
If the February 2 pre-order thing is real and not just misinformation flying around online, I will order it tomorrow morning from Amazon. It won’t be in my possession until March 15, but at least 20th Century Studios Home Entertainment (a division of The Walt Disney Company) will see that fans do want this on home media and not just on a streaming service.
Oh, and speaking of pre-orders….
This morning I ordered a CD/Blu-ray combination of Deutsche Grammophon’s John Williams – The Berlin Concert, a four-disc Limited Edition (two compact discs, one Blu-ray video disc, and one Blu-ray audio disc) featuring a concert of Maestro Williams’ film scores performed by the Berlin Philharmonic, or, auf Deutsche, Berliner Philharmoniker.
While this version is pricier than the basic 2-CD edition of John Williams – The Berlin Philharmonic, I decided to cancel the latter (which I’d preordered in early January) and ordered this version instead. I am, after all, a life-long fan of John Williams, who is perhaps the greatest composer of film music and the guy who awakened my love of classical instrumental music when I was 14.
John Williams – The Berlin Concert comes out in North America on February 11, three days after Maestro Williams celebrates his 90th birthday! (European DG customers are luckier; their release date is February 4.)
Other than that, I don’t have much to add. So until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.
 Legally, in 2016 the townhouse that I left behind in South Florida was still under my mother’s name even though she had left it to me, and to me alone, in her revised 2010 last will and testament. I had to fight for it in Miami-Dade County’s probate court; my half-sister Vicky put up a challenge and filed a “lost or destroyed will” petition early in 2016 – I didn’t know about wills or when the executor – who failed miserably at her task – was supposed to file Mom’s with the county clerk’s office (she did not), so Vicky fired the first shot in the battle. Fortunately, I prevailed in court, and the house was – briefly – under my name in 2017.
 Mom also helped. If she had time, she would answer the inevitable “Mom, what does this (aviation-related word) mean?” query. If she was busy – and almost certainly she often was – she would suggest I use our family’s large English-Spanish/Spanish-English dictionary.