Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon in Lithia, Florida, on Wednesday, February 16, 2022. It’s a balmy winter day here in the Tampa Bay area. Currently, the temperature is 79˚F (26˚C) under mostly cloudy skies. With humidity at 52% and the wind blowing from the east-southeast at 15 MPH (24 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 78˚F (25˚C). Today’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 82˚F (28˚C). Tonight, skies will be clear. The low will be 64˚F (18˚C).
Riff: You know, I wake up to everything I know either getting sold or wrecked or being taken over by people that I don’t like, and they don’t like me, and you know what’s left out of all of that? The Jets.
With the streaming debut of Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story (2021) only two weeks away and the physical media street date less than four weeks in the future, I finally found the 4K UHD/2K Blu-ray/digital code (or multi-format) Collector’s Edition of the Oscar-nominated musical drama available for pre-order at Target.com.
I was hoping to find it on Amazon or Best Buy. Amazon usually has better prices – which is perhaps why Disney-owned 20th Century Studios (the former 20th Century Fox) has not greenlit preorders with the giant e-retailer. Best Buy has the exclusive steelbook edition, but it, too, does not have the pre-order option ready either.
I wasn’t expecting to see a pre-order option today, to be honest with you. But I check on the Blu-ray.com site daily looking for U.S. retail release date updates on the forums pages. And today I got lucky, because someone posted a comment with the art for the exclusive-to-Target two-disc home media release of West Side Story.
Of course, I moseyed over to the Target website, logged on to my account – which I seldom use because I do most of my online shopping on Amazon – and checked to make sure the information I had from Blu-ray.com was accurate.
Happily, it was. And in less than five minutes, I pre-ordered my multi-format set of West Side Story (2021).
The price – all things considered – wasn’t too bad. $34.99 plus shipping, handling, and local and state sales taxes, which means my credit card was charged $44.05. Hillsborough County has the state’s highest sales tax rate, which is why I usually get stuff through Amazon. Alas, the tiff between Disney and Amazon is ongoing, and usually I have to order Star Wars films directly from ShopDisney.com or retailers that toe the line with pricing. (That’s why I have Target and Best Buy accounts, even though I have to pay more for my movies there.)
Naturally, I can’t count on getting my copy of West Side Story on March 15; that depends on the day that Target gets the discs from the distribution center. I’ve been lucky with my pre-orders from Best Buy; the few times that I’ve had to order movies from them I got them not long after their “street date.” My Target account does not have a list of previous orders, so I can’t tell you for sure how good their online order delivery track record is. Suffice it to say that I don’t expect to get my West Side Story multiformat combo on March 15.
In other news….
I have not watched the news yet, so I have no idea how things are going with the Ukraine-Russia crisis. The last thing I heard – and this was only because I scanned the headlines this morning – was that the Kremlin claimed that Russia was pulling back some of its troops away from the Ukrainian border, but that the U.S. and Western European observers say that is not the case. In that report – which I watched at six this morning – NBC News aired the contrasting claims – Russia coyly saying “hey, we’re pulling some of our forces away from the border, while Washington said that Russian troops were still on the frontier, carrying out menacing exercises to intimidate both Kyiv and the West into acquiescing to Putin’s demands.
According to CNN, here are the two contrasting takes on the status of Russian forces near Ukraine:
Kyiv and Moscow (CNN) President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Russia was sending some troops back to base after completing drills and that while he is open to further negotiations on the Ukraine crisis, Moscow’s security demands were an “unconditional priority.”
Russia’s claims about troop movements were met with skepticism from Western officials, who said they had seen no evidence that any partial withdrawal had begun.
United States President Joe Biden told reporters Tuesday that the US has “not yet verified the Russian military units are returning to their home bases,” saying that they “remain very much in a threatening position.”
Russia claims that it is willing to seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis, but that the West must agree to her three “key demands.”
Among the Kremlin’s demands are a guarantee that Ukraine will never be permitted to join NATO and that the alliance roll back its expansion in Eastern Europe. The US and its NATO allies have repeatedly said such proposals are non-starters.
Per Wikipedia, here’s Putin’s wish list:
On 1 February, Putin said the US response had failed to address Moscow’s “three key demands”, namely the non-expansion of the Alliance, refusal to deploy offensive weapon systems close to the Russian borders, and bringing back the Alliance’s military infrastructure to the status quo of 1997.
NATO’s stated position is that there are no current plans to invite Ukraine into the NATO alliance. However, the open-door policy that is currently in place also takes into account a nation’s independence and wishes, so the Western alliance is not going to rule out Ukraine’s entry into NATO should Kyiv and the Ukrainian people wish to join.
I don’t believe that Vladimir Putin is willing to go to war with the West over Ukraine, but on the other hand, I never believed that Donald Trump would be elected to the Presidency in 2016, either. I’m fairly well-read and have a grasp on international relations (I took courses in that subject and Russian history in college), but Putin can be a bit of a wild card, so….
Hopefully, this crisis will be resolved diplomatically and not through armed conflict. I certainly am counting on living to see – if not actually celebrate – my 59th birthday on March 5, and I’m betting that we’ll be at peace on March 15. I really don’t want a war, you know?