Musings & Thoughts for Saturday, March 5, 2022, or: How I Spent My 59th Birthday

I sort of look like this today.

So, today is my 59th birthday.

Last night, The Caregiver took me to a nearby hairstyling place so I could get a haircut and a beard trim. After all, three months had passed since my last trip to a barber, and The Caregiver has become rather lackadaisical about, well, caregiving. So I looked like a refugee from a casting call for a revival of A Fiddler on the Roof.

I had a suspicion that despite my wishes to the contrary that the trip to the barber was a preliminary to a trip to a theme park. Not a Disney park, but something closer to home, like Busch Gardens Tampa. The Caregiver didn’t say anything about that, but I suspected that she had hopes that I would change my mind.

Around eight this morning, she stepped into my room, all dressed and made up as if she were going to go somewhere. “Can you get ready so we can go to the park?” she asked.

“What park?”

“It’s your birthday,” she said. “I thought you wanted to go to Busch Gardens or somewhere fun for your birthday.”

“We had this conversation on Thursday. I don’t want to go to a theme park. Look. I woke up at four. My head hurts. I’m tired. And I don’t feel like going to Busch Gardens when I am not in the mood to enjoy it.”

“Oh, come on. It’ll be fun,” she said.

“Nope. Don’t feel like going. Sorry.”

“But we,” meaning The Caregiver and her boyfriend, “want to take you out.”

“And I appreciate it. I really do. But I also really don’t want to go.”

I felt like adding, Don’t you know there’s a war on?  I didn’t; she wouldn’t have gotten the reference.

Defeated, The Caregiver said, “Okay. We’re going to Starbuck’s and get you coffee cos there’s no milk[1] and the kitchen is too messy for me to make breakfast. We’ll bring you stuff.”

The Caregiver and her boyfriend left. I sat down at my computer desk and hung out on Facebook, checking out my Groups, playing CBS Sports Football Franchise Manager, and replying to the various messages from friends and family on account of my birthday.  A few minutes later, The Caregiver returned, placed some items from Starbucks – including a coffee with cream, two sugars – on the kitchenette table, then, because she wasn’t going to stay home dressed to go out and with no place to go, she went off somewhere with her boyfriend.

We are supposed to go out to dinner later, but I’m tired, headachy, and don’t feel like leaving the house. I’d rather just collapse on a couch and watch a movie or read a book.

So, that’s how my 59th birthday is going – so far.

[1] Not an unusual occurrence here.

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.

13 thoughts on “Musings & Thoughts for Saturday, March 5, 2022, or: How I Spent My 59th Birthday

      1. I finally watched the new one last night. Impressive and well-intentioned, but it’s probable that I have way too much love for the 1961 version to be truly objective about it. There were some changes that I liked, and some that really, REALLY fell flat with me.

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      2. I liked West Side Story 2021 far more than I do the 1961 one. It’s because I am Colombian-American and find the way the Sharks were made up in fake-looking brown makeup (something Rita Moreno resented but could not do anything about in ’61) is insulting, but I am less enamored of the Robbins/Wise film. Plus, all the cast in Spielberg’s version does their own singing. West Side Story (1961) has its strong points, but to me, the way they used other singers’ voices instead of the onscreen talent was not cool.

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      3. Oh, I have lots of thoughts and opinions! LOL.

        I am also not a fan of the dark makeup they used in the original. George Chakiris, who played Bernardo in the 1961 film, is not even Latin – he’s Greek. He had played Riff in the London stage version. And given how light Rita Moreno is, it looked awful on her.

        The dubbing for the singing voices in the 1961 version doesn’t actually bother me – it happened in a lot of movie musicals. And I know this may be controversial, but I think dubbing Natalie Woods’s singing voice was actually the right decision. One of the things I love about the music in the 1961 version is how full-bodied it is, and while her voice, while it was not bad at all, it just was not quite up to the task.

        One of my biggest gripes has to do with the song, “Cool”. Tucker Smith gave it a lot of edge in 1961. Ansel Elgort was FAR too melodic, and stripped it of most of it’s rough edges, which isn’t in keeping with the idea of a street gang. It’s one of my favorite songs in the 1961 movie, and it just broke my heart to see it get treated that way.

        Another one of my gripes is the song “Somewhere”, which is another particular favorite of mine. I LOVE that they had Rita Moreno sing it, giving it a wistful, I-miss-my-husband feel to it. What I don’t love is the fact that that’s the only place it showed up in the movie. Such a beautiful song, and it begs to be utilized more than that.

        One thing that they could have done away with, and didn’t, was that light little dance that Maria and Tony do when they first meet at the gym. Sorry, I’ve never been able to wrap my head around the idea that a gangbanger would dance to something so cutesy.

        The actress that plays Anita is good, but, IMHO, she didn’t quite measure up to Moreno’s crackling fieryness. I did like that they gave the character more space to be grieving, though. In the 1961 version, it was too easy to lose sight of the fact that Anita had just lost the man that she loves, and in this version, there’s no losing sight of that.

        And in the extra feature that they have on Disney+, Spielberg mentioned that for him, the stage version is the definitive one. So when they restored some of the stuff from the stage version, one glaring thing that they left out were the F-bombs. I’m guessing it has something to do with who distributed the film, lol, but hey, if you’re going to go to the original source, bring in some of the stuff that made it so edgy back in 1957.

        I approve of having Tony’s prison record be part of his character. One thing that was missing in the 1961 version was that it was never made really clear why Tony had been pulling away from the Jets.

        On the flip side, I thought the part of the rumble where Tony was trying to talk Bernardo down was too dragged out, to the point where it looked too contrived.

        Most of the set decoration is gorgeous (as it was in the 1961 version), but by having Maria be part of the cleaning crew at Gimbels kind of takes away from the reasoning for having so many textiles around. It made more sense in the 1961 version, where she was a seamstress.

        And would it have killed Spielberg to give the Sharks their own theme song?

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      4. To be fair about the Sharks getting their own theme song, Bernstein and Sondheim did not write one for the original stage production. I know, because I have the Original Broadway Cast recording of West Side Story (which was the first non-classical recording Arnold and Leah Spielberg brought into their house when Steven was 10 or 11), there’s no “Sharks’ Song.” And since he had to work not just with the (then) still-living Stephen Sondheim and the estates of Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, and Jerome Robbins, I think he could only do just so much to re-imagine WSS. He couldn’t go to David Arnold or John Wiilliams and say, “We need a Sharks’ Song.” He did, though, add “La Borinquena – Sharks’ Version.” Which makes sense, since it’s a Puerto Rican anthem of sorts.

        In any case, I like both versions of WSS; I like this one a tad more. I wish I could go back in time to 1960 and have a chat with the Mirisch Company, Wise, Robbins, and tell them to fix the issues I have with the 1961 version (like, dudes, hire a few more real Latins for the Sharks, and ditch the brownpaint!). Alas, I can’t.

        And, of course, I’m a Spielberg fan (although I dislike Hook!), so I am (admittedly) biased.

        Good to see your rationale for liking the ’61 version more. I have to say you have a lot of good reasons.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. The 1961 version has been one of my top five favorite films of all time ever since I was in high school, and I’ve loved the 1961 movie soundtrack since I was in elementary school, so I know that I came in to this with far too many biases, to the point where I was perfectly content to never see the new one… that is, until I saw the trailer. I’ll admit, it kind of pissed me off that the trailer was so good, because it took away my motivation to stick to my “no-remakes-of-classics” rule – damn that presumptuous Spielberg anyway, lol!!!

        I took a bunch of cinema history classes about 15-20 years ago, so I tend to pick movies apart. It means that there are a lot of people who would rather not watch a movie with me. But it also means that if I like a film or don’t like a film, I can often point to the specific reasons why.


  1. Sorry that your birthday was a bit of a downer, but I get it. I haven’t truly celebrated a birthday in years, and I barely even acknowledge them now that my mom is gone. After moving away from my home state, she was the only one who still made a big deal out of them (which, of course, I let her do, because I know I was life-changing for her, lol). They’ve become a painful reminder that she’s gone, and now I usually have some sadness to deal with for the day.

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