Hello, Dear Reader. It is early afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida, on Wednesday, November 11, 2020. It is a dark, blustery day here; the current temperature is 78˚F (25˚C) under rainy conditions. With humidity at 96% and the wind blowing from the east-southeast at 14 MPH (22 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 78˚F (25˚C). There is a flood watch for our area, as there is a river close to my neighborhood, as well as a slew of other advisories, including a tropical storm warning effective today and tomorrow.
Right now, the rain is not too bad – it is light, not torrential, and we haven’t had any lightning strikes from the squalls and thunderstorms associated with Hurricane Eta. Still, it is keeping me stuck indoors; I am not foolish enough to go outside on a rainy day unless I want to catch a cold or the flu. And because I can’t go out in this horrible, damp, and cold weather, I feel like the walls of my room – which is the smallest of the five bedrooms here – closing in on me.
Per the National Hurricane Center in Miami:
WTNT34 KNHC 111449
Hurricane Eta Advisory Number 45
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL AL292020
1000 AM EST Wed Nov 11 2020
…HEAVY SQUALLS WITH TROPICAL-STORM-FORCE WINDS SPREADING ONSHORE
THE SOUTHWESTERN COAST OF FLORIDA…
…STORM SURGE WARNING ISSUED FOR A PORTION OF THE FLORIDA WEST
SUMMARY OF 1000 AM EST…1500 UTC…INFORMATION
ABOUT 115 MI…180 KM WSW OF PORT CHARLOTTE FLORIDA
ABOUT 145 MI…235 KM SSW OF TAMPA FLORIDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…75 MPH…120 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…NNE OR 15 DEGREES AT 10 MPH…17 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…983 MB…29.03 INCHES
WATCHES AND WARNINGS
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:
A Storm Surge Warning has been issued for the Florida west coast
from Suwannee River to Bonita Beach, including Tampa Bay and
The government of Cuba has discontinued the Tropical Storm Watch
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for…
* Bonita Beach to Suwanee River Florida, including Tampa Bay
and Charlotte Harbor
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* Anna Maria Island to Yankeetown
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Dry Tortugas
* Bonita Beach to Suwannee River Florida
A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for…
* Steinhatchee River to Suwannee River Florida
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* North of the Suwannee River to Aucilla River Florida
A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible
within the watch area, in this case within 24 hours.
A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are
expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case within 24
A Storm Surge Warning means there is a danger of life-threatening
inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, in
this case within 24 hours in the indicated locations. For a
depiction of areas at risk, please see the National Weather Service
Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic, available at hurricanes.gov.
This is a life-threatening situation. Persons located within these
areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property
from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions.
Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local
A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life-
threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the
coastline, in this case within 24 hours. For a depiction of areas
at risk, please see the National Weather Service Storm Surge
Watch/Warning Graphic, available at hurricanes.gov.
A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are
possible within the watch area.
Interests elsewhere along the Gulf Coast of Florida should monitor
the progress of Eta. Additional warnings may be required along
portions of the Florida Peninsula today.
For storm information specific to your area, including possible
inland watches and warnings, please monitor products issued by your
local National Weather Service forecast office.
It doesn’t look like it’s going to be a good day – weatherwise, anyway – on this Veterans’ Day 2020.
The only good news about this storm is (a) that it is not a major (Category 2 or higher) hurricane; (b) the forecast track indicates that will make landfall tomorrow well to the north of where I live; and (c) Eta will be downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hits land.
Other than that…ugh.
I will probably work on The Tonic of Their Victory later this afternoon. I will read a bit more from the books I am using as historical references to understand the July battles on Normandy a bit better. I don’t know how much time I’ll spend reading or if I will actually do any writing – the grayness of the day and the forced stay indoors are making me fidgety and irritable.
On the good news front – UPS is delivering my new UHD 4K TV today. It was scheduled to be delivered yesterday, but the approach of Eta probably played havoc with the supply chain (although I can’t see how, because the TV set was shipped from Atlanta and not the Eta-affected city of Miami). Per UPS, my UHD TV was in Lakeland, FL this morning and is listed as Out for Delivery. Supposedly, it will be here before 9 PM, but…we’ll see.
That’s all the news I have for you right now, Dear Reader. I’ll probably chime in later with an update. Till then, though, stay safe, stay healthy, and be kind to others.
Hello, again, Dear Reader. It’s now a bit past 6 PM Eastern in New Hometown, Florida, and it is a gloomy evening. Even though the sun won’t set for about 37 minutes, a thunderstorm came and went through our area. It’s gone now, but while it was overhead, the storm darkened the sky and shattered the calm of the late afternoon with a brief but thunderous deluge.
Currently, the temperature is 79˚F (26˚C) under mostly clear skies, but there is a brisk wind warning for our county. With winds blowing from the east-southeast at 11 MPH (17 KM/H) and humidity at 86%, the feels-like temperature is also 79˚F (26˚C). The forecast calls for rain early in the evening, after which we can expect mostly cloudy skies and a low of 76˚F (25˚C)
And if that weren’t enough, check this out:
WTNT34 KNHC 102050
Tropical Storm Eta Advisory Number 42
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL AL292020
300 PM CST Tue Nov 10 2020
…TROPICAL STORM WARNING ISSUED FOR THE DRY TORTUGAS AND A TROPICAL
STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FOR PORTIONS OF THE WEST COAST OF FLORIDA…
…RISK OF FLOODING OVER SOUTH FLORIDA AND WESTERN CUBA CONTINUES…
SUMMARY OF 300 PM CST…2100 UTC…INFORMATION
ABOUT 90 MI…145 KM N OF THE WESTERN TIP OF CUBA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…60 MPH…95 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…N OR 360 DEGREES AT 7 MPH…11 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…992 MB…29.30 INCHES
WATCHES AND WARNINGS
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:
A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for the Dry Tortugas.
A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the west coast of
Florida from Englewood northward to Suwannee River.
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Dry Tortugas
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* Englewood to Suwannee River Florida
* The Cuban provinces of La Habana, Artemisa, Mayabeque, Pinar del
Rio, and the Isle of Youth
A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are
expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.
A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are
possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.
Interests elsewhere along the Gulf Coast of Florida should monitor
the progress of Eta.
As if 2020 wasn’t crazy enough, right?
I managed to make some progress with the manuscript for my NaNoWriMo 2020 project, The Tonic of Their Victory, but only a modest amount – a single 127-word paragraph. And even that paltry amount of material took me about an hour to do. I knew the image and mood I wanted to create, but finding the right words proved to be difficult. Painfully difficult, I should say.
I know that part of the problem – or perhaps most of it – is that Election 2020 is distracting and even distressing me more than I imagined. The current Con Man-in-Chief is refusing to concede the election and is falsely claiming victory, calling President-elect Joe Biden’s win at the polls a week ago “massive election fraud.” And although a handful of GOP Senators have congratulated the former Senator and Vice President, most of the Republican Party leadership is aiding and abetting Trump’s crusade to disrupt the transition by stalling and lying about a “stolen election.”
I tried hard to shut out the yammering from the MAGA President and his loyalists, but I am so disheartened that so many Americans still support this loud-mouthed, uncouth, and authoritarian wannabe who thinks he can do what he wants because he is Donald J. Trump. Disheartened…and to be honest, disgusted.
And now, of course, we have Tropical Storm Eta to worry about, as well.
I know I am not alone when I say, “I am so done with 2020!”
Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s noon here in New Hometown, Florida on Tuesday, November 10, 2020. Currently, the temperature outside is 83˚F (28˚C) under mostly sunny skies. With humidity at 82% and the wind blowing from the east southeast at 14 MPH (22 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 92˚F (33˚C). Today’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 87˚F (30˚C).
As difficult as it sometimes is to be living where I do now, I consider myself fortunate that I don’t live in my old townhouse in the Miami area anymore. As you probably know, a hurricane/tropical storm named Eta passed through the Florida Keys this weekend, and although my former house was not in the storm’s path, the rain and wind bands that swirl around tropical cyclones dumped a lot of rain in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties before Eta headed out into the Gulf of Mexico.
Again, even though my life here in New Hometown is not as happy as it was when I first moved here, at least I live in a house that (a) was far away from Eta and (b) is in better condition to withstand at least a Category 1 or even 2 hurricane simply because it is newer and not in need of major repairs and/or renovations. Plus I have people around me much of the time, so if a storm hits our area, I don’t have to weather it on my own or worry about unwelcome visits from my older half-sister Vicky.
In other news, I have not made much progress with NaNoWriMo 2020. I didn’t work on the manuscript for The Tonic of Their Victory yesterday, nor did I add anything to the work-in-progress the day before. I have 5,000 words (rounded off to the nearest hundred) so far, but I have no idea on how to write a decent action scene, and thus far I’ve avoided writing any dialogue-heavy chapters. Ugh. And if there is one thing that I do know about writing fiction, I can’t write a historical novel set in 1944 France and not have (a) action scenes or (b) chapters with well-written and relevant-to-the-story dialogue.
I will, of course, try to get some writing done this afternoon, but I think I’ll take a break from sitting at my desk for at least one hour. I woke up – again – before 5 AM so I’m tired and my brain feels like it is swaddled in cotton. I don’t take naps, and it’s much too hot and humid to go out for a walk, but I can grab a book, find a good reading spot in a room that isn’t this one, and read for a while. So…yeah…that sounds more appealing than sitting here trying to force the words out.
And with that, Dear Reader, I think I’ll end this brief post. I hope you are well, and that you will stay safe, stay healthy, and be kind to others. So long, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things!
John Williams/ Wiener Philharmoniker/ Anne-Sophie Mutter John Williams – Live in Vienna (Limited Deluxe Edition CD + Blu-ray)
On August 14, 2020, Deutsche Grammophon (a Berlin-based subsidiary of Universal Music Group and the oldest surviving recording company in the world) released
John Williams/ Wiener Philharmoniker/ Anne-Sophie Mutter John Williams – Live in Vienna (Limited Deluxe Edition CD + Blu-ray), a two-disc set that presents a performance by the Vienna Philharmonic of 15 film themes by five-time Oscar-winning composer John Williams.
Joining Maestro Williams and the Vienna Philharmonic is Anne-Sophie Mutter, one of the world’s best living violinists and a long-time friend of the legendary composer/conductor who wrote scores for the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Harry Potter films. Mutter, who is from Germany, met Williams when she was married to his long-time friend and fellow musician Andre Previn; in 2019, she collaborated with him for the first time when they recorded Across the Stars, which was also a Deutsche Grammophon release.
From the Deutsche Grammophon website:
When the legendary American film composer John Williams conducted the Vienna Philharmonic for the first time, Der Standard headlined its report “A Visit from God” and continued: “He was hailed by a standing, cheering ovation like God himself received by earthly disciples.” John Williams in Vienna documents this historical performance – “a very special honour” in the life of the composer.
Symphonic Hollywood sounds on the stage of the Vienna Musikverein: the world-famous orchestra plays iconic themes from Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and other milestones in film history. Star guest Anne-Sophie Mutter performs violin arrangements made especially for her by Williams himself.
Filmed in January at the Wiener Musikverein (or, in English, Golden Hall, House of the Society of Friends of Music) by director Michael Beyer and his crew, the filmed concert showcases two hours and nine minutes’ worth of the Vienna Philharmonic’s first foray into the world of Hollywood music.
Unlike Britain’s London Symphony Orchestra, which performed music used in the soundtracks for the first six Star Wars films, Superman, Dracula, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Wiener Philharmoniker had never played any material composed exclusively for the movies. In Austria – and to some extent in Germany, too – “classical music” conductors, performers, critics, and even listeners tend to place orchestral music into two categories: “serious” music by the masters – Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Berlioz, and Mahler; and “entertainment” music, which includes “beautiful music/easy listening,” pop, and film scores. (The Blu-ray delves deeper into this cultural curiosity in a conversation between John Williams and Anne-Sophie Mutter which is one of John Williams – Live in Vienna’s extra features.)
As the Bernhard Fleischer Moving Images (BFMI) webpage for John Williams – Live in Vienna describes the relationship between the players of the Wiener Philharmoniker and the 88-year-old Maestro Williams:
The Hollywood legend and the world-famous orchestra, joined by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, performed iconic themes from cinematic landmarks including Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park. The legendary American composer’s movie soundtracks are among the best-loved of all time and have received countless prestigious awards, including five Oscars, five Emmys, four Golden Globes and twenty-five Grammys.
Mutter captivated the Musikverein audience with a series of the virtuosic arrangements written specially for her by Williams, including ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ from the Harry Potter films, ‘Devil’s Dance’ from The Witches of Eastwick and the Theme from Sabrina. The conductor and the violinist formed their artistic partnership last year for their album Across The Stars, featuring many new arrangements of John Williams’ iconic movie themes for violin and orchestra.
John Williams admitted he’d been unsure how the Vienna Philharmonic would adapt to playing his music. “I couldn’t have been more happily surprised,” he said after their concerts. “I have to compliment the orchestra on their great virtuosity and fantastic ability to perform all styles of music.” During rehearsals the Vienna Philharmonic’s brass players asked John Williams if they could add the ‘Imperial March’ from Star Wars to the programme. “It was honestly one of the best presentations of that March I’ve ever heard”, Williams reflected afterwards. “They played it as though they owned it and I felt very grateful to them for giving me a chance to play it at the end of our programme.”
John Williams: Live in Vienna documents this historic collaboration between the composer, the Vienna Philharmonic, and soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter and their interpretations of the following compositions:
THE FLIGHT TO NEVERLAND from HOOK
EXCERPTS from CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
HEDWIG’S THEME from HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE
THEME from SABRINA
DONNYBROOK FAIR from FAR AND AWAY
DEVIL’S DANCE from THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK
ADVENTURES ON EARTH from E.T.
THEME from JURASSIC PARK
DARTMOOR, 1912 from WAR HORSE
OUT TO SEA | THE SHARK CAGE FUGUE from JAWS
MARION’S THEME from INDIANA JONES – RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
THE REBELLION IS REBORN from STAR WARS – THE LAST JEDI
LUKE & LEIA from STAR WARS – RETURN OF THE JEDI
MAIN THEME from STAR WARS
THEME from CINDERELLA LIBERTY
THE DUEL from THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN
REMEMBRANCES from SCHINDLER’S LIST
RAIDERS MARCH from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
IMPERIAL MARCH from STAR WARS
Wiener Philharmoniker John Williams, conductor Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
As noted earlier, John Williams/ Wiener Philharmoniker/ Anne-Sophie Mutter John Williams – Live in Vienna (Limited Deluxe Edition CD + Blu-ray) includes the “standard CD” album from Deutsche Grammophon (DG), John Williams: Live in Vienna. This album is an abridged presentation of the concert filmed by Bernhard Fleischer Moving Images for C-Major Entertainment, Servus TV, and DG, and contains 13 of the 20 selections performed in the video version.
Here is the tracklist from the audio-only CD:
John Williams: Live in Vienna
Flight to Neverland from “Hook”
Excerpts from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”
Devil’s Dance from “The Witches of Eastwick” (with Anne-Sophie Mutter)
Adventures on Earth from “E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial”
Theme from “Jurassic Park”
Dartmoor, 1912 from “War Horse”
Out to Sea and the Shark Cage Fugue from “Jaws”
Marion’s Theme from “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of The Lost Ark”
Main Title from “Star Wars: A New Hope”
The Rebellion is Reborn from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
Luke & Leia from “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi”
The Imperial March from “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”
The Raiders March from “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of The Lost Ark” (with Anne-Sophie Mutter)
I own quite a few albums – including original soundtracks from all nine of the Star Wars Skywalker Saga films, Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, as well as Philips and Sony Classical CDs released during and after his 1980-1994 tenure as principal conductor and music director of the Boston Pops Orchestra (for which he is the Laureate Conductor). I also have several “cover” albums of Maestro Williams’ movie themes recorded by such ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Gustavo Dudamel, conductor) and the National Philharmonic Orchestra (Charles Gerhardt, conductor).
These recordings contain many of the selections presented in John Williams/ Wiener Philharmoniker/ Anne-Sophie Mutter John Williams – Live in Vienna (Limited Deluxe Edition CD + Blu-ray), so I probably needed the CD half of this deluxe set like, well, a hole in my head.
However, even though I have a 2015 Blu-ray – which, coincidentally, is another Bernhard Fleishcher Moving Images/C Major Entertainment presentation – titled A John Williams Celebration, which documents the gala concert by the L.A. Philharmonic with Gustavo Dudamel at the opening then-new Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, I didn’t have any “in concert” DVDsfeaturing Maestro Williams conducting an orchestra throughout an entire program of music.
(A John Williams Celebration does have an “encore” performance of The Imperial March from The Empire Strikes Back in which Maestro Williams, who was the guest of honor on that occasion, conducts the L.A. Philharmonic, but that’s not quite the same thing as watching him lead an orchestra through an entire concert, like I saw Williams do in the old 1980s and early 1990s episodes of WGBH Boston’s Evening at Pops concerts.)
I stumbled upon John Williams/ Wiener Philharmoniker/ Anne-Sophie Mutter John Williams – Live in Vienna (Limited Deluxe Edition CD + Blu-ray) whilst I was doing a Google search for an officially-sanctioned DVD of a Boston Pops Orchestra concert from the “Williams era.” I couldn’t find one on Amazon, but I did see the DG/C Major Entertainment one in one of the search results, so I first went to the DG site to see if John Williams: Live in Vienna was worth getting.
Now, I have to be brutally honest. If the DG link had led me to only the standard CD audio – with its 13 tracks – I probably would have passed. As I said earlier, I have at least 10 Philips and Sony Classical albums – recorded between 1983 and 2017 – which contain most, if not all, of the musical material heard in the audio-only CD portion of John Williams/ Wiener Philharmoniker/ Anne-Sophie Mutter John Williams – Live in Vienna (Limited Deluxe Edition CD + Blu-ray)
What made me buy the two-disc Deluxe Edition was, of course, the live-in-concert film shot in the Musikverein earlier this year – shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything throughout the world – as Maestro Williams (looking for all the world like the Jedi Master of Orchestra Conductors and in excellent form for a man a few weeks short of his 88th birthday) led the Vienna Philharmonic and guest performer Anne-Sophie Mutter through a two-hours-and-nine-minutes concert that can be best described as a Best of John Williams program.
Of course, considering the breadth of Maestro Williams’ discography – the man has been active as a film music performer/composer/conductor since the 1950s, after all – John Williams/ Wiener Philharmoniker/ Anne-Sophie Mutter John Williams – Live in Vienna (Limited Deluxe Edition CD + Blu-ray) doesn’t present all of his iconic movie themes. Every fan of the composer will doubtlessly grouse that some of his or her favorites are not in here – I would have preferred, say, a rendition of Love Theme from Superman over Nice to Be Around from 1973’s Cinderella Liberty, or The Superman March over Devil’s Dance from The Witches of Eastwick, partly because I am a huge fan of Superman: The Movie, but mostly because I have not seen either Cinderella Liberty or The Witches of Eastwick.
But these are minor complaints, at least about the Blu-ray portion of the two-disc deluxe set. The main draw for me wasn’t precisely the musical selections – although it was wonderful noting that the piece that made me a Williams fan – Main Title from Star Wars: A New Hope – back in 1977 is included in the program, as are The Raiders March from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark and Luke & Leia from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. (Original Trilogy fans will note that the Star Wars portion of the program leans heavily in favor of the 1977-1983 films; no themes from the 1999-2005 prequels are in John Williams/ Wiener Philharmoniker/ Anne-Sophie Mutter John Williams – Live in Vienna, and only one Sequel Trilogy theme, The Rebellion is Reborn from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is heard here.)
Another bonus is the onstage presence of 57-year-old Anne-Sophie Mutter, one of the world’s best living violinists. Known for her elegance – she performs in strapless gowns because slippery fabric that would otherwise cover her shoulders makes it hard for her to play the violin – and her prodigious musicianship, Mutter wins the audience over with a fine blend of keen intellect, passionate interpretations of the material – some of which was arranged for her by Williams – and femininity. Mutter has been performing both serious and entertainment music since she was 13 (she made her professional debut in 1976), and her poise, musical instincts, and sheer joy of performing in front of a live audience shine through in her on-stage appearances.
All in all, John Williams/ Wiener Philharmoniker/ Anne-Sophie Mutter John Williams – Live in Vienna (Limited Deluxe Edition CD + Blu-ray) is a good deal, considering that you get a CD and a Blu-ray in the same package.
Author’s Note: Parts of this blog post originally appeared on my personal Facebook page.
Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s mid-morning (almost 7 AM Eastern as I start this post) here in New Hometown, Florida. Currently, the temperature is 75˚F (24˚C) under partly cloudy skies. The sun rose just one minute ago, so there’s not much “daylight” out there, and with humidity at 89% and a strong 25 MPH (41 KM/H) wind blowing from the east-northeast, the feels-like temperature is 75˚F (24˚C). Today’s forecast calls for scattered rain showers and a high of 82˚F (28˚C); tonight we can expect cloudy skies and a low temperature of 75˚F (24˚C).
It’s six days after Election Day 2020, and President Donald J. Trump is still refusing to concede defeat, even though former Vice President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the projected winners of the Presidential election and the Electoral College doesn’t finalize the process till the electors cast their votes on December 14. His reaction to the loss has been predictably Trumpian – he continues to tweet accusations that there was massive voter fraud involving the mail-in ballots, and he spent quite a bit of time last night on Twitter, retweeting clips from Trump-friendly conservative commentators repeating the “we wuz robbed” conspiracy theories and railing against the media for “calling” the election.
For instance, 17 hours ago, Trump tweeted:
Since when does the Lamestream Media call who our next president will be? We have all learned a lot in the last two weeks!
So, of course, Trump will – true to form – try to challenge the nation’s choice by taking his “fake news” about widespread voter fraud and other Democratic-inspired shenanigans to overturn the election returns, while his loyalists in and outside government try to impede the transition process by any means necessary – including patently illegal ones.
For instance, the Trump Administration official charged with releasing the necessary funds to begin the transition, General Services Administration head Emily Murphy, refuses to do so. Per a story in Politico.com:
Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), must make an “ascertainment” that Biden has won the presidency before the transition can contact federal agencies or access the millions of dollars set aside for the team. While the Associated Press and POLITICO have determined that Biden has won the election, President Donald Trump has not conceded and recounts are ongoing. “The simple fact is this election is far from over,” Trump said in a statement Saturday. “Legal votes decide who is president, not the news media.”
This has put Murphy in an awkward position.
As a rule, the GSA avoids any hint of partisanship. Even as the media declared Biden the winner on Saturday, the GSA was reluctant to immediately follow, saying in a statement that “an ascertainment has not yet been made. GSA and its Administrator will continue to abide by, and fulfill, all requirements under the law.”
Ugh. I’ve never seen a President and an Administration so openly disdainful toward the democratic process, the free press, and the express wishes of 75,000,000 Americans who voted for change in the 2020 elections.
You know, I voted for Joe Biden not only as a rejection of Donald J. Trump’s policies, public utterances, and personal conduct during his one term as President, but also because there is no way I can forget how he publicly mocked Serge Kovaleski, a reporter for The New York Times who – like me – is physically disabled, at a November 2015 campaign rally in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Per the Wikipedia entry on Kovaleski:
“You’ve got to see this guy: ‘Uhh, I don’t know what I said. Uhh, I don’t remember,’ he’s going like ‘I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what I said.’ ” Trump bent his wrist and flailed his arms repeatedly as he spoke, drawing laughter from the audience.
I was born and lived in Miami, Florida for most of my life. As a result, many of my friends and high school classmates are Cuban-American. And while it is fair to say that not all of them vote Republican or support Trump or Trump’s policies, it is also accurate to point out that most of them do.
With that particular group in mind, yesterday morning I wrote this on my Facebook timeline:
To my Trump-supporting friends:
If you ever wondered why I do not like Donald Trump (either as President or as a person), look no further than this (image).
I do not know Serge Kovaleski, the South African-born investigative reporter for the New York Times that Trump mocked in November of 2015, when the now lame-duck President was still “Candidate Trump.” And since I don’t have a digital subscription to the Times, I have never read any of his stories.
What I DO know is that back when I was an independent voter and still trying to decide which party to back (remember, in April Hillary Clinton was not the nominee) or which candidate I liked, I already knew Trump was never going to get my vote. Ever.
Well, it’s not because I hate America (I don’t). It’s not because I want Communism (some of you call it socialism, but that’s because Communists hijacked the term and perverted it), because I do not want socialism. And I do not want “free stuff,” either.
My reasons for not liking Trump are many. Most of them have nothing to do with politics, but rather with his character as a person. He is, as the late, great Tara Brock used to say jokingly about students who cut up too much in her class, “rude, crude, and socially unacceptable.” (Ms. Brock, of course, was kidding, and we knew she was kidding. When I say it about Donald Trump, though, I mean it.)
I don’t know how to perform the mental gymnastics I see my Trump-supporting friends do when they try to defend “their” President. I do have – unfortunately – a long memory for many of the things Trump has done in his previous life as a “businessman,” including calling news media outlets (often the same ones he derides now as FAKE NEWS in his role as (blessedly) “lame duck Prez”) and pretending to be a Trump Organization PR staffer to feed reporters self-serving reports about himself. He also stiffed contractors who worked on his buildings, changed political parties several times when it proved expedient, was unfaithful to all three of his wives, and his charity was shut down for fraudulent behavior.
And, of course, Trump is a bigot, despite his appointment of a black neurosurgeon (and former Presidential candidate), Ben Carson, as his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (a role for which Carson was not qualified). See, Carson is a black man, but he is the type of black man who ingratiates himself with the white elites out of financial and social gain and tends to identify with said white elites. He’s not necessarily EVIL in the same way that Stephen Miller is EVIL, but he’s like the French who collaborated with Nazi Germany for venal self-interest and ideological sympathies.
Trump and his father Fred were notoriously discriminatory against blacks and other minorities when they were basically NYC slumlords. The Department of Justice even took them to court back in the 1970s for that. And Trump is known to say racist things, such as the comment that his black accountants are lazy and untrustworthy, and that he prefers that his money-counters be Jewish.
I also recall that when five black and Latino teenagers (the Central Park Five) were coerced into making a false confession after a young white banker was assaulted and raped by a serial rapist (who later confessed) and thus wrongfully prosecuted and convicted, it was Donald J. Trump who placed full-page ads in several NYC newspapers calling for the restoration of the death penalty and calling for the execution of these young men. To this day, Trump insists that the Central Park Five are guilty and that the State of New York erred in vacating their conviction and paying them restitution for their wrongful prosecution and incarceration.
Well…I could cite a million other reasons why I rejected Trump in 2016 (much to your dismay), but the incident where he mocked Serge Kovaleski was the one defining moment in the 2016 Republican campaign that “sealed the deal” for me.
As all of you who know me in person are aware, I have cerebral palsy. I am lucky that I have a relatively mild case of it, but it still has caused me a lot of heartache and frustration since I was a kid. I have a tough time controlling involuntary muscle movements, which makes me feel somewhat insecure and not-quite-attractive to the opposite sex. (And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, but it’ll suffice.)
And I am sure that you know I studied journalism in high school and college. I wanted to be a reporter like Kovaleski. I identify as a journalist, even though I don’t have a degree, and I take “your” President’s and your party’s attacks on the free press both personally and seriously.
So when many of you, especially my high school classmates, decided to embrace Trump over any other Republican candidate, not only was I sad, but I was morally outraged and utterly disappointed that you, people I liked and even loved, could support a man who is so venal, dishonest, and mean-spirited.
That is my main reason for not joining the MAGA red-cap brigade.
And that, Dear Reader, is why I did not vote for Donald Trump, either in 2016 or in 2020.
In the first week of October, knowing that Postmaster Louis DeJoy, a wealthy Republican and Trump supporter, was doing everything he could – including cutting U.S. Post Office employees’ work hours, removing mailboxes for “replacement,” and dismantling sorting machines and other equipment – to hinder voting by mail efforts made necessary by the global COVID-19 pandemic, I cast my vote (by mail, of course) for former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA).
Why did I do so?
Well, it wasn’t, as Trump supporters love to say in their inane comments on Facebook, to “get freebies from the government,” “take people’s guns away,” or (perhaps the most ridiculous charge levied at Democratic Party voters) “turn America into another Communist country like Cuba or Venezuela.”
No, my friends, I had more valid reasons to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and most of them involve, in one way or another, a repudiation of a certain Donald J. Trump, his public behavior, and his policies.
When I cast my vote (by mail) back in early October for the Biden-Harris ticket, I knew that it would be, at best, a symbolic vote. I live in a neighborhood where Democrats are a minority and in a state (Florida) where one party (the GOP) controls the state legislature and the governor’s mansion. Barring a miracle, there simply was no way that Florida would flip, especially with South Florida being dominated by the reliably Republican Cuban-American bloc.
I still voted “blue’ to add to the popular vote, though. I did so because I knew that many Americans from all parties are tired of the name-calling and rudeness from the man in the White House, embarrassed about our diminished reputation among our friends and allies, and frustrated that instead of making America great again, he emboldened Russia, North Korea, and other hostile countries into making themselves more aggressive and dangerous.
I also voted for Biden-Harris because as President of the United States, Trump’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic was erratic, chaotic, and he made decisions that were based not on scientific or medical facts but primarily on the possible effects of the pandemic (which, contrary to his prediction, did not vanish on November 3) and his chances for re-election. He even admitted this to journalist Bob Woodward in an interview earlier this year that he “downplayed” the dangers from the coronavirus to not create a “panic,” even though internal emails from the various agencies charged to deal with the crisis show that Trump knew how dangerous the virus is.
So, yes. When I cast my vote for the Biden-Harris Ticket, I dedicated my action to the 237,127 Americans, regardless of their political or religious beliefs, who have died because of Trump’s self-centeredness, arrogance, and incompetence.
And, of course, I voted against Trump in memory of my mother, who was a proud Democratic Party voter since she became a U.S. citizen in 1996 and cast her first ballot for Bill Clinton and was able, though just barely, to help re-elect Barack Obama to the White House in 2012. (She died in July of 2015, so she didn’t have to live through the four-year-long Trump Circus.)
It’s night here in New Hometown, Florida on this Saturday, November 7, 2020. It is nice and cool outside; the current temperature is 76˚F (24˚C) under partly cloudy skies. With the wind blowing from the east-northeast (with emphasis on the east) at 18 MPH (28 KM/H) and humidity at 78%, the feels-like temperature is 76˚F (24˚C). The low temperature tonight is expected to reach 72˚F (22˚C).
Well, Dear Reader, it appears as though Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the President- and Vice President Elect. All of the major news organizations have called the 2020 election as a Democratic Party victory over President Donald J. Trump (R), even though the latter is claiming that the election was stolen from him via massive voter fraud. He is also making noises about taking his fight to the Supreme Court and contest the results of the election.
And, as expected, his followers are buying into the “We wuz robbed!” hysteria. Here are some random Trump supporters’ comments that I have seen on Facebook:
S.C. said: There’s millions and millions who are disgusted! Get ready for a war like non before! We will wait for the lawsuits! If he ends up being inaugurated just pray! You will need it for what’s coming. Too many people feel cheated because of the illegal practices of the disgusting dems! We will prevail! Just watch!
And when someone told S.C. that he didn’t think she could run a mile, much less fight in a civil war, she added this comment:
That’s why I have guns! To protect myself from liberals! You really are naive! You really dont have any idea what’s coming do you?
C.O.C. is not even a U.S. citizen, but he weighed in as a Trump fan from Ireland: Trump has started zero wars in 4 years, even turned down an opportunity to attack Iran when they shot down a US drone, after he saw the retaliation estimated deathtoll of 150.
When he withdrew Obama’s aircover for ISIS , Russia bombed them back into the Stone Age.
Obomber dropped a bomb for every 20 minutes of his bloody 8 year tenure.
He oversaw 8 overthrows, enabling genocide and rape enslavement of Christian and Yassidi minorities..
And Libya turned into a wasteland with weekly negro slave markets in Tripoli, people traffickers pushing Africans into the Mediterranean in dinghies for $8000 payment, and Copts in orange jumpsuits beheaded on the beach.
Trump was arrogant and independently wealthy. Not the product of 47 years mired in swamp politics , and owed no-one any favours.
Biden is a puppet, will be used by hawks to warmonger, if he lasts or they don’t replace him.
I could probably find and add more of these bizarre and disturbing commentary, but I’ll spare you the aggravation.
I, of course, am thrilled that Biden and Harris defeated the Trump-Pence ticket and will send those two enemies of democracy and decency out of Washington, DC and to the dustbin of history.
Of course, these distractions have not been conducive to my writing efforts for NaNoWriMo 2020. Despite my best intentions, my word count for today was 0 out of the average 1667 needed to reach the 50K-word mark by November 30. I could probably still reach that goal by the deadline, but I’d have to focus like a laser on The Tonic of Their Victory, and focusing that intensely is often difficult for me, especially in stressful times.
As a matter of fact, I had to summon every ounce of determination I have to be able to write this post for A Certain Point of View, Too. Part of me wants to celebrate what is likely the end of Trump’s political ambitions, while another part of me dreads the reactions of his cult-like following. Hopefully comments such as S.C.’s are just empty bluster, but I fear that some Trump supporters are capable of committing acts of domestic terrorism and are willing to use force if their “Greatest President EVER” is officially declared the loser of the 2020 election.
Hopefully tomorrow will be a far more productive writing day for me.
Hi, there, Dear Reader. As I start this post, it is just a bit past noon on Friday, November 6, 2020 here in my tiny corner of Florida. Currently, the temperature is 82˚F (28˚C) under mostly sunny skies. With the wind blowing from the east-northeast at 13 MPH (22 KM/H) and humidity at 71%, the feels-like temperature is 86˚F (29˚C). The forecast calls for a high temperature of 86˚F (29˚C) and mostly cloudy skies. It will, of course, cool down at night, when we can expect mostly cloudy skies and a low of of 70˚F (21˚C).
Today has been a vexing day on many fronts. First of all, I woke up this morning feeling doubly-stressed due to what I call “Election Anxiety” and my inability to write more than 250 words yesterday for my NaNoWriMo project, The Tonic of Their Victory: A Novel of Normandy. I shouldn’t be overly anxious over the election; Joe Biden has a good lead (253 electoral votes to Donald Trump’s 214 in the most conservative estimate – Facebook’s), so I think 45’s Presidency is essentially a lame-duck one now.
But Trump and his MAGA/KAG bunch are not graciously accepting the possibility that he will lose, and I fear that the more extreme groups will start behaving like wannabe stormtroopers, especially against people they know are not Trump supporters.
So, yes…Even though I’m trying to immerse myself in 1944 France and the Battle of Normandy, it’s hard not to fret about what is going in my country and the world outside it. The COVID-19 pandemic is worsening in the U.S. rather than getting better, and half of America’s population apparently hates the other half with a passion.
The only time in my life that I remember the U.S. being so convulsed by political and social strife was during the Vietnam War era, and even then my family and I lived in Bogota, Colombia, 1,500 miles away from my hometown of Miami. I was young – we moved to South America when I was three in 1966 and came back in 1972 around the same time that the war was winding down and I was nine – so everything I know about that era comes from books and documentaries. But I knew there was a bad vibe of division that only settled down to a slow simmer after Richard Nixon resigned in the summer of 1974 as a result of the Watergate scandal, then began to gradually heat up again during the Reagan years. Trumpism is merely the latest incarnation of what I call “conservative white America’s temper tantrums.”
I would rather lose myself in the characters and situations of The Tonic of Their Victory, but “election anxiety” is giving me – as they used to say – the “heebie-jeebies.”
One of the reasons behind my anxious state of mind is Trump’s dishonesty and his refusal to accept that he did not win the 2020 election.
More specifically, I am bothered by his claims that there was fraud galore in the mail-in ballots.
As I wrote on my Facebook wall earlier today:
Those of us who are not – and never would-have-been – Trump supporters knew, KNEW, that he would lie and cheat to stay in the White House if he saw that he was going to lose the election.
We knew it as long ago as late this summer, when he started railing that mail-in ballots would lead to “massive fraud,” that he would file lawsuits to stop vote counts in states where Trump was behind.
Some of you who are Trump fans went along with this before people started opting for vote-by-mail because those of us who are sane and want to live just a bit longer with healthy lungs do not want to get COVID-19 from infected people in lines at the polls. I saw so many people putting “No Vote by Mail” memes and demands that EVERYONE had to vote in person that I had to unfollow a platoon’s worth of people on my friends’ list.
The irony of all of this Republican pearl-clutching about mail-in votes is rich, and it covers several salient points that I will throw out there just for the fun of it.
1. Trump himself voted by mail. (Melania did not, but she did not wear a mask when she went to her precinct near Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach….even though “FLOTUS” had had COVID-19 just a few weeks ago)
2. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, has done everything in his power to slow or hinder the vote-by-mail process, including the removal of sorting equipment and, possibly, the deliberate mishandling of ballots. (I tracked my mail-in ballot all the way through the process and was happy to see that it was counted.) So if the election counts are slow, you can thank Trump for that.
3. Trump supporters in Arizona went armed with long guns and pistols to a vote counting station to demand that election staffers from both parties STOP the count prematurely. (So much for the mantra “law and order.” And the only thing THAT brilliant move did was to have that particular station closed off to the public and media…and Arizona seems to have gone for Biden.)
4. Trump lost Arizona, I think, because he was so nasty to the late John S. McCain III. McCain was never a particular favorite of mine as a POLITICIAN, but he was the grandson and son of two great Navy admirals, and – despite Trump supporters’ claims to the contrary – comported himself honorably as a POW in Vietnam. Trump’s insults aimed at McCain might have turned off GOP voters and helped flip Arizona for Biden.
Nice ironies, no?
I will, of course, try to get into the write-the-damn-novel mindset and write more in my manuscript. But in order to do that, I need to get away from Facebook and other social media and read from either my writing books or my World War II ones. And I should listen to music of the period to get that 1944 vibe in my brain.
And with that, Dear Reader, I must beg your leave. I hope that you are well, and that you stay healthy, safe, and calm, especially if you live in the U.S.!
Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Thursday, November 5, 2020. The current temperature is 78˚F (25˚C) under sunny skies. With the wind blowing from the east-northeast at 10 MPH (16 KM/H) and humidity at 73%, the feels-like temperature is 78˚F (25˚C). Today’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies, lots of humidity, and a high of 84˚F (29˚C). Tonight, we can expect clear skies and a low of 68˚F (20˚C).
About an hour ago, I went to “my” bench at the park where I usually go to get a bit of fresh air and sunlight, and to read from Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. The temperature was a tad lower then, of course, so it felt good to be out of my room – and the house, too – for a while. I did not stay out there too long, though. I’m operating – momentarily, anyway – with only one cup of café con leche and not much else in my system, so the rising temperature and the modest amount of exercise from the walk made me feel tired and light-headed. So I read only a few paragraphs from On Writing, texted a couple of friends, snapped a few photos, then hightailed it back to the house. All in all, I think I was outside for 30 minutes. Not as long as yesterday (I was outside for a glorious hour!), but better than not going for a walk or enjoying the park at all.
Today I will be working on The Tonic of Their Victory for NaNoWriMo 2020. As I said in yesterday’s blog post, I needed to take the day off from writing due to the stresses caused by the still unresolved Presidential election. I have a hard time focusing on writing projects when I’m nervous, and Trump’s whining about “mail vote fraud” and his yammering supporters’ demanding that the vote counts be stopped – where Trump is behind – or allowed to continue – where Trump is slightly ahead – are making me extremely nervous. So I am already one day and 1,667 words behind on the challenge. Ugh, ugh, and ugh.
I have no idea how many words I will be able to produce today, or even if what I write will make any sense when I finish this project. I will try my best to at least get 1,667 words done by the end of my writing day, although I think I will not attempt to write all of them in one non-stop marathon. Instead, I will take breaks every two or three hours, even if it means I will be writing at night after I have dinner. (I also don’t think I will attempt to write 3,334 words to make up for the deficit caused by my taking a break yesterday. I’ll do what I can, of course, but since this is just an exercise to get writers to write on a daily basis, I am not going to kill myself over the almighty word count. I’ll be happy with a 2,000-word count, if I can achieve it. Anything beyond that will be gravy.)
I will be having brunch in a bit, so I will take my leave of you here, my friend. I really don’t have many new developments to share about my life – for good or ill – anyway, so this is all the news that’s fit to print…at least for now.
So, wherever you are and whatever your life situation may be, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.
Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s Wednesday, November 4, 2020, and it’s mid-afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida. Currently, the temperature is 79˚F (26˚C) under mostly sunny skies. With the wind blowing from the east-northeast at 16 MPH (25 KM/H) and humidity at 53%, the feels-like temperature is 79˚F (26˚C). Tonight’s forecast calls for clear skies and a low of 66 (19).
I decided to take a day off from the NaNoWriMo 2020 challenge. My mind is preoccupied with the elections here in the U.S., and I don’t think I can focus properly on writing anything beyond this blog post. I’m too worried about the results, to be honest; I don’t think America can survive a second Trump Administration.
The fact that the election is still up in the air after Trump’s disastrously bad Presidency shows that the division we saw in 2016 was not a temporary blip but is the “new normal.” The schism between conservatives and liberals in this country is almost as wide and deep as the one that existed between the North and the South before and during the Civil War of the 1860s. In another era, perhaps as recently as the 1990s, if a President had mishandled a pandemic and helped usher in an economic disaster at the same time, his chances for re-election would have evaporated like a fine morning mist under a hot, fiery sun.
Yet, here we are, with Joe Biden leading by a razor-thin margin of 13 electoral votes, with several states still not reporting a projected winner. If Biden wins, it will not be by a landslide. (The other side of this coin, though, is that if Trump wins, it won’t be by a landslide, either!)
So, as much as I want to participate in the NaNoWriMo contest, I will consider today to be a day off.
And with that, my friend, I shall say “Adios” to you as well, at least until tomorrow. I hope your day has gone well, though! So…stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.