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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 1/15/21

Good morning,


This “anniversary edition” should have made it for the 300th edition last week but…well…events got in the way.


Three hundred days. Three. Hundred Days. 20 pages. 280,000 words. Hard to believe. I’ll talk more about this another day. Right now, some “favorites,” some new things, some things that come from the first two months of the Musings, when this pandemic was young…


NATIONAL COVID RELIEF DAY AND “WE JUST BARELY ESCAPED TOTALITARIANISM” DAY


Years from now, our children will tell our grandchildren and great-grandchildren about the winter of 2020 and how humanity bound together to beat COVID. They will recount the courage of the front-line workers and the scientists. They will recall the nurses who received the first vaccinations. They will recall the scientists, the public health professionals, the physicians, and the pharmaceutical companies for what they have done.


And, as a postscript, perhaps in that very same conversation, they will recall the rantings of a president who, by that time will have been universally rejected by history as among our very worst, showed little empathy for the sick and dying, how he tried to crowd out the historic tragedy of COVID and the subsequent scientific triumph with a narrative all about himself and his perceived grievances over an election he lost spectacularly.


WORDS OF THE YEAR


Thank you, Geoff Gold, for pointing out a few more “words of the year”:


“Here’s the deal” (really a phrase, but popularized by Joe Biden)

“Defund the police” (sadly, a poor description of a different idea)

And the ever-popular “Covfefe”….!!!!!


MUSIC


“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” by U2, performed by Postmodern Jukebox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EbLlgKFk9c


MOST EMBLEMATIC TWEET


“MOST CORRUPT ELECTION IN U.S. HISTORY!”


BEST TV RECOMMENDATION


These British shows are so extraordinary that they warranted an article in the Atlantic, which goes on to break out exactly why they’re so good. Among other things they note are the relationships of well written characters, the fact that many of the principal investigators are women (see, e.g., the fantastic Happy Valley and Broadchurch, as well as the great ensemble production, Line of Duty). The issues that the police face in their personal lives are real. They have difficult marital problems, suffer sexual harassment at work, experience fits of depression, and recall post traumatic distress.


A BLOT ON OUR HUMANITY—TRUMP’S PARDON OF WAR CRIMINALS


The pardoning of four war criminals employed by the Blackwater security firm. Murderers with fabricated witness testimony. These are four people found guilty of murdering 17 defenseless civilians in Iraq. It is difficult to find justification for the pardoning of non-contrite murderers, whose deplorable actions have besmirched our reputation and are a blot on our humanity.


BEST MOVIE RECOMMENDATION


If Capra or Dickens brings a tear to your eye and you’re looking to feel good while watching a beautifully filmed movie, thy Armando Iannucci’s ThePersonal History of David Copperfield, starring Dev Patel and a multi-racial cast. In the end it all “comes together,” as most Dickens does, in a delightful fashion. As for Capra, there hardly is a more apropos movie in these fraught times than Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.


BEST DOCUMENTARY


On the documentary front, there have been a number of retrospectives on classic musical groups. Last week we watched one recommended by many friends, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart, on HBO. It is a fascinating story of a musical family, a retrospective on an era, and the story of a group that remade itself repeatedly (with, arguably, three different incarnations), and produced a vast library of hits. The story is bittersweet, with several of the brothers Gibb suffering premature death. Most interestingly, Barry Gibb says their greatest thrill was not their performing, but their music writing. It’s amazing the number of tunes the brothers wrote for other performers. Mike Sfregola recommends another documentary, set in the same era, called Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President, which he describes as a great stroll down memory lane.


BEST BOOKS


Warlight, by Michael Ondaatje (the author of The English Patient). The parents of two kids in London near the end of World War II move to Singapore. They are deposited by their parents in the care of their boarder and an apparent scalawag (in the vein of Fagin), nicknamed “The Moth.” They meet a number of interesting characters through the Moth, including “The Darter,” a man in a questionable import business. The kids have suspicions about the involvements of their parents and friends in the war effort and the plot shifts to them in adulthood, trying to understand their past and who their parents were and shedding light on their extraordinary story.


BEST BROADWAY VIDEO


The new year is here. And with it, I hope we will find ourselves in theatres shortly. In the meantime, here are Jimmy Fallon and Andrew Rannels (star of Book of Mormon and the new TV version of Prom) doing an amazing medley of Broadway songs to tell the story of 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjbLY46Vaq8


BEST QUOTATION


With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

-- T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets


BEST PRESCIENT COMMENT FROM MARCH


From Emily Landon early in the pandemic:


“‘The healthy and optimistic among us will doom the vulnerable.”


“It’s really hard to feel like you’re saving the world when you’re watching Netflix from your couch. But if we do this right, nothing happens. A successful shelter-in-place means you’re going to feel like it was all for nothing, and you’d be right: Because nothing means that nothing happened to your family. And that’s what we’re going for here.”


BEST HUMOR


Thank you to my cousin, Chris, with whom I grew up and who shares many of my most annoying quirks, for offering this musing:


As I walk the streets, I’m looking at the number of people and cars. Guessing this is what life will be like for us after The Rapture, except the bars and clubs will be open 24/7 and there will be enough toilet paper for everyone…


BEST MEME




Have a great weekend,


Glenn

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