Although we should give thanks every day, this is the one week each year when we feel compelled to find things for which to be thankful. So, in keeping with this tradition, I will offer my thanks for some of the these things. My list, of course, would be different if I were to present this column next week, so I am just offering a snapshot of what is rattling around in my mind at the moment.
Every morning as I enjoy my oversized bowl of cereal, I am thankful for the existence of curated news apps. Yes, I still like to read an “old school” newspaper while I create mush in my bowl, but I also look forward to waking up to a much larger selection, thanks to apps like Apple News, Flipboard, News 360, and the usual roundup of CNN, USA Today, The Guardian, and Reuters. Not only can I keep up with politics and world affairs, but I can also peruse entertainment, music, movies, and various technological gadget apps. And I also can flip through the glossy pages of several magazines, thanks to my Texture subscription. Sure beats having to stumble over stacks of largely unread magazines in my living room (and cheaper too).
I am thankful for books that accompany me through life, and I know I have far too many of them at home and in my office. Even though I read far more nonfiction than fiction I am thankful for novels like THE GREAT GATSBY, the 1925 F. Scott Fitzgerald novel that doesn’t have a single uninteresting or wasted sentence. Turn to any page and read any random sentence and be amazed at the power of words. Not many novels offer passages like this one, which describes a first kiss between Gatsby and Daisy: “. . . .when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath . . . .” And then there is this incredible passage from John Steinbeck’s EAST OF EDEN: “A kind of light spread out from her. And everything changed color. And the world opened out. And a day was good to awaken to. And there were no limits to anything. And the people of the world were good and handsome. And I was not afraid any more.” And then there’s the last chapter from Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Leonardo da Vinci that lists the man things we can learn from his life: things like always being curious, seeing the world with new eyes, and learning about the virtues of procrastination (I particularly like that one).
I often say there is nothing but music, with everything else being merely a distraction. When it comes to music, I agree with Mikal Gilmore, who confesses in his book of essays, NIGHT BEAT: A SHADOW HISTORY OF ROCK & ROLL, that music “defined my convictions and my experience of what it meant (and still means) to be an American, and it gave me a moral (and of course immoral) guidance that nothing else in my life ever matched, short of dreams of sheer generous love or of sheer ruthless rapacity or destruction.” Today, I count among my favorites Bach’s 6th Brandenburg Concerto, Petula Clark’s “Downtown,” Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” Jon Lord’s Hammond Organ solo on Deep Purple’s “Hush,” Bill Evans’ “My Foolish Heart,” and the tracks on Taylor Swift’s new “Reputation” album I won’t hear until they are available on Apple Music, hopefully by the time you read this sentence.
I am thankful for the miracle of motion pictures, which today appear on many screens other than the one found inside the tiny theatre of my youth. This week I am particularly thankful for two among the hundreds I count as my favorites–”Personal Shopper,” this year’s psychological thriller starring Kristen Stewart that offers a thought-provoking take on how movies are modern-day ghost stories, and “Pandora’s Box,” the 1929 silent film starring the spellbinding Louise Brooks. For some reason, I find eerie connections between these two years-apart movies. Ask me next week and I will give you a different perspective and different movies.
I no longer watch commercial television–if such a thing still exists–but I do watch lots of TV in different formats. The history of television is one of my interests, and I have many shows on DVD and Blu-Ray. For me, the greatest series is “Mad Men,” I often rewatch those wonderful “Columbo” episodes, and I still love “The Twilight Zone.” I have just about finished the “Penny Dreadful” series, have given up on “The Walking Dead,” and look forward to finally getting a copy–perhaps for Christmas–of the six-disc “Ernie Kovacs Collection,” starring perhaps the most anarchic person to ever appear on the small screen (back in the pre-Facebook era of the 1950s). If I could choose one person to bring back from the dead it would be Kovacs. If I could choose another it would be Groucho Marx, and why not all his brothers as a bonus?
I will bring this thankful column to a close by offering heartfelt thanks for someone more special than all the people I’ve mentioned this week–my three-month-old granddaughter, who I love watching more than any movie. Here’s hoping she will enjoy her first Thanksgiving by offering thanks for her pacifier, bottle, and Huggies.
See you next week.