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What's on this playlist?
We hit the road for Thanksgiving, and as I prepared to back my car down the driveway I fired up Tidal’s “Thanksgiving Classics” playlist, wondering to myself, “What’s a Thanksgiving classic? What’s on this playlist?”
First up was Vince Guaraldi’s “Thanksgiving Theme” from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which I could accept, followed by a familiar voice, Bing Crosby, singing “I’ve Got Plenty to Be Thankful For” from the soundtrack of Holiday Inn. After that came Sam & Dave’s “I Thank You,” Leon Bridge’s “Coming Home,” and Otis Redding singing “I Want to Thank You.”
Sister Sledge then came through the speaker, singing “We Are Family,” which, okay, I’ll accept. Thanksgiving is a time of being together as a family. But then came “Gratitude” by Earth, Wind & Fire and The O’Jays singing “Family Reunion,” and…I was out. It was time to switch over to a ZZ Top Essentials list, which includes a rendition of “I Want to Thank You” I much prefer.
I browsed down the list later and saw that Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros made the collection with “Home” which is a song I like, and Andrew Gold’s “Thank You for Being a Friend” is a song which, for those that know me well, I’ve spun hundreds of times. Other artists on the list include Bob Marley & The Wailers, Dido, Kelly Clarkson, The Cranberries, Alanis Morissette, and The Highwomen. Louis Armstong’s “What a Wonderful World” concludes the set.
But in all my years of celebrating Thanksgiving, not once has someone said, “Fire up the Thanksgiving tunes!” No one has said, “You know, it isn’t Thanksgiving without listening to Boz Scaggs singing ‘Thanks To You’ and a little taste of Drake’s ‘Keep the Family Close.’”
Christmas tunes? Yes. Every year.
Thanksgiving tunes? No.
If you have had a different experience, I’m all ears. If there are songs you immediately associate with Thanksgiving, hit me up.
As for me, the only song I associate with Thanksgiving is the theme for the NFL on Fox.
I’ve made progress on Peter Brown’s Augustine of Hippo and I’m grinding away at Russell F. Weigley’s The American Way of War. Holidays usually present me with opportunities to make more headway on my reading list than a normal week.
Sights and Sounds
This week I watched The Suicide Squad (2021) and Old (2021). I’ve also been viewing Netflix’s live action Cowboy Bebop.
I thought Old was a nicely done thriller. After I was done watching it, I gave Molly a complete plot summary and outlined a few of the key questions the film raised.
M. Night Shyamalan’s Old, like many of his other films, ushers us into a mystery. A group of tourists vacationing at a tropical resort are given a special opportunity by the resort manager to visit a private beach for a day. Initially, two families are dropped and told to make there way through a passageway snaking through an immense rock cliff. On the other side is an isolated beach in a beautiful cove. There is also a stranger who preceded them, and, soon thereafter, one other couple who was brought alone late.
Soon after settling on the beach the horror begins. A body is discovered. An elderly member of one family dies. A dog dies. There is no cell reception. And a mysterious force repels any attempt to leave the beach. Anyone trying to pass back through the cleft in the rock blacks out, is stumbles backward onto the beach. The children begin to grow at an abnormal rate. Time is compressed. Every half hour is the equivalent of two years. Characters theorize aloud as to what is happening. They seem to perceive, a little quickly for my tastes, that the rocks, the location, something about the beach is causing their cells to age. They default to a naturalistic cause, rather than a supernatural cause, which isn’t incidental. They don’t blame God or even invoke the divine. They try to reason their way out.
The people on the beach are under observation. We later find out why. I won’t spoil it.
But the film includes many twists and turns, several more tragedies, as members of each family rapidly age. It raises many questions about time, but also about aging. There are questions raised, philosophically, about utilitarian ethics.
When time is compressed, our moments intensify. Most of the tragedies we encounter in life are spread out on a long enough timeline that we experience them as a slow burn. That does not make illness, or loss, or death, any less intense. It only allows us more time to cope, to adjust.
But this dynamic works the other way, too. In Old, even the joyous moments are fleeting. There is little time to celebrate, to rejoice, to savor the sweetness of life. In tragedy, we feel time slow. In victory, time passes too quickly. Life is a series of peaks and valleys. While our rational side may tell us that time passes no more quickly or slowly whether we are in celebration or despair, it doesn’t feel that way.
As the Bible reminds us, human beings are a vapor, a mist, but a breath. Life is short. It is, at times, tragic. It is also beautiful, and deeply good. The sands of time fall at a steady beat. Night, when it falls, won’t last forever. Victory, when it comes, will only be momentary. Life, in total, can be lived in vanity, in madness, in hatred, or it can be lived in generosity, in wisdom, and in love.
The time to choose one’s trajectory is now, and the course corrections will be constant. We only get one run at this thing. Might as well make it the best we can.
Before I go, standard copy.
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Be well this week. Bless others.
P.S. - A spaceman I drew.