Posts Tagged ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’

Letter From New York 05 13 15 In search of laughs but not snark…

May 13, 2015

As the workday draws to a close in New York, I am preparing to go to see “The 39 Steps” Off Broadway. A few weeks ago I made a pledge to myself that I would work to do one cultural thing a week for myself. Two weeks ago I went to “It’s Only A Play” on Broadway with Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane and Stockard Channing. The following week I went to a screen of the new film version of “Far From The Madding Crowd,” the rom com version according to some reviewers. And I went to the new Whitney Museum.

Tonight, it’s “The 39 Steps” a lighthearted take on Alfred Hitchcock’s movie of the same name. Earlier today I was seeking out what I might do next week. Maybe a morning at another museum?

What has been dominating headlines and my email today has been the tragic Amtrak crash last night just outside of Philadelphia, killing seven at the last account and injuring many dozens. I could almost visualize the spot where the train left the track. I don’t know how many times I have traveled that route, coming and going between New York and D.C.

My nephew, Kevin Malone, phoned me last night to see if I was all right when I didn’t respond to two texts. I was already in the soft arms of Morpheus when they came in and didn’t hear the alert sound. Several other friends checked in on me today, all knowing that the route is one of my regular trips.

It now appears the train was traveling at near 100 MPH when the curve is supposed to be taken at 50 MPH.

There are about 100 of us who are regular commuters on the Empire Line, which runs from New York to Albany. We have a Google groups mailing list and it has been very active today. It feels as if distant members of our “family” have been involved.

In what may have been inappropriate or at least awkward timing, a Committee in the House voted today to cut funding for Amtrak.

As a regular consumer of Amtrak, I am a big supporter and can’t believe that we are allowing our rail infrastructure to slip the way it is. But then I am boggled at the way we are letting all our infrastructure crumble. I think about it every time I cross a bridge; thousands of them are not up to snuff.

The peevish and pudgy North Korean dictator has apparently executed the number two man in the army for falling asleep at one of his meetings. He had him shot with an anti-aircraft gun, certainly a way of making sure the job was done thoroughly. Probably he didn’t sleep through that.

A number of North Korean officials have simply disappeared and he is said to have had his aunt poisoned after ordering his uncle, her husband, killed.

Still awake is George Lucas, who is celebrating his 71st birthday. Happy, Happy to the man who gave us “Star Wars.”

In what is probably no surprise to anyone who follows the tech world, Facebook and Instagram are the two top social apps for mobile users. Facebook owns Instagram. The Zuckerberg juggernaut plows forward.

The Verizon purchase of AOL is continuing to be parsed in the press, with bits of snark attached to many such as: this will be the second time AOL has been involved in the world’s worst merger.

On the campaign trail, the big story today is that Jeb Bush fumbled a question about the Iraq war and that has created a discomfort among his supporters and an opening for his rivals.

In Iraq, the defense ministry is claiming that Abu Alaa Al-Fari, second in command of IS, has been killed in an air raid on a mosque. The U.S. cannot confirm the death but does confirm the mosque was bombed.

Fourteen months ago, MH370 disappeared into the ocean and has not been found. Searchers did find an unidentified shipwreck. It shows the equipment is working well though still not find the missing plane.

In the South China Sea, the Chinese are building some islands. Their position is that the extension of the islands increases the area of their international waters. The U.S. doesn’t agree. Nor do Japan and the Philippines.   A U.S. warship sailed through those waters and the Chinese are upset, sounding warnings about playing nice in very strong words.

I am off to catch my play, with hopes of a bit of food before the curtain rises, looking forward to an evening of laughs not snark.

Letter From New York 05 01 15 May Day

May 1, 2015

Sitting in my friend Todd’s office, the sun is shining down on New York City, a pleasant day, warmish temperatures and soon I will be leaving for Claverack, where I will see how the new paint in the living room and dining room looks. I’m a little nervous; I went bold and chose a red that I thought would work at the cottage. We’ll see.

I’ll be riding up on the 5:47, which is the weekly get together train for the train community. It’s a time to see one another, get caught up and to enjoy the end of the week together.

I look forward to it whenever I am able to make that train.

This morning, while the day was deciding whether it was going to be sunny or not, I sat at the apartment and read the Times, always an interesting way to start the day, finding out what I had missed while I was asleep.

One of things I learned was that “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” is opening this weekend. I will probably not attend. So is “Far From The Madding Crowd,” which I saw at a screening earlier this week, getting generally good reviews, a “rom con” version of Thomas Hardy’s book, something I think he would have been surprised about. Makes me want to watch the Julie Christie version of the film. Perhaps I will this weekend.

Those were light bits in the morning.

The harder bits had to do with the continuing difficulties in getting aid to survivors of Nepal’s earthquake. While getting slowly better, it’s not very good. Nepal is appealing to the international community for more helicopters to help them out.

The death toll has now risen above 6,000 and thousands are still missing.

Food and water are needed as is just plan old information. The BBC’s Nepali service is broadcasting regularly news and information, as are many Nepali national radio stations, attempting to disseminate whatever information they have and to counter the plague of rumors racing across the countryside. Google and Facebook have set up services to help people connect and people are being encouraged to text rather than phone to lessen the burden on the cellular infrastructure.

As I sat in the office doing some research my phone buzzed a couple of times with breaking news notices. They informed me that six police officers are being charged in the death of Freddie Gray. The speed at which the charges were brought has left everyone feeling surprised.

The city’s police union insists that none of the officers involved is responsible for Mr. Gray’s death.

Scheduled protests over the death will go on as planned.

Do any of you remember “Bridgegate?” About eighteen months ago, there was a period of a few days during which there were painful delays on the George Washington Bridge, a major entry point into New York City from New Jersey.

Today, David Wildstein, a former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official, pleaded guilty to his role in causing major traffic jams near Fort Lee, NJ, as retaliation for that city’s Mayor not supporting Gov. Chris Christie’s bid for re-election.

His guilty plea triggered indictments for Bridget Kelly, Christie’s now former Deputy Chief of Staff and Bill Baroni, who was Christie’s main man at the Port Authority. Wildstein did not implicate the Governor himself but this can’t be good news for a man who is contemplating a run for the White House.

Today is May Day, a national holiday in some countries, celebrating International Workers Day. The idea for it started here in the United States when strikes were called on May 1, 1886 to institute an 8-hour workday. But we celebrate it on Labor Day.

Istanbul is pretty much under lockdown to prevent much May Day rallying. There are protests in Seoul, South Korea over labor practices and last year’s ferry sinking. In Greece they are marching against the austerity imposed by the European Union. In Berlin, it seems pretty peaceful, only fifteen were arrested. Tens of thousands marched in Moscow, waving the Russian tricolor flag. The Communist Party organized their own demonstration, calling for support of those fighting in the Donbass region. That’s eastern Ukraine.

In Milan the police used water cannons to disburse the crowds after a car was set on fire and marches in Madrid were calm. They’re protesting an unemployment rate that is nearly 30%. It’s a holiday in India, too, but I haven’t seen any coverage from there.

I have not marched anywhere today. I did stroll from the apartment to the subway and from the subway to my new favorite diner and that’s about it. I’ll stroll in an hour or so over to Penn and catch my train north to see how the paint job turned out. Fingers crossed.

Letter from New York 04 28 15 Notes on a restless world…

April 28, 2015

As I was sitting at a Producer’s Guild event last night about Multi Channel Networks, I was also texting back and forth with my friend Lionel, who has moved recently to Baltimore where, last night, the city was rocked by violence. One person was critically injured, 235 were arrested and the National Guard was called in to help restore order. AOL, where Lionel works, closed for the day and offered hotels to employees who worked in areas where rioting was occurring. At ten last night, Lionel could hear gunshots from his apartment.

Today, President Obama made an impassioned plea for “soul searching” as another city was rocked by violence over the death of a young black man at the hands of police.

Down the road in Washington, DC, the Supreme Court heard the oral arguments on gay marriage. From what I can gather from reading reports, there was no clear indication from the Justice’s questions as to which way the Court will rule in June. Both sides left cautiously optimistic.

In the turbulent world beyond the US, events keep happening that make it easy to be uneasy.

Iran has seized a Marshall Islands flagged cargo vessel, the Maersk Tigris, operated for the Danish Maersk Line. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which forced the Tigris deeper into Iran’s territorial waters, claims the move was over legality and not for military reasons. The US has sent the Farragut to observe. No Americans were aboard.

Indonesia executed eight foreigners convicted of drug smuggling, today. They died at the hands of a firing squad. A ninth, a Filipino woman, was spared at the 11th hour. Australia, whose citizens were among those executed, may withdraw their Ambassador to Indonesia in protest.

Prime Minister Abe of Japan is in Washington to help sew up the Trans Pacific Partnership, which includes the US, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations, including our old nemesis, Vietnam. Abe and Obama are also talking strengthening their mutual defense commitments as Obama is accusing China of using its “muscle” on its neighbors.

Tonight there will be a State Dinner for the Prime Minister and his wife.

Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece, has pushed his Finance Minister into the sidelines as a conciliatory gesture to the Euro Group with whom Greece is negotiating. Mr. Varoufakis is known for his volubility and his strident stands. He has been replaced by Euclid Tsakalotos, an Oxford educated gentleman who is 180 degrees different from Varoufakis.

In Yemen, the number of displaced has grown to 300,000. Saudi warplanes bombed the airport at Sana’a to prevent an Iranian plane from landing.

The number affected by the earthquake is rising. Over 4600 are confirmed dead and the Prime Minister has said that the toll may rise above 10,000.

In the affected area of Nepal live 8,000,000 people. One million of them are children. Nowhere are supplies adequate and people are living in makeshift tents as rain continues to pour down on them. Hospitals are overflowing and lacking supplies. The country’s economy was fragile before the quake and seems ravaged now.

In Rome, Pope Francis’ Pontifical Academy of Science has convened a conference on climate change. In June, Francis will issue an encyclical on climate change that Ban Ki-moon of the UN says will come at a critical time. In September, Francis will address Congress during his visit to the US.

Francis is not the first Pope to take on climate change but he may be the most effective. His is a powerful presence.

Several American conservative groups, including one funded by the Koch brothers, attended the conference in order to refute its findings, not wanting the Pope and the Church to listen only to climate change alarmists.

In a sweet note, Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, sent out pastries and coffee to the scores who are camped out in front of the hospital waiting for the Duchess to give birth to their second child.

The day here in New York is winding down. I am going to a screening of the new version of “Far From The Madding Crowd” tonight and will be looking for a nibble on my way there.

It is relatively quiet in Baltimore, according to my last text from Lionel. Supermarkets are closing at six and most restaurants and bars are not opening, battening down the hatches for another night.