Posts Tagged ‘It’s Only a Play’

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 04 22 15 From robotics to singing in the rain…

April 22, 2015

Last night, on a balmy New York spring night, I went at 5:00 to Junior’s Deli on 45th Street in the heart of New York’s theater district and met Cathy, my middle niece, her husband and their two daughters, Clare and Isabel, for a pre-theater dinner. They were off to see “Matilda” and I was off to see “It’s Only A Play.”

Cathy and Michael live in Portland and my brother is there watching after their two sons who had just accompanied he and his wife to Machu Picchu. I don’t get to see Cathy and her family very often so it was a cheery visit and then we went off to our respective performances.

Amazingly, after the performance, as I threaded my way through a hideously congested Times Square, I ran into them on the corner of 44th and Broadway. We laughed and hugged and then moved on.

I curled up in bed and started to read a Peter Wimsey mystery but soon feel asleep, Kindle in hand, only to wake later to turn out the lights.

This morning I had breakfast with David McKillop, who recently stepped down as GM of A&E and stepped into the role of Chief Creative Officer at a new production company called Propagate, which is being funded by A&E. He’s partnered with Howard Owens who used to run Nat Geo.

It was a glorious spring morning and we walked around Union Square for a while after breakfast, strolling past all the vendors that form the Union Square Farmer’s Market, then walked over to 7th Avenue where we parted. He off to a meeting and me to day of talks called “Imagination,” being held in conjunction with the Tribeca Film Festival.

The morning was devoted to robotics. While Elon Musk is terrified of intelligent machines, all these speakers were gung-ho enthusiasts of artificial intelligence and robots, as long as every one followed Asimov’s Three Rules of Robotics.

It was fascinating. The demonstration of Watson, IBM’s Supercomputer, was impressive. The video they showed reminded me of “Star Trek.”

Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, spoke in the afternoon about the technology advances they are making in serving ads and video content to their 250,000,000 users and that was impressive, too.

After the 3-D printing talk “Eating Your Way Into 3D Printing” I had to leave to go view a cut of a sizzle reel my friend Todd’s company is working on.

While I was involved in all these fun and rather joyful activities, the world ticked on.

Yesterday the Saudis said they’d stop bombing Yemen but this morning bombs were still falling there, with the country lurching toward a humanitarian crisis as supplies are floating out at sea because of the Saudi embargo.

When I was in India there was lots of news about a land development law that the Modi government is attempting to pass. It would ease the government’s ability to expropriate land belonging to farmers for other uses. It is hugely controversial and hotly debated and stridently opposed by the Congress Party, the opposition to Modi’s BJP.

Today there was a rally in Delhi protesting the bill. At it, an Indian farmer committed suicide, hanging himself from a tree. He left behind a suicide note saying the recent extraordinary rains and hailstorms had ruined him. Rahul Gandhi raced to the hospital and the PM, Modi, is said to be “shattered” by the incident but probably not so much that he will withdraw the law.

Britain, which is facing elections on May 7th, is working overtime to figure out what is going to happen if the Tories lose. If the Scots become the power brokers in the formation of a new government, there is a concern about the results. “Constitutional crisis” is on the lips of a few.

Thousands of Ethiopians have taken to the streets to march in protest against IS’s killing of thirty of their countrymen for being Christian.

Prime Minister Abe of Japan paid slight attention to Japan’s wartime responsibility in a speech in Jakarta, which raised the ire of Japan’s neighbors but not so much that Xi of China wouldn’t meet with Abe. The two had a thirty-minute meeting and stressed their determination to continue working on their relationship. It almost sounded like an estranged couple continuing their therapy sessions.

The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis would stop in Cuba while en route to the US for his visit here. Cuba will probably go mad for the Pontiff.

The bright spring morning turned to afternoon clouds and rain, which has now stopped though the grey continues. I am off to dinner tonight with my friends David and Annette Fox, celebrating my return from India with take out from Indus Valley, our favorite neighborhood Indian restaurant. Will be a good time.

Letter From New York 04 21 15 A city in sunshine instead of rain…

April 21, 2015

The very first thing I did today was look at the Weather Channel app on my phone. It told me that New York was going to have a rainy morning and cloudy afternoon. Well, all day the sun has been pouring down joyfully and relentlessly upon the city, to my great delight. I hope it stays that way.

Just now, it was announced that the Saudis are stopping their month long aerial attack on Yemen’s Houthis, called “Operation Decisive Storm” and replacing it with “Operation Restoring Hope.”

Yemen needs some hope. Its feeble infrastructure has been overwhelmed by the attacks and food and medical supplies are in short supply due to the Saudi sea blockade, holding up ships to make sure they weren’t carrying arms. Yemen is desperate for hope.

However, while the bombing is over the fight may not be. The Saudis are still determined to keep the Houthis from power.

In Egypt, former President Morsi has been ordered to spend twenty years in jail. He still faces several more trials on accusations against him from his year in power.

In 2005 a then 83-year-old German denounced Holocaust deniers and spoke of having seen the gas chambers and the ovens with his own eyes. Today, at 93, Oskar Groening, went on trial in Germany for his role as a bookkeeper for the Nazis at Auschwitz.

He has told the court he feels morally guilty even though he did not actually kill anyone personally. It is, he said, up to the court to find him legally guilty or not.

Italian courts will decide if the captain of the migrant smuggling vessel that capsized this week is guilty of human trafficking, reckless homicide and causing a shipwreck. He was one of the 28 survivors; as many as 950 may have perished.

In the last six days alone, almost 11,000 people have been pulled from the Mediterranean, attempting to reach the Italian coast.

The European Union will now play a bigger role rather than leaving it to Italy to shoulder this burden alone.

Almost all the human smuggling originates in Libya, which is in chaos and where IS has made some gains even as they have had to pull back in Iraq. There are conflicting reports today regarding Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-styled Caliph of the self-styled IS Caliphate. He either was or was not gravely wounded in a March air attack near Mosul.

Whether he is gravely wounded or not, the war with IS grinds on and there is fighting around Ramadi with residents torn between returning and staying away. They fled by the thousands as IS entered the city’s center. Now Iraqi forces seem to have retaken most of the town but there is still fighting going on.

At least six died in Mogadishu, Somalia as a result of a car bombing. Al Shabaab takes responsibility.

Certainly not dead or wounded is Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, who turned 89 today though the country celebrates her birthday in June. There has been a royal tradition that if a monarch is born during the winter months, celebrations will be in the summer, when the weather is better.

There were numerous gun salutes today while Her Majesty celebrated quietly with her family at Windsor Castle, where she has been in residence the past month.

Crowds are already lining up outside the hospital where Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, is due to give birth to their second child. Some people have already been there for two weeks.

While the overall popularity of the British Royal Family is not in question, the popularity of the American President has not been so good of late. However, it is up right now, back in positive territory for the first time in months. As is the public’s view of Obamacare.

And in the world of entertainment, if you were a fan of “Full House” which ran on network television from 1987-1995, it will be returning for 13 episodes on Netflix, interestingly described in one news article as an “online network.”   Not all cast members are signed on; some are, some are still in negotiation. But with or with out the full cast, “Full House” will return to Netflix.

Since I never watched it on network television maybe I will have to see what the fuss is about when it reaches Netflix. But that will be awhile in the future. Tonight I am off to the theater to see Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane in “It’s Only A Play.”