Posts Tagged ‘James Franco’

Letter From New York 12 23 14 The Eve of Christmas Eve

December 24, 2014

It is the eve of Christmas Eve and I am freshly back from my friends Lionel and Pierre’s where I had a wonderful Shepherd’s Pie. They will come tomorrow at three for us to exchange presents and then again at 6 for dinner. I am cooking pumpkin soup, a salad of haricot verte, followed by ham, yams, asparagus and other things.

I have spent the whole day shopping for the next three days as I will be cooking for the next three days. I have organized menus and purchased food and prepped as best I can for the Holidaze.

In the background Christmas sounds are playing. I have a couple of presents left to wrap but I’m done. And I’m glad I’m done. It feels good to have organized it all and to have it all [almost all] wrapped and underneath the Christmas tree.

It all feels good. The chatter of all the troubles in the world seems far away.

Who knows the reason the Internet in North Korea went down? Was it a “proportional” response on our part or was it just an accident? I don’t know though I am suspicious.

It might have been the Chinese, who seem to be getting a little annoyed at the North Koreans. Not a good thing – the Chinese are about the only people who actively prop up the North Koreans. Oh, sorry – Putin has invited Kim Jong-un to Russia.

But Putin has his own troubles. The falling price of oil and the collapsing ruble and those pesky sanctions against him are causing a bit of a free fall in the Russian economy.

THE INTERVIEW, the silly movie at the heart of so much controversy, may actually get a limited release in some movie theatres. Something praised by the White House. Congress would like to have some screenings so they can see what all this ruckus is about and they might get it in the New Year.

Outside my window, at the desk where I am writing, Christmas lights burn.

On Friday, I will have a “Boxing Day” party. It’s the day after Christmas and according to some, it was the day the servants got to celebrate in England after having spent the last couple of days dancing on the whims of the Lord and Lady of the Manor.

It was also, according to legend, the day children in England went around with boxes to collect alms for charity.

But, whatever, the day after Christmas is Boxing Day in the Commonwealth countries and I have given many a Boxing Day party and this year will be doing one for about twenty folks, neighbors and friends, a chance to continue the celebration of the Holidays.

I shopped for that too, today. Never in my life has my grocery basket so overflowed! Never have I been so grateful to gather together the elements of celebration. It feels good to be gathering folks to the Cottage for the Holidays.

I love bringing people together at Christmas; it is a natural outgrowth of my upbringing when it seemed that every Christmas our house was full of friends and relatives, celebrating and feasting.

So let us celebrate and feast! Let us sing the songs of Christmas. Let us drink [carefully or take a cab!] and make merry. It is Christmas.

Letter From New York 12 18 14 Things groundbreaking and things not so funny…

December 18, 2014

When I was in high school, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA was required reading in one of my English classes. I was an adolescent fan of Hemingway though I preferred THE SUN ALSO RISES to THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. But it did cause me to think of Cuba, the Cuba of Hemingway, before Castro. I wanted to visit but I couldn’t because travel to Cuba was prohibited.

After a pleasant evening at the Red Dot with a varied group of friends, I retreated home to sleep, waking this morning to the news that President Obama was moving to normalize relations with Cuba, which has lived under draconian sanctions from the United States. As far as I have been able to tell, fifty plus years of this policy has resulted in almost no effect. A Castro still rules in Cuba and the island limps along. It is a treasure trove of ancient, classic American cars.

The decision to normalize will be hotly debated. Some of Cuban descent feel this is a betrayal; some welcome the change. GOP lawmakers threaten to make it as difficult as possible to accomplish.

It will be interesting to watch this change. My friends, Larry and Alicia, have just returned from Cuba where they were on a government-approved excursion. They will be among the last that will have seen the “old” Cuba – the Cuba before this pronouncement. It will all begin to change now, slowly but surely and, in my opinion, in a change that is long overdue.

The Pope facilitated the long overdue change; he wrote letters to both Obama and Raul Castro encouraging normalization. And they listened. A prisoner exchanged helped.

Fifty years of sanctions hasn’t done much good. It’s about time to try a new policy, don’t you think?

There were other items in the news that caught my morning coffee attention.

New York, to my surprise, has banned fracking, the controversial process by which natural gas can be extracted from the earth. A group that opposed fracking had a spontaneous celebration in Manhattan this morning outside some state offices.

The news was full of chatter about the scrubbed release of THE INTERVIEW. One reviewer who saw it back in October felt that Rogen/Franco could become the Hope/Crosby team for Millennials.   We might never know now.

The trail of evidence for the Sony hacking caper leads right back to North Korea having ordered it.

While I have found some aspects of the Sony hack story amusing, much of it is deadly serious. And not very funny. It has called into question the sensibility of the executives who agreed to make the film. More than one person in Hollywood is asking: what did they expect from making a movie about assassinating a real life dictator who has a known reputation for unpredictable actions of a nasty kind? And who has nuclear weapons.

Kim Jong-Un said it was an act of war to release the movie and he has attacked.

Now the question is: what do we do about it? Do we start the first cyber war? Probably not. Whatever it is thinking, the Obama Administration is holding its cards close to the vest right now. And probably keeping its options open. There have been daily briefings at the White House on the affair.

The reports out of Hollywood that I have been reading have been scathing toward Sony and its actions from start to finish.

I wish I could find some amusing turn of phrase to end today but whatever it might be, it is eluding me. North Korea has, apparently through proxies, attacked a major business and brought it to its knees. It is unprecedented.