Posts Tagged ‘Julian Fellowes’

Letter From New York 05 07 2016 Thoughts from yesterday…

May 7, 2016

The town of Fort McMurray, in the heart of Canada’s oil patch, is burning to the ground as I write.  88,000 people are being evacuated.  One who has remained to assist in fueling emergency workers described the city, according to Vice, as a “f**king ghost town.”  Reports are calling the situation barely managed chaos. Convoys are transporting people out of town and 8,000 have been airlifted out.

The Prime Minister of Turkey has resigned after a fight with President Erdogan.  As I understand it, in Turkey it’s the PM who is supposed to have the power while the President does the meeting and the greeting.  Erdogan doesn’t see it that way and has been keeping hold on the reins of power.  This resignation makes it easier for Erdogan to consolidate power.  Turkey is troubled, fighting a Kurdish insurgency, IS, wrestling with refugees and a population that is growing antagonistic to Erdogan.

I still would like to go back to the “Turquoise Coast” of that country, sun dappled and bucolic.

Not bucolic is the state of American politics.  Trump continues to rise and has no opposition on his march to the nomination.  Cruz and Kasich are gone. The Presidents Bush, number 41 and 43, have signaled they will not endorse him. Paul Ryan is “not ready” at this time to endorse Trump.  The Trump campaign approached over a hundred Republican politicos to say something good about Trump.  Only twenty responded; the others were “too busy.”

As I gave my last lecture, the students were commenting on how exhausted they were of the political season and the near certainty that Trump will be the Republican nominee has only heightened their distaste for politics; all suspect an ugly, brutal slugfest between the two candidates, neither of whom they admire, assuming Hillary is nominated, as it looks she will. The aspirational nature of politics has slipped away from us.

And before it is done, something like $4 billion will be spent on this election, twice what was spent in 2012.

President Obama implored reporters to focus on issues and not “the spectacle and circus” that has marked coverage so far of the 2016 Presidential race.  After all, being President of the United States is “not a reality show.”  Amen…

A Fort Valley State University student, in central Georgia, was stabbed to death as he came to aid three women who were being harassed and groped near the school cafeteria.  Rest in peace, Donnell Phelps, all of nineteen.

Two are dead and two are wounded in shootings is suburban Maryland, three at Montgomery Mall, where I have shopped and one at a grocery store nine miles away.  One man is believed responsible.  If it is the man police suspect, he killed his wife last night when she was at school, picking up their children.  He was under court order to stay away from her.

It is a grey afternoon as I write this, in a stretch of chill, grey days and news like the above deepens the pall of the day.

If you are feeling grey because “Downton Abbey” has slipped into the past, its creator, Julian Fellowes, took Trollope’s novel, “Doctor Thorne” and brought it to life.  Amazon has purchased it and will stream it beginning May 20.  Fill a hole in your viewing heart.

In my heart, I want a new iPhone and I am probably going to wait until the fall when Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, tells us that the iPhone 7 will give us features we can’t live without.  What they are, I don’t know.  I am writing this on a train going north and can’t stream on Amtrak’s wifi.

Speaking of Amtrak, I booked a trip from New York to Minneapolis on the train for July 20th to visit my brother and his family.  I am taking a train to DC, the Capital Limited out of there to Chicago and the Empire Builder from Chicago to Minneapolis.  I hope it will be good fun.

Fun seems to be what we need these days.  Our politics are not fun.  The constant barrage of shootings is not fun, not remotely.  The economy, while growing, isn’t growing fast enough which is not fun.

What will be fun is that Lionel and Pierre are going to be at their home across the street from me this weekend and I will get to see them.

Letter From New York 03 09 2016 Sequestered with my thoughts in the cottage…

March 10, 2016

The day we all lived through here in Columbia County was physically the most exquisite day of the year and it may hold that crown all year; it’s hard to imagine a day that will be more splendid than this one.  The sky was blue, the air was warm — after I finished teaching it was scratching at hot.

My students had presentations to make today and they pleaded with me to let them do it outside and I was game but one of my students was allergic to the sun [as was I as a child] and had been outside for her last class and was feeling the effects.  So I let them go ten minutes early and stayed after talking with several students about the graded presentation they were going to be making after spring break.

It was a sweet day.  As I drove around the county on errands, bits and pieces of the news filtered in over the radio. 

Bernie had won Michigan, either stunning the Clinton camp or, according to some reports, they were just shrugging it off.  He is capturing something she isn’t.  In Michigan, it was largely, I understood, about his trade positions.

Tonight they are facing off against each other in Miami.  I may look at some of it but then again may not.  We still have months of this in front of us.

Trump continues his romp, causing, I’m sure, many Republicans to pull their hair and mimic Munch’s “The Scream.”  Carly Fiorna has come out for Ted Cruz.

It’s a quiet night, sequestered in the cottage, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald are singing their classics, a martini is nearby and the lights are illuminating the creek.  For this minute, the world is my oyster and I’m savoring it.

As we probably all know, “Downton Abbey” has finished its six year run, all the plots and subplots neatly tied up by Lord Fellowes, the creator who rose to the aristocracy himself during the program’s run.  Not just knighted but made a Baron.  Good job! There is now talk of a “Downton Abbey” movie.  I am sure it will come together.  Both sides of the Atlantic are mad for the Crawley family and their servants.

Either critically wounded or dead is a man known as Omar the Chechen, a lead military figure for IS.  Interestingly, when he was fighting the Russians in his homeland he received training from American Special Forces and was a star pupil.  Later he became the “Minister of War” for IS and was largely responsible for the push that took them within a hundred miles of Baghdad.

A captured IS official seems to be spilling the beans about IS’s efforts in chemical warfare.  They seem to be centered on the use of mustard gas, used by the Germans in World War I to devastating effect.

A former American soldier has been convicted of attempting to join IS and faces 35 years in prison.   He had left a note for his wife telling her he wanted to die a martyr.

Mourners are paying respects to Nancy Reagan, who lies in review at the Reagan Library where she will be buried next to her Ronnie.

And I love — sort of  — the story of a Floridian mother who had bragged about her four year old son getting really “racked up” to go practice shooting with her.  Hours later, he shot her in the back.  They were out for a drive when it happened. WHAT?!

Kathyrn Popper died today at 100.  She was the last surviving cast member of “Citizen Kane,” the movie named by the AFI in 1997 as the greatest film ever made.  She was also Orson Welles’ longtime assistant.

Kim Kardashian has been posting nude selfies.  Outrage has broken out in some circles.  In other circles, people are posting their own naked selfies in support of her, including Sharon Osbourne, reality star, talk show host and wife of Ozzy Osbourne.  I am NOT going to search it out.  No.  No, thank you…

Lastly, Sir George Martin passed away today at the age of 90.  Longtime producer of the Beatles, he helped shape their sound and redefined the role of music producer. 

The evening is rich.  There is no sound quite like Louis Armstrong married with Ella Fitzgerald. The cottage is more than cozy.  Friends are arriving from Nashville for the weekend and it will be good to share with them my home.