- February 23, 2015
It was one year ago this month that we lost our dear friend Ju Kun in what has become known as the biggest aviation mystery in history. I remember the day all too well. It was an early Saturday morning, March 8th, when I drove from my rented townhouse to Pinewood Studios in Johor Bahru. We were still in the prep phase of Marco Polo, so Saturdays were glorious ones dedicated, by some of us, to martial arts training at the stunt tent.
When I arrived at the tent on a typical humid morning, my friend and stunt coordinator Brett Chan was overseeing the training of Italian actor Lorenzo Richelmy. I remember being proud of young Lorenzo for being in there early on a Saturday, and prouder still when I watched him executing a step-behind sidekick into the pads. His form and delivery were excellent and Brett was smiling as his guys 'Little Jet' and 'Handsome' held the pads and coached our 'Marco Polo."
- February 2, 2015
During his 17 years as special emissary to Kublai Khan, Marco Polo celebrated the lunar new year in both the Chinese and Mongolian traditions, the former during his three years on political assignment in Quinsai (todayʼs Hangzhou) and the latter during his more frequent stays in ʻthe City of the Khanʼ (todayʼs Beijing).
The Mongolians call the Lunar New Year Tsagaan Sar or White Moon (you might recall the title of episode 6 of Marco Polo which is set during this new year festival). As Marco recalls in his writings "the Great Khan and his subjects dress themselves in white robes, both men and women, because white dress seems to them both lucky and good, and therefore they wear it at the beginning of their year so that they may take their good and have joy all year."
As I learned long ago from my Mongolian friends, the ʻwhite monthʼ is a time to celebrate overcoming the brutal Winter successfully and welcoming Spring. All debts from the previous year are paid off, relationships are mended, and major household cleaning and renewal is organized. While Polo was correct that the wearing of all white was "lucky and good," it mostly represents a fresh, new start.
- November 24, 2014
Traveling on the Eurostar from London to Paris, heading from one press junket to another, I finally had a moment to sit back and digest a remarkable fact: For the first time in my life I was going to see Paris.
Being a writer and not having been to Paris has always been something of a shameful secret for me. Especially given my love for Hemingway and his Paris years - that beyond-cool period in the 20ʻs when ex-pats and writers hung out in the Montparnasse Quarter, the band apart that Gertrude Stein called the "Lost Generation."
Not to mention the deeper history, art, jazz, Josephine Baker, and the cabaret bars of Pigalle; I relate to Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris fantasy in a very big way. One of the few movies I've gone back to see twice in its first run.