Friday, December 30, 2016

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

IMDB
Florence Foster Jenkins (2016): Bad singing raised to high art. Something missing. Can't laugh at her or with her. Great acting though. B-











Thursday, December 29, 2016

POTD: Green Gables

From 2016 09 07 Charlottetown

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. It's the obligatory shot of Green Gables, the homestead that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery to write "Anne of Green Gables." I knew nothing of the spirited orphan, Anne Shirley, before visiting, but I've become a huge fan since.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

POTD: Steep Red Sandstone Cliffs

From 2016 09 07 Charlottetown

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the north shore of Prince Edward Island. I'll let Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of "Anne of Green Gables," describe the scene.
The shore road was "woodsy and wild and lonesome." On the right hand, scrub firs, their spirits quite unbroken by long years of tussle with the gulf winds, grew thickly. On the left were the steep red sandstone cliffs, so near the track in places that a mare of less steadiness than the sorrel might have tried the nerves of the people behind her. Down at the base of the cliffs were heaps of surf-worn rocks or little sandy coves inlaid with pebbles as with ocean jewels; beyond lay the sea, shimmering and blue, and over it soared the gulls, their pinions flashing silvery in the sunlight. "Isn’t the sea wonderful?" said Anne, rousing from a long, wide-eyed silence.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

POTD: The Crick

From 2016 09 07 Charlottetown
Today's photo-of-the-day is from North Rustico, Prince Edward Island.
The town is known to locals, as well as many others as "The Crick". In the summer, this town is one of the Island's most popular destinations. On a warm summer evening, dozens of people can be found strolling the town's waterfront boardwalk, which overlooks the bay and fishing docks. The fishing industry remains the village's most important economic activity, with approximately 40 vessels home-ported in a small craft harbour. Lobster fishing is the main focus for much of the fleet and during May and June fresh north shore P.E.I lobster can be bought in a fish market on the harbour wharves or directly off of the boats.
Source: Wikipedia.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Monday, December 26, 2016

POTD: Confederation Landing

From 2016 09 07 Charlottetown

In case you read the headline and assumed this has something to do with the old South, no, the Confederation being remembered here has nothing to do with white supremacy. Today's photo-of-the-day is from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. According to Fodor's, "This waterfront recreation area at the bottom of Great George Street occupies the site where the Fathers of Confederation famously landed in 1864." Charlottetown is where the first conference was held that eventually resulted in the confederation of Canada in 1867. And did you catch that word "famously"? Not to Americans, sadly (and by "Americans" I include myself). Americans tend to be ignorant of anything that doesn't happen under our very noses. We're too busy rewriting our own history to bother learning some history of our neighbors to the north. Thankfully, Canadians are too polite to be resentful.

Friday, December 23, 2016

POTD: Christmas Cajun Style

From 2016 12 15 Louisiana

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Natchitoches, Louisiana, the self-styled City of Lights. A crawfish in a sleigh pulled by an alligator in a Santa hat along the riverfront — that's Christmas Cajun Style.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

POTD: Christmas in Natchitoches

From 2016 12 15 Louisiana
Today's photo-of-the-day is from Natchitoches, Louisiana, the self-styled City of Lights. For our visit, the full moon conveniently rose above the Three Wise Men, adding its light to the already impressive display all along the riverfront, of which this scene is just a tiny fraction.

Named after a Native American tribe, Natchitoches (pronounced Nack-a-tish ), is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase Territory. Since 1927, we are also home to one of the oldest community-based holiday celebrations in the country. Our festival has evolved from a one day event into a six-week long Christmas Season. Over 300,000 lights and 100 plus set pieces are on display every night at dusk. Come enjoy Kid's Fest, a carriage tour through the historic district, food vendors along the downtown riverbank, as well as various shops and restaurants. Events take place in the Landmark Historic District and the Cane River National Historical Park area. Fireworks are held every Saturday throughout the Season as well as events to be enjoyed by every age. The Natchitoches Christmas Season has been listed as a "Top 100 Events in North America" by the American Bus Association for numerous years and has also been honored as one of the "Top 20 Events" for December on six occasions by the Southeast Tourism Society. In 2013, we were ranked 3rd "Best Holiday Light Show" behind the Rockefeller Center and Disney World in the nation by Yahoo.com.
So there you have it — Christmas in Natchitoches.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

POTD: Christmas on Bourbon Street

From 2016 12 15 Louisiana
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the French Quarter in New Orleans the week before Christmas. Write your own caption. In case you are wondering, that's not me in the photo.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Review: American Lion

American Lion
Amazon
From American Lion, by John Meacham:
Open quote 

The America of Andrew Jackson was a country that professed a love of democracy but was willing to live with inequality, that aimed for social justice but was prone to racism and intolerance, that believed itself one nation but was narrowly divided and fought close elections, and that occasionally acted arrogantly toward other countries while craving respect from them at the same time."

With the election of Donald Trump as president, I thought it was time to review another era in American history, one when the first great populist was elected president. Consider it reading history to shed a light on our own inconceivable situation; looking to history to offer hope that our black cloud might have a silver lining.

After the jump, my review.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Santa's Village Needs a Train

Click for a panorama

Richardson's Santa's Village is an annual holiday tradition for families. It's a tiny town of holiday buildings offering children fun activities and a community stage offering the whole family live performances of song and dance. But there's something missing. Click on the photo above for a 360 degree panorama. Look around and see if you can tell what's missing.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Dallas to Suburbs: Seriously, Drop Dead

In October, the Dallas city council voted unanimously on a resolution that did not include the Cotton Belt line as one of its transit priorities. I reported it then as "Dallas to Suburbs: Drop Dead." The DART board backed the Cotton Belt anyway, voting on a 20 year financial plan that included the Cotton Belt in the plan. I reported the reaction in Dallas as "Dallas to Suburbs: Drop Dead, Still." Last week, Dallas showed they are serious in their opposition to the Cotton Belt by naming Patrick Kennedy to the DART board. According to The Dallas Observer's Stephen Young, Kennedy wants "DART to focus on two major projects, the D2 subway in downtown and reforming DART's bus system rather than suburb-friendly projects like the Cotton Belt."

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Berkner Symphony Orchestra goes to Midwest


The Berkner Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Craig Needham and Jason Schayot, is performing at The Midwest Clinic in Chicago December 15, 2016.

After the jump, the high honor this is.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

RISD Finds its Leader

Dr. Jeannie Stone, who has been serving as Richardson ISD's Interim Superintendent since June, has been named the Lone Finalist for the permanent position by the RISD Board of Trustees. My congratulations. She's well-regarded inside and outside RISD. Given the no-win nature of the job, I'm impressed that she's managed to keep even some reflexive RISD critics open-minded about her personally.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

POTD: Charlottetown Seaport, 2016

From 2016 09 07 Charlottetown
Today's photo-of-the-day is from historic Charlottetown seaport, Prince Edward Island, Canada. For us, 2016 will go down as one of the best of years, and one of the worst. But for this POTD series, let's stay positive, shall we? Prince Edward Island in September, 2016, was great in all respects.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Know A Neighborhood: Richardson Heights

"Know A Neighborhood" is a series that offers neighborhood leaders in Richardson the opportunity to answer questions that might be of general interest to Richardson residents (or at least to me).

Today: Richard Dotson, Richardson Heights NA President, answers a question posed by The Wheel.

Friday, December 9, 2016

POTD: Cape Breton Island Shoreline

From 2016 09 06 Sydney
Today's photo-of-the-day is of the shoreline of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. It probably looks a little more arctic there in December, but it was green and pleasant in September as we bid the island a fond farewell.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Tracks (2013)

IMDB
Tracks (2013): Woman walks across Australia just to be alone. Does she purge her demons? Dunno, but her journey is worth it. cf. "Wild". B+

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

POTD: Gateway to French Canada

From 2016 09 06 Sydney

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the 18th century French Fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. In the mid-1740s, Louisbourg was a major commercial port and the fortress one of the most extensive European fortifications constructed in North America. It was the gateway to French Canada.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

OTBR: A Pond at Latrobe University

Latitude: S 37° 43.308
Longitude: E 145° 02.754

A child on a road trip with his family asks, "Where are we?" and the father answers, "Let's check the map. We're off the blue roads [the Interstate Highways marked in blue on the road atlas]. We're off the red roads [the US and state highways]. We're off the black roads [the county highways]. I think we're off the map altogether." It was always my dream to be off the map altogether.

After the jump, a few of the random places (and I mean random literally) that I visited vicariously last month that are "off the blue roads".

Monday, December 5, 2016

Wanted: Superintendent, Practically Perfect in Every Way


The Richardson school district (RISD) is seeking a new superintendent. Everybody has an opinion. Expectations and demands are as high as those set by the George Banks family in Edwardian England when advertising for a nanny.

"If you want this choice position, have a cheery disposition.
Rosy cheeks, no warts. Play games, all sorts.
You must be kind, you must be witty, very sweet, and fairly pretty.
Take us on outings, give us treats, sing songs, bring sweets.
Never be cross or cruel. Never give us castor oil or gruel.
Love us as a son and daughter, and never smell of barley water.
Hurry, Nanny! Many thanks!
Sincerely,
Jane and Michael Banks!"

Assuming that someone with Mary Poppins's qualifications isn't available, what criteria should be used to identify the RISD's next superintendent?

Friday, December 2, 2016

POTD: She Dreams out of Windows

From 2016 09 06 Sydney
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the 18th century French Fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

   Windows

She dreams out
of windows
because she needs to live
in both worlds:
within and without,
alone and together,
past and future:
all right now.
   ~mce
Source: Mike Essig.
cf. POTD: Taman Mini Indonesia Indah.
cf. POTD: Ethnology.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Repeat Tweets: Break Up the Cubs

Repeat tweets from November, 2016:

  • Nov 2 2016: Break up the Cubs. #WorldSeries
  • Nov 2 2016: 45 Years (2015): Long-dead girlfriend's body interferes with a couple's 45-year anniversary. Quiet, touching movie. Two strong leads. B-
  • Nov 2 2016: MT @BudKennedy: "The Des Moines suspect is a Confederate flag activist who opposes civil rights protest. You take it from there." White Lives Matter? dmreg.co

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mr. Holmes (2015)

IMDB
Mr. Holmes (2015): Sherlock as a retired 93-year-old. Less mental work, more heart. Purists may object, but I liked the character growth. A-











Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Know A Neighborhood: Canyon Creek

"Know A Neighborhood" is an occasional series that offers Richardson neighborhood leaders the opportunity to answer questions that might be of general interest to Richardson residents (or at least to me). My thanks to all who agree to participate.

Today: Jeremy Thomason, Canyon Creek HOA President, answers a question posed by The Wheel.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Heroes "R" Us

Notice anything different between the old and the new logos?
Real Heroes old logo Real Heroes new logo
Old Logo New Logo
The "R" is different in the new logo. The "R" in the old "Richardson Real Heroes" logo is the "R" from the City of Richardson's own logo. The "R" in the new "Richardson Real Heroes" logo is some other font (Brush Script?), vaguely similar but different.

Friday, November 25, 2016

POTD: Wooden Ship Abuilding

From 2016 09 06 Sydney

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the 18th century French Fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, where today re-enactment of life in the 1700s is all a part of the pleasure of visiting.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

It's Such a Beautiful Day (2012)

IMDB
It's Such a Beautiful Day (2012): Simple animated short about life of Bill, a sad sack who is either mentally ill or imaginative genius. C+











Wednesday, November 23, 2016

POTD: The Fog of History

From 2016 09 06 Sydney

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the 18th century French Fortress of Louisbourg, and the town it protected, on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Or rather, from a modern reconstruction of the fortress. In the mid-1740s, Louisbourg was a major commercial port and the fortress one of the most extensive European fortifications constructed in North America. The fortress was captured by the English in 1758 and destroyed not long after. Maybe Canadians remember, but to most Americans (and by "most Americans" I mean, of course, me) it's all lost to the fog of history.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Airlift (2016)

IMDB
Airlift (2016): Saddam invades Kuwait. 170,000 Indians need rescue. Akshay Kumar saves the day. Bollywood tells story Hollywood doesn't. B-












More after the jump.

Monday, November 21, 2016

POTD: Fortress of Louisbourg

From 2016 09 06 Sydney
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the 18th century French Fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Or rather, from the reconstructed fort. The English capture of the fort in 1758 was a turning point in the Seven Years War with the French for control of Canada. The English demolished the fort. Only recently, as coal mines on the island shut down, was restoration of the fort begun by the government as a way to provide jobs, to the benefit of tourists.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Friday, November 18, 2016

POTD: Fidheal Mhor a’ Ceilidh

From 2016 09 06 Sydney
Today's photo-of-the-day is from Sydney harbor on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, home to the world's largest fiddle, and North America's only living Celtic culture.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016)

IMDB
Ghostbusters (2016): Maybe if you never saw original. But if you did, absolutely no need to see remake. Nothing fresh, down to the slime. C+











Wednesday, November 16, 2016

POTD: "No Frills Heaven"

From 2016 09 05 Halifax
Today's photo-of-the-day is from Ryer's Retail Lobsters in Indian Harbor, Nova Scotia. According to a review on TripAdvisor: "These are the freshest and most succulent lobsters I have eaten and they didn't cost an arm and a leg. Fresh from the sea, steamed to order, sit on the benches and tuck in."

Bonus photo after the jump.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Parched (2015)

IMDB
Parched (2015): Four women in rural India deal with a patriarchal culture and asshole men. Strong female characters. Bollywood feminism. B-











Monday, November 14, 2016

POTD: "Got Drunk, Fell Down"

From 2016 09 05 Halifax
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the waterfront boardwalk at Halifax harbor. The three lamp posts are part of an art installation by Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg.

Friday, November 11, 2016

POTD: Peggy's Point Light

From 2016 09 05 Halifax
Today's photo-of-the-day is of the Peggy's Cove Lighthouse in Nova Scotia. At least one tour guide goes so far as to say it's the most photographed building in Canada. Wikipedia will only say that it's "one of the most-photographed structures in Atlantic Canada." Russ Rowlett of the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill says: "This is a genuine star: one of the world's most visited and most photographed lighthouses." I'll accept that.

P.S. The tourist photo-bombing the lighthouse is the most photographed tourist in all our travels. Definitely. And picturesque herself.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why She Lost

There's blame enough to go around. But you have to start with the candidate herself. Hillary Clinton was a historically unpopular candidate. Democrats lulled themselves with a comparison to the even more unpopular Donald Trump. They gambled that her unpopularity wouldn't matter. It did.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

POTD: Peggy's Cove

From 2016 09 05 Halifax
Today's photo-of-the-day was taken in Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, a picturesque little fishing village. That description doesn't do the place justice. Not even the tour buses and crowds can take the charm away from this place. To give an idea of how popular this village is, it's even been recreated halfway around the world at a resort in Thailand. I know...WTF?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Sky Ladder (2016)

IMDB
Sky Ladder (2016): The fireworks art of Cai Guo-Qiang. Remember 2008 Beijing Olympics fireworks? Same guy. Dedication and results. B-











Monday, November 7, 2016

Rod Dreher, Troll

Tomorrow is election day. So, let's give a little space to national politics. Or rather, to Rod Dreher's view of the election campaign. Or rather, to Dreher's postscript to his analysis. It earns him today's award for unintentional irony.

Friday, November 4, 2016

OTBR: A Swamp in Estonia

Latitude: N 59° 06.336
Longitude: E 024° 45.342

A child on a road trip with his family asks, "Where are we?" and the father answers, "Let's check the map. We're off the blue roads [the Interstate Highways marked in blue on the road atlas]. We're off the red roads [the US and state highways]. We're off the black roads [the county highways]. I think we're off the map altogether." It was always my dream to be off the map altogether.

After the jump, a few of the random places (and I mean random literally) that I visited vicariously last month that are "off the blue roads".

Thursday, November 3, 2016

POTD: Died April 15, 1912

From 2016 09 05 Halifax
Today's photo-of-the-day is from Fairview Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where 121 victims of the Titanic sinking are buried. It's eerie to see rows of tombstones all etched with the identical death date: April 15, 1912.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

45 Years (2015)

IMDB
45 Years (2015): Long-dead girlfriend's body interferes with a couple's 45-year anniversary. Quiet, touching movie. Two strong leads. B-











Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Repeat Tweets: Cornyn Blames Obama

Repeat tweets from October, 2016:

  • Oct 1 2016: TX Senator John Cornyn blames Obama... "For the passage of a bill. That he told Congress not to pass. And vetoed." nola.com
  • Oct 3 2016: Wells Fargo was engaging in fraud, but Ted Cruz and Pete Sessions were raking in the bank's campaign contributions. chron.com
  • Oct 7 2016: North Dallas's own Katrina Pierson puts her foot in her mouth again. "So what? They're Muslim." Right Wing Talk

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Monday, October 31, 2016

By the Bog of Cats at RHS

By the Bog of Cats at RHS: Euripides in an Irish bog. Challenging play for HS theatre: serious, adult, tragic. RHS pulled it off.

Support high school theatre, whether your kids attend or not. It's that good.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Disney's Fantasia Live in Concert

Disney's Fantasia Live in Concert with the Dallas Symphony: Sad to say, the animation shows its 75 years, but the music is classic. (H/T Chuck and Diana)

Friday, October 28, 2016

POTD: Summer Colony for the Rich and Famous

From 2016 09 04 Bar Harbor
Today's photo-of-the-day is from Bar Harbor, Maine.
By 1880, there were 30 hotels. Tourists were arriving by train and ferry to the Gilded Age resort that would rival Newport, Rhode Island. The rich and famous tried to outdo each other with entertaining and estates. A glimpse of their lifestyles was available from the Shore Path, a walkway skirting waterfront lawns. Yachting, garden parties, and carriage rides up Cadillac Mountain were popular diversions. Others enjoyed horse-racing. President William Howard Taft played golf. Bar Harbor become synonymous with elite wealth.
And then there was us.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Dallas to Suburbs: Drop Dead, Still

Recently, we reviewed the attitude by many in the city of Dallas that there should be no cooperation between the city and the suburbs. Here's what we said:
Regionalism is dead. It was killed over DART's desire to build both a downtown Dallas D2 line and a suburban Cotton Belt commuter train line...The sticking point is not D2. It's the Cotton Belt. The suburbs want it...The farther away from north Dallas you go, the greater the opposition to spending money on the Cotton Belt.
Source: The Wheel.
What's changed in the meantime? Nothing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Marguerite (2015)

IMDB
Marguerite (2015): Rich 1920s socialite thinks she can sing. No one dares tell her no. Movie looks great but is one-note: off-key. C+











Tuesday, October 25, 2016

POTD: Druids of Eld

From 2016 09 04 Bar Harbor

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Acadia National Park in Maine.

Evangeline
This is the forest primeval.
The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green,
indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Prelude

An evening at Prelude, a nighttime outdoor art exhibit in the Dallas Arts District. Beautiful weather. The greatest company. An inspiring message of determination and hope. Serendipity. An encouraging prelude to an uncertain next act.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Chemical Imbalance at BHS


Chemical Imbalance at Berkner HS: Spoof of Jekyll and Hyde. Lots of fun in this farce, just before Halloween. Support your high school theater.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

POTD: Cairn

From 2016 09 04 Bar Harbor

Today's photo-of-the-day is of a rock cairn in Acadia National Park in Maine. Look closely for it. Human handiwork is no match for nature's majesty.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Difret (2014)

IMDB
Difret (2014): Lawyer defends Ethiopian girl charged with murder in a society where women have few rights. Maddening story told plainly. B-











Tuesday, October 18, 2016

POTD: Beach View

From 2016 09 04 Bar Harbor

Today's photo-of-the-day is a distant view of Sand Beach in Acadia National Park in Maine. "Sand Beach, in Acadia National Park, is nestled in a small inlet between the granite mountains and rocky shores of Mount Desert Island. This gorgeous 290 yard long beach is one of the most popular points of interest on the island."

Monday, October 17, 2016

Dallas to Suburbs: Drop Dead

Regionalism is dead. It was killed over DART's desire to build both a downtown Dallas D2 line and a suburban Cotton Belt commuter train line. DART included funding for some preliminary work on a second DART line (D2) line through downtown Dallas in its 2017 budget. It also included funding for some preliminary work on the Cotton Belt.

The latter became the casus belli for the mass transit war between Dallas and its suburbs to the north.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Review: Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables
Amazon
From Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery:
Open quote 

Matthew Cuthbert's father, as shy and silent as his son after him, had got as far away as he possibly could from his fellow men without actually retreating into the woods when he founded his homestead. Green Gables was built at the furthest edge of his cleared land and there it was to this day, barely visible from the main road along which all the other Avonlea houses were so sociably situated. Mrs. Rachel Lynde did not call living in such a place LIVING at all. 'It's just STAYING, that's what,' she said as she stepped along the deep-rutted, grassy lane bordered with wild rose bushes. 'It's no wonder Matthew and Marilla are both a little odd, living away back here by themselves. Trees aren't much company, though dear knows if they were there’d be enough of them. I'd ruther look at people. To be sure, they seem contented enough; but then, I suppose, they're used to it. A body can get used to anything, even to being hanged, as the Irishman said.'"

Did anyone raise his eyebrows when he saw my latest reading selection? Was it unexpected? There's a reason I chose "Anne of Green Gables." Actually, two reasons. And I'm glad I did.

After the jump, my review.