Monday, September 16, 2019

POTD: Monument Valley Happy Hour

From 2018 09 20 Monument Valley

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Arizona's Monument Valley. Monument Valley likely conjures up old Westerns like John Ford's "Stagecoach," but modern day tourists can enjoy it at leisure from the deck of a hotel and visitors center that offers as spectacular a view of the Old West as you can find anywhere.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

POTD: Geronimo

From 2018 09 20 Monument Valley

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Monument Valley along the Arizona/Utah border. This was the location used by Hollywood director John Ford for several classic Westerns, including the 1939 movie that made John Wayne a star, "Stagecoach." In the movie, a U.S. Cavalry Lieutenant warns the stagecoach passengers that "Geronimo and his Apaches are on the warpath." (Yeah, old movies were racist.) It was John Ford movies like Stagecoach that stamped Monument Valley in generations of movie-goers minds as what they think of when they think of the American West.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

A Conversation with Jeff Bradford

This article was originally published in "Richardson Living" magazine. Read it on that website or read it here. Or read it in print. In mail boxes now.

A Conversation with Jeff Bradford
Executive Director of Fine Arts, Richardson ISD


In 2019, for the eighth straight year, Richardson ISD was named one of the best communities in the nation for music education by the California-based National Association of Music Merchants. That is just one of many awards for RISD just in music. RISD also offers education in theatre, dance, and the visual arts. Over the years, the RISD has had some illustrious leaders in fine arts. Former directors went on to lead the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA), the Texas UIL Music organization, the Texas Bandmasters Association, and the University of Oklahoma's "Pride of Oklahoma" marching band. Today, their big shoes are filled by Jeff Bradford as Executive Director of Fine Arts for the Richardson ISD. Richardson Living spoke with Jeff about the state of fine arts in RISD. The interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Elections Have Consequences, Lesson #214

The Dallas Observer's Jim Schutze is a rabble-rouser. Sometimes his rants are spot on. Sometimes not. But he's always worth reading. Dallas needs him. And if you read him with the right squint in your eyes, you could say Richardson needs him, too. His latest report on a vote by the Dallas City Council on a big zoning case at Northwest Highway and the Dallas North Tollway is a case in point.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

POTD: A Sugary Confection in Stone

From 2018 09 19 Bryce Canyon

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Utah's Bryce Canyon. No story today. The image says it all.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Derry Girls (TV 2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Derry Girls (TV 2018): Set in a Catholic girls' school in Northern Ireland during the religious Troubles. Fast, sassy, irreverent, and sometimes touching. Always hilarious. It's rare for a TV comedy to get me to laugh out loud, but this one does every episode. A-

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

POTD: Plate Spinning

From 2018 09 19 Bryce Canyon

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Utah's Bryce Canyon. Remember the old variety show act of plate spinning? Ed Sullivan would feature someone who would try to spin a half dozen plates on top of slender poles to the ever-increasing tempo of "Sabre Dance"? I was reminded of that by this rock formation in Bryce Canyon. Yeah, I'm old.

Monday, September 9, 2019

POTD: Switchbacks Up

From 2018 09 19 Bryce Canyon

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Utah's Bryce Canyon. It shows the switchbacks of the trail up from the bottom of the canyon to the rim. An escalator would be nice.

After the jump, even tighter switchbacks.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Boys (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Boys (TV 2019): A world full of superheroes, all co-opted by an evil corporation for profit. Interesting concept. Cardboard characters. No nuance. No humor. Middle episodes are better as focus shifts to "the boys" who resist. Ending resolves little, leaves many questions. C+

Saturday, September 7, 2019

POTD: And a Tree Falls

From 2018 09 19 Bryce Canyon

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Utah's Bryce Canyon. It shows that a tree can be as beautiful in death as in life, still providing us with a place to sit a spell and rest and enjoy the world.

A bonus photo after the jump.

Friday, September 6, 2019

POTD: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

From 2018 09 19 Bryce Canyon

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Utah's Bryce Canyon. For reasons clear to anyone who's read the novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I thought of it when I saw this indomitable tree deep in Bryce Canyon.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

POTD: Tight Squeeze Ahead


From 2018 09 19 Bryce Canyon

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Utah's Bryce Canyon. It shows a tight squeeze on the Navajo Loop Trail that takes you from the rim all the way down to the bottom of the canyon and back up another way.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

POTD: Down Into the Canyon

From 2018 09 19 Bryce Canyon

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Utah's Bryce Canyon. It shows the early part of the Navajo Loop Trail, a 1.3 mile round trip that takes you from the rim all the way down to the bottom of the canyon and back up another way. A strenuous walk (for an old guy), well worth the time.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

POTD: At the Rim

From 2018 09 19 Bryce Canyon

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Utah's Bryce Canyon. If you've never been there, like I hadn't, try to fix that.

Monday, September 2, 2019

POTD: The Bluest Lake

From 2018 09 17 Crater Lake

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Oregon's Crater Lake. Crater Lake is the bluest lake in the world. Change my mind.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Idle Thoughts: Rare Sweltering Summer

Tweets from August, 2019:
  • 2019-08-01: DMN headline: "Rare sweltering summer grips Alaska."
    "Rare." I guess when each summer is hotter than the last, you could say each one is technically "rare."
  • 2019-08-01: @RepLanceGooden, how many heart-wrenching stories of children separated from their parents and put in cages have you heard and still stood by without doing anything?
  • 2019-08-01: @JimSchutze, Silly Jim. The reason the News didn't first have that "basic, Journalism 101, garden variety conversation" you identified is because the News is not a product of the journalism school. It's a product of the business school.

After the jump, more idle thoughts.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

POTD: Deboning a Boat

From 2018 09 14 Portland
Today's photo-of-the-day is from Portland, Oregon's Willamette River.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Vacant Office Buildings in Richardson

Community Impact has a detailed story on empty office buildings in Richardson. 85.2% of the square feet of office buildings in Richardson is leased. Eleven buildings comprising 1.4 million square feet are totally vacant. Is that good or bad? Community Impact doesn't really say.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

POTD: Upper North Falls


From 2018 09 14 Portland

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Oregon's Silver Falls State Park. The waterfall is the Upper North Falls, one of many on the Trail of Ten Falls in this impressive state park.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

POTD: Trail of Ten Falls

From 2018 09 14 Portland
Today's photo-of-the-day is from Oregon's Silver Falls State Park. "Where else can you walk behind a waterfall? Check out the famous South Falls and see what a 177-foot curtain of water looks like from behind. It’s part of the Trail of Ten Falls."

Bonus photos after the jump.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Monday, August 26, 2019

POTD: The Abstract Art of Nature

From 2018 09 11 Yellowstone

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

POTD: Back from the Brink of Extinction

From 2018 09 11 Yellowstone

Today's photo-of-the-day is of an American bison in Yellowstone National Park. Let's feel good that we saved the bison from extinction, but also keep in mind that by some estimates, "we're now losing species at up to 1,000 times the [natural] rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day."

Saturday, August 24, 2019

POTD: Grand Prismatic Spring

From 2018 09 11 Yellowstone

Today's photo-of-the-day is of Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Great Hack (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Great Hack (2019): How Cambridge Analytica, using Facebook data, profiled millions of voters and bombarded them with fake news propaganda to sway 2016 election. Title is misnomer. Facebook freely handed over data. Zuckerberg and Trump are still in charge. 2020 is coming. A-




Thursday, August 22, 2019

POTD: Steamboat Geyser

From 2018 09 11 Yellowstone

Today's photo-of-the-day is of Old Faithful's less well known relative, Steamboat Geyser. There are a few facts that differentiate Steamboat from Old Faithful. One, it's the world's tallest currently-active geyser (300 feet, compared to 185 feet for Old Faithful). Two, its eruptions are very irregular, with intervals between eruptions ranging from about three days to about fifty years. That's right. Steamboat didn't erupt at all from 1911 to 1961. But it's erupted about 50 times in the last twelve months. So see it now. When it sleeps, it really sleeps. Three, Steamboat's major eruptions can last as long as 40 minutes, followed by hours of continuous minor eruptions. The day we visited, there was a major eruption at 5 am, and what you see here is what Steamboat was still doing eight hours later, continuously. We didn't wait for it to finish. Eventually, we just left while it was still spouting.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Umbrella Academy (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Umbrella Academy (TV 2019): Childhood superheroes, now grown up, reunite to save the world. But first they have to deal with lots of old family issues. Goofy, quirky fun figuring out all that's going on, the central mystery of the apocalypse, and the interrelationships. B+




Saturday, August 17, 2019

POTD: Waiting for the Show

From 2018 09 11 Yellowstone

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. An excerpt from a tourist manual from 1883: "Old Faithful is sometimes degraded by being made a laundry. Garments placed in the crater during quiescence are ejected thoroughly washed when the eruption takes place. Gen. Sheridan's men, in 1882, found that linen and cotton fabrics were uninjured by the action of the water, but woolen clothes were torn to shreds."

After the jump...the show.

Friday, August 16, 2019

POTD: Grown-Up Lincoln Logs

From 2018 09 11 Yellowstone

Movin' on. Today's photo-of-the-day is from Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park.

Nice, but not where we stayed. Where we stayed is after the jump.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

POTD: Gilded Monastery

From 2018 08 22 Kremlin

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius about 50 miles outside Moscow. It is the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. It was founded in 1337, closed by the Bolsheviks in 1920, then restored to the Church by Joseph Stalin after WWII. I don't usually think of all these gilded decorations when I think of monasteries and monks and vows of poverty, but here we are.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

POTD: I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke

From 2018 08 22 Kremlin

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. It shows Ellen enjoying a Coca Cola while sitting in the gardens of Bol'shoy Kremlovskiy Square, where the czars used to stroll, with the Kremlin Senate in the background.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

After Life (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
After Life (TV 2019): Even if, like me, you don't care for Ricky Gervais, try this series. He's mean-spirited and rude as always, but with a reason. He's grieving the death of his wife. There is wisdom here. Supporting cast is strong. Story arc is predictable. B-




Monday, August 12, 2019

POTD: Church and State

From 2018 08 22 Kremlin

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. It shows two of the many buildings in the Kremlin. On the left are government offices. Vladimir Putin's office is in there somewhere. On the right is the Cathedral of the Annunciation. Church and state. Old and new. Side by side. All that rich history and culture.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

POTD: The Kremlin's Churches

From 2018 08 22 Kremlin

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. It shows several of the many churches inside this medieval fortress. That's not to say there aren't massive government office buildings there as well, but it's the number of churches and palaces and gardens and museums and open squares in the Kremlin that surprised me.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

POTD: War and Peace

From 2018 08 22 Kremlin

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. It shows the Tsar Cannon, cast in bronze in 1586, "the largest bombard by caliber in the world," according to Wikipedia, whatever that means. Behind it are the onion domes of two churches in the Kremlin. War and Peace.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Review: Underland: A Deep Time Journey

Underland
Amazon
From Underland: A Deep Time Journey, by Robert Macfarlane:
Open quote 
The same three tasks recur across cultures and epochs: to shelter what is precious, to yield what is valuable, and to dispose of what is harmful. Shelter (memories, precious matter, messages, fragile lives). Yield (information, wealth, metaphors, minerals, visions). Dispose (waste, trauma, poison, secrets)."

An adventurer's journal of exploring caves, mines, and vaults, covering the Earth's history from prehistoric cave paintings until the far future when landfills full of plastic and deep stores of lead-207, the stable isotope at the end of the uranium-235 decay chain, are all that's left of our stay on the planet.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

POTD: Waxing Moon Over the Kremlin

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Today's photo-of-the-day shows a waxing moon over the Kremlin wall in Moscow, Russia.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

POTD: The Czars or the Communists

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Red Square in Moscow, Russia. Which is more Russian, the Red Star or the Double-headed Eagle? The former represents Communism and the Soviet Union. The latter, the czars of the Russian Empire. Which is more prominent today? It's hard to say. Leningrad was renamed St. Petersburg after the fall of the Soviet Union. But in Moscow, Lenin's body is still on display in his tomb in Red Square. Likewise, the double-headed eagle made a comeback after the fall of the Soviet Union, but the red star is still prominent as well. Both of these photos were taken in Red Square, which oddly enough was named that long before the Russian Revolution brought Communism to Russia.

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Lion King (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Lion King (2019): Sure it's an unnecessary remake, but very well done if a little long. Stunning photorealistic animation. The uncanny valley is now forever bridged for nature documentaries. And I can't help but like the new "meaningless line of indifference" philosophy. B+

Monday, August 5, 2019

In God We Trust, All Others Must Bring Data

The Richardson City Council approved rezoning for the construction of new pad site restaurants with drive-throughs at Richardson Square. The vote was 6-0. Public comment was largely in favor. Clearly, it was a popular decision. Time to move on, right? Sure. But move on to what?

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Last Czars (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Last Czars (TV 2019): Odd mix of costume drama and mockumentary. Painless way to learn some history. Nicholas is an absolute ruler oblivious of how to run a government, run a war, or how to read the mood of his people. As drama, the characters are wooden and predictable. B-




Saturday, August 3, 2019

POTD: Moskva River and Kremlin

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Today's photo-of-the-day is of the Moskva River with the Kremlin on the bank to the left. The various red brick towers mark the walls of the Kremlin. The large yellow and white office building with the green roof houses government offices, one of which is President Vladimir Putin's. To the right of it is one of the many churches inside the Kremlin, one of the things that surprised me about the Kremlin.

Why the city is called Moscow and the river is called Moskva is a question I never did figure out. In Russian, the city and river have the same name, but for some reason the transliteration into English is different for the two. I guess I'll have to go back.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Friday, August 2, 2019

The Farewell (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Farewell (2019): Family gathers in China when grandmother is diagnosed with cancer. A study in cultural differences dealing with universal feelings. Careful storytelling by Lulu Wang makes it heartfelt without being maudlin. Awkwafina handles a range of acting excellently. A-




Thursday, August 1, 2019

Idle Thoughts: From "Never Again" to "I can't believe it's happening here."

Tweets from July, 2019:
  • 2019-07-01: "How did we go from 'Never Again' to 'I can't believe it's happening here.'" -- Christopher Weyant"
  • 2019-07-01: Richardson, give me one good reason not to follow Portland's lead here. (Link)
  • 2019-07-01: @RepLanceGooden Thanks for noticing, at long last, that the economy was in a "boom" under Obama, in fact about twice as long as under the current Republican administration.

After the jump, more idle thoughts.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

POTD: Alexander Garden

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Today's photo-of-the-day is of the Alexander Garden in Moscow, Russia. It runs for over 900 yards along the outside of the western wall of the Kremlin. It was constructed after the Napoleonic Wars, when Tsar Alexander I ordered the reconstruction of the parts of the city that had been destroyed by French troops.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019): Quentin Tarantino's take on Manson cult and Sharon Tate murders, with a twist. QT's homage to vintage music, movies, and Hollywood streets. Slow buildup to violence. Brad and Leo (Bradnardo?) make a comfortable pair. Women fare worse. B+




Monday, July 29, 2019

Period. End of Sentence (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Period. End of Sentence (2018): Documentary short about how menstruation is a taboo subject in India even today that suppresses girls and women. And how one village's women fight back by creating a business of making and selling sanitary pads. Inspiring. A-




Sunday, July 28, 2019

POTD: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Today's photo-of-the-day is of the eternal flame at the tomb of the unknown soldier just outside the Kremlin wall in Moscow, Russia.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Rolling Thunder Revue (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rolling Thunder Revue (2019): Martin Scorsese's mostly non-fictional documentary of chaotic 1975 tour by Bob Dylan and friends. Some glimpses into Dylan's psyche. Lots of intimate concert footage. Fascinating behind-the-scenes looks at Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez. B+




Friday, July 26, 2019

If Not This, Then What?


On Wednesday, I blogged about my opposition to the Richardson City Council's approval of a zoning change request to allow the development of pad site restaurants on the old Richardson Square Mall property at Belt Line Rd and Plano Rd. My article was criticized for not offering alternative solutions. Alternatives weren't the subject of my post, but if you read it and my previous articles linked to, you'll see that I do address just that question. Maybe this standalone article on the question will help.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Dior: From Paris to the World


The Dallas Museum of Art exhibition "Dior: From Paris to the World" showcases almost 200 runway dresses from the House of Dior, from the 1940s until the present day. That's a lot. So many that the DMA has turned over its entire barrel vault and four side galleries for the exhibition. It's pretty much just dresses and the attendance the day we went looked about 10:1 women to men, but I found it well worth the hour we spent inside the exhibit. But, confession: "Project Runway" is one of my guilty pleasures.

More photos after the jump.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Dollar Tree: The Next Generation


The Richardson City Council approved rezoning for the construction of new pad site restaurants and a partitioning of the former Sears store at Richardson Square. I've blogged my opposition to this short-sighted plan again and again. My opposition wasn't softened by the council's deliberations.