Friday, April 19, 2019

Final Impressions of City Council Candidates

The League of Women Voters of Richardson held a forum for Richardson City Council candidates Wednesday evening at the Richardson Civic Center. About 200 people turned out to hear the candidates answer questions from voters. The threat of storms might have kept some people away, but the off-chance of fireworks on stage might have limited the no-shows. It turned out that the storms stayed away and the fireworks show turned into more of a comedy club as most candidates made a confession of their own run-in with Richardson Code Enforcement. I won't spoil their material. The video from the forum is available on the City's website. You can just watch their comedy sets yourselves. Let me just say that all the candidates seemed genuinely friendly with each other.

Once again, rather than provide a question-by-question account of the evening, I am going to present only the highlights, both roses and thorns, for each candidate.

(As for my earlier impressions of the candidates, from an earlier forum, they can be read elsewhere.)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Shirkers (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Shirkers (2018): Documentary about making of a movie in Singapore in '92 by young filmmakers and a charismatic mentor who disappears with the raw footage. Their youthful passion comes through 25 years later in this engrossing detective story about a cult movie that never was. B+

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

POTD: Self Portrait

From 2018 08 14 Peterhof

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Peterhof, the St. Petersburg palace built by Peter the Great of Russia. It's a self portrait taken by Ellen. That's the two of us entangled in the candle holders of the gilt mirror frame. We could only imagine the effect at night in the 1700s when the gilt ballroom was lined with such mirrors and all the candles were lit and a royal ball was in progress. Oh, and our reflections would still be present of course.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

POTD: Peterhof Gilt Ballroom

From 2018 08 14 Peterhof

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Peterhof, the St. Petersburg palace built by Peter the Great of Russia. Originally intended as a summer retreat, Peter the Great happened to visit the French royal court in 1717 and came home with ideas to rival Versailles. The result? Peterhof.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Vanity Fair (TV 2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Vanity Fair (TV 2018): Modern adaptation of Thackeray's satire of Victorian London. Ambitious social climber Becky Sharp is a charming knave who looks directly at the camera and winks as she schemes and betrays. Makes me want to read the original. B+

Saturday, April 13, 2019

It's All Partisan Now

Much has been made in Richardson's City Council election about the presence of party politics in a supposedly non-partisan election. The subject took up way too much space in my own latest blog article. So why am I devoting an entire blog article to it? Because I think what's happening in Plano puts the issue to bed in Richardson once and for all. Like it or not, once the governor of Texas jumps into the fray, the field is open for all.

Friday, April 12, 2019

More Impressions of City Council Candidates

The candidates for Richardson City Council answered questions from the public at a forum sponsored by the JJ Pearce, Canyon Creek, and Reservation neighborhood associations. The forum was held at Mohawk Elementary School. About fifty people attended. Everyone was civil. (That last point should go without saying, but in today's political climate, you never know.)

Rather than provide a question-by-question account of the evening, I am going to present only the highlights that I found provocative.

(As for my first impressions of the candidates, from an earlier forum, they can be read elsewhere.)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

POTD: Cossack Dancers

From 2018 08 13 St Petersburg

Today's photo-of-the-day is of Cossack dancers in St. Petersburg, Russia. I could tell you of the military tradition of the Cossacks, of how they allied with the tsars of Russia to conquer and colonize the length of the Volga and beyond the Urals to Siberia. Buy nyah. All anyone really wants to see today are those amazing dancers.

A bonus photo after the jump.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

POTD: The Winter Palace

From 2018 08 13 St Petersburg

Today's photo-of-the-day is of the Winter Palace as seen from Palace Square in St. Petersburg, Russia. If I had to pick a single spot that represents Russia to me, it would be right here. Or perhaps some spot in the Kremlin or Red Square in Moscow. Let's say right here for Russian history as a whole and the Moscow Kremlin for Soviet history. How's that for the having it both ways?

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Fahrenheit 11/9 (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Fahrenheit 11/9 (2018). It feels wrong to review this Michael Moore documentary because he's not just making a movie. He's warning of an existential threat to the American Republic. He shows bright spots of good guys fighting back, but he warns that it's not enough. B-

Monday, April 8, 2019

POTD: Soviet Decay

From 2018 08 13 St Petersburg

Today's photo-of-the-day is from St. Petersburg, Russia. It shows an abandoned building from the Soviet era. There are plenty of reminders around St. Petersburg of the failure of that system. Once as we drove through the city, I said something like, "This neighborhood looks prosperous" and Ellen replied, "Do you mean the windows aren't all broken?" Still, we loved St. Petersburg as a whole.

A bonus photo after the jump.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Gun McNutt

The last time these pages had to talk about Chris McNutt was November 26, 2018. Well, he's baaack.

According to The Houston Chronicle,
House Speaker Dennis Bonnen says Texas state troopers had his home in Lake Jackson under surveillance last week amid concerns that an outraged gun rights activist was headed there.

Chris McNutt, executive director of the nonprofit Texas Gun Rights, is advocating for a "constitutional carry" bill that would allow gun owners to carry their pistols, openly or concealed, in public without a license.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Fyre (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Fyre (2019): Documentary of a music festival on a private island in Bahamas that turned into a clusterf*ck. Behind it? A giant con, where luxury was sold up front w/o ability to deliver. A producer of the doc also produced the Fyre Festival promotional video. The con goes on. B-

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Equity in RISD

"In an effort to ensure every student performs at or above grade level, the Equity Action Team developed an action plan to recommend the drafting and potential Board approval of an Equity Policy in RISD. An overview of the committee’s process will be presented as well as a preliminary draft of the current Equity Policy. Next steps will be discussed as well as a timeline for policy recommendation."

That's the agenda item for last week's Richardson ISD board of trustees meeting. OK, I'm in favor of what RISD is attempting here, so don't take what I have to say as criticism of the goal. If you must, take it as a reason why I should never be appointed to one of these committees.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Highwaymen (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Highwaymen (2019): Two retired Texas Rangers track down Bonnie and Clyde. This pair is less charismatic than the outlaws, but Costner/Harrelson can carry a movie. They are always a little too late on the scene, making for a slow movie. Seeing Texas in the 1930s is a treat. B-

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Not So Fast with that RISD Election

Just when I thought the Richardson ISD's transition to trustee elections with single-member-districts was a done deal, with only a few details to be decided by the board of trustees, someone throws a wrench in the works. In this case, it's our newly elected Texas House District 102 Representative Ana-Maria Ramos.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Idle Thoughts: Russian Doll

Tweets from March, 2019:
  • Mar 4 2019: Russian Doll (TV 2019): Brash New Yorker is caught in looping, connected timelines as she keeps dying and rebooting at her birthday party. Quirky, original, absolutely captivating, with a satisfying ending as well. Can't wait for Season 2, but where can Natasha Lyonne take it? A+
  • Mar 6 2019: Do you want to be scared out of your mind? Read this:
    "Far-Right Climate Denial Is Scary. Far-Right Climate Acceptance Might Be Scarier".
  • Mar 7 2019: "I alone can fix this." -- candidate Donald Trump, 2016.
    Now in 2019...
    Government shutdown.
    Historic budget deficits.
    Growing trade deficits.
    Spiking numbers of family refugees.
    North Korea rearming.
    Tired of the winning yet?

After the jump, more idle thoughts.