Friday, November 27, 2020

Hillbilly Elegy (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Hillbilly Elegy (2020): Forget the book. The movie is not a look at white, working-class alienation in hollowed-out steel and coal country. It's a soap opera about three generations of a dysfunctional family. Mostly depressing. Critics hated it; I kind of liked it. B-

Read what I thought of the book here: Review: Hillbilly Elegy.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

POTD: Little Egret

From 2019 11 19 Aswan
Happy Thanksgiving! What kind of bird is on your table? Surely not one of these beautiful birds. Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Nile River near Aswan, Egypt. The Nile riverbanks are home to countless birds. Today's photo is of a Little Egret.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Succession - Season 2 (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Succession - Season 2 (TV 2019): The noose tightens around Logan Roy's empire. Debt, Congressional hearings, hostile takeover, skittish shareholders, scandals and backstabbing. It couldn't happen to a more evil family. Not the Trumps, but close. Lots of deserved Emmy nods. B+

Read the Season 1 review.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Ordeal by Innocence (TV 2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Ordeal by Innocence (TV 2018): 3 episode adaptation of Agatha Christie mystery. Matriarch of large, rich family is murdered. Plenty of suspects. The relationships are as tangled as the possible motives. Killer can be figured out (I didn't), as can the twist (I did, kinda). B-

#VeryTardyReview

Monday, November 23, 2020

Partisan Nonpartisan Elections

School and municipal elections are supposed to be nonpartisan. I say "supposed to be" loosely. There's no law about this. For practical purposes "nonpartisan" just means that "R" and "D" don't appear after candidates' names on the ballot. Everything else is just custom and tradition. Over the last few elections, those customs seem to be breaking down.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Review: Piranesi

From Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke:

Open quoteI am determined to explore as much of the World as I can in my lifetime. To this end I have travelled as far as the Nine-Hundred-and-Sixtieth Hall to the West, the Eight-Hundred-and-Ninetieth Hall to the North and the Seven-Hundred-and-Sixty-Eighth Hall to the South." Piranesi
Amazon
This is a wonderfully imagined world consisting of a mansion with endless halls filled with marble statues, populated solely by Piranesi and the mysterious "Other." Is it real? Fantasy? Magical realism? It'll keep you guessing all the way to the end.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Schitt's Creek - Seasons 1-6 (TV 2015-2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Schitt's Creek - Seasons 1-6 (TV 2015-2020): Family of rich snobs goes bankrupt and ends up living in a cheap motel in Schitt's Creek. A sitcom with heart that reminded me of Green Acres. You either love it or hate it. Excellent ensemble cast creates unforgettable characters. B+

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

POTD: African Swamphen

From 2019 11 19 Aswan
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Nile River near Aswan, Egypt. The Nile riverbanks are home to countless birds. Today's photo is of an African Swamphen.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

POTD: Pied Kingfishers

From 2019 11 19 Aswan
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Nile River near Aswan, Egypt. The Nile riverbanks are home to countless birds. Today's photo is of two Pied Kingfishers.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Dolittle (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Dolittle (2020): Dr. Dolittle is not a swashbuckling sea captain on an adventure to find the Tree of Eden. Plot is plodding. Dialog is dull. Robert Downey Jr is wasted in a lethargic role. Good CGI animals. Maybe little kids will like that, but that's about it. C-

Friday, November 13, 2020

POTD: Goliath Heron

From 2019 11 19 Aswan
Decompressing from the election, it's time for something completely different. Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Nile River near Aswan, Egypt. The Nile riverbanks are home to countless birds. Today's photo is of a Goliath Heron.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

POTD: Osprey

From 2019 11 19 Aswan
Decompressing from the election, it's time for something completely different. Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Nile River near Aswan, Egypt. The Nile riverbanks are home to countless birds. Today's photo is of an Osprey.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

POTD: Grey Heron

From 2019 11 19 Aswan
Decompressing from the election, it's time for something completely different. Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Nile River near Aswan, Egypt. The Nile riverbanks are home to countless birds. Today's photo is of a Grey Heron.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb (2020): Documentary about the recent discovery and excavation of a noble's tomb near Cairo. Some scenes show the nearby step pyramid, which we visited just after this documentary was filmed. It needs fewer scenes of digging and more history. C+

Monday, November 9, 2020

The Queen's Gambit (TV 2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Queen's Gambit (TV 2020): Orphaned chess prodigy works through childhood traumas, struggles with alcohol and pills, and her own genius. It's a "sports movie" like no other. None of the usual characters act to cliched form. It's her life story that steals our attention. A+

Friday, November 6, 2020

Review: A Burning

From A Burning, by Megha Majumdar:

Open quoteThe night before, I had been at the railway station, no more than a fifteen-minute walk from my house. I ought to have seen the men who stole up to the open windows and threw flaming torches into the halted train. But all I saw were carriages, burning, their doors locked from the outside and dangerously hot." A Burning
Amazon

A Burning is a debut novel by an Indian woman, born in Kolkata and now living in the United States. Its three featured characters are all from the poorer classes, and all seek to rise to middle class. Their prospects intersect and cross.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Emily in Paris (TV 2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Emily in Paris (TV 2020): Young American Instagram influencer gets transferred to Paris where she flirts with every handsome or rich French man. Could be a 1960s TV show updated for today, maybe "Gidget Gets Laid." Every cliche about French snobbery and dumb American overseas. C+

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

POTD: Senegal Thick-Knees

From 2019 11 19 Aswan
While the last few states are still counting their votes (get it done, get it right), it's time for something completely different. Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Nile River near Aswan, Egypt. The Nile riverbanks are home to countless birds, almost all of them new and interesting to someone from North America. Today's photo shows two Senegal thick-knees.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Consequences of (Secret) Compromise

Fifty-eight years ago in October, the world came closer to nuclear war than at any other time in history. I'm talking about what's become known as the "Cuban Missile Crisis". We're alive to talk about it today because war didn't break out. Why didn't it break out? A peaceful compromise was found.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Random Thoughts: Alexa, Change the President

Tweets from October, 2020:
  • 2020-10-01: Me: "Alexa, change the President."
    Alexa: "Sorry, I'm not sure."
    Alexa must be the last undecided person in America.
  • 2020-10-01: "Insects have been around for 480 million years, solving nearly every problem nature has dealt them. Maybe it's worth listening to what they have to say." -- Natalie Angier
  • 2020-10-01: "Stand back. Stand by." -- Donald Trump.
    "Bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed." -- George W Bush, after Charlottesville in 2017.
    There. That's not hard, is it, Mr. President?

After the jump, more random thoughts.